Glasgow – New Year’s Day 2017

Hello everyone. I hope you’re all having a good week. And if not remember it’s now Wednesday, which means we’re already on the downhill slope towards the weekend. Woo! As for me, I can’t believe this is only my second week back at work after Christmas… it already feels like forever! Yesterday was my first day actually in the office this year and getting up for the train was torture. But anyway, I digress…

Remember that time I went to Glasgow for Hogmanay? No? I don’t blame you… it was over a year ago. So you’re probably asking yourself why I’m even bothering to write a post about it. The truth is I can’t currently upload my photos from Geneva (new memory card with more storage, card reader can’t read it). So Glasgow it is…

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I’ve already posted about our first day in Glasgow, and how we saw in the New Year, so today I will be talking about New Year’s day.

We slept late, because that’s what you do on New Year’s day when you don’t have to be up for breakfast in a hotel, so by the time we had brunched and got ready the afternoon was getting on a bit. We wanted to make the most of the gorgeous weather (the total opposite to the previous day), so decided to walk through the city.

Just look at how blue the sky was!

Finally, we reached our destination: The Necropolis. I’m sure those who have been to Glasgow know it. For the rest of you, it’s a Victorian cemetery. This may sound morbid, but I enjoy walking through old cemeteries… and the older ones especially a more like parks anyway. But enough of my rambling… have some photos.

Having arrived at the bottom of the hill again, we started our walk back into town. Here’s a photo that shows just how much rain had fallen the previous day:

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Not a river…

The sun was starting to set as we walked back through town, and I managed to capture glowing buildings on a few of my photos.

Obviously we couldn’t go to Glasgow and not visit this guy:

It’s the Duke of Wellington, in case you care, but more importantly it always has a cone on its head!

We continued our stroll until we got down to the river (the Clyde). By this time it was starting to get dark, which made photography difficult, but I tried my best.

From there, we headed back to the apartment more than ready for a sit down, a cup of tea and some dinner! And that was the end of our time in Glasgow… or mine and Jan’s anyway – K stayed on for another few days seeing her family, but our flight back was on the 2nd, ready to start work again on the 3rd.

So there you have it. The conclusion of our trip to Glasgow… only a little over a year late!

Glasgow day 1 (New Year’s Eve)

Here we are almost at mid-March and I still haven’t posted about our New Year’s trip to Glasgow. Bad blogger! I shall at least partially rectify that now with an account of our first day there (we arrived the evening before but only went out to eat and back to our accommodation, so nothing really to tell there, especially since I did not take a photo of the food).

So, New Year’s Eve. We woke up to rain, rain rain, so the decision was made to go to a museum for the day. The forecast said that it would clear up in time for the evening’s festivities, so that was alright. After breakfast and showers, K headed into town to pick up our tickets for the street party that night and some food for the next day while Jan and I set out for a wander through Kelvingrove Park  – which our accommodation was right beside.

On reaching our destination (the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, pictured below) we discovered that it was closed that day – although the website had claimed it was open!

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Instead, we headed to the Hunterian Museum, which is located the University of Glasgow.

How pretty do these pillars look all lit up?

We entered the stairwell that leads up to the museum and discovered a robing room. My university didn’t have one of those! (It didn’t look this pretty either. *Sigh*)

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Glasgow University

The first exhibition we saw was about the Antonine Wall, which was very interesting to me. It was the more northern and less famous version of Hadrian’s Wall (which of course is located in “my” part of England). The Antonine Wall was mainly turf and was abandoned relatively quickly, so not much remains. We then saw some stuffed animals in cases, an exhibition about Lord Kelvin (he of the temperature scale) and a medical exhibition, that was fascinating and slightly creepy. Some photos of the inside of the museum (plus one looking out the window, trying to be artistic):

When the museum closed we decided to head back to the apartment for a drink and to warm up before heading out for dinner. As promised, the rain had stopped by the time we went back out (hey, the weather forecast got something right!). We ate at Mother India’s Café on K’s recommendation – and I can now officially say she was right, it was amazing! No photos though… I was too busy stuffing my face.
Curry done, it was on to the Ashton Lane Street Party.

The food at the stands outside smelled delicious, but we didn’t sample any because we were so full of curry! We did enjoy drinks from a few of the bars though – interesting ciders on offer! Ashton Lane is a cute little street, and thanks to being ticketed it wasn’t too crowded. The Irish pub was pretty full, but for the most part you could actually get to the bars to buy your drinks, and the toilet queues weren’t too insane – no worse than an average night out. Overall, I can recommend paying the fee for the sake of a nice night away from the idiots who are just out to get drunk. However, a note to sponsor Heineken (not that anyone there will ever read this): THROWING YOUR HUGE INFLATABLE BALLS AROUND AT MIDNIGHT WAS A BLOODY STUPID IDEA!! They were actually quite heavy and they hurt! Not cool! Grrr.

The fireworks were nice though:

(Don’t try to take photos of fireworks though chains of lights… it does not work!).

And that was the end of day 1! Day 2 involved sun, a cemetery and lots of walking. Hopefully it won’t take me another 2.5 months to get round to posting about it…

 

2017 aims (or something)

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As I mentioned, today is a public holiday in the part of Germany where I work. However, it is not in Switzerland (or at least not in Basel – I don’t know about other cantons), so I took advantage of having the place to myself to get rid of the chaos of Christmas. The decorations are down and have been put away, as have the Christmas papers, ribbons and other embellishments I was using for my cards. I’ve found homes for the last few gifts and even took away some of the glass recycling, which is usually difficult because both my lunch break and the time I finish for the day are during “quiet hours” when you’re not supposed to use the glass bins. Most productive use of my time.

With the final reminders of the holiday period gone, it seemed like a good time to finally start looking forward to 2017. I’m not making resolutions as such, but I do have a few aims… or maybe guidelines… that I want to bear in mind this year. So here they are. By the way, the photo at the top has nothing to do with anything, I just thought the post needed a photo…

  • Get regular exercise, even if it’s just walking into Basel more often instead of taking the tram (I did this today actually, so I’ve started well!). After spending all of October and part of November hobbling around, I was starting to feel a bit sloth-like, so this year I want to try and get out there and move!
  • Eat healthily most days. I don’t want to obsess about it, and if there happens to be cake on the days I have to go into the office I will definitely be having some! But I do want to try and fit in some vegetables every day and try to have some healthier breakfasts on hand (or eat breakfast at all!). My aim is to experiment with more vegetarian recipes at the beginning the year when I’m still motivated so I hopefully find a few quick and easy ones for later on when I can’t be bothered. A simple way of getting into the routine of having vegetables every day 🙂
  • Try not to stress over things I have no control over. What will be will be, and obsessing over things doesn’t make life any easier.
  • Spend more time with Jan without any screens being involved! Most of our evenings seem to end up with us either watching something (be it on TV or a DVD), Jan on his laptop doing more work or both of us sitting in the same room, but mainly looking at our respective devices. I want to try and have at least some time this year where we’re both in the flat and not looking at a screen! I think I’ll start by suggesting we try to eat at the table once or twice a week and go from there.

That’s basically it. Apart from that I plan to continue exploring Switzerland, keep cross stitching, read lots and basically just try to enjoy myself in the moment. With all the terrible things that happened in the world last year and that are set to continue this year (and I don’t mean celebrity deaths! There were many scarier things going on than that last year!) I want to try and keep my little corner of the world positive and happy place. Here’s hoping for good things this year!

Do you have any goals or resolutions for 2017? I hope it’s a fabulous year for all of you, whatever your plans.

35 Before 35: Madeira New Year’s Fireworks

Number 16 on my 35 Before 35 list is to spend New Year in Madeira and watch the fireworks display (which got the Guniess World Record for world’s biggest in 2006). Since I did, in fact, spend New Year 2013/14 in Madeira, it’s probably fairly obvious that I also saw the fireworks 😉 But I thought I’d provide some evidence anyway…

You probably can’t really tell from those photos, but we actually managed to get an excellent spot! There was much less of a crowd than we had expected, and we were able to find a space next to the harbour wall right in front of one of the places where the fireworks were being set off from! (They were being ignited at three or four places simultaneously).  It was flippin’ loud down there, I can tell you! These next photos will hopefully make it a bit clearer how close we actually were:

They’re a bit blurry, but hopefully you can see that we had a clear view of the fireworks actually emerging from the explosive thingies!
It wasn’t the longest display we’ve seen (the one in Brussels takes that title – I actually thought those ones would never stop!), but a lot of fireworks were set off in a short time. One member of staff at the hotel told us 17 tonnes of fireworks were set off in 8 minutes! I don’t even have words for a number that big…

So, that’s another item crossed off the list and I’m pleased to say it was 100% worth it! If you’re ever given the opportunity to spend New Year in Madeira, my advice would be to take it (as long as you’re not afraid of fireworks, of course…). And for any of you who’ve ever spent New Year in a German-speaking country, I’m sure you’ll be very pleased to know that no fireworks were thrown! A few people had their own to set off, but they sensibly pointed them up at the sky, where they belong 🙂

Madeira fireworks

Happy New Year!

I’m finally back from my New Year’s adventures with a camera full of photos and lots of stories to tell. Not tonight though! After a 3:15 a.m. wake up, one flight with some pretty scaqry turbulence (and believe me, I’m not usually one to be worried by turbulence!) followed by a delayed connecting flight then a 3 and a half hour train journey it’s fairly safe to say I’m exhausted! The only thing I’ll be doing tonight is crawling into my bed… but I had to pop online to say hello to you all first! Starting tomorrow, I’ll be sharing my New Year’s resolutions with you and telling you all about Madeira. I will also be doing my best to catch up with all your blogs and reply to your comments, but that may take a while. For now I shall simply wish you all an absolutely amazing 2014 with plenty of good times and hopefully no (or at least very few) bad!

Happy New Year, Confuzzledom readers!

New Year's fireworks in Madeira
New Year’s fireworks in Madeira

Friday letters (working from home)

Today is a special Friday because I’m working from home. We’re getting new windows put in at work, and that means I can’t be in my office because 1) It will be cold and 2) It will be loud. The good thing about working from home is I get to have a lie in but still start work at my normal time. Also, I can have as many cups of tea as I want! Actually, I can do that at work as well, but I only drink fruit tea there (which isn’t really tea at all!) because the milk we have is UHT milk and tea with that in tatses awful! Anyway, enough rambling… letters!

English: Postbox, Frome This postbox is on the...
Photo: Wikipedia

Dear grandpa. I’m so glad to hear your operation went well! I hope things continue to progress positively and you can come home in time for the weekend.

Dear sister. Thank you for keeping me up to date on grandpa’s condition.

Dear boyfriend. I find it very unfair that you get to go to South America for two weeks while I’m stuck here in the cold! Enjoy your conference and (especially) the free week after it. And no getting ill!! There’s been more than enough of that this year!

Dear K (who might even actually read this!). Have fun in Scotland and enjoy Dr Who!

Dear self. I’ve said this before, but seriously… you need to stop eating so much! A whole (large!) bar of chocolate before dinner the other day was neither big nor clever…

Dear New Year. We have finally decided where we’re going for you and booked flights. Madeira it is. I can’t wait!

As always, I wish you all a happy Friday and a fabulous weekend!

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Photo challenge: Look Up, Look Down – St. Vitus Cathedral

I originally saw this photo challenge on Lady of the Cakes‘ blog last week and had intended to join in, but then I forgot to look for a photo. So when her entry for this week appeared, I knew that this time I would have to make good on my promise to participate!

The challenge is run by Travel With Intent and the idea is to post a photo looking either up or down. It really is as easy as that!

Here’s my effort:

St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral

This is the front of St. Vitus Cathedral, a Roman-Catholic Cathedral located entirely in the grounds of Prague Castle. I took this photo in December 2006 when Jan and I went to Prague for New Year.

To see how other people have interpreted the theme and take part yourself, check out Travel With Intent’s blog post.

Things I HAVE done before 30 – Part 1: Travel

Venice from the air
Venice from the air

I said I was going to have a think about the things I have managed to achieve in life before hitting the dreaded 30, and since I currently have nothing else worth saying, now seems as good a time as any to start blogging about what I’ve come up with. I thought I would start with some of the travel-related things that I’ve done. Here they are…

Been to Rome – twice!
I have been to lots of places, actually. But Rome seems to be one that’s always mentioned when people talk about places  they would like to go, or think that everyone should really have been to.

The first time I went to Rome it was an 18th birthday present from my uncle. I went with him, his partner and my sister for a long weekend. I mostly remember delicious pasta, my uncle walking off in his own little bubble – crossing roads like the traffic wasn’t even there while the rest of us struggled to keep up, queueing for absolutely ages at the colloseum, but finding it was worth it once we got in, deciding Trevi fountain was my absolute favourite place on Earth, falling asleep under a tree in a park and drinking cocktails in an Irish bar. It was a good weekend.

My second trip to Rome was with Jan, my mum and step dad, my sister (again) and her boyfriend and my brother. I wrote a little about that trip here. My main memories of my second visit to The Eternal City include walking until I got blisters on my feet, finidng Trevi fountain to be just as beautiful as I remembered but much more crowded (I’m sure it must have been just as bad the first time and I’d just erased it from my memory), feeling like I was going to pass out from the heat at the Roman Forum (it’s impressive but there’s literally no shade!), creepy monk bones in the Capucin crypt (which you can read all about in the post I linked to) and queuing for ages to get into St. Peter’s Basilica.

Foro Romano: Impressive but severely lacking in shade!
Foro Romano: Impressive but severely lacking in shade!

Travelled first class
In Germany, it often works out cheaper to get the first class savings price than the regular price for second class (once the savers price for second class has run out). Jan and I did this on the way back from Hamburg, among other trips. I was also once allowed to take a seat in first class when the car where I had reserved a seat was not actually part of the train (this happens quite a lot in Germany… why?!). First class seats have more room, but other than that travelling first class on a train isn’t all that amazing.

I have also flown business class. The day we went to Rome was my 18th birthday. My uncle, at the time, was working at the airport – as was his flatmate. The flatmate was on duty that day, so he took our tickets and passports to wherever those in charge hide out when they’re not telling you what to do and had them upgrade us as a birthday treat for me. We also got free champagne on the flight. And before take off the co-pilot came to me and said he’d heard it was my 18th birthday and would I like to come in the cockpit for the landing? I was too stunned to reply, but luckily my sister said yes on my behalf – so when we landed in Rome I was in the cockpit of the plane! There’s an experience I doubt many people have had.

Lived in four different countries
Specifically England, Northern Ireland, Austria and Germany. Critics may say that, because we lived on an army base, we were technically in England, not Northern Ireland “proper”. I say that’s silly – of course we were living in Northern Ireland! And if anybody tries to tell me that England and Northern Ireland are not, in fact, countries but mere regions of the “country” that is the United Kingdom I may have to track you down and hurt you!

Feldkirch, Austria, where I lived for 10 months
Feldkirch, Austria, where I lived for 10 months

Been to the USA
Yes, I’m aware that it’s a big country, but going to the US is our equivalent of the Americans’ “go to Europe”. Where we go isn’t necessarily important, but everyone should (apparantly) have at least set foot on American soil.
Going to America had never been a particular ambition of mine, but Jan was there and I hadn’t seen him for 6 months, so when my dad offered me flights for Christmas I obviously leapt at the chance. I enjoyed my time there – my favourite of the places I saw was Philadelphia – but I have to admit I like Europe better. There’s just so much more history here! It was fun to visit a place called New Castle though – named after England’s very own Newcastle Upon Tyne! (Sorry, no photo. I have absolutely no idea where mine are!)

Seen Stonehenge
And Hadrian’s Wall, the Eiffel Tower, the Colloseum in Rome and the Statue of Liberty (from the ferry rather than up close, but still seen!).

Stonehenge on a cloudy day
Stonehenge on a cloudy day

Spent New Year in various places
Specifically New York (USA), Vienna (Austria), Prague (Czech Republic), Paris (France), Brussels (Belgium), Padua (Italy), Edinburgh (Scotland), Salzburg (Austria) and Luxembourg City (Luxembourg) – in that order. Next will hopefully be Madeira (Portugal).

The city of Brussels knows how to do fireworks! New Year 2008/09
The city of Brussels knows how to do fireworks! New Year 2008/09

Spent the night on a train
Once in the Liegewagen (couchette car) – the non-private, uncomfortable sleeping compartment where you get to smell complete strangers’ feet all night – and once in a proper sleeping compartment, which has more comfortable beds (with something resembling mattresses) and is for two people only. There’s also a wash basin in there (and the posh ones even have a shower!). The sleeping car I would recommend, the couchette not so much!

Been to all four countries of the United Kingdom
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales. Admittedly, I remember very little of Northern Ireland (I lived there for two years, but we left when I was 7), but I’ve still been!

Loch Lomond, Scotland
Loch Lomond, Scotland

Visited 30 German towns
At least that’s the plan. Hopefully by the time I reach 30 I’ll have completed this challenge! You can read all about my German travels on this very blog (check out the page on the right).

Travelled to numerous other places in Europe
The Channel Islands, Greece (Rhodes  – I would love to go the mainland), Spain, Portugal, Malta, France (not only Paris), Switzerland, Liechtenstein… I wonder if I’ve missed any?

A "living statue" on La Ramblas, Barcelona
A “living statue” on La Ramblas, Barcelona

If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading! Part two will look at some of the experiences I’ve had – such as trying different foods. Watch this space!

The holiday season is officially over

The last of the Quality Street have been eaten, making way for healthy eating to resume, I’ve just taken down my Christmas decorations and tomorrow I’m back at work. Now it’s time for my New Year’s resolutions to begin in earnest. My days of sleeping late, lounging around watching DVDs and not seeming to do much of anything while still surprisingly getting a few things done are over for another year. Sure, there will be weekends, but from now on they will be used to try and cram in everything that I didn’t have time for during the week.

 

In theory, if I work for 8 hours and sleep for 8 hours, I still have a whole 8 hours of me time every single day. Once you take away the time spent getting ready for work, travelling there and back and the half an hour for my lunch break, the reality is a grand total of four hours. That’s four hours into which I have to cram shopping, doing my exercise DVD, cooking tea, eating tea, housework, blogging and reading other people’s blogs (admittedly I do some of that on my lunch break because I can at least get all the blogs I read to load on the work computer!) and anything else I want to do with my evenings.

 

All work and no play...
All work and no play… (Photo credit: tomten)

 

Work-life balance? Does not exist, in my opinion!