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

 

Photo an Hour, March 2016

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

07:00 “up and dressed and already perplexing the cat”

New Look leggings, H&M top

James has had the flu this week and has been sleeping in the spare room – he says it’s purely for selfish reasons so he can roll about more, but I took it as a kind gesture as it’s meant I haven’t been woken by his coughing. Plus it gives me the rare opportunity to get dressed in the bedroom without being in the dark! Puss has been sharing her time very fairly between us, but me sitting on the floor to take this photo was just too much for her little brain.

BodyPump - Emma's Picture Postcards

08:00 “BodyPump – little weights for my little arms”

I’m still a big fan of BodyBalance but have also started going to BodyPump once a week. It’s basically weightlifting to music, which sounds a little bizarre especially for someone of my stature, but is amazing. As per the caption I’m still using pretty small weights but it gets a little easier each time and is already having a noticeable effect – a few weeks ago I went to buy some new leggings (including the ones above) and had to size up because there are actual muscles in my thighs 😮

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

09:00 “welcome home party – I already see a pattern emerging in my #photoanhour #crazycatlady”

There’s always trouble when I have the audacity to leave the house – she walks around meowing loudly and incessantly until James shuts her in a room with him and makes her lie down!

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

10:00 “shower time, and now for second breakfast”

I love this mirror, which came with the house. I also love second breakfast 😉

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

11:00 “I’m not sure ‘choose your right dosing’ is how I would have phrased it #engrish”

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

12:00 “such a lovely sunny day! Coffee mug originally held mulled wine at Stuttgart Christmas market

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

13:00 “my fork is reflecting light onto the wall and it’s terribly exciting”

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

14:00 “about to attempt baking a cake for the first time in approximately 15 years… wish me luck!”

I’d fancied giving baking a try for a little while and was finally given a nudge by Bumpkin Betty’s new baking club – the theme this month is “cooking with vegetables” so I went for this simple carrot cake recipe.

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

15:00 “well apparently the only phone pic I took this hour was of the grated carrots, so… ta-da!”

Grating three carrots was ridiculously hard work, especially after this morning’s gym class! I’m such a wimp 😉

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

16:00 “trip hazard”

This brings my total to 25% cat photos for the day – I feel that’s an accurate representation of my day-to-day camera roll 😉

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

17:00 “I’d say that’s a pretty successful cake 😀 ”

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

18:00 “steak and chips and pepper sauce. Yum”

I wish I’d wiped that horrible smear off the plate, but apparently my stomach won that battle!

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

19:00 “…and Black Sails 🙂 ”

Still loving this show, it’s gotten less gratuitous since my review, and in exchange they’ve really upped the ante on the drama, and I love that it’s quite unpredictable.

Carrot Cake - Emma's Picture Postcards

20:00 “unsure if it looks better or worse with icing but mmm it tastes good”

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

21:00 “finally painted my nails, have been meaning to all day”

The colour is “Uptown Glamour” by Kate Spade for Nails Inc, and my heart has just broken a little because it seems to have been a limited edition that was released as a free gift with Glamour magazine a few years ago, so I won’t be able to replace it when it’s gone. It’s a really lovely pale gold-ish, brown-ish, silver-ish colour that goes with everything.

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

22:00 “tickets bought to go see Avenue Q next week. Off to bed soon so that’s my first #photoanhour complete!”

My purse is by MenKai, and I’m not sure where I got it, I think it was maybe a gift.

This particular monthly Photo an Hour project is hosted by Jane and Louisa. Jane will be posting the list of everyone who took part this month, so keep an eye out for that if you want a peek at some more versions of 27th March! I always enjoy reading these posts and had fun taking part too. I took all the photos on my phone for the sake of convenience and also ease of uploading them (I posted them on Twitter throughout the day) and the biggest thing I’ve noticed is the huge difference in quality between the ones taken in natural and artificial light!

How did you spend your Easter weekend?

This post contains affiliate links.

Les Mills BodyBalance

Les Mills BodyBalance

 

This feels like an appropriate moment to say: none of my reviews (so far!) are sponsored or the result of freebies – if I’m lucky enough to do any sponsored posts in future, I will of course say so. But for now, if I gush about something, it’s because I genuinely love it. So with that said, on with the gushing 🙂

 

As a young’un, I was pretty active. I went horse-riding once a week and did a lot of walking. Then I came to uni, and discovered nights out and lie-ins, and got a part-time job in a call centre, which involved sitting down for hours. And suddenly the muscles in my right leg decided enough was enough. They hurt so much I couldn’t sit through a full lecture without having to randomly stand up, out of the blue, which was a little embarrassing. I went to the doctor and was referred for physiotherapy, and it turned out my hips were slightly out of alignment and my right leg was shorter than my left, meaning it had to work a lot harder to keep up. They’d probably always been that way, but without doing any exercise the muscles had gradually weakened. With hindsight I think the final straw was that I brought my car to Aberdeen in 2nd year, so my right leg was constantly working pressing the accelerator or brake, while my left sat there slacking and occasionally pushing the clutch. Anyway, the physio taught me some stretching exercises to do, for half an hour every day to start with, and then just as required, and I got better.

 

Fast forward to a few years later, now a proper grown-up with a full-time job, and my gym-loving colleague convinced me to join the nearby gym. I decided to try out the Les Mills BodyBalance class – a mixture of pilates, yoga and tai chi, set to music. I enjoyed it and started going pretty regularly. My colleague came along a few times, and to quote his Facebook status after his first class, “Don’t let the name fool you!” – it’s tough, especially on the abs and legs, but I came out of each class feeling amazing, and found it a little bit easier every time. Sure I ached for a couple of days, but it was a good ache.

 

And gradually I started to notice myself doing things that I hadn’t been able to do before. Like sitting at my desk for two hours without having to get up and do a little dance around because my back / neck / limbs had seized up. Or like reaching for something in the kitchen using just my arm and torso, rather than taking a couple of steps towards it. I started sleeping better. Basically, I started to feel like a person in her 20s, rather than an old lady!

 

So yes I would definitely recommend BodyBalance if you can find a class near you. It’s a great work out and quite fun, the music really keeps you going and the instructors know their stuff. I have also tried a Les Mills BodyAttack class, but honestly it was a bit much for me! As well as regular BodyBalance I now run and cycle and do an occasional Step class when I can, but my goal is to keep myself fit and supple rather than to lose weight, so I’m happy to keep it to a fairly moderate level. I’ve also tried a pure yoga class and it was ok, but I find I get bored quickly trying to do any exercise without music to push me on.

 

Has anybody else tried Balance, or have any other recommendations for me?