It’s been a year since I last posted. I would love to blame my old and slow computer (this is part of it), but I think the main reason is that I somehow got myself into one of those… oh what do you call them??? oh yes, relationships! (Hi Sweetheart!)
Suddenly, between this new thing and work full time I didn’t have time for writing. And so much has gone on! And I’m sorry to all my (10 or so) faithful followers (Hi mum!).
I will at some stage catch you all up on the last 12 months. But lets just be clear: this Australian in London is back (with a slightly pommier accent).
I left you last, gripping the edge of your seats no doubt, saying – and I quote:
“…Edinburgh is awesome. 5 stars. Would definitely like to live here for a few months and see the rest of Scotland. Maybe next summer…”
So it seemed appropriate that this be where I picked up on the recording of my adventure (hasn’t Ange’s writing style picked up amazing poetic symbolism?)
Travelling solo since Lanz left in June, I embarked on my first organised tour all by myself. I booked a 7 day tour with a company called Haggis which I heard of through other Aussie tourists I’ve met.
For those who know me well, you’ll know me to be a chatty, confident and friendly sort. For those who know me better, you’ll know Shy Ange was shitting herself. This was the first time I was going to be travelling alone! What if everyone was couples and I was like Bridget Jones at a smug married couples dinner?
Wait. Breathe. Calm down. Coz Ange is a chatty, confident and friendly sort.
Scotland is amazing. My Haggis tour began with a coffee. Coffee has either markedly improved in the UK in the last 18 months. Or maybe I have evolved an now have an inbuilt coffee dousing stick. I plan to try and get to know people on the bus but end up with the only spare seat next to me! I make good by having lunch with some lovely Californians and end up going for dinner with them and some off the other Aussies on the tour.
Our guide Greg, is a great story teller and comes up with a great game to get us to know each other. Extrovert tourist Sophie is given a microphone (and eventually a daily slot called Sophie’s Choice) and a list of our names. We each have to tell an embarrassing story as an introduction. I went with an abridged version of Lani and my trip to Amsterdam and forget everyone’s names.
Before lunch (or after, can’t quite remember) we’re sipping whiskey which was remarkably good. So good I even bought two very small (airplane sized) bottles.
We have a night out in Aberdeen at a dodgy looking establishment called Hootenanny’s. There’s some good tunes, and fun drinking, but by 11 we move on to a place called Johnny Foxes & the Den where we sing and dance to a great cover band.
Obviously the big highlight of the tour is Monster hunting in Loch Ness (aka Nessie). So apparently, Nessie was first seen on the banks of Loch Ness around 500 AD by some monk who was visiting Scotland from Ireland to preach Christianity. The story is that the monk sent a servant, yes that’s right servant out to swim in the Loch and Nessie appears all ferocious about to eat him. Luckily the monk, who has a crucifix with him, lifts it up and the monster went back down.
And of course monks have never ever been known to lie.
We stayed two nights in Loch Ness in a small town called Fort Augustus.
On our free day, five of us got on a 90 minute bus to try something I’d never heard of: Canyoning. You get in a wetsuit (also first time for me), life jacket, harness and helmet.
Then you go to the top of a Canyon and slide down waterfalls and jump off rocks. It was so fun and scary. And I did all the jumps… except the 10 meter jump… this was too much for poor Ange.
Regional transport sucks, so it took us 3 hours to get back! But luckily our hostel saved us dinner – chicken stuffed with haggis and cream sauce. I was too fatigued to take a picture!
For the most part the tour involved lots really beautiful scenery, old stories, terrible jokes, plenty of drinking, a couple of ferry rides with some card games, and a game of ‘Articulate’ (where yours truly was on the winning team).
We got to see some seals, standing stones, go into caves and learn loads about Scottish history.
We even went to the beach! After 18 months in the UK, the thought of swimming in Scotland didn’t even cross my mind, so of course I didn’t pack swimmers. It was okay for about 3 seconds. Then I jumped out as the joints in my feet got a massive piercing pain.
But the best bit was this:
That’s right it’s the Harry Potter train (also known as the Glenfinnan Viaduct) (BUT better known as the Hogwarts Express). It was so great, it even did a “choo-choo as it crossed over.
By the end of the week I had made friends with a good amount of the people on the tour. Will definitely be doing more of these. Unfortunately, I had also picked up a cold from one of the smelly Australian backpackers.
We went out in Edinburgh that night, and I went to a Caberet show which last year’s star Maeve Marsden recommended called, Titty Bar Ha Ha. It was the best thing I had seen in a long time. I was on the edge of my seat scared they would pick me out from the audience for one of the nasty jokes. Thankfully my snot filled nose and I were left to enjoy and I crashed out immediately after the show.
I spent the rest of the weekend catching another fringe show and catching up with a friend, Amy and her partner Tash, while they were in town on holidays. Still being a sickly snot face, I crashed again so that my last day at the castle would be a smashing success
I stayed in a student flat as part of AirBnb and I just wanted to add the lovely and reassuring poster that my hosts had in their living room:
Love it right?
I met so many great travellers during my Scottish holiday. It reminded me that I wanted to capture my trip and being back in Edinburgh also reminded me how much I loved writing this blog.
So sorry it’s been so long dear blog (and those friends who had so loyally read this) – I won’t abandon you again. And if I haven’t spoken to you in ages, please write firstname.lastname@example.org
Up next… Dublin!