The Halfway Point.

Tomorrow marks the sixth month anniversary of me moving to Glasgow. Honestly, I really cannot believe that I am now over half-way through my placement – I’ll actually be leaving at the end of August, instead of mid-September as originally planned, as my postgraduate course starts on Monday 9th September (less than six months now!) This means I have five and a half months left here, which is actually quite a scary thought.

The past month has been very up and down. The highs have been just fantastic – I have a great weekend in Lancaster catching up with old friends and then an even better week in Nottingham with all my nearest and dearest. Equally though, I admit I’ve spent the majority of the last  month feeling quite lonely in a way and wishing that I could just be in London already. I’ve struggled a lot since Eujin and Rosie left and I think recently it’s finally dawned me just h0w far away all of my close friends live and how much I need at least some of them to be that bit nearer.

However, going home was actually a really positive step for me. Admittedly, there was a big part of me was simply dreading getting back on that train and I was really quite upset for a wee while. Once I got back to Glasgow though and saw everyone at work and such forth, it wasn’t long before I started to feel a lot better. Having a change in scenery was just what I needed and I’ve come back feeling refreshed and determined to make the most of my remaining time in Glasgow. I know I say this every month but here is so much I need to see in both the city and the country as a whole and I finally feel like now is the time to make good on that promise and finally do it.

I’ve decided to start small and work on seeing some of Glasgow’s most famous attractions initially before I go travelling off throughout bonny Scotland. I have a 3 day weekend so my plan is to finally head to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which is apparently Glasgow’s most popular free attraction and then maybe spent some time in the West End window-shopping and eating cake (perfect Saturday!). Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day and the plan is to spend all day in Waxy O’Connor’s, an Irish pub in the city centre. There’s going to be live music and DJs and plenty of alcohol so I think it should be a pretty good day! In between nursing my hangover on Monday, I’ll also be volunteering at the Red Cross shop on Byres Road again. I’ve done about four proper shifts so far which I’ve enjoyed a lot, plus I get 20% staff discount and first pick on all new donations. I managed to get an Urban Outfitters cardigan which should have cost about £40 for only £3.60 when I was on shift yesterday – absolute bargain!

Looking further ahead I have no real plans beyond this weekend, except for my friend Hannah hopefully coming to visit in mid-April. I haven’t seen her since before Christmas so I’m already extremely excited to see her again and show her all that Glasgae has to offer. However I’m sure that between now and then a lot will probably happen, as it always does with me!

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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!

007Fish-bowl! 

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!

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!

A wee visit!

This weekend was by far one of the best I’ve had in a while – my friend Nicole came up from Nottingham and we basically spent the whole weekend eating Haggis, shopping and consuming cocktails which was just lovely!

She arrived Friday morning and, once I finished work, we decided to get all dressed up and head into town for a nice meal out and a few drinks. I decided to take her to my favourite local restaurant in Glasgow, Ingram Wynd, so she could try some authentic Scottish cuisine  I opted for an absolutely delicious Haggis, Bacon and Onion Risotto to start and the catch of the day with garlic potatoes, veg and a Salsa Verde for the main course. Both dishes were excellent and Nicole really enjoyed her Mussels & Beef Haggis Olive as well so that was good. After this we headed to CUP Tea Lounge in Renfield Street so she could experience the chocolate cocktails there. Unfortunately they’ve just changed their menu for Christmas so the selection wasn’t as good (if you ask me anyway!) but I had a gorgeous White Chocolate and Chestnut concoction and a Strawberry Shortcake Martini so it wasn’t all bad! Also, Nicole ordered us some champagne as a pay day treat but the poor waiter tripped and spilt it all over my handbag which was a bit of a disaster – however they gave us the champagne for free in the end which was a bonus! We had a great night and a MASSIVE catch-up and it just reminded me of all the nights we used to have back in Nottingham 🙂

Me and Nicole

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Feeling Festive at CUP

Saturday morning was nice and sunny (thankfully!) so we decided to start our day with a wintery walk around The Botanic Gardens before heading down to the Christmas market for a cheeky drink to warm us back up – I finally had my first mulled wine of the season so I can now say it’s officially Christmas for me! We then headed into Prince’s Square for a look round the shops and a bite to eat. We ended up at Fifi & Ally which is a local cafe recommended to me by someone I work with. We had a massive Celtic sharing board full of salmon, smoked venison, beef, cheese and oatcakes which was just fantastic really!

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Lunch

After that it was time to hit the shops and begin the search for the perfect Christmas Party dress. I tried on quite a few but eventually found a gorgeous sequinned number in Topshop which is rather jazzy, although I have to wait until my parents come up and buy it for me as an early Christmas present. I’m so excited for the work party, mainly because I plan to get ridiculously drunk for the first time in over three months (shocking I know!). I’m also planning to get my hair cut and dyed ready for the event which will be a real treat. I’ve been feeling a bit bored of my ‘look’ recently so I think it’s time to go back to black for winter – how Amy Winehouse of me. However, I have been known to change my mind so who knows what colour I’ll actually end up with!

Anyway I digress. Saturday evening we headed back up to the West End to Ashton Lane and the famous Ubiquitous Chip restaurant. Obviously we couldn’t afford to eat in the main restaurant (£35 for a steak – ridiculous!) so instead we headed upstairs to the more relaxed brasserie area. We both opted for the Chip’s own venison haggis, neeps and tatties which was really tasty. The place itself also has a great atmosphere so I’d definitely go back again either for drinks or dinner. I’d also love to try the main restaurant as the menu did sound pretty special. However I highly doubt I’d ever be able to afford to dine there, unless I suddenly find myself a rich man – a girl can dream though!

At Ubiquitous Chip

As it was Saturday night we headed further down Ashton Lane to Vodka Wodka and Nude for a few more cheeky cocktails. I’d never been to Nude before but it was really good plus they did teapot cocktails which I just love!

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party!

Of course, I couldn’t let Nicole leave without experiencing a decent Scottish breakfast so on Sunday morning we traipsed through the rain to Oran Mor and had a massive fry-up complete with yet more haggis. It was simply delicious but so filling I didn’t need to eat again until about 7pm – probably for the best given the amount of calories I’d already consumed over the past few days!

Enjoying her first Scottish Breakfast!

Before Nicole left that afternoon we decided to visit two final Glaswegian attractions – the Gallery of Modern Art and the Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street. I always enjoy a trip to the GOMA and luckily they’ve already changed the exhibition in Gallery 4 since my last visit so it was good to see something a bit different. The Willow was also as good as always although I could only stomach a pot of the house tea after that mammoth breakfast. However, Nicole had some amazing meringues with butterscotch sauce which I will definitely be trying myself soon!

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All too soon it was time for her to make her way to the airport and say goodbye to bonny Scotland. I had an absolutely brilliant weekend and it was just what I needed after a pretty quiet couple of weeks – it was definitely nice to have a little bit of Nottingham up in Glasgow if only for a wee while!