Saturday, November 07, 2009


I'm moving house next month (more about that closer to the date) so seemed appropriate to move blogs as well.

Its a bit of a different format and I think it might help me to post a little more regularly.  Also the photo link seems to be a bit better there as well.

See you over there...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Customer service, the kindness of strangers and getting out of your comfort zone

It has been a busy couple of weeks over that last while. I've spent the last 3 of 6 weekends in Glasgow since I returned from the holiday in the homeland.
That last taste of Canada in YVR
The first trip was a bit of a sending off party for a good friend whose taken a job over in Cambridge. It was also a chance to catch up with friends that I hadn't seen in quite a while.

As with most trips to weegie land there is food involved. Went to a funky vegetarian restaurant called The 78. I was still basking in the glory of rediscovering film photography so had brought my Pentax ESII with me as well as my DSLR so I could do some comparisons. Sadly once the dinner was done and it was prime time to haul out the camera the restaurant staff thought it would be a good thing to dim the lights. Also with the addition of a DJ things were going to get a bit loud so we decided to move venues.

The Uisge Beatha is a lovely pub in the west end of Glasgow known for it's 300+ single malt whisky shelf as well as it's kilted staff. The group managed to find a series of tables we could all squish around and the fun continued. With the group was a fellow blogger and photo geek. Anyone that knows me will understand that if I'm sharing a room with someone else with a camera then I tend to become a bit snap happy. To the point of being cheeky enough to ask complete strangers if I can take their photo.

The Professor and the Viking

Trip 2 to Glasgow was to visit my ex-flatmates parents that were in town for a visit and also celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. Food is a central part of this holiday and although there was no turkey involved there was the attempt at a pumpkin pie. Except we didn't have a pumpkin.

Psuedo Pumpkin Pie

Judging by the laughter that followed, my comment of 'a gourd's a gourd's a gourd' was very funny. I wasn't trying to be funny but just highlight the fact that swapping a butternut squash for a pumpkin was a reasonable substitution. I mean I thought it was yummy.

Trip 3 is where the title of this post was derived. In Trip 2 I had brought my Zorki 4 camera with me.

Zorki 4 Camera

I'd purchased it off eBay for an insanely cheap winning bid but had not been able to get the thing to work because the shutter wouldn't press down. I'd downloaded an owners manual off the net and worked it through but no luck. Last time I was in Merchant City Camera's shop in Glasgow I'd mentioned to the guy behind the desk about my problem and he'd suggested I bring it in as it sounded like it was probably something relatively simple. So I did. Then returned 2 weeks later with it fixed and was then told that there was 'no charge'. How great is that! I then bought a roll of B&W film as I'd not yet run a roll through the camera.

I was also going to be doing a photo shoot of a friend that afternoon and needed a CF Card as I wasn't going to be using my camera. I already have a 1GB and a 2GB card at home so didn't want another. They did have just a small 256MB card so I said I would take that. Apparently the card wasn't on the price list because, well they don't stock them anymore because the new cameras these days with their increased number of pixels larger cards are more the norm. The young guy that was serving me looked to the older guy and said "well what should I ring it in as then?" To which the older guy looked at me and says "How does 5 quid sound?"

People, if you're wanting to purchase anything photography related, I highly recommend Merchant City Cameras. A great bunch of guys that have not forgotten what Customer Service means. Plus they're a nice group of guys and they know what their talking about.

Ok, next up - Kindness and Comfort

A friend of mine has written a book and had asked me if I would be interested in taking the portrait of the author to go with it. But of course! Keeping in mind that I'm not really known for taking people pictures, unless it happens to be of their shoes.

The Stance

As I was going to be in town I figured we could talk about what her ideas were for the shoot. Only to find out she was thinking we could do it that weekend. Of course this was the ONE time I didn't lug all my camera gear with me! Plan B was I did have my Lumix with me but somehow a point and shoot doesn't seem worthy enough for someones first book.

On a whim late at night I decided to post a request on 2 of the Glasgow Flickr groups that I used to post too when I still lived in the city asking if anyone out there had a Nikon D70 DSLR with a 50mm lens. Its what I would have used had I brought my gear with me, and if I'm going to borrow a camera I'd like to be familiar with how it works. But I'd also just posted a general cry for help on Facebook and also sent a text to a friend in town that has a nice Canon.

Much to my surprise I had not one but 3 complete strangers contact me wanting to help out. One of which had the camera and the lens I was looking for. Hurrah!!! So the planned photo shoot went ahead as planned and the guy that loaned me the camera sat and waited for me with a nice cup of hot chocolate compliments of me.

I easily filled up my wee 256mb CF card while trying to figure out the best lighting in the cafe, camera settings, composition and trying to put the subject at ease. Once I got everything just right, the card was full and I had to delete a bunch to make room for the good shots. In the end I think I got around 3 shots that are really good and that we are both happy with.

That night as I took the train back home to Edinburgh I reflected on the process of doing that portrait shoot. My first really, the wedding I shot back in March was a very different process. So slowly I'm getting out of my comfort zone of sneakers and inanimate objects

and trying my hand at doing things most people think of when they think of photographer.

Still just not sure I want to hang a sign and call myself a real photographer just yet. I've got so much more to learn.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

and now begins the winter of our discontent

Out came the long sleeved black turtleneck
An extra blanket on the bed
Sleeping in a long sleeved T-shirt and flannel bottoms
Having to wear gloves when I go outside
Trying to find my hat somewhere in the depths of my closet
Seeing my breath on my walk to work in the morning
Having difficulty standing upright when the winds blow
Curling up under a wool blanket on the sofa

And I had to turn to boiler on

It's only the first week in October...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Trip Home

Heathrow Terminal 5 B

Well it's been over 2 years since my last trip home to Vancouver. It's also been that long since I've been on an overseas flight and I started going a bit stir crazy at around the 3hr mark.

I flew BA as I wanted a direct flight from Heathrow and Air Canada was insisting an additional stop in either Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, or Calgary. Sitting on a plane for 9+ hrs I didn't want to extend anymore than I had too.

Also my first time in the new Heathrow Terminal 5. I arrived in 5A from Edinburgh and then had to change to 5B for my connection to YVR. 5A has all the major shopping, restaurants and duty free shops. 5B has a few but nothing on a grand scale. I found it strange that the terminal (5B) was quite empty. Looking at the departures board there were only 5 flights scheduled so it was very quiet and it also meant I could take a photo with no people in it .

Lucky me :)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Housefull

Everyone is here now. Picked up Leona on Sunday and then yesterday I took the cheap* way out to Heathrow Airport (i.e. the tube rather than Heathrow Express) to meet my friend Laurel whom I haven't seen in over 20 years. She's a friend from my college days and I think the last time we saw each other was in 1986 at a wedding.

It may sound cliche but we reconnected via facebook of all places about 2 years ago. We've had regular chats since then and last year when I was doing this same trip I had floated the idea to her that she should come out for a holiday. Visiting Europe isn't quite so daunting when you don't have to pay for accommodation :) The timing wasn't right for her last year but this year she jumped at the chance.

Here she is ...

Laurel in London

She was so jet lagged, but I knew getting her outside in the sunshine and not allowing her to nap was going to help her get a decent nights sleep. It's kind of fun to watch someone that tired, but so excited as she's never been to Europe before.

So we are all here now and ready to take on the city. And it's just started to rain... typical.

* for those that have the time you can take the tube all the way out to Heathrow Airport. If you have an Oyster Card the trip works out to 4.80 return and takes approximately an hour from London Victoria station, vs 32.00 return and 15 minutes.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Living South of the Thames

I arrived in London yesterday afternoon to begin a much needed 2 week holiday. I am house/cat sitting for friends and this will be the 3rd time doing this so it's turning into a bit of a regular thing - lucky me :)

Last year there were 2 cats to care for. This year there is just 1 as Suki passed away in January (so very sad).

This leaves me with Tom
Tom Cat in the Morning
who is now ultra affectionate and we had a good cuddle last night when I got settled and another one this morning before I started to make my breakfast.

I haven't uploaded any new photos at the moment (the above were from last year) as my camera is downstairs and I am upstairs still curled up in bed with my coffee. I am on holiday after all ;)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Enemy thy name is paper clutter

I am surrounded by mounds of paper. It doesn't seem to matter how many trips to the recycle bin I make there is always another pile of paper to sort through and decide what to do with it.

Bank statements - why do I still get these when I signed up for paper free correspondence?
TV License - it says you need to keep record of it, but where do I put it?
Cards - how long is it appropriate to keep a card on the mantle. Is it bad protocol to then throw it in the recycle bin or must one hang on to it forever?
Take-Away Flyers - one of these days I will order a curry, but from where?
Local free paper - I really should sit down and read it to familiarise myself with my community

Then there are the bits and pieces of things you pick up while out and about. The business card of the funky furniture place, the brochure from the exhibition at the gallery I was just at, the magazine from the Tate.

I was good for a while there. Making the instant decision the moment the item was in my hand but part of the issue is the things I must keep (pension scheme documentation, employment contracts, lease etc) I don't really know where to keep these. I really should get a proper file cabinet or something of that sort, but that's just one more thing I really don't have anywhere to keep at the moment (next flat).

When I moved to Edinburgh I did one really large purge as I didn't want to move a bunch of useless paper. But in the 7 months I've been here it seems to have followed me here as I look at the pile in my window seat in my bedroom.

But sorting through piles of paper is not high on my list of things to do when the sun is shining outside. But then when its dark, cold and rainy I don't really want to do it then either.

Someone needs to create an Annual Paper Sorting Day, maybe it should be me? Hmmm, any suggestions out there as to what day would be a good one?


The day after I posted the photo on my blog about the rubbish bins the bin men finally came to collect on our street. I read in the paper that the city has finally brought in private contractors to clean the place up. Coincidence?

The bins were emptied but the street was still a mess. All the men did was empty the bins, throw the bags that were scattered around the bins into the now empty bin, emptied that and then left.

So all the bags that had been torn open by the seagulls and dragged all over the street and sidewalks were still there. I had to walk past the rotting carcass of what looked to be an undercooked roast chicken (ewwwwww).

It seems the cleaning up of the actual street is being left to the citizens.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday afternoons

I've found that Edinburgh has not one but two what I would qualify as art house cinema's, the Cameo and the Filmhouse That's not to say they only show foreign or independent film. But they don't tend to show the latest Hollywood blockbuster that is already showing at the big multiplex in some suburban shopping mall.

That's just fine with me.

I have an annual membership at both cinemas and that gets me discounts at the box office, the ability to purchase tickets on-line without a fee, and in the case of the Cameo free tickets to the Sunday double feature. Yes you read that right, free tickets every Sunday.

The Cameo

There is usually some kind of common thread between the two features. Either the actor, director or film genre. Sometimes they will match a current film with something from the past, or they'll show 2 films from the same decade. To be honest it doesn't really matter what the film is.

As you can see from the above shot the theatre has been renovated. The seats are very plush and comfy and you've actually got leg room. No ads or trailers are shown ahead of time, but sometimes one of the cinema staff will say a few words before the film if there is something of interest.

Some weeks the place is packed, the James Bond double feature was sold out. Last weekends Star Trek/Galaxy Quest was close to full. And other weeks it's just the diehards out there and you've got lots of room to spread out. Everyone is well behaved, no issues with someone taking a call on their mobile or talking throughout the film.

My only complaint is that the staff behind the bar and the sweeties counter seem to move in slow motion. It kind of reminded me of the staff at a vegan restaurant in Vancouver called the Naam. You didn't go there for fast service but for the food and relaxed atmosphere. I've taken the same approach at the Cameo. If I'm thinking I might want some popcorn or a pint of ale then I'll get there early to avoid the long queue.

Today I opted for no snacks (in case you were wondering).

So after all that, The Cameo Picturehouse gets to be my 'Thing I Like Today'

Now for a new feature, The Thing I DON'T Like Today

Bin Men work to rule continues

It has been almost a month since the bin men have been on work to rule. The city is not looking so pretty and not smelling very nice either. And the seagulls are becoming even more of a nuisance and noisy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Yes it's been a while...

I admit it. Lost my flow of thought I suppose.

This blog was started as a way to document my experience of moving to a new country. But that was 2 yrs and 9 months ago so how long does one continue to say this is 'new'.

True, I've moved to a new city, Edinburgh, 6 months ago. But it's not quite as exciting a transition as it's just another city 50 miles away.

What is it I should use this space for? I thought of doing the photo blog thing, but I use Flickr for that so it seems like duplication. The travel blog sometimes seems a little dull, kind of like when people ask you over to see their holiday slides and you're trapped for the next 6 hours.

Perhaps I should ask you out there... why do YOU read the Scottish Lemon? What would you like to see more of, less of?

While you are thinking about that, I will post an idea I had today when I was making my dinner.

The Thing I Like Today

Tomato & Basil Bloomer

What is a Bloomer you may ask?

Bloomer refers to a bread shape that is cylindrical, but flat on the bottom with several diagonal slashes across the top. The term most often describes a bread shape popular throughout Britain. Bloomers are made with many types of flour, although various types of wheat flour are the most popular. (at least according to this website it is)

Sainsbury's Tomato & Basil Bloomer

Fresh baked in store at Sainsbury's. It goes well with chili and pasta. It tastes very yummy when soaking up the last of the sauce from the plate. I like to toast it and then just spread a little butter on it.

It's the simple things in life that make me happy

Friday, May 01, 2009

Held Over

Ascension, originally uploaded by sasseymills.

As previously mentioned I had my first ever photography exhibition and the most fabulous Biblio Cafe in Glasgow (the corner of Woodlands Road and Woodlands Drive).

I was showing for the entire month of March. But then as fate would have it the April artist cancelled so I got an extra month out of the deal. Now I find the May artist can't set up until May 7th.

So for those that were meaning to get down and check it out, you've still got time :)

Christmas is only 238 days away after all. Support an artist, buy a print.

Ok enough grovelling, back to your regular schedule program.