The Willow Tea Rooms

I decided to treat myself this lunchtime and head out for a bite to eat at The Willow Tea Rooms, a rather famous Glaswegian landmark, designed by Charles Rennie Mackingtosh in 1904. For those of you that avidly read the blog, you may remember that I put this little cafe down as my number one attraction to see, mainly because I absolutely love food. However, instead of opting for the standard tea and cake combo, I decided to go all out and have my first traditional Scottish breakfast.

Outside

Inside 

Breakfast

Scottish breakfasts differ from traditional English breakfast in three main ways – they always have a hearty portion of black pudding, they have square sausage instead of the usual links and they have potato scone instead of hash browns. To be honest, I don’t really think any of this makes all that much difference personally but either way it was still absolutely bloody beautiful. I washed it down with three cups of Willow blend tea which was also lovely. The whole lot came to under £6 which I thought was pretty reasonable, considering that the place is a massive tourist trap.

I also got a 10% off voucher for the Buchanan street branch so I’ll probably nip for a bite to eat there one day soon as well – will definitely have to try out the cakes next time around (any excuse!)

The rest of my Sunday looks like it’ll be pretty chilled. Got some boring things to do like finish my laundry and do yet more reading but, if I get chance/can be bothered, I’m also going to try and learn some basic Italian, ready for next weekend 🙂 Exciting times!

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Edinburgh!

I’ve had the most lovely day in Edinburgh today. The sun was shining, the company was good and I even had a cheeky cocktail – what more does a girl need in life?!

Even though I wasn’t meeting the girls until 2pm this afternoon I decided to head into Edinburgh early, have a wander around while the weather was good and grab a coffee or something. No matter how many times I visit Edinburgh (and it’s been quite a few now!) I still get that same sense of excitement whenever I get out the train station and see the beautiful skyline and today was no exception. Without a shadow of a doubt it is one of my favourite places in the whole world.

Royal Mile

St. Giles Cathedral 

Beautiful view from Starbucks 

In the end, there were only five of us altogether, as some people had to cancel at the last minute unfortunately. It was great to meet up with everyone though and have a good old fashioned chat and, in particular for us newer volunteers,discuss some of our worries. It’s great to talk to through these things with people in the exact same situation and it definitely made me feel better about my own doubts and worries. A problem shared is a problem halved as they say! Also it was obviously great to meet three more people and expand my social circle that bit more – hopefully these meet-ups may become a semi-regular thing!

We had lunch in a cute vegetarian cafe before having a wander through Princes Gardens, up the Royal Mile and then up to the famous castle. Following that I then decided to introduce the girls to the joy of a deep-fried Mars bar, which is a Glaswegian delicacy 😉 They enjoyed it a lot more than I though they would I must say!

Scott Monument in Princes St. Gardens

Outside Edinburgh Castle

Deep fried Mars bar

After a quick look round the shops and markets on the Royal Mile we finished off the day in the only way possible – with a cocktail in a Frankenstein themed pub of course! I’ve always wanted to visit this pub but never quite got round to it so I was chuffed that we made it in today.

Frankenstein Pub

That place is cray. It’s very dark and atmospheric inside with lots of candle light, Frankenstein posters and memorabilia and even themed cocktails called ‘Dr. Frankenstein’ and ‘The Bride’, both of which are rather tasty. They even show the old black and white film on a projector screen alongside the  football, which is just bizarre. However, the weirdest thing by far about this place is that, once the film finishes, a guy starts playing the famous theme music and a plastic model of Frankenstein is slowly lowered down from the roof. So bloody weird but rather cool I must say. Definitely worth a visit for anyone who has a quick hour to kill in the city centre!

All in all I had a brilliant day and spent less money that I envisaged, for once! So I decided, seeing that I managed to actually come home with some money today, that tomorrow I’ll take a cheeky trip into Glasgow and start ticking some more bits and bobs off my little tourist list. Probably going to have a look round the Cathedral as I’ve heard it’s well worth a look although I don’t really have a plan so who knows where I’ll end up! Rosie has the day off as well so we might meet up depending on her plans tomorrow so that’s also a possibility. Either way it’s probably going to be nice chilled Sunday before I start what looks to be another rather busy working week!

That Friday Feeling

I have now successfully completed the end of my second working week! YES.

This week has been a long one and, to be honest, it’s been a bit up and down. On the one hand, work’s gone well and I’m finally allowed to start doing some stuff by myself and have a bit more freedom. I’ve also complete the first section of my induction and finally planned what I need to do when, so it definitely all feels a lot more manageable which is good. I still have a hell of a lot of reading and learning to do but hopefully I can catch up on some of it this weekend and get ahead (or at least stay on track!)

I was also very naughty this week and booked tickets to spend Hogmanay in  Edinburgh 🙂 I am SO excited already, even though it’s a good three months away! I can’t really afford it at the moment but decided,as I have the time off work and I’m in Scotland, it would be rude to. However, I am going to have to cut back for a few weeks somewhere down the line, although I won’t worry about that until I return from Milan at least. As you may have already guessed from reading this blog I am truly awful with money. I always say one day I’ll calm down (and I really will have to at some point) but, as they say, YOLO.

Anyway, I digress. While this week has had its highs, it has also had its lows. As well as generally being a little stressed out regarding my induction, I also got my first pangs of homesickness this week. Actually, I’m not sure if it was homesickness as such because, while I miss my friend and family dearly, I don’t actually actively miss being at home. However, I just had the feeling that I wanted to be somewhere else and that maybe I’d made the wrong decision being here. I’m not sure what triggered it really (hormones probably) and it left as quickly as it came, so I’m feeling better now, but it wasn’t very pleasant. I think all I really needed was a cuddle and a pep talk but, like I say, I’m feeling  brighter today. I know in my heart of hearts this is the best decision I could have made, I just need to learn to persevere through the more difficult bits and not doubt myself so much. Easier said that done but I’m working on it.

This weekend looks like another good one. Admittedly, tonight and Sunday are mostly going to be spent doing reading which is pretty boring but tomorrow I’m off to Edinburgh for the day! I’m really looking forward to visiting capital again as it is possibly my favourite city in the world and definitely somewhere I could envisage myself settling in the not too distance future. Me and Eujin are meeting up with a group of fellow CSV Volunteers, some of which I’ve met a few times and some I’ve never met before so it’ll be nice to get to know some new faces. The sun is shining over Glasgow at the moment (just) so here’s hoping the good weather lasts for tomorrow!

Rant.

To anyone reading this I apologise in advance – the following post is a self-indulgent rant. I’m in a bit of a crappy mood and I just need a moment to vent and then I’ll probably be right as rain!

Work today was actually really stressful for the first time. I have a massive induction booklet and it is tough. The premise is simple enough – you read some information, had a think about what you’ve read and learnt and answer questions on the topics, preferably without looking at your notes. However, for some unknown reason, I just cannot remember any of the information and am genuinely struggling to answer these questions. What I find most frustrating is the fact that I’m usually pretty good at theoretical work and can often put my ideas and thoughts into semi-intelligent answers – I mean I have a bloody English degree for Christ’s sake! Yet most of this has so far had me really quite stumped. I’m not sure if maybe I’m getting a little bit too stressed about it and I need to step back and try again afresh or adopt some of my usual study techniques and treat it more like a university project but I definitely need to try something new I think. It doesn’t help that the induction folder is absolutely massive plus I’m the first one employee that’s used this new induction – my fellow CSV Volunteer was genuinely shocked by how intense it was,as she didn’t have to do half as much work as I’m having to do. Also I’ve signed up to do a distance learning course (related to work) and I need to answer a sample case study/essay type question that again has me stumped – I literally cannot think of a thing to write at the moment and you have to do it unaided which doesn’t help. I suppose the bright side of it all is that I’ll be so knowledgeable and have a really good understanding of the care sector which will look great on my CV (provided I pass!)

I’m also massively broke at the moment which does not help matters at all. I say broke, by that I mean all my money is already allocated for lots of fun activities and, at the present time, I have no spare dollar for life’s little luxuries such as chocolate or wine. I have no reason to  moan about money at all, seeing as I’m budgeting well enough to be able to afford to go to both Edinburgh and Milan over the next two weekends but the last thing I feel like doing at the moment is accounting for every last penny I spend and being good. I even got a book out the library to help me try and budget as I am so bad at it – pathetic I know!

I suppose today has been a bit of a blip and, to be fair, it was expected –  I certainly didn’t ever think this experience would be easy and I knew I’d be challenged in ways I’ve never been before. I guess I just didn’t expect the theoretical side to be so difficult, seeing as that is usually what I do best at. I’m sure I’ll probably crack it soon with a bit more training and background reading and all that but at the moment it just feels like a massive mountain of paperwork.

I cannot wait to get myself to Italy for a much needed break!

A trip to Loch Lomand

Yesterday I decided to go on my first proper adventure outside of Glasgow and headed to Luss, a picturesque village in Loch Lomand. I set off on the train to Balloch which only took about forty minutes (and was an absolute bargain at £3.50 for a return!) From there I met Rosie and she gave me a quick tour of the town, which is on the very edge of Loch Lomand, before catching a bus to Luss.

Luss is tiny and, admittedly, there isn’t actually a lot there but it is simple lovely. The main street has lots of gorgeous cottages and this leads down to the Loch which is just beautiful.

The Loch

We also got to experience part of a traditional Scottish wedding at the village church which was a great experience. There were lots of men in kilts (be still my beating heart!) and a traditional bagpiper at the church entrance and even the vicar got involved and wore some red tartan trousers! That would DEFINITELY never happen in England!

Bagpipes! 

Of course, no afternoon out is complete without some tea and cake. We found a really cute cafe just off the main street which was very traditionally Scottish – the waiters wore kilts (accessorized with converse trainers no less!) and they even had tartan crockery which I now want for the flat!

Scottish blend tea and a cheeky slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake

We then walked off the cake and managed to climb quite a large hill that gave use great views of the Loch – unfortunately we got a little diverted from our planned route so in essence were a little lost but we made it back safely eventually!

All in all I had a great little trip 🙂 Today was also pretty decent as I spent most of it shopping for either food or clothes. There was a vintage clothing fair on at Glasgow SU and I managed to pick up three beautiful shirts for £20 so I was pretty chuffed. One of them was a dark green Barbour checked shirt which is just so baggy and comfy. The other two were cute little floral numbers that will look pretty cool with my new grey skinny jeans. I might even wear one next week for my little trip to Edinburgh!

This week looks like it might be quite good – work shifts seem pretty decent (I don’t start until 3pm tomorrow) and I’m at work with Eujin for three out of five shifts so that should be nice 🙂 Don’t have a lot planned socially until Saturday but,if the last few days are anything to go by, who knows what I’ll end up doing over the next few days!

 

T.G.I.F!

Today has been a very good Friday! I only had an 8-1 shift this morning and my supervisor said she was very impressed with my work so far which was a nice confidence boost. Plus today is pay day so I now have £60 burning a hole in my pocket! Unfortunately I get paid weekly, cash-in-hand which is very dangerous for a self-confessed spender such as myself.

This afternoon me, Eujin and Rosie (a fellow CSV Volunteer) went to the cinema to see Lawless which was actually really quite good although a little violent in some places. Tom Hardy was also looking ridiculously attractive as always so that was a definite bonus! It was a beautiful sunny day so afterwards we took a stroll to Kelvingrove Park in the West End of the city centre which was just lovely before heading to a Korean restaurant nearby. I’ve never had Korean food before but Eujin gave us some great recommendations – I had chargrilled spicy pork with squid and sticky rice which was so good. In fact, I have a sneaky suspicion we might become regulars!

Fountain at Kelvingrove

Korean Food!

This weekend looks like it’s going to be a good ‘un – tomorrow Rosie is kindly taking me to Luss, a small village in Loch Lomand which should be nice (fingers crossed the weather remains fine!) and on Sunday I’m planning to spend my wages buying vintage clothes in the West End. I can’t believe I’ve only been up here for a week – I’ve surprised myself by how quickly I’ve settled into Scottish life and how quickly I seemed to have developed an active social life. Genuinely did not think I’d enjoy it as much as I am doing, at least not initially, although I’ve been extremely lucky to meet such a friendly bunch. Next weekend I’m  headed to Edinburgh to meet more CSV volunteers which should be really good and then the weekend after I jet off to Milan so I have a great few weeks ahead 🙂 In between all these trips, full-time work and a quite dense training schedule I don’t really have much time to miss home, which is probably for the best really!

Dinner at Arisaig

Tonight I had my first proper meal out in Glasgow and it was absolutely beautiful! My flatmate, Eujin, took me and two other CSV Volunteers to this really nice part of town called Merchant Square which is full of good restaurants. We settled on a restaurant that did traditional Scottish cuisine as well as just generally good hearty food and it was lovely 🙂

Pretty lights in Merchant Square

Starter: Home-made fishcakes with lime and sweet chilli dip

Main: Venison Stew 

Best of all these two  courses only cost £12, which isn’t bad really considering that a main course at Arisaig usually costs at least that on its own! I had a really great evening and it was nice to meet some more volunteers and expand my social circle a bit! Also it was nice to hear their experiences and talk to other people in the same position.

At the moment I go from really enjoying myself to wondering if I can really hack being in this industry full-time as I am so inexperienced. I took the lead assisting a lady this morning (with someone helping me and observing) and I think it went ok but I still haven’t got the knack of it all, not by a long shot! I know it’s only been four days and you obviously can’t rush these things but I suppose I’m a little annoyed at myself for not picking it all up straight away. Definitely realised that I’m much more academic than I am practical – I really enjoyed my epilepsy awareness training today because it reminded me of being back at uni (I passed by the way and got a nice shiny certificate!) As they say though, practice makes perfect so I’m hoping by this time next week I’ll have progressed more and be feeling a bit better about my abilities. At any rate, I only have a five hour shift tomorrow which should be fine and then I have the weekend off, so really I canny complain too much!

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