The Stair Arms Hotel Review

Just a half hour drive outside of Edinburgh city centre, in the small village of Pathhead, is one of the most charming Scottish hotels I’ve ever had the luxury of staying in.

My sister and I, were invited along to The Stair Arms Hotel after work last Friday for a girly overnight trip. Situated along the main road, the hotel has a very cosy, country feel to it which makes for the most idyllic and peaceful setting. The ideal stop for passing travelers and locals.

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Family run, The Stair Arms has recently been refurbished, staying true to its Scottish heritage in the capital with chic tartans and grand chandeliers, the rooms have a real luxurious feel to them. Upon arrival we were greeted with the roaring warmth from the log fire and the friendliest staff, who just couldn’t do enough for us.

Once checked in, we quickly threw our bags into the room and headed straight down for dinner.

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The food in particular was outstanding. The menu was bursting with creative and elegant dishes, using only fresh local ingredients. The home made bread rolls and dip in particular were a highlight and there was a whole other menu just for vegetarians and vegans – which did not disappoint.

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The cauliflower steak with mushroom potatoes, carmalised onions and carrot puree was heavenly and the mac n’ cheese with vine tomatoes and garlic bread was the perfect hearty, comfort food. We decided to share the chocolate brownie sundae for dessert – only because we brought our entire weight combined in snacks for a Halloween movie night in.

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The Stair Arms Hotel

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The interiors are nothing short of fabulous – traditional meets modern. The Stair Arms have a range of rooms available, all very spacious and cosy. Check out the next day is at 11 am, perfect for those who enjoy a long lie.

Packed up, we headed down for a glorious traditional scottish breaky (vege options available also) and a wander around the grounds, a peaceful awakening to our day.

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The Stair Arms Hotel

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The Stair Arms also cater for weddings and with the experience of their wedding coordinators, can cater to any type of wedding.

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Keep up to date with my latest adventures – A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide.

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MOAI SUP Board Review

“Paradise is just a paddle away”

MOAI is an amazing new brand from the Netherlands, designed in Holland and inspired by the people of Polynesia who invented the art of paddle boarding. As soon as I saw MOAI’s stand up paddle (SUP) boards, I instantly fell in love. The unique design of the boards, along with their vision to ‘stand up for a better world’ as they collaborate with the Waves 4 Change charity was a company that I knew I instantly wanted to support.

Also, is anyone else thinking Moana?

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MOAI SUP Board

I have been channeling my inner Moana this summer on MOAI’s 10’6 board and couldn’t recommend it enough to anyone looking to purchase a paddle board. It’s a great quality board with amazing stability and versatility, the perfect all round board for beginners. I often take out my friends and family who are new to paddle boarding and they all agree that MOAI’s board was the easiest to balance and maneuver on, compared to other brands. The board is incredibly robust on the water and its wide body allows for comfortable balance and posture.

The board also has several d-rings with a cargo net, ideal if you want to bring additional gear such as a dry bag or camping gear. The 10’6 board also has several rings on the center body where you can attach a kayak seat.

MOAI’S 10’6 board is, however, slightly heavier when compared to some of it’s competitors due to the board’s double layer technology. It consists two layers of robust PVC  providing increased strength and non-slip protection. This board wasn’t built for speed which is partly why I love it, it’s an excellent board for newbies and touring.

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Waves 4 Change

MOAI strive to make their boards as environmentally friendly as possible and believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy nature. In 2018, they started collaborating with the Waves 4 Change charity in South Africa to support their amazing work in changing lives, one wave at a time.

With every board purchase, MOAI donate a profit to Waves 4 Change. Paddle boarding is such a great way to disconnect and clear your head but it’s so important that we keep protecting, conserving and celebrating our wonderful blue marble. We are all responsible for looking after it, which is why I’m so proud to support a company that advocates for protecting our environment.

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Pros:

  • Competitively priced – Paddle boards can be pretty expensive, with MOAI, you’re getting a high quality board plus accessories for a really great price.
  • Stability – the board has a wide body which makes it really easy to balance on.
  • Appearance – MOAI’s boards are beautifully designed, I’ve had so many compliments.
  • Pump it up – Super quick and easy to pump up with the double action pump
  • The paddle – The adjustable paddle is really lightweight and comfortable to hold.
  • High Quality Accessories – Everything is included with the board and it comes with a beautiful trolley bag, no more sore backs. YAY!

Cons:

  • Weight – The board is quite heavy to carry so I wouldn’t recommend for little ones.
  • Speed – As the board is slightly wider and heavier than most, it’s not great for speed.
  • Fin – I found the detachable fin slightly confusing to attach at first and have even lost it on occasion so always ensure it’s properly secured to your board.

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What’s Included?

  • Adjustable aluminum paddle
  • Premium trolley backpack
  • Double action pump
  • Center fin
  • Safety leash
  • Repair kit

If you have any questions about paddle boards, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide.

Images by: SUP Glasgow

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The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

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August is without a doubt the best time of year to visit Edinburgh. Not only because temperatures change from sub zero to mildly tolerable but it’s also the month long arts festival. A city filled with comedy, theatre, pop up bars and restaurants all which give Edinburgh a unique buzz throughout August.

I was invited to spend the day with Festivals Edinburgh to explore the city and squeeze five festivals into one day, including The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, my personal favourite this year.

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The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place from 2nd – 26th August and is Scotland’s biggest outdoor spectacle, attracting an international audience of two hundred and twenty thousand people each year. Located on the esplanade of the iconic Edinburgh castle, over one thousand military and civilian performers from around the world congregate to perform the show of a lifetime.

The show incorporates a wide range of music, dance and precision display with massed pipes and drums, military bands, cultural troupes, singers as each country tells a story  of their heritage and culture and the moving piece of the lone piper against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

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We secured a prime position on the forecourt and got to experience the show up close and personal. Trinidad and Tobago’s Defence Force Steel Orchestra was a personal highlight as they brought a fun twist to the show along with the Hjaltibonhoga fiddlers from the Shetland Isles.

This year’s theme, Kaleidoscope, captures the imaginations of audience goers through a series of performances bold with colour and light, comparable to the optical invention which was created by Scottish physicist, Sir David Brewster, in 1816. I spoke briefly with Brigadier David Allfrey, chief executive and producer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, who explained “The Tattoo is always looking to stimulate as many senses as possible: sight, hearing, smell, touch and even taste.” And is set to be the “most colourful and extravagant show yet”.

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This unforgettable performance is brought to an emotional and poignant close each evening as a lone piper, spot lit high on top of the castle, plays a haunting lament. We were lucky enough to view the finale from above the crowd as fireworks and a mass chorus of Auld Lang Syne from the audience brought the curtain down on a truly memorable night’s entertainment.

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The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo can be pretty pricey and always sells out in record time so ensure to grab your tickets early. Alternatively, tickets for the pre-show performance (which takes place on the Thursday night) go on sale the Monday before the show starts.

Check out some of the other festivals that we visited throughout the day;

  • Edinburgh Art Festival – 25th July to 25th August
  • Edinburgh Fringe – 2nd to 26th August
  • Edinburgh International Festival – 2nd to 26th August
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival – 10th to 26th August

Remember to wrap up as the show is outdoors. Thanks for reading, keep up with my latest adventures – A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide

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Ayr Beach Clean

Annually, there are seven billion tons of debris deposited on beaches, which is not only a health hazard for us who use them recreationally but also an environmental hazard for the marine community which depends on them. That is why it was so important to me to organise a beach clean last weekend: bringing together an amazing group of people to tackle the problem.

We headed down to South Ayrshire depot to collect our litter picking equipment. We also managed to sneak a quick tour of the facilities and learn exactly what happens to our litter when we throw it in our wheelie bins.

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This was the paper and plastic collected from Ayrshire’s wheelie bins on Friday. So where exactly is this all going now? The team at the depot explained;

  • The contents of your blue bin are processed in Irvine at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where the paper, card, plastic bottles and cans are separated out and sold on to recycling markets.
  • The contents of the brown bin are taken to a centralised composting plant in Skares, where it is turned into compost before being used in landscaping works etc.
  • The glass is taken to their waste transfer station in Ayr, before being bulked up and transported to the glass recycling plant in Alloa where it is turned into new glass bottles.

Recycling waste materials provides an opportunity to put less waste to landfill, reduces air pollution and energy use, and reduces the impact of extracting materials and is a more efficient use of finite resources.

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After our tour, we headed to Unity Grill who kindly offered to host us before the beach clean. Their motto is ‘Eat Well. Do Good’. We certainly ate well – the food was AMAZING, with a great choice of vegan and gluten free options.

Unity Grill are a social restaurant with the community at heart, where 100% of the profits are used to challenge food poverty. Angela, the owner sat down to chat with us where she explained that everyone is welcome, regardless of whether you can pay for your meal or not. At Unity Grill, you have the option to volunteer to cover the cost of your meal.

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…Not for sharing!
We were also treated to some much needed caffeine, kindly donated by Rocket Monkey Coffee and as a fun incentive, Global WAKEcup offered two personalised eco-friendly cups to the two people that collected the most litter on Ayr beach.
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Fueled up and ready to go, we headed down to Ayr beach and in true Scottish fashion, got completely soaked.

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Although the beach wasn’t all that bad, much of what we did find was mainly plastic straws and bottle tops.

We managed to collect five bags of litter. Shout out to Adventures with Amanda and Kathryn In The Clouds for collecting the most litter and winning the personalised cups.

It was such a fun day and great to see so many people pull together for such an important cause. While beach cleans alone will never be the answer to plastic pollution, they are an incredible example of community spirit. They serve to educate and raise awareness on a mass scale. Every piece of plastic we remove is a victory for our beaches and provides evidence to support campaigns calling for packaging and business reform.

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Thank you so much again to Unity Grill for hosting us for the best brunch EVER! And Rocket Monkey Coffee for fueling us. Also, True Glasgow for providing transport and the team at South Ayrshire Council for providing the litter picking equipment and supporting us throughout. And last but not least my gal Bloggers Who Brunch Glasgow for bringing us all together💙 Chuffed to bits!

Keep up to date with my latest adventures: A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide

Images by Power Puff Travel and myself.

Inchconnachan, Loch Lomond

More commonly known as Wallaby island, Inchconnachan is situated amongst the larger islands in the middle of Loch Lomond. Having visited last year, I was keen to go back and explore some more. And of course, see the wallabies again.

The wallabies were first brought to Inchconnachan in the 1940’s after the second World War, by one of the most eccentric and admired aristocrats of the 20th century, Lady Arran Colquhoun. She was also a celebrated power boater, and earned herself the nickname “the fastest granny on water” after reaching 103 mph on Lake Windermere in the 1980’s.

Scotland has been absolutely glorious these past few days so I grabbed my best gal gang (and Stuart) and headed up to Loch Lomond for some paddle boarding. We set off from Luss pier and headed straight for the famous island.

We paddled round to the west side of Inchconnachan called The Narrows, a waterway between the site and Inchtavannach island, to escape some of the wind. This is where you’ll find Lady Arran’s bungalow which has long been deserted.

Inchconnachan Island

There’s definitely an eerie feel to the place. Approaching it, we felt that we were at the part in the horror film where everyone was shouting ‘GO BACK!’ but we survived to tell the tale. Head inside and you’ll find the most amazing map of Loch Lomond, which has been painted on what appears to be the living room wall.

Inchconnachan House

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After exploring the bungalow, we hiked to the top of the island in search of the wallabies. The views at the top are gorgeous, the perfect spot for a girlie catch up.

Inchconnachan Hill

Inchconnachan Island Views

After battering through bushes and branches, we eventually caught a glimpse of the wallabies. It’s incredible to see these Australian natives bouncing around in Scotland and easy to understand why most people think you’re crazy when you talk about them living on an island… in Loch Lomond.

Lady Arran was a quirky character with a love of exotic animals. She once owned a backyard menagerie that included creatures like wallabies, llamas, and pigs. It was only after the second World War, she moved her beloved wallabies to her holiday home on Inchconnachan.

Wallabies Inchconnachan Island

Wallaby Island, Loch Lomond

We spent the afternoon in total bliss, after a quick snack break we paddled through The Narrows and headed over towards Inchmoan.

Inchconnachan Beach

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Determined to get a cute group picture… I’m not sure we succeeded.

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Paddle Boarding Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond SUP

There’s something pretty special about having the beach all to yourself, you’re only a short paddle or boat trip from some beautiful, secluded beaches, the perfect summer camping spot.

Loch Lomond

Paddle Board Yoga

Inchmoan, Loch Lomond

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

I also got to test out the new MOAI board, which is a total dream to paddle on. Although, wetsuit season is well and truly over! Absolutely roasting in them, we headed in for a quick dip before heading back.

Inchmoan Island

Loch Lomond is a home from home for me, I’ll never tire of exploring the same islands or paddling the same routes, there’s just something instantly calming and freeing about being on the Loch.

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Images: SUP Glasgow

Keep up with my latest adventures: A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide

Bracklinn Falls

After last weekends adventure with Glasglow Girls Club, Jen decided she couldn’t get enough of me and invited me along on another trip with Excelsior Adventures. This time to Bracklinn Falls. Having seen pictures of the stunning waterfalls, I jumped at the chance to finally go and see them.

Bracklinn Falls is a great, easy walk just north of Callander, in Scotland. Crossing through varied woodland to the Bracklinn bridge with views of the falls and gorge below, it is absolutely breath taking. The wonder of this gorge is that the stones are continually on the move.

Nicely propelled by caffeine and some T-Swift we headed off from our meeting point at George Square, Glasgow. Kudos to Jen who makes driving a mini-bus through narrow country lanes look completely effortless.

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Be sure to get there nice and early as it’s a popular tourist spot and was already super busy when we got there around 11 am.

Crossing over the bridge, turn left to continue the 5.25 km circuit. Following the path upwards through a bit of steep climb (but not too difficult) will lead you out to stunning views of Ben Ledi, Stuc a’ Chroin and Ben Vorlich.

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We had the circuit all to ourselves on Saturday morning so Theo got the run of the place whilst we all enjoyed a good girlie catch up.

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Further along the path, we came to the Scout Pool just below a second bridge which passes over the Keltie Water.

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A little further along, we passed the sweetest wishing well and of course stopped to make a wish. The circuit took us around 2 hours to complete, with plenty of breaks along the way. The Bracklinn Falls circuit is perfect for all ages with stunning views at every turn, it’s great to enjoy the luxury of being able to fully switch off and enjoy the world’s natural beauty.

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Keep up to date with my latest adventures: A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide

Glasglow Girls Club | The Whangie

Summer is finally HERE!

And what better way to enjoy the sunshine than a Saturday morning adventure with Glasglow Girls Club. I was invited along to their second hill walk with Excelsior Adventures, where we would be climbing The Whangie and then heading down to explore The Devils Pulpit.

In case you haven’t heard, Glasglow Girls Club is a growing members’ network for women in Glasgow and the surrounding area. It provides a forum for Glasgow women to come together and share recommendations and advice, promote their own businesses and help each other to grow, both professionally and personally.

At the heart of it all is Laura Maginess. During our sweaty climb, I managed to grab her for a quick chat on why she started GGC Hillwalking.

“When I was in Sri Lanka earlier this year, I was doing a lot of walking in this beautiful country and I thought to myself, I really want to start a walking club in Glasgow, and encourage more women to get out in Scotland and appreciate what we have to offer. Scotland is stunning!”

Cue Jen.

Jen - Excelsior Adventures
Jen – Excelsior Adventures

The most “morning person” person I have ever met, Jen created Excelsior Adventures after discovering how hiking and being out in nature rapidly improved her mental health after leaving an abusive relationship and suffering from depression.

“I am now at a place where I want to use my experiences to help other people.”

Jen describes Excelsior as a ‘forward-thinking company with the potential to support individuals all over Scotland by creating a vision that emphasises excelling at outdoor activities which strengthen your mind, soul and body.And what better place than Scotland?

Excelsior Adventures

Girl gang assembled, we headed off around 9:30 am from Glasgow Quay. First stop, The Whangie. Located in the Kilpatrick hills, it’s a bizarre rock-feature with wonderful views towards Loch Lomond, the Highlands and the Campsies. The walk is just under 5K, and took us around 2 hours up and down, with plenty of water and selfie breaks along the way, it was the perfect balance between feeling challenged and still being able to enjoy the hike.

Glasgow Girls Club Hillwalk

Glasgow Girls Club Hillwalk

Glasgow Girls Club Hillwalk

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Glasgow Girls Club Hillwalk

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The Whangie

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The Whangie with Glasgow Girls Club

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The Whangie with Excelsior Adventures

The Whangie with Glasgow Girls Club

Full of knowledge, Jen filled us in on some fun facts about The Whangie.

  • The Whangie is a stone corridor, allegedly created by the devil flicking his tail with the oncoming excitement of visiting Stockie Muir (the scientific community might disagree).
  • The Whangie’s name is derived from the old Scots word for slice (as in whang o’ cheese).

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Glasgow Girls Club

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The Whangie

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The Whangie

Amanda Hill Photography

Next up on our adventure was The Devils Pulpit. I get pretty enthusiastic about most things, but I cannot emphasise how incredibly fun it was to visit this magical location. Known both as Finnich Glen and the Devil’s Pulpit, it is well hidden along the A809.

The Devils Pulpit

The Devils Pulpit

There are two main locations where it is safe to park – either on the A809 next to the footpath just south of where the A809 crosses the glen itself, or a little further north at the junction with the B834.

Jen led us alongside the gorge through the forest. It’s pretty easy to follow, but do be careful as there’s no fence and the drop down to the gorge is quite far. After around a 5 minute walk, you will come to the stone steps of “Jacob’s Ladder”.

Not for the faint hearted, you will feel like you are climbing down to hell. Jacob’s Ladder is an ancient stone staircase which runs down to the gorge below. It’s really steep and in very poor condition, but is pretty much the only way to get down to the gorge. However, totally worth it!

You’ll definitely want to bring your swimsuit or wetsuit with you in the summer to explore the water.

The Devils Pulpit with Excelsior Adventures

Amanda Hill Photography
The album drops next week

If you’re thinking of getting into hill walking or just looking for a fun girly day out then I would highly recommend GGC Hillwalking. Laura and Jen have thought of everything from tasty snacks to boogie tunes for the journey, Jen made sure everyone enjoyed themselves and that we all felt safe and stayed together throughout the day.

Amanda Hill Photography
 
The next GGC Hillwalk is 25th May at Conic Hill. Buy your tickets here.
Thanks so much to Laura for inviting me and Jen for organising such an amazing day.
Also, special thanks to Amanda Hill Photography, who got some fab snaps of us and managed to carry her camera (and dignity up and down that gorge). Check out her page.
Keep up to date with my latest adventures: A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide

Breeze SUP Wear

This week I teamed up with UK based eco-friendly clothing brand Breeze Sup Wear for a chat. I had the pleasure of trying out a few pieces and also caught up with Adrian (one of the founders) about Breeze and the brand’s ethical qualities.

Tell me about Breeze, how did you start out?

Myself and Matt, my business partner, have been best friends since we met back in 2006. Matt owns a stand up paddle board company so we are quite often out on the water together. In 2017 on one of our summer paddles, Matt raised the idea of starting a SUP clothing company.

The more we spoke about the idea the more we realised that there wasn’t a brand out there which concentrated on eco-friendly SUP specific clothing and so we thought we were on to something. I had dabbled in clothing design in the past and Matt had the expertise about the demands of the sport so we decided to start Breeze.

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Tell me more about the team…

Me and Matt own the company. We also have some great ambassadors working with us to promote Breeze.

Matt uses his vast knowledge and experience of SUP to gauge what kind of items SUP users need and then does market research to find out if there is a demand for it. I am responsible for all aspects of the clothing; from designing them, to sourcing fabrics and suppliers, and making sure that they are the best quality and of course eco-friendly.

Was being eco-friendly part of your initial concept or did it develop later in the design process?

Whether you’re in the ocean or a loch, you’re passionate about being in beautiful places and so you’re gonna want to look after those places. It didn’t make sense to make products out of stuff that damages the environment. Being eco-friendly was part of our ethos right from the start but it has developed as we have moved along. We have to think about everything, from making sure our packaging is made from recycled materials, our tags and business cards are made from recycled card and we have to ask for our clothing not to be delivered in bags.

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Can you explain what being eco-friendly really means and why it’s important?

To me, it means living with intent, which is the intent to be Earth friendly. We all have a responsibility to make sure that the only footprints we leave on this earth can be washed away by the sea. We need to protect our oceans by keeping them clear of plastic, using recycled products and upcycling old things to prevent waste and conserving energy to make sure that we can use sustainable sources instead of robbing the Earth of its precious materials.

If everyone just changes one thing about their life to make it more eco-friendly then we are moving forward. Anything we can do to conserve energy and prevent air and water pollution is fantastic!

Would you agree there’s a lack of awareness?

People have been slow on the up-take. There’s a massive drive behind it now though, especially in young people. For the first time, the younger generation are leading the way with this kind of stuff. I don’t know whether it’s down to social media but they do care more about the world. They are the driving it forward now and it’s up to them to embarrass the older generations who are stuck in their ways. I don’t think you can escape it, it’s great!

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What is the manufacturing process for recycling clothes?

Our hoodies, for example, are 70% pre-consumer recycled cotton and 30% post consumer. What they do is get all the scrap waste that is produced when making clothes and mix it with other recycled clothing, then chop it all up really finely. After that, the fibers are so small that they can be reused. Check out their video with Salvage here.

How important is style as a factor when making the clothes?

Paddle Boarding (especially in Scotland) is all about warmth, people are far more fashion conscious in warmer climates. I don’t want to be influenced by other brands, I’m confident in my own designs. Style is important but to me it’s not about keeping up with current trends, it’s about designing things that will match their use, I also want the designs to be unisex. I try to keep the designs simple. Having said that, I do have some wacky designs for leggings.

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Do you guys have any plans for expansion (into warmer weather clothing, wet suits, etc.)

We hope to increase our leggings range this year and also have some board shorts for men coming out for the summer. We have started trying to source poncho towels and caps. Wet suits would be great but there are already so many out there that are now being made out of eco materials that we could never catch up, we will let the big companies have that share of the market. We will continue to focus on bringing out quality eco-friendly products and who knows what direction that will take us in.

What’s your most popular product?

Hats and sunglasses, I often joke that we should have just gone in to the hats and sunglasses market as it would have been a lot easier. Our hoodies are very popular too and we expect our new recycled leggings to fly off the shelves.

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Keep up to date on my latest adventures: A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide

Go Ape, Aberfoyle

Not being one for heights, I had successfully managed to avoid visiting Go Ape until now…

Last weekend I was invited down to Go Ape’s Aberfoyle site for a Tree Top Adventure with a friend. With high speed zips, free-fall Tarzan swings and daring crossings, a Tree Top Adventure sounded like my worst nightmare. However, after doing a little research, I learned that over half of Brits are ‘very afraid‘ and ‘pretty nervous‘ around heights. Feeling slightly more at ease that I wasn’t alone – I decided to go for it. 

Scotland is currently having one of the most beautiful Autumns I’ve ever seen, we got so lucky with the weather and had a dry, crisp day with the sun splitting through the trees. We were booked in for an 11 o’clock slot at the Aberfoyle site (about an hour outside of Glasgow) so were up and off early for a fun, girly day out. 

What to Expect

On arrival, you are given some safety rules to read through, which is pretty important as you are responsible for your own safety on the course. Then you are given a safety briefing by a tribe member who ensures your harness is fitted correctly, shows you exactly how to clip on and off all the wires and that you are fully comfortable doing so. 

Next, you’re off! A spectacular 426m zip line through the trees drops you at the first landing station where the route begins. 

Go Ape

Go Ape Zipline

Pumped with adrenaline you make your way round five different aerial assault courses with various challenges on each. You’ll find plenty of tribe members wandering down below you, should you need some encouragement or a little reassurance before taking the step out onto a wobbly ledge.

Go Ape - Tree Top Adventure

There are some bits of the course that are optional, should you want to take an easier route – although everyone is encouraged to do the dreaded Tarzan swing! One of the most feared obstacles, solely for the reason that you’ve got to hurl yourself off a platform suspended 30 feet in the air and then clamber up a cargo net back onto the platform on the opposite side. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I have to admit, it was one of the best bits and so, so much fun. 

Go Ape Sky Park

And finally, after many Tarzan fails, hysterical laughing fits and a very muddy bum later, you are presented with a certificate of awesomeness. 

Go Ape Certificate

I would highly recommend Go Ape and can’t wait to go back. If you’re like me and a bit of a wimp around heights, I would say to just go for it. I felt so safe and secure the whole time I was up there; the staff were brilliant and so re-assuring when you have a bit of a panic and just want to hug the nearest tree for a minute. 

The groups were also spaced out really well, I didn’t feel like I was holding anyone up going at a granny pace over the obstacles or when we stopped to take a few (shakey) pictures. You also don’t need to be super fit to take part – we went for a fun day out and had a blast. 

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What to Wear

  • Closed toe shoes (Trainers are perfect)
  • Trousers/ leggings – that you don’t mind getting muddy
  • Jacket/ Jumper with pockets – you’re not allowed any bags on the course so if you want to bring your phone/ camera etc. they must be in a zipped pocket.
  • Waterproofs (if there’s rain forecast)
  • Gloves
  • Bobbles 

It’s also worth noting, if you want to go along but prefer your feet firmly on the ground, there’s lots more to do. You can go walking/ biking and even try segwaying. Plus, Ben A’an and Ben Venue are just next door if you fancy a slightly more challenging walk. And after all your adventures – cake at the on-site cafe! 

This year, Go Ape is encouraging Scots to think twice about traditional stocking staples and consider the gift of an unforgettable experience this Christmas. They are offering the chance to gift an experience with bundles available in denominations of £30. Vouchers are delivered instantly, making it the perfect option for the last-minute shopper (guilty).

Available here: https://goape.co.uk/giftvouchers?utm_campaign=influencers&utm_medium=social&utm_source=bloggers&utm_content=giftvouchers

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Jobes Sport Review – 10.6 ft. Surf SUP

It’s been just over 3 months since I purchased my first SUP board from Jobe Sports and I absolutely love it. It is perfect for me and I use it almost weekly for solo paddling.

I researched lots of companies and different sized boards for a while before deciding upon this one – I was looking for an inflatable light weight board with good stability as I wanted to be able to travel with it but my biggest challenge was deciding which size. A lot of people recommended the 12 ft. but I just felt that it was a tad too big for me so opted for the 10.6 ft as this promised ‘great stability, easily maneuverable and ideal for solo touring’.  It does all of that and more… once you master the wobbling part.

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The Pro’s

  • Stability – I was very surprised by the rigidity of the board when inflated, it handles really well on the water but I wouldn’t recommend more than one person on the board at a time.
  • Lightweight – These boards can look really heavy and clunky but they’re so light and easy to carry. The strap handle in the middle of the board allows for easy and comfortable lifting.
  • Speed – I wasn’t expecting to go anywhere fast on this little board but I was so wrong. The board is streamlined and cuts through waves with the pointer bow brilliantly – I’ve even managed to surf some of the smaller waves with it.
  • Appearance – At the moment, it is only available in the one colour but I really love the design on the surf 10.6 ft. boards. I think it looks clean and smart (plus, it matches my wet-suit).
  • Pump it up – Thumbs up for the high pressure dual action pump. The gauged pump is a life saver, I wouldn’t know when the board was pumped up enough otherwise -the manual details exactly how much air to pump in as well.
  • The Paddle – The adjustable paddle is super lightweight, has great durability and is really comfortable to hold.

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The Cons

  • I only have one and it’s a small one – there’s no cross guard so I can’t secure any bags or anything onto the board with me.

Aside from the cross guard, I genuinely have no improvements to suggest towards this board. It’s really quick to inflate and deflate, lightweight and easy to maneuver in the water and easy to pack down. If you’re buying for one – it’s perfect!

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What’s Included?

  • 10.6 ft. Surf SUP
  • Waterproof Carrying Bag
  • Pump (with nozzles and pressure gauge)
  • 1 x Aluminium Adjustable Paddle
  • Ankle Leash
  • 3 x Detachable Fins
  • Repair Kit

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Ben Donich

Last weekend, my dad and I headed up to Loch Lomond to blow away some of the summer cobwebs, we planned to do a bit of kayaking on the Saturday and take a jolly up Ben Donich on the Sunday morning. However, either being optimists or idiots, neither of us checked the weather forecast…

We had the loch all to ourselves on Saturday and so paddled up to Tarbet and then over to explore some of the hidden beaches underneath Ben Lomond.

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We had perfect conditions for kayaking minus the eerie mist that was hovering. The route back was slightly trickier with the weather being borderline stormy and the mist making it difficult to see, however, we hugged the nearby shore line, avoiding the worst of the weather, back home to some warm hot choccy!

Waking up on Sunday to dry, cloudy weather, we grabbed our backpacks and headed up to the Rest and Be Thankful taking the B828 towards Lochgoilhead.

The munro is pretty well signposted and there’s a decent sized car parking area, free of charge. Follow the signs for ‘Glen Mhor, Ben Donich Hill Access’.

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The path is pretty well maintained the whole way up, although, there are some boggy areas over some grassy slopes nearer the summit. The walk provides fantastic views down to Gleann Mor as well as back over the Rest and Be Thankful to Loch Restil, with Beinn an Lochain towering above it.

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We were only about ten minutes in to our climb when we got caught in some lovely Scottish weather and got completely soaked, the fog started to lift about half way up but we didn’t manage to see much from the summit.

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My dad is a pro at hill-walking and of far higher ability than me when it comes to climbing tougher munros. He’s always up at the crack of dawn every weekend doing hill sprints, climbing, the lot – but it’s always fun to do a nicer, easier one together.

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Although our views were a bit restricted nearer the summit, I thought this was a fab little climb and great for easing back into hill-walking if you’ve not been out in a while, guilty! 

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The Dockyard Social

This week I headed over to The Dockyard Social, a new street food and bar hub near Finnieston. They’ve just won Best Street Food at The Scotsman Food and Drinks Awards 2018, so I couldn’t resist trying some delicious food and cocktails. I also had a chat with The Dockyard Social’s founder, Kyle Steel, about their venue, their traders and what’s next.

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So, tell me about The Dockyard.

For me, it’s all about creating a really social space where you can bring your dog, your family and you don’t need to worry about any kind of preconception. We had a mummy bloggers event on earlier where there were forty mums and dads with their kids; we had Wonder Woman and Cinderella, it was amazing!

As the day goes on, it transcends into a more hipster, cool kid kind of vibe – not that mums and dads aren’t cool, I have 3 kids myself. But you can see the demographic shifting a little bit. People generally stay here for around 4 or 5 hours.

I can see why, it took me an hour to pick something to eat, there’s so many options to choose from. It’s a really cool venue, did you guys have a lot of refurbishing to do?

It took us two to three months. We tried to use as much as possible from the building; the blue metalwork you see around the place was here originally. The initial footprint of the building was one of the biggest Glaswegian shipbuilders back in the day, about a hundred years ago now. We really wanted to tie that in, hence ‘The Dockyard’.

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How do traders get a place in The Dockyard?

When we started off, we were inundated with enquiries, we tried to mix it up between established and some brand new traders. ‘Fujisan‘ were our very first trader, they had only been going for six weeks, we were their second event. And then we had ‘FatBoys‘ he came in and it was his first ever big event, he did about 900 covers in four days.

We really want to help them get on the scene and start making a name for themselves. We get loads of traders getting in touch and because just now, we’re only open every second week, we are trying to mix it up so it’s always fresh. We see about 3,000 people over the weekend, so you want to keep it new and give the traders a chance to push themselves but also not get bogged down by being in here for 8-10 weeks, or it can get a bit stale.

How long are you guys here for? Please say forever.

Well, we’ve got a 10-year lease, full license application in just now, all going well – touch wood – it’ll be granted early December. The street food side of things will be running Thursday to Sunday with each day targeting a different group. Thursdays will be very student heavy and then Friday to Sunday is open to all ages. And there is a training school Monday to Friday every week.

Coffee Cocktails

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Will we be seeing more new traders then?

Absolutely! Going forward, we may give them three or four week stints, we have 12 pitches but it’ll always be something new.

I am so excited to try the Bubble Waffles! They look incredible.

They are hugely popular, everyone always comes in asking for them.

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Tell me more about the traders then. I’m vegetarian for example, is there a lot of choice?

We’re really passionate about providing equal opportunities for dietary requirements. Ally who owns ‘Paleo Kitchen’, for example, is one of the nicest guys in the world who focuses predominantly on the caveman diet. So, no refined carbs, coeliac friendly, a lot of vegan dishes – loads of opportunities.  All of our traders will be able to accommodate you whether you’re vegetarian, vegan etc. We just really want everyone to feel welcome at The Dockyard and really create a community hub.

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What would you say the traders gain from being here?

We’re all about providing a platform for food street traders and chefs who maybe want to take a step towards doing their own thing. But where we really differentiate ourselves from other operators is that,while we’ve got 12 different food street traders, we run 2 of them so our revenue comes from the bar, ticket sales and our 2 food stalls. The other 10 are up and coming businesses.

We’re just here to provide a cool vibe and location for them to really apply their trade and give them an opportunity to show what they do. We spent four years doing Section33, so we were doing pop ups in old abandoned buildings helping raise funds for the homeless and gained a really strong following from foodies and their loyal regulars. It’s now transitioned to this and it’s actually been a year since we signed the lease on the building.

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Food stands

What was the idea behind The Dockyard Social, what inspired you?

I think life is short, life is an absolute gift. The more we can do to help people the better. I’ve got three young kids and if I can help inspire them to help people when they’re older – they can look back and say ‘Well, Daddy did it”. I just think that’s a butterfly effect that spreads out exponentially. It’s all about uniting people and that old analogy of ‘People Make Glasgow’. We just want to do it on a bigger scale.

How are you planning to help people?

When we get our full license, I really want to put in 2 big initiatives. Teaching families who are currently relying on food banks how to cook free of charge. I keep hearing that a lot of families who reply on these food banks don’t know how to cook nutritious food and I want to help change that.

Section33 came about because my granny told me not to! “Kyle, you need to get a trade, be a plumber or a plasterer…” I wanted to prove to my gran that hospitality isn’t to look down upon others, it can really help people who are in sticky situations. Once we get the full license I’m going to put on a monthly local pensioners tea dance where they can come in for free and we’ll provide tea, coffee, cake etc. We want to hear their stories. I would give anything to have 5 more minutes with my gran.

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Big Buns

What’s next for you guys?

Our main ambition? We’ve got 10,000 square feet here, with another 4000 behind the scenes where we’re building a training school to help homeless people, the long term unemployed and kids that have come through care. We get them into the training school, and the street food traders will help train them. Then once they’ve done their basic training they’ll come out and they’ll do six weeks on pizza, 6 weeks on Thai and so on, so that after six months they’re ready to go and get a bigger job or maybe start their own brand – that’s the dream!

We’ve got loads of funding coming in from the training side of things from the government and then we’ll look at doing probably Edinburgh next. And then maybe move South, perhaps. It’s all just really cool. But we’re working on keeping engagement fresh, word of mouth is the biggest driver for us.

Thanks for reading, keep up with my latest adventures – A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide

Images by: Fraser Craig

Editing: Harry Smith

 

Honeymoon Bridge

I woke up on Sunday hangover free and full of good intentions, Scotland’s weather forecast, however, did not…

The plan was to climb a Munro, just past Arrochar, but driving up there, realised the Scottish weather was going to get the better of me, it was blowing a hooley with low clouds and drizzly rain so instead opted for a ‘short walk with a view point‘.

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Honeymoon Bridge has become a well known spot for it’s car parking facilities, lunch spot, remote picturesque views but more famously a car crash in the 1950’s.

Starting off at the rear of the car park, heading up through some forestry, along a beaten road you soon emerge to see views over looking the loch, and over to Ben Lomond.

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It was a fairly busy route with lots of families and puppers to ‘aww‘ and play with. After taking in the view, you’re back through some more eerie forestry. There are quite a few path options along the way, I followed the route up and off path which became pretty steep and boggy after a while.

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How creepy does this bit look?!

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Having not been hiking in a while, this one definitely loosened the hips. It reminded me a lot of Dun Na Cuaiche – perfect for beginners. Once you’re up and out, the views are gorgeous! You have the option to continue climbing up but I’d had enough of being mauled by ticks.

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I think this is a great little route for a Sunday stroll, especially that you’re protected in amoung the trees when the weathers rubbish, luckily by the time I reached the top the rain had gone off for a little bit – perfect photo opp.

Plus, there’s plenty of great restaurants near-by for some hot food and a drink when you’re finished!

Keep up with all my adventures – @abonnietravelersinsideguide. 

Glasgow’s Tontine Lanes

I’m lucky to work in among these secret lanes so it was so much fun to watch them being transformed into an array of Scottish pop up stalls with food and drink, art exhibits, live music and my personal favourite, crazy golf.

In case you haven’t heard, the secret lane, tucked away in the Merchant City between Bell Street and the Trongate has lain empty for several years, but before that it was a vibrant food and culture hub, made popular during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. This year, however, it was back for the European Championships 2018.

The talk of the lane was of course, King Putt’s Crazy Golf. The super fun course was made entirely from waste materials sourced from across City Council and Glasgow Life departments. There were also a few famous faces competing such as Tom Daley.

Lunch times suddenly became extremely competitive in my office ha-ha, with a few of us there every. single. day! 

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Photo Credit: King Putt’s

The best part, the lanes were totally free. The staff were made up entirely of volunteers as well and couldn’t have been lovelier. Speaking with the King Putt’s crew they said;

“…it’s popularity exceeded our expectations. We had a huge number of visitors over the 10 days – possibly in the region of 7500. The feedback we received was extremely positive and it seemed to have been popular with all age groups and families.

King Putt’s may be back some time in the near future – stay tuned!

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After a few rounds, we headed over to The Birdcage’s pop up restaurant, where you can grab a quick, tasty meal. They managed to completely transform a really run-down looking warehouse into an urban, chic little dining area.

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This specialty Chicken restaurant’s menu includes everything from coriander, chilli and lime chicken wings, to pulled chicken bao buns, to jerked spatchcock chicken and even fried chicken feet. Each to their own…

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My new favourite!

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I opted for one of the veggie dishes – BBQ pineapple stuffed with Hawaiian rice, chilli, sesame & soya and it was delicious. No complaints and I would definitely have it again.

If you didn’t manage to get down this year, I would highly recommend going next year, especially at night where you can listen to some of the guest DJ’s and bands.

Give these guys a follow!
@Kingputts

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