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!

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.

St. Patrick’s Day.

Sunday was St. Patrick’s Day so to celebrate, me and Bronagh (along with Dom and Paola) decided to head to an Irish Pub in town and celebrate in traditional style – aka with lots and lot of Guinness! We headed to Waxy O’Connor’s, which is a great pub right in the centre of town. The bar itself is absolutely huge – there are three different floors, numerous bars and far too many different flights of stairs to try and navigate. In all honesty, I was getting slightly lost before I’d even finished my first drink so by the end of the night I had no clue where I was heading!

Me and Bronagh started proceedings just after 12pm and I’m pretty pleased to say we managed to last almost a whole 12 hours! As you can imagine, the next day was not very pretty at all. Note to self: do not mix Guinness with Jagerbombs, it is fowl and it will get you drunk very quickly! However, I did have an absolutely cracking day/evening. There was live music, good conversation and then, later on, there was DJ to see you through the evening so then there was lots of crazy dancing – including a few slightly embarrassing attempts at an Irish Jig! Somehow, we also managed to gain a lot of rather cool Paddy’s Day merchandise including a Waxy O’Connor’s Rugby Shirt, a Guinness Hat and a wee green St. Patrick’s Day Rosette.

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Rockin’ the Guinness Hat

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Getting into the spirit of things…

It’s been far too long since I’ve had a proper good old session in the pub and I actually really did enjoy myself. It was also a great opportunity to get to know everyone that bit more, as everyone is much more chatty once they’ve had a pint or two (or four!) Fingers crossed we’ll all be able to go out again soon, although I think I’ll definitely be giving the Guinness a miss this time.

Mother’s Day.

To celebrate Mother’s Day this year, I surprised my mum with lunch at a really nice Chinese Restaurant. Because of being away at university (amongst various other things) this was the first time in probably about four years since I last spend any proper quality time with my mum on Mothering Sunday. In general, we do struggle to make time for one another properly so it made a nice change for just the two of us to spend some time together before I headed back to Scotland.

I took my mum to Mr. Man’s, a local restaurant next to Wollaton Park in Nottingham. Neither of us had visited the restaurant before, so it was a bit of a gamble, although it was highly recommended to me by several of my friends. Luckily, the food lived up to it’s reputation. It was buffet so there were plenty of different dishes on offer, including some rather unusual combinations that I personally had never tried before – the mussels in black bean sauce were particularly delicious! The restaurant itself also has a really nice atmosphere and is rather beautifully decorated in the traditional Chinese style.

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Inside

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Outside

My mum was really taken aback with the surprise and seemed to enjoy herself (and the food!) a lot which was great. We had a lovely lunch and it was a very fitting way to end what had been a fantastic trip back home. It was also good to be able to treat her as, let’s face it, she definitely deserves it 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day Mum, you’re the best!

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!

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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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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!

The Willow Tea Rooms

I decided to treat myself this lunchtime and head out for a bite to eat at The Willow Tea Rooms, a rather famous Glaswegian landmark, designed by Charles Rennie Mackingtosh in 1904. For those of you that avidly read the blog, you may remember that I put this little cafe down as my number one attraction to see, mainly because I absolutely love food. However, instead of opting for the standard tea and cake combo, I decided to go all out and have my first traditional Scottish breakfast.

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Inside 

Breakfast

Scottish breakfasts differ from traditional English breakfast in three main ways – they always have a hearty portion of black pudding, they have square sausage instead of the usual links and they have potato scone instead of hash browns. To be honest, I don’t really think any of this makes all that much difference personally but either way it was still absolutely bloody beautiful. I washed it down with three cups of Willow blend tea which was also lovely. The whole lot came to under £6 which I thought was pretty reasonable, considering that the place is a massive tourist trap.

I also got a 10% off voucher for the Buchanan street branch so I’ll probably nip for a bite to eat there one day soon as well – will definitely have to try out the cakes next time around (any excuse!)

The rest of my Sunday looks like it’ll be pretty chilled. Got some boring things to do like finish my laundry and do yet more reading but, if I get chance/can be bothered, I’m also going to try and learn some basic Italian, ready for next weekend 🙂 Exciting times!