Friday, 11 May 2018

THOUGHTS I HAVE BEFORE I GO ON HOLIDAY . . .

It feels like a long while since I've said this but . . .  I'm off on my holidays in just a few days!!!

There's a lot to do beforehand and as I'm working right up until the day before I go away, there's not much time to get stuff done. Here's the sort of stuff I think about during this time . . .


Will there be mosquitos? Are they already aware of my imminent arrival and setting up camp to wait at the airport for me? (On a related note, today we snapped up half of the mosquito repellent section of Poundland as a precautionary measure. They'll probably still get to me.)

Do I have enough space for photos in my phone? I really don't want to stumble upon something instagrammable and be unable to actually capture it. I'd better spend at least an hour combing through all my current photos and deciding which ones are expendable. What can I say, it's the Instagram addict in me . . .

Pants. Do I have enough? I'm sure I have absolutely plenty of knickers but every time I'm about to go anywhere they all decide to disappear into some sort of Underwear Black Hole. This is especially true this time as we're away for a fortnight.

Why do I suddenly hate every item of clothing I own? Nothing makes me dislike my wardrobe more than when I'm faced with the prospect of only taking a small fraction of it away with me and I suddenly don't want to take any of it.

Do I have enough euros? Always a fear. At the moment, I haven't even bought mine yet so that's also a concern.

Should I tidy my flat? I mean, I don't tidy it any other time of year but while I'm not actually using it, it makes sense for it to be tidy, obviously . . .

Will the weather be nice? I've been pretty lucky in most of my abroad holidays but there's always a wee risk that you might have a couple of crap days.  Even worse, me going abroad tends to result in the weather being much nicer back home. I mentioned that to a colleague the other day and he asked if I could leave the country more often. Charming.

And, most importantly of all . . . will the wine be cheap? I don't even think I need to dignify that with any sort of justification . . .


What do you think about before you go on holiday?



Friday, 4 May 2018

HOW*NOT* TO LOOK AFTER YOUR SKIN . . .

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm an absolute PRO when it comes to taking care of my skin. So I thought I'd share my top tips for you all because I'm nice like that.

You. Are. Welcome.


EXCELLENT SKINCARE TIP 1:
Repeatedly forget to remove your make-up. Eventually it removes itself. I think?

EXCELLENT SKINCARE TIP 2:
Or, if you shower at night, just stick your face under the stream of water and it'll come off no bother. Promise.

EXCELLENT SKINCARE TIP 3:
Buy the cheapest products possible. Just because then you can spend more money on clothes and wine . . . and everyone knows wine is the ultimate cleanser, right? Cheers!

EXCELLENT SKINCARE TIP 4:
Buy one of those sachets of peel-off face mask just because you like the feeling when it dries and you can peel it off your face. (Isn't it just like when you were a kid and used to deliberately get glue on your hands so you could peel that off when it dried? No? Just me?) Do this once or twice a year as a treat because fun!

EXCELLENT SKINCARE TIP 5:
If you do occasionally remember to take off your make-up and do a cleansing routine, forget to take any of your products when you are off for an overnight stay somewhere. But it's fine cos the hotel soap will totally do the same job. Or you can just take a night off from cleansing - you deserve it, you managed to complete your routine three nights in a row last month after all. Everyone deserves a break.

EXCELLENT SKINCARE TIP 6:
"Double cleansing" . . . that's when you remember to cleanse at least two days in a row. Right?

Okay okay, full disclosure here: I'm joshing with you. None of those are good skincare tips. Apart from maybe tip 4 because peel-off masks really are fun. And I really still don't really understand the concept of double cleansing, despite reading about it on the internet twice for at least ten minutes researching it extensively.

But to be perfectly honest, the above techniques, tongue-in-cheek though it may be, have been employed by me in the past. Looking after your skin is hard and I am lazy. These two facts are not compatible. But I've managed to hold down some form of a routine (mostly) for the best part of this year now and I do feel like I've been helping my skin quite a lot. So, as an apology for all of my skincare sins tips above, I'm going to share a few of the products I love.

Nip + Fab Dragons Blood Fix Pads
These have changed my life. I use them morning and night, they make my skin feel really cleansed and smooth and I love them. They have acid in salicylic and hyaluronic acide in them which . . . well it is meant to be really good for your skin, and I do feel like they have made a difference to my skin, as well as being a nice easy way to cleanse in my opinion. They're generally about ten pounds for 60 pads but they are quite often reduced on offer or part of a deal in Boots or Superdrug so they are always really good value for money. I'd highly recommend.

Nip + Fab No Needle Fix Night Cream
I've never been very good at sticking to using night cream or anti-wrinkle treatments and, sadly, at 38, it's started to show. :-( I started using this because I liked the name of it - I don't really fancy having to use needles on my face so the name appealed to me. This smells lovely, and makes my skin feel soft and smooth. It's quite a small tub for the full price but it does last a while and, once again, it is quite often on offer.

Sanctuary Spa Radiance Exfoliator
I think exfoliating my face is my favourite beauty treatment, it always makes my skin feel extra soft afterwards and glowy. This is by far my favourite exfoliator, it last ages and it's only ten pounds so it's excellent value for money. Also it smells fabulous.

Olay Total Effects 7in1 Anti-Ageing Moisturiser
When I was in my early teens I used to use Oil of Olay as my moisturiser - I do wonder sometimes if that's why I used to get constant knockbacks from pubs when I was 17 and then ID'd a lot until quite recently. ;-) But I have always had faith in their products as a result, and when I remember to actually buy this it makes a great daytime moisturiser, it contains SPF15 which is very important in this day and age .  . . and as a wee bonus, it makes a good primer for foundation. Mental reminder to myself to buy some more....

Montagne Jeunessee 7th Heaven Cucumber Peel Off Mask
Well there had to be a peel-off mask in there didn't there? I love this one, it smells very refreshing (which is ironic because I actually actively dislike cucumber as a food), and my skin feels so smooth after I've managed to resist trying to peel it off until it's completely dry.

Astral
I feel like this needs no introduction, it's a classic, it's been around for years and in my opinion it is the best moisturiser ever. I absolutely love to smother my face and body in it. It lasts for ages and it's an absolute bargain.

So there you have it - these are my go-to products for having mostly presentable skin. Do you agree with any of these or have any other suggestions of products I should try? And, most importantly, do any of you follow any of my tongue-in-cheek tips occasionally? Please say it's not just me . . .

Friday, 20 April 2018

AN UNEXPECTED BREAK . . .

So I appear to have taken somewhat of an extended blog break once again.

It really wasn't my intention. At all. I had all these posts planned, I just needed to write them. But days turned into weeks and now it's been two months and I've logged in and my blog is all like "who are you, stranger?" - I'm feeling very ashamed. Sorry blog.


The worst bit is not that much has even happened in the last two months to stop me from actually posting. I've just been very very lazy. I'm now trying to think of what I've actually done recently and struggling. Let's see . . .

  • We popped up to the Highlands for a weekend at the end of February. It was an utterly gorgeous long weekend, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I met a curious deer who was just wandering around Torridon, had a smile-out with a sheep (it's a thing, even if I just made it up!), got chased around the car by another, more belligerent sheep, and drove down the amazing road to Kinloch Hourn (which is apparently the longest dead-end road in the UK and is DEFINITELY worth the drive).
  • We also spent some time over on the east side of Scotland over a couple of weekends - Perth and Carnoustie in one weekend, and Aberdeen and Broughty Ferry in another.
  • We booked a holiday abroad - we're off to Kefalonia in just under four weeks time for a whole fortnight and I'm so excited about this. I'm also desperate for chick-lit recommendations for my holiday reading so please hit me up if you have any must-read tip-offs for me - I am going to read a lot of books in two weeks. Also, any recommendations of places to visit in Kefalonia would be gratefully accepted as well!!!
  • I have read seven books since the start of the year. I'd highly recommend Jill Mansell's "This Could Change Everything", Jane Fallon's "Faking Friends" and Anna Bell's "It Started With a Tweet" if anyone else is looking for a chick-lit recommendation or three.
  • I've started another diet and am actually doing okay on it for a change. It's the Blood Sugar Diet and, although I've not been sticking to the principles all of the time (I'm still allowing myself the odd night out and treat) I've dropped half a stone. Still a loooonnnnggg way to go though.
  • I've been buying loads of lovely stuff online. You can probably expect a post on this at some point. If I remember to log back in.
  • I've been very active on Instagram. As you may remember from my last post, 5000 years ago, I am a bit of an Instagram addict. You should really go and follow me over there, and I don't really know how many more times I can tell you this. ;-)
  • And, most importantly of all . . . while I've been M.I.A., my blog turned ten years old. Ten!!! I had always planned to do some sort of giveaway when that happened, and then I missed it. But . . . I might still do something in honour of it very soon, providing people haven't given up on me and abandoned my blog forever. TEN YEARS OLD. Who can believe it?! It's almost ready for high school!
Anyway, I'd love to know what everyone else has been up to in the last two months. (I have to admit my reading of blogs largely fell by the wayside during this time too . . . sorry about that!) Are you still reading my blog? You been anywhere nice? Done anything fun? How old is your blog? Feel free to pop by and share and I promise I'll try and be here a bit more often.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

REASONS WHY I'M AN INSTAGRAM ADDICT (AND YOU MIGHT BE TOO) . . .

I'm not even going to question whether or not I'm addicted to Instagram anymore. I definitely am. Here's why:



1) I can't enjoy my food properly until I've taken a picture of it. (At this point, I don't even know if it's going on instagram, I just want it to have that possibility.)


2) I have trained the fella so well that, if my food is hot, he will blow the steam away without me asking as I try to take the picture. (I'm not even kidding. The second I whip my phone out he takes a big massive breath in preparation, on auto-pilot. He's amazing.)


3) When we talk about what we want to do at the weekend, I rarely have a suggestion other than "somewhere instagrammable." I am fully aware that this is rarely helpful.


4) I use the word "instagrammable" a lot. Is that a word? It should be. The wooden carved couches down at Castle Semple loch the other weekend, for example, were highly "instagrammable". And, at the moment, I'm staying at my sister's cat-sitting and there is so much in her house that is "instagrammable". Which is ironic since she isn't on instagram herself, or any other social media for that matter. (Apart from Bebo, and that was my fault.)


5) If I haven't posted a picture or an instagram story in 24 hours I get a bit panicky. I can actually remember the last time I didn't post for more than 48 hours - it was November and I didn't post for nearly a full week as I had an eye infection and hadn't left the house all week so I had nothing to post. It was a sad sad time. Possibly even sadder that I remember exactly how long I didn't post on instagram for as a result.


6) The first thing I check when I wake up is my Instagram account to see if I've got any more likes or followers overnight.  Then I check it again like 10 minutes later. Then again 10 minutes later. Etc etc etc . . .  (Also, I'm lying. It's every five minutes.)


7) The fella must be sick to death of me telling him to "do a funny Boomerang" for Instagram stories. Although he is ridiculously talented at them. (Not sure it's a marketable talent but please let me know if it is.)


8) He also must be sick of having to take 50 million pictures of me in the one place with me barking orders like "no, take it from above, HIDE MY DOUBLE CHIN PLEASE!"


9) I'm always thinking about what to put on Instagram next. Right now, even as I type, I'm thinking "do I put up the picture with all of the cool cushions in it right now or save it for later? And if I do, should I follow that with a landscape picture or a picture of the cat? Have I posted too many cat pictures recently? I wish I had a dog so I could post pictures of that and balance it out. My sister's niece has a greyhound - should I try and borrow her even though I have only met my sister's niece like twice and she was about 2 at the time as it was at my sister's wedding 11 years ago and if I contact her and ask her 'can I borrow your dog for Instagram?' she'll probably think I'm crazy?"


10) I'm constantly looking at my surroundings wondering if there's an Instagram picture opportunity in them.


Okay, that's probably enough for now. I'm off to check my Instagram likes and then roam my sister's place for even more "instagrammable" items. Please do pop by and follow me on Instagram if you don't already, then you'll get to see the madness in action. There's a very good chance I'm about to post that cushion picture I mentioned above. It'll be worth it, honest . . .


Are you addicted to Instagram too? Do you agree with the above points? I'd love to hear from you and, if you have any of your own reasons why you feel you are addicted to Instagram, please feel free to share them. :-)

Sunday, 28 January 2018

WHAT I'M LOVING RIGHT NOW . . .

I'm so happy to be getting back into more regular blogging again . . . let's see how long that lasts, eh? In the meantime, let's get into the things I'm loving at the moment . . .



CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY

I had heard of the Cards Against Humanity game a few times towards the end of last year, but finally got a chance to play it at Christmas and I loved it. I find it kinda hard to explain but you basically just have to try and find the funniest, most offensive answer to play out of the cards you are dealt. Cue hilarity. It's amazing.


THIS ASDA SKIRT


I found this jacquard skirt in Asda last week, for a mere ten pounds. I absolutely love the pattern and the style of it, and who doesn't love a bargain!?!


MY IOLLA GLASSES


For the first time in my life, I actually have a pair of glasses I like. This model is Bruce in rose tortoise, and they only cost £65. As a contact lens wearer for like 25 years I'm probably always going to favour those, but it's nice to actually own glasses I actually feel confident in. Iolla have some great frames so they're definitely worth checking out.


LODGE LIFE

We just spent three nights up in a loch-side lodge in the Highlands for the lovely fella's birthday and it was just great to get away and relax, while exploring the area. I especially loved coming back to the lodge and chilling out at the end of each day, while the snow lay outside. We even made a snowman!


MY FAUX FUR COAT


I got this QED coat for my birthday from my siblings, and I feel like I never take it off. It's champagne coloured (very fitting for me - although out of interest why is it "champagne" and not "prosecco" or "cava" coloured?) and it's so very cosy, particularly during all the recent cold snaps up here. I'm so glad it's in my life. (Sadly it doesn't appear to still be on asos - sorry about that!)  but there's a nice blue one and a lovely animal print one there!)


What are you loving at the moment?


Friday, 26 January 2018

ON CHEESE . . . AND THE BEST CHEESE TOASTIE I HAVE EVER MADE!!!

My name is Paula and I'm a cheese-aholic.



It seems to be a pretty much known fact about me anyway - possibly the first sign of being addicted to cheese is the fact that everyone you know seems to know about it. And as a result every other time you're tagged in something on facebook, it is something related to cheese. An opening of a new cheese cafĂ©, a recipe that basically is just made entirely of fromage, or a funny clip about . . . people who are addicted to cheese (although if you do like cheese that is definitely worth a watch!).

To be honest, I've often shared this same post before someone tags me in it. That's how on top of my cheese addiction I am. (Although it probably also means I'm on Facebook waaayyyy too much too. But let's not get into that right now.)

In my world, almost everything tastes good with a lot a bit of cheese added to it. There are a few things that perhaps don't really need it . . . like curry for example. But you can have paneer curry so that's basically a curry made entirely of cheese, and it's utterly delicious. (And if you can't find paneer, halloumi makes a pretty good substitute. Just sayin'). That being said, if I'm having a chicken korma, I'm unlikely to add cheese to it.

Although we were ordering a takeaway last night and one of the curries apparently had a sauce made from cream and Scottish cheddar . . . I was definitely intrigued by that.

A baked camembert is one of my great pleasures in life. I try to limit myself to only having it every once in a while. It's very difficult for me.

If I'm in a restaurant and there's some form of deep fried mozzarella listed under starters on the menu, I am highly unlikely to be able to resist.

Speaking of mozzarella, I'm a bit obsessed with buratta. Which is essentially mozzarella stuffed with further mozzarella . . . and cream. I had it for the first time near the end of 2016 and I became a bit obsessed with finding it again. I found a pizza takeaway place that offered it as a pizza topping and I was so excited - the pizza was delicious and I couldn't wait to get another. Next time we ordered however they got the order mixed up and put the buratta on the fella's pizza. I could have cried. (To his credit, he tried to give me the bits of buratta that he could salvage but he had went for pesto on his pizza and it kinda ruined it for me.) Another time, I was so excited that a chain restaurant was offering buratta as a starter but I swear it turned out to just be regular mozzarella. I didn't say anything, and I love fresh mozzarella anyway, but I was so disappointed.

Basically, it seems me and buratta are not meant to be so I should probably stop forcing it.

Another amazing cheese is Arran cheddar with chilli in it. Anytime we buy this, it's gone within the hour. Luckily we don't find it a lot. However, we did find that Tesco do a cheese with chilli and lime in it and it is everything!

Okay, so I know you're probably shaking this head looking at this and thinking "is she still talking about cheese?" but as a disclaimer, the post is called "On cheese . . ." and I did lead off by saying I was a cheeseaholic so there wasn't really anywhere else it could go.

However . . . if you've managed to keep reading this long, I'm going to tell you all about an amazing cheese toastie I made recently. It's in the picture at the top, and I'm about to tell you how you can recreate it too if you're so inclined. I posted it on instagram at the time and it proved to be quite popular. And, like I said on the post itself, it was one of those meals where you're eating it just not wanting it to end . . . and I was gutted when it did end.

All you need (for one sandwich) is:
  • two slices of sourdough bread
  • grated cheese (I went for the aforementioned chilli and lime cheese from Tesco and grated it myself - I think grating your own cheese works better than buying ready grated) - as much as you like
  • mozzarella (I just bought a ball of it and shredded it myself) - also as much as you like
  • red onion, sliced
  • red pepper, sliced
I assembled the sandwich with all of the cheese, some red onion and red pepper and stuck it in the George Foreman. (You can do it in the frying pan if you want but I was trying to make one for the fella too so it seemed easier to do the main part of it in the George). Then I waited until the cheese was all melted and the bread felt suitably toasty.

Then I took a tip from Jamie Oliver, melting a bit of butter in a frying pan with some more grated cheese, before sticking the sandwiches in there and swirling them about until the cheese started to melt. Voila! The result was a cheesy taste sensation!

I made some sweet potato fries to go with it and they were alright (I'm yet to find the perfect recipe for those) but the main event was one hundred percent the cheese toastie. It was absolutely awesome.

And you are welcome. ;-)

Anyone else obsessed with cheese? Just me??


Thursday, 25 January 2018

P'S READING CHALLENGE . . . PART 6!

So I fell somewhat behind with my reading challenge. In a way. Mainly because I could never keep up with blogging about it! I started writing part six up about two months ago, but didn't publish it.



So a wee update, if you've happened upon my blog by chance and never read it before. Last year, sick of my reading habits dwindling over the years, I decided to aim to read 40 books . . . and to hold myself accountable by listing them all on my blog (if you click on the "P's Reading Challenge" label on the bottom of this post you can check out my other posts on this subject).  At first I was way behind, I think it took me three or four months just to read the first five books. LUCKILY I went on three laze-around-on-a-sunlounger-with-a-book holidays which helped immensely with the challenge.

I had been doing five books per post, but since 2017 is now over (where did the time go???) I decided I may as well finish off my challenge with a bumper post. Sorry about that!

So what else did I read in 2017? Let's find out . . .

The Truth About Gemma Grey - Sophie Ranald

I was immediately intrigued by this book because the heroine of it was a vlogger. Although I don't vlog myself, I am interested in watching others' blogs and so this topic was definitely of interest to me. Gemma goes viral by accident after having an on-screen breakdown after her boyfriend dumps her . . . and she is quickly propelled into a world she is completely unfamiliar with, thrust into a world of stringa-attached freebies and hobnobbing with some of the most famous youtubers around. But is this actually the life she wants? I devoured most of this on my flight to Kavos earlier this year and was transfixed throughout. A great read. 8/10

The Diary of Madison Brown - S.J. Crabb

Although I found this book entertaining, I did struggle a bit with it and I actually had to leave it a couple of times and go back to it after reading books I preferred. I found the humour mainly lay in the main character's ditziness and she seemed pretty one-dimensional and arrogant to me. I also don't like it when good fortune just constantly falls into someone's lap, and that's how this book felt - there was no struggle for it. It had its moments and I wanted to see how it ended and I enjoyed it enough . . . but I'd never re-read it and I probably wouldn't recommend it. That being said, I wouldn't rule out reading another book by Crabb - I think it was just the character I wasn't a massive fan of . . . and you can't like everyone! 5/10

Whatever Happened to Vicky Hope's Back-Up Man - Laura Kemp

There's been a many a plot based around the age-old "if we're both not married by *insert age here* we'll get married" plot, but this book certainly put a bit of a twist on it. Vicky has just been dumped and been forced to move back home, which makes her think about getting in touch with her back-up man, Mikey, as well as her former best friend Kat. However, there's a massive secret one of the three is hiding, and it could threaten to ruin any of their relationships re-forming. I have to admit I saw the plot twist in this one coming really early on and I did find this book a bit hardgoing at times, but it was definitely an interesting read and I did are about the characters. 6/10

A Proper Family Adventure - Chrissie Manby

I read A Proper Family Holiday a few years ago and, although I'm never a big fan of follow-up novels featuring the same characters, I did feel like I wanted to revisit this particular family. I wasn't disappointed. Their "adventure" this time features a cruise, which made me very jealous as I've always wanted to go on a cruise and I love to read about them. And  I loved it. The characters are great (the kids are particularly hilarious) and I was so disappointed when the story came to an end. (I think I've actually missed one of the family's stories in between the first one and this one, but I kinda feel like it was explained in this book and I therefore don't really need to read it. By all means, feel free to read them in order, just definitely read this one!) 10/10

If You Could See Me Now - Keris Stainton

This is my second Keris book read this year, and her first adult book (yes, I occasionally still read Young Adult and I'm 38 - I don't care!) and I was looking forward to this coming out for ages. It didn't disappoint - Izzy, our heroine, feels a bit like her life isn't quite going how she planned . . . but then something very unexpected happens (I don't want to give it away but I don't think it's a twist I've saw in a book before) and after she's over the shock, she uses it to make some giant changes in her life. There's also a great hero in it, which is always a very important plus point for me. You should definitely invest in a copy of this book, it's brill - I promise! 9/10

The Hating Game - Sally Thorne

Lucy and Josh share an office and are work rivals, possibly even worst enemies. But there's a fine line between love and hate, and this book is a fascinating, romantic and funny look at that line. I was absolutely transfixed by this book almost from the outset. I keep returning to read bits because the relationship at the centre of the plot is so captivating. A definite must-read in my eyes. 10/10

The Break - Marian Keyes

If there ever is a red letter day in the book world, it is when Marian Keyes has a new book out. Her book "Rachel's Holiday" is probably my favourite book in the world so anytime she has a new book out I'm very happy about this. And I had just so happened to have won an amazon voucher in work just as her book came out so I was very excited to pack it into my Kindle and take it on holiday with me! Amy's husband decides he wants to take a break from their marriage and go travelling and this is about Amy trying to survive without him while he takes that break. The premise, I have to admit, annoyed me, but as the plot continued it became clear nothing was quite as it appears. I wouldn't say it was my favourite Keyes novel by any means, but it was still a cut above so many books. 9/10

The Holiday Cruise - Victoria Cooke

Oh how I love a holiday-esque type book . . . especially while on holiday, which I was while I was reading this! Hannah's marriage has fallen apart and, as a result, her beauty salon business has also been affected. So she decides to apply for a job on a cruise ship. It's fun, it helps her forget and the only rule is that you can't get involved with the guests . . . oh dear! A great read. 9/10

The Worst Case Scenario Cooking Club - Chrissie Manby

Another book I was looking forward to being released, I was not disappointed by this at all! Three people from very different walks of life are brought together at a cooking course and it's wonderful. It also made me very hungry. 10/10

Izzy's Cold Feet - Sarah Louise Smith

This book was okay but I liked the idea of it more than I liked the story itself. This is about a girl on the verge of getting married who starts to wonder if she should have been with one of her exes. I found it quite hard to feel sorry for Izzy, if I'm perfectly honest and I think that's what put me off it a bit. It was an enjoyable enough read though. 5/10

Love to Hate You - Anna Premoli

I enjoyed this book of two rivals in work becoming romantically intertwined, however as I'd not long before read the aforementioned The Hating Game, I didn't feel quite as attached to these characters as I did to Jennifer and Ian in Love To Hate You. I did thoroughly enjoy it though and was rooting for things to work out with them! 7/10

Cocktails and Dreams - A.L. Michael

I've enjoyed every A.L. Michael book I've read so far and this was no exception. I enjoyed the character of Savvy and her messy relationship with her mother, the hero was delicious and who doesn't enjoy cocktail chat? Great read - it's part of a series so I will definitely need to read the others! 8/10

The Truth About Ellen - Sarah Louise Smith

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you met your teenage hero? And what if you then ended up involved, years down the line, with his bandmate? But you haven't told your new fella about your past? That's Ellen's dilemma and it's immensely readable. 7/10

The Hygge Holiday - Rosie Blake

Clara, a mysterious newcomer to a small village, ends up accidentally running a toy shop . . . and making a massive success of it. But who is she and what will the toy shop owner's son, high-flyer Joe, make of her. I loved this book a lot! I don't even know how to pronounce "Hygge" but just reading it made me feel all hygge inside. 10/10


Mistletoe on 34th Street - Lisa Dickenson

The last book I read of the year - and I had to completely read it on the Kindle app on my phone thanks to my broken Kindle. I always feel like I need to read a Christmas themed novel at Christmas and I rarely get around to actually doing it, so I'm glad I managed it this year. This was a great read, set mainly in New York (in case the title did not make that obvious), and it made me feel all festive just in time! 10/10


So I managed it. Somehow, against all odds, I read 40 books exactly in 2017. I haven't yet managed to finish one book in 2018 sadly, however, I was doing similarly last year at this time and I did only just get a new Kindle last week, so I'm not going to beat myself up too much yet.

Did you set yourself a reading challenge last year? Did you succeed?



Tuesday, 23 January 2018

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: A SCOTTISH ROAD TRIP . . . DAYS 6 AND 7!!!

It started snowing on and off between the Thursday night and Friday morning in Oban, but it was largely gone by the time we woke up. Skipping breakfast once again (so far we made breakfast on the Sunday only, despite breakfast being included in every hotel we had stayed in), we set off on our way.

Always time to be silly!!!

Our next destination was Crianalarich, edging closer back to Glasgow as it was our last full day on the road, so we had a bit of time to play with. We stopped off on the beach just to the north of Oban, with some lovely views of a snow-covered Mull and some silly selfie opportunities.

Looking over to Mull from Oban

Then we headed down towards the Slate Islands, since one is accessible via the Clachan Bridge, otherwise known as the Bridge Over The Atlantic. From the Isle of Seil you can access the other islands in the group by boat - one day we will do this!

Gorgeous views from the Isle of Seil

Eventually we arrived in Crianlarich where we were staying at the Ben More Lodge. We were staying in what was effectively a little chalet, with a bed, couch, tv and a little bathroom - it was so warm and cosy.
Crianlarich looked amazing in the snow

After having a wee walk around the snow covered area, we popped over to the pub there for dinner, a couple of drinks and some pool. As it was dog-friendly there were a couple of them kicking around, which I always love, and just as we were leaving some live traditional music was about to kick off. The food was really tasty too, and the price of both the accommodation and the food really reasonable. 100 per cent recommend.

Such beautiful scenery!

The next day the snow had picked up, much to the fella's delight, so after we got up and made it to breakfast (it had to happen again eventually!) we headed back towards Glen Coe to get a few snowier pictures than before!

Snowy scenes
Once we'd managed to capture the area in all its snowy beauty, we reluctantly began heading home towards reality, knowing we at least had one more day of the weekend before we had to return to our desk and PC and normality of office life. It really was such an amazing road trip. We spent too much money and drank and ate too much crap . . . but I feel like some amazing memories were made.

Glen Coe looking unbelievably dramatic!

I'd say I can't wait until the next road trip but we're literally just back from the next one. That being said, I still can't wait for the next one! And with not-yet-booked-but-upcoming trips to Ardfern, Torridon and Carnoustie coming up, it hopefully shouldn't be long before we're on the road again . . .

Sunday, 14 January 2018

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: A SCOTTISH ROAD TRIP . . . DAY 5!!!

I had to get back to it eventually, didn't I? Ridiculous that I'm still posting about a trip that happened nearly two months ago now but life always tends to get in the way!

What a view!!!

 
 
 
So we're on to Day 5 . . . and we woke up in the Isles of Glencoe Hotel to a gorgeous view! Unfortunately we were not the only ones who thought so and there were a bunch of photographers with tripods and everything blocking the view outside our window. Eventually we got the view to ourselves and it was worth the wait.
 
 
Loch Leven
 

Loch Linnhe
We skipped breakfast once again and then headed towards our next destination, the lovely town of Oban. We were booked to go to the distillery at four, so we had a couple of hours to spare before we needed to get ourselves checked in to the hotel. We snapped some pictures at Loch Leven and Linnhe first. Then we discovered Loch Creran, a new find for us, which really was lovely.
Loch Creran
In Oban, we checked into the Columba Hotel (which was the sister hotel of the one we stayed at in Dunoon) and then headed over to the distillery. Now, we've did this tour before and it's a good one - it only costs ten quid as well which is pretty reasonable. We enjoyed a couple of drams in the bar afterwards and I also had a whisky ginger cocktail which was absolutely delicious.



Afterwards we popped to Cuan Mor for dinner and had a little walk around the town before heading back to the hotel. Not a massively eventful day, perhaps, but it was a lovely day all the same. Lots of good pictures for the old Instagram too, which is never a waste of time. ;-)
Oban looking pretty in purple
Roll on day 6!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

P'S TOP PICKS: BEST SONGS OF 2017!!!

I'm very much aware I haven't actually finished writing up my November Scottish road trip posts . . .please excuse me on that; life got in the way and also I do struggle with writing so many travel posts in one go. In the meantime, let's take an interlude while I look at my favourite songs of 2017.

First up, this is probably my favourite song of the year.




I was in Lanzarote in April/May of this year when I first heard "It Ain't Me" and it was the same with this next song. Now I had no clue of the hit that "Despacito" would be at that point but I firmly maintain it didn't need Bieber to make it a hit in the non-Latin world. I far prefer the original version, just me???



Now, I've said before I tend to be a bit behind the times when it comes to music so I only discovered this song after it had been number one probably for five million weeks but Dua Lipa's "New Rules" is a song that is the perfect anthem for the old me, who was never good at getting over a break-up. I could have used these rules. And it's bloody catchy as well. Although she seems to have an aversion to keeping her clothes on her shoulders???



And I'm a bit obsessed still with this Foo Fighters song . . . just me? Fun fact: the little girls in this video are actually Dave Grohl's daughters!!!



And last but not least . . . it may be a tad predictable but I couldn't NOT include a wee bit of Ed Sheeran on my list. I struggled with what one to choose but I'm going to go with "Shape of You" ultimately. Also, if you ever fancy a cute laugh, you should look up the Teletubbies dancing to this. It's a class act. ;-)



What are YOUR favourite songs of 2017? I'd love to know.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: A SCOTTISH ROAD TRIP . . . DAY 4!!!

Glen Coe

Day 4 of our so-far-mainly-wet roadtrip and we woke up to . . . more rain. Le sigh. However, today we were headed away from the Cowal Peninsula and up to the gorgeous Glencoe area so even if the weather didn't change, there would be more photo opportunities.

Loch Fyne

Hopefully.

We travelled back up to the A83 and along towards Inveraray. Loch Fyne was still beautiful, if a bit gloomier than we were used to.

Kilchurn Castle
We then headed up past Loch Awe and ate cheese and crackers across the loch from the dramatic Kilchurn Castle. 

Cheese disposed of, we took the long way around to Glencoe via Tyndrum, which meant we could pass the lovely Loch Tulla. There's a viewpoint just above it, normally full of cars of people taking in the prettiness and enjoying some fresh air (or, in many a case, popping out for a fag).  As we went to pull in, we noted there was only one car already there. Which made sense, as it was a random Wednesday afternoon in the middle of November.

However, there was another occupant in the car park - a magnificent stag!!!

The Loch Tulla Stag, admiring the view!
From various Facebook pages and many an Instagram account, I've since gleaned that this stag does seem to frequent this viewpoint - however, at the time it was quite the unique, magical moment. Obviously, we stayed out of the way of him, at the other side of the car park, with the safety of the car between us, as others stopped to view him and take his picture. Eventually he wandered off - which was a good thing as I think we'd have been stopped there all day otherwise!

Glen Etive

Next up we headed to Glen Etive and as well as the usual lovely sights of mountains and waterfalls and streams, we also encountered more deer. Once again, keeping ourselves in the safety of the car. (Seriously, some people seem to forget that no matter how friendly and curious they may seem, they're still wild animals!) They really are little posers in Glen Etive. (I wouldn't be surprised if that's where the Loch Tulla stag hailed from too.)

Wee posers . . . see the wee one popping up in the middle? I didn't notice it until looking at the picture ages later!

Ghost deer?!?


One of the most photographed houses in Scotland??? (Glen Coe)

After this delight, we headed through Glencoe towards our hotel, taking in the amazing views along the way . . . and with one final stop along the way . . . the gorgeous manmade Glencoe Lochan.  This is only a short walk from its car park and the pay-off was more than worth it. I'd definitely recommend popping up there!

Glencoe Lochan

Our hotel was the Isles Of Glencoe Hotel - I'd got a voucher deal for it on itison a couple of months ago and it was totally worth the money. The loch view from our room was amazing (I'll cover that in my next post, don't you worry!) and so we sat by the window enjoying the peace and having a couple of wee drams of whisky. Bliss.

Dinner was part of our deal, and it was delicious. I have to admit, the venison option was tempting . . . but after spending so much time around incredible deer, I just couldn't do it, and opted for the vegetarian option of a chickpea and sweetcorn burger instead. Highly recommended. As is the hotel.

All in all, I think Day 4 was my favourite of the entire trip. But we did still have another two days to go . . .

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: A SCOTTISH ROAD TRIP . . . DAY 3!!!

Day 3 was probably the worst day for pictures . . . and that was because of the blooming rain striking once again! The visibility at the Tighnabruaich Viewpoint was non-existent for a start - shame as the views of the Isle of Bute and surrounding water from up there are usually exceptional.


However, we managed to catch the beautiful Loch Striven in amazing light - which was lucky, as on the way back it just looked  . . . well, wet! The reflections of the trees and mountains earlier though were just incredible.


It took me ages to work out what loch I was looking at though - that's one of the problems of loads of parts of Scotland - the 4G tends to either be either limited or completely off!

 
Another lovely find was Col Dam, which looked stunning despite the weather. Luckily it was signposted so I didn't have to try and find out what it was called. ;-) Especially since I can't really find anything out about it online!


We drove around the Cowal Peninsula in the rain the rest of the time, and eventually had to give up and head back to the hotel for drinks, surrounded by staff putting up Christmas decorations (still too early by the way.) Luckily there is an Italian restaurant which is part of the hotel, which has an interior door so this saved us having to brave the weather again. Phew!

We headed for bed, hoping that the next day would bring us a break in the weather. Did it? Well, you'll have to wait and see . . . 

Monday, 27 November 2017

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: A SCOTTISH ROAD TRIP . . DAY 2!!!

So day 2 dawned and we woke up to . . . rain.

Now, it was hardly unexpected - we do get a lot of rain up here after all. But you just hope that this is not going to be the case because it has the potential to ruin a holiday . . . and, most importantly, your pictures! We were going to try our best not to let it though!

So after getting soaked just walking to the restaurant for breakfast at the Oak Tree Inn  and checking out, we decided to head along towards Rowardennan first, which is an even smaller village (I'm not even sure it's big enough to be a village to be honest, but it's very pretty anyway and definitely worth a visit) than Balmaha, right at the end of the same road. More east side views of the loch (you can also go up Ben Lomond from there if you're so inclined), and we also popped by Milarrochy Bay en route . . . a lovely little beach, home to an extremely photographed tree.

Milarrochy Bay

Our destination for the next two nights was Dunoon so next up we would head over to the west side of Loch Lomond, via Balloch and turn onto the A83 at Tarbet, taking the road route around to Dunoon. You can of course get the ferry, but the road is so damn pretty it's hard to resist this option. Even in the rain.

Rowardennan

We still had some places to stop at en route though - Loch Long at Arrochar, and Jubilee Point on Loch Eck. We also stopped at Firkin Point which is very nice, but a fly flew into my right eye there, which had barely recovered from a bad bout of bacterial conjunctivitis, so I'm not feeling friendly about that particular place right now.

Reflections on Loch Long

The Arrochar end of Loch Long always offers fabulous views, regardless of weather. It's just a shame there's so much rubbish in the Loch (we were there again today and it reeked!). However, we couldn't even see anything at the Rest and be Thankful on the A83 as the weather worsened.

Jubilee Point

Once we got onto the Cowal Peninsula, the weather thankfully let up again a bit at Jubilee Point, which I was happy about as it's a gorgeous little viewpoint surrounded by mountains, with an almost tropical vibe... maybe that's just my opinion though!

The fella thinks that it always rains in Dunoon. Granted, it is starting to feel that way, as it seems it does every time we visit. (And he also did a half marathon there in that same rain a couple of years ago, which would not have been nice!) And, when we pulled into the town, the weather wasn't great. We checked into the hotel which was to be our base for the next two nights, Argyll Hotel (this was my birthday present from the fella. Thanks!). And we very quickly decided that it was time to cut our losses and head to the pub. So that's what we did! Sinbads for a couple of drinks, followed by dinner at the 51st State Bar and Grill. Then we headed back to our hotel so I could catch up on Made in Chelsea we could re-charge. And hope for better weather the next day.

Drinkies!

Unfortunately we have no control over such things. If only . . .


TO BE CONTINUED!!!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: A SCOTTISH ROAD TRIP . . . DAY 1!!!

Last Sunday, myself and the lovely fella embarked on a wee mini roadtrip of some parts of the West of Scotland. The main reason for this was we had a couple of hotel voucher deals to use up - but once we had those deals booked up, we decided to make it into more of a hotel and book a couple more hotels around it. Because, as you probably know about me, I really enjoy staying in hotels!

As I got a LOT of pictures (which you'll already know if you follow me on Instagram! Sorry about that.) I thought it would be a good idea to document some of the trip, so over the next few days, be prepared to hear a lot more about it!!!




So, as I already mentioned, on Sunday off we went. First stop wasn't too far away from home - Balmaha on the east side of Loch Lomond. Part of the West Highland Way, it's a pretty little village we've travelled through on many an occasion but beyond a couple of failed attempts to fully conquer Conic Hill, which looms over the village, we haven't spent long periods of time there. But the Oak Tree Inn was offering half price rooms this month so we decided to spend the night there for once!


What a lovely hotel it was! We were situated in one of the cottages called "Loch Sloy", which had a number of rooms in it. (Don't worry, you didn't need to encounter other people.) We had a little decking bit outside overlooking the loch and it was just a wonderful little room. We ate in the hotel restaurant also; the pate was delicious and the portion of haggis I had for my main was absolutely massive!

We also went for a wander around Balmaha - we'd got there after three pm and, unfortunately, the light was already starting to fade, so no third attempt at Conic Hill on the cards this time. But we had a little walk around and got some nice pictures of the loch. I've spoken about my love of Loch Lomond on more than one occasion on this blog so you probably already know it's my happy place.


There's a famous statue here also, of Tom Weir, who once presented the show "Weir's Way" - he would visit various parts of Scotland in it and was a much-loved figure. It's really hard to get him alone as he constantly has people posing next to him, but at night we managed to get a picture of him all lit up.

After dinner we headed back to our lovely room and relaxed, ready to head onwards the next day and see ALL OF THE SIGHTS!



Unfortunately, with the following day came the rain . . . *insert Eastenders style dumdumdumDUMDUMDUM noise here*


TO BE CONTINUED!  

Saturday, 18 November 2017

FOLLOW YOU, (UN)FOLLOW ME . . .

Before I go on, a wee disclaimer: I am going to be using the words "follow", "unfollow" and various other versions of these a lot in this post. Sorry about that, but now that's out of the way, we can proceed with the actual post.



My love for Instagram knows no limits.

Of all the social media sites, I reckon it's probably my favourite. I love having a nosy at people's photos, a wee insight into their lives. (I also love Instagram stories, but I've already discussed those so if you want to know more, please feel free to click through to this post.)

A couple of things do annoy me about it though. It's probably not Instagram's fault though, it's more of a "it's not you, Instagram, it's me" situation. Or maybe a "it's not you or me, it's actually other people." A very specific type of people.

Those people who want you to follow them sooooo much that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get your attention.

What they don't want to do in return though? Follow you back. Or at least not after they've managed to get their attention and you've followed them. Then they lose interest and, oh look, your follower account is suddenly down by one and you don't know why.

Well, now you know.

I've tried to ignore this for a while. The same way I ignore the randoms who like my latest post, and then post a comment completely unrelated to the picture about three hours later.

Or the commenters who tell me I would be perfect as their brand ambassador . . . just like the other 50,000 people they've already told.

Or the accounts that follow you, then unfollow you only to follow you again three weeks down the line. Usually I've not noticed the unfollow in the first place until I see the notification that they're following me again. I can only assume they've unfollowed me because I didn't reciprocate but then they've forgotten and have tried again.

I'm not going to deny I want to build my followers on Instagram, but I would prefer they were people who were genuinely interested in me, my travels, my clothes or my food (the main things I post on there). I get really quite annoyed by people who think they can just follow you to get you to follow them back, before hitting that unfollow button.

I recently downloaded an app to my phone that allows me to see my Instagram unfollowers and while in some ways it's a slippery slope downhill to lose your mind and think everyone hates you, in other ways it's pretty fascinating. My "recent unfollower" list is largely people who must have been following me for about five minutes because I don't even remember seeing them on my follower list in the first place. But then there's the odd one where I've followed them back because they look interesting, only to discover they've then unfollowed me. I don't want to be childish about it, but I have to admit I will often just hit the unfollow button when I see this. It's like a giant "fuck you" to them because they thought they fooled me but I bested them but it's a hollow victory cos they have like 500,000 followers and won't even noticed my absence.

Sadder are those where you followed each other and engaged and liked each others posts and you're not sure why they've decided to unfollow you. Funnily enough though, these tend to pop up rarely on the list! Which is definitely a good thing.

Anyway, I feel like I've lost the point of what I'm trying to say here but . . . here it is.

Follow me if you think I'm interesting and you actually want to look at my pictures. I have nice pictures, if you like Scotland and food and mirror selfies of 38 year old blonde women. (That last one is maybe a bit niche?)

Don't follow me purely for a follow back.

A lot of people I follow don't follow me back and I don't expect them to. I also don't unfollow them purely because they haven't.

Perhaps I should make this my new Instagram bio?

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: PHOTOGENIC LOCHS!!!

I really love Scotland. Which is handy given that I live there. ;-)

And one of my very favourite things about it is the multitude of lochs. There are tens of thousands of them in Scotland too, so there are always new ones to discover. And some of them are so damn photogenic they are just asking to be "Instagrammed"(is that a verb? If not, then it should be!).

So here's a wee run-down of some of my favourite lochs to photograph . . .



Loch Long
Loch Lomond (well, we all knew that would be on my list since it's my favourite!)


Loch Katrine


Loch Shiel
Loch Tulla


Loch Earn (the Mirror Man may not be there anymore, but it is still a lovely loch!)


Loch Cluanie


Loch Rannoch


Loch Tay


Loch Leven (Kinlochleven)

Do you have a favourite loch?