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!

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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).

Surprise! Last Minute Trip Home and Train Food

Hey all! As you all know, I’ve spent the summer in Edinburgh and not back home in Staffordshire. My parents came up to Ed for a week, I’ve had lots of fun at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (which I’ll do a post on very soon) and I wasn’t planning on going back home. So how did I find myself alone on a platform, awaiting my second train you ask? Well, that’s a combination of running out of money (the rent is paid and my student loans don’t start until the end of September), missing my parents and Nanna (and my dogs) more than I thought I would, boredom, and the fact that my best friend Rach is home until the end of September and I didn’t get to see her before I left Staffs in July. We’re very excited to be seeing each other again. Very. She goes to university in Wales and I am obviously in Edinburgh, so I think the last time we saw each other was Christmas (potentially Easter, my memory is awfully bad at times). IT HAS BEEN FAR TOO LONG.

So here I am. I’ll be back in Staffs for a little over a week, and return to Ed next Friday. Then soon enough uni will be starting again. I’m ridiculously excited to be starting second year. I usually buy food on the train, but this time I ate before u left and just brought snacks for the train. I got 2 boxes of watermelon slices, a bag of rocket (one of only leaves I eat in salads – the other being lambs lettuce) and a bag of apples. Fun, huh? I also got a massive bottle of sparkling water and a bottle of pomelo honey iced tea from my local Chinese supermarket in Ed. it’s lovely!!! I highly recommend you pick up a bottle if you ever see it – there’s lots of different ones to try. I tend to favour the ones with honey, as I find it makes the drink a touch sweeter. Of course you could add any kind of syrup or sweetener if you wanted to.

   
I also bought a hot chocolate at the station just now, while waiting for the second train. I usually have hot chocolate with caramel syrup, but as luck would have it my train was late in and the caramel had sold out. The guy recommended hazelnut instead and, although I don’t particularly like nuts, it did make a very nice hot chocolate. Basically melted Nutella which is ALWAYS good. 

I don’t have much planned for this week, apart from seeing family and Rach, but I’m sure something fun will come up. Until then!

Happy Easter Everyone!!!

So, I finally got home today after a LONG train ride (and a pretty long wait at the station to catch my second train). It’s been a taxing and very tiring day, but I got home at around 6pm. Although I do love it in Edinburgh (and I already kinda miss it) I’m glad I’m back – and very happy to seen my family. My dogs were waiting by the gate when I got home. This post is very short (I’ll do a longer one tomorrow when I can think straight) but I just wanted to wish you all a (belated) happy Easter! Did you spend your Easter with your family or your friends? Are you visiting anyone, or are you going on holiday for a week or two? Are you guys happy to have a break from studying, or do you work and so don’t really have a holiday? Let me know in the comments.

See you soon guys!

Chuffing Back to Edinburgh!

Well, the time has come. I’m on my way back to Edinburgh and my second semester of university! I had a lovely time at home, catching up with family and friends and relaxing with my dogs, but I must say I’m glad to be on my way back. In just the few months I’ve lived in Edinburgh, it’s already come to feel like home for me. I miss my little flat! I miss my flat mate, Irene! I miss the brilliant friends I’ve made! I miss my skylight and my new Harry Potter books! Yes, it’s good to be going back.

I’m on the train from Crewe to Edinburgh now and I was VERY surprised to see that it’s mostly empty. I guess it’s because it’s midday on a Thursday? But hey, I’m not complaining – I get plenty of room to stretch out and I was able to squish my (very full and VERY heavy) case into the luggage rack next to my seat so I didn’t have to try and push it into the overhead thing.

Hopefully, there’ll be no delays or anything and I’ll make it into Edinburgh at about 2:30. I’m so glad I live so close to the station – it means I don’t have to drag my case far. Woo! I hope you all had a brilliant Christmas break (if you had one) and, if you’re a student, have a safe journey back to university or college!

Packing up and Shipping Home…

Well, it’s finally here. I’ve packed, unpacked, repacked, despaired, watched Keeping Up Appearances, REpacked the repack and now I’m at Edinburgh Waverly train station ready to go home for Christmas. I’m missing my little flat already.

And of course, I’d be on the train that’s delayed wouldn’t I… But hey ho, at least I’m on the platform ready and waiting. And hot. And slightly sweaty. And very hungry.

I have so many bags to drag around today, I’m just glad there’s a massive space between the departure times of the two trains I have to catch. There’s no way I’m bringing all this back after Christmas!

To anyone making their way home, or to the home of a loved one, this Christmas, I wish you all a safe and happy journey!