A wee visit!

This weekend was by far one of the best I’ve had in a while – my friend Nicole came up from Nottingham and we basically spent the whole weekend eating Haggis, shopping and consuming cocktails which was just lovely!

She arrived Friday morning and, once I finished work, we decided to get all dressed up and head into town for a nice meal out and a few drinks. I decided to take her to my favourite local restaurant in Glasgow, Ingram Wynd, so she could try some authentic Scottish cuisine  I opted for an absolutely delicious Haggis, Bacon and Onion Risotto to start and the catch of the day with garlic potatoes, veg and a Salsa Verde for the main course. Both dishes were excellent and Nicole really enjoyed her Mussels & Beef Haggis Olive as well so that was good. After this we headed to CUP Tea Lounge in Renfield Street so she could experience the chocolate cocktails there. Unfortunately they’ve just changed their menu for Christmas so the selection wasn’t as good (if you ask me anyway!) but I had a gorgeous White Chocolate and Chestnut concoction and a Strawberry Shortcake Martini so it wasn’t all bad! Also, Nicole ordered us some champagne as a pay day treat but the poor waiter tripped and spilt it all over my handbag which was a bit of a disaster – however they gave us the champagne for free in the end which was a bonus! We had a great night and a MASSIVE catch-up and it just reminded me of all the nights we used to have back in Nottingham 🙂

Me and Nicole

Starter

Main

Feeling Festive at CUP

Saturday morning was nice and sunny (thankfully!) so we decided to start our day with a wintery walk around The Botanic Gardens before heading down to the Christmas market for a cheeky drink to warm us back up – I finally had my first mulled wine of the season so I can now say it’s officially Christmas for me! We then headed into Prince’s Square for a look round the shops and a bite to eat. We ended up at Fifi & Ally which is a local cafe recommended to me by someone I work with. We had a massive Celtic sharing board full of salmon, smoked venison, beef, cheese and oatcakes which was just fantastic really!

Botanics

Lunch

After that it was time to hit the shops and begin the search for the perfect Christmas Party dress. I tried on quite a few but eventually found a gorgeous sequinned number in Topshop which is rather jazzy, although I have to wait until my parents come up and buy it for me as an early Christmas present. I’m so excited for the work party, mainly because I plan to get ridiculously drunk for the first time in over three months (shocking I know!). I’m also planning to get my hair cut and dyed ready for the event which will be a real treat. I’ve been feeling a bit bored of my ‘look’ recently so I think it’s time to go back to black for winter – how Amy Winehouse of me. However, I have been known to change my mind so who knows what colour I’ll actually end up with!

Anyway I digress. Saturday evening we headed back up to the West End to Ashton Lane and the famous Ubiquitous Chip restaurant. Obviously we couldn’t afford to eat in the main restaurant (£35 for a steak – ridiculous!) so instead we headed upstairs to the more relaxed brasserie area. We both opted for the Chip’s own venison haggis, neeps and tatties which was really tasty. The place itself also has a great atmosphere so I’d definitely go back again either for drinks or dinner. I’d also love to try the main restaurant as the menu did sound pretty special. However I highly doubt I’d ever be able to afford to dine there, unless I suddenly find myself a rich man – a girl can dream though!

At Ubiquitous Chip

As it was Saturday night we headed further down Ashton Lane to Vodka Wodka and Nude for a few more cheeky cocktails. I’d never been to Nude before but it was really good plus they did teapot cocktails which I just love!

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party!

Of course, I couldn’t let Nicole leave without experiencing a decent Scottish breakfast so on Sunday morning we traipsed through the rain to Oran Mor and had a massive fry-up complete with yet more haggis. It was simply delicious but so filling I didn’t need to eat again until about 7pm – probably for the best given the amount of calories I’d already consumed over the past few days!

Enjoying her first Scottish Breakfast!

Before Nicole left that afternoon we decided to visit two final Glaswegian attractions – the Gallery of Modern Art and the Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street. I always enjoy a trip to the GOMA and luckily they’ve already changed the exhibition in Gallery 4 since my last visit so it was good to see something a bit different. The Willow was also as good as always although I could only stomach a pot of the house tea after that mammoth breakfast. However, Nicole had some amazing meringues with butterscotch sauce which I will definitely be trying myself soon!

GOMA

All too soon it was time for her to make her way to the airport and say goodbye to bonny Scotland. I had an absolutely brilliant weekend and it was just what I needed after a pretty quiet couple of weeks – it was definitely nice to have a little bit of Nottingham up in Glasgow if only for a wee while!

Blue Monday

This Monday I was luckily enough to be reunited (albeit very briefly!) with one of my close friends from home, Emily. She happened to be up here for an interview to volunteer at the 2014 Commonwealth Games so we decided to meet for lunch beforehand and have a good old catch-up. As we were both a bit pushed for time we headed to Yo! Sushi as it’s usually cheaper on a Monday (Blue Monday – hence the title of this post!). Instead of the standard Sushi though we both decided to try the new Ramen dishes on offer – I had Chicken Ramen in a Miso Soup which was really good although not very filling!

Ramen

Reunited 🙂 

It was so good to to see her and have another visitor come and see what life in Glasgow is like, although I wished she could have stayed for a longer so she could see more than just the train station and Buchanan St. Hopefully she’ll be back next summer for a few days training and we can have a proper Glaswegian adventure – fingers crossed the weather will be better by then as well!

I love having visitors, not only because it obviously means that I get to see my nearest and dearest, but also because it reminds me how much I love Glasgow and how much I enjoy having this new home and new life that I’m proud of and want to show off to all my friends and family. As much as I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, I am proud of what I’ve achieved so far by being here and by how much I’ve changed for the better and  it’s great to finally be able to share that with my friends and fam. What’s even better is that I only have to wait until Friday for my next VIP guest  as my friend Nicole is coming to stay for the whole weekend. She’s never ever been to Scotland before (shocking I know!) so I’m especially excited to give her the special guided tour of all the best places and fully introduce her to Scottish life  – oh and to the delights of Iron Bru and Deep Fried Mars bars!

Step into Christmas.

The Christmas season has officially started – I’ve now had my first mulled cider, seen the Coke advert numerous times and watched Home Alone and it’s not even December yet!

Today me and Eujin got well and truly into the festive spirit by heading to the Glasgow Christmas Market for a cheeky mulled beverage. However, before that we went for an absolutely gorgeous lunch at Qua, a great family-run Italian restaurant in the Merchant City area. I know I often recommend the restaurants I visit but this place is seriously good and an absolute bargain – a delicious two-course lunch is only £5.95 which is just amazing really!

Enjoying some Bruschetta 

Scottish Mussels with Penne pasta in a tomato, garlic and chilli sauce

After this we had a good look round the shops  (yet more bloody Christmas shopping!) and then headed over to the Market in St.Enoch Square. If I’m being totally honest I expected it to be a lot bigger, for a city the size of Glasgow it’s actually quite small. However there are quite a few stalls and a cute festive lodge that sells traditional mulled wine and cider alongside other wintery drinks such as Amaretto Punch. I opted for a mixed berry mulled cider which was lovely and very warming – any excuse!

Mulled treats!

To keep the Christmas theme going when we got home we settled down and watched Home Alone on Channel 4 with a big bar of chocolate and a cheeky bottle of wine. After a bit of a crappy week, today was just the boost I needed and I’m now feeling stupidly excited for Christmas, even though I know it’s only mid-November! Obviously it’ll be really strange not spending it at home with the family and I think a few cheeky tears may be shed on Christmas morning but I’m ecstatic that I get to see my parents in three weeks time and have an early celebration then 🙂 Not sure if Glasgow is quite ready for the Morrell-Bevans clan yet though!

The Second Month

Today marks my two-month anniversary of starting the Glasgow adventure – it seems like only yesterday I was writing about the end of my first month, let alone my second! I definitely feel very settled into a routine now and, consequently, I suppose I’ve lost that initial sense of excitement. While I still love the city (and work in general) everything has become quite static, not boring but not necessarily that exciting either. I feel like I’ve established a life for myself up here and it does in a weird sense feel like home, for now at least.

I’ve been feeling really homesick this past week (although thankfully it’s finally starting to pass now) and I did even consider packing it all in and going back to Nottingham permanently. I would never actually do that, I’m enjoying myself too much, but being so far away from home and suddenly finding myself in a full-time job and having to be a grown-up has actually been really difficult for me. For the last three years I’ve had very little routine, no real sense of responsibility and, basically, I’ve just been doing pretty much whatever I want whenever. I mean don’t get me wrong, I worked very hard for my degree but, equally, I played even harder. Suddenly my whole student lifestyle has gone and now I’m very much living in the real,adult world and its just crazy. I miss being a student so much it is actually ridiculous and I think it’s only started to dawn on me this month that I’ll never have quite the same sense of freedom again and it’s a weird transition in my life. It doesn’t help that the last couple of weeks have seem to be all work and no play as I’m currently trying to juggle applying for my masters while also working full-time.

However, the last month hasn’t been all bad, far from it in fact! I had a lovely visit from one of my closest friends from uni and this kicked started an excellent week of birthday celebrations –  I was spoilt rotten by all my lovely friends and family and everyone at work as well which was a lovely surprise! Then I had all the fun of bonfire night, started to get fully in the festive spirit and generally just had a great time with everyone up here, seeing more and more of the city.

The next week, while very busy, is going to be fab – the Glasgow Christmas market opens this weekend and I am SO excited to have my first mulled wine and go shopping for some cute presents for the friends and just generally be even more festive! Plus I have not one but two visitors joining me over the next week  – a friend of mine Emily happens to be in the Glasgow area on Monday and then next weekend my friend Nicole is coming up to visit which will be great. So excited to show them both the delights of Glasgow! I predict lots of cake and cocktails. On top of this I obviously have work and I need to finally get round to finishing my application for Newcastle uni before then starting my application for Reading. However, once December hits I have a ridiculous amount to look forward to – my parents are coming to visit, there are lots of Christmas celebrations at work, actual Christmas and then Hogmanay in Edinburgh!! Maybe adult life isn’t so bad after all 🙂

Tea for two and a slice of homesickness.

Today I took Eujin for her first experience of a proper afternoon tea at the rather nice Thistle Hotel in Glasgow.  We were lucky enough to get an absolute bargain on Groupon which meant we got a sparkling tea for two consisting of a glass of prosecco, sandwiches, three gorgeous cakes each (a delicious milk and white chocolate slice, a cream filled meringue with fruit and a mini strawberry tart), scones with jam and cream and a massive pot of tea all for only £9 which was brilliant!

Afternoon Tea! 

Eujin enjoying a glass of bubbly! 

After a very long and leisurely lunch we indulged in some well-deserved retail therapy and I managed to pick up my mum’s Christmas present – a pair of really cute Radley slippers which she’ll hopefully love! I’ve been so organised this year and I’ve now brought all my family presents so now I only have the friends to do which is good, plus I already have ideas for most people so I’m pretty sorted. Makes a nice change from rushing around and doing all my shopping on the 23rd December for once!

Lucky lady! 

Even though I had a really lovely day, tonight I’ve started to have my first proper pangs of homesickness for both Lancaster and Nottingham. I’m not only missing my student days and my Northern girls but I’m missing the best friend and all the home crew so so much. I especially miss the freedom of home and just being able to drive to the pub, or to the bestie’s house or just wherever and spend a couple of hours with them lazing about  and having them put the smile on my face. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Glasgow but I’ve been feeling a bit fed-up and empty the last few days. I think part of it is because life revolves around work and uni applications at the moment and will do for the foreseeable future which is a drag. I’m not able to de-stress and relax in the usual ways with the usual people and I miss that and I miss them. It’s been 9 weeks since I left home which is the longest I’ve ever been away and I’m really starting to feel that now unfortunately, although I suppose it’s not really surprising.

I think the fact that Christmas is approaching is making things that bit tougher as well. Usually by now I’d be making lots of festive plans with the uni girls and planning my reunion with everyone at home and even though I sometimes tough it out and joke that I won’t be home until February probably, I don’t half wish I could nip home for a cheeky Christmas visit. Even though I have a few visitors making the journey up North soon (which I am rather excited about!) I would actually like to visit the places I miss as well as the people.

What I miss most is feeling close to the people I love the most. I feel a little bit detached from everyone at the moment, both physically and emotionally. I’m pretty awful at keeping in contact with people and weeks slip by before I realised I haven’t sat down and had a proper chat with someone in far too long but, no matter how many phone calls or texts or emails, it’s just not the same as that feeling when you know you’ll be seeing someone and you’re giddy at the thought of having an emotional reunion at the train station. I know this is all my own fault – I knew when I moved away the implications and what this would mean and I guess I just tricked myself into thinking that things wouldn’t change and we’d all remain a close-knit bunch. More selfishly and naively I thought it’d be much easier to build the gaps in geography than it is. I know I need to get better at staying in contact with people and I suppose writing this post has made me realise that I need to sit down and actually make some effort (which is a good realisation, if not a little overdue!). I think a lot of phone chats and skypes might be occurring over the next week or two.

Money Money Money.

After starting my Christmas shopping today I’ve realised just how awful I am at controlling my finances. Admittedly for once I didn’t blow my budget (well not really) but I did spend more than I probably should have done on my little nephew and that side of the family. I got a ridiculously cute teddy/rattle from Hamleys, a ‘my first Christmas’ keepsake box complete with some imprint clay (so they capture a handprint on the day!) and a tree decoration and then some Starbucks Christmas Coffee for my stepsister and her husband. All in all it only came to £20 which is pretty good going really. However, I probably could have stopped at the Keepsake gift set and everyone would have been more than happy. I could have then been nice and organised and put my remaining money to buying some other poor soul a present next week. But, as I always do, I felt compelled to spend the remaining £10 in my pocket there and then and so ended up getting extra presents for the family instead. I’ve always been like this and, even as a child, I remember making sure I’d spent all my pocket money down to the last penny – money literally does burn a hole in my pocket. Overspending by £10 probably seems quite trivial to most people but, when you live on a fairly limited budget and have an overdraft that has pretty much reached its maximum level, that one note can make quite a big difference.

I will happily admit that any issues I have with money are completely my own fault. I enjoy eating out frequently in nice (rather pricey) restaurants, I have an inability to say ‘no’ if someone invites me somewhere or suggests doing something that sounds even vaguely exciting and I also like to spend a lot on gifts, especially for my close family and friends. As you can imagine, with these three things combined, Christmas is a particularly disastrous time for my bank account. I admit I have actually got better with money – I think about my spending a lot more now than I ever did at university. Also I’ve stopped using my debit card unless absolutely necessary (i.e. to buy presents online) and even then I make sure I transfer my wages into my account before spending.

Becoming a CSV and being on quite a tight budget means that money is often at the forefront of my mind – whether I have any or not! If I do have some I’m thinking of how best to spend it and if I don’t have any I’m already planning how to spend next week’s wages. In fact, I could probably sit here now and tell you exactly how I’ll spend my money up until the end of the month. It’s strange – for someone that struggles with overspending I’m actually not that spontaneous with money and will allocate a certain amount of my budget to cover any unknown events. My biggest problem is probably my inability to save more than anything.

Realistically though I don’t actually imagine I’ll ever get any better with regards to my spending – I think my carefree attitude towards money is far too deeply-embedded to ever drastically change. I’m very much of the attitude that I may well die tomorrow (morbid but true) so I might as well enjoy myself why I can. I suppose that explains why I find it particularly hard to save money in the long-term – something always comes along in the short-term that I’d rather blown my savings/overdraft on, just in case I miss out on the opportunity again. Indeed, most of my spending isn’t actually on tangible, materialistic things (although I do love clothes!), it’s more likely to be on things like holidays, visiting friends, eating out, gig tickets, socialising and anything that involves me getting out and just doing something. Obviously, I could easily cut all these things out my spending and be a lot more financially secure – but where would be the fun in that?!

Fun at the Fireworks!

Last night was bonfire night and, as they don’t celebrate it in Korea, me and Eujin headed to Glasgow Green so she could experience her first Scottish fireworks display. We treated ourselves to a lovely dinner at Jamie’s Italian first – the one in Nottingham is one of my favourite restaurants ever so I had high hopes for the Glasgow branch and luckily it did not disappoint. I had a delicious Sausage Pappardelle while Eujin had a tiger prawn linguine that also looked pretty damn good. The restaurant itself also has a really nice atmosphere, all soft lighting and rustic looking, which really added to the experience. In fact, I think I may actually just prefer it to the Nottingham restaurant – high praise indeed!

Inside Jamie’s

Posing with my Sausage Pappardelle

After dinner we followed the crowds and made our way down to Glasgow Green. The event was much bigger than the ones I’m used to at home or at uni – apparently there were 60,000 people there which is just insane! They had lots of fairground rides and food stalls although I was disappointed to find that there were no toffee apples on sale for Eujin to try. The atmosphere was really good as they had some local radio DJs warming up the crowd for an hour before the actual display and everyone was dancing to all the music blasting out which was fun – gangnam style was a particular highlight as always! The display itself was also pretty decent, although it ended a bit abruptly, but it was still good to say entry was free.

Me and Eujin

Fireworks!

I love the onset of winter and starting to get all wrapped up in my warm clothes and seeing all the fireworks and Christmas lights coming on and generally just feeling all cosy and snuggling up with lots of hot chocolate and mulled wine and watching all the Christmas classics on TV. Even though this festive period will be a massive change as it’s my first one away from home I’m already rather excited for all the festivities I have planned up in Scotland – just think, it’s only 7 weeks today!

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