The view of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Today marks two weeks since we moved up to Edinburgh and it still doesn’t feel entirely real; it feels like we’re on the laziest holiday ever and might return to our “old lives” at some point.

It’s been just over four months since we found out we were moving up to Edinburgh and it has gone so fast. Thankfully the move, sorting out a flat, and getting jobs went very smoothly. Both of us have just started work but I don’t think it’s going to feel like this is our actual life until we settle into a work and university routine.

I was expecting to come up here and end up writing a really deep or meaningful post about what it’s like to move 270 miles away from the place you lived your entire life but I can’t. At the moment, it just hasn’t sunk in yet, so instead I’m going to talk about some of the things I’ve learned since being up here.

 

There is so much going on & to see

Neither of us are big city people, but I don’t feel like Edinburgh is a big city; geographically, sure it is, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming or stressful. I think the old buildings make it feel a little cosier and less imposing too.

We arrived at the end of the Fringe Festival and managed to see Thrones! The Musical Parody which had us all in stitches – GoT fans, if you ever have chance, see it. We spent a couple of days walking around the city and making mental lists of the museums and exhibits we want to see, and record stores we need to keep out of because money.

 

Bands don’t play Edinburgh

WHY?! Why don’t bands play big venues in Edinburgh? I have three gigs booked over the next few months and they are all in Glasgow.

Buses are cheap as

Where we used to live, public transport was a bit of a nightmare and was pretty impractical the majority of the time. Around here, it’s easier to hop on a bus than to try and drive around and park in the city; buses are £1.60. ONE. POUND. SIXTY. Damn, that is cheap.

Is it really sad that I’m excited about that?

 

Damn, Scotland is beautiful

Edinburgh is a beautiful city itself, and wherever you seem to look you can see mountains in the distance and you can be up in those mountains in no time at all. Last weekend, Daz and I took a drive around the Highlands and I was reminded of how stunning Scotland is. And, in case you’d missed it, Scotland has just been voted the most beautiful country in the world, and Canada came in second – can you believe that? Am I going to end up in love with Scotland more than Canada? Perish the thought.

 

We can’t understand everyone – and they can’t understand us

You never think you have an accent until you’re surrounded by people with completely different accents. A chap came out from OpenReach to sort our internet out last week and when he started talking fast we were not entirely sure what he was saying.

On the other hand, people haven’t always been able to understand us either. We went out for dinner last week and I ordered macaroni cheese but ended up with a beef burger…

 

Veggie haggis might become 70% of my diet

I’ve tried vegetarian haggis before (it’s delicious) but now I’m living here and I can buy it in Tesco I’m becoming a little bit obsessed with it. Most restaurants or cafes you go to have some kind of veggie haggis on the menu too; it is a delightful change from the standard tomato sauce and pasta.

 

It’s nice having a smaller place

One of the biggest things I was worried about was downsizing. We moved from a good sized two-bed terrace to a two-bed flat. While I’m still trying not to walk into the corners of the bed when I walk around it, it’s nice to have a more compact space. Truth be told, we didn’t need all the space we had before and cleaning is easier and faster – go, lazy me!

What did you learn when you moved to a new place?

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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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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? 

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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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You've got to believe that everything you want is available to you Jen Sincero

Two years ago, I had just returned to university after a three-year break to finish off a degree in forensic science; today, I'm three months into a masters course that inspires me so much.

 

The short history of that is; I didn't know if my degree was what I wanted (in terms of a career) so I dropped out and tried something completely different. And then I missed science, hard. The parts about working in marketing that I loved were analytical and problem-solving - things that perfectly fit a science degree. Earlier this year I graduated with a first; though I say graduated, my university held graduations in September, bizarrely, so I didn't get to go to graduation. Definitely bitter.

 

A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded that it had been a year since Daz and I came up to Edinburgh for the University of Edinburgh's postgrad open day. I fell in love with an MSc and was nervously excited about the idea that just maybe, perhaps, I would get accepted.

 

I'm not afraid to admit I was a little paralysed by the fear of not getting accepted. So much so that Daz had to gently nudge me into sitting down and getting my personal statement and application finished (thank goodness for that guy). I then spent the next few weeks refreshing my emails every three minutes (that's legit accurate) and trying not to get excited because it's the University of Edinburgh…they're one of the best universities in the world.

 

When I found out I'd been accepted, I was so excited and so damn happy that I may have almost cried. Only almost, because Vulcans don't leak from the eyes. And now, here we are; we moved to Edinburgh and my course constantly inspires me and maybe I seriously know what I want to do with my life. I mean, there are about a hundred things I would love to do (I WANT TO DO ALL THE PLANET-SAVING THINGS), but there's one that has captured my heart and brain.

 

I guess the point of this ramble is chase what you want. Dare to dream, and then make those dreams your reality. This time last year, the idea of being a masters student at the University of Edinburgh was "that would be nice, wouldn't it?" and now I can tell you for sure that it's pretty damn nice, indeed. What I'm aiming for at the moment is definitely more ambitious (and maybe I'll fail - and yeah, I'm a little afraid of admitting it on here yet because I've got the fear) but, what if I make it? What if I get what I want?

 

I recently listened to You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero (listen to it, it's great - or read it, but I think her voice really adds to it) and I want to leave you with my favourite quote from it:

"You've got to believe that everything you want is available to you." 

If you never thought you'd see me posting quotes like that on here, believe me, that I'm right here with you. You know what though, you and I have one life and I'm not afraid to get "cheesy" up in here if that's what it takes for us to kick ourselves in the butt and be happy as f.

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Cox bay, Tofino

Oh, you thought I'd stopped fangirling about Canada? Nah, sorry. I think I'm turning into a bit of a broken record when it comes to Canada, and the more time that passes, the more Daz and I are sure it's where we need to be.

 

I know. I know. Didn't we just move to Edinburgh? Yup, yup, yup, and we are enjoying it. It's a beautiful city and Scotland wasn't voted the most beautiful country in the world for nothing. It's just not Canada. (If you're new to Girl In Awe & want to know why I fangirl about Canada so much, take a look through my Canada archives, or about 70% of my photos on Instagram.)

 

You know when you go on holiday and you get a serious good time hangover when you get home? It's like that, but permanent. In fact, we keep saying we left part of our souls in Canada like a less-deadly horcrux. Think of me as a travelling, orange-haired, eco-friendly, non-lethal, puppy-loving Voldemort, if you will. Now, there's an image for you. Though, we don't know that Voldemort didn't separate his recycling, and maybe the dude volunteered at rescue shelters when he wasn't trying to kill Harry et al.,.

 

I always remember my Mum telling me that Ireland instantly felt like home to her the first time she visited, and every time she's been since. I've tried to imagine myself living in every country I've visited and most of the time it seemed pretty fun, but I didn't understand what she meant until I began exploring Alberta.

Emerald Lake, Canada

It took me 14 years to go from "OMG Avril Lavigne is from Canada, I wanna visit" (because who wasn't obsessed with her in the early 2000s?) to standing at the side of my first Canadian lake. And I instantly got what my Mum meant all those years before.

 

Unfortunately, it's not something you can really explain and do justice if you've never felt it yourself. It's like a homecoming for your soul; you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, everything is sunshine and rainbows made of kittens and Labrador puppies, and you instantly hit up their government website to figure out how you can get a visa. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Canada is without it's faults; everything has faults.

 

We're currently trying to figure out the best way for us to get over there and live for a while to see if it lives up to our wildest dreams. It feels like something we have to do, and yeah that's gonna mean more Canada fangirling for you poor souls if they do let us into the country.

 

It's strange. We've lived in Edinburgh for almost three months now and it still doesn't feel real. And I'm not 100% it feels like home. We love our little flat and where we live, but I think our minds are so "I HEART CANADA" that it feels like a stepping stone towards Canada. It's a strange feeling for someone who spent the first 24 years of their life living in the same town.

 

Has anyone else ever felt this way about a place?

 

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8 reasons why you should produce less rubbish and how you and the planet can benefit

Since the start of 2017, I’ve been on a mission to reduce the amount of waste we send to the tip/landfill. It’s not quite zero waste (which is about producing no waste whatsoever, including recycling), but it’s an important step in the right direction.

One of the things I really want to do with Girl In Awe is help you figure out how to live a more conscious, eco-friendly, and ethical lifestyle, if that’s your jam. Starting with the basics.

When I write a blog post, I sometimes forget that not everyone has read exactly what I’ve read, or even knows what the hell I’m on about. When I began working with Jasmin as my blog coach, she suggested I take some things back to absolute basics in case you lovely folk were completely beginners to some of my wafflings. I’m sorry if I bamboozled you; I kinda turn into an over-excitable puppy sometimes. I’m gonna make it up to you though. We’re gonna smash sustainable and eco-living together. Are you ready for it...? (Yeahhhh, you got the T-Swift reference.)

Today’s topic, is waste reduction and how you can benefit from it/why you should do it. Together, we’re gonna reduce the amount of crap in our general waste bins that gets send to landfill, and here’s why.

 

1. No one likes pollution

How much do you love the delicious smell coming from a landfill site when it’s mildly warm? It’s delicious, isn’t it? I used to live in a town that had a tip and my dog, you could smell it all over town on a mildly warm day. And on one of those hot, humid British summer days, you could taste it.

That smell is the stink of things breaking down (note that not everything sent to landfill will rot away). During this process, methane is created. Methane is a greenhouse gas which is even better at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, which means it’s not really something we want to be creating more of than necessary. Though, some tips harness this methane for energy purposes, which is better than letting it escape into the atmosphere.

There are additional risks of soil and water pollution due to the gross, toxic soup of liquid that forms when things break down. I don’t think any one wants that to end up in local streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, and killing anything that lives in it.

While landfill sites now are fairly well regulated, old landfill sites are polluting waterways and could impact local wildlife. Experts have also warned that coastal erosion at old landfill sites could expose us and wildlife to toxic chemicals. Not cool. I did not sign up for historic rubbish coming back to fudge stuff up for us like the plot of the fourth sequel in a horror movie franchise.

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2. ‘Things’ take a lot of time, energy, and resources to make

Whatever it is you’re throwing away - that thing had to be created and packaged. We are now so far removed from manufacturing processes that 1) don’t even think about it, and 2) when we do, we probably wouldn’t have a clue how it was actually made.

Just some of the steps that might go into making a ‘thing’ might include:

  • Mining something from the Earth (which can be rife with slavery, human rights, and environmental issues)
  • A lot of water being used in the manufacturing process; clean water is a precious resource
  • Time and energy from every person involved in the entire process (again, this could be linked to slavery, human rights, and environmental issues, such as the Rana Plaza collapse)
  • Forests or grassland being cleared to grow or extract a material used in that thing
  • The use of fossil fuels; for example, plastics can be made from fossil fuels, which are a nonrenewable source

3. It’s not just about throwing less away

For me, this is an offshoot of the last post. I used to think waste reduction was about putting less things in the bin, and it is in one way. It’s also about being more conscious of what you’re buying. You learn to really research things to find out what they’re made from, how long they will last, if they can be repaired, what you need from something, or if you even really need it in the first place.  

Reducing your rubbish definitely leads to a more conscious lifestyle, and, if you want it, it can lead to a minimalist lifestyle.

 

4. Less clutter is always good

For me, living more consciously has meant having less clutter in the house. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying our house is a clutter free zone. It’s a work in progress but I’m happy knowing that anything I bring into the house is something I’m happy with, confident will last, and fulfil its purpose.

5. We all have to do our part

We all share this planet and are equally responsible for looking after it. It isn’t just about us as individuals though. It’s about us holding companies and governments accountable.

Don’t like that your favourite biscuits come in non-recyclable packaging? Tell the company how much you love to dunk those biscuits, but are so disappointed in their packaging choices. Change might be slow, but if everyone does their part it will happen.

  • Tell your local MP that you want something to be done about all the litter thrown out of car windows and into hedges.
  • Complain to your local supermarket if you can’t buy the produce you want plastic-free.

 

6. Does anyone actually enjoy going to the tip?

I can’t imagine anyone enjoying having to load a car up, fight for a parking space, not find a parking space near the bin you want, and have to haul a load of stuff down the other end of the car park to put it in the right bin.

How about we just bring less crap and things that will break easily into our homes, so the only time we do have to go to the tip is when something is legit old and past it. And even then, you might be able to rescue it; I turned some wood from an old wardrobe into two stunning hairpin leg bedside tables.

A company, and the government, is responsible for their actions the same way you or I am (whether or not they try and shirk that responsibility). By telling them that their efforts aren’t good enough and that it’s not what their customers/the public want, we encourage the kind of change we want to see. Maybe that sounds a bit ‘away with the faeries’ to you, but let’s all try it and see how it works out.

DIY Hairpin leg mid century nightstand

7. You learn new skills

Instead of throwing that broken thing away, figure out if you can fix it first. In Edinburgh, we have the Shrub Coop and Edinburgh Remakery, both of which offer ways people can learn new skills, repair, and purpose items. Maybe there's something similar near you? If not, does one of your friends or family know how to fix something?

If something can no longer be used for its original purpose, can you repurpose it? Maybe you can...

8. You can save money

Hands up who loves saving pennies? I thought so. 

There are plenty of ways to save a penny or two by reducing your waste. For example:

  • Keeping tabs on your food waste by making sure you don’t buy food that will spoil before you use it
  • Trading single-use items in for forever-use items
  • Buying something higher quality that will last, instead of you replacing it in a few months
  • Fixing something instead of replacing it

And then, you can spend those well-saved pennies for adventures, seeing your favourite band, buying The Sims 4 and proceeding to spend your spare time cleaning up after pixel people instead of cleaning your own house, or treating you and your Mum to a long day exploring record stores. 

 

I need your help!

I’m toying around with running a waste reduction challenge next year and I want to know if that’s something you’re interested in? If it is, please tell me what kind of things you’d want it to include or what kind of questions you want answering. 

As ever though, if you have any questions or suggestions, fire away and lets produce less waste! 

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