Monday, 22 August 2016

The Cambo Woodland Retreat

When I was young, summer holidays consisted of family trips to Grandma's house. Grandma stayed in a cute little cottage in the middle of nowhere, about 20 minutes outside of St Andrews, on the outskirts of the Cambo Estate near Kingsbarns. Our summers were spent enjoying fish and chips in Anstruther, sharing warm donuts on the pier and eating copious amounts of Irn Bru sorbet that always dripped through the end of the cone before I could finish it. (Even my childhood memories are all food based...)

I've since introduced Gordon to the wonders of Luvians sorbet and we often detour through St Andrews on the way from Edinburgh. Usually we don't have time to do much else on our pitstops and vow to spend a whole weekend exploring more of the Home of Golf. So, as a little wedding present for my new husband, I planned us a surprise roadtrip! Hotels in the area turned out to cost an absolute bomb (£200 per night, no thanks) but then I remembered the Cambo Estate!


Browsing the website for room availability at the Cambo House, I stumbled across the Woodland Retreat. A hidden gem, the campsite is surrounded by trees in the grounds of the Estate. You can sleep in the newly opened CamBoat or cosy up in the Bell Tents. And so we found ourselves, on our third and fourth day as husband and wife, "glamping" in the woods in the Kingdom of Fife. 


The Bell Tents

Two tents sit side by side on a wooden deck in the clearing, romantically lit with fairylights. Inside, our humble abode featured a double bed, coffee table and chairs atop a patterned rug, with extra blankets to warm us up in the evening. Outside we had our own little firepit and dining area. We were greeted with a bottle of wine and a welcoming letter from the owners, inviting us to make ourselves at home. A little booklet told us all the essential information, like where to find our own private bathroom. Our tent was even equipped with power - just enough to charge our phones and chill our drinks in the coolbox. All the essentials!

Unfortunately they were having electrical issues during our visit... which I found out the hard way when the power cut out mid hair drying! This didn't affect our stay in any way though. Extra battery powered lighting was provided in the bathrooms and we used tealights to atmospherically light the tent and kitchen area. I actually think the lack of power and phone service added to the experience. There's nothing like the loss of 3G to make you enjoy a conversation and appreciate each other's company!


The Cambo House & Gardens

The Estate has been owned by the Erskines since the 1670's and is still home to the family today. You can take a trip around the house itself, browse the gift shop or grab a bite to eat in the café. Guests have access to a pool table, foosball and table tennis, and there's even an actual tennis court for any budding Andy Murrays out there! For golfers, the Kingbarns Golf Links is only a stones throw away.

After hairdryer-gate, my only hope was that the hot summer sun would work it's magic and dry my fro. Taking advantage of the weather, we explored the grounds rather than the house itself. The Walled Garden is a must visit with its pathways lined by apple trees and colourful wild flowers. Our peaceful wonder through the woodland eventually lead to the golf course and a picturesque view of the sea.


Events

Cambo Estate plays host to an eclectic array of events, from their Snowdrop festival and outdoor plays to the more unusual Batwalk or wild food foraging days. You can even host your wedding in one of their many venues. Imagine how pretty the pictures would be! The Christmas food and craft fair sounds like my cup of tea, and I hope to experience the Cambolicious craft beer festival later this year!


The Woodland Kitchen

Heading back to the campsite, the kitchen area was probably my favourite part. Surrounded by a ring of fairylights, with a parachute roof, it was the perfect shelter from the unpredictable Scottish weather. There's a wooden table with benches, and tree stumps to huddle around the fire. A tripod sits above it for warming the BBQ, which comes provided, as well as a gas cooker. Gordon was in his element building fires and searching for suitable marshmallow toasting sticks! On our first night we shared prosecco and beers and munched on homemade shortbread leftover from the wedding.

The Balgove Night Market set us up with a few treats for our second evening. We sipped Eden Mill cocktails and beers from St Andrews Brewing Co and watched our marshmallows turn golden brown over the hot flames. You can hire extra cooking equipment when booking and our neighbours from the CamBoat talked of delicious fish curries they'd enjoyed on previous nights. It sounds like they cooked up a storm! We weren't quite so adventurous and our culinary skills stretched as far as barbecuing sausages for breakfast. Balgove's pork and thyme sausages, smothered in Angus and Oink rampant angus hot sauce... breakfast of champions.
Take that, Bear Grylls!


The Cambo Woodland Retreat was the perfect getaway for us newlyweds and an ideal base for exploring St Andrews and the East Neuk. A casual, relaxed escape where we watched the sunset and toasted our marriage beneath a blanket of stars. Even a little power cut and downpour of rain couldn't dampen our spirits!

If glamping isn't your thing, you can stay in the Cambo House itself - more info on their website!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Wedding Planning... Mini-mooning in Aberdeen!

As wonderful as weddings are, they can be a stressful time. We found ourselves completely overwhelmed for a good few days afterwards. All that build up and planning felt chaotic right up until the last minute. We decorated our venue ourselves the day before (with the help of our bridal party) and had our rehearsal in the evening, as well as welcoming family to stay at our home for the weekend. Oh and I had the all important last minute bridal prep - spray tan and nails, of course! The big day comes and it's literally the best day ever, but then the next day comes... and we just don't know what to do with ourselves!


 We checked into the Bauhaus in Aberdeen the evening after the big day. While some couples might like to get dressed up and go out to celebrate, we were all partied out. Our plan was a romantic night in for two - complete with prosecco and Yo! Sushi takeaway!


My only complaint is that our food was cold by the time we'd collected it from Union Square and walked the 5-10 minutes back to our hotel. I guess if you're eating it straight away it'd be fine but if you're waiting on Deliveroo, you'd be lucky to receive it still hot.

 The chicken chirashi was Gordon's favourite - "soy & shichimi marinated grilled chicken with kaiso, pickled cucumber and red onion, pickled ginger, crispy shallots, yuzu furikake and sushi rice".  New to their menu, the poke pots are packed with flavour and would be ideal to grab and go on your lunch break. They also come in tuna, salmon and tofu variations so there's something for everyone.


I've never eaten at Yo! before so we went overboard with our order in an attempt to try as many dishes as possible! I'm open to anything foodwise so was eager to sample some actual sushi... Gordon was not so keen. Luckily for us, there's a chicken and duck sushi box on the menu which went down a treat. The rest of our order was from the Izakaya range, which is a selection of small hot dishes that were right up our street. The portions are ideal for ordering a mixture of plates to share so you can try different flavours and discover something new. We tucked into chicken katsu (not a patch on Wag, sorry Yo!), duck gyoza, okonomiyaki, spicy pepper squid and my personal favourite takoyaki - basically octopus doughballs!


As if that wasn't enough, we had dessert to get through too. I was less keen on the dorayaki. The custard filled pancake sandwich lacked flavour for me and definitely needed the strawberry dipping sauce that it came with! Strawberry cheesecake mocha was an oddly textured, taste sensation.

Good food, a glass or 2 of bubbles and a guest book full of lovely messages and bucket list ideas to read through - it was the perfect, post-wedding cosy night in. 


The following morning, we enjoyed butteries for breakfast at the Bauhaus. Rowie, morning roll, whatever you prefer to call them, it doesn't get any more Aberdonian than this! A trip to one of the many local castles was top of our list of sightseeing plans as we played tourist in our own city. After much deliberation we picked Crathes over Drum and enjoyed a walk in the sunshine round the beautifully kept gardens. The castle itself stands proud among the trees and we wondered around the many rooms, admiring painted ceilings, and discovering it's history and resident ghost the Green Lady. 


In the end our day out turned into something of a hunger led roadtrip and we found ourselves stopping off at the Cow Shed in the Banchory countryside for a bite to eat - burger and chip shop chips for him, and a deliciously gooey brie and cranberry panini for me! Our next stop was Stonehaven for ice cream. The queue at Aunty Betty's put us off though and we decided to save that experience for another day. Perhaps not a school holiday type of day! We enjoyed a stroll round the harbour before heading back into Aberdeen to sip beer infused cocktails in Brewdog before Suicide Squad!


I highly recommend booking somewhere for a night or two after your wedding - even if it is just a "staycation". Escaping to warmer climates for a romantic honeymoon is obviously the dream. The ideal opportunity to relax and recover with your new spouse. We didn't have the time (or money - lets face it, wedding's are expensive!) to do this but we did want to get away for a few days. Just the space and freedom to take it all in and enjoy each other's company away from every day life!

*We were invited to try Yo! Sushi's new takeaway menu in exchange for an honest review.
As always, all views are 100% genuine.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Wedding Planning... We Tied The Knot!

It's official, we are Mr & Mrs!

We had the most wonderful day of our lives over a week ago now. I can't believe how fast the time has gone. All that planning for 2-3 years and just like that it's all over. What a whirlwind of a day it was. Everything was perfect from start to finish - I had a lovely, relaxed morning getting ready with the girls. The nerves didn't kick in until the last minute as my bridesmaids fastened my dress. Our ceremony was short and sweet, just as we had planned and was followed by cocktails and canapes in the sun.


While our guests made their way to the yurt, we had fun with our photographer. Jules of JM Style is extremely talented and professional and couldn't have been more helpful on the day. She kept us relaxed and calm throughout and you wouldn't have even known she was there as she captured candid shots of our guests enjoying the day. Today I'm sharing the preview shots she posted on Facebook... a sneak peek of what's to come in our private gallery. I can't wait to see the rest!



An epic 3 course feast was provided by Eat Beetroot and our first (and second!) dance was played by Gordon's cousin Kenny. Our band Wonderland educated us with some classic ceilidh dancing and an eclectic mix of music kept the dance floor packed all night.


I'll be sharing more from our wedding with our own photos over the next few weeks, including the food and the decor. I found blog posts like these so helpful during the planning process, so let me know if there's anything specific you want to see or read about!

xx

Photographer: JM Style
Venue: Crimonmogate
Dress: Maggie Sottero, at Bride's Delight
Flowers: Blue Orchid Florist

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

A Peek Inside Chaophraya, Aberdeen

You Aberdonians may have spotted a bit of change happening in the city centre recently. The Union Street institution formerly known (and loved) as The Monkey House has undergone a complete transformation to become Thai restaurant Chaophraya. I was invited to dine during the soft launch for a sneak peek of the décor and flavours on offer. I'm not going to lie - it's probably the most aesthetically pleasing restaurant I've ever had the privilege of visiting.


Staff are in traditional dress and welcome you with Thai greetings - they're friendly and certainly keen, perhaps a little too attentive. From the second you enter, it's a feast for the eyes and the food is just as satisfying. The cocktail list caught my attention with its unique fusions of exotic sounding flavours. Unfortunately I was driving on this occasion but the Siam Smile seems like a good excuse to go back!


A basket of flavoursome prawn crackers was brought to our table, along with a sweet chilli sauce, while be browsed the menu. It didn't take long for us to make our decision. I spied the satay skewers on the starter menu and asked for a larger version as my main course. This seemed to cause a little confusion and two separate portions were brought to the table! Never one to turn away food, I laughed at the error and simply enjoyed one plate after the other. The styling of the classic dish made it something special, although it could do with a little more peanut dipping sauce.


Meanwhile, Gordon enjoyed an authentic mix of egg fried rice with crispy chicken, stir fried with cashew nuts, onions, peppers, spring onions and a roasted red chilli sauce with a bit of a kick! He's a proper wimp when it comes to spice and found the Chicken with Cashew Nuts a little too hot to handle but our waiter assured us this was one of Chaophraya's milder options.

We skipped dessert (I have a wedding dress to fit into!) but the chocolate bomb looks divine!


I thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Chaophraya and would recommend it for a special occasion dinner. The restaurant is conveniently located on the same block as Eclectic Fizz Champagne Bar so you know where to head for a night cap afterwards! For more relaxed, casual Thai dining stick to sister restaurant Thaikhun in Union Square :)

*Our meal was complimentary due to the soft launch, but as always all opinions are 100% genuine.
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