Has it Been That Long?

Yes. Yes, it has.

Three years to be exact. And while it might appear that we dropped off the face of the earth in Scotland somewhere, I can assure you we didn’t. We did get sidetracked with moving and finding jobs and life stuff. You know, the usual.

But after three years–and too many changes to list here–we’re back! Hopefully we’ll be better at posting more content. Which leads me to the exciting changes. Okay, exciting for us but whateves.

This blog will continue to be a home for all our travel adventures, but we are also going to incorporate posts on other topics near and dear to our hearts. Which topics? So glad you asked! Primarily you’ll find us posting on Green/Healthy Living and Minimalism. With that said we retain the right to change, add, or delete topics as we see fit because life is always evolving and so are we. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at  LiveLifeDifferent for daily(ish) content.

We hope you stay tuned!

Angie & Brandon

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A Visit To Glasgow

We visited Scotland back in 2011, but we never had a chance to visit the city of Glasgow. Instead we ventured through the northern part of the country and stayed in Edinburgh for a couple days. This time around we wanted to make sure we made a stop in Glasgow to see what it was all about and to visit the amazing Glasgow Necropolis.

We stayed near the west end of the city, near Ruchill Park, in a very nice Airbnb. We had an amazing host who gave us advice on where to visit in the city and made us feel right at home. The area was picturesque, filled with historic flats and places to shop. In walking distance was the Glasgow Botanic Gardens located in the west end of the city. It features glasshouses uniquely designed and filled with a variety of plant life from around the world. The grounds are also filled with statues and gardens, making this a beautiful place to walk through.

Our next stop was at the Riverside Museum. The outside of the building has a modern unique design and is located on the site of the former A. & J. Inglis Shipyard, on the north bank of the River Clyde in the Glasgow harbor. The museum has a number of collections and features over 3,000 objects including a number of cars, trains, buses and much more.

The museum also has three streets that you can walk through. The street displays capture three different time periods in Glasgow history. The first street covers 1895-1930, the second covers the 1930s-1960s, and the third covers the 1960s-1980s. These streets are a fun way to step back in time and imagine how life was in Glasgow. The Riverside museum is a fun museum that is certainly different from the majority of museums out there.

And finally we saved the best for last with a visit to the Glasgow Necropolis. This was one of the largest and oldest cemeteries that we’ve ever visited. The history and the sights are breath-taking, making the Necropolis the most interesting spot we visited during our time in Glasgow. I can understand why people travel from around the world to come and see this amazing place.

Established in 1832, the majority of the graveyard sits on top of a hill overlooking the city. There are more than 50,000 individuals buried in this graveyard. It is filled with giant monuments with some reaching well over 35 feet tall. We spent hours walking through, looking at all of the monuments and taking in the view of Glasgow below. Even If you’re not one to typically visit a graveyard, this is a must see. To read more on Angie’s personal experience at the Necropolis, you can visit her website here.

Overall, Glasgow is a very welcoming city with many places to visit. We had a lot of fun and would be happy to return the next time we visit Scotland. There’s still a lot that we didn’t get to see this time around.

Cheers, Brandon

English Wanderings

When we weren’t relaxing in Cirencester or jetting off to Dublin for a few days, we spent our time (with the lovely Trotters) exploring the nearby towns.

In Hollybush, Worcestershire we visited the All Saints Church & graveyard and enjoyed a delicious picnic overlooking the countryside.

In Herefordshire we hiked a portion of the Malvern Hills, ate yummy ice cream and relaxed with a pint of cider.

In Gloucester, Gloucestershire we visited the Gloucester Cathedral and snapped photos of where various Harry Potter scenes were filmed.

In Stroud, Gloucestershire we cruised through an outdoor farmer’s market, checked out yet another cemetery and enjoyed a cuppa tea and hot chocolate.

It would be impossible for me to write down each of these stops with great detail. I think pictures speak louder than words. And with this post we say goodbye to England. What an amazing time we had! Our next couple of posts will be about our time spent in Scotland.

Side note: I suppose I must say a quick word on Britain voting to leave the European Union last week. Everyone we met and talked with was eager for the vote and eager to stay in the EU. I’ll never claim to know the inner workings of politics – especially those of another country – but I will say this: in a world where so many people strive pull us apart, staying united is all the more important.

 

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A Visit To Dublin

We’ve never been to Dublin, or anywhere else in Ireland, so we were excited to visit a new country and take in some new sights. As a bonus, my parents (Brandon) happened to be traveling through Dublin at the same time, so we had the opportunity to visit with them and a couple friends who live nearby Dublin.

We stayed at an Airbnb located in Irishtown. It’s a quiet and pretty neighborhood that is nearby a picturesque harbor and about a 40 minute walk from the core of downtown. We were spoiled with hot and sunny weather for most of our stay in Dublin and enjoyed soaking up the sun.

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The highlight of this trip for us – in terms of places to see – was the Book of Kells Exhibition at Trinity College. This is one of the major attractions at Trinity College and located in the heart of Dublin. The tour allowed for visitors to view the Book of Kells under glass and to walk through the old library called the Long Room. The Book of Kells is said to be one of the oldest books still in existence dating back to the year 800.  The Long Room library was built roughly between the years of 1712 and 1732 and houses 200,000 of the libraries oldest books.

The first room that you enter at the start of the tour features the Book of Kells. It was interesting to see a book that is so old.  Apparently Trinity College turns one page from the book every day. After that we headed into the Long Room. For both of us this is really where the tour became worth it. Never before have we witnessed an old library quite like this one. Thousands of old books perfectly placed upon massive shelves reached up to the ceiling. The rounded ceilings were added in the mid eighteenth century to accommodate the growing number of books being added to the library. These are architectural masterpieces with not an inch of detail missed. It was hard to leave such a spectacular place like this one. To stand inside a room filled with so much history was really something special.

The heart of downtown Dublin is filled with many shops and pubs EVERYWHERE. This is to be expected and allows for one to really dive into some rich historic Irish culture. Every pub is packed in the evenings and the environment is amazing. The local brews always go down smooth and we had the opportunity to drink our beers outside one of the pubs and wander around the alley of pubs nearby. To be able to stand in the alleyway and drink was a really neat feeling and allowed for us to embrace part of the Irish culture. When visiting Dublin it’s a must to stop into some of the local pubs to sample some of the amazing food, local drinks, and excellent entertainment.

We had the opportunity to walk past the Jameson distillery and the Guinness brewery along with many other shops from old book stores to typical touristy Irish shops selling souvenirs. It was also fun visiting the National Museum of Ireland and taking in collections featuring Vikings in Ireland right to ancient Egypt. Dublin, of course, has a lot of history within it’s architecture but there is also a lot of modern architecture throughout the city as well. Walking around the city is a lot of fun and the sights are beautiful.

With the limited amount of time we had in Dublin we didn’t get to see as many things as we would have liked to, but from what we did see we can safely say that Dublin is a great city to visit. There’s certainly something for everyone and the vibe of the city is upbeat and busy. Whether it’s visiting the museums, Trinity College, pubs, Guinness or Jameson tours (the list goes on and on), Dublin is a fun place with lots to see and do!

Cheers, Brandon

An Education In Oxford

OXFORD!

Okay I couldn’t think of a clever way to start this, but yelling Oxford seemed appropriate. It conveys excitement which is spot on in my opinion.

We only had a day in Oxford, actually more like eight hours (with travel time included), and let me tell you that wasn’t enough time. Nope, not by a long shot. Oxford is jammed packed with history and students and culture. If you plan to visit, which you should, please go for longer than a day. Now that we’ve cleared that up….

OXFORD!

What an amazing little town. Obviously it’s known for the University which is quite literally THE WHOLE PLACE. Yep, it’s everywhere. Apparently the University owns like everything (I might be exaggerating) and all the buildings represent the individual colleges within the University. But I’m not here to give you a lesson on Oxford University. I’m here to tell you what we did in that short frame of time. Well, the answer is a lot.

First off we found a cemetery right in the middle of the town so we stopped for a few pictures. Unfortunately we weren’t able to actually go into the graveyard but it still counts towards #1000cemeteries because I say so.

Next we decided to take a free two hour walking tour of Oxford with a company called Footprints. The tour covered quite a bit of ground and our guide, Tom, was extremely knowledgeable on the town’s history. It helped that he was not only born and bred in Oxford but that he also attended the University as a History student. He also happens to be a writer which is really cool because he talked a bit about J.R.R. Tolkien (more on that later).

The tour was amazing and I would highly recommend them. The two hours fly by and I was sad when it ended. Had we been there longer I’m certain we would have signed up for one of their other tours.

Before I move forward, let me back track a bit here. When we had mentioned to friends that Oxford was on our list of places we’d like to visit, we were pleasantly surprised just how many recommendations we received on things to see and do. One of those recommendations was the Ashmolean Museum – another of England’s fabulously free museums (Canada you need to take a page from their book). This museum is focused on art and archaeology – right up our alley – and was founded in 1683! Their collection is diverse and, in their own words, focuses on ‘telling human stories across cultures and across time’. Pretty amazing!

Sadly, the only downside of the Ashmolean is their hours. Having finished the tour at 4:00pm we had exactly one hour to speed walk to the museum and check out as much as we could before they closed. We ended up spending 40 minutes racing through the first two floors of the museum before having to leave. Again, not enough time! We did manage to snap a selfie outside the building – the only photo evidence that we were there.

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With less than three hours before we had to catch a train back to Cirencester, we decided to find a place to sit, eat, drink and be merry. Our lovely friend Nell had recommended a charming pub called Turf Tavern. She warned us it was a bit difficult to find (they even mention this fact on their website) but worth it. We found it easily enough (surprisingly) but so had everyone else in the town. When we rounded the corner there were hoards of people lined up to get in. Hoping to sit down to eat, we decided instead to take a few pictures then hunt for another pub.

Thankfully I remembered a blog post on Oxford where the woman recommended a pub called The Eagle and Child. This is no ordinary pub, folks. Well it is BUT, it is also the very location where the famous J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (along with several others) held their literary discussion group for nearly two decades (early 1930s – 1949). They were called the Inklings and they met every Tuesday morning.

As a writer this was a huge moment for me. To be in the very pub where the author of The Lord of the Rings used to ‘hang out’ was pretty amazing!

There is even a bunch of plaques and photos on the wall in the corner where they gathered. It just so happened a table was free in that corner. We celebrated my writer geek moment with beer and cider and a plate full of greasy goodness. I’m sure it’s what Tolkien would have recommended.

Belly full and heart happy, we spent the remainder of our time at Blackwell’s bookstore because writer *points to self*. I picked up a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle called Lot No. 249 which is about an Egyptian mummy in Oxford. How appropriate.

And that was Oxford! It’s a must-see stop in England, at least it is in my very humble opinion. 🙂

Till next time,

xo Angie

 

 

 

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Falling In Love With The Cotswolds

How do you sum up two weeks(ish) spent in the Cotswolds in one blog post? The answer is you can’t. It’s simply not possible to cram all the Cotswold goodness into one post. Trust me, I’ve tried. And because we are dreadfully behind on our blogging (sorry) I figured why even bother to try. So the posts will continue to go up in a rather sluggish way, even when we’re back in Canada. That is our promise. Now then, back to the picturesque Cotswolds.

We arrived in Cirencester, Gloucestershire on May 10 (shhh I know it’s a long time ago) to a very warm welcome by our lovely friends Jane and Gerry. They welcomed us into their home like we were family even though we’d only met once through their lovely daughter Clare. Nonetheless we immediately felt right at home.

Jane, the lovely lady that she is, baked me a cake for my birthday (May 9) and they all sang happy birthday to me. See? Awesomeness!

Cirencester, known as the Capital of the Cotswolds, is a market town located in Gloucestershire. Founded by Romans in about A.D. 49, it was originally named Corinium. This town has loads of charm with great pubs, cafés and shops. At the heart of the town is the St. John the Baptist parish church which has a lovely graveyard. Of course we stopped in because #1000Cemeteries.

Cirencester is pretty much my idea of heaven. When I have lofty dreams of becoming a successful writer with enough income to purchase a quite cottage in England, this is where I’m thinking of.

I can live here, yes?

The town lies along the River Churn, which flows into the River Thames. Tall Cotswold stone buildings line the narrow streets which curve throughout the town. It also boast the tallest yew hedge in Britain stretching over 40ft high.  This hedge can be found on the Bathurst Estate owned by Lord Allen Apsley. It’s pretty cool!

Every day we’d walk into the centre of town along a pathway that followed a lovely stream where several ducklings liked to play alongside their mother. On the other side of the pathway stretched an open field where cattle lazily munched on grass.

Evey year there’s a Cirencester March Hare Festival (learn more here) where large hare statues are painted and bid on. We stumbled across two of these hares. Super cute! They reminded me of the polar bears in Winnipeg.

It was in Cirencester that I cultivated my taste for cider. Oh how I love ciders! Brandon made it his mission to try as many of the local beers as possible. It’s also where I tried marmite and pimms for the first time, had the best waffles EVER and a pizza so yummy that I wished it replenished itself so I could eat more. Not to mention all the tasty home cooked meals that Jane and Gerry made for us. An education in food and drink!

And that folks, was Cirencester. We loved it and were super sad to leave Jane and Gerry and their beautiful town. But I can say with absolute certainty, we will be back!

Next time I’ll share our journey throughout the Cotswolds!

xo Angie

26 Years Late, But I Finally Received My Hogwarts Letter

Well, I finally found a coffee shop here in Cirencester that provided free WiFi (thank you Starbucks) and I decided that today was a good day to share my Hogwarts experience.

As you might assume from the title of this post, we decided to visit The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London (The Making of Harry Potter) on my 37th birthday.  Yes, my letter to Hogwarts didn’t arrive on my eleventh birthday but better late than never, right?

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We arrived early (WAY TOO early) because I was excited and freaked out we’d somehow miss the train or something and we’d miss our tour. I’m a bit neurotic with things like that, just ask Brandon.

After picking up our tickets we ate the sandwiches we’d packed for the road. I probably ate in record time because EXCITE. Inside we headed straight to the gift shop (I do love a good shop!) to kill some time and browse all the things. I knew I wanted to purchase some sort of souvenir but when I walked in I quickly realized if I wasn’t careful I would spend all of our money on decking myself out in full Harry Potter gear. I made about five rounds of the shop (which was quite sizable) before announcing that I must have a wand. I decided that Hermione Granger’s wand was perfect for my needs.

Here's a horrible photo of my wand. Sorry, it's not easy capturing the details.

Here’s a horrible photo of my wand. Sorry, it’s not easy capturing the details.

That settled, we headed off to join the line for the big tour. We entered into a room where a lovely tour guide gave us a brief welcome and tried to get us all pumped up for the tour. I must admit the crowd was rather subdued and I felt rather odd when I cheered upon asking Are you excited? Because HELL YES, I AM!

Anyway, off to another theater-style room where we watched a compilation of the best bits of the movie. Then the lights went up – along with the screen – to reveal the doors to the Great Hall. Now I knew from friends that if it was your birthday, you’d get to open the doors. I had been looking forward to that moment all day. But when the screen went up, I realized we were in the absolute worst position possible. We were right at the back of the theater in the very last row! I was NOT about to miss my opportunity.

When the guide called for the birthday people I elbowed *ahem* carefully weaved my way through the crowd to join the other two birthday women (Yes, women. No children that day). Sadly Brandon wasn’t as pushy crowd-weaving savvy as I am, and wasn’t able to snap a photo of my big moment. But I did take a selfie because IT WAS MY BIG MOMENT!

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I did wait till Brandon joined me before moving on through the Great Hall (aren’t I a peach?) but from that moment on he was on his own. I turned into a little kid, running walking carefully through the sets and displays, snapping photos and selfies like my life depended upon it.

Each area revealed more detail than I could take in. It was overwhelming but in a really good way. I couldn’t focus enough to read the write-ups near the displays, but I did manage to stand still long enough to watch a few of the videos they had playing around the sets.

I think what struck me the most was the amount of detail put into each prop. There was something like 17,000 boxes of wands in Ollivander’s shop and each one had a handwritten label. HANDWRITTEN!

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My favourite sets included the The Burrow, Dumbledore’s Office and the Gryffindor Common Room. I would have been quite happy to move into the Burrow and live there. Here, take a look…

But really, every set was amazing. I loved how they had the actors clothing on display and all the interactive bits. I even made the brush scrub the dishes in the Burrow!

 

The massive woven tapestry which outlined the entire Black family tree had actual burn marks on it! This beautiful wall hanging had been carefully woven and then burned. Now that is dedication to detail.

Diagon Alley was another favourite of ours. Again the detail was stunning. We spotted the Hogwarts train at Platform 9 3/4 and snapped a few pictures before a quick stop for Butterbeer ice cream in the backlot cafe. Which by the way, is very sweet and yummy!

The second part of the tour was outside and contained the larger outdoor sets. Thankfully we had lovely weather and were able to stop by each set for a picture.

Next was the special effects area and the models of Hogwarts. Both were really cool. One of the tour guides revealed a little secret about Luna Lovegood’s feet in a particular scene. But I’ll never tell!  We also  saw an animatronic Hagrid head which was so life like that it was scary.

Then just like that, it was over. We went through the entire tour in a couple of hours. Part of me wanted to stay longer and take in every small detail I’d missed, but I really think you could spend days in there and not see it all. Apparently the record for longest time spent in the studio was 13 hours! It seems like a lot but if you really took your time and read everything, I can see how you could lose time in there.

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There are very few words which can adequately describe the feeling you get when you walk through those doors into the Great Hall. I feel like language has failed me here in this post. Amazing, cool, stunning and awesome just don’t quite do it. I feel so blessed to have been on the tour and I’m grateful for my loving husband who agreed to spend my 37th birthday in Harry Potter’s world. All I have left to say is go and experience it for yourself. It’s worth it!

XO, Angie

P.S. Brandon let me put this awesome picture of him practicing his wand skillz. 😉

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