September 29, 2005

Calling in favours…

I’m knee deep in safaris at the moment. Tsavo East, Tsavo West, Amboseli, Mara – they’re all starting to look the same to me. I’m told the difference is the range of animals and the distance you have to travel to get there. Then of course you have to choose the standard you want to pay for, luxury, cheap or cheaper and whether you want a 4×4 or a minibus with a roof that pops up, do you want to drive over the potholed ridden roads to get there or take an internal flight to Nairobi, sleep in a hotel, resort or tent, all inclusive or pay as you go…. and on and on and on….

I’m tempted just to wait till we get there and hitch a ride with whoever offers, but in a country that is not the safest, where the bugs all bite and can give you terrible diseases, I think a little more planning might be necessary. Besides, that’s what I do best… plan.

I have to admit though, it’s starting to get to me. Take for instance the internet sites such as Holidays Uncovered and Holiday Truth, what sort of people write in to sites like these? I mean, I never do, does that mean I shouldn’t trust their opinions? Would the sort of people who write in to such sites, and more importantly the sort of people that go on Thomson style trips in the first place have similar expectations and tastes as Michelle and I? Probably not. But yet strangely, I still put some weight in what they have to say…

So on I go, trawling the net for advice from strangers on which safari to book.

Feel free to give me your opinions. In fact, I can honestly tell you we’ll treat any advice from anyone we know with far more reverence, even if it’s from someone we know who knows someone who once upon a time went to Kenya. Just consider it a favour.

filles at 5:04 pm

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September 27, 2005

12 weeks ’till christmas!

3 mornings getting to bed at around 3am lets the body know how old it really is…
3 mornings in a row

Give me a nice home cooked meal, some good music or reasonable telly and then a book in bed, and I’m happy. The nights that involve pub crawls, pricey meals in posh restaurants and then last orders at the local pub in a smoke filled haze are definitely not what I look forward to. Funny how things change isn’t it?

We had a great long weekend though. With Claire & Laurent Friday and Saturday night rediscovering Glasgow, we drank champagne, great wine, had a lovely meal at 78 St Vincent and a nightcap and cigar at Uisge Beatha before an excellent Dim Sum brunch and driving them down to Prestwick airport for their return flight to Paris on Sunday. Phew.

We kept going, on to Gatehouse of Fleet which is in Dumfries and Galloway to visit Andy. We had a lovely meal at the local pub, a very heated discussion on life and all it’s anomalies and then spent the following day taking the long way home, stopping to visit all the charity shops and galleries in each little village until we were loaded down with an assorted range of artisan jams, honeys and mustards and a bagful of 2nd hand books!

The rain was bucketing down yesterday and kept going until this morning when at about 10am the sun came out as though nothing had happened. Since then, its been sun, rain, sun, rain. Not light misty Glasgow rain, but heavy large drops like tropical rain, only with wind and cold temperatures to boot. It changes every time I peer out the window.

Before long we’ll be getting only 6 hours of daylight… and we’ll be making our christmas lists for santa!

filles at 1:25 pm

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September 23, 2005

No time

No time. I’m doing trailer checks tonight on ‘Land of the Dead’, not really my kind of movie, in fact not my kind of movie at all, but what the hell, work is work. Claire & Laurent arrive tonight from Paris for the weekend and since the Merchant City festival is on I imagine we’ll be spending a bit of time down there. We went to see the Scottish Ballet company performing for free last night in Merchant Square as part of the said festival. Unfortunately we made it just in time, but not early enough to secure a decent spot to watch. I got to see about half of it, on my tippy toes – and what I saw was MESMERISING!

Buzzing about today getting organised, had a quick bite to eat with Mad at the Cherrybean Cafe in Partick.

Sunday we’re off to Gatehouse of Fleet to spend the night with a friend Andy who lives in a little cottage down there in the middle of nowhere. It’s a long weekend here in Glasgow, so Monday we might head off in search of a castle or two to visit…

No time. Have a good weekend.

Oh, and by the way, we’ve decided to take our chances and opt back into the international mobility program with Thales for next May. Of course it will depend on if a job comes up, with all the right conditions, but hopefully that’s Michelle going to the centre of the action to advance her career, and me returning to live in Paris once again. Now that the decision has been made, we just have to put all our confidence into the wonderful team in HR Thales to get us there before our lease runs out over here…

filles at 4:19 pm

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September 21, 2005

Time flies

It’s been 2 years and 4 months since I gave up any ‘career’ style, stress inducing, well paid, bonus earning, confidence building, ego fuelling type of work. On the one hand it feels like yesterday. I can still hold my own when discussing technology and advancements in mobile phones and terms and conditions on a sub-contract (you’d be surprised, but it does come up once in awhile..) and yet, I’m nowhere near the frazzled, stressed, highly strung, sleepless person I was when I left Montreal.

I’m real. I feel real. I look real, when I don’t sleep well I feel it, and I need to take an early night to recover. When I don’t eat well for a few days I feel it, and I resolve to buy healthy organic vegetables and pulses for a few days to get back into gear. The same applies to Michelle. It’s a nice life in it’s easy going simplicity.

Since all the confusion and discussions on ‘what happens in May 2006’ has started, this nice easygoing life has suddenly now got an anxious overtone. With all the heartfelt discussions and endless pondering going on I’ve begun to ask myself if I have any regrets over what I’ve managed to achieve since getting to this place. I have to admit I have a few. No big ones, just small niggling things, like maintaining some kind of fitness level. I used to trick my mind into going to the gym by threatening to myself, “if I don’t go everyday, I should get a 9-5pm job” and while it seemed to work for a time, it’s long since become ineffective. There is always tomorrow has become a frequent mantra. I never made it to art school over here which was always a plan, but that’s more to do with £ than anything else right now, since being here for less than 3 years puts us in the ‘international student’ category and therefore more than triples the fees…

And yet, on the other hand I have a list of achievements that I’m proud of which I might never have managed had I continued to work at break-neck pace in my chosen career.

There’s always an up-side, a flip-side, a reason for whatever falls into our lap. One of the most important lessons I’ve come across over the last 2 years and 4 months…

filles at 10:25 pm

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September 20, 2005

Glasgow

Since we’re considering leaving Glasgow in the not so distant future, I thought I should start taking some pictures.

(just in case…)

filles at 2:14 pm

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September 16, 2005

More Pics

You can see Mad & Dave’s pictures from Skye, here.

filles at 12:15 pm

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What you see and don’t

Last month Belfast was a hip and vibrant ‘short break’ destination. This month it has returned to 80’s terror. I remember visiting Belfast with a school friend of mine back in 1989. Brooke was working as an au pair in Tipperary in the south. We spent a few weeks hitching our way around Ireland and then up to Belfast where we picked up a hire car for a couple of days to visit Donegal in Northern Ireland. I remember it as a fantastic trip, with not a hint of fear, except perhaps in Belfast… I remember crossing the frontier to Northern Ireland with soldiers all fully armed, checking the car for guns and bombs, and then the city itself with certain streets blocked off for fear of wayward bullets.

I don’t remember being scared of bombs, I do remember being scared to drive a manual car over icy roads and through snow. For me never having lived with snow that was far more terrifying. It was there, I could see it. As opposed to the bombs which were far removed. That was political. As a 21 year old Australian, UK politics was far from the forefront of my worries. Funny how you can remove yourself like that.

Anyway, now that I’ve lived in, under, and surrounded by snow & ice in Montreal, the fear that I once had has dissolved into annoyance. UK politics however has become a way of life. I’m not claiming I’m up to date with where, why or what is happening all the time, but it certainly is right up there on my daily radar. This week more than ever, as Michelle has been instructed to go to Belfast for business next week. The worst possible timing as far as I’m concerned. Two weeks ago we would have tried to extend her business into a weekend away and I would come and join her, now, it’s an exercise in getting her there and back as quickly as possible, with the minimum of fuss.

Another example of how messed up this world is becoming.

filles at 12:07 pm

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September 14, 2005

Moving – here or there?

What to do? We’ve been advised that we cannot renew our lease here next year. The landlord wants to sell the apartment.

This crippling news was given to us yesterday. We’ve spent the last 24 hours deep in thought. We have until tomorrow to rethink our recent decision on whether to renew Michelle’s work contract for another 12 months until May 2007. Up until yesterday, we had decided to stay. When we got the news about the apartment, it came from left field. If we renew for another 12 months it means we’ll have to make a move within Glasgow, once in May 2006 and then again in May 2007. Nice, traditional, high ceiling apartments are difficult to find in Glasgow.

And, moving is such an inconvenience.

The alternative of course is to go back into the pool for international mobility and take our chances. We know that there is nothing coming up in Australia for the next 18 months or so, so where to next? Will there be a position available for May next year or will we be sent home by default? I have no idea. On the one hand, there are still some places I’d like to visit here in the UK. The outer Hebrides, Wales, Cornwall and Devon. Is it possible in the next 6 months? I don’t think so. Am I ready to give up the comforts of living in English with a culture similiar to my own and take a chance again? It could end up being somewhere exotic – Korea, Netherlands or anywhere else in this big wide world; but chances are it will more than likely be France. Do I want to live in France? Will we find somewhere nice to live in France? Certainly it involves moving again, but only once in May 2006, and then not for another 2-3 years…

One minute the answer is ‘Sure, why not?’, the next my stomach is in a knot and I don’t know what to do. The only thing I do know is that I don’t want to get old before my time. What’s wrong with a challenge? Be it a move locally or internationally, we can survive both… we’re not old and staid in our ways, we have no children tying us down. The usual list of Advantages/Disadvantages doesn’t seem to be working for me this time, to stay or to go….

Why can’t we decide?

filles at 12:03 pm

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September 13, 2005

the Black Cuillins

We had a lovely weekend in Skye. The drive up was fun, if not long. Friday night in the pub was fun, if not late. And Saturday, Saturday was the great hillwalking day….

Michelle was all excited to go explore the Cuillins. The ‘Black Cuillins’ as they are called are some of the nastiest hills to walk. In fact I think there was not much walking, and a lot more climbing done looking at the state of Michelle’s fingertips when she arrived back at the hotel. Very high, and very steep, sheer rock faces most of the way up, the pictures are great and we’re all very proud. Dave and her joined the crazy team and spent their day ricocheting between terror and pride, one bad step and ‘bye, bye’….

Madeline and I on the other hand decided that with such nice weather, and with a mountain range as beautiful as the Cuillins we couldn’t afford to miss it. We didn’t want to do the low level walk and not see the fantastic views so instead we drove down to Elgol and took a boat trip into Loch Coruisk where we stopped for lunch and a little walk surrounded with the amazing views of the Cuillins. We saw hundreds of seals sunning themselves on rocks and took a diversion on the way home to view the ‘bad step’ which is a sheer rock face you have to cling to if you want to do the one way boat trip and walk home from there… it was a good move that we chose to pay for the return trip! We probably would have ended up swimming home instead….

A few craft shops in the afternoon, then a couple of pints with the rest of the hillwalking club as they arrived home after their various day walks and we settled in for an early night in Broadford.

Sunday morning we left early, in the rain, and took Mad & Dave on our famed detour drive on the south coast of Skye. Lots of sheep, cows and amazing scenery, we arrived into Armadale for the ferry crossing just before lunchtime. It was a lovely drive home, we passed our favourite town of Arisaig, stopped off to visit the museum there and then a quick lunch stop at Glenfinnan Station where we got to visit the Station Museum. Its the same station that you stop at when you do the Harry Potter train trip from Fort William to Mallaig, without the steam train of course.

It was a fun weekend. We travelled well with Mad & Dave. After 4 trips to the Isle of Skye since we’ve been here, it was a fitting farewell. The next Island trip will hopefully be the Outer Hebrides with my parents next May. We’ll see.

Pictures have been uploaded here, but I’ve had a few problems with the sizing so the quality is not so good… I’ll work on it… but in the meantime, enjoy the views.

filles at 10:47 am

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September 9, 2005

Sports

Cricket.
Man hits ball, runs.
Another man polishes his ball(s).
Currently we are enduring Test Cricket. Multiple days of this same scintillating action.

Back to Skye for some hillwalking in the rain…

filles at 11:48 am

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September 7, 2005

Tropical Scotland

You would’ nae believe it, but this is north west Scotland at the end of August… we had to put the beer in the water to keep it cool!

Alain devised an ingenious plan which incorporated using his shoe laces to tie the beer up to a rock so it wouldn’t get dragged out to sea with the current….

There were 4 beers. I got a sip of one, Sonia maybe half a can – the rest was ‘shared’ between the Richard family members!

filles at 5:59 pm

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I love this photo of Alex

filles at 5:32 pm

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September 6, 2005

single life

We’ve had a string of amazing weather here in Glasgow since Michelle’s been away. Glorious. With a high on Sunday of 26 degrees and today another scorcher, blazing blue skies and temperatures in the mid 20’s, it’s almost unheard of…

I’ve been fiddling about. Getting myself back into some kind of routine. A movie on Saturday with Mad & Dave, another yesterday – along with sorting out the pile of paperwork that’s been steadily building up since the beginning of August. I finally got through it all around 4pm, just in time to play netball.

It’s been awhile. August 9th to be exact. And dear me, didn’t I feel it. I assume it was because the weather is so fab, but we had to play 5 a side tonight as we were several players down. It was fun if you like that sort of thing. Running up and down a court, breaking fingernails, heart pumping, lungs screaming. I’m knackered. Now I’m home, I’m not going anywhere. Since I don’t have to cook something to go with wine for my dinner – that’s Michelle’s requirement, a quick look in our fridge tells me the most summery thing I could come up with for dinner tonight would be a strawberry smoothy.

That’s what it’ll be then. Shame we don’t have any rum….

filles at 6:53 pm

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September 5, 2005

Balance

We have to put our money where our mouth is. Our next trip to the Amalfi Coast will cost us 1 tree

Just a small price to pay to help preserve our world.

filles at 9:38 pm

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September 4, 2005

1 message

Received today on my voice mail:

“sorry Elissa, the photoshoot scheduled for Monday has now been cancelled. The dog is unavailable. “

Seems the gig was a picture of me and a guy dressed up in 80’s garb, with a dog. The dog is double booked. The job will be rescheduled later in the week. Always something going on.

filles at 4:44 pm

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