Until I Am Whole (Trip to Barcelona)

“I think I’ll stay here
Til I feel whole again
I don’t know when.”

The Mountain Goats – Until I Am Whole

Three references to cats in one photo. On brand.

So, it turns out the secrets to having a great holiday are:

  1. Go through utter hell during the months preceding it
  2. Feel too miserable to really acknowledge that the holiday is coming up
  3. Don’t plan anything
  4. Have no mobile internet

Barcelona was always the plan. When I got my current job, I promised myself I’d go there with Shannon for her birthday. 2 years ago her family paid for me to go to Greece – it felt like the right thing to do and also, I really wanted to go abroad with her again.

Life has been hectic for the past wee while. I moved across the city to live with an old school friend, I had hospital appointments and I really just had to try to get my shit together. I didn’t have time to get excited for Barcelona – it’d probably be shit, anyway BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS AND FUCK THIS YEAR.

So, when it was finally time to leave, I was so wracked with mental health issues and sheer exhaustion that I still wasn’t excited. I was just really sad. My mental health has really dipped, unsurprisingly, and I have been privately wallowing. I love silver linings but honestly, I’m a little tired of seeking them. I’m just tired.

Two bottles of prosecco, a chatty flight and some shared pretzels later, I was excited. And I was in Barcelona. There was a thunderstorm but I really didn’t care – I was in *in* Barcelona! After much kerfuffle and finding out that some streets in Barcelona have two names (not annoying at-all, promise), we finally made it to our tiny hostel room. It was plain, it was uninspiring but for the next three nights, it was a place to lay our heads.

Armed with gin and adrenaline, we settled onto our cosy balcony and looked out at the buildings surrounding us. Barcelona is beautiful. In the dark, in the rougher areas, it’s beautiful. I’ve never seen anywhere like it.


On our first day, we decided to go for a short walk, just to see the local area. Turns out that our local area was, in fact, Las Ramblas. A tree-lined market sprinkled with vibrant floral displays and on our first day, under a clear blue sky. It was so alive! Our “short walk” turned into 6 hours and before we knew it, we’d seen a massive chunk of Barcelona. It was all accidental, there was no itinerary and that is exactly what we both needed it to be, I think.

Aimlessly wandering around a gorgeous city with one of your favourite people is a really great way to blow cobwebs out, I’d recommend it to everybody.

I couldn’t share a lot on snapchat, instagram or any other social network. Nobody could contact me until I got back to the hostel. This used to be something that really freaked me out and caused intense anxiety but it was wonderful. Nothing home had to tell me couldn’t wait. I’d had enough news.

I wanted sunny skies, fruity sangrias and to be around people that understood me. Nothing else had to matter for a few days.


I love Glasgow. More than anywhere else in the world, I love Glasgow. I needed to see another city, different friends, experience a world so separate to my own to really be able to come back and appreciate the life I have, even just for a little while.

The friends we went to visit have built their own lives, have their own tiny world that we were lucky enough to get a small glimpse of. From restaurants with unbelievable comfortable seats, to a tiny ice cream parlour even right down to their favourite delis and eating brunch (who am I?) with the friends they’ve made since moving there… It was so refreshing.

We found a fairytale themed bar, with stories in photo frames and tiny fairy pools. Dark and secluded, it was a stark contrast to the clear skies and vibrant colours but it was gorgeous. Another accidental treat. The other memorable bar was on a side-street from Las Ramblas. It was essentially a hole in the wall with four stools in front of it. Fake flowers, disco balls and Christmas decorations. It was every bit as tacky as it was dreamy. The barman made a promise that if I could guess where he was from, I’d get a free shot.


Free shots all round.


After a night of homemade sangria, dinner cooked for us and a surprisingly tasty dip made of dried onion soup (honestly!), we only had one day left in beautiful Barcelona.

We had brunch, walked around the city centre and made the most of our final day. We didn’t do much sight-seeing but we did remember to always look up. It’s a great rule for most cities but especially Barcelona. There is so much beauty. So much.

City breaks are supposed to be jam-packed with activities, itineraries and early mornings. They’re supposed to be so much more than what we did but Barcelona isn’t a place you only visit once. I know that now, already.

Sometimes you don’t need to tick all the boxes, sometimes you just need a break from your own world.

I am a bit of a homely soul and I am usually happy to be coming home from holidays but this time I wasn’t ready. I cried quite a lot. My little corner of the Earth didn’t seem appealing to me, at-all. I just wanted to continue wandering aimlessly, accidentally stumbling on gorgeous architecture and becoming rosy-cheeked with sangria.

It was only a few days but I think being unplugged and without obligations really soothed my bruised soul. The reminders that the world outside of my own tiny bubble can be so beautiful gave me a new perspective and while I wasn’t ready to leave, I think that’s the best way to feel. I spent 3 days with people I really truly adore, in a gorgeous city and none of the memories are even slightly tainted. It was just a gorgeous way to come back to life.

Thanks Barca, thanks pals, I can breathe again. x


Hostal River for a cheap, basic hostel that is very clean and very central
Fabrica Moritz for affordable food, very comfortable seats and a lovely atmosphere (also cava sangria!)
Gothic Quarter for gorgeous architecture, interesting stores and a lively taste of Barcelona



A life of love

In all the chaos, flurry and rage of the petty squabbles we find ourselves in, we forget about the people who love us. And loved us. And will love us.

A family friend died this morning. I knew it was coming, and I honestly can’t even remember the last time I saw Les but the loss was felt, deeply.

Les was probably the most wholesome person I’ve ever met. A friend to everybody. All I can remember is his smiling face. I was a shy child but I always ran across the playground to hug him. I just loved him. A truly pure love. He taught everybody in my primary school bike safety and was a very patient mentor. He had time for everybody and the kids loved him.

I told them we were related. He was my godmother’s dad. Close enough.

I speak of all the things I want to do with my life, the places I want to take my writing, the career I hope to have but deep down, like everybody else, I want a life of love. Les had that.

Les was adored. He was humble, he was kind, he was everything you think of when you think of a good person. His family is tight-knit and they are all his biggest fans. Sometimes you make waves not with controversy or hard work but by being the best version of yourself, wherever possible. Les taught me that.

It’s comforting to know Les died at an old age with no regrets. That he really did have a life of love. He died knowing he was loved and those around him never questioned it.

I’m learning over time that a happy life is more important than an exciting one. I’m not sure the story of Les’s life would be a bestseller but to those that knew him, the lasting memories will be filled with love, and laughter, and kindness. We take these things for granted but more often than not, they matter the most.

I am so glad I knew Les. I’m so glad I have the memories of him. He was one of the really special people that never quite leaves your skin and I’m lucky to have known him in such formative years. No matter how long it’s been, how far away I am or how much I change, Les and his family are part of my core.

Les didn’t want flowers, or money being spent by anybody. He didn’t want a fuss. Humble and dignified til the end. What he’s left me with, and what I hope I’ve conveyed to you, is an acknowledgement and understanding of what it is to have a life of love.

The little things don’t matter. Remember the people that created your core. And try to always be the best version of yourself, or at least the kindest version of yourself, wherever possible.



Ramble on (moving day)

Leaves are falling all around
It’s time I was on my way
Thanks to you I’m much obliged
For such a pleasant stay
But now it’s time for me to go
The autumn moon lights my way”

Led Zeppelin – Ramble On

F Scott Fitzgerald Fall Quote

So, today is moving day. Finally.

Autumn doesn’t actually start ’til later this month but it’s the 1st of September and to me, that indicates that Autumn is almost here and the fresh start that F. Scott Fitzgerald spoke of is well underway.

I’m really quite excited to be leaving my big purple house now. Just as I was getting sentimental about leaving, one headache came, and then another, and then another. Now that moving day is here, I’m just really excited to move into a lovely southside flat with an old pal. It’s a new adventure for me and the cats. A well overdue adventure.

There’s something really exciting about moving house and I should know – this is my 20th(!) move. The actual moving part is tedious, costs more than you expect and exhausting but once you’re in, it’s a fresh start. It feels as if you’ve just really turned a page and there are endless opportunities ahead.

The new walls surrounding you, the new area to explore, the nooks and crannies that all make up a home… they’re all yours for the taking! The last tenants only moved out yesterday, so I won’t have that ‘new home’ smell. I have, however, bought candles to make sure it smells fresh.

I even love the unpacking and finding new places for familiar belongings.

I am worried about settling my cats. Cats don’t like change. But I do.

Initially, I freak out. Initially, I wonder how the hell I’m going to tackle it.

Then I get excited. Despite being surrounded by boxes, and binbags, and a flat that still needs to be post-tenancy cleaned, I’m excited. I don’t know what’s ahead apart from a big flat and living with an old friend.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was right, wasn’t he? Life really does take on a fresh new start in Autumn.

(Please carry my books for me. I have five huge boxes. WHO EVEN NEEDS THIS MANY BOOKS?!)

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