Monday, January 26, 2009

Friday night saw me trek back to my former home, the west end, for dinner at Lauren's. In 2005 (I think?), Lauren lived in Toronto for one year and worked at Freetimes Cafe. As such, Lauren was making a huge vegetarian Freetimes-inspired dinner for myself and Kate . A delicious spread which included HOMEMADE LATKES.

When I lived in Toronto, I used to love waking up on a Sunday, working up a hunger, and heading to the Freetimes Cafe for their huge $19.95 all you can eat Jewish brunch. The latkes, eggs, blintzes, smoked salmon, bottomless cups of coffee, and Montreal bagels were arranged in a plethora of indulgence at the front of the restaurant and across the bar. The brunch was often punctuated by a soundtrack of Klezmer music. My brunch companion, more often than not, was Bob (a.k.a. Bombo/ Cocobaby), who, despite the deceptive slight appearance, has a black hole for a stomach.

I've often moarned the lack of "American" style brunch in this city (a city, and perhaps country, that nonetheless seems adept at picking up American trends like Starbucks and the awful and disgusting TGI Fridays) but I have a stash of President's Choice buttermilk pancake mix and Canadian maple syrup (both from Canada, obviously) to keep me sane.

So, Lauren's delicious cornucopia of latkes, hummus, roasted veggies, cous cous, and salad was appreciated. So much so that after stuffing myself with latkes, sour cream and apple sauce, I proceeded to fall asleep on her couch while Kate's kitten, Stinky, attacked my legs.

Saturday morning, I woke early to counter the effects of Lauren's latkes and headed to the gym for the necessary evil that is exercise. After doing my usual one-hour class of punching, kicking and grunting, my other friend, Claire, joined me for another class entitled, "body balance". Initially I was skeptical of a class that was aimed at "balancing" and "relaxation" (how hard can that be?!) but after another hour of yoga and pilates-like moves, I was hurtin' like Johnny Cash.

In our work-out gear, Claire and I headed to the ever fashionable west end for some food and coffee. After inhaling some lunch, we limped our way to several used stores (known as charity shops) for some bargains. I managed to find a book that I wanted, Peter Irvine's Scotland the Best, for only 99p! I also managed to find Margaret Atwood's Payback as well as Robertson Davies' Cornish Trilogy. I love finding Canadian books in used Scottish shops; makes me feel fuzzy knowing that someone somewhere outside Canada, is reading our nations top writers.

Sunday was a much-needed rest day and I went to Willow Trading for a half hour massage and one hour facial. I love Willow Trading, a lovely wee shop in Glasgow's west end, as it stocks gorgeous Neil's Yard products and even has a floatation tank (which I have yet to use and most likely never will. I mean, just me and my thoughts in a dark pool of water? Nae thanks). Afterwards I met Paul for lunch and a film.

Speaking of Paul, it's our two-year anniversary in February and as we did last year, we're thinking of going away for a weekend. Anyone ever been to Belfast? And if so, thoughts?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm beginning to grow more accustomed to life in Shawlands now and in fact, I've actually grown (somewhat) fond of the surrounding areas. From the Farmer's Market in Queen's Park, to the posh cafes on Nithsdale Road (which I have yet to actually eat in but have wandered around them), to Tapa Coffeehouse on Pollokshaws Road, to the stunning Alexander "Greek" Thomson buildings on Moray Place. It ain't all bad 'round these parts. I still maintain that I am a west end girl though - much to the annoyance of my boyfriend.

One of the best aspects of living in Shawlands is that a lot of my friends (well, ok, four) live in close proximity to me. This was taken full advantage of during the Christmas / Hogmanay holidays, when a bunch of us went over to Robert and Tim's flat on New Year's Day for the Scottish tradition of first footing. We watched Flight of the Conchords and ended up playing charades until well past 4.00am - totally sober too (well, most of us were anyway).

You know you're friends are awesome when they guess, "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" in ten seconds flat during a marathon session of charades. Highlights of the evening included, "ass pepper", "Deep Throat", "Sex on Fire" and "Trannyformers (instead of Transformers).

So, life isn't too bad on the Southside; I even plan on getting a bike through the progressive Cycle to Work Scheme in order to get from the Southside to my work. Of course, there has to be a downside, right?

For me, that would be awkwardly spotting a guy I once went on a shambolic date with at my bus stop. Remember that date I had with a cute Scottish dude, back in November 2006, and I showed up drunk and proceeded to denounce him as a "player"? Yeah, that guy. Well, besides being right about him, he also uses my bus stop. Being the cold and distant (not to mention embarrassed) Canadian that I am, I ignore his existence entirely and silently suffer in shame.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I can't believe it's been 12 years since this film first came out. I still remember going to see it in the theatre when I was 17 and being blown away by it. And yet, all these years later, it seems the tight skinny jeans and trainers look has never gone out of fashion.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Not only is 2009 the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns' birth, it is also the year of Homecoming Scotland. Mostly just a tourist ploy, Homecoming Scotland is a myriad of events which will be taking place all over Scotland, in order to encourage Scots, folks of Scottish descent or just people who love Scotland, to explore this great nation. There will be all sorts of activities taking place such as whisky tours, golf tournaments, researching your ancestry courses, and much more.

Obviously the notion of encouraging the Scottish diaspora to return is not new; I myself was encouraged to return to Scotland (after my year as an exchange student in 1999/2000), in late 2005 when the (now former) First Minister, Jack McConnell, came to Canada in a bid to lure Canadians of Scottish descent back. And now, after Glasgow being hailed as one of the world's top 10 cities, it's only a matter of time before more and more people realise that Scotland is fucking amazing.

Indeed, it seems that I'm not just the only Canadian to be lured back "home".