Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Today In Pictures

I tagged along to the Visteon (formally Ford) plant to meet some of the men in their 30th day of occupying the plant.

You see, a month ago, administrators from KPMG came into the plant to tell the 210 workers that all of them would be redundant with immediate effect and had six minutes to leave the plant. Pay out was to be a farce. A spontaneous sit-in/ occupation started and has continued since then.

It's very eerie, walking around the plant, because everything has been left as it was since the workers were told to vacate the premises. Machines lie idle, work boots lay at the foot of lockers, and car parts (for Ford cars exclusively) lie in boxes awaiting shipment.

However, it was very touching to see how much the local community, and Belfast as a whole, have come together to support these men (and women). Today, for example, they were presented with food and care packages by Curleys, a grocery store located on the Falls Road.

Read more here, here and here.

Thanks to Norman for the tour (be sure to check out his photos!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm in Belfast and it's absolutely baltic with the weather shifting between sunny breaks and raining buckets. Also, the internet connection at this office is sloooooooow.

Yesterday my bus drove past a bunch of cops sporting machine guns at the end of a closed off street. It's still a great city though. Later this evening I'm meeting up with my cousins in bandit town (a.k.a. West Belfast).

On the flight over yesterday afternoon, I got to chatting to the dude beside me on the plane, who spent the weekend in Glasgow for his "stag weekend". I can officially say I have now heard it all because, get this, dude lives in the Shankill Road area and is a Celtic fan.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod.

I just found out that Serendipity Films are making (one of) my favourite books into a film: Barney's Version with Paul Giamatti (?!) as Barney. Not sure about the casting - couldn't they have gone for an actual Canadian and older grumpy Jewish dude!?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I'm heading back to Belfast for two weeks (for work this time). I'm not sure if I will have time to update but in the meantime, can anyone suggest cheap places for dinner? As much as I like Marks and Spencers, I don't think I can eat their sandwiches for dinner for two weeks.
Snowboarding again last night with Mike and Erica at Sno!zone in Braehead. Only this time, it felt a lot harder and less fun. Perhaps it was because it was busier than last week or maybe it had something to do with the run being completely free of the fake "snow" in places. Either way it only makes me long for the real thing....sigh....

Monday, April 20, 2009


The insanity that is Primark

Kate in Primark

Lauren at Primark and set for summer

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Snowboarding at Sno!Zone with (Irish) Mike and Erica last night. Erica took ski lessons while Mike and I threw ourselves down the hill strapped to a board.

God, I missed snowboarding. Can't wait to go back next week!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dear People On The Internet Who Google, "date Scottish men"; "what's it like to date Scottish men":

Just stop.

Or, at the very least, stop clicking on my blog.

I offer no insights on how to meet Scottish men - especially in America (where large numbers of people - women? - seem desperate to find Scottish dudes to date).

Dating Scottish men is a lot like dating ANY other kind of nationality of men: a lot of headache and heartache! If you're from North America, you'll probably think they drink a lot too. And speak funny.

Please be advised that the majority of Scottish men do not look like Gerard Butler or John Barrowman nor are they strutting about in kilts, reciting Robert Burns poetry, while inviting everyone to their highland cottages.

Instead, rent the film Trainspotting but instead of heroin, replace it with alcohol, football (soccer) and hanging out with their "mates" until they are so drunk, they can no longer speak or feed themselves the late-night "kebab" they bought and then, and only then, you may know what it's like to date a real Scottish man.

For more of my experiences as a Canadian woman dating Scottish dudes, click here, here, here and here
Toronto, as seen by the Telegraph:

North America’s fourth largest city is arguably its most vibrant, thanks to the waves of young immigrants, who have transformed a rather sober destination into the world’s most cosmopolitan. Few cities are as creative, thanks to talented fashion designers and artists, architects and craftspeople, musicians and chefs. The museums are world class, while the large student population adds to the buzz.

Not sure about their choice of "best" restaurants though. Rodney's Oyster Bar?! What about Suser Lee? Mark Thuet? Big Fat Burrito?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

(Long) Weekend in Pictures

Paul's work: Glasgow Sheriff Court (the busiest court in Europe, apparently)

Easter! I cooked and baked for seven people (and didn't poison them either)

In Transatlantic news, the (fairly) new Minister for Culture, External Affairs, and the Constitution - Mike Russell (Scottish Nationalist Party) - is, or was by the time I post this, in Canada for something called, Scotland Week.

Tartan Day has apparently been extended from one day (April 6th) into one week, to promote uh, Scotland and tourism?

Watch Mike Russell's address to the Economic Club of Canada - it sounds boring but it's actually quite interesting. All you Canadians will be able to understand him too - dude BARELY sounds Scottish; he has that weird posh mid-Atlantic accent.

And of course, what would the SNP's visit to Canada be without namedropping Mike Myers and analogies to Quebecois nationalist politics? From the National Post:

But Mr. Russell said that the "national conversation" has not been derailed by the financial crisis. "Had Scotland been independent, I suspect the circumstances would have been different. You've got to remember that the Royal Bank was paying very substantial taxes to the UK Treasury. Had Scotland been independent, we'd have been a good deal wealthier. We would also have had a sovereign oil fund to support us. I don't think the collapse of RBS is in any sense an argument against independence. Indeed, it may be an argument for independence. I think we'd have been able to regulate things in a way that would have suited us better," he said in an interview yesterday.

Like Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois, the nationalists in Scotland make the case that they would fare better if they were only able to go it alone -- while at the same time arguing that they don't get enough money from the central treasury.

Quite how Quebecers think they would would make up the $8-billion in equalization payments that the rest of Canada shovels into the province every year is anyone's guess but the argument seems to be catching hold -- support for the PQ is at its highest level in three years, according to a recent Leger poll.

And finally, in other news, I'm pretty chuffed to report that I'll be heading back to Belfast in the near future for two weeks. Although it's for work, and not pleasure, I'm still really looking forward to seeing and experiencing more of the city (oh, and working there, of course)!

Monday, April 06, 2009


Reminder: please do not allow me anywhere near an open bar. Especially in Scotland.

Saturday, Paul's Mom and I went to see the National Theatre of Scotland's production of Be Near Me (watch the trailer for it here) .

Be Near Me is a Booker Prize nominated, captivating and moving story about love, morality and regret, told through the experiences of an Oxford-educated Catholic priest. Father David is assigned to a new parish in a crippled Scottish town on the Ayrshire coast, where sectarianism runs rife. He is a naïve and unworldly man, ill-suited to his new parish.

Drifting away from his peers in the town, he is drawn to Mark and Lisa, a troubled teenage couple who attend the nearby school. Their everyday world of drunken nights and recreational drugs is as exotic and enthralling to him as his cloistered life is to them.

As events take a perilous direction, Father David’s infatuation splinters his life into pieces.

Be Near Me is adapted by the celebrated Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars) who also appears in the central role of Father David. The cast also includes Blythe Duff (Taggart) and is directed by the National Theatre of Scotland’s John Tiffany, who directed the renowned Black Watch.

Be Near Me is a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and the Donmar Warehouse.

The adaptation of the play itself was good. While the characters themselves could be classified as stereotypical and cliched, I'd argue that such characters exist in the West of Scotland.

My only and main argument against the play, was the casting. The play was adapted for the stage by the actor, Ian McDiarmid, who then cast himself as the lead character, Father David. To my mind, Father David was meant to be a Priest in his 40s. Ian McDiarmid, meanwhile, looks about 65. My suspension of disbelief was constantly being interrupted by the fact that the character of Father David's Mother, looked younger than the Priest himself.

On Sunday, Paul and I went accompanied his Mom to Mass at St Andrew's Roman Catholic Cathedral as it was Palm Sunday. Sitting there, I realised why I never got into the whole church thing (besides being a reluctant atheist/ agnostic): it's pretty boring.

You know what the Catholic church (and indeed all Christian faiths) need in this country (besides a whole lotta updating)? A PR make over! Now if someone like Eddie Izzard was up there preachin' and teachin' the words of Jesus, I would totally go!