Saturday, 11 November 2017

Our Thailand Itinerary

By the time you read this, we'll be on our way to Thailand! I feel like we've been counting down to this trip forever. Back when we were planning our wedding, we made the decision not to honeymoon straight away. We'd bought our house and had our wedding all within a year and wanted time so save up and do something really special. 15 months later here we are jetting off on our honeymoon, at last, to South East Asia!


Bangkok

Our first stop is Bangkok. Fairly obvious as it's the main destination for international flights. From what I hear, it's a bit of a marmite city - you either love it or you hate it. We have booked a couple of nights at the beginning and the end of our trip. More than some people would recommend so hopefully we fall into the love bracket!

We'll stay at both the Aloft Bangkok and the Avani Atrium hotel, and plan to explore the many temples the city has to offer. Top of my list are The Grand Palace, Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) and Wat Pho to see the reclining Buddha! I'm also hoping to check out Chatuchak weekend market, sip cocktails at a rooftop bar and sample plenty street food!

Chiang Mai

Next we're heading North to Chiang Mai. This is something we debated over for quite a while. I was worried that going so far North wouldn't leave us enough time to visit all the beautiful islands we want to see in the south. In the end, my need to see elephants in an ethical and safe environment won and we booked flights to Chiang Mai!

I've scheduled in a day at the nearby Elephant Jungle Sanctuary as well as a surprise excursion for Gordon's birthday - I'll share more on that once he knows what it is! The Hyde Park Residence will be our home for a few days and we'll hopefully have time to visit the Old Town and yet more temples in the area. Chaing Mai seems to have a reputation for cool coffee shops which I'm looking forward to checking out!


Koh Lanta

As we fitted in the trip to Chiang Mai, we had to limit how many islands we could visit! After much research, we narrowed it down to Koh Lanta as our priority. We're not looking for the typical backpacking, Full Moon party experience. All we want is to see some beautiful beaches, explore and experience the culture and chill out with some good food and drink.

Our home on the island is Oasis Yoga Bungalows. Our very own private bungalow is only a 2 minute walk to the beach and, as the name suggests, we'll have the chance to join some yoga classes in a treehouse. There's also a healthy kitchen/smoothie bar, but most importantly there's a resident dog named Mango! Speaking of dogs, Koh Lanta has a well known animal sanctuary which we can visit and even volunteer to walk the dogs in the morning! My island life will be all about yoga and dogs. The dream!

Krabi

Our final destination (other than Bangkok for our flight home!) is Krabi. Back on the mainland, Krabi is a handy location for getting to various islands. We're staying at the Bluesotel on Ao Nang Beach. The idea is to base ourselves here and do day trips to the likes of Railay beach and the Phi Phi islands - including Maya Bay (The Beach) - for some snorkelling and kayaking! I'd also like to visit Krabi town and climb the 1237 steps to Tiger Temple Cave. 

It's a lot to pack in to 2 weeks and I really hope we have time to fit it all in.
If you have any tips on things to see and do, or where to eat I'd love to hear them?!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

A to Z Dating | L is for London

L is for London!
Laughter - Lighthouse Museum - Llama Trekking - Loch - Lone Wolf

We hadn't actually planned to go to London - it's a bit extravagant driving the length of the country for a date! Originally we were going to go with laughter and hit up a Breakneck Comedy gig, but things happened and plans changed, and we found ourselves travelling to Essex for a weekend. Since we'd made the 10 hour journey we thought we'd make the most of a rubbish situation and spend the day exploring the British capital.




It started, as all good dates do, with brunch! After much research I booked us a table at Strut & Cluck in Shoreditch - the Eastern Mediterranean food looked incredible and seemed macro friendly too! The interiors were gorgeous - a dark and sophisticated bar faces the front of the restaurant, juxtaposed to the bright and airy natural colours of the walls and hanging greenery. An Instagramer's dream! 


I went for the high protein option with fried egg on handpulled shawarma (turkey meat) served on pita bread. The mixture of tahini with pine nuts and a little sweetness from the dates was delicious! Gordon's shakshuka with chorizo packed a punch and I couldn't help but scoop up the sauce with pita when he'd had enough. I would 100% eat here again! 




The rest of the day was spent wandering. We had a nose in Spitalfields market and then made our way across the river to the south bank, spotting a few favourite landmarks along the way! Before we knew it we'd reached Borough Market. A bustling hubbub of people, cooking, eating, drinking... we could barely move! At least I can finally tick the popular food market off my bucket list, but I'd recommend visiting during the week when it's (hopefully) a little quieter! 





We sampled a few goodies, picked up some cinnamon elephant cookies from the Cinnamon Tree Bakery and grabbed a coffee/green tea to go. You can also find traders selling glasses of fizz if that's more your thing. It was a little bit overwhelming to be honest. There was so much I would have liked to try - next time I'd skip brunch and go hungry!


Carrying on down the south bank we decided to nip into Shakespeare's globe theatre and join a wee tour. Our guide was a rather funny Ed Sheeran lookalike who kept us well entertained, while teaching us about the history of theatre in London. Afterwards we popped into the Tate Modern, where we discovered we are not art lovers. Soz!


Not going to lie, my favourite stop along the Thames was Dandelyan! Voted the world's best cocktail bar 2017, you'll find this delight in the Mondrian hotel. We got the best seats in the house (IMO) and watched the bartenders do their thing. I stuck to a classic Porter's G&T (Dandelyan's head bartender is one of the creators of this Aberdonian gin!) while Gordon went for a girly looking Mmm Hop! The gin based cocktail gets it's colour from bitter hibiscus. Dandelyan is an absolute must visit for any discerning cocktail drinker and I'd definitely check out the Wyld Tea for a treat next time! 


The final part of our day was spent exploring Covent Garden and China Town. Heading towards Soho we decided to grab a bite to eat and enjoyed some Thai food at Banana Tree. It wasn't the best meal I've ever had but it was perfectly fine, if a little lacking in flavour. We're just counting down to next week when we can sample the real deal in Thailand!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Our Stay at Muckrach Country House Hotel, Aviemore


Last month we joined our friends to celebrate their wedding day. The entire day was lovely from the gorgeous ceremony right through to the final dance. I love a good scottish wedding! Of course having them in a beautiful setting helps, and this one was held at Muckrach Country House Hotel - an old shooting lodge from 1860, near Aviemore! We were fortunate enough to stay there the whole weekend.


The Room

The rooms are styled to perfection. Modern and comfortable with rustic Scottish touches. We stayed in the Glenfiddich superior double. I loved the antler lights, tweed arm chairs & thistle cushions, not to mention the plush velvet striped feature wall! Chandeliers feature heavily throughout the hotel, adding a finishing touch to each room, among the eclectic decor.


The Food

We ate in the hotel restaurant the evening before the wedding. The menu is full of Scottish delights from inverawe smoked salmon to Argyll estate venison and black isle dairy ice cream. Naturally Gordon plumped straight for the haggis bon bons while I started with the scallops. Hand dived isle of Skye scallops with grants of Speyside black pudding & delicate little quail eggs made for a beautiful dish. Our mains were the Muckrach steak & chorizo burger which was a monster piled high with Bacon and cheese. Absolutely delicious but messy and filling. I couldn't even squeeze in the gin & tonic trifle for pudding!

It was a sign of good things to come for the wedding meal. We were treated to some fabulous canapes with fizz, enjoyed a smoked salmon dish, followed by the most beautiful melt in the mouth beef I've ever eaten and a gorgeous lemon tart that was almost creme brulee like.


Breakfast was no let down either. Anywhere that serves whisky with their porridge in the morning is okay with me! I didn't expect to like it but mixed with the honey and berries it was a treat. The full Scottish was a hearty portion and really did the trick the morning after!


The Bar

Featuring over 70 whiskies and 30 gins, the gorgeous bar at Muckrach is a particular highlight. It's safe to say I made a dent in the Shetland Reel supplies over the weekend, while Gordon and co sampled their fair share of the whiskey selection! I love a bar that gets garnishes and enjoyed a slice of orange in my G&T's, while the bride's Rock Rose featured a pretty floral garnish. For some reason I never tried the cocktail menu but it sounds fab! 


Archie

How many hotels can say they have their own Highland cow?! I've seen many highland cattle in my lifetime but none as big and handsome as Archie! We could see Archie in his field from our room and each morning we wandered down to say hello. He wasn't particularly interested in our visits but seemed happy to pose for my pictures anyway. Check the size of those horns!


Muckrach Country House is probably one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in. We were totally spoiled for the whole weekend! If you're after a luxury highland retreat, this is the one! Nearby you'll find the town of Aviemore, the Cairngorms and many picturesque castles. We went kayaking at Loch Insh, castle hunting at Loch an Eilein and even visited a Highland Safari!




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