Monday, 27 March 2017

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: DUNCRYNE HILL . . .

I love a dramatic view and I love Loch Lomond. I've saw Loch Lomond from various different places around the loch, but yesterday I got to see it from a viewpoint I'd never had before - from the top of Duncryne Hill. And boy was it a great view.


I've spoken before about how I'm quite a lazy person, and while I do love to look at pretty things, I prefer them not to take too much effort. Duncryne Hill, known also (very cutely) as "The Dumpling" was perfect for me as it didn't take too much of my energy to climb it, but I got very much rewarded for my moderate effort at the end!


The hill is by Gartocharn and near to (of course) the beautiful Loch Lomond. Next to the gates leading to the path up the hill is a layby where you can park next to a narrow road. I had to get out of the passenger side first before the fella finished parking so he could park as far in as possible! There were quite a few cars there already when we arrived, and people came and went in the time we were there.



It was a lovely day, and had been sunny for a couple of days now, so I'd decided not to change into my walking boots (yes. I have walking boots now. They're only from Primark but I do feel like I've grown a bit as a person.) and kept my pumps on. Which seemed fine at first. We walked up the path through the wood, came to a gate about five minutes in and realised that there was a big path of MUD facing us. Drat.

We decided to give it a go anyway, but after two or three steps my foot was covered in mud and I nearly lost my shoe, so we decided to go back and change into more sensible footwear.


Round two.

We navigated our way through the mud much more easily this time around - it was only a few minutes of utter squelchiness before the path went back to its regular programming. It probably only took about 15 minutes from there to reach the top, although the path was very steep at times, and I was struggling on account of being an aforementioned lazy bum. By the time I reached the top I was very very out of breath. I could see tons of folk already up at the top (it seemed to be quite popular), so I slowed down just before the top to catch my breath so I wasn't virtually hyperventilating in front of other human beings.


The view was amazing - you could see for miles around, the loch and its many islands, and the mountains and hills surrounding it. I felt quite proud of myself for discovering the hill (as in happening across it online, I'm not Christopher Columbus or anything, I'm not going to lay claim to it!)


 We stayed up there for about ten minutes admiring the view and enjoying the sunshine, before heading back to the car. There were a couple of bits on the (same) path down that were dicier than those on the way up - I wasn't worried about going over the edge or anything (it's not really that kind of hill) but I was worried about falling on my arse. Mostly it was an easy walk back down though.

 
All in all from getting out of the car at the start, the round trip including the false start, me trying to clean my feet and failing before struggling into my boots, and the ten minutes at the top, lasted 50 minutes, so as you can see it's not an all-day thing by any means, it's a good wee bit of exercise though! I would definitely recommend a wee trip up there if you're in the area... on a sunny clear day like yesterday it was utterly stunning!
 
Just make sure your footwear can withstand mud!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

ON WHY I'M NOT A CINEMA FAN . . .

I don't talk about the cinema very often.

This is because I'm not a fan of it. Films, yes. The cinema experience, no.

I probably last spoke about the cinema five years ago on this blog, and it was because me and my sister went to see The Vow . . . and not only was it a load of crap, it cut out ten minutes before the end and we had to walk down something like eighteen flights of stairs on account of there being a power cut. So yeah . . . that wasn't the best of experiences. And I still have no idea how the friggin' thing ends. Although I don't care too much about that.

I've been to the cinema twice with my boyfriend of nearly three and a half years . . . and the last time was 2014 I think! ("The Other Woman", I believe. Which was a great film.)


I don't really have that much of a desire to go again. Here's why I'm not a fan . . .

Timing
I'm one of those weirdos who wants to be in my seat and relaxed (as much as I can be under the circumstances) prior to even the adverts starting. I don't get these people who are still wandering in during the trailers. I like to have my pick of the seats (don't even get me started on allocated seating!) - and I want to have my snacks/drinks all sorted already. I basically need to be on of the first people in that screen in order to feel calm! And people walking in late does make me feel stressed and angry.... and there is always at least one!

Expense
I don't think I need to elaborate too much on this one.... why is it so bloody expensive to have a cinema trip? I feel like every time I go, the price has shot up even more! Which leads me nice onto the...

Food
Once again ridiculously expensive. I do occasionally take something in with me from off the street, but to me it realty doesn't feel like a proper cinematic experience if I don't have those red stick things with the white insides that you get in the pic 'n' mix bit . . . what are they actually even called? Do you have any idea what I'm talking about? I hope so.... Oh, and on account of me getting into the screen so early, I've usually ate all my food before the trailers even start anyway!

Toilet
I doubt I would ever go to the loo during a film at the cinema because I would be way too paranoid that I would forget where I'm sitting on the way back and end up sitting next to a random stranger or wandering around in panicked circles . . . but here's the thing. They don't pause the film when you go to the loo at the cinema. You're not in charge of the remote control. How bloody dare they???

Disruptive folk
You do wonder why some people even bother going to the cinema (I really don't get it as a date venue, that's for sure) because they then spend the whole time chatting through it, or on their phones, or throwing things at people. What a waste of that aforementioned expense. You can do all that other stuff for free (I wouldn't condone throwing things though. Unless someone really deserves it obviously...).

Being out of touch
I'm one of those folk who checks their phone a lot. I'm also someone who is a rule-abiding citizen and generally will put my phone completely off in the cinema, not just on mute. And I would never dream of looking at it after the film started. You'd think this would put me in a relaxed state and I could switch off and just enjoy the film. Nope . . . of course all I want to do is live-tweet the bloody film!!!

So even if a film comes out that I really want to see . . . I'll probably just wait a couple of months until it comes out on DVD. It's the safer option really!

Do you like the cinema?

Thursday, 16 March 2017

LET'S PLAY "DRESS-UP" . . .

An evening invite for a wedding popped up on my desk this morning, and with it the inevitable, panic-inducing question . . .

WHAT DO I WEAR???

I love clothes but trying to find a dress for a fancy event is always a bit of a minefield for me. It's like I have an idea of what I want in my head, but I have no idea what it is or how to put it into an actual description! So when I'm trying to find a dress, it's an absolute nightmare because . . . how am I meant to find what I'm looking for if I don't know what I'm looking for until I find it.

It's an eternal conundrum.

So I've been looking through the usual suspects of websites and have found a few I like.

I am a big fan of this River Island dress. I have been a crushed velvet fan for as long as I can remember, probably since it was fashionable the last time around. And I love the colour green, and off-the-shoulder styles, but I'm worried it might be too casual?



This Boohoo shift dress is really cute and really "wedding-y" if you know what I mean. I love a bit of embellishment. It doesn't seem too bodycon either which is always a good thing in my book. (Is it just me, or does the very word "bodycon" incite absolute terror in anyone else's soul?)




 I like this little Vesper number from asos . . . makes me think of a pretty present. Quite simple but very sophisticated. I love lace, I love navy blue (which is weird when I think about how I did everything to avoid wearing my navy blue school uniform back in the day). It's a bit higher-necked than I'm used to (I am most definitely a "cleavage" girl) but I think I'd not mind too much with this.



Did I mention I love lace? This La Redoute dress is pretty simple but a gorgeous colour. Quite high-necked once again . . . perhaps I'm growing as a person? Nah . . . surely not?!?



I love a bit of jacquard too . . . and this is back to my good old plunging neckline best! And a bit of a bargain too - this Very dress is currently only 18 quid!!! I'm assuming the belt, shoes and sale sign are not included in the price. ;-)



Now last but not least . . . when I'm shopping online I tend to immediately sort the products I'm browsing into the "low to high price range" and if I forget I tend to be disappointed when I see a dress I like and then discover it's 120 quid and waayyyyy out of my price range. This Comino Couture dress is a prime example of this. :-( Please, if anyone knows of a cheaper dupe, do a girl a solid and sling the link my way, eh?


And, while we're on the subject of favours, if you have any opinions, other websites I can try, or any suggestions of dresses you think might be my bag, please leave me a wee comment and help me out!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

INSTA-LOVES: AKA MY FAVOURITE THINGS TO LOOK AT ON INSTAGRAM . . .

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step, and my problem is I'm pretty obsessed with Instagram. That being said, I don't really find it a problem, because it's so bloody entertaining and I could spend hours just looking at pictures on it!

So what are my favourite things to look at? I'm glad you asked . . .






































Pastel/Rainbow Hair - I'm pretty much obsessed with pastel hair, as you may know about me if you've read any of my posts. I frequently spend massive amounts of time scrolling through hairdresser profiles looking at their amazing creations and wishing that my hair looked half that good. Some of the "mermaid" colours are just incredible!

Food - I think there's two types of people in the world. There are the ones who don't understand why anyone would post a picture of their food for everyone to see . . . and those who think it's amazing! I fall into the latter camp. I am so interested in seeing what people are eating, it gives me inspiration and helps me think outside the box too.

Views - As you'll maybe know from my Scotland the Beautiful posts, I love travel and one of my favourite things about this is getting pictures of spectacular views. I could probably spend days just trawling through pictures of pretty views, especially Scottish ones. They are utterly incredible and, just like with the food pics, you end up getting inspiration about places you want to go . . . and sometimes find places you didn't even know existed as a result!

Clothes - I'm interested in seeing what people are wearing. I used to love that What I Wore Today website where everyone who signed up could just post pics of themselves in their outfit of the day and people would like them. I never got particularly high ratings myself but it was nice to see how other people put their outfits together. It's good that so many people are doing this now on Insta . . . although sometimes I worry that it's putting a lot of temptation in my path, as well as strain on my purse!

Fitness - I've already mentioned that I find Instagram inspirational on a couple of levels - none more so than fitness though! Watching people's fitness and weight loss successes is soooo inspiring and does make me think twice about reaching for the tin of condensed milk and spoon. (I say "think twice" - I still would ultimately reach for it but I would dither a bit more over it first. I'm a work in progress, okay???)

Puppies - I'm so dog-broody it's ridiculous. I spend way too much time drooling over pictures of other people's dogs. I make no apologies for this though.


What are your favourite things to look at on Instagram? And are you following me yet???

Sunday, 12 March 2017

LET'S STAY IN A SEAVIEW SNUG!

Me and the fella had an absolutely lovely night away in a seaview snug last weekend.



Disclaimer before I go any further with this: this isn't a sponsored post. (I would say if it was and, also, if anyone is reading this and wants to offer me free stays away, feel free - it would be a hell of a lot easier on my bank balance!). I bought a voucher deal for the fella for his birthday, which gave us a night there for a bargainous price of 69 pounds. Trust me, it was worth the money! (If you are planning to give voucher deals as a present, you can find my guide to it here.)


Anyway . . . we finally got it booked up, after getting a day off sorted (the deal was only available Sunday to Thursday so we needed to take a wee cheeky Monday off) and me anxiously checking the website to see if any of the snugs were still available on that particular day, and asking the fella "have you booked it yet?" at least once a day.


The snugs are situated in Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway with a lovely view of (you guessed it!) . .. water. I believe it's the Solway Firth. They are part of the Laggan Activity centre, so you can always combine your stay with an outdoor activity like grass sledging or even zip-sliding for an additional cost (booking is advisable for activities to avoid disappointment). We decided to make our activity a bit of outdoor drinking at the table and chairs situated just outside our snug... I doubt any of you are surprised about this!

 
We stayed in The Shore which had a nautical theme to it, and had a clean blue and white colour scheme. It was absolutely gorgeous, and had so much space in it. Each snug also has a bathroom (thank goodness - I don't do camping and even glamping is a struggle for me as I always need my own bathroom. None of this sharing nonsense.) with an absolutely MASSIVE shower!


There was plenty of storage space and places to hang up your clothes, tea/coffee making facilities, Wi-Fi (a must!), another table and chairs inside for you to sit and enjoy the view if it's not too nice outside, and a large TV which even had Netflix on it . . . once the sun had gone down and the view disappeared, we hopped onto that and re-watched Taken 3.


It was possibly the aforementioned outside bit I loved the most though. It was pretty much a "natural balcony" where you could sit and watch the water, the cars going past on the road far below . . . and there was a little stream too. Very pretty.

Although there are eight snugs and I believe they were all occupied, the only time we really saw any of the others was when they arrived . . . I think we were first to get checked in so as we sat outside we saw some of the others parking and walking up from the car to their snugs. Otherwise we didn't see anyone again until we were leaving and there were a couple sitting out in the morning sunshine. We were very jealous!


It was an awesome stay and I'd thoroughly recommend it if you're looking for a wee night away. We took a "hotel picnic" (plenty of cold meat, cheese, wine etc) to save ourselves some money but if you're looking for dinner out you could always pop out in the car (there is a café on site too but I'm not sure of its opening hours). Word of warning - the activity centre is being done up at the moment (I think they're expanding) but we didn't notice it - it didn't affect the sea view. I think this likely means the prices will go up once the construction has been completed (it's currently 80 pounds a night plus 60 for each subsequent night according to the website) so best to get in there while you can.

Go. It's great. I promise. Pinky swear. (Website can be found here.)

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

BLUE HAIR . . . *DO* CARE!

Can I start off by saying I really don't get it when people post hair pics and say things like "Long hair don't care" or "short hair don't care"? Maybe it's cos I DO care about my hair. (Although if I'm honest, my little caption would mainly be "shit hair, don't care" - I was not blessed in the hair department and bleaching the crap out of it for 22 years probably has not helped!).

Seriously though - where did that expression come from? Did someone famous post it on Instagram and it all snowballed from there? Or is it just cos "care" and "hair" rhyme? Am I missing something? Please feel free to let me in on the secret, I genuinely am curious.



Anyhow, I've veered a teeny bit off topic. Only a teeny bit. Because I'm here today to talk about my latest foray into the world of pastel hair.

As you may know if you've read my blog in the past, or follow me on instagram (if you aren't, why not? Seriously. How many times do I have to tell you - I'm right here!), you know I like a bit of pastel hair. I've tried pink hair and I've tried lilac hair and as much as I love them both, they rarely last very long.


So then a girl at my pole fitness class told me L'Oreal Colorista was good . . . and I was immediately intrigued. I had a wee look at their range and decided to go for the blue washout shade next time I was in Boots. It said it would last 5 to 10 shampoos.... but then the Bleach London shades claim to last around that and the Schwarzkopf Live + Twist ones are technically permanent and neither lasts more than a couple of washes, so I didn't hold out too much hope. This particular shade said it was for blonde, ombre or highlighted hair and I assumed, as always, that it would probably be subtle, if not non-existent, on my relatively dark blonde hair.


Goodness, was I wrong!


Application was easy, and I tried it out first by applying it only to the ends of my hair, ombre style. I didn't leave it on longer than the suggested 15-20 mins and it showed up pretty well on my hair. The following night, I knew I was off work for a five day weekend so decided to put more of it on, and cover more of my hair in it this time.

It was a success. The blue most definitely showed up.


Now, two weeks and about 8 washes later (I try and put off washing my hair a lot - not for any reason other than I'm a lazy bugger), it's still here. Only it's now faded to a cool turquoise colour, which prompted the girl who told me about the dye to ask this week if I'd used a different colour.


Nope!


I'm actually at the point now where I'm getting a bit sick of it and would quite like my hair to return to its natural (dyed) colour so I can get rid of my inch of black roots and . . . well, probably try out the pink or purple version of this dye, if I'm honest. I'm just not used to my pastel hair lasting this long!


Anyhoo . . . the upshot is that of all of the pastel dyes I've tried so far . . . this has definitely been the most impressive in terms of both colour intensity and how long it has lasted. If you are looking for blue hair, this one is worth a shot. As for the other colours . . . well I'm sure if you follow me on instagram (seriously? How many more times do I need to say it!) you'll find I'll be trying more of these out very soon.

Once I get rid of the blue/turquoise obviously! ;-)

You can pick up the L'Oreal Colorista brand in both Boots and Superdrug for around six pounds (depending on special offers etc). And, no, I was not compensated or sponsored to do this review... I bought the dye myself and this is all my own opinion. (Although L'Oreal, if you're reading this, please do feel free to send  me some complimentary dye if you want, 'kay???)

Have you tried this range yet? If not, what colour would you go for?

Saturday, 4 March 2017

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: LOCH RANNOCH!

About a year and a half ago, me and the fella stayed in Kinloch Rannoch. It was certainly a beautiful place, and we enjoyed a trip to the nearby Falls of Bruar while we were there, but the weather was grey and mostly wet and so the loch and its surrounding area definitely weren't viewed in their best light.


Fast-forward to the present . . .

We popped back over to Loch Rannoch for a couple of hours last week while having a wee mini-road trip around the area, however, and were absolutely gobsmacked by the amazing pictures we captured thanks to the cold but sunny day we were so unbelievably lucky to have chosen.


That's the thing about Scottish weather. You can plan and you can plan and you can plan . . . but a lot of the time, if the weather turns out to be shite, you're screwed. On our mini-roadtrip we were lucky that we only had one bad weather day. (And it was a bad one. It was difficult to even get out of the car for a minute to take a picture as there was a risk of your phone drowning as you tried to get a decent snap. As well as get absolutely drenched yourself in the process.)


But on this particular day the sun metaphorically, and literally, shone on us.

Don't just take my word for it though. See for yourself!

Schiehallion looked pretty damn amazing for a start. (I sooo want that to be my first Munro, if I ever get around to doing one. If you are wondering why I sound sceptical about my ability to do a Munro, you should perhaps refer to this particular post . . .)


The reflections and colours were absolutely amazing.




These, combined with the sunshine and clouds and otherwise blue sky caused some pretty freaky
optical illusions on the loch. <3 p="">
Why is that fence floating above the clouds for example? Doesn't that look like the ground as seen from a plane on the right? Not just a reflection on the water.


It's headwrecking but utterly stunning!


We popped along to Rannoch station again (I am dying to go through Glencoe via train and it stops at this stop en route) and it looked very picturesque and dramatic with the sun shining on it. I thought I got locked in the loo there and nearly panicked, but I have mostly blocked that part out. Honestly!

If you're in the area, and it's not pissing it down with rain, I would definitely recommend a wee drive around the loch. It truly is a stunning wee area of Scotland. I promise you, you won't be disappointed.

Have you visited?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

P'S TOP PICKS: PERFECT PASTA RECIPES!

Isn't pasta the best?

It's cheap, it's delicious, and it's one of the best comfort foods going.


I already shared my recipe for my "healthier" version of spaghetti carbonara last year (you can find it here if you've missed it!) but I thought I would share some of the other delicious pasta recipes I've found online and tried and tested, and utterly fallen in love with. I promise you, all of what is about to come is absolutely delicious!

So let's dive right in . . . to a big bowl of carbs. Mmmmmm....


Creamy Sundried Tomato and Avocado Pesto Pasta from Blissful Basil


I love avocado nearly as much as I adore pasta, and combining the two with sundried tomatoes is inspired - it is practically a health-food rather than a pasta dish! ;-) . Now, this is actually a vegan recipe so if you are completely plant-based, this is an ideal recipe for you. However, if you eat cheese, a bit of parmesan with this goes perfectly. The recipe does say to use a food processor which I don't have - however, I use a stick blender and find it works pretty well - a food processor will definitely give the pesto a smoother finish I would imagine!


Avocado and Feta Pasta from Essbeevee
Staying on the avocado theme, this particular dish also includes feta, cherry tomatoes and red onion and it is utterly delightful. Give it a whirl - you will not be disappointed!

On a separate note, you are probably already noticing I use a lot of spaghetti. Yes, I do. It's my favourite type of pasta so I tend to use it a lot. (I inexplicably don't like penne. Oddly, my sister prefers penne and hates spaghetti so apparently it goes both ways.) Most of these dishes should work with whatever pasta you like though . . . I'm sure even the next one will, despite having "spaghetti" in the title of the dish itself! ;-)


Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti from She Cooks, She Eats

Spicy, cheesy, tomato-y and with all the added deliciousness of chicken enchiladas . . . but with pasta instead. This is oh so very good - and it's also Slimming World friendly if you're trying to be good. You could probably substitute the chicken for quorn or leave it out altogether for a meat-free version if you wanted. It's pretty flexible!


Pepper and Goats Cheese Alfredo Pasta from She Cooks, She Eats

Another recipe from Amy's website (it is a very good website and I would recommend it for non-pasta related recipes also!), this goats cheese sauce is amazing. (I have also tried it as a sauce for steak and it worked with that too.) I managed to make this without a food processor (I don't know what I would do without my stick blender) and it is a very popular dish with both myself and the fella. In fact, I need to make it again very soon!


One Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta from Basement Bakehouse


Now, Cajun chicken pasta has went through somewhat of a craze amongst Slimming World fans who make it using Low Low cheese. I tried to make it myself a while back and had to use Laughing Cows instead as I couldn't find Low Low. I wasn't too enamoured. However, this version (which is also Slimming World friendly, btw) is absolutely incredible. It uses chicken stock to cook the pasta, then some quark, egg and cheese is added at the end. I loved it so much when I tried it, I had it twice in three days. Totally worth it.


So there you have it - five delicious pasta recipes (plus my own, obviously!); I hope you'll give these a go and let me know if you do. I'd also love to know your favourite pasta dishes - any excuse to make more pasta as far as I'm concerned!!! ;-)

Thursday, 9 February 2017

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: THE ROAD TO GLENELG . . .

There are a lot of great Glens in this world. Glen Coe, Glen Elchaig, Glen Coco . . . oh, wait. (You can go, Glen Coco.)



Let's welcome Glenelg to the mix.

The area of Glenelg and its surrounding peninsula is pretty damn lovely . . . and it has an unlikely out-of-this-world (literally) twin town . . . Glenelg on Mars!!!







If you're on the road heading from the  Fort William area up towards Eilean Donan Castle or Kyle of Lochalsh, you'll find the road to Glenelg on your left. Until our trip North a few weeks ago, I hadn't realised there was more to this part of the road than the bridge to Skye (and a couple of mountain goats who were at the side of the road every single time we drove past - and that's including the road back from Skye two years ago!) but with Glen Elchaig to the east and Glenelg to the west . . . there's more to this part of the road than meets the eye!


The road firstly climbs up steeply, with loads of twists and turns, and when you reach Mam Ratagan's viewpoint, you will find an absolutely beautiful vista, looking out over Loch Duich and the Five Sisters of Kintail. Very good if you're big on views, and taking lovely pics of views without having to do the actual climbing thing... ie. very much like me!


10 miles in you'll come across Glenelg, which is a tiny little village opposite Skye. In fact, if you go right when you reach Glenelg and drive along a little further, you will find what is effectively a big shed and a slipway . . .  for six months or so of the year (not in winter) you can get the small ferry across to Skye... quite different from the larger Mallaig ferry or the Skye Bridge, I would wager!


If you get to Glenelg and go left you will find the Glenelg Brochs. Always good to have something to climb on. Unfortunately in the middle of January, despite being a sunny day, it was about minus two degrees at that point and we couldn't dither in a broch for long!

 

As we drove along the road we also spotted a woman on the road walking two dogs . . . and a pony! Not something you see everyday. ;-)

This was a lovely road from start to finish . . . full of lovely views and sights, and you get to see Skye from another angle. Definitely worth the drive. Let's just hope that Glenelg don't organise an exchange problem with the residents of their twin town anytime soon . . .