June 30, 2005

Envy the Rain

I’ve just finished a book. I received it on Tuesday morning in the post, read it right through my first class on Animation, throughout my walk home after my class, on my way to my netball game, on the way home from my netball game, after dinner and then finished it in bed that night.

One of those books you just can’t put down.

It was special for so many reasons. A page turner for sure, but also so real. Written in the first person it tells the story of a man and his slow return to life after a devastating break-up splinters his world. Already on the edge, he hovers painfully between destroyed and hopeful – bravely voicing what it is we see when our insides have been turned inside out.

Jamie Boud can write. His talent is evident on his website where his prose and pictures keep his readers entertained and hanging on to every word. But here, in his first novel ‘Envy the Rain’ – he absolutely shines.

In blogland where the walls of friendship and knowing are very fine, I am proud to be a regular lurker at The Known Universe. Although I can’t say I know him personally nor well, through Drew, I can recognise his spirit and marvel at his honesty and I would be especially proud to recommend his novel for you to read.

Go on. Support him now. I wish him a bright and genuinely happy future in writing, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting his next book…

filles at 12:37 pm

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Arran

The crazy people spent 9 hours climbing this…
While the sanest of us had a light 10 mile saunter up a little hill and returned via the coast…

filles at 11:06 am

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Metered Parking

The saga of the parking scheme to be introduced in our area is on-going. It was approved in the Park area on June 7th and is still undergoing approval for others in the proposed 9 areas affected. As far as we go for Park, all the lines have been drawn up on the streets, the machines installed, we just didn’t have a start date. Already commuters have stopped parking in the area and it’s more than possible to find parking during the day which strangely enough – is not really a relief.

I guess the sight of the machines is enough to warn them off. Perhaps, they think that one day after walking back to their car after work that miraculously, the entire force of the Glasgow parking officer brigade will be busy ticketing those of them that haven’t already been scared off by the offending looking machines.

The area of Napiershall has been overturned completely, and another victory yesterday was a reduction in resident permit fees from £150 to £50 annually.

A small victory, and not nearly far enough, but certainly proof that a voice in numbers can still be heard.

For more information keep tuned in to: Metered Parking

filles at 10:34 am

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June 29, 2005

Rain


Currently 13 degrees and cloudy (I don’t know where the sun is, I can’t see it…)


This is the forecast for the next 10 days.

To be more specific, the descriptions used range from ‘Light Rain’ to ‘Showers’ to ‘Heavy Rain’ and ‘Scattered Showers’ to ‘T-Storms’ – and of course not to forget ‘Few Showers’ and ‘Light Drizzle’.

In effect, it’s all just Rain… with a capital ‘R’ for good measure.

filles at 4:46 pm

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A sigh of relief..

Michelle passed her driving test today.

When we moved here to the UK in 2003 we knew that we only had 1 year to drive on our Canadian drivers licences before we had to get ‘real’ ones….

I went to the DVLA and found out I could do a neat little direct swap with my Australian drivers licence. So I did. All taken care of. Unfortunately for Michelle, I guess because we drive on the wrong side of the road in Montreal, she didn’t have it quite so easy. They would ‘swap’ her Canadian license but only in exchange of the theory test – she would still have to undergo a practical driving test in order to be issued with a UK drivers license. That didn’t sound so reasonable, so instead – in our infinite wisdom at the time – it was decided she should keep her Canadian license and go through the full process here in the UK to get a permit.

What a long and sad story. Too long and too sad to relate here. Credit where it’s due though… I’m not sure many of us would be able to sit a driving test after having driven for 25 odd years on the other side of the road and picked up any number of bad habits. Not only that, but there are new rules, new procedures, new lots of things.

The best news is, finally, (after much pain and endless torture and wads of cash!) Michelle is now a full license holder here in the UK. Now she will be able to drive pretty well everywhere fully legal! If we move to Australia she will be able to do a direct swap with the UK license, if we move to France she’ll be able to do a direct swap with her Canadian license. Same as me.

So, congratulations to Michelle (and thank goodness!)

filles at 4:39 pm

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June 27, 2005

in brief

I haven’t disappeared.

We had a fab time on Arran. Walked, drank, ate, walked, drove, returned – all in scorching weather. That’s the short version, I’ll work on a bit more detail over the next couple of days…

Roger and Lorraine leave tomorrow morning. I’m putting them on a train to Bath where they’re off to visit Stonehenge.

I start my course in Computer Animation. Something new. Something different. Why not?

(pictures to follow)

filles at 10:16 pm

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June 22, 2005

Hampstead Hippies…

filles at 10:34 pm

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Beer Wine & Whisky

We’ve been very busy this week with guests from Montreal. Roger and Lorraine have been keeping us up ’till all hours drinking beer, wine and whisky. It’s been a blast.

It’s such a pleasure to have guests who enjoy a tipple – and who want to get up and see and do everything they can here in Glasgow. It’s been only 3 days, yet so far we’ve visited about 15 pubs (and tasted a different ale or lager or stout in each), done the bus tour, GOMA, People’s Palace, West End Festival, Council Chambers, Corinthian, Glengoyne Distillery, Luss, The Hill House and today they’ve zipped off to Edinburgh for the day while I catch up on some chores…

I’m getting us ready for our hillwalk this weekend in Arran. With all this eating and drinking going on, I have no idea how we’ll manage a hill. At least there’s 4 of us, if we get left behind we won’t be alone….

filles at 2:02 pm

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June 16, 2005

Our travels

I was doing this for us really. Just to see how much of Scotland we’ve seen since we’ve been here. Not bad huh! This summer we have plans to extend this even further, we’re going to the Isle of Arran with Roger & Lorraine in a couple of weeks, and then to the Outer Hebrides at the end of August. There looks like we have gaps far north and far south. We’ll have to keep working on those…

filles at 9:35 am

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June 15, 2005

An institution

Waldmans. At one time, you could buy the freshest fish here, then scoot around the building and have it cooked for your supper. I don’t know if they do that anymore, or if the fish is still good, but if I think of fish in Montreal, I think of Waldmans…

filles at 8:33 pm

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Justine

I’ve been promising a picture to Mario since Christmas. This is Michelle’s youngest niece…

filles at 4:47 pm

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Gmail

I have some invitations left if anyone wants to try Gmail. Just let me know and I’ll send you one…

filles at 12:45 pm

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Montreal

I’ve been looking for a CD full of photos I took at christmas time in Michelle’s family that have gone missing over the last few months. I tracked it down, uploaded them onto the computer and I’ve been sitting mesmorised for a couple of hours. I miss Montreal. The winter sun, how beautiful it is. The dirty snow and filthy cars in the wintertime. The colourful and very original bilingual graffiti sprinkled through the yuppie parts of town. I’ll try and put together a couple of photos to show you what I mean.

In the meantime though, here is one of Michelle skating with her nieces. It’s not in focus, but it’s fast. And I love it for that.

filles at 1:18 am

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June 13, 2005

Old friends

Today I dashed off to Edinburgh to catch up with some friends for lunch whom I haven’t seen since 1989! Juliet and her mum Elin live in Trondheim in Norway and have done so for many years. We’ve known each other since I was about 6 years old in Sydney – and sadly we haven’t exactly remained in close contact for quite some years. Since we’re now here in the marvellous city of Glasgow, only a hop skip and a jump from Norway, I’m hoping that we can remedy that…

filles at 9:26 pm

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Singapore: land of good food!

We weren’t sure what to expect with Singapore. For most people Singapore is a quick 1 night stopover on the way to Australia, or a 2 night shopping spree on the way back. Known as a good introduction to Asia, Singapore is clean and fairly westernised. Not many people we know have actually spent a lot of time there so it was hard to get much info about the place other than from the library’s copy of the ‘Rough Guide’ (dated in 2000) that we took with us. As usual, when a travel guide is that old, absolutely none of the restaurants are where they are supposed to be, the hotels have all changed hands, and the prices have quadrupled, but for Michelle the most important part is the history and that pretty much always remains the same!

Me I was looking forward to the food. Of course.

We had booked into the InterContinental Hotel (one of the advantages of earning British pounds…) as it was one of the few 5 star hotels that had a kind of ‘heritage’ stamp still imposed on it. The government apparently provided some funding if the original shophouse buildings on the site were restored and incorporated into the hotel. It was something of a treat. We stayed in one of the shophouse rooms – timber floors, high ceilings, shuttered windows and exposed beams, and of course air-conditioning – it was lovely.

Outside the temperature didn’t drop much below 32 degrees Celsius – even at night, and the humidity was high. My tan that I had painstakingly nurtured through sunburn and blisters from Palm Cove just slid off me with all the humidity in the first few hours of wandering about in Chinatown.

Our hotel was vaguely in the Colonial District of Singapore. Only a block from Raffles, and fairly central to most things. We spent our first day walking between meals, starting with Dim Sum in the morning, Japanese paper curry at lunch, some noodles for afternoon tea, and Thai for dinner. It was a good introduction. We wandered about Chinatown, through the old quarter, the market areas, new shopping centres, trendy designer streets and miles upon miles of hawker stands. The food was amazing.

Another day we took the hop on/off bus tour around the circuit they do of Singapore. We didn’t get off to visit, we just took the trip to get an idea of the layout of Singapore and a quick look at the touristy sights to be had. In fact the bus was put on by Singapore Airlines and it pretty well just ferried you between shopping arcades from one end of the city to the other, with a couple of stops in the out of the way places like the Botanical Gardens, entertainment centre and the newly developed areas like Clarke Quay. A bit disappointing all in all. Instead we jumped off at Sim Lim Square, mecca for the electronic gadget collector. Millions of electronics and accessories stores over 6 floors – kept us busy for about 4 hours. Every time we were ready to leave, we’d be drawn in somewhere else and would find ourselves sitting up at the counter bargaining for something we never even realised we needed desperately! We managed to escape eventually, arms full, wallets lighter and all bargained out. It turns out, it’s not THAT much cheaper in Singapore, but for the same price you pay here in the UK you get several generations ahead in technology in Singapore….

We visited the Arab quarter which was beautiful and village like – in the foreground of a spectacular mosque, and Little India which was colourful and alive. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and gorgeous materials abound on the streets – plenty of people and action and of course street upon street of food stalls. It’s surprising really because normally when it is really hot, the last thing you want to do is eat, but the smells are so good – you find yourself sitting on a stool on the edge of the street slurping noodles from a spicy hot broth in a plastic plate with the rest of the population.

Our last night we ate dinner on the riverfront in a seafood restaurant. It was late, about 11pm and we were happy to let the waitress order on our behalf. We wanted to try the specialty of chilli crab but we couldn’t be bothered to have to do all the work involved in eating a crab, so we negotiated with the waitress and were served the most amazing crab, boiled in this thick spicy chilli soup’ish sauce. She had another waitress come over, glove herself up, prepare her tools, and then she stood there and shelled the crab for us, handing it to us to eat as she went. It was divine. Like butter melting in your mouth. The woman was covered up to her elbows, and all down her front in red chilli sauce and shell – and we sat there like two queens eating her efforts. So worth the £8 a head it cost us!

That’s the thing. The food is so good and so cheap. We ate so much! In my case, about 2kg worth.

We didn’t manage to do any of the tourist trail. Nor did we get to Orchard Rd – and the high street stores. I think the only typical thing we did was the obligatory ‘Singapore Sling’ at Raffles. Just something you have to do. Do it once and that’s it, never necessary again.

Singapore was great. I’d go back. Definitely the place to wander, eat well, search out the real life and stay away from the shopping malls and the tourists. We had 4 nights this trip and we both felt we could have happily stayed longer and split our days between visiting and sitting by the pool.

That’s not to say we didn’t manage a couple of afternoons with a book and a pina colada… Life is good.

More photos here

filles at 10:25 am

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