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June 2006 Archives

June 28, 2006

One Year Later

I've been here for a year.

I don't know how the time crept up on me so quickly. I was aware of it, of course, but in a distant sort of way. End of June = One Year in Scotland. Sorta like how Christmas is really far away, and then boom it's December 21st and I've forgotten to buy presents.

And here I am.

It feels good.

I love Scotland. I love the lifestyle to which I've become accustomed here - I travel so much, I know these great people, I'm content with life in general. It seems so good right now, and I realised the other day that I'm not waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think I've come home after searching for it in other people so much. Here it is.

So, a Year in Review....

My first post on this side of the ocean was on June 21. That month I spent a lot of time doing touristy things, which makes sense since I was living on the Mile, in a hostel. I actually look back very fondly on that now, but at the time, I really thought I would go insane. Especially after I got the night job. I had such a hard time dealing with sleeping in a hostel during the day. But the people were so friendly. I occasionally run into people I met there, and although we can't always remember each other's names, we do remember each other, and where we're from. Aussie girl is working in a book store, and the other two Canadians went back to Spain after the summer. I was back there and used them to take my tour of Skye, and the person behind the counter recognized me, and that was cool.

I got a mobile phone right away, and I have to admit it was the smartest thing I did that week. I also got a mail box, which has been nice and useful but occasionally annoying. The guy behind the counter is an angel, but I wish I got more mail to justify the expense. (Yes, that was a whine, just ignore it.)

July was all about hating the heat and protests and the like. That was G8 and Make Poverty History. I managed to avoid them (still working the job that I began to loath pretty darn fast), except for the bit that I was still living on the Mile. Other than that, it was okay. That was the month I got introduced to the orangest drink in the whole world, Irn-Bru, and warned by the people I'm renting my flat through that it stains everything and never comes out. I found my flat that month, and eventually got a paycheque sorted out so I had a lot of money finally. And I had my first birthday overseas. There were deep fat fried mars bars - they really exist!

Women Talking
August was the month I started travelling, and fell in love. Lindsifarne I can never stop talking about, of course, as it really did feel like finding home to get there. I also ducked off to Paris for a long weekend that month, renewing my love affair with that city. That's where I cam up with the cunning plan of being an international pastry thief.... I really want to go back again, unsurprisingly. I was talking to a friend about it, and he pointed out that I want to go back everywhere. I'm so fickle, I think everywhere I visit is where I should have moved. Well, except Cardiff, which is nice enough, but really is Little Canada. I'm sure the rest of the country isn't so... Canadian.

Daisy, Daisy, Give me your Answer Moo!August was also the Fringe, and Apocalypse the Music with the cow that looked like Levi. Wow, am I ever looking forward to the Fringe this year... I think I may try to book some time off and just revel in it. I suspect it's even better if you're not exhausted when wandering around.

Oh, I think July and August were both bad months for feeling homesick. It was also the month I realised I wanted juice mix *really really lots*. (Margery & Raven have both sent me some, because they rock, and Joe brought some when he came across. I have a bag I'm bringing to Canada that will come back to Scotland full of juice mix. Because I love the idea of that bag being search in customs.)

September was when I quit my job. I have never made a better choice in my life - I got paid at the latest job today and this having money thing kicks ass and takes names. That whole panic pretty much dominated the month, though. I tend to be like that. *grin* It also started my obsession with the fact that no one cooks in Scotland. Or, at least, no one bakes. *sigh* I *still* can't get a good sized bag of flour here, and when I'm really going nuts about baking I can go through three or four of the little bags in a week. (This is less annoying now that I'm all bourgeois and have my groceries delivered.) It's also when I started angsting about the weather over here. The seasons here are so weird in that they occur with enough variety to notice.

Archway to HeavenOctober seems to have been all about proving I am weird and random. It's when I started picking places to go out of hats, basically. And Linlithgow is still fun to say. I pondered differences between Edmonton and Edinburgh, did more touristy things, like free musuems and Holyrood Palace, sans Queen. I went to Kelso and started my goal of collection all of the Scottish Border Abbeys (just one more left!).

October was the month it dawned on me I was happy. I still occasionally feel guilty about this. Because I am weird that way.

November started with a bang: Guy Fawkes day! I still remember the cotton candy very fondly. I went down south to Glastonbury (and the World Famous Somerset Fair that no one's heard of) and saw Stonehenge and felt strangely unmoved. For Christmas I saw the Nutcracker for the first time in my life, and started going to the German Christmas market. And then people tried to teach me English. Or British. Or something.

Then December happened. There was Sinterklaas and cookies made out of bad little children (that taste yummy in chai, if you were wondering). I got all giggly about Hogmany, and popped down to London for a day just because flights were cheap and I could. Christmas Eve service was beauiful, and I remember listening to the bells at midnight and being enchanted.

The only thing that could have made it better was snow.

Hogmany brought 2005 to a close with many explosions and the kissing of many strange boys.

Good year, that one was. I give it four out of five stars.

{I'll do the last six months of this year in Scotland in another post.}

June 26, 2006

Glimpses of the Ocean

If you're wondering why I haven't written much about Tintagel and the rest of Cornwall, the reason is twofold:

1) I wrote a very lengthy email (epic length, in fact) about the trip to a friend that just proved that words do not do this trip justice. It's too beautiful.

2) I got distracted by a shiney-internet thingy.

Also, I keep forgetting to uphold any more photos to Flickr, and I think it needs photos.

But I so want to write about it, to talk about the trip to Tintagel itself, which was amazing. I don't think I'll ever forget the first glimpses of the ocean. I know I live right by the North Sea, and have sat and looked out on that water many a day, but this was so different. The water was so many shades of blue, and even from a distance you could pick out the shallows and the depths. I'd never experienced that before, and I'm almost afraid to go back, because it just can't be that perfect again.

The day we went out there was perfect - blue sky, warm sun. We took a smaller bus from Truro to Tintagel itself, and the windows were all wide open, keeping everything cool. I spent so much time with my face pressed against the window, looking at this vast expanse of water. If excitement and anticipation could have gotten me there faster, the bus would have started to fly.

Tintagel's castle stands on a cliff. I remember so clearly standing at the top of this cliff and looking out over the ocean, out into this distance and understanding why people though the world had an edge. It seems to just end. I don't think I've ever seen that before. When I looked over the edge, the wind pulling at my hair and making everything seem free, I could see how clear the water in the cove below the castle was. I could see the rocks, see the bottom of that water, even from where I was standing so far away. The blues and greens and aquamarines just seemed to blend in together.

At that moment I understood what makes the place magical to so many people. It's not Arthur or Guievere or Merlin. It's that the hand of man is so obvious on the cliff top, but looking down off the edge the power and beauty of nature will take your breath away. And nothing Arthur or Robert of Cornwall built survived beyond ruins, but the beauty of the landscape, of the ocean, endures.

June 24, 2006

1000 Words: Tintagel

Through the Door
* * *

June 20, 2006

Things I Did Not Do In Cornwall, a list, by jo

Things I Did Not Do In Cornwall

1. I did not fall to my death, despite attempts by the landscape to cause this to happen. Note to self: follow the posted signs that say "CASTLE", not "CASTLE VIEW".

2. I did not get rained on at all.

3. I did not find the Sword in the Stone and turn out to be the Once and Future Queen, nor did I stumble on Merlin hiding out in a cave.

4. I also didn't find a mermaid, or turn into one, and am quite disappointed.

5. While we're at it, I didn't leap to my death, either, although the water made it tempting to see if I could jump and not die....

6. I did not get burned to a crisp. No one is as shocked as I am.

7. I did not get drunk on scrumpy. I will have to try harder next trip.

8. I was not, at any point, unhappy during this trip, even during the seven hours total of travel time to see Tintagel. Because it was worth it to see water that blue.

I had a fabulous and amazing time, there are many photos to put up and things to gush about, but right now I'm still knackered from not enough sleep, and when did it get to be after 11:30? Damn it, I was going to be early tonight!

June 16, 2006

Only a day away...

I'm so excited! I just have to make it through one more day at work, and then I'm winging my way to exoctic Cornwall for a three-day weekend of looking for the sword in the stone (Tintagel), hunting up pirates (Penzance), and trying to find really big rocks (Plymouth). I cannot wait!

It's been *so long* since I travelled just because I wanted to and not for any other motive. Was chatting with a friend last night and I realised the last place I went that I just wanted to go to was York. This trip feels like a catharsis, and I cannot wait.

Right now up here the sky looks like it might be a cool day, but I believe in my soul I'll by walking along the beach in Cornwall at this time tomorrow. I will look for pretty shells and watch the ocean roll in and relax....

Be back Tuesday!

June 12, 2006


I got tickets to the Tattoo again this year! I got tickets! I did! YAY!

I don't know when they're for, but I have them! (Well, I know they're for August.) Tickets! YAY!

(Entry about Tattoo last year)

June 11, 2006

The Targ

For those of you who read here because you like random stories of living in foreign countries, you may like this week's episode of The Targ, my friend Scarecrow's Podcast. It's his Adventures in Japan Anniversary Episode.

Go to the Targ's homepage and dl episode 7. {link now fixed}

Trips Planned

Friday 16 June 2006 - Cornwall (Exeter - Penzance - Plymouth with stops in Tintagel, Land's End, and Saint Ives if I can pull it off)

Friday 14 July 2006 - London weekend (in summer? I'm daft.) with the expectation of hoping a flight from Gatwick to Vancouver.

Monday 17 July 2006 - Vancouver (Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna)

And, of course, the Festival all August.

This is shaping us as a busy summer.

June 10, 2006

A Tall Ship and a Star to Steer Her By

Tall Ship and a Star to Steer Her ByI do love being out on the water, and the trip on the Jean de la Lune today was beautiful. It was a perfectly clear day, bright and sunny, and out on the water it was cool enough to keep comfortable without being too nippy.

It was a short trip as these things go, but I really enjoyed every minute of it. I kept watch out for mermaids (I think they may be too clever to hang out in the North Sea, even in summer) and just generally enjoyed the view.

I sometimes dream about living on a ship like this one, which probably makes me sound a bit nuts. If it didn't have internet access, I might go nuts. But the idea of being out on the ocean, of being in a different place every minute, appeals to that wilder side of my nature, the part of me that really would just flip a coin and decide heads Africa, tails Asia. I want the type of freedom that I think being on a ship would give me.

I like that dream, I take it out sometimes and wonder what it would be like. I suppose I could live part of it by working on a cruise ship for a summer or two if I wanted, but I don't think that's the same thing. Working like that isn't freedom. It certainly isn't deciding that New Zealand sounds nice, maybe I'll head there this month.

I do love it, though. Maybe when I'm retired, I'll do it....

Anna Overseas
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

By John Masefield (1878-1967)

Crematorium Bound

The World Cup started.

I felt the need to tell you this because, well, I've been hearing about it everywhere for weeks now and wanted to share the pain a bit. It's not that I don't care about the World Cup or anything (well, it's true, I don't, but that's not why hearing about it is bugging me) it's that I can't get away from it. Even my least-sporty, never-expressed-an-interest-in-sports friend has informed me he's going to the put tomorrow to watch the Dutch team play.

Me? I'm thinking of things to say in pubs this week that might get me maimed. As a social experience, I assure you, and not out of boredom. No, really. *grin*

Last night was Tango at the Docks, part of the Leith Festival. It was so much fun - lots of people attempting to learn how to Tango from this amazing pair of teachers. There was a gender dispairity, of course, and I was a boy once or twice, but for part of the evening I danced with this *amazing* guy to tango with. I was my usual clumsy self, but he just talked me through it and made me look like I knew what I was doing.

I also danced with a guy from Egypt, which was fun. He kept spinning me around in circles, and was trying to pretend he was looking in my eyes while staring at my breasts. So much fun. *laugh* I'd do it again in a heart beat, and not just for the cheap alcohol. Of which there was lots.

Today is the open day at the crematorium, and there's a sailing boat trip I'm hoping to taky. My day is full, and there will be many pictures. I'm hoping to end it with another cow hunt, as I still haven't gotten any from the Mile.

Oh, that reminds me: Apparently someone has stolen one of the cows. I wonder *what* one would do with it afterwards. I'm hoping it'll show up someplace weird, like in the Scottish Parliment or upside down in Holyrood or something. Ah well.

So, crematorium bound am I. But before I leave, how much maimage do you think this little gem would get me in a pub during the World Cup:

"Why the hell are we watching *soccer*? That's not a sport! I thought this was going to be football!"

June 6, 2006

Thinking 'bout the past

I've been craving travel so much lately that I've been watching films that take places in "exotic" places I've been so I can be all nostalgic. (And pretentious, I suppose, but at least I limit my "I was there!" to close friends, some of whom were there with me.)

Last night was "Sliding Doors" so I could look longingly at parts of London and be all sad. Don't get me wrong, I'm *so* glad I'm not living there, but I loved visiting. I'm really looking forward to going back and just indulging myself in the things I couldn't do last time. I could probably go to London once every three months for the rest of my life and always have something new to do.

Then there was Shanghai.... I get really sappy when I see films that are set at least partly in Shanghai. I remember so vividly my last weekend there. There was this lovely man from Finland named Ardo that I would have followed back to Finland if I could have. We walked arm in arm up the Bund at night and sat on a patio with an amazing view of the city. It was lovely. I think of him often, although I can't quite remember what he looked like, unfortunately.

That last weekend in Shanghai was the best. I hooked up with a bunch of other expats in the hostel. We sat up till dawn one night, then crept out onto the Bund with a guitar and sang songs, like "sitting at the top of the bay". Chinese people getting up to do their morning tai chi were staring at us, but it was just fun.

My last night there, we all went out for dinner and ate lots of food, drank lots of beer ("reeb" brand, and that still makes me giggle), and laughed a lot.

I have some great pictures from that night. It was a great ending to my trip.

If you're wondering why I'm updating my blog at 9 a.m. instead of being at work, they sent me home yesterday because I was too sick. I find this hilarious, as I wasn't really that sick - I can see, and breath, and my face isn't bright red. But I was coughing a lot. It's surreal working someplace that not only doesn't want me to come in because I'm sick, but also didn't want to risk getting anyone else sick.

I *like* this job. *grin*

June 1, 2006

Cultural Differences

Cultural Differences 1: In Canada, I know approximately 23 women named Jennifer, Jen, Jenny, or some version thereof. It's a fairly common name for women around my age or a bit younger. I remember in junior high having Jennifer S, Jennfier T and Jennifer T2 all in one class, and my best friend from high school was Jenn, to differentiate her from Jen and Jen.

In Scotland, I now know 15 women named Fiona. And only 1 Jennifer.

Globe Trotter (I'm in love with these cow photos, the whole thing is a hoot.)

This week is the start of the Leith Festival, and I've grabbed my guide and begun circling the things I want to do. As far as I can tell, I need to not only aquire a working Time Turner, but also convince my boss to let me have time off work. I want to be everywhere, all at once. There's walking tours, history talks, more music than you could possibly want to hear, lots of art exhibitions, and most of the churches are offering services and tours.

Cultural Difference 2: In Canada for festivals, they open up musuems or parliment buildings for people to go through and explore.

In Edinburgh, they are once again opening up the crematorium for people to tour.

About June 2006

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

May 2006 is the previous archive.

July 2006 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.