Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy xmas, etc.

It doesn't feel like xmas here, it's not cold (though right now it is raining) but I know that it is, and I hope you're all enjoying it.

Since I've been rubbish and not done cards or anything I thought I'd say my season's greetings with a bit of an update. No pictures sadly as I can't find a web cafe that'll let me upload mine but there is this one courtesy of a friend from the tour down from Cairns:

...which gives you an idea the kind of reprobates I spent those two weeks hanging out with, as well as showcasing my spectacular new hat :D

So after Fraser Island, which I've told you about a bit by referencing Wikipedia (which I'm afraid I'm going to cop out and do again in a sec,) I went on down the coast to visit (among other places) Byron Bay where I learned to surf! ...or at least to stand up and keep my balance a couple of times on the board while it rumbled along a wave. I can see how easily one could get hooked on surfing if one lived in the right place, but it's also the first sport in a long time I've tried where my low body mass didn't compensate for my puny upper body, so I missed more waves than I caught simply through not being able to paddle fast enough to catch 'em.

From Byron we came to Sydney, which initially struck me as a bit unfriendly and... well, Big City-ish (d'uh! - I know, but the rest of Oz has been so laid back and friendly, I wasn't prepared...) It's OK though: I got a handle on the place after a few days, helped enormously by having made some good friends on the way down from Cairns (two of whom have invited me for xmas dinner tomorrow, which is great) and in spite of the overwhelming numbers of narcisistic self-involved pricks in this place, I've begun making some more friends here too because while there are a lot of jerks in Sydney there are also a lot of people and some of them are lovely (if you're reading this you know who you are.)

The city itself is great, the weather's not exactly as advertised (rain is forecast for xmas day! boo hiss) but it's very changable so in amongst the grey and drizzle there have been plenty of pretty spectacularly sunny days too (just not tomorrow it seems. *huff*) I've been exploring a fair bit, seen most of the big sights (got some great shots of the Opera House which I will post when I can) visited some stunning coastline, spent a very happy day wandering around Power House (thanks for the recommendation Eric!) discovered the Botanic gardens which I love (in spite of the sinister and gigantic spiders who live among the succulents and cacti) and I've also been taken to some great non-touristy places by some of the new friends I'm making (Lucy, you were absolutely right there)

So while it doesn't feel like xmas, I am having a very happy one. I hope everyone else is too.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Right, lots to catch you all up on and (sorry) it's not going to happen today, the tour finished two days ago ending two weeks' worth of densely packed adventuring. Several of my co-travelers have stayed on in Sydney and a significant chunk of the last two days has been spent hanging out with them.

Today's the first day I've been here by myself really: no plans with anyone else so I've just been wandering about the city in the sunshine taking a few touristy photos and generally enjoying the thought that I don't have to get up at 4:45am and get on a coach any time soon (it didn't happen often but it did happen. *shudder*)

Anyway this is really just a checking in post to let you all know I'm safe and happy, expect a but better detail sometime in the next couple of days.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Cairns to Brisbane in 15 minutes

No, that's not how long it took to cover the distance (that's been 10 days) it's how long I have to try and cram everything in to a blog post about it all... so I'm going to skim and fill in the details later as well as probably writing the very pretty postcards I bought at Fraser Island this morning, though those probably wont make landfall back home until after xmas.

So I've traveled a fair chunk of the coast of Queensland now, I'm currently in sunny Brisbane where a nice man at the Apple Centre up the road told me that the mysterious fault my iPod suffered two weeks ago (resulting in it failing to recognise any of the 20gigs of music it's still carrying) appears to be a hardware failure and is probably terminal. Shit. On the bright side though Aussie iPods are dirt cheap given the exchange rate so I may yet treat myself to a replacement as a christmas pressie (though there'll still be no way of getting my music on it until I get home)

You guys don't care about all that though do you? You want to hear about the stunning tropical islands I've been sunning myself on for the past week, that'll brighten up the northern hemisphere winter for you all* The big 'uns were Long Island in the Whitsundays and Fraser Island which I just left and is the world's largest sand island, meaning that apart from three large rock formations on which it rests the entire island is made of sand. Follow the links for more detail and some piccies as I'm in a net cafe and can't upload my own. Both the islands were stunning in their own ways though I spent more time on the water in the Whitsundays than I did on Long Island itself: myself and six of my friends on the tour spent three days aboard a gorgeous black 60ft yacht called "Silent Night" alternately exploring some of the other islands in the Whitsundays and racing about under full sail with mad grins on our faces.

Hard to do this tour justice with so little time, so I'll leave it at that - the wikipedia entries on both places should give you all some idea of the places I'm seeing and the people are just awesome: it's such a good group and I'm going to miss them when we get to Sydney in a few short days.

* honestly folks I'm not gloating at all: I have to come back in January and am painfully aware of how cold that's going to feel after three months down here!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cairns update

really brief, having a fantasic time here, the tour group I've joined is full of fun, smart engaging people and I'm having a blast just being with them. On top of that yesterday we took a cable car ride over the rainforest, and today we spent all day on a catamaran out in the Great Barrier Reef snorkeling and scuba diving.

Off to carry on being here, don't worry if you don't hear anythng else until I hit Sydney (Dec 15th) it'll just be because I'm having too much fun.


Thursday, November 30, 2006


Finally managed to get the photos I uploaded at Eric's published (damnable internet kiosks... grrrr) so there are now a heap of backdated posts covering my trip through the South West (best way to make sure you see them all is to click the November archive link on the right, and scroll back to November 22nd) Meanwhile I've been to Ayers Rock (which was too hot and a bit too alien) and am now in Cairns which (so far) I really like.

Busy being here though so no new posts for now.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Leaving Perth

OK folks, there are a grand total of Five partially created blog posts waiting in the wings with a metric schwackload of pictures from my adventures along the south coast, photos are all edited and uploaded but it's my last night here and so instead of writing the posts to go with them I've decided to go down the pub with Eric one last time. Look out over the next day or two though as I'll be stuck in airports a bit and with luck some of them might have net access...

...anyway here's one photo to keep you all going in the meantime, this one's courtesy of Eric who has been great company and a fantastic host while I've been in Perth, we spotted this sign a few weeks back and on our way back from Freemantke today detoured to get a shot because... well look:


Monday, November 27, 2006

Albany & the Wheat Belt

Further along that same stretch of coastline we visited some blowholes set into the cliff top - here the swell of the southern ocean forces air (and in high seas whole waves) up through the cliffs, we arrived there as the sun was setting and the sound they made in the failing light was astonishing, and quite erie.

walking back up we snapped at the colours of the setting sun, as always they hardly do it justice

That night we camped on the coast, with the tent pitched in the lee of the car to keep it from blowing away

Last day with the car, and we motored north through the Southwestern wheatbelt (no pics of that, I was busy driving) to the pretty town of York before heading back to Perth itself.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Giant Tingle Trees

After Margaret River I met up with Eric back up in Bunbury (close as the train gets) and we headed down the coast again visiting various places along the way, including (after an overnight stop) this:

It's called the valley of the giants treetop walk, and is a steel suspension walkway that rises from the forest floor to 40m up in the trees canopy. Tingle trees grow to as tall as 60m so even way up there we weren't above all of them... it was a pretty spectacular sight

As were the bases of the trees. After walking through their canopy we took a second walk along the forest floor among some of the oldest Tingle trees, many of which like this one have been hollowed out by fire in the distant past but are still growing. Eric's very kindly providing a sense scale in this shot: he's stretching to get a shot of one of the spider's webs, and given that he's 6'4" the fact that stretching his hands barely reach halfway up the hollow gives you some idea just how big the trees are!

After the valley of the Giants we headed down to Albany and the National Park beyond it on the coastline - this place is on Australia's Southwestern most tip where the Southern and Indian oceans meet. Pretty spectacular piece of coastline all round.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Margaret River

I motored on to visit Margaret River, I stayed in the town overnight and spent the next day exploring the cool shaded forests south of the town.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Day two of the South West and I reached Bunbury. The beach was pretty impressive and different again from those I'd already visited but it was the middle of teh day so I didn't stay too long...

... heading instead for Bunbury's Mangrove swamps which (as you can see from the carpark) are a huge tourist draw...

... which I found odd, considering how peaceful and utterly other they are. The assorted boards around the board walk out into the swamps themselves told me it's one of only a few such sites in the country, and (for me at least) it was the highlight of Bunbury.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mandurah & Secret Harbour

Right here (as promised) are the backdated posts from my adventures in teh South West - back on metered internet access so they'll be brief... first stop on my journeys in the south was Mandurah:

I ended up here first, completely by chance but it turned out to be a really lovely spot to see the town from, not to mention a peaceful sculptural memorial - three rows of white stone columns march up out of the ground rising in height in the middle then falling away into the river, this stream runs between them and disapears into the river. Very tranquil spot for writing.

Seems that the endless bronze statues aren't limited to Perth, still this Pelican madea great foreground for the sunset.

After Mandurah I rolled on to an amyusingly well signposted spot called Secret Harbour, where I kipped in the back of the Holden overnight awaking to this stunning white beach at dawn - lovely spot for a bit of yoga and a refresing morning swim.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

red, red, red, red, blue

Right then, what's Patrick been up to?

Well this weekend I've really been doing the tourist thing. On Saturday I went with a friend on Perth's Famous Wine Cruise (source of the first of many kinds of red this weekend) Paul (the friend I went with) is from Victoria but works over here three weeks out of each month, when we met he was grumbling that he never does anything touristy while he's here so we hit on the idea of doing something really very touristy together.

Paul's good company so I knew I'd enjoy the day anyway but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the cruise. We took in two very tranquil local wineries, being fed an excellent three course lunch at one and plied with assorted wines (yes Dad: they were indeed all varietals but not too 'beefed up', and several were really quite interesting, in particular a couple of the Sandalford ones) throughout the day. On the boat the captain gave a gently funny commentary, pointed out a few sights as they wafted by... all very civilised really.

... the really surprising enjoyable part (and this could have been partly due to the amount of wine consumed by that stage) was the unexpected entertainment laid on by the rest of the crew over lunch and on through the trip back to Perth. Two of them turned out to be really quite talented singers and while it was all a bit cheesy it was also a lot of fun.

So then after a lie in and a couple of cups of coffee on Sunday it was onto the second red of the weekend, the the Red Bull Air Race. Eric went down earlier in the morning than I, and consequently got even more sunburned (red type #3) but also got some spectacular photos, all of which I'm getting copied to disc and bringing back for my giant album. These were taken after I'd joined him for the actual race (11am onward) and the air show after.

there's heaps of info on their site about how the race works but essentially these tiny planes whooshed around an obstacle course laid out over the Swan River, commentary was on the South Bank, where we watched from and where the city skyline provided a stunning backdrop to some incredible flying.

After the race we walked round the river and back over to the North Bank from which we watched assorted other air-acrobatics being performed by various planes. The most spectacular of which were the antics of this blue Hornet, expertly captured here by Eric's telephoto high res digital SLR (I left my little noddy cam in my pocket all day) moments before it did this:

... disapearing upward at an incredible rate letting off flak as it went. After the race I caught up with my cousin Jonathan who's been over for a frisbee tournament. Johnny had missed most of the air show (they'd arrived on the North Bank and been impressed but a bit bewildered by the race minus commentary) but being an aeronautical engineer by training he was able to tell us all sorts about how difficult it is to get planes to do the sorts of things we'd been watching them do. It was really great seeing him again before he left, even if it's a little odd that the first time we see each other in about 5 years should be on the other side of the world.

The last red in the title refers to another thing (like my sunburn, which wasn't too bad and is fading rather than peeling) I won't post pictures of but I managed to fall down running for a train the other night and have a scuffed knee, elbow and hand in much the sort of way that hasn't happened to me since I was about 8. Running for a train however should be a thing of the past, for the next week at least since this afternoon I picked up the blue thing from the title:

My car! For this week at least. it's a honking great big V6 Holden Commodore, with a SatNav system in it so I don't get lost, and it comes mostly courtesy of my parents whose birthday present I'm using to pay for it (thanks again Mum & Dad!). Once I've posted this I'm going to head off in it to explore the south coast of Western Australia and I'll tell you all about that when I return.

bye for now!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

If you go down to the beach today...

Right children, time for some more pics of your Uncle Travelling Pat's*... um, travels. Same deal with the photos being just shrunken ones again sadly, you'll just have to squint a bit:

No I didn't do anything with the image. The sky is that colour in real life. Usually has fewer clouds in it to be honest but these ones really appealed to me with their swooshyness. The pic is taken from my current favourite patch of beach - just between the no-go area that's in front of the Swanbourne SAS barracks, and the much busier City Beach. Eric keeps telling me that the SAS fellas often jog along the beach but as I've yet to see this for myself I can honestly say it has nothing whatsoever to do with my preference. What? I mean it!

Lots of people have expressed surprise and even alarm that I'm doing such a big trip solo. On the whole that just puzzles me: I'm really rather enjoying the time to myself, and it's nicely ballanced by making some new friends along the way. That said I should confess that I'm not totally alone on my adventures - Gregory Bear has been a travelling companion of mine for a long time and it seemed a good idea to smuggle him into my luggage. So far he's just been along for the ride, occasionally coming out and enjoying the scenery (like he is here). He did earn his share of the airfare at Heathrow however when just knowing he was in my bag quashed an uncharacteristic moment's anxiety about the sheer scale the journey.

Yes, I know I'm a big softie - this isn't news to anyone surely?

This is the view back to the heart of the city from the shores of Lake Monger, which is about a ten minute walk from Eric's where I'm staying. it's worth pointing out in view of how far away the skyline looks, that we really are in one of the inner suburbs of Perth (only two stops from the city centre on the excellent train network) it's just the city is *that* spread out. The spread is compounded by the city being full of big sweeping open spaces just like the Lake. I really like it... as you're probably all sick of hearing by now

more anon.

*with thanks to Duncan for the Fraggle reference - I'm still really enjoying that!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Some words and some pictures

After a terrifying few moments yesterday afternoon when a quirk of Eric's PC* made it appear to have eaten three days' worth of my photos! (It had us both fooled for about two hours so it wasn't just me being a dizzy Mac user) before we eventually discovered that all by itself and without being asked it had uploaded the contents of my camera to Eric's account and deleted them from the card. Photos were all safe though which is all that matters. I'm going to leave doing the big photo album thing until I get home, but I thought I'd shrink a few to blog posting size and put them up now.

Note: If you're reading via LiveJournal's syndication the images probably won't show but you can get to the actual post on by clicking the link at the top of this entry

... right here we go:

This is a shot of Perth's skyline at night taken from King's Park on the night I arrived. It does not do it justice. Happily Eric (who wasn't jet lagged at the time and has a digital SLR) has some better shots that I'll get copies of and post when I do the full albums of my adventures in January. For now you'll have to put up with my dodgy camerawork here.

Perth is chock-full of green spaces, some are vast and some are not. Until I moved to Eric's spare room I walked past/through this little park in a region called Northbridge (just on the edge of the city centre) on my way into the city each day - it's full of gigantic antipodean fig trees, some bigger than my old house, which have facinating enormous networks of buttressed roots. I've got photos of them too but they don't show up well when you shrink them like this so here's the pretty little bandstand instead.

Perthers seem to like their bronze statues - they're everywhere, and they're usually lit at night which makes walking through the city a bit like being in a big open air sculpture gallery at times. These are probably my favourites, they're a family of life-sized bronze kangaroos who live next to Stirling Gardens in the heart of the Central Business district.

Freemantle's kind of a city within a city - it has very much its own distinct identity and atmosphere, and it's also the first place I've been in Australia where anything other than the landscape has felt old (even Perth's "historic" buildings feel like they were built yesterday and only just had the wrappers taken off) this is a shot out to sea from beside the old round house jail on the shore at Freemantle.

One of the many things I'm really enjoying about Perth is the exceptionally high standard of modern architecture here, I'm constantly being wowwed by stunning original buildings, and this is one of them. It's the Maritime museum in Freemantle and was essentially built to house Australia II so that she could be brought back from Sydney. I took a lot of photos of the light playing on and in the structure from various angles but I think this one probably stands by itself the best. Next time I go to Freemantle I might even go inside!

So there we are, a few little snaps of my adventures so far - sorry they're only small, but I neglected to make a note of my ftp password before I left and it isn't one I set myself, so I can't upload bigger versions of the files just yet. Fear not though these are just a few of the shots I've taken so far and I fully intend to bore you all rigid with 100s of full sized snaps when I get home.

* The whole Operating System thing is very much a matter of personal choice, I'm very grateful to have the use of a decent computer which I'm not being billed by the minute to use and to which I can readily transfer files. I'm not talking Eric's machine down here and I'm certainly not getting into any of that adolescent nonsense about which platform is "better" ...but I really really miss my Mac.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

72, 72, 72

So I've been in Perth for five days now and I'm really liking the place. The title up there is a reference to an oddly spooky coincidence I noticed the day after my arrival - I flew in on Qantas flight 72, and went to my hotel which is on Route 72, where I was given keys to my room... #72. All very odd and of course totally meaningless.

The hotel was fine but more than a little dogeared, and not very quiet (it was peopled largely by other backpackers who are on the whole a lot younger and noisier than me) so after five of the ten days I'd booked there, and having got to know him in real life (we'd been talkking online and via Skype for a while before I left the UK) I've taken up the kind offer of a spare room at my new friend Eric's house, which is far comfier and far quieter, and has Eric in it much of the time which is nice because he's a lot more fun to hang out with than the noisy backpackers. In fact if it weren't for this inconvenient business of different continents I'd be introducing Eric to the Friday gang back in Edinburgh - I think you lot would like him too.

Meeting nice friendly new people has been a bit of a theme so far. On Saturday I went out on the local scene which was pleasantly relaxed. Arriving at "the Court" (Perth's main gay pub) I was asked for ID which made me laugh a lot as being taken for being 12 years younger than I actually am is really very flattering (also I'd thought to take my passport with me so proving that I am in fact 29 wasn't a problem) Inside I had a thoroughly lovely evening with some easy going friendly people before heading on to Perth's gay club, dancing a bit and meeting a man who was really awfully friendly indeed, whose phone number I got at the end of the night and who I very much hope to see again in the near future.

There've been plenty of relaxed and friendly daytimes too, I've spent a lot of time exploring Perth on foot (which is remarkably easy to do and very rewarding) visiting some of its excellent parks and generally soaking up the city and the sun (the latter steadily and through a good coating of sunscreen) I'm reliably informed that I must get some even stronger sunscreen before venturing to the beach, which I'm hoping to do soon and where I intend to swim in the sea a lot and generally enjoy myself.

All in all being here feels a bit like like being on another planet, but a very welcoming and relaxed one where I can readily converse with the locals (because we speak if not quite the same language then at least cross-compatible ones,) and where I already know most of the little functional details of getting around and generally functioning. Things like like how to how the pedestrian crossings work (the same as at home, but with different buttons and a rather startling noise,) and how to pay for things*. It's very different here in a way I'm very aware of all day, and yet it's never utterly alien, in spite of the otherworldly flora and fauna sprinkled liberally through the city and the almost perpetually blue skies.

Later in the month I'm planning on hiring a car and exploring the south coast and some of the Western Australian countryside which should be quite spectacular, and before long I'll get round to uploading some photographs too but for now I'm going to go out and enjoy another afternoon in this comnfortably odd and quietly engaging city.

* That part took a little while: Australian tills have chip & PIN like card readers but they're not for credit or debit cards at all, and the mag-stripe readers always ask which account I want to use because Aussie banks supply one bit of plastic for accessing all your accounts instead of one per account. There are plenty of little things like that happening which are all unfamiliar enough to make me feel like I really am somewhere completely other, without making life difficult or uncomfortable.

Friday, November 03, 2006

almost forgot...

My venerable O2 number (the one I've had since 1998, intend to keep, and am emphatically not publishing online) is now off duty for the duration of my trip so you won't be able to reach me on it from now until January. Instead I've got an Australian SIM with a local number so any one who needs to get hold of me can do on +61 416 369108

another short one

Perth is fantastic. I am hungry. Lunch, and sunshine are back outside so you'll have to wait for more detail than that.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

swift, like airport

Just a quickie: while the free (w00t!) internet terminals here at super-eficient Singapore Airport are (unlike the rather seedy little web cafe my last post -see below - was typed in) capable of publishing blogger posts (something to do with cookies I suspect) they are also time limited and have no seats at them. Which means that in 15 minutes while I could gfo to another terminal, my legs would probably go to sleep.

Singapore's been fun, (if a little hotter and stickier than I usually like my environment to be) but I'm pleased to be on my way to where the real adventure begins. Perth here I come!


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

First leg

This'll get posted (backdated) whenever I'm next near an internet connection I can use (there's a port at the desk in my hotel room here but I sensibly left the PowerBook at home.) I've arrived in Singapore after the first leg of my big adventure (the ankle of which began about 22 hours ago if my time-zone maths is right, with a bus ride from Haymarket station to Edinburgh airport) LHR to SIN took a swift 12 hours, but when you add in the flight from Edinburgh down and all the assorted waiting, travelling between and around airports, it all adds up.

Happily I don't mind that stuff: Air travel is still very much a source of childlike wonder for me, even the bits involving bus rides between terminals, or squeaky travelators. I spent pretty much the whole time I was in Heathrow with a loopy grin on my face in spite of having to wait several hours between flights - that didn't matter I was on an adventure!

It'll be interesting to see if that holds for the whole trip, but so far Quantas are doing a good job of keeping me smiling, I'm surrounded on the desk by all the presents and toys they gave me (daft stuff like a little fuzzy pair of socks, and a clever travel toothbrush, but they make me happy - yay for proper airlines!)

Meanwhile I'm safely at my hotel here and not too jetlagged to enjoy the view from my room* I suspect however that an early night is in order** so I'll leave exploring until the morning.

*I took a photo but can't upload it here, will hopefully fare better at Aussie net cafes

**it was, I slept well but not too long and woke in the morning feeling bright and alert. I've been up and doing since 7:30am (it's actually just after noon on the 1st as I type) with plenty of time and energy to make the most of my only full day exploring Singapore, I'm halfway through it now and on my way back to the hotel for a shower and some air-con because it's VERY hot and sticky here!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

(almost) ready for take off

So with only a few days left before I set off on my adventures I'm pretty much all sorted. The important stuff is all done, I have a shiny new passport and an ethereal electronic visa for entry to Australia, all my travel documents have arrived and I've got somewhere to live when I get to Perth that should be comfy and quiet and which isn't costing me a fortune. The wonder that is the internet has allowed me to start making friends in Sydney and Perth even before I've left which has been a huge help too.

I've a few loose ends to tidy up though. The nice people at the Nationwide still haven't sent me an important piece of plastic for example, but I'll chase that up tomorrow and if it doesn't arrive before I leave I've made arrangements today that will mean I can have it safely posted to myself down under.

Frank is still awaiting a new owner, I've had some genuine interest but so far nothing that's materialised into a sale. Happily that too I've made arrangements for handling if I have to leave before it's sorted (which is looking very likely).

I still need to actually pack, and get a haircut and do a few other odds and ends jobs before I go but everything's going pretty smoothly so far. A trivial but very pleasing part of my preparations was the arrival of this little wonder, it's deeply cool I think, little power reservoir that was produced carbon neutrally and can be hooked into any mains outlet (comes with the best modular mains adaptor I've ever seen) but also unfolds into a little solar charger so wherever I am, so long as there's sunshine* I can get power. I'm only taking two gadgets but it's good to know that I'm not going to be stuck for power with either of them.

*probably not in short supply down under

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

choo choo

Today's job was going to Glasgow with assorted papers and getting my glitched passport fixed... yeah, I know, I booked a trip to the other side of the world, you'd have thought I'd have a passport... well I did but somehow (three years ago - so sue me I have a low Follow Through) my fore- and surnames got transposed on it. I've never realy gotten round to having it fixed since it's not really been a problem for EU travel but I figured I should get it sorted ahead of going to Australia.

This post isn't about that big journey though, it's about the little one I made to Glasgow. See, the trip to Guisachan last week was the last excuse I had for owning a car and I decided a while ago that now was the time to say goodbye to my friend Frank*... OK so I haven't actually placed the advert yet, but I'm thinking of this as buffer-time, it's been a really good few months and I'm going to miss my big old Sweedish brute when he goes.

Meanwhile this morning as part of my aclimatisation to the ranks of the carless I thought I'd take the train to my appointment with the Passport Office in Glasgow. I like train travel, it's relaxing. I did some bits of work (yes! I used the W word!) and listened to some chilled out music like this and watched the world flit past the window without having to worry about which exit to take, or how close the car behind was... I could get used to that...

... though I'd still going to miss my car.

*no, scroll down the post! I'm talking about my car not my nephew!

Monday, October 02, 2006

57°17'31.48"N, 4°49'39.39"W

It wasn't really planned as such, but I spent last week kind of reconnecting with Scotland - I went north with Liz and Keith meeting up here with Lara, her husband Tim and a couple of their friends who I'd not met before. Hamish and Karen joined us later in the week since we had two chalets booked and plenty of space for everyone.

Originally Lara and I had planned it as a kind of Aberdeen University Creative Writing Society reunion but in the end she and I were the only ex-CWSers there* so instead it turned into just a week of chilling out in the hills, gently wandering in small groups through steadily changing birch woods, or over rolling bracken covered hills, or alongside rumbling grey rivers and waterfalls, all under benignly autumnal skies. In the evenings we'd retreat into our snug little wooden houses or the hotel down the hill for excellent food, wine/beer and conversation.

Before we left I started thinking of the trip in the context of my imminent departure down-under, as a serendipitous chance to reconnect with the landscape of the country I've made my home in these past ten years. It was certainly that: I love Scotland, and perhaps most of all I love it for its seasonal nature. Here you can really feel the shifts from one season to another and in Guisachan last week we could almost see the leaves changing colour in front of us, feel the summer moving into autumn... I was expecting to come away from the week feeling connected to the country and I really do.

More than that though the week reminded me of what's kept me here for a decade: the people. Spending a week in that easy mix of company reminded me how socially rooted to this place I've become. I suppose it's something I'm always aware of in the background, but its a good thing to be reminded of in the foreground too.

* The rest of you (you all know who you are) missed out and were missed - Next time get your collective arses in gear and come along if you can

Monday, September 18, 2006

(not very) cold feet

So having finally booked my tickets and made this trip (which I've been planning in various forms for years) into a reality, naturally my subconscious mind pops up a couple of sudden 'deep breath' type minor doubts, happily (so far) nothing serious and both dealt with pretty quickly but they also both made me laugh so I thought I'd share:

cold feet: I

This one hit me on my pre-birthday party, Liz and I were telling Keith about how we were all three taking a tour of the Black Isle Brewery next Sunday and somewhere at the back of my mind a little voice asked me "what kind of beer do you think there'll be in Australia?". Just for a second my blood ran cold: all I could think of were Castlemaine XXXX and Fosters, both of which to give them their dues... are swill.

So that gave me pause, I like beer and the thought of spending ten weeks with none worth drinking available was a saddening one. Quickly I consoled myself with the thought that (surely!?) an entire continent must have more than just two beers, heck... (I thought further) ...the only two french beers I knew of before I went to France were wifebeater Stella and 1664 neither of which is exactly a shining example of the french brewing industry's best, though they are at least perfectly drinkable...

Anyway sure enough, a few conversations with friendly online locals earlier today reveal that they generally hold XXXX and Fosters in just as low esteem as I do, and that there are indeed plenty of Australian beers I've never yet encountered. Hurrah! adventures in beer await! but more importantly I'm not going to the land of (only) substandard lagers.


cold feet: II

This one was much quicker and happened this evening. Since we moved Hamish has mentioned "giant" spiders on a couple of occasions, and being a bit of an arachnophile myself (and knowing what a big girl's blouse my beloved flatmate can be) I asumed he was exagerating... until just now when a gigantic (at least by UK standards) spider scurried under the sofa I'm sitting on, startling me somewhat. I reflected for a moment that I'm bound for the land of a million billion potential poisonous painful deaths. Then I shruged: Spiders (which I still love) startle me for a reason, namely my instinct to keep out of their way - if that applies to the harmless ones here in Scotland I'll be fine down under

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Birthday Post

Happy Birthday to me... I got a year older today, to celebrate this my friends came over last night and we ate some food and drank some drinks and were generally amiably silly together. I got some new toys which made me very happy, and some birthday cards and some booze - all very good. This morning I opened the birthday cards that had arrived in the post during the week which made me grin from ear to ear too... It is good to be reminded that you're well loved. emails and texts have been trickling in all day today, and it's not over yet! I'm reliably informed that there are more cards still to come as well as a rogue present that is lost somewhere in the postal system, all of which is very exciting: I like birthdays that get stretched out a bit like this.

As always watching one's odometer tick round to a new whole number (mine clocked up 29 this time, for the benefit of anyone who didn't know) it's hard not to think about where you've been and where you're going... Looking back makes me smile. A lot. I've had a very good bundle of years so far and they've brought me to a place where I'm very happy and surrounded by people I love. Looking forward is pretty exciting, there are a lot of open-ended bits in my life right now and I'm looking forward to exploring new directions for a few of them over the next year... and talking of exploring brings me neatly onto the next bit of this post...

I'm going to Australia!


Anyone who knows me will have heard me throw this idea about in some shape and at some point I suspect. Anyway the end of my third decade sees me with sufficient time and money on my hands to get on and actually do it, so I am. I'm booked on a flight leaving Edinburgh on the 30th of October and I'll be returning on the 11th of January. In the meantime I plan to explore down under, concentrating first on Perth/Western Australia and later Sydney/New South Wales, with a brief cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof-esque visit to Ayer's Rock, and a couple of weeks' rolling gently down the sunny Queensland coast, with the whole adventure bookended by short stops in Singapore and Hong Kong. Neat eh?

Should make for some interesting blog posts as and when I get near a computer, more importantly for me though it feels like it'll be what people call 'the trip of a lifetime'. I'd say I couldn't wait except that next week I'm going on a more local adventure with Liz, Keith, Hamish and Lara (and some of Lara's friends and her husband Tim) which I'm really giddy about too!

Life is really very good indeed.

Thanks to Hamish for the artist's rendition of aussie-me, dubbed "weasaroo", I doubt I'll be donning any kangaroo suits in real life however, especially since circumstances conspire to have me heading to Oz in their high summer! I'm sure I'll cope

Friday, September 08, 2006

mutter mutter

Stupid UPS, where is my parcel!? (replacement headphones, nothing that exciting) So far they've told me twice that they attempted delivery and found nobody in, which would be frustrating enough if it weren't that (because I am currently a gentleman of leisure and Hame works from home most of the time) I know it to be a pack of lies! Nobody has attempted to deliver anything!


In fairness the new place is a bit tricky to find but I'd much rather the driver just said that so it could be dealt with rather than pretending he's been here and couldn't find anyone to take the parcel - because unless he is both silent and invisible I'm pretty sure he has not... and come to think of it silent invisible delivery men are really in the wrong line of work.

[edit] after posting this I called UPS to chase it up, got a very helpful response from their head office who went off to chase it up, then moments later the (non-hot) delivery guy arrived cheerfully carrying my parcel. So all's well once more.

meanwhile the LiveJournal syndication feed of seems to have gone bonkers, so to anyone over at LJ whose friends page just got deluged with a couple of months' worth of back-posts, my apologies, but it wasn't me!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

web weaselin'

I'm back online! I have been for a day or so now actually but I've been busy catching up and still am in a few cases, several folk out there are owed longish and well though through replies to emails and I'm getting there (in amongst a few more bits of nesting here at the new flat) but it'll be a week or so before normal service really resumes I think.

meanwhile everything is going very well you'll all be happy to hear. I'll tell you all about it... later

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

no, not dead...

... just awaiting a switch being thrown in a telephone exchange somewhere. The only bit of my move (now complete!) that hasn't gone smoothly has been the transfer of my internet connection. Various factors outwith my control have led to what should have been a swift-ish and simple process taking most of the month to complete, and I should be back online properly from late next week.

otherwise all's well - proper update when I can do one from the comfort of my own sofa.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

new flat!

I've moved! well almost, I'm actually sitting on the carpet in my nearly empty old living room at the house typing this before I load another batch of stuff into the back of the car, but all the big stuff all went yesterday with the help of three very good friends (thanks again guys!) and a big rental van.

Today Hamish (my new flatmate) and I drove in the van to IKEA to brave the crowds and buy ourselves some large items of furniture we wouldn't otherwise be able to transport, we emerged largely successful and only borderline insane. Hame's room is pretty much set once the stuff gets built, mine just needs a bed since I didn't like any of the ones from the land of ice and snow.

So anyway the new flat, it's on the western edge of the city centre (c.5min walk from Princes Street) tucked away off the road in one of the city's "colonies" which paradoxically makes my new urban home look and feel much more rural than my old rural one ever did, look:

mine and Hame's new pad

That's my new front door seen from the footpath that runs between our garden and the top flat's from the row in front. Cute eh? it's even better inside, or at least it will be once I've finished moving in... speaking of which I have more stuff to go pack so I'll leave it at that for now except to say I'm ecstatic about living in Edinburgh again.


Thursday, July 27, 2006


So this weekend we officially added a sibling to my family, Alex and Steve have been together now for about 8 years and over that time it's been feeling steadily more like Steve is part of the family. All the same there's something that just feels right about them making it all official. As my parents put it on the day, he's not Alex's partner or boyfriend anymore, he's her husband, their son-in-law and my brother-in-law. They're all just labels, but the sense of belonging and inclusion that those labels suggest is fitting.

Come to think of it, "fitting" describes the whole wedding. That and hot. Al and Steve decided ages ago that a summer wedding in the Cotswolds would be a good idea... I'll let them off because it was ages ago - if it had been a recent decision I think we'd all have been looking for them to get their heads examined: formal wear and temperatures upwards of 30°C do not mix! And while this place was a spectacular location, it really wasn't equipped to shelter us from the heat all that well...

Somehow in spite of the stupidly hot weather, and both being in what must have been far and away the least comfortable outfits Al & Steve managed not only not to die from heat exhaustion but also to look absolutely stunning, see:

Al & Steve looking unbelievably cool in spite of the heat

There are heaps more photos and a video somewhere but I think that one shot kind of sums up the day. I might stick a handful more up in the pictures section later on though because there are some really great ones... just depends how busy I get with moving (more on that another time)

So now we are 5, me and my siblings I mean, it's great this getting extra brothers and sisters business, makes me very happy.

Friday, July 14, 2006

"honey, I'm home!"

Imaginary Spouse: "Hello dear, how was your day at the office?"
Patrick: "Well, for the first time since I took this job I can genuinely say it was great!"
I.S:"That's wonderful! so you're finally starting to feel comfortable in the job? did they find you any of the kind of work they talked about at the interview? are you feeling like part of the team now? has the crushingly dull data analysis become a joy?"
I.S: [confused] "oh... well then in what way was it great?"
P:"well the great part came at half past four when my boss took me to one side and told me I don't have to come back on Monday, but that I'll still get paid until the middle of August"

Yup. The whole Marketing Analyst thing hasn't been working out too well... in fact it's been making me pretty miserable. None of the work I was hired to do has shown up, and the part of the job that was supposed to account for about 15% of my time, and be an exciting and valuable learning experience, turned out to demand almost all my time, and be both mind numbingly tedious and really really hard.

So, after exactly five weeks of me beating my head against a brick wall, being mostly very unhappy and not really very useful, the company are terminating my contract early. I get a month's notice which I don't have to work (effectively a paid month off to look for something else) and I get to walk away from this having learned something, even if it isn't what I was expecting to learn.

Essentially what I've learned is that I should stick to more creative roles in future because that's what I'm good at and what I enjoy. I'm still figuring out what exactly that means in terms of what comes next, but I'll keep you posted.

I'm actually posting this on Saturday afternoon not Friday at all, but the whole "honey I'm home" thing doesn't work if the date says Saturday. What I actually did after work on Friday was go and hang out on the grass beside the Parliament in the sunshine with the gang, until the sun had gone down and it got cooler when we all went back to Liz's to drink a bit too much sloe gin and laugh together

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

geek out!

...uh hum, c'est chic...

*geek boogies a bit*

Where was I? oh yeah, my mate Phil is buggering off to London to do a crash course in accountancy so he can get paid better for being a whiz at that sort of thing (which he already is). This sucks, but the other day as part of his preparations for leaving he mailed a bunch of us to ask if anyone knew of a good cheap laptop he could take with him when he goes as Fred* is a bit big to travel with.

Phil's a fellow C21st Mac-head**, but not really much of a geek (unlike, say, me) so I mailed him back and asked if something around £300 would be in the right ball park, this turned out to be a couple of hundred less than he was thinking so we set to and found him a secondhand PowerBook on eBay, a 2000 vintage "Pismo" G3 to be precise.

I know what you're thinking: a six year old laptop's going to be an utter dog right? Wrong. I just went over to instal the extra RAM he bought for it (which including the machine itself brings the total to under £300) and it's a sweet little machine. I've often read people raving about the last G3 PowerBook as the best laptop Apple ever made (high praise if you ask me) but I've never seen one myself before. Now I can see why they've such a reputation, at six years and change this thing's still a strikingly well designed and very capable little computer, it runs the exact same operating system and most of the programs that any brand new Mac you bought today does, and it even looked like its battery might still hold a charge measured in hours (fingers crossed on that, it hadn't fully charged when I came home).

So I'm all vicariously geeked out with Pip's new 'puter, and happy that he has something to keep him in touch with us all while he's awa' south in the badlands.

* see! it's not just me that does that: Fred is Phil's angle-poise style iMac
** as opposed to a preCartesian OS X Mac-head, they're a different animal altogether

Monday, July 10, 2006

woo yeah!

anyone who hasn't played GTA San Andreas won't get this but I'm finally past the Wrong Side of the Tracks mission and so very happy about that, that I could cry.

...either I am very sad, or the good people at Rockstar Games are geniuses. I suspect it's a bit of both

Monday, July 03, 2006

*deep breath*

OK folks, a confession: I've been holding back a little the last ten days or so* but things are looking good so I'll risk posting about it: I seem to have sold my house! It's not all signed and sealed yet so there are still things that could go wrong, but all the surveys are done and accepted, we've agreed a (pretty good) price, and a (quite close) moving date, so I think all that's left is to get signatures on papers, and find myself somewhere else to live.

Good news then, and a HUGE thank you to all of you for being so good about not asking me how it's been going - from watching friends and family go through this house sale process I'm very conscious how smooth a ride I've had so far, and still it's been an exhausting time (and we haven't even got to the box carrying bit yet!) not having to endlessly reiterate where things are up to has been a massive help so thanks for biting your collective tongues!

What's next then? well in the short term a rented flat somewhere in the middle of Edinburgh, preliminary perusals of ESPC's rental pages suggest I should be able to afford something I'll like, and fit inside for less than a pair of limbs, even though this process is inconveniently depositing me on the rental market at the beginning of the Festival (when the city rental market goes a bit loopy) I might just even find somewhere that most of my stuff can fit inside too. Then once the dust settles and I can see what capital I have left over (there will be some, I'm just not sure how much yet) I'll have a think about what I want to do with it and when.

Meanwhile I just had a wonderful long-weekend away in Doncaster visiting with friends and family. I saw and was slobbered on by my ever-growing nephew, hung out all too briefly with my brother and sister-in-law (who are happily visiting me along with the aforementioned drool-monster before I move) caught up with some very dear old friends I'd not had a proper evening with in far too long, stayed up into the small hours with some other old friends with whom I have a history of seeing in the dawn, and spent some good long stretches of time with each of my wonderful parents who I love and don't see nearly enough of.

All in all things are going well - here's hoping they continue to eh?

*unless I've seen you in person most likely, in which case I already blurted out most of this as far as whatever stage it had reached then

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


OK so last week me Liz and Phil went to see Big Hand (yes, again they're really good!) and because over the course of our recent joint adventuring I've ended up marginally financially better off than Liz, I paid her back in EPs, all three of the band's current published works in fact. Liz being the lovely soul that she is promptly copied all three onto a CD for me (and yet somehow we're still even) so I too could enjoy the wonder that is recorded Big Hand...

... thing is, I've only ever heard them live before. Liz has commented on this too, it's most odd hearing the band without being surrounded by a sweaty audience of loopers all bouncing about like mad things.

They're very good. But it's sort of like discovering a whole new band, and it makes me wonder how much of art in general is about context...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

"...and that made me gay"

I'm ripping most of my old tapes so I can get rid of them... this means revisting some pretty dark, dank and forgotten corners of my musical tastes.

...which brings us to Bucks Fizz the band I once told a classmate would outlast Michael Jackson (yes really! though in my defence it was 1984, I was 7 and he does suck) - I can't believe my parents let me listen to this stuff - these lyrics are "rood!"*, they're all about sex, but also they're really really gay... I'm starting to wonder if Hamish's oft repeated refrain might not have some truth to it.

*that will only make sense to about six other people but it's the right word to use

Saturday, June 17, 2006

crisis over

As of about 11am this morning I am whole again! ...or (for those of you less wedded to your personal gadgets,) I have a functioning mobile again (same number as it's always been.)

Hamish, James, Anita, Neil and Pete, all understand just how relieved this makes me, the rest of you feel free to giggle, and/or shake your heads.


I'm only just now blogging about it not because I was enjoying being out of touch* but 'cus I spent the rest of today at the beach with Anita and Liz, we went to North Berwick and ate barbequed sausages (mine were the yummy Cauldron Foods Lincolnshire style ones, the girls had ones made from pigs) and Farmers' Market strawberries, and other assorted delicacies. Then we paddled in the sea, and clambered on rocks and enjoyed the sunshine. Yay for Saturdays!

* that's what the off button is for

Friday, June 16, 2006

sod's law

a matter of only a few months ago I had not one but two obsolete cellphones lying about my house, I've since found them nice new homes where they're being used instead of languishing in a cupboard... so of course this afternoon my current phone suddenly gave up the ghost without provokation or warning*

So I'm left phone-less for the time being and won't get any messages any of you might send/leave on there until I can sort out a new handset (which will hopefully be soon!) Just in case you were wondering.

... oh and the people with the two old handsets, I don't want either back thanks - they're getting more use with you and I'd just replace either of them with a newer model anyway.

lucky I have a (good) salary now I suppose...

*actually, that's not entirely true: it had a very nasty fall a few weeks back which cracked the screen, I suspect there were internal injuries :(

Monday, June 12, 2006

*tugs forelock*

Thanks to my big bro' for pointing out this amusing bit of news from the old country to me. Not sure it'll make anyone not from Burgh (that's Burgh, not the 'burgh folks) chuckle but it gave me a laugh... mostly because of the image conjoured by the phrase "other local dignitaries". hee.

First day at the new job went well, bit daunting and numbers-ey but I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

last man on the moon

OK, so on Monday I rejoin the world of the 9-5ers ... well on Monday it's 9:15am but still, regular employment - woo yeah. I've enjoyed this last week of freedom, there's something quite different about getting up whenever you like when you know it's not going to last... ooh and I went to my favourite part of the planet! I dodged off to the north west coast for a wee while and it's just as stunning as I'd remembered. Frank enjoyed it too - first time he and I have done that kind of driving... I guess a car's never really mine until we've thrashed down the A861 together. Such a fun road (and amazingly I've cranked Frank's fuel consumption down to 36.5 mpg!)

So yeah, Monday morning I go back to being a genuinely productive member of society... can't wait!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

*happy dance*

I've got a new job! Pays way more than the old one too which is nice. I start a week on Monday, and in the meantime I think I might bugger off camping for a week.

Monday, May 29, 2006

some navel gazings about time

The other day Hame posted some thoughts about the idea of going back, being younger again and how that seemed like a really stupid idea to him. He and I have had similar conversations before so reading it I found myself nodding away pretty confidently. Being who I am now is great, and while there are a lot of uncertainties right now I wouldn't trade places with any of the earlier versions of myself, it's too much fun getting to be me having learned all the things I have, and I kinda like being a grown-up.

A couple of days later my friend Paul mailed about uploading lots of his old photos to his website, a quick look under 1997 uncovered some ancient shots of me and those, together with the rest of the Aberdeen based ones invoked a powerful feeling of nostalgia in me... I think in spite of myself if some entity had offered there and then to rewind my clock ten years I'd have leapt at the chance.

So, I'm left wondering what that's about - I genuinely do love being the man I am now, the journey is a big part of the point of existence for me and one of the things I get out of bed in the mornings for is to find out where life goes next... I'm facing forwards then, but thinking about it now it's not in order to face away from my past. There's very little back there that I'd choose to leave behind, and on the whole I do a good job of carrying the best bits of my past along with me... Some things inevitably get left behind, some things last only a short time, or belong to a particular age. Maybe that's where that sudden longing for university came from: when I think about my four years in Aberdeen it's all coloured with a particular tint that was left behind there when I graduated. That general sense of place and time is all tied up with what I had to leave there when I moved on - colours and textures of life that now belong to the past, and looking at those old photos I think that's what I missed - not being 19, or a student, or at University or any of the specifics, but that air of what is now the past, the bit I couldn't bring along with me.

Would I want to be younger again then? Hell no. Would I want to be able to visit my past now and then? Definately.


it's not just having to watch adverts, it's having to watch pre World Cup adverts

*wails and gnashes teeth*

it must and shall stop.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


OK, on Tuesday this week Anita took her TiVo away to install in her new flat. Perfectly reasonable of course, it is hers after all, in fact it was only by her typically generous nature that she left it here until she'd settled in...

... thing is, four days on and I'm lost without it! I keep trying to watch TV and then turning it off a few minutes later in frustration when I can't skip the adverts, or being confused by the fact that there's nothing I want to watch waiting for me. I'm already scanning eBay to see how much refurbished TiVos are, which is madness when you consider that I don't actually own a TV! (the one in my house is Anita's too, but at the moment she has nowhere to put it) What bafflles me even more though is how such a brilliant and aparently indespensible gadget failed to take off here in the UK. Only one UK model was ever made and those vanished from the shelves of electrical stores over four years ago.


I can see this going one of two ways, either I'm just going to give up on TV altogether or at some point I'm going to have to get my own TiVo.

Friday, May 26, 2006

a well timed distraction

Last night I went to see the new X-Men movie with some of the gang.

One of the (many) things I love about Hugh Jackman is his complete inability to make it through a film fully clothed.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Because of the garage who serviced him last apparently not knowing all the quirks of Frank's engine, an expensive part of his ignition system burned out this afternoon requiring a roadside fix (courtesy of the AA) and a new part (costing yours truly £237!) That'll be me getting my car serviced by a Saab specialist in future then.


Happily just the other day I was recommended a Saab specialist in Edinburgh and all being well I'll be booking the dear old heap in for a (qualified!) check up in the near future.

Other than the car trauma I'm in a very good mood, I have an interview on Friday for a job I'd quite like (fingers all crossed please) and have been keeping myself amused in the meantime by remodelling a kitchen for some friends. it's going very well, though things are held up just now pending some deliveries of bits, and a (qualified!) removal of the old gas oven so that I can make the bit of kitchen where the same clever gas-person can install the new hob, and some other clever electrician person can install the new oven.

Re-reading that I realise it probably doesn't sound like fun to most of you but trust me, I'm enjoying it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

don't faint!

Yes, it is another update, no, you didn't just slip into a coma and miss a month.

I have some assorted announcements about random unimportant stuff further down but first I wanted to talk about the restorative effects of sunlight for a minute. Central Scotland's decidedly unpredictable summer has been spending most of today in sunny mode and I'm really pleased. It's been a disappointingly quiet week on the job front (after a promising start), and yesterday I had my first 'no show' viewers for the house which was really frustrating (sitting in an imacculate house for an hour and a half nervously waiting for people who don't arrive. Not fun.) Yet in spite of all that the light streaming into the house most of today has me feeling really rather chipper.

So, those announcements: first off I'm continuing the process of slimming down my worldly belongings list, having jettisoned large amounts of junk at the recycling centre and charity shops, it's eBay's turn and in case any of you are interested I'm auctioning a bunch of my stuff a peculiar mix of old ornaments (which have been in storage since I was 15 or so) and assorted tech junk I no longer need. More is likely to follow in time.

Next, any of you with a few minutes on your hands and an inclination to take part in surveys should go here where one of my friend Justin's students has a fairly thought provoking handful of questions for you.

There. now I'm going to munch some sammidges before I load a bunch of tools into the car and head off for a weekend of kitchen building with Karen, interspersed with a bookbinding workshop at Hamish's and a few hours on Friday night with the rest of the gang watching these guys (again) at Whistle Binkies.

I like my life, even if it is probably because it's a bit random.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

braindump see part of the problem with this blogging business is that I forget to do it for a while and then I have too much to say all at once, which is daunting so I don't do it and it becomes a vicious cycle.

So this won't be a comprehensive update but I figured I should outline the shape of things just now, and then maybe I'll keep ontop of the blog a bit better.

The House: Well so far it's getting a fair amount of interest, no official 'note of interest' yet of course but several groups of people have been out and looked at it, some seemed very taken and (considering how far out of the way it is, and that I'm only taking viewings by appointment.) I'm taking the fact there's been a good number of viewings to be a Good Thing™. On Friday I agreed with the Solicitors to have a second "For Sale" board put up near the junction with the A70, which I think (together with everything else) will have the place as comprehensively advertised as is possible. So now it's just waiting... and a plea: everyone's being very sweet and interested and asking in an optimistic tone every time I speak to them "so, any news with the house?" which is lovely... except that having to say "no, nothing yet" about 15 times a day is in danger of making me a bit panicky. I have to keep telling myself that it's early days yet just to keep my cool about the whole thing. So, can I ask everyone reading this not to ask me about the house sale for a while? When there's news, rest assured I'll be passing it on pretty quickly. In the meantime unless I say otherwise, just assume there's still no formal interest, but that things are progressing steadily. Thanks.

The Job: I think I'm making progress here, nothing concrete to report just yet but over the past few days the (usually soul destroying) business of applying for jobs and dealing with recruitment agencies has been... well rather less soul destroying than usual, I keep hearing good things back about my suitability for posts, I've been interviewed twice (both times for posts I didn't eventually want, but hey.) and have a number of 'live' applications on the go as I type that I'm optimistic about. Meanwhile after a week without my 'puter (see below) I'm getting back on with odd bits of freelance design work to stop my brain from siezeing up.

The Friends: Life is as busy as ever on this front, and it's one of the things I've been conscious of dropping the ball with on the blog: I didn't blog about seeing Big Hand with Liz, Justin and Malc the other week, nor did I blog about Beltane (although some of the others did). Worse, I didn't blog about Hamish's book launch (here's the Press release but you've all missed the party now I'm afraid) And in amongst that lot I've been busy doing little things like hanging out with the Friday gang on Fridays and enjoying my parents' company this weekend, going for walks in the intermittent Scottish summer, and even meeting the odd new person...

The Rest: I spent most of last week restricted to my backup computer when a routine diagnostic I ran on Flash revealed he'd blown one of his RAM slots. Apple whisked him away (by way of a hot UPS man who arrived while I was embarrasingly still in my dressing gown) on Tuesday and brought him back (by way of a not-at-all-hot DHL man for whom I was thankfully fully dressed) on Friday. Frank (the car) is still running smoothly apart from his occasional reluctance to go backwards when asked. Living alone is proving to suit me really rather well, and after six weeks of it I haven't yet gone mad, so I think I will look for a solo residence in the city when the time comes. I've also been oiling the cogs of my writing brain a little (they're still pretty much siezed from disuse, but I might yet get them moving again...) so there's been plenty I could have written about on here. I'll aim to do a better job of actually getting my thoughts on screen.

The Plan: So with all that going on, what's my direction? It's all dreadfully vague for now, partly because a lot of the detail is contingent on the house and job stuff coming into focus but the vague outline I'm working toward is that I'll be staying based in the central belt of Scotland for the next few months, (the shape of that depends on work and the house) then sometime in the autumn if things pan out the way I hope, I'll be embarking on an adventure of some sort (the shape of which also depends on house and job stuff, but it will probably involve a trip to Australia) before coming back and (probably) looking for a new permanent home in Edinburgh.

... then again life is, as they say, what happens to you while you're making other plans. Mine seems to be especially prone to that right now, and it's fun. I promise to do a better job of sharing it from now on.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

pssst, wanna buy a house?

I've been scolded for not posting much of late - my apologies. I've been pretty busy, mostly with getting my house ready to sell, which it now is, in fact it's not just ready it's actually on the market (and only two months after I said it would be...) you can find the adverts here, here and here which is pretty much blanket coverage for the central belt I reckon... fingers crossed it'll get enough attention to net me a good (quick-ish) sale.

Assuming the spring-like weather we've been having holds I'll be taking a full series of finished photos of the place and adding them as a second house album later this week.

Meanwhile... well my contract at BG finished, so I no longer work there. There are up sides to that (naming no names) but mostly I'm missing the team, who (happily) are doing pretty well at staying in touch so far. Next job on the to-do list is to get myself gainfully employed again. It's been really useful having time to set the house to rights ahead of selling it, but that's done now so on with the next thing.

... and I'll try to keep a better record of events too, if nothing else so I don't incur the mosling's wrath again ;)

Saturday, April 01, 2006



I just got back from my holiday (well OK I've been home about four hours already) and I had a lovely time, but more about that tomorrow because I'm busy drinking some wine right now. I just wanted to share a strange discovery. On holiday I can (and did) walk about in my socks but at home it just feels wrong.

weird eh?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

fun while it lasted...

I had a meeting with my Human Resources contact at work today: the woman whose maternity I've been covering is coming back to work in April and they've decided not to renew my contract. In terms of my career this is probably the best thing that could have happened (assuming I capitalise on it and move forward into a new job) The whole idea of taking this job was that it gave me a six month corporate "rubber stamp" on the four years' DTP experience I already had (not to mention, dare I say it, some natural ability!) and it will do just that...

... the thing is, I wasn't counting on ending up in such a great office. With very few notable exceptions, the people I've been working with for the last five months have been some of the best I've ever worked with - I worked with some deeply cool people at Watson's too but in that environment I didn't have so much scope for interacting with them so in most cases it took most of the four years I was there to get to know them, with this lot at BG I'd made some really good friends within weeks. People I've looked forward to seeing each morning (and I hope you know who you are)

So when HR Hazel told me (exactly as I was expecting) that time's up on the 17th of April, my heart sank: I have a month left of these people's company day in and day out. I know that in a couple of cases that thought's going to help me get through the day more than once between now and X Day, but the vast majority of my daily interactions are going to be tinged with sadness from here on in because most of these great people are soon going to disapear from my life.

I really hope I can keep in touch with at least a few of them.


and the little voice in my head that belongs to my folks reminds me that I'm a big part of what worked so well here, I get to carry me to the next office and (if I'm VERY lucky) meet some more people half as wonderful as those I'll leave behind in a few short weeks.

So long, and thanks for all the monkeys.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


I'm going on holiday at the end of the month.

I can't wait.

Life is good, but also busy, and hard. There are a lot of things I'm tired from figuring out, dealing with, setting up, building or planning. All of them are things I'm a good place about: my career (I have a job I love), my home (I've made something really special of which I'm proud), my love life (still nowhere, and yet I feel the best about it that I have in years) but all of them are drawing a lot of emotional amperage. Even my friends have been hard work of late. Just keeping up with everything feels like a lot of effort recently, and I feel like I'm starting to flag a little.

This weekend I had no plans for the first time in months, but I had a hundred little jobs demanding my attention... I got to about twenty of them, not through lack of time, but lack of energy. I got things done, but I also spent a lot of time curled up on my sofa wishing there was a way to just skip all the journeys, and be at the destinations. That's not like me: I like the journeys.

I figure I'm just due a recharge. Happily the last week of March I'm going spend doing just that, I'm sure the old batteries can hold out that long.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

bloomin' spring

Just a quick 'un. Might manage a real post later in the week, especially if I get chance to take any pictures: my house now has a passably civilised back yard for the first time ever, thanks to a lot of hard work by me and Liz this weekend. Needs part of one wall apinting and a bit more gravel though so no pictures yet.

's good though. I'm very pleased.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

how'd that happen?

it's February already?


OK rattle gun update because I have no time (still)

I now have a nephew! (more on him when I've met him), the house now is almost ready to be sold (more on that when I have a schedule and advert to point to) ... as soon as I find a buyer of course (plenty more on that no doubt when I need to vent later this month), my job is still keeping me busy, paid and happy on the whole (though April and the end of my contract are looming a bit) my lovelife is a mess (nothing new there then) I've been to see some incredible films lately, have lots to say about them all and no time to type it all up, (sorry). Keep discovering new music too, same problem there.

Last night I saw some pretty good live comedy, in spite of the evening being hosted by (possibly) the most intensely unpleasant... being who I've ever encountered: namely a <cough> "comedian" called Bruce Devlin. I've suffered him before at The Stand but he wasn't supposed to be there last night or I'd not have gone. However, once Bruce got off the stage and let the comedians out, the night picked up. Three of the acts in particular were very funny and worth looking out for again... but they were all very new, so even if I could remember their names, I couldn't direct you to them... ask Liz she's much beter at that sort of thing than me.

What else? oh yes! new car joy! well joy so far, in advance of its first service anyway. That's tomorrow. <bites nails in anticipation of possible huge repair bill>

The insurance company decided that it would cost too much to pay for fixing Bags after the crash. I cried. He is however (as far as I could tell) being repaired, just not for me. Anyway, distraught and having been given the impresison I'd get next to nothing back from the insurers*, I set about finding the best way to spend a tiny budget on a reliable car, that would be up to the job of helping me commute for (hopefully) no more than the next six months or so. After some careful homework I decided an old SAAB 9000 looked like a good bet for the job and set about finding one. I did. look:

He's a 1996 SAAB 9000 CD, 2.0 litre turbo called Frank, and unless I'm mistaken (in which case I'll find out when the garage look at him tomorrow) he's in good enough order that he and I will be happy together for the remainder of my car-owning career**. Here's hoping anyway. Frank's also quite unlike anything else I've ever driven - fun but also really relaxed. There's this odd air about him that makes it hard to feel like you're in a hurry. In spite (or possibly because) of the huge engine and ability to go very fast should you want to, there's never any rush about driving that car and (I gather) I drive him even more sensibly than I did Bags. Which is good I suppose.

So that's my news just now, such as I have time to type - like I said there are lots more important things happening (nephew! nephew! nephew!) but they'll have to wait until I have time to do 'em justice...

*it now appears the claim on Bags will pay out considerably more than I spent on Frank... which will be really nice if and when the insurers actually cough up

**note: I plan on ceasing to own a car once I can move back to Edinburgh. That holds for the forseeable future unless I somehow become rich enough to own a car in spite of the massive financial burden they all are. In which case I will return to the land of car ownership with glee... 's much more likely however that Frank will be my last car for quite some time. Possibly even forever?

Friday, January 13, 2006


I have a head full of stuff to blog about, and no time to actually write them... bah! expect proper posts about Brokeback Mountain, New Year stuff and the ongoing car saga (and hopefully nothing about noises from next door!) soon, but in the meantime YAY! I can finally play with Google Earth!


Just as soon as I get some free time that is. Ha!

Friday, January 06, 2006

drums fingers

OK so yesterday someone finally came and took Bags away to be fixed, and tomorrow my loan car is supposed to arrive* which means that this stupid car accident business has neatly wiped out my entire week's holiday. Or at least it has in as far as being able to go anywhere is concerned. Nice.

Also I'd deliberatley left all Bags' stuff in Bags - most particularly Serengeti and Antoine (the orange girraffe and yellow frog who've lived on Bags' dashboard since I got him) were supposed to stay there and keep him company**. However the man who came to take Bags away took them out "in case it doesn't come back" - I'd gone back to bed at the time because I'd had very little sleep and thought the tow-truck had already gone, Justin answered the door (totally confusing the poor guy) otherwise I'd have had to have told him there's a load more stuff in the boot... I'm not sure I'm quite sentimental enough to have tried to make the tow-truck guy leave Bags' friends on the dashboard to keep him company... but now I'm fighting off the stupid feeling that this is in some way a bad sign. Besides which it's pointless having taken two soft toys and a pair of sunglasses out of the car when (if he doesn't come back) there's a bunch more stuff I would have to go and collect anyway.


I just hope they can mend my car.

*actually it was "supposed" to arrive yesterday according to the insurance company but according to the garage who have the car I won't get it until tomorrow because that's the soonest it's available. bah.

**yes I know: I'm a sentimental sap, surely this isn't news to any of you?