New Years Resolutions – 2018

I’ve never really been one for new years resolutions, mainly because I never stick to them and usually by the end of January, forgot what they initially were. But I decided to try setting myself a few this year, mainly for a reference point and to challenge myself a bit.

This all sounded great in theory but when it actually came to writing a few down… I hadn’t a clue!

The obvious and slightly more unrealistic ones came to mind – eat healthier, drink more water, go to the gym, be kinder, get more sleep, be more sociable. YAWN!

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That last one… LOL
I had set myself a goal in 2017 to climb 5 hills and managed to exceed that (Ben Lomand, Ben A’an, The Whangie, Dun Na Cuaiche, The Cobbler, Beinn Dubh and Glen Douglas) so I’ve set myself the same again this year, if anyone can recommend any different ones, please let me know! I’m aiming to see a lot more of Scotland this year – Skye and Harris are top of my list so all recommendations welcome.

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A shockingly early sunrise picture – Glen Luss

I also decided that I spend waayy too much of my time on social media – being in marketing- it’s hard not to but I’ve decided to take myself off all social media for the month of January (besides this post) with the intention of cutting down there after. I’ve taken all the apps off my phone so I’m not tempted to check any notifications or have a nosey. On average, we apparently spend around 2 hours per day on social media, I definitely exceed that haha! I’m hoping to spend my now free time reading more, learning more Italian on ‘DuoLingo’ and going to the gym more. I can sense the eye rolling guys…

Last year, I attempted my first ever open water swim at the Bardowie Loch Swim Festival and came 8th which I was pretty happy with so I’m aiming to do another one this year which will hopefully force me to get back to the gym and swim training.

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I also became OBSESSED with the documentary ‘What the Health’ and have since watched sooo many TED talks on meat and vegetarianism. Don’t worry, I’m not about to give you a headache with a lecture on how bad meat is and tell you how vegan I am. I’m not a huge fan of meat anyway but definitely didn’t think I could live without it so had decided to become vegetarian Monday – Thursday and then allow myself to have meat at the weekend, initially, I couldn’t wait for Friday to come and tuck into the biggest burger I could find but after a few weeks I wasn’t really all that fussed. I had hoped by doing this I would begin to eat a lot more fruit/ veg and all that jazz but I was finding that I was reaching more for the easiest thing I could make because I couldn’t be bothered to meal prep but my goal this year is to start doing that! Watch this space… (Any tips would again be appreciated).

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Animal Friendly

So there ya have it! For someone who never does new years resolutions, I’ve set the bar pretty high!

  • Climb more hills
  • See more of Scotland
  • Cut down on social media
  • Open water swim
  • Cut down on meat/ be more healthy

My Christmas Wish List

It’s only 17 days ‘til Christmas!!! Excited is an understatement for me – this is without a doubt my fav time of the year. Christmas songs on repeat all day, every day! Starbucks Ginger Bread lattes, cheesy Christmas jumpers, mince pies and mulled wine comin’ out my ears – Ahhh I cannot wait!

Having just started a new job and a little on the skint side, my Christmas list has almost doubled in size this year haha but I am in much need of some new outdoorsy things so have put together a list of fab gifts idea for me (or if you know of anyone who’s outdoorsy as well and stuck for ideas).

1. Climbing hills in Scotland means that you need to have a pretty decent jacket, I absolutely love the one I currently use – it’s from Superdry and it’s never let me down! It’s so warm and lightweight but being the fashionista that I am, thought it was time to mix things up so I found this supa cute jacket in Tiso from The North  Face range.

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Super cosy quilted jacket – The North Face

It is virtually the same as my current one (in a different colour). Lil’ bit pricey but I think it’s worth investing in a good jacket and if it’s stylish also… Win! Win!

2. Next up, boots! This is a MUST – the amount of people I see climbing hills in trainers is insane. If you’re going to spend some money investing in this hobby, please let it be boots. I bought mines a few years ago from ‘Go Outdoors’ for doing The Duke of Edinburgh Award and they’ve lasted well but it’s time for an upgrade. I found these beauts on ‘Go Outdoors’ from ‘Mammut’ but they have sooo many nice boots in this year. These are perfect for me because they’re lightweight, the ones I’m currently using are too heavy and loose around my ankles.

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Girly Hiking Boots – Mammut

These boots are the answers to my problems and will go perfectly with my usual all black attire. If you would rather walking shoes, they have a great range in also.

3. This is my favourite thing ever to shop for! The North Face is my go to brand, everything is so chic and flattering. There’s so many fab brands to choose from when it comes to backpacks, but The North Face will always be my fav!

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Backpack – The North Face

I’m not surprised this ‘Women’s Borealis back pack’ is a best seller – I love the subtle hint of colour, giving it a slightly more feminine look. It’s small and lightweight enough to fit any extra layers and lunch in. It also has a padded sleeve to protect your laptop or tablet from bumps.

4. I’m not going to lie, I wear black, A LOT. Especially when it comes to sports wear and most of it comes from H&M or New Look, I have a few slightly more expensive pieces that were gifts – I used to think that spending hundreds of pounds on jumpers was a bit drastic but let’s be honest, we all would if we had the money. I don’t have the money. So, I’m just going to dream. I thought I would venture out of my comfort zone (seeing as it’s Christmas) and found this jumper from The North Face in Tiso.

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Pink Jumper – The North Face

It looks warm enough to wear as a jacket as well whilst adding a splash of colour to your outfit.

5. Anyone that knows me, knows that I love a bobble hat. New Look and Topshop have some gorgeous ones in this year! ‘Barts’ have some really cute ones in this year also…

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Bobble Hat – Barts

They come in a range of colours and designs – the only part of my outfit I’m prepared to have some colour in. A nice tag of £20, wee stocking filler perhaps?!

If you’re still undecided what to get me or don’t want to spend a lot, Tiso, Go Outdoors and The North Face are doing a Christmas Gift Guide on their websites where you can set a price limit etc. and plenty of ideas for smaller gifts like water bottles, hand warmers, socks – there’s so many to choose from. On my best behaviour from now ’til Christmas!

Meikle Bin

Winter has always been my favourite time of the year, I love being all wrapped up and drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate (with mini marshmallows obv) and wearing a bobble hat… any excuse for a bobble hat! I’ve probably climbed more hills in the winter than any other time – the autumn/ snowy surroundings just make each view that bit more picturesque.

Seeing as it was Sunday and I was obviously hungover, I opted for a shorter walk and one that wasn’t too far away, que Meikle Bin. Located North end of Carron Valley Reservoir, in the Kilsyth Hills, along the B818, just 45 minutes from Glasgow, this is an ideal, super easy walk for a Sunday. Standing at 570m (1,870 ft) Meikle Bin is classified as a Marilyn.

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The short drive alone was worth it, the views were gorgeous – overlooking the Carron Valley reservoir and onto Meikle Bin itself. There is a small car park on the left-hand side of the road with free parking – it does, however, get pretty busy throughout the day so as always, I’d recommend getting there early. For the first time in my life, I was there before 11 am! I was really hoping that it would be snowing on the hill as some of the pictures I’ve seen look incredible but instead, I got a sunny, dry, warm day (with warm being 8 degrees).

We parked up, and headed past the reservoir along the forestry track with the summit showing through the trees most of the way. The walk is so straightforward with a few twists and turns throughout but it is signposted the whole way making it pretty idiot proof to get lost.

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Once you emerge from the forest, the track wraps round to the right of the hill and as you head up, the view opens out to show a glimpse of the mountains to the north. You will be able to see Ben Ledi and Ben Vorlich at this point with Ben Venue coming into view a little higher up.

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The last bit up is the steepest and also has a little picnic bench for you to enjoy some lunch and the views North. Me and my friend were total rookies and forgot to bring any food OR water! Mainly because we didn’t pass an M&S or any other supermarket for that matter.

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Almost there

The views from the top were amazing, you are surrounded by the bigger mountains like Ben Lomand and from the right the unmistakable peaks of Arran are visible (Goatfell, Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail), looking South – you’ll be able to see Tinto hill as well.

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Summit

Meikle Bin was where the Fairey Fireplane crashed in January 1950 and both crew members on board lost their lives. You can still see some of the wreckage on the upper and lower western slopes. I was waaay too busy thinking about food at this point though and completely forgot to visit the crash site.

It took us just over 2 hours up and down – mainly because we were so hungry and cold haha. In all honesty, not the most spectacular views but a really enjoyable walk anyway. The only thing missing? … a cosy café nearby for some hot food!

Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond has been on my list of munros to climb for so long but I wanted to wait until I knew it was going to be a clear day (which isn’t very often in Scotland) there was no way I was putting myself through that climb to then not be able to see anything at the top. No thaaaanks!

Ben Lomond is one of the most popular munros with an average of 30,000 climbers every year with the views overlooking Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. Situated in Rowardennan, just past Balloch and Balmaha, along the B837, it sits at 974 metres and is also known as the ‘beacon mountain’ – I’ve never heard anyone say that it’s a particularly difficult climb but compared to some of the other ones I’ve climbed, I thought it was pretty tough especially nearer the top, with varying steepness the full way up.

The plan was to be on the road for half 9 but of course, that was never going to happen. It took around an hour and 15 minutes from just outside Glasgow, there is a car park at the foot of the hill, (parking is £3 all day) it is usually really busy, so I would advise getting there early. We got there around 12, with our wee M&S packed lunches – we’re classy like that, and hangover free for a change. The start is clearly marked, just behind the car park but there will be plenty of people to keep you right, you can’t see the summit from the car park but the start is pretty easy with a clear path all the way up through oak woods and lots of forestry.

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Shortly into your forest climb, you will cross a small bridge and then through 2 gates. The nice thing about this walk is that if you look back behind you at any point, you have stunning views over the loch, looking over to Inverbeg and all the islands. The path then continues to climb at a steady gradient and you will pass through heards of sheep and cows who are very photogenic. This part took us around an hour – it is long and as you can’t yet see the peak, can be frustrating. However, the views are incredible all around and there’s usually plenty of puppers to pet!

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Of course, we stopped for a selfie

Keep walking and you will now be able to see the final peak and the zig zagging path that leads you to the summit. Don’t freak out, it’s not as hard as it looks! We decided to stop for lunch here as we could feel it was getting colder and were beginning to come across some snow and ice. Que the posh sandwiches and Magic Stars!

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Almost there…

Following the path as it sticks to the ridge of the mountain, there are some more stunning views over the loch where the path then climbs steeply on the final ascent to the summit ridge before curving round to the left. We finally made it to the top where it was FREEZING!!! We lasted all of 5 minutes but OMG the view! Breath taking doesn’t cut it. Totally worth my complaining the full way (sorry Laura) …. Got our Instagram worthy picture and started our retreat to the car. If you want to challenge yourself, there is a tough alternative route going back down but I’m going to assume you’re all sane and would just re-trace your steps back down.

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Made it!

This was by far my favourite munro, it wasn’t the hardest to climb and the views were incrediable the whole way up – WIN! WIN! I would recommend plenty of layers and walking boots 100%. The temperature, ground level was 6 degrees and -3 degrees at the top. When I did the cobbler a few weeks ago – I seen people passing us in FLIP FLOPS! … Insanity. Anyway, there is usually snow and ice the further up you go so wrap up kids!

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Get me hameee

La Point Surf Camp – Portugal

Seeing as summer was almost over and I still hadn’t been away or done much surfing this year, I decided to book a week away to a surf camp in Portugal. After a bit of research, I found La Point! They have a great reputation among surfers and were super easy to book with.

La Point are ‘A travel company out of the Ordinary’ based in Norway and Sweden with camps in Portugal, Bali, Sri Lanka, Norway, California, Morocco and more, their goal is to share their love and passion for surfing with their guests in a relaxed and safe environment. They cater to a range of levels – from beginner to advance. I chose Portugal as it was close to Scotland and I’d heard it’s a great place to surf and ideal for people on a budget.

I traveled to Lisbon Airport where the La Point team had arranged for a shuttle to collect me (the camp was roughly half an hour from the airport) I stayed in camp garden, Moinshois in Ericeria, which could sleep 14 and shared a room with 4 people who were so, so lovely, a girl from Germany and then 2 guys from Austria. There was a mixed group – some travelling alone, others in couples or big groups and as the company are based in Norway, there were a lot of Norwegians who were really nice also. There was another camp up the hill from us which is where we had most of our meals and meetings and a bigger camp about a 15 minute drive away – which was the most up-dated and renovated.

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Morning Views

The accommodation was nice although could have done with a few renovations but everything was clean and so well-organised. I was told towards the end of my trip that the company are currently building a bigger camp which will be able to hold 100 guests and should be ready for next year and that camp Garden and Hill will be closed at the end of this year’s season so stayed tuned…

The package included your stay, breakfast and lunch, 5 surf lessons (equipment included) and 2 yoga lessons. The surf lessons were roughly 2 hours long and could take place at any time of the day, depending on the swell, ours mainly took place around 9:00/9:30 am and an occasional sun-rise surf which was always a fun (cold) start to the morning ha-ha! Our instructor, Ricardo, was great with us; he took us through all the theory of surfing which I had been really keen to learn as well as the practical and made sure everyone felt safe.

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…There was also a professional photographer
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so that you could prove you actually got up…
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Sun-rise surf

I had initially been worried that I might be a bit bored during the day after surfing as I wasn’t sure what else there was to do in the small town of Ericeira but La Point had this covered! There were activities planned almost every day, some being a trip to Lisbon to visit the city and do some shopping, another day we visited a local vineyard which was extremely popular and absolutely stunning. We also had a volleyball match against the other camps; BBQ’s and dinners were all planned also so I wasn’t ever really stuck for something to do. I also ventured into the town where there loads of little shops and restaurants – I highly recommend ‘Brunch Me’ and a sushi restaurant, Hayaci, where you could get ‘all you can eat sushi’ for €11 and it was all made fresh in front of you… I ate my body weight in it that week! The great thing about Portugal is that there are no chains – no Starbucks, no Subway, nothing, it was so refreshing! Everything was really cheap and I didn’t really spend much over there, RESULT!

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Quinta de Sant’Ana Vineyard

On our trip to Lisbon, I went with the girl I was sharing a bunk with and one of the social hosts, as soon as we got there, we headed straight for the food market called ‘Time Out’ – It’s like the equivalent to a food court here but so, so much better! It’s apparently the number one tourist attraction in Lisbon located in the Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodre, you are truly spoiled for choice. In Portugal, people don’t eat until around 8/9 pm which was weird at first but so fun at night with lots of live music and sangria… lots of sangria! It felt like the weekend every night there…

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We also found a few hidden gems – there is a car park situated in Calcada do Combro where the top story is a bar and has the most incredible views over the city and the best cocktails! We also visited a restaurant called ‘Lost in India’ which appears to be a clothing store but if you go around the back you will see stairs up to a restaurant and through the back of that is another hidden bar with beautiful views over the city also, they  do the most amazing sangria! (Google Maps is also handy for these places). We also did some shopping with my new favourite store being ‘Brandy Melville’ where one size fits all!!!!! The clothes are gorgeous. It’s very Topshop meets H&M – I cannot believe we don’t have this in Scotland!

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Car Park bar

I had the most AMAZING time and met the most incredible people. Initially, I was a bit apprehensive travelling on my own but the staff there were fab and great at integrating the camps and introducing us all. The social hosts at each camp became our friends and made sure we were well looked after. I would highly recommend La Point to anyone looking to try out surfing.

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https://www.lapointcamps.com/