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!

Glasgow6

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*)

Glasgow12
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…

 

One night on Arran

Before we headed to Glasgow for New Year, our friend K asked us whether we would like to spend a night at her mum and step-dad’s place on Arran. Having never been to Arran, we jumped at the chance. After taking a train to Glasgow, eating lunch at the train station there and then jumping on another train to Adrossan Harbour, we were finally on a ferry to the island. The sun was just starting to set as the ferry left. (The photos below were taken with sunset mode… it wasn’t actually that dark ;-))

I didn’t get any decent photos as we approached the shore, so I’ll just skip ahead a bit…

After a lovely evening with K’s family and a good night’s sleep, we were up bright and early so we could see something of the island before taking the ferry back across to the mainland. We went for a nice long walk with the dog. Check out the gorgeous scenery!

My camera couldn’t do it justice… in real life it’s even prettier!

After a lunch of pancakes, made by K’s lovely mum, we were dropped back off at the ferry port for the trip back over to the mainland (and on to Glasgow). Here are some photos from the ferry crossing:

In the interests of fairness, I should mention that the last set of photos was taken by Jan… I chose staying cosy inside the ferry over going out in the wind.

Arran is stunning and it’s a shame we only got to spend a short time there. I would definitely like to go back some time, preferably in summer when it stays light for longer in the evening.

Have you been to any Scottish islands? What did you think?

35 Before 35: Attend a world cup rugby match

I’m baaack! I see you’ve all been busy guessing what I’m stitching (those of you who haven’t yet should go here and do so now), and I will put up a new picture for you soon, but right now I would like to talk about rugby.

I had to take a photo of the Newcastle United sign without the horrid adverts!
I had to take a photo of the Newcastle United sign without the horrid adverts!

Number 20 on my 35 before 35 was to attend a world cup rugby match. I thought since it was taking place in England it was an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed! As it turned out, I actually attended three matches – all the ones that were taking place at St James’ Park (Newcastle United FC’s home ground). We got to see South Africa vs Scotland, New Zealand vs Tonga and Samoa vs Scotland. The two Scotland ones had the best atmosphere – so many Scots had come down for it that it was almost like a home game for Scotland! The best match, surprisingly, was Samoa vs Scotland! New Zealand won theirs but were fairly disappointing – obviously they ran all over little Tonga but they didn’t play nearly as well as I was expecting them to. Scotland played terribly against South Africa and thoroughly deserved the beating they got! But Samoa vs Scotland was a fairly even match and definitely the most exciting of the three. In the end Scotland deservedly won – although I was actually torn with that match as if Scotland had lost Japan – who had been doing surprisingly well during the group phase – would have gone through to the next stage. Anyway, enough talking – here are a few photos.

South Africa v Scotland

New Zealand v Tonga

Samoa v Scotland

It wasn’t always that easy to tell what was going on from the stands (especially when we were nowhere near the screen!), but all three matches were great fun to attend and I would definitely do it again!

So, another item off the list. What’s next?

Friday letters

Well people, it’s Friday again and I was almost very late for work this morning! I always set my alarm for 5:45, take my pill then reset the alarm to 6 a.m. I did that as usual this morning, but for some reason the 6 a.m. alarm either didn’t go off or we both slept through it. I woke up at 6:55, checked the time then jumped out of bed in a panic. I have to leave at 7:20 to catch my train, and I actually did! I was showered, dressed, teeth brushed and bag packed in 25 minutes. Phew! Luckily today wasn’t a hair washing day 🙂 Now it’s lunch time, and also time for Friday letters.

Postkasten

Dear alarm. Why?? That is all.

Dear new work customer. Thank you for giving me something to translate this week that was actually interesting! I feel like I’ve mostly been translating the same things for months, so it made a nice change to learn somthing new.

Dear weather. You’ve been glorious all week, then this morning it was raining. Please bring back the sunshine for the weekend (and most especially for Sunday when my boyfriend’s choir are performing at an outdoor festival!)

Dear boyfriend. You’ve been working so hard again this week! So I’m planning on making you a surprise while you’re at your all-day choir practice on Saturday. (Don’t worry readers, Jan never reads my blog so he won’t know he has a surprise coming until he receives it).

Dear cross stitch. I can’t wait to have you up on the kitchen wall! Just need to iron on the interfacing and frame you now 🙂

Dear Scotland. I’m glad to see you’ve decided to stay with the UK. I just hope the politicians can now work something out that will make both sides happy – and also that if any Scots are upset about the outcome, they don’t decide to come rampaging into England. The area I’m from will literally be on the front line if that happens! Time to rebuild our castles? 😉 (Also, I do wonder whether many more people would have voted Yes if it hadn’t meant being stuck with Alex Salmond as their leader?)

That’s all. I need to eat and get back to work now. Have a great weekend everyone!

 I’m linking up with Kate again for Daily Diaries.

Look Up, Look Down: Edinburgh

I wasn’t sure what to post for this week’s Look Up, Look Down, so I started randomly going through the photos on my computer and came across this one from January 2011, when Jan an I spent New Year in Edinburgh. It was taken from Holyrood Park, looking down on the city. At the back of the photo you can see Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh

Here’s another photo, taken from the same park/hill. This time, you can see Holyrood Palace.

Holyrood Palace

To see other interpretations of the challenge and join in yourself, check out Travel With Intent’s blog post. Coincidentially, she has also used views of Edinburgh this week – I swear I didn’t know that last night when I uploaded the photos ready to write this post today!

Want even more Edinburgh? Take a look at this post that I wrote earlier this year.

Travel theme: Hidden

When I saw that Ailsa’s travel theme for this week was “hidden” I knew immediately that I wanted to join in. The only question was did I have any suitable photos? After going through all the albums on my computer, I discovered I did. And here they are for your viewing pleasure.

I have posted this first photo before, but it was just perfect for the theme. Hidden among these leaves there is a bird, almost perfectly camouflaged.

Bird among the leaves
Bird among the leaves

The next two photos were taken in Paris. Hidden beneath the streets of the city are the Catacombes de Paris, an underground ossuary (cemetery). The first picture shows a sculpture of France’s Port-Mahon fortress, created by a former inspector when these tunnels were still part of a stone quarry.

Paris catacomb sculpture

The second photo is more what you would expect from an underground graveyard… bones! Apologies for the quality of the photograph – flash photography was not permitted and it’s pretty dark down there!

Paris catacombs

Cynics might say that this next sight is a familiar one in Scotland! The sky and the tops of the mountains in Glenfinnan are almost completely hidden behind the clouds.

Glenfinnan

And finally, just to prove that the weather isn’t always bad in Scotland, here’s a photo taken in Glen Nevis later that same day. This time it’s the sun that’s hidden, behind some trees.

Glen Nevis

Visit Where’s My Backpack for more interpretations of the theme and to join in yourself. The weekly challenge is open for entries until Thursday.

Travel Tuesdays: Edinburgh

Since I have absolutely nothing to talk about today, I’m linking up with Alex from Ifs, Ands and Butts and Helene In Between for Travel Tuesdays. Today I want to tell you about one of my favourite places on Earth: Edinburgh.

Edinburgh castle
Edinburgh castle

I first went to Edinburgh as a child, for the sole purpose of going to the zoo (Newcastle doesn’t have one, so we traipsed to Scotland… as you do). I’ve since been there several times and actually managed to look at things other than the animals.

The most recognisable landmark in Edinburgh is, of course, the castle. One thing you really must do in Edinburgh is head up there for a close-up view. It’s pretty impressive (well, it is a castle). As is the view you get of the city from up there.

Castle entrance
Castle entrance
I can see the sea from up here!
I can see the sea from up here!

One of the things that attracts me to Edinburgh is the architecture. I’ve already mentioned the castle, of course (did you know it’s built on an extinct volcano?). Then there’s St. Giles’ Cathedral, with its incredibly intricate entrance archway.

St Giles' Cathedral
St Giles’ Cathedral
Entrance to St Giles'
Entrance to St Giles’

But even the ordinary residential buildings appeal to me. I would LOVE to live in a house like the ones below – just imagine how much light those windows must let in!Houses

Then there are all the parks and green spaces. Here’s Princes Street Gardens:

GardensAt the back, you can see Waverley Station – another example of the impressive architecture that Edinburgh has to offer. Other park areas include Calton Hill and Holyrood Park. So much green right in the city!

Apart from the many things that I will never tire of looking at, the main thing that draws me to Edinburgh is its cultural offerings. I have been lucky enough to be there both during the Fringe Festival and at New Year (Hogmanay), and on both occasions there’s so much to see and do that you can’t possibly fit it all in! The Edinburgh festival Fringe, which takes place in August, is the world’s largest art festival, and a showcase for the performing arts. Theatre, comedy, dance, music… everything is represented. We were able to take in an improvised comedy show and see some live music by two very good acts (a folk band and a blues/country/folk musician named Eddie Walker – you can check out his website here). The pub where the gig took place is now my absolute favourite place to go for a drink in Edinburgh. The Guildford Arms is located just off Princes Street, so very central but not as touristy as the places directly on Princes street or along the Royal Mile. They have ten different Real Ales on tap (heaven for my boyfriend) and there’s also a restaurant upstairs, which I’ve unfortunately never tried. If anyone out there has/does, please let me know how the food is!

Eddie Walker at the Guildford Arms
Eddie Walker at the Guildford Arms

Our New Year’s trip to Edinburgh had just as much to offer as the Festival Fringe. We took part in a torch-light procession through town, starting from the Royal Mile, took in a candlelit concert at the Cathedral and spent New Year’s Eve at the famous Hogmanay street party. Then, on 1 January, we attended the open-air New Year’s concert, which that year featured KT Tunstall plus three other acts… for just 11 pounds a ticket! Probably my favourite New Year’s celebration ever!

Torch-light procession
Torch-light procession
KT Tunstall
KT Tunstall

 

Other things to do in Edinburgh include many museums (the Palace of Holyroodhouse, The Queen’s official residence in Scotland, is interesting, as is The Royal Yacht Britannia, now decommissioned and permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal in Leith), whisky tasting if you’re into that (The Scotch Whisky Experience is in Edinburgh) or shopping. The main shopping street is Princes Street, where you can find loads of UK high-street shops, such as WH Smith, while the Royal Mile holds the more touristy shops plus any number of bars and restaurants.

Holyroodhouse Palace in the rain
Holyroodhouse Palace in the rain
Old Fishmarket Close, off the Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Old Fishmarket Close, off the Royal Mile, Edinburgh

So, in summary, Edinburgh is brilliant and you really should go there! Now hop on over to Alex’s blog for more tales of travel!

Travel Tuesdays