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?

Monday, 6 November 2017

P'S GUIDE TO FINDING CHEAP HOLIDAYS . . .

There’s one thing people say to me a lot . . . and it’s not “Oh look, Paula’s drunk again” (at least, not to my face anyway).
 

It’s actually “you’re always on holiday”.

Now, although that’s technically not true, and I do resent people saying it, I do go on holiday quite a lot. I’ve been on three sunshine holidays this year as well as numerous trips around Scotland . . . and most of it I’ve managed to do relatively cheaply. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to impart some of my wisdom.

Okay, some of it is common sense or pretty obvious . . . but hopefully it’ll still come in handy!



  • First off, for UK holidays, booking.com is my friend. If I fancy a wee night away, I usually just plug in my dates, choose a part of Scotland and then hit search. There’s often decent deals that pop up on nice hotels, and if all else fails I just order them low to high and go through them until I find somewhere I like the look of.

  • Voucher deals are also a good way of finding a nice hotel deal, sometimes you can even get dinner included for a great price. Things to watch out for? You’re often going to have to pay a supplement for weekends, which can instantly add additional money on to your “great deal”. And make sure you have a couple of days of leeway in case the hotel can’t accommodate you on the day you want. I find 5pm.co.uk and itison are best for these sort of deals so I check them often. 

  • Also with a wee UK deal, you’re going to have to remember to factor in petrol costs. I always forget about that.. Or train/bus costs. Unless you want to walk there of course – feel free to do so if you want, not my bag though as you probably know!
  • Looking for a sunny holiday? I have three companies I turn to – Jet2, Thomson (or TUI as it’s now called) and Thomas Cook. I prefer a package holiday, I can't be dealing with booking the different bits and pieces independently. (If that's what you were looking for, sorry! I can't help you, I'm afraid.)


  • When I’m looking for a holiday, I try to take time off where I can afford to be a bit more flexible. So if I’m wanting a week long holiday I will take a week and a half off work, or if I want a ten day holiday I’ll take two weeks off. (I can always cancel part of the time off I’ve requested later once I actually have the holiday booked. More often than not, I don’t though.) This means I can look at different dates and have a bigger selection of destinations to choose from.


  • I try not to go for school holidays since the price does shoot up. Obviously if you’re a teacher, have kids of school age or work in a school in some other capacity this tip will not help you, and for that I apologise. (I really am sorry. Overpriced school holidays are the worst and travel companies are mean.)


  • If possible, I’ll search the dates I’m looking for, from my local airport (Glasgow) with no destination and see what options I have once I order the holidays from low to high. I’ll also try other airports, usually just Edinburgh, to see if there are any better deals. I tend not to look further afield as then I have to factor in the additional cost of travel to another airport.  This gives me a good idea of what destinations are available and the range of price.  


  • Jet2 are my favourite. They have a wide range of deals, destinations and I feel like their holidays are a bit more flexible in terms of duration. For example, me and the fella went to Lanzarote with them earlier this year for 11 nights for just over 400 pounds each. A ridiculously random amount of time (amazing though!), but we got a really good deal on it. And you get a ridiculously high luggage allowance. My only bugbear with them is that you can’t leave the destination field blank so you have to go through and do an individual search on all the destinations you fancy. This is immensely annoying - get it sorted, Jet2!!!


  • If you opt for a Thomas Cook holiday, bear in mind that the deal might not be as good as it initially looks. I think they sometimes use different companies, like Easyjet or Flexible Trips, so you might find that the brilliant deal isn’t including putting luggage in the hold, or a transfer. You might not necessarily need these, granted . . . but I do.
  • I'm not a massive fan of the all-inclusive deal but give it a chance - you may pay more upfront but you'll be saving yourself money once you get there.
  • On that note too, if you are going self-catering, try and make sure you get somewhere with kitchen facilities. It's good to have a fridge, for a start (that bottle of cava won't keep itself cool, y'know!) and it means you can at least pretend you might be eating in and saving money sometimes. I've stayed in a couple of places with no kitchen facilities and its a bit frustrating. (I one also stayed somewhere that did have kitchen facilities but no cups in any form and the first night I had to drink my wine out of a small pot . . .but that's another story.)
  • Be sure to clear your cookies often if you're doing frequent searches for holidays. I don't really how much of an impact this has, but I've definitely had times when I've been looking at a certain holiday twice in one day and the price has shot up . . . when I have cleared my cookies and searched again it's went back to the original price so there definitely seems to be some truth in the whole theory.
Hopefully some of these little tips might help you - as I said, a lot of it is common sense and isn't really a massive secret. I would say this though - it's rare a cheap holiday bargain will just fall in your lap and I do spend a lot of time looking for holidays online. That being said, very occasionally, you could have been looking for ages for a good holiday bargain and one day a great deal will just pop up during your search.
Like magic.
And when that happens, it's the best.

Monday, 30 October 2017

P'S 2017 READING CHALLENGE . . . PART 5!

So we're on to part 5 of my reading challenge . . . and this may be a bit of a spoiler alert but I'm fairly sure I'm going to not only make it to 40 books but surpass it. I've just totted up the books I read while in Ibiza and I'm now at 39!!! To be fair, once again my reading has slowed right down since then, but I'm fairly confident now I will beat 40.



Anyhoo, we need to rewind a bit for now and here are books 21 - 25 from this year's reading challenge!


Hot Mess - Lucy Vine

This book was a bit of an anti-romantic comedy; it was definitely more about the comedy and less about the romance, but I loved it. Ellie is our heroine here and she is having no luck finding a man . . . in fact nothing in her life is going smoothly. But hey, wouldn't that make for a boring read?! Great wee read, I breezed through it in less than two days. 9/10


Big Sexy Love - Kirsty Greenwood

Kirsty Greenwood has never disappointed me when it comes to reading (and also being a totally genuine and funny human) and this book was no exception. Olive is a girl who is very much stuck in her comfort zone . . . but is thrust completely out of it, and into New York city on her lonesome, thanks to the love she has for her best friend.  Cue many hilarious mishaps, a dash of romance, and the absolutely loveliness that is true friendship . . . a must read. Someone gave her an absolutely horrendous review of it on amazon recently . . . I genuinely think they must have been reading the wrong book because I would give it more than five stars if I could. One of my favourite books of 2017! 10/10


Unrequited Alice - Sarah Louise Smith

Unrequited love is tough. It's especially tough when the love of your life is about to marry your best friend, as Alice is finding out. But on the hen weekend in Canada, she meets Toby . . . who has pretty much exactly the same problem as she does. But can they help each other or will they just hinder the other? I enjoyed finding out. 7/10


Stuck With You - Carla Burgess

I actually mistakenly thought that this entire book was going to feature the two main characters stuck in a lift together. I was wrong. The lift encounter, where Elena meets the guy she had a massive crush on in high school, was over very quickly and was probably the most dramatic bit of the book. That being said, it was a low key but entertaining romance . . . I just kept expecting a twist or two and there really wasn't one. Still an enjoyable read! 6/10


Fitness Junkie - Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

I enjoy reading about diet and fitness - especially while eating junk food - so I knew this book would be right up my alley from the minute I spotted it online. It's the story of Janey, who is forced to try and drop some pounds when her best friend and business partner gives her an ultimatum . . . essentially he's a bit of a turd who tells her she's too fat to work with him in their wedding dress company. Anyway, she then tries out loads of different classes and techniques, and discovers the dark side of the dieting industry. This was a clever, entertaining novel, full of interesting characters, and I finished it not knowing whether I felt motivated to work out, or a bit disillusioned by the whole industry.  Oh . . . and where can I find a "bruffin"??? It's a brioche/muffin hybrid and I've no idea if it's real but I really hope it is... 8/10


So there we have it for another challenge post! And I still have material for nearly another three at the moment. I'll try not to leave too much of a break between these posts this time . . . I said try though. ;-)

What have you been reading recently?

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

FOUR YEARS . . .

I've always thought it would be sort of cool to have psychic ability. Predicting the lotto numbers would be great for a start - but it would also be great to know the good things that might happen to you in the future. I know it would take the fun out of life a wee bit (and you wouldn't really want to know the bad things, unless you could somehow prevent them) but think how funny it would be if you could freak other people out using it?

For example . . . a little over 12 years ago, I walked into a job interview for a contact centre. One of the questions I was asked was to describe some sort of attraction or place, what was there, how to get there - basically it was a way for you to show how clearly you could explain something. I chose to speak about Blackpool since it was a place I'd been a lot when I was a kid and, to be frank, I was at a bit of a loss.

I'm aware that the first paragraph and second seem completely unrelated. (I'm getting to my point, I promise.)

But . . . what if I did possess psychic ability and could see my future clearly???

Perhaps I would have blurted out, in that interview, to the smiley dude interviewing me "one day we will be in Blackpool together."

I probably would have been as surprised as he would to be honest.

And I would probably have looked like a certified loony and definitely wouldn't have got that job.

But . . . just over eight years later, four years ago today, we both found ourselves on a night out together. Where we ended up kissing, chatting for hours, then continuing the conversation via text message all of the following week. Within a matter of weeks we were officially a couple. And it was never something I questioned, something I overthought like I always would in previous relationships. Because it just . . . made sense.

Four years on, we've shared Christmases, New Years, birthdays, holidays, waaaayyy more dinners out than my weight can cope with and many nights in on the sofa just chilling . . . and several trips to Blackpool!



I love . .
  • that we freak ourselves out so often by going to say exactly the same thing at the same time
  • that he is as much of a "Friends" addict as I am
  • that he gets on so well with my friends and family
  • that he makes me laugh so much
  • and that he calms me down when I'm feeling a bit "squiggly".

Can't believe it's been four years already - time really does go fast when you're having fun though, it may be a cliché, but it's definitely true.

Happy four years!!!

DISCLAIMER: I can only apologise whole-heartedly to anyone reading this for the level of cheese in this post but . . . we both love cheese so shhhhh! ;-)

Monday, 16 October 2017

WHAT I'M LOVING RIGHT NOW . . .

Oh, another big blog break from me. Since I posted last I turned 38 (eek!) and I've been abroad . . . again! Hopefully this will mark my return to my more regular blogging once again. We'll see.

Anyway, let's get back to it with a post about things I'm loving at the moment.


IBIZA


I'm just back from a wonderful birthday week in Ibiza and I had such a good time. The weather was amazing for early October, we never had any issues getting a sun lounger at our beachside apartments, and had tons of wonderful food (although we did manage to accidentally run  up a 120 euro bill on the night we had a steak dinner... that was a bit out of our budget and did involve us having to root through our pockets for any change we had as we hadn't quite expected it to be so expensive - at one point I thought we were going to have to wash dishes to pay for it!). And the sunsets . . . oh my goodness, I vaguely remembered them being good from my holiday there five years ago but they were absolutely stunning! San Antonio, like Kavos, isn't just for the clubbers, I promise you! The one downside? I was eaten alive by mosquitos as per. Next time I go abroad I will be taking every mosquito precaution I can!


THIS TOP



I got this top from asos last week for a night out and I absolutely adore it. As you might know about me, I'm not really a jeans sort of person, but I bought a pair just so I could also buy this top. It's such a lovely colour and style and quite floaty so it covered up my lumps and bumps. Love it. (Jeggings are also from asos and the blazer is from Boohoo, just in case you're interested...You're soo welcome.)


THESE SHOES


My sister bought me these Nine West shoes a few years ago for my birthday and they are oh so pretty. There was unfortunately a catch - she could only get me them in a size three and I'm a four. Luckily, I'm not quite like the ugly sisters in Cinderella trying to squish my feet into them but they are pretty snug. I may have had to remove them a couple of times on my night out but I still enjoyed having beautiful shoes on.


ARTA PETAL DROP

So if you go to Arta in Glasgow on a Saturday night, at 11pm a monk/grim reaper type person (the jury is out on what it actually is) appears, bangs a gong and then petals start falling down around you. I'm honestly not making this up. It is soooo cool. Honestly, you need to go and see it . . . mainly so you know I've not had some sort of hallucination!


BELATED BIRTHDAY PRESENTS . . . AND CHEESE-RELATED CARDS


One advantage to being away for your birthday is sometimes there are gifts waiting for you when you get back. I got back to work to find some lovely gifts from my teammates - a Benefit gift set, a bottle of cava, a voucher deal for pancakes (yum!) and a fabulously cheesy card. Definitely good to get a wee gift on your first day back in the office.


PLAYING POOL


I'm a bit obsessed with American pool at the moment - I've actually been to the local pool hall twice in less than a week! I like to think I'm pretty good at it, although the thing I'm absolutely best at is accidentally potting the white. Unfortunately the fella is much much better than me and so my wins are few and far between. I probably need to find someone I can beat easier to be my pool partner . . .


ALL OF THE FOOD!!!



I've had some utterly delicious food recently. Halloumi kebab from Babs, a fabulous meaty meal at the Boozy Cow in Aberdeen, haggis bon bons and black pudding pakora at The Big Feed, and breaded camembert at Bell and Felix to name but a few. I do love eating out . . . my belly and usually empty purse will testify to that! Also looking forward to a lovely meal at The Sisters Jordanhill in a few days time - both Sisters restaurants are definitely worth a visit if you're in the Glasgow area.

What have you been loving lately??? I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

DOWNSIDES TO SUNNY HOLIDAYS . . .

One thing you probably know about me is that I love a sunshine holiday. So much so that I am less than 2 weeks away from my third one this year.
 
One other thing you may know about me, however, is how much I enjoy a good rant.

 
  
So, as much as I love a week away in the sun, leaving all my troubles behind, getting to relax and chill out by the pool while reading shedloads of books… there are also some downsides. At the risk of sounding a tad overdramatic, its time to look at the darker side of a sunny holiday abroad!!!
  
 
Holiday transfers
 
So picture the scene: you’ve made it to your destination, you’re (I’m projecting here, obviously!) relieved to have survived the flight, and your luggage has finally appeared off the carousel, so you no longer need to worry that you’re going to be sunbathing by the pool in the underwear you’re wearing all week because your bikinis were in your case… time to relax, right? Well, nope. Because it’s time for the holiday transfer bus . . . if it’s actually there waiting for you, that is! And if it is waiting for you, you will probably have to spend your first hour in paradise inside a coach, waiting for it to leave the airport. Only to discover that you have actually got another hour and a half to spend actually travelling down to your destination, and approximately twenty other stops before you get there. Once you get there, you can breathe a sigh of relief, it’s over, you’ve made it. Just the journey from hell back to the airport at the end of the holiday to look forward to… And, no, you can’t get a taxi because you already paid a fortune for the bloody holiday and the transfer bus was included!
  
 
Bugs
 
I’ve been through this with you guys before, so I won’t elaborate too much on this. Mosquitos absolutely love me and consider me the tastiest of treats . . . I’m pretty sure I am the goddess of the mosquito world. They haven’t told me this but given how much they enjoy feasting on my blood, I am fairly convinced this must be true. They always manage to catch me in the five seconds before I’ve armed myself with repellent, or find the one unsprayed chink in my armour. And they always turn into horrific scabs. I’m still recovering from my Kavos wounds 3 weeks later, ffs! And don’t even get me started on the wasps . . . they seem on a mission to ruin my life at certain times of year, whether it’s hovering over me evilly while I’m trying to relax, or dive-bombing into my pina colada.
  
 
Music wars
 
I enjoy lying around the pool accompanied by a bit of music from the pool bar, I’d rather do that than listen to my own music when I’m on holiday. However, I hate it when a random sunbather thinks it’s okay to play their own music loudly so I’m forced to listen to that instead of whatever other music is going on. Heard of headphones, mate, yeah? Use them, you’re not the fecking pool DJ! Even worse is when others then decide to compete with the original troublemaker and you are hearing three or four different pieces of music at the same time. It drives me mad.
  
 
Constant reapplication of suncream
 
It’s a necessary evil I know – but I’m sooo lazy and I struggle to maintain my beauty routine when I’m at home . . . reapplying suncream several times a day stresses me out. Especially when it won’t rub in quickly, or goes gloopy, or adds to my sweat and forms a paste.  It actually puts me off getting in the pool because I know that I’m going to have to reapply it once I’m dry. And of course I’m having to reapply the mozzy repellent too because of the whole Goddess of Mosquitos thing so you can guarantee I’m not enjoying myself at this point . . .
 
 
Loungers
 
Is it actually possible to get on or off a sunlounger gracefully?  I seem to be missing that particular knack. And they’re largely incredibly uncomfortable . . . if you can even get one in the first place, that is, since those early morning towel baggers are usually rife.
  
 
Restaurant PR folk
 
It really would be nice to be able to walk down the street of a resort at any time of day, even when you’re not in the market for food at the moment, and not have several thousand eager folk try to happily strong-arm you into their restaurant. Especially if you’ve been there the previous night and want to try something different. It can come in handy sometimes, if you genuinely can’t make up your mind what you want to eat and where you want to go . . . but it’s mainly just very annoying. (and yes, I know people are just trying to make a living, but I’m always entitled to a moan. And just entitled, period…)
  
 
Unfamiliar pointy furniture
 
I always end up going home from holiday with bruises. If the loungers don’t get me, the apartment furniture finishes me off. It always seems to have random sharp edges that I end up walking into since I’m not used to it. Especially after I’ve had me a couple of vinos, or are trying to stumble short-sightedly to the loo sans contact lenses in the middle of the night. Maybe I should just start wearing protective clothing . . 
 
 
And so ends my rant. But . . .What about you guys? Any downsides you have to sunny holidays?

Monday, 4 September 2017

KAVOS: ONLY FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD?!?

One of my favourite places in the world is the Greek island of Corfu. I love Corfu so completely that I even raved about it last summer on this very blog.  I absolutely adore the place and myself and the fella have made the trip out there every year since our first sunshine holiday together in 2014. We'd earmarked a week at the end of August for another holiday with the aim of going to Corfu and were delighted, when we finally had the opportunity to book last month, to see that there were tons of bargain holidays for the island . . . but the cheapest by far were those in the party resort of Kavos.


Kavos was never going to be my first choice, let's be honest. I've had the dubious pleasure of watching a couple of episodes of "What Happens in Kavos" after all and cringed most of the way through it. I've never been a "party hard" sort of girl, even when I was young enough to go on an 18-30 holiday (for the record, in case you aren't aware, the age brackets for an 18-30 holiday are actually 17-35 . . . and I don't even meet those requirements anymore!). And, at the age of 37 and 3/4, I'm more of a have-a-couple-of-drinks-by-the-pool-go-out-for-dinner-then-fall-asleep-during-a-bottle-of-wine-in-the-apartment-later sort of girl. 

But then there was also the fact that, although the holidays to Corfu were relatively cheap, the ones to Kavos were by far the cheapest.  And I'm also one of those people who thinks it's really up to you how good your holiday is. Yes, you can have bad customer service or things can go wrong that you weren't anticipating, but largely it is what you make it . . . and sometimes when I see people moaning in bad reviews on Trip Advisor about their holidays I'm a bit unsympathetic because of this.

Anyway, we decided to go for Kavos. And I only had like five weeks to think about the decision but I did worry. And I jokingly would say to the fella "no matter what, I'll have to write a post about whether or not Kavos is just for the younger crowd" . . .

Personally, I'm happy to say it is not.

Yes, the apartments we chose to stay at were predominantly full of people in their late teens and twenties, yes. But it didn't bother us. And we were not the oldest by any means either. Which was very nice. But here are some of the advantages of not being in the younger crowd and going to Kavos . . .

1) Yes the hotel was cheap. But, in addition, we weren't spending massive amounts of money on foam parties or club nights. I took 300 euros with me, ate out every night, had breakfast/lunch in the hotel 3 times, had plenty of cocktails, wine and Mythos and came home with 30 euros. (I read a blog post somewhere prior to going that said if you were going for a "mad with it" time you'd need 750 euros for a week. Thank goodness I wasn't in that market!)

2) The reps didn't bother us. We had booked a "Scene" holiday through Thomson and I had checked to make sure there wasn't an upper age limit with this a la the aforementioned 18-30 holidays (which are Thomas Cook). There wasn't. But the reps did take one look at us and, although they were perfectly pleasant, they didn't do a hard sale on us. If we'd been younger, we'd have had to dodge the sales pitch and that's why sometimes being "old" pays off.

3) We didn't go out to the pool at ten am to discover most of the loungers were full. That's probably because our younger apartment dwellers were not sloping back in until five am in the morning and most of them didn't actually think to put their towels out before they went to sleep. We nearly always got a decently placed lounger, which would not have happened had the clientele been largely older than us. Trust me - I know!

4) We mostly got peace at the pool for a good hour or two before most of the residents woke up. It was amazing. Usually things didn't start to completely come to life until after 11am; by 2pm it would usually be quite noisy but as we tend to like to start and finish sunbathing earlyish it worked out great for us.

5) We got so many good deals on the food in Kavos. I guess because of the fact people probably drink and party more than they eat, the local tavernas were wanting to fill tables. We didn't actually know this until we were in most of the time, and were amazed to be leaving after two courses each, a litre carafe of wine and free garlic bread and dessert with a bill of just over 30 euros. Quality food as well.  It was incredible. In particular, check out Terry's, Pavlos and Aristos - I'd highly recommend all three of these amazing tavernas; fabulous service and we got delicious food for ridiculously low prices!

6) We luckily didn't get a lot of noise disturbance. We weren't right in the centre of the resort - we stayed in the Kavos Plaza (very nice apartments with a lovely bar and pool area) which was just at the edge of the resort. Kavos isn't a massive place, so everything was still in walking distance and the best of the tavernas were really close by. Some of the other apartments available were smack-bang in the middle of the resort so bear this in mind if you are looking to book. We weren't really bothered by much in the way of noise at all during the night, but it might be different if you are closer to the main action.  

7) The beaches were lovely. In our welcome meeting, the male rep had claimed the main beach wasn't that great but we thought it was really nice. There's also Arkoudilas beach, which is about a 45 minute walk and is gorgeous . . . however, we were plagued with wasps after walking all that way in ridiculous heat so I'd probably only recommend that if you aren't there in wasp season.

All in all, I 100 per cent feel you can totally come and not party in Kavos. I still don't think it would ever be my first choice, granted . .  but if you are looking for a week holiday for less than 300 pounds and you want a greek island experience without spending too much money while you are there . . . it's amazing! No matter what age you are.

Have you been?

Saturday, 2 September 2017

MY HOLIDAY STYLE . . .

I'm just back from Kavos! I know... what was I thinking? I'm 37 years old! Don't worry, I have a post on whether Kavos is good for a slightly older crowd coming up very soon which will answer this. I also have a couple more holiday inspired posts which will be appearing on the blog over the next week or so and an update on my reading challenge so stay tuned please! 😉


Today, however, I'm going to talk about holiday fashion... specifically MY holiday fashion. Yes, I know I'm not a fashion blogger by any means but I do absolutely love clothes and spend an inordinate amount of time looking through fashion websites online to find bargains in my particular style. For holidays this tends to be shorter dresses, shift dresses, Bardot and/or off-the-shoulder dresses . . . I like to search specifically for these sort of items when I pop online, then sort them by price (from low to high, obviously - I wonder how many people actually choose the option "price high to low"? I've only ever done it by accident) and search only for items in my size if possible to avoid disappointment.

And then I spend an absolute shitload of money. Because, well, my name is Paula and I'm a shopaholic . . . and a dressaholic.

Anyway, here is a selection of my outfits from my most recent holiday. I've included links to any I actually have links for since I did get compliments on a few of them when I posted them on instagram over the week. You are welcome.


This Boohoo bardot dress was picked up on sale from asos - link here
This Only dress, also from asos but not in the sale, is a bit longer than my usual style but I felt like the length, combined with the Bardot neckline and animal print would be perfect for my holiday. The dress can be found here.


This Boohoo off-the-shoulder gingham number was probably the dress I was looking forward to wearing the most. It is sooo cute and best of all? It was a mere six pounds in the boohoo sale. AND . . . it's still available. What are you waiting for? It can be found right here.

Another asos find, I couldn't resist the pattern and style of this QED London dress. Link here.
 
I go to Ibiza in less than a month's time (don't hate me) and I'm sure all four of these dresses will be making a reappearance when I'm there also . . . but I also can't guarantee I won't end up spending even more money on new outfits for that holiday too. We'll see . . .like I said, I have a problem!

Do you like these dresses? When you're off on holiday are you a need-a-whole-new-wardrobe type of person too, or do you always just return to old favourites? I'd love to know.






Friday, 18 August 2017

LET'S TALK ABOUT TAE BO!

Some people never forget their first love.

Mine was probably Tae Bo.





I read about it back when I was in my early twenties and trying to lose weight - someone from "Melrose Place" was being interviewed about their fitness regime and talking about how they did Tae Bo classes. I had no idea who the actress was (I only ever saw the first series of the show and she definitely wasn't on that particular series) but she had a good body and I was utterly intrigued by the idea of a workout consisting of punches and kicks. It sounded like the kind of workout that even unfit little old me could get on board with.

I did my research and I eventually bought a VHS (I know - how old am I!!!) of a Tae Bo workout - it was the only one I could find at the time in my local Woolies and it cost me something ridiculous like sixteen pounds, but I was so excited. It was just a basic workout but I was ridiculously excited about it and loved it. Combined with my calorie counting, I lost loads of weight and really toned up.

Over the years since, I've forgotten about Tae Bo, then remembered about it and fallen in love with it all over again. Well, as much as *I* can fall in love with exercise - let's just say I like it more than any other workout. Why do I think it's so good?

1) Time goes much quicker doing Tae Bo than any other workout. Possibly because you're concentrating on trying to get a move or a combo right and it means that you don't notice the time as much.

2) It's really high energy but you don't necessarily need to jump around a lot. I hate jumping around too much as my ankles and legs get sore easily. Also, I live in a third floor flat and I don't want my downstairs neighbours to think there's a baby elephant living upstairs doing aerobics.

3)You're working your core so much without even really realising it. Jabbing across the body works your waist and there's loads of sneaky other moves that are pretty much standing-up crunches but combined with other moves so you don't notice as much.

4)There is little more therapeutic after a shit day than punching and kicking the air while imagining someone who has really really fucked you off that day. Trust me. It's truly magical.

And then there's one final amazing thing - I don't really like working out in the morning, I'm usually too tired and I don't always have time to wash my hair after a workout in the morning. However, I've found a number of short eight minute workouts online which means I can painfully quickly wriggle in and out of my straitjacket sports bra, do a decent quick workout without too much bouncing around, and then jump quickly in the shower without having to wash my hair . . . because I've felt like I've worked hard, but it's over fast and while I'm sweaty, I haven't reached the sweaty hair stage.  For me, this is just a little bonus workout, I still try and get something else done later, but it makes me feel good to have gotten a little additional workout prior to work because it does make you feel a bit more alert and ready for anything.

These workouts are on youtube and are completely free . . . and, as I said, they're over with in less than ten minutes!

This one is probably my favourite



I don't like this one quite as much but it's good for a wee change



And this one calls itself an eight minute workout but it also has quite a long warm-up with stretches at the start and a short cool down, so while the main workout is eight minutes, it works out as more a 15 minute workout in total. It's a bit more involved than the previous two, with a bit more lower body workout thrown in, so it's definitely worth a shot if you have a wee bit more time to spare.



If you've never entered the world of Tae Bo before, I would definitely recommend it. There are absolutely LOADS of workouts available free on youtube  apart from the ones I've embedded in this post, so it's definitely worth a look on there - there are also plenty of DVDs available of the workouts on amazon - have a look here - and some of them are pretty cheap so if you try the youtube workouts and like it you can build up a little collection of DVDs if you're so inclined.

Just watch out for that Billy Blanks, if he tells you "one more set" he's usually lying and you'll still be doing that "one more set" four sets later. Be warned! ;-) BUT it's old school, it's fun, it's therapeutic and it works you out - what more can you ask for? I'd definitely recommend it!

Have you ever tried Tae Bo?