Monday, 28 August 2017

Our First Experience as Race Marshals | Mintlaw Mudder 2017

Most couples spend their first wedding anniversary wining and dining on a romantic break for two. Not us, we spent ours trialling and marshalling a local obstacle race! (Okay, we did go out after). 

A small but perfectly formed local event, the Mintlaw Mudder race is in its second year. We were too late to get tickets (they sold out in just over 24 hours!) but still wanted to get involved and support the event. I'm forever moaning about the cost and travel that comes with entering obstacle races so with this one only 15 minutes from my front door, with an entry fee of just £20, I was keen to see it flourish!

We volunteered via Facebook, were added to a WhatsApp group and just like that we were part of the team! The marshalls were a collection of the event organisers, their friends and families, and local people who just love OCR. As total strangers we were welcomed with open arms and joined the squad on a 3-4 hour walk of the course a few weeks before race day. It was great to get an insight into how an event like this is organised and hear some of the wild ideas they had!

It really was a great course. We got to take part in the trial run the night before and loved it! Starting in Aden Park, into the pond and through "Jurassic Park" as I like to call it, then out to the Pitfour Estate, competitors waded through waist high mud before a dip in the lake. With Gordon's diving experience we were stationed at the Pitfour Plunge, me encouraging them in and Gordon waiting in the water in case anybody needed a helping hand! I made myself useful handing out Haribo and snapping pictures.

The usual cargo nets, tyres and ice baths featured but the organisers used the land and it's natural obstacles to their advantage. Climbing insanely steep hills, carrying rocks down and back up from the quarry, crawling through dirty tunnels and freezing your socks off in the cold stream, nettles nipping at your ankles. The route took us up to the observatory, where Drill Sarge Simpson awaited with sets of push ups, squats and burpees! Under the bridge and heading back towards Aden, there was another couple of miles to push through before the finale.

Finishers were piped in as they arrived, climbing up and down the inflatable before being pelted with water balloons as they tackled the slip n slide to the finish line. One of the most fun endings I've seen at an obstacle race - everyone finished with a smile on their face!

Local food and drink companies were out to support the event, with Ewan Morrice supplying the burgers, Rora Dairy whizzing up smoothies with their raspberry yoghurt and the Saplinbrae running a well classy bar for such a muddy event! Prossecco and Pimms were the star of the show, alongside Isle of Harris G&T's and local craft beers from Peterhead's up and coming Brew Toon.

The entire day was a big hit and I loved being a part of it. From start to finish, the organisers put in so much hard work into making the event the success it was - and all without profit, in their own free time! Finishers couldn't speak more highly of the event ("better than this year's Tough Mudder course") and the t-shirts went down a storm - they featured the names of each entrant around the MM logo on the back. I was delighted to be given my own as a thank you for volunteering!

If you've missed out on a space at an OCR or maybe you're injured and can't take part, I highly recommend volunteering. It was great to see the event from the other side, helping risk assess in the trial run, setting up, clearing up, and appreciating the blood, sweat and tears that go into the organisation. We met some lovely, friendly, community spirited folk who couldn't have made us feel more like part of the team. I hope to see Mintlaw Mudder back next year, even bigger and better, and I can't wait to get involved again!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

A to Z Dating | J is for Japanese at Yatai Izakaya

J is for Japanese!
Jazz / Jet Skiing / Jousting?! / (Bungee) Jumping

Not going to lie, I think this is one of my favourite alphabet dates yet! I've been dying to visit Yatai Izakaya for so long, and the letter J was the perfect excuse. Yatai is a fab independent Japanese eatery in the centre of Aberdeen, tucked away next to Orchid on Langstane Place. The fact that it coincided with our first wedding anniversary just sealed the deal.

A toast to our first year of married life - a light and fruity prosecco for me and Yatai's very own beer, made with a little help from local brewers Six Degrees North. He tried both the Yuzu wheat beer and the Buddha IPA, which was his favourite. It's brewed with Buddha's Hand - the same Asian citrus fruit used in Porter's gin!

At Yatai they offer something known as Omakase. It's an authentic Japanese style of dining where you set the price, let them know your likes and dislikes, and the Yatai team will bring you a selection of dishes to share. The entire menu is designed for sharing but this is a great way to try something new that you maybe wouldn't choose yourself. If you're new to Yatai I'd definitely go omakase!

We set our budget at £40 per person, with no idea how much food to expect for this. I'd say it was the right amount - dish after dish just kept appearing at our table! First up was the pork belly skewers with mustard miso. What a way to start, we were hooked!

Gordon was wary of the sushi but after a chat with owner Nadine he decided he'd give it a go, minus the raw fish! We enjoyed a whole table full of makizushi - he's officially a sushi fan! The soft shell crab was the one for me, and we certainly enjoyed a kick from the wasabi paste on the side. 

Two rounds of dumplings made their way to our table - a steamed beef version and my personal favourite, the deep fried spicy pork. Yatai actually grow all their own herbs and salad leaves, and make the most of the freshest seasonal products on their specials board.

The tempura prawn was good but I can't say I'd order it again. One dish I didn't expect to be blown away by was the deep fried soy and ginger chicken. Oh how wrong was I? It was perfectly crispy and so full of flavour!

They saved the best for last and I was struggling by this point. Tender beef strips cooked medium rare, served with caramelised onion and a plate of the most fantastic black pepper teriyaki pork ribs. I only managed one rib, he demolished the other three!

Full as I was, dessert still tempted me. A choice of sorbets or chocolate truffles were a perfectly light but sweet way to finish. We opted for the rhubarb and elderflower sorbet over the black sesame seed. It was delicious and combined with the sweet dark chocolate of the berry truffles it reminded me of the vegan raspberry torte and sorbet from our wedding day. How very fitting for our anniversary meal.

It was a tough decision between a post dinner lie down or drinks, but Orchid won! Luckily we only had to roll next door to enjoy an evening of cocktails, live music and dancing. Just like our wedding night! 

Yatai Izakaya is officially my new favourite restaurant. It was hands down one of the best meals I've had in the Granite City, and I can't wait to return!

Friday, 11 August 2017

A Month in my Shoes | July 2017


I've been working on increasing my run distance this month. With less than a month til my first ever half marathon I'm now up to just over 6 miles. I haven't been out as much as I'd like - rain just isn't for me! Give me sunshine and shorts any day.
I tried a Fatburn Extreme class which was fun but not something I can see myself doing regularly. I liked the training method, just not the vibe from the class. I'll stick to Metapower!

One Saturday I decided to test out fitting in a workout into my lunch break. It worked quite well - the gym is literally a 2 minute walk from work so there's no excuse! I got changed at work, power walked to the gym, spent 30 minutes training upper body, jumped in and out the shower and was back at work with 15 minutes to spare for actual eating time. Something I'll definitely do again!
We also took Harley along on a 12k walk of the Mintlaw Mudder route - with gin-stop at the Saplinbrae - which we volunteered to marshall at in August!

End of July stats: 35.4% body fat, 6.10.0st muscle - not good!


Orange is the New Black - Was that really this month? Feels like ages ago - we binge watched the series in a week. I won't go into detail but the riot makes this the best season yet. If you couldn't get into season 1, just skip it. The last 2 seasons are less about whingy Piper and so much better!


Lonely Planet's Best of Thailand - Gordon got me this for my birthday and it's been fueling my wanderlust nightly! It's separated by city/island and full of tips on must see temples, places to eat and the best bars and beaches in each destination. Speaking of Thailand tips - please send yours my way!

Where I've Been

We've spent a bit more time at home this month, recovering from last months adventures/expenses! It's given us the chance to get some jobs done around the house and garden though. We finally have a number on our front door - it's only been 8 months since we bought the mosaic tiles in Spain!

 When we did venture out we enjoyed anchor hunting, visiting Footdee for the first time, eating at Pan Asia, The Pier and new vegan cafe Bonobo. Plus the street food pop up at So..! We celebrated my 27th birthday as well as my nephew's 4th, and picked up some culinary skills at Pallavi's Indian Cooking class for our latest alphabet date!

How was July for you?

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Our Wedding Day | with JM Style

This time last year we were newlyweds, celebrating our marriage on the dancefloor with all our favourite people. I can't believe a year has passed already. It's been a fun filled year of travels, munro bagging, obstacle racing, alphabet dating and a lot of eating. While I'd of loved to celebrate our first anniversary with a little try on of the dress, there's no way in hell it'd fit! Instead, I thought I'd share our official wedding photos, courtesy of JM Style. Something which I haven't done too much of on here thus far!

I knew I wanted Jules to photograph our wedding from the minute we were engaged. Her images are beautiful and she did a fabulous job of capturing our day. She's 100% professional and was a great help on the day with her abundance of wedding experience. If you're on the look out for a photographer in Aberdeen or shire I highly recommend JM Style!

You'll find a full list of suppliers (and links) at the end of this post.

Getting Ready

I spent the morning (and the night before!) at my parents house getting ready for the big day. Everything started early, with hair and make-up kicking off around 8am. There were 5 of us to fit in so it had to be done. Everyone commented on how chilled I seemed during the getting ready process but to be honest I don't think it had sunk in yet. I was just enjoying a relaxed morning with my family and best friends. Dad made breakfast wraps and we went through copious amounts of tea.

The bouquets and buttonholes were delivered to the house in the morning so they were nice and fresh for the day ahead. I was so in love with the sunflowers and thistles in our flowers. Gordon had also arranged for a bunch of flowers to be delivered to both me and my mum in the morning which was a lovely surprise!

I'd bought gifts for my parents and bridesmaids as a thank you for all their help and support during the planning process so we opened them together in the morning and then toasted the day with a glass of bucks fizz - I was worried about getting too drunk too quick if we cracked open the champagne!

The nerves didn't kick in until the very last minute when I was getting buttoned up into my dress. My 3 year old nephew had a sneak peek and told me I was beautiful though, so I knew it was all good! ;)

The Boys

Meanwhile, Gordon had arrived at the venue with his Dad and two best men. Yes, two best men - both called Chris! They'd had a stressful morning after realising they didn't have enough cufflinks and trying to get their shoelaces to stay up around their ankles. Luckily the "Aberdeen Airport" Facebook check in was only a joke! I'd left them with a couple of last minute jobs at the venue which I hoped kept them occupied.

The Ceremony

Our ceremony was kept short and sweet, and to be honest it passed in a blur. Chris read a poem which we'd found online, we exchanged vows and rings and then moved to a side room with the bridal party to sign the register and make it all official. We then moved back to the grand hall where we performed a Scottish Quaich ceremony - where the bride and groom share their first drink as man and wife from a two handled silver cup - to really seal the deal. Meanwhile my auntie had somehow managed to lock herself outside which still makes us laugh today!

To avoid having nothing but mobile phones in the pictures, we opted for an "unplugged" wedding - meaning only Jules was allowed to photograph the ceremomy. I do wish we'd had a video of the day now as it's parts like this I barely remember. Everybody tells you it goes by so quick but you never really understand until it's all over. If you're unsure about a video, my advice is just do it. It's better to have one and hate it, than not to have one and regret it! Looking back, it's the only decision I'd change.

The Reception

We were so lucky with the weather. Our guests enjoyed bellinis and aperol spritz in the sunshine while we had our family portraits snapped. We'd kept our list of photos short and sweet as I much prefer candid shots and we didn't want it to take up the whole afternoon. We had a good laugh trying to get some bubble shots which didn't quite go to plan, and everyone was just able to mingle and enjoy the afternoon. 

Eventually our guests moved down to the yurt where our dinner and evening dance was being held. Whilst they tucked into some canapes and made full use of the 10 Dollar Shake bar, we were able to have our own photos taken privately with Jules. Our venue has a beautiful garden and we took full advantage of the little wooden swing we'd found in the trees!

Crimonmogate estate is actually a family home, owned by Viscount Petersham and his wife (former Chanel model and sculptress) Candida Stanhope. Our host invited us back in to enjoy a bottle of champagne on them in the drawing room. It was nice to have a moment completely alone. A couple of glasses later and I was fully relaxed and twirling away for photos!

Before we knew it, it was almost time for dinner! We made our way down to the yurt, champagne in hand, to be met with a cocktail for me, whiskey for him and a tray of canapes awaiting our arrival! What can I say we were well looked after. I almost feel like we missed out on a big part of the day as our guests were pretty tipsy too by the time we arrived. I'd recommend trying to keep your photo time to a minimum, although we did enjoy having ours taken and it was the only time we were completely together without distraction! 

The Details

We decorated the entire venue ourselves, with the exception of the flowers and the fairy lights which came with the yurt. With the help of my family and the bridal party I reckon we did a decent job. Lots of paint, stress and tears went into it! Laura was our resident chalkboard artist and did an amazing job - especially that New York skyline! As we got engaged in New York we kept to the theme; using landmarks and our holiday photos as table names, having the skyline on all our stationary and even the cake. Our table plan was a map of Manhattan! 

The bikes belong to Mum and Laura, and we used the baskets to hold our bouquets during the reception. We picked up lots of little crafty bits from Home Bargains, Hobbycraft and the Range, including the mini chalkboard easels, "Just Married" banner and the "love" cake topper. We donated money to a mental health charity in lieu of favours, giving each of our day guests a SAMH pin but my Mum baked literally hundreds of pieces of shortbread which we wrapped up and sealed with our very own C&G stamp!

For our centre pieces I bought heart shaped slate place mats and hurricane candle jars from the Range. I used Photobox to order polaroid style prints for table names, and hung some around the yurt like bunting, as a little timeline of our relationship. We collected empty Porters gin and various whiskey bottles for the flowers from friends and family - a great excuse for Gordon to enjoy a dram or two in the lead up to the big day!

Speeches from my Dad, Gordon and his best man (other Chris) had us crying tears of laughter, nostalgia and happiness all at once. We did film these which I'm really glad about. After the typical toasts to the happy couple and absent loved ones, it was time to eat! Our meal was epic but I won't go on - you can read about it here instead!

The Evening

Soon enough it was time for our evening guests to arrive. As the hall in Crimonmogate was fairly small we'd had a very intimate ceremony with only immediate family and our four closest friends, who were all in the bridal party! In the evening the rest of our loved ones arrived - work mates, gym mates, diving buddies, extended family and family friends, all our favourite people! We would have loved to have them celebrate the whole day with us but there just wasn't space. The cake cutting was left til they arrived so it was one more part of the day we could share with them.

Dance Magic Dance

The final "official" part of the day was the first dance. I just wanted to get it over and done with - I didn't want to be alone on the dancefloor a second longer than necessary! Gordon's cousin performed our first couple of songs before passing the mic to Wonderland - a fab wedding band who had the dancefloor filled all night, stopping only for the hotdog break! I wrote more about our wedding music here

Best Day Ever.

The evening ended with me in my brother's socks to rest my weary dancing feet! It was a day of love, laughter and pure happiness and I never wanted it to end. I am so lucky to have a fantastic group of friends and my wonderful family who made our big day what it was. Not to mention my strong, handsome and supportive best friend - my husband, Gordon.


Photographer: JM Style (all images in this post are by Jules)
Venue: Crimonmogate, Aberdeenshire
The Dress: Maggie Sottero from Brides Delight, Aberdeen
Bridesmaid Dresses: Little Mistress
Kilts: Georgian Dress Hire, Aberdeen
Rings: Rox and Tiffany & Co
Flowers: Blue Orchid, Peterhead
Hair: Emma Taylor at Room 7, Peterhead
Make-up: Jade Gourlay MUA
Band: Wonderland
Catering: Eat Beetroot (now Salt & Sauce)
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