Thursday, 22 January 2015


Mmmm.... burgers!!!

I've lived in Partick for a year and a half now and for some unknown reason I have never visited Velvet Elvis before... despite the fact that it is quite literally just around the corner from me. When there was a discussion about it in work last week and how good it was, I realised I needed to remedy my ignorance double quick. So when the boyfriend suggested going there for his birthday dinner the other night, it seemed like a sign!

A bar/cafĂ© on Dumbarton Road between Crow Road and the Thornwood roundabout, Velvet Elvis is handy for those in the west end of town (especially me!) and most my colleagues located in the west end had already given it a go more than once. Now I can see why!

The service was fast and friendly, prices were reasonable and, to be honest, the most taxing part of the night was trying to decide what to have off the varied menu! And, let's face it, struggling to choose what to eat BECAUSE YOU WANT IT ALL isn't really a hardship!

Mackerel pate with oatcakes

To start, I went for the mackerel pate, which was delicious and was already sort of allocated to the scrumptious oatcakes - which is definitely a good thing. Usually with pate I grossly underestimate how much pate to allocate to each oatcake or piece of bread and end up either with a big blob of pate with nothing left to spread it on, or vice versa.

Goats cheese and roast capsicum spring rolls
The boyfriend opted for the goats cheese and roasted capsicum spring rolls (I believe capsicum is just a fancy name for a pepper) - I had a sneaky wee taste and it was definitely the best spring roll I've ever sampled. (Though this could be due to the fact that I am a massive fan of goats cheese and fried food). The boyfriend loved this dish, the combination of flavours, and how "fresh" it all tasted (He likes the word "fresh" to describe food.)

And then onto the main course . . . although there were many options to choose from such as venison, macaroni cheese or fish and chips, so many people had raved about the burgers that we felt OBLIGATED to go for those. The half pound Scottish beef burger it was then, with cheese added to mine, while the boyfriend had cheese, chorizo AND jalapenos. They turned up with coleslaw on the side and gorgeous handcut chips. And they definitely lived up to the hype. I am not generally very good at finishing everything on my plate, my eyes are definitely (metaphorically) bigger than my belly, but I did a pretty good job of finishing nearly the whole thing, despite eating the full (sizeable) starter. This burger was absolutely fantastic. Seriously . . . just thinking about it is making me want to drool.

There were several dessert options on offer but the starters and mains had stuffed us completely so we decided to give dessert a miss, finished off the bottle of refreshing sauvignon blanc we were sharing (without feeling at all hurried) and headed off into the cold for a couple more drinks elsewhere.


We spent most of today raving about the place to our respective colleagues (those who hadn't already had the pleasure of visiting Velvet Elvis already, obviously) and I've already looked at the menu to decide what I want on my next visit.  I haven't managed to decide yet though.

I guess there will have to be a lot of visits there in my future in that case . . . ;-)

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


I've never professed to be a brilliant chef . . . if I ever do, you can feel free to point at me and call me a lying twat. (Please nothing stronger than that - I might cry.) But I have definitely been getting a bit better in the kitchen of late. And one of my favourite things to make is curry.

I tend to follow recipes religiously, even if I've made them a few times and should really know them back to front - I'll usually have the book open in front of me or the website up on my phone and start panicking if the book flips shut or my phone locks in case I miss a vital step. I have made curry so often though now that I can do it without the aid of a recipe and am willing to improvise a bit.

This is how my favourite new "go-to" curry came to be. A couple of weeks ago, over the Christmas holidays, I had a night in the flat myself as the boyfriend was away out with his friends for a bit of a drinking session. I decided to make myself chicken curry with the frozen veg and meat that was in the flat. Unfortunately, I decided to defrost the chicken in the microwave and accidentally cremated it instead. So I had to try and find something else to use in the curry instead . . . and that's when I happened across a tin of kidney beans!

Much to my surprise, it tasted brilliant accompanied by a single serving pack of Uncle Ben's basmati rice and a little blob of light Philadelphia on the side (I was out of natural yogurt, which is my usual curry accompaniment). And my boyfriend, who doesn't reheat anything, got home from the pub and ate the leftovers and loved it too.

So tonight, to see if it had been a one-off, I decided to recreate it again. And turns out it also tastes good to us when we're both sober too!

To serve two people:


1 red onion
2 garlic cloves
1 red pepper
A handful of mushrooms
250 ml passata or chopped tomatoes (I used passata with garlic & onion as I had half a 500 ml carton left from yesterday's mushroom stroganoff)
1/2 of a veg stock cube in about 100ml of water
2 teaspoons of hot chilli powder
1 teaspoon medium curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 400g tin of kidney beans, drained


Chop up the onion and garlic and throw it in a hot frying pan with some frylight (You can obviously use oil instead but I try to keep the calories down whenever I can). Once these are sizzling nicely, throw in sliced red pepper and mushrooms, followed by your passata/chopped tomatoes and stock.

Then add in your spices. I usually only add a teaspoon of the chilli powder at this point and throw in the rest closer to the end. You can change up your spices according to taste, I'm fairly wimpy when it comes to spicy food and find this combination and amount of spices are quite strong but I can just about cope (although my lips are stinging quite a lot by the time I finish eating!).

Once you've mixed the spices in well and your mixture is nicely bubbling away, chuck in your kidney beans and leave them to simmer for around fifteen minutes. About five minutes from the end of the cooking time I added the other half of chilli powder and stirred in well.

I served this up with a packet of basmati rice and a generous blob of fat free fromage frais, which turned out to be a good way of cooling my mouth down!

This curry is great for many reasons.

1) It's easy to make
2) It uses a lot of ingredients you're likely to already have in your freezer
3) It uses good, healthy ingredients
4) It doesn't contain meat, if you're trying to avoid that
5) It is Slimming World friendly
6) I worked out that, even with the rice and fromage frais added, it's less than 500 calories for one portion (remember this recipe makes two portions so if you decide to eat it all yourself, you'll need to double that amount!)
7) It's easily adaptable. You can use the curry sauce base and add meat instead, or chickpeas, or more veg, depending on what you're feeling like. The possibilities are endless. I've made it a couple of times with chickpeas in the past, but personally I think it works the best with kidney beans.
8) It's approved by the boyfriend as a good post-pub drunken snack! (who needs chips and cheese??? Um - I do?!?)

I would definitely recommend you give this recipe a shot next time you're not sure what you want for dinner!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015


Passwords do my head in.

I know, I KNOW, they are there to safeguard us, for stopping people hacking into our email, or internet banking, to stop them accessing the finer details of our lives. But at the same time... THEY ARE SO BLOODY ANNOYING!

So we're told we should have different passwords for everything. That we should NEVER EVER EVER write them down in case someone finds them. But how else can we keep track? When you have fifty million social networking sites to log into on a daily basis, as well as numerous programs in work, not to mention your email, utilities accounts, aforementioned internet banking . . . how are we possibly meant to remember different passwords for everything?

Recently it's got even worse. It used to irritate me beyond belief when you couldn't just put a word as a password - my god, imagine the nerve of trying to put an actual WORD there. You had to add in at least one number. And perhaps a capital letter.

But now . . . I'm finding increasingly that you have to have a small letter, a capital, a number... AND A PUNCTUATION MARK? This gets difficult enough to try to remember - but then add in regular prompts to change your password and you get to the point where trying to actually get access to any of your online accounts is like trying to pass a challenge in the Crystal Maze.

I lock myself out of one of my work-related accounts at least once a fortnight. And sometimes trying to retrieve my password or get it reset is even harder. I have one account that asks me THREE SECURITY QUESTIONS every time I forget the password - and I forget the password every time I try to log into it so this means every time I try to access this account I have to go through this rigmarole. And it's the one I use to access my payslip so it's not like I can just avoid logging into it altogether.

What I really need is a special safe where I can store all of my passwords, that I am the only one who has access to, so that I will always be able to remember them.

The problem is . . . I would probably forget the password to get into the password safe.

And then it's back to square one . . .

Sunday, 11 January 2015


So I've not posted on the Scotland the Beautiful subject for a wee while... this is mainly because my favourite thing is waterfalls and, as much as I love them, they all start to look a bit similar after a while.  I have many MANY pictures of waterfalls though, trust me on this!

So here's two more. First up is the Falls of Falloch which is near to the village of Crianlarich. It's just a short walk from the car park, and pretty impressive.

Second up, we have the Devil's Pulpit, which is near Drymen. It involved a bit of a clamber down a hill but it was pretty cool once we got down there and we could practically stand in the fall. Apparently there's another side to it we haven't seen yet, so we'll need to check that out soon!

I'll let you know once we've checked out the other side of it! ;-)

Monday, 5 January 2015


I know people like to mock New Year's Resolutions, but I can see why people make them. In a cheesy sort of way, it makes sense - a new year means a clean slate and why not use that to start over?

So, with that disclaimer, here are my 2015 resolutions:

***Save money
I've been treading water when it comes to money for years - rarely living beyond my means, but never really having any savings. Ever since I moved into my own place I've found this spiralling a bit out of control, not so much the living from day to day, but just wanting to go on holidays etc. So going on four holidays plus a couple of nights/weekends away last year did really not help my bank balance. I don't need to be saving a LOT, that would be overambitious of me . . . but enough to have a nest egg I can dip into for emergencies. Because in my life I tend to break my phone and get an unexpected bill approximately two minutes after forking out money I don't have for a holiday . . . Not this year!!!

***Lose weight and GET HEALTHY
This is fairly simple. Eat healthier (I already do eat relatively healthy probably about 60% of the time, but I want to make that more like 80% of the time and "very" healthy as opposed to "relatively"). Cut down on the numerous bottles of vino. And get a decent workout routine in. I've signed up for an online personal trainer and that kicked off today, so let's see if I can make a difference for a change!

***Get my flat organised
I want the kind of uncluttered place that I'd be happy to invite my friends over to for dinner. If uncluttered is not possible, it would be good if they could at least sit down at the table without falling over several boxes I have forgotten to unpack since moving in 2013 . . .

***Becoming a better cook
I'm actually a much better chef than I used to be, but I want to get braver. I probably rotate about six or seven meals max on a regular basis at the moment, which is an improvement on only being able to make pizza or tablet a few years ago . . . but I want to get a bit more adventurous and not freak out if a recipe has more than approximately eight ingredients.

***Visit more amazing places in Scotland
I still have places I haven't shared in the Scotland the Beautiful series I started last year . . . but I have also so many more places I want to visit and explore. I obviously want to go further afield this year as well, but I definitely want to see more of what my own country has to offer. Don't worry - I won't keep it to myself!

Have you made any resolutions for 2015?

Monday, 29 December 2014

P'S 2014 HIGHLIGHTS . . .

Paris, April 2014

As we come to the end of another year, it's always time to reflect on the best and worst bits of the previous twelve months. Personally, I prefer not to focus on the bad. Luckily there wasn't a massive amount for me, personally. A bit of work stress, yes. Struggling with my weight, check. Losing a friend through no fault of my own as far as I'm concerned, indeed. (That one, especially, still irks and hurts massively but what can you do!) Scotland not becoming independent, gutted. :-( There has obviously been a lot of bad stuff happening in the world, and close to home there was the bus lorry tragedy in Glasgow just a week ago - having something so tragic and horrible happen in your adopted hometown is just heartbreaking, and makes you realise just how easily something precious can be lost.

But nice stuff happened too. For example, last week I won a pretty large sum of money in work. Not a life-changing amount by any means, but enough to treat myself to a couple of nice things (have yet to decide on what), sign myself up for some online personal training and pay it forward a bit by buying six of those meals for the homeless that Itison and Social Bite teamed up to offer.

Throughout the year, I got to visit some really nice places too. There were places in Scotland, obviously, which I feel so lucky to have finally got to visit, places I've always wanted to go and places I had never even heard of before. I've covered some of these places in my Scotland the Beautiful series, which I hope you will check out, if you haven't already. It's amazing some of the little gems my modest country has been hiding! My favourite so far has been the Grey Mare's Tail waterfall and Loch Skeen, near Moffat in Dumfrieshire... once I eventually made it up the hill!

Then in April I got to go back to Paris for the first time in nearly 20 years, as my boyfriend took part in the Paris marathon. Going back and doing the tourist thing as an adult was pretty immense and I loved every minute of it. Well, apart from nearly killing myself climbing the stairs in the Arc de Triomphe (view of the street from that vantage point in the picture above!) !

Corfu the following month was also utterly amazing - relaxing and sunny and beautiful. Just what I needed. I loved the hotel too - unfortunately we probably won't go back there as planned due to it being "done up" a bit and therefore hiking up its prices. I have my eyes on a hotel a few resorts over with six waterflumes though for next year so it's all good... ;-)

In late June, we headed to Blackpool for a long weekend, another place I haven't been in years.Okay, so the Blackpool Tower isn't quite as grand as the Eiffel Tower but it was still great fun. And, since I hate heights with a passion, was a bit less scary. Apart from the glass floor, that is! Our hotel was lovely (there will be a post on my favourite British - mainly Scottish - hotels coming up at some point soon and this hotel will be most definitely featuring) and I ate the biggest toad in the hole that I believe ever existed (well I could only manage half), and we went to the Pleasure Beach, we played so many arcade games, did a Pier pub crawl, found the local Wetherspoons (well, you have to!) and played Crazy Golf. The only thing we didn't manage which was on my list was making a sandcastle, but on the sunday when the weather was amazing, the tide was in for most of the day. Typical!!!

Obviously this is not real... I would have been having a panic attack by that point!
Pier pub crawl!
Posing in front of the Blackpool tower... as you can see it's not quite as glam as the Eiffel Tower... but less scary!
The glass floor was not my friend!

View from the tower!
Biggest toad in the hole I've ever seen, courtesy of our hotel!
Next up was my birthday weekend in Torremolinos (I must stress here that my bank balance has not been thanking me this year after all these holidays!) which was a great time. Despite being early October we got great weather the whole way through and I got to continue my tradition of recent years of spending my birthday in the sunshine on a beach!

There were a couple of other trips, a night in Dundee, a weekend in Aberdeen for me and the man's one year anniversary in October . . . and then a week in Tenerife with the sister in early November. (Note to self, going on a bikini-type holiday with a gym bunny is NOT good for the self esteem. But still was a great laugh and my first experience of going all-inclusive)

Me and the sis being silly!

Posing by the beach...

I've had great days and nights out, there's been many lunches, dinners and too many cheeseboards to count (both going out and staying in.) I've became the regular little cook and spend ages poring over Instagram for recipe ideas and then cooking up a storm for me and the man (I get my own back by making him do the dishes afterwards.) And I've been blown away by the support from my friends around the various things that have put a pall on my otherwise really nice year. Okay, so I lost one friend... but I think the behaviour of my other friends should remind me just of why that loss shouldn''t really impact my life that much.

2014, all in all, has been a great year. I'm hoping 2015 can surpass this - we're already planning a return to Paris in April, another trip to Corfu and (hopefully) trips to Northern Ireland and London. We've also already got a weekend in Anstruther booked in January (I used some of my winnings for that) and an overnight in Loch Lomond in the not-too-distant future. And hopefully this online personal training thing will help me get my body confidence back.

Here's to 2015 everyone!!!

What were you high points of 2014? Anything in particular you're looking forward to this year?

Saturday, 20 December 2014


A few years ago, dumbfounded by some of the gifts I spotted online while shopping, I made a post about some of these finds, which later spurned a sequel. Six years on,  I have decided to revisit this post idea this year, so let's see what gift ideas are astonishing me this time around . . .

Period panties

Do you really want a pair of these? Apparently, they are a good alternative to granny pants and save you having to explain to the man that you're on the blob. (If you're anything like me, it's obvious I'm ABOUT to be on said blob when I have cried uncontrollably about not being able to open a can of tuna for three days beforehand, and the pants are therefore unnecessary.) The only good thing I can see about these is that they're so colourful they'll probably cover up any "leaks" you might have... (TMI I know.)

Hand Sanitiser

I don't really want to dwell on this one but let's just leave it at this: I would be a wee bit hurt if someone gave me any hand sanitiser as a gift, but THIS one would leave me with levels of off-the-chart rage.

Blood Bath Shower Gel

Instead of feeling clean, let's see how it feels to be Janet Leigh in "Psycho". Good plan . . .

Horse's Head Squirrel Feeder

This is going to help us humiliate squirrels apparently. While I suppose it is pretty funny to see a squirrels body peeking out from underneath a horse's head, do you really want a horse's head in your garden? Personally I'd rather just not bother and let the squirrels just get on with things.

Sock Sandals

Personally I think these should be called "sandal socks" - regardless, I find them about as offensive as ACTUAL sandals over socks.

Giant stress boob

I'm sure most people have their biggest stress moments in the workplace... I'm sure it would be SO appropriate for me to, during a stress-out, say "Hold on, let me get my boob out" and start squeezing. Yep. That would definitely help. :-/

Poo Pen

Why would I want to use a pen that looks like a giant jobby? It not only looks disgusting, I think I'd actually find it difficult to write with.

Tinkle and Turd Salt and Pepper Shaker

And speaking of poo... wouldn't these put you off your dinner? That being said, it's probably a good way to cut down on your salt intake?

Don't worry... if any of these gifts actually INTRIGUE you, I've provided links to them all. I'd be interested to know if you buy any... or if you've noticed any other strange gift ideas which you feel would be best avoided!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


"The Apprentice" is a programme I have always sort of avoided. I couldn't really tell you why this is. But this year, thanks to the boyfriend, I've ended up watching quite a bit of it. And the one thing I have always thought, both before I watched it and now I HAVE watched it, is that I just couldn't be in it. 
  • I'm not good at talking in front of people. How could I possibly do a pitch? Or put forward an argument in the boardroom over why I shouldn't be "fired"???  I can barely do a work presentation without tripping over every second word. I'd be made absolute mincemeat of in this programme.
  • Arguing. Confrontation. I HATE it. If one of my team-mates was trying to belittle me, I'd struggle to stick up for myself. Especially in front of Big Al! Which brings me on to...
  • The sucking up to Al. I understand they respect his business acumen and how he's a self-made man and all that crap. But all this "Please Lord Sugar, I'm just like you" bleating does my head in. I may be a nervous speaker, and lack a bit of spine sometimes when faced when more dominating backbones, but I'm not a sycophant.
  • That being said, the dude terrifies me. And that's just watching him on the TV!
  • I hate being put on the spot. This ties in with the not being a natural public speaker thing. If I know my stuff I can just about fudge it. If not, I'll fall to pieces and look like a moron.
  • I cry. A lot. And I hate doing that in front of people. Especially in front of a TV audience.
  • I'm not good at telling people what to do. I would be The Worst Project Manager Ever. (TM)
  • Even if I had a business idea that I thought I'd want Al's support in, I don't think I could bring myself to put myself through this programme to have a chance at it.
Good thing I don't HAVE a business idea I want financial backing for, I guess. Because I've probably just blown my chances of being on this show... :-/

Could YOU be on The Apprentice???

Friday, 12 December 2014


I love food. I don't mind cooking it, but even more so I like it when someone else cooks for me and waits on me hand and foot. So I'm quite lucky that Glasgow has quite a massive choice when it comes to eating out!

I have to admit that I'm a bit of a creature of habit though and once I find a place I like, I do frequent it quite a lot. So I thought I'd share a couple of my favourites with you lucky people!

What a name eh? Love the name or hate it, don't let it put you off visiting this little gem! In the Finnieston area of town, this is a handy-ish place for an after work dinner for me, and is also very handy for the plethora of pubs in the area so you can keep the night going after dinner (Finnieston is a FAB place for a pub crawl - trust me, I've tried it before). Friendly staff, fresh Scottish fayre and reasonable prices - what more can you ask for???

This is my local, sitting a five minute walk from my flat in Partick. Easily accessible by train for those coming in from elsewhere, I love Roastits. I first went by accident - after the night where we received the unjustifiably rude treatment in McPhabb's...  It's not for everyone though - a good friend of mine has not good memories of it. She's vegetarian so if you don't like meat/fish it may not be for you. Once again, lovely fresh locally sourced food, entertaining service from the deadpan waiter and don't even get me started on the crispy bacon and black pudding salad starter . . . oh my god! I recently had a hilarious couples night in there with Dawniepopsies, so I'm sure she will vouch for it too!

Another traditional Scottish venue but I'm not going to apologise . . .I love local food, okay? Situated underneath St Andrews on the Square in the Saltmarket area of the city, this is a place I haven't been in a while, but only because it's a bit of a walk from the west end! I love the haggis fritters to start and the sausage, rumbledethumps and onion rings are bloody brilliant. Okay... I'm about to start salivating. I MUST make a trip back there very soon! I haven't taken the boyfriend there yet, so I even have a good excuse . . .

Driftwood is one of my favourite cheap & cheerful haunts in town - although to be fair it's on the very edge of Charing Cross so isn't quite in the centre. That being said, it's handy for the joys of Sauchiehall St, like the O2 ABC (me and the boyf popped in there for dinner before our most recent Clean Bandit gig), or the King's Theatre. We've recently been embracing a deal we got through a popular restaurant booking website, which gives you three courses and a glass of wine from a limited (but delicious) Mexican/American menu for a mere 12 pounds! The mozzarella sticks are always a winner with me, I have tried both the fajitas and burger as a main, both lovely, and the warm caramel shortcake with cream to finish... yum! I've also had the chilli cheese fries on a random couple-of-drinks-after-work night in there and they hit the spot perfectly. Friendly service and the drinks are reasonably priced too. Definitely a winner in my eyes.

Back to the west end and Balbir's is probably my favourite Indian restaurant in town. It's definitely not the cheapest, granted, but their tandoori salmon starter makes it all worth it (and makes me want the recipe.).I've never had a bad meal in here. It's also handy for the many pubs in Byres Road if you want to make the night last a bit longer.

The most central restaurant on my list, La Vita is an Italian restaurant located on the edge of George Square. Friendly, efficient service (although the last time we were there I asked for a wine list and the waitress, after looking confused, finally returned with a wi-fi code for me. Which caused US to then be confused...) and a wide range of food available - you're not limited to just pasta and pizza, although both are awesome! The last time I was there I had the pan roasted chicken thighs in a red pepper cream sauce, accompanied by pesto mash. Amazing! Although the pasta and pizzas are just as good, don't get me wrong - I just sometimes prefer to go for something I am unlikely to be able to make myself at home!

So there you go! To be fair, I could probably give you far more but I've narrowed it down to six . . . I hope if you're in the area at any point you might consider them. Let me know if you do! ;-)

What's YOUR favourite restaurant, Glasgow or otherwise?

Sunday, 30 November 2014


As you probably already know, me and the boyf like to get out and about in Scotland. So when himself heard that many of Historic Scotland's attractions were going to have limited free tickets available this weekend due to St Andrew's day, we decided to try and visit a few.

Although I had never heard of it, I spotted Caerlaverock Castle on the online map with available tickets and snapped up a pair for us. We ended up getting a bit carried away and getting tickets for another two attractions too - it was a bit like Groupon for castles really, except without having to pay anything at all!

Caerlaverock Castle was my favourite though. I wish my pictures could have did it justice, but the pesky sun kept getting in my way, and my phone kept deciding to switch itself off.

Located close to Dumfries and close to the Scottish-English border, Caerlaverock Castle has been subjected to many sieges throughout its history, and has lain abandoned since the 17th century. Obviously, not all of the castle is still there, but the part that remains was pretty cool to explore.

Pretending to shoot the cannon outside the entrance to the castle

A view of another part of the castle, from inside the castle

There was even a moat!

Obviously we got in for free, but its normally only £5.50 for an adult, and I actually do think it would be worth the fee if you wanted to visit! There's lots of little nooks and crannies to wander around, a little walk you can do to the site of the original version of the castle behind, and a wee exhibit and video you can watch about the castle's history. Although we were there a bit later on in the day and there weren't many visitors at this point, there were a couple of kids having a great time inside the castle playing hide and seek, so it's good for the youngsters as well. (Just make sure they don't fall in the moat!)
For more information, you can visit Historic Scotland's website here.
What's your favourite old building?