Sailing Jolanda

I AM HOME – phew. As many of you may know (due to an overkill of instagam stories) I have been away sailing in the English Channel for the last 10 days. I am suitably windswept and windburnt to call myself a yachty now… although I’m not sure that’s really a trend I want to keep up. But it was fun while it lasted all the same.

So, how did I become so lucky to hang around on a beauty of a yacht all week? Its nothing more glamourous than I tagged along with my Dad and step Mum while they were down there sailing – I guess they wanted a galley gal to come and make cups of tea, pour them gin and cook the occasional dinner. Which I’m happy with if I get to sail around the tropical coast of Cornwall for a few days.

When I first arrived the boat was tied up in Plymouth and with me came the rain, thunder, general horrible stormy weather. It’s a reoccurring theme, I’m the barer of bad weather. So it was lock down for the first few days of the trip, sorry fellow crew members. Time was well spent with lots of reading – I got through three books, yes THREE whole books. Which is more than I usually manage in a year. And lots of eating, cinema trips and wandering around chandleries for hours… and hours.

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Would recommend!

Anyway – once the weather unraveled a bit we hoisted the sails and set off along the Cornish coast. Regrettably I didn’t document the whole trip, because my phone and camera kept running out of battery – no power at sea, you see! But I got a few snaps along the way.

Our first voyage took us west from Plymouth to explore all the little bays along the coast line. Bit bobby for the first few hours, gusting winds of 35-40knots and 3-4m swell – annoyingly waves NEVER look big in a photograph and I’m made out to be a drama queen. But they were big, and it was exciting!

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The sun eventually made a debut at Cawsand which is situated on the Rame Peninsula – a very pretty higglety pigglety town on the rocks. And I got my first swim of the trip – water temp was an unbelievable 16°. I could’ve stayed in all day.

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We got a nice gentle breeze to take us down to Salcombe in South Devon where we moored up for a few days. Salcombe seemed to be a bit of a holiday hot spot for yachts, we had a different boat rafted up next to us every night – so a pretty good turn around on the neighbour front. This provided endless entertainment of rope faffing, fender fails and a few slip and slides. Much like when you’ve pitched your tent in a campsite and your evening is filled with *as silent as possible* giggles as you watch people trickle in and struggle with guy lines and wind direction.

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Salcombe was really beautiful – heaps of small sandy beaches to explore, lovely water to swim in and the main street was full of posh shops… Musto, Henri Lloyd, Joules, Crew, Jack Wills yada, yada, yada. But the further I walked, the more interesting the shops became… and I stumbled across this beautiful shed with a guy making custom surfboards. If only I had a spare £1500! Oh, and there was a gin distillery… tried and tested, thumbs up for Salcombe Gin.

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Welcome to the galley. Saturday night menu, seafood spaggy with local muscles and prawns.

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Sundays are for scrubbing… galley gal turned mast cleaner. I’ve been itching to climb the mast for a bird’s eye view of Jolanda – so I sweetly offered to clean the cross tree which was all green and sad-looking. Sparkly clean yacht, and insta Dad was on hand to take some snaps of me while I was up there swinging around like a monkey.

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Meet Insta Dad/Captain.

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Sails up for the last wind of the week heading back to Plymouth to tie up – via my favourite bay at Rame Head for a dip to wash away the smell of five days at sea.

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The Cornish coast was absolutely beautiful and provided some fantastic weather – heading home with rose checks and secretly excited to get back to a drizzly Scotland… and a bed that doesn’t sway all night.

Thanks for being the best home at sea Jolanda. Until next time.

Bon voyage

R x

Keep up with future adventures  @ronamcmillan

 

 

TMF more than just a festival

Hands down, Tiree is my favourite of the Hebridean islands and also home to my favourite event of the year. Tiree Music Festival is a haven for Scottish trad music, supporting both new and established bands from all around the country. What’s really magical about this festival is the location; Tiree is a paradise of white sandy beaches with incredible surf, lush green fields and meadows of wild flowers. I heard so many people this year describe it as the ‘Hawaii of the North,’ and it’s true – Tiree really is an idyllic location whether festival-ing or not.

It is also a known fact that Tiree, along with its neighbouring island Coll receive more sunshine than anywhere else in the UK. Which I can vouch for 98% of the time – although with the sun comes immense wind, and since Tiree is extremely flat… temperatures don’t quite reach those of Hawaii. IMG_8766The adventure of TMF begins in Oban harbour, where hundreds of festival go-ers catch the 6.15am boat… only this year Callum and I missed the service update and turned up at 7.15am for the normal sailing (which was obviously canceled for the festival timetable) DOH! Luckily CalMac were running two boats that day, and we caught the second. IMG_2079Unlike most years, we are without the adventure camper van… so we hired a car from MacLennan Motors which worked out cheaper than taking our own car over… somehow! Tiree is deceivingly bigger than it looks on a map, so having either a bike or a car/van is really handy if you want to explore all its endless hidden gems.

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RIP Rusty – we miss you

Thursday night

We arrived on the late boat, pitched our tent and headed to Balevullin for some sunset steaks cooked on our super high-tech BBQ.

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Friday

Began with some coffees and cakes for breakfast from Yellow Hare on Scarnish Pier.IMG_2070Followed by half an hour of faffing with sim cards – incase you didn’t know signal is pants on the west coast… so we thought we’d swap to Vodafone for the weekend. Which worked well for signal, but 3G/4G was really just fakeG. IMG_2096We then ditched the car at Caolas and walked down to the beach that meets the Gunna Sound, as we were yet again in search of basking sharks… and the sound is known to be a hot spot for the sharks at this time of year.IMG_2100Our luck doesn’t seem to change with b sharks, so we were unsuccessful AGAIN. Even after sitting perched on a small rocky island between Coll and Tiree for an hour shark watching… or wave watching it turned out to be! IMG_7892IMG_2214So – in the afternoon we packed up the boards and drove back to west side of the island to our favourite free diving/snorkeling spot… this one is remaining unnamed im afraid since not many people seem to know about it… yet. Processed with VSCO with c7 presetThat evening we headed back to the festival, stalling to have some predrinks in the boot of our car… if that’s allowed? If not, this isn’t us… IMG_7639And that night we had tunes from Beinn Lee, Ho-RO and Trail West – among many many others. IMG_7659

Saturday

A wee bit hungover, so some animal therapy to cure the sore heads and a wander at a few beaches before a prolonged snooze in the car at Balevullin.IMG_7618_Facetune_13-07-2018-11-17-06IMG_7614IMG_7891IMG_7533IMG_8754SHOWERED and back in time for tunes from Rura and Skerryvore. S/O to Kirsty, Louisa, Rowen and Katherine for having us round to their house for bacon rolls and a shower – nothing like west coast hospitality! IMG_7746IMG_7727

Sunday

We drove down to Hynish for a wee swim and picnic before the madness of Sunday night began, and met a few bonnie coos on the way… IMG_7859IMG_8755…round three beginsIMG_7771_Facetune_15-07-2018-17-53-24IMG_7800Also, did I mention the food at TMF? What other festival serves champagne and oysters from Loch Fyne? SO GOOD!  IMG_8756And for our Sunday sesh we had tunes from, Elephant Sessions and Skipinnish. What an incredible final night. IMG_7179

It gets better every year, and whatever the weather… we will see you next summer!

Rona and Callum X

@ronamcmillan

@ahoycallum

 

 

Discover Radisson RED Glasgow

Radisson RED is the latest hotel to pop up in Glasgow and it is located in my favourite/most trendy part of town. I was so intrigued by the way Radisson have designed and marketed this chain of hotels I was itching to take a look around… further than the skybar (which I have visited a few times). The idea around this revolutionary hotel is to demolish the rigid rules and stuffiness that we are all too familiar with when booking accommodation. Strict check out times? Rubbish wi-fi? Annoying key systems? Naff decor? Slow check in process? Well, after a night at Radisson RED I can confirm they have achieved to abolish ALL of that, and more. IMG_8297Radisson is really tapping into popular millennial culture here – they’ve focused purely on a concept to attract young adults and I think they have succeeded in creating something that is bold, creative and functional. Everything just works – there is no faffing, no fussing and I think that’s what we really expect from a contemporary brand promoting versatility. IMG_8591The most popular aspect of this hotel for locals has been the skybar, I’ve seen it popping up on Instagram stories each and everyday. Especially with recent glorious weather, the outdoor rooftop area has been a buzz of excitement for Glasgow – something we have needed for sometime. West facing, the skybar has incredible sunsets most evenings – overlooking the Clyde, the Finniston Cran and Glasgow’s most popular music venues, the Hydro and the SECC. So this hotel is also more than ideal if you’re visiting Glasgow for a concert or event at these venues. Processed with VSCO with a4 presetMy room was a corner suite located on the 6th floor, and if anyone was watching my Instagram on Thursday you probably experienced my sheer excitement over the skyline views from the MASSIVE dual aspect windows. There was so much space, it felt more like a studio flat than a hotel room. The decor was contemporary, functional and minimal… but bright and super comfortable and clean. I read online that Radisson RED have an ‘anti-beige’ policy, which made me laugh but it’s very true. You won’t find any brown or beige in this hotel, every corner is popping with colour and artwork. IMG_8279

Location

Located in Glasgow’s West End adjacent to the SSE Hydro, SEC Armadillo and SEC Centre and only a 15 minute walk from the city centre. The hotel is also a short 5 minute walk to Finnieston (Argyll st) where you can find some of Glasgow’s best restaurants. Some of my favourites on this street are, The Gannet, The Finnieston, Six by Nico, Rioja, and Alchemilla. Along with some great bars such as – Lebowskis, Kelvingrove Cafe, Rioja (also a lovely bar), and my favourite pubs – The Ben Nevis, The Islay Inn and The Park Bar! IMG_8293

Room

Simple, contemporary, spacious and extremely comfortable. The bed in my room was at least king size, and fitted with the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on. I was blown away by the panoramic views and the laid back atmosphere this room created – somewhere I would actually like to hang out and have a few drinks with friends. I had a 55″ TV and Soundbar that streamed from my phone or laptop which meant I easily linked up my Netflix account. We had a BYOB fridge, which I absolutely loved – so I knew I didn’t have to sneakily smuggle a bottle of prosecco into my room. Bright and snazzy bathroom – everything was clean, everything worked, zero complaints! IMG_8103_Facetune_20-07-2018-16-52-17img_8581.jpgimg_8460_facetune_20-07-2018-16-53-13.jpgSide note – these gorgeous PJs were the cherry on top to my perfect night away. They are from Scottish luxury sleepwear brand feleil, and are made with the softest satin i’ve ever felt. Perfect for silking around your hotel room in! Topaz blue pyjama set

Facilities

RED fitness – we used the gym in the morning post breakfast – which was totally fine since check out wasn’t until midday. I usually expect hotel gyms to be basic, and although being a fairly small space the RED fitness gym was well equiped and had everything I needed for a quick hitt first thing.

IMG_8697IMG_8695RED skybar – As I said before, I’ve been to the skybar a handful of times and I love the space. There is an indoor and outdoor area, both with skyline and river views to watch the sunset at night. They have a great cocktail menu and snacks from the OUIbar, so an ideal place to come for pre drinks or nightcaps. Processed with VSCO with a4 presetEvents and games studio – we didn’t use these spaces, but they did look really inviting and comfortable. If only we had time for a few games of foosball!

OUIbar & KTCHN – this is a pretty relaxed space on the ground floor, they have a kind of canteen cafe vibe where you can drink cocktails and have a few games of pool. We didn’t eat here in the evening, but had breakfast the next day which had a really lovely selection of hot and cold food. Really fresh pastries, meats & cheeses, overnight oats and berries, as well as an array of hot plates… and great coffee. IMG_8591IMG_8594

Special features

Radisson RED have developed an app to basically take care of you throughout your stay. It means your phone becomes your room key, you can request anything you like, food, drinks, an extra pillow… and read all the information about your stay via their app.

Cleanliness

Nothing to say other than the place was immaculate!

Service

Radisson RED pride themselves on being pretty chilled, and they absolutely are. Im sure most of us have experience the mad hotel rush to get to breakfast in time and then out the door before check out… Radisson RED are already on top of that with relaxed breakfast times, and a late (12pm) check out. We were even able to extent our check out time to 1pm without hesitation.

Any complaints?

My only criticism (and it’s a small one), is that the bar service at the Skybar that evening was exceptionally slow. I wanted to grab a cocktail before heading out to an event, but after 15 minutes I decided I would be better to leave it and have drinks later that night. With it being such a new hotel I assume that the speed of service will only improve every day.

Overall I had a fantastic stay and would absolutely recommend the hotel for anyone visiting Glasgow.

Thanks for reading

Rona x

 

Traveling Sardinia

Summer seems to have totally caught up with me this year, I feel like I’m still just getting into the swing of this sunshine and I am NOT ready for it to leave. Last minute frantic planning for our Sardinian adventure comes as no surprise, as most of our trips are spontaneous… or just unorganised. We booked flights to the island after a bit of googling research ‘where can I do lots of fun stuff in the sun, eat good food and not get ripped off?’ was the basis of my search. And after scrolling through breathtaking pictures of Sardinia on Lonely Planet, flights were bought and the decision was made. I make that sound a lot simpler than it was – Callum and I are both  faffers, and we totally faffed over where to go for a little longer than that! But a large mediterranean island, with spectacular mountains, cliffs and caves accompanied by crystal clear turquoise water for snorkelling and free diving? How could we say no…

IMG_7233So basically – post holiday I’ll cut to the chase and totally recommend Sardinia (especially the northern part of the island) as a place to visit… and double especially if you are outdoorsy and up for a bit of exploring.

Before you go

How to get around – 100% you’ve got to rent a car, the island is large, everything is spread out… and there isn’t really much going on with public transport – I didn’t see a single bus or train the whole time we were there. But we found this such a great way to get around. (Just double-check your accommodation has parking).

Best time to go – June & September, we read a lot online about prices surging in July/August and all the lovely quiet areas we visited would most likely be hoaching during these months.

How to get there – unfortunately there are no direct flights from Scotland, so we had to get a connection via London (but that was actually straight forward and not too much hassle). We flew into Olbia which is ideal for exploring the northern part of the island.

Where to stay

Cala Gonone – is where the limestone peaked mountains meet the sea via sheer cliffs with incredible caves and white beaches. We absolutely loved staying in Cala Gonone, it had a very low-key friendly vibe and was ideal for exploring both mountains and sea.

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Costa Smeralda – we didn’t actually stay here, although I’ve heard it’s a favourite for anyone looking for a bit of glam. We visited the area for a day, and it is very beautiful. Although if looking at other people’s super yachts and cars is off-putting, I’d stay clear!

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Where to visit (day trips)

Olbia – despite its industrial outskirts, Olbia has a beautiful historic centre. We stopped here for lunch on our way north to Costa Smeralda and were pleasantly surprised by how authentic and affordable it was. Lots of lovely boutiques, cafes and wine bars.

Dorgali – looking for a tourist free zone? Dorgali is small and nestled within the limestone mountains (not far from Cala Gonone). Ideal for hikers and climbers.

Porto Cervo – sooo, not exactly our kind of play ground but if you’re looking to pop champagne and wander round super yachts for an afternoon… Porto Cervo is your place. Lots of designer shops, swanky restaurants and all kinds of other fancy stuff.

Stintino – home to Sardinia’s most recognisable beach Spiaggia della Pelosa, and at the islands most northwestern tip the small village has beautiful views and unspoilt scenery. We had a really chilled day here, the beach was busy (so we didn’t last long) but we walked into the village and had the best meal of our holiday at La Darsena.

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Things to do

Explore mountain tracks – there are heaps of incredible mountain ‘tracks’ online, the ones we found were really scrambley so I’d recommend sturdy trainers for the hills.

Beach hopping – there are dozens upon dozens of beautiful white beaches all along the coast line (I imagine all the way around the island) – and most have paths between each one ranging from 1 hour to 5 hour walks. Also very scrambley with lots of loose rock, so not one for the flip-flops!

IMG_3758Rent a boat – we did this in both Cala Gonone and Alghero. Cala Gonone was probably the favoured location due to the incredible cliffs, caves and swimming spots. Alghero was almost as equally nice, but not quite as breathtaking as Cala Gonone.

IMG_4601Snorkel/free dive/scuba dive – we brought our own kit bags from home, but there are heaps of dive schools, centres and rental shops in every town and village.

Image 22GPTempDownload 2Processed with VSCO with 1 presetKayak/SUP board – again you can find places to rent boards and kayaks everywhere – Cala Gonone seemed to be the best location for this to paddle into the incredible caves.

Cook with produce from local markets – even if you miss the markets, the small local shops sell the most incredible produce. We only ate in one evening, but had breakfast and lunch in our apartments quite often… the most simple food tastes so good!

Eat out – do your research or ask your apartment/b&b owner to recommend the best local restaurants. We got pointed in the right direction and it really paid off, the food was honestly incredible.

IMG_5197IMG_5249Wine tasting – I’d save this for the west coast, which is teaming with farm land and vineyards… from large businesses running tours, to smaller independent family run sites – whatever tickles your taste buds!

Overall, we had an incredible time in Italy. If anyone fancies a Sardinian adventure and wants to ask some questions, slide on into my DMs on Instagram and I’ll be happy to chat! @ronamcmillan

Thanks for reading

R x

Tasting Scotland – Seafood Special

What an incredible day, we are going home happy, sun-kissed and full up on seafood! We left Glasgow at 9am this morning for a one day gastro and cultural tour of the west coast, and we are blown away by everything we have experienced today. From food and scenery to drink and conversation we have thoroughly enjoyed our day with Tasting Scotland.

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Top 5 elements from my Tasting Scotland experience 

Brenda! This tour of the west coast really thrives from the master mind behind the brand. Brenda and her talented team have such incredible knowledge of food & drink heritage – specifically in Scotland but also worldwide. Throughout the day we had fantastic conversations with Brenda about food through the ages, local food history along with recipe tips and restaurant recommendations.

Chatting to industry professionals – I found this a really special element of the trip. At each location we were introduced to local people working in the smokehouses, on the production line and in the restaurants and kitchens, which gave us an extra insight into Scottish seafood.

A tailored experience – as well as the Wednesday Weekly tour (that leaves from Glasgow every Wednesday morning), Brenda and her team are experts in creating tailored tasting experiences. Weather it’s whisky, craft beer or gin, seafood or curries they can create packages perfectly suited to your personal taste. Brenda was telling us about a 3 day tour she recently set up for a client that included hand selected accommodation, luxury transport as well as lunch, dinner and activities every day. What a way to experience Scotland at its best!

Luxury products and locations – Tasting Scotland tours are SO far from naff Scottish tat and the unfortunate reputation we have for deep-fried food! Brenda focuses solely on the luxury market and premium Scottish product which is incredibly beneficial in the support of local businesses while at the same time gives her clients a taste for what Scotland really has to offer.

For locals as well as visitors – having grown up on the west coast surrounded by stunning scenery and eating local seafood I was really intrigued by this tour and whether or not it would be worthwhile for me… and truthfully it was such a great day, I wouldn’t hesitate to book again. I learnt so much from Brenda; about food, cooking, drink pairing as well as local history that I had never picked up on before. I am already sending messages to my friends and family to recommend Tasting Scotland – a 5 star experience in every way.

So where did we go?

Brunch at Luss Seafood Bar and a look around Luss SmokehouseIMG_0716IMG_3644IMG_3634IMG_3651Champagne Lunch at Loch Fyne Oyster BarIMG_0724IMG_0726IMG_0733IMG_3664IMG_3672IMG_3769Guided tour of Inverary Castle and gardensIMG_3767IMG_3692IMG_3682IMG_3679

If you are interested in a Tasting Scotland tour feel free to contact Brenda Anderson by email at brenda@tastingscotland.com or on +44(0)7974212529 – she’s super friendly!

http://www.tastingscotland.com

Thank you to Tasting Scotland for inviting us along.

Thanks for reading 

R x

Hot Weather Adventure Tips

This week the west coast of Scotland has been graced with what felt like endless hot sunny weather… although it has rudely come to an end now. So I am back inside for the first time in days covered in aftersun and drinking lots of water. Phew! As much as I LOVE the sun, I totally forget the strength of it… especially in Scotland. For some reason I feel I have immunity to the Scottish sun, as if it’s not really the same sun I’ve experienced in other parts of the world. And even when going up hills this week, or out on the water I kept forgetting that I needed to drink more and wear more suncream. Doh! Thankfully I’ve escaped unburnt, but I have defiantly been dehydrated more often than not this week – so my first hot weather adventure tip…

Water! I am going to admit something which is going to make me sound like such an idiot, however… I won’t make this mistake EVER again. We went for a scamper up Ben Lomond last Thursday in 25° heat with less than one litre of water between the two of us. Most of the assent was almost unenjoyable because we were so thirsty but we luckily found clean water to drink after the summit. I am now constantly drinking from a 2l bottle of water, and we bought a few big packs of 2l bottles to keep in the car so we will never be short! I read a bit about walking hydration online after that day – and the recommendation is to obviously drink LOTS of water before and during your walk, have some sports drinks that will replace electrolytes (body salt) on you as well, however avoid sugary drinks as they cause nausea and probably won’t rehydrate you very well. 

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Ben Lomond

Check the weather, and avoid the hottest part of the day for walking. On Tuesday we wanted to head to Glen Coe and Glen Etive to explore some hills and rivers, so decided to leave Glasgow really early to walk while the sun was still low in the sky. We were off the hillside by midday, and got to have a lovely lazy picnic afternoon in the shade. 

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Glen Etive

Remember to eat – the ONLY time I ever lose my appetite is when I’m overheating, and this has happened every single day this week… especially when exercising. It is so hard to force food down when your feeling exhausted from the sun, but amount of energy burnt in hot weather needs to be replaced with some food. On the go I totally recommend lightweight small energy bars and fruit, they’re packed with goodness and you don’t need to eat much to get the boost you need. 

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These guys are my favourite! Perk!er

Get framed and protect your eyes – block UVA and UVB with a pair of lightweight sunnies. I would recommend glasses with plastic lenses that are light and durable. Also make sure they fit really well, otherwise they’ll be slipping and sliding all over your sweaty face! 

Keep yourself cool – pick clothes and shoes that are going to be lightweight, breathable and made of fabric that isn’t going to cause you irritation when you start getting hot and sticky. A hat is also really helpful for keeping your head and face cool – I look incredibly dorky in a cap but I really need one to stop my scalp from burning and to keep the sun from my eyes. 

“Don’t get summit fever” Callum has said to me more than once this week. Listen to your body, and if your feeling dizzy and dehydrated be prepared to stop. We actually did turn back on a hill this week because I was feeling really unwell, I felt bad about it – but also knew it would be stupid to carry on in discomfort. 

Don’t be fooled by ocean breeze. The wind is so refreshing when it’s hot, but it is also very deceiving. The sun will still burn your skin! I found that checking the UV index gave me a good indication of how strong the sun was going to be for the day. 

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SUP boarding Loch Lomond 

And finally, listen to Ryan Gosling and “Get in the water”!

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We stumbled across Etive pools on our walk and couldn’t resist a swim to cool down!

Thanks for reading – I hope everyone has managed to enjoy the sun this week!

R x @ronamcmillan