The day before I left for my weekend away I checked the forecast: rain and clouds… typical Glasgow weather. Not thrilling to say the least, but I’d be inside at a Conflict Archaeology conference anyway, so I wouldn’t need to spend too much time outdoors. I caught the train from London Euston and watched the sun set from the carriage over the next 5 hours or so. It was a long ride, but I was lucky enough to have a seat (it’s first come first serve!) and plenty of food, so I was happy.
My arrival in Glasgow then 30 minute walk to the Airbnb was wet, and in the dark, so when I arrived with soggy jeans and a dripping umbrella, I was overjoyed to see my cozy room. Tall walls, big windows, thick curtains and a fireplace? How idyllic! I quickly picked up some cereal for the next two breakfasts (and dinner that night), planned fun things to do in Glasgow and turned in: heater on, comfy sweater, book, wool socks…. it was perfect.
The PGCA 2019 conference kicked off bright and early with blue skies (Am I truly in Glasgow?) and chilly weather. I had my list of things to do after the conference finished for the day and I was already getting excited to check out some museums and restaurants. I didn’t know what the next two days would entail but I figured that I would spend a lot of time alone, which has been my typical conference experience. It was anything but – I barely saw Glasgow! Sure, it started slow… I spent the Saturday morning session off to the side, watching everyone reconnect from the year before, but after a solo lunch I became more sociable and by the end of the afternoon I managed to make some friends.
Lunch was delicious. We had a long time for lunch so I walked to a place I had read about online called Tchai-Ovna House of Tea. I went down alley after alley until I found the entrance, where a cozy set of rooms with 80 different teas awaited me. I eventually settled on a nice milky chai and a lentil soup to fill me up – the cereal hadn’t done much in the morning and I was very hungry…
I couldn’t even finish it! Everything was delicious and I ate as much as I could before I passed off the rest of my tea to my table mates (it was family style seating) and went for a lovely walk along the river and through Kelvingrove park, shuffling through the colorful leaves that have finally begun to fall.
The second half of presentations came and went with me taking advantage of the small tea break to introduce myself to some people. These researchers are from all over the world and I was really nervous, some of them are big names! People began to ask me if I was going to the pub in the evening and I had reservations about joining, but it turned out to be a great time. Plus… the steak and ale pie was delish… I spent quality time with Simon, Sarah, and Lou and we’ll be seeing each other (at the latest) in January! Woohoo! New connections!
Day two began with more cereal and continued with another beautiful walk in the cold, sunny air. Lunch was filled with a nerdy talk about burial rites and after morning and afternoon presentations (by my new friends!) were finished, goodbyes felt too soon. I learned about wartime identity tags, the typology of trenches, waterloo and vegetable dolls, walking away with inspiration and a desire to speak at the next conference.
The last time I was in Glasgow, I stayed in the downtown area and focused on seeing the Cathedral and Necropolis. I didn’t enjoy Glasgow, plus it was rainy. This time around, I sent out “what should I do while I’m there?” texts beforehand to family and friends in hopes of newfound inspiration, but in the end I didn’t have time to use their recommendations. It was gorgeous weather the whole weekend and spending time around the University, Kelvingrove park and Hillhead neighborhood completely shifted my thoughts on the city. I’m already looking forward to going back! However.. not anytime soon.. that train ride was brutal.