Tuesday, 27 February 2018

JUST JULIA TRIES: Spider on a Bicycle: Review (Aberdeenshire)

Whilst out on my big Audi A5 adventure a few weeks ago, my other half (and my sat nav for the day) Calum had suggested that we make a wee stop to Spider on a Bicycle for lunch.

I hadn't heard of the eatery before and was quite shocked he knew of a foodie establishment that I didn't, so thought it was only manners to give him a chance in picking the place we ate. I'm so glad I did because I really, really enjoyed my time there.

We were both pretty hungry by the time we arrived at the eatery which is owned by two sisters whose aim was to create a home away from home, so we nose dived into the menu to see what was on offer.

Its small menu focuses on good ingredients and simplistic foods, and it also boasts produce from a number of small local businesses which they create delicious breakfasts, lunch and bakes with. Spider on a Bicycle is cosy and homely and provides the perfect sanctuary from the elements on a cold afternoon.

Not only is this place a great pit-stop in the winter, but I can guarantee it will be hugely popular in the summer with its outside seating area and stunning interiors. And the fact they welcome dogs into the venue too will be a huge bonus for those walking in Deeside too.

I was intrigued to try and find out where the name of it came from so once we'd placed our order I sat reading the menu which revealed all. A long story short, there was gin involved, and children's stories too, but I'll let you discover the story behind it for yourself when you visit...
I usually only ever order water at lunchtime (unless I'm drinking cocktails) but I decided to go for a bottle of the cloudy lemonade after seeing Calum's organic cola. The designs of the bottles were super quirky and both tasted very nice. Calum's cola was quite sweet, whereas my lemony lemonade had a slight bitterness to it. And looking back, I'm pretty sure I've tried both before.

For lunch I'd decided to order the Spider on a Bicycle platter. The platter was beautiful and boasted an array of colour to it which I adored. I don't think I've had a lunch this bright and bold in a long time! The platter came with avocado, pickle, hummus, chutney, salad, apple and red cabbage salad, oatcakes and handmade bread. Both the bread and the oatcakes were gluten free. 

I tucked in immediately and it was absolutely divine. The hummus was incredibly rich and smooth, and the chutney went extremely well with the avocado and pickle on the bread. I couldn't get enough of it. The avocado was so soft and melted in my mouth. I savoured it for as long as I could. The seeds also gave the dish a nice additional crunchy texture to it which I really enjoyed. 

There was a lot of it, so it took me a while to get through it. I couldn't finish all of the bread and oatcakes, but Calum soon swooped in to help polish it off.
A fan of a good ol' toastie, Calum opted for the Cheese Roastie. A toasted sandwich on white farmhouse bread with  salad and chutney on the side, this was his sort of lunch. After much deliberation, he tried out the Monarch camembert with free range bacon. The cheese was lovely and melted, and the bacon was cooked really well. I could tell by his face he was enjoying it, and the fact he cleaned his plate of the salad, chutney and boiled potatoes too told me everything.
Just popping in for a quick bite, I had been very tempted by the delicious looking cakes, but alas, decided against it seen as I was already full from the platter. Although there's a slice of pecan brownie and lemon drizzle with my name on it for next time I visit.
Located where the old Aboyne train station once operated, it's great to see that the owners of Spider on a Bicycle have kept all of the original features from the building. It's a cosy, warm, welcoming space and there's lots of shabby chic furniture inside too. Upcycling seems to be a big thing within the cafe, and they seem to be very conscious about recycling and sustainability too which is also a big thumbs up from me. I loved the way the eatery looked and I think the array of beautiful furniture really finishes it off perfectly.
Having visited just two weeks ago, I've already sent three of my friends out to visit the cafe who all reported how good it was. 

It's so refreshing to see eateries like this popping up across the City and Shire as this is exactly the types of places Aberdeen is screaming out for. Local people, supporting local producers by using local products and providing an incredible offering for local residents to enjoy. I love the ethos behind this place and I think it's going to continue to be a huge success as the space is just as gorgeous as the food.
  For Now...

Just Julia


JUST JULIA DRIVES: A weekend in Aberdeen with an Audi Q5

As someone who has grown up in the back seat of various Audi's, I'd like to think I'm familiar with their cars, or at least the back seat of them. To me, I have always viewed Audi as a high quality, luxury brand. My dad's been a big fan of the brand for years, and to be honest, I can't remember a time when he hasn't had an Audi. I guess that's where my interest in cars really stemmed from.

I'd looked into purchasing an Audi before (and by purchasing I mean taking out on finance) but the timing just wasn't right. However, fast forward about six months and I finally got my chance to own an Audi, all be it just for the weekend.

When Aberdeen Audi first got in touch with me I was excited by the thought I was possibly going to get the chance to try out an A1. It wasn't until I did some further investigating that I found out I was getting to take out a new Audi Q5 S-line. The Audi Q5 2017 is a magnificent car, however, I had definitely underestimated the size of it.
Just to set the scene for you, I'm used to driving a small manual Corsa, so this 4 x 4 automatic beast was definitely on a whole new level. Having only ever driven manual cars in my time (I've been driving for around 7 years now) I was a little apprehensive about taking out an automatic car, but after 10 minutes in the car, it was like second nature.

I arrived at the John Clark's Audi dealership late Friday afternoon and met with the friendly staff there. The team kitted me out with the stunning deep blue car and off I went to take it home for the weekend. The thing about living in town is that there's limited parking, and the majority of the parking available is parallel on-street parking. Lucky for me the Audi Q5 came with parking sensors and a rearview camera which was excellent in helping assist and guide me into spaces easily. I'd never used a car with sensors or parking assist before and I was absolutely loving it. With the car being much bigger than what I was used to, I was a little nervous the first time parking it, but the more familiar I became with the car, the easier and more comfortable I felt.
Come Saturday morning I was raring to go. 

We'd planned a wee jaunt out to Royal Deeside to check out some foodie places. I really wanted to make the most of this opportunity so we got up early and headed out to Ballater. The first stop on our Deeside foodie tour was Dee Valley Confectioners. My boyfriend had sold me on the idea of going out to see all the sweets being made in the factory, but unfortunately, when we turned up, the factory was closed. There went that idea. A quick walk around the town centre and it was back to the car.

Travelling across lots of country roads, the 4 x 4 handled every corner like a dream. Powerful as it is, it was surprisingly easy to manoeuvre around tight corners and being automatic, I didn't once have to think about changing gears or taking my eyes off the road really.

Onwards to Cambus O'May Cheeses.

I was very impressed with how smooth the car was and how quick it was able to pick up speed. It was extremely comfortable and the interiors have been finished to the highest of standards. Arriving at Cambus O'May Cheeses, the road was very bumpy and had a lot of potholes, taking my time the car handled every bump with ease and the sturdy tyres were bigger than most of the holes so just glided across them. The Audi SUV truly wasn't phased by the bumps in any way. Jumping out the car, I was afraid the cheese factory was closed, and with no sign of life around it was clear that the factory was indeed closed. We got back in the car and headed off to Aboyne.

Whilst driving throughout Royal Deeside we came across some snow. Having a car that's pretty rubbish in the snow, I wanted to see how the new Audi Q5 handled it. Pulling into an area off the road, I drove around, putting the car to the test. The car handled the icy car park perfectly and was so easy to drive on the snowier terrain. It didn't slide at all and it was super smooth again on the more rugged bumpy gravel. After a quick drive around we were back on the road to find somewhere fine for lunch.
Arriving in Aboyne around midday, we headed to The Spider on the Bicycle for some grub. I was rather ravenous by this point and was looking for something tasty. Having never visited the eatery before, Calum and I parked the car (using my sensors and rearview camera of course) and walked down. We inhaled our lunch and were soon back on the road. (You can read all that we had on my blog on The Spider on the Bicycle here).
After lunch we then paid a quick visit to the World Horse Welfare Centre - somewhere I'd never visited before. Haven ridden horses since I was four, I wanted to stop in and learn a little more about what the team at the centre do. The road along to the centre was long and bumpy, but I can honestly say the car just glided over the speed bumps and in comparison to my car, you could hardly feel the bumps which was fantastic.
After our quick visit, we were then off to The Birdhouse in Banchory for a fly cup before our trip to Devenick Dairy. I've wanted to visit The Birdhouse for ages having seen it on Instagram and I was in the mood for something sweet.

I'd been keeping an eye on our fuel levels (the Audi Q5 2017 was diesel) and we hadn't seemed to have even made a dent in it which I was really impressed with. I knew diesel cars were much better for fuel, but I was really chuffed to see we'd hardly used any.

It took us no time to arrive in Banchory and get parked. The cafe was busy, but having spied a couple leaving, we took sanctuary from the cold under the stunning instalment at the window. We ordered our hot drinks and a fine piece and sat back to relax for a bit.
Time was pressing on so we got back in the car switching our heated seats on immediately and drove out to Devenick - we were really just popping in to be nosy as we'd never visited. The road on the way was rather windy, but the Audi Q5 handled it with ease. The SUV had no problem getting around the tight corners and although the car is quite wide and tall, it slid in the smallest of gaps and got us there no bother.

We took a quick look around and decided to stay for a drink. We were a little too early in the year to see the cows getting milked as they are all pregnant at the moment, but we did get to see some wee piggies which were sleeping. The farm is home to The Tin Coo which boasts a farm shop, children's play area, a restaurant and a viewing gallery where you can watch the cow's when they're getting milked.Craving something fine for tea and being so close to Stonehaven, we just had to pay a visit to my favourite chipper, The Bay Fish and Chips. Not before a quick pit-stop to the centre of the town to get a couple of beers for Calum of course.

The queue was out the door as always on a Saturday night, but it didn't take us long to get our suppers and go. We missed the sunset unfortunately so instead of sitting in the car to eat, we decided to take it home. Another thing I really loved about this car was its headlights. They were so bright and the fact you can put them on an automatic setting just made life so much easier. The headlights on Audi's themselves are very distinctive, and I think the design of them is superb.
The Next morning was an early start again, this time we were heading up to Peterhead to check out the Peterhead Prison Museum and Brew Toon - a small micro-brewery based in the town. The weather was pretty good again, but a little more overcast the closer we got to the coast. Saturday had been a busy day and we'd done a lot of driving, but the car was as comfortable as ever and I had really relaxed into the feel of it and was totally used to it now.

I felt really safe in the car and I think it would make a great family car too - if I had kids I'd definitely feel like they'd be safe in this car which I think it really important. It's all fine and well for the car to look good, but to be safe and sturdy too, that's a real bonus for buyers.

We arrived in Peterhead just as the museum was opening so managed to get in before the crowds descended which was good. The prison experience itself was fantastic, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone - although you'll want to wrap up warm as it is baltic! Absolutely 100% worth visiting though. Retreating to the car to warm ourselves up (which didn't take long) we went in search of Brew Toon for a fine non-alcoholic, warm brew.
The micro-brewery is almost based in the heart of Peterhead and makes a great wee place to catch up with friends. I'm pretty sure if I lived in Peterhead I'd be here constantly. The beers looked good, and the coffee was great, but what I loved most about Brew Toon was the fact you could watch a working micro-brewery in action whilst enjoying your brew. Of course with our luck, the brewery wasn't operational when we were there, but it was still really cool to see what it looked like and check out the operation they had going on. 

Fancying a stodgy burger for lunch we headed back on the road to Aberdeen with our heated seats on full blast this time.
Spying a sign for the White Horse Inn we pulled into Balmedie and headed for the restaurant. It wasn't overly busy, which worked in our favour so we could get our food even quicker. We ordered some nachos with pulled pork to share to start, and then both of us ordered a cheeseburger and chips. This was exactly what we needed to fuel our hunger after a busy weekend.
Checking the fuel before we pulled off, I was stunned that we hadn't even used half of the tank yet. Having travelled a lot across Royal Deeside, down to Stonehaven and around Aberdeen the day before, and driving all the way to Peterhead and back I thought we'd have had to fill the car up a bit at least, but we were still sitting with a lot of petrol left. My Corsa is a 1.2L so I'm clearly not used to a car which boasts a 2L engine and is diesel of course.

The car is nippy and can pick up speed pretty sharp, and it doesn't surprise me that it is said to go from 0 - 60mph in under 7.4 seconds because it really does move. It's a thrilling and exciting car to drive and it's modern finish makes it really appealing. The Audi Q5 has a lot going for it and was a delight to drive. It warms up fast, has stop/start technology and a great digital home system with sat nav and everything else you would need on your journey, making it super easy to drive.

Heading to the Audi Aberdeen garage to return the car, I couldn't help but feel absolutely gutted. I'd got so comfortable with the car and now knew my way around it. I didn't want to say goodbye to the parking sensors or the heated seats, not to mention the automatic headlights or the music system which had insane volume.

This car gets you to where you need to be quickly and safely. It's stylish, sophisticated and oozes luxury. Be for nipping around town in, or taking on the country roads, this car is one that can mould into what you need it to be for the occasion.

The new Audi Q5 is for sale now and if you'd like to take it out for a test drive like I did, then all you have to do is book one by contacting the group here and arrange to pick up a car.

So go on, do something different and take a car away for a weekend and see just how much fun you have. You never know where you might end up...

Keep an eye out for my vlog I'll be posting on my weekend with the Audi Q5 coming soon!

  For Now...

Just Julia

*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with the John Clark Group and Audi Aberdeen. All views expressed are my own and of my own experience with an Audi Q5.
© Just Julia

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