Saturday, March 22, 2008

11:02 Update

Somewhere inbetween Edinburgh and Newcastle.

It's snowing


Sometimes technology is just plain cool.

Today I begin a weeks holiday and I'm on my way to the big city of London. I only have one true errand to do while I'm there and that's to submit my passport renewal. In doing this, it means I will be without any 'official' picture ID which means no airports. So something I've been meaning to do for over a year is to take the train to London.

The night security guard (Bob) at work told me about taking the train a while ago. If you plan far enough in advance you can get a single one way ticket for 14.00 GBP so 28.00 in total for tickets there and back. On the train quite often its cheaper to get two singles than a return ticket, go figure.

But I digress...

So I've been meaning to take the train to London for a while now. It's a great way to see the rest of the countryside, no long security line ups, no sitting around for endless hours in an airport lounge waiting for your delayed flight, more space etc. The journey in total is approx 5.5 hrs which isn't all that bad. A quick flight to London is easily very close to that when you include the train journey out to Preswick Airport, the sitting around in the terminal, the time of the flight, the train journey from Stanstead airport to the city centre.

But I digress...

Technology, that's what I started this with. National Express has now offered free wi-fi on their trains. It used to be only first class got that privilege, but they've now opened the service up to the rest of us in the peasant seats. Granted it's not a fast speed (which is why no pictures with this post) but it's better than nothing. There's even an electrical socket next to my window seat so I don't have to worry about power - my laptop battery just doesn't hold much of a charge anymore (neither does my mobile, but that's another post altogether).

So yes, some days technology is just plain cool.

It's 10:14AM on Saturday, I'm looking out the window at some very green fields and gray sky. So far I've seen lots of sheep, a few horses and even the odd cow (but no Highland Cooos).

For the first part of my journey from Glasgow to Edinburgh I was subjected to 8 loud 20somethings from New Zealand complaining that the Royal Mile in Edinburgh looked really far (it is a mile after all) but apparently there are lots of cafes and coffee shops along the way. One of them had too much to drink the night before and couldn't handle the bright sun. One of the girls was to vain to wear her glasses and the others were teasing her endlessly about what she kept thinking she was seeing.... "Is that a dead sheep?", others, "No, it's sleeping"

So far it's been an interesting journey. 4 hrs to go.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Random Thought for the Day - Radio

I like music.

I love listening to it, really listening to it.

I've ranted before how much I miss having a proper audio system. The Saturday morning concert was a ritual I picked up from my Dad.

Get out of bed
Got to the CD wall
Figure out what kind of mood I'm in
Pick an appropriate CD

Make a double Americano espresso, breakfast
Grab the paper out of the mailbox


Hit play on the remote

I would have a similar ritual at the end of a hard day during the week.

After cooking dinner I'd pull my chair into the sweet spot in the living room, find the perfect CD to soothe my weary soul, light some candles, turn down the lights and just listen.


But here all I've got is my iPod, what few CD's I was able to rip to my laptop and radio.

Here begins the rant for the evening.

Radio - I HATE playlists. Why do radio stations insist the public be subjected to a small playlist of 40 tunes played over and over and over and over. It doesn't seem to matter what format the station is, be it Hip Hop, Alt Rock, Country, Retro etc they all have their playlist and you end up hearing the same thing.

Why am I going on about this? Well I was looking for a little taste of home and I Googled a radio station from Vancouver that I used to listen to. I opened the Web Player and surprise, surprise... they are still playing the same tunes.

If I had a pile of money with which to make the world a better place I'd set up my own radio station whose mandate is to not have a set playlist. Your average CD has what 10 - 12 tunes on it? So why just play one? How many of you out there purchase a CD because of a song you heard on the radio. But then when you get it home you discover track 7 (between you and me track 7 is ALWAYS the best). But no one else is playing this, they only play the 'single'.

My station would be called Radio B sides, or something witty like that.

Hmmmm, I wonder what would be involved in setting up a webcast radio station?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

High School, Music, Comedy and Canada

How's this about a walk down memory lane. High School.

At the time we thought we were so cool. And if we weren't we envied those that were. The school talent shows, the boys that had a real band?

Back in the 70's and 80's there was SCTV. A fabulous bit of comedy on Canadian Television. This was where some of Canada's funniest got their start.

Now some of you out there may not really get the above. But to give you some context, here's the original song they were covering oh so well.

I have no idea if the band Chilliwack ever made it outside of Canada. I loved this song when it came out.

Ah memories......

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Ever the Optomist

The winter's here have a little bit of everything. The temperatures never really get all that cold but it's the variety that gets me. Lets take this weekend for example.

Both yesterday and today I looked outside my lounge window and was greeted with bright blue sky and sunshine. I'll admit, I was a little over enthusiastic and dressed with just a long sleeve T-Shirt, a sweater (or jumper as they say here) and my jean jacket - good for the wind. Then threw on the muffler, gloves and a hat and I headed outside.

Met a friend for coffee and scone, then walked to another cafe (still sunny) and met B for a bacon and egg on a bun.

Headed off with a friend to an Antiques Warehouse and the clouds started to roll in, and then the wind started up again. (the wind here is a whole 'nother story) But every now and then the wind would stop and it didn't feel that bad.

Walking through Kelvingrove park the crocuses and daffodils were all up and blooming. It was a good 30 min walk to this warehouse and it felt good to be inside and out of the wind as I was starting to get a bit chilled. You'd think being inside I'd start to warm up, but this place is not heated because it's a warehouse.

This place is HUGE and it's jammed full of stuff. You really need to walk through it twice as the first time you're overwhelmed but what all you see. Second time through you can start to process everything and be specific in what you're trying to find. I was looking for old cameras, found a few but didn't purchase anything.

Anyway, it was about half way through the second time that I became aware of how cold my hands were (I was wearing gloves) but didn't really think too much of it other than to put my hands in my pockets. I think I was in there for about an hour or perhaps slightly longer, but when I stepped outside the gray skies were back and it started to sprinkle.

We walked along Argyle street towards city centre thinking once we got there we'd step into a cafe to warm up. By the time we reached Central Station the flood gates had opened and instead diverted into the Arches bar/restaurant as it was the closest.

Sitting down and taking off my gloves I looked down at my hands to discover that the middle fingers on both hands were blue, yes really blue down to the first joint. I looked at my friend and said "That isn't good is it". So I go off to find the bathroom thinking I'll place them under warm water, but the taps were cold. No problem, I'll use the hand dryers. You know those modern ones that you just wave your hands underneath and the automatically turn on. But these didn't, neither of them.


Back to my seat and I ended up just sitting on my hands for 45 min until the blue had disappeared and my fingers were pink again. Phew!

Today - Sunday, I looked out and once again blue sky and sunshine. Not to be fooled twice I wore TWO long sleeved T-shirts and my big heavy wool coat, gloves, scarf and headed off to church. After the service went to a small cafe for coffee and another scone and realized I had no cash. I walked a few blocks to the ATM and could feel the sunshine on my face and how warm it felt.

It was the perfect day to go on an adventure so I hopped the underground to St Enoch station and then walked up Argyle street to the Barras market.

It's a big market, but not very picturesque when I compare it to last weekends market in Greenwich. I didn't take many photos as there were no colours jumping out at me.

As I took this picture though I commented to my friend that was with me.... "Hmmm, looks like the flood gates could open up at any time now", I went snap with the camera, started to put my camera back into my bag and it began to rain. By the time we walked back to the Underground station (10 min maybe) I was looking like a drowned rat.

Now I sit curled up in a blanket wearing my 2 long sleeved T-shirts and a hooded sweatshirt underneath a blanket.

I think I'm almost warm.