Category Archives: Outdoor activities

Hillwalking, cycling, running, skiing

A sweet week – it started with cheesecake and got better

After a gloriously sunny weekend climbing Ben Nevis and Buachaille Etive Mor, I spent Monday moving as little as possible. Even walking on the flat hurt. And walking upstairs was agony!

By Tuesday, with legs fully functional again, I ventured out for lunch with my favourite pilot. We ate Alfresco at Indigo Yard, basking in the sunshine. Honestly, I’m so getting used to this sunshine Summer! So much to love about Indigo, I’m especially keen on the outdoor area. I really shouldn’t tell you this as too many people know about it as it is. For West Enders is the perfect place to soak up the sun.

And is if that wasn’t temptation enough, Indigo has great offers on for both lunch (2 mains for £10) and dinner (2 courses for £10). My go-to dinner choices are duck pancakes with hoisin sauce followed by king prawn nicoise. A delicious bargain. Anyway, back to our lunch, I have photographed the delicious key lime cheesecake. Divine!

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On Tuesday evening I went to see Niki King. She was incredible! Niki is a sparkling ball of energy with a rich and powerful voice that moves you. I was most impressed by the way in which she set Queen’s Hall alight and got the audience on their feet dancing. No mean feat! And her band was electric. So much energy. The drummer caught my eye in particular, so much talent, enthusiasm and energy he was almost floating above the stage. If you want a piece of Niki. And you do, even if you don’t know it yet, she and her band The Elements are playing in Aberdeen on 13 August and her new CD It’s all good is out now. Find out more on Niki King’s website.

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For more pictures check out Niki’s website

On Thursday I was at a Sunday Brunch Club event at SKYbar at the Point Hotel. What a great night! Over 50 us of went along and enjoyed a fun evening. The venue which opens to the public on the last Thursday of each month has amazing views (see below). It also has an ace team. Jason’s Singapore slings were super and I’m looking forward to working my way through the rest of the cocktail list when we go back on 25 August details here.

There’s a lovely outdoor patio area where we can soak up the sun, if it makes in appearance next time! SKYbar also has a barbecue with several delicious choices so if you come straight from work you won’t starve.

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On Saturday I went for a bike ride in the sunshine in Fife. It was an eventful day. A lovely ride in spite of the various er… adventures en route. I have to say Fife was beautiful but too hilly and I’m still traumatised by the appearance of Christmas trees in July!

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Christmas comes early in Fife

You can read more about that eventful bike ride here

READ MORE DIVA’S DIARIES POSTS 

Has Christmas come early near you? Can anyone top July for seeing a tree up?

An eventful bike ride in Fife

I love cycling. But since doing the Etape Caledonia in May I’ve only managed two 50+ mile rides and I’ve barely been out on my bike at all. I need to get back in the saddle in a serious way with the Pedal for Scotland 100miler coming up on the 11 September! So with another gorgeous day in prospect Bill, Malcolm, Raymond and I set out to do a 50mile loop of Fife along the Kingdom Cycle Route.

We caught the train out to North Queensferry just after 11am and the plan was to take the Kingdom Route out past Dunfermline, through Blairadam Forest, up past Kinross and Loch Leven, past the Lomond Hills and then along the A912 for a stop at The Pillars of Hercules (a gorgeous cafe and shop and small farm) before getting back onto the Kingdom Route and coastal path back to North Queensferry.

Well that was the plan!

In my defence, the Kingdom Route was not very well signposted. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Within the first hour we realised we were ‘off piste’. With the assistance of the map we managed to get back onto the route. Eventually.

So things weren’t off to a flying start. Then Malcolm got a puncture. Not a simple puncture though. Luckily there was a bike shop half a mile away (dontcha just love that iphone maps magic!).  it was on Malcolm Street which seemed fitting.

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Malcolm posing with the street named after him

It turned out Malcolm needed a new tyre, such was the damage.

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Malcolm looking distinctly unimpressed with proceedings

Some while later we got back on the road. I have to tell you Fife is hilly. Very hilly. We managed to keep ourselves mainly on the right route, though we did have to turn around a few times. We spent almost as much time perusing the map as we did on our bikes! Fife Council your Kingdom Route signposting is lacking!

At 3pm we arrived at Kinross and decided that lunch was in order. A lucky break saw us directed to The Boathouse Bistro overlooking Loch Leven. It was fantastic, and just what we needed.

P1060228The guys chillaxing on the decking at The Boathouse Bistro

We sat basking in the sunshine, enjoying the view and tucked into huge portions of great food. Lunch always tastes good after a long cycle!

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Bill’s monster sized fish and chips

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My antipasti

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Lovely view

There are no pictures of the cakes and scones we ordered but rest assured they were ordered and enjoyed.

Christmas comes early in Fife. The Boathouse already has a Christmas tree up! To remind people to book their Christmas events.
Boathouse you were doing so well. But a Christmas tree in July?! Too much.

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With all the delays we hadn’t made as much progress as anticipated so we decided to return via a shorter route of around 24miles. I won’t bore you with the many twists and turns in navigation! We aimed for Cowdenbeath and ended up in Auchtertool.

We eventually arrived in Aberdour at 7.10pm and found the next train wasn’t until 7.50pm. Being keen, or mad we decided to cycle on to Inverkeithing and ended up catching the same train by the skin of our teeth.

It was a lovely day out. And I managed to make my dinner date with Mr Mac just an hour-and-a-half later than planned!

Verdict: some way to go in building up my fitness for the Pedal for Scotland Sportive!

The Diva lives on!

Yes she’s been away. Or rather she hasn’t been writing. And now she’s writing about herself in the third person. Well she is a diva!

I can hardly cover in one post all that has happened since my last post on er [mumbles] 26 April. I’ll do that over the next few weeks as there have been many wonderful things

I’ve been to two secret supper club – Kitchen Porters and My Home Supper Club
Cycled around Arran and eaten Arran cheese
Attended Clandestine Cake meetings and eaten lots of cake
Completed the Etape Caledonia without even a hint of sweeper van!
Lunched and dined at The Spice Pavilion, Iris, Hamiltons, The Living Room, Edinburgh Larder, Le Marche Francais, The Pillars of Hercules, Mark Greenaway, La Garrigue, Indigo Yard and others
Spent all afternoon in a vodka bar on the Isle of Bute
Danced to Europop in Spain
Seen Ben Jovi at Murrayfield
Climbed Ben Lawers and Ben Ghlass
Rocked to the Lift Shaft Incident at Whistlebinkies
Drunk bubbly at Ladies Day at Musselburgh
Cycled from Edinburgh to St Andrews. And back
Cryed at Stuart & Vivienne’s most magnificent wedding
Paintballed (yes it does hurt!) and driven in a tank
Drunk lots of Pommery at the launch of the Signet Library’s new popup champagne bar
Been to barbecues
Visited my wonderful sister in London
Tried on armwarmers
Eaten curry goat and spit roast deer on the Isle of Cara while dressed as a pirate

But more on all that later. For now I’ll stick to last week:

Lovely lunch at La Garrigue with Ann. A super menu of three courses for less than £20, I had squid to start, rabbit salad for main and cheesecake to finish. Excellent. And to whet your tastebuds…

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The highlight of last week was our Sunday Brunch Club dinner at My Home Supper Club. One of the wonderful new supper clubs in people’s homes. We enjoyed a delicious evening a la Francais. I am still salivating, indeed dreaming about, the croqenbouche. The mountain of profiteroles in all their creamy, chocolately glory. Mmmmm….

Read more about this on the SBC blog here
To book your date with My Home Supper Club check their events page Don’t wait too long though, these dinners sellout quickly.

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The croqenbouche and I, it was love at first sight

On Sunday I was out with the Sunday Brunch Club again to visit Jupiter Artland. The contemporary sculpture garden in the grounds of Bonnington House, just 30 minutes drive west of Edinburgh. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Read more about this on the SBC blog here.
It’s well worth a visit.

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The 20 metre high Love Bomb Sculpture at Jupiter Artland

Some things to try:
La Garrigue
14 Eyre Place, Edinburgh, EH3 5EP
0131 558 1608
La Garrigue on twitter

My Home Supper Club
A Secret Edinburgh location
My Home Supper Club on facebook and twitter

Jupiter Artland
Bonnington House, Kirknewton, City of Edinburgh EH27 8BB
01506 889900
Jupiter Artland on facebook and twitter

More soon dear readers. I’ve missed you.

Diva in the Saddle – The Need for Speed

I’m training for the Etape Caledonia on Sunday 15 May. It’s an 81 mile timed road race mainly involving lots of men who like this…

Ingliston circuit road race

The picture is from Edinburgh Road Club the super-fast roadies we see out and about on our travels. Membership of said club is for me but an aspiration. Now I’m not saying there are no women in the Road Club – it does have a women’s race team – but road racing is a predominantly male affair. For example last year over 3,000 people did the Etape but only around 400 women. C’mon girls!

Note if you will the contrasts between me and the fast guys – the heavy bike, the rack and bag, the kit and fleece and let’s not discuss the rider… 

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Nonetheless, I’ve signed up for the Etape and training is going well. I know the distance is no problem since last year I did the Pedal for Scotland Sportive 100 mile bike ride last September. When I arrived for the Scotland Sportive admist a sea of men in lycra marshalls checked with raised eyebrows that I was really intending to do the Sportive and not the 52 mile option. I was I confirmed. And I did!

It was a glorious day for the event and such an incredible sense of achievement afterwards. It took me 8hours 40mins on my trusty old hybrid (pictured above). You can see pictures on facebook here.

The Need for Speed
The issue for the Etape will be finishing the hilly course quickly enough! You see the roads are closed for the Etape and then reopened, at which time competitors who fail to meet the minimum speed requirement are de-bibbed! My aim is to avoid this indignity!

This requires an average speed of 13mph over 81miles. And have I mentioned the course is hilly?

All that is a precursor to this posting about wonderful weekends training rides with biking friends and my Etape buddy Jack. Here are some pictures from our beautiful trip to North Berwick a few weekends ago. There aren’t many en route as I was cycling hard and managed to average 13mph on the way out to North Berwick via the mainly flat A198 coastal route (approx 26miles). So I’ll need to do better than this before next month.

A glorious day in North Berwick.

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We went for lunch al fresco at lovely bistro 12 Quality Street.

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We couldn’t resist when we saw fresh lobster being delivered and shared one between us. Divine!

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We took a longer and hillier route back to Edinburgh via Haddington, Gifford and lots of other places. We stopped in Gifford to buy more water and sat on a lovely bench in front of the church.

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And here are the bikes. Jack’s built for speed.

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Mine built for comfort!

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But the good news is Jack is lending me one of his road bikes for the Etape (he has 3!). Thanks so much Jack! I’ve trained on it a few times and love the way it really flies it but it will take a bit of time to get used to the riding position and gear change on the crossbar. I’m not even attempting the toe clips again…

And yes, a shiny new bike designed for speed is on my shopping list. It takes time to find the right bike.

UPDATE: We’re raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and now have an online fundraising page. Please donate if you can http://www.justgiving.com/stephandjackdotheetape/

Send me positive thoughts on 15 May for the Etape.
I will need them!

Diva in the Saddle

Hello Lovely Readers

I was so excited to receive a message from Ged Holmyard at Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative asking me to take part in a photoshoot. What me pose for photos? When do you want me? I’m there!

Yesterday I met up with fellow ‘model’, the lovely Joe Shurgold and super photographer Alex Amato to get the shoot in the bag.

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Diva in the Saddle. Just love this picture and the backdrop. Picture by Alex Amato at Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative*

Check out more pictures below…

What do you want to do more of in 2011?

Happy New Year!

I wish you all the best for a delicious and exciting 2011.

Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve for the uninitiated) was a fantastic night. We organise the Sunday Brunch Club Grand Hogmanay Ball at The Sheraton Hotel in Edinburgh. We had a ball!

Sunday Brunch Club Grand Hogmanay Ball 2010-11

Having a blast at the Sunday Brunch Club Grand Hogmanay Ball

New Year’s Resolutions are often about giving things up. But where’s the fun in that?!
This year my plan is to do more of the things I enjoy…

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From Fat to Fit – Another Reason to Love the Great Outdoors

 

at the summit of Ben More, Isle of Mull

at the summit of Ben More, Isle of Mull

I love the great outdoors for so many reasons. Being out in the wild, windy and wet wonderfulness that is the Scottish countryside makes me feel alive. It’s good for the soul. I feel inspired. I feel connected to nature. And depending on my activity it gets my heart racing and my adrenaline pumping for a super natural high. In short, it feels amazing!

I also love the great outdoors because outdoor activities got me from fat to fit.

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