Saturday, December 29, 2007

Forgive Me

Forgive me Father

For I have sinned

It's been 2 years since my last MacDonald's

Maybe more

I can't remember for sure.
It wasn't my fault.
I was tempted.

I said no initially.
Even turned my nose up at the thought.
Made some comment about the horrible nutritional value.

But

Then someone said those two words ...

Hash browns


I LOVE those hash browns. I know I shouldn't. They're deep fried, oozing grease. Any resemblance to an actual potato is purely coincidental. I looked over at John who was taking the office orders and gave in. I asked if they did the meal deals like they did in Canada. My favorite was the sausage and egg McMuffin with cheese, hash browns and a coffee.

They do that here too

(drat)


So I had a MacDonald's breakfast. My first one in years I'm sure. And I'm embarrassed to admit I loved it.

The sausage had a slightly different flavour to it, almost seemed like a hint of anise spice perhaps and the cheese seemed tangier. The coffee? Well I forgot to mention to John that I take it black so it came back looking a little creamy but I drank it anyway.

I didn't need lunch (and I felt guilty) and by the time dinner rolled around I hooked up with my flat mate for a movie and we went to a pub for dinner. So what did I have?

Bangers and mash with onion gravy and a pint of Guinness.

It was a pork and potato kinda day I guess.

Friday, December 28, 2007

8:32 PM

8:32PM

Thursday December 27th

It's pitch black outside

The ice cream truck has just made his second pass around the block.

This is a strange country.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Keeping The Tradition Alive

Mention the vegetable 'Brussel Sprouts' to many people and they turn there nose up at you and make a face and say something along the lines of BLECH! But my thoughts on this reaction are one of wonder. As in, I wonder how your Mom prepared these little mini cabbages for you? Were they boiled within an inch of their life until they were a gray green mushy mass on your plate with nothing but butter and salt for seasoning?

That is just wrong.

Brussel Sprouts can be a tasty side dish. This is how my Mom has always prepared them and I say give this a try before you completely write off the vegetable.

Brussel Sprouts A La Mom






Trim your sprouts by removing damaged or bug infested outer leaves, cut a small slice off the bottom, and cut a small X in the bottom stem. This helps them to cook evenly so you don't end up with mushy leaves and hard centre cores.

Place sprouts in a steamer basket and steam until just barely tender - they should be 'tender crisp' to be perfect.

Rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking, and set aside in the pot until your sauce is done.

Sauce:

Chop bacon (that would be smoked streaky bacon here in the UK)

1 slice bacon for each 1 cup of sprouts
Brown bacon in fry pan on medium heat, until it starts to crisp up
Add 1/2 cup onion, diced finely
Stir onion and bacon until onion is translucent and bacon is nicely crisped but not burnt !!

Add 1/4 cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons white sugar to the bacon and onions. Stir together until sugar has dissolved.

Toss sauce over sprouts, put pot back on burner
Add some fresh ground salt and black pepper to taste.
You can also add a bit more vinegar or sugar, depends on how strong the flavor of the sprouts are.

Once the sprouts have reheated and flavor is right - serve with a smile (Mom added that bit)

Now, after you've tasted this recipe and you still turn your nose up at brussel sprouts then you can always play this game.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

'Twas the Night Before Christmas


'Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the flat
A wee creature was scurrying
Because we don't have a cat

Yes the little critter is back.

A while back when I returned from one of my business trips my flatmate had informed me she saw something brown, furry and moving one night in the lounge. That was months ago and I never saw it so I was starting to think perhaps she'd imagined it or something.

But...

On Sunday we were sitting in the lounge and we both heard it. A wee little scurry sound and we both looked at each other, then towards the corner we heard it. But couldn't see anything. Again I started to doubt and said, it must have been a leaf falling off the plant or something.

But...

Yesterday

Yes, the night before Christmas

B was in the kitchen when she saw something scurry out of the corner of her eye move from behind the fridge to behind the hob. Then a little later she saw it again, something moving, brown, furry and wee move from out behind the hob back to behind the fridge again. This time she stood a bit further back from the edge of the counter and waited and watched. Then she saw it, quite clearly this time scurrying on the floor along the length of the bottom cupboard back to behind the hob again.


We have a mouse.

It doesn't surprise me really. This place is so old I'm sure they have quite the network of paths all throughout the tenement. This week the temperature has really dropped outside, we even had frost on the ground Sunday morning. So I'm sure the wee little critters have moved in and up to try and keep warm. There must be access holes to the walls in behind the fridge and hob and that's how the little guy is moving around.

B the fastidiously clean person that she is got in the kitchen right away with the vacuum to make sure there is nothing for our friend to eat (our kitchen is usually very very clean, but you can never be too sure). And also hoping that the noise of the vacuum would scare him away.

I've still never seen him, but somehow it just seems a little appropriate to have a Christmas mouse this day in our flat.

But boxing day, he needs to go away back to where he came from.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Things To Do In York

I apologize for the lateness of getting this posted. I've been drafting it for close to 2 months now and just can't seem to finish it. So enough already here it is in all it's incompleteness...

-----------------------------------

Continuing on with the October vacation. Took a 4 day mini-break and travelled to York, England. Pretty easy to get there via train, Glasgow to Edinburgh, then switch trains and it's a direct line to York.

We booked a B&B that was a convenient 15 min walk to the city centre. But to get there initially we grabbed a taxi from the train station as we had no idea where we were going. Got a great cabby who gave us some fabulous commentary as he drove us to our destination. Tips on what to see, which pub to check out etc.

Now I'm not going to go into a day by day detailed analysis of everything I did but I will highlight for you the things you really should see & do.



Under the 'To Do' list, have a cheap lunch by grabbing a Cornish Pasty and sit on a park bench to people watch. (notice how beautifully displayed it is, I should be able to sell this as a print ad or something).





The river Ouse runs through the town and you cross it as you walk towards the old town from the train station.



It really is such a cute little town, every block there's something picture worthy. Be it something as mundane and ordinary as a mailbox..


Or something as spectacular as the ruins of St Mary's Abbey .




Or something as quaint as a line of bicycles.











But the big draw is the York Minster.


When I was eating the above mentioned Cornish Pasty the church bells started ringing so I shot a wee video (the quality is horrid I know)




The weather wasn't all that great while we were there for our little city break. I think the sun came out the day we arrived and then again the day we left but cool cloudy days are good when you're on your feet all day.

A lovely, lovely town. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Winter

Well there's no denying it now. Winter is upon us.

I picked the wrong day to forgo the long wool coat. I went on a little excursion out to Ikea yesterday with the idea that I'd then walk down to the Braehead shopping mall afterwards. When I had walked out the store to the darkness (it was only about 4:00) I was greeted by blowing wet snow.

Great.

The intention of getting to the mall was 1 - to be indoors, and 2 - to try and finish my Christmas shopping. But I was just not having any luck. I had my mental list written but couldn't find anything. Oh for The Bay or Zellers where I know where to find what I wanted in the store. I'm still not all that familiar with the shops here so that was a bit frustrating.

So after walking around the entire mall the first time I gave up on Christmas gifts as I wasn't able to locate anything on my list. So second tactic was to attempt to look for some boots. As you've heard me say before I have very small feet so finding shoes is almost impossible. But with a boot I can get away with something that is perhaps a bit on the larger size as I can wear some thick socks and then also as it surrounds your leg it won't fall off. But that was a bust as well. Seems most stores don't have anything under a size 4 when it comes to boots.

So spend the whole day out, got chilled to the bone and came home with nothing other than a box of light bulbs for one of the lamps in the lounge.

But it did get me out of the house.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Darkness


Walking to work this morning the light was eerie. The sun had started to come up but it was the first morning where the street lights were still on, so is seemed strange.

It only took 2 blocks and they turned off and then it seemed normal again. But it once again reminds me I'm in a different part of the world. As I'm further north than Vancouver in the summer it's great as the days are soooooo long. But in the winter it's the opposite, the days just keep getting shorter and shorter and shorter. And it's not even the winter solstice yet.

Walking out of the office tonight I noticed that there is already a Christmas Tree behind the reception desk. Picking up some vegetables at the Sainsbury's store I heard Elvis crooning how he'll once again be having a Blue Christmas without me (so why doesn't he call?). B&Q has their live potted Christmas Trees for sale in the parking lot.

Last year this time I think I had more time to prepare for Christmas as I hadn't even started work at this point. Now I'm just so consumed with monthly statistical reports, training plans, reference manuals I just have no time or energy to think about writing Christmas cards, Amazon.ca or .co.uk wish lists and I realize I'm running out of time.

I know Christmas is NOT about gifts and materialism. But there is something about taking the time out to think about those you love and wanting to give them something just to remind them that you do care. It's not about how much money you spend, but (and I know this sounds cliche) but it's the thought you put into it. And that's what I feel bad about, I just don't seem to have the brain power enough at the end of the day to be able to do that. But I'm trying not to stress about it.

So if you're expecting a card or a gift from me, it might be a bit late.



Other thoughts. I was going through my flickr photos. There is this great tool where you can click on Archive and look at what pictures you took on a particular day. I looked up my shots taken on Dec 6, 2006. I hadn't started work yet so was still into my daily routine of just walking out the door and wandering the city.

This was the day I found the Science Centre and walked the River Clyde into City Centre. It was a beautiful sunny day, I watched a 3D Imax movie, got lots of exercise walking. It was a good day. Some day (soon) I hope to have the freedom and flexibility to have a day like that again.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Macaroni Pie, 2 Sausage Rolls and a Haggis Pie



Culture is a funny thing.

When you think of culture, what's the first thing that pops into your head?


Race?
Religion?
Dress?
Music?

How about lunch...

I frequent a sandwich shop called Greggs pretty much every day. It's cheap, quick and the food isn't half bad. I can get a spicy Chicken wrap and a cup of tomato soup for £2.64 which is good for the budget.

Today though I started thinking about those cultural differences when the guy in front of me ordered a macaroni pie, 2 sausage rolls and a haggis pie. The haggis reference is a given, but then there is the fact that this is a carb grease & pork product laden meal. Not a vegetable in sight. And did I mention the Iron Bru to wash that nutritious meal down with?

Other offerings that are common in the various sandwich shops are prawn cocktail sandwiches, i.e. small prawns swimming in mayonnaise in a roll. Tuna and mayo, chicken and mayo, cheese and mayo. In fact when I think of it pretty much every sandwich is swimming in mayonnaise, and don't forget the popular sprinkling of sweet corn, (I still don't understand that one).

There are TV commercials dedicated to the promotion of getting people to eat there 5 portions of fruit and veg per day. And no, chips don't count as a portion of veg. In a country where everything is either deep fried, greasy or covered in mayonaise I'm amazed I haven't gained 20 pounds.

Must be because I drink Guiness - it's good for you ;>)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Because It's Ladies Night

Saturday was all about hangin' with the girls.

Early afternoon I met with a downstairs neighbour for a light lunch and coffee at a new Deli that opened up on Park Drive, Sonny & Vitos Deli Cafe. Then I hopped the underground to meet up for an afternoon at a Day Spa to get my hands and feet pampered with a manicure & pedicure.


I will be honest, the treatments themselves were not the best I've ever had, but the staff were so warm, friendly and very accommodating as there were 8 of us coming and going and making last minute changes.

After the spa, we then went to Mags house for tea, cakes and chocolate and the inevitable yak fest that happens when women get together. The lemon cupcakes were particularly yummy.



The evening ended with us moving to another house and en route we purchased some wine and Chinese Take-a-way. Once dinner was inhaled (we were all starving by this time) we moved into the lounge to watch the ultimate chick flick, An Affair To Remember.

I've never seen this movie before other than the small clip that was used in Sleepless in Seattle. I swear throughout the movie they couldn't decide whether Cary Grant's hair was to be gray or dark as it keeps switching back between various scenes (major continuity error there).

But it was a fun day all around, just hangin' out with the girls.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Some Dry White Toast, 4 Fried Chickens and a Coke

My smile muscles hurt :>)

The Grosvenor Cinema on Friday and Saturday nights has what they call the Late Night Throwback. For a measly 3 pounds you can go to the 11:30 PM show and watch something from the past. Last nights' flick was something from my Top 10 List.

The Blues Brothers


Here's some trivia for you. This was the first movie our family watched on video. And I'm not talking VHS, but Beta. The movie was so long (over 2 hrs) it was on 2 tapes.

There is so much about this movie that I just love. The look, the sound, the car crashes. Has anyone ever managed to count up the total number of police cruisers that were demolished in the making of that iconic chase scene at the end?

But for me, it's all about the music.



The sound track is a who's who of the Blues scene and to this day, 27 yrs after it was released it still holds up.

James Brown
Aretha Franklin
John Lee Hooker
Ray Charles
Cab Calloway

Then there is the music that's playing in the background. Classic R&B all the way.

Well OK, the car chases are pretty cool too.



I was grinning from ear to ear all night and I couldn't hold it in anymore when Ray Charles started singing Twisting and I started dancing in my seat.



I am SUCH a geek.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Things To Do When You're In Glasgow

Had a friend come for a visit this month. In celebration of her arrival I contacted a winery in Chile and paid then an exorbitant amount of cash to get them to release a special vintage just for her. Just look at that face, it was soooooo worth it!



She's actually seen more of Scotland than I have as this was her third trip so the trick was to do things she hadn't done yet. So here's what we did....

First up, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.



Not only is it a fabulous piece of architecture but so much to see once you're inside. Make note though, if you want to take a tripod (a must for taking pictures without flash) you need to get permission. I felt so 'professional' walking around with my media slip. It made me laugh though, the application had nothing to do with permission to take pictures of the artwork. It was more about Health & Safety, don't want anyone to trip on your equipment (give me a break).

Next up The Burrell Collection



Some rich guy collected a bunch of stuff and then dumped it on the city to deal with when he kicked the bucket. Ok, not really. Here's the official blurb:

"When Sir William Burrell and his wife, Constance, Lady Burrell, gifted his collection of over 9,000 works of art to Glasgow, the city acquired one of the greatest collections created by one person. William Burrell had been an art collector since his teens, and the collection is made up of a vast array of works of all periods and from all over the world."

So an interesting collection on a massive estate, but the best part for me was the field that had Highland Cows. They are sooooooooooo cute!



When I look at them I can't help but think of that Bugs Bunny Cartoon



Next up, just a nice day walking the City Centre to take a look around. Another beautiful sunny day which is great for playing tourist.



Not that you can tell from my black and white shot. It's always fun to try and see a space differently even if you've walk the area daily. Everyone was busy taking shots of the GOMA, but not me. I was taking a shot of iron work across the street.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse. I've been to Edinburgh a bunch of times but have never managed to see the Palace. Also there is this cool Abbey ruin on the grounds out back. In addition there is also The Queens Gallery. So well worth the ticket price.



After dinner waiting for the next train back to Glasgow I thought it would be fun to attempt some night shots with my tripod. This was also the night I figured out the trick with using the self timer to remove the chance of camera shake (why was I the last to figure this out?).



The Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery. This is part of the University of Glasgow. I've been to the Art Gallery a number of times. It's nice and small so not too overwhelming to the culturally uneducated brain like mine. But I'd never been to the Museum part as it's been undergoing a massive renovation this last year.



Parents - take your kids to this. They will be completely grossed out by all the pickled things in jars (and I'm not talking Grandma's canned peaches). Too cool! Also, like the Art Gallery it's not too big and has lots of interactive displays.

Linlithgow Palace - this is one of those places that you can see from the train as you travel to Edinburgh from Glasgow. I can't believe it's taken me a year to get here when it is so close.



What a way to relive your childhood. Remember those days playing, climbing trees pretending you were in a castle. Well how about climbing all around a real castle, up turrets, down into the depths, finding little rooms hidden away. And it was a spectacular day. The only downside was we missed being able to get into the church next door as it was operating on winter hours and was closed already. Well it just gives me something to do next time I need to entertain a visitor.

Culzean Castle - another day trip out of Glasgow by train. You travel to the little town of Ayr and then catch a bus to the gates of the estate.



This was one of those cold, misty, foggy days that would befit a scary movie. But no wind so other than being a bit damp it wasn't too bad. This would be a great place to come in the summer as the Castle is part of a huge estate with lovely gardens. As it is autumn the leaves were starting to change and the colours reminded me of Ontario.

We timed our visit just right and caught a guided tour by a lovely little old lady that just kept getting side tracked with her script (too funny). And should you have a nice wad of cash just laying around and are looking for a place to rest your head the Castle is also a hotel.

Glasgow City Chambers - another must do in the city.



Tours are run twice a day and are free. It's a lovely building and the tour guides are very entertaining.

So there you have it, all done easily by day in and around the city of Glasgow. Just makes you want to jump in a plane to come and visit now doesn't it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Right now where was I....

London (Sep 28 - 30)

September 28th after a soggy day's meetings I decided to spend a weekend in London and fly back to Glasgow on the Sunday rather than Friday night. So what did I do to keep myself occupied?

Saturday Morning - Breakfast (well a very very late breakfast)

I found a small cafe run by an Italian family and I grabbed a baguette with bacon, avocado and just a touch of mayonnaise (it's safe now that I'm out of Scotland) and a coffee. Just a block away was the Thames and a lovely wall to perch on and enjoy the view and peace & quite as I ate.



With serenity restored and tummy fed I jumped on the tube to head into city centre. Didn't really have anything in mind other than explore the city with my camera.



I later hooked up with a friend from Vancouver that had also just moved to the UK a few months ago. She's not really someone I knew all that well but it was still nice to connect with a fellow Canadian and compare experiences on moving to a new country.

Then came the highlight of my trip, the whole reason for going. I have been waiting my whole life for this experience (OK that's probably stretching it a bit).

It's........



Yes I finally got to see the musical Spamalot. There is nothing more enjoyable then experiencing something where everyone else around you is of the same mind set. I think I can confidently say that the majority of people that purchase a ticket to see Spamalot are all Monty Python fans and consider The Holy Grail one of their favorite movies. Much of the dialogue was taken word for word from the movie. All the best characters were there, the Black Knight, the Taunting French Soldier, Killer Bunnies, and don't forget Dennis. Now some of the scenes were reworked a bit and an extra character was added along with a few new songs. And one particular song from another Python movie (I won't say which one) was even written into this - and everyone in the audience joined in by about the 3rd note. It was a great show, and will not disappoint any true Python fans. I left with a HUGE grin on my face.

Right, so that leaves me heading back to the burbs with a growling stomach. As I had met my friend earlier in the afternoon I wasn't really hungry for dinner before the show as I'd just had tea and a scone. Now it's quite late and I'm realizing the glass of red wine I had at the theatre was not substance enough. Once I'm off the tube I wander over to High Street and walk into a Kebab place that looks good. I get a grilled chicken shawarma that is just loaded with chicken, and tomatoes, cucumber, hot peppers, lettuce and lots of hot sauce and some yogurt. It's so loaded down with filling that I can't properly fold the pita its resting in to eat it like a wrap. It was soooooooo tasty, yum. I was too hungry to take the time out to take a picture, so you'll just need to use your imagination.

Sunday - I take the tube back into city centre again but to Victoria station to drop off my suitcase at the Left Luggage depot so I don't need to drag it around all afternoon as my flight doesn't leave until after 5PM. It's a beautiful sunny day and I wander over to Pret A Manger and grab a baguette, bag of crisps, some water and a little something for dessert.



How could you NOT enjoy something like that hmmmm? It was tasty.

I did the complete touristy thing in sitting on the steps in Trafalgar square & people watched for a while eating my lunch. The sun was nice and warm and there was not even the hint of wind. Once finished I then wandered over to the National Portrait Gallery as I'd never been in there before. If you ever get the chance, go. Lots of great historical paintings there. When I was a kid I remember my Mom having a set of books called 'The Life And Times Of" and then various historical pictures. I recognized many of these paintings from the book on Queen Elizabeth, it was very cool.

So all in all my trip to London was very low key and it was something I really needed because of all the busyness and chaos of the last few months of work. The weather cooperated and I got to take some pictures, see some theatre, walk around and get a little culture as well as some rest and relaxation.

Note to self, do this again - perhaps Paris next time.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

This is a Holding Post

Just realizing now how far behind I am in my postings, so this is just a holding posting. I've been to London, Linlithgow, Ayr, and currently in York. Seen castles, palaces, abbeys a cathedral or two and more than my share of clouds, gray sky and drizzle.

Been taking lots of pictures and am only about 2 days behind in posting them. So you'll have to check out my Flickr site to keep you going until I get the chance to sit down and organize all my thoughts and can do a proper post here. Realistically that won't be until Saturday as when I go back to work Wednesday I know it's going to be crazy as always.

Until then....

Ta.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Food, Friends & a little Python



Monday night one of our first Glasgow friends but who has since moved back to the US came over for dinner. B & I lived in he & his wife's flat for the month of November.

It was great seeing him again but reminded me of how much we miss hanging out with him and his wife. They are good people.

So, company for dinner means one thing. Need to cook something tasty. How about:

Penne Alla Amatriciana





1 500g package penne pasta
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 oz pancetta, sliced thin & julienne (ok to substitute Parma Ham if you can't find)
1 tbsp sliced garlic
1 white onion fine dice
1/4 tsp chili
1 oz dry white wine
4 oz chicken stock
2 Roma tomato, julienne
6 oz tomato sauce
2 tbsp Italian parsley leaves
salt for seasoning
Parmigiano Reggiano

- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente, or around 5-6 minutes
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat
- Add the Olive Oil and sauté the Pancetta until it begins to crisp
- Add the diced white onion and cook until becomes tender
- Add the chili and garlic and just cook thru, but don't brown
- Deglaze the pan with white wine, and add the stock- Add the Roma tomatoes, tomato sauce and the cooked pasta
- Season the pasta with salt to taste
- Finish the pasta with the Italian parsley
- Toss the whole pasta mixture and transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Then Thursday had another friend over for dinner and a rehearsal. Didn't take a picture of that meal so you'll just have to take my word for it that it was good.

Saturday for a change had a friend come over for brunch! Now that is a meal that I normally don't do for company. I'm more of a dinner girl but there were strawberries on sale and a loaf of bread in the fridge so this is what I came up with

French Toast with Sweetened Cream Cheese & Strawberries



Not much too it really. Just make some French Toast
- dip pieces of bread in a mixture of eggs, vanilla, milk a little bit of sugar and cinnamon
- as you fry them up in butter (I didn't say this would be healthy) keep the finished ones warm in the oven
- when all made up then take a pack of cream cheese and mix in some sugar, vanilla and cinnamon all to taste.
- take two pieces of French Toast and spread the inside with the cheese mixture and a layer of sliced strawberries and place one on top of the other
- serve with 100% pure Canadian Maple Syrup.

Yum

On to other news. My travel free month of September is not to be. Heading to wonderful downtown Leatherhead (just outside of London) for a days meetings. But will treat myself to a weekend in London after. This time I was smart and I've already purchased my ticket to Spamalot

Don't think of it as entertainment but culturally educational. Here's a clip that gets into socio-economics etc etc etc.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New Music & Jelly Belly's

Purchased a new tripod this week so was all gung-ho to get out there and try it..... and it's been raining all weekend. It's coming down in buckets as I type this. I guess summer truly is over. Finally turned the boiler back onto the timer again as it was getting too cold at night and first thing in the morning.

So no sunshine I needed to find something to take a pic of to try out my new toy.




Music...

Picked up the new Arctic Monkeys album a few weeks ago. LOVE IT! And this single is absolutely fab, makes me want to dance around the flat every time I hear it.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Understanding Me

This little video short... what can I say. If you watch it and understand the humour, art, vision then we are like minded.



I might add to this post a bit later as I want to do some research as to who these guys are and what they're up to now.

Love it, love it, love it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sleep, Must Get Sleep


So the 'students' in the flat below me decided to have another party this morning. Yes, this morning as it was after midnight when they got started. I was just to that point of ALMOST going into that deep sleep we all crave when I was awaken by the thump, thump, thump coming from downstairs.

Yes I know I could have dialed 999 but I really just couldn't be bothered as I kept telling myself I'd get used to it and then drift off. And I didn't, because then the loud voices started, I swear they have a Foosball table down there. When I woke up at 6:30 this morning I could still hear them. When I finished dinner and was heading to the evening service I could still hear them.

They've stopped now, but it seems the party has moved to the flat on the other side of my bedroom wall. Well it's still early so perhaps they'll be done before 11PM (I can hope can't I?).

On the up side, the sun came out today which inspired me to take some pictures in front of my bedroom window. You can tell how incredibly tired I am looking at the bags under my eyes. I took a nice long nap when I was done.

Tonight, I've taken 2 Gravol to attempt to knock myself out so I can get some much needed sleep. No I don't do this on a regular basis (drug myself up) but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do to get her beauty rest.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Waxing Poetic on Nutella

Oh Nutella
Why do I love you so?
Is it your chocolaty goodness?
Your hazelnut nuttiness?

Toasted brown bread
A glass of milk
And thou....

Heaven



Aaaaaaand now you're probably wondering what? why? Here's my thought process.

I'm celebrating a week that has involved no planes, trains or automobiles. It's a lazy Saturday where I've been lounging around doing a whole lot of nothing and really enjoying it. Had a late breakfast, a shower, read some blogs. Might hit a charity shop later this afternoon as I got a text from a friend about a way cool dress that she found that should fit.

Later tonight will join B and her folks for an early dinner. Which started me thinking I haven't had lunch but if I'm having an early dinner then I can't really have a normal lunch as then I won't be hungry. Sooooo.... Nutella toast and a glass of milk. The perfect snack.

Yum.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ya ya I know

I realize it's been a while since I've posted. But I just can't believe any of you out there want to hear me go on and on about my work. And that is pretty much been the focus of the last 10 days.

I've been really good about not putting in the marathon hours but the days have been quite stressful so when I come home I usually grab a nice afternoon nap, then when I get up it's time to cook dinner and when that's done it's bed time (such an exciting life I lead I know).

But it's not all bad.

Went to a movie Friday night "The Walker" murder mystery set in Washington DC with a stellar cast. Then off to a pub to meet up with a few of the girls for dinner.

Saturday went to Edinburgh again to do some shopping and came away with a few fabulous vintage pieces. If I can get my act together I'll do a bit of a fashion show to post the results (but one piece needs to be altered so I'll wait until that's done as it's my fav).

Sunday was it's usual busy pace, rehearsal early as we were on team for the morning service. B's parents are in town so they came out and we all went for brunch afterwards. Sunday night was the going away party for a fellow St Silasite (one of my first connections at the church) as he's moving to Inverness.

Looking at the week ahead I've got some plans in the works already. A movie quiz night Tuesday with friends, Wednesday discussing Kitchen renovation plans and later in the week I need to tackle roasting a chicken that's been sitting in the freezer too long.

See nothing too exciting.

But - if you've got any burning questions for me out there, please drop a comment and I'll answer you here and then perhaps my postings will be a bit more regular.

Ta for now.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Life goes on

Here's the weekly update (I do seem to recall mentioning a while back that it may come to weekly updates once I started working)

The weekend
- Saturday was a girls trip to Edinburgh. It was a grey misty rainy kinda day but the temperature was warm so that made it bearable. First stop was a journalist photography exhibit at the Scottish Parliament. Some heart wrenching photos but inspiring just the same. Then a little lunch at a funky cafe on High Street. Walked around and caught some of the hub-bub going on as various actors were shamelessly flogging their shows at all the local theatres. Then a pint at The Blue Blazer (old man's pub off the beaten track). As we were working on our second round a ruby match got out and all the fans started to pile in and the singing began. Next up a little shopping in the Grassmarket area full of cool vintage shops. Lastly we finished the day with a play called 'Marry Me A Little'. Then hop on the train home.

* I've posted pictures from that day on my flickr site which you can access via the link on my side bar.

- Sunday was church and B and I were on team so early wake-up call in order to make the rehearsal. It was a good service and I really feel like I'm finally learning all the new music so can enjoy the moment rather than panicking trying to remember how the next song goes.

The Week

The pace of things at the office is slowing down a bit in that the phones aren't ringing as much. This doesn't necessarily mean that my life gets any less busy, but it does mean that I finally get the opportunity to do the 'management' type things that I'm supposed to do. I gave my first performance appraisal for one of my staff, had some 6 month reports (more pie charts and bar graphs - goody) to do for a Trustee Meeting, a client conference call and trying to mentor a junior staff member that has some low self esteem.

I also have a number of self study courses or on-line modules that need to be done in the next few months. I can't really do them during working hours as I get too many interruptions. So the plan is to try and do at least 60 to 90 minutes a night during the week. Reading all about pension legislation and management skills should put me right to sleep.

Thursday (today) I am flying to our head office in London for an editors meeting for the company staff magazine. The editors are a rotating group made up of a cross of employees from all the UK offices. A few weeks ago an email went out looking for volunteers and one of my staff that knows I've been dabbling in writing said I should definitely put my name in. I did and I got it so off I go. It feels so decedent to be flying to London and back same day (keep those BA miles piling up) but I'm not liking the fact that the cab is picking me up at 6AM as I'm on the 7:30 flight. It will be a long day but should be fun.

So that's my life in a nutshell to this point. Hope to have some more interestsingesness (yes Mom I know that's not a word) things to blog about on the weekend. But right now work has been all I've been thinking about lately so that's what I must write.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Busy Busy Busy

Yes I've been busy. With what you say? Oh I'll give you 3 guesses.....

Yup, work again. With month end comes reports involving lots of numbers, pie charts and bar graphs. I hate doing those. They are fiddly and I need a solid chunk of time to really accomplish anything. But with the job I have and the many hats I wear throughout the day, that just doesn't happen. I get home and feel so uninspired, tired and cranky that I just have nothing to write.

So I didn't.

Saturday I had to go into the office to act as a point of reference for some engineers that were installing some hardware/software or what ever. Of course it was a lovely sunny day and I was stuck inside. However, the job was done before 3:00 and I headed out the door to go back home. It was still warm but then this wicked wind blew up and there was this moment when I was crossing the street that I was unsure I was going to make it without being knocked over. Only in Scotland.

Sunday the rains came and I woke up feeling sick. Sore throat and the beginnings of a migraine. I skipped church to try and get the headache under control but to no use. I ended up calling in sick on Monday and stayed in bed the whole day. Tuesday I felt a little better but couldn't allow myself the luxury of staying home another day because of the reports mentioned above. I felt like death until about 3:00 and then the pain seemed to lift away.

Woke up this morning again feeling like death but the tension in the neck lifted before noon so I think the worst of it is over, phew!

I left the office before 5:30, leaving the laptop where it belongs - on my desk. Came home, made dinner and then had a nice long soak in the tub. Ahhh, I can feel the tension melting away.

Only 2 more days before it's the weekend!! I promised myself I'm going to get out there and take some pictures if it kills me.

Oh, before I forget.... I had written another short story for a contest over at The Clarity of Night blog. I've posted it below, but be warned it's pretty dark (I think I've watched too much CSI in the past). No I didn't win, not that I was expecting too, but I did get some positive and encouraging comments.


The Dream

She awoke with the sun's warmth on her face and breathed in the dampness of the earth.

She tried to sit up but couldn't feeling the sharp pain in her ribs. She tried again, but this time rolling over on her side and pushing up with her left arm. The blood had dried to a dark rust on her skin and the forest floor was matted in her hair. A centipede crawled across her shoeless foot. Had this been another time she would have flinched, but not now. Right now, all she could feel was fear and humiliation.

How had she got it so wrong? The evening's events started to flood back and she found it hard to breathe as she remembered. The flirtations at dinner, the suggestion of a moonlight walk. It all seemed so perfect, so innocent. Until the other two arrived.

They circled her and as she turned to him for protection she realised he'd stepped behind her and was twisting her arms. She didn't think she'd had that much to drink, but maybe he'd slipped something in her glass. Soon after it began she must have blacked out.

Now she was alone, sitting on the forest floor in a sunbeam. How could a place of such beauty and warmth be witness to such evil. How could she.....

5:55 AM she is jolted awake with the mornings news. A young girl's body has just been found in the University endowment lands.

Friday, August 03, 2007

AND she sings too!

Back in November 2003 on a Saturday afternoon I got together with a friend I collaborated musically with and we decided to have a little recording session for posterity's sake. Now 4 1/2 years later I look upon that afternoon with bittersweet memories.

I thought the two of us sounded amazing together. It was weird how our voices just fit. I attempted my hand at playing guitar but could never really hold my own with him. I'm just ka-chunking in the background while he does all the fancy finger work.

Still, I think it was a good tune and I'm happy with the end result. We spent most of the day recording in my basement suite. Some tunes worked well, others took a couple of takes before we got it right. One tune even had a guest appearance by one of my cats.

My Dad's been working for the last while trying to edit the video we took and sinking it up with the CD master. It's a work in progress but he's retired now, so he's got the free time ;>)

But now I'm in Glasgow and have yet to find another musician I can collaborate with. I miss that part of my life.



In case you're wondering, the tune is By The Mark, by Gillian Welch off her album Revival.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday

I've been listening to Ryan Adam's Love Is Hell album quite a bit. I love the quiet melancholy spirit of this recording. My brain has not been all that focused for the last couple of days and I find that a bit unsettling (that whole lack of control thing). As a result I was feeling a bit frustrated with work today and listing to Ryan on the walk home helped a bit.



Days like this I just want to curl up and sleep all day and listen to music and let it sooth my soul. My neck has been causing troubles again and I'm terrified at the thought I might get another migraine. I'll take some IB before bed tonight to see if I can relax it a bit.

Put the finishing touches on another short story for submission. over at Clarity of Night I probably wasn't in the best frame of mind to write it so the subject matter ended up being quite dark. I'll post my submission once the contest has closed.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Catching Up

It's been another busy week. Sunday afternoon and Monday night I worked from home (finally figured out how to connect to the office with my work laptop). Tuesday afternoon I hopped another flight as I had meetings to attend Wed & Thursday in our Chichester office. Got home very late Thursday night and then Friday was another busy day at work. Went to the pub for a pint with a few of the guys at work and then after I took one of my staff out for dinner as she just needed to talk and vent in a safe environment (I'm such a good boss).

So now I find myself another Saturday curled up on the couch, sitting in a sunbeam with a coffee by my side and thinking about me and my life. Here are some updates.

Writing

I've now posted 2 entries on some blog writing contests. I posted a link the the first but I've been asked to actually post the stories here as I guess some people don't like to search for things. So what I will do is have 2 separate posts with those stories (see below this post). I've read about a 3rd contest that I'm thinking about taking a stab at, but this one has a 250 word limit and I find cutting things down to 500 words incredibly hard. I can't image containing it to 250. But I'll give it a try and will post my attempt after the fact.

Music

I've still been trolling YouTube to find videos to share of stuff that I like that is a bit on the obscure side. Like the writing, I'll dedicate a specific post for that (again see below). I also purchased a couple of CD's that have been on my list for a while: Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys, Interpol and U2. Now I just need some time to listen to them.

Stress

My trip to Chichester was one of the most stressful situations I've ever been in. I was there to 'represent' my office/team from Glasgow at a client meeting. I was given good feedback after the fact which helped. But as result of my calm cool exterior and stuffing all that nervous anxiety on the inside I have broken out in a huge patch of eczema on my chin (too much information I know). Now that I'm home it's slowly getting under control and healing thanks to some hydro cortisone cream but looking in the mirror, I'm not sure I want to go out in public just yet.

Photography

I haven't taken many pictures lately as I've not been in an overly creative mood and the weather has just been terrible. Too much cloud cover and the lighting conditions are terrible. Somehow I need to kick start that passion again, just not quite sure how. I need to look for something to inspire me I guess. Here's today's attempt.



New Toy

My parents bought me an iPod nano for my birthday and it just arrived. Now I've got to figure out how the darn thing works. It's so wee.



The Birthday Part 2

My flat mate was off gallivanting around Italy during my birthday. Tonight she's making up for it, should be fun.

The Moon Topples: Growth Fiction Contest Entry

She stood at the sink washing her hands of the dirt. Drying them on the tea towel, she brushed the hair out of her eyes and looked out the kitchen window. There in the back corner of the yard she could see the seedling she'd just planted, wishing it to grow quicker than she knew it would. Perhaps one day, when it was tall and able to give off shade she could sit underneath it and think about him without feeling the pain. But not today, it was still too soon.

She planted the weeping willow to remind her of the time needed to heal. For a few minutes today she actually forgot about it. The physicality of digging the hole, getting down on her knees to add the fertilizer. Mixing the peat with her bare hands. Taking the cutting of his hair out of her apron pocket and dropping it in the hole. She stood there for a few minutes, looking down before finally placing the seedling on top. This ritual had to mean something, the book said it would.

The book was something she found shortly after it happened. It was almost as if it had been waiting for her. She doesn't remember buying it, but those first couple of days were all a fog. Again she thought about therapy. The stack of pamphlets were still on the counter by the fridge, Dealing With Grief, How To Move On. She just couldn't bring herself to pick up the phone. If she were to seek professional help , then she'd be expected to talk about it. And right now denial was easier.

She went over it again in her head. It wasn't her fault, how could it be? She loved him with all her heart and soul. It was an accident. The hot, stinging tears she cried every night were real. She wouldn't cry if it was her fault would she? Maybe it was the brutality of the investigation that still had her shaken. The way the detective looked at her when he questioned what happened that night. Those questions needed to be asked, it was just routine, the other officer had said as he gently rested his hand on her shoulder.

The tears started again. It seemed so long ago now, that night. That horrible night. She'd get through this with her own strength and she would heal. All she needed was time to forget.

Wiping the tears from her face she walked outside into the back yard to look at the seeding that she'd just planted. Yes time will heal these wounds, she was doing the right thing. She felt the evening sun warm her skin and breathed in the fresh air and she smiled. Next door her neighbour was on the back deck and gave a wave. She waved back and thought - they don't know about the last time. I won't let it happen again.

Get Petty: The Contest Entry

"You think you're gonna take her away, with your money and your cocaine."

That's it?
What?
That's all you got for me?
It's a good line.
You've had 6 months!
I been busy
And you've plagiarised the line, it's Tom Petty right?
Well ya, but I'm using it in a different context, it's my interpretation.
You aren't interpreting anything, you've just copied one line!!
Semantics, it's all up here (he said tapping his right temple)

Manny throws up his hands in frustration and looks out the window.

What should I tell them?
Tell who?
You really are in a different world aren't you.
Ya, I like it there. Lots of hot chicks.
Listen, I'm not kidding. You need to get this done. No let me rephrase, you need to get started.

I want more money.
For what?
My expenses, I need to be kept in the lifestyle to which I've become accustomed (he says flashing a gold tooth smile)
Is that what you did with your advance? Dental work? You are a complete idiot, I should just dump you and get out while I can.
No, I like you as my agent. I'll up your percentage.
30% of nothing is still nothing.
Ya, but when the book is done, the money will be ROLLIN' in.

Who do you think I should get to play me when they option this for Hollywood?
I think you're getting ahead of yourself here, first you need to write the damn thing.
Semantics

Manny looks out the window and wonders how on earth he got himself into this mess.
Turning around, he walks over and stands facing the kid's chair, bends down and says,

Listen, there is no more money, you got a huge advance, something that most first timers don't get. But until you submit something of substance, I don't know, like a couple of chapters or something, the publisher is NOT got to continue to finance your dental plan! So stop putzing around and WRITE SOMETHING!

Manny was about an inch from his face when he said that. Then he steps back, walks to the window and gazes out. Watching the sun set behind the cityscape, he says quietly,

You've got one week, you better get started.
But Manny...
NO! No more extensions, no more money, write the thing. Just do it. If you don't, I can't help you anymore. I'll rip up our contract. You'll be on your own.
Are you disrespecting me?
Disrespecting you? In order to DIS-respect you, would imply I originally had an ounce of respect for you to begin with. You are nothing but a spoilt brat, who never had to do an honest day's work in your life. Now get outta here and write that damn book.... NOW!

The kid stood up startled. He started to say something but thought best not to and walked out.

Manny buzzed his secretary to advise her he was going to be unavailable for the rest of the afternoon.


Bloody celebrities.

Other Music

Here's some stuff I like that you may have never heard of or maybe you have. But I like them.

Artist: Gillian Welch
Album: Time (The Revelator)
Track: Time (The Revelator)





Artist: The Bad Plus
Album: These Are The Vistas
Track: Smells Like Teen Spirit





Artist: EST
Album: Tuesday Wonderland
Track: Goldwrap

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=5mr9Ahdvpbo
(sorry can't embed this one)

Artist: Joe Jackson
Album: Body and Soul
Track: You Can't Get What You Want





Artist: Beck
Album: Guero
Track: Hell Yes



Saturday, July 21, 2007

Too Much Information

I have been tagged by Mellifluous Dark & Mad Scribblings (sort of).

Here are the "Rules":

1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged (I'll do like Mad and just put it out there that if you want to do it go ahead, but I don't do the tag thing as I'm a slow runner)


OK, as stated in my blog bio I'm a dull person really, but here is my attempt at 8 random facts. Mind you it does say random, nothing about interestingisness or fascinating. And in thinking it seems kind of timely to do this type of reflection the day after my birthday.


1 - I have never had any typical communicable diseases, aka mumps, measles, chicken pox.

I did once have Roseola which is kind of like the measles but generally only happens in infants. I was in grade 2 or 3 at the time but the infant of my babysitter had them and I picked them up from the kid. You get spots like the measles and a bit of a fever but nothing horrible. I did get to miss some school though. I am still very wary of getting any of the above mentioned illnesses as they say they are much worse as an adult.


2 - I was 12 before I learned how to light a match and 41 before I flicked my first Bic Lighter.

What can I say, I was afraid of fire. That's a healthy fear I think. The way I learned how to light a match was my mother (bless her heart) locked me out on the deck with a pack of matches and wasn't going to let me back into the house until I lit one. I was a Girl Guide at the time and apparently one of the skills you need is to learn how to build a proper camp fire. She was horrified that I had managed to get as far as I did without being the one to physically strike the match.


3 - I have skinny dipped in a fresh water lake in the Okanagan Valley.

Again this was a Girl Guide thing from my youth. Camping in the wilderness without access to showers for a week can be a bit rank so there we were. All standing on the beach wrapped in our towels clutching our bottles of shampoo and bars of soap. 1..... 2..... 3.... and we all dropped the towels and ran screaming (as teenage girls will do) into the lake trying to avert our eyes at each others nakedness. For some reason getting out wasn't a big deal, but the getting in was. Sadly I do seem to recall there was one girl that didn't run with the pack and then was left standing on her own crying as she didn't want to do it. I'm sure in this day that would be a large no-no.


4 - I have never had a boy (that wasn't a relative or an infant) tell me he loves me.

I will accept your sympathy now.


5 - I am listed on IMDB.com for two movies.

In another life I worked as a Foley Assistant for Sharpe Sound Studios in North Vancouver BC. What does the Foley Assistant do you might ask?

Well you get a video tape (at least back in the 90's it was video tape) with the SMPTE time code on it. You need to watch the tape and decide what Foley (or live sound effects) needs to be recorded and then mark down on the track sheet the time code, for it to start and what direction the sound is coming from (i.e. left, centre, or right) and then the time code when it ends and then assign it to a specific track.

It would take me a whole day to do a 42 minute TV show or 2 days to do a movie. You need to watch it multiple times and follow a character through. When you identify the sound you scroll back and forth frame by frame to get the times etc. This track sheet is then given to the Foley Artists and the Recording Engineer as a map/guide for the recording process.

When I started out I sat in on a number of the sessions. I remember one in particular where there was the big 'sex scene'. Watching the Foley artists and what they did and used to get the sounds for various 'activities' on screen was hilarious and extremely entertaining. In prep for that night's session the engineer had Barry White playing in the studio. Another interesting Foley sound is for vomit. Good Times.

Oh, in case you were wondering it was only feature film that I would actually get a screen credit for. Most of what I worked on was for TV, then it would just be the artists and engineer that would get the credit. I worked on the TV shows Poltergeist, The Outer Limits and Beast Wars and a whole whack of made for TV movies.


6 - I have very tiny feet and hands.

In UK sizes I'm about a 2 1/2 for shoes (and narrow) and a 4 1/2 North American sizes. I find it incredibly hard to find adult dress shoes and have yet to find a shop in Glasgow that carries shoes that small. My hands I guess are in proportion to my feet and my overall body (I'm a little person, only 5' 2 3/4" tall).

Most kids get a kick out of the fact that they have bigger feet than me. Most people I meet, my hands fit in the palm of theirs. Still imagine how strange I'd look if I had big feet and hands.


7 - I've just now realized that my BC drivers license expired as of yesterday.

I think that means I'm out of luck to get a UK one now without having to take a drivers test (something I really don't want to have to do). I am slightly miffed at myself about this as I had re-taken my road test before I left Vancouver (at a cost of $55) so that I could get a UK drivers license.

What does this really mean? I'm not sure as I honestly have no desire to drive here, but now it's officially not an option. Well I think it's not an option as I haven't done the proper research for it. Perhaps they will accept the expired license as the test itself was only taken in October of last year.


8 - I have only ever walked out of a movie theatre twice, and neither occasion was my choice.

The first time it was a documentary called "It Came From Hollywood". In retrospect I think this is when I started to realize that not everyone appreciates film. The friends I was with thought it was boring and wanted to leave. I found it very interesting and wanted to stay, but they were cool, I wasn't and peer pressure got the best of me and I followed. I'm happy to say years later I came across the movie on TV and was finally able to watch it from start to finish.

The other time it wasn't a movie but a festival called 'Spike and Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation' (please do NOT click on that link if you are easily offended). I mean the title gives it away what you are in for, and even before the first animation began the host (can't remember if it was Spike or Mike) got up and gave a warning that if you want to leave now you can and your ticket cost would be fully refunded. So when the animation fun began, I can't believe the group I was with was surprised at what they were seeing. What exactly did they think sick and twisted meant?

Again this was a peer pressure thing as I was with a group of people and when they got up at intermission and walked out I sheepishly followed. I find it funny that now, years later my now flat mate who was also there that night was feeling as I had, and would have been willing to stay for the rest but didn't know I was like minded.

This festival was my introduction to the characters Beavis and Butt-Head, the short Bambi Meets Godzilla and many other now classics. True it is not for the faint of heart and if you are at all easily offended I do NOT recommend checking out the website. But still, people, if you are of the naive sort please fully check out what you are about to go and see beforehand.

The End.

Friday, July 20, 2007

It's All About Me Today

Yes, today is my birthday. Although if you want to get technical it's not REALLY my birthday until 7:30 PST or 15:30 GMT. Knowing how my day will progress at 15:30 I'll probably be stuck on a call with a screaming IFA or will be knee deep in a spreadsheet. So I thought best to start now and I've opened the few cards that I've received over the week but was just storing on the hall shelf until today. So thank-you to those well wishers, your thoughtfulness is appreciated and I'll drop each of you an email during my Saturday morning correspondence session on the couch.

It's going to be a bit of a weird day as my flat-mate is currently in Italy traveling with her brother & sister-in-law (tough gig I know) and at work there are a number of people off, any other friends I've made have either moved away or already have plans. Soooo, I may just end up treating myself to a CD or two if the shop is still open after work, then perhaps a French flick with plans to meet up after with a friend for a drink.

I will accept all wishes of sympathy for my sad situation in being alone and mourning once again my fleeting youth.

Money & expensive gifts would help though.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Glamorous Life?

Jetting off to London, taking a train to Croydon, checking into a hotel for a night. Sounds glamorous but 5 hours travel time from office to hotel doesn't really feel like it and I look greasy & worn. Arriving to find out the restaurant is closed so my only options in the business centre are to grab a cold sandwich in the hotel bar (the Guinness helped a bit).

It's almost 11 and I'm slightly wired. But I need to get up early to shower and get ready for my day full of supervisory training in our Croydon office. Sitting cooped up in a meeting room all day with a bunch of people I've never met, that just sounds like soooo much fun.

I admit I do need this training (the 1st of 2 out of office sessions) as I'm flying by the seat of my pants on this whole people management thing as I've never been in this position before. But it just couldn't have come at a worse time. Things are so busy at work I feel guilty being here and now I will return to more chaos.

While flying down to Gatwick today in between the clouds I couldn't help but notice how flat and treeless England is. It puts into perspective how huge and untouched most of Canada is.

Note to self, I need to get into the Scottish countryside and explore. I want to find the cost, I want to walk a hill (but I don't want to do a death march), I want to find a Highland Cooooo. I want to sit on a rolling hill in the fog overlooking a loch with a ruin off in the distance.

Soon.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Learning To Embrace Nothingness

My Saturday

I woke up at a leisurly 8'ish. Had a cuppa tea and my museli, while catching up on emails and reading the few blogs I follow. At 10:30 I met a friend for coffee and some yummy porriage with sliced bananas and honey driseled on top. Then I went home and sat on the couch in a sunbeam and worked on compiling some play lists of my music that I have stored on my lap top. Had an MSN messanger chat with my Aunt in Ontario and then later had a Skype call with the folks. In the evening I moved to the other couch and watched a Flim 4 show on the top 50 documentaries.

My Sunday Morning so far

I woke up at a leisurely 8:30'ish. Made some coffee to go with my museli, while catching up on my emails, only 1 this morning :>( and reading the few blogs I follow. The above friend and I tentatively made plans to sort out our busy schedule and get together one day in August to catch a flick together. So I started reviewing the 'to be released' schedules for the local cinemas. The GFT is participating in the Summer of British Film and had a link to the BBC site. This is where the fun begins. The BBC has set up a YouTube group for people to post mini movies inspired by British Film. Here are two of my favorites:


Dr StrangeBlair



2007: A Really Short Space Odyssey

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Back in GLA again

Just got home from another trip down south to the office in Chichester. The trip there was good. Had a fun Thursday night out with 2 colleagues, much laughter ensued over the course of the weekend. Does anyone else out there want to confess to making a 'Love Tape' during their misguided hormonally rampant youth?

The trip home, not so good. Once again fighting with Flybe at the Southampton airport to try and convince them that it would make no sense for the company travel agent to only book a checked bag for my flight there, and not to allow me to check that same bag home. So again I had to pay (argh!! - I'll be contacting the person that books our company travel when I'm back to the office).

Then I got to be lucky contestant number 3 and get the complimentary 'pat down' at security. I mean come on. I'm in a fitted skirt, light weight fitted shirt, no pockets, I'm in stockings as they've scanned my shoes. Where on earth am I going to hide anything. And the pat downs are getting a little on the close side. If I was a smoker I'd be asking for a cigarette afterwards. It's getting a bit ridiculous really.

My flight was delayed, but they never tell you that anymore, it's just assumed. So when I got to GLA and the company hired car that was to pick me up was 45 minutes late. It was pouring rain and the driver didn't even attempt to help me with my bags. He wouldn't even get out of the car to open the trunk, just told me to put them in the back seat, so I had to sit on a wet seat after pushing my soggy bag to the other side. Same thing when I got to the flat, not a 'have a nice evening' or 'let me help you' . I was a drowned rat by the time I got to the door and found my keys.

Now compare that to the car service that drove my from Chichester to the Southampton airport. Traffic was a bit heavy it being a Friday and 6:00 PM so I was asked if I wanted the scenic route, or the really scenic route. I picked the really scenic route, and the whole way the driver was playing tour guide and pointing out farms, castle ruins, secret military installations that aren't 'officially' there. He even tried really hard to find a Highland Cow but no luck.

I'm soggy, tired and my head hurts. Must be Friday the 13th.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Another Short Story

There's another blogger writing thing going on. I've been working on a short story to submit. The contest closes July 17th so when the entries are up I'll post a link for those that want to read the submissions.

Oh, and that alarm is still going off. I walked around the area when I got home and I've narrowed it down to it's not a car alarm but either a burglar alarm or an extremely loud alarm clock. It's just in my block, on my side of the street (so Graham, feel free to wander around to take a listen). I just can't figure out which flat it is so don't feel right calling the police to say...

"Um there's this noise, but I don't know what, and I don't know where, but can you make it stop?"

Argh!

An Update

That *!*!*!*! car alarm is STILL going!!!!!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Monday Night

Got out of the office a little after 6 tonight, which is pretty good for me. Stopped on the way home to pick up some veggies and yogurt. Cooked a good dinner, 4 cheese ravioli with a cream white wine sauce and sauteed veggies and prawns. Not very calorie conscious but tasty.

I was supposed to be meeting up with a friend at the pub later but I got a text asking to reschedule to the weekend.

So here I sit, listening to a very annoying car alarm that has been going on and on since I got home. I sincerely hope it is turned off by the time I need to go to bed.

I've got the TV turned to BBC4 on in the background. There's a series on about The Women's' Institutes Denman College. The episode is comprised of women that are attending the College (it's more of a retreat centre really) giving their stories.

Currently there is the sweetest little old gray haired lady and her story is so sad. Her first husband had an affair and divorced her, then her second marriage to a persistent suitor (or stalker as they call it now) resulted in mental & physical abuse and then her spending time in an asylum where under Dr's orders she was not returned to her marital home but to her parents.

Here is a sweet woman, 2 failed marriages, has been through hell and back and still smiling and trying to building up her self esteem.

The last quote I caught while typing this is her saying "You go through life and think it's the end of the world and it's not. It's not. It's just Nearly the end" and she burst into joyous laughter.

Wow.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Music Meme

A while back I was charged by The Struggling Writer to "list five songs on your i-pod you are proud of and five that you are not so proud of. Explanations are welcome, as are links to the songs or YouTube videos".

I'm not very good at things like that as I listen to such a broad range of stuff how could I only pick 5? It's like asking a Mother which child is her favorite. I love all my music. What I will listen to depends on my mood, what kind of day I've had, if it will be in the background while performing a task or if it is to be for the sole pleasure of just sitting and listening (my preferred method).

Not to mention, I don't have an actual i-pod, just an RCA MP3 jukebox of which the hard drive promptly decided to breakdown as I was on a flight back to Canada. 9 hours is a long time to sit without some good music to listen to.

Which leaves me with my laptop. I started scrolling down my list of CD's I was able to rip onto it before moving, but I only got as far as the M's.

I'm not doing very well here at all am I.

As mentioned above I flew back to Canada last week to attend my Grandmother's funeral. was strange how I ended up being back in Canada for Canada Day (July 1st). So that got me to thinking about Canadian music, of which I own quite a bit. So then I started trolling YouTube searching for Canadian bands.

Oh Canada
The Music



In no particular order...



Band: The Tragically Hip
Album: Phantom Power
Track: Poets
From: Kingston, Ontario

This is the quintessential Canadian Band in that they are huge at home but have never been able to crack the US market. And you know what, that makes them even MORE Canadian.




Band: Big Sugar
Album: Big Sugar
Track: Sleep in Late
From: Toronto, Ontario

I remember seeing this video for the first time on Much Music a loooooong time ago. Loved it! but never made note of who it was and it wasn't really a top 40 tune so not on high rotation. As a result I never saw it again. Fast forward a number of years and I see this band live at Plaza of Nations during Foxfest. I quite liked them so the next day I went to A&B Sound and picked up their first 3 CD's. Back home, I popped in their first album and track one was this tune. Sweet.



Band: Pilot Speed
Album: Caught By The Window
Track: Melt Into The Walls
From: Toronto, Ontario

This is another band I discovered through watching The Wedge on Much Music It's a non-top 40 show that focuses on the more avaunt guard or intelligent videos. I've discovered quite a few interesting bands on that show. Anyway, I digress, I saw this video a few times before finally having a pen and paper handy to make note of who the band was and then going out to buy the CD. I love every track.



Band: Sloan
Album: Pretty Together
Track: The Other Man
From: Halifax, Nova Scotia

This was one of those albums where you hear a couple of tracks on the radio and you think, hey that's kinda catchy. Then you get the CD home and pop it into the player and you are blown away by what you didn't hear on the radio. I think that's one of the pleasures joe shmoe misses out on when only listening to music on an i-pod, or computer. So often the musical subtleties are lost when music is compressed within an inch of it's life. This tune has an amazing bass line through-out, the band itself has incredibly intelligent lyrics and use intricate harmonies. A great band and a great album.



Band: Matthew Good
Album: White Light Rock and Roll Review
Track: Alert Status Red
From: Vancouver, British Columbia

Matt is all that is good about Canadian Music. Intelligent,artistic, political & outspoken.



So there you have it, a small snippet of the Canadian Music scene. In all cases the whole CD is fabulous. Not a throw away track at all. That's another thing I don't really like about the i-pod generation. If you're just downloading one tune you're missing out. For me, once I get the CD home I find the tune that got airplay is not necessarily the best track. But I'll save that rant for another day.