Thursday, June 30, 2011


I haven't updated in a while as I've been busy playing host to my parents, who were visiting from Canada. They were here for a week and left early yesterday morning. It was a jam-packed week: full of eating, drinking, and translating Scots for them.

Last weekend we rented a beautiful cottage that was located right within the Bowmore Distillery on the Isle of Islay. Islay is a truly stunning and beautiful island, populated by friendly locals and not to mention amazing distilleries.

Just a little something I picked up.

The parental unit - drunk and causing a ruckus on Islay

We also managed to check out the newly-opened Museum of Transportation on the Clyde in Glasgow. Above, Graeme Obree's bike, which he built out of washing machine parts and yet, somehow managed to TWICE break the world hour record, in July 1993 and April 1994. Oh, and he's Scottish. Obviously.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Oh, god, those clouds...but the scenery cannae be beat!

View from atop Dukes Pass

Yesterday, I took part in the annual Trossachs Ton - a bike ride of either 100km or 100miles through the beautiful Trossachs in Scotland. As I'm still a bit of a cycling newbie, I opted for the 100km route and as soon as I crossed the finish line - although relieved - I sort of regretted not signing up to do the 100miles. Och, well. Next year. Besides, as soon as I finished, it started pouring rain.

It was a beautiful ride - complete with a gruelling (well, for me anyway) climb smack in the middle of the Trossachs: Dukes Pass. It was a slog, but what a view from the top!

Despite the weather (usual Scottish mist and drizzle), it was an amazing day. The only downfall was the last 30km, cycling into Stirling on a busy road and almost being hit by a bus. Oh, and some dude in an Audi making "wanker" signs at me; maybe it was my Euskastel-Euskadi jersey that he objected to? Or maybe he objected to a mouthy blonde who dared to take up space on the road? I'm not sure. It got me thinking though: maybe the reason why some motorists/ drivers who proclaim to "hate cyclists" is not because we're inherently cool and more awesome than most, but because we cyclists remind them that they're lazy and dependent on a car culture that enables said laziness? Either way, after almost being run off the road and violated with lame lewd actions by motorists, I've realised that cycling can not also make you superior, but a misanthrope too. Can you tell? Seriously, why the hate though? Why do some drivers whizz past us cyclists at not only incredible speed, but so close as well? Is it really worth taking a life to prove how much of a dick you are?

Nevertheless, what a way to see Scotland. Without a doubt.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I was never one of those people who had a life plan. As a kid, I could never envision what path my life would take. Actually, that's not entirely true; when I was an angsty teenager, I knew that I wanted to leave Napanee as soon as possible (and I did, right after graduating high school). However, I never had any overwhelming ambitions to be well, anything - apart from interesting and fabulous, of course. I suppose I had fantasised about living in New York City and being a struggling artist/actor/screenwriter of sorts. Being a Canadian, of course, I had to settle for Toronto.

I clearly remember sitting in Grade 10 history class one day and casually chatting to Jennifer Jonkers (I wonder what became of her?) when she proclaimed that she couldn't wait to get married and have a family. I was astonished - I had never experienced such intense aspirations, whether it being getting married (to who, it didn't matter clearly), settling down or just moving to Toronto to piss about. Then again, Jennifer Jonkers belonged to the 4-H club (I have no idea what that involved but I like to imagine it had something to do with milking cows). I always sort of thought that I would just wake up one day and realise that I had wanted to be a lawyer all along, like most liberal art students (FYI: I got into law school; it's kinda soulless).

However, here I am - 32 years of age - and I still have no idea what I want to do, where I want to go in life and what I want to be (apart from a decent person - hey, it's a legitimate goal!) And although I could never have imagined that I'd be living in Scotland (fucking Europe, y'all!), I can't imagine living anywhere else. But that's about all I can imagine; does that make me directionless or just laid-back?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


Guys, I'm screwed.

Now that I am single again, after four years of being in a Serious Relationship, I've been asking some of my single girlfriends and work colleagues what it's like out there - in the mean cold world of dating in Glasgow. And well, the consensus is, at least for us "Over 30" ladies: pretty dire. Today, for example, I was talking to a gorgeous and successful 37-year old TV producer and she confirmed my suspicions about Glaswegian dudes, who stated: "They are hopeless; rarely, if ever, will any decent bloke approach you. They are terrified and/ or clueless".


Indeed, Timorous Beastie, commented on my last post: "I'm from Glasgow, and would not recommend attempting to form a meaningful relationship with any man from the west of Scotland, but I'm probably a bit biased. "

Not a glowing endorsement then.

Interestingly, I am in the process of reading The Tears That Made the Clyde: Well-Being in Glasgow, which came highly recommended to me by my friend (and healthcare worker), Claire. In it the author, Carol Craig, looks at Glasgow's many health and social problems and asks why Glasgow has been blighted with such challenges (short answer: deprivation, economic inequalities, industrial collapse; and due to such bleak conditions, sought escapism in drink, drugs and suicide). In Chapter 7, entitled, "Women and Children Last", Craig reflects on women's lives and how they were, historically, marked not just by poverty but by the actions of men more intent on their own pleasures than playing a positive role within their own family. She writes:

In a city where many people lived in such close proximity to others, often without sinks, indoor toilets and bathrooms, these [wash houses] were a godsend, at least for those who could afford to use them.

While there could be something of a pecking order among the women, there was a huge amount of support as well: camaraderie bred by the experience (past or present) of terrible conditions and constant insecurity. Even the families of skilled workers, living in the better tenements, knew that an economic downturn, accident or illness, could destabilise them and they would slide back into appalling slums. In this supportive community, neighbours were continually borrowing from one another...However, even with this support network the lives of poor Glasgow women were hard and exhausting. Household income was low, and often made lower still by men's drinking habits. It was women who had to try and square this circle...

...Men often used their Saturday afternoons to go to football matches. Coupons, betting and gambling became popular. These male pursuits, along with drinking, all cost money which could have been spent on the family....

...I am not suggesting that all Glasgow men were drunks who spent every night propping up a bar, or ignoring their families, but I am suggesting that traditionally there was a strong current in Glasgow which easily swept up men and deposited them in the pub or encouraged them just to suit themselves.

I quote Craig's book at length because it is incredibly interesting to read about the history of Glasgow and how it continues to influence Glaswegians to this day. In fact, when reading about the gender inequalities and hardships that exist(ed), I thought of my Great Poppy, John Neely, who was Glaswegian. My Nanny (Grandmother) has previously told me about growing up with my Great Poppy and how he was stern and would often be down at the pub, after his shift at the prison, where he worked as an officer.

I'm also reminded of my ex-boyfriend and how incredibly selfish he could be at times - more so than your typical North American dude. Or how he would disappear to the pub for hours on end and I, of course, would not be invited. As a Canadian - who, admittedly, doesn't drink a lot - I often found that strange. Back in Toronto, I was always invited out to socialise with my boyfriend's friends and their girlfriends. In Glasgow, I was taken aback at how Paul would tell me that I was not allowed to go to the pub with him and his friends. As an immigrant, I put it down to a cultural difference and indeed, thought he needed his own space to talk about.....whatever dudes talk about when ladies aren't around. However, it was still a point of contention because I *too* wanted to go down to the pub and talk about zombie movies, fart jokes, and whatever else it is that dudes talk about, you know?

So, in short, it seems my worst fears about some (most?) Glaswegian dudes have been confirmed in print: not only are they suspicious of women but also colossally selfish. If we humans are creatures of habit and imprinted with our ancestors tendencies, than I am awfully fearful of even broaching a single date with a Glaswegian dude - especially after reading Chapter 7 of Craig's book. However, in our accelerated times, maybe weegie dudes have evolved? Maybe they realise that today's modern woman demands to be treated with respect and equality and also be emotionally engaged? Then again, after reading Craig's book, I was chilled TO THE CORE at how similar my relationship with my ex was to that of a poor, down-trodden 1950s Glaswegian housewife - and I am a strong modern woman, y'all!

I know so many intelligent, successful, and gorgeous women in their 30s and 40s in Glasgow, who are single: sometimes by choice and sometimes not by choice. When I first moved here, 5 years ago and in my late 20s, I was honestly perplexed as to how and why so many awesome ladies were single and now, well, I kinda understand it? Which is sad, in a way. But then I think of what another female work colleague told me the other day. She said, "nice girls like you, Jen, are quickly snapped up by similarly nice guys".

Here's hoping.