Posts Tagged ‘canadians’

The one o’ clock cannon, as taken by a tourist at Edinburgh Castle

I’m in Princes Street Gardens right now, trying to relax. Trying. A family on the bench across from me is definitely not in happy land, cursing the daylights out of each other. The mother has a perma-scowl and curses her children for anything they do. “Don’t sit like that!” “Don’t walk around!” “Don’t make a noise!” “Why aren’t you talking to me?!” and on and on. The only time I saw her crack a smile was when the one o’clock gun blasted from the Castle, making the kids jump and hide. Such a sadist.

I must admit the blast scared me as well. In the two months I’ve been here, this was the first time I’d been near the Edinburgh Castle around one o’ clock. I’d forgotten about this tradition, thought it was a fatal car bomb, and nearly soiled my trousers.

Speaking of which, my coworker Luci and her friend Barry worked at the Edinburgh Tourist Office and said their favourite tourist question was: “Where does the cannonball land when the 1 o’ clock cannon strikes?” Right on your head, madam. Right on your head.

I watched the “Songwriter’s Circle Program” on BBC2 last night, a wonderful program showcasing four different artists and their best acoustic tunes. I swooned when I heard Nick Cave. The CBC back home should take some tips from the BBC – I swear, their music industry is only where it is because the national broadcasters take time to promote it.


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scotland018Getting closer to the poo stench at Bass Rock, North Berwick

I had to wait at the bus stop for a good 45 minutes early this morning, barely a soul was shaking, let alone breathing, on the street. I wasn’t aware bus service was this infrequent heading from Edinburgh to North Berwick. But it was a good thing – the other lone person on the street, a fairly funky lad, strolled over to the shelter with his backpack and waited for me to turn around to say, “Are you Canadian?”

I didn’t have a sewn flag on my backpack, so I wondered how he clued in.

Benjamin was an Aussie who’d lived in Prince George, BC for three years, where he became familiar with the brand Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), a Canadian backpacker institution, whose logo was emblazoned on my own backpack.

Turns out Ben is now living in the tiny hamlet of Dirleton with his girlfriend, who he was returning to after a wee trip to the city. We had a good convo until he had to disembark, but I got their details should I land in the town again for a visit. Wheee!

The weather in North Berwick wasn’t as favourable as the forecast predicted. It’s quite grey and chilly, but it somehow suits this seaside town. It’s fresh, peaceful and rugged at the same time. I took a boat ride to Bass Rock, a craggy island just a bit off the coastline, home of many puffins and consequently, home of the stench of the puffin poo. Though we didn’t actually stop to walk around the island, the trip was well worth it. Mmm.

On my way home, I stopped at Tesco’s for the wonderful Sunday evening pastry bargains. I walked out with two custard pastries for 10p each! Yummay!

Now, here in the Meadows, with custard pastries in hand, and this book in the other, I’m relaxing… enjoying Scotland. A flutist is playing in the distance. I’m in love.

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Edinburgh, Scotland | So cliché but so wonderful

Penny and I, engaging in typical tourist fun

I met up with Debbie from New Zealand and her friend Penny last night. They were both sarcastic and fun-loving, and Penny kept charming me with her tongue-in-cheek Mad Cow t-shirt. We were idiots and spent the night mooing, drinking pints at the Iguana, and then ran around the Royal Mile at dusk, taking snaps of everything silly. Penny even mounted a storefront statue like she was getting busy with it. Passersby were intrigued.

However, all was not happy-happy this evening, as we had a little disagreement with the owner of the Clammaker shoppe. We specifically requested a packet of chips MINUS brown sauce, and got a packet WITH brown sauce. After pleading for a new packet as per our original order, the counter lady made a bit of a fuss and tossed us the smallest serving of chips in the world. I think we had about three each. (Note: brown sauce is the ketchup of the Scots. It’s an acquired taste, but once you have it a few times, it’s difficult to see your life without it.)

Despite that, it was quite a fruitful night, filled with cider and black and good friendship. I can’t wait until Debbie returns to Edinburgh in August! Weeeeeeee!

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Not only does Irn-Bru taste great, but their commercials are absolutely brilliant.

We’ve moved offices, to St. George Street. It’s a nice new building on the new side of town, and I like it because I’m not under the criticizing eye of people in the lift; we’re right on ground floor, beside the subsidized canteen (where I can get a decent hot meal for 80p). However, one disappointing feature is the absence of the Water at Work machine that pumped out free cups of Irn-Bru and coffee.

Make-me-feel-guilty news: the other temp I was hired to relieve is canned. I felt so bad because it was her birthday and she ran out of the office crying. Apparently they were over the head count for the people in the department and had to let one of us go. I guess it seems worse for me because I know I’m leaving at the end of August and well, she seemed really intent on keeping this gig for her permanent income. I told my supervisor that I was willing to leave if that was the case, but she told me not to worry. Oh, politics!

And apparently there were two car bombs in the last three days. I haven’t read anything about it, but co-workers confirmed they heard about them through the pipeline. Oh, world.

In happy news, Mark made pakoras tonight. I’m living in a cooking show.

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scotland017Do Scots jig? I do. Waverly Centre Parkette.

Marci, my friend through Travel Cuts SWAP, made a trip here to Edinburgh. To celebrate, we walked around New Town, cartwheeled in the Meadows, and went to the Egg for an alt-indie dancearound. The night culminated in a stop at a corner shop, where a strange guy kept following me around the aisles, only to stop me when I passed him near the two-minute noodle section.

Man: So, you could probably recommend the best flavour.

Me: I’ve barely had any of them.

Man: But it’s your cuisine. You eat these all the time.

I kid you not. Note to future courters, this is not a good way to pick up a fine Chinese-Canadian lady.

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My roommates Mark n’ Rainer right before their nightly run

Right now I’m watching a Wimbledon match because it’s pissing rain outside. I’ve never been one to enjoy athletic endeavours, but tennis seems like it’d be a little fun. Rainer and Mark, my roomies, go out for runs every night and they ask me if I want to join them. I laugh in their face and return to stuffing myself with crisps and fried fish. The funny thing is, whenever I even WALK up the stairs to our flat, I arrive inside huffing and puffing. Mark always catches me and makes fun of my poor health. Ah, c’est la vie.

Anyway, I had my first real concert experience in Edinburgh: the July 1st celebration for the opening of Scottish Parliament (after 300 years) brought Garbage, Idlewild and the Delgados together in Princes Street Gardens, where scores of people lined up outside the gate by 6:30 to land a good spot. I followed suit and stood there for an hour to secure my prime position.

The Delgados sounded great, though had very little stage presence, and Idlewild was quite the opposite. I tend to sway towards the pop side of music rather than rock, so I’d be the wrong person to have comment about their sound, but they were definitely lively to watch. Garbage was surprisingly live, though some of their slow songs made me a bit fidgety and yawny. I felt proud to be in Scotland, seeing Shirley Manson prance around in her hometown, yammering about local politics and the like. The weather was pleasant and people were in such a good mood.

I’m still unclear about the local views on this new Scottish Parliament. The Scots seem really proud of the recognition, but they’re clearly upset with the first Minister in charge, Donald Dewar. Booing and cries of ‘socialist’ spewed forth from the crowd. I should really read more about this.

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n805615424_1153483_1364Nic, Mark, and Rainier at the Bruntsfield

We had a big communications event at the office today. They mentioned something about a free buffet after the speeches so I chose not to gorge on the free biscuits at the table during the actual speech. Unfortunately, everyone I was comfortable hanging around with decided to go back upstairs after the speech so I followed suit and had to forego the free meal.

The policy vetting committee is due to look over my written work and should give the nay or yay in due time.

I came back home to a series of pot banging and cursing; I discovered Mark in the kitchen, a little bitter about the accumulated mess around the sink and stove and well, everywhere. I was happy to say that I was not a part of the mess, but I helped clean up anyway. Shortly, he felt better and made us all bread pudding, which was absolutely yummy, a pre-cursor to a yummy night at a pub down the road from us. We each paid for about two beers each, but ended up getting 6 or 7 free beers through a promotion.

We also managed to snag a manky free chair from the street. All in all, a beautiful night.

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