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March 2006 Archives

March 30, 2006

Counting Down by Threes

I'm sick. I hate being sick. I'm not even really missing work out for it, since they ran out of work for me again. Ah well, at least I'm useful, right?

But, despite being sick, I am counting down till Monday in the wee hours of the morning. We're heading out to London for three days, two nights of crazy London Hyjinks. I've got a schedule worked out for what I want to do, and it's better than the last time because I have some clearer idea of what London is: It's not a city, it's a freakin' country all to itself, and you're not going to see it all in three days.

We're definately going to see the Elgin Marbles, we're taking another London Walk (Jack the Ripper!), going back to hear Evensong at Westminster, and checking out China Town. On my own, I'm looking forward to the Tower of London, taking a boat tour up the Thames (if I can), and probably a few other things as well. My sick-addled brain can't process everything right now.

I just want it to be Monday now! I'm sure I'll be better by then, right?

March 28, 2006


A-hah! Everyone's asleep! *jumps on computer*

Note to self: Three people, one computer... not so much. And I'm only able to get on right now because there's a bus strike today and I'm waiting for a cab to work. So tempted to just call in "too annoyed to bother".

It's been a busy week {see here}, but I managed to creep in a bit of time for myself. Very early Friday morning, I crept out of the flat whilst everyone was still asleep, and hopped the bus to Roslin, to see the famous Roslynn Chapel. I got there early enough to mostly avoid crowds, and it was fantastic.

Roslynn is an odd place, in terms of Chapels. It's completely covered in carvings in the stonework, without a single space free, and I don't recall seeing that anywhere else. A lot of the "faces" within it have real personality, and there is, of course, much speculation on what it all means.

My theory: Someone with a lot of money and a desire to be ostentatious. It's not that I don't like the theory of a secret code or hidden meanings, I just think that people are inclined to read a lot into things, and it's not always necessary.

But, Rosslyn. It's beautiful, and I think my favourite part is the ceiling. It's carved up into stars, like a canopy of heaven, and I just was awed at the idea of people doing that. I love to look up at ceilings of churches and cathedrals, mostly because I love how the ceiling supports look, but this was so different.

I want to post up photos, but I don't know how much time I have left. Maybe later. Now that I'm not doing the Con stuff anymore, I have a bit more time on my hands, and this should help. Gah, I *miss* updating my blog.

Best part about making it out to Rosslyn: I now own a mug that says "The Davinci Cod". It has a fish. I am content.

March 22, 2006

Worth Every Step....

The first, and most important, things you need to know about Stirling are these:

1) You can get amazing cell phone reception on top of the Wallace Monument.

2) I am afraid of heights.

3) 246!

What that says is "I have climbed the 246 Steps!", and damn it, I deserved that medal afterwards!

Stirling was lovely, but the rest of my week has been absolutely insane. I don't think I'll do this again. That is, have people move in, plan a massive Quest for a Con, attempt to keep work under some form of control, help with lots of outings, and then I edited out the rest of this sentence in order to keep my life sane (no, it was nothing bad). It's all just too much for one week, you know? I am, in a word, exhausted, and the week isn't over yet.

Crowning GloryBut, Stirling. We mostly just did two things: The Castle (of course), and the Wallace Monument. And not the one with Mel Gibson, but the one at the top of a very nice hill. My understanding is that it was built from public subscription, truly Of The People of Scotland. It's very well designed, with rooms every so often on the way up so you can take a break from the tiny stairs and learn a bit about Wallace. Kinda over the top, and the fact that the "Hall of Scottish Heroes" has no women in it kinda bothered me, but that's just me.


God, I'm really having a hard time gathering my thoughts about this. I feel like I should be gushing, you know? I went to Stirling! I climbed a monument! I've been planning this trip for months, looking forward to it, trying to coordinate my schedule with my friend in Stirling so we could at least hook up for coffee and hang out, and all I feel right now is exhausted. I want to be more supportive of Joe and Kristi and Moving To Scotland and yay and all that, but all I've got is a lot of exhaution and feeling confused by it all. I mean, to me, the moving thing wasn't that hard, and it really seems to be throwing Kristi for a huge loop. I'm finding it so hard to be supportive of her, because I can't really see what the problem is. And I feel so bad about that, like I should be better, and I just can't be. It feels like constant, never-ending stress between trying to get them into some form of "settled" enough to be comfortable, trying to plan this Con thing, trying to plan outtings around my incredibly varying work schedule, and doing all the other things that one just does when one is alive.

I mean, I loved it, but I just can't write about it right now, because I feel like I'm wasting time I should be spending doing Something More Important.


I've never felt this out of sorts about living overseas since I started it all.

I promised myself when I started this blog that I would write about the bad stuff as well as the Great Grand Adventures, and so I do express when I'm feeling out of sorts and culture shocked. Right now, I'm feeling very much "other"... I mean, I know expats who have just jumped into it with both feet, but I only know them through the internet. I was kinda expecting that, for Kristi, it wouldn't be that hard - she has me here, she's got the 'net whenever she wants it, she's been hearing about Scotland every day for months, there's someone handy to introduce her to people, help her find a job, help her with her paperwork, all that jazz, and I'm confused that it doesn't seem as easy for it. It makes me feel like... like I'm the strange one, you know? Like I never formed the right sort of attachments to notice them missing when I came here.

I don't think badly of her, by any stretch. I guess I just want to be the right sort of friend, and right now, I'm not.

Anna at the Top!

So, consider this photo to be my thousand words on how great it was to be on the top of the Wallace Monument. The view, I'm telling you, is worth every step.


March 20, 2006

Silver Linings

So, on the one hand, I'm not working tomorrow because they ran out of work. Again. Still. Arg.

On the other hand... I'm going to Stirling! I'm going to Stirling! YAY!

I've been attempting to get out to Stirling for months, off and on, and other than that one time I went through it and got the photo of the Passion of the Mel, I haven't made it. But now, I get to! Yay! It's like Edinburgh, with Castles and stuff, and the Wallace momument, and I can't wait.

I'm sorry, sometimes I get as giddy as a little girl.

March 18, 2006

Turning Green

I had this great post planned for yesterday, all about how shocking to my naive Canadian eyes the drinking laws are here, but instead I went out for deep fat fried haggis last night.

It was a blast. The streets last night around the Mile were packed with people, and we ended up in this bar at a good enough time to get some shots of "baby guiness" (tastes like China Whites), hear a tiny bit of live music, and shake hands and laugh with and kiss many many drunk boys. And this was after we'd started out with way too much giggling back at the flat.

But the highlight of the evening was heading across to the Chippy afterwards. Myles was with us and decided he needed to teach Kristi everything about Scottish food all at once, so he was babbling away at her about chippies and chippy sauce and deep fat fried this and what to trust when eating at the places and the whole nine yards.

At first we were just gonna get some Chips and Cheese, but I really wanted something deep fat fried, that was going to kill me young, and that would horrify Kristi. And the shop didn't disappoint: deep fat fried haggis.

It was... um... disgusting really really good and everyone should have some! honest! It looked like this big flat batter-covered fish type thing, and was all greasy and fatty on the inside, with a token amount of not!grease. It was an experience.

The chips that came with it were just to soak up the fat, I assure you.

The evening was fun, I'd do it again. I'll give Saint Patrick's Day in Scotland an A.

There was no green beer, though.

March 16, 2006

Hark, hear the bells...

Kristi and Joe arrive in two hours and 15 minutes.

It's snowing.

Coincidence? I think not.

March 15, 2006

Healthy Gums

So, funny story.

I hang out at the University of Edinburgh a lot for various reasons. There are a lot of signs up everywhere for various call-in help centres that students can call, and one is a Gum Clinic: One for Males, one for females.

"Huh," I thought to myself. "I wonder why there would be a gum clinic divided like that. Maybe... are there different things about teeth and gums for men and women? Maybe college girls here are just more... comfortable talking about their teeth problems with another woman? I don't know."

I had this thought about once a month or so, never really thinking much about it.

Fast forward to this week. I'm still working at the medical clinic, and one of the doctors says "Ah, Anna, we all love that spark of humour you bring into our day."

I pipe up with my old standby of "Everybody loves me! I should go to an STD clinic!"

The doctor laughs, then says, "But they don't call them that... you could go to the gum clinic."

"Gum clinic?"

"Yeah... Genital and Urinary Medicine."




"Oh... is that what that meant."

"What did you think it meant?"

"I just thought that people in Scotland were trying to get over that perception that everyone has really awful teeth here."

I love being a foreigner. However, I did manage to brighten everyone's day.

* * *

Joe and Kristi are here in the morning. I have no energy to get my blog sorted. So tired.

Unrelated to that: I am apparently the Travel-Rants Travel Blog of the Day today. Wow!

And I do love to travel! Just... not today. Today is sleep day of the day. *grin*

The Passion of the Mel

The Passion of the MelRandom Fact: They do have a statue of Mel Gibson done up as William Wallace in Stirling.

Random Fact 2: It has cages put around it at night and has a lot of CCTV cameras pointed at it. Seems there were a *lot* of vanadalism attempts on it when it was first put up.

That somehow made me feel better about it.

It's kinda hard sometimes to tell how ironic all the Mel Gibson/William Wallace stuff is around here. I've seen pencil sketches of "Wallace" as Gibson, and seen people selling off replica swords from Braveheart and telling people it's a replica of Wallace's sword.

I suspect that a lot of it is just "let's fleece the tourists". But I could be wrong. I mean, Wallace is a hero, and what's wrong with appreciating that?

(This brings me back to thinking about Louis Riel, our Canadian revolutionary. I was thinking we could con Gibson into doing a biopic of Riel, right? I mean, we could change a few facts around, skip the bits that he spent in sanatarium in the US, maybe toss in some extra romance... we could call it Riel-ity Bites.)

(Yes, I waited all week to type that.)

I went through Stirling on that Skye tour I took, but didn't actually get up to the Wallace Monument itself. This statue (carved by a man who was getting heart surgery when the move came out, and felt that the movie helped his recovery, and carved this in tribute) is at the base of the hill the Monument is on. I do want to get up there, but I have a friend in Stirling I keep meaning to do it with. We just... haven't gotten around to it yet.

Ironic, isn't it? I can travel hundres of miles to see something, but can't make the hour-long journey to Stirling without adult supervision.

* * *

Two points of unrelated news:

1) Thanks for the input on the layout. I need to change at least a few things, and will be working on that later.

2) I'm taking a half day off work today to panic about Kristi and Joe, and then a half day off work tomorrow to pick up Kristi and Joe. In between, I thought I'd panic more. It'll be fun!


Kill me?

March 13, 2006

State of the Blog

So, yes, I finally got around to changing the layout/template thingy. Please let me know if you hate it, or if you can't read something, or whatever, as I'm still pondering putting it back exactly as it was.

Continue reading "State of the Blog" »

I Think It's Gonna Rain Today

Apparently the rest of Scotland got dumped on in terms of snow over the past few days. Edinburgh, of course, got a couple of flakes and that was it, so I had no idea until I was reading the paper this morning and there were horror stories out of Glasgow and Aberdeen. So I guess I can't mock all of Scotland for not being able to handle the cold. Just Edinburgh.

I just found it really interesting. The rail service shut down in some places, and the main road between Scotland and England was closed, or so I heard.

It reminds me a lot of living in Vancouver whenever they got dumped on. Absolute chaos for two days, and then... well, everyone got over it.

Joe and Kristi are moving in on Thursday. Please watch me panic.

March 12, 2006

Mother's Day


It seems Mother's Day here is earlier than it is back home. Here, it's in March, in Canada, it's in May.

I wonder if this means I have to call my mom on both days.

March 11, 2006

The List(s)

10 Places I want to go in Scotland Before I Leave

1. The Channel Islands: because who doesn't want to go to a place a cow is named after? Go Guernsey!

2. Rosslyn: Before the freakin' movie about the place comes out.

3. Alnwick: Because it's close to a bunch of places I want to go, and some funky castles and ruined abbeys (of course).

4. Middleham: Because I am a Richard III fangirl and want to see the place. Maybe it'll be better than that damned Richard III museum in York.

5. Jedburgh: There's a ruined border abbey there (of course), and I think if I get there I will have collected the whole set of ruined border abbeys.

6. London: I could claim this is a place I've already been, but that's like saying you've been to Canada because you hit the airport in Toronto.

7. Land's End: Because I want to see Land's End.

8. Snowdonia and Area in Wales: Purty purty mountains. I like mountains.

9. Durham: There's a Cathedral! And a castle!

10. Inverness: I want to find Nessie. We'll be good friends... until she eats me.

11. Stirling. Cuz it's Little Edinburgh. And has a big statue of Mel Gibson that they need to lock up at night to keep it from being defaced. Who wouldn't want to go to Stirling?

11 Places Other People Want Me To See Before I Leave Scotland

1. Tintagel: "It's strongly tied to the Authurian legends...."

2. Knights Tournament: "It looks cool!"

3. London: "It's London. You can't do the Britain without doing London. I think it's a low."

4. Carlisle: "Access to Hadrian's Wall." (This is where we devolved into an email discussion about how Romans are evil copy-cats.)

5. Faerie Glen (Uig): "It's very moving."

6. Iona: "It's supposed to be very peaceful."

7. Nottingham: "The Robin Hood myths, amongst other things." (This is where we devolved into an email discussion about how much people claiming Robin Hood was based off William Wallace annoys me.)

8. Middleham: "You are a Richard III fangirl."

9. Arthur's Seat: "It's got amazing views." (I've been there, though... but I'll climb it again. Really.)

10. Ravenglass: "A great deal of Roman history. Also, Raven."

11. Norwich: Okay, I wanted to go to Norwich because there are cheap airfares. When asked what I'd do there, I said "It's in the UK - there will be a castle and a cathedral, I'm certain." I was right.

5 Places I Want To Go Back To Before I Leave Scotland

1. York

2. Linlithgow

3. Lindisfarne

4. Skye

5. Bath

What's Been On My Mind

On My Mind

Been reading lots of travel-log type things (and getting really frustread with Ewan MacGregor's whining in "Long Way Round"), reading up on Australia and working overseas, fallen in love with a book called "Work Your Way Around The World" (with bonus paragraph on how to get a job in Antartica!). I also got a globe/beach volleyball for whapping around the flat when I get too bored.

Basically, I'm thinking lots about what I want to see, and where I want to go, and what The Future will bring.

Can't sleep: future will eat me.

March 9, 2006

Radio Silence

And so you say, "Anna, you haven't updated your blog in a while, are you okay?"

And I said, "Yeah, I've just had a lot on my mind."

Basically the past week has been wrapped around getting things here ready for when Kristi moves in and Joe visits for a month. Trying to get things arranged so there's enough room for two extra people in the flat, fretting a lot about the hot water supply, and providing lots of advice.

There is a Con I'm running a big game for in two weeks, and work has been... um... work. (I have been working, and it looks like they've figured out a way of keeping me busy. This has, unfortunately, lead to my hands swelling up from the typing. I really need to figure out a way around that.)

I have a couple of entries I want to write up, and I have a major template change I've been working on. But tonight I have meetings and tomorrow night I have a different meeting, and then I just want to sleep.

They leave on Friday, but they're stopping in Toronto, so they don't get here till next Thursday in the morning. For all that I'm looking forward to it, I'm pretty nervous about how it's going to affect things here.

March 3, 2006

Just between you and me, I don't think it counts as real snow if it's already started to melt by the time I get out of work for lunch, you know?

March 2, 2006

Red Skye at Night

Sailor's Delight I've been having troubles writing about Skye, figuring out which pictures and stories to post, and it took me a bit to figure out why. I'm so used to seeing things like ruined abbeys, fallen cathedrals, castles that don't exist anymore, and those are easy to write about. I can write about getting there, or what it looked like, or how it felt. But this tour was different, and not the least because most of the beauty is in the landscape, and not in individual places.

So, what should I say? I stayed in a place called Kyleakin, a tiny village with three pubs and a couple of youth hostels. We stayed there two nights, spending the day in between driving around Skye. They call it the "Winged Isle", but I have a hard time seeing why. I guess if you squint when you look at the map, you can see a pair of wings and the like.

FallingWhat I remember most about Kyleakin was how incredibly still it was... you could hear the lap of the ocean at the coast, the way the air moved through the village, anyone coming up close to you. I remember looking up at the sky, seeing a million stars.

I remember the mountains, and the sudden realisation that I'd never seen mountains outside of Canada before. They looked odd to me, because I kept looking for familiar peaks and not seeing them. I spent a few years living in Hinton, and a summer in Japser, and it's strange to see snow-caps that aren't Roche Miette.

A lot of people have been saying to me "Your descriptions of the Highlands makes me want to go there." I'm rather torn, though.

I mean, on the one hand, I could probably go back up there and live, maybe see Loch Ness every morning. I could walk around in a town like Kyleakin, or Inverness, or any other place up there, and see the mountains every day, and look up and see the stars every night.

I suspect, though, that I'd forget to keep looking up after a few months, and that makes me sad.

But I'll go again, soon, I'm certain.

March 1, 2006


I make jokes all the time that you don't actually meet people from Edinburgh in Edinburgh, and with a bit of a stretch I could claim that the majority of my friends here in Scotland are from someplace else: Ireland, England, Australia, Canada... Very few actually Scottish people in my circle.

So meeting a very nice girl a few days ago who was actually from Scotland (Aberdeen, where the men where kilts and the sheep run in fear *grin*)was a lot of fun. Especially when she told me about her experiences in Canada.

"What drove me nuts," she said, "was when people would insist on telling me they were Scottish. 'Oh, you're Scottish? I'm Scottish too!' No, you're not. You're Canadian, and there's nothing wrong with that. I wouldn't mind be Canadian, except for the poutine. Do you all have to eat that?"

(I miss poutine -- it's french fries with cheese and gravy, except yummy.)

This ended up in a conversation about how I moved to Scotland to see boys in kilts (and they're mostly tourists, damn it!), and how people in Scotland feel when they see tourists in kilts. "It was great at first - you know, it's kinda sweet the way people want to do something Scottish when they're here."

"Yeah," said her boyfriend. "And we got money for it, when we sold them. Until they started making all the kilts in India. Now it's just annoying."

I get asked a lot when I'm here if I have Scottish ancestry. I just shrug and say, "Who knows? I'm Canadian." If I get pressed on it, I tell them we were Vandals, and we sacked Rome. I'm not terribly concerned about where my family came from, I'm more concerned about where we are right now. I don't really get the seemingly mystical connection people think they have with Scotland if their ancestors left this place behind. I mean, I get that it's interesting, but I don't really see how it's important in chosing where to go on vacation, or where to spend a year of your life.

In unrelated news, that job I worked myself out of last week? Called me back this week, and two days later, I am out of a job again. Turns out they expected me to be able to type between 10 and 15 reports a day. I type 26 to 28. They don't have enough work for me.


(I just gotta ask, though - how can you be from a country that makes deep fat fried mars bars, but fear poutine?)

(Oh, and for the person who asked, and didn't leave an email address for me to reply: Caledonia)

About March 2006

This page contains all entries posted to Anna Overseas in March 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2006 is the previous archive.

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