Weekend Wanderings: Conversation

Some weekends adventures are not needed, sometimes what you need is some relaxed time at home and good conversations.

On Saturday we had the longest sleep in we’ve had in ages which was nice. I watched Great British Bake Off Extra Slice over boiled eggs for breakfast. It was a very pleasant start to the day, later we had a wander around the countryside where we live. I did some housework, we ate some leftovers, it was very relaxed. In the evening I went to St. Andrews for an event with one of my all time favourite authors at the wonderful Topping & Co Bookshop. Louis De Bernieres is a brilliant author, for those of you who have only seen the film ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin‘ I urge you to read the book. It is at least a thousand times better than the film and the rest of his books are definitely worth reading and an extra bonus Louis was just as interesting to hear speak.IMG_20150815_163859 20150815_143922

On Sunday the Boyo was working, participating in an event as part of The Festival of Politics in Edinburgh. So I went to Edinburgh with him. I have to confess I spent most of the afternoon chatting away with my best friend over a croissant. I did not go to any festival events.  I met with the Boyo and a couple of other friends for a beverage and more conversation. It was a very nice day. Next year perhaps I will make more of an effort to go to some festival events but this year I am quite happy with our relaxed weekend.

Edinburgh

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Weekend Wandering – Dunfermline & Auchterarder

Last weekend I had a training session for the Girl Guides in Dunfermline on the Saturday morning. We used that as an excuse to have a wander around Dunfermline later in the day. I was quite pleasantly surprised by the town. With some wonderful historic buildings and a fantastic park it was a very pleasant wander indeed.

I was particularly taken on that Dunfermline Abbey happens to have my middle name as part of the impressive tower. Not because of me I hasten to add, King Robert The Bruce is buried there. The Abbey wasn’t open for us to look inside but the grounds were quite impressive and we enjoyed looking around.

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We then went to the Andrew Carnegie Museum. It was free of charge and quite informative. I of course especially liked the information regarding the public libraries he founded. The wee lady working there was lovely and would have quite happily answered many questions, she gave us a toffee each when we left which was rather nice of her.

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We then had a wander around the large Pittencrieff Park, through woodland and over bridges and then out into the open, there is a lot of this park to explore. I found a train so I was happy.

For a late lunch we went to a lovely Italian restaurant called Carluccios on the High Street in Dunfermline. The food was very tasty and the pasta dishes were offered in half portions. We shared a garlic & mozzarella bread between us and it was ideal for lunch. I’d definitely go back again.

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The next day we went for a countryside walk around Auchterarder. We met some interesting creatures on a woodland section of the walk and enjoyed a good dose of fresh air.

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Muddy shoes are a sign of a happy weekend!

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Merry in The Ferry..

Weekend Wandering – The Castle of Gloom.

This weekend we ventured to Dollar, a small town in the Clackmannanshire region of Scotland. From Dollar you can venture up into Dollar Glen which is a very pleasant with wooded Glen. You climb up and down through the woodland over bridges and up steps and follow a tumbling Burn up to the Castle.

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Castle Campbell as it is known today is owned by Historic Scotland. Originally it was called Castle Gloom which comes from the Gaelic word glom meaning chasm. Personally I like the Gloom name more than Campbell but as the venue is used for weddings now I can see why Campbell may be more wedding friendly.

 

 

 

 

From the other side of the Castle you follow the other Burn down the Glen. The Burns are named Care and Sorrow, which I rather like. Dollar Glen, Burn of care, Burn of Sorrow and Castle Gloom would all rather well lend themselves to a dramatic story or two. Just after the Castle you reach a little viewing point to the Chasm where the two Burns meet and this splendid feature would have given the Castle its original name.

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On this walk we had a favourite little furry friend accompany us. We were dog sitting for a night which we were very happy about. Our little friend enjoyed the walk a lot and as an obedient wee dog she was able to be off the lead for the majority of the walk.

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We left her for a snooze in the car whilst we grabbed a quick bite to eat. Dollar had a couple of very nice looking places to choose from. We picked The Bridge Street Kitchen. We were both impressed with the menu. After a big breakfast  that morning something light for a late lunch was in order but another time we’d have ordered a few different dishes tapas style to share. We both had a pizzette and they were very tasty. The cabinet had a few very delicious cakes on offer but we resisted as I knew I would be baking later in the day.

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We stopped at woods near our house to let the doggy stretch her legs before heading home for a cosy evening on the couch, reading and watching tv whilst the dog took turns to snooze on each of us. She was like a little hot water bottle. She did wake up when The Boyo did a little fart though, she sniffed then whimpered then turned away! Poor dog.

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My doggy friend & I were quite content with snoozes on the sofa. 

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The next day I baked, I had intended to do it the night before but was too lazy. My vanilla and chocolate loaf turned into hint of mint and chocolate loaf though as I picked up the wrong bottle. Oops. Tastes okay though. We took our doggy friend a wander around the local countryside before my friends came to collect her at lunchtime.

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We did a little bit of housework but I mostly spent Sunday afternoon drinking tea and reading the latest Alexander McCall Smith book I bought at an event before Christmas. Happy Sunday afternoon Indeed!

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Happy Days 2015

Since my last blog post I have been super duper busy. The end of term mayhem, turning 30, Christmas preparations and a nasty flu all kept me pretty occupied.

 30

Since turning 30 in November I have been reflecting on my 20s and what I would like in my 30s. I have done an awful lot of growing up since I turned 20 and I feel that it is time to really think about things I would like to improve, achieve and be during my 30s.

In my last degree we had to do a lot of ‘self-reflective’ stuff in order to make us better practitioners and whilst at the time it drove me mad (mainly as I had not worked as a librarian at that point so reflecting on how to improve when you are so new at a profession is hard as you have to basically improve everything) I can see that there is value on that. So I am thinking about a list of 30 goals I would like to at least try in the year I am 30. I won’t share them all just now but I’ll give you a bit of a flavour of them as I intend to use this blog to help me along my way.

Firstly something that won’t be a surprise to anyone is that food is involved.

A nice easy to document goal (but perhaps more difficult to achieve) is that I will attempt to cook one new thing a week for the entire year. I attempted this back in 2012 and that is when I first tried out blogging. My first blog attempts fell by the wayside but I did more or less manage to complete my goal. A family bereavement threw me off for a month or two but cooking multiple things in other weeks evened things out. This time I have changed it slightly as I now have my own massive cookbook and cookery magazine collection, so my aim is to cook at least one new thing a week from my collection.

Other goals involved with food are more about being healthy – trying to keep eating veg (previous posts talk about my food aversion), eating more fish, reducing meat consumption and trying to cook as much as I can from scratch and using as little processed food as I can.

I’ll document this kind of stuff in my Foodie Friday posts.

Other goals involve improving my personal flaws. An example is that I am terrible at interrupting people. It is very rude and definitely something I should work on not doing.

Health and fitness feature prominently – upping my exercise is very important and I’ll talk another time about my Jawbone and new found love of Essential Oils.

I am also thinking about learning and using my brain so being more focused at work, completing my chartership and learning new things are all in the list as well.

And finally but maybe most important; having fun, enjoying my life. Be that in doing new things, having fun with my hobbies or spending time with my friends and family, and most importantly just enjoying proper time with my Boyo. I start something next Monday directly related to this and the Boyo and I have already implemented a technology free night every week in the house so we actually do spend time together during the week.

To finish off this blog post for today I’ll share a few photos from our festive holidays. We split our time between Northern Ireland (Boyos family home) and S-W Scotland (my family home). We had a lovely but busy time, Dog walking and Baileys were involved so I was quite happy. Everyone seemed very happy with the presents they received (and I was very happy with what I recieved, lucky girl!). This year I focused less on ‘stuff’ and more on things we can do together. So I have a spa weekend, meals out, Canoyoning, A Murder Mystery night and Kayaking all to look forward to with some of my favourite people this year. How exciting!

Happy New Year!

Merry

Belfast Causeway 1 Causeway 2 Hogmanay Maggie Moncrieffe Hill Portballintrae

Adieu to Summer Sunshine

Well folks I have to apologise for my lack of posts. I know this little fledgling blog is of little interest to most but I feel bad. As usual the start of term took me a little bit by surprise. You know it will be busy but somehow over the year you forget about just how manic it is. Work is challenging at the moment and my poor head has suffered this week but this morning I woke up and reminded myself about all the things I should do to make both my head and myself feel better and blogging is definitely on the hit list. Autumn is my favourite time of year, in fact when living abroad I missed seasons, particularly autumn a huge amount. So I always make an effort to get out and about in October to make the most of the beautiful season.

I have a few ideas and half written blogs written so I’ll jump back in with a weekend wandering post. This week I chat about beautiful Perthshire.

The Boyo and I managed to sneak away for a night a couple of weeks ago, both as an anniversary treat and a little moment of relaxation before start of the academic year hit (he’s in Higher education I am in Further education). When thinking about where to go we thought about Ardoe House in Aberdeenshire. We went there last year as a birthday treat for me and it was excellent. Probably the best hotel we have stayed in for the food, service, facilities and atmosphere. However we felt that it was a bit too far away for us this time (about 2 hours from our current abode) and we wanted to go so we had a think and we both decided on the same place. It was not a hard decision, Perthshire is a beautiful place and Dunkeld is one of our very favourite spots. So off to Dunkeld we went.

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We decided to do a walk that we have done before but it is a lovely walk and one I’d definitely recommend. It is called The Hermitage and features Forests, waterfalls, interesting buildings, a bridge which is very appropriately named Rumblin Bridge and a few fields as well. We use this book. But you can also find a route on the very excellent Walk Highlands website. This website has walks for all abilities all over Scotland.

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We were lucky that we also got to see the Fire and rescue services doing training in the river Braan. We’ve seen them once before here as well and it can be fun to watch.10612939_10153104072052334_5818435380321577386_n

 Fire and Rescue – it looked like fun!

When we arrived back in Dunkeld we stopped at our favourite café; Spill The Beans for refreshments, this involved Rose Lemonade and a big slice of cake. The café does do great food, their version of a Croque Monsiuer is delicious and the Boyo recommends the local Dunkeld smoked Salmon that is offered but the real reason we visit everytime we are in the vicinity is the cakes. There is always a magnificent display of cakes that tempt you as you walk in the café.

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Photo does not do justice to these delicious cakes at Spill The Beans.

Afterwards we realised that the Dunkeld & Birnam Highland Games were on so we wandered over to take a look. We were a bit late in the day but saw some cycling, dancing, bagpipe playing and haggis. It was a nice bonus and the sun was shining, I enjoyed telling the Boyo all about my former highland dancing days (many years ago).

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Dunkeld and Birnam Highland Games

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We checked into the Dunkeld Hilton – well we did want to spoil ourselves a little! The hotel itself was pleasant, the staff were very good and everything was very efficient which was impressive as they had 2 weddings, an anniversary party and a lot of ‘normal’ guests in. The room and pool were fine but they could do with a bit of tlc just to match the splendour of the surroundings. The surroundings are really magnificent. On the banks of the River Tay with large lawns and forest above you can’t really compete. Scenery like that just reminds us of how lucky we are to live where we do. The food in the restaurant was very good. Nice portions, sophisticated but still friendly menu (does that make sense?). After dinner we went for little 5 min walk outside. The restaurant does get very warm and after 3 courses you need a little blast of fresh air. I had got dressed up for dinner but my heels were not really suitable for moonlight wanderings, so a wee twirl by the Tay and in we went for a nightcap at the bar.10639637_10153104075772334_2809614412657423890_n Moonlight Twirling by The River Tay

 

Breakfast was good and plentiful (including tattie scones, yay!) and set us up for the day, it helped that we went swimming before breakfast so had worked up an appetite again! We sat outside to finish our cups of tea when lo and behold a birds of prey demonstration started, something else we hadn’t known about so it was another wee treat to have a close up look at some magnificent birds. For those worried it seemed like the birds were well treated, it runs as part of a conservation charity that rehabilitates and looks after injured wild birds as well as doing demonstrations.

 

When we checked out we headed over to Angus County for another walk, this time a path on the route of an old railway line around Newtyle. This was an easy walk for us; more or less flat the whole way and excellent activity to help digest the big breakfast!

 

We headed home via Dundee where I popped into a couple of shops to get fabric for sewing classes I have just started. It was a lovely weekend of wandering and good food. Now that we are in the midst of complete chaos I am very glad we had a couple of days just ourselves and relaxation. I’m in front of my computer for about 43 hours a week at the moment so time outdoors is very, very much appreciated!

 

I’ll be back soon with a Foodie Friday post.

 

Merry

A weekend of wandering

I wrote the last time about my lack of motivation thanks to a big bad migraine but I am very pleased to report that a 3 day weekend has well and truly restored that motivation.

On Saturday we had some errands to run in our nearest town. Our car had not been cleaned properly for a very long time and we decided it was seriously overdue. So we opted to go for a bit of a cheat, we paid to have it valeted and washed. It was really worth it, it is like a brand new car. At the garage I also saw a lovely red mini. I can drive but only automatic so at some point in the next 6 months we hope to get a car that we can both drive but the Boyo is not convinced that a mini would be practical. L The funny thing is that although we live in the countryside and not a town anymore I can actually get to work and out and about by public transport easier than before so the car hunt isn’t as urgent. That afternoon we went wandering one of our nearby paths, a little bit in the woods and a little bit through the fields. We are lucky to live where we do.

Sunday was forecast to be a nice day but we didn’t expect it to be as nice as it was, it was a lovely sunny day. We went for a big wander around Crieff in Perthshire. The first half was around ‘The Hosh’, this was mostly a walk through woods and you go past the Glenturret distillery. Before attempting the second part we called in at Crieff Hydro for refreshments. We were very impressed with the hotel, so much so we’d like to save up and splurge on a weekend there. We were able to sit on a balcony and I enjoyed a delicious scone with cream and jam. One of things that impressed us was the amount of things going on in and around the hotel. On the lawn outside the bistro they had a trampoline, mini tennis, giant connect 4 and people were enjoying lunch outside and children were happily playing on the lawn. For a place that seemed rather posh it was wonderfully welcoming and friendly feeling. Around the hotel we saw big tennis courts, a horse riding centre, golf, a woodland treetops adventure course, and signs of lots of other activities. With the hotel being right on the edge of Crieff surrounded by beautiful Perthshire countryside it seemed like a terrific place to go on holiday. They had villas so perhaps it would be worth clubbing together with friends or family for a holiday. The second part of our walk was up and around ‘The Knock’. A short steep climb leads you to the top where you get magnificent views. I have problems with my knees so I can’t really do proper hill climbing, this was manageable and the walk was in splendid sunshine. It was such a lovely way to spend Sunday.

Yesterday we took advantage of an extra day off and after my hypnotherapy appointment we went to Inverkeithing where we walked a small part of the Fife Coastal path, over the Forth bridge and then down into South Queensferry. Walking over the Forth Bridge is something I have wanted to do for a while. I love the Forth Railway Bridge – to me it is such a magnificent icon of Scotland. As a teenager I kayaked under it, one of the great activities part of a Guide camp. From the road bride you get a brilliant view of the railway bridge. Walking over the bridge made me appreciate a little bit more the amazing architecture and volume that the bridge deals with everyday. Very clever people design these things! The new crossing is well underway and looks like it will be very big as well. I don’t know why I like bridges so much but I find something very interesting about them. It is probably because my brain is not mathematical in the slightest so comprehending how someone can actually design them is awe inducing then the feats of engineering as well.Forth

On Sunday it was also the final of the football – at long last! I am not interested in football in the slightest but I had said that I would make tea according to whatever two countries were in the final. So for Argentina we had a mixed meat grill including peppered beef steaks, chorizo and thin garlic rubbed minute steaks. For Germany we had some frankfurters and a cheese noodle baked dish. I had misgivings about the noodle dish but according to the Boyo it was just like the dish he had when he was in Germany last year. It actually tasted nice. All together a very random dinner!Football food

Now for the motivation, the theme of this blog is a Merry and healthy lifestyle so that is what I really am focusing on.

I have started taking my vitamins again.

I am working hard on eradicating my migraines and not taking painkillers unless absolutely essential.

I am consciously thinking about food again. This means not just cooking stuff on a whim but thinking about being good 5 out of 7 days. This means I will try to have 1 veggie day a week. I am reading about 5:2 and paleo diet principles again. I am unlikely to adopt either wholeheartedly but some of the principles are excellent.

I am working on tasks my hypnotherapist has given me.

And I am starting up a proper exercise routine combining walking, swimming, cross trainer and cycling.

And finally I am also thinking about what I am spending. For the future I need to save more and learn how to budget properly. There is an excellent post by blogger Still Being Molly that I’m using for inspiration with this.

So in short some sunshine and wandering can do wonders for your motivation!

Merry

 
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Busy Bees

My oh my it has been a while since I blogged. The Boyo and I have been busy bees. The end of term (we both work in FE/HE education) always arrives far quicker than you anticipate. I’m always filled with this idea that once the students have gone I’ll so much more time to get on with my huge to do list. The reality is my to-do list gets even bigger and meetings, training etc. is always hurriedly squeezed in before everyone goes into summer mode at the end of June. The annual CILIPS conference was on as well and I was luckily able to attend the Monday, so it really has been a busy couple of weeks work-wise. Many of our staff are term time only so I have to try and get as much information from them before they disperse and my aim is always to try and get everything magically done before they return in August. This never happens but it is good to have good intentions, yes?

We’ve also had Boyo’s family visiting, including their gorgeous dog who was actually staying with us for a week. I miss our walkies and her lovely velvety soft ears. I am definitely still broody for a dog of my own but I also know that with our work schedules it just wouldn’t be fair. Luckily the Boyo was able to take some time off whilst they were here and he got lots of walks with the dog – including 2 Munros, and I was able to join them at evenings and the weekend. So we’ve enjoyed some really lovely walks around our village, Dunkeld where the Boyo’s family were staying and Loch Leven. Unfortunately the weather was pretty mixed and the poor dog got drenched everyday of her stay.

Walks

We also have had some nice opportunities for tasty treats – cake and tea at Spill the Beans in Dunkeld, scones at Scone Palace – excellent, very good indeed, almost as good as my Granny made them, lunch at House of Bruar one day and a tasty takeaway from our local Chinese takeaway. I did some cooking at home as well, I made enchiladas one night – I’ll post my recipe/method in my next post. It is a bit of a cheat but a huge hit whenever I make them, especially with my sister who visits me regularly just to get fed these. I also made chocolate and vanilla loaf cake and one night we had 3 course with everything made by scratch by me. Vegetable and Coriander soup with homemade bread, Roasted Chicken breast with garlic mushrooms, roast peppers, steamed potatoes and a peppercorn sauce and then strawberries with cream and a homemade chocolate sauce to finish. So we have been well walked and well fed! The foodie post will be up soon – most likely Monday as I’m away this weekend.

 

What else? I attended my first hypnotherapy session last night. I’ve spoken before about how I really want to be Merry and healthy. A big barrier in this is my food aversions. I haven’t eaten fruit and vegetables as far back as I can remember. Mum claims I used to eat brussel sprouts when I was 3 but I cannot remember. It is something that I really want to change but I just find myself unable to swallow when I try to eat these foods. So I’ve decided to get some extra help. Whether it will actually work or not is still unclear but I really think it is worth a try. I’m worried this post is already a long post so I’ll finish up for now and save the details of my hypnotherapy experience for later.

 

I hope everyone has a jolly weekend, I’m off to visit family on a flying visit which will be nice. Cheerio for now!

 

Merry

 

 

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