Monday, 26 June 2017

CURRENT IRRITATIONS . . .

One thing you might know about me is that I love a good rant. If you don't know this about me, you've possibly never met me and you've definitely never read my blog. So I figured it was about time I had another little mini-moan about the things that have been annoying me of late. So let's get going, shall we?!?



1) Dresses that zip up the back
Ah . . . where do I start? Dresses with zips at the back are a friggin' nightmare. I've always firmly maintained that they're a nightmare if you're single or just living alone as a lot of the time you have to be a contortionist to actually twist your arm the right way to get the zip from A to B. Another time they're a nightmare? Changing rooms. Recently I took three dresses into a changing room while the fella waited outside in the main shop. He must have been waiting for me for about half an hour, as it took me so bloody long to get them zipped, then unzipped. One of them actually broke while it was on me, and I thought I was stuck in it. (Luckily when I finally got it up and rezipped it, it was suddenly working fine again.) I left that cubicle a changed woman: a stressed, sweaty, utterly broken woman. Still bought two of the dresses, mind. Kinda felt like we'd bonded.

2) Coach Trip
I normally love watching E4 while I get ready for work in the morning. Unfortunately, the recent re-runs of Coach Trip are ruining this for me. I'm pretty sure for the last couple of months they've been putting on Coach Trip: Road to Ibiza, then once that ends, they're putting on the re-run of Coach Trip: Road to Marbella . . . then going back to the Ibiza one. And I don't get it. I don't think it's interesting, I don't think it's funny, I don't get the point of it and . . . I JUST WANT MY EARLY MORNING EPISODES OF CHARMED BACK, DAMMIT!

3) My hair going curly overnight
I can go to bed having blow-dried my hair straight, followed by a quick session with the straighteners . . . only to wake up looking like Monica Geller in Barbados. Seriously, you do end up wondering why you even bother! I have naturally wavy hair but it's not that wavy so I really don't understand why this happens. Ironically if I leave my hair to dry naturally and go to bed like that it has almost exactly the same effect and my hair still looks shit and then requires even more straightening the next morning. Basically I think my only solution is to just not sleep! (Which, actually happens frequently and, now that I come to think of it, actually makes feck all difference to the state of my hair.)


via GIPHY

4) The timing of good weather
Since Scotland rarely gets nice, sunny weather, it would be really good if it coincided with the days I am not in the office. Rather than being nice until I have the day off then pissing it down. Even more annoyingly, when we were in Lanzarote in May, the weather was nice the whole time we were away. We were away eleven nights, from the Sunday until the following Thursday. The weather was nice THAT WHOLE TIME, starting on the Sunday. And then started to break upon our return. By the Saturday it was pissing it down. Now, I know I was in Lanzarote and it was sunny and I shouldn't complain, but couldn't the weather have waited a week and a half to get nice and then started upon my return to Scotland? IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK, EH??? (probably.)

What's currently annoying you?

Thursday, 22 June 2017

BLOGGER'S BLOCK? MAYBE I CAN HELP . . .

Are you experiencing a dose of blogger's block? Trust me, I know all about this. I'm so blocked at the moment that the very thought of even writing this post is exhausting me, but I'm going to do it anyway, because these type of posts from others have helped me on many an occasion, and I'm hoping by posting this I can pay it forward a bit. While perhaps indulging in a bit of shameless self-promotion at the same time and directing you to some of my posts you may have missed in the past....

But mostly the "pay it forward" part, of course! ;-)


1) Posts about blogging. Now, maybe this is weird, but I do enjoy reading blog posts that are actually about blogging itself. I enjoy reading posts about the positive sides of blogging as well as the pitfalls. Why not give these a try yourself? If you're actually pretty web-savvy, maybe you could even do some sort of tutorial giving advice on how others can improve their blogs. I've learned a lot from other people who do posts along those lines!

2) Reviews - whether that's of your latest restaurant visits, a book you've adored or loathed, or perhaps even a new pastel hair dye that you have had experience with, people are always searching for reviews on certain products - maybe your experience will help them!

3) Tell us more about the area you live in. I did this with my tongue-in-cheek guide to Scottish-ness many moons ago, and I continue to try and sell my country to all with my regular(ish) Scotland the Beautiful series. Showcasing some of Scotland's natural beauty can be a godsend to me when I'm stuck for writing inspiration . . .and, as an added wee bonus, it encourages me to get out and about!

4) Do you have an amazing recipe to share with everyone? You should! And even if you don't have one of your own, have you been cooking your way through a recipe book, or Pinterest recently? Why not write about the best recipes you have tried and what you thought of them (favourite pasta recipes for example? Giving full credit obviously!

5) Do you get annoyed easily? I do, and I love a good rant about it - it really does help to get it out! I do love a "how to annoy me in a . . ." post myself and I love to read about others' pet peeves too. You could write about the things that annoy you in an office, for example, or while you're on holiday.

6) We've all had an embarrassing moment with someone we fancied, right? Why don't you share one of your embarrassing moments? Can you one-up the time I chased a guy around the Duke of Wellington statue in Royal Exchange Square asking him if I had boring boobs???

7) Speaking of lurve, most of us have had heartbreak in our lives at one point or another - do you have any lessons you have learned from a break-up (or in my case, tons of break-ups!)? I found writing a post about this really therapeutic  . . . and it was a post that resonated with so many people at the time, I felt like it actually helped others too!

8) Social media - what are your pros and cons of the various social media platforms? What annoys you about facebook? Can you think up any example of Tweets you hope never to see? Or maybe you actually barely use social media at all apart from blogging and want to tell us why. There's so much inspiration can be drawn from sites like Instagram and Twitter. I think I've posted tons about social media, from so many angles over the last few years. It's certainly something I, as well as probably most people reading this post, have tons of experience of, and it's so interesting to both write and read about!

9) Do you have a TV show you're obsessed with? Maybe you can base some posts around this! In my case, I am a massive "Friends" fan so I've been inspired by this show on several different occasions on my blog. And I'm pretty sure I still have several posts to come on it. (Sorry not sorry.)

10) Speaking of "Friends" (see, I'm obsessed!), do you remember the laminated list of 5 women Ross was allowed to sleep with? Who would be on your laminated list? Or which five people would you invite to your dream dinner party?

11) Do you have an unusual hobby or go to a class that others might be interested in hearing about? You could tell us about that. One day I will get around to posting more about my pole fitness classes, I will I will I will.

12) Reality TV - there's tons of posts that can be done about this, whether you actually watch it or not! For example, I like to post about why I couldn't star on shows like The Apprentice, or Big Brother, or Come Dine With Me, but once again, there are so many angles that could be covered. Why do you hate it, why do you love it, have you ever been on it yourself? Now I would REALLY love to hear more about that last one!

13) Are you online shopping for an outfit for a special occasion, a swimsuit for the pool, or a passport holder for your holiday? Why not share your search with your blog readers?

14) Or on a similar vein, maybe you can produce a gift guide? One I was looking for recently online, for example, was ideas for a present for a lifestyle blogger - so if you wanted to do one of them, that would go down very well with me! Or, how about an anti-gift guide? Every so often I like to check out some of my favourite gift websites and trash-talk some of the ideas on there. I'm sure one man's trash really is another man's treasure though.... And also . . . how about hand-made gifts? I love a wee DIY gift tutorial!

15) What's your favourite holiday destination? Why not sell it to us?

16) Has technology ever ruined something old-skool for you?

17) Is there anything you're really bad at? Or loads of things? Or how about a list of things you can't pull off? Similarly, if you've got some mad skills, why not share these with us?

18) Some sort of topical piece. Sometimes I get an idea from a headline I just happen to see while I'm browsing online. Which could be anything, from my name becoming extinct, to a rant about Katie Hopkins.

19) How about some random facts about yourself that we might not know?

20) I love reading about dieting (like I said, I'm a weirdo) - do you have experience of different diets, a disastrous experience on one, a successful one you'd recommend, or a guide of how to stick to one? I'd love to hear more about it and I'm sure loads of other people would too!

21) And last but not least, why not do a post about blog post ideas? Even if you're blocked yourself, you may have loads of good ideas for others that you've posted about in the past!


I hope I've been of some help if you are looking for blog inspiration, and if you have any ideas of your own feel free to share. And if I have helped to inspire you with a post I'd love to read it!

Monday, 5 June 2017

P'S 2017 READING CHALLENGE . . . PART THREE!

So it's time to continue on with the reading challenge . . .  mainly because I still need to catch up with myself due to my holiday reading frenzy! (It's worth noting I have now been back for nearly three weeks - already?!? - and my reading has once again slowed riiiiiight down.)



So what are the next five books on my list?

11) Ella's Ice Cream Summer - Sue Watson

This was a gorgeous little read and I didn't want it to end. When Ella's aunt dies, she is shocked to discover she has been left something in her will - however it is not the family ice cream parlour as she had secretly hoped; rather it is the ancient ice cream van part of the business. She is unsure what to do since she has a life elsewhere - but fate conspires to bring her back to Devon, where she spent many summers as a kid with her aunt and glamorous cousin Gina, and she decides to try and make a success of the ice cream van business, with the hopes that perhaps Gina will at some point let her buy the ice cream parlour.

I really loved this book, it had me hooked from the outset. I loved the character of Ella, and her mother was absolutely fabulous and a comedy masterpiece, if a little over-opinionated and over-bearing at times. My favourite character, however was probably Delilah the Pomeranian - I'm sure I'm not alone in this!
I felt this was set up all along to be a bit of a series and although I'm generally more of a fan of a stand-alone novel I am definitely keen to read more from the world of Appledore! Highly recommended - a delicious read without any calories! 10/10


12) Mermaid Hair and I Don't Care - C.J. Morrow

Another great book, this one featured Lily - Lily is hoping for a big promotion in work (and if she doesn't get it, she's probably going to lose her job, so that's a pretty big incentive!) and she also thinks she and her boyfriend are about to properly commit to each other. Turns out he's planning to go on holiday without her actually . . . the following day. So she heads off on holiday with her friend instead, and ends up having a bit of a holiday fling. The understanding is that this fling, no matter how they feel, cannot last longer than the holiday . . . however fate might have other ideas in mind!

I really enjoyed this book, not as much as I enjoyed books 10 and 11, but I was very invested in what happened with Lily and really interested to know how the book turned out and if she was going to get her happy ending. 7/10


13) Break-Up Club - Lorelei Mathias

Wouldn't it be kinda great if all of your friends were single at the same time and could support each other after a break-up? That's pretty much the premise of this book - Holly and her friends, who have all just came out of relationships, form a club to support one another through their respective break-ups. And we get to see all of their progress as they try to move on with their life and get over their exes, not always successfully.

I am not unfamiliar to a break-up, and I'm sure most of you are the same - this was a pretty accurate portrayal of the whole horrible process, and as the characters were all very likeable it was easy to identify with them all and their situation. 7/10


14) How To Find Your (First) Husband - Rosie Blake

Did you ever "marry" someone in the school playground when you were a little kid? I certainly didn't, but Isobel did. She and Andrew were "married" for a week at school until he left her for another girl. Most people would have forgotten about this, but over the years Isobel has became a tad obsessed that her and Andrew, as adults, are meant to be together. So she heads back to England from her home in LA to try and find him . . . this however leads her to a tropical island in Malaysia of all places, where she attempts to locate the guy she feels she is destined to be with.

This was also a great book, so readable and really funny in a lot of places. Isobel got herself into quite a few scrapes, and the ensemble of characters was just fantastic. Plus I really kinda want to go to this Malaysian island now - it sounded AMAZING! 9/10


15) Some Girls Do - Clodagh Murphy

What do you do if you are about to be caught in a lie? Claire is behind an extremely popular sex blog and she could be about to get a book deal out of it . . . however she's hiding something. Mainly that she's not very sexually experienced and the blog's content is complete fiction! How can she get out of this one, particularly when she is falling for the potential publisher of her book? Simple - she'll ask new acquaintance Luca if he can teach her everything he knows about sex!

Except is it ever going to be simple??? This was a really interesting read - as a blogger myself, albeit not a sex blogger, it's a useful reminder that people online aren't always what they seem - Claire's "mummy blogger" friend was another prime example of this. I was also curious to find out if Claire's secret would be exposed or not. Another great book from Clodagh Murphy! 8/10


So that's all for now! Expect another reading challenge update soon . . . although I have a couple more books to read until I make it to book 20 - halfway through my challenge! I'm still on course at the moment so hopefully I can make it there before the end of June.

I'd love to know what you've all been reading?

Saturday, 3 June 2017

WHY I DON'T HAVE A NICHE . . .

Once upon a time, back in the dark ages when I first started this blog, I was most definitely a personal blogger. I used it more as a diary than anything else. And then somewhere along the line, I changed into more of a lifestyle blogger. I don't think I'm a particularly good lifestyle blogger though, I don't really know what I'm doing most of the time because of the way I just morphed from the personal blogging into this current incarnation of my blog.


Sometimes I wonder if I need to find more of a niche, but I think I've ruled out most niches I could potentially do. Let's have a somewhat tongue-in-cheek look at why I couldn't be a niche blogger . . .


Fashion blogger? No.
I pretty much always wear the same clothes, I'm really bad at posing for photos and I don't really take any fashion risks. Although maybe that would be a good niche within an niche? Fashion blogger who has no idea about fashion? I suppose it could work!


Beauty blogger? No.
I've mentioned before I struggle to blend my eyeshadow, my eyebrows are never symmetrical, I only own about five make-up brushes and, until about three months ago, I didn't realise most people don't blend their foundation in with their fingers. I feel I've learned some stuff from beauty blogs, but I'm not sure I myself have any proper wisdom I could impart upon others . . .


Fitness blogger? Definitely no.
My body is seemingly incapable of doing a burpee. The gym scares me, I can't run for shit, and roughly 70% of the time I attempt a lunge I end up with a sore knee. I also basically stop exercising as soon as I get a tiny bit out of breath. I would be the worst fitness blogger ever.


Travel blogger? No.
I love travelling and I do enjoy sharing details of my travels on my blog. But I don't think I could do this all the time. There's a reason I only do my Scotland the Beautiful posts once in a while and it's mainly because I'm lazy and I feel like it takes me longer to write these posts up and add the pictures too. And although my phone camera is really good, and I generally think my pictures look good, compared to actual travel bloggers they're definitely not up to par.


Book blogger? No.
I love reading and also reading about books - I'm a big fan of a book blog. But I don't feel like I generally read enough these days to maintain a book blog. My recent reading challenge has resulted in me reading more than I have in the past couple of years and blogging more about reading too. But I would struggle to keep up with the reading and the blogging about the reading.


Food blogger? No.
Ah . . . food. Like cooking it, love eating it. Writing about it makes me hungry though. And since I'm constantly trying to lose weight, it is not a good idea for me to spend a lot of time writing about it! I think if I was going to find a niche though I would ultimately like to be a food blogger. Maybe one day . . .


Am I missing any niches here? Do you feel like you have a niche or are you happy just to have a bit of a mix in your blog?

Thursday, 1 June 2017

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: THAT TIME I TRIED TO CLIMB BEN A'AN . . .

Ben A'an had been on my to-do list for some time. It was on my to-climb list as well - yes, I genuinely do have one of those. It was not too high, and it had good views of Loch Achray and Loch Katrine. I imagined it would be a difficult climb, but it wouldn't take too long, so how hard could it actually be?!?



I really need to stop underestimating things, don't I?

When you read things like "relatively easy by hillwalking standards", this does not actually mean easy. Especially when you're nowhere near peak condition.

And that pun in the previous sentence was completely unintentional - but actually pretty fitting since I actually didn't make it to the peak of this particular mountain!


A picture from very early on in the climb - I was already knackered!!!
 

Ben A'an, despite its fab views, is not a Munro, or even particularly high. It's actually described as a "mountain in miniature" - which makes it sound far cuter than reality dictates. We decided to head there early last month, on an unexpectedly warm Saturday afternoon. By the time we got there, after being stuck in the middle of some sort of long distance cycling race for what seemed like forever, the car park was stowed and there were people all over the place!

I have to admit at that point I was secretly hoping we wouldn't find a space and we could just forget about the whole climbing idea (which, I should add, had been my idea!) but the fella very inconveniently managed to get us parked. (How rude.)

Parking paid for, we crossed the road (the car park is very conveniently right next to the hill) and started to climb.

Everything I had read about Ben A'an had told me that the climb starts straight away, steep from the outset. For some reason I had chosen to ignore this and the fact I was already out of puff within the first minute or two of the walk was very infuriating to me. Then it was straight onto a set of steps. I was already absolutely knackered. The fella was already way ahead of me as well. (Selfish.)


Not too high up at this point, but the view of Loch Achray is pretty special.


I never quite recovered from that first stretch of slope. Even on the occasions when the path levelled out and I had time to catch my breath, I just felt absolutely knackered. Looking back, however, I could see some amazing views, and I had to just keep telling myself "it'll be worth it for the view at the top".


Cute little bridge. I liked it cos it was flat.

I just couldn't make it in the end though. My mind defeated me, and I just couldn't do the last bit of climb, no matter how much I told myself I wanted to see that view, and I wanted a picture of myself up there too. No matter how "Instagrammable" that picture would have been. Instead I sat on a rock and wheezed while my heartbeat slowed down, hoping not too many people could hear me, then we headed back the way we came.


If you make it to the top you can see both Loch Achray and Loch Katrine. Since I did NOT make it to the top this was my only view of Loch Katrine during the walk. (I think)


Minor annoyances were the little kids who made it to the top that day. (I later jealously looked at someone's picture on instagram of their three year old, who had coped better with the mountain than I had and had reached the summit.) The major annoyance were the random family on the last stretch of steps on the way down who basically started, for no reason, running down the steps behind us, which stressed me out no end as I am not good with people effectively chasing me when I had wobbly legs from the climb and WAS WALKING DOWN A STEEP HILL, FFS! They eventually pushed past and the dad nearly fell over in the process. I kinda wish he had. Wanker. There should be fines for people who behave like selfish arseholes on hills. Or I should be allowed to push them over. Either or.

I'm sad I never made it to the top though. I still want to do it. Maybe this time I'll be a bit more prepared for the actual hard work it takes to climb. And maybe definitely I'll try to do it on a day that isn't a weekend or a public holiday when there aren't quite as many kids taunting me purely by their ability to make it to the summit when I can't.


The peak of Ben Venue, Ben A'an's tougher neighbour. Probably won't make it up that one either.

If you haven't been up Ben A'an (and aren't scared of a bit of hard work to do it) then I'd definitely recommend it. Maybe I'll even see you at the top? (Probably on Instagram when I don't make it there myself again...)