Posted in Travel

End of an Era

So in the very week that I was gearing up to write about all my previous travels, the company I have travelled most through has gone into administration. Farewell my beloved Caledonian Travel.

Specialist Leisure Group LTD

Apparently this company owned Caledonian Travel and its sister company based in England, National Holidays. I was not aware of all the other companies and I’m very sad and sorry for all the shop workers, hotel staff, and behind-the-scenes staff who’ll now be out of work. The shop front for Caledonian Travel was a wee local post where you could go in and book your holiday in person. Bare in mind that I’ve travelled with them for so long that back in the day there wasn’t a facility to book online, in person was the only way to do it. To be fair, I always went in anyway. It was great to chat with the staff and just have that personal customer service experience to make the holiday process that bit more exciting. At one point I was booking and going on so many holidays that some of the staff remembered me!

The times they are a-changing

I promise I am going to cover all the holidays one at a time but to set the scene, the very first Caledonian Travel trip we took was in 2008 and it was a 14-day coach tour to Italy. Then I did it again in 2009 and 2010 alone. I also did a mini cruise to Bruges with them in 2009 prior to going to Italy, it was only 3 days but just to make sure I could travel myself at 20. There was a gap for a bit when I got a flat and was perpetually skint, but a quick cheap weekend in Liverpool in 2011 helped. Pater treated me to a mini cruise to Amsterdam in 2012 as a wee treat for getting into university. Then the unholy trinity (Mater, Pater and I) did the whole Italy trip in 2013 (first time for mama) which was insane and great. Since then I’ve not been back to Italy with them but I’ve done Belgium and the Netherlands, and a fairly disappointing trip to York (the hotel was hellish). And now I’m sad that I won’t get to do these trips anymore, I never got to Paris nor Ghent or Antwerp. I know flying is faster but I love the whole ritual to coach travel; stopping in Gretna for a pit stop, arriving in Hull and boarding the ferry, getting the meal deal and eating until I’m bursting at the buffet and hanging out in one of the three bars on the boat, or going to the cinema. Unless another bus company starts running these trips then no way is it cost effective for me to travel to Hull and do it as a foot passenger.

Like I’ve said, coach tours are pretty much the reason I saw so much so young and on a tight budget. I met so many wonderful, crazy, interesting people on the tours that I wouldn’t have if I’d flown. We all became a tight-knit group, especially on the 2009 trip but given that I was about 30 years younger than most of the others I didn’t really manage to keep in touch with them, but I’m sure they remember me as the baby. I do hope there is a way to continue the coach trip tradition… that can survive Corona and Brexit.

Anybody ever travelled with Caledonian Travel or another company? Who prefers coaches to planes? I didn’t fly until I was 24 and I’m still freaked out by it!

e x

Advertisements
Posted in Day Trip, Travel

Rosslyn Chapel

I’m sure everyone has at least heard of Rosslyn Chapel, mostly thanks to the spotlight given by Dan Brown in the Da Vinci code it helped bring even more tourists and conspiracy theorists to the church located on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Day-Trippin’

Back in March, I’d planned to visit Rosslyn Chapel with the family in April but obviously the tour company cancelled it when it was announced that churches across the country had to close for the foreseeable future. I was miffed to say the least, April is prime day-trip season in Scotland and I’d blew through most of my holiday allowance at work so doing something on my days off was a perfect idea. It started as a random conversation of somewhere different we could go to, love Arran so much but Scotland has a lot to offer and I still feel I’ve barely seen anything. Given that none of us have a car, it looked a bit awkward to travel from Glasgow to Rosslyn. The website does suggest trains and busses from Edinburgh… but then, a chance advert in a newspaper Pater found Strathmore Travel running day trips to Rosslyn chapel of all places! It included pick up from Glasgow, travel there and back and a wee lunch/tea in the cafeteria for £49 a head. Freaking bargain.

The New Normal: Virtual Tour

Alas, it’s as tragic as everything else we’re missing out on. Scotland has had some of its best ever weather in the couple of months since lockdown started and it’s grating on us all – especially considering how rotten the winter was and it lasted until the second week in March. But the kind folks who look after Rosslyn Chapel also know how to look after their fans and disheartened would-be visitors and have released an online virtual tour of the chapel. Please see here. (I would recommend viewing it on a laptop or computer, my Chromebook froze trying to view it!)

It’s lovely that we can view it while safe at home, and I think it really plays into how lucky most of us are to have access to technology and be online during this crisis. The fact that we can virtually visit the places we can’t physically go to right now is comforting. Remember google street view exists! You can walk down the main street of your favourite city and pretend you are there.

Not the review I wanted

I wanted to have a series of great pictures and to detail the whole day on here, which I can’t do. Obviously there’s a great deal that we can learn online about it, like now I know you’re not allowed to take pictures inside the church, so thankfully there is the virtual tour. It looks quite small, but given how old it is and the detail in the carvings it more than makes up for it. While researching this, I found a great post on the Rabbie’s website about Rosslyn Chapel. Rabbie’s are a travel company that do tours around Scotland including to the chapel. This post isn’t sponsored, I’m just trying to throw some good karma in the way of local companies that they’ll survive Corona.

Featured Image Credit: RCT/Vic Sharp Via Rabbie’s Website.

Let me know if anyone has already visited Rosslyn and what you thought of it? Anyone planning to go (want to road trip)? Do you do day trips in your home country?

e x

Advertisements
Posted in Day Trip, Education, History, life, Travel

Have you met Dippy?

Meet Dippy the Diplodocus. He’s on tour around the UK having left the Natural History Museum in London for the first time since 1905. His show is on the road until 2020 and is next heading to Newcastle on 18th May, having just wrapped up a several month stint in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Dippy is a beautiful big beastie who originally roamed the earth 150 million years ago, munching on leaves and hanging out with his dino friends. I can’t help but be reminded of The Land Before Time and Disney’s Dinosaur, so excuse me while I wipe away my tears.

If you are a paleo purist (ancient bones, not the diet) then maybe Dippy wasn’t your thing, he is a replica – plaster cast of the original Dippy in residence in Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History. However, I don’t care, because it’s thanks to Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist, that we over here have a Dippy to look at! Carnegie financed the excavation of Dippy in Wyoming in 1899 and they later discovered it was a new species, thus named the
Diplodocus carnegii. As a favour to King Edward VII, Carnegie faithfully reproduced the bones of the original at the cost of $2000 back in 1902 and gifted them to the Natural History museum in London.

Most people know how much Kelvingrove means to me, it’s my hang out place when I can get there; where my interests in art, history and old buildings converges so for that to be the temporary home of Dippy’s Scottish visit, I couldn’t have asked for more. Picture it, me in all my 30 years turning up with my pater and the two of us nerding out worse than the kids swarming around.

Dippy is 70ft long, no wonder it’s hard to get him in one shot!

Even though the photos show other people as scale, it still doesn’t do justice to how massive Dippy actually is. He towered over the adults, nevermind the kids and weighs in at a hefty 20,000kg (alive, I’m sure).

Smile for the camera

I had to zoom in to get his wee face, and felt so small and insignificant. Really makes me wonder about people who deny the existence of dinosaurs – we might mostly be top of the food chain these days, but we’re all fairly tiny and annoying.

Colossus at rest

It was a great day out to visit Dippy and I can only hope that there have been countless children inspired by seeing him. I may have ended up at the merch shop and may have acquired a Dippy soft toy for a small fortune…

Kelvingrove is a free-entry museum and is open nearly all year-round from 10/11-5pm everyday. There are accessible entry points from both the Argyle Street and car park entrance. There are two cafés serving hot and cold drinks and light foods, the basement café serving meals as well. The basement features different installations and the two gift shops sell the permanent and temporary merchandise. There is artwork from Dalí and the Dutch Masters to the exhibits of Ancient Egypt and Scottish Wildlife, so there is definitely something for all to see.

Posted in Travel, Year Abroad

Four years ago…

I meant to have this ready to publish for the 7th of September… Alas, four years ago on the 7th September I moved to Granada, Spain for a year.

I haven’t really written much about my time abroad, honestly it took me a long time to separate the good from the bad. Hindsight can help with that, but often times makes me wish I had a time machine.

I’m just putting this note out there and promise that soon I’ll start posting about all my experiences abroad with pictures, it’s time to own it!

Posted in Blogging Challenge, Musings, Travel

30 Day Blogging Challenge – Day #23

If You Won The Lottery…

It’s funny because this question always reminds me of language classes when trying to learn how to use the subjunctive/if-clauses/imperfect subjunctive. Usually the responses were fairly run-of-the-mill because everyone was too freaked out with trying to understand the subjunctive.

In reality, my response is boring… I’d buy a house, a detached house, and preferably it would be several hundred meters away from my neighbours. Beyond that, I’d use the rest for travelling comfortably and staying in holiday apartments or quirky hotels.

Posted in Blogging Challenge, Travel

30 Day Blogging Challenge – Day #10

Best Trip of Your Life

Obviously it has to be Italy.

The first time I went with my family in 2008 was great but I always feel you never get the same enjoyment the first time you go to a place as you do subsequent times when you know what you’re looking forward to.

So, in 2009 I went on the coach tour again but all by myself! And it was perfect. It was a tad lonely sometimes but for the most part the rest of the people on the bus were decent company and took to watching out for me since I was only 20.

Posted in Books, Education, Fitness, Health, Late Nights, life, Musings, Shonda Rhimes, Travel, University, work, Writing

Battling the sleepies

I’m drained. Zonked. Gone.

I’ve had a few days off work just with how the scheduling goes, and had all these wild plans for what I’d do with all that free time. And yet, it’s been cold, stormy, wet, and blah. They probably sound like excuses and maybe they are but I’m so tired. I’ve caught up with some work in short bursts of effort, usually around 1am when I should be succumbing to the tiredness, but when my creativity works best. The rest of the time I just feel like a sleepy zombie.

I’ve been setting an alarm, but when it goes off in the morning, because I know there’s nothing I NEED to get up for, it’s more of an annoying noise that I flip over and end up snoozing for two more hours. It’s a bad habit… probably, but I think I’m suffering with ‘what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-itis’ and for me, hypersomnia is how I deal with it.

Now that I’m pondering it, there’s an element of SAD involved. It happens every winter, except this is the first time in a zillion years where I haven’t been compelled by full-time education to get my arse out of the house. I’ve ordered a sunlight alarm clock that will arrive in about two months -_- there’s no way I can afford a SAD lamp, plus electricity freaks me out.

In between passing out asleep and trying to wake up with strong coffee and Italian rap music, I’ve been reading Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes book. It’s amazing! I don’t often read autobiographies/self-help stuff, but her words are so relatable particularly about working hard and living/breathing/eating your own work as a writer. Even the parts about not having everything as a parent/writer/woman, it’s finally a relief to hear someone admitting that they don’t have everything sorted out, that they aren’t superwoman and, don’t have all the answers. She needs help to manage her life, she gets it; she needs help to look after her kids while she works, she gets it. Why should anyone be a martyr to a lost cause without asking for help? I’m hopefully never going to go down that merry road of motherhood but I can understand how certain parts of your life aren’t going to be perfect or even balanced while focusing on another part of your life.

I know it’s bad for your health to be stationary all the time, but as a writer, much of what I do requires that I sit writing drivel onto a screen or into a notebook for ages at a time. And in order to work as I need to on that, I can’t always breakaway to go to the gym and I nearly broke my back on the times I went to the gym and carried all my writing stuff and laptop with me… I’ve seen those girls at Uni, they’ll need traction by 25. I’m too old to put up with these pains though, and thus things slide. Plus, sitting/lying/being still is one of my favourite pastimes. I could pass as a statue.

Alas, alak, we’re nearly in February, still a month I hate but I’m hoping the nicer weather will make an appearance and my mood will feel less funky. I’m planning on doing blog posts on my previous trips abroad. I’ve got so many stories to tell, might as well tell you them. Just need to find all my old photographs as well. First trip to Italy was in 2008 and I can’t even begin to think how many different computers I’ve had since then!

A tarde!

e x