Hi everyone and welcome to this weeks blog post. This week I will be talking about my trip to Scotland. I will be talking about the need of a break, hotel breakfasts, castles and eating on my own as well as a few other things thrown in. So let’s get started.

“Scotland in November are you mad?”. You get odd looks when you say you are going away somewhere that is often wet and cold at this time of year. The truth is I am a winter person so to quote Elsa from Frozen “The Cold didn’t bother me anyway”. The last 2 years I have been abroad at this time of the year. I was hoping to do that this year but due to the timing of my annual leave and the Brexit deadline I wasn’t sure what would happen to stayed in the UK this year. I have been to Edinburgh a number of times now so want sure at first about going but decided that this time I would use it as a base and explore further out in Scotland.

I was looking forward to the few days away because I really needed some time away. This year has been busy and it has been tough on my wellbeing so I realised I needed the time to just check in with myself.

I got an early train so it meant I had more time on the Tuesday in Edinburgh. The weather was fine a bit cold but it was dry. I had a walk around the shops and the Royal Mile. I had booked to go to the theatre that night and a nice meal so wanted the daytime to be quite relaxed.

On Tuesday night I went to see The Barber Shop Chronicles. This is a play about different barber shops across the world and the role the barber shop plays in men’s lives. It was a show full of energy and human emotion. I really enjoyed it. I did have an issue with the person sat next to me as he kept falling asleep and only woke up when the music started or I subtly nudged him. He was talking to his wife before it started and then as soon as the lights went down he fell asleep. I have never seen anything like it. Half way through he did wake up and then was sat eating his sandwiches that he had brought with him. This was the evening performance although in a matinee it would be odd.

On the Wednesday I went to Stirling. I wanted to explore more of Scotland not just Edinburgh on this visit and Stirling appealed because it wasn’t too far away and had a lot of history and a castle. If there is anything I like more than coffee or Lego it’s a castle. My Dad used to take me all over looking at castles so this trip brought back memories of family holidays and day trips. I had never been to Stirling before. Looking around the castle I still got that urge to run around the battlements pretending I was either Robin Hood or a knight defending a castle under siege. It took me straight back to my childhood. It’s a great feeling.

After wandering around the castle and a visit to the Unicorn Cafe (The Scots love Unicorns) I went to the National Wallace Monument. This on the outskirts of the city and is heading towards the start of the Highlands. Wandering up the hill towards the monument with its gothic architecture towering over me it really felt eery. The route up was dotted with wooden sculptures telling the history of the monument and surrounding area. Once at the top of the hill there were fantastic views out towards the Highlands. The views were stunning and I was so glad it was such a clear day. On the way back to the centre I noticed a large bird of prey flying overhead. I am guessing a buzzard due to the size but I secretly hoped it was an eagle. This visit really brought back my childhood memories and it was what I needed.

On the Thursday I went to Falkirk. Like Stirling I had never been before but I was keen to go because of the Kelpies. The weather wasn’t great and after eventually finding the right bus to get there and battling the wind and the rain I finally found them. Giant Horse Spirits are not as easy to find as you would think. The statues were very impressive but there isn’t much more there to see. So after I walked around a couple of times and had some lunch at the visitor centre I headed back towards the centre. The centre of Falkirk was sad to see as like many town centres it has struggled with shop closures. I had hoped to go to see the Falkirk Wheel but it was the other side of Falkirk from where I was and because of the weather I decided to give it a miss and head back to Edinburgh.

Ok now I want to talk about hotel breakfast’s. Confession I usually avoid them. Mainly because I stay in budget hotels so they are usually massively over priced additional costs with poor quality food and more importantly rubbish coffee. I also don’t eat much at breakfast it’s only in the last few years that I ate anything before work before realising it was making me ill. This time due to being in a nicer hotel (they give a complimentary rubber duck called Bobby) I had a special offer that included a continental breakfast. Now despite not being a breakfast person I felt I neeed to eat this breakfast. I also felt I had to eat more than I normally would at home. I had cereal, 3 mini pastries and a whole toast rack. First of all why does toast taste better on a toast rack? and why don’t we use them more often? Also everything is smaller in hotels. Mini pastries, mini jams and marmalade’s, mini butter and even mini ketchup. The coffee was also good coffee and I had a pot of coffee each morning. It was totally worth it. On my last day I went down and the staff member in charge by now knew my name and said he was upgrading me to the cooked menu free of charge. This was a lovely gesture on my last day. So I ditched the cereal for Eggs Royale. I don’t usually have smoke salmon for breakfast but if I had the chance then why not.

Staying with the subject of food. I want to talk about eating on your own. I am used to eating out on my own and in fact it’s more common than it used to be. Still there are some interesting things you realise when you go out for a meal on your own. First staff either gush round you in case you are writing a review (well I will leave a review on TripAdvisor I suppose) or they just ignore you because you won’t be ordering that much. How staff treat me when dining on my own really determines whether I go back or not. Staff will often talk to customers who are there in groups or couples but very rarely if they are on their own. Some diners don’t want to be bothered but sometimes a little bit of conversation goes a long way.

By the end of Thursday I realised how anxious and stressed I have been lately. My body was reminding me why I needed the time off. Even when I arrived in my hotel room there was guide about relaxing and wellbeing next to my bed as if someone was dropping massive hint. I started to check in with myself while I was away. I probably need to have a proper two week break but I habit does that for years.. I need to make that happen next year. Once I took time out I realised how much has happen this year and the last few years. From wellbeing struggles, to work, to personal life. It has all taken its toll on me and this needs to change. The year isn’t over yet so I can still make changes although with the run up to Christmas things get very busy. I will try to make time each week for myself for the rest of the year.

Song of the Week – Frock Destroyers – Break Up Bye Bye

Top TV Programme of the Week – She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Book I Am Currently Reading – Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

Top Podcast of the Week – Feel Better, Live More.