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. (They do a good wee referral programme too so if you book using my link we both make £20! 

  • 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.