Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hello U.K part 2.5- the voyage and train stations

I'd like to go to to Scotland
I'd like to wear a Kilt
I'd like to show off my 2 legs and do just what I wilt

I'd like to go to Scotland
and show off my 2 thighs
I'd like to wear a minikilt and kick you in the eyes

I'd like to go to Scotland
and be so very bad
I'd wear a micro-mini-kilt
of plaid"

"Scotland" by King Missile

Ok truth be told- I would not be wearing a micro-mini kilt of plaid or of any other fabric or motif. Scotland is brrrrr, but more on that later. Day 4 of my U.K. adventure and we were heading up to Scotland. We woke up, got ourselves together, went downstairs and enjoyed a breakfast buffet at the hotel- mostly cereal and toast but I did fill my pockets with cheese for later. Pocket cheese- Oh yeah!! We walked to the tube station and took some public transit to the train station- can’t remember which one but it looks like this:

its this one

We wandered around the station for a bit and eventually got on the train. I had made sure to stock up on important train food; Walkers crisps, Hula Hoops-and Cheesy Wotsits so we would not have to resort to cannibalism. Meagie had booked us prime seating- 3 seats with a table and people looked at us with envy. There was one empty seat in our quad; someone was supposed to join us at Donegal? Doncaster? Lancaster? Not sure exactly where- somewhere Northern, in anycase- never happened which is probably good considering the fact that we ran out of crisps mid-journey.

I amused Meagie by pointing out which sheep were for sweaters and which were for eating “them’s eating sheep” I says…I mean I said. Truth be told I had no idea which sheep are for eating and which are for wearing, but my sister doesn't need to know that. We also played a rousing game of "that’s my mansion, that’s your shack" although due to the scenery it was mostly- "that’s my field, that’s your bracken, that’s my forest, that’s your shrubbery, that’s your wall, that’s Hadrian’s wall". Eventually a nice goth girl sat in our empty seat- to get away from the screaming children. She was most interested in my knitting. I had started a sock in the Toronto airport- although I didn't bother trying to knit on the plane as the seats were pretty cramped and the potential terrorist sitting beside me could have done a lot of damage with my 2mm bamboo sock needles. But I digress, I got a large section done on the train. You can knit on a lot of sock in 5 1/2 hours. The other interesting thing is as soon as we crossed the “border” to Scotland there was rain. How does it know?

York's Train Station

By the time we got to Edinburgh, we were half a million strong...ok we were actually 3 strong. Although truthfully we weren't strong; we were tired and hungry and full of woe when we saw upon disembarking from the train we had to climb stairs....many stairs- many steep stairs- This proved difficult on our train atrophied legs. But finally we had arrived.

Train stations are cool, non?

Check out my feet on the cobblestones of Edinburgh

Next installment. Edinburgh- and a plague of pamphlets

Saturday, September 19, 2009

the beast

This irregularly scheduled blog post is interupted by.... the beast.
This morning she chomped down on my pointer finger and it hurts like a &$%#(#%#%er.
It hurts to type....it hurts to knit.
Now in theory she was only playing...but was she really playing?

we used to be friends

don't let this fool you- she is vicious

it doesn't look like much- and the picture isn't too clear- but since taking this photo the bruises have spread. She managed to puncture the skin on both sides of my finger under the nail. I hope I don't have cat aids. Also I anticipate that my nail will turn black by the end of the day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hello UK- pt. 2 London

So 40 ounces of gin later, 4:00 am bedtime and then rising early and catching the train to Londonium gave us a great start to our trek to the North country. It was a bit of a rough journey, but we arrived more or less in one piece and caught the tube to Belsize park; a somewhat posh neighbourhood with wide tree lined boulevards and cafes.

The plan: Spend 1 day and 1 night in London and then catch the bright and somewhat early train to Edinburgh where we would enjoy 5 days of damp. We had a few tentative ideas of things we wanted to check out in London but we did not have a set itinerary and the thought was that we may head back for another day nearer to the end of the trip if we couldn't fit everthing in.

We headed to our hotel. Which was lovely, I actually stayed there for a few nights the last time was in the UK..way back in the '90s. I remember having horrible "jet lag"/catatonia - I also vaguely remember almost falling asleep in my Cauliflower cheese at some pub. Ahh the '90s. If you can remember them then I guess you didn't take a mixture of graval and muscle relaxers on the plane like I did on that particular trip. But that was how we rolled in the '90s.... I think....at least thats what I'm told.

Check us out at Dillon's

This makes me feel like I'm in a Love and Rockets Video. I can tell you- this pleased my goth self the first time I stayed here back in the day

beauty.... beauty... beauty.... beautiful.....

In lieu of museums and yarn shops, we decided to wander around camden lock in a hang-over induced haze. Even though it is quite touristy, I haven’t been there since the big fire of diggety-eight which apparently wiped out a lot of the market. So I thought it would be interesting to see how it's changed. Back in the day I loved going to CM for all my doc marten and PVC bustier/goth gear/bootleg Cds and band t-shirts that will disintegrate after 1 washing- needs.

check me out in front of the canal

We went for lunch at wagamamas This place is very accomodating for the gluten free although I would have liked something crispy and fried. I had soup. It was healthsome. After lunch we did more wandering throught the market- but didn't do much shopping besides picking up a few trinkets, tchotchkes and '80s style sunglasse.

This was the display outside a very interesting store- it was a store selling club type gear and was very dark and very loud. Couldn't hear or see much inside but the outside looked cool.

They are curerntly in the process of re-building the part of the Market that burned down, and the concept is horse-y. The market stalls are going to be in ... well horse-y stalls. and there are cast iron horse statues everywhere.


more stalls

We also went to Carnaby Street. Didn't take any pictures cause it just looked like a high end shopping street- which is what it is...Now. The first time i went there back in '87 it was pretty sketchy and the place to get mephisto jackets, bootleg sex pistol t-shirts and cheap sunglasses. Now it looks like Yorkville. One thing that I did find interesting is that the clothing looked pretty much identical to the clothing I saw on that first trip. I guess everything does come around although it would have been nice if MC Hammer pants could have stayed behind.

After our day of wandering we headed back to Belsize park, had a nice dinner at a small local bistro and then went back to the hotel to get some sleep as we had to get an early start the next day.

Next installment. The Voyage North- or Edinburgh- on 1 potato a day

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Hello U.K. Part One- Kent

There are certain aspects of travel that I like. The actual process of traveling, the in-between times, where one is neither here nor there. The fact that one is hurtling through time and space while at the same time sitting almost motionless. Perhaps I notice these things more because I usually travel alone and so have all the time in the world to think about such things as I am strapped into my chair. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy sitting motionless in a cramped airplane seat for hours on end, but there is something appealing about the “going”. The idea that one is unreachable, alone, in transition, the fact that you have to turn your cell phone off and no one can call you and ask about their pension.

It has been far too long since I’ve left this continent, hell the farthest outside the GTA I’ve been in the past 3 years has been Kitchener, Ontario- not exactly an exotic locale. So I finally decided - with the help of my sister and brother-in-law that I would have a holiday in the sun (UK style). Truth be told, the last time I went to England, grunge was at its heyday and I was taking pottery class for credit in CEGEP. So now that I am a grown up and have a shiny new job with paid vacation days I decided Hell yeah- I’ll do this thing! The “going” was pretty uneventful. Worked on Wednesday, caught the bus to the airport, checked in, got the seat I wanted and flew to the U.K. Nothing much of interest. Well- I did order the gluten free meal which was probably wise as the in-flight meals were "pasta with cheese and pasta with chicken". Also I may have been sitting next to a potential terrorist- he was pretty aggressive with the flight attendents, plus dude was travelling with nothing but a cell phone and a pair of sunglasses. He even had to buy earphones and borrow a pen from me. he was pretty nice about the pen though, and he told me he just liked to travel light. Arrived at London Gatwick at 10:00 AM the next morning and was (eventually) met by my sister. We took the train to Kent where my sis and bro-in-law live and there my adventure began.

I’m in Engerland- check me out on the cobblestones of Kent.

We took it easy my first afternoon and by easy I mean we hit the pub ASAP. There is one sad aspect to my trip. I have decided to do the gluten free thing, full on...which means no bakewell tarts, no sausage rolls or pork pies and saddest of all, no beer and no Guinness.... there is however Cider. After the pub we went for a wander and saw the site(s) of Rochester. Most of the sites were infested by disreputable looking youth in hoodies, however despite the youth problem Rochester is a quaint little town with cobblestones, a Cathedral and a Dickens' connection. Truth be told I was more interested in the pub and the candy store than the afforementioned tourist attractions. I'm all about prioritizing.

the Cooper's Arms- for all your sausage, mash and cider needs

Day 1- Whitstable.

For my first full day in the U.K, we decided to hit the beach. Not literally, that would hurt- (trust me- you havent seen the beach yet) Whitstable is a seaside town in Kent that is known for its oysters and other delicious seafoods. On the harbour front are fishmarkets where you can buy little tubs of freshly caught …things… things from the sea- - things like prawns, herring, winkles, cockles and of course oysters. The oysters are apparently famous... in oyster circles.

I really dig the English seaside. It’s cheery but somewhat unforgiving. It's a bit cold and smells fishy. Plus there are no beach bunnies lying on the sand applying coppertone. You definitely won't be feeling sand between your toes- you’ll be feeling rather large rocks.

All is bleak...all is winter

you may want to keep your shoes on when walking on the beach

Whitstable has it goin' on. We went for a wander and hit a nice local gallery, some cute shops and an excellent cafe. However, the beach and the seafood is the big draw, so we picked up some chips and wandered back to the harbour and purchased tubs of seafood: 2 sizes of prawns, sweet pickled herring and of course raw oysters on the half shell- we also brought a bottle of wine with us and enjoyed a feast on an overturned rowboat on pebble beach.


a toast... to the Sea!

After eating and dipping our feet into the water, we wandered along the water front past Victorian sea huts- (I am sure they have a more scientific name) and got some ice cream. I had a Ribena Ice Lolly


More Huts

Sister and Bro-in-law with a backdrop of...huts

Before leaving we ducked into the fish markets again and got some olives wrapped in herring and a few cockles for the road. The cockles were a little gritty, but at least I can say I eat...cockle. We caught the train back to Rochester and had a lovely supper of chorizo sausage, cheese, gluten free crispbread and 40 ounces of duty free Gin.

insert Captain Highliner joke here:

next installment:

London and 40 ounces of Gin