Sunday, 4 October 2015

I should complete the Lyke Wake Walk

In June I wrote  post titled ‘I'm going to complete the LykeWake Walk Challenge’.

I didn’t complete it. I didn’t actually start it.

The weekend of the walk had horrendous weather scheduled and Zoe of and I took the difficult decision to cancel our adventure. Our bags were packed but we knew a few days before we may have to cancel, as the forecast was bad. We carried on planning knowing we may not actually go. It was a disappointing day. The weather did turn out to be as bad as the weather reports promised so we had made the right decision.

Zoe and I found just one weekend we were both free- the second weekend in October. So, this coming weekend we should complete the Lyke Wake Walk.

The change of date has actually worked out well because Allysse of can come along too. Zoe, Allysse and I met for the first time at the inaugural Outdoor Bloggers weekend back in May and got on very well so I’m super excited to be undertaking the walk with them.

The Lyke Wake Walk is a 40 mile linear hike across the North Yorkshire Moors. The challenge is to complete the distance within 24 hours. However, considering the daylight hours at this time of year we have decided to do the walk over two days.  We aren’t too bothered about completing the challenge.  We are just excited to walk the trail.

The fact we are staying in a B&B on the Friday and the Saturday night makes it even more exciting. We have a triple room so it will be like a proper girly sleepover. We mustn’t stay awake chatting too long though- we will have long days ahead of us.

I can’t wait!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Hiking Lochnagar in the Cairngorms of Scotland

Hiking Lochnagar has been on my Bucket list for as long as I can remember. The mountain rises above the royal Balmoral estate, in the Grampian Mountain of the Cairngorm National Park of Scotland.

The 12 mile circular starts at the bottom of Loch Muick within the Balmoral Estate, following a substantial hardcore path before steeply ascending rocks to the plateau from which the stunning corrie and the loch itself can be seen.

Our Scottish trip was a birthday gift from Dave so he expected nothing less than for me to pick a long walk up a mountain.

We awoke early on the Sunday morning in our Shephards Hut, ate breakfast then drove to the Loch Muick for 10am. With the shorter days and the considering the recommended 8 hour duration of the hike we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time. I have a tendency to stop frequently to take photos, look for wildlife and admire views, meaning we often take longer than expected to complete walks.

The weather was good with just the odd dark cloud moving over the peaks when we reached the car park at Loch Muick and we set off enthusiastically praying for the fine weather to stick around.

The path lead from the car park, past the visitor centre and toilets then across Glen Muick towards some beautiful buildings at Allt-na-guibhsaich.

The path then goes through a wood before ascending by a stream. The route crosses a minor gorge then makes its way towards the lochan with splendid views of the northern corrie- a curving cliff around the lochan. A middle aged man walked with a younger man behind us and we caught some of their conversation as they got closer to us. The older of the men was telling the younger that this was the 15th time he had walked the circular and only twice had the views been clear from the top. The sky was looking promising and crossed our fingers in hope of clear views for this day.

The 'ladder' is a natural construction of boulders that conveniently act as steps leading to the plateau above the corrie. The view behind reached the leafy green woodland that surrounds Balmoral in the distance and the full size of the lochan below comes into view from here.

As we climbed the wind grew stronger and by the time we reached the plateau my face was covered by my hair and I could no longer hear Dave calling to me. I tightened my waterproof hood over my head and pulled my buff up to my eyes to protect my face from the sharp wind. I had just a narrow slit to pear out of from behind my clothing and without realising it I began wandering in the direction of the cliff edge rather than towards the summit. Luckily Dave was there to grab my arm and lead me in the right direction.

The trig point at Cab Carn Beag appeared close but a blind summit skewed our perception of distance. We finally reached the crowed summit and awaited our turn to climb the rocks on which the trig point is fixed. A man offered to take our photo then we moved along to allow the next group to move in.

It's funny how one has to touch the trig point as a mark of accomplishment. We studied a diagram upon a mount with lines pointing in the direction of other summits. I don't know what they are called but it's great looking out across the horizon looking for a another mountain you one stood at the top of some hundred miles away. We looked for the Cheviot but couldn't see it, of course.

The wind was strong, as you can tell from the photos but we found a spot a few rocks down from the trig point that was sheltered from the wind and had stunning views across the mountains. We ate our sandwiches and drank tea from our flask enthusiastically while complimenting the view. Flask tea doesn't have a great taste but it sure is comforting on a mountain walk.

The weather was just perfect; enough wind push the few cloud past quickly and the landscape blotted beautifully with rays of sun and shadows.  Being on a mointain looking across to the horizon is probably my favourite feeling. I feel excited, satisfied and I am filled with awe and appreciation. I actually get a fluttery heart from it.

The decent seemed somewhat uninspiring for the majority of the way down but reaching the waterfall caused more 'Ohhhh's and 'aaaah's from the two of us. Loch Muick came into view and the corries to the easter side stood almost vertical. The path narrowed and we saw the prints from horses hooves in the moist ground. It was amazing to think a horse could climb the steep and rocky, narrow path.

The view across the south end of the loch was surrounded by lush vegetation and the rocky corries that rose above reminded me of the scene in the children's film, The Land Before Time where the dinosaurs reach the Great Valley. I definitely would be Sarah and Dave would be Littlefoot. I used to watch that film every weekend for years as a child.

We left the excitement of the wind gushing waterfalls and views and descended further to  reach the track that circles the loch which would take us back to where we started. This section of the walk was pleasant but the views across the loch lacked the splendour of the views we had from above it. We picked up our pace for the 3 mile home stretch as the scenery wasn't as dynamic.

We returned to the car and were somhow folowed by a swarm of midges that got into the car with us. They were everywhere. We spent a good few minutes swatting them from our brows and the windscreen before travelling back to Ballater in search of a pub that served Haggis, neeps and tatties. Much to our delight we found one. It was my prefect day- mountains, views, hiking, laughter, love and haggis.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Glamping in a Shepherds Hut in the Scottish mountains

Last weekend Dave and I spent three cosy nights in this gorgeous Shepherds Hut at the foot of the Grampian Mountains of the Cairngorm National Park in Scotland.

The holiday was a birthday treat from Dave- he did good! We both love camping in tents but have enjoyed two other glamping trips together; a tipi in Wales and a yurt in the Lake District.

Scotland is always my first choice for a holiday- the lush mountains of the country are rich in wildlife and are excellent for long hikes and stunning views.

Ecocamp Glenshee is a small family-run business situated in the gently rolling hills at the bottom of the valley known as Glenshee. Just 16 miles further along the road is where the Grampian Mountains begin, making Ecocamp Glenshee the ideal location for those who want to explore the National Park.

On arrival we saw a covered area with a pink and a yellow wheelbarrow beneath, along with a notice explaining their intended use; ferrying up luggage to the accommodations.

Just a short walk up-hill we reached the house of the owners where were greeted by Simon and several young chickens which gathered around our feet.

We were given a quick tour of the bothy which has tables and chairs to eat food at, sofas to relax on by a wood burning stove and a simple yet well kitted-out kitchen area complete with fridge and portable gas cooker.

The porch and interior walls are filled with a wealth of information, attractions, and books about the local area, making the bothy feel welcoming as well as practical.

The friendly chickens followed our movements, hoping we would drop some crumbs. These two are called Snickers and Malteser.

This little cuite let me have a snuggle

We were then guided to our little home for the next few days- this gorgeous Shepherds Hut. It has all the facilities one could wish for- a fire pit, a table complete with tea lights in jars, two chairs, a stack of wood, an axe and and a chopping block.

Inside the hut was even more delightful than the outside. The little wood burning stove sits just by the door with a basket of kindling by the side and a shelf above with matches, extra tea lights, wine glasses, mugs and bowls.

The raised bed is perfect for looking out across the hill ands over towards the mountain range in the distance. The bed is very comfortable with plump duck down pillows and duvet.

The fire gets hot very quickly and we soon had to open the windows to let some cool air in. There's something cozy about being on a raised bed. The low ceiling creates the illusion of a snuggly area. Perfect for a romantic getaway with the one you love.

The log basket is filled with dry softwood that burns easily for those who aren't used to lighting a stove. The table is adorned with fresh flowers from the garden and a small basket is filled with tea bags, coffee and sugar. Oh, and two mini Green & Blacks chocolate bars. It's the little touches that make a good stay, great.

This is the view out of the window. Beautful. Each morning we awoke gently and lay in bed gazing out over the hills.  It rained all Saturday morning so we spent the time snuggling in bed and watching the clouds drawing in, covering the tops of the hills and mountains.

It was my first time in Scotland in the month of September. It's a beautiful time to visit as the ground is still lush and the heather flowers create a blanket of purple over higher areas. There's another Shepherds Hut which is just to the right of Dave in the photo above. This one is ideal for families as it sleep up to 4 people. The family yurt to the right of that also sleeps 4.

The pods sleep 5 people and come with beds, lighting and heating. They are grouped together making them perfect for groups doing activities in the area.

The toilet and shower block is basic but sufficient. The showers are hot but the temperature cant be altered.  Perfect enough for non-fussy people like us.

The farm is home to some fun pets. As well as the hens there are are cheeky pygmy goats, huge lazy lamas, friendly donkeys and dogs.

The pygmy goats are hilarious. They wait until Fiona and Simon are indoors then they jump over the fence and run loose around the field. When Simon came out they hoped straight back over!

Ecocamp Glenshee offer lama treks with Atticus, Jet, Bonita and Bradford.

We came away from our three night stay feeling relaxed and refreshed. The cosy space of the Shepherds Hut was our ideal romantic getaway and I would recommend it to any couple. There's little to distract you from each other than the captivating views and the need to stoke the fire every now and then.

For prices and bookings, visit
Prices for the Romantic Shepherds Hut start from £70 per night for two people.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The cost of weddings

The other weekend Dave and I attended the wedding of his best friend, Geoff, and his now wife, Lix, which took place in a lush green meadow in the beautiful hills close to Ripon, Yorkshire.

To most, it wasn't a typical wedding setting; no church, no hotel function room disco. Instead, it was the perfect expression of the couple's far-from-conventional identities; natural boho-chic combined with festival vibes.

The ceremony took place by a gently flowing stream, beneath an arch of intertwined sticks and flowers of all colours. The wedding breakfast and reception were held in a marquee just a few metres away and the surrounding field turned into a cosy campsite for the night.The decor consisted of twig centrepieces decorated with photos of the couple from the last 8 years of their relationship.

It was a truly beautiful wedding. Many aspects, such as the outdoor ceremony, are similar to what I have always imagined my wedding to be like if Dave is to be so lucky.

The wedding will have by no means been cheap but the personal touches and handmade decor will have kept the costs down.

The average wedding in the UK costs a whopping £23,550. I can't comprehend this amount of money being spent on one day. Some couples take out loans to pay for their one day then spend the next several years paying it back.

I understand that venue hire costs are ridiculously expensive, but for me I think the force of pier pressure, tradition and culture leads many to feel that the bride's dress, the flowers and other typical wedding features are unquestionable. I've always felt the lack of need or desire to have these things if I were to have a wedding. I'm not particularly traditional or sentimental and by nature I question the whats the whos and the whys about the way anything is typically done. Until I started to follow Rock and Roll Bride I thought I was in the minority to not feel the desire to have a 'big' wedding. Reading about other couples having unconventional, low-key and low cost weddings reassured me that it's ok to not want what every one else wants.

For many women, the dress is the one item that isn't comprisable. After all, you only get to wear it once. Of course it's important that the woman feels happy in her dress but many don't feel the need to be comfortable. I'd certainly want to be comfortable. Some people spend thousands on their wedding dress yet change into something more comfortable later in the evening. I understand why but find I would find it difficult to justify taking off the dress, I had spent so much money on, too prematurely. As a penny-pincher I love that a recent report by found that 63% of couples would consider a second hand dress or hire a dress for their big day. It's a much higher figure than I thought. Second hand doesn't always mean second best.

My sister married on a low budget last year and had the most beautiful wedding. She kept costs down by holding the evening reception at her and her husband's home. It was a garden party-style event with a buffet and a do-it-yourslef cocktail table. Her most impressive saving was her second hand Phase Eight dress with a retail price of £750 which she managed to get for £350 from eBay. She then had the dress altered to make it truly unique. For just £75 a dress maker removed some of the heavy lace on the chest and back of the dress for a more delicate look to match my sister's slender figure. The fact that my sister sold her wedding dress for just £30 less than it cost her is remarkable. Some find lavish spending impressive, but I'm quite the opposite. I thrive on thriftiness.

Whether you are a spender or a penny-pincher, I believe that being happy on your big day is important. You only marry once (well, maybe more times for some) so make it the best day you possibly can.  The priceless things such as good company, good food and lots of fun would be my priorities. But saving a few pennies would certainly make that little bit happier.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

What practical clothes to pack for a festival

Over the last few days I've heard the excitement from friends, colleagues and people on the internet about the exciting festivals they are heading to this weekend. With the weather report looking a but ropey, many people have been discussing what clothes to take with them. Last year a shared my essential items to pack for a festivals. As a super prepared, practical festival goer I hope to help those in last minute panic mode decide on what practical clothing to pack.

Thin raincoat or mac

When it rains there isn't time to go back to the tent to find a coat- you will already be soaked. Pack a think raincoat that can be scrunched up into the bottom of your bag. You will be thankful to have to hand when the skies open just as your favourite act is about to come on stage. Below is a very excited me in my Bench mac.

Miss Jenni Tulip The Thrifty Mgapies Nest at Beat Herder Festival

Warm, waterproof boots

Welly boots are the iconic festival necessity but I also pack winter boots. It may seem excessive but come nightfall, the temperature drops and tootsies are prone to getting wet and cold. Wellies do a rubbish job of keeping feet warm, even with thick socks so I wear winter boots to keep my toes cozy and dry throughout the night. Tall boots like the ones below do a good a job of keeping mud at bay.

Warm hat

Temperatures can plummet at night and, if you are the type to carry on nattering back at camp long after the music has ended, a warm hat will help keep your whole body warmer. See that big white furry mass on my head in the photo below? That's my party hat and it keeps me lovely and warm.


You may think I'm mad packing gloves as well as all these other things but they are work the 5cm squared of space they take up. Just those cheap fleecy ones will do. I keep them in my pockets for when it get's to 3am and I can't dance much longer and need to head back to the tent.

Small rucksack

Not strictly clothing but it goes on your body.  Having your hands free to hold drinks, through around in the air, erect tents, hug random people with 'free hugs' signs hanging around their necks and drag your fallen friend from the mud is essential. You also need someone to store your raincoat, money, phone, cider and glow sticks securely. Those mini rucksacks are ideal. Plus, if you are a lady, you have a better chance of getting a guy to hold it for you while you go to the loo thank you are if you pass them a handbag. 


For me, there's nothing more satisfying than getting into my fleecy onesie then climbing into my sleeping bag. I'm one of those people who gets cold at night, no matter whether it is summer of winter. Just remember to wear a T-shirt underneath so you don't have to sit naked on the portaloo in the night!

Miss Tulip jennifer tulip at Beat Herder Festival in the mud


Depending on the type of festival you are going to, you may spend quite a lot of time at night chilling out with other people in secluded locations, around the drum circle,  at camp or on the grassy area at the back of the crowds at the main stage. I typically do these things at festivals and can get cold quickly even though many girls are still walking around in hot pants, bare legs and crop tops. If you are a cold person like me, wear leggings under your jeans. They do wonders at keeping you warm. On really cold nights I wear them under my onesie in the sleeping bag, too. 

Afghan scarf

This versatile accessory is perfect for festivals- they keep your neck and face warm at night, keep the sun off your head during the day and even double up as something to lay down on the ground and sit on.

Miss Tulip at BeatHerder festival

As you can probably tell, I don't pack light. But at least I am super comfortable for the duration of my holiday. These are the items I pack, whatever the type of festival I'm going to and there recommend them to you :)

Keep warm, stay dry and have a fab time!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

My festival safety tips

Jennifer tulip at Beat Herder Festival

Summer is my favourite time of the year because we have long days, warm weather (most of the time), lush green countryside and festivals.

With the August Bank Holiday coming up in just a few days, I have been reminiscing about my first real festival experience; Leeds festival 2003 when Blur and Linkin Park headlined.

I just had to remind myself of the lineup by looking for an old poster on the internet. What a good line up it was

Leeds festival 2003 line up

I remember heading to the main stage with my friend as The Darkness kicked off their set and holding my position in a determined manor until Blur walked on stage, probably some 10 hours later. My favourite band and I was at the front. I was meters away from Damon Albarn and it felt like heaven. It also felt like I was been crushed by a stampede of baby elephants but I didn’t care. I was at the front.

I was just 16 when I went to this festival. Looking back, it seems crazy I spent 4 days alongside tens of thousand of people. I was so vulnerable when I was 16. I went with my good friend of the time, who was the same age and camped with a few other friends but we were all so young.

A few weeks ago I was at Beat-Herder festival and many of the clientele seemed so young. Now I am older and wiser and understand the potential dangers of festivals to young people and worry what the young people will be exposed to. I then remind myself that I was their age once and the dangers were just the same then.

Kendal Calling festival main stage and crowd

Going to festivals has been a big part of my life and has shaped the person  I am today. Festivals feel like a world of their own, cut off from reality. I can truly relax and relieve my mind of any anxieties I face in everyday life. They provide the perfect setting to express your personality because anything goes at a festival. You can wear what you like, dance how you like, laugh as much as you like and sing as loud a you like.

I recently read this Female First post by Pryers Solicitors which lists dangers that single people should be careful of when attending festivals. Although I think all the points are valid, I think the explanations and advice could be a bit more detailed and apply to all festival goers, whatever their relationship status, age or gender. Using the same potential dangers listed in the post,  here's my advice for each one:

1. Spiking

It can happen. There are people out there who are looking for easy targets so just be aware of your drinks at all times. Avoid putting them down while you dance and if you need to go to the toilet, ask a friend to hold it. The horrible people are looking for opportunities so don’t give them one. Although some of the symptoms of spiking drugs are similar to being drunk, the feeling is different. If you don’t feel right, tell a friend straight away and take a rest. If you still don’t feel right then tell a member of security. These horrid drugs can suddenly knock you out unexpectedly so it’s best someone keeps an eye on you.

Boombox stage at Boomtown festival

2. Alcohol

I fell like a mother writing this but – watch how much you drink. Festivals are a fantastic place to be when tipsy but being too drunk at a festival can also be really miserable. Your friends want to have fun so don’t become a liability. That’s when bad stuff can happen. Friends who have also been drinking may not realise how drunk you are and wander off innocently, leaving you on your own.
Sun and/or hot weather combined with alcohol can cause hot exhaustion. I’ve suffered sun stroke at festivals and it is a weekend-ruiner. Having it come out of both ends is bad enough when you’re in the comfort f your own home. Imagine trying to rush to the portaloo when the queue is 5 people deep….! Yer, you get the picture.
Just take it steady. You have the whole weekend

3. Drugs

Drugs are rife at festivals and people often get into all sorts of difficulties as a result. I’ve witnessed people paraletic on the floor, people been rushed to hospital in ambulances and been at festivals where people have died. You wot know what people are selling you. It could be anything. I’ve heard of cases where drugs have been positively tested for rat poison- that’s scary. Just avoid.

Jennifer tulip at Arcadia at Boomtown festival

4. Sex

If sweaty, smelly tent sex is ok with you then at least protect yourself from STIs and unwanted babies. Being a hippy baby was cool in the 70s but imagine telling your child they are the result of drunken mistake in a field with someone you had just met. Take condoms with you or go to the medical tent to get some for free. They are FREE for gods sake.

5. Assaults

Alcohol and adrenaline can turn some people into animals so just be aware that not all people get happy-drunk. Stick with friends, never go back to the tent by yourself and don’t be tempted to answer back to trouble makers.

Miss Tulip Jennifer Tulip dancing on car at Boomtown Festival

6. Crowds

Obviously there will be crowds but just be aware of how dangerous crowds can be. I’ve been at festivals where people have died from getting crushed. I’ve been crushed to the point I cant breathe and it is very, very scary. In general crowds are really supportive of each other and will pick people up when they fall but sometimes it’s impossible to escape.

7. Theft

It doesn’t matter which festival you go to there will always be thefts. Never ever leave valuables in your tent. Leave your tent messy and take everything out of bags so thieves have nothing to grab people. It isn’t uncombed for thieves to enter tents while people are in them sleeping. Keep your purse and phone in your sleeping bag so they cant get to them and if, heaven forbid, they come in while you are asleep. Stay still and pretend you are asleep. Let them take your things. You are in a sleeping bag and they have the advantage of having their arms free and are above you. If they panic they may punch you. This is a super scary thought but it happens all the time. Report any suspicious behaviour to security. Never use a padlock on your tent. If you see a padlock what’s yur initial thought? ‘oooh must be something valuable in there’. They will slash your tent then you will be left without your belongings and a broken tent.

Field of tents at Boomtown Festival

8. Crowd surfing

Not sure why anyone would want to do it. It hurts. You can lose our shoes and glasses and, at worse, you could get chucked out of the festival.

9. Mobile phone

The best thing I have bought this year is this battery pack which was recommended to me by fellow blogger Zoe of Splodz Blogz. It cost under £20 and can charge an iPhone 6 times (I’ve tested this). I keep it plugged into my phone at the bottom of my sleeping bag on a night then it will last all the next day. If you are prone to losing things, you could take an old phone and put your Sim card in it. If you take your current phone please please please take some sort of insurance out before you go. But do be warned, not al insurance policies cover phones in public places such as festivals.

Kendal Calling festival sign

10. Risky business

If you see something odd going on, don’t involve yourself. If you are concerned for someone’s safety, make security aware. Don’t feel like a dobber – you may actually save someone’s life. It’s common for people to set portaloos alight and I witnessing them burn is horrifying; they collapse in a melted heap in seconds. It would be impossible to get out alive.

If you are a festival newbie or veteran heading to Leeds, Reading, Shambala or any of the other amazing festivals happening around the UK this Bank Holiday,  remember to stay safe but most of all, have fun!