Spring 2018 Travels: England and Scotland

Posted on May 14, 2018 under Life

Well, I’m finally back from five weeks on the road! I must admit I’m happy to be back to my relatively chill existence – though travel is obviously incredibly rewarding, rarely staying in the same place for more than one night is exhausting.

Starting in mid-April, I was in London and Brighton for a few days, then my parents flew in (delayed 25 hours thanks to an unseasonal ice storm in Toronto) and we hit up the Scottish highlands, Ireland, Northern Ireland. Then me and my mom went on to Denmark and the Faroe Islands. If you are quite generous with your definition of “country”, that’s six in a month. It was a lot!

I thought I’d share a bit of my travels here since I had such an amazing time. A picture is worth a thousand words, so this will be pretty image-heavy. Today I’ll cover England and Scotland, a section of the trip that feels like a lifetime ago. We were in Ireland for eleven days, so that’ll be its own post, and then Denmark and the Faroes will be the final post in this series.

England

My trip to England was casual and not particularly touristy. I went down to see Arcade Fire and Harry Styles and to go to Aisling‘s thirtieth birthday party. (And to watch TV with her and her girlfriend Katy, and to sleep on their sofa for several days because they are angelic and generous beings.) I’ve been to London a few times now, and while there’s always more to do this was not that trip. As for Brighton, I’ve definitely seen all the main touristy stuff there, so I mostly just hung out with Aisling and Katy.

Oh, and I got to meet Poppy:

I woke up before 4am on April 11 to catch my early-morning flight, which was fun! I managed to survive Arcade Fire that night (and we got really close to the barrier), but we missed our last train to Brighton and didn’t get in until 3am, so it was a VERY tiring day. However, it was entirely worth it because Arcade Fire is truly the best live band in the world. I saw their hometown, tour-closing show in Montreal in 2014 and was blown away, and I have to say this was even better. It’s not just that the music is amazing and the onstage energy is strong – it’s that they think through every aspect of their performances, from accompanying visuals to lighting design. And the decision to play in a boxing ring, so that the GA audience could be on all four sides, was genius. The crowd was pretty loosely-packed and not at all overwhelming, and even though we arrived literally five minutes before show time by the end of the night we were only a few rows back from the barrier. My eight-year love for my favourite band is holding strong!

Here are a few pictures taken by Aisling, ft. me being EXTREMELY excited when they started playing Rebellion (Lies) even though obviously they were going to, it has never not been on their setlist.

My ONLY complaint is that they didn’t play Crown of Love, which is sometimes on their setlist but has eluded me twice.

The next day, we went back into London to see Harry Styles. I saw him play a small show in October (which was honestly not a great experience because the audience was garbage), and I’ve also seen One Direction six times (I know), so this was not my first time at the rodeo. It was Aisling’s first time being in his presence, and I’m pretty sure she had a great time judging from how often she said she loved him. Though our seats were very far away, he put on a great show and remains one of the most charming people in the world. I kept joking to Aisling that if he wore a boring suit I would demand a refund, but he wore leopard print McQueen so my £100 is still in his pocket.

Before we saw Harry we had a very early dinner at La Choza, which is definitely the best Mexican food I’ve had in the UK. Not that that’s saying much, but it was good and very cost-effective – I had a burrito and a generous serving of nachos for a tenner.

Then on the Saturday we were in London once again to celebrate Aisling’s thirtieth birthday at Leggero, a gluten-free Italian restaurant in Soho. The food was delicious and the company was great! I would recommend Leggero to the gluten-intolerant and -tolerant alike – the food is fantastic and doesn’t suffer at all from the lack of gluten. Here is an action shot of me photographing my food, taken by Katy, who is not the Katy I already mentioned or the other Katy who attended the lunch. (All three are lovely!)

It was the most beautiful day in London, which put me in a great mood – I got to shed my jean jacket and walk around bare-armed for the first time this year! I capitalized on the good weather by ordering a pitcher of sangria at a random bar we wandered into, which was yummy if… possibly containing approximately 1-3 drops of wine?

Here is a picture of me posing next to a mop we found in the bar. (It was not a very good bar.) As a rush of barely-legal girls piled in for happy hour, I discovered that the new thing is apparently wearing clubwear with athletic shoes, which I think is a very practical and healthy compromise for the sake of feet around the world.

We topped off the day with with ice cream at Chin Chin (I had burnt caramel with hazelnut sand). All in all it was a very successful celebration indeed. (At least, I think so, but it wasn’t my birthday.)

A few pictures taken at Liberty, where I fell in love with a gorgeous floral patch but didn’t buy it because it was £25. For an iron-on patch. I mean, I know it’s Liberty, but still…

Wow you guys have probably never seen this exact picture of Brighton before. I am the first one to ever capture this startlingly unique image.

Oh my last day in Brighton we had a Sunday roast at The Farm Tavern, which was so good. Then we took a walk along the water, which coincided with the Brighton Marathon, and went and exchanged all my 2p coins for a single piece of candy in one of the arcade games on the pier. A very Brighton experience, I’d say!

Scotland

I got back to Glasgow the evening of April 15, with my parents due to arrive the morning of the 16th. Originally we had planned to spend the 16th and 17th in Glasgow, but since they were delayed a full day we ended up setting off for the highlands the day after they touched down. The 17th was a very chill day in the city – we went out for lunch at my perennial staple Hillhead Bookclub and I took my mom to the Tim Horton’s on Argyle Street (because we are Canadian), but otherwise we hung out at their Airbnb so they could try to get over their jetlag. (They both actually stayed up until their normal bedtimes, which totally puts me to shame since in September I spent nineteen hours sleeping off jetlag and then in January I went to bed at 11am the morning I arrived in Glasgow.)

Our first day of driving, the 18th, was a big one, and we ended up in Clachtoll, on a croft with a gorgeous beach and the cutest animals.

I also found a pig and her four babies in some ruins:

(By the way, I have wanted a potbelly pig since I can remember, and I watched this Buzzfeed video yesterday and truly could not handle it.)

Most of our time in Scotland was spent driving and stopping frequently to marvel at the amazing scenery.

My parents have both done quite a bit of travel through the UK, including the Scottish highlands. I was insistent that we go to the Isle of Skye, which I have been dreaming of for years now, and they were not too cranky about going back…

I mean, who would be? Especially when you get a picture of a sheep looking particularly beautiful at golden hour.

We really didn’t do all that much in the Highlands, because, well… all you need to do is look at them. So I will spare you my usual wordiness (she says, of a post that is already 1300 words long) and leave you with these pictures. Oh, and a recommendation for The Old School if you are ever on the Isle of Skye and fancy some seafood. Because, you know, I am all about sharing restaurant recommendations because food is the best.

On the 21st, we ended up back in Glasgow, where we checked out the Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition at the wonderful and underrated Kelvingrove Museum. We were pretty tired so we didn’t bother to wander around the museum, but I can say from prior experience that it’s an eclectic and fascinating place. If you happen to be in Glasgow between now and August 14, I highly recommend the Mackintosh exhibition, which is £7 for adults. The rest of the museum is free and you should totally do it even if you miss the exhibition!

Next time I will have many pictures of Ireland, and also lambs.

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There are 10 responses to “Spring 2018 Travels: England and Scotland”

  • Welcome back from your travels! It looks like you had an amazing trip :) Your photos are all amazing (and Poppy the dog is sooooo cute!). Looking forward to reading your upcoming posts –
    -Jenna <3

  • I AM SO JEALOUS YOU GOT TO SEE ARCADE FIRE (again!!!). No lie, though: the experience sounds amazing, though it’s a bummer they omitted Crown of Love.

    Sounds like you’ve had some fantastic travels. I keep scrolling back to your photos of the Scottish landscape. It’s so idyllic and charming.

    • Hahaha I’m jealous of my past self. Like at any given moment I would rather be at Arcade Fire than doing whatever I’m doing. And I probably won’t see them for another 4 years because that’s how they roll!

      The Highlands are ridiculously beautiful! I think I got some of my best shots of the whole trip there, with very minimal effort.

  • I saw Arcade Fire when they toured with U2 in 2011 and it was AWESOME. U2 had their weird circular claw stage and then they played together at the end of the show. But more importantly, my partner’s parents’ house backed onto the concert site so we had the best day.

    Scotland reminds me very much of Nova Scotia, which I suppose makes a certain amount of sense. I remember a visiting professor, from Scotland, remark that it was more Scottish than Scotland during Latha Gaidhlig (yeah, I took Scottish Gaelic in university. I’ve pretty much only used it since to read the Gaelic signs in northern NS and Cape Breton). Looks like this was a great leg of the trip!

    • That sounds like the most ideal property location ever! Was that in Moncton? I remember everyone in the rest of Canada being so jealous that they went there but didn’t hit up the big cities, which I guess is unfair because obviously it’s usually the opposite. I was very salty about it because I got into them just after their summer 2010 show in Toronto, and then I had to wait until 2014 to see them. But it’s been worth the 4-year wait both times! Although if I have to be that person I will say I would have loved to see them during The Suburbs era because the first three albums were by far the best and I would love a setlist that ignores the more recent two in favour of the old stuff, lol.

      I’ve never been to NS but I’ve seen lots of pictures and I can definitely see how it acquired its super creative name. It’s a beautiful landscape wherever it is! And I’m impressed by your Gaelic knowledge. It’s one of those languages that I find completely opaque and bewildering, in Scottish or Irish forms. I can easily sound out and understand parts of Romance languages that I don’t speak, but the entire time I saw road signs in the Highlands and in Ireland I was like, “Honestly I have no idea how to pronounce that and whatever I guess is probably so comically incorrect.”

      • Yes, the Moncton show! It was aaaamazing. And yeah, hush up, rest of Canada. We typically get nothing. My partner and I are both from Moncton so we were impressed at how almost cool the place was for landing that concert. My dad actually won us tickets off the radio too so we watched part of the concert from the house (it rained most of the day) and when it let up, we took our tickets and went down. I wish Moncton would get some more concerts at Magnetic Hill – what is the point of having the perfect place to enjoy them if no one ever comes?

        Gaelic is so beautiful but not terribly useful. Even when I lived in Antigonish and went to StFX, which has the only four year Gaelic program outside of Scotland, and there were tons of Gaelic speakers around, it’s not spoken enough to get good practice.

        • Ahhh, that’s seriously so cool. Maybe one day bands will stop ignoring the Maritimes and capitalize on such a great location! I’m always surprised that Canadian bands don’t go out East more often (or only hit up Halifax when they do).

          I took Scottish Lit a few years ago so I know a few words of Scots and Scottish Gaelic, but otherwise it’s bewildering to me. It’s really cool that St FX has it though, since I know that in both Scotland and Ireland Gaelic was on the brink of death until quite recently. I definitely don’t know anybody here who speaks anything close to fluent Gaelic – it doesn’t seem as prevalent in Scotland as in Ireland, although the road signs are written in English and Gaelic when you get up into the Highlands so maybe there are more speakers up there.

  • WOW that ice cream has me craving some very badly right now. We’ve finally warmed up and I want ALL of the ice cream. Isle of Skye looks absolutely gorgeous, I would love to visit one day. And to follow with the previous comment, the pictures do remind me of Nova Scotia and even New Foundland as well!

    • I ate that ice cream over a month ago and I have been craving more for a long time now! It’s pretty warm here too, but ice cream might be pushing it a tiny bit.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed reading the recap of my birthday and seeing a picture of my doggy in this post.

    Your photos from Scotland are stunning as well!!

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