Wonderful Wanderings

That need to explore hasn’t left me… I am still shocked by how much of my own country I haven’t seen…! Since returning, I have been doing my best to rectify that… As far north as Dundee, to Blackpool and Croome in the South, to trying to cover a bit more of Edinburgh’s bounds… A weekend feels wasted if I haven’t explored a new place :-).

Top of my list, of course, was the new addition to the Scottish landscape since I’ve been away of the ‘kelpies’. Two 30m high horse head sculptures in Falkirk. Personifying local and national equine history, they also represent the lost industries of Scotland. Not quite as tall as anticipated, there is something very quite cool about them. They have been very popular since their creation, so much so they are soon to be getting their own visitor centre where you can learn more of their story.

Looking for places for a weekend visit, I didn’t realise how near to Edinburgh Dundee was. Of course anywhere feels near after time spent in Australia ;-). Off on our way, crossing the Tay Bridge, taking in the view from Dundee Law and walking the sands of Broughty ferry, I was interested to learn of the tales of the Antarctic in the Discovery museum. I didn’t realise Captain Scott had spent two years there… Tales of eating turtles and penguins, they apparently didn’t find them too tasty!

Also learning of jute (the raw material for making potato sacks) in Dundee’s Verdant Works, I hadn’t even heard of it, never mind know that Dundee had depended on it for its industry. A really well told story of the history, I will now appreciate the effort that goes into making a jute bag. Do consider buying a joint pass if you’re planning on visiting both, it is slightly cheaper. Returning via the Fife coast, the towns of St Andrews, Crail, Elie and Anstruther held our attention, as well as trying out the once famous best UK fish and chips.

Having never been before, on the return journey from visiting my sister, we had a lovely afternoon in Blackpool. For sure caught in a bit of a time warp and in need of investment, that is perhaps all part of its charm. I absolutely loved the beach and of looking to the pier; reading the comedy carpet’s words and checking out the view from the tower. Very clever glass surrounded corners allowing views from multiple angles. Their 4D experience showing the illuminations at night, I would quite like to return to see them some point.

Within Edinburgh’s bounds, I have been working my way through a ‘To do’ list of places to see. Showing Ben Calton Hill (somehow I have never ever been up it?!), Edinburgh blew me away with its views! Lovely lovely spot. Loved the national monument too. Again not having been before, we popped along to Rosslyn Chapel. Propelled to fame and now doing a roaring trade thanks to Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’, it is a really really interesting building to wander around. Unfortunately no pictures allowed inside to show you, there are lots of carvings to hold your attention. Then venturing on a Firth of Forth ‘cruise’ to Inchcolm Island, it wasn’t the best weather Edinburgh has delivered (I in fact needed to wear my gloves. In June… In supposibly the height of summer 😉 ). It was genuinely though the beginnings of the ‘Birds 2’, with some territorial nesting seagulls. A word to the wise, avoid June if you can, the seagulls prevent you from exploring the entire island. Nice to return though after having not been there since I was a child :-).

However, one of the favourite ‘Edinburgh’ things I’ve done was exploring Jupiter Artland. An outdoor sculpture garden found in a book of ‘100 places to visit in Scotland’, I thought it was really really cool. A beautiful day and provided with an electronic tour guide through their app, between the life mounds and the smaller pieces of art, it is a really interesting wander. Definitely better appreciated in the sunshine than on a rainy day though!

Spending time in Bo’Ness motor museum, Glasgow’s transport museum and Kelvingrove Art gallery, we also found some cool street art outside of Tennents brewery :-).

We’ve done very well but still so much to see! Please do let me know of any suggestions :-).

Australia I Miss You…

Australia I miss you…

Birthday pondering

It’s been 5 months and 3 days since we last met. A family Christmas and a different country’s new year; exploring near and exploring far you still seem to have quite an effect on me. Without a doubt I think about you everyday.

I’ve eaten the timtams I brought home. They’re not quite the same when you’re not in Australia ;-). The TV has reminded. ‘Outback Truckers’, ‘Jimmy’s Australian food adventure’, Chris Tarrant’s ‘train journeys’ or ‘Nothing to declare’ all remind of a time that brings a smile to my face. The memories so clear, in my head it’s like I’m still there… Katherine’s stars, snakes and spiders, beautiful outback, driving tractors, ‘no worries’, to the awesomeness of Tasmania; changing hostel room companions; the variety of people, the so many awesome conversations that still make me smile.

Turns out that being home is really just not the same. Needs must but work is really just not as fun when your time off can’t be spent exploring far flung off lands. Getting used to the climate again the sun doesn’t seem to shine in quite the same way. Missing the warming tones of the sun helping your day as you head on your way. My ‘thongs’ on my feet as I walked to work in Broome, glorious sunshine overhead, music’s headphones in my ears… To wrapping up warm, staring out of the window, imagining far off warmer lands.

I suppose though perhaps what I miss more is that ‘travelling’ feeling I of course associate with your bounds. That newness of being in a new place. Of finding your own way around. Finding your favourite spot in a city, spending time there and finding your place. The peace that it brings and the contentedness of happiness of where you are or the clarity in how this might be found. The certainty of mind. The interactions with complete strangers, to friendships and connections found and of course of the association of these people with a place.

It certainly is a difficult thing coming home. They really are world’s apart. Only someone who has done it knows exactly how you feel. I understand why people don’t stay. I’m now not so sure if Edinburgh is even for me. My welcome perhaps overstayed. It certainly feels like the world is waiting for me… Stomping firmly on its feet. Saying hurry things up but yet patiently waiting for just the right time. These feet of mine are becoming ever so itchy. Where next? I suppose the big question, I’m looking forward to answering that soon.

Reflections on a Month Gone By

I’m not going to lie, the first few days being home were probably the hardest. I’ve read blogs, talked to people, came back with with pretty low expectations but it was still hard… A feeling of being completely lost and that you’re not meant to be there… Unable to identify with the general, random, day to day conversation…. You’ve been away… Not heard of the things being spoken of… You’re unable to relate, unable to join in… You feel like you are watching the conversation rather than partaking in it. Your mind is still on a beach somewhere in the sunshine… The change to being somewhere familiar certainly takes a little while to get used to…

You’ve done so much and things are so different, it’s hard not to say “in Australia…” over and over without seeming dismissive. It’s not. It’s trying to relate. To compare and reconfigure in your head… Generic, general questions which are an easy opener for the asker feel a complete brain teaser as you search your brain, zipping through all the memories; trying hard to remember the many places you’ve visited and what they were like and working out if there is an answer to that question and what it might be. Then in that moment remembering the story attached to the question… “Where was your favourite place?” “What was your favourite thing?” The word ‘favourite’ hard to explain… The complicated layers ‘favourite’ unfolds. Many favourites. Many different reasons… Then when you finally start to feel settled, know that you’re not going anywhere for a wee while and have the time to talk, you can start to tell some of the many stories you have to tell… 🙂

Sharing much, I feel like I only scratched the surface with all my Australia tales. Somebody also managed to steal my thunder ;-). One friend wanted to see all my photos! I warned her there are quite a few thousand of them! Where to begin ;-). It was so nice to settle right back into where I had been with my mates before I left. So good to see my besties. It’s been a busy schedule though! Two weddings, birthday celebrations, making sure to visit my sister’s new house, fitting in some of the Edinburgh Festival and catching up with as many people as possible, I have done very well with making use of my time in Scotland :-). Revisiting some places I’ve not been for a long time, Gullane Beach and North Berwick captured me for a day; new places of Banbury and Stratford Upon Avon let me learn about Shakespeare and catch up with Australian friend and travel companion Sarah and reunite with the real George! My visit also involved finding Yoda on the Royal Mile, sword fighting at weddings, Hitler singing Frank Sinatra (not the best festival show…!), ice bucket challenges, hen parties, new babies and nearly due babies, two pizza suppers, becoming a tourist in my home city and managing to spend a lot of time with my family.

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With much laughter, many drinks, much food eaten (have to have gained about a stone!), it is a big big thank you to all those that made my time at home so enjoyable :-). A sorry if I didn’t manage to quite catch you… Hopefully at Christmas :-). My flight back to Australia coming around very very quickly, compared to how I felt initially after I got home, I was more than a little bit sad to get on a plane! The timing perhaps then just right, as well as the sunshine (Scotland has been colder than expected!), I am looking forward to seeing what the next chapter holds :-).