Saturday 20 December 2008

Sushi, Druids and Pete the Penguin

For everybody who has complained that I haven't posted pictures, I now have some pictures. Mostly of today's outing. I have many many pictures!!! I went to St. Andrew's with Steve, Julius and Chris to have Sushi!!! Sushi is so good, and this place was a serious sushi place - not your supermarket variety sushi. I have been excessively adventurous lately with food - you know - being a prairie girl, I have pretty much - never liked fish. So today, on purpose - mostly because I am now in the Land O' Fish - I bought the Teriyaki Salmon Bento Box with a few Cucumber rolls. Then, afterwards, I got SUPER adventurous and tried the Tuna on Rice raw Sushi, and also - Sashimi. I know, I've really surprised myself with this, but it had to be done - at least once. I don't know if I'd do it every day, but yeah - raw fish - no big deal really. Steve had said that he tried sushi once and hated it, but he really enjoyed our meal today, so I think - overall it was a good experience for everybody. Plus, we all just really enjoyed each other's company - I love making new friends - it's always a good thing to meet new people that are cool.

Julius teaches Steve how to use Chopsticks - I'm a pro, so I didn't really need any lessons.

This is just me going for some pickled ginger, however the terrified look comes from me anticipating the raw fish - which came next.

It's not too bad actually. Tracy would be proud.

That's right - I eat Sashimi. I'm a Sashimi eater.

A good time was had by all...

Here's a few shots of St. Andrews whilst we were there, for those who have not seen it before. It is one of the oldest cities in Scotland and has Scotland's oldest University. There's an ancient Cathedral there and a Castle - which is more like a Bishop's Residence than a Castle. Plus, St. Andrews is the birthplace of Golf as we know it today. There's one shot here of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews as we sped by it.

Afterwards, Steve suggested that we head over to this really cool ancient druid site where they did (or so we think) human sacrifices. Haha - so morbid, but it was pretty cool. Dunino Den isn't really one of the places you'll find in a common guide book, but it really is very very special because on the site - they think there was an ancient stone circle which was taken down when they built the kirk - which is really really old itself. There is also a well, and a few very slippery steps down into a den near a creek where pagans still come today to do their worship. In fact they leave offerings of every kind possible in the den. We found coins from all over the world including a Canadian Quarter, little bears, an angel, bits of lace, hair clips, all kinds of weird things people had left there during their pagan rituals. It was really interesting. Weird, yet interesting. However, my ancestors must have been pagan at one time or another, so there was a kind of connection that I felt to the people - regardless of whatever morbid practices were done in the past. There's also a bit of stone in the graveyard at the church which they think may be part of the old stone circle. A little ways off there's a hill just in the middle of a bunch of fields that Steve thinks is probably man made. It's really old and cool, and somehow connected to the pagan site. We didn't get to walk out there though - time restraints, etc...

The kirk that is built on the site where the stone circle must have been.

This is the well and right near it - you can see the foot print which Steve says is where the king would have put his foot through the years as he was crowned. Apparently there were pagan coronations held here. There's also speculation that the well is where they did the sacrifices - being the collection spot for the blood.

The steps leading down into the den.

It really is quite a lovely spot.

Some of the offerings left behind by modern day pagans.

So - yeah that was super cool, and guess what else I found in the Kirkyard????

A Holly Tree!!!!! Merry Christmas all. Also, thanks SOOOOOO much to MBFM who sent me an enormous box which I received today with fantastic gifts inside of it with intriguing labels on them. They say things like...

"Pete misses you too - sniff sniff" - Pete is our Christmas mascot penguin at the office
"Enjoy a cuppa"
"For a peace filled environment!"
"Be at peace with yourself"
"Those Canadians"
"A little mindless fun"
"Men!!! Love 'em or bite their head off!" - this one sounds really intriguing
"Sometimes nothing else will do"
"Regular Life"
"For Your Back Yard Clothes Line Garden"
"A Little Magic"

So, that will be so much fun opening each of those up. I have opened up the Pete missing me one, and inside it has tissue with penguins on it. Ah MBFM, you are the best. I had a sneaky suspicion you might actually send me Pete himself, however, this is better. Thanks for sending those. I will open one or two a day until I leave on Wednesday to spend Christmas with my friends in Airdrie. She also sent me an issue of "Street Talk" which I shall cherish - haha. Merry Christmas everybody!!!

Friday 19 December 2008

Julie's Genius Creation

So, I had a list today of apparently 79 items in which to buy at the store. I went to the Tesco, and started looking for the items one by one. It turns out that it's quite difficult to find specific items in a store that is unknown to me in a foreign-ish country. So - 2 and a half hours later, I found everything - except the toothpicks, and then, ordered a cab to bring me home to my flat. I now have ingredients and tools for making Choclava, Bran Muffins, Mulligatawny, and a lovely Lemon Berry Loaf, among other things. So, what was the first real thing besides tuna melt and eggs I cooked in my flat? Choclava!!! This is a fantastic recipe invented by Julie Van Rosendaal which has now become my favorite low-fat, low-cal cookie - simply because it really doesn't taste low fat or low calorie at all, and it's so very very choclatey. Mmmmmmm. The picture above isn't mine, I stole it from Julie's site. Hope you don't mind Julie. I give you all the credit though. You are the genius who created them. Anyway, yeah - made Choclava, and now my whole flat smells like Chocolate. It is fantastic. I was all ready to go to bed by the way - about an hour ago, but then got up to check something online, and now here I find myself blogging. Ah, it's a ripple effect. I ended up staying up until 3 last night, just catching up with email, etc. This is a habit which I shall have to nip in the bud. Especially since I have 2 interviews for jobs next week, and will start work/real life soon. I think I'm going to head down to Tayside Recyclers tomorrow and see about finding a bed, and maybe a hand mixer. I saw a hand mixer at the Tesco, but couldn't justify the 10 pounds it cost. (still haven't got that button for the pound symbol - gaah) There's a chance I might go with friends for sushi in St. Andrew's on Saturday afternoon. Fingers crossed it all goes through because we all know I love Sushi. Yes, things are coming together here for me. One thing at a time. I honestly feel at peace - weird, but true. No job, living in a foreign-ish country, living in a flat all by myself without furniture. Feeling great.

Wednesday 17 December 2008

I Am Writing This From My New Flat In My New City

I am writing this post from my new flat in my new city of Dundee. I have no furniture in my flat, however I find that it is quite cozy and the living room - being quite spacious makes a fantastic Yoga Studio. I'm tempted to leave it that way and tell people - it's my Yoga Studio. I'm sooooooo happy I got internet hooked up today because you wouldn't believe how dependent one becomes on it until it's gone. Phone calls for instance. Calls from my mobile (must use the proper lingo now) cost a tonne more than calls on skype. I love skype - can't get enough of it. I just decided to sign up for the unlimited world feature. It will probably save me loads in the end. Plus, my Mummy might die if she can't talk to me every second day or so. Also, I just KNOW that Marsha has been eagerly awaiting this first post from overseas. ;-) You know I love you mbfm. So, here it is, a brief summary of things that have happened so far. I got on the plane - with my enormous box which has my bike in it - the bike as I expected - was a huge pain from beginning to end. However, I really feel it will be worth it in the end. Buses are a bit expensive here, (and I'm being extremely conservative) but really - nothing is that far away, and walking here and there is easy - biking will be even easier. I'm already getting used to the flow of traffic, so as soon as I am totally used to the flow of traffic, I will take the blue beast to the bike shop and have her put back together again. The flight was ok. In the end, I upgraded to Club Class because it was cheaper than paying for my excess baggage. I didn't really notice much difference in the service mind you. (Zoom was so much better - sigh) Mum, Dad, and Debbie Dropped me off at the Airport, and there were many tears. Before that, Rich, Kiima, James and the kids were over at the house, and there were also tears. Here's a few shots of those farewells (minus tears)...

My brother Rich - never can keep a normal face where picture taking is involved, but how I shall miss that...

James and I - final farewell...

Final farewell with my parents at the Jugo Juice... :-(

My Sister - Deb - dropping me off - at the Jugo Juice - haha...

So - yes - there were many tears and farewells said. I got on the plane - and even though it was dark outside, and I couldn't see anything, I cried as I flew away from the only home city I have ever known. Yes, I shall miss it, and all the memories I created there. New memories to make now. Then, I read my book - the whole book - on the plane. It was the book version of the movie "Passchendale" - which - honestly wasn't that good - I was hoping it would have some history, and guts and drama in it, but it just turned out to be a romance novel. The reason I bought it really was because the main character was a Calgarian, and when he returned from war - he was in the military hospital - which hospital? The Colonel Belcher of course. We all know how I feel about the Colonel. So, I had to pick it up and read it. However, highly disappointing - don't bother. So, yeah - read the whole thing. Slept maybe 2 hours. Then, I arrived, and dragged my giant box through the entire airport at Gatwick in order to find a flipping pay phone. Finally found one, made the necessary calls, then went back up 2 floors to get a taxi. So, I was expecting my hotel to be - not too too far away. However, it turns out that Gatwick, while being the preferred airport to the metropolis of Heathrow - is far far away - from everything in London. The guy quoted me a price to my hotel of 101.50 (don't have the pound key - really need it too) So, that's about $200ish, a little less at the moment. My jaw dropped, but it really - turned out to be totally worth it. It really was a very far distance, and there is absolutely no way I could have taken that bike on the underground all the way to my hotel. Plus, the taxi driver was really really knowledgeable, and gave me the royal tour of London - in the dark. It's an amazing city London - however, I don't think I'd like to be there for very long - it's insane. My hotel was walking distance from King's Cross Station, so I walked over to check things out, pick up my ticket, and whatnot. Also, while I was there, I found this (here's your bit - Angelique)...

That's right - just call me Hermione Granger - I do have the hair to match.

This one is for you Angelique - just pretend you're standing there beside me.

So, yeah - a bit of Harry Potter manic behavior there. Anyway, slept like a stone at my hotel, though got up around 3am without the ability to go back to sleep, so I was the first down for Breakfast - a breakfast which consisted of mass quantities of fat, however, it was good. Incidentally, the MacDonald Hotel on Argyle Square, right in walking distance of King's Cross is a fantastic place to stay and reasonably cheap/clean for London. I highly recommend it. Then, I figured out how to get the massive box down the street with my cunning plan of walking down, getting a cart, walking it back down the street to my hotel without anyone seeing - in broad daylight, then putting the massive box with luggage onto it, and walking it all back down the street to King's Cross Station...

On top of this, I was carrying my backpack, my laptop bag, and my purse. Yes, that's right, arriving finally at my destination was such sweet bliss.

King's Cross Station Pictures.

So, yeah - after more hassle with the giant box, I got on the train - finally - and I sat beside the sweetest old hippy fellow who kept me entertained and informed the entire way up into Scotland. He also had witty conversation about world events that kept me on my toes the whole way. I got really excited about the Yorkshire Dales, and also Durham. This is the part of the country where I have the most roots, so it felt kind of special to go through there. And then finally - I arrived in Dundee. I got excited as I crossed over the Tay Rail Bridge. (oh, and on the way, I did cross the famous Firth of Forth Rail Bridge in Edinburgh as well) So, yeah, pulled up into Dundee station, rushed off to get my giant box and bags, got a cart, and sought out Steve. However, the lovely gent on the platform saw my giant box, and decided to let me up on the service elevator, so then I was at the back entrance of the station, and had to push the cart all the way over to the front of the station and find Steve, who was looking for me at the bottom of the stairs and there I was calling down at him (not able to leave the giant box). Eventually we figured it all out. So - yeah, that was the trip. I hope I'm not boring you with my detailed account of travel. People have been asking about it, so I must give as much detail as possible.

So, Dundee is fabulous - people here would laugh at me for saying that, but it really is. Dundonians think it's the armpit of the world, but it really is lovely. AND, may I add, that whilst my poor family are suffering in -39 degrees Celsius weather (without wind), I am enjoying a balmy 9 degrees Celsius. Life is pretty good here in Dundee. I now am a Card carrying Library goer, and have applied for my National Insurance number, have set up Utilities, Internet (as you can see), and Council Tax in my name. I'm almost entirely Dundonian now. I will retain my accent though, because people seem to like it. Yes, things are looking up. Furniture, I have none, but a roof, and an air mattress on the borrow, and plates and utensils I now have, and all is looking up. I may be going out to Airdrie for Christmas to spend time with June and Rob - my Scottish parents. They are so great, and I'm looking forward to spending time with them. Got to look into the price of the Mega Bus to Glasgow, and figure all that out. I am sorry to say my friends, that I haven't been taking pictures of my life so far in Dundee, because I have been so busy with setting things up, and really it's not all that exciting - setting up house. However, I will carry my camera everywhere, and try to be more diligent in my picture taking. The only one I've taken thus far is of Desperate Dan - in the centre of town...

And, that's about the most detailed account I can give you of things so far.

Monday 8 December 2008

It's A Freaking Roller Coaster

Why do women have so many emotions? Gosh, I feel like some sort of roller-coaster ride. I mean - overall, I'm excited, I'm nervous, and eager to get on; but, the last few days it's been a bit of sadness combined with nostalgia, and melancholy. I mean - there we were tonight, driving in the Deep Snow - Me, Mum, Dad, and James to Okotoks for my final family dinner; and Bing Crosby came on the radio singing "White Christmas". I turned it up and started singing it out loud. I asked James - do you remember? He did. We used to play the Bing Crosby record over and over again lying underneath the tree and looking up at all the lights. Some good memories of Christmas past. I got all teary, and I WAS THE DRIVER!!! Haha. My family was fearing for their lives at that point. We made it though - safe and sound. However, it's been like that for the last little bit. My last day at work - clearing out my desk - where I will never return, walking away from the building for the last time, sauntering down 17th Avenue for the last time, eating a Crave Cupcake for the last time (just 1), taking the train home from work for the last time, just generally being in downtown Calgary for the last time. Everything seems to bring a tear of nostalgia to my eyes. You've seen me complain over and over about how much Calgary has changed, and really, it has - so much. But, there are still glimpses of the old Calgary - the one I call my home. Also, there are the people. I have so many friends that are dear to my heart in this city. I've had the privilege of having some of the best friends on the planet. How I will miss each one. However, there are new friends to be made, and new adventures to be had. I'm eager to get on with it, but I'm also a little nervous. For some reason, when I'm in a new place amongst new people who don't know who I am, I get quiet, and nervous, and then I blurt out weird obnoxiously opinionated things. Haha, it must be some sort of nervous tick. Though, I do have one very good friend - who knows who I am - so hopefully he will help in my getting over that. Today was my last Sunday in the Somerset Ward at Church. My parents - both of them - got up to bear their testimonies. This is something we do once a month in our church, on the first Sunday of the month where the pulpit is open, and anyone in the congregation can get up and share their feelings - hopefully about Christ - that's the idea anyway. Most of the time, it has to do with a person's life and learning experiences that have brought them closer to him, and helped them to grow. So, Mum got up and shared her feelings, then told the entire congregation that she was proud of me for doing what I'm doing. TEARS!!! As most of you know, she hasn't been my number 1 supporter in this thing all along. Then Dad got up, and shared a story from my youth of a Christmas when my family shared a hamper with a less fortunate family. It was the 80's, we were all dirt poor, but one Christmas, the people of the church gave us a Christmas hamper. We were sort of ok, but this family were worse off, so we took it over there. TEARS!!! Just the memory of that, and also just hearing Dad tell a story that wasn't full of the blarney, but honest and simple made me a bit emotional. I love my parents. They make me crazy at the best of times, but I love them. They really have sacrificed so much - in love - for their children. Each one of us have been blessed beyond what we can comprehend because of their sacrifices for us. Then, I got up in Relief Society; (a meeting where the women get together and learn from one another) and shared my feelings in a testimony as well. TEARS!!! I remember the day I decided to move to Scotland. I went to God, and I said - this is what I want to do. His response was simple, he approved, and he promised to help me do everything in my power to make it happen. Magical things happen when your will comes in line with his will. He has made it happen. I have done it under his direction, and he has helped me. So, here it is - a little over 48 hours, and I will be on a plane, and ready to leave Calgary. It is good to know that I have divine help in this matter. It's the only thing keeping me strong enough to do it.

Dinner tonight was lovely. Full of political banter - as usual - but lovely. My family is crazy, but they are my family. I can't ask for more than that. Here's a few pics from some of my goodbye moments this week...

Me and Geneva at one of our favorite places on earth - Momma Fidela's - for dinner.

Me with my Vincey and Fidela. They have promised that they will visit - when they can. How I'll miss them both.

Meaghann and Cali came into the city to have lunch with me. It was the first time I had seen Cali, and she's now 18 months!!! That was a lovely outing.

Minty and Moose the "Olde English Bulldog" came to the house for a visit. Again - first visit with Moose - who's Registered name includes the term "Fat Bastard" - ah, only Minty. Anyway, Moosey wouldn't sit still for a picture, he was too excited, so this was the best I got, and then my camera battery died. Pretty cool pic though, eh?

On Wednesday, the girls at work and I went out to lunch at "Farm" - great restaurant on 17th Avenue - run by Janice Beaton's cheese!!! It was really good, except that they forgot Lori's food. :$ How I'll miss the girls.

Marsha and I at the end of the table. Yes, that's just a bit of lemon in my glass. :) I'll miss you Marsha.

Angelique and I had our visit at our favorite bookstore stomping grounds. It made for a great Saturday. Thanks for being such a great friend Angelique.

Me and my biggest fan. This was taken earlier on this evening. It's been a bit hard for Chloe to understand why I'm leaving her. :(

Me with 3 of my 4 teenage nephews. They make me feel so small. I once held each one of them as a babe in my arms. Hard to imagine that now - looking at them growing up.

Me with my baby brother. I love you James. I hope you know that.

So, that's all I've got up to now for farewell pictures. I don't know when I'll post again. I'll try to post again before I leave, but may not be able to. If not, it won't be long after my arrival in my new city. Stay tuned...

Friday 5 December 2008

Last Day - Happy/Sad; But Overall - Fulfilled

It's my last day of work today...

I'm feeling quite melancholy about it, because the truth is - I have never worked with a better group of people in my life than I have at the DHCC. That statement is not made to take away from the lovely people I have worked with before, I've had the privilege of working with some great people; but, I have never worked in a place where the management was as good. Leslie and Kathy (also Leanne and Jodi) really really care about each and every staff member as an individual. They've stretched me - sometimes to my limit (haha) - however, I have grown because of it. Jocelyne made the joke - no - you've shrunk. It's true - I have. You know, I think - I'm actually a different person altogether now from when I started here. That has to be the definition of a good experience, if you come out of it better than when you started - then it was worth every minute. When I put things into perspective, I thank God that I found that posting 2 years ago, and had the feeling that I should apply. I'm crying now as I type this. I hope that I find people that are just as great to work with (though I doubt I will) in Scotland. Today, I laughed, I cried, I ate good food with good friends, and I made more memories. Isn't that what life is about? Living, and making memories - so that one day you can look back and say - I lived a full life, and I'm really truly happy. John Lennon said - "Life is what happens when you're making other plans", and it's true - we often make all these plans about where we think our lives should lead, while forgetting that life is all around us, and we are here to enjoy every minute whether we're working, or playing. If a person can enjoy life in all it's aspects,(warts and all) then I would say - that is a successful life.

Monday 1 December 2008

Swiss Chalet Festive Special - Better Than I Remember / Wii Mayhem!!!!!!!!

For some reason my life has become extremely busy with social engagements. (everybody wants a piece of me) - this is due to the ever approaching departure in 9 days!!! Anyway, this week-end was no exception. Have a few more of these engagements before I leave, but this week-end, my parents and I hit the old Swiss Chalet (classic), and had the Festive Special. Who doesn't love the Festive Special? You know what I discovered? It's a lot better than it used to be. I mean, the stuffing is still cardboard (tasty as it is), but the dinner is really quite tasty. Fresh, tasty chicken. (I can eat it as long as I don't know where it was raised - just kidding) Anyway, it was good, and a family tradition that has carried on through the years, so definitely necessary for me to do one more time before the big jump across the pond. Here's mine, I had the Greek Salad on the side - mmm feta.

Mum and Dad enjoyed their dinners immensely. Look at those happy faces...

And, you get a village of Lindor Chocolates afterwards - what a deal!!!

After the Swiss Chalet engagement with my parents, I went over to Steph and Carrie's with Geneva (aka Sisi, Coco and Gigi - yes we are very very silly - I'm Bibi) They introduced me to the Wii!!!!!!!! Who knew the Wii was going to be so much fun? Well, I mean I probably had some inkling that it would be - however, last night was my first time. So, we did some Rock Band, and also this really fun game called Outdoor Games (or something like that) I have a feeling that there will be a video surfacing on facebook one of these days soon that has a portion of it with me jumping up and down like a crazy person. Ah well, all in good fun. I've discovered that I'm not really that co-ordinated, however with practice, I could become better, which is why - one day, once I'm settled in very nicely in my little flat, I shall have to purchase one of these Wii's, or perhaps the ever popular and constantly talked about Wii-fit. I think it would definitely be worth purchasing. Here's a few shots the girls and I took after we had done our wii-ing. I mean, it was my last outing with them - until they come out to Scotland to Wii with me, so had to get some crazy good shots. Here's a few of us posing in mad rock and roll fashion...

That's right, just call me Eddie.

I love the Lion Tamer Poses.

Haha, oh my sides. Honestly, all of us hurt today from our constant laughter last night. My thighs hurt too, which means that Wii works wonders!!! (love the alliteration) Anyway, good times to be had. Have a few more gatherings and outings before the departure. Also - fifty other things to do, however, one at a time.

Sunday 23 November 2008

Try It, You'll Like It / Party Re-cap

I have just discovered - in "Urban Peasant" fashion - that Nairn's Stem Ginger Oat Biscuits (while excellent just on their own) are even better when you put a slice of provolone on top. Mmmm, so good. This came about experimentally today after thinking of a time when Bunny told me to try some cheddar on a Digestive Biscuit. Also good, though - this was a touch more Becky style - as full of flavor in both the cheese and biscuit department, and the result - a party in my mouth. Ah, James Barber would be proud.

Anyway - had an excellent tea party yesterday at my good friend Angelique's house. It was a "going away tea". We posted it on facebook, I invited my 600 friends (much to Angeliques shock and horror) - haha. About 17 people confirmed they would definitely come, and about 10 people - including myself, Angelique and Rick (the hosts) and my parents showed up. (most of whom had not confirmed) That turned out about how I thought. Nobody ever follows through with their commitment to show up for these things. However - it turned out fantastic!!! Some of my MOST favorite people on the planet turned up - including Dale - who stayed all day - I'm honored to say. One HUGE surprise was my friend from High School - Jakub showed up. I haven't seen him in 15 years!!! It was so great to see him. Also a collection of some of my most favorite peeps. Thanks so much for showing up and seeing me off my friends. I had 6 cups of tea whilst sitting there - all different kinds, and Angelique made a lovely assortment of cookies - had my first Christmas Shortbread yesterday. Sorry to say - friends - I don't have any time for 1:1 goodbyes, so - you'll have to visit me in Scotland if you want to see me again. That's great though - come and visit - it will be fun. Yeah - so things are coming along, and I'm getting more and more excited about the move. I guess I should look into getting some furniture. I may have a line on a bed - waiting to hear back from my friend on that one. I guess though - it will take me a little while to get all the little knick knacks sorted that makes up a home. As of today - there's 16 sleeps. I really need to get on with some of my projects that I've been holding on to. Can't do them after the move. Today - I will be scanning pictures - and later - doing a little Yoga. (Must try to burn off yesterday's calories) I also went to Kaly and Andy's Crepe party last night, and had an excellent girly gab session with Kaly, Birdie and Candia. Good times. Kaly's having a baby - so we were talking about that and all it entails; all that I have to look forward to - some day. Gosh - some things - I'm really going to miss, but it will be all worth it as I move forward and make new memories. It's time to do so.

15 YEARS!!!! Reunited. Thanks for the surprise visit Jakub.

Me and Valena - I'll miss you - but you need to come and visit.

Me and my Brother from another Mother - Logan - who is going to visit and celebrate Hogmanay next year.

The host and hostess of the tea party - Angelique and Rick - I'll miss you lots my friends - thanks again for the great send-off.

Some of the best girls ever - Kaly, Birdie, Me and Candia.