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Posts Tagged ‘united kingdom’

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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“Mr. Telephone Man” – New Edition

Our phone line has been disconnected for four days now, and the customer service reps at British Telecom are not doing squat about it. We’ve made a number of complaints into the call centre and we’ve gotten a flurry of “But you didn’t pay your bill” (yes we did) and “We are working on the issue” or some other rubbish. Four. Days. Britain fails in the customer service department, to be sure, to be sure.

I’m not a phone addict or anything — especially here in the UK, where local calls are charged by the minute. However, I’d like to have the convenience of the phone at my fingertips when required. Talking to someone from a phone box is depressing.

And it’s not only our flat; it seems as if a number of my friends here have had recent problems with British Telecom. This week alone, I’ve encountered problems with my friend Marci’s line, and Allison’s phone has been periodically on the fritz. I’ll be sending a letter of complaint to BT. Pronto.

I made some curry for Lyndsey and I with a jar of that Patak’s curry-in-a-minute sauce. It turned out reasonably fine, and we sat in the flat watching the Truman Show with Nic, Allan and Mark.

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I like the rep theatres here in Edinburgh. For a city of this size (approx. 450,000), the arts community is quite impressive. I suppose the massive Edinburgh International Festival, due in two months, is a big reason why you simply can’t get away from something good.

My roomie Sebastian, his friend, and I went to see a Scottish film, Orphans. It was quite dark, rough, just like all Scottish movies seem to be. Continuing in that dark vein, we planned to watch Trainspotting together, on his last day in the city, but with over ten people crammed in our tiny living room, I opted to write a few postcards instead, in my dark dank windowless room with the red light bulb. Yes, I’m serious, I have a red light bulb. Welcome to Connie’s lair.

My other roomie Mark made us a wonderful curry dish and “chocolate pudding”. This isn’t isn’t the chocolate pudding of the North American style, but rather a soft spongey cake with heaps of chocolate sauce running through it. We were rapt in pleasure.

In other money-making, ching, ching news, I’ve gotten a welcome work extension, where I will get to spend the rest of my days in Edinburgh, writing up human resource policies. I’m jiggling with excitement! A real corporate job! Watch out, Bay Street!

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