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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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Life, Photography, UK

Going up the Wrekin / aka how unfit I am

April 11, 2017

View from the top of the Wrekin

In the Midlands, we have this saying "going around the Wrekin" which we use when someone is doing something a really long way, or if someone is rambling and taking forever to get to the point. It's based on a hill in Shropshire, called the wrekin, which provides amazing 360 views across the area.

Last Wednesday, the weather was looking pretty good and we decided it seemed almost criminal to stay indoors, especially now that my dissertation is done and I don't need to spend all day staring at a screen. We've recently been joking that we need to practice climbing hills and mountains because of all the hikes we want to do in Canada, so the Wrekin seemed like a good place to start.

This way or that way sign post
The summit of The Wrekin
View from the top of the wrekin
Don't get me wrong, at 407 metres high it is hardly Snowdon but I felt so incredibly unfit. My state of fitness (or rather absolute unfitness) is not a joke now; if I want to tackle some Canadian mountains I need to do some exercise because Daz says he won't be giving me a piggyback.

The climb up is fairly steep and took my breath away pretty quickly indeed. In about five minutes I was wishing I could transport into the bodies of all the happy excited looking dogs that were running up the hill.

The view from the top was well worth it though. I have always felt there is something really calming about being up a hill, a mountain, or even a building, and enjoying the view around you. Everything seems literally and figuratively small. Interestingly, there are also a lot of Pokemon up the wrekin so, y'know...Pokenerds, go! (Yes I am still playing it.)

The view over Shropshire from the top of the Wrekin

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The view from the Wrekin

The top of the Wrekin

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I'm trying out a different style for the format of blog posts, doing away with the sidebar and trying out different styles with the images. I've seen it on a couple of blogs recently and it's a style I really like in posts which have a lot of photos; what do you think though? You're my readers, do you like it? Is it a pain to find the copy amongst all the images?

Mwnt, Wales, Photography, Travel, UK

Why Llangrannog should be on your list of Welsh beaches to visit

March 7, 2017

Beach house overlooking Llangrannog beach

When you think about Welsh beaches, you probably think of Aberystwyth or Barmouth, but let me stop you there; because you want to be pointing yourself towards Llangrannog.

I love Llangrannog; it’s fun to try and say (go on, I promise it’s fun), the beach is stunning, the town is charming, the views are amazing, and there are delicious treats to be had.

Prepare yourself for a lot of fangirling about a beach, because you’re gonna be packing your bucket and spade by the time I’m done with you.

 

The beach is beautiful & has caves

Nestled in a little cove, with hills either side of it, Llangrannog beach is my idea of the perfect beach. It’s fairly small, there’s a decent amount of sand for making sandcastles in (very important), and it has a little cave you can go and explore.

It’s not a huge cave but how often do you get the chance to wander into a cave?

Also, at low tide you can walk around the rocks on the right hand side of the beach to get to another little cove. At high tide, you can follow the coastal path over and down to it, but do be careful because the handrails are pretty dodgy – as Daz discovered when he put his hand on one and it just kinda flopped about and wasn’t attached to anything on the other end.

Llangrannog beach

 

The town is adorable

If you’re looking for an “Instagram worthy” seaside town, Llangrannog has got you covered with is multi-coloured buildings.

It’s a fairly small town and has everything you’d need for a day at the seaside, though I do recommend getting there early or avoiding busy periods if you want to park right by the beach because the car park is quite small, and the narrow roads are easier to navigate when there’s less traffic.

Llangrannog beach

 

Perfect for swimming, surfing, or body boarding

I can’t tell you how many days and hours I must have spent here body boarding when I was a kid. The waves are perfect for it, the sea is nice and clear, there’s no rubbish floating about it in (always nice), and it’s not as cold as it looks if you’ve got a wetsuit on.

Llangrannog beach

 

The views

Since it’s nestled between two hills, there are amazing views to be seen either side of the beach. The Cardigan Coastal Path runs right through Llagrannog, so if you fancy a spot of walking while taking in breathtaking views, you just can’t go wrong here.

View over Llangrannog beach

 

ICE CREAM

No trip to the seaside is complete without an unhealthy amount of ice cream. Caffi Patio is right on the edge of the beach and has a delicious selection of ice cream.

 

It’s beautiful

Did I already mention Llangrannog beach is beautiful? Oh, I did? Well it deserves another mention, because look:

Stormy skies over Llangrannog beach

Where’s your favourite beach?

 

Why you need to visit Llangrannog

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Mwnt, Wales, Photography, UK

8 photos that will make you want to visit Mwnt, Wales

November 1, 2016

Mwnt beach

For me, Mwnt is the very definition of a ‘hidden gem’. Just a few miles up the coast from Cardigan, this secluded lil’ beach is the perfect place to relax and try to spot bottlenose dolphins and seals.

Mwnt will always hold a special place in my heart because my Nan used to take me, my sister, and cousin every summer when we were younger. The three of us would spend the whole week in the sea and loved it. On reflection, I’m not sure how my Nan kept herself occupied all day, because all we wanted to do was play in the sea.

In the summer, Daz and I spent a couple of days in Mwnt, St. Dogmael’s and Cardigan, and I was reminded all over again why this is one of my favourite parts of the world, and it was so much fun to show it to Daz.

The beach can be fairly busy in the height of summer, but in the week during the rest of the year it’s peaceful and you feel like you’ve got the whole coast to yourself.

I’ma let the photos do the rest of the talking and convince you that you need to visit Mwnt – because you really do.

Mwnt beach

Waves on Mwnt beach

Mwnt beach

Mwnt beach

View from the top of Foel y Mwnt

View over Mwnt beach

Mwnt beach

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Photography, UK

Boscobel House & a royally approved book nook

April 26, 2016

Boscobel House Boscobel House Boscobel House lodge

If you live in the Midlands, it is pretty much mandatory that you will go on a school trip to Boscobel House.

The hiding place of King Charles II after the Battle of Worcester in 1651, Boscobel House was a safe place for Catholics during a time of religious persecution. I remember learning about that at school and being horrified that people were killed because of their beliefs – and what’s even worse is that hundreds of years later, the world hasn’t learned a thing. 

Boscobel House loft Boscobel House, Royal Oak Tree

After spending a night in an oak tree (the tree above is not the actual oak tree, it’s a descendant), Charles II hid in a priest hole in the beautiful lodge, before making his escape to France.

Boscobel House stables

I remember visiting Boscobel House with school as a kid and imagining what it must have been like to live there; and that’s something that hasn’t changed now. I tend to fall into the trap of thinking it must have been really romantic, but the reality of a working farm in the 1600s was probably most things but romantic. That said, I can’t help but feel that the house must have looked just as beautiful back then.

Can you imagine wandering around the garden and getting to look back on this stunning house? It looks so idyllic – I can’t believe that it wouldn’t have seemed the same way 400 years ago.

Me wearing a silly at at Boscobel HouseBoscobel House dairy kitchenBoscobel House kitchenBoscobel House bookshelf

And the inside was just as perfect. Just look at that bookshelf – you know I’m a sucker for a good bookshelf. Remember how I felt about the library in Drottningholm Palace?

Boscobel House book nook

But perhaps best of all, Boscobel House is home to a dreamworthy book nook. And it’s that ideal a book nook, that even Charles II allegedly spent a few hours reading here. A ROYALLY APPROVED BOOK NOOK!

Can you imagine how nice it must have been on a warm summers day, to sit there and look back towards the house while turning the pages of your book. And in the winter, you’d drag a few blankets up there, a cup of cocoa and wait for snow to coat the garden. Ugh, isn’t that a bookworm’s idea of heaven on earth?

British history is so cool. I’m so lucky to live in a part of the country that has a wealth of buildings and places with interesting stories and roles played in the history of this country. That said, you don’t have to look too far in the UK to find interesting historical things.

Boscobel House, Cockerel Boscobel House lambs

If you’re near the Midlands, I definitely recommend a trip to Boscobel House; rock up, go on a tour and explore the house, have a picnic, wander down to White Ladies Priory, see some sheep (and run away from a cocky looking cockerel…), and explore the lush, green countryside.

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Photography, Travel, UK

Off the beaten path in Ironbridge

April 12, 2016

Waterfall Ironbridge

It’s amazing what you can find just a few metres off the trail.

A couple of weeks ago, on one of my rare days off and while my Mum was off for the Easter holidays, we grabbed our cameras and headed out with the intention of photographing a waterfall. We did a spot of research and found one, only to get there and discover there was no where nearby to park and we’d have to park miles away. (Clearly didn’t do enough research.)

Stumped, we spent a few minutes searching the Sat Nav for something else when we saw Ironbridge. My only memories of Ironbridge are my sister and I being forced to dress up in Victorian clothes and have our photo taken together. I think that was the first time I realised I had resting bitch face. I distinctly remember the photographer asking me to look happier, “I am!” was my response.

We headed off in the direction of Ironbridge and I was delighted at what we discovered; a beautiful little British town, nestled in a valley.

Ironbridge townIronbridge town

Iron Bridge

We had a wander through the town (they have an intriguing bookshop that reminds me of the kind I explored in Paris), walked across the famous Iron Bridge, and slipped onto a trail on the other side of the gorge. Quick history lesson: Built in 1781, Iron Bridge was the first arch bridge to be made from cast iron. (Don’t say I don’t teach you anything.)

I’m a little bit of an engineering nerd. I’m fascinated by how people built things like that without modern machinery. We’ve got life so easy with all the machinery we could possibly need that it seems almost incomprehensible that our ancestors could build such grand things without it. Don’t even get me started on Machu Picchu.

Iron bridge trail Waterfall Iron Bridge

We managed to get a little bit lost; the trail just seemed to disappear and we couldn’t figure out where we should have gone. We ended up in a part of the forest that seemed quite jurassic, and ended up doing a bit of poking about, when we spotted a waterfall between the trees.

As we’d left the house with the intention of photographing a waterfall, it seemed like fate. We scrambled over trees, hopped over a stream, and tried not to lose our footing in mud and found our way to the bottom of the waterfall. And it was worth it.

Waterfall Ironbridge Benthall Edge

Waterfall iron bridge benthall edge

For me, there’s something so relaxing and humbling about the power of water. (Do you guys remember how I felt about Dochart Falls?)

It was just the two of us, stood in this little valley, taking in the waterfall with nothing but the sound of water and birds. Moments like that are the moments I live for.

Those moments where nothing else exists. Modern day isn’t a thing, and your eyes are the first eyes to see what’s in front of you.

I need to explore some more falls, so throw any suggestions my way.

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Peak District, Photography, UK

An afternoon at The Roaches

March 3, 2016

The Roaches

The Roaches

A couple of weeks ago, after my morning lecture finished, I realised that I had nothing planned and could do anything I wanted, and spent the afternoon at The Roaches.

Sometimes I get this need that just builds up and up and up, until it boils over, to spend some time on my own outside. If you’ve ever got the ‘urge’ to get a piercing or a tattoo – it’s that exact same feeling, but to be outside. I’m not the kind of person who likes to always been on their own, but I find being on my own outside really energising. It’s difficult to put into words, but I think Cat from Oddly Lovely did a great job of describing it in a recent post called “I Am a Loner”.

With the realisation that “anywhere” would have to be about an hour’s drive away, I quickly settled upon The Roaches on the edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands and the Peak District. I always forget how beautiful it is up there – the sun was shining and I wished I’d got a dash cam so I could have captured some footage of how breathtaking it was.

The RoachesThe Roaches

Since it was the middle of the day on a Thursday, it was silent up there. It was like I had the whole place to myself; I saw a couple of rock climbers and a small group of walkers, and that was it. It was me, my camera, and some music.

Abandoned house, The RoachesInside an abandoned house, The RoachesView from an abandoned house, The Roaches

Could you imagine what it must have been like to live in this house? How wonderful the view out the front door must have been every morning.

View over Tittesworth Reservoir from The RoachesView from The RoachesThe Roaches

I climbed up two parts of the Roaches, and enjoyed my lunch perched on the edge with my sandwiches, a flask, and a good book. The cold wind up there was certainly refreshing.

When it got back, I decided to do some research into The Roaches and discovered that they’re are a couple of strange stories about goings on up there.

The Roaches

The first is that their was (and may still be) a small colony of wallabies roaming around after they were released from a private collection in the 30s.

The second is that a mermaid allegedly lives in Doxey Pool (which I want to go and find because it looks beautiful). She supposedly fell in one day while out walking, and spends her afterlife trying to drag other people in to join her. I suspect she’s not trying to drag them in for a tea party either.

It was so nice to get away from everything and I returned home with my boots covered in mud and my mind clear and energised.

Do you like spending time on your own?

Photography, Travel, UK

Hampton Court & meeting The Lilac Linnet

September 8, 2015

Hampton Court

Image courtesy of Llinos at The Lilac Linnet.

The Lilac Linnet is one of my favourite blogs; I read all of Llinos’ posts, and we both have a mutual love for castles. When she suggested an outing to Hampton Court, I wasn’t going to say no.

My trip to Hampton Court was slightly stressful. A journey that should have taken an hour and a half took three hours due to it being a Bank Holiday Saturday. The traffic was chaos and my Sat Nav was a bit mean.

When I finally arrived, I found Llinos and we went for lunch. My lunch was pretty disastrous also; I throw coffee all over myself and my sandwich. I wasn’t too fussed at ruining my sandwich because my scones were safe, but I did have to walk around with a coffee-stained jumper for the rest of the day.

Hampton Court

Hampton Court

Hampton Court

Once we’d finished lunch, we went for a tour around the castle, which is full of medieval weaponry and taxidermy animals. An unnerving amount of taxidermy animals.

Taxidermy lion at Hampton Court

The weirdest of which was this full size, stuffed lion. The lion is thought to be a zoo animal that I guess was stuffed when it died naturally. Apparently, it was taken to Hampton Court in the 90s.

Hampton Court library

Can you spot the false door?

Hampton Court bedrooms

Hampton Court

Hampton Court bathrooms

The rooms in the house were stunning, and so huge. The bathrooms were about the same size as my bedroom, which seems grossly unfair. All of the rooms were so beautiful decorated. Major home goals.

Llinos picked an excellent date to go because they had a medieval fair on, with a bird display. I always love watching bird displays and getting to see magnificent beasts up close.

That was probably one of the best bird displays I’ve ever seen, just because of how huge some of the birds were.

There was also this little guy, who reminded us of a puppy. He kept doing tricks and then running back to his handler for a treat.

After the bird display, we went to explore the marvelous gardens. There was so much to see, and it was so peaceful.

The gardens at Hampton Court

The gardens at Hampton Court

The gardens at Hampton Court

Sheep knitting at Hampton Court

Hampton Court gardens

Fairy door tree Hampton Court

I liked that the gardens looked slightly overgrown. Most of the time when you go to places like this, the gardens are ridiculously manicured, but this was slightly overgrown with plants hanging over the paths. It looked like someone’s garden; a garden that’s lived in.

Llinos remembered seeing something about a maze and we went in search of it. Honestly, I expected it to be a simple maze for kids, but it was actually quite big and quite tricky.

Tower in the maze at Hampton Court

It had a tower in the middle, with four different doors. Only one of the doors opened, the last one of course, and it took us a while to find it.

When you finally get inside the tower, you have two options:

  • Up
  • Down

Down takes you to a tunnel, which is pitch black in places, which comes out in a sunken garden. It’s leafy and overgrown, and would be a perfect place to read a book. It has a small waterfall, which you can walk behind.

Sunken Garden at Hampton Court

Waterfall in the sunken gardens at Hampton Court

Beyond the water fall at Hampton Court

When you go upstairs in the tower, you are greeted to views over the maze, the gardens, and towards Hampton Court.

Hampton Court maze

I had a really fun day meeting Llinos and exploring Hampton Court with her. One of my favourite things about blogging is getting to meet people with similar interests, that there’s no way you’d meet in the real world. I look forward to our next castle exploration!

Have you ever been in a maze?