Sunday, April 29, 2007

Saturday

My Saturday began rather abruptly with the startling sound of the door buzzer at 8:20 in the morning. This was the day the guy was to come to install the internet broadband and cable. They always give you a 5 hour window as to when installer is scheduled to arrive (to entirely mess up any plans you may have). So when told he would arrive somewhere between 8AM - 1PM I never thought it would be at the earlier end of the spectrum.

As I madly struggled to get untangled from my duvet and find my robe I stumbled to the intercom and said hello? Hello? Is anyone there? No answer. I went to the window in the lounge to see if I could see a truck and by the time I found it the bells to our front door were being rung. He must have hit the service button and someone else in the building let him in. I tell you I must have been a sight for this poor guy (I'm not a morning person). I pointed him in the direction of the lounge as to where the cable is in the wall and excused myself as I tried to get myself put together.

Service people must hate doing work on the top floor of a flat. I think he had to run up and down the 4 flights of stairs about 6 times by the time he was done the installation. So the broadband modem has lovely blinky green lights indicating a signal but the welcome pack with the PIN hadn't arrived yet so I'm not able to get that signal into my computer yet. I tried to call the help line but every time I called there was at least a 20 minute wait. I think I'll just wait for the letter to arrive.

So installation done, we now have more than 5 channels so our viewing choices are a bit more varied now for those nights when we just don't have the energy to go out and do something. All before 10AM so the day is not a waste. Well, depending on what your definition of wasting the day is.

I went to the i-cafe as I wanted to check my email and post some entries and decided rather than just having a coffee I would actually have lunch. Good choice. I had a grilled baguette with turkey, brie, avocado and cranberry sauce. Mmmmm. However, I had to get the gentleman at the table next to me to open my bottle of sparkeling water. The old wrist has never really recovered from my TFC tear and I still can't open twist caps if they are tight (lame I know).

It's been a lovely sunny weekend here, but there has been a cold breeze blowing so I'm still having to bundle up a bit going out. But I have at least moved from the wool coat to a sweater and jean jacket combination. It looks more springish rather than winter.



The evening was spent at a PJ Party hosted by one of the girls from the office (today's picture, everyone showing off their painted toes with their jammies). I won't go into the details of the evening other than it was a bit of an eye opener. I'll chalk it up to another cultural experience.

Grabbed a cab home a little after 2AM and had a great conversation with the driver about regional accents and dialects within the UK. I like it when the cab drivers are chatty.

i-cafe music update. 'Daft Punk is playing in my house' by lcd soundsystem. Great tune, here's the video.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Friday Night Movie


Went out for a night on the town as it's been a long rough week. Went for dinner at the Ubiquitous Chip in Ashton Lane and then to a movie.

I love going to movies I know nothing about. You just walk in, no expectations and it's all new. I get an email every Friday morning from the Grosvenor Cinema and I noticed a new movie opening that night called 'Leben der Anderen, Das' or if your German is a bit rusty the translation is: The Lives of Others I like forgein films and I'm fine with reading subtitles so why not.

Wow, great movie. Go see it.

Live dangerously, don't look it up even though I've given you a link, just find it and see it. Best movie of the year so far.

Holiday - Day 5

Mom & Dad's last day in town. They have an early flight Monday morning so they'll take the train out to Prestwick tonight and stay in a B&B out by the airport as it will be less stressful and they'll get a couple extra hours sleep that way.

So that means today is packing, cleaning and confirming travel arrangements. First off was church, then we had brunch at The Left Bank and my flat-mate was able to join us (she'd been out of town for the week and just got home the previous night). After brunch it was back to the flat to pick up the lap-top and head over to the i-cafe to check emails, look at train schedules, see if the hotels in Spain and France that we've booked have internet access (this is important) etc. Figuring out who will get where first and who needs to pay the bills and collect the keys when we meet up in May in Spain.

Lots to do, and yet not so much. Mom & Dad are all packed and their train doesn't depart until 7PM, sooooo might as well spend the afternoon in the pub :>) We head over to the Lansdowne Pub with all the suitcases & backpacks and just as we walk in the door the whole place erupts into cheers. I guess the Celtic game was on and the winning goal was just scored (but I'm guessing here). While enjoying a nice dram of Cragganmore 12 yr Dad notices a sign that the pub now has free wi-fi so out comes the lap top (are you noticing a trend here, it's not just me that's addicted to my laptop, but my whole family - something about wanting to stay connected with friends/family back home). So this is great. Now I have a choice of either sipping a coffee at the i-cafe or I can have a pint at the Lansdowne to check emails. It will be interesting to see if there is a change in my writing style depending on where I am.

Right, where was I - at the pub. My flat mate and her brother and sister-in law have all come to join us at the pub to send my folks off. It's just a quick visit but nice all the same. It's 6PM now so we need to get going.

It's as we are crossing the street and walking towards the Underground that it hits me - the subway only runs until 6PM so we can't get to the train station this way. No worries. We turn around and there a couple of blocks down I can see a number of cabs so it only takes a minute to flag one down. A nice cheap 5.00 fare to the train station and much less walking for Mom so everything worked out fine.

I go to the ticket booth and purchase their tickets for them and then take them to the board to show how they can tell what train & platform they need to find. As we are reading the board it gets extremely noisy and we can see a huge crowd of Celtic fans have just arrived at the station from the stadium and they are singing and cheering. There are a few police around just making sure nothing gets out of hand but it's fun to watch and one more experience that Mom & Dad are able to soak up.

So the board gets updated with the platform number and I walk Mom & Dad to the train and make sure they get seats. All is well and they are off on to the next leg of their holiday - a 12 day Mediterranean cruise. Sweet!

And I get to go back to work on Monday (not so sweet).

Holiday - Day 4

Today was the official 'down time' day. We did a lot of walking on Friday doing the Royal Mile & all, so the folks were feeling a bit tuckered. The morning was fairly lazy, catching up on emails, loading pictures to the flickr site, picking up some groceries. Mom stayed back at the flat and had a long soak in the tub to soothe her weary legs and feet while Dad and I did the errands.

By the time we came back Mom was feeling a bit better so I twisted her arm and took her into city centre to have Afternoon Tea at the Willow Tea Room. I witnessed my Mother attempt to eat the worlds biggest meringue with fresh cream (she only managed half). There was a new gallery open in the Tea Room with a mini-exhibit on the Glasgow Style that she found interesting.

Once tea was over and done with I then took her to the Food Hall at Marks & Spencer's. My mother loves checking out grocery stores in a new town to see what's new and different. She was quite impressed with the huge selection of ready made meals. It's true, if you have a Marks & Spencer close buy you never need to cook. We saw many a bachelor & student filling their basket with pre-cooked meals. (it just seems like cheating to me).

After that cultural experience I then took her down Sauchiehall and Buchanan street to look at the architecture. By the time we got to St Enoch station her feet had pretty much had enough.

Nothing too exciting going on in the evening other than roasting a chicken that wasn't quite thawed out yet so it took forever to finish cooking.

I hate it when that happens.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Holiday - Day 3

Today was the big day trip to Edinburgh. It's been pointed out by a few people that they can't believe I've been here for 6 months and not been there yet. Well I have nothing to say in my defence other than ... Hey, I've been busy.

So onto the train we went. We timed everything quite nicely as by the time we'd purchased out tickets and got out to the platform the next train left in 10 minutes. I tried to educate my parents in how to figure out what platform they need to be on, to make sure they get on the correct train and how to see what the next station will be and also to make sure you don't end up in the business class by mistake. This is all new to them as they've never travelled to Europe before.

Mom was perched on the edge of her seat the whole time, camera at the ready waiting for something picturesque to happen. It was cute :>)

Now as I've mentioned above I've never been to Edinburgh before so I'm really just winging it. We arrive in the train station and I realize I don't know what I'm looking for. I know the thing to do is the Royal Mile but there doesn't seem to be a sign that says Royal Mile this way. That would be most helpful. Instead I find a tourist map and get oriented.

We walk up to street level and look out. And there it is, the old town in all it's Medieval Glory. First thing up is to grab some lunch. We find a nice pub at the top of the hill, Albanach and Mom orders Haggis Neeps and Tatties. I did try a little taste, I don't know, it just tasted like mush to me.



Now that we've got some energy to keep us going it's up the hill to the Castle. Again great timing in that we just walk through the gates and a tour has just started. It's not a great day picture wise as the sky is so gray with clouds. Not even interesting clouds, just flat gray sky. Gray stone, with gray cobblestones on gray sky is well, gray and boring. However, every now and then there is a little patch of grass or a flower to perk up the picture. But over all it was a challenge.



After the castle we walk back down the hill and Mom's feet give out so she parks at a Starbucks and Dad and I continue down the rest of the mile towards the new Scottish Parliament (way cool building) and Hollyrood Palace. Of course it's closed by the time we get there but we snap a few pictures. On the way back there is a cool cemetery that has some interesting monuments.

We meet up with Mom and everyone is feeling mighty tuckered as we walk back to the train to head back to Glasgow. The plan was initially to go out for dinner tonight but the folks look like they would fall asleep in their plate of food so no a good idea. Instead, I run down to the chipper down the street for Fish & Chips.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Holiday - Day 2 (regular entry)



Today was all about taking pictures.

I've snapped everything we did today back when I was an unemployed tourist discovering this city. So instead I again tried to figure out ISO settings, worked on composition etc. Some worked some didn't but they are all posted.

This picture was one of my favorites from today.

Just had to mention, I'm posting this from the i-cafe a few blocks from my flat and the music overhead had a cool funk version of Radiohead's 'You Do It To Yourself'.

Killer baritone sax line.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day 1 of Holiday

Didn't have a great nights sleep last night. I gave Mom & Dad my room as it has the bigger bed and more room to spread out with their suitcases. Plus I thought waking up with the sun (as I don't have blinds on the window) would help with the jet lag. So instead I slept on my flatmates bed as she's out of town. Her mattress is much softer than what I'm used to so I woke up with a really stiff neck and had tossed and turned most of the night.

So the bed was definitely an issue, but man - it's just really hard to wind down. I've been working so hard these past 6 weeks that having my brain and body slow down is taking a bit longer than I would have liked.

The folks were up at the crack of dawn and I rolled out of bed around 7AM (gee right when I normally get up on a work day). The day started out nice enough with lovely sunshine. But quickly the clouds rolled in and with it that Glasgow wind. Too bad as it's been so nice the last 2 weeks. I was really hoping it would last a bit longer.



We did the Hop on Hop Off tour of the city to allow my parents to get oriented with the city. Had an early lunch in a nice historic pub (I can't believe I got them to down a pint at 11:30AM with lunch) and then back on the bus to get to the Glasgow Cathedral, St Mungo's Museum and also the Provand's Lordship Museum.

Dad feel asleep on the bus on the way home and when we got off at the University to walk back to the flat it was downright cold and miserable. I curled up in my down duvet and had a much needed nap for an hour before trying to decide what to cook for dinner.

Now I sit in the i-cafe blogging this all to you reader. Here's a little piece of trivia for you.....




6 months ago today, right about now in fact. I was in the truck with my parents driving to the YVR airport. We'd had an early Christmas dinner for lunch (since I knew I would not be coming back for the holiday) and my friend had come over and spend some time with me before I left. I was about to get on a flight with what few processions I could jam into 2 suitcases and 1 carry on bag to move to another country. I wasn't guaranteed a job as I hadn't had an interview yet, I had liquidated 2 RRSP's to fund this move in the hope that I wasn't making a huge mistake.

So far so good. My how time flies.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

10 Pipers Piping

Thanks to the new tenants downstairs I got all of 3 hrs sleep last night.

The party they threw for themselves and a few dozen mates lasted until about 5AM. I think it's 3 students that moved into the flat. Maybe they'll drop out of school soon. They are the only students in the building. The rest of the building is made up of quiet families and young professionals like my friend Clare who unfortunately lives across the hall from these morons.

I ran into Clare this morning as I was walking to church. She also looked like she only got about 3 hrs sleep and was having a caffeine fix to try and perk up. She said that 3 times she banged on their door to get them to quiet down.

Why are people inconsiderate?

So as a result of my lack of shut eye I was determined to have a nice nap in the afternoon. As I was walking back to my flat from church I could hear some pipers and drums coming from up the hill but I couldn't see anything as the hedge was too high. When I got back to my flat I looked out the lounge window and could see a small group all standing in a circle.



I know it sounds crazy, but it sounded fantastic. I opened my bedroom window and drifted off to sleep listening to the music.

This is Scotland.

Oh, this just in.... Ray LaMontagne (see post from last weekend) is doing a UK tour this autumn. No shows in Glasgow but many that are but a cheap flight or train ride away. I saw him at Richards on Richards in Vancouver when he was promoting the first album 2 yrs ago? Just him and his guitar, no band. A very intimate show.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Technical Difficulties Again


My modem is dead.

Now that I have a bank account and this week my password for internet banking has also arrived I am now able to properly order internet and cable. But I can only get a serviceman in to do the installation next weekend (actual date/time to be confirmed). So although I know my posts have not been regular at the best of times, they are going to be even less so this next week.

Between a friends flat and work will be my main means of getting on-line and there is also a great little i-cafe a few blocks away, but I can only drink so much coffee.

I do check my email each day at work on my lunch break and before I head home so I'll still be in touch if you feel the urge to drop me a line. But the blog and flickr page will be sporadic as I need my laptop for that.
.

Off to the left of this page you will see a new weather icon. If you've been checking it out you will have noticed that Glasgow has been having some pretty spectacular summer-like weather. People were actually out in shorts and tank tops today as the temps were up to about 20 degrees (Celsius that is).

My shorts and tank tops are still in Canada so I was not exposing any flesh. But it was a lovely day

Monday, April 09, 2007

Things I Did on my Day Off

It was really, really, really hard for me not to go into the office today. I actually had people Friday night trying to find my building security card in my purse so they could take it away so that I wouldn't be able to get into the building. But then they remembered that on the weekends there is a security guard that has to buzz you in anyway. So instead they made me promise I wouldn't go in. I thought about it off and on all weekend but I didn't. Instead, here's what I did on my day off...

I slept in, I mean I really slept in. I think it was after 10AM when I finally rolled out of bed.

Then I did the dishes. You see Sunday was a really busy day. In the morning was the Easter Service as St Silas, and the evening both my flatmate and I were involved on the worship team. So that meant an early dinner and us having to fly out of the door last night shortly after eating as we had to be at a rehearsal for 5:15 (which we were still late for) and then after the evening service we were invited to a friends place for drinks. Didn't get home until after 1AM so the dishes were still in the sink when I got up this morning.

I made a pot of coffee, plugged in my laptop in the lounge and opened the curtains and curled up in the chair pushed into the bay window to bask in the morning light.

I looked to see if I had any emails (so those of you out there that read this, I really like to get emails on Saturday morning, hint hint, it makes me feel connected and loved). I got caught up n all the blogs I follow and then it was time for the Saturday Guardian. I'd purchased it Saturday night, but never got around to reading it. There were no comics in the Guardian, I miss that from the Vancouver Sun, Saturday's paper always had the colour comics.

During this I listened to some music. You see I just found the volume knob on my laptop that I didn't realize was there. It's very small and black and it's just to the right of where I plug in my headphones. Up until now I've been very disappointed in the audio of my laptop as it wasn't very loud. But that's because I've only been adjusting the sound via the volume icon in the tool bar.

Things sound much better now. So while reading the paper I listened to Ray Lamontagne's Trouble. A friend had mentioned he was listening to it on Friday and I was thinking to myself I don't think I've played it since I moved here:



Saturday's paper is big (all those supplements) so next I had Amos Lee playing, it's his self titled debut album:




Then when I was finished the paper I worked on loading my pictures from my camera onto my flickr site and to accompany this task I put on John Mayer's debut EP Inside Wants Out. This album was one of those unexpected finds. Back when John started hitting the airwaves, I'd liked what I heard and went in search of his debut album. This was what I thought I was buying. However, when popping it into the CD player what I discovered I'd purchased was his lesser known independent release. Much of what was on the disc was solo acoustic tunes (just him and his guitar) that would later make it onto the full length album with a full band. I never did end up purchasing that first studio album as I knew it would lack the emotion that I loved with the EP. It's still one of my favorite albums:



So my lazy morning is now the afternoon and I need to get out of the flat. I decided to walk down to city centre and see what was playing at the movies. I picked something brainless that I knew my flatmate would have absolutely no desire watching, Mr Bean's Holiday


Much better than the first Bean movie as this one played out more like one of the TV episodes, i.e. minimal dialogue, mostly situational physical humour. It was also filmed in France so I was enjoying looking at the countryside as I'll be spending 5 days in Paris in May.

Walking back from the movie I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a chicken to roast for dinner. I haven't cooked much in the last few weeks. No, let me rephrase that, I haven't cooked from scratch very much in the last few weeks due to the long nights at the office. Cooking is a bit of therapy for me, but getting home at 9 or 10 at night means I've got zero energy so I've been relying quite a bit on prepared dishes that the stores here offer a plenty. I tell you, if you don't know how or don't like to cook, this is definitely the country for you.

So whilst preparing my Citrus Spiced Roast chicken I've been listening to Ryan Adams, Love Is Hell Volumes 1 & 2:

Ryan is doing a good job of reflecting the mood I've been in for the last week or so. I've been in a real blue funk and it's been a tough slog trying to get out of it. But I think being blue every now and then is good for the soul. I tend to take more pictures and get outside and go for long walks to be alone with my thoughts. Being so busy with work I tend to shove my emotions away and just fly on adrenaline. So when I do get a break everything floods in at once and it's hard to process and I can feel a bit overwhelmed. Having the 3 day migraine didn't help much either.

But it's now late, the chicken finished cooking and has already been carved and eaten (it was wonderful in case you were wondering). I'm more than happy to email you the recipe if you're interested.



The day is just about over and tomorrow it's back to the organized chaos of the office.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Found It


Martyr's Public School - I've tried on a number of occasions to find this building. It's taken me until now to finally break down and look it up on a map.

It seems I was always turning right instead of left. It threw me off that the articles I read always said you can see the building at the top of High Street. But what they fail to mention is at that point, the street is no longer called High Street but has morphed into something else.

Anyway, I found it. It took me until about the 13 or 14th shot before I thought to change the exposure. Wish I'd done that earlier. Oh well, now I know where it is if I want to repeat the exercise.

Oh, also went and saw the movie Sunshine tonight. Sci-fi movie felt a bit like a mix of 2001 Space Odyssey with Alien with a little Event Horizon thrown in for good measure. Some interesting editing and cinematography.

I quite enjoyed it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Return of the Migrane

Yesterday afternoon I felt it creeping up. I took a wander down to Boots Pharmacy and had a chat with the chemist. You can buy a little item called Paramol which is paracetamol (aka Tylenol) and a codeine derivative. It seemed to be enough to take the edge off and by the end of the work day I was feeling better.

But my day was not quite over yet. As we had another visitor to the office from our South England branch so I had to entertain him in the evening and so took him out for a nice meal. Half way through dinner I could tell things in my head were not going well. By the time I got home I was hurtin'

I tossed and turned all night, my stomach was churning and I was in lots of pain. Note to self, need to buy a gel pack to put in the freezer. I woke up this morning, or rather I arose out of my bed not having slept a wink feeling like death. Had this been any other week I would have called in sick. But I'm already down one employee due to holidays, plus our visitor was still there for another day's training so I had no one to defer to.

Then I had a rehearsal after work at church as our team is up for the Sunday evening service. As this is the first rehearsal it wouldn't look good to miss it.

So rehearsal is done, I'm home and curled up in bed. I don't want to take any more drugs at the moment as I'm still feeling quite nauseous. I just need some sleep, and a day with no stress.

And a neck rub, that would help too.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Did Anyone Else Catch This?

From the CBC News:

It's Official: Manitoba town gives plastic bags the boot

It's been talked about for weeks and on Monday the northern Manitoba town of Leaf Rapids became the first municipality in Canada to ban plastic shopping bags.

Mayor Ed Cherrier said he doesn't expect any trouble enforcing the new bylaw in the town of about 550 people.

"Everybody's on board," he told CBC News. "Our Co-op store and Fields, they're really supporting our initiative. And in fact, our Co-op store has offered a challenge to all of Federated to go bag-free across Canada." The transition started almost a year ago when the town imposed a levy on plastic shopping bags, Cherrier said. Since September, very few one-time use plastic bags have been seen in Leaf Rapids, about 980 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

It's estimated that a traditional plastic bag takes 1,000 years to dissolve.
The new bylaw prevents retailers from selling or distributing the single-use bags. Ignoring the ban could result in a $1,000-a-day fine. In anticipation, officials have been handing out cloth shopping bags to residents.

John Roach, the assistant manager of the Co-op grocery store, told Canadian Press recently that customer feedback to the ban has been overwhelmingly positive. He said the store went through at least 2,000 plastic bags a week and the litter they created was an eyesore.

The ban idea is catching on. Late last month, San Francisco became the first city in North America to ban the use of traditional plastic grocery bags.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Expat Questionnaire

Katie, an American living in Glasgow has tagged me with the following expat questionnaire. I'm pretty tired at the moment so don't know how clever I'll be with my answers but I'll give it a shot. I'm also exchanging the word country for Glasgow, as I haven't been outside of the city all that much as I've only been here 5 months.

5 things you love about your new country(city/Glasgow).

- the abundance of fair trade and organic products

- the whisky & Guinness (regular, not the extra cold)

- the consumer awareness of the carbon footprint

- Scottish Pride

- the heartfelt generosity of those I have met

4 things you miss about your old country (city/Vancouver).

- being able to buy a pound of whole bean coffee

- a big jar of all natural extra crunchy peanut butter with the only ingredient is 'peanuts', no palm oil, no added salt or icing sugar, just plain peanuts. Did I mention the big jar?

- a tumble dryer so my towels are fluffy

- efficient low flow toilets (even with the 50 gallons of rushing water there is still a wad of toilet paper that refuses to go down the drain)

3 things that annoy you about your new country

- walking past vomit on the sidewalk on a Monday morning

- that odd smell down the block. It's somewhere between sewage and stale garbage (I can't figure it out as the bins get emptied every day and I've yet to see a sewer grate.

- why they insist on the over packaging of produce in the grocery store, but the plastic wrappers and containers are not recyclable here yet.


2 things that surprise you about your new country

- All the grocery store chains have online shopping and affordable home delivery. It's completely worth it paying 3.99 to shop via my laptop curled up under the covers and have someone else lug 8 bags of groceries up 4 flights of stairs.

- they really do wear kilts and play bagpipes here on a regular basis.

1 thing that you'd really miss if you had to leave your new country.

- the architectural beauty of Glasgow

Hanging Out With Dead People


Sunday afternoon I went to the Necropolis.

I had been meaning to go there for quite some time now. I'd had a conversation with a friend a while back about how strange it was that I hadn't seen a cemetery since moving here (lots of churches but no graveyards). Then after a week of coming out with that observation I smacked myself in the head remembering the Necropolis.



It's this massive cemetery on the top of a hill overlooking Glasgow Cathedral (there on the left) You can't miss it, it's huge.

I had spent some time there the first time I was in Glasgow back in 2005. I remember it being a very windy, rainy, sunny, cold, warm day. But this time it was a sunny warm day. A bit of a breeze picked up as I was walking up the hill to get to the top but it was a nice breeze.




It was almost too sunny of a day. Some of the pictures I took looked a tad overexposed.


I really need to work on using my manual settings a bit more.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Media Shot

Someone somewhere has decided I have an interesting life.

I've been interviewed by the company magazine and an article will be in the next issue. It's just a small paragraph quickly summarizing my move, why I did it and what all was involved. But then they also wanted a picture.

I hate pictures of myself. It's been something I've been trying desperately to improve. I don't think I have a good smile, either it looks too forced, or I look harsh, I have no upper lip when I grin and I think it makes my nose look big.

But that's just me.

So yesterday as it was another lovely sunny day I was out in search of a location that would make it look like I was living in a foreign country and would distract from my face. Here are the 3 shots.

Media Shot 1



Media Shot 2




Media Shot 3




I'm not convinced I'll use any of them. Today is also looking like a good picture taking day so I'll try again. However, I would appreciate any comments as I do need to email the actual photo to the magazine editor Monday morning. I guess my only hope as that perhaps I'll be on the 2nd to last page and no one will notice.