With so much chat about Scottish independence in the news at the moment, I got to thinking how long it had been since I had exercised my independence and had a wee break up there and visited my friends.
So, the weekend before last – after a hectic week studying Personal Styling at The London College of Style and working with real clients – I headed north of the border.
Sometimes all you need is just a change of scene for a couple of days to make the world look differently.
I went to Glasgow, where I stayed with my very good friend Zoe, who was in fact a producer on my very first ever TV show in Ireland. When we worked together we realised that we had very similar interests, apart from her love of sailing (I get seasick if I stand in a deep puddle!), and so we became firm friends 10 years ago.
Because I had been busy styling clients at Westfield for the day, I didn't get to Glasgow until really late, so it was a quick glass of wine (… or two), a chat, and then off to bed. Saturday though was a different story!
We woke up to a grey rainy day and although we had discussed the possibility of snowboarding in the mountains or a hike, we decided that a late start and an afternoon at the cinema was the perfect thing to do!
Aah, the cinema in the afternoon, I love it. It always feels so illicit, like I should be doing something useful with my time but instead I am sitting in the dark hiding from the world! Perfect. We went to see Dallas Buyers Club, and Matthew McConaghey so deserved his Oscar! Jared Leto in a supporting role was virtually unrecognisable. Quality performances in a film with quite a heavy storyline. Still amazing though.
That evening we went out to eat. Zoe had booked a table at the well-known eatery, Two Fat Ladies. It is small to say the least and is like eating in someone's front room. The advantage of that, though, is that the service is very attentive, it never gets too overcrowded or busy and the atmosphere is always cosy.
Actually, one of the things I learned about Glasgow in this visit was just how many amazing places there are to eat! If you are a foody, then Glasgow is the perfect getaway for a weekend break.
After dinner we headed off to a pop-up bar in town which sold cocktails in jam jars and had blackboard walls where people left discreet (and indiscreet!) messages for other people in the bar. Suffice it to say I was too engrossed in reading other people's messages to write one myself and no on wrote one to me! Typical!
Sunday saw a bright start to the day so we jumped in the car and headed to Loch Lomond, which is only a 40min drive from Glasgow. We headed off thinking that a great big walk in the hills would be refreshing. However, the moment we pulled into the car park at the starting point for our walk, the heavens opened!
What to do? We drove into the nearest village, grabbed a couple of takeaway hot chocolates and sat in the car watching the grey dreary day in front of us while we decided our next move. We had more or less decided to head back to Glasgow when we looked around us and realised how beautiful the scenery was, even with the rain, and thought, oh well it's just a bit of water.
Off we headed into the hills around the loch. Everything started fine whilst we were on marked pathways. However, we were following a walk in our guide book and pretty soon we were no longer on marked gravel walk ways. Instead, we were slipping and sliding and ankle deep in mud! I hasten to add that I hadn't actually brought any proper hiking gear with me, so I was wearing just a regular pair of jeans, boots (not designed for hiking, mud or rain) and a good overcoat, not exactly the type of clothing for crawling through bracken and undergrowth or jumping across streams swollen by the incessant rain of the kind February brought us.
We met several serious hikers en route, who gave us bemused sideways glances and eventually we had to capitulate, conceding defeat, and returned to the low lying pathways around the loch. It was still a good 3 hours of walking and we felt great for it!
At that point we were starving, so we got our muddy selves back in the car and headed back into Glasgow to eat at yet another great restaurant.
I stayed until Monday night and Zoe took the day off work, so to avoid any more rainy/muddy adventures we headed to the botanical gardens in Glasgow, where everything was in full bloom, whilst there the sun came out, the clouds clear and my heart filled. It was so beautiful, I felt blessed to be there. Sometimes you need to just stop, take a breath and observe the world around you.
After that we did a little bit of shopping in the vintage clothes shops (of which there are many – and much cheaper than in London!). Many of the vintage shops even sell at a fixed price per kilo rather than individually pricing each item. I bought about 6 scarves! Oops.
Time for another great lunch, tasty organic salmon this time in yet another brilliant restaurant! I honestly did not have one bad meal the whole time I was there and everything was so much more affordable than in London!
After lunch, the clouds were back out so we indulged ourselves with yet one more trip to the cinema, this time for The Book Thief. I've actually been reading the book on my Kindle (Xmas present from mum & sis) and was only about 60% of the way through it at the time, but I could tell Zoe really wanted to see it, so I didn't mind.
The film finished so late I barely had enough time to to run back to Zoe's flat to grab my bag and catch my flight back home.
I was at work the next morning but my mind was still in Glasgow and Loch Lomond. I really felt like I had been away for 10 days! Sadly it now already feels like a distant memory. A great memory, though, to be stored away and taken out, like a library book to indulge myself in from time to time.
Here's to good friends, short breaks and Bonny Scotland!
Until next time,