Glamping in the Highlands

Throughout my childhood I’d never been camping or anything close to it. I always thought that camping wasn’t for me, despite my love of nature and exploring. Thankfully over recent years, glamping has gained popularity and this is much more my style! Since my boyfriend had talked about how much he would enjoy camping, I thought we could meet in the middle and visit a Shepard’s Hut I found on AirBnB.

I do realise that our hut was definitely at the high end of the clamping definition, since the hut had it’s own hot tub. But of course there was no way Jamie would disagree with the visit when it was such an amazing place.

Day 1

We left Aberdeen and drove North-West to reach the highlands. We’re lucky that such a beautiful place is so close to where we live! We found our way through fields and country roads to the house of the owner, but we didn’t even need to see them because the hut had a code locked door so we could arrive whenever we wanted. We drove through a field to reach the beautiful Shepard’s hut which was much bigger than we had expected.

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With it’s cute blue door and stacks of wood outside I couldn’t wait to take our bag inside and see what was waiting for us.

As you can see from the inside, we had a huge double bed and even room for a sofa in the hut. We had a small bathroom and hot water so there was nothing more we needed to stay for a few nights!

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Outside on the porch, the log-fire hot tub was already steaming when we uncovered it. It was cold and foggy so I was glad we could get into the hot tub to warm up.

We were surrounded by beautiful fields, could only see one road and the house of the owner in the distance and were at the top of a small hill. We had complete privacy and quiet, it was amazing! There were no cars on the roads, no shouting, just the sound of sheep and cows in the distance. For once I felt like we were truly out in nature (even if we did have a few luxuries!).

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Before we arrived we decided we would buy 2 disposable BBQ’s so we could use one on each night of our stay. We set one up soon after arriving and Jamie made some amazing food while I relaxed with a drink.

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We ate, drank and finally decided to use the hot tub which we had topped up with logs to make sure it was extra hot when we got it! It even had cup holders so we didn’t need to get out! We spent our first night relaxing, playing card games and Dobble. I felt fully relaxed for the first time in a while!

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Day 2

Our second day was much brighter and sunnier so we decided to drive up to the coast for a few hours to enjoy the weather. We drove to an area called MacDuff which is a fishing town on the north coast. We saw a crazy amount of boats in the shipyard and marina, lots of fishermen were getting ready to head out into the North Sea for a few days too. We had heard that there was an aquarium in the area, so we thought it would be a good place to stop off.

When we arrived at Macduff Aquarium we weren’t too sure what to expect but we had a really fun time. The aquarium was pretty quiet so we were the only people in most of the rooms. We travelled from the estuaries of the highlands all the way out to the depths of the North sea to find out about where each species lives. There was a small interactive exhibit with starfish and crabs which was next to the nursery with lots of baby fish, lobsters and rays!

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We had arrived in time to see the feeding of the sea creatures which are found in the deepest parts of the ocean which included rays, cod, dogfish and fish which survive on the floor of the sea. It was great to see the feeding and a member of staff provided a talk which told us about each of the individual fish.

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After leaving the fish behind we decided to visit the next town Banff which has a beach instead of a marina. We got the chance to walk along the beach and Jamie skimmed stones across the water. Even though it had started to become cloudy it was still warm and there were plenty of dogs to spot too! Once it had reached dinner time we thought it was best to go back and set up our second BBQ incase it started to rain later.

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We had another amazing BBQ with Jamie cooking everything while I relaxed! I had also bought us a small marshmallow toasting kit, so we got the chance to use that before spending the night relaxing in the hot tub again!

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Although we only spent two nights glamping, I felt so relaxed. It was nice to not sit and watch netflix or be on social media all the time. I also loved that we were in such a quiet environment, being in the hot tub felt so peaceful and the log burning fire meant there was always an amazing smell in the air. After such a great experience I think I could brave a less luxurious place for our next clamping trip! Still don’t think i’ll be sitting in a tiny tent anytime soon though!

 

 

 

Aberdeen Inspired Nights Food and Drink Festival

Aberdeen Inspired Nights is a new food, drink and cocktail festival in the city of Aberdeen! As a blogger, I was gifted two bands to enjoy the festival so myself and Jamie took advantage of lots of discounted food!

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The festival ran for 9 days and included offers at restaurants and bars all over the city. Since I only moved to Aberdeen a couple of months ago there are lots of restaurants we haven’t had the chance to try. So this event was perfect for us!

To kick off the festival, a night festival was organised to showcase lots of different food vendors from around Scotland. We arrived a little early, eager to eat as much food as possible so went to find some local street art while the vendors set up and started their grills!

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It was nice to visit a new part of the city, see the art and sit in the sun while we could smell the food being prepared. We already knew what we wanted to eat so get ready for lots of food snaps!

Night Food Market

We started out at the CuBao Box, a dumpling and Bao vendor which made the most amazing halloumi bao. We had to wait about 10 minutes for the food to be ready, but it was worth the wait! I tried the halloumi and Jamie had the pulled pork bao. Both were amazing (but I have to say mine was better!)

We decided to share a portion of vegetable dumplings too, which completely exceeded our expectations. Even though CuBao only had a small stall, they steamed and pan fried the gyoza to give them a really authentic taste! We were tempted to buy more, but knew we needed to save room to try other food.

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After our gyoza, we grabbed a drink and tried not to feel too full! The Pizza Geeks had travelled from Edinburgh to serve up themed pizzas (e.g the ‘mario’ and ‘bravehart’ pizzas). Even though we really wanted to try, we knew that we couldn’t eat a full pizza between us. I had tried the Pizza Geeks before too at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

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Right next to the pizzas, we couldn’t resist trying out a Melt grilled cheeses. We tried the classic toastie with homemade chilli jam to see just how good their cheese toasties were. The classic included two cheeses and a homemade cheese sauce combined with the optional chilli jam.

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Unsurprisingly, we loved the grilled cheese sandwich! It was cut in half and ready for us to share, the chilli jam was the perfect addition too.

As you can see from the photos, we had a lovely day for the market. There were lots of other vendors from bbq foods to seafood, there was something for everyone. We felt so full from the dough and bread though! We just couldn’t try anything else! Although we did have room for a Brewdog beer in the sunshine before we left.

 

Yatai Izakaya Restaurant

We came back into the city a few days later to go to our favourite Japanese restaurant in Yatai Izakaya for a discounted dinner trip! We love this place because there’s a big menu to choose from, unique dishes and always great specials to try.

We started out with gyoza and edamame as we nearly always do at this type of restaurant!

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As soon as the food is ready it is served, so we always had plenty of food at the table. We chose a sushi special which included flash seared halibut and salmon (it was so soft and fresh) and prawn tempura rolls too.

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After sushi we tried another (unusual) special dish which was a pan friend pigeon dish! This one was Jamie’s choice and it definitely wasn’t my favourite. If you like duck and other meats which can be served rare, I think pigeon would actually be enjoyable. But sadly it just didn’t appeal to me! The meat was served with vegetables and flowers, it looked like a pretty dish even if it wasn’t to my taste.

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Boozy Cow Bar/Restaurant

Once we’d finished out meal, we decided to head to the Boozy Cow next door. This is one of my favourite cocktail bars and the food is fab too. The Boozy Cow has bars/restaurants in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, this was my first time in Aberdeen but as a student I visited a few times in Edinburgh.

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Since we had already eaten, we were just visiting for drinks. The Inspired nights wristbands meant that we were entitled to a special discounted cocktail which tasted like fruit salad sweets. We decided to get one of those and a ‘that dude ain’t russian’ coffee vodka and Malteser boozy shake. Both tasted amazing! If you get the chance I would recommend drinks at the Boozy Cow!

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Angus and Ale

Our final food festival stop was on the final day of the festival at Angus and Ale. We had never visited before but were given 10% off our bill with the Inspired Nights wristband. Although it was only a small restaurant, the staff were lovely and there were only a few couples in the restaurant in time for a late lunch.

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We weren’t sure what to expect from here because no one we know has been before. Thankfully our expectations were exceeded and portions were much larger than we had expected.

To start I chose Cullen Skink (if you don’t know that’s a traditional Scottish soup which includes haddock and potatoes), which was lovely. Jamie chose cauliflower wings which were deep fried pieces of cauliflower in a buffalo hot sauce. I couldn’t believe how good the wings were, I hadn’t expected to like them, but next time we visit we will share a portion to start!

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Our starters were huge portions and we knew once we’d finished that we wouldn’t be able to finish our mains! I opted for a small sirloin steak, whilst Jamie had a monster burger called ‘The Big Jock’ which included a beef burger, piece of steak, onion rings, salad and a token gherkin on top!

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As I said, there was no way we could finish all that food, we ate as much as possible before heading off to the cinema for the evening to watch Solo!

It was a shame that we couldn’t have spent more time at the food festival, but of course work and exams meant that we were away from Aberdeen for 2 of the 9 days! I think we did pretty well though and managed to try out plenty of food. I can’t choose my favourite, but I loved getting to try lots of different foods at the market!

Hope you enjoyed all of the food pics, think I need to go for a walk just looking at them all again!

A weekend at Loch Ness

To celebrate my 25th birthday Jamie treated me to a long weekend at Loch Ness! Having never been to this area of Scotland before I couldn’t wait to visit. We were booked in to The Lovat hotel in Fort Augustus which is South of Loch Ness, turns out this is a great location if you are planning to visit!

 

Friday

Travelling to Loch Ness takes around 3 hours from Aberdeen, we took the country roads to reach the west of the Loch and then took the loch side road to the hotel. The journey was so beautiful, especially along the shores of the Loch, we saw the castle we would visit the next day, lots of small villages and boat tours out on the water.

We arrived at around 4 and had dinner booked for 7.30 so we went to the room to get settled. Jamie had surprised me by getting the hotel to set up balloons and a birthday card. After a while the staff arrived with my second surprise, a beautiful bouquet of flowers!

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We went down to the restaurant in the hotel for dinner and had high hopes after reading reviews online. Thankfully we weren’t disappointed! To start I had a smoked salmon dish which was amazing.

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We were given free homemade bread and the staff were friendly and helpful. All of this was followed by a lamb dish which I chose for my main. The food was so good that we didn’t even have room for dessert!

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Instead of more food, we had a glass of wine and visited some of the other rooms in the hotel. We loved that there were lots of public areas, one room was filled with bookshelves and knick-knacks. There were even some games like chess to play later in the evening. We settled in the front room which had a piano and fireplace, the perfect end to a lovely day!

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Saturday

Our first full day started early, with a hotel breakfast included, we were ready to go and explore Loch Ness. Firstly, we drove to Urquhart Castle which is an ancient castle on the backs of the Loch. We parked in the carpark which is way above the castle, thankfully you buy tickets at this level and can take easy stairs/a lift down to the castle instead of having to scramble down a steep hill!

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We were shown a short introductory video which briefly described how the site became a castle and was besieged multiple times throughout history. Unfortunately the last inhabitants blew up the gateway to prevent invaders using the castle, but there are still plenty of things to see on the site. We walked down past the castle and visited the Loch first (since that’s what the trip was all about!) We sat for a while to appreciate the beautiful views.

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Once you enter the castle you can climb down to where ships would arrive and sit on the shore to see more views. We were lucky to get really sunny weather too so we were happy to sit and relax by the water.

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Once we had the opportunity to take in the natural beauty, we climbed through the castle and visited all of the areas. It took us around an hour to explore everything and there were lots of ruins to climb through.

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We were lucky to visit at this time of year, there were no queues or crowds of people. We didn’t need to wait to climb the towers and we could easily watch the actors who told us about medieval weapons. The castle was one of the most beautiful I have ever visited, I think it’s safe to say it had the most picturesque views too!

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Once we had finished at the castle, we decided to visit the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition. Now when we first arrived and went inside, we weren’t sure what to expect. The decor was outdated and because we visited before the summer we were the only people in the entrance hall. We decided to go ahead and visit anyway since it was around £7 to enter and we actually didn’t know anything about the history of Loch Ness. If you’re the same, and don’t know much about the Loch, I would recommend the attraction, we walked through different rooms and watched videos which described how the legend of Nessie began and how the Loch Ness Monster was researched by scientists. I don’t want to spoil anything, but we learnt lots. I have to say though, I think Nessie is more imaginary than real!

After stopping off for a snack which we got around the corner from the Exhibition, we decided to stop off at a harbour we passed on the way to our hotel the day before. Although lots of people do visit Loch Ness, there are a few abandoned boats which can be seen if you walk along the shores. We also walked to a small island which is located just off the shores of the Loch.

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Since it was such a sunny day, we still hadn’t had enough of exploring. We travelled back to Fort Augustus where our hotel was and walked along the canals which separate Loch Ness from the other Loch’s in the area. We walked for around half an hour until I saw a trail through the woods which could take us down to the parallel river.

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Sounds like a good idea right? Walking through the woods to a beautiful river. We even found a bench when we got there, which made us think that the path must have been followed quite often…. But we were wrong! We walked along the river until the grass ran into the river, walked through the trees trying to find a path and spent the following half hour walking through the woods and ended up in running between lodges in a private park!

Although we hadn’t planned the detour, we found some abandoned campsites and spied a few small waterfalls between the trees, so I guess it had been worth it! We decided to walk back along the canal and stop off in a beer garden to end our evening after lots and lots of walking!

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Sunday

For our last full day at the Loch, we decided to visit the east coast and stopped in a small village called Foyers. This area is well known because of the Falls of Foyers which is a tall waterfall and large river which meets Loch Ness. We started to climb down, reached the waterfall relatively easily and felt like we could easily follow the river along to where it meets the Loch.

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We started out following a clearly marked path and took in the beautiful views, we could easily follow the river until we reached a road which blocked our views of the river.

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What then ensued was a four mile detour in which we couldn’t rejoin our original path! We made a wrong turn and walked into a caravan park, walked back and thankfully somehow managed to walk through a forest to reach the banks of Loch Ness. This was one of my favourite parts of the trip, we still hadn’t found our path, but had found a make shift camp site with tree stump seats, a rope swing and burnt out fires. We had the place all to ourselves and it was one of the most peaceful places in the world (until we decided to try out the rope swing!)

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We shamefully ended up using google maps to find our way back to the car after a few miles of walking in the wrong direction! We had to climb up tiny steep paths with overgrown plants. At one point I thought I may die out there in the wilderness (kidding) but we made it back and were looking forward to visiting a tea room we had spotted on our way there.

When we arrived at the tea rooms I immediately fell in love, highland cows, deer, ducks and geese were all living in the surrounding area. A deer with a limp was being nursed to health and we got to see them up close!

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Once we had some soup to warm us up again after the weather took a rainy turn when we were walking, we walked out to find these guys waiting for us too!

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After being lucky enough to see all of these animals, we took the country roads back to our hotel. We stopped at the top of a hill and were lucky enough to have stopped just as a rainbow had formed.

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Although it can’t really be seen in this photo, we we could actually see both ends of the rainbow! Sadly there was no pot of gold but we got to share the most beautiful view together! Just when you think that Loch Ness couldn’t get any prettier, I guess a rainbow has to appear to prove you wrong.

Once back at our hotel, we wanted to take a much needed break from hiking up and down hills. We decided to take a look around Fort Augustus and we found a viewing point at the end of the village harbour.

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This was one of my favourite views, the most southern point of Loch Ness, we were able to look between the hills and see miles of the Loch. A duck even decided to photobomb my photo and make it even better too! The village had a few small pubs and cafes, our hotel was on the next road to two of the main pubs. We stopped by there for dinner before heading back to out hotel. I snapped a photo outside before we went back inside for a night cap.

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Each night we had been greeted by bunnies on the lawn outside the hotel too, so if you were unsure about staying there, the fact that you can see bunnies every night must sway your opinion!

After a wonderful stay, Jamie had paid for a late check out so we could sleep in on Monday. We were even given cookies for our journey home by the hotel manager. Everything from the hotel to the walks and views were amazing on this trip. I have to say that Loch Ness surpassed all of my expectations, both the loch itself and the surrounding land is the most beautiful I have ever seen. I can’t wait to go back and see more of the countryside, waterfalls and to sunbathe on the shores of the loch again!

 

3 Scottish Castles You Should Visit

Scotland is home to some of the most beautiful castles in the world.

I’ve picked out three beautiful castles from my travels around Scotland which need to be visited by you!

Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle would easily fit into the title sequence of Game of Thrones. Located on a clifftop off the North East coast of Scotland, the castle appears to be built on it’s own island. Thankfully no boat trips are necessary, looking down from the edge of the cliffs you can see the steps which descend down one cliff and up again to the castle.

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You may need to take a break during the climb to the castle, but thankfully when you reach the bottom you can take a break on the beach before taking the next set of stairs up to the castle.

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A word of warning, the remains of the castle are just that, ruins. There are lots of stone steps with no hand rails, so watch your step! We saw someone take a small fall when we visited (she was ok though!).

Once you make it to the castle, you can visit all of the ruins and are given a map to navigate. The history of Dunnottar started around the 3rd century, meaning that the castle is filled with history and legends you will learn about on your visit.

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Dunnottar is one of the most beautiful places in Scotland, so definitely worth a visit!

Edinburgh Castle 

My second choice is one of the most well known in Scotland – Edinburgh Castle. Set in the centre of the city, this castle is even more unique because it is still active with a military presence. Every day at 1 in the afternoon a cannon is fired to keep time across the city, this is fun to watch so make sure you arrive before 1!

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Edinburgh Castle is filled with lots of different exhibitions, when we visited we spent hours visiting all of the buildings and checking out the beautiful views of the city.

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There are cannons, prisons, museums and ruins all in the same place here, you you’re guaranteed to have a fun time! Another great thing about this castle is that over 10 of the city’s attractions are on the road leading up to the castle so you will have plenty to do if you visit!

Craigievar Castle

My final choice is one of my favourite castles in the world. Craigievar Castle is said to have inspired Walt Disney when he designed Cinderella’s castle. With a pink exterior, this castle is completely unique and so picturesque!

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You can visit the grounds and have a guided tour of the castle. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and friendly. During our visit we even decided to invest in a National Trust membership so that we could visit more castles like this on the Aberdeenshire Castle Trail.

One thing we particularly liked outside of the castle was the surrounding wildlife walks. We walked through fields along streams and in forests after our tour, which was lovely thanks to the sunny weather!

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Craigievar Castle is located out in the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside so if you visit you can expect lots of winding country roads and fields along the way. Inside the castle is filled with possessions from the previous owners which are interesting to see and the tour guides will tell you when the castle was built and the inhabitants throughout history.

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We had a great day out at Craigievar Castle which is why it had to be featured on this list!

Visiting a Cat Cafe

Since it was my birthday this week (I’m now 25 which I can’t quite believe) I decided to visit my local cat cafe in Aberdeen. My boyfriend booked us a one hour time slot at The Cat in the Window cafe which I had been looking forward to all week!

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We arrived 5 minutes early so we would be ready for our time slot. We were asked to take off our shoes and jackets before the staff told us a few rules to make sure the cats were comfortable. When we were allowed inside I wasn’t disappointed, one cat tried to escape while we chose a place to sit among the sofas and bean bags. The decor was cute and I wanted to take the furniture (and cats) home with me!

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Cat friendly furniture

When we first arrived most of the cats were ironically sat in the windows (remember the name of the cafe?). They were either looking out for birds or had found a bed to snooze in. Thankfully before each group of guests the cats have a small break. We had also arrived just after a meal so they had more energy than usual.

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Cat in the Window

There were 9 cats in the cafe and during our visit only 6 humans were visiting, this meant that we had a good cat:human ratio and we managed to pet all of the cats! The first to approach us was Ninja, she is the newest cat in the cafe who had sadly been in a rescue centre for over a year before she was adopted!

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Ninja scoping out the visitors

Ninja sat next to our table while we ordered drinks and cake (maybe she heard us talk about cake and wanted to wait around). Within the first 10 minutes only Ninja and Theodore were walking around the cafe, turns out food motivates cats as much as dogs and once food was served the other cats were suddenly interested!

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Theodore wanted humans to visit his beanbag

We ate a quick snack and were able to watch the cats climbing around. If you take a look on my Instagram you’ll see a photo of Theodore begging for food. He even climbed on the table in an effort to eat our crumbs!

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Loved this cat mug

After eating we abandoned the table and moved over to the sofas to sit next to the cats who seemed to prefer beanbags over cat beds!

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We ended up back with our first cat friend Ninja and got the chance to read through the cafe book which introduced each of the cats.

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Posing Ninja

Once we were about half way through our time we had been speaking to the other visitors and had the chance to switch places with them to see the other cats.

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Mickey waking up

It was at this point Jamie managed to take one of my favourite photos of the trip – Mickey checking on us from his bed. I don’t know what we did to annoy him, but I think he had a case of resting grumpy face!

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Feels like someone is watching us..

Actually, now I look back at my phone maybe it was the mini photoshoot he had to endure. He was really happy when we scratched behind his ears though so it was a fair exchange!

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Obligatory Cat Selfie

The cafe had provided us with lots of different toys and activities for the cats to play with, but I think they enjoyed annoying each other most! When one would climb furniture, another would follow to catch their tail or play.

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Princess Pancakes (right) and Napoleon (left)

Before I finish the cat photos, I have to do a shout out to my spirit animal Zeus who didn’t move an inch during our whole visit!

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Zeus too comfortable to move

I had the most relaxing time visiting the cafe, we had an hour filled with cat watching and petting. I find that cat cafes are a nice escape because there is no loud music playing or people shouting.

Jamie had even managed to organise a surprise for my birthday and I was given a goodie bag of gifts from my furry friends at the cafe!

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Birthday Surprise

I was given a card ‘signed’ by all of the cats and managed to bag myself one of the cute cat mugs I had been talking about earlier!

I think visiting a cat cafe is fun for almost everyone (as long as you’re not scared of cats!) and I loved my time getting to meet them. I always find that the staff are kind and chatty at this type of cafe and they help you to interact with the animals if you’re a little unsure.

Even though I only visited yesterday I am already trying to plan my next visit!

Omakase in Scotland

Omakase is a style of Japanese dining which I only recently heard about. After an online search, we decided to try it at Yatai Izakaya a Japanese restaurant in Aberdeen. Their website stated that Omakase means ‘trust us’ and leads to a unique dining experience where your waiter picks all the food you eat. We were excited to try this style of dining as we hoped to try new dishes we wouldn’t usually pick and maybe find some new favourites!

We arrived at the restaurant at 5.30 on the dot meaning that we had all evening to try out as many foods as possible. The restaurant was small but thankfully we had booked a table in the fully booked restaurant.

We were seated at a two-seat table, however if you visit as a group of four you can be seated right next to the grill and watch as food is made. We were happy to be away from the grill as it meant that all of our food was a surprise. We had no idea what to expect until the waiter arrived at the table!

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I loved the décor, a mixture of geisha artwork, Japanese drink advertising and traditional calligraphy. As we walked into the restaurant some of the herbs the restaurant grows were also on display.

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We ordered drinks and chose to eat Omakase style, for those who wouldn’t want to risk it, you can select food from an a la carte menu. The waiter asked if we had any dietary requirements and whether we had any likes or dislikes. We decided not to emphasise any favourites in the hope we would get a broad selection of foods. We were then asked how much money we would like to spend (approximately) per person. Since it was our first time, they suggested we set a limit of £35 per person and simply ask if we wanted more or less as the food arrived. It transpired that £35 was the perfect amount for us. We were full by the end and felt like we had tried lots of different food.

We sat (im)patiently for our first course to arrive and thankfully we weren’t disappointed. We were given a food we had never tried before! Unfortunately named Octopus Balls, we were given dough combined with octopus which was fried and topped with ginger, katsu mayo and bonito flakes.

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Octopus Balls

They were crispy on the outside, but doughy on the inside, kind of like an octopus doughnut. I would have never ordered this from the menu and having 3 each was quite a heavy way to begin the meal, but it was fun to try and I would actually order them again too!

Our second course was quite a safe option – Squid Tempura. Thankfully, the squid was cooked perfectly and a small amount of batter was used to make this choice much lighter than the last! The dish was served with salt and lime which was the perfect accompaniment.

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Squid Tempura ft. Jamie

Before we’d managed to finish the Tempura, our next selection was brought to us. My personal favourite Salmon Maki Rolls were delivered! To add a small twist, the roll was accompanied with pickled cucumber which added a zingy twist to this simple dish.

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Salmon Maki Roll

When I had been browsing the menu when waiting to order, I noticed a salmon based dish topped with a sweet miso dressing. This was something I had been wanting to try and I was excited when it arrived. Unfortunately, I was disappointed and this was one dish I couldn’t get behind. The salmon was perfectly cooked on a skewer, but the miso sauce was the texture and thickness of strawberry jam. The flavours were nice, but I couldn’t finish my skewer, the texture just didn’t work for me!

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Salmon with Sweet Miso

Our next dish was one of the restaurant’s daily specials, a full fried soft shell crab served in a steamed bun with Sriracha cream sauce. Now, I had mixed feelings about this. First, I’ll put the picture below so you can see what the dish looked like.

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Fried Soft Shell Crab Bun

So literally a crab, fried and put onto a bun. I had to psych myself up to eat this one. Now I like crab – when it’s from a hard shell and you’re not expected to eat the shell. This crab was still fully dressed in his shell and I had to eat the tiny legs and claws! So, turns out, soft shell crab legs taste as you would expect. Like a fried shell. Pretty awful and bland. Thankfully the body made up for it, I quickly pulled off the legs and claws to the dismay of the lady on the next table and ate the rest of the course.

I’m actually glad we got to try this dish. Firstly because it was a special, so next time we might not get the chance and secondly because I can’t say I’ve ever eaten a crab inside it’s shell before. I do have to admit though, I won’t be ordering this dish again soon!

I need to admit that at this point in the meal I needed a break. I had just eaten a pretty large steamed bun and plenty of food before that. Somehow it seemed that the waiting staff knew and we were given a short break before our last couple of dishes were cooked.

After our break, we were sharing our fifth dish which was Prawn Katsu Maki Rolls. I’m greatful that we were only given 4 pieces to share, since some restaurants serve 8-10 Maki pieces! This dish was tasty as expected and was a kind of sushi I would have ordered if we’d chosen the a la carte option.

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Prawn Maki Roll

Our sushi was followed by our first and only chicken dish of chicken meatballs. Sounds simple enough right? But in the small dish next to our skewers we were presented with a raw egg yolk on top of soy sauce. Immediately my salmonella alarm was making me think twice about the dipping sauce. But Jamie mixed it and tried it first, promising that it didn’t taste like the chicken was covered with raw egg.

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Chicken Meatballs

It transpired that if you mix soy sauce and egg yolk it pretty much tastes like extra salty soy sauce (at least it did to me). I can also report a day later that I don’t have salmonella if you were wondering..

Now I have to admit, our last course was a seared salmon nigiri, it was amazing but as soon as it arrived, we threw it in our mouths and forgot to take a picture! This was one of our favourite dishes (and it obviously looked amazing too!) but we demolished it in one bite!

After getting over excited about the sushi, we had reached our £35 limit. It was up to us whether we wanted to continue or finish. We of course chose to finish since we were completely full!

Well, I say that, but we were tempted by the homemade truffles and decided to finish with a glass of wine and truffles.

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Homemade Truffles

When we left, we realised we had been at the restaurant for over 2 hours! The staff were great with us and checked whether we enjoyed each course. The Omakase style was perfect for us since we love to try new food. I would recommend the experience to anyone who wants to try something different or find new favourites. But, handing over the choice to your waiter is definitely risky if you are a fussy eater!

We can’t wait to go back to the restaurant and try it all over again! We love this type of dining experience, so let me know if you have visited anywhere fun like this yourself!

A Weekend in Glasgow

Although Glasgow is one of the largest cities in Scotland, it isn’t one that I frequent often. I suggested a visit for the weekend to see what we could get up to, so we booked a few nights and travelled the 3 hours to Glasgow!

We arrived at the Citizen M hotel in Glasgow which is a hotel we always enjoy staying at. We arrived late so quickly ate some food and headed up to the room. The room is controlled by an iPad where you can control the lights, television and blinds. You can even choose ‘moods’ for the room such as ‘relax’ or ‘romance’, these change the mood lighting and the TV provides music and videos that are associated with the mood. You can also choose any colour you want from a colour spectrum and Jamie spent a while changing colours and checking out the movies. Each room is provided with a full set of movies to choose from, from Dunkirk to the newest Beauty and the Beast movie, there were choices for everyone and they were pretty recent releases too. Each time we stay at the Citizen M we always feel like we know what we will get (which we like) and it’s fun to play with the lights every time!

Day 1

Since we arrived late the night before, we decided to wake around 10 to make sure we had enough energy for the day ahead. If you set an alarm using the iPad at Citizen M, you are woken by the lights gradually turning on, the tv quietly making sounds and eventually pictures on the screen. It’s a nice way to wake up since you can choose how gradual and noisy the alarm system is. So we chose a gentle wake up since it was the weekend!

Once we were ready to leave, we walked to the The butterfly and Pig Tea Rooms which I’d found online to get brunch. When we walked inside I wasn’t disappointed, the tea rooms had a vintage feel with china plates on the walls and mismatched cups on the tables.

Entrance Hallway

The people around us had ordered what looked like an amazing afternoon tea, but there was no way we could eat that much as our first meal of the day! I chose to get the french toast and Jamie ordered a full Scottish breakfast. The tea was served in a vintage teapot with china cups. I wanted to just take everything home with me!

Brunch

The customers who sat next to us had ordered afternoon tea for 3, sadly I didn’t take a photo but their tea was served in a cat shaped teapot! Despite us not being given a cat teapot I loved our experience and the food was lovely. If you’re in the city I would recommend this place for brunch!

Ground Floor Dining Room

With full tummies we took a taxi (to save time) to the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, I hadn’t realised but the admission here was free which was an added bonus! We walked around the park and decided to visit Kibble Palace first.

Eve in Kibble Palace

The huge glasshouse was opened all the way back in 1873 and was filled with tropical plants and ferns. The room was hot and humid which was nice considering how cold it was outside. We felt like we were in the rainforest when we reached the centre of the building!

Tropical Flowers

Above is one of my favourite plants, the leaves were covered in a silver tint. It looked as though the leaves had been covered with silver paint! I haven’t seen this plant before even though i’ve visited lots of botanical gardens.

Once we’d finished we visited the remaining glasshouses which were separated into different rooms. From orchid gardens to desert plants, there were over 10 gardens which showcased a huge range of plants. I loved seeing all of the beautiful flowers and it was fun moving from one glass house to the other. You could feel the extreme changes in environment by going from hot humid rooms to arid desert like rooms!

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Since we were on the right side of town, we decided our next stop would be the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. That was until we reached the museum and realised we were opposite a perfectly placed Brewdog bar.

View from Brewdog

Jamie loves Brewdog beer which is why we decided to stop off (even though I don’t usually drink beer!). The staff were great and let me try as many beers as I wanted before I picked one. They even offered me wine incase there was nothing I liked too!

After a brief break we headed over the road to the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. When you walk into the museum you immediately notice the organ in the entrance hall. We had missed it, but each day there is a short concert with the organ at 1pm (so make sure you head there earlier if you want to see it). The architecture in the Kelvingrove was beautiful and the decor made the building feel even grander.

Kelvingrove Organ

Inside the galleries on one side of the museum were hundreds of animals. We really enjoyed this aspect of the museum which was focused on nature. There were a few interactive exhibits and a section on Ancient Egypt which I found really interesting.

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On the opposite side of the museum were art and culture based exhibits including some Macintosh work. This side was interesting, but not as fun as the other!

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Once the museum closed, we had an hour to kill before we went for dinner. Naturally we went to find a bar and stumbled upon the Kelvingrove Cafe. Since it was after 5pm it was busy, we only just managed to get a table. We enjoyed our drinks but felt like the place was too cramped. We paid our bill at the bar and left, when unexpectedly the manager ran after us and asked us to pay.. which we already had! I think that showed how busy the bar was!

Before we arrived in Glasgow, I decided to search TripAdvisor to find somewhere nice for dinner. One of the most highly rated places was Number 16. Described as a small restaurant with great food, I couldn’t resist booking a table.

When we arrived we were greeted by friendly staff and taken to a small upstairs area where we could pick our own table. We were given menus and the highly knowledgable staff were able to recommend food and wine based on our tastes. We chose a bottle of white wine (Reisling) and I picked Smoked Salmon to start.

Number 16 Starters

The Salmon was mixed with orange flavours which i’d never had before, but I loved it! For main I had a venison dish which was paired with parsnip and potato. My dinner was so good that Jamie admitted (first time ever) that he had food envy and wished he had ordered the same main!

Number 16 Mains

Despite the food envy, all of our dishes were amazing. I really hope that we can go back to Number 16 again and try another menu. The choices are seasonal (including the wine menu) so in a few months there will be a new list of foods!

 

Day 2

We decided to head out for brunch again, our hotel offered a continental style breakfast but it was £14 per person. We figured we could go out and get hot food for a similar price! I found Hutchesons Grill  using google maps and was able to book a table online that morning. It took us about 20 minutes to walk there and we got to see George Square along the way.

The restaurant offers a Prosecco brunch option where you can get a bottle of prosecco with orange juice, croissants and two hot breakfast options which was a great deal. We chose to opt for a Peach Bellini and Bloody Mary with breakfast instead since we had eaten a huge meal the night before.

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I really enjoyed the pancakes, but I did prefer The Butterfly and Pig. I think I may have been easily swayed by the cute decor and cakes though!

After another good brunch, we walked to Glasgow Cathedral to see the beautiful architecture.

View from the Necropolis

After a walk around the Necropolis we visited the cathedral and I was surprised by how beautiful it was inside. The gothic exterior meant that I hadn’t noticed the amazing stained glass windows which lined the building.

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Stained Glass at Glasgow Cathedral

The cathedral is huge, with us spending about an hour walking around the ground floor and underground crypts. From the tiles on the floors to the arches and windows, there was something to see at every angle. I was really glad that we walked to this side of town and finally got to see the inside of the cathedral!

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Inside Glasgow Cathedral

Although the weather wasn’t kind to us, we decided to walk around the city and admire some the street art in the rain. Walking around Glasgow you can’t help but notice the huge murals and art on the sides of buildings. I’ve included a few photos of some of my favourites below.

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We also saw a huge nature based piece which may have been my favourite.

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After our small walking tour we went shopping before heading to the hotel and getting ready for dinner. Within a 5 minute walk from the hotel we arrived at the Mussel Inn for some seafood. We were taken upstairs where a few tables were filled. I have to say that the food here was amazing but the service was awful! I had a pasta based dish and Jamie had a seafood platter which was amazing. I think we would give the place another chance since we enjoyed the food, but the service was unbelievably slow. When we were ready to order the waitress asked us to wait because the kitchen was busy. Our drinks took a long time to arrive and the staff were constantly rushing around us. I feel like the restaurant mustn’t normally be this chaotic, since there were good reviews online. Next time we may have to visit the Edinburgh restaurant instead!

To finish off the night we went back to our hotel and visited the bar. The bar had a new cocktail menu with Glasgow themed cocktails and we were able to relax after a day filled with walking!

Citizen M Decor

 

We had a great time in Glasgow even if it was a packed two days! If you have the chance, even spending one day lets you see a few of the big sights. Which other attractions are great in Glasgow?

I’m now waiting for my next Scottish mini-break to Edinburgh in a few weeks!