What Will I Be Reading While Travelling? Carnegie Prize 2016

I love reading and I love stories, and as most people say, nothing can ever quite match the feeling of holding a book in your hands, feeling its weight, hearing the crinkle of a turning page (bonus points if the book has beautiful pictures or something else that enhances the reading experience even more). However, they can be a bit…unwieldy, and never more so than when you’re going on holiday. I suppose they’re a bit hard to store if you have so many books and not enough spare shelves or corners. With this in mind, kindles (and other e-readers, although I’ve only ever owned and used a kindle) are also awesome. I’m taking a kindle with me to Paris this week, and in preparation I bought some new books (because I didn’t have enough or anything…) – sticking to a theme, I bought the Carnegie Prize 2016 shortlist. The entire shortlist. Let’s all say a quiet prayer for my poor bank account, eh?

There are 8 books on the shortlist, and they cover various different themes. I’m aiming to have read them all by the time the winner is announced on the 20th June. Here’s a brief description of all 8 titles – the link to the Carnegie Shortlist 2016 web page is here. Continue reading “What Will I Be Reading While Travelling? Carnegie Prize 2016”

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I’m Back!

Sooooo…it’s been a while, huh? Almost half a year if we want to be specific. I’ve been so busy and stressed the past few months, but now that everything has died down for a while, I realised just how much I miss blogging. It’s been so long but now I’m back and (hopefully) I’ll be around for a very long time yet.

So what’s happened since I last posted? I went to London for a few days (which was amazing), my birthday was in February (which was also amazing) and I had my end of year exams (which were…exams). I bought myself a new camera for my birthday – a Nikon D3300 – which I’ve been getting to grips with. It’s my baby and I love it so much. I think I’m getting rather good too!

This summer’s exam period was one of the worst, most stressful I’ve ever been through – makes sense seeing as the stakes are getting steadily higher. I really hope I’ve done well though – I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

And now for the most exciting news of my year – I’M GOING TO PARIS!!! On Friday, actually. I’ve never been to Paris before (in fact, I’ve never been to France unless you count docking at Calais on a school coach trip to Germany) and I could not be more excited. I’m going with one of my best friends, and we’re spending the weekend at the Bite Me I’m Famous convention in Paris, for the TV show The Vampire Diaries. Then we have until Wednesday to sightsee. We want to go to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, and the Notre Dame cathedral. I want to go to the Shakespeare and Co bookshop and the graveyard where Oscar Wilde is buried, and my friend wants to go to the huge department store. It’s going to be so exciting!!

I leave you now with promises that I will return shortly, and a plea for help. I’ve compiled a little list of cheap-to-cheapish cafes and restaurants that we can eat in when we’re in Paris, but if any of you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them!! Comment below with suggestions. Speak soon!

Happy New Year!! And I’m Going to London!

 Happy new year everyone!! This is my first post in 2016, and it’s kinda hard to believe that I’ve been doing this for a year. There’s a years worth of blog posts here…wow! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and new year. I spent 10 days at home this Christmas but came back to Edinburgh on New Year’s Eve (and dragged my best friend from back home with me) and both were incredible. 

And now there’s even more fun in store as I’m on my way to London! I’m typing this on the train to Kings Cross with a friend, and we’re very excited. We’ve already booked to go to the London Dungeons and we’re planning on going to the Tower of London, the Science and History museum and a West End show! We haven’t decided anything else yet but stay tuned for more posts about my trip.

I’ll leave you with a picture of my little table on the train. I have some light snacks, my tickets and a book I bought from the station. It’s a psychological thriller set in an English suburb and hopefully it’s going to be good.

P.S. That reminds me, when I get home on Thursday  I’ll do an update on my reading and writing goals of last year (hint: I failed quite spectacularly) and my plans for this year too!

 

I’m Free!!!

Well that’s it. Another term finished and another train to catch. I’m on my way home for Christmas and the train is pretty quiet, everyone wrapped up in their own lives. I’m carting a load of presents for my parents and dogs and I’m feeling pretty good. The train is warm, the weather is dreary and soon I’ll be seeing my family and friends once more. I’ve never been homesick, it’s only really when I’m on my way back that I remember that, actually, I do miss Staffordshire and the people I left behind.

 

My last exam was on Thursday so I’ve been celebrating this weekend. I think I’ve done pretty well in my Psych and Archaeology, and maybe not quite so well in the Linguistics but we shall see. There’s nothing I can do now, so why let it ruin my trip?

 

I’m very excited about my trip to London in January. My friends and I might be going to Harry Potter world, and we’re definitely going to see a West End show and visit the Globe Theatre. I want to see the Tower as well. It’ll be a brilliant trip, and we can’t wait.

 

I’m only spending 10 days at home this time, but I’ll get to see my family and friends, and my best friend is coming back to Edinburgh with me for New Years! Woo! I’ll be back in time for an escape themed party on New Year’s Eve, and it’ll be great fun. Hopefully the start of a great year.

 

What are your plans for Christmas? Are you visiting family, going home for the holidays, making your own Christmas? Whatever you do, I hope you have a lovely time!

A Weekend in Inverness in Pictures

This is an assortment of photos I took while in Inverness. They were all taken using my iPhone (so I apologise for any blurriness etc)

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The Victorian Market right opposite the train station
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While it’s now got mostly modern shops, the layout and building itself is still lovely
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And they had a Christmas tree!
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The castle stand on a bit of a hill
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It’s now the Sheriff’s Courts (I believe?)

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The statue in front of the castle/courts is for Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to France
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The kinetic theatre show in the museum was stunning!
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Entry to the museum is free so I highly recommend you go and see the show

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You can see how restless the river was!
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The wind and torrential rain raised the water level and made it very choppy

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A column outside the shopping centre
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The shopping centre had a sweet little nativity scene

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A couple of the lovely the buildings I happened to walk past when I was exploring

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A Weekend in Inverness – The Good and The Bad

Hey all!  I’m writing this the day after I came back from Inverness – and what a trip it was! I went with a friend and we took the bus all the way up (a pretty taxing journey but nice scenery). Firstly, Inverness is so pretty! Even when we got there in the dark and with heavy rain, it was so lovely (probably because of the pretty buildings and Christmas street lights). And the bridges were lit up!! I definitely wasn’t expecting that. I would’ve spent ages staring at them if I wasn’t drowning with every second we were outside. We got there in the evening on Friday, ate and went straight up to our room. We might’ve done some night time exploring if it weren’t for the rain but we were both pretty tired so we agreed to go up to our room and start the trip the following morning.

An aside here about the hotel we stayed in – it was called the Waverly Guest House and it’s on Union Street (which is about 5 minutes away from the bus station and literally across the street from the train station). We got a very good deal from Groupon (or Wowcher, or some other site like that but I’m pretty sure it’s Groupon) and paid £50 for 3 nights bed and breakfast. It was amazing value! The room was very nice (ours had 3 single beds, 2 chests of drawers, a table with a kettle and tea/coffee, and a TV). It wasn’t en suite but there were 2 bathrooms along our corridor (shared between 5 rooms I think?) and I never had to wait or anything. The rooms were clean and tidy. They weren’t cleaned during our stay (they probably would have been if we’d stayed longer I guess) but I’m not a messy person so it was fine. You got a hand towel and bath towel, and there’s also hand dryers in the bathrooms. Breakfast was a “continental” style – a selection of cereals, toast (white and brown, with individual butters and jams/marmalade), bananas and pain au chocolat. You could pay extra for a cooked breakfast,  but at £9 I thought that was pretty pricey (especially as I’m a pescetarian and my friend is a vegetarian). You could ask for eggs on toast or croissants and a few other things but again, they had an additional charge which I think was pretty steep (if you really wanted a croissant there’s a coop down the street where you could buy them for a lot cheaper). These additional items were the only thing I thought wasn’t value for money however – the rooms and the included breakfast were brilliant.

On Saturday we woke at 7 (breakfast was 7:30-9:30 Monday-Saturday and we wanted to get an early start). We had been planning on going to the Highland Park/zoo in Aviemore; however, due to some unfortunate circumstances my friend decided to leave that day after breakfast. This unexpectedly made my trip into a solo adventure (my first solo holiday, exciting!). On the Saturday it drizzled pretty continuously throughout the morning, although it did pick up in the afternoon (I’d advise you to take scarves, hats, gloves and waterproof jackets if you visit Inverness in the winter). Because of the weather and the scarce buses available (and the person who I have the zoo pass with no longer being here) I decided not to go Aviemore and instead explored Inverness itself. I went to the shopping centre (thrilling I know), walked up to the castle (now the Sheriff’s Courts) and wandered around the Museum. I’d highly recommend the kinetic theatre show in the museum (upstairs, in the art gallery bit). It was beautiful! I have some photos but in order to really understand how lovely it was you need to watch it complete with the music.

Once I’d spent a few happy hours in the museum (it’s quite small but there’s quite a lot crammed in), I wandered along the river and explored the Old Town a bit. The Victorian Market building (just opposite the train station) is very nice. I went out for dinner and then retreated to my room kinda early to plan where I was going to go the next day.

On Sunday, I originally wanted to go to the Ship Space – a museum with scale replicas of the Titanic, submarines, lifeboats etc. that you can actually go on! I had breakfast, snaffled some bananas and a pain au chocolat so I wouldn’t have to buy lunch (such a rebel, me) and set off. There were blue skies! The first of the trip! Woo! I had taken a photo of the map to the Ship Space on my phone and so set off, determined and enthusiastic. After wandering for half an hour and doubling back on myself several times (and stopping suddenly and squinting at my phone a LOT), my enthusiasm was waning. I asked three people where I could find “the Ship Space”, “the ship museum”, “the titanic museum”, and “the place with the titanic replica. There’s a bridge near it” all to no avail. So in the end, I packed away my directions, gave up on outside help, picked a direction and started walking. I found some lovely buildings! I never did get to the Ship Space though…maybe next time.

In the end, Sunday was spent wandering aimlessly, admiring the pretty houses and generally getting myself lost and found again. Apart from a heavy rainstorm in the middle of the day, it stayed pretty dry, albeit cold. The weekend overall was uneventful, a nice way to relax and unwind before exams start.

Relaxation ended on Monday, when I had to get home. Originally supposed to be getting the bus home with my friend, I had to get the train back instead. Bought my ticket on Saturday, fine. Picked it up on Sunday, all good. Went to station on Monday…cancelled. Bummer. After finally tracking down a member of staff and asking what I was supposed to do, I was directed onto a bus. I had to get the bus to Perth which was an ordeal in itself. The bus smelled strongly of mould, the woman sitting next to me fell asleep on my arm and it was looooooong. Again, lots of nice scenery though. And there was a cute dog in the aisle! Yay for the small things. At Perth train station we were put onto a train to Edinburgh and finally home was in sight. I have to say, the train journey was lovely – I spent most of it staring out of the window in glee. Stunning countryside.

And then I was finally home! Taking two and a half hours longer than it was supposed to and leaving me completely shattered, but I was home. All in all, I had an amazing time in Inverness (and I took lots of photos, which I will put into a separate post). Would I go there again in winter? Hell no. Would I go there again in summer? ABSOLUTELY YES!! In fact, I think I will go back in summer 2016 (just during the week and hopefully without all the dodgy weather). I love Inverness and would highly recommend it to anyone who fancies a short break in the Capital of the Highlands.

Goals for my next trip to Inverness: going to the Highlands Park (I think there’s more buses during the week so fingers crossed); finding the Ship Space (second time lucky!); going to the Culloden Battlefield and Clava Cairns (a battlefield and Bronze Age tomb that’s a little way out from Inverness – I’d take a bus out and spend the day there if I went to Inverness during the week next time); doing an open top bus tour of the city (they don’t run in the winter and it wasn’t ideal weather for open top this time anyway).

Illness, Deadlines and Inverness!

Hey everyone. It’s been a busy, stressful few weeks, which hasn’t been helped by me falling ill a couple of weeks ago and feeling terrible for ages. At first it was just a cold which wouldn’t have affected me too badly (I get a lot of colds, so I’m pretty used to them by now), but then I developed a bad cough and sore throat, and a recurrent ear infection made an unwelcome visit and everything just went south. I’m feeling on the up now though (at least my cold is gone and I can semi hear again, even if my cough is still here) so hopefully things will just get better from here. At the very least, I should be back on full form by Christmas. Also, it’s December so I can officially say YAY CHRISTMAS IS COMING and none of you can hate me for it!

I also had coursework to complete for every subject (an essay for linguistics, a lit review for psychology and an essay AND a report for human skeleton). They were all due within weeks of each other, and me feeling lousy definitely did not speed up the writing process. BUT they’re all done now (at last, finally, hoorah) so now I can have a small break before my exams start. I’ve decided to celebrate by going to…

INVERNESS!!!

Inverness is a Highland-y place in Scotland (quite a bit further north than Ed). I’ve never been and I’m REALLY excited. I’m going with a friend of mine, we’re staying in a local B&B, and we plan to visit the zoo/Highland Park  near there that’s connected to Edinburgh zoo. The rest of the weekend we haven’t quite decided yet. We’re leaving today (Friday) and returning on Monday. I don’t yet know whether there is wifi where we’re staying, but if so you will hopefully get an update of each day (complete with PICTURES). Fingers crossed, eh?

Well anyway, I hope you’ve all had a better start to the winter than I have, and I hope you have a great weekend! Let me know if you plan on going anywhere fun this December. See you soon!