Johnston Gardens and Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen

Johnston Gardens, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

I’ve been getting back into running recently, and to keep things a little more interesting I’ve abandoned my usual local routes, in favour of exploring different areas of the city.

For my first adventure, I parked up on Springfield Road and headed for Johnston Gardens.  I’ve driven along Springfield Road hundreds of times and seen the signposts for the Gardens, and I’d heard them mentioned as a favourite location for wedding photos, but had never taken the time to actually visit.

Johnston Gardens, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Johnston Gardens, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

I’m glad I finally did, because they’re lovely.  I think I went slightly after the prime time to visit, because the flowers were getting a little past it, but it’s a beautiful place and very peaceful.  It’s a small area, nestled in a hollow and only accessible by foot, which all gives a very ‘Secret Garden’ feel.  It had rained heavily about ten minutes before, but the gardens were still quite busy – along with me, there were a couple of families, a dog walker and a few pairs of teenagers – and the fresh raindrops just made the flowers all the prettier.

Johnston Gardens, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Johnston Gardens, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

After a nice wander around all the little paths in Johnston Gardens, I headed back in the direction of Hazlehead Park and started following a route marked out by wooden signposts.  It was mostly a good, clear route, although there were a couple of places where I came out on a side street and wasn’t entirely sure which way to turn, so I was glad I had my phone to double-check and get me back on the path.  I did also feel a little bit isolated at this point and paid more attention to my surroundings just to make sure I didn’t get a fright if someone ran up behind me.  Overall though, it was a pleasant run by a woodland stream, with birds singing – and on flat soil, which is always a bonus!

Johnston Gardens to Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Once I arrived out the other side of this path, I cut across the playing fields in the direction of Hazlehead Park.  I only remembered when it was too late that I find this part of running an absolute slog – I know running on grass is supposed to be better for you physically than running on pavement, but I definitely need something a bit more interesting to keep me motivated mentally!  Next time I’ll carry on around the road, which joins up with the main pathway through the park.

Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Hazlehead was its usual gorgeous self, and I stopped to take some photos before heading back to my car through the nearby residential area.  This was when the imaginary house hunting started – that wide, open street is a luxury in itself and how cute is the house with the Hobbiton-style door?

Hazlehead, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Hazlehead, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

 

Filthy Gorgeous – restaurant review

Filthy Gorgeous, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

It’s not often I look at a menu and immediately know – not only what I’m going to order, but also what else I’d like to try on my next few visits after that.  That’s exactly what happened though when newly opened Filthy Gorgeous invited me in for lunch.  Their aim is to do burgers and milkshakes right, but with some quirky extras that make them a little different from the average burger bar.

Moopocalypse Cow, Filthy Gorgeous, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

To drink, I went for the Moopocalypse Cow milkshake – milk, chocolate ice cream, fudge sauce and chocolate brownie pieces.  It was delicious and almost a meal in itself.

Krabby Patty, Filthy Gorgeous, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

For my burger, I chose the Krabby Patty – a soft-shelled crab with sriracha mayo, coriander, lime juice, lettuce and tomato.  It’s described on the menu as a ‘crab burger’ which made me think it would be crab meat, but it’s an actual entire crab!  I was really pleased with my choice and glad I got stuck in, because it was the perfect combination of textures and flavours.

Krabby Patty, Filthy Gorgeous, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Sweet Potato Fries, Filthy Gorgeous, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

The item on the menu that really caught everyone’s eye was the sweet potato fries with toasted marshmallows and bacon shrapnel.  We ordered a portion to share, along with some plain fries as back-up.  The verdict was positive on both, to the extent that we started scooping up marshmallow goo with the plain fries too 🙂

Dirty South, Filthy Gorgeous, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Elsewhere at the table was the Dirty South – buttermilk fried chicken, chipotle mayo, honey nut Cheerios and BBQ sauce – which was a close second on my wishlist.  How good do those chunks of chicken look?!

Cheat Day, Filthy Gorgeous, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Putting everything else to shame was the ridiculous Cheat Day – two beef burgers, fried chicken, pretzels, bacon shrapnel, Gorgeous sauce and Franks Buffalo sauce.

Popcorn Ice Cream, Filthy Gorgeous, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

After eating my milkshake’s chocolate brownies and ice cream alongside my meal, I passed on dessert, but admired the popcorn ice cream (above) and the Dead Unicorn sundae (below) – Jack and chocolate ice cream, bitter cherry sorbet, candy floss, marshmallows, banana, sprinkles and a wafer cone.  Phew!

Dead Unicorn Sundae, Filthy Gorgeous, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Filthy Gorgeous’s aesthetics match the quirky menu, with wooden tables and metallic grey walls contrasting against floral wallpaper and a fancy chandelier.  It’s well-lit and they give you plates to eat from, both of which are an improvement on its predecessor in this location, which in my opinion took that little step from hipster into impractical 😉  Also on offer are beers, wines, cocktails, a photo booth and a set of Cards Against Humanity if you feel like making a night of it after all that sugar!

Filthy Gorgeous, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Filthy Gorgeous, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Filthy Gorgeous is on Netherkirkgate, and is available via Deliveroo.

Filthy Gorgeous, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Filthy Gorgeous invited me for lunch in exchange for a fair review.  Images, text and opinions are my own.

Orchid Aberdeen Winter Cocktails Menu 2016

Orchid Aberdeen Winter Cocktail Menu - Emma's Picture Postcards

Orchid has been one of my favourite bars since it opened in 2009, and is one of the few nightlife locations to have lasted the test of time in Aberdeen, thanks to delicious cocktails and knowledgeable and friendly staff. Every few months they change up their cocktail menu, and recently I was invited along to a bloggers and press evening to take a look at their new winter menu.

Orchid, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

The concept behind Orchid’s 2016 Winter Menu is to share a bit of love with their favourite places around the city, with each drink inspired by a different location (e.g. Footdee, the beach, etc). You’ll receive a badge with your drink, and the idea is that you can take yourself on an alcoholic treasure hunt and visit all eight locations wearing the different badges – provide photographic evidence and they’ll feature your name on next season’s menu 🙂

Religious Robbery, Orchid, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

On to the drinks! First up was the Religious Robbery, which was my favourite of the new offerings. It’s a cross between a gin martini and a pina colada, made with Porter’s gin, spiced pineapple syrup, coconut juice and Dr Adam Elmegirab’s Teapot Bitters. It was so refreshing – the sort of cocktail you could happily knock back like juice and then realise your mistake when you stand up and feel a little dizzy 😉

You might notice glasses of water lurking in the background of my photos. When you arrive at Orchid and sit at a table, they will always bring you a glass of water as standard. This is apparently common practice in London, but isn’t (or certainly wasn’t) in these parts. As someone who’s grown a little older and wiser since her uni days, I’m now a prolific water drinker on a night out, and really appreciate not having to queue at the bar for it!

Honey Rider, Orchid, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

The second new drink was the Honey Rider, named after the Bond girl of the same name. It’s an Old Fashioned, made with mango rum, grapefruit oleo saccharum and Dr Adam Elmegirab’s Orinoco Bitters. It’s really strong, and was given the seal of approval by our group’s Old Fashioned drinker, Georgie, who described it as “like a punch in the mouth – that’s a good thing!” As you can probably tell from the rest of this post, I prefer my alcohol to be a bit more subtle, so I wasn’t the biggest fan of this one.

Beerlini, Orchid, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

The final new drink we tried was the Beerlini – a bellini with beer instead of the usual Prosecco – made with grapefruit cordial, salted Campari and lager. I liked the concept of this – basically a gateway to beer for cocktail drinkers and vice versa – and it’s SO PRETTY, but unfortunately I don’t like grapefruit and it was just too sour for me. If you do like grapefruit, however, I recommend you give this one a try.

Pink Orchid, Orchid, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

After sampling all the new winter offerings with Nick, we joined Matthew at the bar for a fun mixology class. He showed us how to make a classic daiquiri and let us loose on the bar to serve up Orchid’s signature cocktail, the Pink Orchid. I think this beauty (made with vanilla vodka, raspberry liqueur, cranberry juice, lime juice, sugar syrup and egg white) was the unanimous favourite of everyone in attendance, and it’s easy to see why it’s the one cocktail that’s always on the menu.

Peachy Queen, Orchid, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Matthew then asked us to fire some ingredient suggestions at him to create our own cocktail. We came up with the Peachy Queen, containing peach, coconut and strawberry flavours with a base of rum and lime juice, and I have to say we outdid ourselves. It was really tasty, and for our efforts we won best cocktail and received a mini bottle of Porter’s gin.

Gin Tasting, Orchid, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Our final stop of the evening was a gin tasting session with Porter’s. Porter’s started out as a fun side-project by some of Orchid’s staff, and was eventually launched as a proper brand last December. Their aim was to create a gin for gin drinkers, and the little bottle I won has been a welcome addition to an occasional wee gin and lemonade in my house 😉

Orchid, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

To finish up, after all those drinks it was time for some food, and we were served up a few of Orchid’s beautiful charcuterie boards. If you can take your eyes off them, take a look at the wall behind – it’s covered in cocktail shakers. Just another of the little features that lend this bar a lovely aesthetic and make it a really pleasant place to spend an evening.

Orchid Aberdeen Winter Cocktail Menu 2016 - Emma's Picture Postcards

I was invited to attend Orchid’s menu preview in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

I Have This Thing With Clock Towers

There are a few accounts and corresponding hashtags on Instagram, like #ihavethisthingwithfloors and #ihavethisthingwithlibraries, that focus on specific architectural features. My “thing” is clock towers – I absolutely love them. Whenever I’m out and about and I see one over the rooftops, I have an irrepressible urge to go find where it is and what building it’s on top of. So the other day I decided to indulge my weird passion and go clock tower hunting!

ACT Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

First up is ACT Aberdeen, formerly known as the Aberdeen Arts Centre. This one is in the city centre at the junction of King Street and West North Street, and as you drive along W N Street it gets framed against the spectacular Marischal College. I like the grand columns on the building and that this clock’s four faces alternate black and white on each side.

East St Clement's Church, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

In the nearby area of Footdee is St Clement’s Church. This lovely little old kirk is now disused, but the graveyard is still open to the public so you can wander round and read the collection of lopsided gravestones.

Aberdeen Harbour Board - Emma's Picture Postcards

Up close and at ground level, Aberdeen Harbour Board’s office blends in with all the other grey granite facades on Regent Quay. But from a bit further away its clock tower stands out as a focal point.

St Stephens Parish Church, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Leaving the city centre and heading out towards the airport, you pass St Stephen’s Parish Church on Powis Place, with its cheery red doors, classy cupola and weather vane. Powis Place has been looking a little shabby the last few years as there were a few empty buildings, but they’ve been renovated and replaced now so the whole street is spick and span again!

Woodside Parish Church, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Carrying on along Great Northern Road, you reach Woodside Parish Church, which is tucked away up a peaceful little side street. As you can probably tell, Aberdeen is very grey, so the little splash of colour provided by the green dome is always welcome!

St Machar's Cathedral, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

And last up is a favourite, the beautiful St Machar’s Cathedral, in Old Aberdeen. I arrived just as a wedding was finishing, but I managed to get a stealthy snap without getting in the way!

After I took these pictures the rain started so I decided to call it quits, but it was a nice way to get some exercise so I’m sure I’ll be back with a part 2 some time soon.

What’s your favourite? Do you have a #thingwithfloors, ceilings or anything else?

Giraffe restaurant review

Giraffe, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

bowl for the soul

Recently Giraffe invited a few Aberdeen bloggers along to sample their new menu. I had only been to Giraffe once before, with my dad in London, but I loved it then and was keen to try out their Aberdeen branch, located in Union Square shopping centre.

Giraffe, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Giraffe, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Giraffe’s ethos is to be a friendly place that showcases food and music from around the world. The restaurant is really nicely decorated, with lots of wood and cozy lighting (including fairy lights!), painted brickwork, and a choice of tables or raised booths, with a few of the tables looking out onto the shopping centre. Their dishes tend to include a lot of fresh vegetables and a tasty mixture of flavours, and their smoothie and cocktail menus are not to be missed!

Giraffe, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

I went for a mango mule cocktail, Goan prawn curry and passion fruit cheesecake, and they were all delicious. The curry was just the right level of spicy for me (and gorgeous to look at!) and the cheesecake ticked all the boxes on my extensive cheesecake checklist: not too sweet, neither too creamy nor too dense, enough biscuit base but not too much, etc 😉

Giraffe, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Goan king prawn curry

Giraffe, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

passion fruit cheesecake

Some of the other dishes around the table looked great too, including the “bowl for the soul” (pictured at the top of this post), the harissa chicken burger (below) and the churros, which didn’t last long enough for me to catch a photo! Churros aren’t really my cup of tea but were a very popular choice, and looked very cinnamonny (that’s a word).

Giraffe, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

harissa chicken burger

The blogger meet was such a fun evening and I really enjoyed chatting with Karen, Hannah, Sarah, Laura, Laura and Eni (Amey, Anastasia, Denise, Jo, Katherine, Lauren, Mairi and Sarah were also there but at the other end of the table!) We were well looked after and were each given a goodie bag, which included a £5 discount voucher for another meal. So James and I decided to treat ourselves to a meal out the following week.

Giraffe, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

mango mama and espresso martini

This time I tried the espresso martini and tuk-tuk duck stir fry. I enjoyed the martini, and the stir fry was SO GOOD. I must have said so about 10 times while eating it. Tender duck, crunchy veg, doughy noodles and yummy chilli jam. SO GOOD.

*First meal provided by Giraffe in exchange for an honest review. Second meal paid for ourselves minus a £5 voucher. Opinions, text and photos are my own.

#abzmeet at Tea Zone

Tea Zone, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Last weekend I met up with some of the other lovely bloggers based in and around Aberdeen. It was so nice to meet everyone, especially as there were three of us who were along for the first time. It was an unusually mild and sunny day, with no wind (unheard of in Aberdeen!) and we spent a really relaxing couple of hours chatting. I seem to have caught Amey warming her hands on her teapot in this picture, sorry Amey!

Abzmeet - Aberdeen Bloggers Meet at Tea Zone - Emma's Picture Postcards

Tea Zone, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

We went to newly opened Tea Zone, a gorgeous little tea shop just off the Castlegate in the city centre. How cozy is that little window nook?! After choosing our teas from the large selection, and of course a cheeky slice of cake (yum) we made ourselves comfortable in the seating area in the next room, which we were lucky enough to be the first customers to use since it was decorated!

Tea Zone, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Tea Zone, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

I’ve mentioned before that I was never a tea fan until recently, when I discovered green tea – before that I’d only tried black tea (bitter, yuck) and fruit teas (smell good, taste of nothing). This time I tried a ginger and orange green tea, and it was really good – I’ll be back to try some of the others available. The teas are served in a beautiful glass teapot, which yields 3-4 cups, with a glass bowl underneath holding a tea light to keep it at the perfect temperature. As for the cakes and bakes, some are made in-house, while the chocolate orange brownie I sampled was provided by another local business, Cake. As usual, I was tempted by the carrot cake but sucked in by the chocolate option, but everyone around the table was happy with their selection.

Tea Zone, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

If you fancy some more weekend reading, check out the ladies’ blogs: Amey, Eni, Iga, KarenKatherine, Laura, Sarah and Sarah

And if you’re a blogger in the Aberdeen area, join us for our weekly Twitter chat using #abzchat, Wednesdays 8-9pm, and join our Facebook group for details of our next meet.

This post contains affiliate links.

Duthie Park, Sep ’15

Duthie Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Autumn has definitely arrived here in Aberdeen – it’s been a rubbish summer anyway, but from 1st September there’s been a noticeable chill in the air. The sun came out on Sunday though, so we decided to make the most of it and go for a walk in Duthie Park.

Duthie Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

River Dee, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Not only is it a pretty and relaxing place to wander round, but it also has the Winter Gardens – a big complex of greenhouses, full of beautiful flowers and hot weather plants like cacti.

Duthie Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Duthie Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Duthie Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Being in this room really made me look forward to my holiday next month! Autumn will be just fine with a sunny break in the middle 🙂

Duthie Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Duthie Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Duthie Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Duthie Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Duthie Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Cafe Boheme, Aberdeen

Cafe Boheme Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

A few weeks ago, James and I returned home from work trips and decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal out. I’d had a well-paid but tough week away with clients; meanwhile James attended a conference in Canada, then interviewed and was accepted for a research position in the same department where he’s been doing his PHD. Time to celebrate with a cheeky glass of champagne 😉

Cafe Boheme, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Café Bohème is a lovely little French restaurant on Windmill Brae. At a guess I’d say it only seats around 30 people, and it is beautifully decorated. I love the table settings – as pictured above, a fresh rose, salt and pepper in little preserving jars, and a butter dish that looks like a service bell. The staff are very friendly and professional, and the owner, Dominique, takes a hands-on approach to all aspects of his restaurant, and it really feels like he’s welcoming you into his home.

Cafe Boheme, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

The food is simple but delicious. We had booked in for Early Dinner and decided to go for the 3-course set menu for £18.95, and my goodness what a good deal that is. We were served delicious home-made bread both before and with our mushroom Soupe du Jour starter. For the main course we had Navarin D’Agneau (lamb stew, pictured above), and for dessert we selected the Creme Brûlée and Profiteroles.

Cafe Boheme, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Everything was delicious. The lamb was beautifully tender, and the gravy/sauce was quite light. The profiteroles had a chocolate filling and caramel sauce, rather than the usual cream filling with chocolate sauce – an interesting twist, tasty and rich. Three profiteroles might not seem a lot compared to some servings, but I was struggling by the end, and I rarely have any difficulty packing in dessert!

Cafe Boheme, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

I would highly recommend Café Bohème – make sure to book, as the restaurant only opens 12:00-13:45 and 18:00-21:00 Tuesday-Saturday, and as mentioned above is fairly small. The food, service and atmosphere are wonderful, and really made for a special evening, worth every penny (and not too many of them either)!

Café Bohème, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Last of the Winter Woollens

…hopefully!

Emma's Picture Postcards

This has been one of my regular outfits this winter. Nice and easy, and keeps me warm. The dress is quite versatile for autumn/spring as well, as I can wear the collar like a scarf as above if I’m feeling chilly, or if I’m warm enough I can pull it down and off my shoulders like in the photo at the bottom of this post… it turned out a bit messed up and diagonal below though, that was not on purpose haha!

Seaton Park, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

We went for a walk in Seaton Park today. For the last couple of weeks we’ve had some lovely sunshine but mixed in with sudden showers of snow and hail! But today it was actually as nice out as it looked, so much so we had an ice cream!

Emma's Picture Postcards

Emma's Picture Postcards

Emma's Picture Postcards

Dress – New Look

Leggings – H & M

Boots – old, possibly H & M