26. The Sunday Journal

Sunday, 31 July 2016

I haven't stopped this week until now. Got a nice cup of tea and Once Upon a Time in the background. Bliss.

This week I've signed up to the 100 mile challenge in August which is tomorrow. The weather is doing me any favours at all and I think I'll find myself doing more than a couple of treadmill runs to make up the mileage.

Me and the boy went camping this weekend and it was hilariously rubbish. The tent I bought for our anniversary was clearly not tested in Scotland and of course it wouldn't be a camping trip without a dousing of rain! Albeit, we had fun but in the morning we packed up our tent and headed on home glad to a bit more dry. I have so far resisted the urge to get into bed and will savour it more tonight.

I bought myself a few new books this week. I really want to get back into reading in between everything else I'm doing. I'm really looking forward to getting into Carrie's new book - 'On the Other Side'

Have a nice relaxing Sunday all, enjoy those precious moments of peace :)



The 100 mile challenge

Monday, 25 July 2016

Photo Credit
If you're a long time reader, you'll know that I'm partial to a good run or two. Whether it be a cheeky 5k down at the park trying to beat my PB or a 10k event where I just want to make it to the finish line without my knees collapsing beneath me; I'd rather run that walk.

I came across Awesome Running Events through Twitter and I researched a little more into it. Intrigued by its premise of running 100 miles in one month - this can be individually or in a team - I sent the link to my fellow running buddy and I told her it was 'go hard or go home'. She said it was a cop out to share the miles. I took note of this and as I'm never one to shy away from a challenge, I signed up solo.

I'm excited at the prospect of pushing my physically in order to meet the target and I envisage it will be tough, especially in the week when I am on call for work. The challenge is tracked using any running app, Garmin, Fitbit or even good old pen and paper. As long as you can show at the end of the month you ran 100 miles, a medal wings its way over to you.

What a challenge this will be and I am so eager to get my running shoes on and see how I cope with doing this along with working full time, part time writing and everything else in life. Physically challenging but so rewarding.

Read more about the event or be brave and sign up here

Be sure to follow me on Twitter or Instagram to get updates along the way.



25. The Sunday Journal

Sunday, 24 July 2016

You may have noticed that there wasn't any new posts this week. I know, such a bad blogger. But fear not, I have some exciting posts planned for the weeks coming that I think you will enjoy :)

This week me and the rest of the Orchid family went to see the Lady Boys on Bangkok that was in town this week. Mama Orchid got given some free tickets so we couldn't not turn them down. The show was very good but it was something that I generally wouldn't have gone to see if we hadn't been given some free tickets. The Lady Boys were very beautiful indeed and put on an amazing show full of colour and energy. Would I go and see it again? Probably not.

We had a work night out with a client at the bowling on Friday night and my team really did carry me because we won! An amazing trophy and a £50 voucher to Cafe Analaduz. Come at me tapas!!

This week I have come to the realisation that I have been slacking with my fitness and my meals. I have come up with a strict exercise plan consisting of a lot of cardio and strength training and I have been planning my meals by making a shopping list and sticking to it when I go food shopping. So far, so good! My butternut squash fritatta is looking delightful and ready for my lunchbox.

I managed to hit my PB in my 5k running today. So happy that I managed to cut my time down to 31 minutes. Just need that extra push to make it to the 30 minute mark. Planning some more running this week to try and hit that target.

I hope you've all had an amazing Sunday relaxing and preparing yourselves for the new week ahead



24. The Sunday Journal

Sunday, 17 July 2016

I feel like my 'on call' weeks are just weeks of me being grumpy and generally not wanting to participate in life. This week has been much of the same so I will keep this one short and sweet.

My fitness regime has gone out the window and I have taken a week off from all things fitness but back on this week with lots of classes and fitness adventures to go on.

Every one and their Grandma has Pokemon Go and as a fanatic of Pokemon, I've not downloaded it. I really dislike all things mainstream and I'm not one to follow the crowds. After being branded a 'nerd' at work with previous chats of the Pokemon game, the fact I own a Pikachu plush and keyring; I'm basically the only one in the office that doesn't own this game.

Me and the boy booked a spontaneous trip to Edinburgh in September. We're also looking for a trip to do in November and I was looking into Disneyland Paris but with all the attacks in France, the boy and my Mother aren't too keen to let me go. If we were to go, anyone have any Disneyland Paris recommendations/trip planning advice?

Back to normality next week please :)


Barcelona Diaries Day 5

Saturday, 16 July 2016

After sunburn-gate we weren't really in the mood for our last day of sightseeing. I had woken up with two mosquito bites and the boy was still feeling unwell from the sunburn. We had booked a bike tour that morning and debated whether we were both up for going. The boy decided that we should make the most of our last day and go on the bike tour. I had an amazing time scooting about the city on the bike and it made me really miss riding a bike. You can read all about the Sandemans bike tour I did here.

After the bike tour we rested up with some lunch then had a walk around the old gothic quarter. We saw the queue for the Picasso Museum was short so we queued and got in without 10 minutes. I love the audio tour and his early work was amazing but his cubism phase didn't appeal to me and the boy and were pretty glad the museum was closing so we didn't have to stay any longer than necessary. I was very interested in his printmaking work but found the subject matter very vulgar and sexualised. I think they should have kept the temporary exhibit as over 18's only :/

We had an early dinner of tapas and this establishment we went to was not great for our last meal. Something about those black cuttlefish croquettes put me off! We went back to the Air BnB where our host was putting in new furniture that day but it hadn't been completed when we popped back in earlier. They felt bad that we had to go out again so early so offered to buy us dinner. We turned it down as we had eaten earlier but didn't mind the inconvenience so much.

We packed up our bags ready for the early flight tomorrow. Off we went the next day to the airport and back home to Aberdeen with no cancelled flights! It was great to come home to a cold breeze and to be able to sleep under a duvet!

I loved Barcelona and would love to go back when it's off season, I felt there was too many tourists during the summer months. The cancelled flights, sunburn-gate and moquito bites made it less enjoyable but time off with the boy with delicious food, drink and laden with history. Who can complain?



Barcelona Diaries Day 3 & 4

Thursday, 14 July 2016

I like to think of myself as a cultured lass who likes a good museum or two. I'm definitely a city gal that loves exploring museums and architectural history. Barcelona has its fair few museums and buildings to explore. Our Air BnB was ideally located close to the Sagrada Familia. The amazing construction from the brilliant mind of Gaudi.

I had already looked into this church online and it was recommended that we book online in advance. On the morning that we decided to go, I booked an audio tour - I love me an audio tour! - but the next available slot was 2.45pm. We left early afternoon and decided to find a nice cafe to sit outside close to the church as we ended up drinking pints of Sangria and buying tacky holiday hats from a nearby souvenir shop! The church itself is an amazing architectural feat. When in Barcelona, you have to visit this church. It's like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower y'know? It's an ongoing construction and is planned to be finished in 2026 - 100 years after the death of Gaudi. The church itself is funded by private donations and from the ticket sales of people coming to see the church.

It is absolutely stunning. The history, the planning, the thought behind every intricate detail of the church is astounding. We sat inside staring up at the monumental pillars holding up the roof and I felt a rush of emotion when hearing the story and being able to see it and be a part of it was really quite something.

Afterwards, we headed back to the Air BnB and I had a little siesta (mainly to sleep off all the sangria I had drunk that afternoon) and the boy arranged a catch up with one of his friends who lives in Barcelona. He is a screenwriter and had co-written movies and TV shows. He invited us to a private viewing of one of the episodes he co-wrote that was being aired on TV. We mingled with directors, actors and actresses and it was quite surreal. The show was all in Catalan but it was just amazing to be sat in the presence of such talented people. After the show finished, we were treated to some live music from the singers of the show's theme tune and some of the other tracks from the TV show. I couldn't quite believe we were in this environment and kept having to pinch myself!

The next day was the boy's birthday and in all honesty, we had messed up the dates and what we had planned for the day but he said he wanted to have a beach day. I packed some beach towels, bought some tasty food and stocked up on some water and off we went. The beach was a short metro ride away from where we were staying and it was one of the hottest days on our trip. The beaches of Barcelona are all man made having been constructed especially for the Olympics. There are many beaches of Barcelona and we settled on one of the quieter ones.

I'm not much for heat or lying on a beach but I took a book and slathered on the sunscreen and there we were for a few hours. The boy didn't want to put any sunscreen on in the attempt to get a tan. His back turned red very soon after and I quickly put some sunscreen on in a bid to prevent it from burning any more. The boy said he wanted to leave at around 4.30pm but I couldn't stand the heat any more and wanted to leave early. We ate some tasty paella and drank some Cava Sangria by the beach and headed back to the Air BnB to get ready for his birthday meal with his friend from the other night.

Poor boy ended up feeling unwell at dinner and drinks due to the sun and we had to go home early in order to bathe him in some aftersun. The result being red raw skin, blisters and second degree burns. What a happy birthday it was not.

Catch up with Barcelona Diaries Day 1 & 2 here



Foodie Eats: Ed's Easy Diner

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Who doesn't love a tasty burger? Me and the boy love burgers and our favourite place to go is Ed's Easy Diner. Nestled away in the food court of the Bon Accord Centre in Aberdeen, the diner is typically American. Furnished with booths and 60's style signs, it welcomes you in before you've even sat down.

The menu is typical of a diner; burgers, hot dogs and milkshakes. We obviously come for the burgers and the bacon and cheeseburger with a vanilla malt milkshake is a favourite of mine. Whilst waiting for our food we decided to peruse the jukebox sitting on our table. For 20p a song, which all goes to charity, we didn't begrudge spending a few pennies on some classic 60's tunes.

The milkshakes are served in a metal glass and it is a very generous portion (around 2 servings per milkshake) - I always go for a classic vanilla milkshake with malt. I would have liked the option for a small milkshake but I have the boy at hand to help me finish it. The milkshake is thick, creamy and full of flavour and is definitely a firm favourite of mine.

Forget your Byron Burgers, Handmade Burger or Haachi Burgers; these are the most succulent and most juiciest burgers ever. I rarely ever finish a whole burger due to the thickness of the patty and the bun but the combination here at Ed's is delicious. When ordering you have the choice of small medium or large. In my confusion, the really friendly waitress explained the small comes with one patty, medium with two and the large with three. I opted for the small and upgraded to an 'Ed's plate' which came with fries, onion rings and coleslaw. I swapped my regular fries for sweet potato fries, albeit not the best fries I have ever had, they were still very good.

The dining options are very flexible. You can have the burger on its own and there is a wide choice of sides and different sides which is great for the picky eater.  The boy was particularly hungry and ordered a medium burger with a hot dog and chilli fries. Safe to say, his eyes were bigger than his belly and he struggled to finish it. He said his burger was really tasty but I had a bite of his hot dog and found the bun to be very dry.

Being located in a shopping centre far from the maddening crowd means this establishment doesn't get the customer rep it should. Union Square has some nice restaurants and some very bad ones and would like to see this place opening up where more people can appreciate it.

Ed, you make the best burgers and we will be back!



23. The Sunday Journal

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Another week, another Sunday Journal to report. Where are the days going?

This week was back to work after my Barcelona Adventures and getting back into the swing of things. I've got some cool projects lined up which I'm looking forward to working on but as always, it's just finding time to focus on them.

This weekend saw me participate in the new Les Mills launch weekend. I went to Body Attack and by gosh was it attacked. I was such a sweaty mess but felt great afterwards, looking forward to getting booked in for Body Pump and see what weight delights we have in store.

I got my eyebrows threaded for the first time ever. I've always wanted to get them done and I find myself walking away from the shop whenever I come close to entering. Today, I decided to bite the bullet and get them done. The therapist could tell it was my first time. She was having the time of her life threading away at my bushy eyebrows. Despite the stinging pain during and afterwards, they look amazing and I really would go back and get them done again.

I hope you all have an amazing new week and to challenge yourselves in every way possible whether it be at work or your home life.



Review / Sandemans New Europe Tours

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Exploring a new city without an idea of where you're going can be daunting. You can find yourself aimlessly wandering around looking at pretty buildings but have no idea what the significance of it is. In come Sandemans Tours. I have previously done walking tours and absolutely loved them. The tour guides always have such enthusiasm for the city and a wealth of knowledge to share with the group.

My brother had been to Barcelona previously and recommended the Sandemans free walking tour. It is what it says on the tin. It's free. I booked a space online in advance to secure a space but you can just turn up to the meeting point around 10-15 minutes before the tour begins and sign up with one of the tour guides.

The tour started literally on the doorstep of the Jaume I metro station and we were immediately allocated a tour guide. His name was Erik and although he hailed from the good ol' USA, he had lived in Barcelona for 8 years and had an amazing amount of knowledge about the city.

We were taken through the Gothic Quarter and given a history lesson. I know right? Bore. But believe me, Erik told the stories in such an interesting manner and had my attention the entire time. How could I not listen when I was standing in one of the most amazing cities in the world?

The tour lasted around 2 and half hours and it wasn't at all at a fast pace and we even had an opportunity to have a quick toilet break or to grab a drink halfway through. At this time, we took the opportunity to book the bike tour of Barcelona which we had to pay for but at €18 each but we were happy to pay this amount.

As the tour came to an end, Erik answered any questions we had marked on a map some key sights worth seeing. The thing with these tours is that although they are free, the guides work off the tips they get from the group. Don't feel obliged to give anything to the guide as if you're on a budget, these tours are great. You can give what you feel the tour is worth; even if it's just a few Euros or you can just shake the tour guides' hand and part ways with a smile.

There are three other tours that you can sign up for but for a small price, this includes; tapas tour, bike tour and the Gaudi tour. We signed up for the bike tour and split into two smaller groups of 6 people. We ended up with Erik again as our tour guide and I definitely wasn't complaining. This tour lasted two and a half hours and we were taken to a different part of the city. It had been years since I had been on a bike so was a bit shaky but after a few minutes I was flying away and loving it. The streets are not hilly at all and was all on flat roads/pavements.

I would 100% recommend Sandemans Tours if you are looking for a walking tour. They currently operate in 18 cities; Edinburgh, Prague, Amsterdam to name a few. Check out their website here if you want to have a wee look.

Have you ever done a walking tour before? What are the key things that you look for?



Review / Bounce Energy Balls

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

After a hard workout at the gym, it can be pretty easy to reach for the unhealthy snacks and justify it by saying you had burnt calories on the treadmill. I must admit, I have been guilty of that. I've been on the look out for a healthy alternative to a post workout meal and I happened upon these Bounce Energy Balls in my local Holland and Barrett.

A sucker as always for bright coloured packaging, this jumped out at me and I picked up a few flavours to try. I bought Peanut, Cacao Orange and Coconut Lemon.

They are high in protein, gluten free and contain whey protein; a great source for post workout. Better yet, they are all individually shaped so no two are the same and they contain all raw ingredients.

The one thing I noticed is that they are quite heavy and dense. I wasn't able to easily rip these in two. I really don't like the taste of protein shakes but these don't have a bad taste. The unique shape and flavours are really interesting. I'm not too keen on the cacao flavours as I found them a bit too bitter and dry but the Peanut one is the best smelling and tasting. I usually have half after my workout and nibble on the rest throughout the morning. Of course, it's really up to yourself if you want to eat it all at once :)

They're quite pricey at £1.99 each but you can usually find deals online or in store and you can probably get two snacks out of one if you cut one in half.

Have you tried one of these before? What are your favourite post workout snacks?



22. The Sunday Journal

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Hello! I'm back from my holidays! And how have we made it into July already? You can read the first part of my Barcelona Diaries here if you're interested. More to follow :) Let me know if you're travelling to Barcelona soon and want to know a little more about my trip.

Since we've been back, I've been trying to settle back into Aberdeen life and getting things in the flat organised - it's been a whole year since I've put in an offer for this flat, can hardly believe it myself! The weather has been amazing! I know, it's been dull and rainy but after the heat in Barcelona, I welcome it.

I went for a run this morning after a month off and I'm neither faster or slower so I'll take what I can get. Not that 'bikini body' season is over I'm going to be focusing more of my time on cardio and building strength.

We went to see Secret Life of Pets and it is soooo good! It's made my want for a puppy even worse. Granted, I fell asleep halfway through and missed most it - not because it was boring - but my eyes just couldn't stay open a minute longer. Must be the thought of going back to work tomorrow.



Barcelona Diaries Day 1 & 2

Friday, 1 July 2016

Me and the boy have been needing a holiday for a while. We've both been working too hard at work and what better way to wind down than to get on a plane to sunny Barcelona? We left on Friday 24th June, a sad day for the UK as we found out that we as a country did not want to be a part of the EU any more *cue jokes about using the non EU passport queue at the airports* but we didn't let it be a dampener on our trip and off we went.

Once we got to London however, we found out that our connecting flight to Barcelona was cancelled and that we had been rebooked on the flight going out the next morning. Stranded in London with no luggage and the two of us becoming very irritable we managed to get a hotel sorted for the night (courtesy of BA of course!) I was able to contact our Air BnB host to let him know that we would be arriving the next morning instead, he was very accommodating and met us the next morning.

Waking up at 3am on Saturday to make our 6am flight was a wake up call I do not want to remember. Transfer buses didn't start until 4am and the Heathrow Express Terminal trains didn't start until 5am! Cue us running like mad chickens through the terminals to make our flight. Even though I run as a hobby, running through airports is something completely different.

Arriving into Barcelona in the same clothes we left (sunny) Aberdeen in was such a rookie mistake. The temperature was 30 degrees and it stayed at this temperature the entire trip.

After changing our clothes, we explored the city. I have never been to Barcelona before but the boy has been twice before for arts festivals. The city was busy and full of tourists which isn't surprising as the city has such an amazing history.

We ate some delicious paella and wandered around getting our bearings. We ended up at this beautiful marina port and sat and had a cold drink soaking up the sunshine. Amazing end to a very tiring day. Sets us up well for the rest of the trip.

Look out for Barcelona Diaries Day 3 & 4 soon!