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

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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

Posted in Books, Food, Japanese, Musings, Outings, Relationships, Stephanie Plum

A lot changes in six years

Allergies have been kicking my ass lately even if I stay at home, so I decided to go out for a bit and have a meander around G-town Glasgow. Hay-fever on the bus is not pleasant thus I didn’t get to read as much of my book as I wanted to. I take my kindle with me for bus journeys despite having a massive backlog of actual books to read, but I’ve been plugging through book 12 of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. They’re entertaining and easy to read without being pulp.

I wasn’t really up to hanging around in town as I’d brought my old netbook with me and needed access to a plug for a while without being rushed away, I also wanted ramen. Ichiban it was!

I was minutes off the bus and dreaming of sushi when I noticed someone sidling up to me from the corner of my eye… twas an old ex who I haven’t seen in about six years. It was a very strange experience and a definite shock as he was quite pleasant, gave me a hug, asked how I am… then mentioned that I’ve put on some weight (I thanked him sarcastically). He was unsure if I’d remember him, but I generally remember most people, it was surreal that he was so bubbly. Maybe people can mellow, if not grow up at some point. It was fairly brief anyway and we said goodbye without any mention of getting back in touch, I prefer to leave closed doors closed.

One thing that did stick with me was that he said he thought I would have moved to Italy by now. I suppose six years ago that was the absolute dream, but things do change. I’ve had university and the experience of living in Spain has given me perspective (move to a big city, not a tiny town), but doing Erasmus at a Uni is different from working to support yourself without the Erasmus bursary or SAAS money. I might not be living in Italy yet, but it is still a possibility/probability at some point, I just have to appreciate how much I’ve grown in six years. If nothing else, I’m far pickier about who I’d date and I haven’t for a long time. Apparently it annoys other people though, according to them I should be married now. Hah! Have you seen my to-be-read pile? Haven’t time for that!

e x

Posted in Education, Travel, University

Job searches, soul searches…

Having heard nothing back from the jobs I’ve applied for I’ve returned to scouring the various job sites looking for something, anything that seems relevant to my skills and experience… Pickings are slim here. I guess being up north I was quite spoilt fortunate in that there was maybe less competition for each job and I at least got an interview (also every job I applied for asked to hire me).

Alas, I’m caught between jobs that are paying a chunk less that what I’ve been used to and barely more than what was considered a high wage four years ago. A trend I’m noticing is that many employers are trying to lure people with promises of a higher wage only to then state that it’s only part-time, temporary, on a month-to-month basis to cover maternity leave, or; worse yet, mentioning at the bottom of the ad that the post is technically a self-employed one so the employee has to pay their own taxes and National Insurance so the inflated hourly wage isn’t that great after all.

I suppose I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want to work as… Batgirl has already been cast, so I’m still looking. I have a great variety of skills and could open my own coffee/book/photography/language shop and even do a jam session at the end of the night. I’ve tried for hotel work with the belief that while Brexit is still a huge clusterfuck hotels are never out of favour with travellers, so there would be the chance to use languages conversationally. Plus, many are international chains and I’m totally fine with relocating if the opportunity arose. A stable opportunity. I’m really starting to sound my age.

I’ve also looked at the TEFL jobs page (worthwhile if you’re more spontaneous than me) to see what opportunities are available. South Korea is very tempting, they seem to treat native English speakers like royalty or K-Popstars (much the same thing). Of course, my heart longs for Italy but many of the jobs are part time and too similar a wage to home that I’d need to hope to make up the difference with tutoring. Show me a full-time job in Sorrento and I’ll be there!

The Scottish Government and SAAS announced this year that they’re offering a loan of up to £10,000 for students to take a full-time postgraduate course at a Scottish University (£5,500 for tuition fees and £4,500 for living expenses). They’re also offering £2750 a year for a maximum of two years for part-time students to study, which appears to include the Open University… so much temptation!

Later,

e x