Let’s break out of this city…

I woke early this morning (a fairly rare occurrence for me on a Saturday!) and was suddenly overcome with an urge to get out of the city. I promptly woke the other half (he wasn’t best pleased at first…) and suggested we ditch our previous plans for the day and head out of Manchester for some proper fresh air, peace and quiet and a chance to have a proper stretch of our legs! We packed a quick picnic and set off for Formby, on the Merseyside coast, around an hour or so away.

I don’t know what it was that grabbed me this morning, but have a feeling that it may have had something to do with the fact that it was the first weekend that I can remember where it’s been dry, had a small hint of blue sky, and has not been absolutely freezing!! I don’t want to lull either myself or any of you readers into a false sense of security, but for the first time it feels like the end of winter is almost in sight…

The grey clouds rolled in fairly quickly, but luckily for us it stayed dry! We had some fun attempting to run up big sand dunes (made me think of the ‘travelator’ at the end of Gladiators! Anyone else know what I’m on about!?) and running down the other side squealing with arms wheeling in the air in that pure childhood delight of not being in any way in control and not quite knowing whether or not you were going to stay on your feet. (I only landed on my bum once, but fairly spectacularly!). It made me think, how often as grown ups do we ever really let ourselves lose control, even just for a minute? Hardly ever for most people, I bet. I think it is good for the soul to do so now and then!

We then had a good long march up the beach for a few miles and back, breathing in that lovely salty fresh sea air. There is something about being at the seaside that I just love. It’s so invigorating but also I think grounding. I like to see the sea, to contemplate our smallness in comparison to everything else ‘out there’. I like to see and contemplate the boundaries of this little island we call home. I can’t imagine living in a land locked country. I used to live a 10 minute walk from the beach when I lived in Aberdeen while at university. I loved being able to go for a walk or run along the beach whenever I felt the need. To be able to just go and stand and look at the sea. I could see the sea and a lighthouse from my bedroom window if I craned my neck to the right angle. It gave me a lot of comfort at night to see the beam from that lighthoue flashing out, a reminder that there is other stuff out there beyond what is currently pre-occupying us in our day to day lives. I wish we lived closer to the sea now.

Soon it was time to perch a-top a sand dune with a lovely view of the sea and offshore wind farm, and enjoy a cup of tea from my new Orla Kiely flask (I am so in love with it!) and a toasted bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese and a little squeeze of lemon juice, yum! A perfect weekend lunch if you ask me ūüôā

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A walk around Dunnottar Castle

Last weekend I went to Aberdeen to visit a friend. Aberdeen is the city where I went to university and it’s always a happy¬†occurrence¬†for me to return. Sadly there are a lot less of my friends still living there now with people moving on to pastures new over recent years, but I still get up there for a visit every now and again. Whenever I’m in Aberdeen I always feel very nostalgic, I think this is probably common for anyone who doesn’t still live in the same place where they went to university. I feel a strong connection to a younger¬†version¬†of myself and to old friends and relationships. It’s strange how so many streets, restaurants and bars have strong connections to a certain person or event yet I don’t feel this nearly as much in Manchester, where I’ve actually been living for longer than I was in Aberdeen. Being there last weekend really made me miss Scotland and miss a time that seemed so much more simple care-free and where I felt a lot more independent than I do now here in Manchester. I used to know Aberdeen so well and could get around by myself easily, I still find Manchester a confusing place at times and find it overwhelmingly large. In Aberdeen, as a student, I had a clear purpose and was¬†passionate¬†about what I did. Now I’ve joined the real world and often wonder how I’ve ended up spending my days as I do and where I’m supposed to go next. Still, Manchester is where I met Rob and is where we have our lovely little house so things aren’t so bad! Aberdeen obliged and was its¬†usual¬†brilliant blue and sunny self, lifting my spirits and putting rain-sodden Manchester to shame. Did you know that Aberdeen actually gets the most hours of sunshine in the UK?! It’s just not¬†necessarily¬†the warmest! Perhaps that’s the real reason why things always seemed, literally, sunnier up there!

On the Saturday afternoon we drove just a little way out of the city to Dunnottar Castle, just outside Stonehaven. The castle is ruined but compared to many other ruined fortresses around the country still has an awful lot of its buildings¬†vaguely¬†in tact. The location, on a strip of rocky headland sticking out into the blue North Sea, is stunning. I stood in the castle gazing out of a “window” at the sea crashing against the rocks below, raising my eyes looking at the water stretching out into the horizon and marvelled at how the inhabitants would had admired the very same unchanging view many hundreds of years before. The castle’s location was clearly very strategic and therefore it was not surprising to learn that the Honours of Scotland, or the Scottish Crown Jewels, had been hidden here from Oliver Cromwell and his army during the¬†seventeenth¬†century. The beautiful cold sunny weather we enjoyed that day only added to the already spectacular, dramatic view.