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Life, Scotland, University

We’re moving to Edinburgh!

April 27, 2017

View over Edinburgh from Edinburgh castle

Last week, we got the news we’d be waiting on since the start of February; the University of Edinburgh made me an offer on the best masters course I’d found.

I cannot tell you how many times I have refreshed my emails over the past two months, or how many times I’ve logged into their applicant hub hoping to see an update. The stress and hassle of my current university who don’t seem to understand what an interim transcript is and my tutor and I having to make one because they’re so useless. The anxiety Daz and I have had, stressing about how close it was getting and all the things we need to do and we still don’t have a decision. It was all lifted. I could have cried; but I didn’t because I am not human.

Well, I say the stress was lifted. It was and it was quickly replaced with a load more stress and things that need sorting.

Daz and I spent a few days in Edinburgh towards the end of last year when they had a postgraduate open day and we both fell in love with the place. I love Scotland, I love Edinburgh and the university was everything I thought it would be and more. Some of the buildings look like they’re straight out of Hogwarts; which I guess they kinda are since J. K. Rowling was living in Edinburgh when she started writing the books.

View of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle

The course is my dream course. Friends and family kept asking me if I’d applied anywhere else and I kept saying “no, because no where else does a course that is anywhere like this one. I have to get in because everything else seems pointless in comparison.” It was, of course, the most expensive course I could have applied for but the way I see it is that it would have been a waste of money doing a cheaper course because it wouldn’t get me where I want to be. The optional modules are all so exciting and I CAN DO A MODULE ON FORESTS! I cannot tell you how excited I am for that. I love forests.

Having lived in my hometown all my life, I’ve visited places and yearned to experience what it would be like to live somewhere else. Especially somewhere so fancy-looking, I mean Edinburgh has a huge castle on a hill (Ed Sheeran?) that is always in the corner of your eyes. What I also like about Edinburgh is that it isn’t so busy that it overwhelms me and stresses me out; though I’m told it will be completely different when the Fringe Festival is on.

I’m looking forward to living somewhere new but I am very comfortable where I am, as is Daz. The thing I am most nervous about is leaving my current job and finding a new one. I love the people I work with, it’s like a family. I am worried that wherever I end up working in Scotland (Hard Rock Cafe, I’m coming for you…goals) won’t feel quite the same.

Of course I will also miss my family and friends. There are plenty of ways for us to keep in touch though, and none of them appear remotely unhappy about the prospect of visiting us in Edinburgh.

It’s a really exciting next chapter that seems full of a lot of unknowns at the moment but I’m sure things will become clearer over the next few months. We’re also both seriously excited about getting to explore Scotland on our days off because it is all kinds of beautiful.

It sure is a weight off.

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Photography, Scotland, Travel, UK

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

June 11, 2015

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

I have a bit of a thing for finding a high point in a city so that I can look over it, and get a good view of the whole city. When we went to Edinburgh in April, a trek up Arthur’s Seat was at the top of my list.

We were blessed with a gloriously sunny, fairly still day, which made the trip even more enjoyable. 

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

To start with, we got lost trying to find the top. There were a couple of paths, but no clear signs, so we followed the one that looked most used. 

It turned out that it wasn’t quite the path we wanted, as this one just went around Arthur’s Seat instead of up it. We weren’t going to complain though because it provided us with beautiful views over Edinburgh, including the glorious Edinburgh Castle. 

Edinburgh Castle from Arthur's Seat

View over Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Interesting fact: In the photo above, on the right hand side, in the grass, you can kinda see a couple who were full on going at it. 

View over Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

After getting about halfway round on the path well worn, we decided to turn back around and went in hunt of the path up to the top. We found it, and it turned out to be a little treacherous. You know the kind of path that just looks like it’s desperate to break one of your ankles? 

On the way up we were passed by a bloke who was running. He was running up something that I was out of breath from just walking up! It was so steep. Major props to him, he must have been fit as a fiddle. 

At the top, we were treated to spectacular views over Edinburgh. 

Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

View from Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

View from Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

We sat at the top for a while and drank in the view. I love being able to view a city from above, you spot things that you don’t see while your wandering around the streets. 

I always find that memories of cities from afar, like this one, tend to stick with me a little more than 

Do you like seeing places from above? 

Travel

Edinburgh Castle + the Hard Rock Cafe

January 15, 2015

Edinburgh Castle at night

Edinburgh Castle in the day

Edinburgh Castle is a majestic looking thing; it sits perched on a rock watching over the city. 

The castle looks pretty impressive from the front but when you go in through the castle gates, or see it from down on Princes Street, you realise how big it is.

It’s a huge, sprawling castle with paths that take you off in different directions.

My favourite part of any castle is never the inside. It’s the grounds, where you get to look at the beautiful buildings and down on the area surrounding it. It’s in moments like that where I can imagine for a second what it would have been like to live in the castle in it’s heyday.

View of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle

View of Edinburgh from the castle

The most impressive thing inside the castle was actually something you aren’t allowed to take photos of; the crown jewels.

They were absolutely stunning and every bit as lavish as you expect they would be, but annoyingly it was very, very busy in that particular room. That’s understandable, of course everyone wants to see the sparklies, but I think perhaps there should be a system in place where only a certain amount of people can go in at a time.

After we’d finished at the castle we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. I do not consider that I’ve actually been to a country if I haven’t visited the Hard Rock Cafe there and I their collect t-shirts / hoodies.

The staff at the Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh were great and as usual, they complied with my awkward request to have the twisted mac n’ cheese without the chicken and as usual, it was amazeballs. (There I finally said it in a sentence!)

I also surprised myself by trying something new (I don’t do that very often at all); a strawberry and basil lemonade. It was delicious, I keep meaning to try to make my own.

I completely forgot to take a picture of the Hard Rock Cafe itself because I was distracted by this beautiful building next door. I think it was a fancy restaurant. I don’t really care what it is, to be honest, because look at how beautiful it looks with all those Christmas lights on it.

 

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Life

Share the love – July 2017

August 3, 2017

Share The Love July 2017 collage

I really missed not writing a Share The Love post at the end of June, but I was jetlagged and unhappy about being back in England so, I’m sure you can forgive me.

July seems to have whizzed by and at times I’m left wondering whether it was only last month that we were chilling by lakes in Canada. I got confirmation that I am now the proud owner of a BSc (Hons) first class in Forensic Science, *does a little happy dance*. I’m pretty proud of myself for that one. A couple of weeks after we got back from Canada, we spent a few days in Edinburgh, searching for places to live and Daz got himself a job!

Last Monday, my friends from work threw me a surprise leaving party, which was so sweet and I really didn’t know what to say. I was lost for words. We had a brilliant night, played Cards Against Humanity, and ate some delicious brownies one of my friends made, and it was wonderful. I truly am going to miss them so much; I think I might leak from the eyes on my last shift, which will be terribly undignified because I ugly cry.

I’ve also finally plucked up the courage to begin editing our photos from Canada and I immediately realised I was not strong enough because I WANNA GO BACK RIGHT NOW. I’m not going to lie, I fall in love with a lot of places I visit (for a while I was seriously going to Sweden to do a masters, but money) but Canada is like nothing else; it felt like home straight away and England doesn’t entirely feel like home now.

 

BLOG – Hopscotch The Globe

This is one of my favourite travel blogs and YouTube channels. Kristen and Siya are an adventuring couple who produce some of the best travel videos and blogs I’ve seen, and what I think makes them even better is how friendly and chilled out they come across. It feels like you’re listening to friends when you watch their videos. 

Last year, they brought an Airstream and started renovating it. I’ve been eagerly following their progress videos and they finally revealed their incredibly beautiful and spacious looking Airstream in July. I challenge you to watch it and tell me you don’t want to live in an Airstream right away, because I do. I want to move to Canada, renovate an Airstream and explore Canada, and wake up to new forests and mountain views whenever I fancy it.

 

LINKS

 

LISTENING TO

July was an amazing month for new music. While Daz is slowly being subjected to a little less Paramore than in June, it’s still popping up in my playlist a lot. Also popping up is new music from:

  • Kesha; damn, can we talk about how amazing Rainbow is going to be? She has released three singles off her upcoming album and they are all incredible. Take a listen to them here: Praying | Woman | Learn To Let Go
  • LIGHTS; Skydiving is so darn catchy.
  • While we’re talking about eagerly anticipating, I couldn’t not mention that SHANIA TWAIN IS RELEASING A NEW ALBUM IN SEPTEMBER. I cannot wait. I grew up on her music and I cannot wait to hear Now.

I also got into two podcasts this month:

  • Estee Lalonde released the pilot episode of her podcast, The Heart Of It. In the pilot, Estee spoke about protests and I absolutely loved it. I’ve watched her videos for years and her tone of voice is really similar to how she is in her blog and videos, only she gets into important topics.
  • I finally got around to watching Anna and Lily’s podcast, At Home With and it was just so easy to sit down and relax to.

 

WATCHING

All I need to say here is that Game of Thrones is back.

 

POPULAR POSTS ON GIRL IN AWE

 

Now I want to hear about your favourite things from July; send me all the links!

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Ethical and sustainable living, Life

Earth Overshoot Day; changing the way we travel

August 2, 2017
Driving down the Icefields Parkway
 

Today is Earth Overshoot Day; the point in the calendar whereby we have used more natural resources than the planet can renew throughout the whole of the year. That’s a pretty sobering thought when there are almost five months left of 2017.

The Earth Overshoot Day website goes into more detail about what August 2nd represents and some of the things we can do to push that date back. It even allows you to calculate your global footprint. While it isn’t 100% perfect as it doesn’t include many countries on it, you can pick the one closest to you and it gives you some indication of what you could do to reduce your global footprint. According to my results, we would need 4.9 planets to support a world living the same way I do. That was a pretty surprising result as I thought I lived fairly greenly.

A couple of days ago, the UK government announced that it plans to cease sale of petrol and diesel cars (though not hybrid cars) by 2040. In comparison, India wants the same by 2030, and Norway only wants zero emission cars on their roads by 2025. Last month, Volvo announced that they will only introduce electric or hybrid vehicles after 2019. While it requires more work and money for a country to support that kind of change than for a company to stop producing a specific type of car, why is our government planning to fall 21 years behind Volvo, 15 years behind Norway, and 10 years behind India?

No, it’s not as simple as us replacing petrol and diesel cars with electric or hybrid versions, it will require culture shifts and a lot of investment in energy and public transport, but why are we aiming to fall behind?

The government estimate that air pollution is linked to 40,000 premature deaths per year, though it is hard to verify that figure. We know that air quality in some areas is poor, it can make existing conditions worse, and no one really wants to breath in dirty air, period. We know something needs to be done, but are our government doing enough, fast enough? These are just some of the issues that need to be tackled to change the way we think about travel.

Green energy

It’s all well and good harping on about how green electric cars are, but how green are the energy sources charging that car? If an electric car is charged using electric from fossil fuels, it isn’t truly emission free; albeit, the emissions are being emitted from a power station, not the car directly.The UK government is woefully behind other European countries in terms of green energy. A few times a year, stories pop up about the likes of Germany or Sweden generating enough green energy to power the entire country for a day or two. It’s not perfect, but they’re on the right path and we need to follow suit.

The problems with UK public transport

If you’ve traveled to Europe, you will know how inadequate and expensive the British public transport system is in comparison. The UK rail networks are in need of upgrading but that isn’t a priority for the government, who recently scrapped plans to electrify key lines. It seems the only public transport system the government are interested in is HS2, which will tear up parts of the British countryside, will cost £55.7 billion (way above the £32.7bn originally estimated), and will probably be the rail equivalent of the M6 toll; that is, barely used.

We are moving to Edinburgh soon and our friends and family have been doing some research into the easiest and cheapest way to get to Edinburgh, which is about 270 miles from where we currently live. In my car (a 0.9l Renault Clio), it costs less than £30 in fuel one way. The train? Costs over £100. Where is the incentive for people to take public transport instead of their cars when it is so expensive? What’s worse is you could fit five people in the average car, which would drop the cost to £6 each in fuel, but everyone would still be paying £100 on the train.

On top of that, our networks need to expand their reach to encourage more people to take public transport. It takes me just under 20 minutes to drive 7.5 miles to work, but what if I wanted to take public transport? I can’t, safely. I would have to walk a couple of miles down an unlit country lane with no footpath, and it’s doubtful buses would be running when I finish at 1am.

That leads us nicely to cycling. To a lot of motorists, cyclists are considered to be a pain because UK roads aren’t quite wide enough to safely pass. This is even more problematic in rural areas. The Netherlands is a country we really need to learn from because it has been estimated that up to 70% of journeys in Amsterdam and The Hague are made on cycles.

Changing how we travel

Helping our environment does not just require a change in how our government thinks and our infrastructure works, it requires us to change our mindsets. We need to change the way we think about travel. While that does go hand in hand with improved public transport, we need to start walking or cycling more.

I include myself in that category. When we’re living outside Edinburgh, we probably won’t need the car much at all but it seems hard to give up that sense of freedom that comes with owning a car. Conversely, if public transport was better and cheaper, it wouldn’t be as hard.

It isn’t going to be completely pain free and easy, but we haven’t done our fair share in terms of protecting the world we live in for long enough and it’s time we step up and take responsibility.

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Life, Travel

The greatest adventures are with the greatest people

August 1, 2017

Watching the sun set at Moraine Lake, Alberta

In the past 12 months, Daz and I have had our fair share of adventures; we’ve been to Wales, Canada, Edinburgh, and Canada again. Though all of those places are beautiful, it’s the people you’re with that make it the best adventure.

I booked my first trip to Canada before I really knew Daz; I might have known him as “the grumpy pastry chef”. After a few weeks of being together, it became pretty clear to me that I would be moping around Canada on my own, missing him like hell if he didn’t come. In fact, I actually told him that if he didn’t come to Canada, he would ruin my trip to Canada because I would miss him too much. (Soppy, awh.) It’s kinda funny because this time last year he was moping on holiday in Ibiza with his family, and I was being a serious grouch at work.

The fates aligned because he was able to get it off work too, and we found the perfect flight for him which landed just before my flight into Calgary from San Francisco.

During our first trip to Alberta, we felt so at home. We got so much done in seven days (here’s our 7-day Banff & Jasper itinerary), and we were planning our return trip before we’d got to the airport to go home.

We spent months thinking about and planning the trip; whenever one of us was annoyed or stressed, we would remind each other of being back there together. And boy, did that thought get us through a lot of frustrating times.

Our trip was incredible. Even better than we thought it would be, not least because Daz proposed to me at Moraine Lake, our favourite spot (more on that soon). And it definitely sucked more when we had to fly home, though we are now definitely determined to call Canada home one day. 

If either of us had experienced the hammering rain, the chilled out vibes of Tofino, the sounds of Vancouver Island’s rainforests, Vancouver at night, the beauty of the Rockies, or seeing an avalanche on our own, it would have been pretty cool. But to do, see, and experience all of that next to your best friend, is the best feeling in the world.

Sure, travelling with someone isn’t always 100% rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies (I’m really not gonna pretend it is). I’m a miserable moose when I’m tired at the best of times, tired and annoyed at road closures is not a great combination and unfortunate for anyone around me. I’m also always convinced I know the right way (spoiler alert: I almost never do) and am a frustrating co-pilot because I say right when I mean left, and left when I mean right. But then again, nothing is ever 100% rainbows, butterflies, it’s compromise that moves us along (shout out to anyone who gets the Maroon 5 reference – from when they were good).

Daz is my favourite adventure buddy and I’m looking forward to so many more adventures with him and giving him the wrong directions, forever.

Happy birthday, Dazzle.

Who is your favourite adventure buddy?

Life

Turns out, relocating is hard

July 27, 2017

Edinburgh Princes Street Gardens

Captain Obvious Award of the year goes to me for that title; I’d like to thank myself for being so oblivious to the hassle involved in moving over 270 miles away. 

When we got the news that I’d been accepted into the University of Edinburgh, we found ourselves stressing about this huge list of things we needed to do. We made a start on a good chunk of them and began putting things into place. After we got back from Canada, we headed up to Edinburgh for a few days; Daz got a job and we tried to look at a few flats.

Tried is the key word in that sentence because despite wanting to look at around 10 places, we only saw one. Now, a lot of that is down to our naivety; places go in Edinburgh fast and we thought the best thing to do was to try and book viewings when we were up there, rather than a week or so in advance. The one place we did see, we fell in love with and we’re waiting on references to come back, so hopefully we have somewhere to live!

We’re trying to get things organised but without knowing 100% whether or not we have this place, we can’t change details or do super important stuff like telling Sky to sort our internet out so we can watch Game of Thrones the day it comes out. (You know, important first world stuff.) It feels like living in limbo a little bit.

The biggest surprise by far is how little time we have. Like most people, we get two days off a week (which clearly is not enough time to ever get things done – I want to adopt the Netherlands’ 29-hour work week.) but damn they are flying by. On top of that, we’re trying to organise seeing people before we move, which leaves so little time to get things done, especially as we both work weekends. 

Stress aside, we are very lucky because we have family and friends who offered to help us immediately, which has relieved some of the hassle. These are some of the people we’re going to miss the most and will happily accept into our spare room whenever they can get up to Scotland. 

When we are settled in Edinburgh I might do a blog post on “x dumb things you shouldn’t do when you’re relocating”. I don’t know about anyone else, but as I’ve lived in the same town for almost 25 years, I had no idea what to expect about moving to the other side of town, let alone another country.

Anyway, that’s just a little update on how the Edinburgh situation is going. I will be joyous when I attend my first day of my masters and will breath a huge sigh of relief because things will pretty much all be sorted. (Apart from my degree certificate because the University of Wolverhampton are incapable of doing anything that actually makes any sense to the rest of the educational world.)

Have you ever moved far? How did you find it?

Life

My summer to do list

June 8, 2017

Pastel sunset sky

Daz and I could barely believe our eyes when we saw this at work a couple of weeks ago.

With my last exam over, and daily refreshing of the results page in full swing, I find myself faced with what might be the last summer break I have. 

Minimise

For years I have loved the idea of being a minimalist but it wasn’t until I moved in with Daz that I realised I had a lot of things I just didn’t need. I have zero plans of taking things I don’t need to Edinburgh with me so one of my main missions this summer is to donate or sell things I don’t use or need. My bookshelf has already taken a battering (I never thought I would say that) but I have a lot of books that I honestly won’t ever read to start with or won’t read again. I have discovered and become a little obsessed with eBay; though I do hate the trips to the Post Office, which I’m pretty certain is actually inside a sauna not at the back of my local WH Smiths.

 

Read more

University made reading for leisure pretty hard. I’m not going to lie, I actually do enjoy reading journal articles about the chemical composition of soil in and around gravesites but it’s not quite as relaxing as reading Harry Potter. Plus, your friends look at you a little odd when the answer to “what did you do last night” is “read about how nitrogen levels in soil changes when bodies decompose in it.” It’s a touch darker than “watched Orange is the New Black.”

 

Exercise more

At the beginning of the year I really got into hot yoga, and my back loves it, but my work schedule at the moment makes it really hard for me to go, unless I want to get up at 7am and I just don’t. I’m trying to get into the habit of practicing yoga at home and want to get out and go for pokemon walks walks more often. That last one really isn’t hard since we live so close to a forest.

 

Spend more time with friends

When you’re at school, you don’t even have to try to spend time with your friends. And then, all of a sudden, meeting up with your best friends requires military planning. Since I’m really going to struggle to see my friends regularly while we’re in Edinburgh, I want to make as much effort as possible to spend time making delicious cake and playing Pokemon Monopoly (it’s so much fun by the way) and Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit.

 

What are your plans for this summer?

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