Tuesday, 14 July 2015

CHEER ME UP TUESDAY: THE RETURN!!

Once upon a time I started a blog series called Cheer Me Up Tuesday, because as far as I'm concerned Tuesdays are my least favourite day of the week. It kind of fell by the wayside in recent years but I've decided it's about time, three years since I last re-visited it, to return to it.

Yup. In much the same way that Justin brought sexy back, I am bringing Cheer Me Up Tuesday back. Deal with it.






That's it for today - don't want to spoil you too much in one post! I hope this helps if you too suffer from the "Tuesday is a Shit Day" syndrome, and feel free to share any funnies you may have yourself. :-)

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: LOCH LOMOND . . .


There are little certainties in life . . . but one thing you can pretty much always guarantee is "The Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond" being played near the end of a Scottish wedding reception. In my case, it even happened at my godmother's 50th birthday party. It's a great song, a great tradition . . . and its namesake is a fantastic place. One of my very favourite places, both in Scotland and in the world!

It's only a short drive away from Glasgow, which is something I'm very thankful for because I find that looking at it instantly makes me feel calmer and happier. It's so beautiful, and given the size of it, there are many places to stop and admire the view around the loch, from man-made viewpoints to tiny beaches

Boyfriend on one of the many aforementioned beaches. :-)


Just look! Look at it! Isn't it bee-yootiful?

(I'd also like to point out that no filters have been used in the taking of these photographs. Just sayin'...That's how bloody lovely this place is naturally!)


It's gorgeous no matter the weather. But it is best in the sunshine, be that the summer (see pics above) or the winter (pics below). Back in the winter we stayed over in Inverbeg. We found a little beach and, wrapped up with a flask of ginger wine . . . I mean, SOUP, hot soup, honest . . . we sat and just watched the loch in all its beauty. And skimmed stones. Well, HE did. I tried, failed and probably had a strop about it.




And yet another beautiful beach!



But it's just such an awesome place. I mean . . . look at this pics. Is there really a more beautiful place just miles from a bustling city centre? Personally I struggle to think of any examples.

Then again, I'm probably biased . . .

You may want to visit here for more information. Or, alternatively, you could just go to Loch Lomond itself right now!

Where is your favourite place in Scotland (or place you most want to visit)? Feel free to share in the comments.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

A NOT-SO-SLOW SLOW COOKER CURRY!


When my brother asked me last Christmas what I wanted as a present, I decided to go for a much-hyped item that I'd wanted for a while . . . a slow cooker. It seemed ideal to me - the idea of throwing things into it in the morning and coming home to a yummy meal pretty much ready for me.

There's one problem - I'm afraid to go out all day and leave the bloody thing on! I know, I know, there's not meant to be enough of a current running through it or something scientific like that, but I'm a worrier and I wouldn't be able to relax all day thinking of the potential repercussions.

Fortunately there's one thing I can still make. It's yummy, it's healthy and . . . best of all it takes a mere two hours in the slow cooker . . . which means I can make it after I get home from work and don't need to worry about it cooking all day! I know it defeats the whole point of a slow cooker but I guess it at least means I get some use out of it? ;-)

So . . . I present to you . . . RED THAI SALMON CURRY!

I got the original recipe from the BBC Good Food slow cooker book, but after trying it for the first time I adapted it a little to suit my own tastes. It's ridiculously easy and delicious. That being said, I'm not too au fait with thai food so I definitely think it would need fine-tuning depending on your own taste - looking at the comments on the BBCGF website might help you with some inspiration of your own.

This version serves 2. And hasn't disappointed me yet. I know some people make their own thai paste. I don't. I just use the shop bought stuff. I once looked into making it myself and the list of ingredients was so long I just thought "Fuck this." I use reduced fat coconut milk, which is what the original recipe advised, and I've just stuck with that since to save some calories. You can obviously choose to use the full fat stuff if you want!

  • Vegetable/sunflower oil
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons thai red curry paste
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 courgette
  • Approx 200ml reduced fat coconut milk
  • Approx 240g salmon (you can remove the skin if you prefer it that way/are trying to be Slimming World friendly. I don't.)

Heat up the oil in a frying pan, then chuck in about a tablespoon of the thai red curry paste, followed by the chopped up red onion, frying for approximately five minutes. Meanwhile you might want to get the rest of your veg chopped up.

(When it comes to the courgette, I will either chop it up into thin slices or use my julienne peeler to transform it into thin strips.)

Cut the salmon up. This is the point where I use about five different knives trying to work out which one will cut through the skin. Which is okay as the boyfriend usually does the dishes. ;-)

Throw it all into the slow cooker on low and forget about it for two hours. Or, if you're anything like me, keep going into the kitchen to check on it and ensure the appliance hasn't went on fire.


I usually serve this with basmati rice, or if I'm being extra good, cauliflower rice. Last time I made it, I had half the usual amount of basmati and added some roasted vegetables on the side. Like I keep saying though, you can do what you want. It's nice to have some carbs to soak up the delicious sauce though!

Although as far as I'm concerned, I don't really need ANY sort of excuse to include carbs! Mmmm....

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

HAPPY FLAT-IVERSARY TO ME!!!

Today marks the two year anniversary of me moving into my own flat after just shy of ten years in a flatshare.

I remember writing a post not long before I moved about all of the things that had happened to me in that flatshare - the relationships, friendships, work stuff and break-ups. Obviously in close to ten years, you are going to have a lot of memories and ups and downs.

But in these past two years, a lot has happened too. And it's all been good stuff thankfully.

One of my friends said to me not long after I moved that she thought the flatshare had been holding me back. She may have been right - pretty much as soon as I moved good things started happening.

One of my friends, who was pregnant, had a baby the day after I moved. Then one of my other good friends got married that same week. The next thing was the three week heatwave we had, which was absolutely AMAZING and also miraculous.

A couple of months passed in the flat, loving life, loving living on my own . . . and then in the space of less than a fortnight I got promoted again and met the fella. Well, I say "met" him . . . I'd known him for eight years (he even featured in my blog a few years ago!) , but you know what I mean.

I'm still in this flat now and I love it. . . although it looks like I've still just moved in due to the sheer amount of CRAP I own and haven't put away.  I actually have boxes that I still haven't unpacked! It's actually ridiculous. I'm completely ashamed of myself.

But I love it.

I can use the loo when I want. I can walk about naked if I want. It's usually too cold to actually DO that, but it's an option. I can cook when I want. My dirty dishes are mine. (Or, to be honest, the fella's - we have an agreement that I cook and he does the dishes. This works well as far as I'm concerned as I've always hated dirty dishes.) When I come in after a shit day I don't have to make small talk with flatmates on the way to my room for a cry. I don't even feel LIKE crying most of the time.

It's definitely been a better time.

I should have done it years ago!

Happy 2nd flat birthday to me. :-)

Saturday, 27 June 2015

THE MORNING AFTER THE DRUNKEN EMAIL . . .

So Google have apparently released an "unsend" button for if you have sent one of those drunken emails which you are later going to regret.

Sounds handy doesn't it? Until you realise that actually the window of opportunity to unsend an email is a mere thirty seconds in total.

THIRTY SECONDS???

I could send SEVERAL emails I later regret in that period of time. And, like the dj who was talking about it on the radio said, it's not going to help the drunken text messages. Or facebook messaging. Or twitter-private-messaging. Or TWEETING. Although I suppose you can at least ultimately delete your tweets.

Let's face it - you rarely get the "Oh SHITE, why the hell did I send that email?" until the following day. When you regain consciousness with a furry mouth and a fuzzy head and that horrid niggling feeling that something isn't quite right. "What did I do last night?" you wonder. "I did something I . . . shouldn't have done, didn't I? DIDN'T I?" And then grab your phone and, while wincing with pain from the stabbing hungover headache, start trawling through your social media. Facebook status? Clear. Texts? Nothing untoward (unless you deleted them while still under the influence - which does happen!) Twitter? All fine.

Email?

OH GOD.

And that's when you discover that long winded email you sent to your ex, asking for another chance, or having a rant about the break-up when you had pretended all along to be fine with it. Basically letting the crazy out. BIG TIME.

That's never happened to me.

Honest. :-/

Thirty seconds after you sent that email, you didn't regret it. Thirty minutes after sending it, you probably STILL didn't regret it. An hour later, you were probably passed out and had forgotten all about it.

It's always the next day that you regret the act of writing and sending the email.

So is a thirty second window really a help? Only if it's just a silly little trivial point that you have remembered and want to change? A spelling/grammar faux pas or something along those lines. Not a mortifying email to an ex.

Which, let's face it, is inevitably the type of email that someone is going to regret.

Bravo and all that, google, but what we really need is a 12 hour time-lapse on any emails sent after 11pm on a weekend night so we can delete them the second we wake up and realise we have been absolute drunken eejits!

30 seconds? It really isn't going to help us.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

ON MY CHECK-IN ADDICTION . . .

World, I have a problem. I think it's time I admit it. It's oh so hard for me to do so . . . but I feel I need to face up to the issue if I want to resolve it.

The problem is, I don't WANT to resolve it. Because I'm addicted . . . to hotels!

This year alone, I have stayed in at least ten. And I'm pretty sure I'm downplaying that.  I mean, they're not all fancy or anything - several of them have been Travelodges! But staying at home or at the boyfriend's all weekend just seems a bit boring. We feel like we want to go out and do stuff! I know we can do stuff at home but we like to get away to different environments and see different things from what we can in the Glasgow area.

Plus it's lovely to go to a lovely clean room, freshly made up for you with clean bedlinen, without all the clutter I usually have in my own flat (and only the clutter I can make is whatever I have brought along with me), with toiletries I haven't had to buy myself and more often than not a better selection of tv channels than I have in my own flat!

Add to that the fact that there tends to be a lack of kitchen facilities in a hotel room which means that I can't cook and MUST either go out for dinner or have a hotel bed picnic . . . AND I have no dishes to deal with afterwards. (Who am I kidding, I don't wash dishes, I leave that to the fella.)

We went through a phase earlier on in the year where we would go somewhere one night at the weekend and as soon as we got back to my flat and reality, we would immediately be on booking.com looking for another night away for the following weekend.  I think between January and March we were away more weekends than we were at home!

Then reality kicked in and we realised we couldn't maintain this sort of lifestyle and would have to rein it in a bit . . . we tried to wean ourselves off it gradually, going cold turkey was NOT an option. We ended up at a £30 a night Travelodge in the middle of a service station in Perth and Kinross with some bottles of wine and some M&S picnic food. You might think this was a new low, but it was actually still an awesome night away!

See? Here was the actual aforementioned hotel picnic (minus some of the wine bottles obviously!)

And after that we tried to cut down in a major way on our nights away - maybe only ONE WEEKEND a way a month or one night every couple of weeks? That sort of thing. I guess that's still a lot. For other people. Not for us though. :-(

It's too late for us to prove to the rest of our friends that we're not loaded now though. As far as they're concerned, we're away every weekend and rolling in dosh. And if someone says to one of us "Where are you going THIS weekend then?" and we have to say "Um - well, we're actually staying in this weekend actually" we can actually FEEL the weight of their disappointment bearing down on us.

But sometimes - and I KNOW this may sound amazing but it's true - SOMETIMES one of us has other plans that don't include the other.

Take this weekend, for example. He's off to see AC/DC. And as for me? Well, I'm seeing Dawn.

What are Dawn and I doing?

Um . . .

We're going away to stay in a hotel for a night.

Yep.

The addiction continues I suppose...

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

ON THE SCOTTISH "SUMMER" . . . *

*I debated adding "Or lack thereof" to the end of this post title, but I felt like putting the word summer in inverted commas probably would render that redundant anyway.

I am getting absolutely sick of the lack of decent weather in Scotland of late. Okay, so we've definitely always got the shitty share of the sunshine in the UK, but this year Mother Nature is just ripping the utter piss out of it.

She's laughing and pointing at us when we go out in bare legs and sandals of a seemingly sunny morning only to find the heavens have opened and are actually SHITTING on us by lunchtime. She's probably got a little reality show or youtube channel set up, secretly filming our na├»ve disappointment and finding it hilarious, along with the rest of the world.

Could we just have a couple of days IN A ROW where the weather is actually decent? Just one heatwave that lasts a week? Or that actually coincides with a weekend for a change? A chance to fight over the few outdoor seats THAT ARE ACTUALLY IN THE SUNSHINE AND NOT THE SHADE in the pubs around Scotland?

To be able to have the sun stay out long enough for us to actually drive to a beach and SUNBATHE on it for a couple of hours? Or to be able to plan a barbeque a couple of days in advance?

I keep remembering feeling exactly this way two years ago and then in July, by some sort of miracle, we had some of the most beautiful weather I ever remember in my lifetime. It lasted something like three weeks, continued over weekends, and was absolutely amazing. One time I remember sitting out in the sunshine and when I checked the weather on my phone, it was actually one degree hotter in Glasgow than it was in Lanzarote! LANZAROTE! IN JULY!?!

I think that July 2013 was obviously a blip in the universe and now Scotland has been returned to sporadic-at-best sunshine . . . FOREVER.

Mother Nature, if you're reading this though? Feel free to prove me wrong . . .

Sunday, 21 June 2015

A WEE CATCH-UP . . .

I've been kind of missing in action of late. Life has just been pretty busy - what's been happening with me?

I've been to Corfu for a start. It was brilliant. We didn't go back to the same place as last year as we'd initially hoped to do - they'd done the place up after we left and put the prices up a good bit. Instead we found a hotel with a waterpark inside it in Sidari. It was a great wee place - really enjoyed it although we made the mistake of booking the same week as the English half term so there were a lot of loud kids. Oh well... you can't have everything!

We also popped up North to a caravan near Banff for a couple of days prior to Corfu. It was a lovely two days, the caravan was so peaceful, the sunsets were amazing, and it's a lovely part of the world. Expect an upcoming Scotland the Beautiful post on the area soon! (Also forthcoming in that series will be a post on one of my very favourite places in the world - Loch Lomond.)

I've been trying to get into running for the five thousandth time (approximately) - I even went as far as to buy new running shoes to see if I could run better. Turns out I can - I'm still shit at it, but I'm trying. I went running twice last week - will see if I can ramp it up a bit over the next few weeks. The boyfriend has a half marathon and full marathon to train for in the next few months so hopefully this will help encourage me. Not that I'll ever reach that stage myself!

I won a competition in work for the second time when I was in Corfu - just before Christmas I won The Joker in work (I'll explain about it another time) and won more than 700 pounds. I then won 600 pounds in the same contest in May. NO ONE ELSE HAD WON IT SINCE THE LAST TIME I WON IT. (I was quite glad I was out of the country when I won the second time.) Since I was skint, the money has pretty much evaporated, and all I have left is the money for a weekend in Campbeltown in a fortnight's time. Oh well. It was nice while it lasted. :-)

I also got the secondment I've been doing in work for the past few years on and off finally made permanent which is a relief. It's good to have some stability now. :-)

I've been researching other places I want to visit in Scotland and am obsessed with the North Coast 500 right now - I am determined to get there at some point - it's just a matter of trying to work out when we can fit it in. It seems a shame to try and squeeze it into a normal length weekend! I WILL make it there though.

I'm trying to get my blogging mojo back so expect me to be back on here more regularly again from now on. (I'll try my best anyway.) So . . .how have you all been? ;-)

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL . . . MULL OF GALLOWAY!

 
Ever wondered where the southern-most point in Scotland is, but just been too lazy to google it? Let me set your mind at ease - it's the Mull of Galloway in Dumfries & Galloway. We visited down there the other week, after a cheeky wee overnight stay in Stranraer.
 
On the drive down there, the weather was decidedly lacking. It made for some decent waves though! (We got to drive through these on the road!) Luckily as we neared the southernly point, the weather started to clear up and we got to see some pretty scenery and beaches.
 
 
It was pretty foggy once we arrived but the mist was thankfully burned off by the sun for about half an hour and we got to see the scenery in all its beauty!
 
 
For that half hour, it was gloriously warm and we could have been abroad!

 










For more information, go here.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN . . .

It's that time of year again.

The time where I renounce all chocolate, alcohol and pretty much anything that is good and brings enjoyment to my life.

The time where I overdose on sit-ups and crunches (while wishing they were CRUNCHIES), dust off my weights and trusty loyal kettlebell, pledge to do at least an hour of exercise a day, and swear off fun. (Unfortunately I have never reached the point where I consider exercise "fun". I envy those people who can.)

Yep... the holiday is booked.

I am going to Corfu in two and a half weeks. I have known I was going to Corfu for about two weeks so far, which has given me a month to get into some semblance of a shape. Other than "couch potato" shape.

Although, to be honest, I reckon I'm more of a "wine glass" shape at the moment.

And I was being good. I had my meals all planned out in advance last week. There was protein, good fats, good carbs. Vegetables. Loads of vegetables. Basically everything that's meant to be good for you. I managed to resist wine on more than one day. On Friday I exercised in the morning (I had a day off) and then walked all the way into the city centre and back - a round trip of about six miles and I burned about 500 calories each way, according to my Polar watch anyway. (Although it sometimes thinks I have no heart-rate whatsoever, so I tend to take its outcome with a pinch of salt.)

Anyhoo... I got to yesterday. Weighed myself, feeling like I HAD to have dropped a good few pounds from last time I weighed myself.

Nope. I HAD PUT ON THREE POUNDS!

I promptly went out for lunch and wine to drown my sorrows.

But as of tomorrow... I'm back on it. Okay, I've only got two and a half weeks to Corfu and therefore my desired body is realistically outwith my reach in that period of time. But I need to get into some sort of routine.  And even if I can only drop a couple of pounds (to be fair, yesterday saw the beginning of "Aunty Rose's monthly visit" so that could have attributed to the weight gain), surely I'll still feel better than I'm feeling now?

Let's see, shall we? I will, as ever, be documenting the whole depressing trying-to-lose-weight process on my instagram, so feel free to pop by and follow me there if you haven't already. (Just ignore the starter I posted from my dinner out tonight, 'kay? Thanks.)

Wish me luck!

Friday, 1 May 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: SKYE!!!

The bridge joining Skye to mainland Scotland
As you may know, a few weeks ago me and the fella headed up to Skye, a first visit for both of us. And, with the exception of probably the weather, it didn't disappoint!

Skye is an island just off the North West of Scotland and one of the Inner Hebrides group of islands. Although it is an island, it is actually also now joined to the mainland by a bridge. So although it took us half an hour to sail from Mallaig to the bottom of the island on the way there, we took the bridge back and were on it for half a minute max. So surprised we were at the short length of the bridge, we turned around and drove back onto Skye for another twenty minutes or so before we headed home!

There was tons to see in Skye - unfortunately we only had two days to try and fit it all in and, with the aforementioned bad weather, we struggled to see everything we wanted to see.

Skye isn't really known for its beaches, which is a shame since there are loads of gorgeous beaches on nearby islands and nearby mainland! We decided to go and visit Claggan Coral Beach though as the pics we'd seen online looked pretty. Unfortunately that was the point where the weather decided to turn... and the tide had only bloody came in too! However, the part of it we could actually see was ridiculously pretty.




Inside the Fairy Glen
Kilt Rock was the most accessible sight in Skye - it's just at the side of the road on the edge of a cliff and, as you know, I do love my waterfalls. This was a good 'un. Although a little precarious to try to photograph - be careful not to drop your phone!!!




Neist Point was the first place we visited when we got to Skye, on the western side of the island. Pretty views... it was much MUCH colder than it appears from the photos though!



It may be apparent from my face how cold it is!

Portree was a pretty little place and we stopped there after getting soaked at the beach to get some fish and chips - yum!


But my favourite of all of the sights I saw in Skye has to be the Quiraing.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiraing Just look at this landscape!!! Definitely worth a visit and a walk around.




Boyfriend decided to run down the side of a cliff to explore a cave. I was not happy.

 
If you have the chance to go to Skye at any point, I would definitely recommend it - it was utterly gorgeous. Even the sunset. :-)  This was the view from the hotel we were staying in, sunset over Uig.
 
 
For more information, go here.
 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

LETTUCE BE HEALTHY!


I love the idea of being one of those "healthy" people. The people I see on instagram in approximately every third photo. The people who look all toned and glowing and post videos of their intense workouts alongside beautiful snaps of their delicious - but - healthy meals, usually made of ingredients I've never heard of and would probably only find on one of my bi-annual trips to Whole Foods in Giffnock.

They are so fit and happy and they make me sick because I'm not one of them.

(They're usually also Australian which makes me even more jealous, given I live in rainy Scotland. But I digress.)

The thing is, it's not that hard to be healthy. I just make it so by thinking that I need all these fixes that I can only get in Holland & Barretts or Whole Foods. All you need is to go to the supermarket, pick up some salad vegetables and protein and you have a million salad ideas you can try out. Just layer on some mixed leaves, peppers, cherry tomatoes and spring onion (not cucumber. Just no. I hate the stuff) and then you can chuck anything else on top of this base!

Some of my favourites are:

  • Egg, bacon and avocado
  • Chicken and cheese (as pictured!)
  • Salmon and avocado
  • Tuna mayo and red onion

All just so easy and also healthy. And low-carb, if that's something you try to stick to as much as possible. It's also a good excuse to have a lot of your favourite protein without the guilt you would have if you added it to pasta or rice. Result!


We all need some salad in our life . . . I'm all for it, especially if it means it frees up my calories for a glass of wine or twelve!!! ;-)

What's your favourite thing to put in a salad?



This blog post was produced in collaboration with Florette.


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: ARDNAMURCHAN PENINSULA!


This weekend we headed up to Skye, but decided to have an overnight en route at the Inn at Ardgour. This is across Loch Linnhe, which is between Glencoe and Fort William and necessitated a trip on the Corran Ferry, a car ferry leaving from Onich and arriving pretty much at the doorway of the Inn. I had never even heard of this ferry, which takes a mere three minutes to navigate the breadth of the loch, but I think this was the main selling point of staying in this particular inn. (FYI: the inn itself was actually fab anyway!)

Three minutes after boarding we found ourselves on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, which according to Wikpedia is noted for being "very  unspoilt and undisturbed". I can see why. It is mostly single track roads and on a quick drive we went further south of the island after checking into the hotel, as well as our trip north the following day to get to Mallaig for the Skye ferry, we didn't encounter many cars. We also encountered a lot of sheep in the road - they are obviously not used to having a lot of vehicles interrupting them. On the trip South we discovered one sheep determinedly lazing in the road on the way back. He was NOT for budging!


On the trip North we encountered a whole welcome committee of sheep on the road! They moved out of the way but it was in a very much "aye, we'll move, but in our own time, ken???" sort of way.

We also saw a few baby lambs at the side of the road. Absolutely gorgeous!

The peninsula was lovely, and I'd definitely go back. There's not much there, granted, but it's naturally pretty. Dramatic landscape, pretty beaches, lochs aplenty and random waterfalls. And the aforementioned sheep are DEFINITELY characters. ;-)










 For more information, check out this website. Honestly, if you're in the area and have a couple of hours to spare, it's worth a visit. The ferry costs 8 pounds for a car (passengers included) but if you can find somewhere to park at Onich, you can travel across without a car for free. (You can also drive around but it is about forty miles.)

I also highly recommend the Inn at Ardgour. Great wee place.