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..

010Pork Fillet in a Garlic Sauce with Jasmine Rice

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!

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Screw the diet.

I realise that the past few blog post have mainly revolved around my postgraduate applications and interviews and such forth and I haven’t actually wrote about what I have been up to in Glasgow. Admittedly, I haven’t been up to a lot lately but I have been for a few lovely meals with the girls that I’ll briefly fill you in on!

Last Thursday, me, Rosie and Eujin headed to TGI Fridays at Braehead to spend our gift cards from work and have a much-needed catch-up. I love TGIs although it’s not a place a visit often at all, so it made a really nice change from the usual restaurants we’d visit. I had some gorgeous loaded potato skins to start and then a rather spicy Chicken quesadilla for my main. The highlight by the far though was the Ice Cream cocktail I had for dessert – so amazing! I had a great night and it was nice to finally unwind and relax with both of them, as it had been so long since the three of us had been together properly due to Christmas and everything.

734110_461482237245645_275055774_nMe and Eujin at TGI

The following Tuesday we decided to treat ourselves yet again and this time headed into Glasgow city centre for a trip to La Tasca for a tapas night. Luckily I had a 2-4-1 voucher so we managed to get four tapas dishes (chicken and chorizo paella, calamari,  meatballs and more chicken with chorizo in a creamy sauce) and two glasses of Sangria for £14 which is pretty good value. Apparently we saved £27 altogether which is just amazing really!  La Tasca is one of my favourite restaurant chains and, as with TGI, it had been ages since I last visited (or had Tapas in general) so again it made a nice change and I had an other lovely evening spending some quality time with the girls before we go our separate ways/they leave me up here!

408435_461482963912239_216790142_nMe and Rosie posing with our Sangria. 

001 (3)Tapas feast! 

This week I’m taking a break from eating out and actually doing some proper cooking at home – shock horror! My best friend is coming to stay tomorrow, if she can get here without too much disruption because of the bad snow in England (we have no whatsoever here, gutted!), so we’re planning a nice chilled out weekend full of DVDs and spending quality time together. Being the excellent host I am, I’ve decided to pretend I’m Nigella and cook some snazzy food which could be an absolute disaster. Fingers crossed it doesn’t all go up in smoke, literally!

 

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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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!

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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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!

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