My latest obsession has been these books. I always find it hard knowing what to read next - I'm not very good at picking books from the bookstore and much prefer being recommended one to try. After a bit of Googling and sifting through YouTube book reviews, I came across the Divergent trilogy. Not totally convinced I would love it, I initially only ordered the first installment which I quickly realised was a massive error. Within a few days I had finished the book and was ready to move on to the second and so I had to order it immediately. My poor Postman, I could have saved him a trip!

You may well have heard of the Divergent trilogy already, and if not you will soon because the film of the first book is due in cinemas next year. I won't link the trailer, because if you're like me you'll prefer to read the books and get a picture of the scenes and characters in your own mind before the movie images replace them, but there's several of them on YouTube if you want to have a look.

The books are set in a dystopian future in this world where society is split into five 'factions' based on aspects of human nature this society deems to be the most important and beneficial. When children reach 16, they take a test to determine which faction they have the most aptitute for and then choose whether to stay in the faction they have grown up in, or to leave their faction and their family behind for a new faction. The story centres around Tris, who gets an unusual test result which means she is 'Divergent'. As with a lot of trilogies, the story progresses from dealing with the issues of the protagonist to the society and eventually to a larger conflict.

If you liked books like the Hunger Games, then I'm confident you'll like this. Divergent even has the added bonus that the third book isn't a let down, as unfortunately I often find to be the case. That said, it isn't my favourite out of the three as there is a big chunk in the middle that is a bit slow and the ending is fitting though not necessarily satisfying...but that's enough before I start to give away any spoilers!

I found the series so gripping and one of these books that you just can't put down. This is great in a lot of ways, but means I am once again without a current book to read so if you have any recommendations please let me know!

Autumn Wanderings

Today my friend Lizzie, who is home for a couple of days, text me to see if I fancied a walk at Culzean. (Remember Culzean?) It was one of those increasingly rare Autumn days where the rain looked like it might not make an appearance, and I don't get as many chances to catch-up with Lizzie as I'd like, so of course I said yes!

In the summer, Culzean is probably at its finest. The gardens are bursting with beautiful flowers and the paths bustle with families but there is something very peaceful about walking around the somewhat quieter grounds when the leaves have fallen just enough to line the walkways and to still cover some of the trees.

We walked from one end of the estate to the other and back with Lizzie's dog Teal in tow (or us in her tow, as was more often the case).

We headed back along the beach as the sun was setting, just in time before it got too dark and before we got too cold.

As I write this, it's hailing outside and I'm even more grateful to have had a lovely autumn walk today and nice thorough catch-up with a friend (and to be inside all snuggled up in my jammies now!).

What's your favourite way to take advantage of some nice Autumn weather?

A Hop, Skip and Jump over to Northern Ireland

So last week I was lucky enough to be able to take a quick break from my life of job-hunting, interviews and weekend working and pop over to Northern Ireland to visit my lovely friend Jenny who I met on my travels last year. Shockingly, having lived in Scotland all my life and the South-West coast for the majority of this time I have never popped over the water to Northern Ireland, though I have been to Dublin (which I loved!).

Despite knowing the flight was a short one, this didn't mean I was any less surprised that after only being in the air for 5 minutes the captain announces: "Cabin crew prepare the cabin for landing." It was just as well really as it wasn't the smoothest of flights!

It was lovely to see Jenny again (the last time we saw each other, we remembered, was saying goodbye at the bottom of a random tower block in Bangkok where we had just done karaoke) and she was such a wonderful host/tour guide and gave me a whistle-stop tour of Belfast and the next day, some of the North coast.

On Day 1, I was whisked away from the airport, taken to the Botanical Gardens, to the Ulster Museum, past Queen's University, through the town centre and to the Titanic Museum.

Belfast City Hall

View from the top of the Victoria Centre

The Victoria Centre all Halloween'd up

We went for a scrummy lunch at Avoca, which I would highly recommend. A huge choice (even for veggies, like Jenny) and a lovely homey feel.

I was so excited to visit the Titanic Museum. To be honest, the most impressive bit was probably the architecture of the building itself but the museum is still worth a visit. My favourite bit was reading some real stories of passengers, and having a peek at what some of the rooms really looked like.

I liked Belfast much more than I expected. I loved that from most places in the city, you could see the countryside and from anywhere in the city be very close to the suburbs. It seems like a great place to live.

That evening, Jenny took me to her local, Horatio Todd's. I honestly wish I could transport Horatio Todd's to my town, because I just loved it. The cocktails were delicious and only £5, it had a lovely lively mix of clientele, live acoustic performances and great banter.  It was Hallowe'en and all the staff were dressed up which made it extra fun too.

Although to be honest, it might not be the same if it wasn't in Belfast because Irish people just make a great atmosphere wherever they go. So...if I could move HT's to Scotland WITH all the Irish people...ok I'm getting carried away with myself. Basically, it's just a bar but if you are after nice surroundings, nice drinks and good chat then I would highly recommend a visit next time you're in Belfast.

Cute Instagram shot courtesy of Jenny (oh how I long for an iPhone)

The next day, surprisingly not too worse for wear, we headed up to the North Coast. Jenny very kindly spent the majority of her day in the car in order to get us there and back in time for my early evening flight! 

First stop was, of course, the Giant's Causeway which is one of these iconic sights that still amazes you to see it in person. The Causeway has the distinctive columns it has because of volcanic activity a long, long time ago but the story of an Scottish giant causing the rifts as he ran away from an Irish giant is just more fun, isn't it?

We were so, so lucky with the weather and the scenery was breathtaking.

After a walk back up the hill where I became embarassingly out of breath (I really need to get back into exercising) we headed over to Dunluce castle which was built in the 1500s and is now ruins but amazingly well preserved.

As the sun started to set, it was time to head back and for Jenny to drop me at the airport.

The couple of days away were exactly what I needed and I will definitely be back to Northern Ireland at some point because it seems there is plenty more to be seen!

Have you been to Northern Ireland or fancy going? What was your favourite thing there/would you most like to see?