Best of 2015

This will probably be the last post of 2015. While I am working over part of the festive season, I intend to spend the rest of the time reading, eating and sleeping. So, I wanted to round off the year with a little post about some of my travel experiences this year and hopes for next year.

Best museum – Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge –
Not a hard choice, this one. The Fitzwilliam is wonderful, full of interesting and varied collections, from Greece to Rome to French art, plus a polystyrene Hercules. Perfect.

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Runner-up – Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester –
MOSI is another favourite, though I have been there a few times in the last few years. It blows my mind every time I go. The recent 3D printing exhibition was particularly enlightening.

Best Art Gallery – Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh –
National Galleries of Scotland do a great job. Portrait is one of my favourite buildings on earth with a few minutes on the balcony a must of any hectic day in the capital. My last visit combined the BP Portrait Award and a selection of documentary photographs.

Runner-up – Science Gallery, Dublin –
Random place, run by Trinity College Dublin. It had a range of installations all about blood when I was there in January.

Best Historic Place – Dumbarton Castle –
A surprising choice for me but I had a visit there in September for work, honest, and loved the views across the Clyde and the Vale of Leven. Not my first visit but a welcome return.

Runner-up – Crookston Castle –
My local castle, within walking distance of here, with views across the city and my part of the world in particular. I could even see Morrison’s. Also noteworthy as the very first National Trust for Scotland property.

Best Library – Any one I work in, obviously.

Runner-up – Mitchell Library, Glasgow and Conway Hall, London –
The Mitchell is the largest public reference library in Europe and I can get a bus there from my house. Simple.

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Conway Hall I visited in October and being in a beautiful space with humanist volumes was a secular heaven.

Best Place To Watch Football – Easter Road Stadium, Edinburgh –
Where else?

Runner-up – Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium, Dumbarton – It was a beautiful night in April, I could walk from my work, good views and Hibs won.

Best Fish Supper – Lemon Sole Supper, Tailend, St Andrews –
Great combination of beautiful night, beautiful food out of chip paper and washed down by Irn Bru.

Runner-up – Haddock Supper, Pizza Mario, Crookston, Glasgow –
Ate this one in my house a few weeks back. Still memorable.

Best Park – Christ’s Pieces, Cambridge –
Great name, beautiful in the autumn.

Runner-up – Meadows, Edinburgh –
A very familiar place, known from many wanders in the capital. It is a great place to think.

Best Beach – Belhaven Beach, near Dunbar –
The curve of the bay opens out into the Firth of Forth with the Bass Rock and the Isle of May out into the distance. A place full of memories but never fails to wash my spirit clean. Usually because it’s bloody windy.

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Runner-up – Prestwick –
My Belhaven substitute, with the Ailsa Craig being the Bass Rock’s stand in. More urban though entirely possible to escape from the world, with views across to Arran and Kintyre on a good day.

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Next year will be interesting personally with changes in job and a return to education, amongst other things. There are many places I want to visit next year, though some of them will probably need to wait for the summer.

1. Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven – A beautiful, ruined castle on a cliff pointing into the North Sea. I have been there before but not for a while. I was going in April but there were snow warnings so spent the day in Fife instead.

2. Tantallon Castle, near North Berwick –
Very similar to Dunnottar except a lot further south and overlooking the Bass Rock. I know Tantallon well.

3. Oxford –
I have been to Cambridge so only fair to see Oxford too. I would like to see the museums and the Bodleian Library.

4. Bristol –
Similarly, I have never been though would like to go and learn about its maritime history.

5. Stornoway –
I would love to go to the Western Isles, particularly on a Sunday when the place basically shuts down but mainly to see Calanais and the museum in Stornoway.

Some of these will be possible in a day, others not. I am always excited for the new year for the renewed possibilities for adventure. In old places or in new, I am looking forward to getting out there.

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