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Here We Go Again

Seventh time’s a charm eh?

 

They say the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

That said, I’ve started a blog. Not for the fist time, no. I’ve attempted to regularly update various types of journals in my life for a long time. Photo blogs, diaries, even my dusty old livejournal account all show my stabs through the years of my attempts to keep track of my thoughts and god forbid, my time. (This  goldfish memory of mine needs all the help it can get!)

After revisiting the results of my most recent attempts a year ago when I was taking a photo a day, I decided to shake off the dust of my old lofty goal.

So without further ado: the random, inane mumblings of a gal born and bred in Tennessee, living in Edinburgh, Scotland. To my friends and family who I may have inclined to share these silly wee words and pictures with, welcome!

 

June 3rd-7th, 2017: Kittens, Bubbles, Pandas

Saturday, 3rd of June

What happens when three Tennessee gals inhabit one Scottish city? Cataclysmic events? The ripping of the space-time continuum??

Answer: nothing much really. But they do cross paths!

I’d been informed a few months earlier that the very first person I ever spoke to in university who would later have the misfortune of being my dorm suite mate, a gal named Chelsea, had booked some time off and was headin’ across the pond to Edinburgh. I put it in my calendar, but she was staying with another girl from Tennessee who not only also was in Edinburgh, but also studied at my university and was in the marching band with both of us, but whom I had never met.

Strange, eh? Who knew?

After H and I running some errands in town (I finally have my own phone back!!!) Chelsea and I reunited once more outside of the flat she was staying in. After hugs and chat, we hit the streets of Edinburgh. We had a quick wander first down to Parliament, then popped into a very charming cafe called the Fig Tree for lunch, then headed towards the Meadows where we would be meeting the Other Tennessean at festival happening there. Along the way we encountered a bunch of Oompa Loompas (who Chelsea bravely got a photo with), as well as some street vendors selling things (I got a two shillings piece which I promptly lost probably within the next 30 minutes).

Once we made it to the Meadows, we treated ourselves to a torch-perfected marshmallow kebab from the Marshmallow Lady. Although I’ve bought myself some of her wares before, I had my doubts about a marshmallow kebab–that is, until I sank my teeth into the perfectly toasted wonder. It was amazing.

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Upon meeting with Erinn (the Other T) we had a wander through the area, taking in all the vendors and listening to the not-entirely-horrible band playing on the stage nearby.

That’s when I saw him.

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That’s right. This feller’s name is Zeb and he claims he was there for work, but in actuality I think he was probably just there to show off his kitten, who had been formerly called Sparklebottom or something like that. The tiny wee critter was just hanging out, having an almost-snooze from her perch.

I mean. Of course I had to get a photo. It was the only thing stopping me from snatching that wee kitten off his shoulder for myself.

Afterwards I headed home, leaving Chelsea in the Other T’s trusty care, full of marshmallows and yummy lunch but certainly lighter of wallet!

Sunday, 4th of June

Krista’s leaving do. Good times at the wee Swedish bar nearby!

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Monday, 5th of June

Look what I made… and then laughed out loud to see the results of just now!

It’s absurd how delighted I was when I was this wee guy doing laps round a poppy blossom. What can I say? I’m not ashamed.

Tuesday, 6th of June

DANG was it ever raining today. I read a headline that said we basically got the same amount of rain, today, that we did in the whole of June last year.

Shoo-wee.

Despite the torrential downpour, or perhaps because of it, work was a pleasantly quiet affair. It keeps the worst of the customers away, and allows you time to get caught up on the day-to-day. Plus, isn’t the rain falling around you, but not on you, just such a soothing experience?

After work I grabbed my brolly and hit the streets. That was to meet my friends at the nearby Cameo cinema, a very vintage, artsy-fartsy sort of place–my first time inside, surprisingly. We saw a film from Studio Ghibli called The Red Turtle. It was supposed to be amazing, so I had high hopes.

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However, at the end, my friends and I continued sitting and that’s when the questions began. And there were a few. It was a nice movie, if a little odd. But I guess any film by Studio Ghibli tends to be that. I mean, let’s be honest. If you came up with an idea for a movie while tripping balls on acid, I still think Princess Mononoke would be weirder (and yet it’s so damned good!). Just try and explain the picture below, for example.

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Anyway. The real exciting bit was that my pal Jacky was back from visiting Hong Kong. And he came bearing gifts!!! THE MOST ADORABLE GIFTS.

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Wednesday, 7th of June

My oh my what a day. Did I mention that my American pal was visiting? Well, I treated her as I normally do my visiting friends and family by dragging her all over town! That’s the way I like to do visits: if you’re not absolutely shattered by the end of the day, you’re doing it wrong!

First up: breakfast at the Edinburgh Larder (yum). Next, rendezvous at the Edinburgh College of Art to see my pal Melanie’s exhibit. She gives us, and snow princess Krista who joined us, a delightful tour! We see costume design, paintings, interactive exhibits, and then some. I even lost some hair to the wheels of a tiny wheeled seat while going through a tunnel on my back(?!). Good times are had by all!!

Afterwards, we wander down to the Meadows where we find old colleague Andrew stationed at his new coffee bus! He treats us some mighty fine coffees and cheese straws (yum), and we head for the ominously looming Arthur’s Seat, for the windiest, windiest walk up the old volcano there could be. (At least you could see from the top though… unfortunately, you could also see the keyboardist who was stationed on top attemtping to busk, wtf, okay fine he did march up with a keyboard, I guess I can admire that effort at least).

Next stop, marching back up the Royal Mile to make my third venture into the Scotch Whisky Experience! Even better, when we arrived my friend who works there pulled some strings and managed to be the guide who walked us through our tasting and experience. And he nailed it! Bravo, sir!

And what better way to sop up loads of whisky after a day spent tromping up and down Edinburgh? Well, some pub grub at the Tron, of course.

Needless to say I took a lot of photos during the day. But my all-time favorite moment of the day happened at the end as we made our way from the Experience. As it happens, a guy had set up a sudsy kiddie pool from which he was making thousands of bubbles–there were kids running about like little furious tornadoes, and the bubbles filled the Royal Mile. It was so stinkin’ pretty!

And I caught a photo of the most adorable wee tator tot ever.

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What a fine day.

 

29th May-2nd June, 2017: Whisky, Nessy, and Bees

Monday, 29th of May

Science has proven that the best way to follow up a day at work is with a friendly gathering of folk … to drink whisky! While I was working at Pentland, I became friends with a fellow American (an Ohioan) who was studying art at Edinburgh College of Art. Her partner (also American), has recently acquired one of the most absurdly fun-sounding jobs I’ve ever heard of–working at the Scotch Malt Whisky Experience! Which not only has its own whisky barrel ride (even cheesier than it sounds) and a guided tasting, but also look at one of the world’s largest unopened private whisky collections. The first time I went wasn’t overly impressed, but all it takes is a little modern, tech-savvy and a friend on the inside who’ll give ya free tickets to win you over!

Anyhow, an eclectic bunch of plant-people and art-people and a few in between met at my friends’ flat just off Potterrow. Ben, resident whisky expert was in great form offering everyone drams from his collection. It’s nice to see someone so obviously enthused about the things they like, and Ben was certainly that during the evening, making suggestions and describing flavors. Even better, when I left the night he insisted I take an unopened blended whisky home with me.

Who am I to say no, anyway?!

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Tuesday, 30th of May

It’s hard to fathom that June is almost upon is. Despite our brief warm spell, it’s dipped back down into slightly chilly temperatures once more, leaving me wearing a light jacket and vest at work. Still, when the sun did decide to pop out during brief spells, mainly towards the end of work, it warmed up quite quickly.

And with it, the bees were out and about! I couldn’t help but stop and watch them really going to town on some allium blossoms. Alliums! What a lovely blossom for so smelly a plant–that is, after all, the onion family! Whereas some varieties are grown for their delicious bulbs, others are propagated for their gorgeous blossoms.

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It’s a perfect little bee bomb. The one on the left is one of my favorites, a red-tailed bee! Oh, who am I kidding. I seriously love them all. ❤ (Did y’all know bumble bees’ latin name is Bombus??? Ugh, it’s too much!)

Wednesday, 31st of May

It’s JUNE! And what better way to ring in the start of a new summertime month than with a long, glorious walk with one of your favourite gal-pals??! That’s right! I think y’all have seen the oft-photographed face of my wilderness wandering partner-in-crime Krista. But who can get tired of that perdy wee face? She is a snow princess after all!

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It was a truly lovely walk that we did, and one we sort of stumbled upon only part intentionally. I had discovered the Clyde Valley Woodland Park on my internet wanderings, and decided it had potential for investigation. However, google maps has two different “entrances” to the actual Woodland, the first of which merely took us to someone’s private driveway out in the sticks. The second attempt took us to a strange, small, gravel car park, but lo and behold, it was actually the entrance to one of the walks. “Let’s do it,” we said, “and maybe we’ll have time to find another walk afterwards!”

That was before we “accidentally” tried to complete the entire length of the lengthy woodland walk instead of just the one we’d spotted online! Whoops!

It was honestly a beautiful walk, with the summer sun beating down, a few bluebells just hanging on, big ol’ cows pinning us with ambivalent bovine stares as we ambled across their pastures, giant beech trees, and then some.

Oh, and Krista made Nessy bread. That’s banana bread with a Scottish twist!

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Just how cute is that? Diabetes-inducing cuteness.

Anyway, we had a blast before eventually turning back in pursuit of ice cream (we settled for iced coffees though) and home.

(Side note: remember that phone that I’ve got on loan from the shop while they fix mine? It was due to be swapped out for my actual, real, finally fixed phone the following day… and yet I may have dropped the loan phone in the mud alongside the river. It’s fine, I swear!!! After I wiped the mud off anyway!! Whoops!! Anyway, that’s what happens when they don’t fix your phone for well over three months and you tromp around in mud on the regular!)

Thursday, 1st of June

We have a load of new plants from various locations at work today. Normally when we get buckets of plants all in one go, my boss becomes a bit like a drill sergeant, dictating locations and schemes. However today was surprising–perhaps she’s adopted a more chilled approach, in that “it’ll get done when it gets done” seemed to be her mantra for the day. Considering, it made for a surprisingly nice work day, where plenty of things got done, but no one lost their heeds during.

I didn’t take too many photos, but I did snap a photo of a new houseplant that we have inside. Some type of begonia, which I’m not normally a massive fan of, but this one’s leaf shape was just so gorgeously swirly.

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Friday, 2nd of June

Another day, another dollar. Or rather, another day, another pound. Mehhhh–just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it? How about, another round, another pound??

I’ll stop now.

I noticed in my google photos that I had a photo of my tiny wee garden from a few years ago. It looked a dismal affair compared to how chock full of stuff it is now, so I thought I’d do a comparison.

Sad May 2015, Exhibit A: here!

And Exhibit B, as seen through the window:

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I’m actually quite chuffed with the difference between then and now, even seen in this shady photo in between bloomings. I know it may not look like much to most, but I’m severely hindered by the presence of a massive hedge in the right of the photo, which blocks out a fair portion of the few hours of sun I do get in my north-facing garden. Regardless, I’ve added quite a few bargain perennials from Pentland and Torwood alike, and snagged more bee-friendly plants to boot! Foxgloves, lupins, agapanthus, and now a poppy, slowly but surely I’m bringin’ them bees on in!

I am, however, looking forward to buying a property with a real garden. Oh, man. We could live under a bridge as long as we have a south-facing aspect–oh, and a comfy reading book nook would be amazing!

 

24th-28th of May, 2017 – Glaswegian Chocolates, Damn The Sun is Surprisingly Warm, and Submarines

Wednesday, 24th of May

Haitham took a day off today, and after some time spent (*ahem* his time) cleaning the car, we shuttled down to Glasgow to meet up with his mom and sister Lisa at a cute wee cafe within a surprisingly nice mall. It was his mum’s suggestion, and it was a total hit for all parties. Not only did it have a whole shop section full of sweeties, but the restaurant portion was delicious!

Haitham spent most of our lunch date showing his mum old photos that he’s been digitizing, passed over from his sister before moving to the States. Inquiring about who this was, what they were like, where they were. Elizabeth regaled us with stories and goggled over seeing the old photos for the first time in years. She’s such a cutie pie.

Of course there was also gossip about each of her children and what they were up to, i.e. who had broken up with their partners, who was studying, who was working or vacationing. So it goes when you have so many children to keep track of and they all live such different lives!

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Before leaving, she refused to budge until she bought Haitham and I some chocolates from the counter. I have to admit they are absurdly adorable (I’ll admit my resistance to the treat was weak). Tiny chocolate donuts and rabbits! What can I say? I tried to fend her off, but I gotta be a good daughter-in-law here!

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Thursday, 25th of May

Guess what, y’all. Summer has finally come to Scotland.

Though I was at work and not able to celebrate the national holiday as one does when the opportunity arises here, I was able to bask in the glory of the sun beating down within the 25 degree C weather here.

That’s 77 for my Fahrenheit folks. I know, right? Despite the fact that this is hardly the 100 degree weather that Tennesseans see on the regular in the summer, you would never have thought it based on the way Scottish folk were going on. David, one of my coworkers with a full set of dreadlocks, kept coming over to get a shower from the hose as I watered plants. Others would come up to me and say, “This feel like Tennessee yet?” and I would chortle and say “Not even close!”

I freakin’ love it. Warm summer days transport me back home–so I bask in them when I get the chance! So even though it was a long, tiring, and sweaty day, when I got back home I pried myself away from the living room sofa to have a wander through the nearby Harrison Park.

Sure enough, national holiday merrymaking was in full swing even at around 8 PM!

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Honestly. Summer weather = national holiday. And that means BBQs!

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Too bad I didn’t have one of my own. After a brief wander enjoying the warmth, it was back home and then to bed!

Friday, 26th of May

Another warm day–even warmer then yesterday! This time temperatures exceeded 80 degrees F, and when I arrived home after work even Haitham was inspired to take advantage of the un-Scottishly-summer weather. I suggested we venture over to Corstorphine Hill, one of my previously-mentioned favorite bird haunts, and one of the best views in Edinburgh. It was getting late by the time we headed out, but we caught some of the view (although little to no birds, despite their songs heard richocheting through the trees!) before heading home.

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I don’t reckon there will ever be a day I get tired of this view.

Saturday, 27th of May

Oh ho, what an absolutely excellent day on all counts!

First up: H and I saddle up the old Panda pony and hit the road. Destination: the beach!!! Aberlady beach to be specific, a charming wee town on the outskirts of Edinburgh, bordering the Forth.

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I’d heard rumors that there was a submarine you could see on the beaches here, which obviously required further investigation.

Findings: there’s not just one, but two beached submarines on the shores of Aberlady beach! As it turns out, in WW2 there were some Royal Navy XT class midget submarines made. These small submarines could hold 4 people within their tiny, claustrophobia-inducing walls. They were 57 feet long, and 5 feet wide.

Just think about that one for a second.

Anyway, there were some training submarines made in order to allow volunteers for the cause to get used to working within, 6 of them in total. I think the actual mission had something to do with sneaking around some bigger boats off the coast of Norway (I skimmed that bit). Two of them ended up beached on Aberlady shores and used for–even crazier–target practice when the war concluded. Obviously with that said, time and a little ammunition has not helped them look as pristine as they once were. As we approached the long swathe of sand during low-tide (you can only see them twice daily), eventually we peeped what looked like a pile of garbage from the distance.

As we got closer, it began to look more like the skeleton of some beast. Here’s Haitham approaching the first.

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Eventually, we arrived at the first skeletal remains. The other one rested a few yards away in a tidal pool. It was really something else seeing the remnants of such an amazing thing–even better, a portion of one of the submarines had an opening wide enough for me to step into the water, crouch down, and see inside (as Haitham looked on in mild horror).

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How honestly cool is that? I could go on and on about them, but instead for those curious here’s the seriously interesting blog post about them where a gentleman describes their history at length. Full of historic goodies!

After wandering back and trying to ID the countless new birds flying about the dunes (skylarks, stonechats, and others seen for the first time!), we headed home. A few hours later I hit the streets again to join some friends at a Swedish cafe called Soderburg for a pizza date and some Bohnanza–that’s a delightfully addictive cardgame featuring beans!

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Now that’s the way to do a Saturday. Submarines and beans.

Sunday, 28th of May

Work, warm, but probably only in the 70’s. When I arrived home I attempted to unlock the door, only to find that because H had left his set of keys in the lock, I was stuck outside. Luckily for me the doorbell is also broken (H fiddled with it but ended up disconnecting it entirely), so after a few attempts at knocking on the windows/door, and even hollering like a numpty through the mail slot to no avail, I realized I was stuck.

For those wondering, no, H doesn’t answer his phone either. The man is like an island. An island of one, in the far-off destination of “the kitchen.”

Nevertheless I decided to take advantage of the weather (and my situation) to do a spot of gardening, re-arranging some planters, and putting aside some spent tulip bulbs for next year. Remember how I promised a lupin photo? Well, here we are!

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I feel a bit bashful because this is one of the smaller blossoms on the plant; I sort of dawdled on taking a photo of it until too late, but oh well! It’s safe to say that I love my lupin, even more so because bees also love my lupin. #winning

 

20th-24th of May, 2017 – Swans ‘n Such

Saturday, 20th of May

Ugh, what a mingin’ day. It was raining and cold for the entirety of the day. Haitham and I spent it cooped up inside trying to play catch-up with this and that, but around 4 or 5 PM I’d had enough. Feeling positively stir-crazy, I decided that rain or no, I was going for a freakin’ walk.

And so I did. And just like that–the rain stopped, and the sun peered through! How lucky is that?! Considering my good luck, I decided to meander along the Union Canal. And… doubly lucky… spotted loads of birdy babies! First up, some ADORABLY fuzzy cygnets. I wasn’t the only one who stopped to gawk at the absurd amounts of cuteness. All the dog-walkers and families pushing prams also paused to enjoy the show.

Managed to snap this shot of a wee guy stretching his little nubs!

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Mom and Dad hovered very regally nearby. What a striking difference when Dad decided to stretch as well! One day, little baby, one day!

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Sunday, 21st of May

Much like the day prior, it was pretty rainy off and on all day at work. To be fair, I really enjoy the rainy days–it being the peak of Scottish springtime, customers are rampant in garden centres. Rainy days mean limited numbers and quiet days where you can actually catch up a wee bit, so that’s always a welcome change! Strange really that we’ve had so few rainy days as of late, because, ya know. Scotland.

After work I met with two of my pals for bubble tea. Yep. Mentioned that one earlier didn’t I? I nabbed a papaya juice bubble tea, my friends got theirs, and we decided that because there was approximately one sunbeam making an appearance outside to go sit outside.

Nah. That sun disappeared pretty much instantly, so we ended up wandering the entire length of the Meadows and into neighbor Bruntsfield Links (both spacious parks within Edi) while chatting and enjoying our chilly bubble teas. Ah, well–can’t really complain so long as bubble tea is involved!

Look at these two handsome chappies. Notice the puffy jackets. Ah well–they both smiled as soon as I pointed my gigantic lens at them, which is a welcome change from Haitham’s never-ending photo-grimace!!

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Monday, 22nd of May

Having neglected to take a photo again today, I’ll simply post another quick snap from the prior day and our bubble tea wander through the Meadows. I think I’ve mentioned before that Google photos sometimes helpfully will slap a little editing on photos based on some quirky algorithm known only to Google brain-lords. This photo is one of those, where they basically slapped a B&W filter on it. But bam! Instant dramatic Edinburgh castle scene!

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The real excitement of the day was Haitham and I finalizing some plans for a cheeky trip to Yorkshire at the end of June. Despite my being U.K.-bound while my passport is away, nothing’s stopping us from exploring more bits of England while Haitham uses up the remainder of last year’s holidays before they expire!

The best bit: I convinced him to let us stay at this farm just outside of Scarborough for a couple of nights. A FARM, Y’ALL!!! They’ve got highland cows and goats and and dogs and free breakfast and… and… what more does a girl honestly need?

It’s safe to say that I am positively stoked about this trip.

Tuesday, 23rd of May

Did I mention how late the sun sets in Scotland during the summer?

Snapped this one out the window at 9:17 PM. How I love it–at least until it’s still light out at 10 PM and you feel absolutely addled climbing into bed with the sun peeping through the curtains still!

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15-19th of May, 2017 – Eggs, X-rays, and Speyside


Monday, 15th of May

Ben, my workmate, called me over to witness this cheeky infiltration that seemingly happened overnight nestled amongst our lavender plants. Said he found out the hard way it was there–by mum flying off in a blast of feathers when she was discovered! Said it scared the bajeesus out of him.

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Look how sweet they are. Little tiny pink orbs–after a quick google, I think they’re probably robin eggs. Hopefully we haven’t scared away mom altogether, but at the same time, having worked in a garden centre where little fledglings are sitting like bumps on a log in the middle of the path, looking like dustballs, unaware of the danger of belligerent trolleys being pushed by oblivious pensioners–I kind of hope she abandons ship! I can’t take the stress of chasing after babies again!!!

Tuesday, 16th of May

I only took one photo today–and it’s of a lupin blooming at work. One of my favorite flowers, but one that I feel loathe to post because eventually my own lupin will be blooming! It’s already got four buds on it, and I’m so excited. So I refuse to post a terrible photo of a garden centre lupin. I mean, it’s like cheating isn’t it?

Have y’all heard of Playing for Change? I first heard of it when a fantastic music video went viral a few years back of musicians performing Stand By Me–all from different places all over the world! It starts with one guy, singing his heart out, in California. Bit by bit other musicians, from New Orleans, Brazil, France, and then some–are shot from their respective locations, each adding another instrument or voice to layers of the song. Even though none of these people are actually together, with the help of technology, a dash of editing, and some video cameras–you’ve got this amazing, multi-national, multi-cultural song.

Since then Playing for Change has still been going at it, and they just released this song not too long ago. Haitham is totally smitten with PFC, and we’ve had several nights where he starts playing one song that’s been rattling around in his noggin, and before you know it we’ve listened to them all “accidentally.” Not that I mind! They’re so good. And this song in particular has such a catchy, kinda mesmerising quality to it.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 17th of May

Wednesday! Day off! Time to do all the things!

First up was hopping on the bike to a follow up on my doctor’s referral regarding my ol’ crusty knee. She had suggested a particular hospital because it was less busy than the rest, so I agreed without thinking about it too much. Turns out I knew the location, having passed it trillions of times on my way to work back in my Pentland days, mainly because of its gargantuan “BLOOD DONATION” sign outside. Having never been inside, I was surprised to find that it was quite large, and also incredibly creepy on the inside. Like, this would be the perfect place for a zombie outbreak in a film, for sure. (But maybe one that happened in the ’80s.)

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The appointment itself was a quick and painless affair. I was called within minutes of sitting down, and my radiologist was a very sweet lady who apologized for the loud grumble of the protesting machinery as she swiveled it into place to get both knees in the shot. After that and a crooked-knee pose, she checked them on the computer screen. There they were! Proof of my own spooky skeleton. I wish I could’ve taken a photo of it. Then again, it just looked like two bony knees. No disintegration or swiss cheesey bits that I could see to my uneducated eye. “Lovely,” she said cheerfully, and sent me on my way before I could break down and beg her to tell me what she saw with her special radiology eyes! Ah well, it’s now up to me to speak to my GP once more to find out what happens next.

Afterwards I treated myself to a coffee from my favorite canal boat cafe. For some reason I felt the impulse to take a selfie while I was there. Maybe it was the sunshine addling my brain, maybe it was my colorful nail polish that I bothered to apply for the first time in months, maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t wearing a jacket for the first time this year. Or maybe I just wanted to capture all of these things in one fell swoop, with a dumb selfie, with a coffee in hand.

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Yep, dat me.

Afterwards it was off to get my fingerprints filed and sorted away for government use! Where else to do that but at the trustworthy post office? This was one of the caveats my visa renewal process failed to mention until after the whole shebang was sent off via the post. It was only around a week later when a parcel arrived that they explained how to get my biometric information taken, and also… asked for more money.

Yeah. Go figure. Somehow the few weeks between my downloading the form for completion and then sending off said form, they upped the cost of the renewal by 200 quid. But that didn’t include the cost of the biometrics. AND they went ahead and took the original amount out beforehand, before asking for more.

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YET, I can’t complain. I’ve heard the American visa process is twice as difficult, unsurprisingly. And at the very least this renewal process was a lot easier than it was the first time around. And it’s supposed to be shorter to finalize! The first one took 6 months to get sorted, whereas the paperwork says 6-8 weeks this time around. Still, that leaves me landlocked without a passport while they make their decision.

Fingers crossed we didn’t goof something up, eh?!

Thursday, 18th of May

Work, work, work. What can I say? It was a particularly hot day here–it may well have been the hottest day so far of year, at a whopping 17 degrees (62 F). Boy oh boy, folks.

Came home, had a very quick dinner with Haitham who has to be up early in the morn for a meeting in England. That gives me time to catch up, edit some photos, and listen to some tunes. Do you guys know who Billy Connolly is, by chance? I’ll tell ya about him. The man’s a national treasure. You probably know him without even realizing it! He started off as a proper working class guy, doing ship-building in the Glasgow docks. Eventually he stumbled into folk music, and from there transitioned into comedy. He’s not only super, super Scottish, but hilarious. And he can sing!

It’s a bittersweet sort of feeling when you start to feel some warmth towards famous figures, especially as they age. Billy not only underwent treatment for cancer a few years back, but also has the beginning stages of Parkinson’s. This vibrant character who pops up in the strangest places–the voice of a guy in Disney’s Pocahontas, one of the new Hobbit films, and more understandably, Disney’s Brave, not to mention various shows and performances that just happen to be on the telly. It’s saddening to see him so still and sort of quietly contained in his more recent interviews, but the amount of recognition he gets even now is honestly amazing. He’s just such a great guy–totally deserves it.

Friday, 19th of May

What better way to ring in the end of the work-week than with some cheeky drinkies with your gal pal? There’s a joint on the other end of town from me called The Abbey, a proper old-man pub, that has a staggering list of whiskeys on hand (and they’re cheap, too!). This has become a favorite joint for my friend Emma and I, and we braved the old-man throng of a Friday night in Edinburgh to get our dram (and dinner) on.

I had a Speyside tasting, which was honestly delicious.

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The Strathisla was particularly delicious! And we only got hassled by one genial old man, but luckily we couldn’t understand a word he said on any of his multiple approaches, so all’s well!

12th-14th of May: Eurovision and Such!

Friday, 12th of May

One of the quirks of my schedule at the new job is my weekends. My schedule goes something like this: Week 1 – Wed/Sat off; Week 2 – Wed/Sat/Sun off; Week 3 – Friday off.

Which is kinda rubbish. (Although it does come in handy for cheeky weekend excursions from time to time.) Mainly because of that Friday week–I’d much rather have every week split up in Wed/Sat fashion, and hopefully will have it changed to match soon. I like having my weekday to do chores, then my weekend day to hang with the ol’ boy.

Anyway, this was my Friday week. Considering that, it was time to get shit done.

First up: a visit to my local GP. I was in the door a little before 8:30, and out at around 8:45 with a referral to get an X-Ray for my knee. Victory!! My knee’s crunchiness started with a mysterious “Pop!” while running on a treadmill one day during university years ago. It never hurt then, but over time has started to creep up on me: first I stopped running (and picked up cycling instead); then a long trek through the hills began to leave me hobbling like an old woman; and now when I’m walking up or down quiet stairwells Haitham can hear the crunching clearly himself. It took demonstrating said noise for my coworker when we were discussing all his running-related injuries, and the look of horror that crossed his face after, for me to think that it was perhaps time to get to the bottom of things.

What a bother, though. Stupid human body. Why are you so weak?!

“I’m sorry, but that sounds horrible,” said my GP apologetically after I demonstrated the noise for her (like a car engine gone wrong, but at least I can replicate the problem sound!). She thought that a visit to the physio probably wouldn’t do much good at this point, and so suggested an X-ray may be a good start to see if anything is “floating around in there.” If something (or alternatively nothing) shows up, she can then refer me to an orthopedic surgeon in order to figure out just what the heck is going on, potentially by getting an MRI.

The good news: now I know what the crunchy knee is called! Crepitus. I saw it written on the referral she gave me. For the curious!

Perhaps nothing will come of my X-ray, but perhaps something will–even knowing a bit more about what I can expect in the future would be a good thing. It’s certainly not life-threatening–as long as I can cycle and do some gentle hills, I’m happy as a clam. And more often than not, it doesn’t bother me.

After that I spent a good minute wandering back and forth from the library to print some files, then home, then back out to the post office in order to finally send my goodie bag off to the States for my SIL. The guy working there had the audacity to question my attire though, which happened to be my favorite comfy striped leggings with cut-off shorts, and my Pusheen-on-a-pizza tank to tie it all together.

Guy clearly doesn’t know fashion.

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Saturday, 13th of May

It’s a big day here, folks. That’s because it’s…

the EUROVISION FINALE!

To be fair, Eurovision was something I had never even heard of until Haitham and I first started talking. But it quickly gained my interest as the winner of that year happened to be this person:

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No, that’s not photoshop. That’s Conchita Wurst, the first drag queen to win Eurovision.

Let me explain. So, basically, Eurovision is like American Idol except for all the countries in Europe participate (with a few additions like Russia, Ukraine, and strangely enough Australia as of the past two years). It used to take place all in one night, all these varying performances, but now it’s been split into two different nights of semi-finals, and then the finale. There’s also a “Big 5” who gain automatic entry into the finals just because of who they are. Those are, unsurprisingly, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. Which seems a bit unfair, but they have the viewers, so…

Anyway it’s an eclectic mix for sure, and certainly always seems inclined to favor the more pop-fun songs as the winner. It’s interesting to see the amount of votes each performance gets, as each country not only chooses how to split up a portion of votes, and then after those results, the popular vote comes to play. It’s quite interesting seeing how the two come together in the end–it can really swing a winner one way or another.

Here we go: the winner, surprisingly, was Portugal who as it happens has never won before!! I at first thought Portugal’s song was a bit weird, but found it oddly sweet by the second performance. Not only that, but upon winning, our singer invited his sister (who wrote the song) up to perform alongside him. Pretty sure that’s never been done before! It certainly was a refreshing change from the lambasting pop-bubblegum songs that most people presented.

Although there was a yodel/rap duo… and a guy doing pop/opera… and a guy dancing in a gorilla suit. Yep. It sure was an interesting time. Oh, and there was a guy who cheekily got onto stage with the winner from last year (Ukraine) as she was performing, dropped trou on national television, and had a brief moment of sashaying bum glory before being tackled off the stage!

Amazing.

Anyway, here’s Portugal.

It’s a refreshing win for sure, because not only did he get on the stage with pretty much no frills and fanfare–just a guy singing a pretty song.

Here’s the lyrics:

If anyone ever wonders about me
Tell them I have lived solely to love you
Before you I only existed
Worn out and with nothing left to give
My love… Listen to my pleas
I beg you to come back
To want me again
I know… That one can’t love by oneself
But maybe with time
You will learn to love me as well
If your heart won’t be wiling to give in
Won’t be willing to feel
Won’t be willing to suffer
Without making plans of what will come ahead
My heart can love for both of us instead

Excuse me while I tend to these onions. *sniff*

And in case anyone wants to see the only yodeler in Romania, click right here-eoeo!

Sunday, 14th of May

Mother’s day! As it turns out, I had actually wished mom a happy mother’s day a full day earlier because I got my days mixed up–a silly thing to do considering it’s always on a Sunday, and yet, when no one else around you is talking about it being a holiday (because it isn’t, having happened several weeks before) it’s possibly a little more understandable to mix it up. Right?? Right. Despite that, Mom graciously just said “thank you!” not even blinking an eye at her wayward daughter. 🙂 Bless her.

My drive to work every day has been quite a lovely one as of late, mainly because there are fields of a particular crop with a god-awful name in full, glorious bloom. That’s right folks, it’s rape! Rapeseed, more specifically. It’s grown here for its use as a cooking oil. But while it grows the fields are brimming over with bright, bright yellow flowers. It’s seriously gorgeous.

I pass a particular stretch of motorway every day, farmhouse smack dab in the middle, two big draft horse mums with their foals, surrounded by fields of rape. And every day I think, “I have really got to stop.” Then proceed to forget, or miss out because of the weather.

Not today folks. Oh ho ho!

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It’s seriously stunning–and it smells amazing. I just wish I could lure the tiny wee foal over for a nose-rub!

 

8th-11th of May, 2017: Belated Birthdays + Some Cows

Monday, 8th of May

Back to the grindstone! I don’t think I took a single photo. Google photos did helpfully stitch together a panorama from the Lake District for me though: it’s not bad!

Post note: this is also Jessica’s birthday. Happy birthday gal–you may be reading this after the fact, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re the stinkin’ best and I’m so lucky to have you as a friend still after all these years!

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Tuesday, 9th of May

One of the perks of living on this funny wee island is that thanks to our northern latitude, the hours of daylight lengthen significantly starting from after the winter equinox. Sure, that happens for most, and some even get some midnight sun. But having lived in Tennessee my whole life, and experiencing a summer sunset at around 7 PM very reliably my entire life, the lengthening of summer hours from January–7 hours of daylight, sunset at 4 PM–to mid-July with the sunset at 10 PM is pretty amazing still.

Is it a trade-off for our long, miserable, wet, windy winters? Not quite!

Anyway, as it’s May our sun is already setting well past 9 PM, which means time for shenanigans after work! Considering this was Haitham’s last day of hols for the time being, I shot him a message while at working with the enticing offer of venturing to Beecraigs Country Park after work.

Why do we love Beecraigs?

Because it’s full of COOS!!!! Although we went mainly as I’d heard there were baby cows somewhere on the property, we were nonetheless treated to a hairy spectacle when we arrived after my shift ended. Beecraigs is nicely sectioned off with different areas featuring animals such as highland cows, roe deer, belted galloway cows, and some kinda woolly sheep.

But really though. Cows.

It’s lucky for us that when we arrived another family with a supremely yippy dog came barging over to us like we were imposters on the whole of its land, because all the highland cows had been nestled snugly up for nap-time far away from the fence. Upon hearing a disturbance though, like the curious critters they are they all began to get up and put on their best bovine stare. The dog went on its way, but one coo decided to make his way over to scope us out–or so we thought. In actuality it rapidly became obvious that  had ambled over for the sharp nail sticking out of the fence and proceeded to go for a lengthy, and hilarious scratch.

Then he found a wad of orange coo hair, licked it off the nail, gummed  it, found it unpleasant, and attempted to spit it out unsuccessfully for about a minute. All the while Haitham and I shouted, “Nooooooooo!” while laughing hysterically, unable to believe what we were witnessing… a cow trying to eat a furball, probably of his own design.

Magnificent beasts, highland cows.

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Wednesday, 10th of May

Trump fires Comey. Like… what the hell, man.

No photos today. Too busy being barraged with political podcasts to think about the reality around me. I mean, just what the heck is going on in the White House anyway?

Thursday, 11th of May

Haitham and I have been leaving a saucer with water out for our birdy friends. Oftentimes I come to the window and peer out, I see the remnants of splash time fun, but no feathered friends.

Until this morning.

Look at this cheeky guy. He was really going for it, a tiny torpedo of wings and water! I do like this shot though, with the water drops on his little tail.

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Truly, the most exciting thing that happened to me today! Could be worse, eh??