Being weighed down with deadlines and stress is not fun, but what is is an adventure around the city centre of Edinburgh.
There are no words to describe it. The awe-inspiring, breath taking sensation of standing amidst the colossal, ominous mountains of Glencoe.
One of Scotland’s most famous must-see landmarks, Glencoe is truly a unique place on Planet Earth. Its atmosphere is both magnificent and foreboding. The tiny, weaving A9, as seen in James Bond and M’s trip up north in Skyfall, snakes its way first across Rannoch Moor (a must see on its own, although better seen together with Glencoe) before, suddenly, looming out of the dark, grumbling rain clouds, is perhaps Glencoe’s most famous peak, Buchaille Etive Mor.
This terrifying mountain is simply jaw-dropping, a sight so unique to Scotland. The mountains and falls of Glencoe inspire a sense of awe, and oh boy do they demand your respect. Buchaille Etive Mor is an example why – this mountain claims lives, frequently. She and her sisters are no pushovers. They are much like Scottish women – nice to look at, you know they’re a challenge, but if you let your guard down, God help you.
The road wraps around the base of the mountain, entering the Glen and leaving the flat, barren landscape of Rannoch Moor behind.
For a driver, this road is heaven. Great sweeping curves, well-maintained surfaces. But you have to know what you’re doing, as it’s not an easy road to drive. The best things in the world never are. There was a fatal accident when we were up there, and it caused chaos and commotion for hours.
Driving through Glencoe is one thing, but actually pulling up and getting out of the car to look around, is another thing entirely. The feeling I had when I stepped out of the car…I have never felt so small.
I’ve been a bit naughty and haven’t posted in almost a month! Oops! In my defence, life got a little boring in the run-up to my end of year exam. But that’s done and life’s getting interesting again.
Like the fact that it’s less than two weeks until I fly off to Chicago! (sorry say again?) I am so excited! First time in America, first time out of Europe in truth, and I cannot wait! *exited squeak*
But before that, I’m getting back to business here in Scotland.
Like the other weekend, for example.
About a fortnight ago Katie messaged me and asks if I want to go to the Hidden Door festival with her in Edinburgh. Having absolutely no idea what the heck it was, I did the completely normal thing of accepting the offer without asking what in the name I was agreeing to, because when has that ever gone wrong?
I did eventually research the festival, just in case Katie had lost her mind and had asked me to attend a festival similar to T in the Park or something like that, lots of people, little space, my worst nightmare, that kind of thing.
Turns out, Hidden Door is a pretty cool arts festival held in Edinburgh and is volunteer run. According to their website:
Hidden Door is an arts organisation which aims to open up urban spaces as a platform for new and emerging artists, musicians, theatre makers, film makers and poets. Through organising temporary events Hidden Door works to showcase new work and create engaging environments for the public to experience, explore and discover. The project is volunteer run and not for profit.
And it’s actually pretty cool!
All in all it was a pretty fab evening. The music was great, the atmosphere was one where you felt surrounded by like minded people, and I definitely intend on returning next year, and strongly advise you guys to have a look and get going too!
What about you guys? What have you been up to whilst I was away? Any of you been to Hidden Door before?
When you look at all the different travel blogs out there people have so many different ways of travelling. There’s the Nomads, people who have no home base. They travel all over the world with everything they own on their back, having complete freedom to travel to wherever the hell they like whenever the hell they like. There are also the people like Amanda over at A Dangerous Business, who has a set home base, works at home, and then travels throughout the year around work and other commitments.
And then there’s the people like me, who dream of travelling the world and seeing the sights, but lack the courage, funds and time to actually go out there and see the world. Trips abroad are family holidays or concert tours (can you believe the NYCoS America tour is less than TWO months away? Because I can’t!) where sightseeing is usually done in groups to the big touristy destinations, and you don’t really get the chance to get involved and truly get the feel for a destination and its culture.
Hopefully though this will change soon, and I’ll have the funds to be able to explore and see all that’s out there.
But even if I do, I know that the nomadic life probably isn’t for me, because no matter where in the world I go I will always have a home, and that home will always be…
Scotland is and always will be home for me. There’s just something about it, it’s a country filled with magic and wonder and fairy tales, and I just feel like I belong here. Yes, I know I go on and on about wanting to travel and get out of here, but that’s because I know Scotland will always be here, calling me back. Back to what I know, back to settled normality. When I get off the train at Glasgow Queen Street and I haven’t been into the city in a while I still get this tingle that just tells me “I’m back, this feels right”, and I love that feeling! It’s an amazing sensation, and one that I hope never goes away.
There’s something just so distinct about Scotland and its people. The culture is so unique, as are the locals who live here. We’re a very patriotic nation, but in a uniquely Scottish way. Unlike other patriotic countries, we don’t think Scotland is the best country in the world. In fact, we know it can be a bit of a shithole, but you know what , it’s our shithole, so don’t you say anything bad about it, because the only people who can are born and bred in this ridiculous country and we won’t take any flack from anyone! So I dare you to give it a try. Bring it, and see how far you get.
There’s no denying though, no matter how much of a shithole it may be, Scotland is a brilliantly stunning country. The weather’s shit, but it’s because of the dank, dark, murky skies and constant bombardment of rain, sleet and snow that our country is so green and lush and spectacular. Few places on the planet rival Scotland in her beauty and her unique landscapes and scenery. I love it, and I love that I can call this beautiful country home.
Now to head out in search of her rivals.
Where’s home for you? Have you been lucky enough to find that place you belong, or are you still out there searching? Or not searching, perhaps? Let me know!
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Before Christmas Mum and I took a trip up to Forfar to visit my Aunt Linda and exchange Christmas presents. I always enjoy trips up north, as I love the picturesque drive up there, and I also have an affinity with the Scottish Highlands, and love getting as close as I can.
I took some really lovely photos when I was up there, but never got around to sharing them with you guys. Well, here you are.
Finally got round to posting this one, as I’ve spent all week in Glasgow for Fresher’s Week.
Last Sunday Mum and I headed to Culross for the week’s wander. A fairly short walk, this leisurely walk was still packed full of sights to see, and was wonderfully completed by quite possibly the largest meal I have ever eaten in the Red Lion Inn.
The beginning of our walk was interesting, because the sat-nav led us astray, and so finding the car park that marked the start of our route took a little bit of work. Once found, the start of our walk was pretty easy, as the path was flat and paved. We were treated to views out over the Firth of Forth, and a glimpse of Dunimarle Castle through the trees.
Our route then took us up the driveway of Blair Castle Memorial Home for Miners, a sheltered walk surrounded by Rhododendrons. A fairly steep climb, this was a bit of a shock to the system after our easy, flat path. We passed a field of unusual looking cattle who didn’t seem to impressed by our walking past their field. At the top of the hill Blair Castle came into view. Now this is not the same Blair Castle which featured in the previous post, and I admit I have no idea why there are two castles in Scotland with exactly the same name. This Blair Castle reminded me more of Merchiston castle where we spend the NYCoS residential course.
After snapping a few photos we headed through the trees along a farm track up towards Blair Mains Farm. Our directions told us that after the farm we would reach a metal gate which would mark the point at which we would turn off the farm track and cut through the woods. It later transpired that we passed about 6 metal gates before we found the correct one with a signpost directing us along our way. The directions we were following were quite old so I guess the farm has just undergone some renovations since then.
Our route left the farm track and headed along a rough woodland path that bordered farmland. A short way along this woodland path we came across a stile on the fence we were following, and realised this was the way to a hidden plague grave we had been told about in the village. The grave was the resting place of three siblings who all lost their lives on the same day when Culross was decimated by the Plague. Much as this was fascinating and I was curious, we decided to move on without further investigation, as this kind of thing creeps me out like nothing on earth.
The path opened out onto a flatter grass path which was easier to follow than the rough woodland path. We came across the ruin of Culross West Church, which had been the main place of worship for the people of Culross until this duty was taken over by Culross Abbey. We spent some time nosing round the ruin and the surrounding graveyard and mausoleum. Graves here mainly range from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, with some from the 20th century, and one very modern grave from 2014 in the top corner. It was interesting to see the evolutions in gravestones, with the older ones being sunk and more macabre in design. There were also a number of famous people and War Graves in the graveyard. The church itself is now a complete ruin, with no roof and collapsing walls.
After our investigation of the Church we continued along the path, eventually ending up on the road we had originally driven into the village on. I have to admit I was glad our walk was nearly over, as my stomach was making more noise than I do when I’m singing on stage. However, I did have to stop and photograph Culross Abbey and read the tourist plaque outside to learn a little about the history of the building. Most of the once enormous building is now gone, but what little remains is still truly lovely.
Our walk was ended with a lovely visit to The Red Lion Inn, which I would seriously recommend. I wolfed down as much as I possibly could, but there was still enough left to feed another person. Below is halfway through my meal just to put it into perspective.
All in all, our trip to Culross was highly educational, and I would love to do more walks full of history like this one.
If you want to check where else I’ve been in Scotland so far you could check out:-