22.

Today was a pretty memorable day – not only did I turn 22 but I also became an auntie (well step-auntie technically) to a beautiful baby nephew!

I’ve had a lovely birthday and was thoroughly blown away by the amount of effort my friends, family and everyone at work made to make my day a special one. Everything started off quietly and I admit I was feeling a little homesick at work this morning as usually I spend my birthdays surrounded by all my friends either at uni or at home (or both!) so spending the day at work, in the house alone, was a bit of a change. However, I really should not have worried as no sooner had everyone gone out on daycare, than I was surprised with a bottle of sparkling wine, a beautiful bunch of flowers and a massive box of chocolates from everyone at work. I got so emotional I started crying, which is rather embarrassing, but I was genuinely so shocked I didn’t know how else to react!

Birthday Flowers!

I also had my six week review today with my manager and the regional CSV manager which went really well (thankfully!) which means that I get to stay in Scotland for the whole year – YAY! So relieved that I get to stay as I’m already rather fond of everyone here and I absolutely love life in Glasgow so that was an excellent bit of birthday news! The regional manager also gave me a birthday card as well, bless him.

After work I was finally free to open all the lovely cards and presents my friends and family sent up – again, I was overwhelmed by the effort they’d all gone to, sending presents all this way. I got some absolutely beautiful things, including a gorgeous dress from my best friend, lots of winter clothes to keep me nice and warm, a bookmark all the way from Korea and some truly excellent DVD’s from my uni friends, full of photos and birthday messages (and dancing!!) It’s safe to say I was thoroughly spoilt -I am definitely one very very lucky girl.

New Birthday Dress 🙂 

This evening the plan was for me and Eujin to go out, just the two of us, for a nice meal at Ingram Wynd which is a beautiful Scottish restaurant in the Merchant City of Glasgow. However, being the absolute sweetheart she is, she surprised me by inviting along a group of the CSV-ers to help me celebrate. Unfortunately a few of them were unable to make it due to work commitments but it was just so nice that she made the effort to plan something that little bit more special for me. I had a great evening and the food was absolutely delicious (as was the wine!)

Ingram Fishcakes with Lemon Mayo & Chilli

Haggis Beef Olive with Black Pudding Mash and Onion Gravy

At Ingram Wynd

All in all I’ve had an excellent day and I am so very grateful to everyone up here in Scotland and all the amazing people back at home etc. who have helped make yet another birthday so special. I have the best friends and family ever and it’s great to know that even being however many hundreds of miles apart nothing really ever changes and it’s also great to know that the new friends I’m making up here are also a pretty fantastic bunch! Definitely feeling the love tonight.

Pre-Birthday Celebrations!

I kicked off my early birthday celebrations this weekend with a visit from one of my favourite people in the world, April. She travelled up all the way from London just to come and see me which was fantastic – it was so good to finally see her and catch up properly, as well as to finally show my friends just how great a city Glasgow is and what life is like up here in Scotland.

Typically the weather yesterday was awful but, once I’d dutifully collected her from the platform at Queen Street Station, we decided to head out for a rather rainy walking tour of Glasgow. We first decided to head slightly east and make our way to the Cathedral and Necropolis. While I ventured to the Cathedral for the first time last week, I’d never made it up to the Necropolis before, so it was great (if not a little creepy) to finally see it for myself. It’s actually pretty damn cool and the views of Glasgow from the top are just amazing.

Stained Glass in the Cathedral

Necropolis

After we’d had a little wander around there, we headed back to the main city centre to the Trongate Gallery. I’ve been here a few times as part of the project ability day care class one of my service users attends but I’ve never had chance to look round properly so it was good to finally see more of the print studio and some of the photography exhibitions.

Posing outside the excellent Mrs.Mitchell’s Sweetieshop on Trongate

Our next port of call was CUP Tea Lounge which not only does gorgeous cupcakes but some amazing cocktails which I’ve been dying to try for ages. We both opted for a Millionaire Shortbread Cocktail which consists of  ‘Briottet Caramel shaken with mozart chocolate liqueur shaken hard and served up with finely crumbled toasted biscuits’ – absolute heaven. The place inside is also beautifully decorated and full of big comfy sofas so I would definitely recommend it as one of the best cafes in town.

CUP Tea Lounge

Choc-tails!

For dinner that evening we headed over to the West End and to a wonderful Scottish pub called Oran Mor, which is Gaelic for ‘great melody of life’ or ‘big song’. The pub actually used to be the Kelvinside Parish Church and inside it is beautiful – there was even a jazz band playing which just added to the atmosphere even more. No trip to Scotland would be complete without some haggis, so naturally we just had to have the traditional meal of haggis, neeps and tatties. The food was delicious and really reasonably priced so I’ll definitely be bringing more friends here whenever I get chance.

Food Glorious Food!

Of course  no birthday celebration would be complete without some cheeky cocktails so headed down to the brilliantly named Vodka Wodka for a few drinks. I had a spiced pear mojito which was lovely and some kind of raspberry concoction with Jack Daniels that was surprisingly pleasant after a few sips! It was a lovely way to round off what had been a fantastic afternoon/evening in the city 🙂

Ashton Lane

Cocktail time!

This morning, as it was nice and dry, we decided to walk into town and build up an appetite ready for a good old Scottish breakfast at Wetherspoons before April had to leave and get on the train. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Wetherspoons up here has a special Scottish section of the menu so I’ll be making many more trips there in the near future!

Scottish Breakfast! 

I was rather sad to put my friend on the train and say goodbye – it felt like she was only just getting to see the real Glasgow and I loved how easily it felt like we were back at uni, like we’d never been apart really. However, I have no doubt that she’ll be up and visiting numerous times over the next year so I know I’ll be seeing her smiling face soon! It was great to finally have one of my close friends come and visit my new house and it was just the boost I needed after a rather stressful week. Tomorrow is my actual birthday so I’m sure they’ll probably be more celebrating (and drinking) then – once work is out the way of course!

Postgraduate Woes.

Today I finally got my act together and started the process of applying for my postgraduate course. Although I knew it wouldn’t be particularly easy, I’d conveniently forgotten just how difficult it is to write a decent personal statement. Actually I haven’t even got that far.  I spent most of the day researching the course for UCL, researching the application process, desperately emailing my tutors for academic references and then collating all my notes from the little bits of shadowing experience I have and also from this brilliant study day I went to at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. Obviously all this experience will look great for my application and for interviews (if I even get to that stage!) and it was actually really useful to go back over my notes and re-write then out in such a way that will help me explain what I’ve learnt from observation – but it didn’t half take longer than expected! I think I’d forgotten just how thoroughly I like to do things and how prepared I like to be before I actually sit down and write anything, even just a rough first draft. I was the same at uni and while I always did quite well at coursework (so it’s a tried and tested method!)  it also meant I could never get away with starting an essay just two days before the deadline or whatever. It also means I often end up making more work for myself than is probably necessary but I suppose if it works, it’ll all be worth it. My first deadline is now just 13 days away and I have a LOT to do before then – aka the whole application including the personal statement – but I’m sure once I get into it I’ll be fine. Rather ironically, after spending most my last 6 months of uni desperately trying to get out of the library, today I voluntarily spent the whole afternoon there and actually quite enjoyed being sat in the silent reading room, pretending to be a student once more!

This week is looking ridiculously busy. I have my application to complete, I’m in work Monday-Friday and it’s also my birthday on Tuesday 🙂 One of my closest friends from uni is up visiting me tomorrow and Monday which will be simply wonderful and then, on my actual birthday, I’m just going out for a nice meal with my flatmate which should be good. I’m actually starting to get quite excited for the big two-two, mainly because all my friends have been absolute sweethearts and sent me lots of exciting cards and packages which I cannot wait to open. Unfortunately though, I also have my six week review with my line manager and the regional CSV manager that morning and the outcome of this meeting decides whether my placement want me for the whole year or not. No pressure then.

Procrastination Station.

When I graduated I thought I’d left all thoughts of procrastination behind and would become a full-functioning, productive working adult. Apparently this is not the case.

I have a quite a lot to do over the next month –  I work full-time hours (shift work of various lengths and times), I have to start applying for my postgraduate course (there are 2 deadlines in November, with the rest in early December) and I’ve just been accepted onto a distance learning course which requires me to complete two units of work and two assignments before 16th November. In between all this I also have a few social arrangements here and there and a training course in Edinburgh. Thus, I’m going to be quite a busy bee, especially with my master’s applications, as I intend to do a lot of  reading about the subject to refresh my brain and get myself back into the academic mode and provide yet more material to help me write a mind-blowing amazing personal statement (I wish!) Obviously once I’ve written one personal statement I should be alright as I can just tweak the others as necessary which shouldn’t take too long, fingers crossed!

However I’m aware that, as soon as start thinking about deadlines, I start slipping back into my naughty student ways. This happened all the time at university and often ended up with me napping a lot more, having a really clean bathroom and putting on weight. Nothing has changed.

Today I did a cheeky 8-2.30pm shift which was absolutely great. As we were short-staffed I was really busy this morning and finally felt like a fully-fledged member of staff, instead of just an extra pair of hands. I then got to go out for a spot of shopping and lunch at Pizza Hut with two of our service users and another support worker, which was a really nice afternoon. I’ve had to spend a lot of the time in the house the past month, instead of out on ‘daycare’, probably because I’m obviously still the new girl. However, bit by bit I’m allowed out more and more and, instead of just simply shadowing, I’m supporting people 1:1 which is a great feeling.

Anyway I digress (as always!). After my shift I planned to do my washing, tidy my bedroom and bathroom fully before completing the first unit of my course. Instead, I spent a lot of time on my bed watching telly, before making a to-do list (a key procrastination tool) and the promptly falling asleep for over two hours. Now I’m sat here blogging and watching the Big Bang Theory. After this I’ll eat, watch more Big Bang and then watch a documentary on BBC Three. At no point will I even think about doing my coursework. Of course, I’ve set my alarm for tomorrow nice and early so I can quickly get ready and smash through the first part of the workbook before I start work at 3pm. In all probability, instead of waking up at nine and starting work for ten, I’ll be lucky if I’ve even managed breakfast before half ten.

The work will get done by the allocated deadline. Heck, it’ll probably be done a few days before each deadline. It just won’t get done tonight. Or tomorrow.

The Butterfly and The Pig.

Today me and Rosie decided to head into town and treat ourselves to a proper afternoon tea. We headed to the Tea Rooms at The Butterfly and The Pig, which is a really cool pub in the city centre. As soon as we walked in and saw how beautifully it was decorated, with lots of quirky crockery and ornaments, I knew we’d picked the right place.

Full Afternoon Tea costs £12.50 per person but it is more than worth it for the sheer amount of food you receive! On the bottom tier we each had four quite well-sized sandwiches- two with egg, cress and spring onion and two with ham, tomato and rocket which were lovely. An assortment of crisps added a nice quirky feel as well! The middle tier was where the magic happened – the cakes. There were 6 in total, including two large scones with cream and jam, a rather rich chocolate brownie, a slice of carrot and walnut cake, a cupcake and a portion of pistachio cheesecake. Just amazing but far too much sugar for me!  The top tier featured a rather exciting Scottish twist whereby we each had an oatcake topped with cream cheese and Scottish smoked salmon which was just gorgeous.

The Tea Rooms

Mismatched Crockery

Afternoon Tea! 

Once we’d demolished as much as we could physically manage (we had to have the last two cakes boxed up for us to take home!) we headed to the other side of the city and over to the Cathedral for evensong. I’m actually agnostic, so I don’t follow any particular religion  but I decided to accompany Rosie this week mainly so I could see the Cathedral but also because I’d never been to a service before so I was intrigued. The choir are wonderful, as is the Cathedral itself, so I enjoyed myself more than I thought I would. I actually felt really quite peaceful and enjoyed some quiet contemplation which made a nice change. While I wouldn’t necessary hurry back, it was an enjoyable hour and I wouldn’t rule out going again. I’ll definitely be back to the Cathedral soon though so I can have a proper look round, take lots of photos and also head up to the rather impressive Necropolis.

This week looks to be a very quiet one. Eujin is on holiday again (lucky girl!) so I’m alone for the week which means it’ll be rather lonely unfortunately. However it does give me a good opportunity to save some money and crack on with both my written induction and also a long-distance learning course I’ve signed up to through work, on the subject of equality and diversity. There’s both a workbook and end of unit assessments that need to be done so hopefully I can crack on with that and finish the first two units well before the November deadline. Over the next few weeks I also need to get my act together with regards to my postgraduate applications. My first deadline is UCL (University College London) which is 9th November – less than three weeks away now!! While I don’t actually want to move to London (yet!) I’ve reasoned that I should at least apply to all the universities  in case I don’t get offers from my top three choices (Edinburgh, Sheffield and Newcastle). Absolutely dreading the thought of having to write another bloody personal statement though. Also massively dreading the thought of rejection – but that’s a whole other blog post!

I miss…

I miss being a student. I miss the nights out, the randomness, the spontaneity. I miss spending the majority of my overdraft on cocktails and cheap vodka. I miss staying up until 5 in the morning, drinking tea, watching it slowly get light and pouring my heart out, sometimes to people I barely know. I miss that feeling of  just talking about anything and everything  and the closeness that brings. I miss debating serious issues while seriously slurring my speech. I miss my ability to make conversation with anyone and making random new friends in the toilets/at the bar/ in the queue/at a local takeaway. I miss turning Trivial Pursuit into a serious drinking game.I miss pre-drinking in a room decorated with Page 3 girls. I miss the banter with the taxi drivers. I miss walking home in the rain and moaning about how awful the weather is in the North all while holding my chips in one hand and my heels in the other. I miss chasing the poor ducks on campus. I miss waking up next to a box of chicken nuggets. I miss post-night out debriefs and filling in all the blanks the next morning and cringing at all the awful photos. I miss embarrassing myself (and others) with my over-enthusiastic dance moves. I miss pretending to my mum that I stayed relatively sober the night before. Hell, I even miss the hangovers.

God, I cannot actually wait to get out tomorrow night and try and relive all these moments 🙂

 

Pollok Country Park.

Me and Rosie both had Monday off this week so, as the weather was yet again being rather kind to us, we decided to head to the beautiful Pollok Country Park. As the name suggests, this is a massive country park which is home to a National Trust building, some highland cows and the famous Burrell Collection, which is an internationally renowned collection of art housed in a rather lovely woodland setting. Somehow, we ended up on a free guided tour of the collection which was conducted by an adorable Scottish lady called Betty. The collection itself is rather cool and features pieces from many different countries and eras, although there are a lot of stained glass windows and tapestries, as well as some excellent Chinese Art. Although we didn’t get chance to see the whole collection (we missed out the painting on the mezzanine level) it was a great introductory tour.

The Burrell Collection

Woodland Setting

Stained Glass Windows

Buddha!

The rather grand Warwick Vase

Once the tour was finished we decided to brave the cold and head back outside to finally spot some highland cows which, I have to say,was by far the highlight of my day! We then continued on a nice little wander up to the beautiful Pollok House, which is a National Trust building. As poor volunteers we didn’t pay to go inside the building but I can only imagine how nice it is inside, if the outside is anything to go by! I’m more than likely to visit Pollok again during the rest of my time here so I shall definitely have a look round the house at some point.

 

Highland Cow!

More Highland Cows! 

Pollok House

By the riverside

After all this walking and exploring we were both starving so, upon arriving back into Glasgow Central, we headed to a little pub in the West End to grab some dinner before taking another trip to Nardini’s, which is one of my favourite places in Glasgow. I treated myself to a double chocolate and pecan muffin AND a Royal Hot Chocolate, which is a massive and topped with lots of whipped cream, a generous handful of mini marshmallows and a chocolate wafer stick think. Safe to say I had a massive sugar overload! One of my favourite things about Glasgow is that, for some unknown reason, lots of cafes stay open really quite late. I absolutely love this and, in my old age, I actually genuinely prefer heading to a cute little cafe for hot chocolate and cake, instead of heading to a swish new bar for an alcoholic beverage! Turning 22 is doing strange things to me it seems…

 

Perfect way to end the day 🙂 

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