A morning in the garden. | Johnston Gardens, Aberdeen

This morning I spent time with a couple of my best friends exploring the enchanting Johnston Gardens in Aberdeen.
I am somewhat reluctant to write about this magical place as it is one of those hidden treasures that barely anyone knows about. One of my friends even said she had never been before! I guess if you aren't familiar with the area you might miss the chance to see inside, in my opinion, the best park/garden in Aberdeen. Think of the Secret Garden and you can imaging the sort of atmosphere and beauty you can find here.
I was able to try out my new Canon EOS 750D and I am pretty pleased with how the photos came out. I've chosen my favourites and have posted them below. Would love to know what you think!

I hope my photographs have given you a good enough glimpse into the beauty that is Johnston Gardens. I would seriously suggest giving it a go instead of the usual Hazlehead or Duthie parks, as it is almost always empty every time I go. There is a small play park for children to pay and ducks to feed in the pretty pond.
It's beautiful all year round, and in the autumn the leaves turn the most gorgeous shade of red and they cover the ground in a carpet of leaves. It's absolutely stunning.

Have you been to Johnston Gardens? Or can you recommend any other "secret" places to go in Aberdeen/Scotland?



The Girls - Emma Cline | Book Review

I am going to get right into this review and say it: I loved this book. I first came across Emma Cline's debut novel whilst watching one of my favourite BookTuber's videos. Sanne at booksatndquills had recommended this new novel amongst a few other books that I ended up buying.
It had me intrigued from the get go. Cults. Murder. Based on a real life case. I just HAD to read it.

There is something about the idea of a cult that fascinates me so much. I guess it's the way that one person can control a group of others so intensely that, in turn, they could make members of that group do whatever they want. Even if that is partaking in heinous crimes. Taking inspiration from the Charles Manson "Family" and subsequent murders, The Girls is an emotional and unputdownable piece of literature.

We follow Evie, a 14 year old girl from California. An only child living with her flighty mum, she is at that awkward stage between teen-age and adulthood. One day she becomes transfixed with a group of girls at the park. In particular the blonde haired Suzanne. They look so free, careless, happy with life. Everything that Evie is not. She soon becomes involved in something bigger than she could have ever imagined. 
Invited into a mysterious, and on the outside, harmless group of misfits, Evie has the most transformative summer of her life. From exploring her sexuality, to coming to the realisation that her parents are in fact just human beings with faults. Her life will never be the same.

Evie is a likeable, if not naive character. Compared to those around her it's hard not to feel sorry for her ignorance. The whole time whilst reading all I wanted to do was to shake her and scream "what are you doing? Can't you see that these people are dangerous?" I enjoyed the switch between the present and the past and Emma Cline's skill is so unique that you both feel enamoured and disgusted by the Manson-esque character Russell at the same time.  

At times this book is uncomfortable to read, not particularly gruesome, but Cline's subtle use of words really pulls you into every movement her characters make. I have been having a bit of a reading slump recently, and this book certainly has perked my enthusiasm right back up again.  

I also LOVE the end covers of the hard back copy. The heart actually has meaning in the book. So keep an eye out if you do end up reading it.

Have you read The Girls yet? What did you think? I am also looking for any other books, fiction or non-fiction that deal with cults or cult-like themes. Would love your recommendations.



Chocolate Chip Cookies | GBBO Obsessed

It's finally here. The Great British Bake Off, also known affectionately as GBBO, is back on our TV screens. Woo hoo!!
I am obsessed with it's hilarious innuendoes and yummy bakes and this year more than ever I have been so obscenely excited for Wednesday's at 8pm to come around. 
If you haven't watched it before, where have you been?, the concept is very simple. 12 contestants compete with each other through 12 weeks of gruelling baking challenges. Each week a Star Baker is crowned and another is asked to leave the competition. Who knew baking could be so brutal?

What I love about the show is that it's made with love and fun, you want everyone to do well and it's so oh so emotionally fraught. They say no point in crying over spilled milk, but my god it's easy to cry over a dropped cake. 

To curb my desperate need for baking I had a look online for the easiest and quickest recipe I could find. I love chocolate chip cookies, but every recipe I came across made 12 cookies minimum...that's when I realised...why don't I look for a recipe that is just enough for a small batch?!

My hopes were realised when I found this little gem of a recipe on the adorable Our Best Bites website. I would thoroughly recommend this site if you are looking for easy and delicious recipes for the whole family.

I have tried a few times to create the best cookies, and I suppose like everything practice makes perfect. I wasn't expecting miracles with this one as I had to convert the American sizes (cups) into Scottish sizes (grams). This wasn't made easy with the fact that my scales are analogue, so there wasn't the ability to be 100% accurate. I gave it a go anyway!

With my not so accurate weighing I was able to make 6 similar sized cookies, with only a tiny wee bit of cookie dough left for sampling. If you haven't had the chance to eat the left over dough when baking cookies then you are missing out. Don't let those people who cry "raw egg!!!" stop you from trying that little bit of heaven. It's the best part of baking and it was so hard not to eat it all.

I really should have  put more chocolate chips on top of the balled dough, but that is a lesson learned for next time. Let's be honest, there will be a next time. I am tempted to whip up another batch today as writing this post is making me hungry!

I am SO happy with how these turned out. The best compliment came from my sister when she said they tasted like Millie's Cookies! Which are, in my opinion, the best out there. When I went over to my friend's house to watch the GBBO I gave her a sample and she named me the Star Baker! That certainly made my evening.

It's safe to say they didn't last long before they were eaten, and I have to stress how easy and quick these were to make. If you ever have a cookie craving but only want to create a smaller batch then you MUST give this recipe a go. It is perfection.

Have you been watching the Great British Bake Off? Who are your favourite contestants? I love Selasi and Benjamina!
Have you had any baking inspiration recently? Would love to see your bakes.



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