Friday, December 26, 2008

The Last Christmas

Ok, it's not the last one EVER, but its my last one in Glasgow. Well, probably not my last one as I'm sure I'll come back again to hang out with friends but it will be my last one as a resident.

I moved house to Edinburgh last weekend. I tell ya, I'm getting too old to be lugging heavy boxes up 3 flights of stairs. I'm at the age when I should have a husband and a teenager to do it for me. But in lieu I lined up some friends,one of which was a strong and energetic University student. He worked for cheap, a mince pie. Many thanks to Claire, Maggs, Isobel, Mark and my folks. Without their help it would have been a very expensive task as I'd have had to hire movers.

So yes, Edinburgh is home now except not quite as I'm back in Glasgow until the 31st when I finish work. Another Christmas finds me living out of a suitcase. Perhaps this is my Christmas tradition 'cause when I think about it this has been the third Christmas in a row that I've moved. Bizarre.

Christmas eve was a familiar scene with my Dad. Hitting the mall last minute to assist him with finish his shopping. He pointed out the men walking around the shops with that dazed look of desperation.

After doing the appropriate amount of comparison shopping the decision was made on the final purchase and then it was to the grocery store to get the last few items. It's a bit difficult planning any meals let alone a proper Christmas dinner when you're not in your own kitchen. My friend Claire has graciously offered her flat for us to stay in over the holidays but a kitchen is such a personal thing. When going through cupboards you're having to think 'if I was Claire, where would I put the cutting board, or where would the sugar be?' Everyone has their perfect culinary set up, and it's always different. But that's half the fun.

By the time I got home, my stomach pointed out to me that all I'd had all day was about 4 cups of tea, one danish, a tiny chocolate and a glass of red wine (at the office). It was now 4:30, I really needed to eat something. You know it's been a long busy day when you don't have time to eat.

After zapping some leftovers I then decided to have a nice long nap as the plan was to go to the Christmas Eve service at St Silas. This has been a new tradition for me as back in Vancouver the Christmas Eve service was normally at around 6:30, perhaps a little later if Christmas Eve fell on a work day. But here, the service is 11:15PM and there are lots of candles, carols, communion, it's all good.

Getting home after midnight I am completely knackered. Looking in my room at the bags of stuff still needing to be wrapped that I just don't have the energy to do. I can hear my bed calling to me.

Christmas morning I allowed myself a nice long lie in. Since returning from my holiday at the end of November, then promptly getting the worst flu bug ever, my folks arriving, packing, moving to Edinburgh, unpacking and organizing a new flat, packing again to come back to Glasgow... I realize this is probably the first lazy morning I've had in a while. Still groggy and without any caffeine I set about wrapping the presents. I manage to accomplish this without any injury.

Christmas has always been just a quiet affair for us as we are a small family of three. After the gifts its usually always a nice lazy day, watching some TV, a nap or three, coffee, wine, cheese, cookies. Even though it's just the three of us Mom insists on cooking a proper Christmas dinner, Turkey and all the trimmings. I must admit her stuffing is the best I've ever had and the turkey (and I'm not a big turkey fan) is always nice and moist, good gravy too!

Its been a great relaxing, lazy day. Tomorrow if I am to believe the weather forecast it should be cool but sunny with no wind. So a good day to get out for a walk about and take some photos.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Winter Holiday - Las Palmas de Gran Caneria, Spain

The day started off not looking all that great but one never knows.

Walking along the pier we received a nice map from a lady trying to convince us to go shopping at the large El Cortez shopping mall (no-thanks). Its the old town I want to find. The funny things about these tourist maps is they never seem to have a scale. So you look at where you are and where you want to go and think, hmmmm that looks far. But then it takes you 10 minutes to walk there. Or you think, hey that's not too bad, and it takes you 2 hours. Today fell into the 2 hour category.

Initially we walked along the water front but the motor way paralleled it which was very noisy and the car exhaust got to be a bit much after a while so we moved in a few blocks.

When walking along the non-sanctioned tourist route you see the city as the locals do. You come along the hospital, clinic zone, pass a school, the fitness centre or my Mom's favourite - the grocery store. Remember Dino from The Flintstones? He has his own chain of grocery stores in Spain.

Other things seen enroute, the new Police Headquarters in a very nice pink and blue office tower.

Eventually we come to our destination of the Old Town and find the large cathedral there. It's not overly ornate which is nice for a change. But it does have its own dead person :)

The ceiling is very nice too.

All that walking to get there meant our feet were tired and our stomachs were grumbling. Time to eat! Found a lovely little cafe down a side street where we ordered a plate of cured hams and some cheese, bread and some wine.

With the wine came tapas of anchovies on toast (it's on the bottom right corner). You know, it wasn't half bad (the anchovy) everything else was lovely. Met a nice couple at the table next to us visiting from Sweden. They ordered the same thing on my recommendation :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

We interrupt this program for an important announcement

I am sick.

That is all, thank you.

Now back to your regular scheduled programming already in progress

The Winter Holiday - Arrecife

My walking buddy C was stricken with a horrible migraine this day so I wandered off the ship on my own. As previously mentioned the maps we're given the night before aren't really all that helpful. And when stepping off the shuttle bus you have no idea where you actually are. I love this!

But wait, I'm jumping ahead of myself.

The shuttle journey in itself. While still travelling through the port itself off to the side there was a ship wreck. Sorry the photo is crap but hey, it's through a moving bus window so I think its not half bad

Next thing that appeared through the window was this...

I mean this is just a sleepy little village with a population of just over 50,000 Who knew that would be enough to support an IKEA (the best store in the whole wide world btw).

And no, I didn't go inside.

Arrecife is a nice sleepy little town. As it's a Sunday most of the shops are closed which is fine by me. I wander around the streets, found a cute little church.

Some oh so picturesque boats.

And this...

Its a fort with 2 cannons. This spot gave me a good solid hour of entertainment value. You should have seen the chaos. A ship of 2700 passengers heading towards something that looks kind of historical/interesting and everyone wants their photo taken in front of it.

You've got the husbands with their expensive DSLR's and no sense of artistry or composition commanding their wives which way to look, where to place their hands and then click, click, click, click, click etc etc etc... Then there are the other tourists not understanding the concept of waiting their turn as they walk in front of someone else's shot and then blankly look back at the person with the camera and give a glazed look.

There was this one couple, I swear he blew off over 100 shots. I mean come on people. Its a cannon. Its NOT THAT INTERESTING!!!

This is my favorite shot of the day

But then I see things a bit differently.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Winter Holiday - Agadir, Morocco

BTW - I got back last Monday but I'm still behind in updating this thing. What else is new eh?

So on to Agadir...

Not much to report for this port. Agadir was decimated in 1960 thanks to a horrific earthquake that lasted 15 minutes. As a result of this the town was completely rebuilt. It is a planned city and looks like something out of a post modernist architectural text book rather than a Moroccan town.

It's also a resort town with a lovely beach, so everything is more geared towards tourism with hotels and condos. There is a central market but again it's aimed at attracting tourists rather than catering to the locals. There is a nice Mosque that I took a few shots of but that's about it.

However, I did purchase a rug. I found something rare, a fixed price rug shop so no haggling needed and no high pressure sales over tea either. The shop owner was very nice and friendly. Looking at pretty much all of his wares in the size I was interested in I finally found the rug I wanted. He packed it up good and tight with plastic bags, tape and rope. Some how, C was able to fit it into her suitcase and between all our bags we were able to shuffle all our belongings that everything fit and we didn't incur any oversize baggage fees on the journey home.

Oh and go figure, it never occurred to me to take a photo of the rug before it got packed up so you'll all just have to wait until I'm settled into my new flat in a few weeks and I'll take a shot then. But in the mean time here's a very blurry photo of the rug shop itself.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Winter Holiday - Casablanca, Morocco

This is my first time in Morocco. I wasn't really sure what to expect of the culture. There are a few things you can count on being different from home, local cuisine and traffic.

Lets just say I made it back alive.

Casablanca is a busy city, it has a big port and once dropped off by the shuttle, map in hand we just start walking. Traffic is busy and once we come to the first major intersection I make the observation that there doesn't seem to be any pedestrian signals or anything that closely resembles a cross walk. That's not too bad if you're just dealing with a quiet 2 or even 4 lane road. But how about 6 lanes of traffic in each direction, a round-about and 5 or 6 streets converging together. Safety in numbers is my strategy, or follow a Mother pushing a stroller.

First stop is the Sacre Coeur Cathedral, yes there is one in Casablanca.

What an amazing space! White painted interior, beautiful coloured stained glass that seemed to glow. Extremely high roof line, your eye is drawn up immediately. Interesting art exhibit inside that seemed to revolve around woodwork (no English translation so I'm not sure, will have to look it up when I get home). The man at the entrance spoke no English but we managed to communicate with my extremely limited French. He was very friendly, big smiles and made sure we noticed all the important details. Like how behind the main alter all the stained glass were the flags of different countries. Couldn't find Canada but not sure when the windows were constructed as it could have been prior to Canada being it's own country.

Once I thought we were done, the nice man then came out from behind his table and motioned for us to follow him. He lead us to one of the towers and told us we could climb all the way to the top to view all of Casablanca.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

What started out as nice wide concrete steps quickly got narrower and narrower as I went higher. The pigeons were nested inside the window recesses and as the steps narrowed the pigeon droppings increased (insert bad smell here). I got up as high as the first roof line and I stepped out to take a few shots of the city.

I started up the next level but then decided against it as the steps got even more narrow, more pigeons (swooping this time), more pigeon droppings and my knees began to wobble as the vertigo kicked in. Time to head back down the stairs I think.

Back on solid ground we said thank you to the nice man and I asked if I could take his photo and he jumped up immediately and stood at the entrance to the cathedral sanctuary and made sure it was in the shot he was so proud of it. He then put his arm around C and had a huge smile. He introduced himself as Mustapha. He just cracked me up with his enthusiasm :)

Once back outside I took a few shots of the exterior (ok, more than a few) as it's such an interesting design.

Almost kind of an art deco take on the Parisian Sacre Couer. Again I'll have to look up more info on the internet once I get home.

Next we make our way to the Church of Notre-Dame de Lourdes. Completed in the 1950's it doesn't look like much from the outside but inside the stained glass is overwhelming. Usually the windows are way up high and you can't appreciate all the detail. This is the reverse. All the glass starts at the ground level and is the length of both sides of the sanctuary.

Absolutely fabulous, and with the sun shining in and the place to ourselves it was a wonder to behold.

Last stop before heading back to the ship is the Old Medina or market. We went in one of the side entrances and as bad timing would have it the service at the Mosque just finished and we seem to be walking in the wrong direction as everyone else. But we manage to wiggle through like salmon swimming up stream. The market itself reminds me a bit of the barras in Glasgow in that much of what is for sale is just a bunch of dodgy cheap merchandise. Sneakers, clothing, electronic gadgets of questionable origin and strangely enough more than a few hair salons and barber shops.

The layout is fascinating. Its a labyrinth of lanes, none of which seem to follow in a straight line for very long before veering left or right. We seem to hit their version of siesta and many of the shop fronts are closed. Eventually we come across the food stalls and this is what I imagined the area to look like. Tables stacked high with fresh oranges, spices, breads and thankfully not a cobra to be seen.

We don't venture too far into the market for fear of not being able to find our way back out again but it was enough just to get a taste of it.

Next port - Agadir, Morocco

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Winter Holiday - Malaga, Spain

In a word, beautiful.

I'm doing this cruise a little different from the others. Cash is a bit tight due to my upcoming relocation to Edinburgh, Christmas and another trip in January. All that means is rather than paying for a ship excursion to do the sight seeing it's DIY. So armed with a tiny map compliments of the NCL Freestyle Daily its step off the ship and time to wander.

You can see the top of Malaga Cathedral looking up from outside of the pier so that's the first stop. My breath is always taken away a bit when I walk inside these massive structures. The height of the ceilings, the art work, the attention to detail and the craftsmanship involved. Each church/cathedral has their own distinct look. They can be similar in the layout but for some it's the stained glass, others could be wood carving. First impressions for me on this one is the ceilings. You'll have to take my word for this one, or wander over to my Flickr page as I've got the Malaga photos posted already. Perhaps once I'm home I'll edit this and add in the photos that should be accompanying these words and it would all be much more interesting.

After the Cathedral its meandering through the streets and lanes. Pablo Picasso was born here in 1881 so there are a number of Picasso museums and galleries. However, I was just in a large Picasso museum in Barcelona in 2007 and I'd rather take the one day I have here to explore the city rather than spend it indoors in a gallery.

Eventually the wondering leads to up, up, waaaaay up to the remains of Castillo de Gibralifaro, Phoenician built, but modified in the 8th century by the Moors. As all good castles are, it's perched on the top of a hill and there is a 360 degree view of Malaga below. It was quite the stair work-out getting all the way to the top (and all the way back down again) but it was worth it. Back down on the bottom was a lovely Botanic Gardens.

Completing the archaeological stair master worked up a bit of a sweat and a much needed break. So we wandered back to a central square we had noticed before and found a nice little cafe bar, Cafe Con Libros. A bottle of the local ale,a small bowl of crisps and enjoying the French (?) music playing in the background.

A Mom came in shortly after us pushing a large stroller with a happy little baby. The cafe had vinyl records randomly hanging from the ceiling that caught the baby's eye and caused him to giggle and eyes sparkle. The guy working behind the counter didn't think twice when asked and he just took the Mom's 2 jars of baby food and heated them up for her in the kitchen. How nice :)

Beer and crisps finished and legs happily rested it was time to head back through the town making our way back to the pier to board the ship again. Once on board, if I've got a few hours before dinner I'll try to find a quiet spot in one of the public areas. My favourite being the Spinnaker Lounge on deck 13 as there are plugs in-between some of the sofas. My habit has been to fire up my laptop and go through my photos taken that day, cull the bad ones and tweak (if needed) the keepers to be loaded onto my Flickr page when I have a good strong signal. Then after do a little writing.

Other than that the evenings involve getting ready for dinner, eating too much rich food and then catching some kind of on board entertainment. This cruise they have a Second City improv troop on board and they are doing a number of shows over the course of the cruise. The one show we've caught has been highly entertaining so I am looking forward to the others.

Next port, Casablanca !

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Winter Holiday - A Day At Sea

Have I mentioned I'm on a cruise? 12 days covering Spain, Morocco, Portugal and the Canary Islands.

Boarded the ship in Barcelona Tuesday afternoon with no trouble. Being a Latitudes member has it's advantages I guess. Either that or the fact that we were in Barcelona already so were at the port when check-in opened, so no real queues had started yet.

Our cabin is on deck 5. Being low down, inside and mid-ship are all good things should the seas get rough. You feel the motion more as you get higher. So sure you could have a fancy schmanzy garden villa with your own private viewing patio on deck 13, but should those swells get large, I wouldn't want to be attempting to walk from one side of the cabin to the other. I'm quite happy in steerage ;)

OK it's not that bad in the cheap cabins, but they are tiny. I keep forgetting how narrow a twin bed is. But who needs a big cabin when you've got a whole ship at your disposal. This is cruise number 4 for me and the Norwegian Jade, is a big one, 13 decks holding 2700+ passengers plus crew.

The other advantage (if you can call it that) with staying down on deck 5 is that everything is up. The cafe, the restaurants, the pool deck, the bars, the gift shop it all involves going up the stairs. Yes you heard me, stairs. There is only one rule for us girls when ever we go on a cruise is 'no elevators' we can only take the stairs. It helps to offset the over abundance of sinful food choices :)

The first day is a sea day which gives us time to explore the ship and get our bearings. A tip we've been told is the dolphins in the carpet (yes, there is a dolphin pattern in the carpet) always swim toward the front of the ship. Speaking of carpets and décor, oh my, this is a bright ship. Orange, pinks, electric blue, lime green, mermaids, jelly fish, neon lights tacky tacky tacky... The ship was initially built for the Hawaii itinerary so they went bright. I feel sea-sick looking at some of the rug patterns.

And I haven't even started with the passenger bad fashion statements yet. Lots of time.

I'm not able to upload photos in these posts, the low connection speed doesn't allow this through Blogger. But funny enough I can upload photos to my Flickr account so just click on the link off to the left and you can see them there. I haven't got round to titles, tags or descriptions but it's a start.

The Winter Holiday - A few days in Barcelona

I was here once before, spring 2007 with my parents for a few days. So there is no need to rush around madly to see all that there is to see as I've done that already. I can relax and wander around at my own pace. However, this is B & L's first time, so they reference the Eyewitness Top 10 Barcelona to see what all they can cram into the 2 days we have here.

We flew down on Sunday and arrived just before 1:00PM. Feeling confident this time we decided to hop the bus into the city centre rather than a cab as the bus ride only costs 4.05 Euro each and I figure a cab would be minimum 25 Euro.

Instead of an expensive hotel, we've rented a self catering apartment so we don't have to eat out for all our meals. We're in the Gothic Quarter so with access to St James Market, the Carrefour Express grocery store and all the little ethnic food shops I'm pretty confident I can keep the group fed well. And wine from the grocery store is about 10 times cheaper than a bottle in a restaurant. We are in Spain after all, it would just be wrong not to give a few of their wines a try.

The weather is nice, waking up to brilliant blue sky and crisp temperatures with no wind is such a treat. It's not warm (but warmer than Glasgow), a long sleeved T-Shirt, light sweater layered with my jean jacket keeps me warm enough.

I really do love the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. The little twists and turns of the side lanes, all the shops, the architecture, the smell of the Patisseries, the yummy cured meat & cheese sandwiches from the patisserie. I do manage to find a few nooks and crannies that I hadn't found before which was nice.

The only downside to these few days is I developed a migraine the day we arrived and it lasted the regular 3 days. I was able to keep it down to a persistent dull throb with my various medications, but it did zap me of energy. But a migraine won't stop me from enjoying this wonderful city.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Winter Holiday 2008 - The Prep

Normally as I gear up to leave on a holiday, I'm working until the wee hours trying to finish various little bits at the office and then packing at some crazy hour like 2AM.

However, this trip the circumstances are different. As I'm leaving my job at the end of the year my workload has massively decreased due to various pieces of my job being outsourced to others. So Friday I was out the door before 5:30 PM.

My friend L arrived from Vancouver earlier in the week and as there is no spare room or sofa bed in the flat I gave her my room and I've been staying with my friend C a few blocks away. So what this meant is I had to pack my suitcase in the normal way, i.e. the daylight hours.

When I was done, it felt weird. I was a bit out sorts. Ready to hit the sack at about 9:30PM with nothing left to do other than a little tweaking of the contents of my suitcase which I'd leave until morning after I'd gotten up and ready. Is this how the rest of the world prepares for a trip? In advance? It doesn't feel right.

As I was mentioning to a friend, without the mass chaos of trying to get everything done I seem to have lost the excitement for the trip. Oh, don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to getting away, relaxing etc but it's almost as if so much has been going up before hand, my brain just hasn't had time to process the details of the holiday so it just sort of got pushed into the far recesses of my gray matter.

FYI - I'm already on mid way through the holiday somewhere in North Africa, but internet access is not always reliable so I'll be posting retroactively when I can. Photos may have to wait until I get back if they take too long to upload.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Hot shower, do the hair, get dressed. Look out my bedroom window and see some blue sky. Walk into the lounge, chat with the flat mate as putting on my coat and grab my keys. Head outside, open the front door and it's a torrential downpour.

Head back inside, find my hat, twist/tuck the hair up underneath. Say goodbye again to the flat mate, open the front door and the rain has stopped. Oh well.

Walk one block and it starts raining again. Good thing I've got the hat on.

Cross the street, get halfway down the next block and it starts to hail :( No worries as I'm almost to the church.

After the service a few of us decide to head to Stravaigin for brunch. And once again it's a torrential downpour but with some wind added in for good measure.

The pub is packed, seems everyone had the same idea. Lucky for us a nice table at the back has just freed up (nice and far away from the cold front door). It's so nasty outside I'm thinking I may just stay here all afternoon.

Just as we sit down a man walks in with a HUGE rottweiler, EEK!!! But he seems very good natured and after a few moments I have this incredible urge to give him a hug (the dog not the man).

I notice this is the third dog I see in the pub. I'm beginning to think the "Honey, I'm heading out to walk the dog" line is code for going to the pub. But the dogs don't seem to mind, preferring the toasty warm inside to the ugly weather outside.

One full Scottish Breakfast and a black coffee later it's time to go. I bundle up all my layers, once again tuck/twist up my hair underneath my hat and step outside to...

Blue sky? OK it's not completely blue but there is an opening in the cloud cover with a bit of blue poking through. And it's not raining, but there are many puddles to navigate and by the time I get home my denims are soaked up about 5 inches from the bottom.

Get home, take off coat, find a wool blanket to curl up under look out window and it's hailing again. And it's not even winter yet.

I love Scotland.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Where to start...

In 6 weeks Edinburgh will be home. Well sort of.

Dec 20th I'll be moving to my new flat. But as I don't finish work until the 31st I'll be traveling back and forth between Weegieland and the Burgh.

Oh sorry didn't I mention that? I've got a new job. I've known for over a month now but couldn't really say anything until my staff were told, which finally happened this past week.

I'm not sure it is why every time I move it ends up being around Christmas. This will be the third year in a row this has happened. Weird.

So anyone out there willing to lend a hand, a vehicle, a van, truck? Any and all offers would be appreciated :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Love for Red Footwear

Apparently this started at a young age as shown by this photograph taken by my Dad.

Anyone who has been following my flickr page will have noticed I've become a bit enamoured with my red shoes. I took a nice group photo of my various red shoes/boots at the time back in November 2006.

However, in January 2008 I began the obsession with one particular pair. I called them my disco shoes as they had glitter imbedded in the fabric and some red plastic 'jewels' stuck on the sides (very out of character for me).

That first shot was taken in the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. I thought it was a cool shot and after that day I started happily snapping away at my lovely red sneakers in various locations.

On the shore of the Thames in Greenwich

In the Victoria and Albert Museum in London

The South Side of Glasgow

You get the idea.

The odd time I'd stray outside the norm and take a shot of my other shoes but I don't think it had the same impact as my red disco shoes.

But then it happened. The shoes were dying :( They were starting to get uncomfortable to wear and holes were developing in the soles. When I think about it I bought those shoes more than 10 years ago for something like $3.00 at Payless (50% off an already ridiculously low price). I was surprised they'd lasted as long as they did as Payless isn't really know for excellent quality.

I had the idea in my head that I wanted to replace them with a pair of red Converse All Star shoes but this was getting difficult as I have tiny feet (UK size 2). I was on holiday in London over the summer so I decided this would be a good opportunity to hit the shops and get a new pair. I went into a number of shops but I couldn't find any red ones in the correct size. So eventually I gave up and purchased these instead.

I like them, they fit well and with swapping the laces I think they are a bit of fun. But if I'm honest with myself they just don't have that special 'thing' about them. They aren't magical.

And then I saw them…

Aren't they beautiful? Can you feel the magic? My Ruby Slippers, just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. These will be the best shoes ever!

Let the magic begin.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Under Siege

No it's not a Steven Seagal flick but the scene outside the office this morning.

Sitting at my desk I could hear the distant sound of pipers. Being Glasgow that's not entirely unexpected so didn't really think much of it. However, a bit later my curiosity was piqued when I started to hear shouting. I looked to my right and could see a number of people crowded around a window looking at the commotion outside. So of course I needed to see what was going on.

And this is what I saw

A whole bunch of men in desert camouflage and guns standing in formation for 3 blocks.

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. My main question is:


According to one of my colleagues they are the Royal Highland Fusiliers. Goody, but what are they doing outside with guns? A quick search of their website gives me no answers and I don’t see anything on the BBC website either.

Every now and then one of the guys in charge shouts something and guns get moved from left shoulder to right, or they turn to the right, or the stomp in place. I'm becoming suspicious that this is just a delay tactic as one guy keeps checking his watch.

Eventually the 'colours' walk past and get into formation, everyone turns to the right and off they go down the street and round the corner.

I'm unclear as to if it will be safe to leave the building to purchase my lunch when there are random regiments marching around in desert camouflage.

*Update* after dinner I did another search on the news sites and found this article on The Herald website

Oh and if that wasn't enough interestingness enough for my day... This was the view outside at 4:13PM

Um a girl in ugly underwear, dancing on a broken wooden box.

The Scottish are a strange people

Saturday, October 18, 2008

No Rest for the Weary

Yup, still sick.

I had a brief moment this morning when I awoke at 7AM being able to breathe out of BOTH nostrils at the same time. Sadly this was the morning I was going to allow myself to sleep in to give my body some healing time.

But by the time I curled up in bed again with my hot tea (French Breakfast by Mariage Freres) ,bowl of muesli and yogurt when the head started to clog up again :( I find it strange that last year at about this time I was also knocked silly with a stupid cold/flu bug. What is it about October that doesn't agree with my immunity?

I'll give myself another hour in bed (I'll turn off the computer when I'm done this) and then I need to get up and start my day. It's going to be a busy one and I can't really go into details at the moment but stay tuned as I'll give a summary and some photos after the fact.

I will have to pack a wad of tissue, a packet of Extra Strength Halls and stash of decongestants in my purse in order to get myself through the day. I know I'll regret the pace at the end of it all but I am confident it will be a fun day.

I'll just look like death tomorrow ;)

Right, nap time

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Public Service Announcement

Extra Strength Tylenol Flu Daytime/Nighttime does not work for me. I repeat does NOT work for me. It may work for others, but not me :(

It's going to be a long night.

Cough, Cough


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Pink Floyd Story: Which One's Pink?

I've just finished watching this documentary on the BBC iPlayer. Pink Floyd is a band I know but not intimately. Who hasn't heard of The Dark Side of the Moon and how it's STILL selling.

I remember my Dad bringing home the double album The Wall and sitting in the living room with the head phones on and listening to it in its entirety in one go. I was too young to really grasp the concept of the story and the music was a little out there for a 14 yr old girl. I recall a sense of slight depression after such an intense listen.

I learned more of 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon while enrolled in an Engineering course. It was referred to on numerous occasions when teaching about tape loops, use of synthesizers and how anything is possible if you are open to new ideas and experimentation as Engineer Alan Parsons did when working on this album.

I probably became more of a fan of the band when Roger Waters left and David Gilmore took over as the lead. I preferred his vocals and today can truly appreciate his talent on the guitar. Plus, he was quite the hottie when he was young ;)

Meddle, Wish You Were Here, A Momentary Lapse of Reason...

I wonder if FOPP has any Pink Floyd on their cheap wall?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Govanhill Baths, 1917

The Baths, designed by A.B. McDonald, were opened in 1917 and consisted of hot baths, 3 swimming pools and a 'steamie' (wash-house).

Public baths were built by the Glasgow Corporation to promote health and hygiene. Many people had no hot running water in their flats so used the laundry facilities until the 1990's and the bathing facilities up to 2000. Very few of these buildings now survive, and when it closed in 2001, Govanhill Baths was the only original, substantially unaltered public baths still in use.

A.B. McDonald was the city surveyor and designed the baths in Edwardian Baroque style. The most important architectural elements of the Baths are the pools with their arched reinforced concrete roof trusses which let in a large amount of light. The main pool, with it's cast iron railed gallery, gives the Baths their most distinctive feature. The original tiling still exists in several parts of the building.

In 1992 the Baths were listed at Category B. This requires the Baths to be marketed to a restoring purchaser or that a suitable alternative use should be found. Demolition of the building is only possible when all other options have been exhausted.

The building's condition is fair, although repair work is required. Historic Scotland recommends that 'an architecturally and historically important part of the city's history ... any proposed reuse of Govanhill Baths must take into account more than simply the preservation of the facade ... and preferably should be preserved as swimming baths'.

Text courtesy of the Govanhill Baths Community Trust

Saturday, September 27, 2008

St Peter's Seminary, Cardross Scotland

I had heard about this place.. A decaying shell of 20th century modernist architecture using concrete, wood, glass, breathtaking use of light and the beautiful natural surroundings of the grounds. Now, it's just a broken decaying shell of what it once was left at the mercy of vandals. But it is also a favourite spot for photographers in the Glasgow area.

St Peter's Seminary was designed by Andy Macmillan and Isi Metzstein, working for Gillespie Kidd and Coia, a Glasgow firm specialising in churches for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. The two young architects were heavily influenced by Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto and converts to the modernist style. Construction commenced in 1961, however, while the building was still under construction the second Vatican council decreed that priests should not be trained in seclusion, but within the community. The seminary opened to the first trainee priests in 1966 and the building was fully completed in 1968. But because of the Vatican council degree, was only used for it's intended purpose until 1980.

The seminary comprises of 3 main buildings grouped around Kilmahew House (which is now completely gone thanks to a fire in 1995). To the east is the five-storey dormitory block, which employed a stepped cross section, where the upper dormitory floors defined the communal spaces of the refectory and the chapel below. At the south end of the block is a two-storey curved wall that formed the backdrop to the altar.

This by far is the space that creates the WOW factor when entering for the first time. It glows an eerie green from the surrounding forest outside and the moss coating the concrete inside. The space over the altar at one time was a 3 tiered glass roof, but now the glass is all destroyed and the altar is open to the sky above bathing the space in sunlight, or in most cases rain and cloud (this is Scotland after all). There is graffiti everywhere and the altar has been damaged thanks to someone taking a sledgehammer to it. Why? Because they could I suppose.

To the south of the dormitory block was located the classrooms & library. Now almost completely inaccessible due to the collapsed roof. To the north is a series of convent buildings.

Since its completion St Peter’s Seminary has been critically received and its status as an important example of modern architecture has grown over the years, described recently, by Tony Levinthal of the Scottish Civic Trust, as “…one of the top 10 post-World War II buildings in Scotland.” The building was listed category B in 1971 and was elevated to category A in 1992.

A small video made of the Seminary when it first opened and I recommend it's viewing after looking at the ruins to see what a wonderful space it once was.

When walking around the grounds on this grey overcast Sunday I was talking with a few photographers in my group about how much the building has been vandalised even in just a few weeks. There has been much talk about ways to use the building again and strip it back to its core, but it just seems to be just that - all talk. In the mean time this building continues to beaten, raped and pillaged by those that have no respect for what this place once was, a Holy Place.