June 2014


Have you ever stopped and looked at your surroundings? When to-ing and fro-ing all over the city, have you ever just wanted to discover new places? I sure have but sometimes it’s hard to just stop “urban auto piloting” out of your own little bubble in the city. I know several people who never venture away from the West End unless they ultimately have to, and those who would never dream of heading to the South Side of the city into the unknown. However, how do you really know what those areas have to offer until you actually take advantage of them and explore?


Last month I teamed up with American Express to discover some hidden gems and inspirational places around Glasgow to create a digital map with the help of my readers and followers. The places could have been anything from your favourite place to people watch, to work out or even your favourite music hangout. After being inundated with responses, the list was whittled down and the map was starting to take shape.


Research was also carried out with American Express who sound that just one in five people take the time to look at their surroundings. This is a stark contrast to our behaviour when we venture abroad. When visiting foreign cities, we are 49% more likely to research new places to visit and explore, compared to just 16% when we are at home.


I’ve started to change my own percentage by using apps on my iPhone such as Yelp and Twitter to discover new haunts in Glasgow and even further afield. I’ve been lucky to explore countries in Asia and the Middle East, yet I’ve hardly explored Glasgow and Scotland. Up until last year, I rarely frequented the West End and South Side, now I’m whizzing around them and can even list some of my favourite places.


Dr Esmée Hanna, a demographic specialist, commented: “’Urban Autopilot’ is a great way to describe our behaviour in cities: all too often it’s about hurrying from one place to another rather than taking time to live in the present. As a result, we don’t always register the richness and diversity of our surroundings as we pass them by. When we go away we have our eyes and ears open to soak up the sights and sounds of the city we visit, if we did a bit more of this at home we would be amazed at how many inspiring and undiscovered places are waiting for us to experience.”


To help overcome this, the map was created and is now live on Pinterest (ideally viewed via computer). To navigate you can either hover over each pin recommended by myself which matches an image I took along with a brief description of the location or zoom into the map itself and click on a location to be taken to the pin. It’s rather snazzy and will be expanded upon with your suggestions such as:

  • Sixty Steps on Queen Margaret Drive which is a massive retaining wall of steps that were created by Glasgow architect, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson in the early 1870’s.
  • Baird in the Botanics at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens bringing Shakespeare to life in our very own city.
  • Cathkin Braes for great walking and mountain bike treks, overlooking the city.
  • Mansfield Park Farmer’s Market where you can find some of Scotland’s best produce such as venison, shell fish and cheeses.
  • Glasgow’s Necropolis where you can view graves of the famous, inspirational and military as well as great views of the city.

 hidden gems and inspirational places around Glasgow

Glasgow is a truly wonderful city and it’s time to get your little explorer hats on and have a good day out. You can access it quickly via the widget below as well, just cause I’m nice.

Follow American Express UK’s board Glasgow’s top inspirational places on Pinterest.

When my parents bought my grandfathers house after he passed away, they got a huge extension built. As part of the extension, I had my bedroom designed by my dad (with input by myself) and an architect which included a walk-in wardrobe. By the time the extension completed, it was time to paint and buy furniture for the entire house. We painted every day for weeks, we got sick of it. So sick that I still need to gloss the doors to my walk-in wardrobe til this day, years later (does anyone know a good cheap painter?!)

For a while now, I’ve become bored with how my bedroom looks. It’s messy and not how I really envisioned it to look after the extension was complete (except the lovely Duck Egg walls) and I’m slowly trying to change that. The first thing to change for me was the bed. I was sleeping in an old king size bed which belonged to my grandparents which I revamped when I moved in. The mattress was rather annoying and my back was suffering. Along with my mom, we read a few sleeping guides and went window shopping for beds in every nearby decor store imaginable, it was EXHAUSTING. I knew that I wanted a divan bed with storage underneath and had a rough budget in mind of under £500.

After trying five different stores, I finally found the perfect memory foam bed. What I didn’t envision was that the bed didn’t come with a head board and I had to purchase a headboard separately. I suppose the reasoning for this is so you can pick one to your taste instead of a fixed headboard which you may end up hating. Headboard shopping was rather easy, it had to be white and modern, which I also purchased at Carpetright, who also sell beds (who knew?!)

The rest of my furniture was bought at IKEA and I’m constantly looking for accessories to bring some life into the room. Pinterest is my playground for accessory inspiration and I’ve started a board for gathering all my ideas together.

Follow Michelle Muirhead’s board Interior Design: Bedroom on Pinterest.
In the next few months, I hope to finally have the bedroom that I’ve always wanted and when I do, I’ll take photographs showing it off. I just need time… and money!

What do you use for inspiration? What does your bedroom look like? Do you have a colour scheme you love? What are your favourite bedroom accessories?

Being the ever wonderful girlfriend that I am, I ever so slightly forced Ross to be my model for the day in front of the camera to show off his new Pyjama bottoms from the UK Company PJ Pan that I was asked to review last month.

PJ Pan create “classic and contemporary British-made pyjamas and cotton nightwear for women, men, teenagers and children. Made using only the finest quality cotton, the thoughtful styling and extensive range of fabrics makes this one of the UK’s leading collections of cotton pj’s. Many of the fabrics fall across the adults’ and children’s collections allowing you to buy matching mother and daughter or father and son pyjamas”.


After being given an array of different PJ Trousers to choose from, he decided on the Egg & Soldiers variety, a perfect name for lazying around on a Sunday morning! The Pyjama bottom design is red, white and blue checks (RRP £42) which also come in different leg sizes depending on how tall or short you may be. The company also offer a bespoke tailoring service should you need to custom order a special size which not many companies these days do without it being extortionate.



When feeling the pyjamas and even looking at the stiching, you can tell that a lot of care has been put into creating a quality garment.  The nightwear is all manufactured in the UK using the finest quality of cotton and the high regard for quality is even evident in the buttons which are made from real shells.



Ross has been putting the pyjamas through sturdy tests for quite a while now, washing them a dozen times, wearing them lazing around in the house, in the kitchen and sitting in the living room watching the television. After these rigorous tests, the quality hasn’t diminished, no holes have appeared which happens a lot with low quality products, the colour hasn’t faded in the wash and they still look brand spanking new.  Thumbs up.

Do you like wearing pyjama bottoms around the house? do you have a favourite brand?

Ever since I was in my tweens, I’ve loved Rap and Hip Hop. I used to listen to Snoop Dogg, Notorious BIG, 2Pac, Jay Z, 213 and NWA to name a few constantly and “sing” along to the tracks. I always remember memorizing Lil Kim’s verse with Notorious BIG on the track Another when I was 15, not exactly the type of lyrics my parents would have ever liked hearing me repeat though because til this day my dad never allows me to swear and gets rather angry when I do. Oops.

Sadly I never got to see Notorious BIG or 2Pac in concert but on Sunday evening, I finally got the chance to see Snoop Dogg in concert. Oh yes, I finally got to see him and he did not disappoint. Well…. not entirely. The doors opened at 7pm, the support act came on and left by the time I arrived at 9pm with Ross because I really wasn’t interested in listening to him, I was here for the main man Snoop. Snoop was supposed to come on shortly afterwards but didn’t until 10:10pm which by that point the crowd were booing rather loudly and getting rather pissed off. That was all forgotten though when Snoop Dogg came on stage and rocked the crowd for just over an hour.

He covered a lot of the tracks I love and dedicated tributes to Nate Dogg, Notorious BIG and 2Pac which the crowd went wild for. A weird turning point mid-way through the concert was when he stood still with I love Rock & Roll blaring out of the sound system and singing into his mic every now and then. A rather strange song for the Gangsta Rapper to be covering and just didn’t work for me. Overall, it was a great concert and I’m so glad I finally got a chance to see him live.

Highlight Video of the concert:

Some of the tracks covered:

Here Comes The King (Snoop Lion)
I’m Fly (Nate Dogg tribute)
The Next Episode
Drop It Like It’s Hot
Sweat (David Guetta collab)
Jump Around (House of Pain)
California Girls (Katy Perry collab)
I Wanna Rock
I Wanna F*ck You (Akon collab)
All I Do Is Win (DJ Khaled collab)
Who Am I? What’s My Name
Gin & Juice
I love Rock & Roll (Joan Jett)
Hypnotize (Notorious BIG tribute)
Americas Most Wanted (2Pac tribute)
Young, Wild and Free (Wiz Khalifa & Bruno Mars collab)

On Monday, Ross & I joined a table of other food bloggers to a special tasting menu at The Little Urban Achievers Club (LUAC) on Great Western Road. The five course menu was created by Group Head Chef John Traynor with the theme of “Meat The Pig”.

To start, we had a little box of Pork Scratchings. I tried one but in all honesty, I detest them. I don’t get why people like them as a snack. Others on the table loved them, even Ross who had two whole boxes to himself.

The first course we sampled was Smoked Pig Cheek Broth which was served along with Kilner jars of Herb Smoked French Bread. The soup was delicious, full of flavour and the pigs cheeks were cooked so beautifully that they fell apart. Definitely one of my favourite dishes on the night.



Next, one of my all time favourites, Jalapeño Poppers. Instead of just the normal run of the mill Poppers, we were given two types, Ham Hock and Smoked In-House Cheese which were both coated in Panko Breadcrumbs. These were superb. I really wish LUAC put these on the menu full time because I’d be ordering these, a lot. They were spicy but it didn’t detract from the flavour.




For our Main, we were given individual Tasting Platters which had a Crispy Pork Slider Burger, Pulled Pork, Sweet & Sour Ribs, Ham Hock Croquettes, Pork Loin and Sweet Potato Fries. The meat of the ribs fell off the bone, was very tender and the sauce was just the right level of sweetness. The little spoonful of Pulled Pork was delicious but I’m not a huge Pulled Pork fan, which John knew. Sadly he didn’t convert me this time!


The Crispy Pork Slider Burger was plain & simple, just the way you want a burger at times. The pork (unsure of the cut of meat) was crispy but light. It wasn’t heavy but after eating so much rich food, I couldn’t finish the little burger. I would have liked an additional sauce with the burger other than the little tube of Homemade BBQ Sauce we got, maybe a mayo?


The Ham Hock Croquettes were fluffy, seasoned well and when dipped into the BBQ Sauce were scrumptious. The last element on the platter was a chunk of Pork Loin. I was pretty full by this point so only ate half of the loin, and it was a mixed bag for me. The loin didn’t have much flavour to it and I had to smother it in the BBQ Sauce to give it some added flavour.


Lastly, we had Bacon Doughnuts with chopped Strawberries. Utterly delicious. I wish I had more of these. They were soft, fluffy, slightly salty but the sweetness of the strawberries and the coulis didn’t let the saltiness overpower it. The doughnuts were very light and far from the dense doughnuts that you sometimes get. A beautiful end to the evening.

Overall, John Traynor and his team have great vision and I love tasting dinners as you get to sample certain dishes you would never normally order. At £30 per person, I feel that it is good value for money for the amount of food you get (along with two alcoholic drinks). The next tasting menu John is working on is “Meat The Smoked Chicken and Egg” allowing you to sample dishes such as Truffle and Parmesan Chicken Wings, Build Your Own Snow Cone and a dessert version of Eggs & Soldiers. It sounds rather intriguing and a group of us have already decided we’re going to book a table and try the six course menu in August.

Disclaimer: I was invited by John Traynor as a guest in return for a review. Whilst my meal was complimentary, Ross paid for his meal and we paid for drinks. I was under no obligation to write a positive review and my comments reflect my true experience on that evening.

When I got my driving license two and a half years ago, I bought my car an hour after passing my test. I bought a brand new pre-registered car and never thought about buying a used car. Why? I didn’t know what to look for, if the car was any good, the mileage scared me and I was worried I’d be ripped off. Before buying my car, the weeks before my test, I investigated lots of cars I liked and I knew what features I wanted. All gadgets that is.

My car is three years old in November and I want to get a new one because quite frankly, I’m bored with it. My car has been wonderful to me but I just want more. I never initially wanted to buy a second hand car but they are cheaper than brand new ones so it got me thinking.

Car Shop created the infographic below for things to check when buying a used car which is really helpful. It covers a lot of things to look for and doesn’t seem as scary anymore.  Just before November comes, I’m going to go car shopping again and I’m going to have a look at second hand cars, bringing this knowledge with me, and see if I can find my perfect gadget filled car which is within budget and a better deal than a brand new car.

Here’s hoping anyway!

buying-a-used-car info graphic

150ft up in the Glasgow sky lies the most exclusive & unique whisky bar in the world. For three days only starting tomorrow, Whyte & Mackay taken over the Titan Crane in Clydebank and transformed it into The Lion’s Clyde where it will be serving drams for to up 8 people at a time to celebrate its 170th anniversary.

Whyte & Mackay Drams

The whisky label was formed on the Clyde docks by James Whyte and Charles Mackay and what better way to celebrate than using a piece of Clyde history. The crane was designed originally to be used in the lifting of equipment such as engines during the fitting out of battleships and ocean liners at the John Brown shipyard, where my grandfather worked.

At 23 square metres, it certainly is Scotland’s smallest bar. It comes complete with “brick walls”, bar stools, tables, a “roaring fire” and pub snacks to create the ultimate destination for whisky lovers.

Whyte & Mackay Titan Crane Lights

Due to the size restriction, entry is limited and available on a first come, first served basis via Whyte & Mackay’s Facebook page and the lucky few will be picked up by a complementary taxi anywhere within a 10 mile radius in Glasgow before taking a lift to the top of the crane. Unfortunately, most of the dedicated time slots are now all Sold Out but if you check back daily, they open extra slots so you may just be one of the lucky ones.

I checked it out yesterday afternoon, had a little tipple and enjoyed the views while chatting away with others who were there. It was a rather fun way to spend the afternoon and would be a great place to catch up with friends and see Glasgow from a different angle. When you are 150ft up in the air, it doesn’t actually feel that high which is great for those who are scared of heights, plus when you are tucked away in the bar, you forget just how high up you actually are.

Whyte & Mackay Scott McLeod Titan Crane

So will you want to be one of the lucky ones to have a dram in the sky?

Top Featured Image Credit: Andy Buchanan