Christmas 2012.

Well, it’s definitely safe to say that Christmas 2012 was very different to how I usually spend the day. Typically at home, I’d have a nice-long lie in, open presents with my parents at midday, have a ridiculously large Christmas dinner, stuff my face with a whole tin of Celebrations and then fall asleep just after the Queen’s Speech, waking up in time for the Eastenders Special. Nice, lazy and relaxed. That was certainly not the case this year.

This year, I was up at ridiculous o’clock to skype my mum before she started work at 7.30am. Although I’m most definitely not a morning person, I have to admit it was well worth it to see the look on her face when she opened her present – she loved it thankfully! After a quick chat with the ‘rents I then decided I simply could not wait any longer to open my own presents (such a big kid at heart!). Mainly I’d been given money so the process was over within about 10 minutes but there were still some very nice surprises along the way, which I am very grateful for 🙂

Work on Christmas Day was actually quite nice, as we got to help the guys open their presents and everyone got treated to a really nice brunch and a few cheeky glasses of Bucks Fizz (service users, not staff, I hasten to add!) Also, as there was quite a lot going on the shift went really quickly and, before I knew it, it was time to sit down for Christmas Dinner. After dinner (which was nice, but nowhere near as good as my stepdad’s!) I quickly headed upstairs to get ready for a little get-together at Hannah’s house. I had such a good night, although I should never be allowed tequila again, but it was really fun to let my hair down properly for the first time in a long time! Boxing Dy morning, however, was definitely not so much fun – it’s also been a while since I’ve felt that hungover!

Now Christmas is done, my thoughts have turned very quickly towards Hogmanay. I can’t believe that, in just a few short days, we’ll be welcoming in 2013. It’s safe to say 2012 has been an adventure from start to finish – in between the stress and excitement of my final six months at Lancaster, losing my Gran, Graduation, Australia and then of course moving to Glasgow, it has probably been the most momentous year of my life so far, by a mile actually. A lot has happened, most of it absolutely bloody brilliant, and I really just cannot thank all my friends and family enough for making this year absolutely incredible! I’m sure 2013 will also bring lots of exciting things and hopefully yet another move somewhere new! Hope you all have a very Happy Hogmanay and a great year ahead 🙂

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‘Twas the night before Christmas…

As I write this I’m currently snuggled up in bed, wearing my brand new festive PJs and watching the sequel to The Snowman, in a desperate bid to try and feel that bit more festive. I still can’t actually believe it’s Christmas Day tomorrow and, I have to admit, it feels bloody weird not being at home this year. I’ve gone through a range of different emotions regarding my first Christmas away from home – I’ve been excited to do something new, massively homesick at the thought of being away, frustrated with myself for agreeing to work, general apathy and now I’m just accepting the fact that unfortunately I’m here and there’s not a lot I  can do about it, so I may as well make the most of it while I can. I’m at work 10-5pm tomorrow so I’ll just have a lie-in and open my presents before work and then I’ll be having Christmas dinner with the guys which will be nice. After that I’m off to a little Christmas party with some friends which should be fun and, probably more importantly, will help keep my mind off the fact that I’m not at home. I’m at work again Boxing Day and then it’ll be back to ‘normal’ (whatever that is!) on the 27th. In a way, as awful as it sounds, I’ll be glad when Christmas is over and I can crack on with my Hogmanay celebrations and all the exciting things 2013 is likely to bring! However, as much as I’m missing home, I do think I’ll still enjoy tomorrow – albeit in a very different way.

Talking of Christmas, yesterday I headed to the Edinburgh Christmas Markets with one of my closest friends from Uni, Hannah. While the weather was absolutely awful (it practically rained all day) I had a fantastic day! It was so good to have a massive catch-up and be reunited with one of my uni girls and have a good old reminisce about Lancaster life and how much we miss it 😦 Also, as I have undoubtedly mentioned many times before, Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities in the world and, no matter how many times I visit, it never ever loses its appeal. I’ve never been in the winter ebfore so it was really good to experience the markets for the first time – I have to admit they are a lot better than Glasgow’s!

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Jenners Department Store

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Enjoying a cheeky mulled wine

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Edinburgh by night

I hope that everyone has a very merry Christmas, wherever there are and whoever they spend it with 🙂 Eat lots, drink lots and be merry – I know I will!

Good Morning Vietnam.

A few weeks ago, Me and Rosie found a great hidden gem in the West End – The Hanoi Bicycle Shop, which is a great little Vietnamese restaurant, just off the Byres Road. I’ve never tried Vietnamese food before (although Vietnam is certainly up there on my list of places to visit) so I was keen to have something that little bit more exotic than Haggis! I opted for Pork belly slow cooked in anise and tamari with king prawns and greens and served with rice which was really really tasty. It was all very reasonably priced and they have a ‘street food’ menu which looks pretty appetizing so I’d definitely go back again and try something new. The place itself also had a really cool vibe, very relaxed and the staff were really friendly and helpful which is always a bonus. If you ever happen to be in the area and fancy something a little different I highly recommend it!

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The Third Month.

Tomorrow marks my third month in Glasgow and, rather shockingly, means I am now already a quarter of the way through my placement – literally insane how quickly the past few months have gone.

I feel like I’ve spent the majority of the month filling out numerous postgraduate applications, with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately I’ve had rejections from both UCL and Sheffield University. I’m particularly gutted about Sheffield because that was my second favourite, due to the excellent reputation of the course and the proximity to home (it’s about 45 minutes on the train). However, as always, it’s not all bad! I did manage to bag myself an interview for Newcastle University which I am so so pleased about as that was another of my top three choices. The interview is a group affair and sounds pretty gruelling, we’re there all day and have to prepare a five-minute presentation which we’ll also have to answer questions on, but I’m excited to take a trip down there and give it my all. As much as I hate rejection and as upset as I was yesterday (I was crying down the phone to my stepdad, bless him!) it has definitely been a much needed wake-up call. I’ve realised that there is a very real possibility that I may not get onto a course at all next year and I may have to have another year out to re-apply and gain some more experience. Equally, it’s also made me even more determined to work as hard as I can to do well at the opportunity I do have, as I would absolutely love to go to Newcastle!

I’m still waiting for replies from Reading, City University in London, QMU in Edinburgh and Essex so hopefully I’ll get offered another interview somewhere along the way – in fact, City actually don’t interview so I may even get offered a place outright (although I highly doubt it!) If all else fails, I can also apply to Greenwich University for entry in January 2014 so it’s definitely not over yet. As a wise person kindly told me the other day, while rejection may be discouraging it only takes one offer to change everything 🙂

Aside from all this postgraduate hassle (how can I be stressed before the course even starts?!) I’ve had a great month. The festive season is now in full swing and I’m feeling pretty smug about the fact that the majority of my shopping is done and wrapped and even delivered  or well on its way at least! We had the staff Christmas lunch at work this week where I was very very spoilt – I received a pair of festive pyjamas and a tartan scarf from my secret Santa, as well as a tin of shortbread and a tin of Miniature Heroes from work and a £50 shopping voucher from Head Office. Actually cannot believe how generous everyone is here – it really is a great placement and a fantastic charity to be involved with.Also, tomorrow night is the staff Christmas party -we’re headed to Celtic Park for a three-course dinner-dance which should be pretty good. I’m so excited to get all dressed up (I’ve treated myself to a shiny new frock for the occasion!) and let my hair down and, quite frankly, get absolutely steaming for the first time in far too long!

I’ve got a lot to look forward to over the next few weeks – I’ve finally finished  all my applications so I can fully concentrate on getting into the festive spirit! Next week I’m finishing off my Christmas shopping and then I’m headed to Edinburgh to meet up with my friend Hannah, which I am so excited for. We’re planning to spend an afternoon round the Christmas markets, drinking mulled wine, which will be absolutely lovely! Then it’s Christmas which I’m excited for (although I’ll miss home a ridiculous amount), followed by a day round the January Sales to spend my gift vouchers, before making yet another trip to Edinburgh for Hogmanay! Cannot actually wait!

Family Night, Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond!

As some of you may know, this weekend my parents came up to visit me in sunny Scotland! I was literally so excited to see them after all this time that Friday evening just could not come round quick enough. Friday night was also family night at work, which is basically when all our service users and the staff invite their families to the house so everyone can have a Christmas get-together complete with lots of food and alcohol. It was so good to have my parents up here so they could finally see where I was living and working and meet everyone and just get to know a bit more about life in Glasgow. The event was also a really good opportunity for me to meet the families of our service users and the staff which was interesting! All in all I had a great evening catching up with the ‘rents and with all the guys at work 🙂

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Me, Mum & Brian at Family Night

The next day, after a lot deliberating, we decided to head up to Stirling and visit Stirling Castle. None of us had ever been before and, as it was one of the attractions I wanted to see while in Scotland, it actual made perfect sense for us to visit this weekend (especially as my stepdad had the car to drive us!) The castle itself was massive and it took us all afternoon to look round properly as there was so much interesting stuff to see. All three of us had a brilliant time and, even though it was little misty and overcast, the views from the Castle were pretty spectacular. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore the actual city itself but its definitely been added onto my list of places to visit!

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Stirling Castle

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Big Kid!

That evening we headed into Glasgow city centre for dinner and, as Glasgow is the so-called Curry Capital of Britain, we ended up at an Indian on Sauchiehall Street. I haven’t been out for Indian in ages so it made a nice change from all the Haggis and Pasta I normally live on! It was also nice to be treated to a meal out and not have to worry about the cost of anything, so thank you Mum & Brian (they’re avid readers of the blog so I’m sure they’ll see this!)

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My beautiful Mother 🙂

I couldn’t let my mum visit Scotland for the first time without seeing the beautiful Loch Lomond so this morning we headed to the village of Luss which is just lovely. Although I’ve been there before, it was good to finally be able to show my parents one of my favourite places and we were really lucky with the weather as well which was a bonus! For lunch we headed to the Duck Bay Restaurant which overlooks the Loch and was highly recommended to me by several people at work. I opted for a beef burger with chips, coleslaw and Diane sauce – it was such a large portion that even I couldn’t finish it. The food was great though as was the setting (and the company I suppose!) and it was the perfect way to round off the weekend.

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Loch Lomond

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Duck Bay

Overall, I’ve had an absolutely fantastic weekend and I was really gutted that they had to leave so soon. Even though I’m used to being apart from them, for once it was really difficult to say goodbye and I’m not ashamed to say that I actually burst into tears, which was as much a shock for them as it was for me. I think maybe it was because I realised that this year I won’t be spending Christmas at home and it’ll be at least February probably before I can go back to Nottingham and visit. However, I’m so glad they managed to find the time to come up and its nice knowing that they’ve come up here and have seen how well I’m getting on and how much I’m enjoying myself. Fingers crossed they’ll hopefully make it up again at some point in the not too distant future!

St. Andrew’s Day.

Yesterday was St. Andrew’s Day (the patron saint of Scotland in case you didn’t know!)  so, as honorary Scots, me, Eujin and our friend Sophie thought it would be rude not to head down to St. George’s Square in Glasgow and see what was cracking off! Admittedly we didn’t start off on the most patriotic footing, snubbing traditional Scottish fare for that old Portuguese classic – Nando’s.

However, once we headed to George Square, it’s safe to say we definitely embraced the best of Scottish culture. There were a number of various acts on involving a lot of bagpipes, highland dancing and lots and lots of tartan. The best act by far were an amazing bagpipe rock band, Bags of Rock, that were just brilliant. They did a lot of their own tracks, which were quite good, but my favourites were the covers. Not only did they cover Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand, Muse and The Fratellis, they also did a version of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance (or Bag Romance as they fondly call it on their website). Gaga with bagpipes – whatever next!

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Me and Sophie posing proudly with our flags! 

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Waiting for Bags of Rock

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The band

I had an absolutely fantastic evening, the gig was brilliant and everyone was dancing (or head-banging in some cases) away and waving their Scottish flags proudly which made for a really good atmosphere. There was also a rather interesting pair of tartan-clad elderly ladies that were rocking out quite enthusiastically which I loved.  It was definitely one of those nights that I’d probably only ever experience up here and just generally a very fun, if not slightly surreal, Friday night!  Happy St. Andrew’s Day everyone 🙂