Songs To Run To

If I didn’t have my iPod, it’s quite possible that I just wouldn’t exercise at all.  I’m not one of those people like D (cough – freaks) who enjoy getting all breathless and sore for the sake of being breathless and sore. 

I need motivation. I need distraction. I need music.

At the moment, I am trying to compile the perfect soundtrack for an hour long run.  The following tunes are songs which regularly appear on my “Exercise” playlist.  I understand that there will be serious music fans out there who might baulk at The Pixies and Destiny’s Child being grouped together but I care not.  They make me want to keep running. 



Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen (Have you seen the Cadbury’s ad using it?  Fabulous!)

Hotel Yorba – White Stripes

9 to 5 – Dolly Parton

Elvis Ain’t Dead – Scouting for Girls (I challenge you not to sing along)

Bat Out of Hell – Meatloaf (Very good for fartlek training)

Professional Widow (remix) – Tori Amos

Valerie – Mark Ronson (feat. Amy Winehouse)

White Trash Wedding – Dixie Chicks

Crazy in Love – Beyonce

Respect – Wheatus

Somewhere Else – Razorlight (play this at the end of a run and imagine the applause is for you!)

Come Home – Placebo

Bootilicious – Destiny’s Child

Debaser – Pixies


Now, here’s where I’d like your help.  I’d like to add more songs to this playlist and need some inspiration. 

Can you suggest any songs to run to?

Waldorf-ish Salad

A few weekends ago I took a trip down Pitlochry way to visit some of my family who were holidaying in the area.  It’s a beautiful part of the country – leafy and craggy with wide winding rivers – and we had a fantastic time walking the dogs along country roads, stopping off for lunch in the quaintest country pub I’ve ever seen this side of the Scottish border.

The sunny afternoon was made even more perfect by the discovery of a huge and very productive walnut tree.  I didn’t even know we got them this far north.  Within five minutes we had stuffed our pockets and three poo-bags (the only vessel on us) full of nuts and began traipsing happily down the road chatting about the banana breads and pestos and coffee cakes we were going to make with our harvests.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.  Even after drying, the nuts were inedibly bitter and were fit for nowt but the compost bin.  Booooo.

My consolation was to be found in the supermarket later that week.  It may have just been the end of October but Christmas nuts were on sale already. Hooray!  For the first time ever, I snubbed the angular Brazil nuts completely and bought a huge bag of wrinkly walnuts instead.  And I knew exactly what I wanted to make with them first: a big Waldorf Salad.

If you are looking for a classic recipe here, go look elsewhere.  My version of this salad is rustic, chunky, includes lettuce and is mayonnaise free.  Nevertheless, it’s really, really good and surprisingly filling too. 

By the by, whilst I was looking around the internet for inspiration for my waldorf salad I came across this article from a 1904 edition of the New York Times.  It may just be the funniest. most adorable thing I have ever read.

Waldorf-ish Salad

(for one)

One small, red apple – chopped and tossed in lemon juice to prevent discolouration

2 sticks of celery, chopped

1 baby gem lettuce, leaves separated

Handful of walnuts, gently toasted

For the dressing (based on Skye Gringell’s recipe)

1/2 tspn honey

1 tspn Dijon mustard

1 tspn white wine vinegar

1 tspn creme fraiche

1 tblspn olive oil

1 tspn chopped parsley


  • Add the apple, celery, baby gem and walnuts to a big bowl
  • Whisk together the dressing ingredients and spinkle over the salad.
  • Toss and serve.

Photography Link

A couple of weeks ago Shruti from Kodak contacted me asking for permission to use some of my pictures in a new feature on their website.  I agreed and was chuffed to bits tonight to discover that three of them have been used as examples of good composition in the Photography Tips section.

Just been exploring the other pages on the site and I’m really impressed with the advice and ideas.  Anyone interested in developing their skills with a camera might want to check the site out too.  🙂


A November Weekend

November is not many folk’s favourite month.  It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s wet and it’s muddy.  In fact, the Finnish word for November is Marraskuu which literally means “death month”.  Not ones for mincing their words are those Finns…

Me, I like November.  I put more clothes on, I light some candles, I drink red wine, I buy scarves, I eat pumpkin and I feel no guilt whatsoever at snuggling up on the sofa for hours at a time. 

 This weekend I, blissfully, had absolutely nothing to do.  Marco and I walked along the beach at Loch Ness (only 10 minutes from my house) and we watched the snow fall out the window.

Somehow, that took up the whole weekend.  🙂

Fear Of Flying and the Perfect G & T

I haven’t always been afraid of flying.  When I was little and going on holidays to the Costa del Sol for two glorious weeks of water-fights and Spanish doughnuts, the flight was one of the highlights of the trip.  The speed and power of take off made me squeal with excitement and then later, when the plane had reached its cruising height, there were hours of fun to be had spotting leaping rabbits or sleeping dragons in the cloud formations out the window. 

Gradually though, as I got older and as I travelled more and more fear began to creep in.  Actually, that’s not true.  There was no “creeping” nor was it gradual.  One night on a solo long haul flight to New Zealand at the age of 19 years old, I woke up as we were flying across the Indian Ocean.  The rest of the passengers were peacfeully sleeping, the plane was steady and gently humming and for some unknown reason I totally freaked out.  Horrific, freak accident scenarios kept flashing through my mind and all I could think about was how far away I was from home.  From that moment on I became ridiculously scared of flying.


I say “ridiculously” for two reasons.  Firstly, I know that flying is statistically the safest form of travel and that my chances of falling out of the sky are teeny-weeny.  And secondly because I really did turn into a gibbering idiot whenever I flew for years and years afterwards.  I cried, I shook, I stared wildly about me.  I gibbered to strangers, I held the hand of stewardesses, I hyperventilated.  I was a freaking mess.


Luckily, my fear never stopped me from travelling.  I simply ignored my phobia when booking flights then, by the time panic properly kicked in, the doors were locked, we were on the runway and I knew I couldn’t escape without being charged with breach of the peace or such like.  And when I thought about the situation outwith flight times, I reasoned that a few hours of abject terror were worth a weekend in Stockholm or a week in Kelalonia.


Recently, though, I decided that I ought to at least try and ease my fear and so I began to look for ways to ease my alarm at flying.  Can’t say I was entirely sucessful as I still hate flying, but I can now fly without sobbing or insisting that strangers tell me their life stories.


There was no one thing that made this change possible.  In fact, it was only after I began implementing a series of measures that I’ve been able to fly without tears or heavy breathing.   There are a couple of visualisation exercises that I do (including counting to 100 during take-off and with each number think of something beautiful or cute or funny);  I tense every muscle in my body then relax them, letting myself know that I am in charge of my bodily reactions;  I listen for familiar engine noises (wheels up – check, boost off – check…) and, finally, I drink gin.


Yes, I know it goes against all well-being and beauty advice about alcohol and air-travel, but gin really does make flying much more pleasureable and I’m not going to argue with that.  🙂
The Perfect G & T
No recipe here.  Just some essential (I think) pointers:
  • Fizzy tonic is a MUST,  Buy single serving cans/bottles unless you are intending on making a lot of G&Ts in a short period of time.
  • Lots of ice makes for a weak drink.  Chill your tonic and keep your gin in the freezer to lessen the need for lots of ice cubes.
  • Use lemon wedges not slices.  And squeeze the juice into the drink first. 
  • Find a gin you like.  My standard is Gordon’s but I also like Bombay Saphire and adore Hendrick’s (with cucumber not lemon) for a special occasion.