Tuesday, 29 September 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: THE KINTYRE PENINSULA . . .


At the start of July this year, the fella and I decided to go and stay in Campbeltown for the weekend. Around a three hour drive from Glasgow, Campbeltown sits on the Kintyre peninsula and neither of us had been around to it before, so it seemed like the ideal destination for us. And we do like a peninsula . . .

The drive takes in many pretty sights, which makes the three hours seem much faster. Well unless you get stuck behind a timber lorry like we did. You see Loch Lomond and Loch Long amongst other views, as well as driving along the Rest and Be Thankful road, which is one of my favourites.

Once we arrived, I found myself being groped by one of the local old men within ten minutes of entering one of the pubs, so that was nice. :-/ Luckily the only way was up from there!

Campbeltown itself was very pretty, pervy old man aside, with a nice selection of pubs and restaurants. And there's actually quite a lot to see in the surrounding area!

Below is Davaar Island, which is a tidal island only accessible by a shingle causeway, depending on the tide. We couldn't time it right. Oh, and I was optimistically wearing sandals... which apparently were not recommended to walk in. Oh well... I know for next time. I'd like to go across though. There's a cave which has a life-size painting of the crucifixion, for a start. As well as numerous other caves.





Ailsa Craig, from the other side!


The sheep rule the road


Boyfriend was delighted to find a cave elsewhere though, in the form of the Keil Caves. He likes a good cave.



I was not quite as impressed by it. You can probably tell.

And then we decided to go to the Mull of Kintyre, just so we could see if Paul McCartney had been making a fuss about nothing.

Unfortunately the Mull of Kintyre had decided to become invisible for the day. It was somewhat misty, as you can see from the next couple of pictures.

So misty in fact that my hair actually went frizzy from the damp air.



And so misty that the sheep in the below picture look really scary and a bit like ghost sheep!



We abandoned the Mull of Kintyre mission and drove back the way we had came. Luckily the mist hadn't affected some of the other views, like this pretty beach. We could almost have been abroad and it seemed like the Mull must be in a different world...





We headed back to Campbeltown for dinner and the inevitable accompanying drinks, to find much improved weather!



The following day we started making the journey back to Glasgow, via Tarbert. Luckily, despite the odd shower, the weather favoured us again and we were able to get some more pretty pictures!




Posing in Tarbert!
 All in all, with the exception of the misty Mull of Kintyre, it was a successful weekend. I'd definitely recommend a trip to the Kintyre peninsula, if you haven't been before! You can get a ferry over there too, but I would advise driving at least one direction so you get to take in The Rest and be Thankful. Look how pretty!


You can find out more information about the area here.

Monday, 28 September 2015

THE BIG OFFICE-BAKE OFF . . . AND A CHEESECAKE RECIPE!


There was a bake-off in work for charity last week. Everyone who signed up for it was basically assigned something to make. I was given cheesecake as my assignment, which was both a blessing and a curse.

I mean, how many flavours of cheesecake can you get? About a million! So I could basically make any sort of cheesecake I had ever dreamed of.

Only limited by the fact that I had never made a cheesecake before.

I didn't let that stop me though - I was up for the challenge! After considering a few different ideas, I found a recipe for Kinder Bueno cheesecake and decided that would be The One. Unfortunately I didn't have enough Kinder Bueno bars . . . so I decided to add some white chocolate into the mix too!

You can visit here for the recipe I used but I'll give you a brief overview of the process here. It's pretty simple - I mean, I managed to make it, and successfully at that, so it's virtually fool-proof.

Oh, and I came second in the competition, so I think that's a good sign of its deliciousness!

Stick digestive biscuits in a bag and bludgeon them into crumbs with a rolling pin. This is very therapeutic if you picture someone you really hate while you're doing it. It is also a very effective method of making sure your biscuits are very VERY finely crumbed. ;-)


Melt butter in the microwave and mix it in with the digestive crumbs. Once this is fully combined, spread it out in a dish. That's your base all ready to go!


Now time for the filling. Whip up Philadelphia (go big and full-fat - I'm sure you're already under no illusions that this is a diet recipe!), mix in icing sugar. Whip up cream, which takes a bit more time (probably a bit more efficient if you have an electric whisk - I sadly did not) and mix all of this together.


Melt the Kinder Buenos and white chocolate in the microwave. You could probably replace this with any other chocolate goodie - trust me though, the Bueno and white chocolate is a fab combo and I would recommend it. I used three full Kinder Bueno bars and about eight squares of chocolate. Mix the melted chocolate into the cream cheese/cream mixture and spread on top of the base. I used a fourth Kinder Bueno bar on top of the cheesecake for decoration.


Refrigerate.

And that's it. You're done. Prepare for delicious cheesecake-yness in your mouth.

What's your favourite type of cheesecake?


Thursday, 10 September 2015

ON PUB CRAWLS . . .

Ah, the pub crawl... it always sounds like such a laugh doesn't it? Trying out loads of different pubs, seeing lots of different faces, gradually snaking through a specific area getting progressively drunker with each pub... always great in theory, right?

Except I'm rubbish at them.

If I've spent twenty minutes trying to secure that table with the comfy sofas in the corner of the pub, I'm hardly going to want to leave after one or two drinks, am I? Maybe the drinks are cheap too, or it's easy to get served at the bar. Or perhaps I've only just worked out where the bathrooms are, and don't really want to go through that whole rigmarole again in a different establishment an hour later.  Or perhaps I've chosen to wear stupidly high heels and literally can't face another walk until closing time.

When me and the fella first got together and were looking for ideas for dates, I suggested a pub crawl in the Finnieston area of the city. The plan was to take in many bars in one Friday night. In reality we had four drinks in the first pub because it was relatively quiet and we had a lovely seat. We finally decided to move on, reluctantly, walked into a really busy pub... and a seat became empty. So of course we sat in it and ended up staying there for the rest of the night because... well, it had to be a sign that we weren't meant to move on any further, right?

We decided to make it a pub crawl over a couple of weeks instead (yes, I know that's not really a thing, but humour me, 'kay?) - the following week, full of good intentions, we made it to another two pubs, the week after just one more... a couple of weeks later we made it to the next one in the crawl order...

I think, nearly two years down the line, we're still only about halfway through the Finnieston pub crawl. So I think you can all agree that we're both rubbish at pub crawls.

If you can be bothered though, and are in the Glasgow area, I'm going to suggest a couple of potential pub crawls for you . . .

FINNIESTON - obviously, this has many good pubs but you may find, like me, that it's hard to leave some of the pubs. There's old school pubs, trendy bars and tons of nice places to eat... as well as many a chippy to get some stodge down you!

BATH STREET - probably your slightly higher-brow end of the Glasgow pub crawl scene, Bath Street has a veritable shitload of bars for your drinking pleasure. Just watch if you're wearing heels and/or drunk... a lot of the bars are basement bars with steep steps so you might find yourself nursing many bruises along with your hangover.

BYRES ROAD - tons of bars in Byres Road in the west end . . . and you can throw in the trendy Ashton Lane bars for good measure. Plus it's handy for the subway. Which neatly leads me onto . . .

THE SUBCRAWL - get on the clockwork orange (our subway system) and get off at every stop, having a drink at the nearest bar before hopping back on and heading to the next station. Simple! It's a good way to see all the different areas of the city (this may be a debatable good point) but with fifteen stops to take in, be sure to take your poison wisely. I'm not even sure that *I* could manage fifteen glasses of vino blanco!


How's YOUR pubcrawling? And where's your favourite place to have one?

Sunday, 6 September 2015

MY ROADTRIP SOUNDTRACK . . .

I've made no secret of the fact that I love a road trip. But it's not only the journey or the destination that's important... the music accompanying the trip is just as important.

I don't know about you though but I tend to like a variety of tunes to listen to, rather than just one specific artist or band. And if you go looking at these "best driving songs ever" compilation albums, most of the time the choice of songs on them actually drives you mad. I feel like I could make a far superior album myself.

So what would I put on mine? I'm glad you asked . . .

1) System of a Down - Chop Suey!
Absolutely made for shout-scream-singing along with at high volumes. Windows rolled down only when on country roads without other people (apart from the boyfriend, of course) around to have to listen to my shit voice.

2) The Cardigans - My Favourite Game I'm sure this pops up on many a driving compilation anyway as they tend to like songs that are either a) about driving or b) featuring a video which involves driving (they're so original) but this one actually breaks the mould by being a good choice.

3) Clean Bandit - Dust Clears



Clean Bandit are one of my favourite bands, and Dust Clears is probably my very favourite track of theirs. A road trip is not complete without at least one listen to this.

4) Nelly - Ride With Me
Another driving related song choice but I love this. My favourite memory of it was driving along the side of Loch Lomond, I think on the way to Skye earlier this year, and I insisted on putting on an r&b compilation album much to the fella's chagrin. As we drove by the roadworks at Pulpit Rock this was playing loudly with the windows down, and I like to think it livened up the workers' day.

5) Prince - When Doves Cry
This frequently comes on the radio when we're in the car... however, we tend to miss the start of it, which really pisses me off, as it's such a classic. At least if my album had it on there, I could listen any time I wanted.

6) The Cranberries - Zombie
  I frequently hurt my throat doing my best Dolores O'Riordan wailing along with this song. Seriously. This song should actually come with a warning for my health. Anytime he hears the opening chords of this the boyfriend warns me to try not to hurt myself. I never listen.

7) Michael Jackson - Give Into Me
Playing air guitar in the car is ace. I don't think this song needs any further justification for its inclusion on my list.

8) Bobby Brown - Two Can Play That Game
There's about a 50% change it'll be on the radio any time I'm on a roadtrip... so it would be weird for it not to be on my roadtrip album. Plus it's a brilliant song anyway.

9) Ocean Color Scene - The Riverboat Song
Throwback to my teens... and another one that's great to sing along with. Loudly.

10) Faith No More - Epic


I absolutely love this tune, although it's a very recent thing for me. I can scream along with it, dance in my seat AND play fake air guitar, so it has pretty much everything I want in a roadtrip song.


What would be on your own roadtrip soundtrack?

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: ARDVRECK CASTLE (NC 500) . . .

You know what I hate? When I have to walk for miles to see something interesting. I mean, I'll do it if I have to but sometimes it's nice to just find a little treasure at the side of the road as you're driving along.
 
 

The remains of the castle are on a peninsula on the edge of Loch Assynt. - when tides are high it can be cut off from the main land
 
On our North Coast 500 adventure, we headed North from Ullapool, passing another pretty beach on the way . . . Ardmair Beach.
 


A short drive later, we happened across the castle.

Or what's left of it.


Thought to be over 500 years old, not much remains of the original castle
 
 I have to admit, I prefer a ruined castle to its less ruined counterparts. A castle that ISN'T in ruin is really just a fancy house as far as I'm concerned. I like ones with nooks and crannies that aren't immediately obvious and ones you can climb around if you like.
 

 
As you can see, the fella enjoyed climbing around on it...
 




 



The castle ruins are thought to have two different ghosts. This is one of them... just kidding - that's just me!




And then it got better.... because there was a waterfall just across the road. Also within a very short walking distance! A bonus waterfall is always an awesome thing!

 
 
If you are driving around the North Coast 500 you can't really miss this . . . literally! Since it is on the side of the road. ;-)
 
Thank you to the lovely fella for providing some most of the pictures for this post!