Sometimes life gets tough. We all have those times, don't we, when certain things are difficult and everything feels sort of rubbish. I think the best trick for feeling better is speaking with your loved ones, but I also find that inspirational quotes can help me get a new perspective and make it easier to stick it out. I spend a lot of time on pinterest, which is a wondrous source of inspiring quotes and typography. Here are four favourites from my board of words and quotes.
Have you come across any inspiring quotes, words or images recently?
The first day that my friend was staying, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at a restaurant. I suggested Hillhead Bookclub, which is one of my favourite places in Glasgow. It's a pub/bar/restaurant located in the West End, just off Byres Road, in a beautiful building that used to be an old theatre. The interior is a quirky mix of new and old, with mismatched furniture and tableware, and the atmosphere is very relaxed and down to earth. I've been there a few times before; once for brunch back in September, another time for dinner, and a couple of times for drinks, and every time has been great. They've got plenty of vegetarian options and their veggie bean burger is incredible, so even though I'd had it once before I couldn't resist having it again. For dessert we shared a sticky toffee pudding; not the prettiest dessert, but so so so good. It was definitely a good meal!
On the second day of our Loch Lomond adventure, we woke up in our cosy B&B bedroom. After being served a massive full Scottish breakfast (although, since we didn't have the meat, perhaps it can't be called 'full'...), we got ready for another day of exploring. This day offered even better weather than the first day, with plenty of sunshine and high temperatures. It truly felt like summer! We decided to just wander around near Balloch, on the Eastern side of the lake. We started off by walking through Balloch Castle Country Park, and then just kept going. We didn't have a planned route or anything, and ended up trudging through sheep pastures, on small country roads and through woods. When we headed back to Glasgow in the evening, we were both exhausted from all the walking and from being outside in the sun all day, but it was a great day. It was really lovely to spend some time in the countryside. Loch Lomond is a beautiful place.
Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you've all had a good weekend, and a good week. :) Mine has been good, albeit not very eventful, in contrast with last week which was spent in full tourist mode as my friend was visiting, which incidentally brings me to my very first point!
Lately, these things have made me happy -
Having a really lovely week with my friend from back home. It's always lovely spending time with her. We can go weeks, sometimes months, without properly speaking, but whenever we see each other again it's like we've never been apart. It was also pretty great to have an excuse to be a bit of a tourist. We went to Loch Lomond (as you might've already seen in last Sunday's post; and there's another post coming up) and Edinburgh, in addition to spending a couple of days in Glasgow.
My family coming to visit on Tuesday. April seems to be the month of people visiting, and I'm really not complaining. My grandparents, my mum, my two aunts and my two sisters (yup, quite the big group) are coming for a few days to celebrate my grandma's 70th birthday. Most of them I haven't seen since I went home for Christmas, and one of my sisters I haven't seen since last summer! We always have a good time together, and I couldn't be more excited.
Spending time in the Botanics. Glasgow's Botanic Gardens are one of my absolute favourite places, and now that spring has arrived it's especially lovely. Not only because of the blossoming trees and all the daffodils, but also because of the sunshine that we've been treated with. Sitting on a bench in the sun for hours on end is so relaxing, and it makes revising so much easier.
Related to that is all the blossoming trees, especially magnolias. I can't get over how beautiful they are, and there's something about their presence that makes me really happy. In short, I'm really loving spring.
And on another similar topic - discovering the beautiful flowers in the photo above. They're the official flower of my home region in Sweden, so seeing them on the University grounds was such a happy surprise. I'm not sure what the most common name for them in English is, but Wikipedia tells me snake's head or chess flower.
The fact that this is my 100th post! I don't know why, but it does feel somehow significant to have reached that milestone. I'm so glad I dared to start a blog. I still love writing it and taking photos for it, and hopefully I'll stay around for another 100 posts, at least!
Finally, here are six blog posts that I've enjoyed reading recently:
I thought it was about time for another set of mini book reviews, since I've finished quite a few books since last time. I'm getting along really well with my Goodreads 2015 Challenge of reading 50 books this year. I'm currently reading Station Eleven, which is my sixteenth book of the year. Anyhow, here are four of the books I've read recently. I've included the blurb from the back of the book in italics.
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh Choose us. Choose life. Choose mortgage payments; choose washing machines; choose cars; choose sitting oan a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fuckin junk food intae yir mooth. Choose rotting away, pishing and shiteing yersel in a home, a total fuckin embarrassment tae the selfish, fucked-up brats ye've produced. Choose life.
Trainspotting was the very last novel I read for my uni courses this semester. It's not a book that I'd normally go for, so I'm glad I got to read it. It follows a group of friends, most of them junkies, through all their ups and downs, focusing mainly on Mark Renton (played by Ewan McGregor in the perhaps more well-known movie adaption). It's told in both standard English and Scots, so it can be a bit difficult to read, but the Scots really adds to the feeling of the book and I swear you get into it rather quickly. It's heavy with sarcasm, full of graphic descriptions of all sorts of human icky-ness, and there are plenty of uncomfortable scenes. On one hand, it's a depressing read that leaves you feeling a bit downhearted, but at the same time it's weirdly full of life and humour. The Bees by Laline Paull Flora 717 is a survivor. Born into the lowest class of the totalitarian hive society she is prepared to sacrifice everything for the Queen, surviving internal massacres, religious purges and terrifying invasions by vicious wasps. With each act of bravery her status grows, revealing both the enemies within and the sinister secrets that rule the hive. But when her instinct to serve is overwhelmed by a fierce and deeply forbidden maternal love, she breaks the most sacred law of all...
First things first - yes, it really is about bees. I wasn't entirely sure about this before I started reading it, but every single character in the book is a bee (well, apart from the wasps and spiders). It's a really intriguing idea, and seeing how a bee hive works is truly fascinating, but in all honesty I found the plot itself rather dull. It felt a bit all over the place, as if Paull just wanted to write about bees and then had to come up with some sort of plot. Moreover, the fact that the bees were sometimes very human and sometimes so obviously bees made the story difficult to get into, and I didn't feel like I ever got to know the main character (or should I say bee), Flora. Still, I admire the imagination of Paull and I did find it fascinating, so it wasn't all bad. It was alright, simply put.
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one option: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like all dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.
I've been meaning to read this one for ages, and I'm so glad I finally did. I'm not sure if it's what I expected, but nevertheless I loved it. The novel is set in a dystopian society; the U.S in the 20th century that has evolved into a totalitarian theocracy. It's a subtle yet compelling comment on the dangers of extremism and the society is very elegantly depicted. The most frightening thing about this extremist society is that it doesn't feel that far-fetched. The novel not action-filled in any way, but I loved how everything was revealed gradually, in fragments. It really put me on edge, wanting to read more. It's an incredibly well-written, interesting and thought-provoking book. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true. As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household she realizes the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands - but does she plan to save or destroy them? This book has been seen all over the place lately, and has been getting very mixed reviews. I was initially attracted by the beautiful cover, and then intrigued by the blurb on the back of the book. While this wasn't entirely what I expected (I thought it'd be even more of a creepy mystery thing), I did enjoy it. I love anything that is set in earlier centuries, and reading about 17th century Amsterdam was really interesting. Although I had hoped the mystery would be bigger and better, I still found it hard to stop reading as I wanted to know what would happen. While I don't think it's an amazing book, I do think it's a well-written, original and enjoyable book with some very interesting characters - including strong females, which is always a plus in my book.
What books have you read recently? Have you read any of these books, and in that case what did you think of them?
This space has been a bit neglected recently, since all of last week was entirely uneventful and then I had a friend staying for all of this week. But enough with the excuses! I've had a lovely week with my friend from back home and we really made the most of our days. Aside from exploring Glasgow, we also visited both Edinburgh and Loch Lomond. I had never been to Loch Lomond before, so I'm really chuffed I finally got to see it.
On Wednesday morning, we took the train up to Tarbet, near the Northern shore of Loch Lomond. We had sensible shoes on, our rucksacks were filled with provisions and we were ready to explore. Amateur hikers as we are, we optimistically thought that we would be able to walk all the way to Balloch on the most Southern shore, which according to Google maps would take about five hours. The walk was lovely - the sun was shining and the scenery was incredibly stunning. However, after five hours we had come about halfway and had reached the village of Luss, which is the first village in the photos. Five more hours of walking didn't feel very realistic, so we decided to take a bus from Luss to Balloch, which you can see in the second to last photo. In Balloch, we had booked a room in a cute wee B&B (the last photo is our room and the view from our window). After getting the keys, leaving our bags and resting for a while, we strolled around for a bit in the village, bought a few things for a picnic dinner from the nearest supermarket and then had an early night.
I hope you're all having, or have had (depending on when you're reading this), a wonderful Easter weekend. Mine has been quiet so far, but very nice all the same. I've had to do some revising, but I've also had plenty of time for lounging about, reading, watching tv-series and eating lots of chocolate. I've also ventured outside to get a breath of fresh air, which brings me on to my first point.
Recently, these things have put a smile on my face...
That we're having much milder temperatures and that it feels more and more like spring outside. Sure, there has been a lot of clouds and some rain up here in Scotland (we even had some hail the other week!), but we've also been treated to sunshine regularly, temperatures above 10C, and that distinct spring feeling in the air.
Related to that, moving the clocks forward last weekend, which has made a massive difference. I'm typing this at quarter to seven, and it's still bright outside! I've really been loving the lighter evenings, and they really do make me feel more energised.
Winning two beautiful Joules mugs in the lovely Charlotte's giveaway. I won two giveaways in the span of two weeks, and I really can't believe my luck! I have a bit of an obsession with mugs, but I haven't bought new ones in ages, so getting these was such a nice surprise. Not only are they gorgeous; they're also a really good size. They're simply a real joy to drink from!
All the Easter treats. Once Friday came around I took Easter as an excuse to eat lots of chocolate (like a lot of people, I'm guessing), which definitely brightened up the weekend and got me through all of the revision. I've also been enjoying hot cross buns, toasted and slathered with almond butter - along with a cup of tea, of course.
My friend coming to visit tomorrow. I've been by myself for a week now and although it has actually been surprisingly enjoyable, I'm really looking forward to getting some company. It will also be an excuse to explore Glasgow and the surrounding areas more. We're planning on visiting Edinburgh and taking a trip to Loch Lomond, which I'm really excited about. But most importantly, I'm really looking forward to catching up with my friend, since we haven't talked properly since New Year's.
Some of my favourite tv-series returning. After finishing Parks and Rec the other week, I felt a bit lost for a while. But then, Community returned (and although it's far from as good as it once was, it's still enjoyable), Outlander returned yesterday, and soon Game of Thrones will be back as well (I'm so so excited). I also watched Poldark over the weekend, which was really enjoyable. (I'm a sucker for period dramas, and Aidan Turner is very easy on the eyes.)
Finally, here are a few blog posts I've enjoyed reading over the past couple of weeks:
As you all probably know, right now is Easter weekend. Since money is a bit tight and my family is coming to visit in a couple of weeks anyway, I decided to stay in Glasgow over Easter. Plus, I have exams to revise for. Most people (including all of my friends) have gone home for the holidays, however, so I'm all alone. I honestly don't mind it though. Since I'm probably not the only one who will be alone over Easter, I thought I'd put together a wee list on how to have a happy Easter in your lonesome. Here is what to do...
1. Buy all the chocolate.
2. Eat said chocolate.
3. Lounge around in your jammies constantly.
4. Curl up in your bed or sofa and read a book (and eat chocolate).
5. ...or curl up and watch some episodes of a tv-series (I'm planning on giving Poldark a go).
6. Skype with your family and friends.
7. Drink countless cups of tea (or coffee, if that is what you prefer).
8. Ditch the make-up, because you won't see anyone anyway.
9. Go to bed as early or as late as you want to, and sleep for as long as you want.
10. Oh and did I mention that you should eat all the chocolate?