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Adventure Time

Climbing Ben Nevis

September 13, 2017

Climbing Ben Nevis, the highest point in the British isles, has been on my bucket list for the past couple of years; this summer I ticked that trip off my list and after a battle against the Scottish weather, I made it to the mountain summit.
Standing at 1,345m (4,411ft), Ben Nevis isn’t considered one of the ‘Big Boys’ on the world scale but it is ranked the highest mountain in the British Isles and an iconic place in Scotland, my home country.
Combining my mountain-climbing ambition with my summer vacation, I managed to line up  the hike to include the company of a fellow adventurer, my brother. The plan was set.

Although our scheduled climb date was in mid July, the middle of a British Summer, you can never guarantee the weather in the UK as it can change in the blink of an eye; therefore, we had to pack several layers of clothing and weather proof items along with our days essentials. With a good nights sleep and a hearty Scottish breakfast in our stomachs, we laced up our walking boots and headed out for the start of the Ben Nevis trail. The ascent and descent can be attempted in one day making it a great, yet ambitious, day trip. The recommended time is 7-9 hours on the mountain to tackle the 17km/10.75mile round trip.
As we set off from the car park and headed across the first footbridge crossing the River Nevis I could already feel the chill of the wind on my skin. After 5 years living in the Middle East my body isn’t acclimatised to the UK anymore. The initial trail took us along some farm tracks and up the hillside overlooking the stunning Glen Nevis. With miles of rolling green hills, there is no denying that Scotland is an incredibly beautiful place.

Rising up higher above the Glen the crowds and wooded areas begin to thin out as the day-trip-picnic crowd separates away from the climbers with their focus set on reaching the mountain summit. With the tree line far below us we gain elevation quickly climbing the rough steps built into the mountain side – my quads are burning like fire but with my super fit brother leading the pack there is no time for rest. Our trail takes us past a large mountain lake in the hillside, made entirely of rain water running from the high slopes. The rain clouds are heavy  and threatening as we switch to our waterproof gear. As we reached the half way mark the moorland and areas of grazing sheep begins to disperse to make way for the loose rock and gravel slopes leading us up high into the clouds.

Pressing ahead climbing higher we begin passing fellow climbers wrapped in cold weather clothes and already on their descent – some warn us of the weather ahead and some simply encourage us ahead to keep our morale up – which was hugely appreciated at the time as my base layers which were wet with sweat had started to chill my core.
Entering the clouds is a disorientating experience as we walk all we see around us is a white sheet, it’s hard to tell how long we have been walking for and how long there is left to go. I pull my frozen digits back up inside my sleeves and laugh a little to myself that this is the summer season in Scotland. As the fog engulfs us the visibility is down to less than 10 meters, determined to make it to the summit we press on and sing songs to keep our minds focused on something other than the eerie mountain fog and the effort of walking directly into the forceful mountain wind.

Just at the point where my mind was starting to think that this was a crazy idea we literally stumble upon the summit of Ben Nevis like a mirage. We hadn’t seen anything ahead of us other than each other and a white fogged horizon for the past 45 minutes so we were completely unaware that we had successfully reached the pinnacle.
As we attempt to take our ‘summit selfie’, a must of course, I try my best to anchor my legs to stabilize myself against the incredibly powerful wind – especially because the visibility is so poor that I can’t see where the edges are! With the windchill at minus 6 degrees our time on the mountain summit was brief but still an incredible feeling especially that we made it in an impressive time of just 3 hours.

As we begin our descent we pass the encouragement on to other climbers on their way up to attempt the mountain summit in the unfavourable weather. Even though the weather wasn’t ideal and I didn’t manage to catch a glimpse of the scenic views from the top my adventure was still worth every minute. As for the weather, it is inevitable, it is Scotland after all.
With Ben Nevis ticked off the bucket list it’s time to start on some bigger, crazier plans!

Pregnancy & Baby

14 & 15 Weeks Pregnant – Change of Scenery

September 1, 2013

Weeks 14 & 15 were spent back ‘home’ in Scotland and passed in a very fast blur of visiting family, travelling around everyone and eating lots of cakes. The night flight from Muscat to the UK was a tough one as I’m generally more sick at night and in the mornings so I spent the time with my face close to a puke bag and watching to see when the toilet was vacant, luckily I wasn’t sick on the plane thanks to lots of anti nausea tablets and an amazing air hostess who kept bringing me water.

The cool Scottish air was such a wonderful thing, getting rid of the majority of my queasiness through the day. When you feel sick it is lovely to go outside and get some fresh air instead of 46 degree heat and 80% humidity. Saying that one day I did find myself being sick in my mother in laws garden at 6.30am so i didn’t wake everyone in the house… Sorry Karen!

On week 14 I took my 7 year old twin nephews swimming on my own to a great pool where there are flumes and wave machines – every little rascals dream swimming pool. I underestimated how much 7 year old boys like to jump and climb on their aunties! My stomach muscles had other plans and after a few too many times on the flumes I had to call it a day. Thankfully they didn’t notice the pain in my face and had a great time. These growing pains are weird things!

I managed to fit in a few shopping trips also to baby shops to look for things that we just can’t buy here in Muscat. I managed to find a couple of maternity items also that I will need, it’s shocking that the only place in Muscat for maternity wear is a tiny section of H&M!

One of the gifts we received was from our dear friends Samantha and Max who bought us “Ewan the dream sheep”. It is meant be a miracle worker in getting a baby to sleep and comfort them. He glows pink and makes womb like noises that you can play to the bump so when the baby is born it recognises the sounds and is comforted by them. You can read the amazing reviews on the John Lewis website here.

This was my last trip home to the UK before Baba is due in February and who knows when we will be able to travel after that. I don’t even know how long it takes to get a passport for a newborn over here?! There were alot of people to visit which was tiring to say the least but thankfully these people all wanted to meet up over lunch or a cup of tea & a cake which made it a bit easier.

No where does good tea and a cake (‘funcy piece’ in Scotland) like us Brits!

How far along: 14 -15 weeks

How are you measuring: Baby D is perfectly on schedule this week and growing well

Size of baby: A navel orange

Sleep: Much better quality of sleep these days, only waking up maybe once on a good night

Total weight gain: Only around 2 pounds since the 8 week mark, that will probably be more now due to all these cakes!

Symptoms: Sad to say that I am still being sick in the mornings. I can handle once a day but I did really think it would stop by now. I guess thats better than some of the symptoms others are having at this stage.

Movement: Nothing I can feel yet, hopefully in a couple more weeks

Maternity Clothes: None yet but I’m not far away from it

Must eat: I made the most of being in the UK with cakes, fish & chips, chicken mayo sandwiches and haggis!

Must not eat: Fish is still a big no-no this week

Best Moment of the week: Baby shopping with my life long best friend, Samantha, who had her own little bundle of joy just 4 months ago so was able to show me what I would need. I’m glad she was there, I was useless on my own!

Gender predictions: Everyone seems to think it will be a girl but I’m starting to feel like its maybe a boy?

What I wish people knew: That it is tiring to go round visiting everyone and spending equal amounts of time, it would be nice if someone came to me for a change. I won’t be doing this anymore once Baby D arrives.

What I’m looking forward to: Our next scan in 3 weeks time, private medical care is amazing!

What I miss: Not much, I’m quite liking being pregnant just now and watching for my bump growing its an amazing feeling.

What baby is upto this week: Facial movements are now more pronounced and the baby can frown and squint its face. Although the eyelids are still fused shut the baby can react to light.

Bedtime bump at 14 weeks. Funny how its more swollen at nights and in the morning than through the day.

Morning bump at 15 weeks, definitely getting thicker around the middle now eek!
Expat Life, Family Life

The wanderer returns to Muscat

May 19, 2013
Well Bloglets, I’ve had a busy couple of weeks galavanting and now thankfully I am back in Muscat and trying to get back into my usual routine. Don’t ask me what my usual routine is, it mostly consists of being lazy but maybe I’ll blog about the day in the life of a house wife another day.

My latest adventure took me back home to the shores of “home” in Bonnie Scotland. It was a somewhat spontaneous journey as I didn’t even have any flights booked until a couple of days before I left, this is not in my nature at all – I just love to plan things! My reason for a trip home was to sort some things out with our house back in the UK which kept me busy for most of my trip there.

The weather treated me well and most days were dry with some sunshine. It was nice to get away from the intense heat of the Middle East for a couple of weeks.

Things in the house took up almost every day of my trip home but I managed to fit in some visiting where possible, sacrificing sleeping and resting but at least I managed to get some fun in along the way. I’m lucky to have helpful inlaws who had already completed some chores for me which made life that bit easier.

A visit to see my family ended in me and Graham taking his mini motorbike out for a spin. He has had this thing since he was about 14 and we were surprised that it even still worked!

The view of Bennachie from my parents home was a welcome sight for sore, traveled eyes. It was so nice to see green grass & fields again instead of sand and rock!

I got to see my Dad again as the last time we saw each other was August before I left as he was travelling out to Houston for work. He was one of many people I didn’t manage to catch a picture which I regret, Linda your another one I forgot. We were too busy gossiping as usual I totally forgot!

My second other main reason for making the trip home was to see my beautiful new nephew, Max. On my last trip home in February I was lucky enough to attend Samantha’s baby shower, she is my oldest friend so I couldn’t miss it. I hadn’t planned to be home again until August meaning that he would be 4 months old before I met him so I was over the moon to get to see him at 4 weeks old. Being so far away from your friend when she has her first baby is a tough thing and I wished I could have been with her.

Beautiful baby Max <3

Me and Kay managed to find a dinosaur in Aberdeen! And even have a fish & chip supper mmmmm, thanks Kay! 🙂

Abby and I managed to find the bottom of a bottle of Grey Goose! It was so nice to see her as I hadn’t seen her since the week before I left home in August. It was just like old times and hopefully I will see her here in the not too distant future.

It was lovely to see my sister and her two twin boys, Ben and Adam. I took the boys for ice cream and some fun at the play park where me & Graham ended up hogging the slide.. Big kids!

Towards the end of the trip the weather changed with rain clouds and dark skies, this is the Scotland I remember! 

All in all it was a reasonably successful trip, I managed to get most of the things done that I set out to do and managed to fit in some visiting along the way.

Sadly time ran out too fast and I didn’t manage to see everyone or spend enough quality time with the people that I wanted to due to conflicting schedules and people having to work when I was free.  Hopefully they will understand that it’s not personal and I was sent home with a purpose, any free time I had was just a bonus. 

Now time to catch up on some sleep and acclimatize to the heat again..

Expat Life

There’s snow snow here

January 25, 2013

While the UK is literally freezing cold and a huge blanket of deep snow falling across the country I am secretly wishing for some of the winter white stuff myself. Of course, that is never going to happen here in Oman where the winter temperature is still mid 20’s.

As much as I love the sunshine here in Oman, there is something so beautiful about the fresh snow falling. Here are some pictures of my beautiful “home” courtesy of my brother, Graham.

I will be home in the UK in a few weeks time, If I am lucky there will be enough snow for a snowman but not that much that my plane gets diverted.. fingers crossed!

Expat Life, Food & Entertainment

My native Scottish food

January 2, 2013
My native Scotland is famous for many culinary delights, some of which are completely disgusting and unhealthy, so incase you are not Scottish let me explain some of these dishes:

Aberdeen Angus Beef: This meat is known worldwide for quality steaks and Burger King even do the Aberdeen Angus Burger.

Haggis: This is pretty disgusting but tastes sooo good! Haggis is made from sheep’s offal (or pluck). The windpipe, lungs, heart and liver of the sheep are boiled and then minced. This is mixed with beef suet and lightly toasted oatmeal. This mixture is placed inside the sheep’s stomach, which is sewn closed. Usually served with “neeps and tatties” which is turnip and potato.

Scotch Whisky: Very popular in India, Japan, USA and the pubs of Bonnie Scotland. This is personally something I never want to see/smell/taste again in my life urghhh.

White pudding/Mealie: This is a vegetarian version of haggis as it is made with oatmeal, spices and probably just pure lard. It goes nicely as a stuffing with chicken or battered and with chips.

Deep Fried Mars Bar: Yes, you read it right… A Mars Bar thrown in a hot pan of oil to cover it in batter. Highly calorific, pretty disgusting but it was popular for a while. Even deep fried ice cream, go figure.

Buttery/Rowie:  Yet another highly calorific but very yummy food is the buttery. It has the name buttery for a reason, it’s full of butter. It is kind of like a flattened round croissant but salty. It is delicious toasted with jam on a cold morning.

Another famous one is Scottish Tablet and the reason for this post.. It is a fudge like candy which melts in your mouth instead of tough chewing. I was given a gift of an Indian sweet that tasted similar and probably had most of the same ingredients but it just didn’t taste like what I wanted it to so I decided to attempt my own.

I found a great recipe here on a Wee Bit of Cooking.

Convinced that I had messed it up and ruined it by melting the sugar too quickly I was disheartened but continued to battle through anyway as I was half way there.
By the end of the process my arm was aching from 20 minutes of constant stirring and my back hurt from standing so long, next time I will get a seat but once I started stirring I couldn’t stop or it would certainly burn.

Thankfully it actually turned out PERFECT! Possibly just a fluke but I don’t care, let me say again PERFECT! I would pay good money here to buy this here as it tasted just the same as the memories of it from home.

                                                                   My work of art!

What is your favorite Scottish food??