Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Now that the weather is getting a little less wintery (notice I didn't use the term spring or summer) I'm trying to get out and about a bit to discover what there is to see outside of Glasgow. So Saturday I went to a magical place called the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. It's on the East Coast just South of Berwick on Tweed, England.

Lots to see and do, but just easier to show you:

Friday, April 18, 2008

And the answer is....

For Mags, who snuck one question in a bit late:


Why? No particular reason, just because.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Speaking of Music that makes you want to dance...

Been going down a bit of a trip down memory lane with my iTunes today and have been listing to Billy Joel. I've got 5 of his albums on my laptop and have gone through them all this evening. It amazes me,

1 - that I still remember all the lyrics and
2 - how well his music has stood the test of time.

This man is an amazing songwriter.

My all-time favourite tune though is off the album:

The Bridge
Track 6

Big Man on Mulberry Street

The horns make it one seriously sexy song. And who can forget that Moonlighting episode.

Ah yes the 80's......

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Meanwhile at the local Starbucks

I couldn't help myself. I heard the music, recognised the classic for what it was and I started to dance. There I am, standing at the counter waiting for my coffee and I start swaying my hips and doing the white girl wiggle.

Yes - I'm weird.

The Saturday Walkabout

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

And Now, The Answers

- Sort of, but it looks like I missed you.

- it depends on what year, Calah was the earliest but Nineveh was the last.

- I didn't have to sign anything to get into the country saying I would eat a specific quota of Haggis, but it is the traditional dinner on January 25th (Robbie Burns Day). I didn't see any frozen dinners (it's usually vacuum packed) but it is a regular staple on the grocery store shelves. The below shot was taken today as proof, it's on the middle shelf.

- the square root of pi

- By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society.

- The architecture & the fabulous selection of single malts in the pubs
- Biblio Cafe
- Stravaigin
- I don't know if it counts as bizarre, but having a conversation over a pint (at the Stravaigin of course) with an American Comedian. But it might have been more than a fortnight ago.
- Learning to speak a foreign language fluently
- I have a dream of creating my own business giving one on one cooking lessons in peoples homes
- A pair that fit properly and don't make my feet look smaller than what they already are. But really I'm more a sucker for boots
- Nope

- 42

- I don't have children so at this point and time I'm not qualified to answer that question

- I'm not allowed to talk to strangers

- Long term yes, but not necessarily in Scotland as I'd be happy pretty much anywhere in the UK.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A Week in London

Over the Easter break I took some time off and travelled to London. I blogged about getting there via the train thanks to the complimentary WiFi connection (thank you very much National Express). So here's a quick synopsis of what I did while I was there.


I arrived in the late afternoon so had to first find the house where I would be staying. A friend of a friend mailed me their keys as they wouldn't be back until Monday - how trusting is that! People are soooooo nice :>) I was very adventurous in that from the train station I took the tube and then a bus rather than wimping out and just getting a cab. I managed to get off at the correct stop and it promptly began to hail on me. But I found the house, the keys worked and as I opened the door there were two ADORABLE cats staring at me as I let myself in and then they promptly came over and started nudging my legs and let me give them a little pet. A very good sign. Found the room I'd be staying in, dropped off my bags, got myself oriented with the house and then decided to find a grocery store. I've traveled quite a bit and I'm starting to get a sixth sense about these things.

I stepped out the door and turned right. Why right? I don't know, it just felt like the correct direction, I walked a few blocks and saw another person with a tell tale orange Sainsbury's grocery bag (a good sign). I won't give you the detailed map route of where I went, but it only took about 10 minutes and I was in the warmth (did I mention how FREEZING it was outside?) of a Sainsbury's local where I filled my basket with food & wine for the next couple of days. Back to the house to make my dinner.

The fun thing about staying in a strangers house is you find yourself standing in the middle of the kitchen looking at cupboards talking to yourself saying things like "if I was olive oil, where would I be?" or "if I was a cheese grater which drawer would I be in". After about the 5th time going through all the cupboards and drawers I was good to go and managed to cook myself a tasty healthy meal.

Into the lounge with my tray of pasta, crusty baguette and wine to look at a large screen TV and 3 remote controls. I have a sixth sense about home electronics too (thanks Dad) and had no problem figuring out how to get the TV and digital box turned on so I could find a movie to entertain myself with for the evening.

Did I mention how cold it was? The east coast of England was being battered with this unseasonably late winter weather and I couldn't find where the boiler was hiding or a thermostat in order to warm the house up. It must have been on a timer as I could feel the radiator in my room warm up first thing in the morning but the temperatures were dipping below zero at night and I found myself going to bed in an undershirt under my flannel pajamas along with socks. I had a big thick heavy duvet on my bed so once I curled up in that I warmed right up, but boy it was tough getting motivated to come out of my cocoon in the morning.


I wake up, open the curtains to take a look outside and it's snowing.

It's also Easter Sunday so though checking out the service at St Paul's Cathedral would be an interesting thing to do. BTW this picture was taken later in the week as Sunday was very dark, gray, cloudy and cold so not the best conditions to take photos but I digress. The service was good and as expected the place was packed. It also happened to be the last service for the organist before heading off to America so he quite literally pulled out all the stops at the end of the service and everyone stood up and applauded when he was done.

After the service I was feeling a little hungry so took a wander over to Trafalgar Square and grabbed lunch at the Cafe in the Crypt underneath St Martin in the Fields church for some yummy soup and a serving of bread pudding with warm custard for dessert.

The rest of the afternoon I spent at the National Portrait Gallery. This is tucked in behind the National Gallery and can easily be overlooked but they have a wonderful and diverse of collection. The gallery itself isn't too big so you don't feel overwhelmed by it. I was able to catch one of the gallery talks and heard some interesting details on a number of paintings.


Again woke up to snow (what's with the weather!!). Discovering I did not bring warm enough clothes, am now having to layer everything together. The day's attire consists of an undershirt, 2 long sleeved T-shirts, a sweater, 2 pairs of socks, wool scarf, hat, gloves and my hat. By the time I get to the bus stop I can't feel my big toes anymore.

Today's cultural adventure involves the Victoria & Albert Museum. A lovely hodge podge of everything. Paintings, sculpture, history, photography, stained glass, cool stuff. In my previous stops here I've always been rushed and only been able to do little snippets of the museum. So today I do it all! Including their cafe, very delicious I might add.

This is an all day affair and my feet are feeling it as I wander out via the gift shop. Where the museum is situated is in the same area as Harrod's department store and also Selfridges and a number of funky expensive shops. I wander along the streets just looking around and when my feet can't take anymore I'm down to the Tube going home (well my home for the week).

Upon walking in the door I finally get to meet my gracious host as the family is back from their weekend away. AND the house is toasty warm, JOY!


The sun has decided to come out this day and it's not quite so frigid outside for a change. I hop the tube to Victoria Station and will make my way to the British Museum. However, to get a different flavour of the journey decide to take the bus there rather than the tube all the way.

Thanks to the helpful pamphlet issued my the London Transportation people I figure out which bus I need to take and it only takes me 2 circles of the huge monstrosity that is Victoria Station for me to find the bus stop to hop on.

During the ride the bus passes the Royal Academy of Art. I've seen posters for this place but have never gone in before so make a mental note to look it up when I get home. A nice man that was in the first seat when I got on the bus overheard me ask the driver if this was the correct bus to get to the British Museum. Before the driver could answer this passenger then went into great detail to explain which stop to get off at and which way to walk when I stepped off. He was so enthusiastic that I assumed he was some how connected to the Transportation Authority, like a guide on the bus routes that are most likely to be frequented by tourists. But as he hopped off within a few stops it became apparent he was just a very helpful local. How nice!

So thanks to this kind stranger I knew exactly where to go when I reached my stop and had no trouble finding the Museum. Now I've been to this place many times now as it's always high on my list of things to see when I come to London. So I don't think there is a room I haven't seen yet. But as always, you have your favorites and for me it's the Egyptian wing and looking at the mummified cats (I'm strange I know). But I also checked out the talks schedule and there is one at 3:30 in the Roman section that I will catch.

I love the Great Court in the Museum. It's one of those spaces that just makes you look up when you walk in. Even if it's cloudy and rainy outside this place is awash in natural light. I've taken so many pictures of this space (as does everyone) but it really is an amazing design.

The big shiny blob in the picture is a sculpture by some Chinese artist but I can't remember his name or the intellectual blurb given about what the shiny metal blob is supposed to represent. But it was fun taking pictures of it.

After seeing what I wanted to see in the Museum I started to walk. Initially I was going to just head to a Tube station and go back but I changed my mind and just started to follow my nose. I have a great sense of direction and managed to make my way back to Trafalgar Square and then onto Regent Street heading back towards St Paul's. On the way I stumbled upon a number of places I either didn't realize were there, or others where I'd tried before to get in but they were closed. So I've made my list of what I still want to see.


Today is socializing day. I'm meeting up with one friend for lunch and another friend for dinner. Up until now I've been dining alone so this will be a treat.

I make my way out to the wonderful world of Putney and have a burger and a Pint in a very nice pub overlooking the river. Over the course of the meal I'm watching some very black clouds make their way. The day started out as sunny but guess it was too good to last.

After a nice lunch I take the Tube into London city centre and go to the Royal Academy of Art . Similar to the National Portrait Gallery, this is a small space and not too overwhelming. The building itself has had some of the rooms restored to their former glory and it's worth checking out just to see those, but the collection is very nice and varied as well. There is an extremely long queue to see the 2 visiting exhibitions so I just go in and check out the free stuff.

I'm meeting my friend for dinner on the South Side of the Thames and I've got lots of time so decide to walk it again. Remember those black clouds I was talking about? They are still around and casting a really interesting light. I stop in Trafalgar Square again and take a few shots.

The clouds do eventually open up and the rain comes down, but I've got my trusty hat on and I'm bundled up in my heavy wool coat so I stay dry enough. I make my way across one of the bridges to the South Side of the Thames and meet my friend at the London Bridge station. Dinner is in a nice Tavern and I satisfy my craving for Bangers and Mash and enjoy a pint of bitter (I'm trying to expand my beer outside of Guinness).

After dinner my friend takes me on a tour of the financial district at night and we admire the new architecture of the city. One of the really amazing buildings here is the Loyd's of London office. I remember watching a documentary on this building and seeing it up close and lit up dramatically at night it did not disappoint.

There is also the Gherkin (or the big Easter egg as I like to call it) but I didn't take a picture of that one as it was raining again by this time. We also walked through this really interesting market, of course all the shops were closed up, but I can't remember the name of it, the something Arcade. I'll have to look it up later in my Eye Witness Guide. One more thing to make note of for next time.

Another beautiful sunny day. I start out my journey at St Paul's Cathedral, grab lunch at their cafe (also down in the crypt) and then walk down Regent Street. One of the places I noticed in my travels yesterday was a church called St Brides that looked interesting. It's not very big but has an interesting history and a lovely interior. Their crypt was just recently discovered in some excavations and they had a very interesting display giving the history aamongst all the old stones and such

Next on the list Temple Church. This place was mentioned in the Da Vinci Code and it hard to find if you don't know where to look. It's very small but the area I was most interested in looking at was closed off do to renovations, so one more thing to but on the list for next time.

Last on my list for today is Somerset House. The building itself is beautiful and on the 1st Monday of each month they host tours (another thing for the list). There is a free exhibition space with a really interesting installation on London's public spaces. I found it really thought provoking. There is also an Art Gallery that has a Renoir exhibit, it's only a fiver to get in and I haven't paid to 'see' anything yet so I allow myself the splurge. Renoir's aside the gallery's permanent collection is great and I know I'm sounding like a broken record but .... it's not overwhelming. I guess my first experience in London and the art scene was just that overwhelming. Doing the Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the National Gallery can be a bit much. But there are all these lovely little places that have amazing collections and are well worth checking out.


I only had one official errand to do here in London and that was to deal with my soon to expire passport. I go back to Trafalgar Square (I take the bus this time) and go to Canada House, pass through security and take a number. No making appointments here, it's first come first serve. I find it strange that in the waiting room they have Sky News showing. You'd think with this being the Canadian High Commission they'd be showing the CBC news.

After I'm done with the government business I look across the road at the monstrosity that is the National Gallery. My feet say to me, "We just can't do it, it's too big". Every time I come to London I go inside and view their collection, but this place is massive. So I go to the desk and see that there is one wee room that has an new exhibit of a Scottish Artist, who studied at the Glasgow School of Art so how could I not check it out.

After this it's a beautiful sunny day outside so even though my feet doth protest too much I head off to do more walking. My stomach reminds me that I didn't take time out for breakfast today so I pop into a cute pub for lunch at the Olde Cock Tavern for a Mince and Onion Pie. Mmmmm, very creamy mashed potatoes and the gravy was very delish.

I make my way back across the Thames again to another church, Southwark Cathedral.

Right next door was the Borough Market. At this point I hit the wall. Too much walking over the last couple of days I could feel all the energy in me just disappear. I was so heartbroken really as it was a lovely day, blue sky and the great colours and smells of a market and I couldn't muster up the energy to take my camera out again. I was here for a specific purpose as I had promised my host family that I would cook them dinner as a big Thank-You for opening their home to me, a complete stranger. So I mustered up the strength needed to purchase the fresh veggies I needed for the meal and grabbed the Tube home.

I walked in the door, took my groceries down to the kitchen and then went to my room and promptly had a nap. Man, vacations are tough!

Saturday (the last day)

Today was my last day, but my train doesn't leave until 4:00 so I've still got pretty much a full day ahead of me. I pack up my stuff, say goodbye and thanks to my hosts and the cats and head off to the bus.

I'm off to the Tate Modern today as yesterday I noticed there was an exhibit on Duchamp, Man Ray and Picabia that looked interesting. It took me about 3 hrs to get through the exhibit and I found it really fascinating.

One thing with going to all these galleries and museums, I'm seriously considering paying for annual memberships for some of them. I'm usually in the London area a bunch of times throughout the year and being a member gets you into all the special exhibits for free, plus you usually get a discount at the gift shops as well. It's something I'm thinking about anyway.

So after the gallery it's back to the Kings Cross Train station to head back to Glasgow.

My feet may never be the same again, but I sure had a good time.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


OK, my brain is tired and I've just no creative juices flowing today, this week, this month. So let me put the ball in your court dear readers. I've been the Scottish Lemon here in Glasgow for going on 17 months now. What burning questions have you got for me?

(it also gives me a chance to find out who has actually been reading this)

Ask away.....

Oh and to answer the obvious, that's a self portrait of me reflected in a sculpture in the British Museum.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I Love the BBC

Always high quality programming. Check this out, click here