Oot and aboot

Newcastle – a spontaneous day trip to Seven Stories, Baltic, and The Quayside Market

Abbotsford House – home of Sir Walter Scott, nestled in the beautiful Scottish Borders

The Georgian House – an Edinburgh townhouse beautifully preserved in the heart of the New Town

I had a birthday. Edging ever closer to 30 doesn’t scare me quite as much as it used to. It was not a big celebration, but it was a fun one. And good things are happening in my life (like this) and it makes me excited for more of it.

I hope everyone is well and happy xxx

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2017 has started well

Liverpool is a lovely city, but even lovelier are the people I know there. I had a lovely overnight trip of chatting, lots of tea, and a trip to the Liverpool Central Library.

Burns Night is an annual Scottish celebration of the life and poetry of Robert Burns. We went to a friend’s place where we ate a traditional meal of haggis, neeps, tatties, whisky, wine and poetry. I’m also currently completing a short online course on Robert Burns, but the accent I have not yet perfected…

I’m learning to run. It’s slow and often painful, but it’s in a social group who don’t mind us slowpokes at the back. I can already feel the difference – it’s easier to stick to it when there are other people with you.

We watched Trainspotting 2 in a cinema with Leithers. There was an obnoxious drunk guy dragged out of there halfway through and the movie was brilliant, recognisable Edinburgh scenes popping up every second minute. A true Leith experience – I loved every second.

The Scottish Borders are beautiful. We have a wonderful friend who lives in Galashiels and she has a CAR. What a difference a car makes! Yesterday we drove to Melrose Abbey, rumoured burial site of the heart of Robert the Bruce. The ruins are brilliant in the winter sun, which was setting over the valleys as we drove back via Scott’s View. You could see the mist in the shadow of the hills. No wonder this was such a beloved view of Sir Walter Scott!

This morning we went to Dryburgh Abbey, burial place of the great man himself. Sir Walter Scott loved these ruins also, and it’s easy to see why. Today was more overcast and misty, and the rose-tinted stone walls looked like a painting. We saw the Dryburgh Yew, the book cupboard where the monk’s used to keep their library, and graves of Scott and Earl Haig.

The next stop was Kelso Abbey – these ruins are smaller and less impressive, but still worth a visit to marvel at their imposing height, especially if you’re a sucker for a well-preserved historic ruin like I am.

Lunch was at The Teviot Smokery, a gorgeous little restaurant. We didn’t get to see the water gardens because of time restrictions, but I would definitely stop past next time. We arrived at Jedburgh Abbey just in time for last admissions. This is the largest and most impressive of all the Borders abbeys, so I would recommend leaving longer than half an hour to do it, especially as they have an audio guide option as well. As it was though, we still had a good opportunity to walk around the whole site and get some good photos. Despite it being the most well-preserved abbey, it doesn’t have any specific features that draw in tourists (such as Sir Walter Scott’s grave or Robert the Bruce’s heart), so it tends to be overlooked a bit I think. It’s a shame because it is a truly awe-inspiring place – I definitely recommend it!

We had enough sun left to get down to Carter Bar, a point on the English-Scottish border with two large boundary stones. The views are brilliant.

We drove back to Galashiels through Hawick and caught a train back to Edinburgh. There is so much more to see, and we have less than a year to fit it in!

 

October in Edinburgh

So much to do! A bit too much actually. I have a cough that makes me sound like an asthmatic walrus and a thumping headache, so I had the last few days off to sleep which seems to have eased the symptoms. Must stop doing so much stuff.

Easier said than done, however! I have some more hours at work – I was starting to haemorrhage money while booking future trips, so it’s nice to repair the bank account a bit.  I also took myself for a wee mental health tune up and that was not cheap (but very much worth it and I feel a lot better). The biggest problem is, I just can’t say no to invitations. I worked so hard to be as social as possible at the start of the year so we could build up some friendships, and we have a great network of friends now. So if I really wanted to, I could ease up on the socialising and save some money, but the enormous problem is that I really like our friends and I don’t want to miss out, so I keep spending money on dinner and drinks and shows and it adds up so quickly.

Major first world problems!

In addition to catch-ups/book clubs/etc with new friends, even newer friends, and some old friends from Australia, I’ve been to a night of Game of Thrones trivia (not as fun as Harry trivia, but still worth it!), Sunshine on Leith with Allegro (my first non-Fringe am-dram experience in Scotland!), Billy Elliot at the Edinburgh Playhouse (the biggest theatre in the UK!), out to Glasgow for another meeting of the Jane Austen Society Scottish Branch (at the Kelvingrove Museum), and started pilates once a week around the corner from my flat.

I’ve also been super busy with my work for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, including preparation for some exciting new ventures leading into 2017 (the 200th anniversary of Jane’s death). I’m planning to do a lot more of my own writing in November and hoping to make myself a bit of a hermit to save some money and strength while I do so.

This month we also went down to Galashiels for the night to stay with Bec – I can see why she loves it, especially coming from huge, sprawling Melbourne. You can walk around the centre of Galashiels in twenty minutes, and see hills and paddocks and the beautiful River Tweed while doing your weekly shopping. Even in the mist and rain – perhaps even more so – it is beautiful. I want to see a lot more of the Borders while we’re here. We went to a couple of pubs and had amazing breakfast the next morning, and then enormous sugary waffles for lunch. It is only a 50 minute train trip from Melbourne, so less time than the daily commute for a lot of Melburnians, and it’s a much prettier trip.

So this blog is perhaps not as interesting as some of my others, but it’s a good diary for myself to keep a record of my life over here. I know we have until January 2018 until we have to leave, but the thought of it still makes me sad. I think I’m going to miss this place like a phantom limb.