Like thousands of others I am preparing to leave Glasgow with a backpack full of memories and my life enriched by the experiences I have enjoyed over the last few weeks.
My own journey began several months ago when I was chosen as one of the #Team14 official bloggers for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Over the past few weeks this blog has chronicled by own personal experiences before and during the Games and the many events I have been lucky enough to attend.
While I have been blogging away the rest of #Team14 have been busy telling their own Games inspired stories, some of which we have shared together.
An important part of this journey has been the team of bloggers that have travelled along with me. They have provided me support, inspiration, laughs, memories and company. We all started out as strangers and through this one event our paths have crossed and our lives connected for what seems like the briefest of moments before we all head off in our own directions again. I found myself inspired by the individual journeys and quality of blogs of those I met. Each person was genuinely lovely and I'm sure many of us will continue to stay in touch and some of us are already getting involved in a future challenge together,
As someone who loves to travel I know it is the people that you meet that make your journey memorable and in no particular order here are some of the people that have made mine.
This is the last week of the Commonwealth Games and it has been my busiest week as part of #Team14 since it started. I've taken part in the biggest flotilla in the history of the Clyde, posed for a Bowlfie, watched lawn bowls and athletics, had a bit of a mad idea to team up with a fellow #Team14 blogger on part of his charity walk, generally wandered about Glasgow taking in the atmosphere and ticked something huge off my Scottish bucket list. I thought this week I would do my highlights in pictures to give you an idea of all the exciting things that have been going on in Glasgow (and one very exciting thing I did away from the Games!).
This week I managed trips to the lawn bowls and athletics. After my lawn bowls lesson from Woodend Bowling Club and Bowls Scotland I really wanted to make the effort to watch and support this fun event. Of course I also had to get a Bowlfie (a photo in a bowling pose using a random object) and on my way into the venue I found the perfect Glasgow themed substitute bowl.
After my trip to the Athletics Grand Prix in Glasgow last month I also wanted to return to Hampden to experience the electric atmosphere that I had enjoyed previously albeit this time with a much bigger crowd.
This week once in a lifetime events were like buses after waiting ages for one to happen, two opportunities came along at once! On Saturday I thoroughly enjoyed the Commonwealth Flotilla and approx 60,000 people came out to welcome the 250 boats taking part. You can read more on my blog post about the day.
It's time again for my weekly round up of all things #Team14. I have also included a section about the Commonwealth Flotilla with a spectator guide for Saturday so please check it out as this is going to be a truly historic and spectacular event.
Dress Rehearsal and Opening Ceremony
On Monday I was lucky enough to attend the dress rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. Along with several of my fellow #Team14 bloggers I made my way to Celtic Park to watch the practice run before the official opening on Wednesday night.
It was an interesting experience and I was impressed at how smoothly everything went. We were sworn to secrecy about the specifics of the event as the organisers didn't want to spoil the surprise.
Yesterday the Opening Ceremony took place and I could release a blog post about it.
Watch out for a photoblog from the dress rehearsal with some of the behind the scenes stories and images.
Trip to Troon
With a day off on Tuesday and the sun still shining brightly I decided to escape the heat of the city with a trip to the beach at Troon. About 40 mins from Glasgow Troon is famous for it's golfing connections and it's long beach is a fantastic place to relax.
Reminders of the approaching Commonwealth Games were everywhere with bunting and banners, it was nice to see another town embrace the event.
I returned to Glasgow feeling suitably refreshed and it was nice to do a bit of travelling in Scotland again, even if only for a day.
My First Magazine Article
Although I have written guest blog posts before this week I had my first magazine article published. I was asked by Made in Scotland Magazine if I would like to write a feature on the Isle of Bute and I was only to happy to oblige. I love promoting the island I currently call home and decided to write about ten things to do for visitors.
The finished article looks great and although I really enjoy writing on my blog I hope I get the chance to create features for more Scottish sites and publications as I love getting an opportunity to write about my country.
Well that's it, the cat is out the bag and our stall has been set out to the world, the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games has come and gone and now it's time for the athletes to make their countries proud.
If I was to say it received mixed reviews I may be understating things, like the fickle Scots we are, we cried, we laughed, we hated it, we loved it and in the end many people felt that Braveheart moment rising in their chest when the overriding emotion turned from horror to pride.
My own journey to the Opening Ceremony began on Monday night when I joined a few other #Team14 bloggers to watch the dress rehearsal. We were sworn to secrecy until now about anything we saw in order to keep the surprise, so this is a little bit about the preparations and my own thoughts on the Ceremony.
After going to Celtic Park on Monday I decided to take the opportunity last night to relax with family In Glasgow and enjoy the event as it unfolded on TV. I had been out driving in the city just before it started and apart from noisy pockets of people around Glasgow Green and the city centre, the roads and streets were eerily quiet. My Twitter feed almost came to a stop and it was as if the city and the people were holding their breath in unison and silent anticipation.
The storm after the calm began with a flurry of campness, twee, dancing Tunnocks teacakes and an overload of angry outpouring on social media. Everyone's worst fears had come true, we were confirming to the world that we are tartan wearing, haggis munching, Nessie hunting, whisky drinking numpties and we were doing it in the most tacky fashion imaginable.
I have mixed feelings about the intro and have to admit that when I first saw it I secretly hoped someone had spiked my Irn Bru but watching it for a second time confirmed that it had not been a bad Scottish hallucinogenic trip and this was in fact the Opening Ceremony.
I understand it was meant to be tongue in cheek, a self-parody, an attempt at humour but it just didn't work for me. While a few people did love it (including those in my household), like many others I was thinking that we had blown our chance to break free from a stereotype and show the world that Scotland is a modern, innovative and progressive country with alot to offer.
Having said that...in all the uproar few picked up on the very significant moment of a gay kiss. If one good thing came out of the intro it was that message, the message that Scotland embraces equality. The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act is one of the most progressive in the world and with homosexuality currently punishable by prison sentences in 42 out of 54 Commonwealth nations a kiss between two men at a Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony was a very symbolic moment.
No #Team14 roundup this week as I have a special Glasgow 2014 roundup for you instead.
With several Festivals and more sport, culture and events than the strongest Commonwealth weightlifter could handle, the next few weeks in Glasgow are set to be very lively. Searching for what's on in all those guides and downloads can be time consuming and overwhelming but fear not, your dedicated Scottish travel and #Team14 blogger (yes, me!) has trawled through them all on your behalf and picked out some daily highlights. If you quickly and simply want to know one great thing to do in Glasgow on any particular day then this is an easy staring point .
I've not included the Games themselves as they are subject to ticket availability but do try to include at least one sport so you can appreciate the full Glasgow 2014 experience and most of all make sure you take time to just walk around and generally soak up the atmosphere during one of the most exciting times in the city.
My other tip is keep an open mind about trying out new things, sometimes you find the best adventures in the most unexpected places!
23rd July - Wee Doors Open Day
Venue - Various Time - 10.00 - 16.00
A chance to pop in and have a look inside 18 of Glasgow's most interesting buildings including Fairfield Shipyard Offices, Garnethill Synagogue, The Merchant's House, Britannia Panopticon Music Hall and Glasgow Central Mosque. You can also take a tour of the Necropolis and visit the Glasgow Gurdwara both of which I recently featured on my ten alternative things to do in Glasgow blog.
There are also two excellent sounding talks, a downloadable audio tour and some free transport options including a free vintage bus!
24th July - Roots, Shoots and Fruits
Venue - Glasgow Cathedral Time - 9.30 - 17.30 (also on 23rd)
Seventy flower clubs from around Scotland will create a display in Glasgow Cathedral telling the story of our culture and roots through flower displays.
Forget any ideas you have about boring bouquets, these are proper works of art. I have seen a few photos of the work in progress and the pieces look spectacular.
25th July - Celtic Connections
Venue - Glasgow Green Time - 10.30 - 22.30
A one off special with a day of international artists and of course some homegrown talent.
Celtic Connections is a hugely popular annual event in Glasgow and this is great opportunity to experience some free Celtic music with acts as diverse as Indian drummers and Scottish pipers.
26th July - Commonwealth Flotilla
Venue - Greenock Beacon Arts Centre leave 10.00 Glasgow Riverside Museum arrive 13.00
250 boats will be taking part in the largest flotilla in the history of the Clyde. This is guaranteed to be an amazing spectacle and a real highlight with an array of boats taking part including small ships, clipper boats and leisure yachts.
Whether you choose to wave the flotilla off on it's voyage from Greenock, find a spot along the river to marvel at the historic sight or gather at the Riverside Museum to welcome the arriving boats this is one event you shouldn't miss!
If you are down by the Clyde then why not extend your day with another exciting event taking place called Cargo, Camera...Action. Described as a cinematic takeover with musicians, circus performers, artists and filmmakers putting on 5 performances throughout the day based on the tale of an abandoned Russian cruise liner it sounds very intriguing!
In one weeks time the Opening Ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games will take place with a potential worldwide audience of 1 billion viewers. An Opening Ceremony sets the scene for what is to come and gives the host country and city an opportunity to send a global message about their culture, people and finest assets.
There are always high expectations and I was interested to find out what hopes the public had for this one. I decided to interview three people from different backgrounds who all have a unique interest in Glasgow and the Ceremony. I asked them about their involvement and expectations and they have also kindly shared some advice and tips for visitors to Glasgow. I think you'll agree they make for interesting reading with a diverse range of opinions.
The Travel Blogger with a ticket
Jodie has travelled around the world and lived in some interesting places. She has been living in Glasgow since October 2013 as a direct result of the Commonwealth Games and will be leaving the city at the end of August.
She has a ticket for the Opening Ceremony and I wanted to find out why she wants to be there.
Follow Jodie's travel adventures at http://thelittlebackpacker.com/
Q1 Can you tell me a bit about your connection to Glasgow?
I’m actually living in Glasgow because of the Commonwealth Games and the story goes like this: after a year of travelling my boyfriend got a job working for the logistics of the Commonwealth Games (something he did for the London Olympics) so I found myself locating to Glasgow with him in October 2013. This isn’t the first time I have lived in Scotland with a brief spell living in Edinburgh a few years back. I was excited to get back to Scotland and although apprehensive about living in Glasgow I have become very fond of this city.
Q2 What inspired you to buy a ticket for the opening ceremony?
Buying a ticket for the opening ceremony was very last minute decision! I am constantly being updated with when more tickets are going on sale from the boyfriend and this month was no different. Tickets at £20 for partial view seats of the ceremony were going on sale. I figured I’d check it out but not only did I find these partial view tickets, they also had full view tickets in most price bands. I just went for the cheapest and thought it’s more about the atmosphere than the view anyway. I was also inspired to buy a ticket because Celtic Park is one of the venues my boyfriend has been working on.
Q3 Have you ever attended anything like this before?
I have never attended an event like this before but as I’ve mentioned I was in London for the opening ceremony of the Olympics where tickets were a lot harder to come by and I felt very left out because of missing it.
Q4 How do you feel about being at an event that could potentially be viewed by a billion people around the world?
I think it is so exciting, something that will be viewed by people all over the world is something I’m going to be part of. It’s one of those moments when you can feel very smug but also very lucky that you are on of those people inside the stadium!
Q5 Have you ever watched an opening ceremony for any other event that you found particularly memorable or inspirational?
I have watched the London Opening Ceremony for Olympics and Paralympics, both I remember fairly well but it’s the Olympics one that is most memorable. It was just so iconic to London and Britain and I think there is just something very special about these sort of events being in your own country. It is a once in a life time experience.
Q6 What message do you hope the Opening Ceremony will send to viewers around the world about Glasgow/Scotland?
One thing that continually shocks me about Scotland is the diverse landscape and everything this area has to offer. Glasgow is full of music and culture, Edinburgh is full of history and art, the list could go on and on. Each part of Scotland has something else to offer and I really hope they highlight the far North of the country. When I took around trip up North this year everything just blew me away, Scotland is like a different country up North and not many people realise just how different.
Q7 If you were designing the Ceremony is there one thing you would include that sums up Glasgow/Scotland for you?
Whisky and Kilts. I mean I know it is completely obvious but it is the truth and it is something everyone all over the world will recognise and understand. There is no point trying to show off things that you have to have seen to understand, the rest of the world just wont get it. The Scots love their Whisky and it isn’t just something that is associated with Scotland but barely touched by the locals. Ask any Scotsman and he can recommend a whisky for you.
Q8 For people visiting Glasgow for the first time is there anything you would recommend they must do?
For someone visiting Glasgow for the first time I would say they need to just walk around the city. See Buchanan Street, Merchant City, George Square and all the wonderful architecture all over the city but they also need to get out of the city and see more of what Scotland is about. Head just 30 minutes from the city and you will find some beautiful spots. Loch Lomond is certainly a popular spot - but maybe too popular - try heading to the Trossachs National Park which also has a lot to offer. For someone visiting this summer I think it’s good to explore Glasgow but I think it is very important to get out the city and see the ‘real’ Scotland.
Q9 If people wanted to see more of Scotland during their time here where would you suggest they go for a day trip?
Getting a head of myself above without reading the questions, but then again my above suggestions don’t really fill the ‘day trip’ category as you can visit them in just a few hours return. A real day trip from Glasgow would be to one of the islands or up to Fort William. A place where you have to go on a proper road trip to get there and back. The whole area of Glen Coe, Fort William is beautiful and my top suggestions for visitors to Glasgow this summer.
Q10 Do you have a favourite memory or personal highlight from you travels around the world?
Wow, this is a hard question. I have personally travelled to five continents and loved every country I have been to. I am very much a beach person so I think one of my personal highlights has to be visiting a tiny island in Cambodia call Koh Rong. You head out on a tiny ferry for two hours to be greeted by beautiful white sand and blue sea beaches. The whole island is tiny with one area of bars, accommodation and food stalls. There is no real development and the island only has electric for half the day! It is paradise and somewhere you can go to get away from everything.
Do you have a photo that sums up Glasgow for you?
A world class sports venue, airport style security, enthusiastic greeters, prestigious athletes and a lively atmosphere. You could easily have been mistaken for thinking that the Commonwealth Games had already started in the city but this was the Glasgow Grand Prix, traditionally held in London, this prestigious two day IAAF Diamond League event gave athletes a chance to experience the stadium that many of them will be competing at in just over a weeks time.
This was my first view of the transformation of Hampden from national football stadium to a shiny new athletics venue and while I'm no expert it certainly looked the part and with personal bests beaten and records broken I think it is safe to say it has lived up to the months of hype.
I attended along with a couple of my fellow #Team14 bloggers so we could get an insight into the new look stadium and get a taste of what to expect when the Games start in just over a week. It is safe to say we were all impressed.
It's that time for my weekly roundup again and to fill you in on all things #Team14. Along with my Commonwealth duties I have literally worn my shoes out doing tours around Glasgow this week. I plan to do some travel blogs for visitors and locals with ideas on alternative things to do in the city. I will also be doing a post on my recommendations for non sport events in the city during the Games (there is lots happening!).
Tomorrow I'm off to see the transformations at Hampden and although I'm disappointed that Mo Farah is no longer competing I'm looking forward to seeing some other world class and local talent at my first ever athletics event.
Here is a roundup of some other #Team14 things from this week.
For as long as I can remember there are two sports that I've had a burning desire to try, lawn bowls and golf! Being an outdoors person I've always fancied trying both these activities as an alternative to the adrenaline fuelled sports that normally take place outside.
There are two reasons that I've never stepped foot on any green before now, clothing and formality. Personally I want any activity I choose to participate in to be inclusive and enjoyable, lets be honest there is nothing cool or relaxing about following strict club rules whilst dressed in a blazer and skirt (I ditched those forever the day I left school) or a V neck jumper and chequered trousers!
When I got the chance to try lawn bowls with my fellow #Team14 bloggers this week and told that I could leave any stereotypes at the door I just couldn't say no. The only dress code was wear flat shoes and a big smile!
Woodend Bowling Club in Jordanhill, Glasgow had kindly invited us along and provided some expert coaches to teach us the basics of the game.
We were split into small groups and taken around some fun circuits to start us off. The first stereotype was shattered when we got to choose from some brightly coloured bowls, naturally I went for pink! We then spent an hour learning techniques and aiming the bowl at some fun obstacles including up a ramp into paddling pool! It didn't take long before I started to get the hang of it and with my expert coach I was soon hitting the targets (well most times!).
After a busy couple of weeks I have had no official #Team14 duties to carry out this week. Aside from receiving press releases and arranging a #Team14 lawn bowls game for next week it has been fairly quiet.
This has been a good thing though as I have managed to catch up with some of my usual travel blogs and revamp some of my site. I have updated my About Me page and added a Dog Friendly page as I realised that many of the places I visit welcome dogs and it's nice to be able to share this info all in one place.
Having a quiet #Team14 week also meant I got to head off on an adventure to the mainland and visit Caol Sculpture Park which is a wonderful hidden gem in Colintraive, just opposite the north end of Bute, watch out for my blog post on it this week!
I got round to posting two new blogs this week which have proved really popular, one on My Recommendations for Spending a Day on the Isle of Bute and My Scottish Bucket List so have a read if you missed them.
I've also added a button to subscribe to my new monthly newsletter which will have a roundup of all my blogs as I appreciate it can be easy to miss posts and updates as I'm adding so many new things at the moment. If you would like to receive a newsletter just add your e-mail here.
One thing I am excited about this week is the prospect of covering The Commonwealth Flotilla. James Stuart, the CEO for RYA Scotland has sent lots of information on the various activities which will be taking place in July and I am going to have a think today as to the best ways I can blog about it as he really wants lots of people to get involved.
If you aren't aware of it The Flotilla it is the largest one in the Clyde's history and takes place on 26th July. It will involve 250 boats sailing from Greenock to Glasgow and will be a real spectacle on the Clyde!
There are various smaller events on the lead up to the day as boats make their way to Greenock with a chance to track some of them online. This is going to be a really amazing event so I will be producing a blog post with ways to get involved very shortly.
Next week we have a provisional #Team14 lawn bowls game arranged. I've never played before so that should be fun! I also have the Athletics Grand Prix at Hampden which I am really looking forward to and I will also be pounding the streets of Glasgow this week for my next blog post as I would really like to give visitors some original ideas on thing to do. So busy times again, look out for my usual roundup at the end of the week and I'll let you know how it's all going!
Have a great week :-)
This week I have been busy organising some interviews for a future #Team14 post. I'm really grateful to those that have agreed to take part so far and all will be revealed in July. I've also been busy with some other exciting things this week including my first radio interview! Here are the highlights from my second week as a #Team14 blogger.
On Monday is was exactly one month until the opening ceremony of Glasgow2014. Myself and my fellow #Team14 bloggers were challenged to write a blog post to celebrate the occasion based around a specific word. Each blogger received a secret word which we weren't allowed to reveal until 23rd June. My word was 'historic' and you can read my blog here
My fellow teammates produced some fantastic blogs which you can find by searching the hashtags #Team14 and #1MTG on Twitter.
I did my first radio interview for Inverclyde Radio on Wednesday, needless to say I was nervous but I think it went ok and was a great experience. Although it was primarily to talk about #Scotlandhour and my travel blog I also got the chance to share what I'm doing for #Team14. If you missed it here is the link Inverclyde Radio Interview.
#Scotlandhour is a monthly Scottish Twitter tourism chat. I have participated each month since I joined Twitter last year and it just goes to show how a small but great idea can really grow and I am a big supporter of it.
Although co-hosting had been arranged way before I had even applied to be a #Team14 blogger it was very apt that the topic was Glasgow2014.
If you are visiting Glasgow this summer and looking for ideas and advice then have a read back at all the great information that was shared on the night. Just search the hashtag #Scotlandhour on Twitter and of course you can join in live on the last Wednesday of the month from 9 - 10pm for great Scottish tourism advice. Check out the Scotlandhour website to find out more.
Glasgow Athletics Grand Prix
This week I have been invited to cover the Glasgow Athletic Grand Prix which takes place in Hampden Park on 11th and 12th of July and write a #Team14 blog post about my experience. This will allow me to see the transformation of Hampden from our national football stadium into a world-class athletics venue ahead of The Commonwealth Games.
Most excitingly there are some big names coming to the city including Mo Farah and Christine Ohuruogu aswell as some top Scottish athletes like Eilidh Child and Eilish McColgan.
If you want to see some fantastic sporting action and perhaps more importantly have a chance to join in the Mobot (and let's be honest who wouldn't!!) then you will be pleased to know tickets are still available with a great offer on for a free child ticket with every adult one purchased. See the website to find out more.
At the beginning of June I was chosen as one of the official bloggers for the XX Commonwealth Games that will be held in Glasgow from 23rd July to 3rd August 2014.