Thursday, May 26, 2011

Whistle while you work, just not to loudly.

 Good show!

So while I was off galevanting and getting engaged, Christopher was in Drum working at The Courtyard Restaurant. Its one fo the very few restaurants in the marvelous town of Drumnadrochit. They had they're opening weekend on Easter and Christopher worked almost every day from open to close.
When I showed up in town, I found him on a couch in the hostel with a nice Dutch boy we called Statue whose real name is Stanaslove-something-or-other. Somehow from that we got Statue. Turned out during the weekend him and Statue got into a little an adventure. One night they walked the mile to Urquhart Castle in the dark with only flashlights to light they're way and hopped the fence to the castle and went exploring at night. Urquhart Castle is a very old 6th century ruin, that is quite creepy especially at night. They light up parts of it which just illuminates the errieness of it. Its also built right on the corner of a cliff so you have the entire Loch laidd out in front. You can't help but think what it was like 800 years ago. It is claimed to be where St-Colombia stayed when he was converting the Pictish king. During excavations they found artifacts from 400 AD. The castle is also where the majority of the Nessie monster sightings were, and is said to be close to the Nessie Cave. kind of adds a little more mystery doesn't it? You can see the castle when driving into Drum and it is a amazing sight.

Once in Drum with Christopher we started up a routine of long days and food! I was worried about Christopher eating well while I was away, but as it turns out, as he said in his own words he was eating like a king. Ann was keeping him fed with all the specialties at the restaurant. Venison, lamb, pork, beef fancy dishes.
Working at the restaurant is fun and interesting. I have never been a waitress before but I remeber as a kid always pretending, and for the first few days thats what I felt like "Table for two, right this way" it was fun! :) Then I started waking up with feet that felt they had a car dropped on them and the novelty wore off pretty quickly.
the first night we both worked, after the long shift we all sat down and had some drinks. Darren the 16 year old son of the couple we work for kept pouring his father more wine and in turn was nice enough to topp me up as well. Only problem i,s that his father is a fully grown ex-cop Scotsman while I'm just not, so by the end of the night, walking in almost complete darkness, I had the sudden inspiration to hop over one of the field fences and try to catch a sheep.. I wanted a little lamb because they are so cute! Only problem is they are actually quite quick. And they "Bahh" really loudly when being pursued, so after a couple stumbled attempts I gave up and crashed in the hostel, not after Christopher took a couple of pictures of course, only to wake up with a terrible hangover which required me to run across the street at work to get some pain reliever.
Drum is a tourist town, Urqhart castle is the 3rd Anyone wanting to take a boat cruise on the Loch Ness looking for Nessie stops through Drum. Because of this almost 99% of the customers who come in are tourists. Germany and France had they're spring breaks so we got a slew of German and French. A few times I spoke French while serving and just like in Paris they spoke English back to me...
We worked in the restaurant all week, starting at 11 and usually finishing at 10pm. Long days, but they go by quickly. In a few conversations with our bosses Ann and Karl about the restaurants website sorrows, Christopher mentioned his modest skill with building websites and they hired him for the job! He will start building it soon. 
We have met many different people and tourists passing through town. Not only tourists but the 'Great Glen Way' which is a path that cyclist and hikers use to walk and bike across Scotland, the Great Glen as they call is passes right through Drum and therefore anyone needing a snack or rest, stops in town. We have alot of fun talkign to people. so far we have met these two men that set a goal to climb every mountain in Scotland over 3000ft, they are still working on it and have been doing so for 20 years! All longer conversations start off almost exactly the same way ahem- ME: "Hi, can I take your drink order" CUSTOMER: "Well THAT doesn't sound like a Scottish accent" ME: "your right" CUSTOMER: "well whats a American doing this far in the highlands" ME: "I'm not sure you'd have to find one and ask them, CUSTOMER: "OH I'm so sorry! your Canadian" AND SCENE! Then they ask why Scotland and I explain, and they also ask, if all the workers on staff are Canadian, because they here Christopher speak, and we give the entire schpel again. Its fun most of the time.
All week we were preparing for our first catering event. How the catering works is they have a massive canteen trailer, actually top of the line and spotless shiny. They drive this trailer to a event, we prepare, cook and serve to customer over the counter. What we were preparing for before hand is that it would be a 18 hour day and require us to wake up at 5am... blahdy bla. So the night before the evetn came and we got ourselves to bed at a decent hour and prepared for a dreamy night of slumber, oh wait! I forgot we sleep in a room with 4 other people and oh look at that, ones a snorer how nice.... I was woken up at 12:30 because a french couple was singing opera int he bathroom next door, and was so irritated I got up to ask them to be quiet, when leaving Christopher felt the need to yell "Just be nice okay"? Who me? After telling the turned-out-to-be-a-nice- couple to keep it down, I settled back into bed... then came the snoring... I wont go into to much detail, but let me just say they have stamina, I ended up int he hostel living room, punching a pillow, and not a wink was to be had all night. Also because of my constant getting in and out of bed, and groaning about this snorer I kept Christopher up all night also... we were BFF's in the morning :)
Walking along the street that Saturday morning with a mug of coffee I snatched from the hostel kitchen was pleasant. What was ACTUALLY pleasant though was the drive to the event. We were catering for Maggie's Cancer run. Maggie's is a organisation that helps cancer patient's be more comfortable. they pay for luxuries, and they also pay for accommodation for people who need to move cities for treatments. they were doing a walk and bike from Fort William to Inverness. That its literally from one side of Scotland to the other, of course at the most narrowest point of Scotland but still a feat none the less. We were setting up at one of the check points. The drive from Drum to fort Augustus took us the other way along Loch Ness, it was breathtaking. When you look into the distance you see layers of mountains. They look like a mirage, different shades and depths, but they're there. Its like nothing I have ever seen. We have mountains in Quebec, and to be honest sometimes when driving I think we could be driving up North to Tremblant, but this view didn't make me feel like I was in Kansas. Ann explained that in Fort Augustus there is mountain you can sit on and you have the perfect view of the lochs falling into each other.
The event itself was fairly calm and fun. Besides the throbbing headache from a sleepless night, it was entertaining. They had a band play, mind you they played the same 8 songs for 5 hours, but it was cool the first few rounds. Christopher and I got to hear alot of different Scottish accents which was exciting, and frustrating because we kept needing to yell and "Pardon Me!". At one point Ann left and Karl took over. When we were left alone I took over the grilling on the stove, while Christopher served and I kept remembering all those times I had seen people in these type of trailers over a hot grill thinking, "I am so glad thats not me that job sucks!" well there I was getting grim greese in my facial pores. Christopher and I had a pretty good routine, going though, and we stuck to it. Until Karl came in and told me I was a crappy griller.... just another career path closed to me.
The fun part of the day was when we had to change venues to the other check point which was back in Drum, and on the way the trailer got a flat tire or here they spell it "Tyre". Christopher and I had to sit by the side of the road for almost two hours while Karl went back and forth getting equipment to change it.
It was fun because we just happened to stop next to a path that brings us down tot he Loch Ness and it was a fabulous day! The water was all sparkley and the mountains so crisp! I had the genius idea of wanting to go for a dip and rolled up my pants, and stepped in... my legs nearly came off it was so damn freakn' cold! I forgot that one of the mystery's of the Loch Ness is that no matter what the temperature is outside the water never ever changes temperature, always stays a nice comfortable 4 degrees. I got Christopher to take a picture of me anyway, not before he grunted a "I told you so" of course. After this said adventure and mutual awing of the view, we sat in the blistering sun next to the trailer. I get sun stroked within minutes, so naturally I took off my uniform shirt (I was wearing another shirt underneath) and wrapped in on the my head. Karl thought this was just insane, but I like freaking him out sometimes :)
Christopher downed a few Irun Brues and I took a nap in the grass. Seems so pleasant, at least it does in movies and books, slumbering in a medow, but you know what lurks in grass! Bugs! lots and lots of bugs, that think if your in they're territory they have free range to crawl on you. You think this would deter me, so did I, expect that I was so tired I took a nap anyway and told the bugs to screw off.
We got back to the hostel that night exhausted and smelling like hog, to find out our room had been change and we now get a privet twin room yay! We walk around the hostel, past the dorms, past the staff room, take a right behind the laundry shed and tada! A lovely old wood shed converted into a room.... With the beds and table you have enough room for maybe 3 people standing. I did a quick spot checked and open the tiny curtain to the tiny window and regretted it instantly, not only was it filled with webs and little nests, but there on the panel was a chunky hairy spider. I flipped and ran into the dining room and asked very sternly if Niel (one of the hostel owners) would be so kind as to get rid of this thing for me. He obliged and tried to pry it off the ledge with his fingers that how big it was! He lost it though which was just great! I used my mind power ability to convince myself it have run out the door just so I could get some sleep. Turns out that while Niel was serving drinks later that night he felt something on his neck and smacked it on the table.. ( insert creepy shudder here). Before Christopher and I left Montreal, we made a deal that Christopher would kill all spiders, he has so far lived up to the deal, except coward around the corner when a big wasp flew in through our window one day. But this spider was so big I didn't even want him near it.
The next day we were heading home to our flat in Edinburgh. We needed to find a way out of our lease or come up with a plan to make sure we don't loose too much money going back and forth. We packed our bags, walked to the bus stop and waited... and waited... and w-a-i-t-e-d.... after 3 hours of sitting  with my big back pack on, a lovely lady came by to explain that no one here takes the bus on Sunday because it rarely runs. We had needed to catch a bus at 4 in Inverness to get back to Edinburgh but that was long past so we just waited another hour and a half, for a total of almost 5 hours. When in Inverness we were hoping to hop on another bus leaving, ah but that would be to easy. No more buses were running that night, and the train either. It was the first time we had been faced with no plan. I was a little excited. A true adventure! Christopher didn't agree too much, but as long as we found the cheaper option of anything he would be okay. So away we hunted the streets of Inverness for a place to stay. We walked along the water, the day had turned windy and cloudy and a little chilly. Finally we stopped someone to ask them where the closest hostel was, the man kinda stared at us, mumbled something and then with a direct look said "Where are you from?" We said Canada and he proceeded to contemplate and point us up hill. wasn't the most helpful man. After walking in circles we finally came to a sign for a hostel! At 10 pounds a night with free wifi we couldn't refuse. So we walked into a 50 person dorm, took a bed in the corner and set out to connect to wifi so I would skype for Brittany's baby shower. It was so good to see everyone! Especially Brittany. The skype on Christopher's Ithoch is pretty terrible, Chrstopher gave up half way through, figuring watching Brittany opening baby presents wasn't worth the craned neck. Unfortunately that night Christopher didn't sleep at all because the noes from the street kept him up all night, so we were both happy to be heading to our flat with our own rooms.
When we finally got home the next day we were so grateful to be back in Edinburgh. Again, we love the highlands but there is something about setting up somewhere as "Home" and having it be a comfort to you. I think it was because of this we sat around in our flat for most of the week, doing laundry and relaxing. enjoying our flat before we had to get rid of it. Most mornings though we woke up to the poundings of jackhammers and the general symphony of construction. Until it was time to head back up to Drum to stay for a week of work.
Which is where we leave you off now. In another few days we will post another post which will bring us up to date. We are finally now experiencing true Scottish weather it has been.... fun... Apparently this spring has been the driest spring in a century! Lucky Scots in 1911. It has been great, except it is affecting the crops and cattle here, and that is a major chunk of Scotland business. But if the past couple weeks are any indication I think they will survive.

Cheers everyone!!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Surprise Visit and the Winds of Change

Tali oh everyone!

We're very sorry. Its been a while since we've made a post. So much has been happening and I personally was trying to make the rounds with my big news before I made a post so no one had to find out the big news through a blog. I will be making a post every couple of days to get up to date, so check in if you are interested

Christopher and I have been on a full time schedule for the past three weeks and enjoying mostly every minuet.

After that first weekend in the Highlands we have been enjoying life in the city as much as we can, knowing we wont be spending much time there.
We had made our own special plans for Easter but I got a surprise change of plans. Mark came to visit! His daughters ended up going to Toronto to visit they're moms side of the family so Mark decided to use the time to visit me, or so he let me think.... 
WARNING: The remaining of this post will be mostly dedicated to the excitement of Marks visit and a play by play of what happened. I have been asked numerous time for details so I thought I would use the blog to let everyone in on "The Story" :) If you are a friend of Christopher, this is mostly about my personal life so you can skip it if you like. Christopher goes back to Drum thats all you need to know for now.
I wrote out the entire story but it was ridiculously long and detailed so I tried to sum it up... and its still long, so bear with me.
Mark got into Edinburgh on the 21st of April. I picked him up from the airport dressed in my spring finest, flowy skirt and heels! Created a great effect I think :)
We got back to the flat and I made him my own rendition of High tea so he got to try my newest addiction: clotted cream and warm scones with just a touch of raspberry jam..... ahhhhh little slice of heaven in the palm of your hand... 
After he napped for an hour or so, We decided to hike up Arthur's Seat. The weather in Edinburgh had been so reliable for the past couple weeks so I convinced both Christopher and Mark to wear shorts and t-shirts because last time we were sweating. The climb was great, Mark carried the back pack full of beer, gave Christopher a break from being the bag holder, I had had only clotted cream and tea as substance so it was a bit of a rougher trek for me, but the boys were patient while I wheezed my way up. Of course, our walk there was beautiful but while we got to the top a cloud covered the top and it was freeezing! Christopher and Mark weren't too impressed with my forceful suggestion of wearing only shorts and t-shirts... The peak was so clouded over we couldn't see anything, which was too bad for Mark but we had some good views on the way down. when at the peak, it was a little unsettling, we couldn't see anything, so when standing or sitting at the top you felt as if you were in abyss. Nothing below and nothing above. As if you fell you would fall into nothing. I needed to cling to the rocks just to avoid slight panic. I kept getting nervous when Mark or Christopher went too close to the edge. On the way down we stopped in our usual spot, at the chapel ruin and had some beers, but our hands were so cold Mark had to chug them so we could get moving. 
After deciding to walked up Royal Mile for Marks benefit made it only 10 minutes before we gave up and walked into the first decent shop we saw and sat to have some hot soup. We walked into this Scottish wannabe Italian Bistro.. we all ordered the soup that felt as if it was directly linked to our brains because it was exactly what we were looking for. Thick, buttery and big! The perfect answer to a damp Scottish afternoon, served with three kinds of warm fresh bread that had the butter melting in complete perfection.
Needless to say the day ended a little early because the weather wasn't cooperating. That night we decided to rent a car for the next few days and a get a hotel in the highlands. Just before Mark arrived we got called to work on the Easter weekend. When I was explaining this to my mom the night before Mark flew my mom on skype said very sternly "But you can't work!" which of course I am only realizing now the cause of such a response. :)
So that night while I was exhausted and lazy and wanted to go to bed, Mark INSISTED on booking our hotel and car that night while I thought we would just drive a end up some place... so we booked a lovely hotel right on the river in Inverness and decided we would drive Christopher to work also. The car turned out to be a great little VW, the driving however was worse then the up hill on a roller coaster.... I thought if I trust anyone to drive on the other side of the road it would be Mark, but turns out I was hysterical anyway. Edinburgh as a city already isn't very car friendly. Because it is such a  ancient city the roads were not designed for two way lanes, so cars are always a tight fit. A common fixture on a car in this city is foldable mirrors because they get clipped off otherwise. Being in the passenger seat was difficult, because I felt about 1 cm away from the parked cars, I kept yelling and gesturing "move away, more right!" I ended up having to close my eyes to get out of city. Mark had a ball driving on the other side, required a little extra concentration, but he said it was a novelty, like driving a go-Kart. We had great weather for the drive, and I kept freaking out trying to point out the mazing views to Mark which he obligingly said "oo" and "ahhh" at the appropriate times :)
Our plan was to hit Inverness that night and the next day do a tour of Spey Side and some distilleries. Mark has always been a huge Scotch fan, or I should say as we were taught, its called "Single Malt" or just Whiskey, no one says "Scotch" here, (I get laughed at at work). Spey Side single malts are his favorite. For a quick lesson, Spey Side is a region in Scotland. The single malts from Spey Side get they're water for the river Spey, and are all grown in the area. (The main town is Elgin, if anyone is interested in visiting the area.)
En route to Inverness we saw a sign for the Dalhwinni Distillery, which just happens to be one of MY favorite single malts. So we stopped in which was nice because Christopher could also partake in the distillery experience, plus a whiskey tour is on our photo Scavenger hunt! Check out website for photos, very funny...
The distillery itself is a sight just from the outside. All white with some dark borders, very Tudor-esk and these massive wood casks nicely nestled in front to create a picturesque distillery. We only had to wait a little while for the next tour which was worth it because we had our own privet tour. Our tour guy was named something I can't remember, but had floppy hair and a interesting voice, with crisp endings. He gave us his entire spiel, and Mark kept interrupting which I think had Mr.Tour Guide regretting saying "If you have any question please don't hesitate to ask." What I loved most about the tour is that Dalwinnie is one of the last major distilleries that still make whiskey in the old way without much fancy machinery. Everything is done in copper or wood, really adds to the romance to single malts I think. My favorite part though was in the end where they show you where all the casks are aged. You can only see them through a window, all these old rickity wooden casks piled on top of each other in the dark with ancient writing stamped on them which makes you think of docks in the 1800's. They have one cask that is 50 years old that is apparently just sitting there because the ownership of it is under dispute. Whiskey can't go much past 50 years because the malt evaporates from the barrels, thats why Scotland is such a great place to make whiskey because the weather is never that warm. The evaporated whiskey they call "The Angels Share" which when he told us this information I squeaked out a "awww thats so cute!" in which I received a very odd stare and a stumbled "uhh I've never quite heard that response before" After the full tour, which ended in where they show us what the huge wooden barrels are used for in the front, we got to taste! When we first got there they wouldn't allow Mark to have any tastings because he was driving, not ONE! Which was a huge disappointed because he was one of the reasons we stopped in the first place, so while I had the gold package where I got to try a 39 year old, Christopher got the base package Mark got nothing. We situated ourselves behind a wall to have our tastings. They were fantastic! My favorite is the 18 year old Distillery Edition, which is distilled first in regular casks and finished off in a sherry-wood casks, which gives it a really easy finish. To not waste the experience, I went up to the cash and since there was only two staff members there I ask one to take a picture of me with our tour guide, I insisted on taking the picture on the other side of the shop which gave Mark ample time to taste all the options. He agreed that the Distilleries Edition was top notch.
We continued our journey onto Drumnadrochit to drop Christopher off at work. I kept getting more anxious the closer we were to dropping him off, I'm guessing because it was the first time we were being separated, also I felt guilty that he had to work while I got to play around. Drum is such a tiny little town, I didn't want him to be alone... We took our time leaving him, which Mark teased me about, but just another proof of his love, he offered to take Christopher with us to Inverness, which NOW I know just what a wonderful gesture that was.
We got to our hotel and it was amazing. Perfect little Highland hotel. Wood moldings and fixtures, and classic decoration. Mark was a little worked up about the room, wanting everything to be perfect which I thought was sweet at the time, again not realizing the situation. That day was the 22nd and technically was our anniversery of our first date, so I thought it was fitting to go all out in a blue sequence dress and flashy earrings. We walked out of the hotel and were greeted with the most romantic sight I have ever seen. The sun was setting and fading on the horizan, the sky was a beautiful sea green, the river was feet away, flowing and all the trees that lined the river were lit up in twinkle lights, Romeo himself couldn't sculpt a more intimate evening, made me feel like the night was there just for us. (Also just happens to hold a wonderful memory for me now :)
It was a beautiful night, not to cold, and we took our time walking along the river to the restaurant. On the way to the restaurant, just up a hill is Inverness Castle. At night there are lights around to illuminate it. It quite a sight. We appreciated the view and decided we would try and walk up before we leave the city. 
The restaurant it self was beautiful, a old converted church looking over the running water. We closed the place having a tasty meal involving some sort of sea food, and shared a bottle of wine. After dinner, lazy and light headed from full belly’s and wine we decided to saunter slowly back to the hotel, on the way Mark asked if I wanted to walk across the little bridge or maybe walk up to the castle. I looked down at my black stilettos and decided I’ve walked in worse and up we climbed. It was a short hill, and we reached the top without much trouble. The castle really is pretty, exactly what you think a castle would look like, turrets and big round doors. In front of the castle is a statue of Flora McDonald, who is famous for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Scotland. The story goes that she dressed him up as one of her maids to get him past he guards. 
We walked around the castle and drank in the view, to get a better view we walked around the castle to sit on a bench right in front looking over the river. We sat there, relaxing, I had my head on Marks shoulder and he started talking, I was listening but apparently not well enough because only half way through did I realize what he was doing! I sobered right up and without much grace spurted “are you doing what I think your doing!” He smiled and after another few choice romantic words, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!!!!!! He asked me with the most poetic phrase I have ever heard and opened a little ring box shaped like a bell..................... My intelligent response was to stare, stunned, it is one of the few times in my life I can ever remember being surprised speechless, literally speechless, no sound would come out. I kept trying to register what was actually happening, until my mind finally caught up and I nodded sheepishly and said “Yes, of course!” He slid the most perfectly sparkly ring on my finger that fit like a glove and I basked in the bliss! Sounds cheesy but it was wonderful. For anyone interested and curious in what Mark actually said during his proposal you will have to ask me in person, some things are just meant for a couples moment while others I just can't do justice by writing but it was amazing.
I kept going through waves after that, shock, excitement, wonder. Mark offered to go drive and see Christopher in the morning to tell him which I thought was sweet, and great. At the moment I didn't know what to do next so it was good to have a plan, then the word fiancee rang to mind and that sent me into flutters again. :) i got to hear the story about him asking my mother for her blessing, and how he brought his daughter shopping for the ring, how he had told his parents. About how he kept the ring on him personally for the past 48 hours through the airport and flight! What a effort that was! Everyone at home knew apparently. His parents, sisters, my mom and sister.... 
 In the morning we had breakfast by the window, which I will always remember because I discovered  that as it turns out diamond rings go with anything! Who knew! They go with forks, and stirring coffee, holding cups, resting on the table, adjusting purses, it really has nothing it wont look great with, still doesn't get old. 
After breakfast, we drove the windey road hugging the Loch Ness. We found Christopher working and I yelled our news! Christopher was gleefully happy! Him and Mark did alot of man hugging and hand shaking. Although apparently my mother already spilled the news to Christopher and he already knew, but he was happy none the less. We left him and headed for Spey.
On the way to Spey Side we saw the sign for Cullodon battle field and decided to stop for a bit, what we didn't anticipate was that the battle field would cost the entire afternoon. Well worth it we thought, there is so much to say on it, which I will discuss in a later post because the story and tragedy from Cullodon don't belong on this post of such happy news! Plus this getting really long again.
After our afternoon of Cullodon, we decided to take a detour to St-Andrews: Birth Place of Golf. What a hidden Gem! Well for me anyway, someone who doesn't know much about golf, we got there the sun was blaring on us, and we parked right next to the ocean, the waves were rolling in. We went and played on the rocks, and looked at the city of St-Andrew's which is built right up the tip of the cliffs, to one side ancient buildings the other side manse of golf courses.
We hunted for a golf shop because Mark wanted to get a golf ball for a co-worker, of course we ended up spending an hour in there, and I couldn't resist a few souvenirs myself, what I'll ever use golf ball for myself who knows but it will look cool on my mantel. We watched the sun set wandering around the old courses, taking pictures, especially on the old stone bridge, Famous, because its the first ever gold course. We had slow lazy dinner, at a local pub, while he was getting food I sat at the table taking pictures of my hand. After some good food and drink, we slid in the car to make our way back to Edinburgh.
The next couple of days we just strolled around Edinburgh, walking in the parks, shopping in the outside markets and fairs, showing him the sights, my favourite places. We stopped into Royal Mile Whiskey shop, which turned into a 2 hour affair of us talking with Mr Whiskey Expert #2. Whose name turned out to be Sean.. I think... On Marks last night in town we went out for dinner at a Irish pub, had some great tradition dishes and tried ginger beer, which taste like candied beer, haven't decided yet if I love it or hate it. Then headed to Bow Bar, which was recommended to us by Sean, to try different whiskeys because they had the largest selection in Edinburgh.The bar is very tiny, but popular, we stood at the bar for our first couple drams and then swiftly sat when a bench became available. We met Jan, a German who had gone to school in Edinburgh and was coming back for a visit. we had a wonderful night getting hazey off Scotch and wandering the quiet street of Edinburgh-at-dark. 
Really was a magical weekend. Watching Mark leave was terrible, and required some extra effort on my part not to go with him.... gets harder everyday. I hope this post fills everyones appetite, it was fun to relive the memory :) 

After Mark left, I hopped on the next bus to Drum  to join Christopher.  Which is where our story continues... stay tuned for the next chapter in Chris and Elles excellent Adventure int he next couple of days where we see just how sore feet can get and what life is like living in a shed behind a field.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sheep, sheep, sheep!

Halò! (Hello in Scottish Gaelic)

Spring is still in bloom here and getting more beautiful every day. The trees are green and the flowers super colourful!

Christopher and I have been keeping busy. Walking into town most days, stopping in a few antique stores here and there. I think I've found a new hobby-antiquing! Only damper on my antiquing experience is Christopher relentlessness with all his "But you don't need that!" he's rather stubborn.
Christopher keeps busy with useful past times such a memorizing all the countries of the world. Its as if he must do something productive and useful before he gives in to his computer games. He takes books out of the library, learning new drawing techniques and practises every day. His newest foe is hair, when we go to the portrait gallery hes always staring at the hair in paintings being frustrated. He just completed his first full portrait and its amazing.
I keep busy with reading, cooking, cleaning (yes cleaning) and watching various movies. I'm trying to conquer the vegetarian lifestyle. I've come up with some tasty dishes if I do say so myself. There is only one kind of tofu available in the grocery stores here but its been working for us. Every week we get new veggies in our organic basket so every week is a new adventure in the kitchen!
The weather has stayed beautiful, and we're really enjoying our big living room windows, granted we mostly only have a view of other buildings but the sun is stealthy and still manages to sneak through.
The weekend was the most exciting for us. We finally made it to the Highlands!
The couple we work for have a seasonal restaurant up there and to get some work we went up to help them open it. We took a bus at 12:35 on Saturday afternoon.  That morning we headed to the library again because Christopher wanted a book for the weekend. He picked up War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Anyone who knows what this book is understands it is no small undertaking, for those of you who are clueless, it is a book by a Russian author about the famous Napoleon war with Russia... its about 1000 pages in teeny tiny font. It was originally written in Russian so on top of the bible length its a translated version which can be very difficult to understand. Christopher is on a mission! He's already gotten through a huge chunk and I'm excited to hear his review of it. Apparently the author originally wrote Napoleon in a completely different light andcharacter but the publishers wanted him to change it (Christopher researches everything before he chooses anything) . SO after the library we got on the bus to Inverness!
3 1/2 hours driving through the Highlands was everything I thought it would be. Mountains upon mountains.
We arrived in Inverness and due to complications Ann (our boss) couldn't pick us up, so we needed to take a bus to they're town, which is Drumnachit, its pronounced with alot of coughing sounds but the locals just call it "Drum". On the way there I noticed that we were driving along the Loch Ness! I didn't even think about it! The Loch was beautiful and huge. Drum is about 30 mins from Inverness, and when you get there you feel as if you've reached the end of the earth, almost as if you have stepped through time. The bus stops at the post office/grocer/ticket counter. The towns main resource is tourism for the Loch Ness Monster, so there is one major building that is a converted castle which is the "Loch Ness Center", and then the "town" is this little post office, two restaurants and a little ways down a fire station... you are surrounded by mountains, vast huge mountains. We met our new bosses at they're House which is also the police station, turns out that Carl one of our bosses was the policeman before he retired, that's right THE policeman... now the positions been decommissioned and there are no police... After a nice meet and greet with our bosses Carl drove us in his fancy Land Rover to our hostel.. the only hostel is a mile from town and on a street that is almost the only street with a full row of houses, nothing in front, nothing behind, oh except for sheep of course... sheep sheep sheep. The hostel which is called "The Loch Ness Hostel" was in good condition and clean. After we settled in we went on the hunt for food.... we walked out of the hostel, walked down the street, and just kept walking... it was amazing how quiet it was, deafening quiet.We came across houses but everything was silent. 90% of the houses are Bed & Breakfasts, and theres not many, again mountains take up the sky line and everything is so green! The grass is the most vibrant green of any vegetation I've seen. the houses rarely have address numbers, they have names. Like "The rose cottage" there is mostly variations of "cottages" but we couldn't find any actual numbers on these houses. While we were walking Christopher made a sound and when I looked over he said "I saw a ant and realized its been a really long time since I've seen a insect" lol. the roads are mostly dirt roads, the fences are either stone or worn out wood, and on the mountains in the distance you see little white dots sprinkled on the hill side that are sheep, always sheep, you can also see horses sporadically grazing. Christopher and I kept saying how easy it would be to nudge a sheep and watch it roll down the hill... 
The restaurants in Loch Ness are mostly tourist or B&B and meals run about 20pounds which is almost 35$, so we went to the grocer, kinda looks like a Dep, and picked up some sandwiches, pringle chips and a liter of ice cream. We then walked along the main road, into a park and had a picnic on the ground with a view of rolling mountains. This was the first time we've had junk food since we've been here. We ate the entire liter of ice cream in one sitting, and upon realizing we didn't have any spoon in which to eat the ice cream we shared a tiny coffee spoon I had had the foresight to stash in my bag instead of throwing out, so needless to say it took us a while to finish the ice cream, but we did... We spent the evening having drinks with Ann and Carol and then walked back to our hostel late at night. Walking at night there you look on all sides and see only completeblackness... the mountains block any stars or moonlight so there is nothing but blackness.
The next morning we woke to 22 degree C weather and pure sunshine! We didn't have to work until 2 so we walked the mile to Urquhart Castle, which is a ruin now, but still a fascinating sight. The walk was the best park. We walked along the road on a dirt path and was immersed in nature. We had the chance to hear the field after field of sheepbahhing at each other, and I think it must be birthing season because there are tiny little baby lambs in every field, so adorable. Although a consequence of walking next to the sheep fields are that we noticed a couple baby lambs abandoned at the edge of a field that didn't make it, it was surprisingly difficult to see.
When it was time to work, our work consisted of sanding and re-staining chairs that were left out all winter. Christopher and I worked out side int he blaring sun, int he stone courtyard, so of course we both ended up with sunburns. Sunburns in the only place we would never expect to get one... we only worked for a few hours, but we definitely worked. We didn't mind though, we got to sit in the sun, with some cold Iron Brew (which is the Scots own soda, kidna taste like strawberry.. but not really) and work just the two of us. 
On our walk about in Drum we found the only fast food joint, which is a nice little place called "Drum Take-Away". They offer the regular, fish and chips, pizza, kabobs, and of course haggis. No we have not yet tried Haggis yet. We are still working ourselves up to it. we keep hearing it actually quite good, but we are putting off as long as possible. So far we've decided to get really drunk, but not drunk enough that we're going to be sick because that wont help, and THEN maybe.. possible try it. For those of you at home who don't know what haggis is, its is a traditional Scottish food that is chopped up lamb tongue, kidney, heart and liver, stuffed into a sheep intestine.. even writing it makes me gag-blah. Thats a feat for another time... we're not there yet.
When Carol and Ann came while we were finishing up, they gave us a 24 pack of Millar PINT bottles. They were close to expiry date and were cold. So Christopher carried a case of pints on the mile walk to our little Take-Away place (lol) we got an amazing Hawaiian pizza (have to mention this pizza.. it was one of the greatest pizzas I have ever had. Extra cheese huge chucks of pineapple and little pieces of ham nestled perfectly in the abundant cheese and the crust was heavenly soft doughy...) and found a picnic table next to a running stream and a stone bridge, popped a couple beers open (sorry, Lagers) and enjoyed the silence and smell of fresh air. I was nervous about drinking out in the open until Christopher pointed out that theres no one around to really complain and theres no cops for 30 miles! We enjoyed 2 pints and watched the sun set over the mountains. Our work the next day consisted of cleaning out the restaurant. Christopher spent 8 straight hours washing dishes... and all of it in cold water, because the hot water wasn't turned on yet. He didn't move from the sink once. It was a long day of work, but again we didn't mind. I had a nice chat with the refrigerator delivery man who gave me a 20 min lecture on not walking alone at night and all the dodgy areas of Inverness not to go. He was very charming. We want to take a picture with a Highland cow. For anything who doesn't know what that is google it. We were asking around and found out that Scotland has a law called "Right to Roam" which means just that. In Scotland you have the right to walk anywhere you want. Expect for gardens apparently. We can if we want walk onto someone farm and take a picture with a Highland Cow, although we have been severely warned against such a task, apparently highland cows can be temperamental, and have been known on occasion to charge when irritated. I wonder if leaving against one for a pose will be considered irritating...? After our full day of work we picked up another Hawaiian Pizza and rushed to make the next bus out of town so we could catch our bus back to Edinburgh. We actually missed our bus because apparently there isn't really any set bus scheduled, but more of time guidelines. Gotta love small towns. We got a ride to Inverness though, on this car ride we discovered another interesting Scotland law, apparently it is illegal to have sexual intercourse until you are over the age of 16, apparently you can and people have been prosecuted for such acts, I wonder what the sentence is? So you can walk on someones privet property but you cannot engage in sexual activity until your out of highschool, I can't figure out what my opinion on this is yet. 
Finally we made it home by 11pm and were surprisingly happy to be home. Its a little funny, I never thought I would ever want to live in a city. But since living in one, its hard not to get used to the convenience and entertainment of everything. Our grocery store is  half a block away, the major mall 10 min walk, everything is within walking distance. Also, when in the highlands, you feel so much as if you are on another planet that you feel disconnected and secluded from civilization, so much so it can make you just slightly anxious, at least that's how I felt. Its the first time I've been here that I've really missed home. 
Our week after that has been pretty normal. We've taken advantage of the weather and sat in the park for a few hours under the sun. We finally tried a deep fried Mars Bar, which was interesting. We were desperate for milk or anything to cut the richness. Its the only thing I've ever eaten that actually made my teeth hurt. We wanted to try it in ice cream... could be yummy. We're heading into Easter weekend and planning to go out for brunch. We tried finding a Polish restaurant but the only decent one we found closed just last week, so we're thinking of French! I'm hoping for a Julie & Julia experience. I'll let you know.
Christopher and I have challenged ourselves  to use the words "Cheers" and "Quid" at least once every day, so far this is proving a big failure. We feel like frauds when using either one in a real sentence, but it doesn't stop Christopher from saying "Cheers Mate!" with a mocking English accent at every opportunity, which I'm convinced is going to get us thrown out of a pub or something since he insists of saying it so damn loud! 
For now I'll leave you all with a : Cheers! and have it count to fill my quota of the day :)


P.S. We've maxed our our Imgur account, we'll have to create a new one. It will most likely be: Chrisandelle1 or soemthing of the sort.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring in Swing

Happy April!
Christopher and I are getting into the rhythm of Edinburgh life. Sleeping, eating, walking and drinking-repeat.
St-Patrick’s day we went to a bar called Three Sisters. It is a pub/club. It has a huge court yard with two stages and two outside bars. Then inside are a series of stone tunnels with bars lining the walls and little alcoves of seats and tables. Then after the maze of dungeon like tunnels you end up on an open space with a high ceiling, which seemed to be the dance floor. The place was so crowded because of St=Paddy’s though there wasn't so much dancing as there was shuffling. Turns out because Edinburgh is "Festival City" every event is turned into a festival. So St-Patrick’s day is the ending of "The Ireland Festival" lol. We had a great time bumping into random people. We met up with some fun people from Boston so we had a shared sense of missing our home cities for St-Paddy’s, I watched Christopher get his groove on with a pretty girl named Paige :) and when I went to the bar to ask for my standard St-Patrick’s Day drink: Black Velvet, she looked at me like I had three heads and when I told her it was 1/4 cider and 3/4 Guinness she was disgusted... but she made it for me anyhow. All in all it was a fun night.
We heard back from our interview and we got the jobs!! We are really excited about it. We can't wait to start working. We will be working 40 hours in three days every week which counts for long days but lots of time off as well. We're not sure when our start date is exactly but we should hear shortly, the couple we are working for also own a restaurant in Inverness (main city in the highlands) and they will also need people to open it for the season so we're going to go help with that as well. I can't wait to see the highlands. The job is a catering position; we are part of the core staff which means we travel to every event. Almost all the highland games and festivals in Scotland, did I mention I was excited?

Since we've learned we have the jobs we are trying to take advantage of the time we have off in this city.

Last week we climbed the dormant volcano called "Arthurs Seat" This Mountain takes up half the city view and we were always seeing tiny little dots at the top, so figured if it was common for other people to climb then we can do it as well! So we slapped on some work out clothes (or I did anyway) and then we headed to the mall! While I brought over 15 pairs of shoes if you include sandals, Christopher brought 1... That’s right just one pair of shoes, and this one pair of shoes weren't exactly hiking ready. So we went shopping! We found a decent store that had sales on shoes and Christopher didn't really care what he got, so his wise sister chose a pair of white adidas, looked smart, stylish, practical, AND they were only 16pounds.

We couldn't have chosen a better day for the hike. The sun was out and it was warm enough to not need a jacket (but we brought a rain shell anyway because you never know in Scotland) but the wind was nice to cool you down while sweating. We chose the highest peak for our first try and started the climb... well; the view all the way is amazing, it was the perfect day, clear skies, sun- beautiful. It took us about an hour to get to the top and when we did we were nearly blown over by the wind, seriously, we had to crawl around the top because we were slipping. That didn't stop us from reveling in the view from the top though, we stayed up there for over 30 mins, just enjoying it. The climb down was a bit difficult because the volcanic rock at the top is so smooth and slippery you need to hold on to the ground a bit. We stopped on the way down at St Margret’s chapel which is a ruin of a chapel built in 1426. We stopped there shared a Guinness and took pictures. I also made great friends with this beautiful golden lab named Toby. We played fetch and cuddled, this dog was a stallion! His owner thought I was a bit odd I think but I didn't mind.
The next few days we both felt sore but it was worth it. There is a second lower peak we'll do as soon as I can convince Christopher.
Another thing we accomplished was to finally see the Castle. We are now officially Historical Scotland members. Which means that for 12 months we get unlimited free entry into ALL Historical Scotland sites, 50% off all English heritage sites and 20% the shops of all sites. The membership cost 60pounds for the two of us and just one entry into the castle is 14 pounds, so if we go to the castle twice we've made it worth it. Plus we get a magazine :)
The Castle was magnificent. It’s more of fortress really, and when you go in your more in like a fortress village. They have a couple churches, gardens, dog commentary for all the solders dogs... again the view is amazing. We took our time because we can see it as many times as we want, so on our first time we checked out the crown jewels and the stone of destiny! To get to these precious artifacts you need to walk through about 10 rooms with wax scenes while they give you the history of them and finally you walk into a tiny almost completly dark room where the only light is from the lights in the case. The glass case is in the middle of this tiny room and the scepter, wand, and crown and stone is elevated within. They defiantly use dramatic effect. It really is an fun story too. In 1707 when the Act of the Union passed through which in nutshell is when the Scottish and English parliments crated a treaty that in effect created "Great Britan" -blah anyway since 1707 the "Honors" as they're called were hidden away not to be seen for over hundred years until famous Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott got approval from King George to search Edinburgh Castle for them where it was only rumored to have the honors in hiding. He found them behind a wall in a massive oak chest and has since been on display for the public. Except for a few times being brought out for the monarch but let’s not get into THAT. The Honors consist mostly of a sword that was given to King Alexander by Pope Julius II in the 1400's, the holster..  the crown of course and the stone of destiny... I will never get sick of looking at it. Truly special. Then throw in some antique jewlery with massive diamonds and you have the Scottish Crown jewels! We plan to back to the castle this week.
Last night, after tremendous research Christopher and I found a bottle of Absinthe! We were very excited. The bottle came with a louche spoon which is what the effect is called when you place the slotted spoon over the glass and pour ice water over sugar cubes. The green liquid then turns into a milky opaque. The bottle we got is the only "deluxe" one available in this city which means it is distilled with the real stuff. It smells great especially at 70% alcohol I was surprised. Smells like black licorice and taste not as bad as expected. My tongue was numb but the whole green fairy thing is just a myth. Was an experience though that’s for sure.
Other then these eventful activities we are enjoying spring here. I have gone out in shorts and a T-shirt. We've gone out to the park at the foot of Edinburgh Castle and read, and we walk to the city center usually once a day, we go to the art store, or wander along the Royal Mile, go to the library, there’s so much to do. The tulips are already in full swing and the grass is lush green. Apparently in the height of spring all the cherry blossoms come out and it’s a few weeks of a "snowing" effect while the wind blows the blossoms off the trees. Every day gets better.
Christopher and I have had only one major argument so far which was over the best way to make quiesidiallas. Apprently I wasn't making them how mom makes them. We got over it, I just made them how he likes it, not after losing my temper of course, but thats to be expected once and a while...  We have been enjoying our organic baskets. Every week we get something new, I have been challenging myself to use only whats in our baskets, which produces alot of sauces from scratch and odd recipes,  but Christopher really never complains about my cooking or mocks me when I praise my own handy work :) We are in full vegetarian mode, eating tofu and everything. I am trying to feed Christopher chick peas and other proteine filled foods but it seems I need to find more creative methods, I'll think of something. Fun note, I found clotted cream in the grocery store! After a false start of buying "Double extra thick cream" which I thought was clotted but in fact was not, still delicious, but NOT clotted heaven cream. I found the real stuff at only 1.40 pounds... I love this city. For those of you sorley uninormed people out there who don't know what the glory of clotted cream is, the best way to describe it is a mix between butter and whip cream. The process of making it requires unpasterized milk which of course at home we don't have this so clotted cream therefore is impossible.
Another long post! I'm going to quit now, I'm sure I've forgotten something but this is becoming a novelette.
Check out our imigur account. We apologize for the repeats, we are using the account as a back up for all our photos as well in case something happens to our hard drive.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Home is where the Scotch is

Greetings from over seas-
 So after about 15 signed documents, hours of legalities, and a whopping 2500$CAN Christopher and I have a place to call home. We moved in last Thursday and we both really appreciate having a place to settle in. We've signed a 6 month fixed lease so we committed to this city for at least that long. Additionally after spending 20 minutes on the phone with a lovely man named Derrick, who had an awesome Scottish accent, from Virgin Media, we actually got our WiFi set up by Friday morning because the last tenants had left the modem and router. Things are moving along nicely.
We love our new flat. The subtle differences between apartments back home and European "flats" are interesting but we're getting used to it. It’s a little chilly, but heat cost a fortune here so for now we're getting by with double layers and hot water bottles. The living room is gorgeous with three big windows because our flat is the corner unit, but they are single glazed only (I know I know Mom! But the place was soo pretty :) so it’s pretty drafty. We've stuffed the cracks with towels and odd socks, but this should only last another month or so, and we should be fine. It never really gets hot here in Scotland (Nique, maybe you should bring your warmy bottle when you come visit! Can’t wait to see you guys!) but it gets pleasantly mild. Speaking of weather we are starting to understand why people keep saying "Oh that’s Scottish weather for you". Everyday is a four season experience. Almost every morning it starts off bright and sunny and then as the day progresses we get some clouds, a little rain, then the sun comes out again and then oh look its snowing! Oh there’s the sun again, oh hey nice of you to join us wind, what you feel left out hail, hey the more the merrier!... okay I'm losing my mind. But seriously you can never dress for a day out, you need to be prepared, the only good part is the sun comes out at least once for a period every day.
We toasted our flat with the Scotch we had been searching the city for. I took a video of Christopher’s first sip... . The Scotch is really tasty and we have had some fun trying to find different ways for Christopher to enjoy it. I'm determined to get him to take a sip without having his facial features completely rearranged. We spent Friday job hunting. Also we both got library cards, which gives us access to all the libraries in the city. Christopher took out some anatomy drawing books which he is practicing regularly; he’s actually getting pretty good. We then spent the weekend taking it easy, just relaxing drinking Scotch and tea. Christopher decided he enjoys Scotch the most a little warmed with hot water. Says it takes away the “kick”.
Interesting experience doing laundry. Our washing machine is in our little kitchen, apparently this is all very normal by UK standards to wash your clothes where you wash your dishes. The washing machine is an odd thing. It opens from the top which the women from the renting agency said “well you must be used to that coming from North America, you always have a top openings in laundry machines there” which I thought funny. But this is not like any washing machine I’ve ever seen. The barrel is turned sideways and to open it, I first take up a part of the counter top then open the lid and then there is little trap door where the laundry goes in…. the trick was finding where to put the detergent. The button options were also fun to figure out… I just took a guess and hoped for the best. Seemed to work because the clothes came out clean expect we don’t have a dryer, so I proceeded to hang our clean clothes in various places around the apartment, however about a day and half later due to the fact that it f-ing freezing in here our clothes were still not dry, so I attempted different hanging methods and 48 hours later we achieved only slight dampness instead of all out wet clothes. Yay!! Across the street I see a dryer tube stocking out of the building… it’s the first time I ever considered breaking and entering…! At this rate its not worth it to wash clothes, we should just wear them out and buy new ones, because after a few days when the clothes finally got dry they are rough and stiff… blah, plus my jeans are not shrinking back to they’re usual snugness, , I guess I’ll just have to go shopping, what a shame.
Other then the laundry thrills, we finally went out and got decent bedding. The only option the price range we were looking at was purple and pink, so Christopher is currant sleeping on a set of dark purple sheets while I opted for the fuchsia. We don’t yet have any pillow cases but the duvet comforters we have are blissfully warm thank God! I am still snuggling my hot water bottle every night though.
Yesterday we had our first job interview with a catering company who travels around Scotland and Northern England. We would be away a few days at a time and they pay for all travel and accommodation, we want this job very badly. We’re still waiting to hear back. The interview went though so we’re confident. We also received our first Organic Veggie basket yesterday, which we were excited about because we haven’t had real nutrition in a while. The basket cost a total of 18 pounds a week and is huge and we also ordered some organic milk and eggs. Which by the way are really yummy. The veggies require quiet a bit of washing but are so worth it. Everything taste rich a crisp. I never knew a carrot straight from the dirt could taste so sweet. So this is all part of our attempted vegetarianism. I miss my red meat but this seems like a good as time as any to attempt being a vegetarian. And it means a lot to Christopher so away we go. I’ve found some good recipes online that look fun, I’ll let you know. We also get fruits with our basket which so far we’ve gotten bananas (little ones) oranges, some kind of plum wannabe and apples oh and one tiny avocado.
Other then all that, we’re just getting over a cold front here. On a day that you people in Montreal had plus 7 we were hovering around 0. But it’s creeping back up there and we’re at about 10 now. Christopher and I are going to head out and finish the Portrait Gallery and hopefully have time for the National Museum. Today is St Patrick’s day and I’m missing it badly being over here. But apparently the celebrations here are pretty good so we plan to roam around the Royal Mile (the city center) and see what kind of Guinness party’s we can find! Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone!
Christopher created a IMIGUR account to put all all our pictures up. 
 We have some on facebook but for all the pictures (much to my chagrin) you can check out the link... although we are having some techinical difficulties and will let you know when its up and running.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hostels and Scottish culture

Greetings people at home,
So, our first week in Edinburgh is almost to at an end. There are some highlights and some low lights as well. But overall it has been amazing.
Since our last post we have done some exploring of the city, and some flat hunting. During one said flat hunt we were half an hour early for the viewing so went a few doors down to the closest pub. We walked in to a small pub with two older men there. The older gentleman behind the bar was very welcoming. He gave us our Guinness’s free plus a hospitable shot of scotch, which by watching the other guy drink his scotch, we didn’t in fact “shoot” it but sipped it savouringly. After our “Cheers like” experience we went to view the flat near by which we loved. Flat hunting has proved to be a little more difficult then anticipated, mostly because we found out that flats get taken off the market very quickly and almost all renting is done through agencies which require a whole bunch of things. Namely, full time employment. Which put us in a bit of a chicken or the egg situation because to find a job we need a bank account, to get a bank account we need a permanent address… but to get the permanent address we need a job.. see what I mean. HOWEVER the fairies are at work and after seeing the flat next to this awesome pub about 10 mins walk from the city center, gorgeous windows full size bedrooms and a huge bathtub (you have no idea how rare this flat was… you don’t get many decent options around here) The agency that was letting the flat made a special request to the landlord, who agreed to let it to us with a double deposit, a guarantor (thank you mom!) and a reference letter from a past landlord (thank you Mark! Fun note- Mark put in the letter that I was a very clean tenant J) PLUS a credit check phew- well they are just doing the check now and we should hear for certain in the next day or two if we can move in. We have a couple of back up plans which we acquired through talking with some people here at the hostel. Which brings me to the excitement of the weekend.
After the flat viewing on Thursday we went back to awesome “Cheers” Pub where we met the regulars and experienced the height of Scottish hospitality. We left at 3am- don’t exactly remember the walk back to the hostel, but I do remember watching Christopher zig zag the whole way and thinking I need to make sure he doesn’t stumble in the street all the while wondering if I had the reflexes to stop him if he did. We had the opportunity to try various Scotch’s and whiskeys as well as cider and Guinness. We partook in Quiz night where one of the questions were about Canadian geography and embarrassed ourselves royally by having no clue what the answer was. “What is the largest lake in Canada that resides completely in Canada” any takers??? – No google cheaters!
Friday we needed to move hostels as the original one we were staying at didn’t have any extended availability. So after waking up in a haze we booked a hostel near by and had a lot of fun hauling our bags to the other hostel. It took us two very painful trips to get everything there and up three flights of stairs. The new hostel proved to be a peaceful and quiet until around 7:00 where it started humming or rumbling really. We found out the entire Dublin Commerce class which consisted of 180 students was taking over the hostel in Edinburgh for the weekend. This seemed like fun at first. Christopher and I went back to our Pub and had a great night listening to really great band and came back to our hostel only to be woken up 30 mins later by crazy banging on the door. These guys were banging and shouting for a good five minutes. Figuring they were trying to get a hold of some one else in the group, I ignored it, until he screamed he would piss through the mail slot if we didn’t open up, so I got out of bed with not the greatest of intentions, opened the door and told him what I would do to him if he thought twice about sticking his (insert profanity here) through the mail slot. He obviously 8000 sheets to the wind thought this was rude and amusing, he proceeded to express his feelings through a little mooning and I shut the door and went back to my room. Of course still- a group of students together and add a little away-from-home excitement and everything starts rolling down hills. He pounded the door some more and finally one of his friends from another room let him in. So now this one stupid Irish boy decided he didn’t like my attitude and wanted to retaliate… anyway to avoid any rated R content I ended up having to call the cops which by the way if anyone is in the UK the cops are 999, but 911 got me through eventually. Two very nice, young and cute cops showed up at 5 am, and were also followed by the hostel in house receptionist who wanted to take care of things without the cops, which was fine by me. However it turns out this group of guys did more then harass me they did about 1000 pounds worth of damage in they’re own dorms and were disrupting everyone around. This was a very eventful night which ended in the morning with the hostel refunding our stay for us. What did we think in the morning? That those stereo types of roughhousing Irishmen… so far so true, I guess we’ll find out in more detail next year when we go there. Everyone else seemed nice enough; one guy claimed that if he wasn’t passed out we would have gotten really pissed. The school reps came and spoke to me and apologized in person and offered to take care of our stay but the hostel had already done that.
Saturday proved to be tame in comparison. The group was spoken to and I think they were told to stay off our floor because when speaking to reception on Sunday they had disturbed another floor and threw the huge dining room table out of the third floor window. Retards-  ANYWAY
Sunday Christopher and I walked around the city, and it just seems everything is more beautiful then the next. We found some job openings and as soon as we have a address we shouldn’t have any trouble finding work.  We went to the National Portrait gallery which has free admissions and is IN-CR-ED-IA-BLE we didn’t even finish half of it because there so much to read and see. I kept getting the feeling that Christopher was getting a little impatient with me reading every description. But I haven’t seen any art gallery like it! They give detailed history and corresponding events to each portrait and how they are important, and where they come from and even the artist’s background… ahhhh so wonderful. Can’t wait to go back and we haven’t even hit the other museums. Stone of Destiny here I come!! The whole city though seems like you’re in a museum. We tried all day to find a specific Scotch we were recommended at our Pub and it doesn’t seem anywhere sells it but were told it was a Scotch that is distilled in Edinburgh and has the highest concentration of Malt something or other - my understanding dropped there. Either way it’s a great Scotch that is apparently decently priced so the hunt is still on.  We hope to find it and toast our new flat with it.
 To wrap up this post-Turns out Christopher isn’t the easy-gong-passive travelling companion I once thought… this guys a tyrant! Until we get jobs he won’t let me shop or even get a drink with our meals! I drew the line at the no beers though; I mean someone has to bring sanity into this partnership.
Other then that, I have actually met someone who eats faster then I do! It has been the oddest thing. I’m not used to be watched while I’M the last one to finish a meal. Also really funny, I found out that the tiniest spiciness give Christopher instant violent hiccups – l o l really hilarious to watch.
Little Scottish or UK observation. No one here seems to know how to end a conversation… every phone call I have or encounter there is always this awkward pause and each person talking over the other… very strange. Christopher and I have discussed this matter at length and think it’s because everyone, and we mean EVERYONE here leaves or ends with “Cheers” so we’re going to try and take that up so as to avoid this constant awkwardness. We’ll keep you informed on our integration into the UK culture
Sorry again about these long posts. I’m thinking about writing more often so they’re no as long. We’ll see. But writing to you all out there is really nice; make us not miss you as much.
We’ll write soon hopefully with news on our apartment and employment.