Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Anne McCaffery? Oh no.

Her 'Ship Who Sang' is one of my favourite books ever.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Week of Madness

 From Edinburgh to Nottingham for Saturday night to catch up with a friend from Uni. And I met her new kid, which was all kinds of awesome. Nice kid.

Train from Nottingham to London on Sunday to stay with a friend of a friend.

British museum and catching up until all hours with friends from Madagascar on Monday. I noticed in the British museum that I could have saved myself the trip overland, because they had most of the stuff I saw right there. Anyone recognise the bull and lion?

Trip to Great Yarmouth on Tuesday to catch up with another friend from Madagascar. I nearly missed my connection in Norwich because we were delayed five minutes at Ipswitch because of platform availability issues.

Back to London on Wednesday to catch a flight to Canada. Unfortunately I made a tiny mistake with my ticket. I thought I was leaving Great Yarmouth at 9.30am, but it turned out that was the train I was supposed to catch from Norwich. I got the 9.17am from Great Yarmouth to Norwich, got on the 10am from Norwich to London and the nice man didn't throw me off for having the wrong ticket.

We were delayed five minutes at Ipswitch because of platform availability issues.

Got in to London Liverpool. Caught the tube to London Paddington. I missed the next train to Heathrow because I was confused about my ticket (I'd already printed it and didn't realise). Got to the airport just after 1pm. Got on the flight at 2pm. Took off at 2.25pm Watched five movies (The Bachelor Party II, Bad Teacher, Just Go With It, The Green Lantern, The Darjeeling Limited) to keep myself awake. Arrived in Vancouver at 4.15pm on the same day. Passed out unconscious at 8pm.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

It is marvellous how much better 10 hours of sleep makes you feel.

I am staying in the Royal Mile Hostel in the room 'Fridge' in the bed 'Corona'. When the girl at the desk told me, I felt heavy in my stomach. This was going to be a party room and I was not going to get any sleep.

As it turned out, I was sharing the room with a Malaysian couple, an Israeli couple and two girls from France. I slept through everyone coming to bed and I slept through everyone leaving in the morning.

I still secretly wish I was in the room 'Star Wars' in the bed 'C3PO'.

I set out in the morning, planning to walk to Arthur' Seat. I got to the foot of it (on the 'wrong' side), looked up and decided I couldn't be arsed. I had other excuses, like it looked like it was going to rain, but that didn't explain why I turned back and sat on that black seat you can see there and drank maté and read a book.

And watched some jaunty birds.

I visited the Edinburgh museum because every place we went to in Orkney they said, 'We had a fine example of BLAH, but it is in the Edinburgh museum now'. Even with directions and a map I found it a really frustrating museum and couldn't find the stuff I was looking for, the way they set up the exhibits followed a system that I sensed had an internal logic, but left me baffled and a little bit cross.

I did happen upon the drop spindles, though.

Can anyone explain the little naked dude doing some blacksmithing? I have done some blacksmithing and I would tend towards heavyduty, flameproof clothing that covered as much as possible. And safety goggles.

I went to the Elephant House where J. K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter because, well, you know. After I stood in line for 10 minutes, waiting to get in, I decided it probably wasn't worth it and went across the road to the villager instead. They had delicious, creamy, garlicky hummus. I can recommend it.

It rained and then the sun came out.

On the way home, I passed Ciao Roma. They had icecream in their front window. Award winning icecream. The apple flavour is sprightly and the chocolate flavour wants to be your friend. Gave Esfahan a run for its money and I recon Jamie would have to think hard about Amsterdam and whether it still stacked up.

Tomorrow Nottingham.

Friday, 4 November 2011


I arrived in Edinburgh to bright sunshine and warmth such that I had to shed several layers. The sun gave me the kind of heady euphoria usually associated with imbibing intoxicants.

So different from the last time I was here. A time characterised by deep unhappiness, darkness from 2pm to 10am, perpetual rainfall, and freezing temperatures I couldn't understand or deal with. Shit. Scuse the language but I just realised that that was 12 years ago (less six weeks).

I spent the afternoon wandering around in the sunshine, enjoying the warmth. The central purpose to my excursion was to go to K1 Yarns. I went. I was underwhelmed. Maybe because I know I am going to be in Vancouver in a couple of days.

If you have to ask yourself if I am really this immature, you don't know me:

I can remember weird bits of being in Edinburgh last time. Walking across the North Bridge in new shoes to go to a silver service waitressing job. The ATM around the corner from the hostel I stayed in. The curvy cobblestone road down to the train station. Going up to the castle. But I don't remember going into the castle or the station. I thought I booked into the hostel I stayed in last time, but it is around the corner.

I had to apply the rule about secondhand bookstores (I can look through the window, but not go in the shop). I tried to apply the same rule to the fudge shop I found, but the guy in there saw me and beckoned me in. 

I had planned to go to the knit night at tea tree tea tonight, but I enormously can't be bothered. My perfect evening would involve going to bed in about twenty minutes and sleeping until sometime late tomorrow morning.

It is weird to be surrounded by people again after being up in Orkney. It is even weirder to hear foreigners. This hostel is full of Australians and Canadians.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Leaving Kirkwall, part II

The final day in Kirkwall found me in a state of acute anxiety (don't ask me why, travel does it to me... I don't like change and travel forces me face the inherent liminality of life).

The Highland Park tour was very interesting, and helped take my mind of things that were making my heart hand stomach clench and my breath come short.

I really liked the malting room floor. And it smelled nice, like molassasy horse feed.

They used to have distillery cats, but some sort of safety/hygiene law came in a few years ago that means they can't get new cats, so they have to trap the mice that come in for the grain.

I kind of missed photos of a few of the steps - there was drying the malted barley and the washback vats. We weren't allowed to take photos in with the stills because there might have been an almighty Kaboom.

I never did find out why so many buildings in Orkney had this cut away bit.

A nice picture of an oak tree.

The party mould. This black stuff (low light, bit blurry) only grows where alcohol is stored to mature. It grows on the 'angels' share (the alcohol that evaporates during storage [about 1% a year]). That mould knows how to have a good time.

I got my photo taken with the family my brother lives next door to.

And, just to prove I am not a giantess, one with my brother for scale.

Saying goodbye to the brother at the ferry terminal.

To start with, I cursed my decision to catch the ferry to Aberdeen. I lay in the bed and found it impossible to sleep. Not because I was sea sick, but because I was terrified I was going to go flying off the top bunk because I couldn't find the safety rail they told you to put up. Finally I managed to wedge myself at the end of the bed and along the wall and felt secure enough to sleep with the surging up and down. I actually quite enjoyed the repetitive feeling of weightlessness at the peak of the wave followed by the lurch down into the trough.