This weekend, Student Tours Scotland delves deep into Galloway Forest Park. It's a great drive, even when things don't quite go to plan. Like this tale from 2015.
This weekend Student Tours Scotland bursts down the M77 Motorway and invades the wonderfully peaceful (well, at least until we arrive), Galloway Forest Park. It’s my second favourite tour (I’m the ginger one you’ve probably met on some of the events).
Like an American highway unfolding in front of you, the main roads through the park are long, straight in most places and seemingly endless. They hold a kind of majesty that I can’t really describe however, you have to really experience it.
Galloway Forest Park is not my close second simply because of it’s boundless wonder and beauty. No, the South West of Scotland charms everyone and creates a bond between the group that I can’t really explain.
Last year, around this time, we loaded the minibus and headed due south towards Girvan on the coastal road. The coach was teeming with students ready to take on the mystery of the forest paths. We got to the coast and you could feel the energy explode forth from the cheery grins everyone had in the morning sun. I’m sure the coffee helped as well of course.
As we made our way inland towards Glentrool the bus began to creak and groan. It wasn’t happy. It was like an old door, in need of some tender loving care. The coach came to a halt outside Pinmore Village and then stopped. We were stranded. In the middle of nowhere. With nothing.
As we waited on a relief coach, I expected the group to become unstable, fall apart and eventually turn on themselves. Around us was a farm and a hill. Then of course there was the never ending road before us. It was a matter of time until the animal instincts took over and we would begin by sacrificing the weakest amongst us.
However, as the sun reached it’s apex, something wonderful happened. The spirit of the Forest Park emanated through us and the group became something more than simply tourist on the same coach trip. With the shade of the Two Pins Community Council notice board giving us a place to escape to, I watched as the attendees grew closer. Some chased some sheep to see if they could see what they felt like, others climbed the hill for a great view across the town of Girvan. Cards were dealt and friendships formed. People found their favourite movies and more than a couple were shocked at those who had never seem Mean Girls. Charmander was the best Pokemon by far and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many selfies taken.
Suddenly the coach arrived to relieve us and we were on our way deeper into the park. I don’t know if this strong a bond would form so easily on just any old tour. With Galloway Forest Park though, there is something in the air, something that brings you together.
People Watching with Student Tours Scotland in the City
Student Tours Scotland spends a lot of time in cafes in and around Glasgow. Sometimes you can't help but watch the world go by around you.
People watching is fun. It really is. You should try it sometimes. I sit here in Caffe Nero on Argyle Street, clasping my steaming flat-white in my hands watching the world go by. As the gentle warmth from my coffee wafts me, I can feel my nose once again. Bring it world, bring back the smells (well, maybe not all of them).
It’s April and yet the snow comes. Like Game of Thrones before it, April has decided that Winter is indeed, coming. And come winter did. The snow fell and the rain came. You can see the people who woke up this morning in the basking sunshine. These are the first to fall when the season becomes, well, unseasonable. They hold onto their human-condom style overcoats to dear life. The pound shops must be making a mint today.
Then there is the poor mother, she drags her child across Argyle Street as the little girl splashes with glee in every puddle that she comes to. There is a disapproving glance from an elderly woman nearby but I think it got lost amongst the falling tundra.
People-watching should be an Olympic Sport. It would give me a chance to excel in the world of fitness. I can pass judgement from ten-feet away, safe and snug in my cushion-filled, coffee world. If only the people outside, soaked to the skin, knew what I was doing. They all have names of course. The couple arguing in the rain are Tom and Candy; the old lady booming at her grandchild is Old Missus Agnes and the poor guy in his business suit is simply Bob.
Bob seems sad at the sodden brand-name jacket and matching pants. Let’s hope that he’s not got an important meeting today. That conference call better be audio only or Bob isn’t getting promoted.
Of course, I say all of this and pass judgement like this, from the comfort of my cafe. It’s time to leave and head out once again into the blustry wonder that is April in Glasgow. Wish me luck. If I pass you by, make sure to include me in some exciting people-watching world of your own.
Student Tours Scotland has been enjoying the weather lately in Glasgow. But sometimes, the severe changes can take their toll. Like today.
The ginger rises, early in the depths of the morning. Cautiously he peers out over the rim of the window ledge and is engulfed in a warm, fuzzy glow from the dawn sun as it spreads out across the city.
A smile bursts across the face of this young redheaded man as he jumps into the shower, gets dressed and engorges himself on breakfast fit for a king. With a bounce in his step he gleefully erupts from the four walls he calls home and unleashes himself on the world at large. Mr. Sun smiles down on him, a feeling he rarely gets in this Lanarkshire City. Even the wait for the infuriatingly late bus into town is less irritating this day. It’s almost as if the suns rays have a calming effect.
On the bus there are smiles, the populace reads the Metro, turning each page with gusto, excited by what the day has in store. Maybe they will change the world, maybe they won’t but either way they will do so with a grin stapled to their face. Nothing can change it.
The bus thunders down The Boulevard in the New Gorbals and the daffodils bend towards it’s wake as if saying, ‘good morning’ and waving as we pass. Public transport has a spring in it’s step this morning. The happiness oozes from everything.
And then it happens. The world collapses in on itself. As we cross the River Clyde, a darkness descends over the hulking mass of Glasgow City as the clouds rush in from seemingly nowhere. One by one, the Glaswegians hearts shatter. You can hear a sweeping, dusting of glass shards falling to the floor as the weather speeds in from the east and leaves each citizen a little lighter without their soul.
The rain comes, the snow falls and the temperature plummets. It’s like one massive joke, told by Mother Nature herself. She knows how to play with our heart strings and today she controls the orchestra. Wednesday, hump-day, the day my hopes were crushed. Thanks Nature.
Student Tours Scotland thinks back to a time when the rain tried to kill our spirits in Aberdeen as we prepare for what might be another wet weekend there this Saturday.
Student Tours Scotland takes you to a lot of places around this wonderful Scottish land. From the dizzy heights of Inverness to the lowland villages like Portpatrick, we have it all. The memorable sunny days leave a mark on your mind. It’s the days like that you can never truly forget. They’ll bring a tear to your old heart when you’re sitting with a cup of tea in hand at eighty years old.
However, every so often, nature embraces the angry ginger within. Like a torrent of verbal obscenities, the wind flares up, the heavens open and the rain leaves you soaked to the bone.
Take one fateful summer day in 2013 when Student Tours Scotland helpers Tiago, Anderson and Rodrigo joined me to Aberdeen to test the new route we were planning to launch later that year. With a grin on our face we travelled north. The further away from Glasgow we seemed to go, the angrier nature became.
The wind lashed our faces and our waterproof jackets proved just how wrong some brands can be when they advertise their products. Honestly, I would have been better planning a tour of the local swimming pool. It would have had the same result.
However, suddenly, from no where, the beach was visible. It was like the inner Scottish soul kicking in. The rain was pouring, the wind was howling and yet, I found myself jumping for joy. The sand under my training shoes urging me to embrace the child-like nature inside all of us. Embrace the fun of the beach. Embrace the hilarity of the rain. It might have rained all day, but there was sunshine in our souls. Cheers Aberdeen.