Sunday, 19 March 2017

LET'S FIND SOME BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO GET LOST

January saw me taking a trip down to London. Although I enjoy these annual visits down south immensely, there was still something about that plane journey that made me feel a little out of sorts. Like I was travelling in the wrong direction. So February saw a girl's family road trip over to the Isle of Arran. Which felt a lot more like the regular trips I had come to adore. Lots of choppy waters. Lots of local Scottish produce for dinner. Lots of rugged wilderness. 

So my next night away was a no-brainer. And my lovely pal Kirsty seemed like the ideal partner in crime to get out of the city with me for a couple of days. We booked Ballachulish, made plans to discover The Lost Valley & jumped in the car early last Sunday morning. Unfortunately the rubbish weather put paid to our original climbing plans (think knee deep river rapids style crossings whenever it rained), and so we decided to check out the slightly more sensible Fas na Cloiche at Glen Creran instead. 

And I am so glad we did. Glen Creran is not exactly on the tourist trail, which can only be a good thing when you see how undisturbed and unspoilt the scenery is. Between you & I, we may have got ourselves a little lost at the beginning and possibly walked the same circle around about three times. But ssshh because we're trying to pretend we are now seasoned pros at this. Seasoned pros who only go walking with a hip flask, a lip balm and an iPhone with no 3G or phone signal...

However we eventually got our bearings and discovered the secret little Fairy Bridge we had been so desperate to see. That looked just like something out of a Brother's Grimm tale. The one you saw no mention of on the tourist information boards that were erected at the beginning of the walk. Almost like they wanted to keep it a secret. It felt like we were the only people in those woods for miles. I think we might well have been.

Next we discovered an old & abandoned bothy. As creepy and fascinating as it probably was dangerous (the roof was caving in and there was a polite notice scrawled across the front door warning people not to enter). Being the 'we always touch wet paint' type of gals that we are, we obviously stuck our heads round the door to grab a few photos. And the eeriness of the abandoned pots and pans still dotted around the small building, along with the solitude and silence of those woods, felt like you were being made privy to a secret that no one else knew about.

We looped our way back to the car park in order to check out a very unusual looking tree that was growing from right out the middle of a massive rock and to nosily snap photos of all the unusual looking houses that were dotted around the edge of the loch. We even managed to stop and get a cracking view of Castle Stalker en route back to the hotel.



Where we checked in & I delighted in the fact that the swimming pool and sauna were open as they had been closed for refurbishment on my last visit. After a quick dip and a relaxing sauna, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at a pub across the road (somewhere else that had been closed down on my last visit). The food here was exceptional however the service abysmal so the less said about that the better. A nightcap in the hotel bar was made all the lovelier when we got chatting to a gorgeous & happy couple from LA who had gotten engaged that very day.

On the way home we drove the A85 so we could stop a while, take some good photos and breathe in all the clean air before we returned to the city smog.  I bleated on about my passionate and never-ending desire to get the hell out of the city the second Ava is old enough. Like I always do. Kirsty listened intently and shared in my excitement. Like she always does. 


I explained how my life had become one big quest to discover where I will end up.

How all I ever want to do is go on road trips, sleep in crappy hotels and add another little red sticker to the massive map of Scotland proudly hanging in my flat. How all I ever want to do is take pictures of abandoned castles and shimmering lochs. How all I ever want to do is speed along the A82 singing along to the same crappy songs I have had saved in my iPhone for years. Sipping the dregs of the Starbucks coffee I picked up in Dumbarton, knowing it'll be the last Starbucks I am going to see for a while.

How all I ever want to do is just go.

Monday, 13 March 2017

L O V E S


  1. Crossing the Rubicon. Who combine my two favourite things (craft beer & curry), in the tastiest ways possible. My favourite dishes? Their Butter Chicken is to DIE FOR, the pakora & pickles are a taste sensation & the Venison Madras complete & utter yum. I urge you to try it. In fact, I am heading back there this weekend for brunch with the lovely Sarah.
  2. Sundays. Oh how I love Sundays. Especially when they are filled with roast dinners, big long wind bracing walks, the weekly broadsheets, some sort of chocolatey pudding and then an early night with all the Sunday supplements spread out around you in bed.
  3. Hotel Breakfasts. Why do hotel breakfasts taste so much better than a home cooked fry up? Maybe it's just the excitement of being away. Or the excitement of not having to do your own dishes. The recent breakfast I had at The Isles of Glencoe was one of the nicest I have tasted in ages. And if you put banana bread out at breakfast time then you are always gonna make a fan out of me.
  4. Starbucks. But not just any Starbucks. The Starbucks on the A82 at Dumbarton. This is where all my best road trips begin. And popping in for an en route almond capp is fast becoming my favourite tradition.
  5. The Fall. Oh. My. Days. I only just got round to watching this creepy psychological BBC thriller. And I may have zapped through all three seasons in the space of about 4 days. If you haven't watched it then do it, even if for no other reason than to salivate over the lusciousness of Jamie Dornan.
  6. Interiors. I've never been hugely house proud or particularly bothered by my curtains before, but that was before I decided to buy! Now I am sofa buying, scandi chic pinning & picking out wall paints with an enthusiasm I've never had before! No one will be very surprised to hear that my new living room is going for a bit of a dark tartan theme!
  7. Weeknight Sunday Roasts. We love our roast dinners so much in this house that they have been making many an appearance during the week. In fact we even cooked a Sunday style full roast complete with homemade yorkies last Friday evening. Because to hell with convention.
  8. This amazing new Coldplay song. So I know many consider them rather blah, but I've always thought Chris Martin could do no wrong and I am loving their latest single. If it's a collaboration with The Chainsmokers does that make me down with the kids?
  9. Fas na Cloiche. Yesterday, I did this amazing walk with a good pal and it was so much fun! We discovered the cutest little hidden away Fairy Bridge next to a massive waterfall, an old abandoned bothy & a tree growing right out of the middle of a massive rock. Obviously I got tons of pictures and will be boring you with a full blog post very soon.
  10. Vegetarian food. I've been cooking up so many amazing veggie recipes for dinner recently and it's starting to seriously make me wonder whether I could go vegetarian full time. But then I remember I ate a sausage, 2 bits of bacon & some black pudding with that amazing hotel breakfast this morning so then think maybe not.

Monday, 6 March 2017

LIKE A ROLLIN' THUNDER CHASING THE WIND


Last year I visited the beautiful Isle of Skye. It was somewhere I had longed to go for a while, not just because I was desperate to dine in The Three Chimneys, but also simply to quench my endless thirst for a Scottish adventure. Once there I made sure I saw all the main highlights including Neist Point, The Quiraing, The Old Man of Storr & The Fairy Pools. But when I say saw, I pretty much just mean saw. Because as much as I love a Scotland based escape and a coffee & spotify fuelled road trip - I'm not exactly outdoorsy.


Apart from drinking in beer gardens or picking up dinner essentials at the local Farmer's Market. But apparently those don't count. So when visiting these amazing landmarks I mostly stayed in the car. I would obviously jump out and brace the harsh wind chill factor in order to get my Instagram shot (because if you don't Instagram it did it really happen?), but when it came to climbing up to actually meet that old guy of storr or ascending a few rocky feet to get to the best viewpoint at Neist, I was quite happy just to wait in the car. Because these shoes were definitely not made for walking thank you very much.


However somehow I managed to get talked into making the trek to the Fairy Pools. On what could only be described as a wet, muddy and miserable day. I'm genuinely convinced that if it wasn't for the large glass of lunchtime Sauv Blanc I had consumed pre-amble, I never would have got through it. It took about an hour & a half, I managed to get an entire boot (right up to the ankle), ensconced in a muddy bog and I pretty much moaned and complained the entire way there. However (between you & I), I secretly didn't mind it. Maybe enjoyed is too strong a word. But I definitely didn't hate it as much as my super girly, you'll never catch me camping persona would have had you believe.


Then I got back and the thought of climbing a hill, negotiating a wind beaten track or trekking through muddy bogs never occurred to me again. Particularly not when my usual nights away consisted of a comfy bed, a two course meal & a roaring fire. Then I became unwell. And I scared the life out of myself. And my daughter. And the people around me who cared deeply for my wellbeing. I spent a large part of 2016 medicated. I spent a large part of 2016 scared. I spent a large part of 2016 with a darkness inside me that intoxicated me to the point I felt it was often difficult to breathe. Or to move. Or to do simple basic functions like feeding or bathing my own child.

Around October I began to feel better. I began to recover. The enormity of how unwell I had actually been hit me. The desperate worry of the terrifying impact this might have had on my daughter hit me. And the enormity of how well I had managed to hide it from my work and my friends hit me too.


I decided that I had to do something positive. 2016 had become one of the worst years of my entire life. I had to see it out with a bang. I decided to do something different. Something that wasn't me. Something that took me right out of my comfort zone. Something good, positive and healthy that could be borne from all the mess. I'm aware that hill walking is probably a bit of an anti-climax. But anyone who knows me well can vouch that there was more chance of getting Trump at a women's rally than there was of getting me up a hill. I instructed my sister (who scoffed and said they'd never make it out the box), to buy me walking boots for my birthday. I hit up TK Maxx and bought the appropriate jacket, the hat and the gloves. I even bought a hip flask. This shit was about to get real.


I booked a night in Arrochar with a good friend who understood the real significance of that trip to me. And I made Ben Arthur my first foray into the world of hillwalking. And I did not regret it. I didn't regret one minute of the cold, relentless wind. I didn't regret a second of the lashing rain or the slippery scramble that saw us dangerously lose our footing on more than one occasion. I loved it. All four miserable hours of it. And I couldn't wait to do it again.

I decided to do Ben Arthur as a fuck you to 2016. Nothing more. However what actually happened was I developed a new obsession. A new love. A hobby that was a bit more constructive than just starting a gin collection. I have a few very good friends now who I climb with. And they are my go to people when I have a lot on my mind. Because there's very little else to do on those often ruthless climbs, than talk. I've lost count of the amount of problems I've went up those hills with. Only to return miles lighter. And it works both ways. There's many a pal problem I've helped thrash out on a steep ascent. And if you ask me, it's a sure fire way to get to know a person a little bit better. One steep hill is the equivalent of about 3 months of friendship in my book.

In fact I'm heading up to Ballachulish with one of them this very weekend. Where I can't wait to explore The Hidden Valley, where the MacDonalds of Glencoe apparently hid their rustled cattle. Then this summer I'm heading back up to Skye with another. 

And this time, the walking boots are most definitely coming with me.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

L A T E L Y

  • Gorgeous view of Holy Isle taken from the beach at Lamlash. Our hotel window looked right onto this amazing view and it was a pretty special thing to wake up to in the morning.
  • Gifts of beer & curry after my recent visit to Crossing the Rubicon . These guys put on quite the spread for us bloggers and I'll be filling you in on my favourite curries shortly!
  • Amaaaaazing Mother's Day chocolate cake baked by Ava's very cute little hands. She even made it dairy free. God that kid's a keeper.
  • Lunch of champions at The Glenisle Hotel which included some delicious smoked duck, venison, oak smoked salmon, beetroot chutney and some of my favourite Arran Blue cheese (not so dairy free).


  • A medley of smoked fish, green beans, cold new potatoes & boiled egg doused in Summer Harvest Raspberry dressing. Making up for the weekend on a Monday. 
  • I love me a craft beer. However I also love a peruse along the expensive aisles of Waitrose or paying over the odds for a jar of jam at a Farmer's Market. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered Home Bargains are selling bottles of Three Hop Craft Lager for only 69p a bottle.
  • I'm running out of different kinds of nut butters. Like seriously. This is a real addiction.
  • And speaking of tasty toast toppings, this delicious (and vegan) chocolate spread that my friend brought me back from Italy is like the poshest Nutella you ever tasted. I may have spent most of last night dunking dates into it. Who am I kidding? There were no dates.


  • Posing in Soho while catching up with some very good pals. I don't think I've ever laughed so much in one afternoon in my life.
  • Pints. I'm currently working my way through the entire beer list in The Doghouse. Needs must and all that.
  • Delicious salmon dish cooked by a pal while we gossiped over Sunday afternoon bellinis. This was the afternoon that also saw me take my first Uber. I'm catching up kids.
  • Still all about the brunch round our way come a weekend. If it doesn't contain avocado and a runny egg then I'm just not interested.


  • Gorgeous views over London while breakfasting at Aqua Shard. We picked the perfect day for it.
  • I finally got myself down Bramble Cafe in Giffnock for some brunch recently and it's safe to say I will be back. My green shakshuka was pretty damn tasty but my pal's amazing looking mushroom concoction had me salivating with envy.
  • A very cold, very annoyed Ava at The Cloisters asking me to hurry up taking endless photos of her so we could heat our bones back up inside. Which we did whilst wandering around The Hunterian Museum on a cold, grey, drizzly day.
  • Extremely cool looking paint tin cocktails at the very chilled Graphic Gin Bar. The drinks in here were so good that we may have returned for more the very next day.


  • One of my favourite recipes, cooked for friends recently. If you haven't made this Roasted Butternut Squash with Quinoa recipe yet then I demand you get on it immediately!
  • Cakes stops with my girl. The place may have been practically empty when we visited Villiers & Co on a recent blustery afternoon, but the Rocky Road tasted good and the coffee was hot and that was good enough for us.
  • My love of a good Dirty Martini is mixed with my annoyance that it is so bloody hard to find anywhere that makes a decent one in Glasgow... First world problems. The struggle is real. Blah blah blah, etc, etc, etc.
  • There is nothing that says lazy PJ day to me more than dippy eggs and soldiers. And that is exactly how I celebrated a recent afternoon spent in my most comfortable of loungewear watching movies and indulging in pick n mix for dessert.


  • A very decent steak (eaten by someone who rarely orders steak) and enjoyed with good pals at The Hawksmoor in Shoreditch. Washed down with a pretty tasty bottle of red and lot of giggles.
  • The gin collection is most definitely a thing these days and I'm adding bottles to it quicker than I am managing to drink them. I think this may be my favourite hobby yet.
  • A very happy face celebrating the fact that the kid and I are set to become proper bona fide homeowners at the end of March. We are absolutely in love with our new pad and although it's probably considered rather modest to some, it's a very big deal to us and we can't wait till everything is signed off and we can start celebrating!
  • Ava. At the Cloisters. Again. Because I didn't realise until the end of writing this that I had accidentally included the same picture twice. And I can't be bothered changing it. You can't say that I don't put my heart and soul into this blogging business, can you?
Now I'm off to dry out and eat lettuce. 

What have you lot been up to?


Friday, 24 February 2017

ARE WE SHARING TOO MUCH ON SOCIAL MEDIA?

As I drove to work this morning I listened to a report on Radio Scotland discussing the fact that our current generation of teenagers are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression & mental illness than ever before. Findings concede that among the reasons for this were exam stress, peer pressure & the unrealistic expectations put upon them by social media. I wasn't surprised. As someone whose life revolves around social media (from my job in digital marketing to this blog to my demanding & time consuming addiction to Twitter), I've often thought about how different Ava's teenage years will be compared to mine. Back in the days when Yahoo was your main search engine, BEBO was all the rage and you had to plug your computer into the wall & wait for a dial up tone before you could use it, it was a different time.

Ava has been born into an age of social media addiction. And I don't get excited at what she has to look forward to. Perfect yet probably photoshopped size 0 bodies being paraded in front of her every time she logs onto Instagram. Cyber trolls and group internet bullying on Twitter. Sexual predators who use Facebook Messenger to groom teenage girls for their own disgusting perversions. The list goes on... However the internet can be an informative, fun & forward thinking place. It's given me a career. The blog allows me the odd perk like free gin or a meal in a nice restaurant and it's supplied me with voucher codes when the lure of that gorgeous Agent Provocateur bikini or the Breton T Shirt became too enticing. But it also has a dark side. And when you spend a good part of your life avidly online, you become very aware of that.

I've received strange & unsettling emails at three in the morning from an anonymous blog reader who refused to say who he was yet thought it acceptable to tell me he knew where I lived. While I've only been on a handful of Tinder dates, I know others who've been catfished or tricked into meeting someone who wasn't the person on their profile picture. Only recently, after tagging my location in three different Instagram photos over the course of one day, I received a private message from a guy I had already asked to leave me alone jesting with rather sinister undertones that he could have spent the day following me around if he'd wanted to. And you know what?

He's right.

He probably could have. 

We are told endlessly to keep our profiles private, not to divulge when we go on holiday and to switch our location settings off. But as a blogger who uses her social media platforms as a way to drive more traffic towards her blog, it feels contradictory to hide my social handles away like that. So what do we do? I don't know. My Twitter is very much a blog profile. My handle is the name of my blog and my header is my logo. It's a vehicle to push my brand and to make sure people read my latest post. But most of my tweets still remain vastly personal. Instagram is where I get my kicks. I love posting photos of my latest kitchen creation, releasing tension with some cheesy, cliched quote or posting videos of our adventures together on the stories function. But when I make these platforms private I risk losing out on potential blog readers. And that just ain't my bag ladies & gents.

One social media platform I'm not particularly fond of is Facebook. It has no links to my blog and I don't see it as a way of promoting that side of my life. And so I hit the deactivate button a few days ago. And I've never felt freer. I always found it difficult to venture onto my timeline without getting angry. I already know half the people I've met through the years are idiots. I don't need reminded every night as I do my evening scroll. I cringe at some of the posts I see. The attention seeking and passive aggressive status updates. The alarming reminder that racism and xenophobia are still so alive and kicking in our small nation. The pathetic & drunken political 3am rants that make no sense and cause you to roll your eyes in frustration. The majority of my boyfriends have had no interest in having a Facebook account and that is just the way I like it. The truth is I've always found grown men who scour their Facebook timeline instantly upon wakening and who post bad quality videos with terrible sound at music concerts a little bit sad. I understand this is grossly unfair given the prevalent and constant activity of the female sex on Facebook. But if it helps, I judge them too...

And so my Facebook is gone. For now. And you can eye roll as much as you like. You can point out that I've simply 'deactivated it' and that I'll be back in a couple of months. You can laugh and shake your head at the the prospect that this social media addict is actually going to delete it as soon as she's moved all her photos over to DropBox. You can accuse my recent departure and then boasting about it on the blog as being just as attention seeking as the Facebook posts I so vehemently criticise.

And you might very well be right.

But I really hope you're not.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

L O V E S

  1. Starting a gin collection. Given my penchant for a good G&T (coupled with the fact that the Scottish gin industry is currently booming), I decided that 2017 would be the year I started my own gin collection. I started with the basics above and have since added a bottle of Eden Mill Chilli & Ginger and a bottle of Ophir. This is turning out to be a pretty expensive little New Years Resolution though ;)
  2. Luxuries. Ironically 2017 is also the year I swore I would cut back on little luxuries. Which means no more fresh flowers in the flat or monthly manicures. Truthfully I am struggling with both and I may or may not have some gorgeous fresh tulips on the fireplace and a Shellac appointment booked later this week. P.S. Gin is a staple not a luxury.
  3. Sherlock. I am loving the latest series of this detective drama and am switching myself off to the boring Twitter haters claiming it's gone downhill. I thought the first two episodes of the new series were some of the best yet!
  4. London. I'm getting pretty excited for my annual jaunt down to the Big Smoke later this week where I will spend 4 days drinking cocktails, stuffing my face and generally giving London all my money. I also can't wait to see my good mate Clare and hear about everything she's been up to!
  5. Insta Stories. It's safe to say I have completely embraced Instagram Stories with full aplomb and wee Ava is turning into quite the little Insta star! You can watch our life updates by following me right here.
  6. My best pal. Speaking of Ava, our little mother daughter relationship seems to be going from strength to strength these days and I cannot begin to describe how happy that makes me. I'm not sure if it's because she is simply older (and we've gotten over the toddler bit that I really just wasn't any good at), but we are become the tightest little team of two and her penchant for preferring her Dad may finally be waning. YESSSS.
  7. Truffle everything. I know some people turn their noses up at Truffle Oil but in all honesty, I wouldn't be without a bottle and love pouring the stuff over the likes of pasta dishes and scrambled eggs. I recently picked up some quite frankly amazing truffle salami from Whole Foods over Christmas and it was so good I have been back twice for more. Just truffle everything for me thanks.
  8. The Village Bakery Try Rye. After years of searching, I have finally found the most amazing rye bread that is not only filling and substantial when sliced (I can't stand those thin rectangular shaped slices you buy pre-packed), but tastes delicious to boot. I've been enjoying it mainly on a Sunday morning topped with salted avocado, some cherry tomatoes and a softly poached egg.
  9. The holidays. Despite the fact that I spent the break between Christmas & New Year 2015 (while Ava was at her Dads) frequenting many a cocktail bar in the city centre, this year's break was a much quieter affair and I felt all the better for it. I ate too much chocolate, climbed a couple of hills and binge watched on Netflix. And it was bliss.
  10. Scottish history. I'm pretty sure it was Simon Pegg who said that 'being a geek is simply just being honest about how much you enjoy something', and I couldn't agree with him more. Right now I am indulging my obsession in all things Scottish by reading up on Scottish clans and the Jacobite rebellion and I am loving these personal little history lessons. Even if I am boring everyone else to tears.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Finding the balance


The other day I dropped Ava at the school gates at 8.55am. While the other mothers robotically kissed, routinely hurried and casually cajoled their offspring through the school gates in a manner they had obviously become accustomed to, Ava and I were sort of having a moment. In the 6 months since she'd started primary this was the first time I 'd been able to drop her straight into school. I was pretty emotional over something so many other parents take for granted. And Ava seemed delighted at this new change in events. Smiling from ear to ear, making me walk all the way round the school to the back entrance and then proudly insisting I hang about till the bell. This week I will be able to do the same & not only that, but I will be able to pick her up from the school gates when school gets out. 

Why? 

Flexi-time. It was a friend of mine who originally brought Mother Pukka to my attention. The inspiring blogger who is trying to end the draconian and impractical assumption that 9-5pm working hours are the only option to the single parent and is heroically doing so through a combination of hashtags, organised London flash dances and a massive amount of online support. At the time her plight really caught my attention. Mainly because Ava was about to start school. And while I loved the fact I had finally made the longed for transition from shift work to a 9-5, I was worried about how it was going to fit in with Ava's new school hours.

In the end I settled for a combination of breakfast clubs and after school clubs. These are fantastic and inexpensive facilities but they just didn't work for us. Ava hated breakfast club with a passion because none of the other children in her class attended and although I tried not to think about it, I secretly knew she was left to sit in a corner on her own, nibbling her toast in solitude. While she didn't hate her after school club, she was passionately jealous of the other kids who got to run straight into their waiting parent's arms come quarter past 3. And I get it. Most days Ava was 'working' a longer day than me. By being dropped off at 8am and picked up around 6pm, she was averaging a 2 hour longer day than I was in the office.

I worked myself into a tizzy when I decided to ask for flexi-time. I spent hours scribbling out new hours, calculating the best way to cram the same amount of working time into the week. I read, re-read and re-worded the email to my bosses countless times. Desperate to get my point across clearly. That the happier I was as a person, the more they would get out of me work wise. I wanted to ensure they understood that I WANTED to be there 40 hours a week. But that as a single parent, I couldn't do the best possible job for them without a more positive work/home balance. It turned out I was worrying in vain. After proposing a meeting with my line manager and two directors, I was relieved to receive an email 20 minutes after sending my own telling me that would be fine and that it would be arranged in due course. Which it was.

I was lucky. I work for modern, forward thinking and progressive businessmen who despite having no children of their own, empathise and understand the difficulties that can so often arise with being a working parent. Bosses who understand that to extract the best productivity and quality of work from their employees, they need to have a level of duty, care and empathy towards them. The result is that while I still work the exact same amount of hours as I did before, I am able to see Ava into school and pick her up at the gates. I work longer hours on a Monday and Tuesday (when Ava is at her Dads) and go in a wee bit earlier on a Wednesday. And hey presto. I get to spend more quality time with Ava, she gets the parent time she was so obviously missing and we are both much happier individuals because of it.

The point of this post is to urge any parent out there currently juggling a 9-5pm along with extra childcare (and a shit load of guilt) to look into flexi-time. Since 2014 everyone has the right to request flexi-time from their employers so long as they state their case in a reasonable manner. And dependant on the nature of your job, your employer has to give you a bloody good reason to say no. So look into it. You may have options you never even knew you had.