Tag: Travel

Driving; Scotland vs England

Two countries. The same body governing its road systems. The same(ish) laws. Two completely different styles of driving.

I knew the English were…odd. Our cultures, although linked, are so completely and utterly different from each other it’s hard to believe that there is no border between the two.

I knew all this, and yet I was in no way prepared for the difference in how people drive down south. It really is extraordinary.

Speed Limits

Primarily with regards to those on the motorways. In both countries the legal speed limit on motorways is 70mph. In Scotland, there is a very lax take on this limit, with people frequently driving in excess of 90mph at times. Variable speed limits are a joke; people rarely obey them, and in fact, tend to get annoyed by those who do. There’s also no rush to slow yourself at roadworks. You’ll come down to 50mph at some point (probably when you get stuck behind a lorry or the like).

This somewhat indifferent attitude to the speed limit is very much not the case south of the border. My little car struggles to achieve anything over 70mph, and I was still frequently one of the fastest people on the road. The English love their speed limits. Variable speed limits are obeyed to the letter, and at roadworks, traffic is generally at 49 by the time you’ve hit the 50 sign.

To be fair, there are far more speed cameras in use south of the border, so I do understand the reasons for the good behaviour down south. I just wasn’t aware that it was so dramatically different.

9-Foot Hedges

Seriously, what is it with the 9-foot hedges along every country road? They are terrifying!

In Scotland, the highest the natural barrier you’ll find is (most of the time) a five post rail with maybe some bushes around it. That’s it. You can see plenty of the road ahead, and as a result, plenty of the traffic ahead as well.

Not in England. Granted, I’ve only done a lot of driving in the South of the country, but I’m gathering that this isn’t too different further North. The hedges are ridiculous. They turn a simple, relatively straight road into an absolute death trap. You can’t see the end, you can’t see what’s coming, and there really isn’t enough room to get out of the way when you meet oncoming traffic. Who told you guys this was a good idea? It’s crazy. I’m a pretty confident driver, as is my Dad, and I can confirm that we were both terrified of putting our feet on the accelerator for fear of oncoming traffic.

Guys, sort out the hedges!

Passing Places

Speaking of no room, where the passing places guys? Do you know that such a thing exists, or have you decided you just don’t need them? Passing places, for those who don’t drive/ don’t know, are locations where the road has been widened slightly to allow two cars to pass each other as they travel in opposite directions. On (most) touristy single track roads in Scotland there are passing places every few hundred yards. With the lack of 9-foot hedges (see above), you can see the road ahead, and wait in one such passing place if you spot oncoming traffic. This makes country driving just a touch less terrifying than in England.

When we were in Cornwall, we were staying in what was actually quite a big, fairly busy wee village. In Scotland, the access road to this village would be two lanes, or, at the very least, it would have passing places every few hundred yards. Instead, the access road to this village was an unmarked, unsigned country road that gave the impression of leading nowhere important, until suddenly you arrived in the village and the road became somewhat normal and drivable. Can someone please explain to the Wildling over here why this is the case? Is it a thing, a thing I’m missing in my Celtic ignorance?

I realise this post has turned into a wee bit of a bash on England’s roads, which is a shame, because I did really enjoy my holiday down south, despite your strange motoring ways. So, in the interest of fairness (and also because I’m curious), people of England-land, what is it about Scotland’s roads that confuse you? What shocked you most about driving “north of The Wall”? N.B: if you don’t get that reference, I’m not sure we can be friends.

Rannoch Moor from the West Highland Way

My Road Trip Car Essentials

As many of you know, I love me a good road trip. I just find jumping into the car and heading off on an adventure the perfect mix of exciting and relaxing. Exploring the world around me really is one of life’s great pleasures.

Having been on as many road trips as I have, I’ve learnt a thing or two about the essentials you need to have in your car before setting off on an adventure.

Wine Bay Beach, Isle of Cumbrae

Snacks

I love my snacks. All of the snacks. Having snacks in the car allows you to be a little more flexible with the time you spend at destinations, particularly those that are more rural and out of the way, without having your life being ruled by your stomach. Snacks let you settle the little rumbles long enough to get you to some proper grub.

Now an essential point to bringing snacks; buy them before you set off. You never know when you’re going to get peckish, and picking up a packet of crisps or a granola bar in Tesco is always going to be cheaper than grabbing something from the cafe or gift shop of whichever tourist attraction you’ve stopped at.

My favourite road trip snacks are a packet of mint imperials to freshen up stale breath and a box of granola or snack bars, such as these by Deliciously Ella.

 

Daisy Glen, Pollock Country Park, Glasgow

Sunglasses

More than one pair. Always. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten back into the car after being out wandering, got five minutes down the road, the sun’s come out and my sunglasses are in the boot in my backpack. It’s a pain in the backside. I always have at least one pair of shades, probably a £1 set from Primark, in my glovebox for emergencies, and then my trusty aviators ready and waiting in my centre console.

Ardrossan Harbour, Scotland

 

Hand Sanitiser/ Baby Wipes

Sticky hands are the worse, whether you’re passenger or driver. Having a pack of Baby Wipes tucked away helps to just make it all better, and are a lifesaver if something inevitably gets spilt or the sun cream nozzle was pointed the wrong way.

Hand Sanitiser speaks for itself; hands get grubby and dirty, and we never know how many other people have been touching the things you’ve been touching, and what they’ve been touching before. Hand Sanitiser just offers you peace of mind, especially when eating on the go. I have a tiny travel size bottle I picked up for £0.99 within easy reach in my centre console at all times.

 

Bell Bay, Isle of Cumbrae

Water Bottle

Need I say more?

These are just my essentials for a road trip. I have some other bits and bobs that are interchangeable depending on where I’m going and how far I’m going. There are also other essentials I have in my car, but they are my full-time essentials and are always in my car. I may do a post on them later if you guys are interested.

Glencoe: You’ll Never Feel So Small

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.

Rannoch Moor from the West Highland Way

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.

A NYCoSian Summer

Hi guys,

So by the time this post will be up and published I will be in America!! You have no idea how excited I am! I have never been to the States before, and it will also be my first tour abroad with NYCoS. Aaah! Have to admit though, if I could get to America without the 8+ hour flight I’d be highly appreciative. I’ve never done long-haul before. Not all that sure I’m looking forward to it. Could also do without the 4am rise that is required to catch my flight. Why? I want my sleep! I don’t do well without my sleep, just ask my mum.

Oh, the things we do for fame, fortune and travel!

My summer is pretty NYCoS packed, actually. I have the ten day tour in the US of A, then I’m home for a fortnight-ish, with a few trips around Alba, and then I’m off to London with NYCoS for a performance of Berlioz’ Romeo and Juliette at the BBC Proms!

Holy crap!

And after all that we’ve still a performance of the Berlioz in France for the Berlioz Festival! Where did this jet set lifestyle come from, what is happening?!

I’ve also a family holiday, best friends’ birthdays, and my own 19th all mixed in there. The summer is supposed to be relaxing, why am I so busy?

Don’t get me wrong,  I am well aware how incredibly lucky I am. I am so fortunate to be a part of this amazing choir, and I hope to be part of the NYCoS family as long as possible!

Where are you guys headed this year? Business or pleasure?

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You Speak Spanish? That’s So Cool!

Hi guys,

How many foreign languages do you speak? Answer if you’re like many of he people I know – “I can say ‘hello, how are you?’ in French”.

And I bet you say that in the most appallingly Scottish French accent aka no accent at all.

In 2004 the British government decided to make foreign language learning optional at GCSE and Standard grade level, as they stupidly believed that those who had learned languages at primary school would definitely want to continue their studies at high school.

Dumbass.

Language learning is seen as hard, and today’s lazy kids prefer to take different subjects they believe will give them an easy pass, rather than actually apply themselves and acquire skills that definitely will help them in life. I mean, I can’t remember the last time I had to use Pythagorean Theorem or tell you the chemical symbol for cheese, but only this morning was I hearing and translating French I was listening to on television.

Languages are useful. Learn them!

Countries in Europe teach languages as standard in their schools, be that other European languages or English!  They’re making the effort! Why aren’t we?! Europeans are so used to Brits being such ridiculous, for want of a better word, ‘dumb’ tourists, who go on holiday to be British in the sun, instead of travelling to see and feel these wonderful countries. But we make no effort whatsoever to blend in. You can spot a British holidaymaker a mile off (I am guilty of being one myself at one point I do admit.)

I’ve gone slightly off topic, this was a rant about languages…

University courses and foreign language departments are really starting to struggle with their pools of candidates, as fewer people are taking languages in school, and then even  less are taking them on into university. It’s madness!

I loved learning languages in school. The Modern Languages department at Greenfaulds High is something I can only applaud. They really pushed you to learn, and held activities at lunchtime encouraging people to try foreign foods and movies and culture, as well as learning the language. My Spanish teacher was phenomenal, I always loved her classes. She spoke to us and taught  the class entirely in Spanish, and so immersed you entirely in the language. You didn’t realise how much you had learned until you suddenly realised you understood every word she was saying to you, and if you didn’t understand, she helped you figure out by breaking down the sentence, all still in Spanish. it was fabulous. Plus she wasn’t one of those awful language teachers who hated their lives and now only lived to make their students lives a misery, I do get that those exist.

But with all this ranting and raving about how few people are learning languages, I have to admit I’m a bit of a hypocrite, as I’ve let my languages slip. I could still hold a pretty decent conversation with someone in both French and Spanish, and can now have a very basic conversation in Italian, but I’m a bit rusty, and could do with some revision, which is exactly what I’m going to do.

Duolingo is a website and app which lets you learn languages for free. Free! You learn languages in a sort of game like fashio9n, where you lose a heart when you get an answer wrong, you win points when you complete levels, and you can follow and compete with your friends. duolingo has been proven to work, and according to their website just 34 hours spent on Duolingo equates to an entire semenster at University or College.

It is never too late to start learning, or relearning, a language, and so I challenge you my readers to join me in my quest to encourage the world to become bilingual. I am setting myself the challenge of studying Spanish for fifteen minutes every day, and when I’ve completed that course I shall move onto French and the Italian. And after that, who knows.

So go on, get signed in, get learning! You can find me at LaurenJuli1. Follow me, and I’ll follow the next 20 people who follow me back! I’ll also keep you updated with weekly updates, let’s see how long I can keep this up, eh?

 

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Gorse Bushes Avonmill Equestrian Denny Falkirk Scotland Wandering Scotland

There’s No Place Like Home

Hi guys,

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!!

Scottish Landscape Stock Photo

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.

Avonmill Equestrian Denny Falkirk Scotland Wandering ScotlandBluebells Avonmill Equestrian Denny Falkirk Scotland Wandering ScotlandStream Avonmill Equestrian Denny Falkirk Scotland Wandering Scotland

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.

Anyway…Moving on.

Loch Lomond ScotlandYellowcraigs Beach North Berwick Scotland- Wandering Scotland

Loch Lomond from Balloch Country Park
View of Loch Lomond from Balloch Country Park

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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My Favourite Travel Blogs

Hi guys,

I absolutely love reading travel blogs. It’s one of my favourite things to do. My standard daily commute into uni involves a good read of a few travel blog posts, a quick Facebook check, and an update to Wandering Scotland if the inspiration strikes.

I do follow several travel blogs, because it’s always worth keeping up with the travel blogging community, but I do have to say I do still have my favourites.

A Dangerous Business

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Amanda over at A Dangerous Business is probably one of my favourite bloggers. Her writing makes her seem so genuine and friendly, and she was really generous with her help when I emailed her with a blogging related question. A Dangerous Business was one of the first travel blogs I ever read, and a read of at least one article is pretty standard commute reading. I also absolutely love her take on travel blogging, and the fact that she doesn’t travel full time, yet still manages to run a frequently updated blog.

Young Adventuress

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Young Adventuress was the first ever travel blog I came across, and was that sparked my interest in travel blogging and all its wonders. Liz just seems like such a strong woman, something I truly aspire to be. I also love that two of her favourite countries are Spain and New Zealand, just like me!

Hand Luggage Only

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I love Yaya and Lloyd, they are absolutely hilarious. There’s always at least one line in each post that makes me giggle. The images they share in their posts are spectacular, and are sure to inpire wanderlust in all who lay eyes on them. How they manage to travel to so many fabulous foreign destinations so frequently will always baffle me, they just always seem to be somewhere new and exciting.

The Travel Hack

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This blog is a godsend. There are so many tips and tricks to achieve cheaper travel, it’s fab! They also always seem to do their research, and so their destination posts are always educational, and I always seem to learn something.

Travelletes

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I was drawn to the Travelletes blog by a guest post I came across on Bloglovin’, but after a little exploring I was hooked! Although I am a reasonably new reader of the blog, I’ve found that the seem to think on a way very similarly to myself.

So there you have it, my current list of favourite travel blogs. I am always on the hunt for some new reads, so if there are any blogs out there that you think I’d like, let me know!

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