Having moved to Inverurie we’re now much closer to Bennachie, a set of forests and hills managed by the Forestry Commission. Rather enthusiastically, we’ve visited Bennachie Centre two weekends in a row now.

The visitor centre has plenty of information, kids’ activities, a great wildlife viewing section, and a stunning tapestry at the entrance.
2017-05-28 Bennachie

The first weekend Gareth and I went up the main hill, Mither Tap, following the ‘Mither Tap Timeline Trail’. We’ve been up this way a few years ago, and I found it pretty arduous – there were tears. I can handle a steep incline, but I’m not great with steps or ‘steppy’ rock paths, particularly when it’s above the treeline. Other people seem to whizz up and down like they’re on a flat road, and don’t even get me started on the runners who were literally running and hopping down the high, uneven trail…I felt very nervous for them, but they didn’t seem bothered as they went on their merry way.

2017-05-21 Bennachie

This time though, I was armed with walking poles, which I highly recommend! What a difference it makes, having those extra points of contact, and that little bit more confidence going from one step to the next.

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Gareth using a compass app to work out where our house was

2017-05-21 Bennachie

Finally, we got almost to the very top, but not quite the summit – the final bit is a little too much of a climb for us, and it gets really windy up there, so this is as far as we got. Not even walking poles can help with this. Perhaps with a little more ‘practice’ we’ll eventually work our way up there.
2017-05-21 Bennachie

Then, last weekend our friends Sam and Joules came to stay, and we went for a walk around the Colony Trail – no walking poles required for this one.

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View of Mither Tap

There was plenty to see, on a pleasant Spring day.

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Wood anemone Arctic starflower / chickweed wintergreen

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2017-05-28 Bennachie
Ultra yellow broom

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A pretty weed of some sort

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Mossy walls

There are many more trails around the hills and forests of Bennachie, and no doubt Gareth and I will become more familiar with these ‘neighbours’.

Spring is a time for all things new

Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and it’s a special time all round. Along with Easter, this time of year brings New Year celebrations for many South- and South-East Asian cultures – for my family it’s Tamil New Year.

Here in Aberdeen, skies are blue, and there’s to plenty to admire outside.

2017-04-13 Cherry blossom
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At the end of last year we were in KL over the holidays, and spent a few days in Vietnam over New Year. We had a great time in Hanoi, starting off almost as soon as we got there with a walking food tour.

We tried quite a few different things, but my favourite had to be good old chicken Phở – I can’t get enough of a noodle soup, especially if there’s lime and chilli involved.
2016-12-29 Hanoi Continue reading

International Women’s Day 2017

How is it March already?? Well, here we are, and here are some female driven film and literary things that have caught my attention.

The 2017 Bailey’s Prize longlist has been announced – an intriguing lineup here as always.

IMDB, quite probably the largest source of movie and TV information, has adopted the F-rating: a rating to show if films are written by women, directed by women, and/or feature women on screen in their own right. Admittedly, as this article points out, the rating isn’t featured on every film page, instead you can use their search tool to find movies that meet one or more of these criteria. I’m willing to give it time though, for this to be adopted fully on individual pages.

A shoutout to Scottish writers Claire MacLeary and Clio Gray, who I saw at an event during Aberdeen’s recent Granite Noir festival. Their books sound very interesting indeed, and are at the top of my list for upcoming reads. Claire MacLeary’s debut novel is Cross Purpose, set in Aberdeen City. Clio Gray, on the other hand, is a veteran writer (longlisted for the Bailey’s Prize last year), and her new three-part series begins with Deadly Prospects.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading the Chronicles of St Mary’s series, by Jodi Taylor. It’s about historians who study historic events in ‘contemporary time’, i.e. through time travel. It’s got some dark bits, but overall it’s fairly light reading and good fun. I’d say it’s almost like a boarding school series, but featuring the staff.

The little things matter as much as the big things when it comes to changing the world. So let’s be proud of ‘little’ things like celebrating female authors and filmmakers, and equally let’s not be shy about ‘making a fuss’ when something’s not right. This year’s International Women’s Day theme, Be Bold for Change, is a good reminder of that.

Garden Birdwatching 2017

The RSPB held its Big Garden Birdwatch at the weekend, so I spent a fun hour on Sunday morning, looking out the kitchen window.

There were sparrows;
2017-01-29 Big Birdwatch Continue reading