Miss You

I’ve spent the past few days in a cabin in Scotland with my family, no internet, and no cellphone reception. I was tempted to write “stuck with my family” but that sounded a little extreme, as it wasn’t all bad.

It was only somewhat bad.

Wait. Backtrack.

My father drove us – my mother, my sister and myself – up to Rowardennan on Thursday. It was an extremely long drive, just over six hours in total, most of it motorway. It was very dull and very exhausting just to be a passenger, and I imagine it took its toll on my father too. We stopped three times and even then, I still felt cramped and sick. (We got to stop at the famous Tebay services though which yay?)

Once we got there we settled into our cabin. Which isn’t as pokey as it sounds. We had rented this cabin/lodge just by the Rowardennan Hotel. There was a whole group of these cabins located on the shore of Loch Lomond, with their own little private beach area and jetty. The lodge was roomy and full of character – three rooms, big bathroom, big lounge/kitchen/living area and large balcony with a view of the mountains in the distance. The bedding and cushions were all themed over deer, highland cattle, sheep and foxes. The walls were exposed wood, the ceilings and floors too. It was kind of awesome. We settled in, and then my sister and I ventured to the jetty together. We sat at the end, right out in the Loch, and soaked in the sunshine and the incredible view. It was very quiet and very still, and I felt small and removed from reality in a way that felt good. Like that the holiday started out well, but over the next few days the reason we were there, alongside the close living quarters, would take its toll and it became a bit tense and awkward. We needed space and didn’t have any. We needed escape, but we were cut off from the things we would usually use to ignore each other – mainly, our phones/internet.

You see, we were there to scatter my Grandfathers ashes. He was born in Glasgow and spent his early life there before work took him to Southern Africa, where he would meet my grandmother and settle in to life there. When he died, my grandmother asked for him to be laid to rest in his homeland. As my father and his family, my family, are the ones living in the UK this became our task. When he was younger my grandfather was an avid outdoors man and the area around Loch Lomond was one of his favourite places to go to. He would stay at the youth hostel just up the road from the Rowardennan Hotel we were staying by. It was an area he knew and loved. Therefore it was decided that we would take him to be laid to rest there. It made for a very sad trip, a very tense trip, as we were all grieving in our own ways.

I wish grief could be more straightforward, more linear. I wish there was a beginning and an end to it. Instead, it comes back, so suddenly and with such clarity. These past few days it came back and I feel devastated all over again now.

Nonetheless, we found a perfect spot for his final resting place and had a small but beautiful memorial service for him. We also did some good walking, went to the aquarium, soaked in the quiet, calm atmosphere of our cabin, and the sunshine and warmth and beauty of Scotland in Spring, before braving the long drive back again. (The drive back felt even longer and more cramped, which I know is psychological but still) (We got to go to Tebay services again though so yay again?) I have to go back to work tomorrow and that’s going to be weird- I feel I’ve not been working enough lately, and I’ve become quite lethargic, quite lazy. My brain isn’t ready to focus on actually being productive…and well, these past few days have been so full on emotionally that I feel like I could do with a holiday to recover. :|

These photos are from the first day, taken from our Jetty. I may post up some more entries with more photos, I may not. This trip feels so personal and my feelings are still raw, so I am not sure if I can write about it.

“Someone seems to have painted my heart with repeated strokes and made a mistake”

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
View of Edinburgh from the castle
Misc pics of inside of Edinburgh Castle
Scottish Parliament
Palace of Holyrood House
Holyrood Abbey

From top to bottom: Edinburgh Castle, Scottish Parliament, Palace of Holyrood House, Holyrood Abbey

I’m again writing this on the train. It is really busy and noisy and I have the beginnings of a headache. I’m fairly sure the woman sitting next to me is reading this as I write, though I may be being paranoid.

My last day in Edinburgh was very nice although the bitterly cold weather, and the fact that it was my last day, put a slight damper on things.

I headed out to the castle first thing and got there just a little after it opens at 9am, except for some reason it was only going to open at 9:30am that day. So I stood and waited in the freezing cold – the temperature had plummeted even more, and the wind was beginning to pick up. Eventually we were allowed in and I entered eagerly and wondered up to the upper ward. Then, an alarm suddenly went off. We were ushered outside to a particular area by the staff, and so there was more waiting around, stood in the cold. After a little while we were given the clear to go exploring some more, and by this point the castle was busier, which was a shame – I had come early in the hope I’d have a little time where the castle wasn’t too busy. Nonetheless I spent the rest of the morning wondering around the castle. It was nice but a little disappointing – I think the expensive entrance fee had meant I’d gone in with too high expectations!

After the castle I walked down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyrood House. The Royal Mile consisted mostly of tourist shops selling anything tartan and/or woolen you could ever need. The palace itself was quite interesting. It was strange to think of anyone living there though – the place was cold, dark and slightly grim. The audio guide was also really disappointing – it kept ending by telling you to ask the staff for more information, why not have more information on the guide itself? The Abbey was lovely though – very beautiful and slightly haunting. The Queens Gallery was a bit disappointing – it was not my kind of art style and I regretted paying for it. I left the Palace and went back up the Royal Mile, looking for a museum that I’d randomly spotted on the way down, that had looked interesting. I did not find it on the way up, though I did find a nice shop that sold dairy free (for me) and non dairy free (for a relative) shortbread. I then decided to head back along the mile in search of that little museum, and found it, just a little way away from the palace i.e the end of the mile. Nice going, self. It was worth going to the effort though – the museum was the very small “The People’s Story.” Over three stories it had a variety of interesting displays on crime, punishment, work and play of the “ordinary people of Edinburgh.” It was fascinating to read about the dramatic changes over the last century especially. I had not seen this museum mentioned on any tourist sites and I was very glad I’d found it.

Afterwards I went back to the hotel – the wind had picked up and it was bitterly cold. I was tempted to stay in and order room service, but the room service menu was not appealing, so I rested a little, warmed up, and then dragged myself back out. I was glad I made the effort. I went to a korean restaurant. It was my first time eating Korean food since I went to Korea- back in 2012! The food was delicious and the service was really good – they gave me not one, but two freebies with my meal, brought me water when I didn’t ask, constantly asked if the food was good. Really attentive and nice. I really enjoyed it. I was in high spirits as I left the restaurant but… as I walked back it hit me that it was my last night and a lot of my fears and, my anxieties came to the surface… Have I just been running away? I’m still so worried about…things. I’m not looking forward to going back to university, I’m not looking forward to exam results, or that phone call telling me I didn’t pass the interview. I’m still exhausted and messed up.

So many things on my mind. Now I’m on the train, and soon I’m going to have to face them all.

“The fake light that is disappearing, the true light that is being born in these hands…”

Inside the National Science Museum
National Science Museum
Botanic Gardens
Botanic Gardens
Botanic Gardens
Portrait Gallery
Portrait Gallery
Portrait Gallery
Princes Street and National Gallery

Pictures, from top to bottom, right to left: National Science Museum, Royal Botanic Gardens, National Portrait Gallery, Princes Street, National Gallery

I miss-planned today.

I planned to get up early so I could have time to get ready and to enjoy my hotel breakfast to the fullest.

OK, so maybe I overestimated my hotel breakfast. I got up early, got ready and headed down – and it wasn’t quite the buffet I was expecting. I had a nice enough bacon and sausage sandwich which I wanted to follow with a selection of fresh fruit – except there wasn’t any fresh fruit, apart from limp looking grapefruit and orange. I’m more a tropical fruit fan. In the end I had a muffin. It was all painfully average. I then had an awkward half an hour wait in my room, with little to do, before I could head out – the botanic gardens I was heading to only opened at 10am, so there was such a thing as arriving too early. As it turns out, I was early anyway.

I left the hotel at 9 and walked to the bus stop and waited ages for the bus, somehow managed to get the bus and to get off the bus. Using buses in cities not your own is always confusing. Heck, even in my own city its confusing – its hard to know the rules, and very difficult to know where you are and where to get off. (So few buses bother to have displays telling you this…) Thankfully my GPS came through for me once more and I managed that. Alas, I ended up being 15 minutes early. I walked about in a circular route of the surrounding area until I was 5 minutes early, then I stood and huddled outside the gates. It was bitterly cold. Eventually someone came to open the gates- a very nice man from whom I bought a map and a ticket to the glasshouses and who showed me on said map how to get to the glasshouses and where to buy coffee – clearly what he thought were the priorities on such a cold day! I walked to the glasshouses but wasn’t sure if they were open yet so ended up having a meander around the rest of the gardens first. It was pretty barren but still quite nice – very quiet and still, which was relaxing. I love it when its so quiet the most dominant sound is that of the birds singing. I circled back round to the glasshouses and went in. They were amazing. There were many different glasshouses modelled after different environments – they had gorgeous orchids, and huge palms, even a cocoa tree, and cacti! And in the end, a mini aquarium. I had so much fun exploring and took a load of pictures. It also made me smile to see that the glasshouses are sponsored by tourism Malaysia – a lot of the signs talked about Malaysia and they had a little stall set up with Malaysian products like kaya and white guava and “kopi”. It made me feel nostalgic. Just yesterday I found myself face to face with a Tune Hotel. Malaysia is everywhere – perhaps it always was, its only now I’ve lived there that I’m noticing, that I’m paying attention, as these little things bring back memories…

Even in Japan, right outside Shinagawa station was a huge “visit Malaysia” sign.

Anyway, I emerged just after lunch time and made my way back to the gate. As I left the gardens the sound of tapping glass startled me and I turned round to see the man in the ticket office waving at me. I grinned and waved back then turned back to the main road. How sweet. Feeling cheerful now I waited for the bus, eager to get back to town. I was definitely thinking about a hot coffee by this point. The bus came and the bus driver helpfully instructed me where to get off, even giving me directions to where I wanted to go. Needless to say I got off at just the right point…to get to where I wanted to be yes, and also right in front of a Starbucks. I paid for a caramel soy latte and received a soy latte but nonetheless, it was nice to sit there with a hot coffee, writing out a postcard to my sister.

I’ve grown to appreciate Starbucks even more now that I know they do soy milk. I really wanted cereal for breakfast this morning, but I couldn’t as there was no milk alternative. Yesterday I was in Sainsbury’s looking for snacks – I cannot afford to buy lunch and supper, so I’ve decided to just have a large breakfast, snack regularly in the day , then have a large supper. And only the most expensive cereal bars were dairy free. Its a little annoying – the stuff is everywhere. -__-

Afterwards I walked down to the National Portrait gallery, which was a gorgeous building with some interesting paintings, not to mention a beautiful library. (I dream of having a library like that – wall to wall books, and where you need stairs to reach the upper levels.) I then headed on to the National Art Gallery – which was equally awesome – there were some truly beautiful, epic and startlingly lifelike paintings of people and scenery. Wonderful. As time went on though I did start to feel quite overwhelmed by all this art viewing, and was eager to eat. So I left and made my way to a Thai restaurant for supper. This restaurant was lovely – beautiful decor, nice staff and utterly delicious, authentic food – I had a starter, main and a dessert and I am so stuffed now, but in a very content way. It reminded me of being in Thailand – me and my sister were always eating when in Thailand. From restaurants, to cafeterias to street stalls, the food in Thailand was incredibly good – some days we had two suppers! It was just so good, and so cheap. Anyway, it was a bit awkward eating alone – I dislike how in this country its not seen as proper to eat alone. (Or even to be alone. Why are people in this country so afraid of their own company? Just the other day I was overhearing a girl talking about how she could hardly go to the cinema alone – why not???) Its one of the things I love about Japan – nobody cares if you eat alone, because there are plenty of other people doing so. I wish it was like that here – instead its slightly awkward. I got out of there and made my way back to my hotel and am now planning to curl up in bed and read, and take yet another early night.

I’m loving being on holiday. My anxiety is right round the corner, waiting for me, but right now I can push it away, ignore it as best I can. I’m having fun, doing nothing, indulging in hours of looking at plants and paintings and going to restaurants I technically cannot afford. It does feel a bit awkward coming here in non tourist season, as an obvious student, who actually looks like she’s 12 so who knows what people are thinking. But whatever. Whatever to everything. I’m on holiday, I’m having fun. Real life and its responsibilities can wait for a little bit.

“Will I be able to make it through after all? The weight of my cross filled with wrath and hate and this world filled with hopelessness?”

Wednesday, 29/01/2014 10:44:06

I’m sitting writing this on the train whilst struggling not to cry. These past few days which should have been amazing, have turned out badly.

On Sunday I woke up at 6am, left the house at 8am and trudged through the rain to the bus stop. I got on the bus and got to the station, and from there the train back home. Seeing my family again was nice, but it still feels so awkward to be at home. I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m home – I feel self conscious, and uncomfortable. Its very strange. On Monday I dragged myself out of bed at 5am, after hardly getting any sleep the night before. I do not know how I managed it – but I was ready by 6:15am. My poor father also had to get up early so he could drive me to the train station, to which we arrived too early, and stood, huddled into our clothes against the freezing cold. My train came and I made my way to my seat reservation, and waved enthusiastically to my father as the train pulled out the station. At this point I was still filled with hope, and probably a little hyper from lack of sleep. It was a long journey- at first I worked on my interview preparation, then as my hyper energy faded away, I leaned against the window and gazed outside, resting. I wanted to close my eyes and sleep, but the scenery was too beautiful as I passed through the lake district into Scotland. Lush green fields to snow covered hills… it was too wonderful to miss. At Edinburgh I changed to the next train and this journey was even more wonderful – curving around the coast, and I was luckily sat on the side of the train that faced the sea. Finally, I arrived into Aberdeen, exhausted and hungry, but still in a good mood. I went to the hotel and dumped my stuff and then went out for lunch. I didn’t stay out long, didn’t bother to explore – I was tired and it was cold. I went back to the hotel and half lay, half sat, with the intention of working on interview preparation. The next thing I knew I was waking up with no idea what time it was or even, for a moment, where I was. Thankfully it was 5.30pm and I had not missed the company dinner that night. I was exhausted though – all my earlier hyper energy gone. I got ready and went out and there were so many people at the dinner and I felt so awkward and out of place.

On Tuesday I woke up at 6am, again, and I was very tired by this point. I got a taxi at 7:15am. The taxi driver was a very talkative old man, who rambled on the entire way. It was strangely soothing listening to him talk – it kept me from my own thoughts, my own fear, that companion to hope. I arrived at the company soon enough. The job interview was quite something. I messed it up royally, and I ended up walking back from the company – a long walk, made uncomfortable in my inappropriate work shoes, but I wanted to work off my disappointment, my anger at myself, that terrible feeling of all your hope coming crashing down around you, slipping away from you. I got back to the hotel room and I sat down on the bed and cried for a good while. Although I just wanted to lie there and mope, I had made plans to meet with my uncle, his wife and my cousin that night. I was terribly nervous about the whole thing – I’ve not seen any of them in years. They were late so I sat the restaurant for half an hour, fretting. I was still filled with all the feelings of the day – nervous energy, dissapointment, regret. Thankfully when they showed up it was…it was actually quite nice. There were a couple of awkward moments, I was so tired and finding it hard to think straight, but for the most part it was OK. It was strange to see my cousin again, too. He’s grown up so much – I still remember him as a young boy but hes grown so tall now, and his voice is starting to change.

Everything about these past few days were so new and different, it left me feeling quite overwhelmed.

Afterwards I went back to the hotel and went to bed. I had to get up early tomorrow and I was determined to get some sleep.

Now I am on the train to Edinburgh. I’m trying not to think about exams, or about the interview, but I cannot help it. The latter especially. I loved Aberdeen, and I wanted the job so badly – more, after spending some time here. And I messed up. Because of my anxiety, because of my shyness, because I am just completely useless. Is there no space for someone like me in this world? I’m 21 and I…look at other people my age and feel alienated. I feel so useless. I feel so childish. I feel like with the way I am, I’m never going to get anywhere- and then what? What can I do if I just keep on failing to deal with this anxiety? I’m so upset. I just want to cry and cry and cry.

Not exactly the feelings I wanted to start my holiday with. The thing is, its not failing the job interview that gets me, its knowing I did not do my best. If I’d gone there and I’d lived up to my full potential – truly tried then I could deal. Its knowing that I messed up, its wondering what I could have been if only I hadn’t gotten the perfect answers to the interviewers questions, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes after the interview. I didn’t do my best, I didn’t show the side of myself I wanted. That I regret.

Wednesday, 29/01/2014 20:56:35

The train journey to Edinburgh was not particularly exciting, I kept checking my watch, waiting for it to end. I was feeling emotional and trapped in my own thoughts and I wanted to escape from those feelings.

I drew into Haymarket station just after lunch. Thanks to google maps, I found the hotel with ease. Its rather tucked away from central Edinburgh, buts its in a quiet area and as I found after I checked in, the rooms are absolutely massive, with high ceilings, and a huge bed and bathroom. It feels very luxurious for a not so expensive hotel. Compared to the last hotel, its significantly cheaper and much better quality – the room is warm and decorated nicely, and no signs of construction. (The hotel in Aberdeen was nice, but poorly heated/freezing cold, and lacking finishing touches – like a towel rail, a do not disturb sign – and there were signs of ongoing renovations everywhere.)

I stayed for a moment to organize myself then headed out to the National Museum of Scotland. Again, thanks to google maps I found it easily – went down the wrong road a couple of times but thanks to GPS I could see I was off route. Maps and GPS are one of the reasons even if a smartphone annoys me sometimes, I’ll never give it up. I think having something like that on you at all times is one of the most brilliant things about recent phones – my old smartphone could never cope. I have no sense of direction and get extremely panicked when I get lost, as I often used to back when I didn’t have a phone with GPS capabilities. Now, I don’t need to worry. I have the postcodes for all the places I want to be and can use GPS to make sure I’m not wondering around with no idea where I am or how to get back to somewhere familiar. (Really, its the GPS that matters – knowing where you are real time, without having to try and figure it out on a map, using street names and landmarks…is really great.)

Anyway, the museum was great. They had a fascinating exhibition on wooly mammoths and other ancient ancestors of todays elephants- they had some of the skeletons, the leg bones were the size of a small child! They also had an interesting exhbition on kabuki prints, and a room packed with taxidermy and skeletons – from t-rex, to giant land sloths and blue whale jaws (the whale jaws fitted around an african elephant!) I found it all fascinating. I also went up to the 7th floor garden terrace which was freezing, but afforded great views of Edinburgh. I spent the whole afternoon at the museum and emerged at 20 to 5 and ended up getting an early supper at 5 – the place I wanted to go was very close. I went to a Japanese restaurant, eager for katsudon. But the food was disappointing – cold green tea from a bottle, packed with preservatives, instant miso soup with no seaweed or tofu, the katsudon was lacking…it was nothing like I’d had in Japan, even the Japanese fast food chain did it better! And for much cheaper. I was a little disappointed. I walked back to the hotel afterwards and have spent the evening lazying about and trying not to feel guilty about it. I’m on holiday! Its OK not to do work! But I still feel guilty, like I’m doing something wrong by being here, by wanting some time off.

On the other hand it is great to be lazy, I had a fun afternoon at the museum, and I am looking forward to going to the botanic gardens and two art museums tomorrow. (Also tomorrow I’m having Thai food and hopefully that restaurant will be better!)