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May 31, 2006

Bright Sun-shiney Day

The End I took this photo on Monday. I love how the rainbow sort of crashes into Arthur's Seat in the background. I also love how that drab set of brown buildings in the foreground is where I live. It used to be whiskey warehouses, and you can still see the rails where the trolleys used to go up and down, presumably to the docks. It's really ugly on the outside, but I love my flat. It's big and has window seats and has this suddenly free guest room.

So, Kristi left today, and that whole chapter has been closed. I keep thinking I should feel more than I do, but mostly I just feel a sense of "the end". It's over, there is nothing more to fret about, and yay on that. It was a gorgeous day, and I revelled in it, taking more cow photos, humming my way through the city, and kissing at least one police office and a cabby. I'm not so much happy she's gone as happy that it's over. No more of this purgatory of waiting for her to leave so that I could move on. The last three weeks have been very, very long.

But for all that I enjoyed today, I'm finding myself pondering more my trip to Australia. Had a long talk with a friend today, and it feels like the choices about Aus come down to this: I can either do something fun, or make a smart financial choice. And I'm really at the point where I have to be making those smart finacial choices. Living and working in Australia will give me enough money to support myself and have fun and see as much of that place as I can, but it won't get me ahead. It may even leave me in debt, not a clever thing to have happening when one is thinking about grad school and all that.

I hate these sorts of choices. It feels like if I don't go to Aus, I'll regret it later, but if I do go, I'll regret it later, too, when I'm eating rice and working two jobs again. And heaven knows I don't want to do that.

But on the other hand, I don't know how much of that feeling of fear is because of the amount of emotional pressure I've been under for the past six months to not go. Kristi made it really clear that she would be very unhappy if I went. That she'd feel like she missed out on things in Scotland if I left it before she did. I don't really follow that, but I can't pretend that wasn't there for all this time, and I don't know how much of my constant worries about going to Aus are simply because I have been thinking of *not* going to make life easier for her.

I think, in the end, I'm gonna go because really: if I hate it, I can leave. It's not like there's a law that says I must live a full year in Australia. I can do six months, or three, or even one if that's my fancy. But that little blue bird of financial concerns keeps twittering in my ear.

Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets. What are the taxes on lotto winnings in this country, anyway?

{More cow photos} {all the cow photos}

May 28, 2006

Not Dead, Just Tired

I have had nothing to say lately simply because my new job is taking a lot of energy out of me. But thank you for the kind emails and the like, they made me feel special. *smile*

It's been a busy week work-wise and thus rather boring in terms of blogging. Since I work for some Big Secret Government Body, I obviously can't talk about work at all, except to say that it pays better than what I've been making, and there's no air conditioning. And, it's been leaving me completely exhausted and without energy. But Saturday was fun, in that Don and I went out on a Cow Hunt.

Cow of the Jungle That's right, we saddled up our bus horses and went out on the streets wild plains of Edinburgh, in search of the elusive cow. We complained bitterly that we did not have either cowbow or safarri hats, but armed with my trusty camera, we got several shots at the various cows. I understand there's about 100 of them, and I think I saw around 35. So I'm planning another outing to get more in the near future.

(Needless to say, I have the song "Cows with Guns" in my head right now.)

My understanding is this: It's a charity thing. At the end of the Cow Parade, they'll be auctioned off. I presume they'll end up in a lot of banks and similar businesses, taking up space. I can't imagine they'll end up in a lot of private homes, as they're... well... big and bovine, and not really a good conversation piece, I'd expect.

{Entire set of Cow Parade Photos}

Other than that... well, I got to see the Canadian band Arrogant Worms on Wednesday night, and that was a blast. The whole place was filled with Canadians, although I noted very few with Canadian pins, flags, decals, or shirts. I don't know why I find the behaviour so annoying, I didn't use to. I guess it's because I've only ever noticed Canadians doing it. I don't see a lot of people carefully stitching Australian flags on their luggage, or pinning New Zealand pins on their lapels, but Canadians seem to feel a need to identify themselves as Not!American.

But then, the first sentence I could speak with fluency in Chinese was "I'm not American, I'm Canadian", so really, I have no cause to say anything. But I'm getting more of a sense, I think, of how it appears to other travellers.

Ah well, enough of that. To each his own. I am curious, though, what other people think of it.

Other than that, I've got my time off sorted for my trip to Tintagel. The job allows me flexitime, which is some fancy way of saying if I work late on some days, I can take those hours out on others, and that's nice. I'm going to Cornwall for three days instead of two, and I've got it rather well planned. Exeter, Tintagel, Penzance, Land's End, Plymouth, and maybe Saint Ives. Mostly, I want to go to Penzance because I believe, in my soul, there will be pirates there, and Saint Ives because of that riddle I learned when I was a kid... You know, "When I was going to Saint Ives, I met a man with seven wives...."

I hope I don't meet anyone with seven wives. I'd be worried and start counting things, and it would all be bad.

May 15, 2006

Elevated

I started the new (permanent) job today and if there's one strange thing about working there, it's the scary elevator that I swear is older than my country. It has a gate on the inside, and a gate on the outside, and you can see through it. I'm convinced it's going to lead to my death one day, but I suppose I shouldn't complain - I work in a transformed Georgian Townhouse (and I must get pics, because oh my, do I ever work in a posh neighbourhood) in the old servant's quarters, and walking up four flights of stairs several times a day is not something I'm keen on. Cuz me? Lazy.

Also, both the staff coffee machine and the photocopier are smarter than me, and beat me in epic battles today. The coffee machine takes these... *things*, and they do *things* and later on, out comes hot chocolate. I don't know how it works, but things pop out, and I'm happy.

But yeah, the place I'm working in is absolutely gorgeous. I will not bore everyone with an Edinburgh history lesson, but I will say that the area was built to impress the wealthy in the 1700s, and that I'd have to sell off significant parts of my soul in order to afford one floor in one of these town houses. There are these huge windows that dominate entire rooms, and it's beautiful. I'm really enjoying it.

I gotta say, working in a building that has that much history to it is exciting to my little Canadian mind. *grin*

In unrelated news, I'm thinking of being late to the bandwagon and making up one of those "100 things in 1000 days" lists. I have a hankering to get a bit more order into my random travelling, and having some goals with some deadlines might be helpful there. (For example, I've committed myself to going to Burning Man sometime in the next five years. Which means I may finally stop talking about it and actually do something....)

Yesterday was Mother's Day in North America. I called my mom, much to her confusion. Maybe I should call home either more often, or less...

May 14, 2006

Memory Lane

Savoir I went to Durham on the most beautiful day to see Durham. The sky was perfectly clear, it was just warm enough to make the day good without being too hot, and although the castle was closed (and I'm still bitter!), the Cathedral wasn't very busy. I understand that they offer tours during the summer (so I may need to go back), but since they are "too far North" to get lots of tourists, the place was depressingly empty.

It's a lovely Cathedral, truly, but it has a sense of weight and heavy that the other Cathedrals I've been to (that being York and Westminster in the UK, for those keeping track) didn't seem to have. It seems to weigh really heavily, and I'm not sure how much that has to do with the colour of the stone, and how much with the construction. It's duller inside, and I get the impression that the stones haven't been scrubbed. I wonder, though, if it's not just that they used a darker stone. Hard to say.

Again, I have no pictures of the inside of the Cathedral, but then, I'm not sure they would have turned out. Even with the bright sunshine outside, it didn't seem to really come into the Cathedral very much. Again, that sense of weight, I think. It didn't have the light that Yorkminster did.

Don't get me wrong - the sense of history in this place was much stronger for me than in York. I think that it was because of the weighty-ness.

The Top!But, enough of that. I climbed the top of the tower (something I regret not doing in York), all 300-someodd steps, and the view really was spectacular. My favorite part may have been how green everything was, since I heard it snowed in Edmonton just a few days before, and I am petty about enjoying good warm weather when it's cold back in Canada. It gave some spectuacular views of the city, and the river, and I really loved Durham.

I keep comparing it to York for a lot of reasons, not the least being because of the Cathedrals. I think they were started within a couple of decades of each other, and each has a lot of important history to it regarding the Neville family, the War of the Roses, stuff like that.

One of the biggest contrasts for me, though, was the way they've treated their older sections of the city. The little streets (would they be snickleways?) in Durham wound their way up the hill to the Cathedral, with alleys dropping off into stairsways down to the river, and a real sense that this is the way the streets ran back when the Cathedral was the center of the city. York has the same sort of thing, called The Shambles, filled with cunning little shops and an open-air market. In contrast, Durham's was filled with name-brand shops, generic places I could find in any mall, and I did find that a bit disappointing. It felt, frankly, like it wasn't trying, and I wonder if that's because York is very touristed, and Durham seems not to be.

CastleI think going back to Durham in the summer wouldn't be a mistake. I'd love to see the castle from the inside (apparently you can stay there if you book in advance - it's a student dorm during the school year, and don't you wish you lived in a Castle during Uni? I'm telling you, I wouldn't have gotten anything done, but I would have been very happy), and take the tour of the Cathedral.

...

I'm trying really hard to get across how much I loved Durham, but I don't think I'm doing a very good job. I haven't had much to say this week because there's been a lot of upheavals in my life lately. Kristi's going back to Canada at the end of the month, and I am so emotionally, physically, and financially drained from her stay here that I have no sense of perspective on it anymore. I feel like her spending the last 2 1/2 months here was a waste, not just of her time, but mine, all the energy I put into making her time here a reality for the past nine months. It's hard to be enthused about a trip I took over a week ago when everything since can be divided up into "before" and "after". The trip to Durham was before, and the writeup after, Kristi decided to walk out on several months of backstory. And whereas I can admit that living overseas is certainly not for everyone, it's very difficult right now to accept "I'm sorry" as compensation for six months of putting my life in limbo and three months of turning it upside down.

I think she made the right choice for her, don't get me wrong. But it leaves me wondering what the hell the point was, anyway.

She leaves for good in a couple of weeks, on a Wednesday. I'm planning a trip to Tintagel for that weekend. I'm telling myself she wouldn't have liked it anyway.

{all photos from Durham}

May 7, 2006

Durham!

So, Durham!

The Good:

There's this Cathedral! And it's on a hill! And there are these great streets! And I got to the top of the tower (300-some odd steps)! And the choir at Evensong was freakin' devine!

The Bad:

The casle, which doubles as the university, was closed due to exams. The library is under construction and parts of it you can't get in to. Edinburgh is not actually part of "Northern England", and thus they won't let me take out books.

The Ugly:

Running up all the hills to the rail station to catch the train because Evensong ran longer than it has anywhere else (it was their short service) and I was terrified that I'd miss the train. I think I died.

Overall, it was an amazingly good trip, although the big thing I'm having raptures over right now is that Margery has not only been *in* this historically important library that has tons of things and important books and ancient texts that are actually ancient texts and not copies of them... *goes into spasms of historical excacty*

Apparently they give you special pencils in the library because you're not allowed your own pencils or pens, and these pencils won't damage the ancient texts.

And this place is a University! Why can't *I* go to University in Durham?

...

(I mean, besides the point that it's really really expensive and the stuff I really want to study they don't offer there.)

Anyway. There will be photos a bit later (gots to go pick up Kristi at the airport) and some meta-commentary about the streets of Durham, I'm sure, and some stuff about Richard III, because isn't there always stuff about Richard III when I spend too much time in Northern England?

(I was just looking at my last few blog entry titles. I'm a bit obsessed with the exclamation mark this week, aren't I?)

May 5, 2006

Trained!

So, the looking for a rich sugar daddy thing didn't work out, but that's okay. I found out that if I buy my tickets in advance, the price is a lot less than it is day-of. So, I'm totally spending the day in Durham tomorrow, checking out the Cathedral (and a castle... I'm actually not sure if there's a castle in Durham, I just believe it in my soul) and spending the day just being all touristy. I'll even be there late enough to catch Evensong, which is great.

I'll look for the sugar daddy, though. Cuz really, I'm getting kinda used to being unemployed.

In unrelated questions: Does anyone know why there'd be Fireworks on Wednesday evening? I was sitting eating ice cream and chocolate at this lovely restaurant (to celebrate the new job and all that), looking out over the North Sea, when these fireworks started up. As much as I'd like to think they were in celebration of said job, I sincerely doubt it - but I don't know why they happened.

Oh well, life's mysterious and all that.

Got to head to bed. Yay Durham!

May 4, 2006

Durham

So, after looking at my finances it seems I can either go to Amsterdam or eat next week, not both, and although I could probably stand to lose a few pounds, I might not survive the beating I'd receive if I made that tradeoff. Ah well. It's not that I'm hurting financially, it's just that I like having over a certain amount in my bank account, and this whole Unemployed Mess thing has really dug into my savings. (Not the least of which because, when I'm unemployed, I want to drink a lot more coffee in coffee shops. To get out of the flat, you see. I even went to a movie, which I never do.)

Right now I'm toying with the idea of going to Durham for a day or two. It's cheaper, and I'd get to take the train, and I'm fairly certain there's more than enough to do in Durham to entertain myself for a good two days. There is, of course, a Cathedral. And a Castle. And other things, too, but really, it's the UK, of course there's a church and a castle. That's just what they do here. It's like Western Canada and curling rinks.

The Cathedral has Evensong, and I'm rather determined to hit as many Cathedrals in the UK as I can and compare Evensong. Right now, the best is still at Westminster, but my appraisal of Saint Paul's might have been ruined by my horrible coughing fit in the middle of the service.

(I understand they filmed parts of Elizabeth in Durham Cathedral and called it a castle. Thus, I *really* want to see it. Because I am snarky about historically inaccurate movies. Did I mention I went to see Tristan and Isolde? Did I mention I was almost kicked out of the theatre? Okay, maybe that last part didn't happen, but it should have.)

But seriously, I would really like to go to Durham, it's not too far from here and it's probably not horribly expensive, but I'm still pretty leary about spending the money. Obviously what I need is a rich and indulgent boyfriend/sugar daddy who will take me such places just to watch my face light up, or for my parents to die and leave me absolutely everything except the cats, which they can leave to my brother.

Sadly, this isn't likely to happen this week.

Oh well. I think I may just pop down to the train station and take another look at ticket prices anyway. I want to travel, and staring on the 15th, I'll have a lot less time on my hands to do it with. (But then I'll have money. Isn't it always the way?)

May 2, 2006

Ghosties!

The flatmate and I went out yesterday to take a Ghost Tour. A *totally different and in no way similar* to any of the other Ghost Tours I've taken in Edinburgh.

Actually, this time I mean it. It was a lot of fun and well done, except for one minor hitch: the key broke in the Covenantor's Prison, so we didn't get a chance to go into the area with the poltergiest we went along to see. But I was pleasantly frightened of the wandering around in a graveyard at night, so it was a good evening, and we get a free tour later, presumably on a night when the key won't break.

Things are going well over all. I will admit to getting some ghoulish glee out of the fact that she's gone down to visit family for the week, thus freeing me to sit naked in my living room and eat cheesy poofs till I turn orange if that's what I want to do, but mostly it just means I feel free to do more stuff without guilt.

Like, get a job. Which, I apparently did today. Yay! Start time is a bit up in the air, but it's real work, with real money, and I'm very excited!

Going out to Durham Cathedral on Friday to celebrate. Cuz I'm all about the big monolithic religious structures.

May 1, 2006

Cinder-Anna

I had a fabtabulous time at Beltane last night. I'm sore and achy (from dancing too much) and my throat is killing me (from shouting and cheering too much) and I think I managed to get a sunburn. Yay!

Seriously, though, I should preface this with I can totally see why this wouldn't be everyone's thing, and I can tell how easy it would be to go and have a horrible time. There were whole minutes that passed where I thought "Man, this is... yeah." But then I pushed myself to go out and find things and it was great.

The night starts out on the ruins up on Calton Hill. The "Green Man" is lead out, along with several other characters who do some sort of ritual (I could only see parts of it) until they light the fire. They take this ball of... something... and spin it around in circles until it catches. Once it gets going, they light a bunch of torches and start lighting the big runes and stuff behind the performers. Then, more torch bearers and drummers come out and line the ruin, getting everything up into a fever pitch before the Queen of May and her White Women appear. Then, the procession is led out and everything becomes insanely chaotic.

My understanding is they expected 12,000 people up on the Hill last night, and it was definately packed with people. It was hard to see things before I figured out what was going on. I tried to follow the procession a few times, but got crushed in the crowd, then headed towards the area with one of the stages and one of the bonfires. There was this energy in the crowd, but no one seemed to know what was going on or what to expect.

I know I missed things I would have loved, like the May pole and some of the Points (Earth, Air, and Water - I think I found Fire), but what I did see was so... wow. It was wow. *grin*

I managed to trail behind a group of drummers in orange with strange things on their backs (no idea what they were - I wonder if they just sorta showed up and did things?) to the stage that I *think* was the Fire Point. I watched them for a bit, and they were great - the drum beat just went through you, and the dancing was chaotic and fun. This one girl jumped up on stage with them and started doing some great dancing along - very bellydance like, but in this more tribal way. I'm sorry, words can't get this across at all. It was wild and crazy and chaos and fun.

Then the Procession came. Lots of torch bearers that pushed us back from the stage for the dancing on the grass. I had this constant fear of being lit on fire. By accident, of course. I'm pretty sure they don't do that on purpose, even at Beltane.

(The problem at this point is the *very* drunk people that were right in front of me. One of them was this absolute ass of a man who kept arguing with the torchbearers, with the stewards, and with anyone else around him, when he wasn't grabbing at the breasts of the women in the area. The other was this drunk girl that was encouraging him, but it was really obvious that she'd just do anything that anyone around her said. I missed a lot of things because of these two, and it was annoying, but I didn't want to move because - well, to where? I was *right* in front of the stage, and no one else was moving.)

I did the the May Queen alight to the stage, and the Green Man's attempts at grabbing her before their "wedding". I saw him sacrificed while the Queen watched, impassively. They threw his garmets of green leaves to the fire, to be burned. And then, the Queen made him reborn, not at the old Green Man, covered in summer's old clothes, but as the new Sapling, young and vital and full of energy.

He lept and danced, and it was beautiful.

Afterwards, the procession headed up to the Final fire to be lit, the huge bonfire that roared and burned above us. I missed the firelight (I went to Beltane and missed every single fire lighting!), but I got to watch the Red Men (and women! - the red beasties?) dance and do fire dancing and acrobatics. I can totally see how this could have led to orgies wild nights of dancing till dawn. The firedancing was amazing - the guy in front of me was great! (By this time, the drunken people had left. Aw, pity.) Dancing with the fire, with fire sticks, with these fire balls on chains... it was great. Everyone in this part was painted red and basically naked, including the women. The drum beat just went right through you, again, and it was... wow. It was wow.

About then is when I realised I had lost my shoe.

I'm not quite sure where I lost my shoe, or when I lost my shoe, but I did, in fact, lose a shoe. It's somewhere up on Calton Hill. I feel all Cinder-Anna like: maybe a Prince will find it and turn me into a Princess? I'd make a great Princess.

Anyway, if you see my shoe, do let me know.

Beltane was spectacular. I understand they do something for Samhuinn as well, on October 31st, down the Royal Mile.

Well, I know what I'm doing for Halloween this year.

{Pictures that are *totally not mine*, as mine didn't turn out, are here, and they are *amazing*.}

About May 2006

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

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