Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Back to Forvie Nature Reserve with the pups! - Beware! Cuteness abounds!

I decided to go back to Forvie National Nature Reserve today to see how the dogs liked it. I think it was hard on Angel because she's accustomed to being allowed off lead in nature areas, but there is a part of the Dune Trail that you must keep dogs on lead due to nesting. I think it was hard on Frog because it was a long walk, and it was pretty warm. French bulldogs don't really appreciate either of those factors. I didn't get as many pictures of Angel today. She was pretty busy throughout the walk. The Dune Trail is marked in blue dots below. It's about 3.2 mi.

From: http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/designatedareas/Forvie.pdf
Got there during low tide today!





Check out the video of Frog and Angel having fun! I love it! Angel is so silly.


I think this might be a mauve stinger.


Oh Frog... you can do it!


Stopping for a break!
I know I often post lots of pictures of my dogs; I just don't often have anybody else to be in my pictures especially during the week when people are working. No bother though. Dogs are cute. :o)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Scottie Dog Quilt - Celebrating New Places

My grandma made this for me. I think it is so cute! She wanted to make me something "Scottish" for my house, and she knows that I love dogs so... what better than a Scottie dog quilt! She is very talented, and she makes such fun and interesting blankets for our family.


What are some of your favorite items that you've acquired to celebrate your new home?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Forvie National Nature Reserve - Sand Dune Trail

This walk was lovely. Parking is free. We went Saturday afternoon. I'd love to go back. We followed the Dune Trail which was about 3 miles through estuary shoreline, sand dunes, and the beach. If you go, keep following the beach; you will eventually get to another trail sign. Don't worry! We got to see lots of different birds, and we even saw some seals! Well, the seals were actually black dots to us, but they were moving so we knew they weren't rocks. Here is a link providing more information about the reserve.





Those black dots are seals. FYI






I found a friend. Don't worry, he was returned safely to his other friends.
Look! Thistle!

So many people don't realize how prickly thistle is... it hurts!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Countesswells Forest Walk

I had to get out of the house. I also needed to take the dogs walking. My problem though, is that Frog's nails are peeling from scraping the granite and concrete. I thought about leaving him at home this time, but as I stared at his cute little face, I couldn't do it. Instead, I loaded them both into the car and took them to Countesswells (use post code AB15 8QD to get there with your NAV). I've never been out there before today. I've been to Foggieton which is in the same area, but I haven't been on this particular part of the walk. I thought an hour would be plenty of time for Frog so I just paid the £1 for that amount of time. It's £1.50 for 3 hours. Glad I only paid for the hour. Frog was dragging his feet for the last 25 minutes. Angel and I kept having to stop to wait on him. Poor dog. He was determined to walk at the pace of a turtle...literally. Anyway, the walk was nice and easy. We did the shorter (yellow) path and just walked it twice. I love the walks here. Even in the simplest places, I find that nature presents itself in a beautiful way. Maybe it's the way the sun rays pierce through the trees, or the way the insects flutter through the rays like glitter falling in a globe. Maybe it's that chill you get as you dip into a low area or the way your ears are alert to every sound echoing off the trees. Whatever it is, being surrounded by nature is so energizing and uplifting.


Frog running to catch up


This time the dogs got way ahead of me!

I know what you are thinking... and yes, they are that cute in person... also, yes I was holding a treat hostage
And at the end of the day, movie night and snuggle bugs are a great way to relax! Enjoy your weekend and remember to smile! If you can't remember, just look at that picture above. :o)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What is a haar?

A "haar" is what locals on the east coast of Scotland call sea fog. It gets really thick and you can't see a thing! It is typically pretty chilly, and you can see it rolling across the ocean onto land.

Photo from: http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/balnagask/

I was thinking of that tonight because we are currently covered in very thick fog and mist. I lost sight of Angel a couple of times tonight in the park!



Sorry they are blurry. It was hard to get the camera to focus in all that mess!






Just for Fun:  These flowers are so pretty. I got peonies and "stocks", and they smell so good!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pubs in Aberdeen - Beer, Wine, Whisky, and History

Seriously, I'm getting cabin fever. Due to severe allergies and a new tattoo, I'm basically stuck at home. I don't want to go out to eat or for coffee because I'm constantly coughing. I've been coughing so much that I've pulled one of my obliques! Because of the new tattoo, I can't exercise much. Increased blood flow and sweating will cause you to bleed out the ink. :(  So, I've also had to miss out on Kung Fu. Anyway, I've been planning the Happy Hour meetups for the AWA, and that got me thinking about this post. I'd like to post some of my favorite pubs. Now, keep in mind that one experience may not be the same as another, but if you are looking for a place to go, here's a start.

  • Six°North - This is a craft brewery that has recently opened in Aberdeen. They offer a few food items such as meat platters, stews, beer soup, baguettes, and other typical pub snacks. Upon entering you will find an open floor plan with tables in the front, bar area, and upstairs. A black board near the bar displays the week's tap list consisting of about 20 different beers and ales on draught. If you want a relaxed atmosphere with an excellent selection of brews that constantly keep you in a state of indecision, stop by for a beer.... or three.
  • Ma Cameron's - "The snug bar at the front of this popular city-centre pub is the oldest in Aberdeen, dating back 300 years, and the warren of adjoining rooms makes it one of the most cosy and atmospheric. Full of nooks and crannies - not to mention the rooftop beer garden (aka 'Aberdeen's best-kept secret') - it appeals to a mixed crowd, from mothers with pushchairs to live music fans, parties, real-ale drinkers and football supporters. Sitting in this friendly bar with your Belhaven Best, Belhaven IPA or Belhaven Black feels like you're part of an ancient Aberdonian tradition, going back to the original Amelia 'Ma' Cameron who took over the business in 1937 and back further to its days as a coaching inn. Here you can meet friends, make new ones or tuck into the pub-food classics like generations before you."
  • The Archibald Simpson -  "Dubbed the Architect of Aberdeen, Archibald Simpson designed several important buildings in his native city. His masterpiece is the former bank, which is now this pub which bears his name. Open daily this pub serves a selection of beer, ciders, wines and spirits, and is even included in the Good Beer Guide.
  •  O'Neill's in Aberdeen - "You'll always find a warm welcome at O'Neill's Aberdeen. Ours is a place where you're free to go with the flow. Where great food and drink is always served with a smile. And where, no matter whether you're a regular or a newcomer, our friendly team will make you feel at home. Plus there's the O'Neill's Live Music Festival - from 29th June to 26th August 2013, where each O'Neill's pub will be staging its own weekend-long festival with at least four live acts a day and so much more besides. Come and join us on our festival weekend Saturday 3rd August and Sunday 4th August."
  • The Grill - "THE GRILL, an unlikely name for a bar, and yet in Aberdeen it is synonymous with all that is best about Scotland’s family-owned traditional pubs. Originally established as a restaurant in 1870 from whence it takes its name, and converted to a pub some time later, it has remained virtually unchanged since 1926, making it one of Aberdeen’s oldest pubs.  In their listing of pub interiors of outstanding historic interest, CAMRA included The Grill as the only Scottish entry north of Dundee. Many generations of resident and returning Aberdonians have quenched their thirst in its comfortable and congenial atmosphere. "
  • The Queen Vic - "The Queen Vic boasts a great atmosphere, great crowd, non-stop entertainment, and a large selection of drinks. In fact, it even has its own ale called Rabbies. It always shows the latest sporting events, and is renowned for the Monday night pub quiz. The Queen Vic now serves tea and coffee all day, now including delicious caramel lattes. Free Wi-Fi is also available. As well as being a fantastic venue to go for a quick pint, read the paper or socialise with friends, The Queen Vic is also available for private parties. " 
  • No. 1 Bar/Grill - "Set in the heart of Aberdeen’s west end, No1 offers fine food in a relaxed informal atmosphere. Here at No1 we strive to use the best of seasonal Scottish produce where ever possible as we believe it is some of the very best in the world. We work closely with a number of local artisan suppliers to bring our guest locally sourced, interesting and varied dishes centred around a Scottish style of cuisine. With regularly changing menus, an exceptional wine list, stylish d├ęcor and warm, friendly staff no1 is a great place to meet whether it be coffee and a bacon roll in the morning, a quick business lunch or a three course evening meal. "
  • The Dutch Mill -  "The Dutch Mill is a family run Hotel ideally located in the West End of the City. The Hotel has ample car parking. We serve a full Scottish breakfast. Highly acclaimed bar lunches and suppers. Excellent evening atmosphere in the bar where our big screens show many sporting events."
  • BrewDog - "
    Previously known as the 'Marischal', we redecorated this dilapidated bar in the one way BrewDog knows best - with a sledgehammer.
    Nowadays the bar's deconstructed interior isn't just home to some of the most alternative and knowledgeable craft beer bar staff this side of the Atlantic but also a rotation of one hundred or so BrewDog favourites and guest beers from the likes of Mikkeller,Stone, Nonge O and Three Floyds.
    - See more at: http://www.brewdog.com/bars/aberdeen#sthash.3iubg91c.dpuf
    Previously known as the 'Marischal', we redecorated this dilapidated bar in the one way BrewDog knows Best - With a sledgehammer. Nowadays the bar's deconstructed interior isn't just home to some of the most alternative and knowledgeable craft beer bar staff this side of the Atlantic but also a rotation of one hundred or so BrewDog favourites and guest beers from the likes of Mikkeller, Stone, Nonge O, and Three Floyds."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What's Going On This Weekend in Scotland?

I thought searching the internet was something everybody could do, but I've learned by watching others, that it IS actually a skill. Not everybody knows how to search properly to get the results they want. So, I'm going to make it easy on you this week. You are looking for something to do aren't you? Here is a short list of things (Links provided give more info including dates) going on in and around Aberdeen over the next few days (Info from Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland):

  • Dallas Dhu Guided Tours - Get an in depth understanding of the distillation process and history of the Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery
  • Hands on History - Get hands-on with objects from Urquhart Castle
  • The Prisoners of Duff House - Meet a Scottish soldier and find out about the events leading up to the WWII bombing of the house by the German airforce.
  • Scottish Dancing at Huntly Castle - Traditional highland dancing demonstration
  • Giants in the Forest - "Giants in the Forest' is a UK wide project that combines art, technology and the natural environment, to inspire creative activity. Giant organic heads have been constructed, seeded and suspended in forests across Scotland, England and Wales. Here, they will hang; growing and changing with the seasons." For more info: www.giantsintheforest.com
Well, I think that is a good enough list to get you started, eh?  Enjoy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Looking Back - Packing for an Expat Life

Now that I've been through all of the seasons here, I've been thinking about when I first started packing. I can't really think of too much that I wish I had brought, except that I wish I had done some more winter shopping. I wish I had bought some good wellies and other styles of boots. I wish that I had bought some different coats before coming here. Since moving to Aberdeen, I have used so many different coats. Sometimes it's nice to have a heavy jacket that is waterproof. For evenings out, it's nice to have a heavy coat that just looks... well, nice, like a peacoat. However, during the summer, the peacoat is too hot and so is the heavy coat. That's when I like having a cotton trench coat. Actually, I'd quiet like a leather jacket as well. The weather is so unpredictable here that various coats and shoes are a convenient thing to have. I know that now.

I should have looked into the types of outdoor activities here. I would have gotten hiking/walking shoes. I would have brought a sleeping pad, waterproof trousers, and more shirts that I could layer.

I'm glad I brought:
  • Lots of extra sheets and blankets
  • Lots of soaps and shampoos because it gave me time to find what I like here
  • Board games
  • Extra medicine, especially prescription, as it has taken me a while to figure all of that out 
  • Spices that I like
  • Cookbooks
  • Rugs
  • Little trashcans
  • Extra contacts and other toiletries
  • Our own bed
  • Books

What I Could Have Left
Why? Whhyyyyy did I bring so many short-sleeved shirts? Seriously, I could have brought just one drawer of these and been fine. I wish I had brought fewer coffee cups because I collect them and now I'm running out of room to add more as I travel. The XBOX... I should have just left it. I ended up buying a new one here because of the issues. Just don't bring your gaming consoles. Buy one here. Why did I pack so many pajama pants (trousers)? Oh man... and my DVD's!! I brought so many, and do you know... all we do is watch Netflix? We've been here for 8 months now and still haven't felt the need to buy a DVD player. *Sighs* And why did we pack all of those little things like tiny boxes, 50 million koozies, business cards, old wallets, and the rest of that stuff you throw in the top drawer of your dresser? I know.. you are laughing because I bet you did it too. Steve's infamous words are brought to my mind, "But I might need it!"

I suppose it varies for each person.  How about you?


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Allergies - What can you do? Does honey help?


I hate having allergies. The grass is killing me. I'm on tablets and nose spray. I've decided that Loratadine is a joke, and Benadryl is a necessary evil. Benadryl makes a 24 hour tablet now. One day I was fine with it. The next day, today, I caved to the drowsiness and slept on the couch with the dogs for 3 hours! As for the nose spray, fluticasone propionate seems to do the trick.

The website, http://www.zirtek.co.uk/hayfever/helpful_hints  suggests:
  • Keep your windows closed in the early morning and late afternoon, when the pollen tends to rise
  • During the pollen season drive with your car windows shut and fit an effective pollen filter
  • Avoid mowing the lawn
  • Wear sunglasses to help prevent eye irritation
  • Shower and change when you get home as pollen can cling to your clothing and hair
  • Dry your washing indoors
  • Choose plants that are insect pollinated
  • Avoid things that will make your symptoms worse, such as smoke and other forms of air pollution
There are lots of wives' tales surrounding allergies as well. The one we've heard the most is that eating local honey will help you to slowly build immunity to seasonal allergies. This is actually not true. First, let me tell you that Steve has been eating a spoonful of honey in his oatmeal 5 days a week every day all summer and his allergies are just as bad as mine (I have not had the honey). Second, research has shown that there is no difference between groups of people taking the spoonful of honey (local or otherwise) and groups taking a placebo. Researchers also note that most allergies are triggered by pollen spread via wind, not pollen spread by insects.

Source: 
O'Connor, Anahad. 2011. Eating Local Honey Cures Allergies. NY TImes. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/10/health/10really.html?_r=0

However, let me point out that some studies have documented bees pollinating plants typically wind-pollinated. Schmidt and Bothma (2005) documented bee pollination in sorghum and refer to other studies that have shown that some bees are known to collect pollen from 21 different grass species (Immelman and Eardley 2000).

Schmidt, MR and G. Bothma. 2000. Indications of Bee Pollination in Sorghum and its Implications in Transgenic Biosafety. ISMN  46:72-75.

Immelman K and Eardly C. 2000. Gathering of grass pollen by solitary bees (Halictidae, Lipotriches) in South Africa. Mitteilung des Museums fur Naturkunde Berlin, Zoologische Reigh 76:263-268.

So, take it for what you will. There's my little bit of science for you this week. No doubt, many of you did not even read this far. :o)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pictures of some of my favorite people in some of my favorite places

I didn't want to flood you with pictures so I just added a few of my favorites. It was hard to pick!

You'll have to enlarge this one to see it. I asked Steve to label the dog bowls for our friends to know which bowl was for which dog, Frog and Angel.

We are all looking at Steve annoyed because he kept taking a stream of pictures before we were actually ready! LOL

St. Andrew's Cathedral Ruins

Coming through the gate from the tower!






Linlithgow jousting tournament




Steve got his ice cream

Mom is going to kill me for posting this one instead of the "good" one... but I think this picture is PERFECT.. haha



Chloe fell asleep on the bus after our long road trip!

Eating fish and chips!

At O'Neill's Pub

At The Bread Maker

Eating at The Pitstop, the cafe built on a bus!
 
Visiting Loanhead of Daviot Stone Circle
 

Slains Castle and the Bullers of Buchan walk
 



Another one you should click on to enlarge!


Goldfish have a different name here...

Balvenie Castle


Little doorways




Elgin Cathedral

Fun Beach in Aberdeen