Thursday, December 18, 2003

The Christmas Season in Vancouver

I have a job at the Bay. I am working in the jewellery section of the department store-it is pretty busy because of Christmas shopping, so I am very tired once I am finished 6.5 hours. The people I work with are all very nice, and help me out when I don't know how to do things-the cash register is a bit complex, so I don't know how to do too much yet! I only work there on weekends. There is one girl, Naomi, from England who we've invited out this Friday, since she seems nice. We don't have many friends here in Vancouver, so we are trying to meet new people. Making friends is harder once you leave school-you have to make a real effort to get to know people. On Sunday after work, I bought myself some jewellery since I get an employee discount. I bought two Roots necklaces and two pairs of earrings. It's weird, cause normally I am not that interested in jewellery, but working there has made me pay attention. I am surprised how expensive most of it is.

My other job right now is a temp job. There are only 2 people who work here and they didn't teach me much, so most of the time I just email and am bored. The people who work here are always very stressed, so it makes it a bit uncomfortable for me. It is full time during the week, so I never have any days off at all. I am tired and fed up with working, but I have three days off at Christmas.

Since I work so much, I don't get the chance to see much here in Vancouver. It is a nice city-today the sun was shining off the top of the mountains, which made it look beautiful. However, mostly it rains! It is a nice city, but I think maybe I like Toronto better. I'll have to give it more time and see.

I went out to see Timeline a week ago and Love, Actually last night. Timelinewasn't very good, but Love, Sctually was great. And lasst night Jenni, Jenny, Alan and I went out for coffee.

Christmas is busy because some people are visiting. Jasmine is here to see her family and I am going out to dinner with her tonight. David is here from Scotland, and he's going to be sleeping on our couch until the 23rd - he arrives tonight. We are going to be out most evenings while he is here to show him around (even though we don't know where anything is here either!!!). And Samarra is supposed to be here next week, visiting her sister, so I hopefully will see her too at least once.

We've been getting lots of Christmas cards from people-from Alan's cousins and Grans, from Nana and Henry and Grandpa and Grandma, Aunt Joan, and some of my friends. It's really nice to get mail :) We sent out about 50 cards, but have only got about 15 back so far. We did the last of the Christmas wrapping last night, so we are all ready.

We are going to Andrea's family for Christmas-Jenni and David and Alan and I. I think I will buy a turkey for Alan and I as well, and try cooking one since I have never cooked one before.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Looking into Korea

Wise thought of the day: Never tread on the toes today that are connected to the legs that support the arse you may have to kiss tomorrow. Found on Dave's ESL Cafe

Should anyone have worked, or have friends who have, teaching English in Korea and know of reputable companies/schools, let me know, I'm doing a bit of research into it...

I looked at Dave's and am now completely overwhelmed. Many of the posters make teaching English in Korea sound very scary. However, I think in spite of all that, I am still interested. It would probably be next august I would want to start. The other thing that gets me is I don't have a clue how to teach. Should I try and take a TEFL course? Should I be ready to prepare lessons, come up with games, etc, from day one? What if I am shit at it???

The main thing I want out this is some saved money and the experience.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

First impressions of Vancouver & Adding up the pennies

Hmmm, cost of the trip... I almost hate to add it all up ;) The rail passes cost us $450, but I think they are more like $700 if you travel in peak season. Hostels were all about $18 per night. The polar bear tour was about $250 each for one day and we couldn't afford to stay in Churchill cause that would have been over $100 per night even for a crap motel. One guy we met paid $85 to sleep on someone's sofa!!! So, total, I would guess we spent about $1500-1800. Christ, is that scary...

Canadian hostels are nice, actually, or HI ones are anyway. We didn't stay in any independent ones, and I have heard that some of them are a bit dodgy. However, Hostelling International seemed good, and the membership was $40 for two years. Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver all had 4 bed rooms, Jasper was one big dorm. They are all in good areas, though the one in Jasper is hard to reach without a car.

Vancouver is nice. I can't decide if I think it is any better than Toronto though-I had expected to like it better, but don't think I do. There are a lot of nutters and beggars on the streets-far more so than anywhere else I have ever been, except maybe Rome. And people over here really don't like people from Toronto, for no real reason I can see. They say people from Ontario ignore them, but most people I know in Toronto think that Vancouver, and BC generally, is a great place and we hear about them fairly often, far more than most other provinces in Canada. So I don't really understand their bitterness. It's a bit weird, the hatred of Toronto is not just a bit of a joke rivalry to many people here. I think it's all a bit juvenile and idiotic, myself.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

The Rockies Rock!

When we got to Jasper, we decided to rent a car. It such a beautiful little town, it reminds Alan of Aviemore in Scotland, and I can sort of see it, but Jasper is MUCH cooler. The weather was nice and sunny and the mountains were unreal. Our hostel was odd-going up the long road at night, surrounded by trees, tended to make us think of "the Shining", and Alan managed to quite spook us with his "redrum" one evening... The hostel had several resident dogs, all very cute, who we periodically threw sticks for. Some of the hostel's other creatures were stranger--the staff all had a lot of facial hair, and as we were stuck in a large coed dorm, it tended to smell of farts all the time. We had some tame games of chess, and a highly adversarial game of scrabble. I won, of course ;)

Our first big adventure was the drive to Lake Louise. We had to leave early, so if the weather turned bad, we'd have time to get back before they closed the highway. It was an amazing trip. Alan and Jenni making mating calls (sounded more like burps to me!), my nostril doing a Darth Vader impersonation, Alan eating some spiritual bagels (okay, this is odd I know, but essentially Alan got all "the mountains and scenery move me" after spending the whole trip mocking Jenni and I for overly emotional sentiments about polar bears and many other things. He blamed it on something funny in the bagels).

Within five minutes on the road we saw some elk. It was sunrise, so the mountains were all framed by pink sky. Very beautiful. Alan jokes that the animals are all animitronics that the park rangers activate whenever tourists drive by... There were such amazing views I guess we all felt it was too good to be true. We're calling the photos from this part of the trip the "back to nature" photos, since there are many of animal arses!

We went to Athabasca Falls, saw some bighorn sheep licking salt off the road, saw the Sumwampta Falls. Alan and Jenni did an impersonation of fat people, inspired by the incredibly inaccurate signs on the time it takes to walk the trails - we finished in at least half the time on each trail. We drove past the Columbia Icefields, but it's the wrong time of year to get to go on them. Then we hit Lake Louise... And found it frozen. Okay, so we were incredibly stupid to not have thought of this, but we were expecting that amazing turquoise water. Anyway, then we meet this very, very odd woman, who is there celebrating her wedding anniversary, since she had been there for her honeymoon. The odd thing is, her husband was too busy at work to go with her!!! It was weird.

On the way back, we saw a weeping wall (ice on rock really), some white tailed deer, coyotes (or it's arse, to be more precise), and some spooky ravens who wouldn't fly away when we came very close to them. Saw Runaway Jury at the cinema in town that night.

The next day we drove out to Jasper Park Lodge and saw more deer, elk, coyotes. We may even have some decent, non-arse photos from that day! We heard woodpeckers and saw a chipmunk. My bird obsession from the summer in Scotland is gone, but the animal spotting continues!!! Medicine Lake was pretty, but when we stopped there and used the mini tripod to take timed photos, Jenni's camera ended up in the snow! It's ok though.

So, there we were, driving up towards Maligne Lake and we see some bighorn rams. We stop the car, staying inside like good little tourists, and take a photo out the window, while the rams start licking salt off the side of our rental car. When we attempt to move on, one ram gets ready to, well, ram us. Jenni hit the gas, and the car was safe. I, however, got a nice bump on the head (bumped it off the back window).

We went tourist shopping. After about 10 shops with all the same stuff in it we were all getting a bit tired, when I decided to try on a t-shirt in the shop and nearly broke this eagle thingy. Let me tell you, smashing was all that ugly thing was good for. Sadly it is still in one piece, waiting for an American tourist with a dodgy sense of style to come along...

On our drive back to the hostel, we noticed a girl walking along the side of the road and offered her a ride the rest of the way-it would be one long walk to that hostel from town. Turns out she had hitched up from Lake Louise by herself. We earlier in the trip had met another girl who hitched around Alaska by herself. This is all made concerning by the fact that there was a reward for info poster in the Jasper train station for a girl who had gone missing, last seen hitching from Port Rupert. Spent that evening sending Emily a puzzle postcard, which I am sure she will greatly appreciate ;)

Finally we went to a lake that wasn't frozen-Patricia Lake, so we have those cool photos were the mountains reflect in the water (can you tell I love our photos?!?)

Pyramid Lake had a walk on an island that was supposed to last 20 minutes... They must think all the tourists are stupidly out of shape because it maybe took us 10. It wasn't frozen though! Yay water! Then we went to the Jasper Museum, very interesting, and did a Maligne Canyon tour.

So, here is where we wasted money, cause we did not need a tour guide for that trail. Granted, we didn't have the rental car anymore, but our tour companions were a hoot. They were all British, and ranged in age from 30-60. And damn, were they slow and unstable. One woman, I kid you not, said she wouldn't have done a walk like that when she was 20, let alone 60, and this was not a difficult trail IN THE LEAST!

Our last day we went and got dressed up in RCMP uniforms (for free!) and took photos. Then we just hung around, waiting for yet another late train. Alan and Jenni got their knickers in a knot over a display in the train station that said England, when it should have said Britain, which passed the time nicely.

We got on that train, and that was pretty much the end of our trip. My friend Jenny and her mum picked us up at the station and managed to get our mountain of luggage to the hostel in one trip. Then she fed us bagels and showed us around.

On our first day in Vancouver, we all managed to secure apartments! Yay, us. The job search has taken longer, but Alan and I are now employed, though I don't start till Friday.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Deadmonton-what's up with that?

Arriving on the train, the skyline of Edmonton seems to jump out of nowhere. Why it's called Deadmonton, I don't know, cause we all loved the city, especially Strathcona.

It was in Edmonton that Alan and Jenni were served pints with bits of lemon... What's up with that too??? We loved the Provincial Museum of Alberta-lots of dioramas about wildlife and native Canadians. The women that charged us to go in turned out to be studying to play the bagpipes, bit random, but that is the kind of stuff you find out when travelling with Scots apparently. We attempted to go and have our tea leaves read at a Russian tea house, but it was closed for Remembrance Day. Even the buses were flashing "lest we forget" instead of route names. They take Remembrance Day much more seriously in Alberta than in Ontario, which is rather nice.

The Edmonton MEC has outdoors gear and a coffee shop-Jenni was ready to stay and to heck with Vancouver ;) Alan came up with an interesting question for Canadians to ponder-if you had to nuke one province, which would it be? He seems to think my answer would be Manitoba, but I refuse to play that game!

We had dinner with Margaret (formerly of Edinburgh, but Canadian), with a very loud Oilers game in the background. The next day we headed to the mall-not just any mall, but the West Edmonton Mall, biggest in the world. And frankly, folks, we weren't impressed. it's got no more shops than the Eaton's Centre, really, it's only big cause it has a water park, a roller coaster, a dolphin tank (very evil, a single social creature in a tiny tank, made Canadians look very not cool). Went to Roots once again-that store is addictive.

What else to say about Edmonton? Alan and Jenni taught me what gurning was (when old men take out their teeth and suck their lips into their mouths, apparently this is a competitive sport in England...). They gave us free donuts because the train was late... And just generally, we like Edmonton very much. I have since found out it's my dad's favourite city in the west, and I totally see why.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Continuation of the cross Canada saga - Wininpeg and the Prairies

Arriving at the hostel in Winnipeg was amazing, as for the first time in 5 days we all got to shower... Yes, I know, that isn't exactly a pleasant thought, but there you are. Seeing polar bears was worth 5 days of bad hair.

Winterpeg is one of those nicknames that you immediately understand upon arrival. Apparently, the weather was unseasonably cold for November... However, the worst was the wind. If you can believe it, we actually found the cold worse than in Churchill. Met some interesting folk in the hostel-two potheads from Revelstoke. They gave BC a good name though, since they offered to share with just about everyone in the hostel, including all the staff ;)

Tourist-wise, Winnipeg appears to have a lot to offer, however this doesn't apply if you visit in November (or any winter month apparently). We went to the Forks, nothing to do but see a few shops since they don't exactly do outdoor theatre at -20. The Royal Canadian Mint was quite a laugh. The displays were all set up in the 70s, and some of the staff still think they are in that particular decade, judging by the hairstyles. However, I am told that mullets are coming back-on women!!! ahhhhhh.

We went to see the Museum of Man and Nature, where I fell asleep during the Planetarium show (blame the Revelstoke crew for that one), and learned only two facts. One, Churchill was set up to be a grain port for westerners who didn't want to ship through the east (wow, westerners have always hated us easties). Two, moose means eater of twigs in the Algonquin language. I saw the replica traders ship, the Nonsuch, or maybe it was a real ship-ran out of time and the ability to read by that point in the museum.

We spent a lot of time in a diner near the hostel. Jenni had her first poutine, and Alan his first perogies.

We saw the Tom Thomson exhibit (it was bigger and better when I saw it in Toronto) at the WAG, along with some fantastic Inuit sculptures. The only other thing in the gallery was a very odd exhibit entitled "German angst". Dropped by the Ukrainian exhibit-it was classic Canadian immigrant story-come over, face hardship and adversity, eventually make good. Nice museum, cool eggs.

Then we attempted to do the walking tour of St Boniface, the French Quarter. We saw the grave of Louis Reil and promptly gave in to the cold by spending the rest of the afternoon in a coffee shop. Apparently there are some very nice houses to be seen, but not at the expense of frostbite.

Off we went to see two Imax films, and boy were they disneyfied. Everything was concentrated on the US, the only things that got eaten were fish, and to my surprise I discovered that bears reproduce through bear hugs!!! And here I thought it was a bit more involved than that ;)

Our hostel was also full of some crazy women from Thunder Bay. They kidnapped a cute Kiwi and took him shopping. We never did see him again... They both run hostels, and were interesting characters.

So, we go to the zoo for the Winnie the pooh connection. The statue wasn't great, the bear was never even kept in that zoo, and the place had far too small cages. Not good. The best bit was the lemurs. there were lots of evil birds just wandering about, and an evil tropical building that made me sneeze non stop.

Our train was FOUR HOURS LATE!!! We didn't even get free coffee out of it. Then a VIA staff member managed to completely insult us by making us wait for almost 20 minutes while an old lady with a walker was boarded. Ok, priority boarding and everything, but the attitude of this woman was that seeing as we were ECONOMY passengers, we intended to rugby tackle the poor little old lady while on our way to our seats...

VIA service is shit. With the train being late, a women we met on the trip ended up stranded at the Brandon North station, without light, electricity, heat or access to washrooms or info as to why the train was late (it was behind a derailment, always comforting to hear such tales). However, the late train meant we got to see the prairies, since otherwise we would have slept through them. I really liked the scenery, lots of small towns full of pickup trucks and grain silos. The endless sky thing is nice at sunrise.

Saturday, November 08, 2003


We saw the northern lights from the train that night, it was amazing. Then we hit Churchill and headed out to see polar bears. The tour was full of Australians, naturally. We saw an arctic fox pouncing on its prey, lots of ptarmigan, and 6 polar bears. They were such beautiful and powerful animals.

One was watching a guy inside a lodge on the tundra, and standing on its hind legs to see him better. The tundra is beautiful, the setting sun turned the ice a mint green colour and the sunset was gorgeous.

And our Argentinean guide was cute too ;) The town was rather on the functional side, though we only had time to see a couple of gift shops before we headed out on the train for another 36 hours.

This time we ended up sitting near two religious people who read the bible out loud to each other!!! Very annoying.

Some of the Australians in Churchill had taken photos of the interesting ice formations on the train. At one of the refueling stops, we suddenly clued in to what they where, located as they were under the toilet cubicles...

Spot the Arctic fox!

Thursday, November 06, 2003

The train ride through Ontario and Manitoba

Alan seems to notice the strangest things-he is amazed by the fact that pint glasses in Canada are never filled as full as in Scotland (wonder what that says..), that milk comes in plastic bags, that bread packages have plastic tags to keep them closed, that bubble tea exists! He and Jenni found bubble tea quite amusing.

Leaving Toronto proved interesting, as VIA Rail has some creative baggage policies. First off, I asked if there were any restrictions before we left and was told no. Since, we have discovered that you can only have carry on size bags in the carriages, that there is a weight restriction and charges for overweight baggage, and that they have a $2.50/day charge for storage BUT don't actually have storage facilities... We did managed to get our extra bags stored everywhere we stopped but it took some sweet talking. In fact, VIA service pretty much sucks.

The scenery through Ontario was trees, trees, and more trees. Lots of faded autumn colours and small towns. It was interesting being in the north though, as they say, the north is such a part of Canadian consciousness, even though many of us never or seldom are in the north. We passed Lake Simcoe, which made me sad that I hadn't made it out to the cottage before leaving Ontario. The train stops for refueling and you can get off, though we stayed on at Sudbury (as Jenni pointed out, getting off at the acid rain capital of Canada might not result in the most interesting photos!). However, we got off at Campreol and Sioux Lookout and took some exciting photos of us and the train. There are more French speaking people in northern Ontario that I had realized.

By the time we had hit day two on the train, still in Ontario, there was snow outside. None of us expected to see snow so soon. We had a four hour stopover in Winnipeg, where it was freezing!!! And windy. We watched the football (Canadian finals) at a place called Earl's and then got on the Hudson Bay train. The train across to Vancouver is called the Canadian, and it's very touristy. No free blankets and pillows on the Hudson's Bay though, and no nice staff!!! We had our first wildlife sitting, deer running through a field. Our food choices left a lot to be desired, essentially we lived on peanut butter and jam sandwiches and breakfast bars for five days. However, our fellow passengers were entertaining on the 36 hour trip-- one guy told us all about how he believes in vampires. At The Pas, we did a dash to see a church, impressively we can be tourists even with only 20 minutes in a town.

Thursday, October 30, 2003


Jenny and Alan were good sports on their arrival, as I dragged them out to Mainstreet Station in Bolton to meet Amy & Shawn and Sarah & Steve.

We did a fair amount of stuff. Went up the CN Tower. Saw the Lion King musical. Went to Spadina. Went to Chinatown. Went to Kensington Market. Visited MEC. Wandered around the downtown core and the Eaton Centre. Had dinner with Jas and Vanessa and lunch with Samarra. Saw my family. Went to a pub for Halloween.

Monday, October 27, 2003

We are almost off...

Well, paperclip man is a thing of the past, no more temping in Toronto for me. Alan and Jenni arrive tomorrow afternoon. Yay! I should be packing, but am procrastinating and emailing instead. Packing in advance is highly overrated.

I have been madly running around. First, shopping. My socks are now really funky-I have a stripy pair with separate bits for each toe that make me look sort of pippi longstocking-esque.

I saw a Noam Chomsky documentary that was from Japan, read "We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with our Families" about Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch (read this book, it's really powerful), and watched a documentary the Weather Underground (late 60s American student terrorists against Vietnam, racism, etc).

Jas and I visited the St James cemetery in Cabbagetown, very interesting (lots of rich dead folks) and we made Pad Thai (pretty damn good if I do say so myself). I also went to the Dora Keogh pub on the Danforth with Mei and Kristin-it's fantastic and has a semi authentic Irish snug (I recommend it to all torontonians).

Jas, Margaret-Ann and I went to see the Evil Dead 1 & 2: the Musical. It was sooooo funny. As good as Jerry Springer: the Opera. I'm sure you are thinking that I have slightly odd taste in theatre. ;)

Starting Wednesday, Jenni, Alan and I have a mad three days in Toronto, aiming to see all the sights. Then we're off, for a fun filled (and likely a somewhat smelly) trip. Hopefully we will find a way to shower between here and Winnipeg... Otherwise the pictures may not be that appealing.

There is a webcam for the polar bears in Churchill, if you want to check out what we will soon be seeing.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Salsa and Radiohead

I went to dinner with Sonia and Marcus for her birthday, and it was one of these dinner and salsa club places (very nice). We drank lots of sangria and went off for our free lessons. There was only one other guy there for lessons, so I got stuck with him-43 years old, and a bit smelly. And I was bad at the steps, but this guy was HORRIBLE!!! At the end of the lesson he joined us at our table and tried to chat me up-his opening line- I go to salsa clubs to try to meet women your age!!! However, it was good to see Sonia and I can see that with a much improved partner, could be fun. Anyone know any salsa places in Vancouver? ;)

After that fun and excitement, I headed to Bolton for thanksgiving with my family-Nana & Henry, Julie & Al, and my cousins Bradley and Alannah. Alannah is amazing-really cute and she has such energy-she never stops moving. And she's 5! I can't believe how old they are all getting.

I had been surprised a week earlier to get a letter from Lisa Hudson, who did a rotary exchange at Humberview in my last year there. She's in Bolton just now, so Amy and I met up with her for coffee. This whole two months in Toronto has been one big reminiscing time for me!

The film addiction continued, went to see Dirty Pretty Things at my fav cinema. God, the popcorn there is to die for-it's actually real!!! And they put on real butter :)

Then last night I went to the Radiohead concert. Had never heard anything by Kid Koala before- I liked his stuff but am not going to become a big fan anytime soon. It would have been better in a club setting I think.

Radiohead were amazing!!! When they played Fake Plastic Trees... There are no words to describe it. They have been worth waiting for-though I still regret we didn't go see them when we were in Greece. However, cool concert, got the t shirt, and the poster... It was just fantastic.

I had margarhita's at lunch today - Samarra is a bad influence ;) We went to the Lonestar here in Toronto-made me think of Kingston.

Not long till Vancouver now :)

Friday, October 10, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving Canucks

I am sooooo tired. You see, that's two nights I have been out late enough to miss the subway or bus.

I went out to see Tear Gas Holiday (docu about FTAA in Quebec City) and Buffalo Soldiers. Great evening-I will never think about mopping in quite the same way again (cleanliness is next to godliness, and you can never have enough mop & glo) and the after party for Tear Gas Holiday was fantastic. Kept me out till 3:30am and had me going into work on 3 hours sleep the next day.

Last night I met up with Kristin and we listened to his band at the Red Lion. Good evening, and john's haircut is very cool. Kristin and I, being very ditzy, got on the subway to go ONE stop to the other line. And we sat down, started chatting, ended up in totally the wrong place.

Today is my last day on my present temp assignment, but on Tuesday I have a real treat!!! Another day with paperclip man! Woo hoo.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Ok, so now I am addicted to both books and films...

I don't know what it is about being quasi single, but I tell you, I don't see this many films when Alan and I are living in the same country...

I saw Mambo Italiano with Lindsay the other day, and no matter what she says, she did laugh at bits! I loved it. Then last night I went to see Whose University is it Anyway? At my new favourite place, the Bloor Cinema. It is about the student protests that occurred at Trent University, where some students occupied an office and got arrested. There was a discussion afterwards about resisting corporatization of universities and keeping a space open in society for free thought, unchecked by market forces. Very amusing bit where the head of the Royal Bank is commenting on the two level administration type of governance of universities (senate=faculty, board=people who deal with money) and got caught out-he seemed to think this was a type of administration set up when Trent started up in the 60s, rather than what Oxford began doing 800 odd years ago. So, where were all you Toronto uni students?!? And I had no idea there was an occupation at Queen's over the private university proposal...

Other than watching films, I worked at a new place (again a one day thing) where yet again I had NOTHING to do. Why do these companies hire a replacement receptionist to answer about 6 calls in 5 hours???

I went to a British themed pub with Samarra the other night and noticed that all their import beers were Irish... Guinness and Smithwicks. I was hoping there might be a decent bitter- get ready to drink nothing but lager, Jenni and Alan.

I'm off tonight to an Irish themed pub with Mei and Kristin, when I might even have a Guinness (but a baby Guinness may be better). And hopefully my haircut this afternoon won't end up making me look freakish... You never know with haircuts...

Monday, October 06, 2003

Email from Jenni

Hi all,

Just a note to say that since I'm heading to the land of the Maple leaf, where men are men an moose are scared, as from Tuesday 7th of October my mobile number will no longer exist. So smoke signals and cups with string will have to do. If not try my mum's number till I depart.


Friday, October 03, 2003

What's that smell?

One slight problem with the cross Canada jaunt: originally I was told there are showers on the train, however, they didn't mention that they are only for people in berths-the only time we really need them is to and from Churchill, and all the berths were fully booked when we booked that bit way back in march. So, we are spending 6 days with no real access to showers. I do think that we could PROBABLY sneak in to the shower in the berth area, but I don't know for sure. And we have about 4 hours in Winnipeg in the middle, so maybe we could try to shower there (they don't have them in the station though). I was thinking, if we book a hostel for the time we stay in Winnipeg, maybe they will let us come in that day to shower... Worst case senario, we are going to become experts at sponge washing and washing hair in sinks. We will all need to bring hats ;) a bit gross, but it will be fantastic, so whatever.

Where did September go?

I'm in a two week temping job right now, which is good because I like the people and the atmosphere. And someone was finally bright enough to offer the receptionist temp a filler task!!! A novel concept, paying the temp to actually DO something. Granted, I am only rewriting the filofax so it's neater, but there you are. Oh, and it turns out that people like me have a not too bad title. According to my temp company, I am the Director of First Impressions.

Time has flown by remarkably fast. Lisa Hudson, who was a Rotary exchange student in Bolton when we were in highschool, called me up and as I was making plans to meet up, I counted my remaining weekends in Toronto. I have three. Thanksgiving, the weekend of my aunt and uncle's 25th wedding anniversary, and the weekend I call "crazy packing weekend". November 1st is coming up quickly.

Last week was fairly action packed as usual. Jas and I got together to eat the doggie bag from the "cheap Indian" restaurant we went to after Word on the Street last Sunday. Tuesday was highly exciting, as I got ahold of my Radiohead tickets (eight days till the concert!). Thursday the province of Ontario finally threw the Conservatives out of government, thank Maude (new saying I picked up from a friend, for atheists, to replace thank god, I think it's cute). Friday Fran had me over for a BBQ, which was yummy, and Vanessa made us smoothies, also wonderful.

My film addiction continues-saw Under the Tuscan Sun with my sister and then a documentary called Choropampa at the Environmental Film Festival, about a gold mining company that poisoned a town with mercury.

Given a bit of free time at work, I have completely booked our train tickets across Canada. We leave the 1st and get into Vancouver on the 18th, with the Churchill polar bear tour, with 3-3.5 days each in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Jasper. If any of you are better travelled in Canada then myself (and that's not difficult), all must see recommendations are welcomed. Next I have to book the hostels-Jenni has made a few jokes about over organizing... ;)

Friday, September 19, 2003

Stupidity and Cars

Ok, folks, hock your stereo, drive three hours to the only cinema playing it- go and see Stupidity! This is the funniest film I have seen in ages, so you must all go see it ASAP. I really can't remember when I last saw a film that funny...

And, a guy that taught my dad at York University has a quick soundbite... (the one who wrote that book called "Who Killed Canadian History")

I went out to see the Sierra Club presentation in advance of International Car Free Day on Monday. Did you guys know that Bogota, the capital of Columbia, has an annual day where no private cars are allowed in the city while people still have to go to work and school? It looked fantastic seeing 8 million people all biking or walking or taking the bus, and the people interviewed all seemed very positive. It's been going for about three years now. So, everyone, if 8 million people can do it for a day, so can we... Granted, it's not like I have to give up much, not having ever had a driver's license ;)

"I think using one or two tonnes of metal to move 70 kilos of humanity is..., well, irrational." supporter of Car Free Day, Bogota, Columbia

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Paperclip man likes me!

Today I spent another day working with paperclip man. He requested me specifically from the temp agency. I go back tomorrow as well.

I am going to see a documentary tonight called Stupidity. It sounds good, though I may get rained on getting home since Isabel has now hit the US coast and we are meant to get strong winds and lots of rain up here.

My Uncle Bill's 50th birthday is this Sunday. And I am off to Jasmine's for a wine and cheese tomorrow evening.

I bought another book by the guy who wrote calculating god. It's about parallel universes that collide, ours and one where humans died out and Neaderthals survived. It's really good so far.

I am looking into some programmes here for international development and social work. I don't know if I want to go back to uni or not or how I would fund it, but I am looking. If we stay in Canada more than the one year, I think I would go back. Vanessa said the two programmes are very similar in terms of skill sets, but that international development is more intellectually rigorous. I suppose social work is more practical, but I wonder how hard it is to get into.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Toronto Tales

Had a fun Monday-odd situation where the company I was sent to thought they were getting someone who worked there before (obviously, I hadn't) and there was some calling back and forth to see if I was actually going to do the work that day (it turns out it was a piece of cake, just switchboard stuff). Not the nicest way to start off a Monday...

However, the day finished off really well. I went to see a documentary called Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the media. It was really good-I really must read more of his stuff. Martin (from royal bank in Scotland) lent me one book but other than that all my Noam knowledge comes from listening to Luis (old housemate)> nattering on about the linguistics in second year. My only complaint is that if you are going to schedule a three hour film (plus an intermission) it would be nice to start it earlier than 9.15. I've actually joined the Bloor Cinema, since the films they show are fantastic, and you start to save money the second time you go (so if anyone wants the membership once I leave Toronto, let me know). I liked the cinema itself too, love the balcony and the popcorn smell was actually fresh! Much nicer than all these new fancy places, and much cheaper too. (and no, I don't sound at all like an old person complaining about progress...)

Today I did an hour's training for a job that I start at the end of the month. Looks a bit complicated but the people all seemed nice. I am going to go and watch Whale Rider this afternoon, since I don't have much else to do.

So, life goes on in Toronto.

Monday, September 15, 2003

I think this is me!

How many of these apply to you?

1. I have read fiction when I was depressed, or to cheer myself up.

2. I have gone on reading binges of an entire book or more in a day.

3. I read rapidly, often 'gulping' chapters.

4. I have sometimes read early in the morning or before work.

5. I have hidden books in different places to sneak a chapter without being seen.

6. Sometimes I avoid friends or family obligations in order to read novels.

7. Sometimes I re-write film or television dialog as the characters speak.

8. I am unable to enjoy myself with others unless there is a book nearby.

9. At a party, I will often slip off unnoticed to read.

10. Reading has made me seek haunts and companions which I would otherwise avoid.

11. I have neglected personal hygiene or household chores until I have finished a novel.

12. I have spent money meant for necessities on books instead.

13. I have attempted to check out more library books than permitted.

14. Most of my friends are heavy fiction readers.

15. I have sometimes passed out from a night of heavy reading.

16. I have suffered 'blackouts' or memory loss from a bout of reading.

17. I have wept, become angry or irrational because of something I read.

18. I have sometimes wished I did not read so much.

19. Sometimes I think my reading is out of control.

If you answered 'yes' to three or more of these questions, you may be a literature abuser. Affirmative responses to five or more indicates a serious problem.

Once a relatively rare disorder, Literature Abuse, or LA, has risen to new levels due to the accessibility of higher education and increased college enrollment since the end of the Second World War. The number of literature abusers is currently at record levels.


Abusers become withdrawn, uninterested in society or normal relationships. They fantasize, creating alternative worlds to occupy, to the neglect of friends and family. In severe cases they develop bad posture from reading in awkward positions or carrying heavy book bags. In the worst instances, they become cranky reference librarians in small towns.

Excessive reading during pregnancy is perhaps the number one cause of moral deformity among the children of English professors, teachers of English and creative writing. Known as Fetal Fiction Syndrome, this disease also leaves its victims prone to a lifetime of nearsightedness, daydreaming and emotional instability.


Recent Harvard studies have established that heredity plays a considerable role in determining whether a person will become an abuser of literature. Most abusers have at least one parent who abused literature, often beginning at an early age and pogressing into adulthood. Many spouses of an abuser become abusers themselves.


Fathers or mothers who are English teachers, professors, or heavy fiction readers; parents who do not encourage children to play games, participate in healthy sports, or watch television in the evening.


Pre-marital screening and counseling, referral to adoption agencies in order to break the chain of abuse. English teachers in particular should seek partners active in other fields. Children should be encouraged to seek physical activity and to avoid isolation and morbid introspection.


Within the sordid world of literature abuse, the lowest circle belongs to those sufferers who have thrown their lives and hopes away to study literature in our colleges. Parents should look for signs that their children are taking the wrong path--don't expect your teenager to approach you and say, "I can't stop reading Spenser." By the time you visit her dorm room and find the secret stash of the Paris Review, it may already be too late.

What to do if you suspect your child is becoming an English major:

1. Talk to your child in a loving way. Show your concern. Let her know you won't abandon her--but that you aren't spending a hundred grand to put her through Stanford so she can clerk at Waldenbooks, either. But remember that she may not be able to make a decision without help; perhaps she has just finished Madame Bovary and is dying of arsenic poisoning.

2. Face the issue: Tell her what you know, and how: "I found this book in your purse. How long has this been going on?" Ask the hard question--Who is this Count Vronsky?

3. Show her another way. Move the television set into her room. Introduce her to frat boys.

4. Do what you have to do. Tear up her library card. Make her stop signing her letters as 'Emma.' Force her to take a math class, or minor in Spanish. Transfer her to a Florida college.

You may be dealing with a life-threatening problem if one or more of the following applies:

* *She can tell you how and when Thomas Chatterton died.

* *She names one or more of her cats after a Romantic poet.

* *Next to her bed is a picture of: Lord Byron, Virginia Woolf, Faulkner or any scene from the Lake District.

Most important, remember, you are not alone. To seek help for yourself or someone you love, contact the nearest chapter of the American Literature Abuse Society, or look under ALAS in your telephone directory.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Mailbox Invasion

If anyone has been trying to email me the past week, I'm guessing it didn't get through. I seem to be getting tons of virus attachments sent to me that are overloading my inbox. Very annoying.

Seems I spoke too soon about this temp job, not only do I get to go out and buy a SINGLE box of 100 paperclips, I also get to make the coffee. In fact, in the last 4 hours of work, I have made two pots and answered about 3 emails. This is such a ridiculous job, I have nothing to do. However, I get to go back on Friday!!! Can't wait (insert sarcasm here).

What do they put in the water here in Toronto??? I've been hit on three times on the subway, been whistled at from guys in cars twice at Keele & Lawrence, and then when I went shopping at Dominion grocery store yesterday, some guy invited me for coffee in the cheese aisle! I said no, obviously, and then he asks if I'm involved, I said yes, and he suggests I should come anyway, maybe I'll find him to be more interesting!!! For christ's sake! however, jenni, you may find this to be encouraging, assuming guys in Vancouver are just as forward! I need to find that fake wedding ring I bought for Greece, though if cheese guy is any indication, it
might not help much.

Off to an interview with another temp agency, wish me luck...

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Well, yes sir, I'd love to buy some paperclips...

I am back in Toronto and last week was very, very boring. I didn't get any jobs, which maybe isn't a surprise since it was a four day week (or not, who knows). However, this gave me more than enough time to spend reading (a good thing) while my gran constantly queried me about food. I kid you not, she came down one evening just before 11 pm to ask if I wanted anything to eat! She tries to cook me elaborate breakfasts each morning, instead of my toast or cereal. Funny thing is, or ironic thing, when I do eat, it's always meat! And as you all know, I am not a big meat eater at all-however, I feel that I can't really complain...

Dinners out with Fran and Vanessa saved me from a meat overload and death by boredom. And then on Saturday I went down to the Cabbagetown Festival. On my way, I happened upon a parade of Christians (it turns out that Chinese Christian Canadians say no to redefining marriage...). I managed to miss all of the events, so I just wandered down parliament street and people watched. There was a lady pushing a very overweight dog (Pekinese I think) in a child's stroller. And I had no idea how bizarre it looks when parrots eat things. Sunday my aunt and cousin, Alannah who's 5, came over and I got to play an elaborate game of restaurant where all you can eat is food from McDonald's.

Come Monday morning, I had a one day temp assignment (it has now managed to last until at least tomorrow so far). And, the guy is a prick. Possibly this isn't helped by the dental work he had done yesterday, but he was annoying to begin with. He asked about my accent, I said I had been living in Scotland. He said that he had been to Scotland, didn't like it, and didn't know why they bothered. To exist apparently. He is a big NDP supporter (lefty political group, for all you non Canadians) and so that has made his conversations interesting, but he also believes that everyone is stupid and EVERYTHING annoys this man.

Plus, the job is stupid, I have no idea why I am there. All I do is type out his emails while he dictates. Oh, and I check them and read them out to him too. I have also edited two documents-I print out things someone else has done before, he edits, I retype. And I do a lot of sitting around, while he talks on the phone, stares into space, wanders randomly out of the room. I thought maybe he couldn't type, but he did today while looking up things to do with his diner's club account, and I found out that he used to do computer programming... I can't figure out why I am paid to do things he can do himself. Except that he is the chairperson of the company-maybe I'm paid to make him feel more important? By sitting there uselessly until he wants me to type him an email??? Today I hit a new low, however, when I was sent out to buy a box of 100 paperclips. And reminded not to forget to bring him the receipt. Possibly the only good point is that I haven't yet been asked to make the coffee. Today he pointed out that over half of all people you meet are below average... I don't think I was meant to take that personally.

Tomorrow is only a half day, thank god, since I have an interview with another agency in the afternoon. The one I am with now is ok, but the pay isn't great and I keep being assigned one day jobs-I would rather do something slightly longer-even a week would be preferable. Ah, the life of a temp.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

The Great Saskatoon Debate of 2003

To visit Saskatoon or not?

The train arrives there just after 1 in the morning. Which means if we stay a couple of days, we will also be departing at that time.

If we have to skip Saskatoon (I don't personally want to pay for a motel and three might be a hard number to fit into a motel room), we could add days to more exciting cities.

Also, I went down to MEC to buy a new pair of hiking shoes and found a book about Canadian hostels. It was a bit old, but it said that Saskatoon only has a hostel open in the summer. I will check out the LP Canada next time I am in a bookstore to see if it is still the case.

(I also went down to VIA Rail to ask why they never sent our CanRail passes, turns out they are just incompetent, so they are in the mail as of tomorrow)

Monday, September 01, 2003

Oh, Caaanada

I am back in Canada. Surprisingly, I am missing Scotland much less than I thought. All the travelling before flying out to Toronto probably helped and I am also really enjoying discovering Toronto. While I may have lived outside the city for a long time, up until now really all I have done is taken the subway somewhere. Now I am becoming familiar with all the big intersections and am slowly developing a mental map. Real Torontonians find me a bit funny (Jas...), as I have bought myself a Lonely Planet to the city, but I am only here for two months and I do want to make the most of it.

I flew back on a Friday, with only three hours of sleep under my belt to prepare me for a day with five extra hours in it. I seem to have started a habit of going out to the pub the night before early morning flights-not the most intelligent habit in many ways. However, how could I miss one last night at Sandy Bells, listening to folk music, and blethering away... I couldn't of course.

I spent the first weekend in Bolton, finding out that my dog is very, very deaf (and looks stupid clipped, don't try this with your Shelties!). Otherwise, Bolton is familiar but so different, so it is an odd place to visit again. I managed to hook up with Sarah and Amy in Bolton and we went to Mainstreet for a couple of drinks. It hasn't changed!

Then over two days I moved some stuff into my gran's house (really just a lot of dirty laundry from my travels and a CD player-so the essentials). It is a very bizarre room I am staying in. If I ever get access to the internet and a scanner, I will post a photo because this room really has to be seen to be believed. First off, there is a totem pole in one corner. Then there are the fox tails on the wall, alongside a wooden plaque with a hunter's prayer. The wallpaper is a mixture of newspaper design, and horses riding out to the hunt. A macrame owl, an interesting colour of carpet, and it's a basement room with fun fluorescent lighting. But it's in Toronto (ok, ok, North York) and it's mine for the next two months. I can't express strongly enough my desire to have my own place again-well, Alan can be there too ;).

So, of course, my first days in Toronto I went shopping. I threw out so much stuff in Scotland, since much of it didn't seem worth paying excess baggage charges to transport. However, a surprise purchase on my part was a suit (which I bought in about a half hour of shopping, rather quick really). I know, I know, shock horror, Amanda has caved and bought a suit. It is remarkable how long I have managed to work in banks without one, and I thought with interviews in Vancouver just on the horizon it would be a good idea. The funny thing is, I actually kind of like it... I fully intend to wear funny shirts underneath it of course ;)

I went down to drop off resumes around temp agencies, and got signed up with one of them on the same day. They made me do a series of tests and I was shocked to only score 60% on the grammar test! Worse, some of the answers were only scored incorrect because they were in the passive!!! It isn't actually wrong! However, the only other one I was crap at was the one on Microsoft works, and considering I operated a Windows 3.1 system all through uni, I am quite proud of my 55% score. They are such funny tests they have you do at temp agencies.

This all happened on the Wednesday, so imagine my surprise when I am woken at 8.45am Thursday by my gran and am told I have a call. The temp agency wanted me to do a one day job, and wanted me to go asap. I ended up doing reception for a day. My TTC route knowledge being limited, the agency called and told me exactly how to get there. Which was good, until there were power problems on my way home. Our streetcar stopped, so I walked to the subway, it stopped. They sent another, we went a bit further, it stopped. I had to grab a completely different bus back to Lawrence west-took me over two hours for a one hour trip. Hence, the purchase of a guidebook with maps.

For Labour day weekend, Janice came down from London and so we headed out with Vanessa to grab lunch at Marche. Janice and I went to see the Tom Thomson exhibit at the AGO, which was great as I got the advantage of all her history of art class knowledge. I really should have tried harder to fit that class into my schedule, I am thinking. Today I met up with Jas and we went to the Gardiner Museum of Cera mic Art (as Jas said, it is about as interesting as it sounds) and then met Vanessa for some shopping. And I finally saw the Magdalene Sisters at the Bay-Bloor theatre
(ok, now I am totally just showing off that I can find my way around the city!). It was phenomenal. The film, not my map reading ability ;) (or apparently, my grammar...)

So, all I need now are some more temp agency positions, and to get back out of Bolton (I need to fix my bank account here, I didn't use it enough for their liking, it does only have $6.90 in it). Scottish people, beware, Canadian banks are just as bad as the English when it comes to accepting Scottish pounds. It was not an easy thing to change my last 10 pound note. The teller seemed convinced the Scots were actually on the euro and only the English use the pound still. Don't these people read newspapers... (even if they did, I think the brits are right, our news is dumbed down, even in the papers. I may need to start buying British papers over ere if I want to read something really intelligent). Feel free to take shots at me over that comment, Canadians, but I do miss the BBC... And channel 4 news... And the
Guardian and the Herald, and the Scotsman...

The TV over here isn't interesting me either (so Alan, I am totally not up for your "lets buy a TV for the year that we will live in Vancouver" because it isn't worth the cable costs!). Ok, maybe this is contradicting my earlier statement about not missing Scotland...

I also the use of a cell phone for a bit (I hope for the next two months if I can avoid giving it back to my mum for that long). I have tried texting you British folk, but I can't make it work (or you are evil and are not responding to my texts!), so if anyone can manage to text me, maybe I can figure out what I am doing wrong. And it's back to cybercafes, since my gran isn't wired up yet!

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Sad News

I had dinner at Nana and Henry's last night. She is still limping rather badly from the break and Henry has just been diagnosed with bone cancer (in addition to lung and lymph cancer) so on top of the chemo he has to have radiation therapy.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Leaving Edinburgh

Well, I have one full day left in Scotland which I will be spending in Edinburgh with Alan, and one evening left to pack. I would hate to have done it in advance after all-then how would I panic about it weighing far more than 20 kilos at the last minute!!! I can't say I love the idea of flying charter. I will be stuffing my pockets (trousers, jacket, purse) full of stuff, since they don't weigh you. you may think I'm joking, but as it is quite a lot of my stuff has ended up in Alan's parent's attic.

So my stay here in Fife has been a bit uncomfortable. Alan's parents are not happy about their only child moving so far away, and they have not hidden it from me. All the negative comments about us moving to Canada have been hard to take-I think they picture us arriving in a cold Vancouver winter (it is colder in Scotland than Vancouver in the winter) and living on the street, jobless and friendless. When I try to point out that we are going to stay somewhere while flat hunting (ie a hostel) and that three uni graduates ought to manage a job in McDonald's if nothing else (ahhh! Then all those purple engineers at queen's will have been right!!!) they don't listen. I am politer than that, obviously. However, we generally get on better than that. Other people's parents, what else can I say.

However, I haven't been spending much time out here in the back of beyond (read: Fife), and while I will not be breaking my record last year for number of festival shows, last year I was still working. I filled out a survey for a woman at the book festival and she asked my occupation. When I said travelling, she wrote down unemployed. Now, the way I see it, I only become unemployed as of 10 am Friday when I set foot on Canadian soil.

I started out the festival by seeing Monty Python's Flying Circus performed in French the day I flew in from Dublin. Not only is my French not as bad as I would have thought, but the lyrics to sit on my face were much funnier in French. le parroque est mort! My next stop was Ross Noble (not as funny as last year, sadly), followed by Thebans (Oedipus, Antigone, and that one with oedipus's two sons fighting it out over Thebes, can never remember the name, all in one by Liz Lockhead-very good Scottish poet), and Shakespeare's Italian Job (picture the film but with all dialogue taken from existing Shakespearean plays). I saw All the Great Books by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, Sexual Perversity in Chicago (a Mamet play, very studenty production, but good), Camut Band's Life in Rhythm (tap dancing and drum playing, very good), The Typographer's Dream (very depressing, about people and their careers and how they don't much like them), and Alexandra's Project (go see this film! Australian, really weird, but must see).

The book festival was my favourite of them all this year. I saw David Reiff (wrote a book about humanitarian aid called "A Bed for the Night"), Susan Sontag (WOW), Gil Courtemanche (he's Canadian, presumably he's popular in Canada? I had never heard of him, read an article in the paper and decided to go. I got his book "A Sunday Afternoon at the Pool in Kigali) , it looks good, will read it on the plane), Kate Atkinson, and am seeing Iain Banks tomorrow.

Saw a big Monet presentation (the RSA is finally finished, Jas, a bit too late for your visit sadly), the DinoBirds of China at the museum, and visited the Aberlemno Pictish stones (carved, very cool). The Aberlemno stones trip was a good way to wrap up my time here in Scotland-over a year ago Alan, David, Andrea, and myself all attempted to drive up and see them. Just that day I had bought the Lonely Planet Scotland (lost it on Orkney). Didn't read it. They were covered in big brown boxes to protect them from the winter weather and we went up two weeks too early! They were worth the wait though. On our way up we went to an amazing beach with sand dunes, tide out. I am going to miss living near the sea, especially the smell of it. I am even going to miss the smell of Edinburgh-the smell of beer from the Caledonian Brewery and all those pubs... Edinburgh smells like no place else in the world. Getting a bit weepy now.

However, tomorrow will be a laugh. A play, Iain Banks, and then a drink at Sandy Bells.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Ireland Part II - The South

We had a tour guide named Joey showing us the south-the rules on the bus were explained early on and pretty much coloured the rest of the trip. Anytime anyone saw a cute guy/girl out the window, they were to yell "sauce". Sauce was to be searched for each evening in the pub and all scandal revealed the next day to everyone on the bus. So silly on these tours! Especially as there are some nice looking bartenders in Galway (mmm, sauce). Joey was quite a laugh, kept us all amused telling us about the time the bus got stuck on a beach with the tide coming in, or stuck under a canopy at a petrol station.

Day one started out with a leisurely drive through Dublin-the city streets were empty since it was a bank holiday, so we drove through the rich area and saw the houses of Bono, the Edge, Enya, etc. Our first stop was Glendalough, absolutely gorgeous area that was used to film several scenes in Braveheart. A waterfall, two lochs, and a monastic city; it was lovely and we spent an hour walking around in the hot sun-it was the start of a heat wave in Ireland (and apparently in Scotland-just my luck to miss the one good week of weather in two years!). We ate a picnic lunch on the grounds of Kilkenny Castle (sadly, mum, I didn't have a pint of your favourite cream ale in Kilkenny) and then drove up to the Rock of Cashel. Can't really remember it's significance (bad, I know), but it had a very nice ruined church and an old statue of St Patrick. Our first night was in Kinsale, very nice hostel!

We visited Charles Fort, built by the English, and then headed to Blarney Castle. Very long queue for the stone kissing, and you can pay 9 euro for a photo. I am actually quite tempted as I am sure the look of utter terror on my face would be very amusing for all of the rest of you. I am not too fond of heights, and you get to suspend your entire upper body over a very, very long drop while holding on to two bars to kiss something that looks like something a large dog has just slobbered all over. Nice, huh? The castle itself is very pretty though, and after a quick lunch, we enjoyed a visit to one of the most touristy, tacky shops ever. I am pleased to say I held out against temptation, buying only a couple of postcards. Andrea and David, you were lucky, cause the tacky things I could have bought you...

Down into Dingle, we stayed at a 17th century manor converted into a hostel and were introduced to Joey's famous punch. This was really alcoholic stuff, and we all washed it down with further bottles of wine, etc. The next morning we drove along the Dingle Pennisula, to see all the fantastic sea views, and crazy cliffs the bus always managed not to fall off. Visited a triangular church, Gallarus Oratory, and went to Dingle for lunch. Passed up the opportunity to go and see the famous Dingle dolphin, though I had only seen some fuzzy ones from a bus window... That was rectified later in the week when we saw some for quite awhile swimming along as we rode past in the bus. So it's only an otter I have missed seeing this summer...

We went to Inch Beach, because the weather that week really was amazing. Then we drove over to Killarney and took a horse and cart ride through the national park-very beautiful and very relaxing. We wandered off to see some Irish set dancing that night (like ceilidh dancing with tap shoes).

It turns out that the high king of Ireland these days is a goat named King Puck-and I have the photos to prove it. After that fun stop, we drove along the Ring of Kerry road, with some really incredible scenery. At one point the clouds over the sea were lower than the surrounding land-hope those photos turn out because it really was magical. Got taught hurling (vaguely like lacrosse) and ate bailey's flavoured ice cream in Sneem. We finished off the day with a view of the lakes of Killarney National Park from above in the hills and a visit to Torc waterfall.

Our next day took us on a ferry between County Kerry and County Claire. Another stop at a beach, this time no sand as the tide was in, and then we visited the Cliffs of Moher. The week before a woman from Dublin was blown off them, so I stayed well back. Very dramatic, maybe more so than the Slieve Cliffs in the north, which are bigger. We drove through a very rocky area badly affected by the famine on our way to Galway.

Another Friday night in Galway-this is one fun city. We went and discovered a brilliant drink called fat frogs (at Richardson's, where some of us, not me, had forgotten to pay for meals the week before! We weren't recognized!!!) and spent the evening again in the King's Head.

Our last day was largely just a drive back towards Dublin-with a visit to the Guinness Brewery. The store there is very addictive, I now own two Guinness t-shirts and will very likely never drink a pint of Guinness again-unless I return to Ireland, of course.

I managed not to get stuck with Rebecca, the annoying girl from my north tour, too much. Avoiding sharing hostel rooms with her became something of a military operation... I kid you not, she was so clingy, she offered to come with me while I called Alan one evening! Jenny and Andrea, I think she might even beat Maureen as a horrible person to travel with.

To finish off the trip in style, the airline left my bags behind in Dublin. I arrived in Scotland at 8 am, they didn't show up until 10.30 pm. In the queue to report them missing, I heard that Air Transat had lost a bunch of bags on the Toronto-Glasgow run, which is very reassuring since I fly with them on Friday to Toronto! I will be bringing an extra set of clothing with me in my hand luggage obviously.


Ban the Fat Frog

A NORTHSIDE TD has called for a new 'designer' drink to be banned from Dublin pubs.

According to Deputy Martin Brady (FF), the 'Fat Frog' cocktail is increasing in popularity, particularly among young drinkers. He claimed the new drink fad is worrying because the alcohol content in it is extremely high and has the ability to render the drinker incapacitated very quickly.

"The 'Fat Frog' combines several 'alco-pops' mixed in the one pint glass," said Mr Brady. "At a cost of around e15, they are capable of getting drinkers extremely intoxicated very quickly and this fad must be stopped now before it spirals out of control. To drink three types of alco-pops in one glass is nothing other than stupid and dangerous."

Deputy Brady said that having worked in the bar trade for over 10 years he witnessed at first hand the emergence of designer drinks and alco-pops.

"I believe the onus is on the publican to be vigilant and sensible when it comes to serving 'Fat Frogs' and alco-pops in general," said Mr Brady. "The Fat Frog fad will take off if publicans continue to serve them so I appeal to publicans to stop it now for the sake of us all as a nation which has a gigantic drinking problem."

Sunday, August 03, 2003

The craic in Ireland is mighty!

I'm in Dublin today, just hanging out-getting my laundry done, emailing, reading, etc. I have spent the last 6 days on a tour of the north of Ireland with Paddywaggon.

The day we headed up to Belfast, we had some really Irish weather-everyone dreaded that the whole week might end up being rainy and horrible, but we've had remarkably good weather since. We passed by Slane Castle (where they hold huge rock concerts), saw St. Oliver Plunkett's preserved head, and entered into Northern Ireland. Being a bit of a travelling ditz, I had totally forgotten that I would need pounds on the trip, and had to make a quick visit to an ATM as all I had was euros.

You could tell we had left the republic-British army bases, protestant neighborhoods with the curbs painted red, white and blue, lots of protestant Ulster flags (looks like the English St George flag but with a red hand in the centre of the cross). Belfast is a nice city-we went to the main shopping street for lunch and then headed out to the Ulster museum. We passed one of the queen's uni buildings-gorgeous!- that took me back, as it was one of my choices for doing my exchange.

That evening we started out at the pub next to our hostel. It had a huge cage on the door and you had to buzz for entrance. Our guide told us the next day that it was where ex-IRA guys hang out (some of them released from prison as part of the Good Friday Agreement) and the cage is because of an attack when protestant gunmen burst in and killed seven people. As you may guess, the hostel was located in a Catholic area, and once the tour buses were even set on fire over night while they sat in front of the hostel. However, it was a very nice little pub!!! Then we moved along to the Crown. This is quite a well known pub in Belfast as it is elaborately decorated. The crown itself is a mosaic on the ground in front of the door, so that everyone walks over the British crown while entering. Lots of Guinesses and Baby Guinesses consumed, while we sat in a snug.

The next morning we had a black cab tour of the protestant and catholic neighborhoods to see all the murals. I've got tons of photos and they are really fascinating-the historical aspect of the first three days of the tour was fantastic. Lots of murals commemorating the hunger strikers, Oliver Cromwell, various terrorist groups. Heading out of Dublin, we walked across the rope bridge at Carrick-Fergus and then saw the Giant's Causeway-lots of the faerie stories/myths here in Ireland mirror those of Scotland, so some of these characters must have racked up lots of frequent flier miles!

Again in the evening we hit the pub in Derry, this time participating in the 1st ever Paddywaggon Bar Olympics. It involved asking a series of questions of complete strangers-like the type of underwear worn by the bar staff or using cheesy pickup lines on guys. Kate won (I got to judge having been involved in making up the game). It was an absolute laugh. Nothing like cheap cocktail pitcher to make for an interesting evening.

We did a tour of Derry's walls and again of the protestant and catholic neighborhoods. Derry was the location of the Bloody Sunday incident and there were murals commemorating it. There were several interesting things-a statue of two men reaching across to each other and not quite touching, symbolizing the work towards peace, and designed to meet up once the people of Derry feel that peace has arrived. There was also a mural of a 14 year old girl (killed by British army snipers while in her school uniform when they claimed they thought she was a bomber) with a butterfly in the corner-again the butterfly represents peace and is unfinished, waiting for peace to come.

Up until then our driver was big Joe and we switched over for the next three days to Conner. Conner was a laugh, and every second word out of his mouth was fuckin'. So if I swear like a trooper on my return, I blame it all on his bad influence ;) There were three Canadians on the trip, and he christened us a canary of Canadians. We wandered around donegal in the bus, stopping at stone circles and ancient forts. Saw the highest sea cliffs in Europe-any fans of the Princess Bride film, they were where the cliffs of insanity bit was filmed. We were back in Derry that night, and back in the pub-this time to hear some Irish folk music. Had an incident with a drunk guy who kept asking us all if we were catholic or protestant and got quite nasty.

Leaving Northern Ireland behind, we headed back into the republic. Visited Yeats' grave and then headed up a big hill to see Queen Mary's tomb. Having tired out our leg muscles, we went and had seaweed baths. It was very relaxing-first you steam for 10 minutes (opens the pores) and then hop in a very hot bath filled with seaweed, which detoxes you. Our evening pub experience that day was in Westport in a famous little pub called Matt Malone's. The folk music was great-especially a wee old man who sang unaccompanied. He sang a version of the Wild Rover about never again being a drunk driver-pure genius. Got locked into a pub after closing for a bit, enjoying the craic.

Our attempt to climb Croagh Patrick the next day was stymied by the horrible weather-sadly, as I only went up part of the way I am not going straight to heaven (apparently if you climb it you can skip purgatory). Then we headed through Connemara, one of the worst hit areas during the potato famine where the population levels have never recovered. The scenery was very Scottish-hills and glens, waterfalls, and even a pub with people speaking Irish Gaelic. That evening we arrived in a very busy Galway, as the races are on! We had intended to do a pub crawl, but ended up staying at the King's Head because it was far too busy to move. However, as our tour was made up of two guys and the rest girls, most of the girls were pleased to see that the King's Head had far more guys than girls, and they were all very good looking. An enjoyable evening of talent spotting.

Our last day driving back to Dublin had us stopping at Larry's Old Time Traditional Village. Larry is a retired guy who has created a whole mini village-it's hysterical. So is Larry-he proposed to one girl on our tour-apparently his big draw is that he comes with a bit of property ;) The pictures are no doubt going to be a laugh! It sort of reminded me of my grandpa's model train set, but on a bigger and nuttier scale. We also saw a monastery with some beautiful Celtic crosses and a castle once belonging to the Boelyn family. Our trip ended with a trip to a pub in Temple Bar area of Dublin to see some more folk music.

Have any of you guys heard of Mundy? Great Irish band-they do a song called July.

I head down to the south of Ireland tomorrow-it seems more popular/touristy than the north and apparently the tour is quite a party.

Sunday, July 27, 2003


I hopped on the ferry to Orkney, and started my tour of the island in Kirkwall. St. Magnus' cathedral is gorgeous and the castle is cool, with tons of half ruined turrets. I was in Stromness during Shopping Week, a week long festival. This was made more exciting because a local, Cameron, had made it to the final vote for the Big Brother TV show (he ended up wining). The town is nice and the museum is interesting enough.

My next two days were spent on day trips with Wildabout Orkney tours. Day one included visits to the Earls And Bishops Palaces in Kirkwall (which of course I had already seen), the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar, Maeshowe tomb/ceremonial temple, Skara Brae Neolithic, Earls Palace, Birsay (home of Robert Stewart, father of Patrick, and very unexciting), theoretically the BROUGH OF BIRSAY tides permitting (the tides did not permit), Kirbister Farm and the Broch Of Gurness. Had I realized that you could do all this by taking a special tourist bus route, I would have skipped the tour. I am going to be honest, the guide annoyed me. I studied archaeology at university, and a lot of what he presented as fact was sketchy, to put it mildly. For non ex-archaeology students, this might not be an issue, and I know that many of the others seemed to enjoy the tour (they were also a lot older than myself as well- that may or may not be pertinent).

Day two included the Italian Chapel, designed by Italian prisoners of war, views of the Churchill Barriers which were created to seal the gaps between the islands and to protect Scapa Flow-a harbour for Allied ships during World Wars 1 and 2, the Neolithic Tomb Of The Eagles, and Mine Howe, which is billed as the mystery of the 29 steps and was one of my favourites. You put on a hardhat, pay a couple of pounds, and off you go, walking down what resembles a well with steps. No one knows what it was, and really there isn'tÂ’t much to see. The whole experience takes about 5 minutes, and yet I loved it. My lack of appreciation for the guide remained, but it did seem to be much more of a time and energy saver to have had a car to be driven to these particular sites.

My last day of the trip (minus the marathon day of travel to get back down to Burntisland in Fife, by ferry, bus, three trains, and a car) was a visit to Hoy. If I had had more time, the one thing I would have done on both Shetland and Orkney was to explore the outlying islands. Both groups of islands are made up of an islandreferredd to as Mainland and then tons of smaller islands. Unfortunately, Hoy was the only one I managed to fit in. I saw the Dwarfie Stane, a prehistoric tomb, chamber, who knows what, and I walked out to the Old Man of Hoy, a rock stack with lots of seabirds nesting along the cliffs. The walk takes you by some crofts, two of which have displays in them, and is an easy day walk, though itÂ’s best to catch the early ferry from Stromness so as not to get left behind if you are a slow walker who wants to return to Stromness again that evening.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

A great idea

From Aunt Corinne:

> Just a thought; You seem to be having a great time
> abroad, Megan loves your
> e-mails and post cards, she is in Sue Ste. Marie for
> july. will be back
> sometime in August,I think after the August civic
> holiday.
> Why don't you ask MOM & DAD for some money for a
> digital camera and send
> pictures!

well, mum and dad??? ;)

Monday, July 21, 2003

Shetland-birds, birds, and more birds

Right, well I'm in a madly expensive cyber cafe in Stromness, Orkney (it consists of one computer!). My journey up to Shetland started off on not the greatest note- it took me ages to get out of the house in Burntisland and when I finally hopped on the train it was standing room only (and not much of that either). I did finally get a seat, with two oil workers who were quite a laugh, but didn't see anything of Aberdeen except the short walk between the train and the ferry.

A night in a reclining chair on the ferry proved to be somewhat long. Can't wait for all those days on the train in Canada come November ;) however, we arrived and Lerwick, the sun was shining the entire time I was there, and it was such a nice town. The hostel was lovely (I highly recommend it) and I was charmed by the main street and the harbor. And every town seems to have a bowling green-not something I had noticed before.

My first day I headed down to the south of Mainland, and saw St Ninian's Isle (connected to Mainland by a beach bridge), Jarlshof, Old Scatness, and Sumburgh Head with tons of puffins. Also visited a croft house museum (for those of you familiar with the Hebrides, it was exactly like a blackhouse). The next day I went off to Mousa Broch, where I achieved an interesting sunburn. Oops. Again, some archaeology, some birds, some seals. However, due to the erratic bus schedules, I got stuck in Sandwick with an Australian girl from the hostel for three and a half
hours. Fifteen minutes would have been enough time to appreciate Sandwick, so it was a long evening. The next day I saw more birds, this time on a boat cruise around Bressay and Noss, where there are tons of seabird colonies. God, do they smell.

My last day on the island, I went to Scalloway, where there isn't much to do really-one castle, one museum, a set of public toilets. In Lerwick itself, the museum was odd, crammed full of old stuff but without much actual order. Up Helly Aa is a winter festival where a Viking boat is burned at the climax, and I went along and saw the boat to be burned next. There was a fort and a town hall. And lots of touristy shops. however, the most enjoyable thing to do was just sit in the sun at the harbour and watch the sail boats launch for the European championship.

I've been on Orkney for two days now, hanging around Kirkwall. St Magnus' Cathedral is gorgeous and the castle is cool, with tons of half ruined turrets. Today I am exploring Stromness after I finish up here at the cafe. Tomorrow the touristyness starts in earnest, as I have booked two day trips to do all the sites on Mainland-having a car up here would make life a lot easier! After I will hopefully manage a trip to Hoy, if the weather stays ok.

Off to be a tourist, possibly one in a raincoat the way the sky looks just now!

Monday, July 14, 2003

T in the Park

We had a good time at T in the Park-great music, nice weather (I have an odd sunburn on the back of my arms where I missed with the sunblock!), and a fairly good atmosphere. Nasty loos, lots of garbage everywhere-the requests to not litter were not exactly requested, and some rather drunken people...

We didn't get to see all the bands we wanted, however we did see: the Proclaimers (a very interesting experience in Scotland), Idlewild, Flaming Lips, REM (definitely the best), the coral, Ron Sexsmith (the only Canadian, so we had to drop in), Mull Historical Society, Teenage Fanclub, heard the Charlatans but couldn't be bothered to stand up to watch it, and Coldplay. I was disappointed to miss Super Furry Animals and the Polyphonic Spree, but we wanted to be near the stage for REM-and they played it's the end of the world... Brilliant.

Alan didn't think much of the camping, and I must say it was somewhat unpleasant. The weirdest thing was how people kept throwing cups of beer into the air, after queuing for ages to get them-so I appreciated my shower this morning.

I'm off to Shetland today :)

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Fun in Fife

We drove down to Anstruther, a fishing village, to have Britain's best fish and chips, and then to Pittenweem and Crail, also fishing villages. Lots of harbours and lobster traps, and very nice sunny weather.

Yesterday we went to Inchcolm Abbey, which is on an island in the Firth of Forth. More exciting than the abbey are the nesting seagulls, which dive bomb you to protect their chicks. One actually came so close it touched Alan's head. I had never been very fond of birds, but it was amazing. We got within feet of one chick that just stood there looking at us. Almost got pooed on, but were ok. And I got to see two puffins, at a distance. They have stopped nesting now, so they aren't as common. And they are VERY small birds-somehow the pictures on the postcards had me thinking they were fairly large birds, but nope. I suspect my picture of them in the water will be pretty unexciting.

Off to T in the Park on the weekend and Shetland on Monday.

And Alan graduated from the University of Edinburgh!

Sunday, July 06, 2003

The Hebrides

I am just back from my 6 day tour of the Hebrides, and I am certainly tired...

The trip started off well, and the people were really nice and quite a nice mix of nationalities. We had an Australian couple, two Polish guys, a Swiss girl, a girl from South Korea, two Edinburgh uni graduates from England and northern Ireland, a South African, an American, a Mexican, another Canadian, and myself. The war came up many times, and I felt bad for the American girl- I was surprised that she hadn't realized that it would be a topic of conversation, but I think she felt a bit outnumbered.

On the first day we drove up to Skye, so I had seen most of the scenery many times, though we did stop at Bannockburn where I have not been, however it is very unexciting.

On Skye we went on a tiny fishing boat to see the seals, saw tons including pups, which was cool. We also ate freshly caught scallops (raw and cooked, hard to say which is nicer). We went on a very long, tiring walk in the Quirang (spelling there is definitely wrong) and the sun shone... Should have some lovely pictures. We also went walking along a coral beach, did some paddling but it was very cold.

Then we took the ferry to Harris and it was lovely. The land itself isn't especially beautiful, most of it being rocky interspersed with green and peat. The houses on the island are now mostly ugly council houses too. However, the beaches and water make up for it completely. Totally beautiful. Bit windy, granted. We saw an iron age house, a broch, blackhouses (they were used up until the 1970s, I hadn't realized that, and were actually quite comfy looking-one is now a youth hostel!), the Stromness standing stones, and Callum, who hand weaves Harris tweed in the tiniest cottage workshop imaginable. I even got to try the loom. We all bought tweed scarves (how posh I will look this coming winter!) from him and it was possibly the highlight of the trip for me.

Lewis was fun as well, though the most notable thing was the incident at our hostel. There was a group of Glaswegians staying upstairs for a wedding, about 10 of them in the family. They got annoyed that we were being loud, and one of them went mad. The 19 year old boy went completely insane and threatened to kill us all, tried to attack our tour guide, and got kicked out of the hostel. The police even came. However, our group had been drinking, and we actually found it all quite entertaining, in a dramatic sort of way. I must say, after hearing about the crazy stuff that goes on in Glasgow on a Friday night at the pub, I wasn't too surprised by the whole thing. And in pure touristy mode, Trent got a picture!!!

We took the ferry again, out to Ullapool, and drove down to Drumnadrochit (near Loch Ness), did some hiking, played Frisbee in the sun. Drank a bit more that night-we didn't get to bed until 4.30am that night and consequently the last day on the bus driving back towards Edinburgh we were all quite subdued. The Australian couple had a huge argument, which was odd as they kept arguing in front of us making the rest of us rather uncomfortable. However, it was a fun evening and I highly recommend rum with vanilla coke (I assume we get that in Canada???).

Friday, June 27, 2003

Aultguish Fiasco

Basically, the guy double booked two clubs. When the other club arrived, the landlord argued with them, tried to refuse to give their deposit back, and ended up being accused of assault.

then we had run ins with him over the dog (it was supposed to be dog friendly) and then the evening after we climbed the Munro we were accused of being too noisy (and really, we weren't being), kicked out of the pub, they stopped serving us alcohol (no one was that drunk at all), and everyone had a row generally. I have never before been kicked out of an establishment, and when it happens I am with Alan's parents and a group of their friends!

now the guy has sent a letter to the Mountaineering Council of Scotland claiming that we caused damage to the bunkhouse (total lie) and were irresponsibly getting drunk on the hill and putting the lives of volunteer rescue services at risk. He actually likened us to drunk drivers in his letter! Which is funny, cause only a small amount of alcohol was consumed at the top of the hill, we had been at another pub before returning to the Aultguish, and obviously there were enough sober people to drive who hadn't had anything. In fact, I had all of one drink and a sip of whisky in the entire evening. So I got kicked out of a pub sober!!!

The council has sent a letter to the 8 Mile High Club saying that they need to answer these charges, because the landlord claims we put the name of the council in disrepute. His words, I kid you not.

Alan managed to track down the other club that had a problem with him on the internet, so they have been contacted and are going to get involved. And a teacher at the school alan's dad works at apparently had a separate run in with the guy.

Apparently, they want me to make a statement about all this as well, since I was there. Such fun.

The soap opera continues...

Friday, June 20, 2003

Fort William and Mallaig, or adventures of the unemployed (as Alan calls me)

We are back in Edinburgh again, and hence meant to be packing up the flat-it's being shown twice next week, once at 10 am which is annoying, cause it means that we have to be up and the flat cleaned by then. Most places in Edinburgh go at the first showing, so it's weird that they have three planned.

It was raining in fort William, surprise, surprise. Does it ever not rain there??? Every time I go, I wonder to myself at how small and touristy the town is. But the train ride to Mallaig is beautiful, even on a foggy, rainy day. We saw the Glenfinnian Viaduct, which is the bridge in the Harry Potter films. And we saw the stream train, though it's too expensive and touristy to travel on. The blue rinse brigade was out in force, along with a man in ledderhosen, when we watched the train board.

Mallaig was wonderful, not especially picturesque, but fun. We saw a seal in the harbor, and tons of fishing boats, so the fishing industry is not doing well, obviously. We wandered the docks, went to the heritage exhibit, saw the sea, ate great seafood and then hopped back on the train to Edinburgh.

My attempts to read War and Peace are going slowly, but it's a fantastic book. Now I just need to get through the next 900 pages-no doubt staying four days in Burntisland in a couple of weeks will help ;)

Monday, June 16, 2003

Stalled Walk

Ok, all, this is a hard to write, however, I must admit we aren't going to walk the entire west highland way. We have done half of it, and frankly, yesterday afternoon it stopped being any fun.

The first day was brilliant, we saw a deer, fox, rabbits, tons of birds, and the walking went well. Sadly, it was all downhill after that (and not the terrain, but my mood!). The second day started off well, for those of you who know the route, Conic Hill was wonderful and the weather has been nice throughout. However, once we got down off the hill and had lunch, the walk started getting tough. The entire bit alongside Loch Lomond is tough-all up and down, so it takes forever to make any distance at all. It took us until 8 pm to finish the day's hike and we had started at 9 am. The days were too long, and with my anemia, I was worried at how late I was eating-I started feeling really drained at about 6 pm each night, and then it wasn't any fun at all. My feet have stood up well, considering, though Alan's were really hurting after that second day.

So after another long slog yesterday, we decided that it wasn't worth continuing and not enjoying ourselves. I suspect we could have made it to the end if we had gone on, but... We seem to be among a very small minority carrying a large path. Should have had the bags taken to our stops for us and just carried a day pack.

Anyway, today was wonderful, having made the decision to stop and slow down, we did a pleasant 8 miles through Glen Falloch and it was beautiful. Sunny (I even have a burn on my neck!!!) and the scenery was great and there was plenty of time to stop and sit at the side of the river and just enjoy the outdoors. We will have to try to finish off the last half at some point-everyone says the second half is the most

so, we are taking the train up to fort William tomorrow and then we are going up to Mallaig, as the West Highland Railway line is meant to be one of the best train journeys in the world.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Climbing a Munro and getting chucked out of a pub

I have climbed my first munro! Yay! The Munro, which is just north of Achnasheen, is called Fionn Bhienn (pronounced Fee-on Ben). Alan's father was doing his last (there are 284 of them in Scotland) and so Alan and I were invited to climb it along with him and the 8 mile high mountaineering club. On a sorry note, all the middle aged men beat me to the top. As did an 84 year old!!! As I said to Alan though, if you take an anemic hillwalking, you just can't expect speed ;) at the top of the hill, we all drank whisky and Cava to celebrate.

However, the real excitement of the trip turned out to be at the aultguish inn-the landlord is a complete nutter! The night we arrived, alan's parents fell out with him within minutes about having the dog along with us (apparently, in spite of his inn being very dog friendly as per the website, it is actually only dog friendly in two of the many rooms). Then, while we're eating dinner, the guy asks me if we're the rannoch mountaineering club... Well, no. It turns out he double booked the entire place. Then, when one of the ranoch guys arrives, and is looking around the car park, the guy decides he's too close to the private area. The landlord accuses the poor guy of trespassing, the guy says he's got a booking, the landlord tells him to piss off, and the guys says well give me back my deposit. Next thing you know, the landlord is pushing the guy, who ends up calling the police threatening to charge the landlord with assault!!!

The next night, after the hillwalking, we're in the pub having dinner/drinks and get told we are being too loud-before 9 pm! Then one guy who is singing away gets told he's cut off, and if the rest of us want to continue to drink we have to move to the function room. Which we start to do, when alan's mum has an argument with the guy and we all get thrown out of the pub! So, the party had to continue in the rooms of the bunkhouse, but apparently this club comes well prepared, as they had a ton of booze.

So, that was my weekend, eventful to say the least. As Alan pointed out, it made for good entertainment, and there weren't any TV's, so maybe that was a good thing...

Now I am starting to pack up the flat (though I haven't done too much) and writing my anthro essay (I've taken the books out of the library anyway). And we leave Friday morning on our big hike :)