Balloch,Bridesmaids and Brunch.

This weekend my pal Hannah very kindly came up to visit me. She actually only came up to visit in April so I was pleasantly surprised that she was making the journey up again so soon and, I’m not going to lie, I was mega excited to see her come Saturday morning!

Hannah had never been to Loch Lomond before so, as the weather was thankfully dry, I decided to take her up to Balloch on the train and show her Lomond Shores and the beautiful country park. We went for lunch at the Kilted Skirtie at Lomond Shores (I had a rather nice Haggis burger) and then had a wee ice cream from Thorntons – the Honeycomb Caramel Cup is to die for – before heading off on a walk around the village.

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The Loch

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Me and Hannah

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Balloch Pier

For a change, instead of going out for a meal and cocktails or whatever, we decided to stay in on Saturday night and buy some nibbles and just have a really chilled girly film night. I’m glad we did because I had an absolutely lovely evening. It was so nice to just be able to chill with someone and chat about silly things and it was just like when we used to live together at uni. Evenings like that are definitely the thing I miss the most about living with the girls. We also watched Bridesmaids which is one of my favourite films ever and always has me in stitches – if you haven’t seen it yet you really must!

On Sunday morning I decided to take Hannah up to the West End for breakfast. I’d heard really good things about a wee cafe on Dumbarton Road called Tribeca so I thought it was finally time to try it – it was definitely worth the risk. I opted for French Toast with maple syrup and melted butter which was just delicious. The portions were huge as well so, although it’s a little pricey, it was more than worth it. Hannah had a pancake stack with nutella and chopped banana that also just looked brilliant. Safe to say, I’ll definitely try and head down there again soon!

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Breakfast of Kings

To walk off all that food, we headed to Kelvingrove Museum for a wee wander around the exhibitions. I’ve been to Kelvingrove before but I still enjoyed myself and there’s no denying that the building itself is pretty impressive. However, it was soon time to head back into the city centre and get Hannah safely onto her train. As always, I was very sad to say goodbye and wanted more than anything to just hop on that train with her. However, I’m actually in a really good mood at the moment – work’s going well and I’ve had some good day trips with the guys to Xcape and hydrotherapy – plus I’ve just booked tickets to Lancaster ready to celebrate Becky’s graduation. Absolutely buzzing for a BIG night out with the girls, it has been far too long!

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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!

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

Last Saturday I decided it was finally time to tick off one of the attractions on my list and visit Kelvingrove Museum. It’s a building I’ve walked many times before and also wanted to visit but had never quite got round to doing so. I was first struck by just how big the building actually is and how much there is to see. The museum is divided into two sections – life and expression. Broadly speaking, expression is the art gallery element and life is the museum element. Throughout the whole building  there are actually 8,000 different objects in 22 themed galleries – unsurprisingly it took me several hours to see everything and even then, I probably missed a few things out!

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Outside

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Inside

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Sir Roger The Asian Elephant

As well as the collections themselves, there is also a cafe and shop on the lower ground floor. As I stupidly visited during lunchtime I decided to pop into the cafe for some substance to help me round the next floor of exhibitions. I opted for a Lanarkshire Blue Cheese and Broccoli Tart, served on a bed of salad with the house vinaigrette. It was beautiful and, at £4.45, was actually quite reasonably priced (always a good sign!)

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Food!

All in all, I’d really recommend Kelvingrove for a good day out. There is so much to see and do there and a real mix of collections spanning all different periods, as well as an extensive artistic collection. Plus, I hasten to add, all this is free so really you can’t go wrong either way!

Home Bird.

As avid readers will know, this week I am currently back in Nottingham visiting all my friends and family. I’m about half way through my visit now and it’s safe to say that I have had an absolutely excellent time already. This weekend was particularly good as I finally got to spend some quality time with my parents and the rest of my extended family which made a nice change – I rarely get to see my stepsister and her family as they live up in Yorkshire.

I arrived home on Friday evening. The journey was alright but felt extremely long. Unfortunately my train was delayed before I even left Glasgow and by the time I arrived at the train station I’d be travelling for six hours. I have to admit, arriving home was really quite strange. It felt weird and, if I’m being totally honest, initially it didn’t feel like my home any more which upset me a little bit. However, once I’d got used to being back it all felt totally normal again and I was very pleased to find myself back in my beloved home-town!

To celebrate my arrival home, my parents took me out for breakfast on Saturday morning to a local pub before we all headed into Nottingham to get some last minute bits and bobs for my Nephew’s Christening. Even though I didn’t do anything particularly exciting, I had a really nice day just spending some time with my Mum and Brian and getting to see Nottingham city once again. On Saturday evening I also got to catch up with one of my oldest friends from primary school, Lauren. We haven’t had much opportunity to speak recently as we’ve both been so busy with various things so it was great to have a massive catch-up and hear everything that’s been going on in my absence!

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Slap-up Breakfast! 

Sunday morning, me and the ‘rents headed up to Harrogate for my Nephew’s Christening. I had a lovely day catching up with that side of the family and also I finally got to meet Finlay and have a wee cuddle 🙂 About time really I suppose! Overall I had a fantastic first weekend back at home and I have to say the week’s just got better and better as it’s gone on – but more about that in my next post!

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Me and Mother

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Cuddles

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Christening Cupcakes

Me, Myself and I.

Yesterday I decided that it was finally time to spoilt myself a bit, be pampered and indulge in some much-needed retail therapy. My day of treats started brilliantly with a lovely 30 minute Swedish Massage at The Residence, Park Circus which is a nice wee spa in the West End of Glasgow. The best part of this, apart from the luxury of being pampered, was that it was actually complimentary – I found an offer in a free local magazine (i-on), filled in my details and ta-da! I can never usually be bothered with such things but, being slightly poorer nowadays, I decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did! I’ve never actually had a massage before but by the end of it I was feeling so relaxed it was untrue.

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The Residence

After my massage I decided to have a mosey round the West End, do some window shopping and grab a wee bit to eat. I ended up in ‘Little Italy’, which is a small place on Byres Road. Although fairly basic, the food was nice (I indulged in a focaccia to remind me of my trip to Italy) and the opportunities for people-watching were ample – always a fun way to pass a quick half hour or so!

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Parma Ham, Tomato and Mozzarella Focaccia

Unbelievably I still had some gift vouchers from Christmas to spend so my next port of call was Buchanan St. to treat myself to a new outfit (or two) for my upcoming trip to Lancaster. I managed to get a gorgeous grey dress in the Miss Selfridge Sale for only £20 (I only paid £10 myself because of my vouchers, bargain!) and a nice black and white number from H&M – I’m sure you’ll all see pictures in future posts!

All in all, I had a really good day. It’s been a while since I’ve actually taken the time to have a day purely to myself and just spend some time on my own wandering around and taking in the city and I really enjoyed having that “me time” again. Also it has been far too long since I’ve treated myself to some new clothes and things and that always puts the smile on my face – definitely the best way to celebrate my recent good news!

Drinking From The Bottle.

This weekend has been one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time, mainly because I spent most of it slightly intoxicated and showing off all my best dance moves. The fun started on Friday night – one of my work friends was having an eighties themed party for her 30th Birthday which both me and Rosie were invited to. We started the night with a few cheeky drinks at mine before heading over in our best fancy dress, completely with leg-warmers and everything. There were a few other people from work there and even two of the women we support there which was really nice to see. Most of our guys headed home about 11pm (lightweights!) so me and Rosie spontaneously decided to head into Glasgow on a night out. I’ve never actually been to a proper club here before (shocking I know!) just bars or house parties so it was good to finally get out there! We ended up in The Garage which was pretty good – they played some decent music although it was full of really young students so me and Rosie (at the grand old age of 22) were probably two of the oldest people there. So depressing!

002Trying to rock the Flashdance look.

Once we’d finally managed to drag our poor hungover bodies out of bed on Saturday we both headed over to Balloch for Rosie’s leaving do with all her work colleagues. We started the night with a meal at Raffles before heading on to a couple of pubs and then going on to one of the only two clubs (it’s a wee place to say the least) which was having some kind of popcorn party – basically a foam party but with popcorn instead (whatever next!)  To say it’s only a very small “town”, I actually had a great night plus the drinks were ridiculously cheap, perfect!

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However it’s been a very long time since I’ve done two nights in a row and it’s safe to say I was definitely feeling it a bit by Sunday. It was well worth it though. I had a bloody amazing weekend and it was just what I needed after getting into a bit of a funk last week – I finally felt like everything had come together again and I was making the most of being up here and just enjoying myself again 🙂 Plus, the guys at work spoilt me rotten and let me join them for a beaut Sunday Roast which sorted me out nicely – they do look after me well!

In other news, I finally heard back from Newcastle today. Basically, I’ve got a place on the reserve list as a medium reserve which means that if a significant amount of people drop out then there’s a chance I could get a place. However, I was also told that medium reserves aren’t ranked as it’s highly unlikely that enough people would drop out to let me in. Although I’m obviously a little bit gutted, I’m actually feeling pretty alright about the whole thing –  I know in my heart of hearts that I just don’t have quite enough experience just yet anyway so it’s not the biggest disaster. They told me that I should strongly consider re-applying in 2014 which I will do if I can gain some more experience over the next year to help boost my application some more. If not, I may have to wait until 2015 but I’m sure I’ll get there one day (fingers crossed!). With regards to the other applications, I still haven’t heard a thing from Reading or Essex. City should get back to me by Friday (although we’ll see whether they actually do or not) and I’ve now been told that QMU won’t reply until March, so it looks like I still have a long wait ahead unfortunately. Oh well, we’ll just wait and see what happens eh!

Visitors and Volunteering.

Last weekend, my best friend Sarah braved the 300 mile journey in the snow to come and stay with me which was just lovely 🙂 I hadn’t seen her since I’d left Nottingham so it was so good to finally be reunited and spend some time together. She arrived on the Saturday afternoon and we spent a nice chilled evening in at my flat, catching-up and cringing at Saturday night television. I even managed to rustle up a rather snazzy meal of fresh lemon pepper salmon fillets, garlic potatoes and carrot – SO PROUD.

After a lazy Sunday morning we decided to brave the cold and venture out into the city centre, so I could give Sarah a quick tour of all the sights. We ended up wandering around the Cathedral and Necropolis before heading to The Willow Tea Rooms on Buchanan St so we could warm up with a hot chocolate (and a few cheeky shots of Baileys for myself!). Usually I go to the original tea rooms on Sauchiehall St, so I was not expecting to see the crazy Mackintosh chairs they have there – they have ridiculously high backs so the chair was genuinely taller than me (I’m only 4ft 10 but still!)

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003Sarah next to one of the chairs! 

It was so nice to just have a relaxing weekend for a change and just spend some actual quality time with one of my nearest and dearest and I do have to admit I was rather sad to see her go. Of course, seeing people from home makes me realise just how much I miss everyone and does in a way make me long to go back, although only very temporarily! Luckily though, I’m headed back to Nottingham for nine beautiful days at the beginning of March which I simply cannot wait for – my diary is already starting to look pretty full with various plans which is exciting.

Talking of plans, I’ve realised over the past few weeks that I’m definitely someone who needs to be on the go all the time or, at the very least, trying to juggle a few different projects here and there. At university I juggled academic work with a weekend job, being on the exec of a society and a rather hectic social life. At the moment, I only really have work going on so I feel like I have far too much spare time on my hands. Consequently, I’ve decided to apply for some more volunteering opportunities that I can do after work or on my days off as a way of gaining yet more experience to help with my postgraduate plans. I was fortunate enough to stumble across a great opportunity for a communication support volunteer with the Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS Trust which also involves direct training with a qualified Speech and Language Therapist. I’ve been offered an interview but unfortunately I can’t make the date due to work so hopefully we can reschedule and get the ball rolling sooner rather than later. I’m also applying to be a befriender or mentor with the Autism Society as this was something I wanted to do back at home but didn’t get chance to because of me moving up here. I’m considering doing this as an e-bfriender (so over email etc) as I admit I may struggle to fit everything around my shift patterns but hopefully I can still get a good level of involvement in the scheme.  Between all these various things and trying to see as much of Glasgow and Scotland as possible, I have a feeling I’m going to be quite a busy bee over the next few months!