Going Solo, Aberystwyth

(Don’t forget to check out my website – Velvetspice.me !!)

There’s a strange sort of freedom to travelling by yourself

Don’t get me wrong, having a companion with you has its benefits. Besides from having a partner in crime for your adventures, it’s always fun to have someone share in your experiences

But for some reason I didn’t care about any of this on my trip to Wales.

I was completely content with my own company

And beside, I couldn’t possibly get bored when all the toilet breaks were mine and there was no argument over where to have lunch

And I got to experience the curious challenge of taking meaningful photos of myself with just the timer on my camera…

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In all seriousness though, I recommend travelling alone as a must for any willing traveller

It offers some truly unique experiences and can completely change your trip… in ways I hadn’t even imagined.

With no one to talk to you can appreciate more

Aberystwyth has a great deal to appreciate. The pier seemed like a good start, considering I was staying with my sister who lives about 2 minutes’ walk from the sea

And at 9am, with no tourists around and the locals at work, walking along the beach was probably one of my highlights of the trip.

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Just beyond the beach lay a grassy mountain, sloped at one side and a cliff at the other.

As I drew closer I spotted a sign with ‘DANGER’ printed on it. ‘UNSTABLE CLIFF,’ it read

And so of course..

…I climbed it

So while I definitely insist you all try travelling by yourselves – I do NOT condone this erratic and arguably idiotic behaviour.

If at any point during a trip you have even a single doubt about your safety and, more importantly, sanity – ABORT. I REPEAT, ABORT

That being said, I did get some spectacular views

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Although this hill was so fun to climb and held breathtaking views… it was also the strangest hill I’ve ever encountered

Located at the edge of the countryside, after either a long(ish) walk or ridiculously dangerous cliff-climb, the top of the hill is home to..

…a bowling alley..

…and a camera obscura..

…and a bouncy castle

It was honestly the most confused I have been in my life.

And all around me, happy families looking at this sweating girl who just clambered over the cliff from seemingly no where

Whatever the case, a great spot for a coffee and rest.

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After a pleasant descent (down the sloping path, I’m happy to say) past a number of wild berries and the tram which travels up and down the hill each day, I found the seafront to be a bit busier.

And I was a lot hungrier.

However, I wanted to make the most out of my single day in Aber, so I decided to wait for lunch and instead have a coffee.

Coffee #1 is a cafe chain across Wales and South-East England – as a Scot, I had never visited before

To describe it in one sentence; the homeliness of Tinderbox with more variation than most contemporary cafes.

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Back at the pier afterward, and it’s busier still

Instead of walking by the water, I’m off the beach and heading along the wall. At the other end of the bay lies a ruined castle, offset by a tall war memorial statue.

The view from here is different, but equally nice.

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The castle looks out toward the sea again, but to the south you can see the land mass curl back in on itself as it connects to another bay.

The castle has been reduced to a lone tower, a collection of broken stone and a small segment where you can almost make out something resembling a room.

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On my walk back to the town center I took a walk through the buildings, passing the children’s park, the university, a number of restaurants and hotels until I found myself back where I started.

By this point, I was ridiculously hungry, but looking around all I saw where some pretty pricey restaurants

#treatyoself

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Oysters with lemon and Tabasco..

Oh yes please..

After an ice-cream on the beach (who knew pistachio with summer berry tasted exactly like a Bakewell tart?) I went in search of more adventure

And after a brief fallout with Google Maps which took me up a giant hill and into someone’s garden… I finally made it to the National Park

Access to the golf course, a distant view of the sea, a surprisingly dense forest; who’d have thought you can find all of this in one small town

Aberystwyth is basically a Tardis

I met my sister after work and we sat by the ocean together for a while. The waves were coming in much faster now23998481_1752761234796023_1251085386_o (1)

And after all of that, I wanting nothing more than to go relax

Until next time, Wales.

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The Horizontal Slide…

I did it!!!

I set up my own website, finally!

It’s the little things, really.

For years now, I’ve been creating and editing night after night after night… to be perfectly honest, for a while there I was sure nothing would come of it.

And then, last week, I realised there was nothing left to edit.

And so, I’ve finally published a site. Well, a beta for the main site – but hey!

Progress is progress!!

22243914_1688642654541215_493749295_oThe first post is based around the rise of stress in my life and how I’ve coped with it.

Well, ‘cope’ is a subjective term.

How I’ve ‘pushed it to the back of my mind and decided to spend all my time eating and backing instead’ is more truthful.

The second post, published just today, centres around how to spend an entire day in Glasgow’s city centre without spending a single penny.

Yep, that’s me!

Cheapest foodie in the whole of Scotland.

And now, you can be too!22426041_1695410313864449_1661871855_o.jpg

So, if you’re a fan of my posts and want to see more, please follow my link!!

It also ties in to some university work I’m currently carrying out… so your views can literally help me get a degree. My future is in your hands.

Of course, I’ll still be posting here, but my beta site will decide what’s going to happen later.

Give it a look, don’t be afraid to comment and let me know what you think – I’ll see you all next time!

 

 

Stress Baking

 

Stress baking has led to stress eating and I hate myself

Far too many things have stressed me out these past months. This has led to panic-baking and subsequent eating – no, devouring. What follows is the inevitable self loathing, as I cram stale cake into my mouth and realise with a shock it is July and my body is definitely not ready for summer.

So, of course, I bake again.

Maybe it was the horrible winter that still hasn’t left Scotland yet, even in July, that had me down. Or perhaps the two large spiders I’ve lost in my room (I sleep with my eyes open and 3 cans of bug spray beside me now). It seems wherever I look I get more stressed.

Even as I write this, I see one of my fish has died. I can’t even take it out the tank because the other fish are eating it now. I would probably call them monsters or animals or something, but then I remember how I ate that apple pie last night…

I received news last week that my sister was having a bake sale. I could almost feel the blood vessel burst in my eye as I filled with joy.

I could cook to my heart’s content – and have a reason to NOT eat.

And then… my body took over.

19691542_1576303089108506_494738668_nAfter being told to bake a single, solitary cake, I had blacked out and woke up 8 hours later with 24 cupcakes, a tray of chocolate bark and a triple layered chocolate drip cake.

Alright, I’m being dramatic. I didn’t black out, I knew what I was doing.

It’s like an addiction, or when you promise yourself you’ll only have one biscuit from the packet. Somehow I just kept going. I would finish one and then immediately start the other without thinking. I don’t know where the voice in my head that tells me when to stop went. Although, to be honest, with my appetite recently I had probably eaten it.

The kitchen was a bombsite and I was so covered in a mixture of flour, icing and chocolate that I resembled my creations – but there they were. I won’t lie, I was proud. I had even gotten a little experimental, adding lemon cream into the centre of the cupcakes and trying a marble glaze on the chocolate cake.

19578500_1576303129108502_185999971_nIt was as though all the stress had built up inside me and eventually manifested into a giant cake that exploded into my kitchen. Whatever had happened, I felt less stressed out.

I’m not sure what happens when I bake. Usually, if I’m stressed or anxious, I feel guilty doing anything. During exams, I would feel ridiculously guilty in any break, not matter how small. But baking, for some reason, is different.

It’s fun, I can experiment, it has a logical step-by-step process I can follow without it being too strict – baking just does it for me. Also I get to eat.

Which is always a bonus.

Except during Summer.

Damn.

Whatever. To quote my girl Taylor, “haters gonna hate.” And there’s always next year.

 

 

Velvet Spice

Clean Eating: Make it Fun

Eating clean is by far one of the hardest things to do.

If you aren’t munching through something green or exercising non-stop, you feel like you’re failing.

So after years of this, I’ve decided to give it another go while tracking the food element on my blog.

And it isn’t easy.

I hate this.

That being said, I actually found plenty of fun ways to eat clean. I’ve been experimenting with alternatives to certain foods, working meal by meal throughout my day…

 

Breakfast

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A ‘Hearty’ Breakfast… I’m sorry

The most important meal of the day, many people decide to skip this while dieting. I won’t lie, I was half-tempted as well, but long term there were more setbacks than benefits.

Instead, I opted for fun breakfasts. You see, I realised that eating food was about more than the goal, but the journey. By making my food more fun, like my ‘hearty’ egg and toast, I enjoyed eating it more.

And I didn’t have to cut a lot of food out of my diet, but ate less of it. That way I was still finding pleasure in my food.

Lunch

A big part of my lunch-time struggle came from not knowing what to eat. I would look in the fridge for about 20 minutes before deciding, and it would almost always be bad for me.

 

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Pak Choi ❤

I remember walking to the local supermarket one day and forcing myself into the vegetable isle. I picked one leafy veg, which was Pak Choi. I had cooked it before but never had it raw, so decided to try something new.

 

I piled some radishes and onion on top with lemon chicken (literally just chicken pan-fried with lemon juice) and I now have one of my favourite meals. Experiment guys! A lot of good can come from it!

 

Dinner

 

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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

I have been slightly more flexible with dinner.

 

Although I try to eat less carbs and increase my veg intake, I found that eating clean during the day and in moderation at night, I can maintain a healthy diet.

I’ve also tried to stay away from heavier meats such as lamb and pork. I’ve cut down on dairy as well.

 

 

It’s been hard but I’m staying true. The hardest part has been snacking and waiting until meal-times to eat.

If I stray from the path I try to eat vegetables or nuts for my snacks…

..but we all make mistakes 😉

 

Comment your healthy eating stories or any advice below!

 

 

Velvet Spice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning

29th September: save the date

Macmillan Cancer Support runs an annual coffee morning in aid of cancer research. Supporters are invited to host their own coffee mornings in their houses for friends and family. All proceeds are sent to Macmillan. For two years now I have participated in this event. Last year, my family and I hosted it in our house… which smelled of sugar for a month afterward. 18406278_1517730264965789_1439063225_o.jpg

In addition to being for a good cause, the coffee morning gave us all a chance to experiment. We baked old favourites such as macarons and brownies, but we also tried new recipes… to interesting effect. The cinnamon roll dough decided to quadruple in size, effectively overflowing the bowl AND worktop. Its curious how ‘hilarious’ and ‘alarming’ overlapped so often during those times.

I also gave new cake recipes a try. Lavender and lemon cake was a surprising success. After putting too much lemon into the cake, I had to even it out with an absurd amount of fresh lavender. I was sure the cake would be too much but apparently my oven drains flavour… as a result, the cake went down a ‘treat’ (I will never apologise for excellent puns).

I was also able to experiment with frosting. I learned how to make roses 18426500_1517729021632580_1749769718_o.jpgand new techniques for piping. I discovered that adding lemon flavouring to frosting is ALWAYS a good idea. Always.

So while stressful, the event was definitely fun, and for a good cause. I would recommend for any fan of baking, especially since all proceeds are sent to Macmillan Support. If I remember correctly, we raised over £400 from donations.

The ‘aftermath’ is the only way I can describe what our house was afterward. Our kitchen looked as though the Terminator had torn through it: sugar covering every surface, dough on the walls, colouring spilled on worktops, every free surface piled high with dirty dishes. And the rest of our house had crumbs and (somehow) paper plates everywhere for days after, not matter how much we hoovered and cleaned.

Be warned, people. Bake sales are a battlefield.

 

 

Velvet Spice