Monday, 27 October 2014

Picture This: The Secret Life of a Camp Coach

Picture This:
The Secret Life of a Camp Coach
A photo-journey


Camp Coach by Day:
My First Ever Campers!
Maloney and Libby
Jordan, Harrison, Lauren, Maddy and Myself being mature adults (not)

Myself and Libby

Myself and Scott trying out zorbing for the first time, which is essentially giant overheated hamster balls. Seriously, these things were incredibly hot and sweaty inside. And yes, we got paid to do this

Our failed attempt at a camp coach pyramid...the photo that was taken after this one is us falling down

Camp coaches being camp coaches with our brilliantly florescent orange shirts

Shaun and Aran being fierce

The obvious lack of communication and coordination of our executed jump

Myself and Maddy
Katie being a dedicated camp coach

Alex and Dan

Lauren and Libby

Beat the Camp Coach was one of the activities that the campers participated in on Sunday Nights as a way of getting to know their camp coaches and breaking the ice. One of the games played during this activity involved getting a bunch of haribos from the bowl of flour using only your mouth...hence this photo. Also it serves to be recognized that I am undefeated in this event...I don't know what that actually says about myself.

Aran nursing a baby mole that had a hurt leg

Harrison demonstrating the appropriate way for Camp Coaches and Instructors to relieve stress after a long day of chasing after children

Nathan and Scott being menacing 

I'm forever blowing bubbles...pretty bubbles in the air

Scott and Harrison

Camp Coach Photo

Another Camp Coach photo

Our put-to-bed team getting prepared


Another jump shot
Myself and Maddy...again
One of our scavenger hunt quests: create the word GROOVY (be creative!)

Another one of my groups solving the scavenger hunt task

3G Swing Time! Scott and his camper striking a pose
Another task in the scavenger hunt was to find something that showcases safety within the camp...so instead of just finding something (the buoy) we got someone (the lifeguard). Safe to say we owned this round.

Something blue and triangular....another scavenger hunt task

Again...blue and triangular
A silly picture taken on one of our excursions to Portsmouth

Me and one of my coveted football academy groups. They were sweethearts!
Another Beat the Camp Coach activity that involved creating a card tower. You can just see how riveted everyone was by this game! Also...I was terrible at this one....absolutely terrible.


See I did have fun!


But in all honesty, while camp life had some exciting moments, our nights off and pub crawls were some of the best times that I had that summer. Sometimes you need a good, solid night out to take the edge off...hey, we're only human!


Scoundrels by Night:
One of our many beach bonfires
Shannon, Lauren, Libby, Conner, Fareeza and Alex enjoying a few pints at the pub on our first night at the camp

More camp coaches enjoying a few pints at the pub on our first night at camp.

Myself and Lauren

A blossoming romance ;) 





Wilson, Myself, Lauren and Adam
The DJ for the night


Myself and Elliot


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Let's Go... To Edinburgh

Let's Go To Edinburgh:
Exploring the Gothic city
Here are some of my personal recommendations to make the most of your trip!

Standard Touristy Things To Do:



Edinburgh Castle

Okay every person I have ever talked to prior to their trip to Edinburgh told me that it was on their list to go to the castle. Now I am a bit of a castle connoisseur myself but this particular castle is a waste of time. For one, it is expensive. Two, it isn't all that spectacular on the inside of the castle. Thirdly, it's expensive...really, does anything else matter? When you are travelling on a shoe string you need to be very particular with the places that you visit, especially when they cost money...I'm telling you to avoid purchasing a ticket as it's NOT worth it. Unless you've got the money to spend and enjoy mediocre tourist traps, then by all means go for it!

However! I do recommend you walk up and around the perimeter of the castle as it's really nice around the castle. You can even be super touristy and take a picture in front of it, don't worry I won't judge you...I did it too. Although there is a better angle of it if you go through Princes Street Garden!







Climb Arthurs Peak

DO THIS! It's completely free and while the hike is a bit tiresome, the views from the top are gorgeous and totally worth the exhaustion! It is super easy to get to but make sure that you are climbing the right hill as there are 3 next to each other. Don't worry though, as there are plenty of signs directing you which way to go. Although if you want to be adventurous and take the path least taken - or carve your own path - all the better!

I recommend bringing along a picnic and a bottle of wine that you can enjoy at the top. Although you might need to crack open the bottle during the journey to make the trip that much more exciting ;)







Calton Hill



Do it! It's basically a tourist right of passage and you can get awesome pictures up there. There is also another great view of Edinburgh and if you want to pack a picnic (if it's not freezing cold) it would be a great way to spend an afternoon.





Walk Along the Royal Mile
Okay you literally can't avoid walking along the mile during your trip as it's right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh. There are some cute shops and pubs along the mile but keep in mind that things are way more expensive here!

The Meadows:
The ideal time to visit the Meadows is definitely during the beginning of spring when it is cherry blossom season since it's absolutely gorgeous, but it is still a perfect place to have a picnic if it's nice out!

Princes Street Gardens:
Gorgeous! Just beware of smooching couples...it can get a bit depressing if you are by yourself. Personal experience.

Holyrood Palace:
You need to pay to go inside and explore the grounds but a quick peak through the gates is free and its close to Arthurs peak if you want to check it out...if you want to pay to go inside be my guest, I never did but I was also broke.

Wander, Wander, Wander:
There are so many cool nooks and crannies around the city, you just need to explore them!



Things To Eat:

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties
When in Scotland, you must try Haggis at least once! Many pubs have this as standard pub fare so it isn't difficult to find and while it may sound repulsive, don't be turned away by it as it's really good!

Chips, Cheese and Curry 
I swear by this. It is my drunk food of choice but I'd honestly eat it any chance I got. You can get this at most chip shops but I recommend my favourite - Clamshell (it is located on the royal mile right next to the Starbucks and Subway...it won't be hard to find)

DeepFried Mars Bar
Another must try delicacy in Scotland. I wouldn't recommend it if you plan on counting your calories, but it's still a delicious treat. You can also get it at the Clamshell chip shop!

Cullen Skink
This is more traditional highland fare but you might be able to get it in Edinburgh. It's a type of fish stew and it is amazing! I can't remember if I've seen it served at any of the pubs I've been to but even so it's an excuse to take a trip up into the highlands which is something you should already be doing if you're in Scotland!


Places to eat:
  • Clamshell Chip Shop 
  • The Elephant House
    • (They have really good coffee and food, and it is known as the 'birthplace of harry potter' so there are messages to JK Rowling all over the bathroom walls in the Girls bathroom which is kind of cool! While this is a bit touristy, I did find that it was a lovely place to get some writing done as the atmosphere was very cosy so bloggers and writers alike should get on that!)
  • Nandos
    • (Since you are in the UK, it's kind of a right of passage.)
  • Miros Cantina Mexicana
    • (A pretty good mexican restaurant if you're feeling tacos...which I always am)
  • Piece Box Cafe
    • (My friend told me about this place and it serves fresh pie every day...and who doesn't like pie!)
  • FYUL Cafe
    • (A cute little cafe that serves good coffee and decent food. They were also one of the only places that served American style crispy bacon with their breakfasts instead of the lame back bacon that British places usually have)
  • The Basement Bar
    • (Another cozy, eclectic restaurant that has a cool vibe to it but food and drinks are on the pricier side)

Nights Out:

Cab Vol
This place is one of my favourite places because they serve RedStripe on tap and since I am not a huge fan of UK lagers, I depend on my RedStripe. There is a pub on one floor and a club in the basement; I prefer the former.

Whistlebinkies
I love this place because it has great beer on tap, a brilliant atmosphere and live music which is the ultimate trifecta of good pubs. If you are looking for a low key and laid back night than this is the place for you to hang out, dance and grab a cheeky pint. Also, all the bands that I've heard play live sets here have been top class, so if you like live music than you'll love this place.

The Hive
Okay this is your quintessential student club. There are cheap drinks (free entrance SOMETIMES) and it smells like piss and body odour...yum! My Friend swears by it (she's crazy) but you can guarantee a packed house. Don't come before 12 am though because it is completely dead but it definitely gets crazy after that. Also a tuesday equals INDIE NIGHT! Which plays ALMOST better music than the other nights...and its free.

Opium
If you are into heavy metal rock and people who dress in black and wear spikes to succumb to the stereotype of 'Emotional' Individuals or Goths...which sounds terrible but it is free entrance ALWAYS... then this is the place for you. I actually loved this place because it also serves redstripe and it sometimes has awesome music. You might have to suffer through some horrible screamo songs just to hear a few classics like "Stacy's Mom" and "Teenage Dirtbag" that will come on and make it all worthwhile.

And if you want some live (and chill) music check out Jazz Bar on Chambers Street. It's super tiny and you may need to pay a cover fee but it has a really awesome rasta/1950's piano bar vibe and if you can snag a seat then you are sorted!

If you have the misfortune of going out on a Monday night where there aren't many options, your best bet would be Why Not? Nightclub which is located on George Street (a couple of streets down from Princes Street). Check out their Facebook Page to put your name on the guestlist for free entrance (while this isn't my favourite place to be...its a monday night so there's not much else offered). Another option that will make any lame night fun is to create a scavenger hunt for your mate and then swap them when you are at the pub. This way you can make a normally boring night into a fun game, and if you're really best friends, you can use it as a way of inducing embarrassing moments like my mate Tina and I did when she came to visit me.



Shopping:




PRIMARK PRIMARK PRIMARK.

There is nothing else to say. You will fall in Love with this place. It is heaven. Think of a giant Forever 21 with the prices of Walmart...yep that is pretty much it.






Drinking:

Also if you are a beer connoisseur (like me) you should know that Scotland is famous for their Ales (as well as Scotch but I hate Whisky so who cares about that ahaha). If you want to try some microbreweries check out BrewDog House on Cowgate. They have a great selection of ales and the atmosphere in the pub is quite cozy and laidback (sensing a theme?).

You also have the option of pub hopping as there are pubs EVERYWHERE (literally every other shop is a pub) but I recommend the ones in the Grassmarket, specifically The Last Drop.

**Steer clear of any pubs claiming that they are the smallest or most famous in Edinburgh. It is a massive tourist trap, a blatant lie and an excuse to charge people a ridiculous amount for a mediocre pint. **

Extras

If you have time, here are some other options you have to make the most of your trip to Edinburgh!

Cramond Island (Check out my blog post here for more info)
Portobello Beach (A lovely choice if it's nice out! Although I wouldn't plan on going swimming any time soon because you're in Scotland, and it's freezing 95% of the time)



I hope you have a lovely trip to Edinburgh and if you have any questions/concerns, feel free to leave me a comment below and I will gladly help you out. I've become a bit of an expert of Edinburgh since I've lived there for almost 7 months and had my share of experiences (check out my Hogmanay adventure to revel in my misfortune) so I should be able to give you some advice no problem. :)