Budapest was actually the first place my boyfriend and I visited on our interrailing trip last year. But it’s so big and there’s so much to see and we crammed so much into our short stay there, that the idea of writing it all down and doing justice to the beautifully vibrant city of Budapest seemed a little… intimidating. But I’m finally getting round to it, a scary six-and-a-half-months after our visit. (How is it the middle of March already?!)
For those of you who don’t know, Budapest is literally divided into Buda and Pest. Pest (pronounced pesht) is definitely the best place to stay and hang around; Buda is very hilly and contains a lot of historic and cultural attractions, like the Royal Palace. To begin with, I think I’ll talk a little bit about Pest, seeing as that’s where we spent the majority of our time.
So, during February and March I have been taking part in an Instagram reading challenge called – you guessed it – #readforwomen. I decided to get involved for several reasons: firstly, I haven’t been using bookish Instagram for that long and it’s always fun to join in and get reading recommendations from other inspiring accounts; secondly, I love a reading challenge – it’s the obsessive list-maker in me – and thirdly, I thought it was a lovely way to commemorate a hundred years since (some) women gained the vote in Britain.
A lot of people throw around words like ‘gender-blind’ without really meaning it, but I can honestly say that until the end of 2016 I hadn’t really considered my ratio of male to female authors. I chose – and do choose – books based on their plot, blurb and, yes, covers. But with handy assistance from the Goodreads Reading Challenge, I worked out that in 2016 I had read precisely 50 books by female authors, and 50 books by male authors. Serendipitous. But at the start of the year I was also taking a course in Shakespearean and Jacobean history plays, in which the reading list was composed entirely of male authors. In 2016 I started a Masters in Creative Writing, which I completed in the summer of 2017 – which also means that 2018 is the first year since I started uni when I can choose exactly what I want to read without intervention from English lit departments. Who knows what my ratio will be this year?
Hello! I accidentally took a week off last week because I was working so much – but now I’m back and ready to share my thoughts about another destination on our interrailing trip, the beautiful Interlaken! Ok, so, the town isn’t exactly beautiful – it’s actually incredibly expensive and quite ugly – but its surroundings are absolutely faultless. Just a disclaimer before I start raving about the gorgeousness of the Alps: if you’re looking for an in-depth guide to skiing or hiking or any of the myriad of activities that Interlaken offers, then you’re definitely looking in the wrong place. I’m much more of a wandering-and-sightseeing kind of girl, and walking forty five minutes to the edge of Brienzersee was about as athletic as I managed during our stay in Interlaken. But if you like vistas and picturesque Alpine buildings, then read on…
Hello! I’m writing this in the middle of an unprecedented blizzard that means I’ve basically been stuck in my house all day – this is the biggest snowfall I can ever remember, and it’s ridiculous how the whole of Glasgow seems to have completely stopped since Wednesday afternoon. But hopefully it will give me lots of time to read!
I love Italy. It’s a country that has long held a firm position in my dreams, and it’s a huge travel ambition of mine to visit most of Italy’s big cities as well as venturing to places on my never-ending list of gorgeous towns and villages stretching from Lake Maggiore in the north to Taormina in Sicily. So, during my interrailing trip, I obviously wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to tick off one more place on my Italian bucket list! The north of Italy was the most convenient location, seeing as we were travelling from Ljubljana to Switzerland, so we chose Verona and I am so glad that we did.
If you read my blog or follow my Instagram account, then the fact that I love historical fiction is probably not a revelation. I studied history at uni, I write historical fiction, and I’m always exploring new places, my home city of Glasgow and fictional worlds in order to learn more about all kinds of history. It’s a fascination that I can probably trace back to Terry Deary’s wonderful Horrible Histories, although I do remember poring over my dad’s coffee-table Scottish history books as a very young child, completely enthralled by the photos depicting past cultures and places. If I’m completely honest, I usually find contemporary novels a bit boring in comparison with my historical faves. (Although there are definite exceptions to that rule!) So I thought I would celebrate my love of historical fiction with a dedicated post, exploring five historical novels that I’ve loved in the past, and five historical novels that I can’t wait to read!
I decided to take a little break from writing about last year’s interrailing trip to post about my favourite city, London. This weekend I visited for the eighth time – and the fifth year in a row! – and I realised that now I think of London in less of a touristy sense, more as a regular visitor. (Although I would definitely love to visit more than once a year.) I’m still yet to visit loads of the places that I have on my list because there’s just SO much to do in London, but here is my guide for some of the best things to do and explore in London as a first-time visitor.