Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I have certainly been walking lots these last couple of days. Today's big adventure (apart from the trip to Asda for groceries) was to purchase a mobile (cell phone for those of you at home) so that I can connect with people without being tied to my computer. I needed to find the T-Mobile shop on Sauchiehall Street. On the map it looked far away but I'm learning the scale is a bit misleading. It only took me 20 minutes to walk there and then I wandered around a bit to get my bearings. I'm starting to recognize things from when I was here last year.
Next I needed to find a post office to mail some letters and that was a challenge in itself. I swear I was walking around for an hour in city centre trying to find it. I'd pop into a shop and ask where the nearest post office was and they'd say "oh, there's just one around the corner" or "It's just down the street" and so I'd walk and not find it. Then I'd ask someone else and they'd point me in another direction. But I did finally find it and got my mail off. Here it's not just a flat rate for a letter but the postage is based on the weight of the letter.
As you can see from the blue sky at the top of today's picture it was a spectacular day in Glasgow so I didn't mind all the walking I did. But the temperature is starting to creep down with November just around the corner. Tonight's big night will involve me curling up in front of the TV and watching a movie and eating popcorn - you have NO idea how difficult it was to find popcorn here, so I'm going to savour it.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Here was today's dinner - Braised Lamb. Sounds pretty adult doesn't it. Jen has this really cool digital meat thermometer where you just stick the probe into the meat and place the receiver outside the stove. The receiver reads the internal temperature of the meat. You set what temperature for it to be done and when it reaches that the alarm goes off and viola - perfect lamb!
This was served with a lovely bottle of French Red from Andrew's birthday gift. He was signed up for a case of wine delivered to his house 4 times a year. Each case has 2 bottles of 6 different wines. I think I may look into signing up for something like that once I'm working again. How much fun would that be trying different wines throughout the year. No decisions to make, they just deliver it right to your door.
Today's outing was walking down to the Farmers Market and seeing what was available. This was where I was able to purchase my leg of lamb directly from the farmer, organic and fresh. The market wasn't huge but they had pretty much everything you'd need. There were a number of organic vegetable stands (one of which arranges weekly delivery of a fresh pick of the day box), fresh baking and other meats available as well. They only have it on Saturdays 10:30 - 2:00.
After picking up the lamb we walked a bit along Dumbarton and found the big Salvation Army thrift shop. If you keep going back you can find great deals on used furniture. Saw of few choice pieces for cheap cheap cheap - but as I don't have my own flat not a good idea to purchase anything yet. But I'm trying to familiarise myself with what are the best places to keep an eye out for so that when a good piece comes up I can snag it.
Still having problems with the jet lag. Friday night I didn't really get to sleep until close to 5AM which was really Saturday morning. I kind of hit the wall this afternoon and ended up having to take a nap. Tonight the clocks get turned back an hour so I'm hoping this will help things. However as it is also the Saturday before Halloween I'm also assuming it is going to be extremely noisy outside with all the parties going on. We are currently surrounded by many flats housing university students and they tend to have active social lives on the weekend.
Sunday we move to a different flat in the Woodlands area. We will still be about a 10-15 min walk to Andrew & Jen's place but now we will be on the other side of the Kelvin River . So lots more exploring to do in the next 4 weeks :>)
Friday, October 27, 2006
Poor Brenda had to leave her unfinished bottle of 17yr Glengoyne at home thanks to the no liquids in your carry on luggage rule. But now we are able to go straight to the source.
We signed up for the tour which started with a taste of their 10 yr single malt. Leona - this will interest you, Glengoyne Whisky is non-peated and they use Sherry casks so I think you would quite like it. But as it is scotch it's distilled twice (unlike the Irish whiskey which is distilled 3 times).
This is quite a small distillery so the tour didn't take that long. I was all gung ho to get into the storage warehouse to take some interesting shots of the barrels but that was the one place they didn't let us go. So no artistic shots today.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
They have this installation called Expressions hanging from the ceiling in the central hall and it's all these white heads with different expressions. It was kind of creepy, but in an artsy way. That was the inspiration for my "Expressionless" portrait.
The grocery shopping thing is starting to get a bit frustrating. Most of the brands are not the same, it's REALLY hard to find peanut butter (who knew?) and the stores are laid out much differently. So I find myself wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles not sure what I'm looking for. I'm afraid one of these days a security guard is going to pull me aside for suspected shop lifting as quite often I'll go in with my list and end up going out with nothing as I couldn't find what I was looking for. I mean how difficult is it to find a container of Chicken Broth - only it would be Chicken Bullion as Chicken Broth would be the Chicken equivalent to Scotch Broth. The other disadvantage I have here is that on Byers Road the Somerfield's is just a small store that really is catering to the University students and it's a large full service grocery store. For that I'd need to go with Jen next time she does a Tesco run ( http://www.tesco.com )
Broke down and bought an umbrella today. Good thing as the floodgates opened up when we were walking back from Andrew & Jen's place after a celebratory whisky tasting for Andrew's birthday.
Ahhh whisky - that'll take the chill off ya.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Before I go into details of the 'Girls Night Out' I need to confess something. Tonight I cooked a whole chicken. Why is this a confession you may ask? Well it's like this - a chicken is one step away from a turkey, and a turkey is one of those things I said I never wanted to learn how too cook as that just seemed way too adult a thing to do. You know, one thing leads to another, first you roast a chicken, then next thing you know you're responsible for the Christmas Dinner and I much prefer being the guest and leaving before the leftovers need to be packed away and the dishes washed. But let me set up the evening for you...
As you know, I'm currently unemployed. Brenda on the other hand has been going full steam ahead with the Nanny thing. So that leaves me feeling a bit guilty and aware that I need to contribute something to the cause rather than just sitting around and playing tourist. I'm not really much of a kids person so babysitting is out, but I can cook. So I've been in charge of dinner for everyone (Brenda, Andrew, Jen & myself) pretty much every night since I got here.
Friday - Pasta Primavera with white wine sauce and grilled chicken
Saturday - I made a chicken, vegetable and chick pea curry
Sunday - leftovers (it was a big batch of curry)
Monday - Poached Salmon
Tuesday - Lemon Roasted Chicken with Thyme & Rosemary
I've never roasted a chicken before and I had to search the Internet for a recipe as all my cookbooks are at home. I found one that didn't seem to difficult and if you allow me to boast - it was excellent! I won't go into all the juicy details (did I mention how juicy the chicken was?) but man that was one yummy chicken. I only wish I had brought my camera as that would have ended up as the picture of the day. But speaking of the picture of the day.....
Phoenix - October 24 at The Arches, Glasgow
- what a fantastic show! Saw these guys last year at Richards on Richards in Vancouver. They played at the same venue again in September (ask Paul as he was at that show) but with the upcoming move and trying to pack up my apartment I just couldn't find the time to go. I had noticed on their website that they were going to be in Glasgow after my arrival so Brenda and I had planned to catch that gig instead.
What a fantastic venue. It almost looked like an old abandoned underground station, very cave like. The acoustics were perfect and the crowd was very enthusiastic. I had this 7 ft skinhead type guy standing in front of me and I swear he knew the words to every song and he was bustin' the moves all night - it made me laugh. About half way through the show it just all felt very sureal. Here I am in Glasgow, listening to a great band from Paris, too cool!! Then when the band was finished and the crowd started calling out for an encore the chant was "One More Tune" but is sounded like "One More Tyune" - I love the accents here.
On the way out in the coat check line started up a conversation with another very tall Glaswegian and he was saying "Wasn't that crack, they were fantastic" - it's going to take a while to learn all the slang. But so far everyone has been very friendly.
It's been a great night, and now I have the T-Shirt to prove it!
Monday, October 23, 2006
Inside is a rod for hanging stuff, one shelf and a skeleton key to lock it. There is some cute decorative details on the door pull and on the top of the unit.
Not bad for the trash eh?
The demographic of the church is on the old side, lots of white hair. Also the hymnals are just words, no music and there was only one that I recognized - no one sings harmony.
Brenda was still suffering the effects of her cold so she chose to miss the service but she did meet up with me later as this is the church that Andrew & Jen attend so she came to find Jen afterwards. We got introduced to a few people and I met one lady recently moved from Winnipeg so we traded stories about attempting to get settled.
After church we walked a few blocks to a cafe called the Naked Soup. For 4.95 you get a large cup of soup, salad of your choice, a piece of fruit and a drink. Lots of food for a good price. The soups were homemade in the cafe and very yummy. We sat out on the patio as the sun was shining and warm.
After lunch we just did a bit more grocery shopping (it's hard to stock a kitchen properly when you know you are just going to move again in the next week). Brenda was able to find a store that stocks Fisherman's Friends for her throat and we also found this really funky card shop that kept us entertained for a while.
When we got back to the flat we both got into organization mode and tried to make our small spaces a little bit less chaotic. Then we headed over to Andrew & Jen's flat to go view a possible flat for us to live in. It looked very nice and had been completely renovated but there was some water damage from the suite upstairs so that is a huge red flag that needs to be addressed before any decisions get made. We are going to be looking at another flat Monday as well. Both places are all in the same area we are in now and about a 7 minute walk to Andrew & Jen's place which is very convenient. Took the photo you see walking back from the viewing as the sun was just starting to go down.
Had a communal dinner of leftover curry, rice and a salad as this was the first time Andrew was now home as the conference he was organizing was now over. Poor guy, he looked pretty exhausted from what I'm sure was a very hectic week.
Monday I need to call the Mercer office to set up a time to come in and do the meet and greet thing and see if they want me. Wish me luck!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Second - here's some info on the Castle: http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/properties_sites_detail.htm?propertyID=PL_275
Third - WOW! What an amazing concert in an amazing space, the acoustics were perfect. Here's the intro blurb from the program:
" Tonight's concert features the world premiere of a suite of 8 pieces composed by Gwilym Simcock and Tim Garland. The compositions, which have been commissioned by the Chaplaincy to the Arts and Recreation, will be performed alongside readings of the specially chosen pieces of poetry and prose which have inspired them."
I think Brenda and I were the only 2 people there that were not actually part of the conference and there's a story right there - so let me begin.
The concert was to start at 9:30PM and as mentioned above was being held in the Chapel Royal in Stirling Castle, which is in the town of Stirling. So we needed to hop the tube and then catch the train to get to the town of Stirling. We arrive in town at 8:30PM and it's pitch black night. Now it's been about a year and a half since we were last year and we're trying to remember which way to the castle. We find a map in the train station but of course none of the streets are straight and it's all a bit confusing. We know the castle is at the top of the hill, but because it's night we can't see the hill. My strategy is "there must be signs, let's just walk".
And there were signs pointing the way so we made it up through the Old Town, past the cemetery to the parking lot and we can see the cars parked from the conference attendees. However, as we are walking through the parking lot we can both see ahead of us what looks like the main gates, but they seem closed. We are both trying to remember if there is another entrance. Just as we get up to what would have been the old drawbridge (it is a castle after all) the rain starts, that really heavy wet misty rain - so much for good hair. We get to the main doors and they are very much closed. It feels like something out of a Monty Python sketch with King Arthur coming up to the castle held by the Taunting French Knight.
These doors are about 6 inches thick and there is no big knocker, and my wee knuckles hardly make a sound. So here we are, two lost girls from Canada, locked outside the castle walls. I looked over and see a long piece of iron that seems to be connected to something on the other side of the door. I jiggle it, twist it and nothing much seems to happen but then I give it a big tug and a bell rings on the other side and we can hear a voice on the other side saying "Yes?". Brenda calls out "We're here for the concert?", and a little door within the door opens up and a head pops through and it's the security guard and he lets us in. But we have to sit and wait on the ancient stone bench in the archway as he calls on his walky talky to someone else to come and get us.
We are led to the Chapel Royal, but we are early so we can wander around and look at the space. Andrew pops in a few minutes later and introduces us to Malcolm Creece (the bass player) and walks us over to the banquet hall to take a peek.
So we just mill about waiting for the dinner to be over and the concert to start. As mentioned above it was fantastic. When the suite was over the trio was given a standing ovation and they performed an encore of Miles Davis 'Blue in Green'. Just a lovely night.
As we were heading back to Jen's car to come home Brenda mentioned about how wonderful/strange it felt to be wandering around this ancient castle without a thousand other tourists about. Very cool.
FYI - this picture of the castle was taken August 2005 the first time I was there
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Today I walked to the left down Byers Road to see what there was to see. My mission - get an adapter for Brenda's blow dryer as the adapters she brought don't fit the type of plugs in this flat. So I checked out Woolworths and Boots and for an extra pound I ended up just buying a new blow dryer (I'll need one for myself eventually anyway).
Found a few very good looking bakeries and another vegetable stand. Picked up veggies for tonight's curry. Also found a new Tikka Masala sauce I wasn't familiar with so I grabbed it and will try it out.
On the way home from my walk the rain started and as I had left my small umbrella somewhere in my parents garage I had nothing. But I have heard that a true Scot doesn't use an umbrella unless it's a torrential downpour so I must have looked like a local, or just a very soggy unprepared newcomer.
Grabbed a coffee from the shop downstairs to warm me up.
A quick comment on posting comments to my blog. Please do - but when you do please either leave your name or at least initials so I know who you are.
Tommorrow I'll have a concert review of the Acoustic Triangle performance from Stirling Castle.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Attempted to set up a bank account today but that didn't go so well so I'll need to do a bit more research. It seems I may not be able to get a standard run of the mill checking account here as the one bank I went to said they will want 2 yrs of credit history before allowing so they'd only offer me a very restrictive savings account. I may wait until I've got a job to see if my employer can give me some help with setting something up. With the savings account they don't allow direct deposit of paycheques - somehow that just seems wrong. So no worries I have my ATM card so will just have to make due that way for the time being.
I managed to find a wireless signal in our flat. It's not strong, but it does the trick. It's probably coming from one of the many coffee shops in the area - hey, I'll take what I can get. But I did go to the coffee shop downstairs and purchased an espresso and a pastry just in case the signal is from them. I feel less guilty that way.
I'm cooking dinner for Jen & Brenda tonight at Jen's flat as the only spice I was able to find in our kitchen here was salt. That will never do.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Everything went very smooth on the trip over. All my flights were on time, no problems with Immigration in London and British Airways didn't even bat an eye at my 2nd bag (even though for domestic flights I'm only allowed 1).
I found it odd that on my 55 minute flight to Glasgow from London with my choice between a cheese or tuna sandwich I was offered wine. What's the appropriate pairing for a dry wholemeal tuna sandwich with wilted lettuce and corn? I played it safe and just asked for water.
Didn't really sleep on the long flight from Vancouver as I just could NOT get comfy. So I'm feeling pretty bagged right now. But it's 8:42 PM so it's looking good for me to be up for a bit more before attempting to get a full nights sleep. I'm predicting I should be wide awake by about 1AM.
Haven't had a chance to figure out where (if any) are the free internet cafes but that's tomorrows challenge. It also explains why I've posted a picture of my empty apartment rather than something taken today.
So I'm officially here :>)
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I also need to quickly sort through the clothes I have and figure out what I will need for the next year before my folks come out next fall. So much to do and so little time. I think I need another glass of Merlot before I get started ;>)
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
After the last load was taken out of the truck and into the garage (the garage will be another post on it's own, talk about chaos!) then it was time for their reward. Mom made Boeuf Bourguignon (beef stew with red wine) for dinner. For dessert, Dad took them down to his sound room for coffee and some good music.
Monday, October 16, 2006
And now to tell you how you've all let me down this past year...
Originally uploaded by sasseymills.
In the morning I attended the service at Westside and pretty much cried all the way through it. Then when it came time to saying my goodbyes the floodgates opened again. Man, this emotions thing really sucks at times. I was able to compose myself to the point of being able to go out in public and had a wonderful brunch with my friend Michelle at Locus on Main & King Edward. They do make a wonderful Huevos Rancheros.
The evening was my last Songs In The Night service and I was prepared with stashes of Kleenex in all pockets but I ended up not needing them. I guess I got all the tears out of my system in the morning. It was a great service (as always) and afterwards we headed to Dentry's for Family Dinner. It was Paul's birthday the day before so here he is raising a toast. The burger, fries and Guinness were all superb and the company was great. Lots of hugs and kisses as everyone left, but no tears - which is a good thing. Guys get all weirded out when girls start to cry (or so I'm told).
You are all a great bunch of friends (even the new guy).
It was just the three of us (Nate, Tammy & I) and we mostly just sat around and yakked. There may have been a little Scotch involved but there was just a wee dram left in the bottle and it needed to be finished. Nate fired up the BBQ and we dined on tube steaks, potato salad and some grilled veggies and watch an episode of Star Trek before having to head back into town.
Cabernet Merlot goes very well with hot dogs.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
So in order to accomplish this, it means the packing up process has become throwing things in boxes rather than being systematic and sorting and properly labelling things. Worse comes to worse Mom & Dad will have to deal with the 'stuff' piled up in the garage or it will have to wait for me when I come home to visit at a later date (Christmas 2007?).
It's just things - things can always wait, people can't. People are important, babies too.
Friday, October 13, 2006
The countdown is on, one week left to go. I seriously need to get all my stuff out of my apartment. I can't believe how long this process is dragging on for.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
You need to understand this is no easy task. Neither of my cats like to be moved, let alone stuffed into a small cage, taken outside, then put in a vehicle for a 20 minute drive. You should have heard their howls of protest.
But as you can see from this picture it didn't take long for them to revert back to their old habits. Ginger's favourite place to perch is on top of Dad's CD player as it's always on - which means it's always warm. Plus the warmth of the sun coming through the front window is quite cosy as well.
I will say one thing for this cat, she does know how to strike the pose.
(at the time this picture was taken Staccato was still hiding underneath the sofa)
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Finally managed to sell my dining table & chairs, and also my area rug. Tuesday I've got people coming over to look at my bedroom set so things are starting to progress. here's still sooooo much left to do and I'm still fighting this stupid cold I've had since last Wednesday night so my energy levels are a bit lacking. But life does go on, I've just got to make sure I've got enough kleenex.
You just know it's going to be a HUGE hit with the kids come Halloween. The eye's light up when it's plugged in. Cool!
Saturday, October 07, 2006
But not today. Really it all started at 3AM when we finally got back from our night out with friends. Too late to take the train home and I didn't feel like shelling out the coin to take a cab all the way back to Burnaby. So I crashed on the couch (and a very comfy couch it was).
Tammy came down in the morning and we just spent the early hours curled up on the couch doing absolutely nothing but chatting - it was wonderfully decadent. I was even able to convince one of the roommates to make coffee so I didn't have to get up right away.
When the sun started to shine in the window I thought the light through the blinds looked interesting. My backpack was on the floor so I grabbed my camera and took this shot.
Friday, October 06, 2006
In the case of my dinning table and chairs a couple actually did show up as promised, they purchased the table only but got it home and realized it didn't fit the space - I mean how small is their apartment? So they called me back sheepishly asking if they could return it for a full refund. I'm such a nice person I agreed, but I wasn't super happy about it. Couldn't they have measured the space before coming over to purchase the table to make sure it was going to fit?.
Today it seems I have FINALLY sold my sofabed and chair - for the second time.
The first time a gentleman was here to purchase my bookcases and was asking if I had anything else to sell. I swept my arm around the room and said "pretty much everything you see". He asked how much I was selling the couch & chair for? "$500" was my reply and he got all excited and said SOLD! He and his son then proceeded to figure out how they were going to move it and realized that their van wasn't big enough to take everything so he said he'd be back on the Monday to pick the rest back. Then he hesitated and said "perhaps my wife should take a look". That was the kiss of death for that deal. Since then I have fielded 10 different inquires on this pairing of furniture and they've all fallen through.
Today a very young boy (he didn't seem old enough to be referenced as a man) and his "friend" came by to take a look. They were initially only interested in the sofabed, but I asked if they wanted the chair as they do match. They figured they would have enough room but money was tight so asked if I could bring the price down. I did and we agreed on $300 (such a steal I tell you). But here's the catch, they can't pick it up until the end of the month when they move in together (I'm almost afraid to ask if their parents know). So I have a cash deposit of $120 in my hands and the remainder is to be paid next Wednesday.
Still lots of time for this deal to fall through, but I can hope.
Life can be cruel at times.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I sold all my stoneware dishes on the weekend to some UBC students from Germany (they got such a deal). So each evening when I make my dinner I need to decide what I'm going to eat on. Last night it was the china. Tonight I decided to use my Tupperware.
As you can see, even though the dishes were 'common' the dinner was anything but. A nice glass of an Italian Pinot Grigio, some kalamata olives and a pasta primavera on sun-dried tomato & basil spaghattini with fresh basil and parmesan.
I am a damn fine cook if I do say so myself.