Innovative Learning Week.
…bullshite, it’s party/travel week.
Now, I really haven’t been doing much of either, mostly because I’m poor and all my friends are away traveling on the continent and I have a few days of work this week, BUT I have actually managed to do a few fun things to keep me from feeling those same blues I was feeling when alone at Christmastime.
This past weekend I decided on a whim to go to Glasgow because I saw that there was a concert there that I would go see: the Decemberists, a band from Oregon.
I contacted a Canadian pal and we agreed to train down and catch the last train back after the concert. I wasn’t feeling particularly well and it was definitely a bad call with regards to my health, but I always make reckless decisions when I’m unwell. I still had a blast, the concert was amazing and Glasgow is very fun 🙂 Shannon and I had a great time.
Then another Canadian pal came to visit, Heather from Dundee. She was down for the Scotland-Wales Six Nations rugby match (to which I also had a ticket… we had been planning on going together for months… but I had to go to worrrrrk) and stayed overnight with me. We had some jokes on Valentine’s Day (which we dubbed ‘Palentines’s Day), but I think I was too unwell to be any real fun… sorry Heather ❤ come back asap.
After working Sunday and Monday, I did absolutely nothing on Tuesday but recuperated and rested. Then yesterday my plan had been to hop on the Hairy Coo free highland tour, because um hello FREE, but it never showed and in retrospect I should have checked that it runs every day (I just assumed). When it didn’t show, I went down to Waverly and basically typed in “Scotland” on Google maps and panned around until I saw something I wanted to see (and was within a reasonable day-trip distance). I picked Ayr, because it’s on the Atlantic and I thought that’d be fun AND because it’s the birthplace of my favourite, dashing, rose-toting lord of the pen, Robert Burns. Bought a ticket to Glasgow thinking that’d be easiest and cheapest (I was right), and clickety-clacked my way down the track. Got off and wandered around the main area of downtown Glasgow a while, Buchanan Street, and saw the TARDIS there which is always exciting (could almost picture Clara and Doctor 12 getting coffee! Ha!). Popped over to the other train station and bought my ticket to Ayr, then hopped on.
Got off at the wee Ayr station and wandered into the centre town, walked for a while down the High Street. Oh, before we proceed, “Ayr” is pronounced the same as “air.” Don’t mess it up. Anyway, I had gone over the river Ayr on the train and so decided to find the bridge. Went down a close in the direction of the water and happened across the Auld Kirk of Ayr, which was nice and the kirkyard was full of blooming daffodils.
Crossed the water on one of the various bridges and joined back on to a street, finding the tourist centre there. The lady in there gave me a tiny map and pointed out where some things of interest were.
From there I went down to the beach; the tourist centre was close to it and the lady had suggested that if I wanted to go out of town I could walk two miles along the beach. Um, duh. Beach bum here. Obvs. It was kind of strange, looking out across the Atlantic and knowing that home was on the other side of it… the beach was lovely and I was walking towards the sunshine (and away from some ominous-looking clouds! Don’t worry, they never caught me). In the distance I could see the ruins of Dunure Castle. Beaches in Scotland are also the absolute best place to be for dog-lovers in withdrawal :] Not to mention I saw some horse tracks (though I didn’t see the culprits).
Walked alongside the ocean for a good hour before I came to a little cycle bridge, then hung a left up the banks of the river Doon without crossing it. This brought me into Alloway, a ‘suburb’ of Ayr and the birthplace of my true love Robbie 🌹
Alloway is very picturesque and beautiful. There were nice old stone houses covered in ivy and perched on forested hills, surrounded by rhododendron bushes that I bet will be spectacular come spring. There are already crocuses and galanthus in bloom everywhere.
I continued walking up a nice street which followed the general direction of the river until I came to the high street, upon which was the famous Burns Cottage. On that site on January 25th, 1759, a star was born :3
Then I walked back towards the river, along what was called the Poet’s Path. This depicted scenes from the famous poem Tam o’ Shanter on weather vanes and statues.
It led me out to where the Auld Kirk of Alloway—slightly more famous than the Auld Kirk of Ayr—and the current parish church sit on the road which leads down to a bridge over the river Doon… from which you can see the famous Brig o’ Doon.
I went into the Burns Gardens and Monument and explored there, then walked across the Brig o’ Doon (oh, “brig” just means bridge). It was really steep, which I found interesting; most bridges are flat.
Then I grabbed tea and a scone in the Brig o’ Doon House and struck out for Ayr’s train station.
This time I wandered back on Alloway Road rather than on the beach, for a change of scenery. It was uneventful. Near the train station two girls said hello to me, and it startled me enough that I engaged them in conversation. Turns out they were Mormon missionaries who offered to help me find the train station. I was fine, also don’t want to be converted, but I’m awkward… They were very nice. I took their card and high-tailed it out of there. Got on a train to Glasgow no problem and then caught one to Edinburgh right away in Glasgow Central that turned out to be the milk-run train; it stopped at every stop between Glasgow and Edinburgh. I didn’t really care much, I fell asleep.
Today, I grabbed a tour from the Royal Mile with Scotline Tours. We drove out of Edinburgh and past Stirling before stopping at Callendar, the gateway to the Highlands. Unfortunately we didn’t stop in the town itself which looked rather cute but just at a cafe that was basically designed for tour buses. Not great. But after grabbing a coffee, I wandered up the road a bit to see if I could get a better view of the gigantic mountains which were just slightly obscured by cloud.
Then we were off. We kept driving through beautiful mountain passes, just barely able to make out the scale of the mountains by their bases and by the amount we could see through low-lying mist. Unfortunately, none of it photographed well though it was spectacular. We stopped off at the Three Sisters in Glen Coe for photographs, but it was raining at this point and most of the other tourists wouldn’t even get off the coach. Losers.
From there we continued driving through Glen Coe. We came to Fort William and then to Spean Bridge where we stayed for lunch. I just grabbed a quick one at the market and then explored. Spean Bridge is cute, the family and I stayed here when we visited Scotland in 2009. Couldn’t get much done because the driver was keen on not hanging around long.
From there we went directly to Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness. It was nice, the sun started shining and the view of the loch was great.
Got on their wee boat which took us round a bit then on to a hotel where the bus was waiting to pick us up.
From there, we drove straight back to Edinburgh. The driver let me sit in the wee seat in the front stairwell so I’d have a nice view out the front window of the bus 🙂
Tomorrow, another Canadian pal is coming up from Exeter to visit, and Katie is back from Italy, then after the weekend it’s back to uni. Though looking back at my Innovative Learning Week, I’m not sure I can complain :]