Hi all! I thought it was time to get back to some blogging. It feels like a while since I last put pen to paper (then typed it up on my blog-I’m old school!) Between moving across the sea to Scotland and starting work with an extremely busy company I haven’t really had time to catch you all up on the amazing theatre I’ve seen, the gigs I’ve experienced or the fabulous food amongst other things. Also, I’ve had a little bit of writer’s block (and felt a bit of imposter syndrome) but whilst out walking recently, it came back to me why I love to write these things; I like to recommend shows, places to eat, new music, fabulous gigs and more. If you met me in person, you would know it’s one of my favourite conversations (I’m a theatre geek) I would list my favourite shows, products, places to go, it’s part of me. I’ve done it for over a decade (from my NIGossipGuy roots to Radio Ulster, my blog, magazines, newspapers, and everything in between) so why stop now and how else am I going to get Elaine Paige’s Sunday Show (It’s on my bucket list)?! So as an almost New Year’s resolution I’ve decided to give my blog a bit of love and the first blog post had to be a catch up of a very full year living in Scotland! So, after a Saturday cleaning up my flat and with a cheesy Channel5 Christmas film in the background here goes…

Selfie of Emer in the rain in Glasgow

Time flies when you’re having fun is how the saying goes but this year has certainly flown in for me.  From packing up and leaving Belfast to moving into my flat in Glasgow. I have experienced quite a lot, learnt a few lessons and my trusty little car has taken me all over Scotland. Working for a National Company in Scotland allowed me to travel throughout the country; I’ve hit Inverness, Pitlochry, Aberdeen, Loch Lomond, Ayr and even the Isle of Arran and I’ve a few more on the bucket list. I have worked on a hybrid theatre-film production, an amazing stonker of a musical which I’m sure you will see more of (mark my words), I have had three shows at the Edinburgh International festivals and a few more amazing productions which have toured all over Scotland in community centres, theatres and in schools.  I have worked with some amazing creatives, made a few friends (honestly it’s a hard thing to do when you’re in your late 30’s in a new city), dipped me toe back in the dating pool (and promptly got back out and dried off, I could write a whole other blog on dating at the moment, online dating is not for me, could you not just try a cheesy chat up a line at a bar or a bit of banter in my DM’s?). I’ve appreciated where I have come from, have missed friends and family but become even more confident in what I do and why I do it.

Image of Black and white screen showing theatrical curtains from The Strange Case of Dear Jekyll and Hyde.
Poster Image of  production Burn featuring Alan Cumming
Freesheet for production Exodus
Full audience standing around Stage at Edinburgh Festival
Poster for Orphans- A Scottish Musical

The one thing that really struck me when I moved to Scotland from NI is how differently the arts are treated in different parts of the UK. It may be linked to how they are funded from the ACE, ACNI and the Scottish Government funding (and with funding decisions all over my newsfeeds at the moment it’s a hot topic) but working in arts marketing and management you can really feel when a community has bought in to what you do. For me I’ve always had a passion for theatre, film and the arts in general but to me at home it always felt like an afterthought, that my career choice was a silly one, that work in the arts is a flippant choice, that you want to be arty-farty. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t everyone’s views it just a feeling I got. In England, especially London-centric, I always got the feeling that the arts are for those who can afford it; those who can afford West-End prices and drama schools etc. (again not all companies or theatres). But in Scotland so far, I’ve felt the community enjoy the arts, they enjoy festivals, theatre, museums. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a generalization and I hope to break down barriers in all parts of the UK and make art available for everyone but that’s the feeling I got moving here. In these post-pandemic times and when funding is scarce it’s made me even more determined for people to see how the arts and entertainment are valuable. Anyway, I digress a little. What I was trying to say is I’ve become very much at home in Scotland and within Scottish Theatre.

I’ve also loved investigating my surroundings driving down the narrow sweeping roads from the ferry to the city of Glasgow coming over the horizon or seeing the gorgeous autumnal colours of the Highlands. I’ve had various days taking in the beauty of Loch Lomond and I’ve seen the Kelpies, investigated some Scottish castles and even went on the hunt for Nessie. I’ve seen some amazing shows from the hilarious Pride and Prejudice (sort of) to the Girl from the North Country, James IV and many more. Scotland has also been a fantastic jumping off point to visit my sisters in Liverpool and London, it really makes you appreciate public transport (even with the train strikes!) It’s better than the non-existent trains from the Northwest of NI. I’ve spent days in London and even won lottery tickets for the hottest show in town Cabaret which I’m still insisting has been my favorite show of this year. Have you seen it; do you agree?  I’ve also been able to attend lots of gigs which are just on my doorstep, the joy of living in a city. It’s been fantastic to see Scottish artists play at home I’ve loved seeing Biffy Clyro (and even got to meet Simon Neil) in Edinburgh and Paolo Nutini and Lewis Capaldi in Glasgow. All three were amazing and I will never forget those gigs! I’ve also loved discovering new Scottish music with Hamish Hawk and Fatherson now being on my daily playlist. Check them out if you haven’t already!

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been roses, I have felt homesick and missed milestones with friends and family. I also miss my big social circle but overall, after a year in Scotland, I feel like I made a good move. So, if you’re reading this and thinking of taking a leap of faith go for it! I’m here now till January and who knows what’s instore next so watch this space, you’ll never know where I’ll pop up. Let me know if there’s anything you would like me to feature on the blog and don’t forget to keep an eye out for a few more features before the end of the year.

Emer D xx