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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

Scotland travel roundup

July 28, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my final blog post about my trip to Scotland in April. As I posted a few posts, I thought I'd stick them all in one post as a roundup in case you've missed any. 

Oban from Strone Hill

Oban & Strone Hill

On day one of our Scottish adventure, we battled through a snowstorm to reach Oban, where we were treated to stunning views. 

Rainwbows at Lochawe

Rainbows at Kilchurn Castle, Lochawe

At Christmas, I went to Kilchurn Castle on Lochawe and were stunned by it's beauty. I went back with my Mum in tow this time, and managed to actually find the way into the castle this time. This time, the weather stole the show from the castle and we saw the most beautiful, and the brightest rainbows I've ever seen in my entire life. 

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Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness

Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle

No trip to Scotland is complete without a trip to Loch Ness. To my surprise, it wasn't as tacky or touristy as I was expecting it to be. 

We took a boat up the loch to Urquhart Castle, which is perched on the edge of Loch Ness. It must have been a beautiful place to live back when the castle was in it's heyday. 

 

The Glenfiddich Distillery Tour

The Glenfiddich Distillery Tour

Just like a trip to Loch Ness, an adventure to Scotland isn't complete without a tour around a distillery. I'm not a whiskey fan, but even I can't deny that the place smelled absolutely wonderful. 

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Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

A day in Edinburgh saw us wander around the city, visit the Hard Rock Cafe (of course), and conquer Arthur's Seat. It was more than worth the trek, and our reward was views across Edinburgh. 

Falls of Dochart, Killin

Killin & the Falls of Dochart

On the final day, we explored the area we'd been staying in and had a walk around Killin and spend some time at the waterfalls which run through the town. 

Glen Coe, Scotland

Glen Coe - the most beautiful place in the world? 

We passed through Glen Coe a few times, which is perhaps the most stunning stretch of road in the world. It's unlike any other place I've driven through. It's so untouched, for the most part, and you can imagine it being pretty much exactly the same thousands of years ago. 

Loch Tay, at Kenmore

Kenmore & castle ruins

On our final adventure in Scotland, we explored the other end of Loch Tay, tried to find a castle, saw a baby red squirrel, and wandered through some spooky castle ruins. 

I'm pretty sure I've used the word 'beautiful' far too many times in this post, but as you can see for yourself, it's such a stunning place. I can't believe that it took me 22 years to visit. There's no way that I'll leave it that long before I go back again. 

Where are you off adventuring next? 

Scotland, Travel, UK

Kenmore & castle ruins – my Scotland trip comes to an end

July 7, 2015

Loch Tay

Loch Tay

Here we are, at the end of my Scotland trip. On the final afternoon, we explored Kenmore on Loch Tay and the ruins of Finlarig Castle in Killin.

After exploring Killin and Loch Tay in the morning, we decided to go to the other end of Loch Tay in the afternoon to see the replica crannog. 

Crannog, Loch Tay

It looks beautiful, and it must have been stunning to live in a house over the loch. 

The Kenmore Hotel

Taymouth Castle

After having a nose around it, we didn’t go in it or on the tour around it, we decided to head into the town of Kenmore. We stumbled across a huge, slightly eerie looking, gate and decided we had to see if there was a castle beyond the gate. (The gate reminds me of something off Oblivious, or Skyrim.) 

We were expecting to find ruins of a castle, but what we found was a school, some houses, a park, and a golf course. We followed the road for what felt like a ridiculously long time (it wasn’t really a super long time, but I was eager for a castle and was getting impatient) before being brought to a halt by the sound of rummaging in the trees. 

We looked up, and there amongst all of the greenery, we spotted a flash of orange; a red squirrel. Having never seen a red squirrel before, let alone in the wild, we quietly switched to our longer lenses and waited. 

Baby red squirrel, Scotland

A baby squirrel peeped out from behind a tree for just long enough for us to get a couple of photos. We stood around for about half an hour trying to get another good glimpse of him (or her!) but we were no match for a speedy squirrel. 

Grey squirrels are really common in the UK, so it amuses me that I was so excited to see a red one; it’s just a change of colour, right? I think they’re both beautiful creatures, but it was special to see a red squirrel in it’s natural habitat. 

Tom got bored watching us wait for the squirrel and went for a wonder and came across a deserted old house. It was quite eerie, and felt like the start of a horror film. It looked so beautiful from the outside, and I couldn’t help but wonder how nice it must have been to live in a house in such a wonderful setting. 

Getting eager for pizza, we gave up on finding Taymouth Castle, and head back to the car. When I got home I googled it, and I wish we’d pressed on a little further. Look at how amazing it looks

We headed back into Killin to collect our pizza, and spotted signs for Finlarig Castle and decided to have a look. There was a pretty eerie sign up saying enter at your own risk, which made me even more excited to discover the castle. 

Finlarig Castle, Killin

Gravestones at Finlarig Castle, Killin

Finlarig Castle, Killin

Finlarig Castle, Killin

Finlarig Castle

There wasn’t a whole lot left of the castle at all. We were a bit naughty and climbed up some walls and onto the second floor where we found one room that was fairly intact, apart from lacking a roof entirely. 

I’ve visited so many castles, some of them ruins, but this one really had an eerie feel to it. Maybe it was the gravestones. Maybe it it was the trees around it. I don’t know, there’s just something dark feeling about it. It was definitely a different castle experience for me though. 

That’s it! That’s the end of my Scotland posts (though I think I will do a roundup in the next couple of weeks) and I miss it so much after writing this final post. It’s such a beautiful part of the world, and I highly recommend you visit if you ever have a chance. You won’t regret it. 

Have you ever been to Scotland? 

 

Photography, Scotland, Travel, UK

Killin & the Falls of Dochart

June 16, 2015

Falls of Dochart, Killin

We’re almost at the end of my posts about my trip to Scotland; I think this is going to be the penultimate post! 

On the last day of our holiday, we explored the town we were staying in, Killin.

Killin, near Loch Tay

Tree roots

In the morning, we took a walk around the shores of Loch Tay, in search of a crannog. It was marked on the map, so we thought there must be something there. 

Loch Tay, Killin

Unfortunately, all that’s there now is a piece of land jutting out into the loch (where the clump of light green trees are sticking out into the loch) that you can’t possibly walk on and get to the end where the crannog should have been. While I was a little disappointed, I wasn’t too disappointed because we knew there was a replica one built at the other end of Loch Tay. 

Grass and trees

St Fillan's Episcopal Church, Killin

We walked back through town and pre-ordered our pizza for the evening. (We’d spotted a sign saying ‘pizza Friday’ on the first day, and decided it would be a good meal to end our holiday.) 

We then made our way towards the Falls of Dochart. On the first trip into town, I spotted these and I’d been excited about visiting all week. 

Falls of Dochart, Killin

Falls of Dochart

The Falls of Dochart, are a collection of waterfalls which run through the middle of Killin, and my are they stunning. 

There are plenty of huge rocks around, so you can explore the falls quite easily. It was a nice, sunny day, so I decided to eat an ice cream sat on a huge rock at the edge of the water. 

Falls of Dochart, Killin

Falls of Dochart, Killin

Despite the noise from the water, it was surprisingly peaceful. I found myself wishing I’d have put a book in my bag, because I’m quite sure it would have been lovely to read a book while surrounded by waterfalls. 

I had to practically be dragged away from the falls, because they were so beautiful. I could happily have stayed there all day. 

Killin

We walked back across the bridge to head to the car, because we were planning to visit the other end of Loch Tay, when Tom spotted a stye over the other side of the bridge. He decided this obviously meant that we could climb over it and view the falls from the other side. 

So, over we climbed and we explored the other side, where we found a few more falls. 

Falls of Dochart

Killin and the Falls of Dochart were so beautiful, and are well worth a visit if you’re up in that part of the world. 

The next two travel posts will be about my trip to Cambridge, so the final post about my Scottish adventure will be up in three weeks. 

Have you ever visited waterfalls before? 

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? 

Photography, Scotland, Travel

Glen Coe – Scotland – The most beautiful place in the world?

June 3, 2015

Glen Coe

Glen Coe

One of the most stunning places I went to in Scotland, was somewhere we just stumbled upon; a beautiful, long stretch of road through Glen Coe.

It is a Top Gear driving road if I ever saw one. 

We came across it while driving to the safari park, and despite the miserable weather it still looked beautiful. A couple of days later, we drove through it again on the way back from Loch Ness. That time, the weather was much kinder to us, and we were treated to beautiful scenery. It’s easily the nicest place I’ve ever driven through. 

The thing that struck me most was how vast and timeless it is. Apart from the road, and the odd hotel, there are very few signs of civilisation. It could be any period in time, and it’s not hard to imagine dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts roaming the glen. 

And that makes it so beautiful, and a little haunting, because you can easily imagine dinosaurs and prehistoric beasts roaming the glen. In that way, it reminded me of parts of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. 

Glen Coe

Near one of the pull-ins, my Mum spotted some deer so we parked up, and hopped out with our cameras and quietly headed down towards them. 

Deer in Glen Coe

I almost tripped over something, and looked down to find a deer antler at my feet. It’s now resting on the top shelf of the bookshelf in the living room. 

Deer antler

Strangely, the thing that drew my attention more than the deer was the white house. I don’t know if it was lived in, but wouldn’t it be a stunning place to live? If it is lived in, I might feel a little weird about taking photos of someone else’s house…

White house in Glen Coe

Deer in front of a house in Glen Coe

Sure, it would be bleak in the winter but I’m sure the views would be more than worth it. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of person might live there, why they would live there? And would they let me move in? 

There were a few places I visited in Scotland that were just so peaceful, and this was one of them. It’s a feeling that words can’t do justice. It was nice to feel like modern civilisation might not exist, and just appreciate the stunning beauty of the place. 

I couldn’t help but recall my favourite line from Desiderata

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world

Its easy to get so caught up with the terrible things that happen in the world, and amongst all of that we can forget the good. 

What’s the most remote-feeling place you’ve ever been? 

Photography, Scotland, Travel

Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle

May 25, 2015

Urquhart Castle

I’ve wanted to go to Loch Ness since I was a little kid. The whole idea of ‘Nessy’ is something that captivated me since I was a kid. 

The loch was a good three hours away from where we were staying, a journey that was made even longer by a car we followed for about 40 minutes who insisted upon driving at 30mph in a 60 zone, for no reason.

Loch Ness Forecasting StoneJacobite Loch Ness cruise boat

To my surprise, there aren’t many places that you can get down to the shores of Loch Ness. We decided to do a boat trip around the loch, and to Urquhart Castle to see more of the loch, and because we’re all big castle fans. 

There are a few points you can get cruises around Loch Ness from. Out of interest, we went on the Jacobite Freedom, The Clansmen and the Castle from Clansman Harbour. 

As we set off towards the castle, we could see big grey clouds ahead. Thankfully, the changeable Scottish weather was kind to us, and it cleared up.

Rain clouds over Loch NessLoch Ness from a Jacobite boatNo puffin

We stepped off the boat to glorious sunshine and blue skies. Oh, and a trebuchet, which instantly caught Tom’s attention. He loves trebuchets and wants to build one of his own. Urquhart Castle from Loch NessUrquhart CastleUrquhart CastleTrebuchet Urquhart Castle

The ruins of the castle were beautiful, and I can only imagine how stunning it must have been when it was in it’s full glory, perched at the edge of Loch Ness. It must have been quite a sight. 

The main tower had been renovated a little so that you could climb it and take in the views. 

Urquhart CastleUrquhart Castle arrow slit

Something that always amazes me about castles is how ridiculously tiny, tight and uneven the staircases are. It must have been awful to try and climb up and down those stairs all the time, especially in the dark when you might have been carrying a candle or a light to see by. Or perhaps, we’re just used to nice, wide, even staircases? Maybe it was a piece of cake.

As we headed back on the boat, I had a good look for Nessie but I couldn’t see her. However, I did begin to understand why people might have thought they saw things. The loch is so deep, and the water is dark, so I can imagine how the waves might play tricks on the eyes. 

Visiting Loch Ness was a childhood dream come true, and I’d love to go back again. I’m sure I’ll watch Nessie documentaries with even more excitement knowing I’ve been there now. 

Have you ever been to Loch Ness? 

Photography, Scotland, Travel

The Glenfiddich Distillery Tour

May 19, 2015

Glenfiddich Whiskey Distillery

Glenfiddich Distillery

I must confess, I’m not a whiskey fan. I adore the smell of whiskey, but the taste? Nope. If it tasted the same as it smells, I would love it, but I’m not a fan of the burny taste. 

My Mum and Tom are big whiskey fans though, so when we decided to go to Scotland the Glenfiddich Distillery tour was at the top of the list. 

Glenfiddich Washback

Glenfiddich Underback

The tour was really interesting, but the best bit for me was the smell. As we walked through the first building, the delicious smell of whiskey got stronger and stronger. I was practically salivating. 

Whiskey always reminds me of cosy nights by a log fire. Which is interesting because I’ve never drunk whiskey by a log fire, but that’s just the image it conjures up in my mind. 

We were taken into a couple of the storage rooms, where we heard about the barrelling process, and how they experiment with new flavours. I felt pretty old when I saw barrels of whiskey that were barrelled the same year I was born.

Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos in there, which is a shame because they would have made fantastic photos. But I guess you have to go for yourself to see what they look like! 

Glenfiddich tasting

Glenfiddich whiskey tasting

The best part for my Mum and Tom was the tasting session. I was driving so I couldn’t take part in the tasting, but I was only really interested in the sniffing. 

We were given four different whiskeys, a 12 year old, 14 year old, 15 year old, and 18 year old. They all sniffed amazing to me. Apparently they all tasted incredibly nice also. 

The Glenfiddich Whiskey Distillery

The Glenfiddich Distillery

I’ve been on a couple of brewery tours before (including the Guinness one I posted about here), but neither of them had grounds as pretty as the Glenfiddich Distillery. We didn’t go to any other distilleries, but we saw a few on our rounds and they all appear to surrounded by beautiful scenery. 

While we’re talking about fancy and grand, the toilets. The toilets. The toilets, wow. I have never been in a bathroom so grand in my entire life. The bathroom had a waiting area with a logfire and ARMCHAIRS! WHAT EVEN?!

Glenfiddich Distillery fancy bathrooms

Have I been using bathrooms wrong my entire life? Because I have never needed to sit in front of a logfire before or after going to the toilet. 

Looking at these photos makes me want to go back to Scotland *sobs*. 

Have you ever been on a distillery or brewery tour? Have you ever needed to sit in front of a logfire in a bathroom?