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!


Another wee update…

Working proper grown-up hours (not even properly full-time, just a little over 30 hours a week) is the best thing ever. I love it because I have money, and a routine that I never obtained in Australia, despite my best efforts. Having set hours and not having to scrape and scramble for casual shifts is so much better for my mental health. I’m just a wee bit tired while I’m getting used to it. However, I’ve still made lots of time for socialising – meeting friends for cake dates, doing book clubs, wine and cheese nights and catch up dinners at the pub, Skyping besties, Harry Potter trivia and all sorts of lovely things that remind me why I was so overwhelmed last year. I was working and socialising too much, but I think I am learning how to strike a balance over here, working and playing and making sure I have enough sleep and time to myself. It’s a learning curve, but it’s working. I also have an appointment with a counsellor booked soon. It is more pre-emptive than anything else because I’ve been feeling so good over here, but I think of it as a bit of a tune-up.

Sean and I finally used the voucher that my parents purchased for my birthday. It was for a restaurant on the Shore called Roseleaf and it was brilliant – really cosy, cute décor, with old-fashioned hats and books and even a typewriter surrounding the tables, and lovely dishes. The menus were inside old editions of National Geographic and I ate more food than was strictly sensible…we went for a long walk afterwards to digest.

We’ve had our first proper visitor (“proper” meaning someone who is actually staying with us in our flat) and it’s actually been less claustrophobic than I anticipated. Unfortunately, our guest has been sick as a dog, culminating in a late-night appointment at the hospital to try and sort out this mysterious illness that’s kept him pretty much bed-bound for five days. Thankfully, he’s on the mend and yesterday we drove out to Kelso in the Scottish Borders to get some sort of use out of the rental car that was booked before he became ill. Kelso is a lovely little market town – it has an enormous ruined abbey that I will definitely be back to check out (it’s free to go in, but the gates were locked when we walked past). We met lovely Bec and her lovely fella for dinner at a pub that was extremely cheap compared to anything in Edinburgh, and had some really delicious meals. We walked through the town square and out past the abbey to the River Tweed, one of the most expensive and renowned salmon fishing spots in the UK. The sun was setting and everything about the way the light was moving reminded me why I picked Scotland and why I love this place so much. We drove back in the dusk, and were just commenting on how dangerous it feels to drive in country Australia at this time of night (because of the kangaroos), when a deer jumped out onto the road! We are fine, and Sean didn’t hit it or anything, because the deer hopped out of the way of the car, whereas a kangaroo would probably just throw itself headfirst at us. We also saw rabbits and what I think was a dead badger, but a deer on an asphalt road was a first for me.

Because I can’t resist a bit of good old-fashioned study, I’ve signed up for yet another online course, but this one is run through the Scottish Government Library and focuses on social media, copyright, information searching and evaluation etc. A lot of it will undoubtedly cover things I already know, but there’s a few bits and pieces that look interesting to me, and it all counts toward the professional development scheme I’m enrolled in back in Aus. It is less of a time commitment than the other study I have done this year, which is probably a good thing now that I have so much paid work to be getting on with…