Charity Shop Chic.

As some of you may know, alongside my role as a full-time CSV, I also volunteer once a week at the new Red Cross Charity shop on Byres Road in the West End of Glasgow. I absolutely love being back in a charity shop and, dare I say it, back in retail once more. Although I moaned about it a lot (especially when I spent most of my summer holidays stuck on the shopfloor being moaned at by irate customers), I am essentially a people person and I d enjoy having a wee blether with the nice customers that come up to my till.

Anyway, the other evening our shop held a special late-night shopping event complete with cupcakes, cava, competitions and some excellent new stock straight from the high street. The Red Cross is lucky enough to receive left-over stock etc. straight from the factories of several high street brands – unfortunately I’m not a liberty to say which but they are good ones, I promise!  As I’d been at work all day I was unable to actually help out on the evening but I did make sure to pop down so I could grab myself a wee bargain.

The evening itself was great – the shop was really busy and staff were constantly having to put out new stock to fill the ever increasing gaps in the rails. It was also good to have a chat and catch-up with a few of the other volunteers that I don’t get to see as regularly so that was nice. Plus I got myself a gorgeous new jumper for only £8 which is always a bonus! I also had an armful of dresses which I tried on but thankfully none of them were quite right, otherwise it would have been a very dangerous trip.

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Nibbles!

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The Shop

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New Jumper

Fingers crossed now this night has been such a success they’ll be a few more similar events to come. I might volunteer next time though, just to try and save my bank balance a bit more!

A spontaneous trip in the sun…

Yesterday the sun finally decided to put its hat on and come out to play so, I thought where better to spend a nice sunny afternoon that down at beautiful Loch Lomond. The whole trip was really quite spontaneous. Originally, I’d planned to have a wander round Glasgow, grab some lunch and then spend my afternoon in the cinema. However, as the weather has been pretty awful this past week, I found myself with a sudden urge to get outside and go somewhere a bit different. Literally I walked past Queen Street station and the next thing I knew I’d brought tickets to Balloch – very uncharacteristic!

It was a great decision in the end. My first port of call was Lomond Shores, which is a small retail gateway to the loch. Although I had a wee browse round the shops (my favourite being the department store Jenners, mainly for it’s fantastic food hall!), I was really there for the fantastic view.  Honestly, it was just beautiful.

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Loch Lomond

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Shopping Area

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Balloch Pier

After stopping to admire the view and enjoy the sun on my back (I’d even whipped out my denim jacket it was that warm!) I then toddled off towards Balloch Castle and the country park. The walk up to the castle itself is lovely, as you go past the river and then through a nice wooded area before making the wee climb up to the castle. Unfortunately the castle is not open to the public and while it’s only a tiny wee thing in comparison to other castles, it looked pretty special in the sunshine. The castle itself is also a rather good vantage point for the loch – as you may be able to tell I was getting pretty snap happy by this point in the afternoon!

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Boats on the river

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Into the woods

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The Castle

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Lovely view 🙂 

Unfortunately, it’s apparently meant to rain most of next week so I’m really chuffed I made the decision to make the journey while the weather was good. After the success of this adventure, I’m definitely hoping to make some more spontaneous trips in the near future – who knows where I’ll end up next!

Seven.

Yesterday marked the seven month anniversary of my moving to Glasgow which now means I’m well and truly in the latter half of my project and definitely starting to think seriously about what life post-Scotland holds for me. While I’m incredibly excited to be moving down to London etc., a big part of me is absolutely petrified about becoming a student once more. The thought of house-hunting seems daunting to say the least and, even once that is sorted, there already seems like so much to prepare and sort between now and September. I have a post-offer applicant day on Friday 10th May, whereby I’ll finally get a tour of the university and find out a lot more about the course itself. This is great but I’m slowly starting to realise just how much form-filling etc I’ll have to go through for my bursary,  disclosure check and medical clearance test – I’m stressed out just thinking about it all to be honest.

Financially, I’ve totally forgotten what it’s like to pay rent or bills or even a full week of food shopping to be honest so having to budget for all these different things will be a massive change. I’m very lucky at the moment as most of my small income is pretty disposable whereas next year I’ll have to learn to cut back a lot on meals out and clothes shopping and all the other things I waste my money on currently!

My biggest worry though is the thought of going back into education. I am far too used to being in the world of work now and the thought of having to write essays and revise fills me with dread – all the academic knowledge I once had has very quickly disappeared and I feel like I’m starting from scratch again. At present, I really don’t feel up to the academic challenge of a postgraduate degree but hopefully, with a bit of prior reading etc., by the time I start I’ll feel a bit more confident in my academic abilities!

However, despite what the above paragraphs suggest I am so excited to get my stuck into the course and finally start training for my dream career and, in my heart of hearts, I’m pretty sure everything will work out fine as always. Fortunately, I’m prepared to work hard to get to where I want to be so that should stand me in good stead at least (fingers crossed anyway!).

With regards to life in Glasgow, this has been my first month back since my wee visit home and it’s actually been great. I’m out and about more, meeting new people, trying new places, having friends to visit and just generally enjoying making plans for the next few months. Over the next few weeks, my friend Sazeeda is coming up for a girly weekend and then I’ll be down in London for a few days and then I’m headed to Warsaw on a wee city break with my friend Craig, which is shaping up to be pretty amazing in itself. I’ll also have chance for a few days in Nottingham at the end of May which will be lovely 🙂 All in all, I’m back to my usual busy self which is the best way for me to be really! Probably won’t be saying that after my hectic 13 hour double shift tomorrow though…

Cocktail O’Clock

This week I was fortunate enough to receive a visit from one of my closest friends from uni, Hannah. The last time we saw each other was just before Christmas in Edinburgh so it was fantastic to see her again and finally be able to show her the sights of Glasgow.

We started off with a catch-up over tea and cake at Cup Tea Lounge, which is a firm favourite of mine, before heading over to my flat to prepare for the evening’s antics. I’d booked us a table at The Tiki Bar and Kitsch Inn, a bar/restaurant that (as the name suggests) is modelled on a tropical Tiki bar and specialises in exotic cocktails and Thai food. It’s a bar I’ve been meaning to try for absolutely ages so I was chuffed to finally get the chance to go and it’s safe to say I was not disappointed. The place itself is decorated in a really quirky, unique way and the food was lovely. Obviously though, the best bit was the cocktails with my favourite being a ‘Gin and Juice’ which is served in an amazing skull mug.

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Cupcake time!

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Sippin’ Gin and Juice..

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After a few drinks at the Tiki Bar we then headed down the road to Hummingbird, another quite swanky cocktail bar in the city centre. Again, this was somewhere that I’d heard great reviews about but I’d always thought it was a little overpriced for my wee budget. However, quite brilliantly, they offer half price cocktails on a Friday night – bargain! We wasted no time in trying several different cocktails, all of which went down very easily – a bit too easily in fact!

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Lovin’ life with our cocktails.

On the Saturday morning, I took Hannah for, what was quite simply, an amazing breakfast at The Willow Tea Rooms (another favourite of mine) before we headed for a wee wander around the city. As the weather was relatively decent, I took Hannah up to The Cathedral and Necropolis and then to the Gallery of Modern Art. The weather was so nice, we even managed to sit outside at Costa and enjoy a spot of alfresco people-watching over some ice cold drinks!

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Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Egg Bagel

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Inside the Cathedral

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GOMA

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Everything is prettier with sunshine

Even though it was only a flying visit, we packed a lot into the trip and it was just great to be able to spend some much-needed quality time with one of my closest friends. Of course, I had my standard moment at the station when I just wanted to hop on the train back with her and just be near all my friends once more but, on the whole, I’m actually still really enjoying life up here at the moment. Also, in just two weeks time I have another one of my Lancaster girls coming to visit for the weekend so that will definitely keep the smile on my face, even if nothing else will!

St. Mungo’s Museum

On Sunday I finally went for a look round St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art. I’ve been up to the Cathedral and Necropolis several times but never ventured into the museum itself before. However, I’m so glad I did as I found it really quite fascinating  I’m not religious at all myself but I do find the concept of religion an interesting one and I think it’s always good to learn more about other cultures and their practices etc.

The museum itself was actually a lot bigger and more comprehensive than I envisaged it to be. The ground floor is mainly made of a shop and cafe although there is a Buddhist Zen garden which overlooks the Cathedral and is surprisingly peaceful. The first floor is then split between a display of religous art and one of religious life. Both of which were really informative and full of some really interesting pieces to look at. One of the great things about St. Mungo’s is also the fact that, when I went at least, it was nice and quiet with no children running about all over the place – bliss!

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Zen Garden

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Stained Glass

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Shiva

In the temporary exhibition gallery they had a great exhibition entitled ‘Under the Gods: Stories from Soho Road’, a collection of photos showcasing the religious diversity within a three-mile stretch of Soho Road, Birmingham. This was probably my highlight of the whole museum as it was a fantastic exhibition (I enjoy photography anyway) and it was something a little different compared to the other exhibitions on offer. In the middle of the gallery there was also a display cabinet full of different religious items such as prayer flags etc that represented the religions featured in the photographs which added to the exhibition.

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Under The Gods Display

The top floor of the museum also has a great vantage point of the Catherdral and Necropolis which is well worth a look. Unfortunately the sun was no longer shining  but it was still a pretty great view.

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View from the top

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Outside of St. Mungo’s 

All in all, I’d really recommend a wee trip to St. Mungo’s – it was interesting and informative and the Cathedral Square is well worth the 10 minute stroll from the city centre.

People’s Palace and Winter Gardens.

Yesterday, as the sun was shining, I decided to walk up to Glasgow Green and have  a wee look round the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens. I’ve been to Glasgow Green several times but never had an opportunity to explore the attractions further so I thought I should finally give it a go.

Before I headed to the Green, I had a nice wee morning drinking Starbucks and watching the crowds pass through Buchanan Street (one of my favourite pastimes) before heading onto a vintage fair, the excellently named Gin and Teacups, that was being held in The Arches Cafe Bar. Although it was a relatively small event, I managed to grab a cute stripy dress and a pair of Rayban-esque Wayfarers which I was rather chuffed with. As you may have guessed, as soon as we get any half-decent weather I just cannot help myself from updating my summer wardrobe – very optimistic in Scotland I know!

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Beautiful Sunny Day in Glasgow

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Gin in Teapcups

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Free Promo Mug! 

After stocking up on yet more bits for my wardrobe I finally headed east to the People’s Palace. I headed into the Winter Gardens first, mainly to warm up a wee bit! Although not as impressive as Kibble Palace in the Botanic Gardens, it was still quite a striking glasshouse and a nice setting for a cafe – for once, I didn’t eat anything although I was very tempted by the cakes on display!

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Winter Gardens

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Outside People’s Palace

I then headed into the actual museum itself and, if truth be told, I was slightly disappointed by the exhibitions.  While I enjoy social history and finding out more about Glasgow there was something I just didn’t really like about the museum. It was smaller than I expected and also full of children running around and shouting which didn’t help matters at all. However, I am glad I went so I can say I’ve been and I did see and learn some interesting stuff about life in the city. Also, it was all free so I suppose I can’t complain too much really!

The Lighthouse.

I had the day off on Easter Sunday so, instead of spending all day scoffing my face with chocolate, I thought I’d head on out to The Lighthouse. For those of you that aren’t aware, The Lighthouse is part of The Mackingtosh trail and is Scotland’s national centre for Architecture and Design. The building itself has six different levels and numerous different galleries and exhibitions, including The Mackingtosh Centre (which focuses on the work of Charles Rennie Mackingtosh) and Foundation Glasgow, which is the story of the city from prehistoric times until the present day.

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Entrance to The Lighthouse

 

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One of Glasgow’s most famous exports

Although I enjoyed all the exhibitions (a lot more than I thought I would actually), my favourite part was the viewing platform at the top of The Mackingtosh Tower. Once you climb up the 135 stairs, you’re rewarded with an excellent vantage point of the whole city centre and beyond. Luckily for me, it was clear and dry which made a nice change!

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Spiral Staircase 

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View from the top

Overall, I’d recommend The Lighthouse to anyone looking for a cheap day out in the city (entry is free, although there is a £5 admission charge for Foundation) and an attraction that’s just a little bit different to all the other museums and galleries in Glasgow, due to the heavy focus on Architecture.

 Although I was at work most of the long weekend, my Easter was rounded off nicely with a wee run out to Luss, in Loch Lomond, as part of daycare with work. We had a decent spring day for once, with actual sunshine and everything, so it was good to take the ladies I support somewhere a bit different and we all enjoyed a lovely lunch overlooking the Loch. Work itself is going really well and I’m still massively enjoying my placement which is good.  Unfortunately though, even after seven months of full-time work, my poor body is still not used to all these early mornings!