Weekend Wandering – London Calling

I’ve had a pretty busy couple of months with various things, work, Girl Guides, and other things which have not really caused too much stress but when it gets round to Spring I am usually ready for a little break from work. Unfortunately the University spring break and the College spring break do not match up at all. The Boyo and I really wanted to have at least a weekend away together and by chance he managed to find reasonably priced flights from Edinburgh into London City and a Monday that we could both had off. So we flew down to London for Easter weekend. I have never really been to London – apparently I was at London Zoo when I was very small and I have a fuzzy vague recollection of some penguins and I have been to Heathrow airport many times but I had only ever seen the proper sights of London on the tv.

We did not make any proper plans – our aim for the weekend was really just to wander and to see some of the main sites. We had a really good weekend but boy were my feet and knees sore afterwards! I would not say that I have fallen in love with London but I would definitely be quite happy to visit again.

London 2015 482 Early flight

London 2015 486 St. Pauls

London 2015 503 uh-oh, they caught me.

London 2015 530                                            London 2015 531

What’s the time?

London 2015 568 We went to see the longest running play in the world.

London 2015 582

On the way to find the Queen.

London 2015 598

The Boyo & I were upset the Queen was away. We had hoped to have a wee cup of tea and a scone with her.

London 2015 615

The Boyo requested this visit, I was not so enthused.

London 2015 648 London 2015 659

We managed to get tickets to a sold out performance in the Royal Albert Hall. Fantastic seats and a really wonderful show.

London 2015 669

I wish I could go to Hogwarts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Street Art.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Inside the British Library

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was quite excited to see Tower Bridge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Discovered that not only that my sister is a Saint she also has her own docks.

We had a really great weekend, we had late night food in Chinatown, a wander around a very busy Camden Market, coffee in Hyde park, admired the houses in Kensington, a small look at the massive British Museum, and, stood on a glass walkway above the Thames on Tower Bridge. I have probably missed a few things out as we really crammed as much as we could in. It was a bit of a different type of weekend wandering compared to our usual stomps around the Scottish Countryside but once in a while a city break is jolly good fun.

London 2015 566

Ps. After we got back we discovered a big jewellery heist had taken place just a street away from where we were wandering on the Saturday. We never noticed a thing but I was saying to the Boyo at the time it could be a scene from a Die Hard movie with an unknown heist taking place by fake workmen because the offices etc were deserted due to it being a holiday weekend!

Throwback Thursday #TBT – My Hong Kong Days

It is Chinese New Year today – Kung Hei Fat Choi! and 5 years ago this week I left Hong Kong and returned to Scotland. So I thought I would do a little reminiscing about my (nearly) 2 years in China & Hong Kong.

I left Hong Kong at around 24/26ºC and flew into Glasgow airport where it was around -9ºC. Thankfully my Dad was waiting with a coat and a blanket for me. I spent the rest of the month wearing 2 jumpers indoors much to the amusement of my family.

Jetlag is a funny thing and without knowing it I had become pretty used to Hong Kong so my first week back had a few interesting moments. I tried to reason with my Mum that is was perfectly acceptable to have chocolate cake at 8am as it was teatime in Hong Kong. I accidently swore when I walked into a door in M&S (a very minor swear word as I don’t normally swear at all) and an elderly lady gave me a funny look, I had forgotten that everyone now understood English again. 5 days after I got back we went up to Aberdeen for a University Open Day and it started to snow. I was so confused about time, I was cold and tea with milk tasted funny. My Aunt was pretty shocked when I asked for my tea black, I had previously had quite a bit of milk and 2 generous sugars in my cups of tea. I met up with my best friend who I hadn’t seen in nearly 8 months. I offered to buy her a coffee, when we got to the till I only had HK dollars as I had not been to the bank to change my money. Luckily she took sympathy and bought me my cup of mint tea and cookie. It took me months to get used to UK prices and pounds again. I did not realise how immersed I had become in Hong Kong life and although I was happy to be home it took me quite a while to get used to everything again.

There are certain aspects of life in Hong Kong I think I will always miss but I’m glad I made the decision to come back. I went to university to do a Masters, I got to spend a lot more time with my family & friends (especially my sister) and then I met The Boyo and I’m pretty content with my life now.

Working abroad is one of the best things I have done. I had amazing experiences, met lots of wonderful people, saw fantastic sights and I ate a lot of really good food. However working abroad gave me so much more. I developed many skills and I gained a lot of confidence and knowledge. For the first 6 months I lived in Zhongshan in Mainland China. With a population of 3 million it is pretty massive by UK standards but by Chinese standards not really big at all. There were not many other foreign people in Zhongshan and my height, fair hair and pale skin meant I couldn’t blend in at all. English wasn’t spoken and there wasn’t any media such as books or newspapers in the English Language available. The internet was also censored. In that situation you have to adapt and become resourceful. I definitely enjoyed my 6 months in Zhongshan but I was glad to move to Hong Kong where I managed to blend in a tiny bit more. I could probably write quite a bit on Teaching English as a Foreign Language but I’ll save that for a post another day. Hong Kong was challenging in other ways – it was so busy, working hours are long and then there is a very vibrant social scene. Hong Kong doesn’t really seem to sleep which can be a fantastic thing (Midnight wandering for food of any description!) but also pretty exhausting. The weather is fantastic but in July the heat and humidity are almost unbearable – most people will try to go on holiday then. There are so many things to see and do – Island hopping, treks, shopping, temples, museums, fortune telling, markets, races, theme parks and thats just the first few that come to mind.

Towards the end I was working 6 days a week and travelling for about 3 hours a day, I was tired and wanted to go back to University. I wanted to leave whilst I still loved Hong Kong and although I sometimes look back wistfully on those days I think I made the right decision. Although this week I have longed to go back but I think that is largely to do with the lack of sunshine and long hours at my computer over this winter.

AQua luna Bhudda Hong Kong M&S Many Classes Socialising Teacher Mode Tower of Buns Guilin Sevens

 

Merry

 

 

Merry in The Ferry..

Thursday Thoughts – Journeys and 8 Legs.

The events that have gone on throughout the world in the past week have been very sad. It makes you pause and think about how lucky we are.

Watching the news and seeing terrible images of war and destruction across the world has made me stop for a moment this week to look around and really appreciate all that we have and that in the UK our children are not growing up in fear of bombs or gunfire. I know we have problems here and that poverty is a very real issue for many but at least we live in a democracy and most of us sleep in a safe home, or in the knowledge that safe home is possible.

Aeroplane travel has become a common everyday thing. When booking a holiday I will think about the cost, the length of flight, what the food will be like, how terrible my skin feels after a long haul flight. I think about the films on offer and whether I’ll have enough leg room. I certainly don’t think of it as dangerous or that it could be a last journey. Indeed until I lived on the other side of the world I used to get positively excited about the actual plane journey. Travelling backwards and forwards from Hong Kong over two years took away that bit of enthusiasm for me but of course I still get excited about the destination. We make journeys all the time and we think nothing of it. All forms of travel do have dangers, today we on the radio that an entire family were killed in a car accident yesterday. I am not trying to fill us with fear about travel, rather what I am saying is that we should pause a moment and really reflect all that we have. I am guilty of rushing about, travelling about here and there without really pausing to think. It is fantastic that we can travel about so easily and in so many different ways we just need to remember sometimes to slow down and appreciate all that we have as we never know which journey might be our last.

In order not to finish off this post on a sad note I thought I’d give you a little home update.

We have well and truly settled into village life. So much so that we definitely do intend to buy in the area once we have the savings and job contracts etc. The house we are renting just now is fantastic and definitely feels like home but there are a couple of things we might be looking for in a house we buy that this house doesn’t offer at the moment. But as I say for the next year at least this will be our home.

One big problem I’ve had is to do with the 8 legged creepy crawly visitors. Whether it is because the house was empty for a year, or that we live in the country or because there isn’t plasterboard (painted brick walls in most of the house) for them to hide behind we have noticed (well I have screamed) spiders daily. The last straw was the other evening when we encountered 3 MASSIVE buggers without 15 minutes. I was on the internet the next day looking for solutions.

We are dealing with the problem in 3 ways.
Firstly I have de-cluttered all the windowsills where they like to build webs. This will make it easier to do frequent dusting to keep cobwebs at bay and it will also be easier for me to spot any that attempt to invade.

Secondly last night we got the pressure hose out and cleaned all of the windows, doorways and steps. Hopefully we blasted them away, especially any around our bedroom window. The Boyo is getting rather fed up with me waking him with nightmares and switching lights on in the middle of the night.

Thirdly I did what many librarians do, I went to Google and researched. I ended up buying 2 sprays. One from Amazon that is bit more hardcore and leaves a slight residue to discourage them building cobwebs and the second is from Betterware and contains horse chestnut which apparently they do not like and it will hopefully send the message that they are not welcome in the house. I have sprayed them around doors, windows and some nooks where I have seen them.

 

So here we have a three pronged attack on them I do feel a bit guilty but as long as they stop freaking me out completely by coming in the house then our lives will be a lot happier.

Tomorrows Foodie Friday will feature my very popular Chocolate Brownies and little bread rolls, perfect for any weekend picnics.

Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday is for What: What’s in a name?

Wednesday is for What.

 

My first Wednesday blog and this week my topic is What’s in a name?

 

Next week it will be a What I wore or a What I would Like post. It might even be a combination of both!

 

So what is in a name? My name isn’t actually Merry but it is close to my real name and the purpose of the name I’ve chosen is to give me a tiny bit privacy and to also motivate me. After all this blog really is all about me trying to be positive and Merry. If I leave out my real name I feel more able to use my voice. I have chosen to stay a little bit anonymous but everything is truthful in this blog and as such there are enough clues that if someone knows me in a personal context they are probably going to twig that it is me writing this blog – that’s fine I am not trying to be a secret agent. That is a career that would never have suited me as I am a truly hopeless liar. People can even tell on the phone if I’m trying a wee white fib. Oh well best to stick to honesty then. 

So why be Anonymous?

 Well I have wanted to do a blog for ages, I have tried in the past, one a travel based one when I lived abroad this failed due to having too much fun on said travels and internet not being readily available. The other was based on food when I set myself a cooking challenge a couple of years go. However my family had a really challenging year and blogging along with my social life fell to the wayside. So this is my third attempt – and funnily enough three is my lucky number!

 Over the last couple of years my own twitter account became clogged with all sorts of people, companies, tv shows, just about anything really and some were people that were related to my work. I just felt that it would be easier to start up a new twitter account and by changing my name it means I’m not instantly connected with my work and people at work are not finding out more about my personal life than needs be. Initially I planned not to talk about library related stuff on my new blog at all but quickly realised that my profession takes up a huge amount of my time and interests and occasionally there will be things that are library related that I’d like to chat about.

 So the little bit of privacy also gives me a little bit of confidence to start blogging without everyone I know looking at my fledgling attempts.

 

Is it Cowardly? 

Well a bit I suppose and I’m happy to admit that I’m nervous about facing criticism from my friends and family so starting this way eases me into the whole business. One of the main reasons I’ve started this blog is to boost my self esteem and I believe it will help me to achieve my ‘Be Merry and Happy and Healthy’ goals. I wasn’t in a great place this winter (I’ll talk another time about why) and this blog and the name I have chosen just reinforces my message to myself.

 Thoughts on Blogging

 I’m finding new people everyday who blog on a whole range of topics I find interesting.

 Fashion – some of the information I’ve discovered through the fashion blogger world has been really good. So many more options for clothes now both to buy (mostly through shops spoken about by plus sized fashion bloggers) and how to put the things I already own in a more interesting way. I bought a chunky necklace the other day that I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do with a few months ago. So great for my wardrobe, not so great for my wallet! I will occasionally post some fashion & accessories related stuff but mostly I’ll just enjoy reading the wide variety of people I have come across. Bloglovin is great for this. 

http://www.amilliondresses.com     @amilliondresses

http://littlebitofwowe.blogspot.se/   @LittleBitOfWowe

http://terribletumbles.blogspot.co.uk/ @thesmyth

 Food – oh so many food blogs. The cakes! Drool…. but food bloggers are also  inspiring me to become more inventive and healthy and sometimes more frugal as well. I’ll definitely post recipes on this blog. I wish there were more Scottish bloggers talking about foodie places to go nearby but I now have a huge list of places for trips South of the border!

 http://www.scotlandeatsout.blogspot.co.uk

http://www.thecakehunter.co.uk/ @thecakehunter

http://www.browneyedbaker.com @browneyedbaker 

Beauty – Not something that I anticipate I’ll ever really posy about because I’m useless in that department but I’ve made a couple of new purchases recently that have worked a treat thanks to reading some great beauty blogs. I still can’t paint my nails to save myself though.

 http://www.essiebutton.com @essiebutton

http://www.ascottishlass.com @laurziecooper 

Travel – Most of my escapades are in the UK now and I regularly do weekend countryside walks. I haven’t really come across many Scottish bloggers yet but if I do I’ll always enjoy tips for great walks or places to explore. I’m off to a more exotic location in June and have been looking through blogs to get some ideas of what to do when we are away.

 http://scottishlandscapes.tumblr.com/

http://truecoloursblog.blogspot.com/ 

Home – So many ideas, I wish I was better at DIY! 

http://www.younghouselove.com/ @younghouselove

http://apartmenttherapy.com

 Library  –  for this get on twitter and have a look at my ‘Library Folk’ list. So many Library related people around! 

Other – Everyday I’m finding new blogs on interesting topics, from time to time I’ll do a Follow Friday Post.

 

Anyway I hope some of those links are useful. To answer the question What’s in a name? for me the name I have chosen is a little reminder of who I am and what I hope to be.

 

Does anyone else blog under a different name? And any blogging tips for this new blogger would be most welcome, as would any other tips on interesting blogs to read.

 

Thank You! Merry 😎

Follow on Bloglovin

Thought of the day: Finance

Todays thought is quite long but finance isn’t much of a lightweight topic.

Listening to a discussion about mortgages on the radio on our way to work has me thinking about our finances.

We are planning to rent for the next two years until Boyo gets his permanent contract so we have time to save for our next mortgage.

Now I am thinking about various things:

* Ways that we can save money
* Keeping better household expenditure records
* And what are we actually aiming for?

I’ve got a lot of ideas buzzing in my head about becoming more frugal.

* My cooking – but still aiming to be both delicious and more healthy.
* Our hobbies – that is actually easy as the boyo and I like nothing more than wandering the great outdoors.
* Travel – we’ve already booked an expensive holiday to Hong Kong but our other jaunts could me UK based, short camping weekends.
* Challenging myself to become more fit and healthy so that I once again fit into more of my wardrobe and experimenting with what I have rather than buying anything new.

I think keeping better records of expenditure will help me to see where I could make potential savings and appreciate what I have more.

And lastly, what are we aiming for? Do we want a big house with lots of space? Or do we want somewhere that looks fantastic? Is the postcode important?
These are interesting questions and to answer properly we really need to think about our future, a family? pets? I don’t think the Boyo and I have grand or fancy ideas, after all any house can become a home with a bit of care and attention.

What are your thoughts? How do you budget? What are your priorties?

Thinking about all of this makes me feel terribly grown up, it’s not wonderful that so much revolves around money and whilst winning the lottery would be fantastic I think the important thing is to value what you ahave and embrace simple things which can lead to so much happiness. For me a walk in the fresh air with the Boyo is simply one of the best things around.

Follow on Bloglovin

Getting started…

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

So I’m Merry, this will (hopefully) be a blog filled with Stories of books, cakes and wanderings.

I will blether about Cakes from my kitchen and other places, thoughts on books and bookcases and wanderings, sometimes my mind and sometimes on walks in the lovely land of Scotland.

I currently live in a little seaside town but very soon the Boyo and I are moving to the countryside, closer to where we both work. Our plan is to rent for a couple of years so I’ll no doubt chat a little about making our rental house into a home for us.

Spring Blossom

I have great hope that one day I will get this little blog up and running. I have ideas buzzing around in my head all the time… but I have very little time! I was on another platform but have decided to give wordpress a go, fingers crossed!

So many things are going on just now – so many happy, positive things!

Spring Daffodils
IMG-20140409-01304

First of all I was a bridesmaid for my wonderful friends, it was a fantastic experience, the bride and the other bridesmaid are fantastic people – when I hear the saying ‘Friends are the family you choose for yourself’ it makes me think of them and how lucky I am that they have also chosen me too (I say chosen but pretty sure they just have not found a way to get rid of me in the last 12 years!). I may not plan on getting married myself (boyo and I completely committed to each other we just are not getting married) but I truly see that marriage is a very special ceremony and commitment to one another, I thought the day was just fantastic and it was so brilliant to see my friends joy in becoming husband and wife.

The same weekend of the wedding we discovered that the boyos house has sold and we are moving! Not a complete surprise as the flat has been up for sale since June – but still a bit of a shock to the system as we had sort of forgotten about the fact the one day we might be moving. So boyo went away with work for a week and I dashed about trying to find somewhere for us to live. I am delighted to say that we’ve found somewhere and whilst the boyo has not fallen as much for it as I have (lack of imagination – just wait until I get it all spruced up and made into our home) it will indeed be (hopefully) a happy home for us for the next two years.

Hall now a box storage area, mostly boxes of books! IMG-20140406-01289

I’m trying not to say too much or get overly excited (I’m failing, sooooo excited) until the sale of boyos place is finalised etc. But we have booked the removal people.. and we have 2 weeks to go… so I think it is happening. Currently our lovely flat looks like a war zone. A war zone where the weapons involved are bubble wrap, sellotape and many many boxes. Debris everywhere! The packing part is definitely not the entertaining part of moving – that is getting all our belongings out and transforming our new place from a house to a home. It is a rental property but I do intend to do some tweaks to the current decor which I hope to blog about someday!

Labels in the box, labels outside the box: label and bubble wrap crazy! IMG-20140419-01361</a

A note about packing – the librarian in me is showing – boxes are labelled with contents and the room they are to go in. Floor plans have been printed out to show removal people and any helpers on moving day where exactly all the furniture is to go. If only I wasn’t so un-artistic I could see this whole interior design being really fun… alas my lack of painting skills and seeing everything a bit squint means it isn’t to be. I’ve bought two new bookcases from a friend as well… my plans of having my own home mini library are slowly coming together!

The other exciting plans in our future – a holiday to Hong Kong. I cannot wait! I lived there for two years and it is such a fantastic place. We will be leaving in around 9 weeks for a ten day stay… so many things to do and see and eat! We booked the holiday before we knew we would be moving so it really will be a busy but fun couple of months!

Final ramblings….

Foodie tip: Tesco are doing jars of salted caramel sauce. Very good indeed! I baked a vanilla sponge cake and used a layer of this and chocolate buttercream as filling between the two layers. Tasty. Equally as good eaten straight out the jar – very naughty!

Yum Dundee City-20140414-01356

Wanderings: We’ve been so busy that we have not been for many countryside walks recently. Easter weekend we were free and the sun was shining: Hooray! So we walked Alyth and Loyal hill in Perthshire. We deliberatly chose somewhere a bit obscure as we knew that Dunkeld and Pitlochry would be very busy with the holiday weekend and weather coniciding together. On Easter Sunday we enjoyed a wander in our own little seaside town – we really are going to miss this place – with my sister. Perfect day for ice cream!

Springtime blossom – this makes me very merry indeed IMG-20140409-01305

Merry Ferry 😎