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White Girls Can’t Jump

22 Apr
'Spread your wings like an eagle and fly like a brick'

‘Spread your wings like an eagle and fly like a brick’

Despite a small fear of heights, I’ve always had an incline to do a bungee jump and a skydive and always just thought I would get round to doing them in Australia. But then a few months ago I thought ‘why wait until Australia?’ and went about finding where I could bungee jump in Scotland.

I came across Highland Fling (what a brilliant name for a bungee jump company!) based in Killiecrankie, just 3 miles from Pitlochry, and they boast at 132 ft, the only bridge bungee jump in Scotland. Preferring the idea of jumping over water, rather than concrete, this was the one for me.

Team Bungee

Team Bungee

Along side the jump, myself and two friends, Allana and Valerie, decided to raise some money for a local charity close to us all – Ayrshire Cancer Support. Our initial target was £500, but thanks to some very generous donations from our friends and family, we smashed that target and raised over £2,500! Wow.

So on the first Saturday in April, we went up to the bridge over the River Garry in Killiecrankie and jumped off it! Despite being nervous before hand, when I got up to the platform suspended underneath the bridge and saw all the jumpers getting harnessed in, and all the safety routines and checks carried out by the 5 guys, all my fears went away and I was ready to enjoy it. So on the final words of my guide, ‘spread your wings like an eagle and fly like a brick’, I jumped!

I Once Ran Away With the Gypsies

3 Apr

I’ve been slacking on the ol’ blog posts the past few months, so I’m trying to catch up… watch out for posts on Belfast, Berlin, hats, bungee jumping and Ibiza, but for now here’s a bit on Dublin!

Molly Malone stands with her cart at the end of Grafton Street

Molly Malone stands with her cart at the end of Grafton Street

I’ve been to Dublin several times over the years, the first time when I was 17 and my first of many seasons working at Loudoun Castle Theme Park. Back then , the Cadonas – a well-known ‘travelling’ family in Scotland (also known as gypsies) – owned the theme park, and at the end of every season, they packed up the rides and took them to Dublin, Limerick and Cork, then on to Dubai for the Winter. Being short on willing travellers that year, they asked me to go to Dublin with them. My parents weren’t too happy about it… and that’s how I once ran away with the gypsies.

Two weeks in a luxury trailer in Clondalkin – one of the roughest parts of Dublin, working 4 hours a night in a burger van for 400 euro a week, 17-year-old, impressionable me thought I had it made! It was an experience and a half, but apart from a couple of shopping trips to Grafton Street and a handful of drunken nights in the infamous Red Cow on the M50, I didn’t get to see much of Ireland’s fair city.

A busker plays his tin flute on Dame Street

A busker plays his tin flute on Dame Street

Then, when I started Uni at Dundee the year after I made a load of Irish mates and have since spent many a memorable weekend in Ireland – Belfast, Derry, Ballymena, Donegal, Meath, Dublin, Newry, Coleraine – to name a few. But again, never to see much of what Dublin has to offer – aside the pubs that is.

So when I planned my mini Irish adventure over the Christmas holidays there (Dublin – Belfast – Donegal) I made sure I had some time to finally be a tourist in one of my favourite cities.

I had already arranged to meet up with and stay with Uni friends, but I had half a day to myself to do as I please. I set off from my hotel in Temple bar early doors, and walked along Dame Street to Trinity College, not having a lot of time, I resisted the urge to go in and see the book of Kells. Instead I stopped to greet Molly Malone at the bottom of Grafton Street before having breakfast at a nearby pub. After that, I walked along to Merrion Square where a memorial to Oscar Wilde can be found perched on a rock with a drink in hand in the corner of the park. It’s a nice quiet spot to sit and read some of his many famous quotes, my favourite being – “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance”.

Oscar Wilde hanging out in Merrion Square

Oscar Wilde hanging out in Merrion Square

I then walked down to St Stephen’s Green, along to St Patrick’s Cathedral, onto the famous Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle and St Audden’s Gate. Crossing the River Liffey, I walked along it and up by the fruit market to the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square – a memorial to “all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom”. Finally I walked down O’Connell Street, by the Spire (completely missed the Post Office – doh!) and back to Temple Bar to meet my friend Sarah and get on the rip.

Outside the iconic gates of the Guinness Storehouse

Outside the iconic gates of the Guinness Storehouse

By 6pm, a few too many baby Guinness and some new friends made later, I had to get myself over to my other friend, Lynsey’s place down at the docklands, to head out with her and her friends for her birthday – the rest of the night can only be described as a blur. But as the saying goes, when in Rome…

The next day I was as rough as a dog and on the bus to Belfast – but that’s for another time.

A view across the River Liffey

A view across the River Liffey

The famous Temple Bar

The famous Temple Bar

Glasgow’s 1st Christmas Parade

24 Nov

A friendly elf

Now I don’t know what I was expecting when I first heard Glasgow was going to have it’s very own Christmas parade this year, with my only prior knowledge of Christmas parades being the iconic Macy’s parade in New York (depicted in movies such as Miracle on 34th Street) I imagined floats, gigantic balloons and marching bands!

Boy was I disappointed.

On Sunday, having persuaded my friend to go and watch it with me, we were patiently waiting among the crowds  for the ‘spectacle’ to start. Waiting in the drizzly rain from 1.30pm, the parade was late in starting. I got bored and left the crowds on Buchanan street and when I returned half an hour later, expecting to see the parade in full swing, it was nowhere to be seen!

Luckily I caught the tail end of it as it headed out from Royal Exchange Square back on to Buchanan Street.

To be fair to Hamley’s (the famous toy store that organised the parade), from the 100 or so participants who took part,  the costumes were brilliant – big, bright and elaborate, they were lively and they interacted with the spectators. But I can’t help thinking that they can do better.

I’m expecting bigger things in 2013!

Christmas tree angels

Larger than life

Hamley’s bear

The Santa Express

Stormtroopers do Christmas

Hamley’s, Glasgow