Places to visit Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized

Pittenweem

“Pittenweem, Pittenweem,
She’s every fisher laddie’s dream;
She guts the herrin doon by the quay,
And saves her kisses just for me.”

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Ahh Pittenweem (Baile na h-Uaimh in Scottish Gaelic), the beautiful little picturesque seaside village which sits on the coast of the kingdom of Fife. Sitting 11 miles south of St Andrews, the small fishing town with a population of around 1,700 people should be on your bucket list if you’re ever in the vicinity. Famous for its fish which are popular with families all across Scotland, it’s a village with a fascinating yet dark history.

What started off as an early Christian settlement many centuries ago, it was awarded the status of a Royal burgh by King James V in 1541. In 1705 it was the scene of a famous murder, in which a woman named Janet Cornfoot was falsely accused of being a witch and was lynched to death by a mob of locals. It’s history regarding witches is well worth a look into, as it’s very interesting.

The village is one that I hold close to my heart, with several of my relatives living in the village it’s a place where I spent a good number of days as a child visiting. It is also the place where my brother and my papa were laid to rest after they both sadly passed away, my brother loved it so much as a bairn that my parents decided it would be the best place to honour him. So it’s a place that holds a sentimental value to me naturally.

Onto a cheerier note though, if you’ve ever watched the visitscotland promo videos there’s a good chance you will have seen Pittenweem. Which brings me onto my next point, what to do?

The main place to go is the harbour, the views of the village from the pier is incredible. It is such a beautiful view, with the boats, shops and houses in the background it gives you a homely/calm feeling. It’s the type of view you would expect to see on a postcard. If you do visit the harbour then make sure you get yourself down to a place called the ice cream shop, the ice cream is truly phenomenal and with the amount of sweets available which are too good to turn down you’re sure to have a sugar rush for days.

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The ice cream shop at the harbour

Pittenweem priory was an augustinian priory which was built in 1318. Built over the ancient sacred cave associated with Saint Fillan, there is a stairwell linking the grounds to the cave but this has been closed off to members of the public. Although the site is now a parish kirk for the church of Scotland, the beautiful building still stands and is very impressive to visit. Most of the fortified east gatehouse still stands which can be dated back to the 15th century, as well as the gate house which is described as “one of Scotland’s best-preserved late medieval houses”.

St fillan’s cave is a hidden cave located on Cove wynd down next to the harbour. Being used as a chapel from the 7th century, it became popular with smugglers who used it for centuries but due to them using it as a rubbish dump the cave went off grid for a long time. In 1935 a horse fell down a hole which led to the rediscovery of the cave, and after being cleared of the rubbish it was refurbished and reopened to the public in 2000. The cave has a locked gate, but a key and an information leaflet are available from the Cocoa Tree Cafe which is close by at 9 High St. It costs £1 for an adult and kids go free. The church also occasionally holds services in the cave.

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St Fillan’s cave entrance on Cove wynd

There are several shops located throughout the town, as well as several beaches. If you’re ever lucky enough to visit when it’s sunny (which is a rarity for us in Scotland) then grab an ice cream and go sit down at the beach, it’s honestly sheer bliss.

 

Pittenweem is a lovely wee village which is the perfect place for a wee day away or a stopover. It is a wonderful example of a traditional Scottish fishing village and the type of place your bound to fall in love with. Happy travels folks!

 

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

 

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Places to visit Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized

Kilmartin

Kilmartin or Cille Mhàrtainn (in Gaelic) is a bonnie wee village in the Argyll and Bute area of Scotland. Famous for the Kilmartin Glen, which is said to have one of the “richest concentrations of prehistoric monuments and historical sites in Scotland”. Seriously though, this place is an archaeologists heaven.

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It’s a village that you won’t often find on the majority of mainstream guides, just like many of the hidden gems in Scotland it isn’t one of the must see places you’ll read or hear about on the tele or online. For someone who travels all over Scotland regularly I only discovered it by accident just recently, and it was honestly the best accident I’ve ever encountered.

What is there to do in Kilmartin?

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Kilmartin Parish Church 

Kilmartin is littered with things to see or do, literally. Kilmartin Glen alone contains over 350 monuments scattered within a 6 mile radius. It’s the location of a number of important Neolithic, bronze age and iron age sites. This includes Temple wood, which consists of North and South stone circles with a burial cist in the middle. It is estimated that these were in use around 3000 bc! Aswell as Temple wood there are several burial cairns, chambered cairns, standing stones and cup and ring marked rocks all within walking distance.

Carnasserie Castle is a ruined tower house approximately 2km north of Kilmartin. It was built around 1565 and 1572 and after being blown up by royalist forces in 1685 it fell into disuse. It was taken over by historic Scotland and is superbly preserved. It is completely free of charge to go in and explore.

The medieval hill fort of Dunadd is another must see site. Believed to be the capital of the kingdom of Dál Riata (an ancient Kingdom of the Scotti tribe) it has been traced back as far as the 6th century. It is free of charge to explore.

Kilmartin parish church dates back to 1835, though there had been previous churches on the site before it. It is home to the Kilmartin stones, 79 ancient grave stones with some dating back as far the 9th/10th century. There has been a lot of theories regarding the stones and having a connection to the Knights Templars, but these theories are unproven. The church also harbours the Kilmartin crosses which are traced back to the 9th/10th centuries. It is open for visitors between 09:00 and 16:00.

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Kilmartin House Museum 

Kilmartin house is an award winning museum which interprets the monuments in the area. It has a collection of excavated artifacts that have been found within the area. It cost £6.50 for an adult and £2 for a child. It is open between 10:00 and 17:30.

The last on the list to visit is Kilmartin Castle, which was built around 1580. It stands above the village and up until recently was up for sale for around a generous price of £400,000.

Getting there

It is based around 8 miles North of Lochgilphead and 30km south of Oban. It is accessible by the A816 which runs through the town. As always I recommend travelling by car, it has so many more pros than cons. If you’re travelling by train, the closest train station is Oban so you would need to get the bus from Oban to Kilmartin. Travelling by bus is a lot easier, there are lots of buses that go to Lochgilphead from Glasgow and many buses that go to Oban from all over Scotland. There are busses between Lochgilphead and Oban daily which pass through Kilmartin.

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If you love history, or are interested in Scottish culture then Kilmartin is the place to be. For a small village it is absolutely packed with jaw dropping sites, monuments and artifacts. It’s a place you will definitely not forget. Happy travels!
Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

Places to visit Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized

Inveraray

Scotland never fails to disappoint when it comes to scenery and history, and Inveraray is a fine example of this. Situated in the Argyll and Bute area of Scotland, Inveraray or Inbhir Aora as it’s known in Gaelic is a unique little town that is hidden away with the closest town Garelochhead being about 14 miles away.

Home to around 650 people it is a small town, but with several landmarks and attractions, the beautiful jaw dropping scenery and the history it boasts of it is a hit with tourists and easy to see why.

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The town was built in the 18th century and is described as “being one of the best examples of an 18th century new town in Scotland”. The town consists of many shops, coffee shops and restaurants. It also has a few popular tourist attractions, which brings me to my main point:

Things to do

For a small town Inveraray certainly has its fair share of things to keep you occupied.

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Inveraray jail is probably the most popular attraction. Built as a 19th century prison and court house it was used as a prison from 1820 until 1889, and carried on as a court house until 1954. It has been converted into a museum now showing what the living conditions were like for it’s prisoners, some as young as 7! It also tells you about individuals who were sent there and gives you an insight to their crimes and punishments. You can either get tickets for it online or at the door, buying online will save you a few bob. Prices are £9.50 for an adult, £5.85 for a child (under 5’s go free), and £8.95 for senior citizens and students.

Inveraray castle is next on the list. The home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell the castle is open to tourists who wish to explore it. The castle has been around since the 1400’s, but the iconic castle you see today was built in the 18th century. Visitors can explore the castle and the gardens, learn about the history of the castle and of Clan Campbell. Prices are £10 for adults, £9 for students and senior citizens and £7 for kids with under 5’s going free.

The two above are the main attractions in Inveraray, but there is plenty to do in and around the area. Why not take in the scenery of the beauty that is Loch Fyne? The longest sea Loch in Scotland. The spectacular scenery overlooking the loch will leave you breathless. With several pubs, restaurants and shops you certainly won’t be stuck for things to do.

When travelling around the Highlands of Scotland I always recommend taking a car to do it, there are just so many places that offer you beautiful views to not stop off at. If you aren’t travelling by car then your next option is the bus. There are a number of buses that go to and from Inveraray from a number of places around Scotland. There isn’t a train station within at least 10 miles of Inveraray so the train isn’t really ideal.

There a good number of hotels and campsites located in and around Inveraray.  There is also a caravan park and plenty of spots to wild camp at. If you are wild camping though remember and check the Scottish outdoor access code before you go.

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If you’re looking for places to visit in Scotland then Inveraray should definitely be up there on your list. With not only the town itself being something special, the drive to and from also offers you some of finest and stunning views in Scotland. If you have any questions or would like to tell us about your experience of Inveraray then please comment down below. Happy travels.

 

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

Gaelic, Uncategorized

My top ten Scottish Gaelic songs

*UPDATE* – I have noticed the majority of these songs linked have been taken down by their youtube channels for whatever reason so I have made an updated version, the link should be below:

https://outsideofthewell.com/2018/12/14/my-top-10-scottish-gaelic-songs-updated/

 

Ar cànain ‘s ár ceol!

Scottish Gaelic songs have been around for centuries, passed down from generation to generation. But due to the decline of Gaelic speakers in Scotland, finding Traditional Gaelic songs was a wee bit tricky in the past. But nowadays thanks to the Internet and things such as youtube, finding songs has never been easier.

There is just something about Gaelic music that makes it unique, it is such a beautiful language. Although some people do not understand the lyrics or the words, many people from across the globe feel some sort of connection to the music. I have been an avid listener for many years now, below are a list of my favourite songs with a link to them on youtube. If you have never listened to Gaelic music then why not give them a wee listen and see if you enjoy them:

10 – Puirt-A-Beul Set: Ribinnean Riomhach

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tPZ6wxph3G4

9 – Sios Dhan An Abhainn

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=X2toIQxHxiM

8 – Tha Mo Ghaol Air Àird a’ Chuan

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl-A5FJffik

7 – Canan nan Gaidheal

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BZWgJpsVYEU

6 – Oganaich Uir A Rinn M’fhagail

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5S3PJ3skBjs

5 – An Eala Bhàn

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6qWWgntTdO0

4 – Fear a Bhàta

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GHe2H2WOQXs

3 – Gràdh Geal Mo Chridhe

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Wll2o21LUbY

2 – Oran Fir Heisgeir (Gura Mis’ Tha Fo Mhighean) – Julie Fowlis

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FMapSWdJgUU

1 – Tàladah Chriosda

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nj44ICE_AAg

Interested in learning some basic Scottish Gaelic phrases? Follow the link below:

https://outsideofthewell.com/2016/12/29/scottish-gaelic-phrases/

 

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

Scottish hero's, Uncategorized

Sgt. Mackenzie – the unknown Scottish hero

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The last known picture of Sgt. Mackenzie

Sgt Charles Stuart Mackenzie 

Scotland has had more than it’s fair share of heroes from the past to present. From popular and famous warrior’s such as William Wallace to Robert the Bruce, to famous writers such as Robert Burns and Walter Scott. The list is endless. But one of the most inspiring and unsung heroes of our country is virtually unknown to many, the infamous Sgt. Charles Stuart Mackenzie.

The sad truth about Charles Mackenzie is that not much is known about him. No date of birth nor any information about his younger years are available. What we do know however is the harrowing tale of how he gave his life defending and saving his fallen friend and comrades on the battlefield.

During the years of ww1, Sgt Charles Stuart Mackenzie departed for France with the Seaforth Highlanders. His time spent there was cut short however after he was shot in the shoulder and ordered to return home for treatment. Whilst being treated by the surgeon, he was told that he was going to have to have his arm amputated. Sgt Mackenzie refused however, emphasising the fact he had to get back to his men in France. His loyalty to his men is something that would never leave him.

His loyalty wasn’t the only thing that makes him such an inspiration. On returning home from France after he was shot he was asked the question “what’s it like to kill the hun?” (Hun being a reference for German) to which he replied “what a waste of a fine body of men”. The respect and humanity he showed even towards his enemy after he had been shot showed the type of character he had.

After refusing to get his arm amputated, he embarked for France to meet up with his brothers in arms for one last final time. During a firefight with the Germans one of his soldiers who was also a close friend fell, badly injured. Knowing that the Germans were closing in and that they would almost certainly overrun their position he was left with a decision to make, stay and defend his fallen friend or flee and fall back to an area of safety. In what can only be described as an act of heroics, he stood his ground and fixed a bayonet to his gun. As the Germans began to charge, he stood and fought them in close combat using the bayonet on his rifle and his bare hands and feet. After killing several German soldiers he was inevitably and eventually struck down. He died on the battlefield due to bayonet wounds at the age of 35.

Due to his bravery and sacrifice that day he saved the life of his fallen friend and also of many more injured soldiers who lay behind him. Below is a quote from his great grandson Joseph Kilna Mackenzie.

“To the best of my knowledge, and taken from reports of the returning soldiers, one of his close friends fell, badly wounded. Charles stood his ground and fought until he was overcome and died from bayonet wounds. On that day, my great grandmother and my grandmother were sitting at the fire when the picture fell from the wall. My great grandmother looked, and said to my grandmother “Oh, my bonnie Charlie’s dead”. Sure enough a few days passed, and the local policeman brought the news – that Sgt. Charles Stuart MacKenzie had been killed in action. This same picture now hangs above my fireplace. A few years back my wife Christine died of cancer, and in my grief I looked at his picture to ask what gave him the strength to go on. It was then, in my mind, that I saw him lying on the field and wondered what his final thoughts were. The words and music just appeared into my head. I believe the men and women like yourself who are prepared to stand their ground for their family – for their friends – and for their country; deserve to be remembered, respected and honoured.” – Joseph Kilna Mackenzie

Joseph Kilna Mackenzie wrote a lament for his grandfather, named Sgt. Mackenzie. You may have heard some of it before if you have watched we were soldiers or end of watch in which the tune has been featured in. The words and the beautiful music of the bagpipes will send shivers down your back, it is a touching and beautiful tribute to such a great man. There is a copy of the lyrics at the bottom and a translation to English as it is written in Scots.

Although little is known about Charles Stuart Mackenzie, what we do know clearly show us the type of man he was. His courage, bravery, and loyalty even in his final moments, the fact he was willing to sacrifice and lay down his life to try and save a fallen friend is something that has to be admired. The humility, respect and dignity he conducted himself with is an inspiration in itself and to us all. The legend of Sgt Mackenzie will hopefully be remembered for a number of years to come. They say that “not all heroes wear capes”, which is true, as they tend to wear kilts instead.

Sgt. Mackenzie lament by Joseph Kilna Mackenzie:

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon

(Lay me down in the cold cold ground)

Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

(Where before many more have gone)

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon

(Lay me down in the cold cold ground)

Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

(Where before many more have gone)

When they come a wull staun ma groon

(When they come I will stand my ground)

Staun ma groon al nae be afraid

(Stand my ground I’ll not be afraid)

Thoughts awe hame tak awa ma fear

(Thoughts of home take away my fear)

Sweat an bluid hide ma veil awe tears

(Sweat and blood hide my veil of tears)

Ains a year say a prayer faur me

(Once a year say a prayer for me)

Close yir een an remember me

(Close your eyes and remember me)

Nair mair shall a see the sun

(Never more shall I see the sun)

For a fell tae a Germans gun

(For I fell to a Germans gun)

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon

(Lay me down in the cold cold ground)

Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

(Where before many more have gone)

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon

(Lay me down in the cold cold ground)

Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

(Where before many more have gone)

Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

(Where before many more have gone)

 

 

Travel, Uncategorized

Dusseldorf

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Rheinturm tower

When most people think of places in Germany to visit, Dusseldorf isn’t probably top of their list. Cities such as Berlin and Munich usually take the limelight with tourists. But like many non mainstream destinations, Dusseldorf is a hidden gem. A city enriched with culture and history, it is one of these places that you should definitely consider visiting in the future.

The capital city of the German state North Rhine-westphalia, Dusseldorf boasts of a population of over 600,000 making it the 7th most populated city in Germany. It is well renowned for its fashion and trade fairs, infact it is known as the fashion capital of Germany. it is also an international business and financial centre. In 2012 mercers quality of life survey ranked Dusseldorf the 6th most livable city in the world, and once you get there? It’s easy to see why.

I visited for a few nights with my friend recently, and to be honest I wasn’t really expecting much but for cheap flights and cheap accommodation it was an opportunity too good to turn down.

Things to do

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The most famous and iconic landmark is the Rheinturm tower, which stands at 280 metre tall and dominates the skyline. The telecommunications tower has an observations deck with spectacular views of the city and surrounding areas, it also hosts a revolving bar and restaurant . It costs €9 for entry, but if you’re looking to save a wee bit of cash then it is only €5 if you go before 11am or after 10pm.

If you want to experience the culture or nightlife then the place to be is Alstadt, the old town. The area consists of many bars, clubs and restaurants and is the place to be at night if you fancy a wee swally. It is also full of different shops so if you want to do a bit of shopping then you should definitely check it out.

There are lots museums in and around the city, with the majority of them being dedicated to art. There are countless ruins, parks, gardens and landmarks scattered throughout the city. Away from the attractions and onto the streets there are plenty of hidden gems, such as the free bookshelves in the streets. The policy is “take one, leave one” meaning that anyone can take a book to read, which I think personally is a brilliant incentive. The German markets are definitely worth a visit aswell, from fruit stalls to rides and attractions they’re sure to keep you entertained or busy.

Getting there

There are two major airports that serve Dusseldorf. Dusseldorf international airport (DUS) which is about a 10/15 minute drive from the city and Weeze airport (NRN) which is around an hours drive away. There is a direct train from DUS to Dusseldorf but not one from NRN. If you are travelling by train from Weeze airport you have to take the shuttle bus to the train station in Weeze, take a train to Kevelaer and then take another train to Dusseldorf. Remember if you are taking a train to make sure you have a ticket before you get on, you can’t purchase them on the train. The train conductor also doesn’t appreciate the “I’m a tourist, I never knew” patter, as we found out…

There are direct busses from both airports too, we never took the bus as it was a tad pricey but looking back now I wish we had as it would have saved a lot of time and hassle.

Dusseldorf is a great place to visit, whether it’s for a day, a week or a month it will not disappoint you. It is a city that will surprise you at every turn, and leave you wanting to go back. So if it’s not already then you should add it to your bucket list, you’ll be glad you did. Happy travels!

Places to visit Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized

Glen Etive

Places to visit in Scotland 

Glen Etive

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As someone who travels through the Highlands of Scotland on a regular basis, I honestly cannot help myself but stop every single time I pass and gaze at the beauty that Glen Etive has on show. It truly is an amazing place.

Glen Etive or Gleann Èite (the Gaelic spelling) is a glen located in the Scottish Highlands. The name Etive is believed to mean “little ugly one” from the Gaelic goddess associated with Loch Etive, which would leave you to believe that those Scots back in the day had a cracking sense of humour as nothing could be further from the truth.

It became semi famous in 2012 after the James Bond film Skyfall filmed a scene there, that left a lot of viewers asking the question “where is that?”. Moving from modern day blockbusters to ancient folklore now, the Fachen is also known as the dwarf of Glen Etive. This being a creature with half a body, a long black mane on it’s back, a mouth extremely wide and having such a terrifying appearance that it’s believed to induce heart attacks for those unlucky enough to see it. So er, try not to stumble across one if you can!

For those avid mountaineers and hill walkers, you’re spoiled for choice at Glen Etive. There are several peaks all around that fill up your view, I’ve made a wee list below:

  • Buachaille Etive Mòr (1,022m)
  • Ben Starav (1,078m)
  • Meail a’ Bhùiridh (1,108m)
  • Beinn Fhionnlaidh (959m)
  • Buachaille Etive Beag (958m)
  • Beinn Sgulaird (937m)

 

The river Etive which runs through is also a popular destination with kayakers. It is supposed to be one of the most challenging whitewater kayaking routes in the whole of Scotland. With grade 4 rapids, and a countless range of waterfalls and pools.

Travelling to Glen Etive can be easiest done by car. Approximately 11 miles to the southeast of Glencoe on the A82 is the road in and out of Glen Etive. It requires a good bit of concentration and observation skills though as it’s very easy to miss, and I mean very easy to miss. If you’re not travelling by car then your best bet is to get a bus to Glencoe and embark on good ole fashioned walking or cycling but with that being said it may take you a few hours, but surrounded by the beauty of the Highlands? I can’t imagine a nicer walk.

There are cottages and campsites available in the area but luckily as “wild camping” is legal in Scotland if you’re planning on camping then you can pretty much do it anywhere you like (within reason) make sure to check the Scottish outdoor association code below before you do though.

http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/Practical-guide/public/camping
Whether you’re visiting or just passing by, Glen Etive should be a place on your bucket list. A place you should stop and just take in and embrace the beauty in which the Scottish countryside has to offer.

Uncategorized

5 ways to be happy – number 4.

Let it go

When we think of let it go, our first thought nowadays is ailsa from frozen singing her wee Disney heart out. I’m not going to lie, I hated that song. It was on everywhere I went, like shops, social media, television etc.. But, in what can be described as the definition of irony, was that the hate I had for that song ended up forcing me take the decision to just “let it go”. Legit, it’s almost as if the song was trying to tell me something…. No but seriously, letting it go can be one of the hardest things you can ever mentally do. It’s easy to have a lot of guilt, pain or hate in your heart and mind. It’s easy to sit for hours, days, weeks, years regretting a decision and dwelling on it. It’s easy to just let negative thoughts eat away at you and consume your thoughts.

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” – Steve Maraboli

But after all the self pity, regret, heartache, grief, energy spent focusing on our past mistakes or things that annoy us it begs the question, what do we achieve by doing this? Well the answer is quite simple, nothing, nothing at all. Nothing positive will ever come from holding onto a memory or feeling that you can’t change. Sure it may be a valuable lesson learned in time and give you a chance to make a better decision in the future, but that’s all that it should do. It will eat away at you, and continue to eat away until you finally decide enough is enough and let it go.

Tell yourself, convince yourself that what is done is done and cannot be changed. Most importantly believe yourself when you tell yourself it! You can’t alter the past, it would be pretty awesome if you could but you can’t. What has happened has happened and there is nothing you can do that will change that.  

I found myself in the past spending hours on social media, scrolling through comments and questioning/pondering people’s motives and views. I’d noticed I’d become more and more resentful towards certain groups of people, disagreeing with them was one thing but when I was staying up to the early hours of the morning and getting myself worked up I knew I had a problem. That’s where letting it go helped me on my way to peace. I’ve always preached equality and peace, and although I may strongly disagree with another person’s opinions it doesn’t make their opinion any more valid than mines. I had became a hypocrite. I realised that although I view a debate or a new way of thinking as healthy, when it becomes an obsession it becomes more dangerous than good. By understanding the effect it was having on me helped me to make the change, to let go of all that negativity and just get on with my life rather than dwelling on what I’d saw. This in turn has made me clear some headspace and chill out rather than getting uptight most nights.

Finding happiness is all about being at peace with yourself and being positive rather than being consumed by negativity. For all the negative thoughts, hate, resentment and anger you may have you have to just let it go. The more you begin to do so you will see things in a whole new positive perspective.

Which brings me to number 4 on the list, Forgiveness. If you’re interested in reading my thoughts on Forgiveness It will be up on next week’s addition to the 5 ways to be happy next Monday.

Travel, Uncategorized

Solo Travelling

So you have your heart set on going somewhere but you have a problem, no one wants or can go with you. The very thought of passing up this opportunity or missing out on your dream trip can be horrible, and leave you in a devastated state with a bunch of what ifs playing on your mind for the rest of your days. But why should the fact no one can travel or join you make you miss out on what could be an amazing life changing experience? The answer is simple, it shouldn’t!

For several years I was always finding cheap getaways online and finding trips abroad which I was desperate to go on. I never did half the things I wanted to do or go to 90% of the places I desperately wanted to go to for the simple fact that, well, I didn’t want to go on my own. This held me back so much. It was killing me inside knowing that I love travelling and had a chance to visit so many different places but just couldn’t because “my friend’s couldn’t”. But not that long ago, in a spur of the moment decision I booked up a single return to Berlin. I just did it, I decided in that moment it was now or never and just went ahead with it. Shizer! That put me in a position where I had to go, or else I would lose out on money, the trip and also further potential bookings. This was a massive step in the right direction and I would emphasise that if you’re ever in that position then go ahead and do it, you will look back in the future and thank yourself for it.

Now of course the very thought of travelling alone can be daunting and scary, it’s only natural to feel that way. It’s funny that when we see a potential opportunity our minds simply focus on the negative elements rather than the positive ones. That was my problem, I grew up in a rough area so my first thought was always “what happens if someone jumps me or mugs me or something even worse?”. Obviously there are some dangers out there in the big bad world, but I’ll go into more detail further down the page.

If you are seriously looking at solo travelling then honestly go ahead and do it. The biggest regret you will have is not doing it. Honestly, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve when you step outside your comfort zone.

Meeting people:

One of my biggest fears about travelling alone was about meeting people. What if no one speaks English? What happens if they don’t like me? What happens if I have nothing in common with anyone? These are all genuine fears but there’s no need to panic. On my first solo trip I went to Berlin which is an awesome city! But I had all those negative thoughts about meeting people, I spent a lot of time being anxious before I left and when I got there. Fast forward 12 hours from when I first got there and I was like a zombie crawling in the door of my room at the hostel at 05:30 in the morning after having an absolutely amazing night and meeting some awesome people!

There are a good few ways to meet people when you’re travelling, here’s a little list of some:

  1. Pub crawl – I’ve discovered on my travels that many hostels/hotels do pub crawls within the area you’re visiting. Even if the place you’re staying at doesn’t there is sure to be one nearby. Pub crawls will cost you some cash but they are definitely worth it.
  2. Go online – with apps such as tinder and grindr, meeting people close to you is now easier than ever. If you want to try and get to know people prior your arrival why not try searching Facebook for the place you’re staying at to see if there is anyone else like yourself that has written on it. Online forums are usually filled with people looking to meet people, they’re definitely worth a look in aswell.
  3. Face to face Conversation – the hardest but at the same time easiest way to meet people. Staying in a hostel, especially in a shared room you are bound to engage in conversation with the people you’re sharing with. If you smoke, if someone is out having a cigarette at the same time you are why not try and start a conversation? Don’t be scared to talk to people in bars or clubs, or attractions. Making small talk with people can be hard but it can sometimes lead to good friendships.

Travelling by yourself can have it’s perks. The freedom of being able to do what you want, whenever you want, however you want can be amazing! Being able to just get up and do what you want without having to worry about if your friends want to do it or not is great. But, at times it will get tough. If you are going to somewhere where English isn’t the main language it can pose a whole lot of problems. Transportation, currency, and a whole load of other things can cause problems too. When travelling alone you have to make sure you are well prepared well in advance. Here are a few useful tips for planning your trip.

  1. Language – if it is a foreign country you’re visiting, try learning a few useful phrases before you go. Or take a back up list on your phone or on a piece of paper.
  2. Transportation – definitely worth a look into before you go. When I arrived in Berlin it took me over an hour to get the right train, after asking about 10 people and spending about 20 minutes on Google trying to find the right train to take. If you research what trains, buses, trams etc.. You need to take and their times before you go it will save a lot of time and stress for when you get there.
  3. Emergency supplies – when I travel, I always take a few extras just incase of an emergency. I take a small torch, rain poncho, hand warmers and a small first aid box. There is an extremely low chance I’ll need them and they take up a little room but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Taking things such as toilet roll and a pen and paper can always be handy depending on where you’re going aswell.
  4. Documentation – to be on the safe side it is always best printing out confirmations or bookings you have made. Taking more than one copy for things like your boarding passes is ideal aswell, if you keep them in separate places then in the small chance you lose them you should have a backup waiting for you.
  5. Know where you’re going – I know this sounds kind of obvious but it is important you do as much research before you go as you can. Finding out the distances between where you’re staying, attractions, means of transport amongst other things should give you a rough idea. Looking on things like Google maps and perhaps taking a few screenshots or printouts should also help you should you become lost or lose your Internet connection.
  6. Staying safe – regardless of where you’re going, you have to always keep your wits about you. Do a little reading into the area you’re going, see what places people tell you to avoid or that are high in crime. Find out if any crime in particular is common at certain places and be sure to avoid venturing into any neighbourhoods or alleyways that look dodgy. If you’re out after dark always try and stick to well lit or populated areas, and make sure you know where you’re going.

Solo travelling is honestly a life changing experience, you will be amazed at how much you learn about yourself and how much your confidence grows from doing it. You will not regret it, you’ll look back in the future and simply thank and be proud of yourself for going ahead with it. It took me years to finally pluck up the courage to do it, and since then I’ve been a further two times with another two booked for later dates. It is such a big step but it’s definitely worth it. Sometimes you’ve just got to decide to do it, otherwise you’ll look back in years to come wishing that you had. I hope this has helped and if you are going to go on a solo travel of your own, Happy travelling!

If you are looking at travelling and would like to save as much cash as you can check out:

https://outsideofthewell.com/2016/01/12/travelling-on-a-budget-2/

Educational, Gaelic, Uncategorized

Scottish Gaelic Phrases

Are you interested in learning Scottish Gaelic? Or perhaps you’d just like to know a couple of words or phrases? Learning Gaelic is now easier than ever. From multiple books, apps, TV shows, and youtube videos to councils and universities offering courses. Gaelic is going through a bit of a revival at the moment and interest in learning this beautiful language is growing more and more, day by day.

Scottish Gaelic, is a notoriously hard language to learn. It is nowhere near as simple or as basic as the English language. The Gaelic alphabet only consists of 18 letters, which means there is no J,K,Q,V,W,X,Y, or Z. There are a lot of differences regarding verbs, nouns etc… So it can be a bit of a head nip to learn.

I have written out a small list of phrases with their Gaelic spelling and their pronunciations in English written underneath them aswell. The pronunciation is written the way it sounds in English. These are some fairly basic and common phrases but hopefully they will give you a better understanding and help set you off in the right direction.

For example:

How are you (English) – Ciamar a tha sibh? (Gaelic)
Kimmer uh ha shiv (pronunciation)

Fine, thanks – Tha gu math, tapadh leat
Ha goo ma, tappuh let

Where are you from? – Co às a tha thu?
Coe ass uh ha oo?

I’m from (Glasgow) – ‘S ann à (Glaschu) a tha mi
Sa-oon a (glass-choo) uh ha mee

What’s your name? – Dè ‘n t-ainm a th’ort?
Jaen tannam uh horsht?

I am (John Smith) – Is mise (John Smith)
Iss meeshuh (John Smith)

I’m pleased to meet you – Tha mi toilicht’ coinneachadh ruibh
Ha mee tolleech-tch koen-yochugh roo-eer

Excuse me – Gabh mo leisgeul
Gav mo lishk-yal

You’re welcome – ‘S e ur beatha
Sheh our beh-huh

I don’t mind – Tha mi coma
Ha mee coe-muh

I’m sorry – Tha mi duilich
Ha mee dooleech

I love you – Tha gràdh agam ort
Ha gragh ackum orsht

Do you speak gaelic? – A bheil gàidhlig agad?
Uh vil ga-lick ackut?

Yes/no – Tha/chan eil
Ha/chan yil

Good night – Oidhche mhath
Uh-eech yuh va

Cheerio – Cheery
Tchee-ery

Good morning / evening – Madainn mhath/feasgar math
Madeen va/fesskur ma

That’s good – ‘S math sin
Smashin

Who is this/that? – Cò tha seo/sin?
Coe ha shaw/shin?

Introduce us – Cuir an aithne a chèile sinn
Koor un ann-yuh ch-yaeluh sheen

My goodness! – Mo chreach!
Mo chreach!

Congratulations to the both of you – Gu meal sibh bhur naidheachd
Goo m-yal shiv voor neh-ochk

Our music our language – Ar cànain ‘s ár ceol
Ar kahnan sar k-yawl

Keep Gaelic alive – Cúm Gàidhlig beò
Koom ga-leek b-yaw

For anyone genuinely looking to further their Gaelic skills then i’d highly recommend “Everyday Gaelic” by Morag MacNeil, which is an excellent book that is so easy to read and understand. Glasgow university offer courses aswell as do most of the councils in Scotland, with most of the council courses free. You have to book well in advance though as they have a tendency of becoming fully booked very fast. If you have access to BBC alba then it is always worth a watch, there is a programme called “speaking our language” which is well worth a watch.

Suas leis a’ Ghàidhlig!