Thursday, February 16, 2017

Life of Lu. 2017 so far....

I can't believe I have made it to mid-February without a blog.
I can't believe that my pal Claire hasn't sent me a few reminders that I haven't written in a while. Usually I get a message followed by life events she feels I should or could write about! Ha!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and indoorSo, we are into 2017. I can't believe we are so far into 2017. It seems that the older I get the faster time passes. I was in Ireland last week. I went to a gig and of course to see the man himself for his birthday. Naturally I stopped off to visit my granny too. I make it a point to see her every time I am back in Ireland. I brought two friends of mine with me. One of my cousins was too shy to come and say hi because the guys were with me so I went out to her house to see her. I was astounded by how grown up she has become. I said as much to my granny and my aunts when I went back into Granny's house, and they started telling me how old my 'baby' cousins now are. I was so shocked! In my head they are roughly the size that they were when I left over five years ago. I suddenly felt so old, and so very far away. I remember when I was a child, my aunts had cousins come over from the UK to visit them. It was always a little bit scary but very exciting to meet them, especially when they brought friends or boyfriends. I realised as I sat in my granny's house that I am now that cousin. I am the one that comes home with random strangers and a peculiar accent. As always, I was given a talking to for now having a more progressive love life from my grandmother. She actually came out with 'All work and no play makes Louise.....'
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, grass, sky, outdoor and natureThough, I wouldn't have her any other way. My friends adored her and she was very excited that my bearded pal gave her a kiss on the cheek. I think it might be her highlight of 2017! Ha!  When we left my Granny, the boys and I were chatting about grandparents. My heart swelled with love and affection for my granny as we talked. I simply adore the woman. Her love, warmth and acceptance is always unwavering. Her tenacity is inspiring and I think that I get a lot of my strength from her. I will see her again in a few months and I can't wait.

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and foodImage may contain: 3 people, people smiling, close-up and indoorI loved being able to show my little bit of Ireland to the boys. They have both been good friends to me, and have both let me see where they are from. I really enjoyed being able to return the favour. Galway was wet but as beautiful as ever. County Clare was amazing to visit too. We stayed in Kilfenora for the night, met my Dad for a birthday meal and some cake, we went set dancing, saw the Father Ted house, met Da for lunch the next day and saw the falls in Ennistymon, and we went to see Lahinch. I loved showing this part of my life to my friends. I love that I got to introduce them to the people who mean the world to me. My dad loved meeting the boys, I think he liked seeing how much they care for me over here in Scotland. I can't help but feel their paths will cross again.
It was great to get to spend some time with my Da, This is the third birthday in a row I have been able to spend with him which is the first time in a long time that I can say that!

Image may contain: sky, mountain, grass, plant, outdoor and natureAs starts to 2017 go, it was been a good way to start. I have done so much exploring of the county in the last month especially around Inverurie and the area north of Aberdeen. There is a lot of changes happening at work over the next few weeks and I am thinking about moving flat again. (I know, I know... but double glazing is vital this far north and I have just spent a winter without it.) There are so many gigs coming up and trips around the country with work. I am so excited to see where 2017 will take me.  I am also spending time with my favourite lady in Scotland and hitting the Brewdog AGM again this year for my birthday. Lesson was learnt the hard way last year. Gin is NOT my friend.

So here is to a fun-filled, fantastic 2017. I look forward to blogging about it a lot more.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016... oh what a year!

When we look back on 2016 in future years, without a doubt we will wonder what kind of mockery of time 2016 really was. So many of our idols left us, Trump became president, Brexit happened. It was a trying and emotional year for many. So many people want to forget 2016 ever happened. Not me. 2016 was one of the best years of my life. It was one of the toughest years so far but without doubt it was one of the best.

I want to start 2017 satisfied that I did myself proud in 2016 which is the purpose of this blog. Nostalgia and self indulgence at it's finest! Ha!

Image may contain: mountain and outdoorI made myself a wee list of things that were great about 2016 and it is honestly going to be a struggle to choose a favourite. There are many things that are potential favourites, one of which was the reunion of Lu and Tif after 9 nine years. Not only did I get to see Tif, I got to meet Joe and their families, I met Schonie and her hubby Preston, and of course, I got to catch up with Beau. I spent a week with Tif and in that week she showed me half of Utah. I got to see the snow of Pine Valley, the rusted landscape of Zion National Park, the inversion of Northern Utah!
Image may contain: 4 people, people smilingEvery day of that trip was superb. I met so many wonderful people, saw so many wonderful places of which I had heard multiple stories over the years from Tif and Beau, and I finally got to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing live. It was such a great visit and it was the visit that made me decide that I needed to change my life and that I needed a change of job. You can read about the trip here.
I also got to see Adrian and Chrissie in North Carolina,meet Uisce and Echo, go to a proper college basketball match and meet their lovely pals and I headed to Vegas for a few days. It was amazing.

It has been a dream of mine for many years to hear the MoTab sing. Not only did I get to hear them in the actual Tabernacle at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, I also was afforded the opportunity to listen to them sing in Brussels at Palais des Beaux-Arts. I love music, but the MoTab has an amazing ability to draw all emotion out of me. I cry with each crescendo, I cry with each lamentando, I cry and cry and cry but never out of sadness. Simply out of awe and exhilaration. Brussels was so much fun, so much chocolate, beer, culture, laughter. It was a good three days.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smilingBarcelona was also amazing. I went with my Auntie Vera, the most important woman in my world. It was a brilliant trip. We saw the fountains, Poble Espanyol, some Dali stuff, Parc Guell. Oh it was fabulous, but the highlight was possibly getting stuck in a thunderstorm with Vera. The photos were hilarious!!

There were many other visits throughout the year, home for father's day, home for weddings. I got to travel around Scotland quite a bit too. It was a good year of adventure. Looking for Oor Wullies in Dundee, exploring the sights of Fettercairn, finding ducks in Glasgow. Home was as much fun as abroad.

Image may contain: 4 people, crowd and indoorMusic featured massively this year. I had the fortune to hear so many great artists live and meet so many wonderful people along the way! I heard Richard Ashcroft sing 'Lucky Man' live, I heard Noel Gallagher sing 'Don't Look Back in Anger' and 'Champagne Supernova' live! Iain and I also went to the Courtineers which was great, and I can't wait to see them again in May!
Mark's influence played a huge part on my year musically. I got to see the Temperance movement (Though with my pal Craig), We saw the Avett Brothers in London with Caoimhe, and I got to meet some of the loveliest men there, including his dad. We saw Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, in November and Foy Vance in December. So much music, so much laughter and twirling and so many great introductions!! I also went to see Blue Rose Code who is one of my favourite artists here in Aberdeen, and I look forward to seeing him in Galway in February with Mark and Iain!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, indoorSpeaking of Galway, 2016 saw two crackingly good Galway weddings. Davet and Caoimh in April and Donagh and Maria in October. We also had the Rowse wedding of September 2016 which was a kilt filled banterful day oot. I got to see so much more of my dad this year, including seeing him on father's day. I have a new job which I love even when the going gets tough and as a result I have made so many new friends. One of whom even adopted me for Christmas this year. I also got to spend my birthday with my favourite at the Brew Dog AGM... passionfruit sour beer.... mmmm....

Looking back at 2016, it is easy to think about the bad stuff. There was lots of it. There still is.
But for me, when I think of 2016 I want to think about how much love, music and laughter the year brought. And anyone who reads the life of Lu will tell you , there are three things which I think are important. Love, music and laughter.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and indoorThere were some huge life changes for me this year too. I moved into my own wee flat, started a new job, dabbled in the dating world again for the first time in a long time and in staying in Aberdeen I met some amazing new people. Personally I am excited about what 2017 is going to bring. I am already booked up for some amazing things. Galway with two of my favourite people in February, and getting to see my dad then too. Going to see Foy Vance again in May with Mark, and the Courtineers in Manchester with Iain AND I am returning to Utah for a wee visit too!

So, Happy New Year folks, may you all have a wonderful 2017! xx

My ten lessons from 2016 that I will bring into 2017 are as follows:

1. Music makes everything better. Sing, dance, hum, twirl. It works.
2. Gin is NOT my friend
3. No matter how lonely you can feel, you are never really alone
4. I have no ability as a gardener. All plants in my ownership will die. Slowly.
5. Baileys Haagen Daas can be bought at Sainsburys.
6. Laugh through the tough times. Silliness makes everything easier.
7. When you ring home, remind them that you love them before you hang up. 
8. Keep writing.It along with music makes things better.
9. Keep drinking tea for the same reasons.
10. Be ok to let go when you have to. Trust your feelings.


Go mbeirimid beo an am seo aris!

Monday, November 28, 2016

12 years and counting....

It is that time of the year again, my sister's anniversary. 12 years since we bid her farewell.
Well, tomorrow is her anniversary but I am having a very lazy morning and as a result I am writing this today.

For the past 11 years, the entire month of November has been a struggle for me.
In the beginning it was a raw struggle. Every single day from the 10th (her birthday) to the 29th (her anniversary) was like a hot blade slicing through my heart.
I think it is because the loneliness of not having her with us to celebrate her birthday is intensified by the fact that her anniversary is so close, and there is an awareness and an emotional surge in the three weeks between that just lingers in my subconscious.
Now, I definitely do become very low for those three weeks, but it is much easier to bounce out of it as we approach the anniversary and I realise that my irrationality of the last three weeks was simply bottled up emotion from the remaining 49 weeks of the year.

This year was a tough year.
The theme of this year was loneliness and I allowed myself to get sucked into a vortex of a fabricated loneliness. I often tell my team that a problem shared is a problem halved yet I am the worst person in the world for heeding my own advice. It is funny how, for someone who enjoys story telling so much and who talks so much I really dislike talking about my feelings or my emotions. I think that is why I enjoy to blog so much. It is like my own little release. Just I share it with an awful lot of people.

Image result for friends  quotesThankfully, I have built a solid foundation of friendship and love here in Scotland.
In hindsight, it was so rude and unappreciative of me to feel like I was alone here.
I have the best friends any woman could ask for.
I really do.
Some I don't see often. Years can pass between catch ups.
Others I see once every couple of months.
Few I see more frequently.
Yet over the last few weeks I have been showered with love and affection.
Hugs, dinners, beers, twirls.
Showered in an abundance upon me!
My friends saw that I was in a low place.
The lowest that I have been in the last few years.
Together they worked to pull me out of it.
Successfully I would like to add.
My heart is again soaring.
Thank you, friends.

This year, as I think of Marguerite, I think of how much love and joy she brought in to my life.
What is it that I miss about her?

I miss her smile. She had the best smile. When Marguerite smiled you couldn't help but smile with her, unless her nose did a weird little crinkle thing... that is when you started looking around in a panic to see what she practical joke she was playing on you.

Her laugh was great too. I was always afraid that I would forget what it sounds like but sometimes I still hear it when I think of her. We had an amazing ability to fight like cats and dogs but we also shared a lot of laughter together. Her impersonations were the stuff that legends are made of!

My sister could read me really well. She knew when to give me a hug. Even at the tender age of 17 she had a certain maturity about her and could read people quite well. I loved when we had our sisterly chats. She was coy about what she divulged but it was always a good giggle.

I always feel that Marguerite is close to me. I always feel that she is around.
Today, as I read back on what she meant to me, I realise that the life I have created has all the same richness that she had in her as my sister.I will never have the chance to speak again to my sister, but in my life here in Scotland, I have all the love and laughter that was taken from me 12 years ago tomorrow just in a very differently wrapped package. This anniversary, I will be smiling as I toast her with a glass of Framboise.

Image result for friends strength quotesThank you to all the friends and family who have allowed me to regain that joy in my life.
Thank you for reminding me of my own strength when I feel like I am breaking
Thank you for reminding me of how much I am loved when I feel all alone
Thank you for making me laugh when I am drowning in sadness
Thank you for giving me a twirl when the music has stopped playing
Thank you for the care packages when I am too tired to care for myself
Thank you for just being.

 Thank you. A million times over. Thank you.



In the immortal words of my darling sister

'Il y a beaucoup de fleurs'



Sunday, November 20, 2016

Oh Glasgow... you have done it again

I spent the last two weekends in Glasgow with my friends.
Two weekends off in the lead up to Christmas I hear you say?
A store manager who is away from her store in this peak period.
Yes. I was off. I booked it at my interview and I loved every second of it.

Last weekend I went to see Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats in Barrowlands.
If you ever get the opportunity to see them play, do. They are superb.
It was such a great weekend.  I got to catch up with Craig and Mark. I got to twirl. I got to just chill out with some of my favourite people and it was amazing.

This weekend, my pal Iain and I went to Glasgow to see the Courteeners. It was such an amazing weekend. We found tayto (they were NI version but still a tasty surprise), an amazing wee restaurant in the West End that does a mean steak, we hit Brewdog and Innis and Gunn, got to play with a puppy called Molly,  saw the gig, had chicken pakora on the way home. I got to meet my Glaswegian adopted brother who gave me the loveliest gift bag of goodies and more importantly a hug. I miss his hugs terribly. They are always so warm!

As we walked through Glasgow last night, I lamented about how much I miss it. Iain's suggestion was 'well move back down south!'. In this limbo existance of post-Brexit Britain it is a tough decision to make. Should I wait and see if I can stay in the country before I move or should I just get the ball rolling and have a conversation with work about what the future looks like. I guess all I can say is watch this space...

Most of you who read this already know that November is a difficult month for me. My sister's birthday is at the start of the month and her anniversary at the end. The three weeks in between are a constant reminder that she is not here. I become rather emotional. Not in a 'I cry at the drop of a hat' way, but in a 'I feel so lonesome' way.  Definitely my move to the Siberia of Scotland has exaggerated that feeling. The last few weeks have been so draining, I have felt myself sinking into a pit of self pity which is a horrendous place to be. I am so grateful that I have the friends that I do, who have recognised that I need a bit of love right now and have gone out of their way to show it.

My 'chill out fairy' who for the purposes of this blog I shall call Claire... arrived at work during the week to leave a wee care parcel for me anonymously. Hot chocolate, face masks, a colouring book, fluffy socks and chocolate. It was such a lovely sentiment and it made me feel so loved and cared for. Yesterday, Paul gave me a similar gift yesterday and again I was so taken aback by it. Both care packages came with a very strong message and that was that I am not alone, even when I am on my own, even when I am feeling the distance between me and my friends. Not only that but that I need to care for myself better. I need to practice what I preach and stop to smell the roses.

I was talking to a fellow colleague of mine today and I was talking about how I am spending Christmas alone again this year. She went quiet for a few moments and then came back to tell me that it wasn't an invitation as much as it was a statement, but that she would be picking me up at work on Christmas eve and dropping me back to work on Boxing Day. I would be staying with her , her hubby and the in-laws for the duration of the Christmas period. I am overwhelmed to say the least by the invitation. I know it is just a day, and I know that a lot of people spend it on their own or just with their own immediate families, but that day feels a hell of a lot more significant when you are on your own, in a city miles away from your friends and family with no where else to go. This year, I am being adopted. Though Lou is just for Christmas, not actually for life.

So I guess the point of this post is thank you. Thank you to everyone who has gone out of their way to show me so much love over the past few weeks. Thank you for making me realise my own self worth and helping me rise out of the pity pit I was creating for myself. I said 2016 would be a good year in the life of Lu. It was (though it sucked in pretty much every other way!), I said that 32 would be my year and it hasn't let me down too much yet.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Day 2 → Write a short story/scene using the following words: luscious, debilitating, sunny and brick.

Aubrey sat with her back to the other children trying her hardest to ignore their shenanigans.
She had been warned not to let them stir any trouble that day.
She had been warned not to let them spoil their dinners.
Her pleas and warnings to her siblings to behave had fallen on deaf ears.
What child in their right mind would give up the chance to go blackberry picking on a sunny day?

Knowing that her protests would be futile against the promise of an afternoon of luscious berry tasting, Aubrey had set down a few rules.
Rule one. All berry picking was to be done by the stream so that hands and faces could be washed quickly if an unwanted visitor or parent happened upon them.
Rule two. No berry was to be placed inside any garment of clothing due to staining
Rule three. No berries were to be eaten within her eyesight so that she could honestly say that she had not seen the children eat a single berry.

Aubrey sat on a mossy rock, her bare feet dangling in the cool waters of the babbling brook. She had always loved this little stream. As a child, she had planned it as her escape route if ever she were followed by a wicked witch. Everyone knew that witches couldn't cross running water. Aubreys father had even made her some stepping stones to pacify her and ensure her of her safety in such a situation.  Her only fear in that scenario was that the witch would strike her with some debilitating curse before she made it to safety but her father had told her that moss people would protect her as she had a gentle soul and a kind heart.

A shot from behind her pulled her from her memories. A cocophony of shouts for her brother Conn brought her to her feet before she even realised she was standing. She could see him, crouched over, further up the stream. She ran to him as quickly as she could.

'Conn! Conn! What is it? Are you hurt?'

The child turned his head towards her shaking it from side to side. His eyes were filled with fear.

'No. I'm not hurt, but Aubrey... look....'

Aubrey looked at the spot where her brother was pointing. There was a peculiar ripple of water swirling around what appeared to be an old brick in the middle of the water.

'Conn, it is a brick. You gave me such a fright, I thought you were injured'.

'No, Aubrey! Look at it!'

The urgency in his voice startled her. She stepped further into the stream to inspect the brick. There appeared to be some writing on the surface. As the symbols became letters, the recognition of the words forced a gasp to escape her lips.

'Aubrey, Aubrey, pure and fair
Cross this water if you dare
A young child stolen years ago
Will now inflict an awful woe.
Aubrey, Aubrey find your home
For soon you shall be all alone.'


'Aubrey! What does it mean? What is going to happen?'

'I don't know Conn, but we need to leave her now!'

The other children began to whimper in fear.

'We all need to leave her now. GO GO GO!'

The children grabbed their belongings quickly and began to run towards their nearest farm. Aubrey's heart was pounding in her chest. What could all this mean? How was her name on the brick? She knew no other Aubrey. It had to have been for her. What child was stolen? What woe? She needed to speak to her grandmother, that much she knew. Her grandmother knew things that other people didnt. She would understand what the message meant.

Sitting on the opposite side of the brook, a hare watched the children scarper into the distance. She twitched her tail in delight. This plan was going even better than hoped. They hadn't expected the children to discover the brick for at least another 10 tides. Soon Aubrey would be home. Soon peace would be restored. Soon she would be able to return to her human body and leave the confines of the hare behind and reign her lands once again.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Day 1 → Take your least favorite character you’ve ever created. Put them in a scene that would drive them mad

Joanna stepped out of the car gingerly. Any second now they would see her. They would gasp at her fragility, regret the detestable way in which they had treated her over these past twelve months, and rush to her side hoping for forgiveness. A smile threatened to pucker her lips. She stopped it instantly, lowered her head and drooped into what she hoped was a timid frame. Her whole family would be there. She was certain of it. This was the night that they would realise that they had done wrong by her. This was the night that she would again get the sympathy that she deserved.

The steps up to the entrance of the town hall  were steep. From the bottom Joanna could hear the babble of excited voices. It was hardly surprising. It isn't very often that a sleepy town like Adderfield hosts a world premier with famous people from Hollywood in attendance. It isn't very often that a native of Adderfield hits the headlines of national papers. Panting, she reached the top step. It was common knowledge that a press conference would be held in the town hall prior to the premier. Security precautions had been in place for well over a week.

 A red carpet led from the gardens of the town hall to the concert hall where the film was being shown. No expense had been spared to showcase the town in the best light possible.

As she reached the top step Joanna recognised the young men in suits either side of the door. Riley and Coote boys she reckoned. She nodded meekly towards both and started to walk towards the door.  She could not help but notice a panicked glance between them. The taller of the two stepped towards her.

'Mrs. Jones. You are not on the guest list for tonight. Do you have a press pass?'

She sniffed at the use of her married name. She no longer recognised it as her own.

'It is Ms. Green, and no I do not. I should not need a press pass to see my own daughter's film.'

'My apologies Ms. Green, but without a press pass we can not let you enter the hall. You are not on the guest list.'

He shuffled on his feet, obviously eager for this encounter to be over.

'This is absurd. Fetch me my daughter this instant. There had been a misunderstanding.'

The two boys looked at each other. The taller one gave the smaller one a nod and he reached for his walkie-talkie in response. Joanna glared at the taller boy. Definitely a Riley boy. He was fool just like his father. That much was obvious.

The smaller one stepped forward.

'Mr. Reed shall be with you momentarily, Ms. Green'

'Who?'

'Mr. Reed. Miss Jones' escort.'

Joanna snorted. 'I asked to see my daughter'.

'Gentlemen, what is so urgent that I have been called out into the cold air?'

The boys turned towards the voice, slightly side-stepping so that Joanna could see the tall silhouette by the door frame.

'It is Ms. Green, sir. She isn't on the guest list and doesn't have a press pass. She says she must be allowed inside as it is her daughter's film'.

Mr. Reed looked Joanna up and down. His distaste was obvious even in the darkness.

'Ah, Ms. Green. Your daughter has told me a lot about you. It should come as no surprise to you that you are not welcome here tonight. Your invitation was not forgotten. It was never to be had. Please move along'. He turned his back and started towards the door giving a dismissive wave of his arm.

'How bloody dare you! Don't you know who I am? You can't treat me like this!' Joanna caught her breath preparing for her next outburst. Mr. Reed turned sharply on his heel and strode towards her. He was in front of her in two steps. His pace caused her to lose her breath again.

'I know exactly who you are Ms. Reed. Now let me tell you who I am. I am the man who will not let you hurt your daughter any more. I am the man who will protect her from your venom. She does not wish to see you tonight, nor ever again. I suggest you turn around and head back to your lair or your cave or wherever it is that you dwell. You are not welcome here tonight. Goodbye.'

He spun on his heel and in four steps he was back inside the city hall. Joanna felt her chest tighten. How dare he. How bloody dare he. She straightened herself and charged towards the door. The two boys stepped in front of her.

'Not tonight Ms. Green,, you heard what he said.'

A swirl of purple caught her eye. She looked through the boys shoulder and saw Mr. Reed on the stairwell overlooking the foyer. Beside him, purple gown highlighting her red hair stood Mirren her daughter, and on her other arm her father. The glint of the jewel on her left hand did not escape her. She was engaged. That imbecile was to be her husband. She looked at the scene before her noted her extended family and felt her heart ache. She should have been on those stairs. She should have been mother of the bride.

She turned to make her way down the steps back to the car park. How dare they treat her like that. She was the mother. She had the right to be in there celebrating with them. As she waddled down the steps towards her car she decided that she was going to make them pay. Nobody was going to make her feel like that. They would regret their treatment of Joanna Green.





Friday, October 21, 2016

Barcelona!!!

I have had the most lovely October.
I was in Ireland two weeks ago where I got to see Edel for the first time in TWO YEARS.
I was so excited to see her, it is a true testament to our friendship that we don't see each other in so long but we pick up pretty much where we left off. The is no awkwardness or grumpiness at our lack of contact, just a 'hey, how are things? I have missed your face'. It was so good to catch up and find out what is happening in our very different worlds. I miss our chats.
Image result for trigeminal neuralgia trinity
I got to catch up with my friend Carol on the eve of a huge event she organised to highlight awareness for trigeminal neuralgia. A relatively unknown condition that she suffers from. Her excitement and her nerves (and her grumpiness at being locked out of her house) were intoxicating. Not only was the event a huge success, she was plastered across the press for it.


Then there was the wedding of Donagh and Maria that I mentioned in my previous blog. It was superb seeing everyone again, but I have covered it already.
Upon my return from the wedding I went to see Blue Rose Code play in Aberdeen. I adore this singer-songwriter. His voice is superb. His lyrics divine. Listening to him sing his song 'Edina' brought me to tears. I am so glad that I was able to attend the gig. It was quite an intimate evening and I ended up chatting to an Irish woman for about an hour afterwards! So random but so wonderful. He also played a song called 'Pokesdown Waltz'. I can firmly say that if you have ever had a relationship end you should listen to it. It is such beautiful song. So heartfelt and oh so true.

Last week was Barcelona week. I have not looked forward to a break as much in a while. Well, not since my voyage to Utah last February! I went with my Aunt Vera, and it was honestly an amazing trip. We were there for three full days, and the amount of stories that came out of those days was ridiculous. We met at the airport, our flights landed about twenty minutes apart. Vera had organised a shuttle service into Barcelona. It should have taken us about twenty minutes to get to our hotel. Two hours later we were dropped off. We had done so many circles around the city I had started to recognise places from when we had passed it before. The driver was very lucky that Vera didn't throttle him before he dropped us off!

Our first evening was eventful. Vera was dying to show me Las Ramblas, a boulevard in the centre of Barcelona which was quite close to where we were staying. The tree line street is full of tourists, mime artists, tourist shops and eateries. It was lovely. We walked the length of it, towards the marina. Along the way we side stepped into Mercat de La Boqueria, one of the most famous markets in Europe. A colleague of mine at work had been talking about it and I was itching for a look. It didn't disapppoint me, Vera however was gutted she couldn't find a pigs head to show me... I wasn't upset she couldn't if I am perfectly honest! 
Day two vs Day one. Quite a difference!
We got to the bottom of Las Ramblas and suddenly there was a slight rain. As Irish people, we were quite certain that we could survive a few wee drops of rain and continued on our sightseeing adventure. Within ten minutes we were hiding underneath a doorway to a bank with about twenty other people watching lightening flash a few metres before us and listening to thunder crashing overhead. After about thirty minutes we decided to make a run for it into a nearby shopping centre. Vera told me that we could get wine there. It was a cunning move on her part.
We got drenched. Positively drenched. The photos are hilarious!
There was also a distinct lack of wine in the shopping centre. Vera has since been forgiven for this oversight.
We made our way to a wee restaurant at the bottom of Las Ramblas where Vera discovered that when she ordered a vodka she was given a triple. That and some amazing tapas kept her quiet for a few hours until the lightening had stopped and she was willing to walk home!
She did manage to find herself a fine poncho on the way back just in case!

On day two we went for a lovely wee breakfast off Las Ramblas and then we took a tour bus around the east and north of the city. Barcelona is such a beautiful place. The architecture is superb, Gaudi's influence is evident all over the city. The Barcelona Olympics left behind wonderful buildings and sculptures that not only add a richness to the landscape but also to the culture of the Catalan community. We saw the Sagrada Familia, the infamous unfinished temple that was a brainchild of Gaudi. It has a looming presence over the city. A fabulous building which I plan to go back and explore in minute detail. After Sagrada Familia we came to Parc Guell. Vera has been talking about Parc Guell ever since we decided that we were going to go to Barcelona for a few days. It is the creation of Gaudi, an artist who is synonymous with Barcelona. We climbed to the top of the park, to a viewing point overlooking the city. The view was breathtaking. I noticed some people climbing a peak a bit further up. Vera told me to go if I wanted and I didn't wait for her to change her mind. In my dainty shoes and wee dress I scaled that hill. It reminded me of Bennachie a year ago though without the sense that i might die before I got to the top. The climb, as unconventional as it may have been was worth it. I stood at that peak and soaked in the sun and the scenery. My lungs were bursting and it was one of those moments when I was glad that I wasn't smoking.

That evening we went to see the fountains at Montjuic which was a highlight of the visit for sure. Vera has been so excited about these fountains. Seeing them was the one things she wanted to do. I don't think I have ever seen her so happy as she was when she saw them light up (and I was there when she was getting triple vodkas for single vodkas... I thought that was happiness). They were superb. I don't think any description I could give will do them justice. The fountains are at the Palau Nacional, a architectural marvel in the heart of the mountain. We must have gazed up at that building and watched the fountains for an hour and a half. The whole experience was mesmerizing.

Our last full day we returned to Montjuic. I wanted to visit a place called Poble Espanyol, a town created for the world expo held in Barcelona for an expo in 1929, which was recommended to me by my knowledge givers of all things Spanish, Kyle and Deirdre. Vera and I wandered around the mountain for a bit (there was a moment or two I thought I might kill her if I made her climb any more steps) we strolled around the Olympic village, down the mountain and towards the wee village. Poble Espanyol is made up of different types of architecture from the different parts of Spain. We spent three to four hours there. The food was fabulous. The buildings beautiful. We got to see some glass-blowing (and bought wee souvenirs). I even got to see a few Dali pieces in the little gallery there! If you ever make your way to Barcelona go see it. It is superb.

Our last evening was one filled with food, wine and a few cheeky cocktails. It was so lovely to relax with my aunt, to catch up and chat with her. Vera is one of the most important people in my life. Up there with Paddy, and she has been a huge presence since I was a teenager. She knows pretty much everything there is to know about me, and I trust her with it all. I knew that it would be a great trip. I never imagined it would be as great as it was! Until the next time Vera!!!