Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Cock and Bull

For my birthday meal I chose The Cock and Bull which is on the road from Peterhead to Aberdeen. It has a reputation for winning awards - Grampain Young Chef of the Year and Scottish Gastropub of the Year being their most recent - so my expectations were high. It's a place we've passed many times but never popped in, so my birthday seemed like the perfect occasion. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

We were greeted on arrival by a friendly staff member, who invited us to take a seat in the cosy lounge area while we looked over the menu. From the outside the restaurant has a country cottage feel and inside is no different. It's decorated with what I can only describe as antique-looking "bits and bobs", with a rustic feel from the beams on the ceiling and black and white photographs that cover the walls. The one thing I couldn't fault from our experience is the staff - they were warm and welcoming and really gave us service with a smile.

When they were ready for us, we were guided through to the more modern restaurant and seated by the window. Our starters arrived quickly and I have to say I enjoyed mine. I had the King scallops with oven-roasted carrot and hazelnuts. Gordon had the pressed smoked ham and didn't think much of it.

A few people had warned us about the small portion sizes at the Cock and Bull but we didn't find this a problem at all. Our main courses arrived - Gordon had the steak but felt it had far too much fat and was not worth the (almost) £27 price tag! I went for the Aberdeen Angus burger. Now, I know burgers are not exactly a delicacy but, given the reputation of the restaurant, I was expecting much better than what I got. The burger was full of solid, fatty lumps as if it had been made with really cheap meat and I actually had to spit a few bits out cause it was that inedible... in public! I couldn't finish it. Personally I'd expect the Cock and Bull to use the best of the best ingredients and this didn't live up to that at all. Add to this the overwhelming heat in the restaurant (partly due to weather I'm sure) and the fact that I was already feeling bloated and uncomfortable when we arrived, I was not a happy bunny.

Usually I'd give them the chance to redeem themselves with dessert but by that point I was so unimpressed that we decided to give it a miss. All in all, it wasn't the worst experience of my life but I'm in no hurry to go back and wouldn't recommend it to anyone. If you fancy a real gourmet, special occasion meal in Aberdeenshire head to Eat on the Green instead!

Luckily, we had booked ourselves into the Soprano hotel in Aberdeen for the night so all was not lost! After checking in and freshening up we headed out to some of our favourite bars in town for a relaxed night of cocktails and banter. Cocoa was the first stop, where we sipped frozen strawberry belinis (so yummy and perfect to cool us down on a hot summer night!) and spent most of our time trying to avert our gaze from a drunken couple giving it some serious PDA!

H&M dress // Zara wedges // Primark necklace // "Chanel" bag

I wore a H&M geometric print wrap dress, as I was feeling brave enough to show off a little cleavage for the first time in ages. It actually ended up being the perfect choice as it hid my food baby while flattering my shape at the same time. Think I'll need to invest in a DvF beauty in the future! After Cocoa we took a short walk up to our latest haunt Ninety-Nine. You can read about our first visit here.

After grabbing ourselves a cocktail and having a wee dance, we managed to get a seat throne by the window, which was a pure stroke of luck as the place was heaving! 99 managed to impress me with their music yet again - my favourite Fleetwood Mac song was playing when we got there - and despite the DJ & a birthday party going on upstairs it was still a great place to people watch and just chill with my fave. A happy ending to a happy birthday :)


Sunday, 28 July 2013

My Top Gym Tunes

People are always asking me where I get my motivation from to go to the gym. One of the main things that gets me through a tough weight session, especially when I don't even want to be there, is my iPod. Music keeps me going so I can tricep dip my heart out to the beat! I thought I'd round up my favourites for when I need that extra burst of energy. I know that most people prefer to workout to a pop/dance-y beat but you won't find that here.

1. The Sunshine Underground - Put You In Your Place
"I'm on top but you're trying to stop me now... You can't stand to see that smile on my face, well I need to put you in your place"

2. Bastille - Weight Of Living
"Do you like the person you've become?" Lyrics that make me want to work harder and achieve the body I want!

3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Date With The Night / Tick the whole Fever To Tell album
Angry girl music. Works every time!

4. The Naked & Famous - Passive Me, Aggressive You (album)
An anthematic album with the perfect beat for running and lifting weights.

5. Kings of Leon - The Bucket
One of my all time favourite songs! That intro always makes me speed up on the treadmill and want to sing my heart out. In fact the whole Aha Shake Heartbreak album is an epic gym soundtrack.

6. The Long Blondes - Someone To Drive You Home (album)
More angry girl music.

7. The Music - Get Through It
"Well come on, how do I get through it? Come on, put your back into it. Come on, something to believe in."

8. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Weapon of Choice & Whatever Happened To My Rock'n'Roll
Just a couple of my favourite songs!

9. The White Stripes - Fell In Love With A Girl
Short and snappy, ideal when you need that final energy boost for your last set!

I use an old iPod for the gym so there's not much "up to date" music on there I'm afraid. You've probably noticed most of the songs on this list are a few years old but I find that old favourites work best for me - the happy memories they bring give me another little boost! What works for me won't necessarily work for you (we all have different taste in music) but anything with a good rhythm and positive/motivational lyrics should do the trick. What music do you like to listen to in the gym?


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Twenty Three

River Island dress // H&M sandals // Primark necklace // Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses

On my actual birthday I went out for afternoon tea at the Buchan Braes with my family. It was a bit of a shambles and the portion size was slightly disappointing, but I enjoyed it all the same. Seeing my 2 week old nephew for only the 2nd time ever more than made up for it! I wore this maxi dress from River Island. It was the only one in the shop and it was love at first sight - it has such a pretty floral print and the design almost reminds me of a traditional Chinese dress. Luckily it was in my size so I snapped it up for my holiday wardrobe. I kept it casual for lunch with a denim jacket and flat sandals.

After lunch we headed back to my Mum and Dad's where I opened some pressies (love birthdays!) and relaxed in the sunshine. I was spoiled rotten by my family and especially by Gordon, who treated me to an Alexander McQueen scarf! I am one lucky (very grateful) lady!

No birthday would ever be complete without a birthday cake...

My mama treats me to one of these beauties every year! I'm not a big fan of traditional birthday cake so she orders a giant strawberry tart from a local baker and its always my favourite part of the day. Just look at it... Mmm...

Gordon and I headed home not long after to get ready for our evening plans, but look out for more on that later :)


Monday, 22 July 2013

Wake me up when it's all over...

...when I'm wiser, and I'm older...

If you follow me on twitter or instagram, you'll be well aware it was my birthday this weekend. I love birthdays and always use mine as an excuse for lots of partying and misbehaving. This year was no different. I've had a whole weekend of celebrations with my favourite people and it's been fantastical! My actual birthday was on Saturday (23, in case you're wondering) but I kicked it off on Friday with a girls night out.

Next jumpsuit // Eclectic Eccentricity necklace // Primark belt

Finally got round to wearing my jumpsuit! I've only had it for about 6 months ha. I wore it with a black and gold chain belt and a statement gold necklace - my favourite Eclectic Eccentricity one. My shoes are the studded strappy sandals from Primark but the jumpsuit hides them in every photo. I loved Lynne's summery maxi skirt! We started off at mine with a few Rekorderlig ciders (Have you tried the passion fruit flavour? Yum!) and polished off a bottle of Veuve Clicquot with strawberries before heading through to Aberdeen.

Our first stop was Paramount. It was absolutely heaving with students, you could barely move or get near the bar, so we didn't stay long. We had enough time to try the "Charlie Sheen" shots Amy had suggested. They're made up of vodka, champagne and red bull but weren't as disgusting as I thought they would be. The sugar softens the blow anyway. Next we headed to Dusk, which is officially my new favourite cocktail bar!

Dusk offers something to suit everyone's tastes with an extensive cocktail list. I went for a watermelon martini but the other 2 couldn't decide. We were served by a really nice, welcoming bartender who whipped up a "sweet and fruity" surprise for them - with the help of mine and Lynne's cocktail shaking skills! I love that he got us involved in making the drinks, it made it into more of an experience. I know it's only a little thing but hey, I'm easy pleased. Lynne ended up with a lemon concoction and Amy got some sort of passion fruit martini. They both tasted good but I'm not a big lemon fan so the passion fruit was the winner in my book.

As we were on the guestlist at Nox we only had time for the one drink at Dusk, which was a shame but I'll definitely be back with Gordon in tow. We headed down the road to Nox where we stayed for the rest of the night. This was my first time here and I really enjoyed it. Annoyingly they only serve cocktails on the ground floor, and not the first which is where we spent most of our time. We did nip down for a quick cosmo though, and had a laugh with the DJ and bar staff. They were good fun and very patient, putting up with drunk girls harassing them and stealing their hats! My Lulu Guinness lips clutch was our main photo prop for the night, I don't think I've ever duck-faced so much in my life haha.

We partied til 3am when my feet couldn't take any more and headed home to our much needed comfy beds. Despite feeling slightly rough the next day, I had a magic night and can't wait for the next one! Love my girls!

See the Nox website for guest list/table reservations. Photos marked "NOX" are from their facebook page.


Thursday, 11 July 2013

Health Kick - Update #4

It's about time I did an update on my "health kick" and where I'm at right now - it's been a while since my last one. Just before I went to Amsterdam I reached my body fat percentage goal and got under 20%. Needless to say that didn't last long. All thoughts of clean eating went clean out the window the minute we stepped off the plane and I've really struggled to get back into it since we got back. My BF% has fluctuated between 21 and 22% for a few weeks now, and I know that doesn't sound too bad but it's not where I want it to be. I've had so many birthdays, baby showers and other occasions lately to use as an excuse for not eating well but this last week has just been down to pure greed! I've gotten lazy as well and didn't go to my kettlebell or EPIC class last week. It's true what they say - the only workout you ever regret is the one you didn't do!

However, it's suddenly dawned on me that it's less than 2 weeks until my 23rd birthday and I had planned to be back under 20% by then! So with that, and the beautiful sunshine gracing us with its presence, I am officially motivated and back on it. I want to be able to go out to celebrate my birthday and actually feel good in what I'm wearing. I want to be able to go out in the sun in outfits like the one above, and not worry about my belly hanging over the top or my cellulite covered legs wobbling too much. As Gok would say, it's all about the confidence!

So step 1 is the "easy" part - exercise. I need to get myself back into a routine and make sure I'm doing at least 1 work out every day. For the 1st time in about a year I went running this week. I've never been a big running fan but when the sun appears I want to soak it up while I train, so running is the obvious choice. A good sports bra and a decent pair of running shoes are all you need, and the pavement is yours! I managed 6k in 35-36mins twice so far this week, which I'm quite pleased with!  I'm going to try and mix up my route and hopefully make it a bit longer over the next few weeks. Cycling is another exercise I enjoy in this weather. Again, I'm not a huge fan (I have weak legs!) but the idea of getting a tan while I'm at it is good motivation. Last night I spent a good 80 minutes weight training in the gym and really enjoyed it, so I'll try and keep that up too!

The hardest part for me is eating clean. I plan all my meals ahead and do a food shop once a week, stocking up on healthy fruit & veg, wholegrains and lean meats. I don't buy chocolate, biscuits, crisps or anything else unhealthy. I just won't have them in the house because if they're there they'll call my name from the kitchen cupboards and I'd devour the lot in seconds. So whats the problem? Work and socialising is the problem! Whenever I meet friends or family it usually involves some sort of food and, like I said, if it's in front of me I will eat it. I have zero willpower! Our kitchen at work seems to have a little chocolate fairy at the moment - somebody keeps restocking it with Cadbury's oreo chocolate and I keep eating it!

In an effort to stop this habit I'm taking loads of fruit to work so that I can fill myself up on that and not want the bad stuff. Gordon and I went for a drive at the weekend and ended up at Tesco, which was a nice change. We don't have one where we live so it was good to have a spy at all the different things they sell that my local Morrisons doesn't! I ended up buying passion fruits and lychees so they went down a treat! We also stopped at a local farm shop and got some fresh strawberries, raspberries and duck eggs. Having something a bit different than usual in the fridge definitely makes eating clean easier and more interesting! Smoothies have been whipped up a couple of times this week for my lunch and I've really enjoyed them. I've just been mixing a few fruits together with spinach and 0% fat Greek yoghurt. They're surprisingly filling, so easy to make and are topping up my intake of vitamins. Omelettes are a firm favourite at the moment as well - they're ideal for a post workout meal as they're so quick and easy to make and provide your body with some much needed muscle repairing protein!

What are your favourite ways to keep fit and healthy? If you know of any clean recipes or fitness blogs please send links my way, I'll be eternally grateful! Also, let me know if you enjoy my health and fitness posts - I'm not sure how often I should do them? For regular updates you can find me on instagram - @xchristybx


Sunday, 7 July 2013

99 Bar & Kitchen - Aberdeen

Next on our mission to find the best bars and restaurants in Aberdeen was Ninety-Nine Bar & Kitchen. A friend from work was telling me her daughter goes here for cocktails and she thought it would be my kind of place. Gordon's on nightshift at the moment so we barely see each other, we're like ships passing in the night. We've decided that every Saturday I get off (every 3rd weekend) will be date night, as it's also his only night off. It's a way to make sure we spend some proper time together, and this time we decided to visit 99 for lunch before we went to see This Is The End at the cinema!

The bar downstairs is a mixture of modern interior against stone walls, with worn out wooden flooring and mismatched vintage-looking furniture. The large windows let the sun stream in and shed some light on the otherwise dark and mysterious decor. Upstairs there is more of a shabby chic feel with what I would describe as a Granny carpet and more mismatched yet inviting furniture. The sound of Incubus playing in the background got Gordon's seal of approval straight away, and later they got mine when they switched to some classic Rolling Stones tunes!

New Look top // Primark blazer & necklace // River Island leather look jeans // Topshop shoes

We sat upstairs overlooking the bar and started, as usual, by ordering from the seasonal cocktail list. I had a "Garden Party" which was a vanilla vodka based drink and reminded me of some sort of sweetie from my childhood that I can't quite put my finger on! The food menu at 99 is short and simple. You can choose from various sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers and a small selection of sides. Gordon went for the 8oz Ultimate burger (what a surprise) which came piled high with bacon, cheese, pickles and onion rings and a side of yummy, creamy coleslaw. The hotdogs caught my attention and I really enjoyed the Chilli cheese dog. It was literally bigger than my face - and I have a massive head that I can't even fit a hat on! - and was basically a big messy, cheesy delight. Next time I'm going to sample the Mexicana or Pulled Pork version! And I wonder why my body fat percentage is creeping back up...

Garden Party
Chilli cheese hotdog
Ultimate burger

Once we'd finished our lunch we headed down the stairs for another drink. The staff were rushed off their feet and being hassled by a few impatient customers but we were happy to wait. They were clearly busy and doing their best to keep everyone happy in the busy bar, and we'd of happily stayed there all day! This time I treated myself to a champagne based Spring Fizz. They had run out of one of the ingredients but the friendly barman improvised and I was well impressed with the way you slowly start to taste the lemon sherbet sweeties as you drink the sparkling cocktail.

 Long Island Iced Tea
 Spring Fizz

You'll find 99 Bar & Kitchen at 1 Back Wynd, just off Union Street (the one before Belmont Street) and can stalk them on Facebook or Twitter. I can't seem to find an official website but you can see most of their menu here. We'll be back again soon - probably for some birthday cocktails in 2 weeks time! :)

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