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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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!



Sometimes I am a Grump.

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am not a morning person. I used to be a night owl but nowadays I’m just someone who likes to go to bed at 10.30pm and still wakes up grumpy with the alarm clock everyday.


Our morning routine is something like this:



6.42am The Boyo starts prodding me and tells me to get up. I get up, grab my towel and head for the shower grumbling about the cold, or being tired or just generally wishing I was still in my bed.

7.05am I’ve had a shower and cleaned my teeth so it is now time for me to get my own back and get The Boyo out his bed. Usually at this point we mutter our regrets about staying up later than we intended and going to bed early today (often the going to bed early does not happen).

7.10am I get dressed and do my make-up. I always look at the weather forecast the night before and lay out my clothes so I save a bit of time in the morning. Also when I am tired in the morning and have not sorted my clothes I end up wearing the strangest combinations.  I use moisturiser from The Body Shop, Pore Concealor from Benefit, foundation from No. 7 and for concealer I use maybelline mousse.  I use another benefit product for my eyebrows and No. 7 mascara. I use a little eyeshadow, usually in a soft neutral shimmery shade and lipstick, these all come from a selection of places. I put on my jewellery which always includes my watch, Jawbone, a ring for my right hand, earrings and usually a necklace, sometimes a bracelet. I wear perfume everyday, I have few perfumes but my favourite is Davidoff Cool Water. I like just about every Davidoff fragrance and I’m upset that one of my limited edition ones has finished from a few years ago.

7.30am By now The Boyo has showered and dressed and so he asks me what I am having for lunch, if it is leftovers I’ll tell him where they are (down to the exact location in the fridge), if he is making a sandwich he’ll ask what I want in it and ask if I want soup out of the freezer. He then asks what I want for breakfast and I’ll grumpily say weetabix or toast and grumble yet again about wanting to be back in bed or wishing it was the weekend.

7.35am If all has gone to plan and I haven’t dawdled (I am a big dawdler in the mornings) I’ll give my hair a quick blast with the hairdryer. I don’t d much with it apart from a bit of heat protection spray and sometimes a clip to keep it out my eyes. I don’t have time and I make more of a fuss if we have somewhere special or important to go to.

7.40am Breakfast time, sometimes cereal, sometimes toast. I take a shot of a vitamin drink along with a variety of vitamins.

7.50am I grab my handbag which I got ready the night before, fling my lunch into a tote bag, put on my coat, hat, gloves, whatever the weather demands and I stomp out to the car. I usually end up spotting something lying about, like my keys or kindle which I fling into my bag as well as rushing out the door.

8.05am The Boyo drops me at the train station in the town where I work. It is a 20-25 minute brisk walk up to my college. By the time I get to my library at 8.30am my morning grumpiness has worn off a little and I get busy switching things on, opening things up and then settle down to sort out my emails. The library opens at 8.45am. I work until 5pm 2 days a week, 6pm 2 days and then we close at 4.30pm on a Friday.


This all sounds reasonable, but I am just not a happy bunny in the mornings. The poor Boyo has to deal with me being snappy, very indecisive and bad looks are thrown his way. Some days I really am super tired and just don’t say much at all but once in a blue moon I’ll have a day like yesterday when I was in full strop mode.

I felt really bad about being such a mean person so I stopped at the bakery (Fisher and Donaldson a family chain in Fife) and I got us 2 cakes. We had them last night with a cup of tea as we enjoyed a mostly tech-free evening. The apology Coffee Tower was well received by The Boyo and I wasn’t quite so grumpy this morning.


Tuesday is my Monday & a house update

Yesterday I got up and got dressed for work. Make-up, tights, dress etc. We had a bathroom fitter scheduled to arrive to fix/replace my shower door and I thought I’d be heading in to work just before lunch.

Well they were a little late due to another emergency and I got 2 not 1 guys and then I found it that they were essentially replacing the whole cubicle leaving just the actual shower and shower tray. This meant the job took much longer than I anticipated and I quickly changed my plans to work at home. One of the blessings of our technological world.

I stayed in my work clothes as there were 2 strangers in my bedroom (en-suite bathroom) and being in my work clothes sort of helped my mental state to be in work (not laze about the house) mode. I got changed to got out to Guides later in the evening and it was FREEZING! But today in work it sort of feels like Monday not Tuesday – it is pretty easy for me to get confused when my week doesn’t follow its usual pattern.

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I didn’t go on any weekend wanderings this past weekend as the Boyo was away and I had a very important social event planned for Saturday anyway. My best friend’s daughter who I adore had a wee party to celebrate turning 2. It was a lovely afternoon/evening and the birthday girl seemed to have a great time. Her Mum said that by bedtime she was a bit overwhelmed and exhausted but fighting sleep because she was still so excited. Ah to be 2 again! The birthday girl received her very own shopping trolley and multiple food items (pretend food) from us. She seemed to like it and loaded up the trolley with Baby (the doll is very definitely called Baby, any other name will be scorned by Miss 2 year old) and off she went to the shops which apparently are in the living room, handy! You can get the trolley and lots of play food on Amazon, I found the trolley to be of nice quality and very easy to assemble. It will only do for small people who are confident walkers already as it will easily tip if used as a walker. Here is the link: Amazon Shopping Trolley 

I spent Sunday doing some housework which mainly consisted of housework and putting the stuff for a curry in the slow cooker. I was popular with the Boyo when he got home on Sunday night to a curry and a cosy tidy house.

I also started looking at some of our paintings. We have many not hung yet from moving house and we have a few things that need to be framed. A new framers has opened up in the town where I work so I’ll likely give them a couple of jobs.

The downstairs of our house is solid giant (painted) bricks. I am still debating about painting the living room, on the one hand it seems a bit wasteful when we don’t own the house but on the other hand we will likely live there for nearly another 2 years so a bit of TLC won’t do it any harm. I doubt the owners & letting agents would mind as prior to us moving in the house had been on the market for sale for over a year. All the comments we’ve had are about how it is much more homely and a big improvement. The lounge is currently painted a very nearly white colour with dark wooden flooring. The room doesn’t get much light and with it being the big bricks (like breeze blocks the Boyo says) it feels a bit cold. I have material to change the colour scheme on our sofa, with a new rug in the new colour scheme and some accessories and our pictures hung up it may be possible that the paint job does not need to happen. In order to hang our paintings we are going to need to borrow a drill, but I plan to call a friend tonight to beg that favour and then I’ll google how to drill holes in the wall – eek!

When we first moved into the house we worked away like demons the first 3 days and got more or less everything unpacked. Now we have been there for 8 months and we feel pretty familiar with the house and area. I’ve figured out a couple of things I’d like to do as well as the mini makeover in the lounge.

* Hang Paintings & print and hang more photos (Seeing happy pictures and photos makes us smile and reminds us of some pretty terrific times, they instantly make a house feel like a happy home)

* Fix Shoe Storage unit to wall in dining/entrance area (Unsafe to use just now so this will get done asap when we borrow that drill)

* Sort out the study/exercise room cupboard (It is the dumping ground of all sorts of bits)

* Get a proper spare bed for spare room so we can have more visitors to stay (The plan for this is underway and should be completed early next month)

* Do some work in garden (With multiple green fingered family members you would have thought the Boyo and I would have inherited some of these genes, alas we did not and we have a neglected looking garden, the least we could do is to plant some nice things in pots & the flowerbed this year)

* Paint garden furniture (Not sure they can be rescued, in a very sorry state)

* Get bbq cleaned & working for the summer (The house owners left one so we should use it, fun times on summer evenings)

* Get a wardrobe for Boyo in our room so my clothes can move into our bedroom instead of spare room (The Boudoir idea worked in theory but when it started getting cold I didn’t like traipsing through to the other room for things in the morning, I’d also like to have it just as a spare bedroom, guest ready and my space for sewing. I just feel a bit too spread out but buying a new wardrobe will wait until funds are more plentiful as we have 2 cheap ones and they are useless, the rails do not stay up with the weight of clothes)

* Tidy attic (all our empty boxes & bags are scattered about, we need to keep them for when we move to the house we buy but they could be tidier)

?????? Our lounge just needs some TLC. 

????????????????????????????????????? The dumping ground in the attic. 

???????????????????????????????????? The Boudoir in the unpacking stage… soon to be proper spare bedroom with sewing station. 

??????????? Sorry looking furniture and only 1 plant is still alive in that garden. 

photo Pretty shoe unit (and my own handmade bunting) but unsafe to actually use just now. 

30 Things for my 30th Year

Last week I shared that in my 30th year I have a list of goals I’d like to achieve – or at the very least work towards.

My goals come under 3 main headings:

Health                     Wealth                    Happy Life

I won’t share the whole list at once – it would be a bit boring for you, and sharing them as I really think about how I am going to achieve them helps me stay on track and keep motivated.

Today I’ll talk about a couple of my goals that come under health.

All over the world people use January as a month to try and get fit and healthy after the excesses of the festive season. Personally I have always thought they were mad, to me January is a month for hibernating. A month where getting out of bed is hard and doing anything remotely healthy is hard because when you get up to work in the dark, go home in the dark and the days hover around freezing all you really want to do is eat things like macaroni cheese and wear every fluffy cosy item you own.20141207_135927

I admit I’ve not exactly shaken off those tendencies. However the week of my 30th birthday I made 2 large purchases which are helping me on this journey of becoming the best me I can be. These were my Jawbone and my first dip into the world of essential oils. These two purchases are helping me with a few of my health goals.

This week I am going to talk about the Jawbone gadget and next week I’ll share my experiences with Essential Oils so far and the goals that they are helping with.

So the Goals that my Jawbone is proving to be a handy tool for are:

* Start doing some form of exercise 5-6 days a week.

* Aim to walk at least 10,000 steps a day

*Get enough sleep

* Find an exercise class

A Jawbone is little piece of high tech that comes in the shape of a band that goes around your wrist. I got a snazzy blue one, other colours are available including a much less noticeable black but I thought the bright colour would catch my eye and serve as a reminder to get moving.


I also went for the Jawbone Up not the 24 model as I didn’t want to commit to spending the money on the more expensive model until I was sure it was worth it. The main difference is that to sync my jawbone to the app on my phone I have to plug it in via the headphone socket. I quite like it as it means for a few seconds before it syncs I have a little moment where I wonder if I have achieved my goal for the day. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, other days I am not. Basically the Jawbone records your steps and sleep. It can also record food & drink and you can program it to a timed mode so you can enter specific activities. You then use an app on your phone to look at all this. I love the little graph and the little motivational tips.


The Jawbone has transformed my daily activities straight away. I spend hours at my desk every day. Before I would have guessed I moved around maybe every hour for a little dander around my library. I was wrong, it turns out I can easily be on my bum for 4 – 5 hours. I now have my jawbone set so it vibrates if I have been inactive for an hour. Sometimes I take this little hint and go for a dander, other times I don’t. It has made me think about walking places more. Now I relish the opportunity to walk to and from work (most days, still not Mondays or when it is snowing, or raining, I am only human after all!). When I get home if my step count is low I will go on the cross trainer. An hour on the cross trainer doesn’t seem so bad when I am going at a steady pace and watching something on my Kindle (I have Amazon Prime and now I am making full use of my membership!). I don’t use the food & drink facility (yet) but I do use the sleep function. Wearing the band in bed has proved to be easy peasy and I am now concious that I was not getting anywhere near enough sleep. I know plenty of people who get by no problem with less that 8 hours a night and I am aware that if we have children then I will look back on this and laugh at my naivety. However, be that as it may I am someone who suffers from migraines. As you may recall one of the reasons I started this blog was a tool to help combat my chronic headaches and migraines. Turns out getting more sleep is better for me all round! I am less grumpy, I have way more energy, I am enthusiastic about things, my head doesn’t hurt and I am just a much nicer person. So whilst the Boyo and I are child free we should really make the most of being able to get as much snooze time as we need. When I look at the Jawbone and it tells me I only had 6 hours sleep the previous night, I make a firm attempt to go to bed early that night. So yes I’d recommend a Jawbone or another one of the fitness bands on the market just now if you too are trying to get a bit more active. It helps with 4 of those goals I listed, I record my steps with it, I track activity (so daily exercise other than steps, eg cross trainer, swimming, cycling) and when I start going to a fitness class I’ll use it then too and it definitely makes me aware of how much sleep I am getting. Very handy indeed!


Now on the topic of exercise classes… I have previously tried Jazzercise and liked it but due to other commitments at the time I didn’t pursue it. So I could try that again. Or I could do Scottish Country Dancing… I used to be pretty good at this in my teenage years! Or there is a Zumba class with very convenient times and location for me. I wanted to try Pilates but the local class is full and I would love to do Aquarobics but there isn’t a class to suit. What have you tried? Any suggestions? And do you think Zumba will be ok for an unifit clumsy me?


I will post photos along the way for my various goals on instagram. #30for30th


Tomorrow – Foodie Friday! Tartiflette, goals and cookbooks!



Weekend wandering….

With 3 weather warnings for the area we intended go wandering in on Saturday we decided to be sensible and stick close to home.

We are very lucky that we live in an area which makes it easy to access a wide part of Scotland but also has a lot of great things on our own doorstep.

We ventured to Falkland Estate which is only a few miles from our village. We have been many times before, the woods on the estate are full of treasures like little bridges and tunnels and a waterfall you can walk under and the village of Falkland is very charming with a few cafes and gift shops.

The estate has a car park at the entrance that is free but there is a donation box with the proceeds going towards upkeep. You can walk from here up both of the Ben Lomond Hills. Our target today was a tower we had previously tried to find but failed to do so.Lomond 1

The tower is clearly visible from the road, so we’ve seen it many times since our failed attempt taunting us.  We managed to find it this time, although we were almost on top of it before we saw it! The Bruce Tyndall tower is quite impressive but undergoing renovation work, nevertheless we had splendid views of the Fife Countryside.

 Lomond 2

On our way back to the car we made a detour and delved a bit further into the woods to get to the Pillars of Hercules cafe and farm shop. It is a predominantly vegetarian cafe and certified 100% organic. I had one of the nicest slices of Victoria Sponge Cake I have had in ages. We picked up some veg – Kale for the very first time – tofu and, tricolore pasta. The vegetable selection is always really impressive and tempting – which says something coming from a veggie-phobe like me.

On Sunday we went for a cycle ride in icy rain in a forest very close to our house. When we got in I jumped straight into the bath and then had Mexican Chili Bean Soup for lunch. I was so cold, the hot bath and soup were very much appreciated! We spent the rest of the day reading, catching up on housework and just enjoying our nice quiet Sunday afternoon. I really love weekends!


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.


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!


Belfast Causeway 1 Causeway 2 Hogmanay Maggie Moncrieffe Hill Portballintrae