Posted in life, Reading Challenge

Happy (?) June!

It’s going to be a struggle to see June as anything resembling its usual positive self. But alas, the pages in the calendar keep turning and we’re finally into the sixth month of this hell year.

Weather you were here

Here in Scotland we’ve had a scorching weekend and it looks set to continue today. In fact, we’ve had some of the best and most consistent good weather in memory since lockdown began. If you’ve never been to Scotland during our normal three-day summer then I am sorry you are missing this. When the sun is out and everyone’s happy, we could rival anywhere in the Mediterranean. For a change I’m actually getting to enjoy the morning sunshine. Not a clue why I woke up before the ungodly hour of 8am, but I did and I’ve been in my study where the sun bakes the whole room at this time. So far managed to watch several episodes of Un Posto al Sole, did a morning Reiki wake-up meditation and read too.

Currently Reading

The two main books I’m ploughing through just now are Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez and Scusa Ma Ti Chiamo Amore by Federico Moccia. I read a lot in the garden the last few days I was out, it’s great just reading for fun; though the Invisible Women book does cause me to shout ‘What the fuck?!’ every five minutes. As with all plans, they are subject to change – for me depending on my mood.

Books I'm reading, Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez and Scusa Ma Ti Chiamo Amore by Federico Moccia.
Currently Reading June 2020

I woke with a hankering to read more of Trent’anni e una chiacchierata con papà by Tiziano Ferro. It’s the book of his diaries from before he was famous and throughout his dawning stardom. At times it is quite easy to read when he discusses travelling, living abroad, and having new adventures; at other times he becomes very poetic and wordy, especially during harder times, thus I need to have wordreference at the ready to try and understand. Still amazing though, so pure and human, warts and all – sometimes I feel as though I might have written parts of it, I understand so much of how he feels and has struggled with life.

One of my favourite quotes so far in the book, and a Spanish bus ticket from 5 years ago!

Work in Progress Forever

Now that it is a new month, even if it doesn’t feel it, I am trying to maintain a writing routine. Heck, any routine would be good right now. I’ve been jumping between studying Italian and Dutch, watching my Italian tv show, reading as many books as I can, blogging here and keeping up with my own novel. It’s going slowly but I’ve broken down the story into chapters and attempting to focus on a section at a time instead of worrying how it’s all going to fit together – or if it even will. That’s a job for editor Eliza, at a later point.

I’m off now to enjoy some sunshine and more Italian.

What are you reading? Have you been enjoying the good weather? Any plans for June?

e x

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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

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Posted in The Quarantine Diaries, Writing

Coming Up

I’m in organisation mode right now, at home and online. So while I’m taking a quick break from cleaning my house I wanted to let you all know what I’ve got planned for evallone.com in the coming weeks.

Armchair Traveller

Since quarantine is still ongoing, it doesn’t look like we’re travelling anywhere new anytime soon – the next best option? Memories! I’m trawling through my archives; photos and journals, and I’ll be writing up posts of my favourite places, things to do, and best experiences. I’ll also be giving advice on sites in and around Glasgow like museums and great days out.

52- Week Challenge

The last 30-day blogging challenge was fun but a bit hefty trying to post everyday. I found a good year long weekly challenge that’ll allow me to share a little more stuff with everyone but without being so spammy. Here’s a copy of the challenge if you want to join in.

52-week challenge. Credit: Adventures with Amanda

Diversions

Obviously, I’ve still being crocheting nearly every day. Though I did lose my crojo for a bit, more that I couldn’t get any patterns to work for me. Damn v-shaped scarves! I guess sometimes watching videos instead of reading patterns can cause a little difficulty… and trying to work on multiple projects at the same time isn’t a great idea. One ball at a time!

Giant round granny blanket

I finished watching all 12 seasons of Bones a few weeks ago! It was epic and sad, I won’t spoil it but the ending was not what I expected, but for once a show had a decent ending! Naturally that spawned a ‘watching’ slump, I have Ally McBeal for my lawyer show, Grey’s Anatomy and New Amsterdam for medical shows, The Walking Dead for zombies, Winona Earp, Vanessa Van Helsing and Grimm for weirdo shows… so I had no normal crime shows. I dabbled a bit in NCIS a few times and it’s good but I’m not hooked yet… I am however addicted now to Criminal Minds, criminally so. Sorry. I’m nearly on season 3, in a matter of days… How have I never seen this show before? Led by the delightful Mandy Patinkin (also known as Saul in Homeland – I’m also catching up with that) the team is the BAU, Behavioural Analysis Unit within the FBI who profile and catch killers. It’s not Bones but the story lines are compelling and the dialogue is quick-fire and witty.

Books

I just finished reading Lonely Planet’s How to be a Travel Writer by Don George and Janine Eberle, while detailed and insightful, it was also dreadfully negative and off-putting. Perhaps some would say it’s realist but after reaching the last page, I feel far less-inclined now to pursue any kind of travel writing. The suggestions seem to be that if you’re lucky enough to already be loaded then go fly off somewhere and experience the life and culture then come home and write a bunch of articles with different slants and send them off to magazines and newspapers and hope you make a few hundred quid off them. Otherwise, the game is already over for you. Maybe I’m more of a dreamer, I’d like to believe that sometimes things can just work out. In the mean time, I’ll be writing all my travel stuff on here and attempt some other publications soon.

I’ve also ended my Kindle Unlimited subscription because I already have a ton of books in the house and purchased on my kindle (and audible) that I need to get through. Plus I realised that I’ve had most of the same books in my KU library for years so I’m paying £7.99 a month for nothing. I’ve put Audible on pause for a few months, I have a decent stack of books to get through and some are lectures so are 20+ hours and I have IT by Stephen King which clocks in close to 50 hours.

And I’m working on my novel, I promise. I’m feeling very inspired right now, especially since the new Dresden Files book, Peace Talks, is launching in July (likely the only good thing to happen in 2020) so I want to plough through as much of mine as I can before then.

Anyone started a new show? Or enjoying a new book? Let me know!

e x

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 Blogging Challenge, Musings, Writing

30 Blogging Challenge – Day #2

Day 2 – 20 facts about you

  1. I’m proudly Scottish and European. I love my country and showing it off to visitors.
  2. I’m a language addict. English is my native language, Italian is my best second language. I can cope in Spanish (reading’s fine, and mostly listening – it’s the speaking I have trouble with) and I can get by in French. I’m constantly trying to self-teach Dutch and Greek. I’ve also studied Latin and Swedish.
  3. I’m afraid of death, electricity, and bananas.
  4. Zombies. Can’t wait.
  5. I’m a Bruce Campbell uber-fan. Hercules, Xena, Evil Dead, Burn Notice… don’t get me started!
  6. I love Batman, but I’m a Nolan purist. Nothing can beat Christian Bale as the Dark Knight. I have no time for Fatfleck.
  7. Sharks, bumblebees, dogs (especially Pitties) are my favourite animals (fight me!) And llamas/alpacas… pigs and goats. Love them all. Except cats, jellyfish, starfish, most marine species.
  8. Apparently I don’t look my age. My age causes shock.
  9. I’m left-handed.
  10. My hair is naturally “dirty-fair” so is neither blonde nor brown enough to look nice and is a weird flat grey colour. I’ve been dying my hair since I was 13.
  11. I haven’t learned to drive… yet.
  12. I waste hours looking at Studyblrs and studyspo on tumblr… when I have my own studying to be doing.
  13. I have an MA in Hispanic Studies, a post-graduate Certificate in Humanities, I’m in my second year of an MA in Creative Writing, and I’m starting a C.Ed in Italian.
  14. I’m a writer – but a lazy one. Trying to hold myself to my own deadlines gets more fruitless as the years go on. So I’m studying CW to have something else hold me accountable.
  15. Pretty much everything I know about American Culture comes from TV and books: Sesame Street, Gilmore Girls, the West Wing… And the OC and Sweet Valley. I cried when I went to high school and we didn’t have lockers.
  16. We went camping a lot when I was a kid. I used to have an obsession with the outdoor water taps. Still do.
  17. I’ve met famous people. Austin St. John who played Jason in the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. I was taken onstage with the Singing Kettle and performed in the opening song for the show. I won backstage passes to meet Linkin Park. I shook hands with Willie Nelson and his sister after their show. I briefly met Sandi Thom when she was punting her album in Borders, Jodi Picoult when she was punting her book in Borders, Dave Gorman but he was punting his book in Waterstones and there was a heckler. I met Story of The Year after their show. Kitty and Steve from Mindless Self Indulgence. Bullet for my Valentine. Nice Peter from Epic Rap Battles of History. Maggie Stiefvater when she did a talk in the Mitchell then stayed to sign everyone’s books! Oh, and Jared Leto and the guys from 30 Seconds to Mars… not a great story.
  18. I love to Crochet, it helps to relax me.
  19. I’m a Classical History nerd. I wrote my dissertation on the Roman Conquest of Hispania. I’m dying to visit Carthage in Tunisia and Cartagena in Spain!
  20. My diet is Veganish. I haven’t eaten dairy for a while now and every few months my body decides to reject another food type so I’m on a stripped back diet. I identify as Veganish because sometimes it’s too hard to explain what no-dairy means to people who aren’t sure what dairy even is. Thus, the vegan option is the safe option. I still eat beef and turkey and some fish but not constantly as I love quick easy meals without worrying about meat going off.

You survived it! Gold star for you!

e x