Stuck On Repeat… January and February 2017

Delayed and a little short for two months, but better late than never! Here’s what I’ve been playing non stop for the start of 2017.

For the full #stuckonrepeat playlist click here.

Cry Me A River – Jack Savoretti

Jack is no stranger to this playlist. His gravelly tones seduced me last year. I’ve been playing his tracks ever since and going to see him live a second time at the Royal Festival Hall later in March. This version taps in to the heartbreak in a way that JT’s didn’t.

Favourite lyric: Now you tell me you need me / When you call me on the phone

Too Funky – George Michael

I’m still gutted at his loss. Just, ugh, such a talent. Thankfully this wonderful song has been a huge motivation in getting me out of bed/conquering the world/accompanying my everyday exercise routine/general strutting around house in my pants. The video is filled with supermodels and just general 90’s excess. It’s a delight. 

Favourite lyric: Will you stop playing that radio of yours? I’m trying to get some sleep!

Wild Card – Nashville Cast (Lennon Stella)

Another Nashville hit that I got obsessed with this past season which is a little sassy and tongue in cheek. I love that it’s a little naughty but nice. We all have two sides to our personality, right?

Favourite lyric: I’m a wild card / I’m a sweetheart / I’ve got fever in my blood

Terrible Love (Alternate Version) – The National

How have I never heard of this band before? Thankfully a rather schmaltzy Nicholas Sparks movie played this (don’t judge me) and I fell in love. A thumping heartbeat of drums with soaring guitars and vocals does good things to my soul.

Favourite lyrics: But I won’t follow you into the rabbit hole / I said I would, but then I saw
Your shivered bones

Dangerous – The XX

I heard this on Instagram in a dance clip and was captivated by the funkier sound from the band, especially on this track with its brass section. It just makes me want to dance and that’s always a good thing.

Favourite lyric: Should it all fall down / You’ll have been my favourite mistake

Shotgun Mouthwash – High Contrast

Having only seen Trainspotting for the first time over Christmas (shut it, I know!) I grabbed the opportunity to see T2: Trainspotting on opening weekend for hubby’s birthday. I loved the film, loved how dark and grown up it was. I also really enjoyed the soundtrack. The film opens with this gem. I’m a huge fan of a dirty electro bass line and this has it in buckets.

Favourite lyric: A million little pieces will never be enough for you

Thanks for reading and listening!


Resolution Update!

I am a terrible blogger. I wrote this post about how I’m all geared up for January and F*ck Yeah! 2017 and then I don’t write a post for an entire month. Ridiculous.

So I thought I’d remonstrate myself publicly here and be accountable to make sure I don’t go another full month without posting.

I’ve listed the resolutions and how I’ve got on with them below:

  • Try a monthly exercise challenge (every other month) – I started off so well with the RG Active January challenge but then missed a few days and by the end of the month I had given up. Not good, but I did try making a start on basic fitness by getting back on my turbo trainer at least twice a week, swimming with the big boys and girls at the weekly RG Active swim sessions and joining in a weekday circuit of planks, push ups, squats and glute bridges. Hashtag buff ting.
  • Touch my toes – This fell by the wayside too, but it should be a priority especially as my hamstrings get ridiculously tight and the stretch would do me a world of good. I have added foam rolling to my routine though so I’m hoping I will be back to a looser, bendier self.
  • Drink more water when at home – I’d consider this as a semi success *glugs water* the trick is to ensure I have big bottle near me at all times.
  • Unfollow anything/anyone negative on social media – Another partial success on this and especially because I’m so much more aware of it now. Avoiding the Askholes and drama imbibers is almost a full effort job! Then the Inauguration happened and lunacy and ego entered government in America and my social feeds became despairingly awful with rumours and speculation. This too has its pitfalls of negativity and goes without saying; unless it is true and confirmed by trusted sources then don’t add to the hype/distraction.
  • …learn to be cool when someone unfollows me on social media – meh…this has actually just happened today and I still get butt hurt about it. I’m still a girl, standing in front of the world, asking everyone to love me.


  • Stop comparing myself to people on the internet – This will be an ongoing goal of mine. There will always be beautiful people in the world, there will always be people who are more successful.
  • Learn the Five Movements from The OA – There are finally some tutorials out in the web so although I haven’t yet, I WILL!
  • Use the things I’ve kept for best – Yep, I’ve been doing this with gusto and enjoying smelling like a Jasmine Garden or wearing sunshine yellow on my legs!
  • Paint my nails at least once a month – *chortles* Major fail, I last painted them in January and have been bare nailed ever since. Let’s try this one again, shall we?
  • Blog more – Errm, well. The less said about that the better, although January did see a bunch of new posts so it’s like I preempted the lack in advance!
  • Find a job I love – *cries self to sleep* After a very positive January that saw me in my first interview in FOREVER I was pipped to the post by another candidate. On the bright side the feedback was that I interviewed really well (why wouldn’t I, I’m fabulous) but I’m still searching, still applying and either no one bothers to get back to you/the agency that were haranguing you at first suddenly fall silent or the constant searching leaves you despondent. It’s hard to feel rejected and I didn’t think I’d still be in this position at the start of March.
  • Put my phone down more – 50/50 I’m trying, I really am. I don’t need to see twenty cat videos on Instagram in a row *keep telling self that* but to be honest, it’s a companion. I spend so much time at home with the cat, I feel like at least there’s a way to communicate online with everyone as otherwise they’re at work!

On the whole I’ve seen improvements in myself; I’ve been to a barre class, watched a sunrise somewhere beautiful and added another destination to the Topless Tour. I’ve learnt not chase my tail with the laundry, increased distance in swimming, kept up on the household filing, booked a road trip of dreams to California… I just need to get the job thing sorted, get some income and settle into a place where I can be a valued member of the team.

I wonder how everyone else has got on with their resolutions?


Must See Movie… La La Land

This is the easiest review I’ve ever written.


That’s pretty much all I need to say about it. Seriously!

You want more? Fine. But no spoilers…

I went to see La La Land with my lovely friend Maddie *waves* who had purchased tickets to the London Film Festival in October as a BFI member and had a spare. I jumped at the chance to go see one of the most talked about films of the festival and see it before everyone else!

Director Damien Chazelle and two of the film’s producers takes to the microphone to answer questions at the BFI London Film Festival


Check out this video from the BFI’s London Film Festival premiere and you might spot me and my lovely blonde friend Maddie just behind director Damien Chazelle’s shoulder at 0:52. I’m looking down at my phone filming this video… as Maddie rightly put it, it’s very meta!

These days everything seems to be turning in to a musical. This isn’t just your everyday, regular musical though. It’s a modern musical that acknowledges the fine history of musical films but puts it in contemporary settings and themes and the music, dancing and singing enhances the experience.

There’s a richness to the colours in the costumes and sets with jewel tones throughout that are such a beautiful change from the usual seedy portrayal of Los Angeles – it almost makes me want to spend time in LA – shocked face!

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling shine in this film and I’m genuinely not surprised to see them do so well at the Golden Globes. Stone’s performance in particular is funny, heartbreaking, lovable and relatable.

Ultimately, this film is exactly what we need right now. It feels like the apocalypse is coming and horrors from the cinema are unfolding before our eyes on a daily basis. The escapism offered by the movies is very much needed now.

If you don’t leave the screen with the unbearable desire to sing and dance your way home (like I did-twirling through Leicester Square tube station thanks to a wonderful saxophonist) then I suggest you are most likely dead/nearly dead/mostly dead and require a heart and soul transplant STAT.

Go see this film.

Stuck on Repeat… November and December 2016

Yikes, this one is a tad late coming but better late than never! It’s just a short compilation for the end of the year as there was a lot of wailing along to Mariah’s classic Christmas tune. To listen to the full playlist just click here and don’t forget to follow. 

Paint It Black – Ramon Djawadi (Westworld Soundtrack)

Westworld became a must-see this past Autumn and one of the many things that made it work was the brilliant soundtrack using well known contemporary songs on a honkytonk piano. Weird, but wonderful. This is one of my favourite Stones songs which I almost didn’t recognise at first!

Favourite lyric: No actual lyrics in this version! 

Enjoy The Silence – Ki:Theory

I heard this on a trailer for the live action Call of Duty film and loved the even darker, industrial version Ki:Theory has created. Check out their version of Stand By Me too. 

Favourite lyric: All I ever needed / All I ever wanted was here in my arms

You Made Your Bed (So Lay In It) – Travis Garland

I caught this on an Instagram video that had a couple dancing bachata. It’s punchy and vengeful and a little kick ass too. 

Favourite lyric: I know you think of me tonight / When you got no one by your side

Reflecting Light – Sam Phillips

I have Gilmore Girls to thank for this one and the wonderful A Year In The Life Of specials that came out late November. It’s a beautiful song that comes at a beautiful moment in the finale (no spoilers from me here) and it stuck with me. 

Favourite lyric: And the moon’s never seen me before / But I’m reflecting light

Careless Whisper – George Michael

It feels like 2016 just couldn’t let things be, it had to take some of the most influential musicians and artists away from us. The year ended how it started, with a shock death and this one really got to me because I feel like I’ve grown up on so much of his music. This song is proof that good music never ages. 

Favourite lyric: Maybe it’s better this way / We’d hurt each other with the things we want to say

Resolutions for 2017

Happy New Year dear readers. We’re about a week in to 2017 so I’ve had a good while to plan my resolutions for the upcoming year (not just January) and start putting them into action ASAP!

Here’s what I would like to do:

  • Try a monthly exercise challenge every other month – I usually see a benefit or improvement to my body after completing them and it’s a nice sense of achievement. Currently I’m doing the RG Active #30DayActive challenge which has been sore fun with my triathlon buddies. 
  • Touch my toes – it’s true, I can’t touch my toes and never have been able to. I’m doing these daily stretches that are definitely helping. I’ve touched my toes within a week of starting so my aim is now to press my palms flat to the floor. I’ve got all year so who knows what I can achieve!
  • Drink more water when at home – somehow I can drink 2 litres a day at the office (probably something to do with wanting to spend time away from a screen and desk!) but get me at home and it’s like I forget that I have my very own tap. 
  • Unfollow anything/anyone negative on social – I’ve had a mini sweep of my SM accounts recently mainly to clear through accounts that are super clickbait-y/no longer interest me/are inactive/make me have negative feelings. Social media is the one thing that I look at every day, so if I’m following accounts that have a negative effect on me, I’ll be willingly exposing myself to negativity. On that note I need to understand that others may need to go through that process too and…
  • … learn to be cool when someone unfollows me on social media – I can usually tell who has pressed the unfollow button and the feeling that someone doesn’t like me stirs up old demons. I’m a people pleaser and it upsets me BUT I also know I am not my social media profile. What I post is barely a fraction of who I am as a person, so why should I take it so personally if online friends/acquaintances don’t get that?
  • Stop comparing myself to people on the internet – simple really. I’m not the girl in the picture, she’s not even the girl in the picture thanks to a myriad of filters and Facetune. Remember that pictures (especially on Instagram) are “constructed” moments, not actual snapshots of life. 
  • Learn the Five Movements from The OA – I’ve blogged about how much I loved The OA here and one of the reasons why it affected me so deeply was the wonderful use of dance. I may not open portals to other dimensions but I think the joy will come in the process of learning. If anyone has any tutorials for this, or would like to learn with me, let me know!
  • Use the things I’ve kept for best – I’m so bad at this one. I buy something I’ve wanted for ages that might be a little dear and instead of enjoying it, I hide it away only bringing it out for Sunday best. This is a ridiculous waste – life is short, use things now whilst you can enjoy them! Wear the jumper, spritz the May Lindstrom spray, put on the yellow thigh high boots.
  • Paint my nails at least once a month – I have a fridge compartment full of nail polishes which I barely wear. Again, such a waste, especially as I’m such a hoarder and magpie for new shades. It’s the cheapest way of sprucing up my look and acts as a mini pamper treat for myself. I’m currently rocking a gold and plum crackle effect polish that looks pretty neat and is a doddle to fix if it gets chipped.
  • Blog more – I have so many post drafts started with ideas and I always seem to put it off until the time has passed and it’s no longer worth writing about. I think I should write at least three a month.
  • Find a job I love – ha! This one is something I’ve carried over from the past five years and it’s still as elusive!
  • Put my phone down more – it’s so simple and yet I’m rather addicted to my little screen of knowledge. Yes to Googling things to finish family discussions amicably, no to infinite scrolling through Instagram. Put it down during meals and when watching TV with hubby. It’ll probably help with neck ache and posture too! 

There are a hundred more things I could add to this list: limit my procrastination to once a day, quit panicking about things that might never happen, dance more, actually train for and enter a non-team open water swim or triathlon this year, be less petty and reactive, have set days for doing the laundry, be more naked (literally and figuratively), tackle the pile of paperwork properly, travel to all the desolate places I want to go to… BUT I haven’t the patience to write them all down and I can always update this post at a later date with my progress. 

    Do you have any resolutions for the New Year? I’d love to hear about them!

    What To Watch…

    The nights are unbearably dark, cold and require nothing more than snuggles on the sofa under duvets and long sessions watching the telly box. With the Christmas break giving some a chance to catch up on their viewing and hibernate until the new year I thought I’d share a few of my favourite shows and films from the past few months. 

    Showing On Netflix…

    The OA – I am writing this having just finished watching episode eight no more than 15 minutes ago and I still have tears in my eyes. I can’t remember the last time I was so moved by a programme (not counting ones about sick animals) that is a tale of fiction. Brit Marling is perfection in the lead role – a blind girl who returns from a seven year disappearance with her sight intact. If you like storytelling and stories of love and loss, sci-fi and the afterlife, then this is the one for you. Even if you don’t… watch this. 

    Gilmore Girls – I’m ashamed to say I completely missed this the first time it was on screens back in the late 90’s/early 00’s. Thank goodness for streaming services and my current unemployment status – I managed to watch all seven seasons in about a month and a bit. There’s laughs aplenty and tears too but the magic for me is when all three Gilmore ladies are together. Snappy dialogue, clever witticisms and a lot of heart binds this into a show that makes a mark. I finished in time to watch the special four part A Year In The Life which revisits Stars Hollow ten years later. Watch out for the bombshell last four words.

    Stranger Things – Another nostalgia trip, this time to the 80’s and a terrifying reminder of the evil monsters who lurked in the shadows crossed with the buddy feel of The Goonies and Stand By Me. The young actors steal the show despite a great performance from era stalwart Winona Ryder. Feel comforted by the amazing attention to detail (the duvet covers are exact replicas of ones seen in the Argos catalogue) and string up all the fairy lights you can get your hands on.

    Designated Survivor – A show about US Government, Congress and Senate being blown to smithereens by evil terrorists during a State of The Union address (hello NSA/GCHQ filters) and Jack Bauer, I mean, Kiefer Sutherland is put in charge. That’s still a better choice than what’s going in to the White House next year. It’s a decent, easy to watch, political whodunnit of our current times but frankly I’m just happy to hear Kiefer’s slightly whispered tones/angry “DAMMIT” back on a screen. 

    The Crown – So Prince Phillip was a fox, who’d have thought it?! An interesting series shedding a little (fictional?) light on the early years of the Royal family as we know it today. Queenie struggles between being a wife and a monarch (mainly because of the men surrounding her and demanding she kow-tow to them and/or tradition, hashtag so much mansplaining) but she keeps on reigning strong. 

    Showing on Sky… 

    Westworld – The robots are ALIVE! Or are they? This show had a tonne of secrets, plot twists and theories reminiscent of that old favourite, Lost. You get over the GoT levels of nudity quickly mainly because you’re trying to keep track of who’s who and where’s where. Amazing performances from the female leads – Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood. Watch it through without spoilers the first time round and then rewatch to see what clues you missed. 

    Mars – A mix of 2016 science fact and 2033 science fiction, with a lot of interesting scenes featuring today’s finest minds and space explorers trying to make humans on Mars a thing. Of course nothing comes easily for the “future” crew but I really enjoyed how they focused on the human, as well as the scientific, aspect of space travel. Very interesting but never too taxing. 

    Hope you find these as enjoyable as I did! I’m going to try and watch House of Cards next but feel free to recommend others in the comments or via social channels!

    Nude Art Advent 2016

    For the third year in a row I’ve been counting down the days until Christmas with a celebration of the nude form in art over on Instagram with the hashtag #nudeartadvent. It’s always a fantastic research project discovering artists that are new to me. Here’s the rundown from 2016 in case you missed it or check out CuriosityKilled on Instagram for more details on each piece. 

    Day 1 – Natasha Brooks

    Day 2 – Nude Yoga Girl

    Day 3 – Eadweard Muybridge

    Day 4 – Ryan McGinley

    Day 5 – George Morton-Clark

    Day 6 – Edvard Munch

    Day 7 – James Bullough

    Day 8 – Bill Bate

    Day 9 – Tanya Ragir

    Day 10 – Jean-Michel Bihorel

    Day 11 – Rob Mulholland

    Day 12 – Mihoko Ogaki

    Day 13 – Dani Olivier

    Day 14 – Peter Lindbergh

    Day 15 – Clayton Woodley

    Day 16 – Pierre Traverse

    Day 17 – Erwin Blumenfeld

    Day 18 – Spencer Tunick

    Day 19 – Ekatarina Zakharova

    Day 20 – Peyablo

    Day 21 – François Henri Galland

    Day 22 – Nadav Kander

    Day 23 – Zenos Frudakis

    Day 24 – Ryan McGinley

    Curiosity Killed… Scotland Road Trip

    I like to run away. Not to cities with a bag full of my earthly possessions but to the places where people aren’t. Give me swaying trees, give me vast skies, give me shores with water softly lapping or white waves crashing. Give me nature. It’s in nature that I feel reconnected. The problems of the world melt away. There is nothing more humbling as a human to stand in front of a mountain or the sea and feel like you are merely a minuscule collection of cells in the grand scheme of things.  I feel like a being with no further purpose than to just breathe and be.

    After a tough few months, my husband and I wanted to escape to the Highlands of Scotland and get away for a week. We didn’t have a large budget and weren’t looking for anything fancy, especially as we would be spending most nights in a different place.

    You can’t beat a map, especially when there’s no GPS!

    We drafted a rough plan of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. In an ideal world, one with plenty of spare cash, I would have preferred to either catch a flight or train up (the notion of a sleeper train has a much more romantic connotation in my mind) and hire a car there saving a day of driving, but in reality it’s so much more expensive so that idea was nixed.

    Plotting our route, we decided on having a rest stop half way-ish to Scotland and half way-ish back plus a stop off to see friends near Edinburgh. I had wanted to visit Glencoe and drive along the A82 ever since seeing Skyfall so a stop near Fort William seemed appropriate. As our budget was more lemonade than Moët, we booked Travelodges and Premier Inns with a Secret Escape deal for a little break from the basic.

    I warn you that my pictures don’t do the scenery the justice they deserve. You need to visit these places and view with your own eyes.

    Day One: London to Kendal

    Early Sunday morning, waving goodbye to my precious Atti-cat and having ensured he had enough hot water bottles to keep him snug, we drove out of London. We stopped somewhere on the M40 for second breakfast (at the same time as a coach load of Watford fans headed up to Liverpool for a match, cue the queues) and for hubby (who would be driving the whole trip because I can’t drive) a break from the godawful singing he would experience for the next six days.

    We stopped off in Morecambe Bay because I thought we might find a delightful fish and chip shop by the sands. Maybe we took a wrong turn because it seemed so quiet and isolated, with barely anything open. Of course it wasn’t the season but I thought at least on a sunny Sunday there’d be a few more options! Never mind, it provided a good time to get out and stretch the legs and take a few pictures. I would have gone out further on to the sands but I had just watched programme on the danger of quicksand in the area and really didn’t fancy having to be rescued from an isolated beach.

    Onwards we went through some absolutely gorgeous scenery in to the Lake District with the roads looking more like something from New England in Fall than the North West of England. We drove on the twisty road that ran along the eastern edge of Lake Windermere. Every little sneak peek through the trees made me want to see it in all its glory.

    Where Morecambe was isolated, Windermere was packed. People everywhere, spilling over the pavements into the road, crammed into tea shops and jammed in car parks. I couldn’t bear it. The very reason for our road trip was to escape the rat race and the masses. We U-turned back to an isolated car park a mile or so before the town and ate our snacks in the car before heading down to the edge of the water.

    I dipped my fingers in (a ritual I continued throughout the trip, mainly to see how cold it was – was it swimmable?! – but also to leave an epithelial marker of mine in the water and a little Windermere on me.

    We continued up to Kendal, checked in to our glamorous Premier Inn room for the night and took a little wander. You would think that in Kendal, you would find shops selling plenty of Kendal Mint Cake. Any that did had closed for the day or weren’t displaying any wares. I needed warming up so had a Russian Earl Grey tea and a toasted tea cake at Brew Brothers.

    Night came and brought a freezing wind, we briskly walked to dinner and on our way back I noticed how the streets were so utterly deserted. As a city girl this is still something that surprises me. Even more odd is that I find it so disconcerting at night in small towns and yet it’s what I long for during the day in the city!

    Day Two: Kendal to Fort William

    This was part of the road trip that I was most looking forward to. The drive out of the lakes and in to the Peak District was beautiful. Low stone walls dotted the landscape like grey rollercoaster tracks undulating over green hills. The skies were clear and sheep were our only companions until we reached the motorway.

    The roads were pretty clear until we reached Glasgow and Monday morning rush hour. Thankfully we circumnavigated it and saw the signs for the road of dreams… The A82.

    Our first stop on this route was the cute village of Luss a.k.a. the easiest place to stop at Loch Lomond, simply follow the diversion. Second breakfast time meant another hot pot of tea and a delicious coffee and walnut cake from the cafe plus a fuss from the resident dog and then an excuse to walk it off along the shore of the lake.

    I hadn’t realised I would fall in love with the Lochs as much as I did; Lomond was the start of a beautiful love affair. Sure, the clear blue skies and crisp sunshine that we were blessed with made things better, but it was such a pretty place. I learnt that Lomond is huge – the largest in surface area in Great Britain. I couldn’t believe the clarity of the water either, I imagined returning in the summer with my wetsuit and it still being as cold!

    Sated, we continued. I kept grinning in awe and wonder at the beauty of the views, telling hubby not to look and keep his eyes on the road which is one of the greatest benefits of being a passenger and not a driver! The sun glinted off the water and the steep rocky sides of the hills enclosed us in its warmth. I abused the word ‘wow’ (as well as a few swear words) but it no longer seemed to be able to convey just how awesome the view was.

    The landscape shifted to a broader view. Expansive hills became mountains with snow-capped peaks. We followed Bond’s route to Skyfall and entered Glencoe.

    Objects in the rear view mirror may appear less awesome than they are

    Hills beyond hills, beyond hills, beyond hills.

    There’s a track that you can take to get to where Bond parks the car near a stream and really pretend you’re 007. I believe it’s marked Glen Etive Ski Centre. I didn’t drive down it because a) going down lonely tracks not knowing what the condition of the road is like gives me the wiggins and b) it’s something saved for next time.

    Glen Etive panorama


    I’m the dark smudge on the left.

    We pulled over in a large-ish car park space and got out. A path led in to the Glen and something took over my legs. Perhaps they were just so grateful for moving and not sat in a car, but I just kept walking. I could’ve walked miles easily if it weren’t for hubby yelling at me to come back. I felt bewitched, entranced and completely captivated by this land. Begrudgingly, I turned back.

    We arrived in Fort William, found our hotel for the next two nights – a snazzy Travelodge at the top of town – dropped off our bags and headed back out again. As we still had plenty of time until sunset we decided to head over to Glenfinnan which was only 15 miles away.

    Gorgeous sunlight illuminating the loch below and setting the autumnal colours alight

    Harry Potter fans may recognise this viaduct although it’s missing the Hogwarts Express

    The monument is just by the lochside with the viaduct a little way behind. The Loch Shiel waters were completely still with barely a ripple against the shore. I looked along the banks, hoping to see an otter or seal or something, but nothing appeared. I dipped my fingers in, confirmed the temperature and looked at the monument. It marks the place from whence Bonnie Prince Charlie  or Prince Charles Stuart launched his standard and is memorial to those clansmen who died for the Jacobite cause. It was beautifully serene when we visited, barely any one around. Bliss!

    The Glenfinnan Monument

    We headed back to Fort William with the dying light in time to see Ben Nevis illuminated by the setting sun and to find dinner. We ended up eating on the pier above Loch Linnhe at Crannog Seafood Restaurant and thought the food delicious and fresh if a little London-y price-wise. There’s really not much else to do in Fort William, the high street was dead so we turned in for the night.


    The view of Loch Linnhe from the pier

    Day Three: Fort William (Kyle of Lochalsh and Skye)

    Unlike the previous few days we weren’t as lucky with the weather and woke up to dark grey skies threatening freezing cold rain. I believe the term is Dreich and it’s a brilliant word, say it, dreeugh.  It wouldn’t stop us and our plans to head to Eilean Donan Castle and the Isle of Skye.


    Eilean Donan Castle

    The castle appears all of a sudden, round a corner of stone on one of the second most beautiful roads I’ve ever been on – the A87 – framed by distant hills and the convergence of three lochs – Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh. It was featured in Highlander (one of my favourite films) and The World Is Not Enough. It’s well worth a stop off; the vista of it within the lochs is stunning and the house is lovely enough but I thought the most wonderful thing was the kitchen scene re-enactment, one of the best I’ve seen with loads of details – spot the cat in the pantry! 

    More tea and scones consumed (it must have been brunch time) we set off towards Skye. I was really sad that we wouldn’t be able to get to the Old Man of Storr or the Quiraing because the weather was starting to really close in. We did manage to get along to a viewpoint before the distant mountains disappeared completely and stopped off for a delicious fish and chip lunch by the water’s edge, eating in the car as the rain lashed down. Our failure to get to see Skye properly has definitely made my desire to visit again go up a notch!


    All we could see of Skye!


    Day Four: Fort William to Inverness

    Like the rest of the world, we woke up to the news a reality TV show mogul had won the US election and were feeling a teensy bit despondent. The best way to get over this was a trip to a whisky (no as it’s Scotch) distillery, via a castle and Loch Ness. En route we passed a spot that I won’t ever forget, mostly because I moaned about not being able to stop and take a picture of it! Loch Oich is just after you cross a bridge and part of the Caledonian Canal, linking the lochs of the Great Glen; Loch Lochy (no lie, that’s its name) and Loch Ness. Due to the stunning time of year it looked more like New England and the autumn leaves were all the shades of fire. If you go past in  November, make sure you stop!

    The ruins of Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness

    I’d seen Urquhart Castle featured on Poppy D’s vlog from a trip just a week or so before ours and made a mental note to visit. I’d recommend visiting earlier in the day when the site is quiet and if you’re very lucky, you get a free guided tour all to yourself. Plus if you’re English Heritage members you can get in for half price, or if you’re a member for more than a year, it’s free.

    It’s a beautiful and tranquil place with more than 1000 years of history. I always wish I had glasses that could glimpse the past – it would have been huge in its un-ruined state. We learnt loads from Keith, our lovely guide and really enjoyed the ambience of the place. Loch Ness is deep, huge and cold (I checked!) and I didn’t see Nessie but there’s something about the water that makes you think that you have seen something just slip under the water.

    Loch Ness Panorama

    Taking the scenic route again, we headed to the Glen Ord distillery at Muir of Ord, run by Diageo. This distillery produces a Scotch single malt whisky called The Singleton of Glen Ord for the Asian market. Again, going out of season meant it was quiet and only one other couple joined us on the tour. Our lovely guide (and I’m gutted because I’ve completely forgotten her name) was extremely knowledgable and took us through the whole process from malting to tasting. You can’t take any photos around the distillery processes mainly because of the risk of fire especially in the warehouse where the angel’s share smells delicious enough to get tipsy on the air alone!


    After a few samplers I was a barrel of laughs.


    I finished my drinks and hubby’s too (he was driving)

    The end of the tour brought the tastings and let’s just say I giggled my way through six small glasses of whisky on a Tuesday lunchtime. We tried the 12 year old, (a great everyday whisky) a 15 year old (a bit sharper, not my favourite) and an 18 year old whisky which was immediately purchased and is reserved as my special whisky.

    I floated back to the car and as we still had sunlight, boisterously demanded we progress onwards and explored a little more of the Black Isle, so named for the dark quality of the soil. Our route took us to a little fishing town on the peninsula called Cromarty which has the Cromarty Firth on one side and the Moray Firth on the other. The town was deserted again but wonderfully so; rather than feeling abandoned it felt like everyone was tucked up at home, evidenced by the peat fires we could smell in the wind. We popped in to a gallery and the pottery shop next door, purchased a few cards then returned to the beach to watch the sunset.

    That’s the body language of an excited seal spotter!

    The dark smudge in the lower left hand side is a seal!

    The incredibly pretty harbour at Cromarty

    You can see the platforms in the distance

    I can’t tell you how excited I was to finally see a seal in the distance. It frolicked about in the water for a good while, almost following our path along the coast. A lady in the bakery said we might be able to see dolphins from Fortrose so we drove over. Suffice to say we saw zero dolphins but it felt great to be on an adventure!

    We returned to Inverness extremely happy and tired (and I was post tipsy) ready for dinner and bed for the next day.

    Day Five: Inverness to Aberdeen

    For some reason I was in a really weird mood. I’m used to my mood swings but this felt different… like loss. It took me a while to realise it was because I was back in a city and away from the mountains and lochs. To appease me we detoured into Aviemore, a place I hadn’t visited since a school trip when I was 14. I had a wonderful flashback of walking past a parade listening to Just a Girl on my Walkman (yes, I’m that old) and pretending I was cool.

    Heading back towards the coast on the A95 we found another scenic road which happened to be the Malt Whisky Trail running alongside the River Spey. The valleys housed the distinctive pagodas of distilleries, some less than a mile from each other.

    A beautiful castle gatehouse

    The colour of the water!

    We lazily cruised onwards towards Elgin, stopping off at the Johnstons Wool and Cashmere shop for some Christmas presents and then followed the coastal road and the North Sea wondering if we could spot another seal or even an otter or dolphin.

    Bolts of cloth at Johnstons in Elgin

    View from a ruined house at Portsoy

    Skirting along the Buchan coast meant we could pull in to fishing towns that caught our eye. I was delighted to spot a brown tourist sign for a 17th Century old harbour at Portsoy and we pulled up. The harbour was sweet enough but I rather liked the ruined wall with window view of the sea. Imagine doing your washing up from that spot!

    The seaside made me feel a little better but knowing we were heading back to a busy city made the blues come back. I’d have to come up with a different plan for the journey on to Livingston tomorrow to avoid the evil mood.

    Light was staring to fade again and I didn’t want to get to our hotel too late, especially as we had decided to splash out a little on an amazing Secret Escapes deal that included a bottle of wine on arrival, 3 course dinner and breakfast plus a gorgeously plush room that made a change from budget business travel. The Mercure Ardoe hotel just outside the city was lovely, huge and luxurious. A shame we couldn’t experience it more or take advantage of the spa offers but we slept amazingly well and the last time on the trip that we wouldn’t hear traffic and other city noises.


    Day Six: Aberdeen to Livingston


    The sun was shining and the weather was milder than ever as we set off south via the west.

    Friends had recommended the A93 road that runs through all the B’s – Ballater, Braemar and Balmoral. This would take us south via the Cairngorms and some stunning scenery. I instantly felt my mood lift and my smile return as we headed higher in to the snow dusted hills.

    Trees covered in lichen


    Yes, that’s me running in delight through virgin snow!

    I had thought to perhaps stop off at Queenie’s Scottish residence at Balmoral but sadly it was closed. Instead we followed the road just to the side of it (half expecting a security officer to launch themselves at the car with an assault rifle commanding us to stop at any moment) and arrived at Royal Lochnagar, a charming distillery with a famous royal neighbour. It was wonderful to see snow on the ground (cue me running into an untouched patch) and the smell of malt in the crisp, cold air.

    This tour was a lovely contrast to the larger site at Muir of Ord. Again, no photos allowed but I really enjoyed being to understand the processes and the difference between the two. Of course I enjoyed another tasting to warm me up and we set off again, stopping off at locations to take pictures of the beautiful Dee river and grabbing a bite to eat at t a s t e in Braemar.



    As we climbed higher we started to see even more snow…



    Glenshee looking pretty

    I felt like a giddy kipper surrounded by clouds and mountains and snow. Our route took us through Glenshee and the ski centre. I have this strange love of piste bashers and was so happy to see them parked up, ready for a dumping of snow and grooming the pistes for the season ahead.

    Delighted by the day’s adventures we wendled our way down towards Edinburgh and past the cities to our motorway hotel. Luckily, two sets of dear friends lived only about ten minutes away from each so we quickly stopped off at one for a quick hug before heading over for dinner with the others and their gorgeous young kids.

    Day Seven: Livingston to London

    We had originally planned to split the journey home with a stay overnight in Darlington but I really wanted to see my kitty and sleep in my own bed, so a crazy early start meant we could do the journey from Livingston to London in seven hours. I’m not going to lie, it was horrendous weather; continuous drizzle, lashings of spray and grey skies do not make for pleasant car journeys.

    I learned so much on this trip – that 80’s/90’s songs are the best ones to sing along to, that I really enjoy Scotch whisky, that I love the landscapes in Scotland but especially love the Highlands and Lochs, that we were so incredibly lucky with the weather, that driving 200 miles a day isn’t so far, that I can’t wait to go back very soon.

    At last we were home, just 1751 miles later and with a new haul of whiskies to remember Scotland and enjoy, ready to plan our return.

    Thank you, dear reader, for getting to the end… it’s been just as arduous trying to write about the trip as I loved it so much. I truly believe that it’s a magical pace and my pictures and words do it very little justice, so please head up there and enjoy!


    “And I would walk drive 500 nearly two thousand miles…”

    Loch Fyne, Royal Lochnagar, Singleton of Glen Ord and Lagavulin.


    Stuck on Repeat… October 2016

    October proved to be a busy but better month with a flurry of social activity and a couple of live music performances seeing a favorite up and coming talent. Also, a few weeks back I asked people on Twitter and Facebook what their current earworms were. Thank you to everyone who submitted songs, they’re on my radar and may even feature here soon!

    Remember you can follow the full #stuckonrepeat playlist on Spotify here.

    Million Reasons – Lady Gaga

    I was blown away by Gaga’s performance of this in Carpool Karaoke. To be able to convey so much emotion singing along in a car is a talent indeed. This is a gorgeous song (co-written by Mark Ronson) and makes a change for me from her usual frothy pop tunes.

    Favourite lyric: I bow down to pray/I try to make the worst seem better/Lord, show me the way
    /To cut through all his worn out leather

    Waste A Moment – Kings of Leon

    Great to see KOL are back after a brief hiatus. This is such an uplifting song, but every time I hear it, I always end up singing Love Will Tear Us Apart in the chorus. Is it just me that hears it? My bonkers brain making connections that only make sense to me?

    Favourite lyric: Oh, take the time to waste a moment/Oh, never ask to be forgiven

    To Be With You – Mr Big

    A very guilty pleasure! YouTube brought me a classic tune from years ago… I’m amazed I still remembered most of the lyrics! #Sorrynotsorry for the retro trip.  

    Favourite lyric: You can make my life worthwhile/I can make you start to smile

    City Of Stars – Ryan Gosling (La La Land Soundtrack)

    Come January when La La Land is released in UK cinemas, you’ll understand why this has been playing on a loop despite being only a minute-something long. I’ll write a review closer to release but take it from me, it’s a wonderful, marvellous film. 

    Favourite lyric: Is this the start of something wonderful and new?/Or one more dream that I cannot make true

    Never Be Like You – Flume feat Kai

    I was completely late to the Flume party but I’ve been really enjoying this tune. A tale of mistakes made, it sounds real and honest. 

    Favourite lyric: I’m only human. Can’t you see?/I made, I made a mistake

    Kiss You All Over – Exile

    Yes, I heard this song on Employee of the Month. Yes, it’s super cheesy. Yes, that makes two 80s tunes on the blog this month. This song is so chilled you won’t even mind. Check out the Spanish version for extra joy points. 

    Favourite lyric: Stay with me, lay with me/Holding me, loving me, baby/Here with me, near with me/Feeling you close to me, baby

    In The Name Of Your Love – Riley Smith, Nashville Cast

    I’m so happy Nashville is back on our screens with clever writing and brilliant music. Newcomer Riley Smith pays Markus, a rocker who tries to reinvent his sound. Some of this season’s storylines have been a bit blah – Juliet and Avery, let’s move orrrrrnnn – but has produced some lovely tunes. 

    Favourite lyric: I got some skeletons in my yesterday… 

    That’s it for this month, catch you all soon and don’t forget to write your current earworms in the comments! C X 

    Stuck on Repeat… August and September 2016

    Another double-header for you all as these past few months have been pretty tough on a personal level and I’ve just not found the peace of mind to write. Music has been a most welcome escape though and at the most devastating moment helped to calm and uplift spirits. 

    Click to listen to the full #stuckonrepeat playlist here.

    La Mordidita – Ricky Martin

    I blame a viral video of a rather buff, middle aged, Italian man dancing with his beloved somewhere rather fabulous for this one. It’s such a summery tune and anything with a Latin beat is guaranteed to get my hips a-shimmying! 

    Favourite lyric: Si dios, puso la manzana fue para morder / Ay dios, pequemo’ abrazaditos hasta el amanecer.

    Tico Tico No Fuba – Carmen Miranda

    Carrying on the Latin theme, the arrival of the Olympics in Rio had me randomly thinking about my favourite Carioca – Zé Carioca. He’s a dapperly dressed parrot that loves samba and features in a Disney film to introduce Donald Duck to the wonders of Brasil. The instrumental version of this song plays in the cartoon and it never fails to make me bounce. Tico Tico no Fuba isn’t a song with deep lyrics – it’s basically someone telling a naughty bird to stop eating the cornmeal supplies – and is much more like a tongue twister than a song you can sing along easily to! 

    Favourite lyric: O Tico-Tico tem, tem que se alimentar / Que vá comer umas minhocas no pomar (minhocas means worms in Portuguese but it’s such a brilliant sounding word, much nicer than plain old worms!) 

    When We Were Lovers – Jack Savoretti

    Jack-of-the-gravelly-voice makes another appearance on my playlist because… Oh lord, do I even need to give a reason?! This is a release from the upcoming album (probably more tracks coming from that!) Sleep No More which I’m super excited about. The acoustic version of this sounds just as awesome if not better, as I would expect from someone who could probably sing me the phone book and it still be an amazing experience. 

    Favourite lyric: Look at the time and the time that it’s taken / Is this love like the love we were making

    Intro – Herb City

    I know nothing about this song except I like it and I’m sure I’ve heard it before in an old film from the 80’s/90’s. When Shazam-ing it, it comes up as a track from a 2016 hip-hop album. I can’t find which aria or opera it’s from nor the singer or the lyrics. If anyone can help a girl out with this mystery, I’d be so grateful!!

    Threads – Tay Salem

    Finally!! The song that I’ve been waiting for since I heard it at the French Cold EP party when it was but a song in its infancy, is finally released. The second track released from the upcoming Night Mill EP has been a firm favourite of mine for some time now and it’s been so interesting to hear it change and evolve from one style to another. It’s laid back and ultra-luxe, the witching hour personified. My absolute favourite version of this was a private showcase where two strums of an electric guitar against the chorus reminded me of my beloved Wicked Game. I can’t wait for the EP launch party on 5th October at Bermomdsey Social Club – if you can get a ticket – GO. 

    Favourite lyric: Keep me tied up / keep me far away from the crowd 

    He Lives In You (Reprise) – The Lion King Original Broadway Cast Recording

    My darling husband bought tickets for us to attend for our wedding anniversary as I think we were one of the few people on the planet who hadn’t seen it. I have cried buckets of happy joy tears at performances I’ve seen on TV of Circle of Life or the impromptu sing-offs on planes and trains yet couldn’t believe I’d never seen the show itself. If you are one of the few remaining, just GO SEE IT NOW. You won’t be disappointed. I lasted about two notes into Nants ingonyama before my eyes were streaming, I literally couldn’t keep the happy in (nor could the woman sat next to me – I’m so glad it’s not just me!!) with the biggest smile on my face. To avoid the constant leaking of the eyes I’ve been listening to other songs from the original Broadway cast soundtrack. My favourites within the show were always the ones with the chorus of voices; I always find the sound of human voices in union incredibly spiritual. The theme of this song struck a chord with the loss of my mother-in-law and how much she still lives on in her two sons. 

    Favourite lyric: Wait, there’s no mountain too great / Hear these words and have faith

    Right Above It – Lil Wayne

    Some of the elements that make up this song actually make me hate it with a passion: the portrayal of women and the use of the n-word make me grossly uncomfortable. However, since watching Ballers and hearing it as the theme tune it’s been stuck in my head, or rather annoyingly the first few bars… Doo doo dooooo…

    Favourite lyric: Don’t like my women single, I like my chicks in twos (major eye roll)