Monday, December 24, 2012

Yuletide Greetings

Ok, you know what? Say what you will but one of the most exciting things to happen to me recently is this (as pictured above); I chopped all my hair off. Traditionally, this is something that we womenfolk like to do when we go through a tumultuous break-up, start a new job or move to some exotic far-flung corner of the earth.

Thankfully, I haven't experienced any such events (she says, tempting fate) but rather, I've had a pretty joyous few months (despite health fears and concerns). A lot of the time we go from month to month and suddenly here we are yet again, scrambling to get ready for Christmas and what to do of Hogmanay!? I've spent most days/ months, amazed at how lucky I've been this past year.

2012 started with uncertainty - I had no idea how the year was going to fair. To my utter astonishment, it turned into a year of falling desperately, madly, disgustingly head-over-heels in love (with a Scottish man, no less!) So, who knows what 2013 will bring, eh?!

And with that, Merry Christmas. Bring it on, 2013.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Guide to Dating Scottish Men

*Not a true representation of "Scottish Love"

I get a surprising amount of emails from women - mainly American and Canadian - about dating Scottish men: e.g. what's the difference between a Scottish vs. North American dude; what does it mean when a Scottish guy asks them out for a drink with all his friends and so on and so forth. Most of the time I respond because they're just looking for advice/ perspective and as everyone knows, I have publicly lamented about dating in this country so I am more than happy to pass on what I have learned, if anything.

Nevertheless, I thought I should try and attempt to offer up my advice once and for all - albeit, at the risk of repeating myself.

Please note, however, that I am approaching the dangerous and controversial territory of dating in Scotland, from a North American perspective, and you may run the risk of being misinterpreted as "too forth right".

Firstly, I won't question why it is a Scottish man in particular that you want to date because hey, I get it: you saw Gerard Butler in a film once and dug his accent and assume that all Scottish men are that rugged and handsome. [Side note: I saw Gerard Butler walking down Byres Road a couple weekends ago with this current-model girlfriend, and although my heart was a flutter at the idea of Gerard Butler, in reality it was a bit of a let down as he looked pretty hung-over].

As a Canadian dating in Scotland, I initially found it quite difficult as there isn't the same culture/ tradition of dating as there is in North America. Back in Toronto, it wasn't considered strange/ too forward for a guy to approach you and either: (a) just start talking to you SOBER and/or (b) offer to buy you a drink. The same cannot be said about Scottish men, I'm afraid. Which brings me to my first point:

1. Scottish People Speak in Code: This takes some getting used to. For example, it's not really polite to directly ask someone what they do for a living. Sure, that is the second thing we ask each other in North America, right after "What's your name?" but not so in the UK. So instead, you need to find these sort of details out in a roundabout way. You will need to carry out a careful conversation and only when it is hinted at, may you ask someone what they do or openly try to guess. The same can be said about asking someone if they're single/ married. Sure, you may be used to being directly asked this by a dude in Canada but over here? Not so much.

You see, here in the UK/ Scotland, there is a lot more happening than what would appear on the surface. For example, in a busy bar, rather than a barman/woman openly asking who is next (although sometimes they do), there is a subtle social interaction taking place. Without uttering any words, the server will know who is to be served next, just by making eye contact with thirsty patrons at the bar. If the server incorrectly eyes someone who is not next in line for a pint, they will usually shake their head and point at who should be next - if they're a decent human, anyway. Obviously if you're a patron at a busy pub in the UK, you can't wave your hands or make a point of being FORTH RIGHT and saying that you're next; SORRY, that's just the rules, Yanks. What can I say, they like rigid social codes over here.

So, if you happen to find a Scottish lad who you like and you think may like you, I would say this: HANG IN THERE, GIRL. Eventually all will become clear (hopefully).

The thing to remember about guys - Canadian, American, Scottish or otherwise - is that they tend to show you how they feel. Sure, they may not literally tell you but on the other hand, if they're making an effort to see or arrange to see you: what's that telling you? Which brings me to my second point:

2. Scottish guys - on the surface- have limited emotions. Look, I don't make the rules, just the observations, ok? But in my experience, there seems to be a more old-fashioned approach to how men are perceived and portrayed in the UK than in Canada. In Glasgow, at least, people talk about the "hardness"of the cities inhabitants; it's not called a Glasgow Kiss for nothing and Glaswegian men are allowed to show limited emotions: anger (usually when their football team loses), elation (usually when their football team wins) and general day-to-day being at peace with the world. That's it.

Now, obviously this is a sweeping generalisation and not true of all Scottish men. Indeed, I would say that it's rapidly changing for the better. However, I still think there is some hang over from the "olden times" when it was generally encouraged for men to be the "strong and stoic" type. Clearly I don't approve of such encouragement because I think it's important to remember that men are a lot more complicated and dare I say it, delicate than we let them be.

So, remember: there is a person beyond that limited Man Box exterior.

3. (a) You might need to go to the pub more: Look, we'll probably never even come close to what our Scottish cousins can partake in, booze wise, but you might as well start trying: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? Sadly, this is where a lot of the action is. In Canada, we usually go to other people's houses to get shit-faced but over here, people go to a pub in order to pay twice as much to shout over loud music. The one thing, however, that you won't get at a lot of Canadian house parties is one thing that the Brits/ Scots excel at: playful banter.

3(b). Scottish people love and appreciate a good chinwag/ banter. There are many things I love about Scotland and Scottish people (humour, landscape, friendliness) but the one thing that really makes me fall for this country is their sheer delight at a good chat/ rant session. Whereas we Canadians are a lot more utilitarian when it comes to words, the Scots are playful and cheeky. If you want to date a Scottish dude, be prepared for some verbal jousting; these people can talk rings around us.

4. Scottish people don't really date: I said it before and let me elaborate more: Scottish people don't have the dating culture that we do in North America; they don't even like to say the word, "date". The word and idea makes people uneasy - perhaps it is, once again, too forth right and too straight-forward (I KNOW, RIGHT?!) Scottish people wouldn't think too much about sleeping with a near stranger they met in a club, but asking for their number and to take them out for a meal? No.

This isn't a judgement on a nation - just a mere lifeline for confused North American ladies.

5. Get used to having the "piss" taken out of you: So you find yourself on a NON-DATE/ JUST HANGING OUT WITH a Scottish dude but he seems to continually make fun of you. Don't be offended rather, chin up, doll, this means he likes you!

Monday, November 19, 2012


This past weekend was the Track Cycling World Cup in Glasgow, at the recently opened Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome; the first event to be held at the Velodrome. When tickets went on sale for the three-day event, they sold out in less than an hour. Luckily, G was on form and managed to get us two tickets to Saturday night's events. Saturday's events consisted of: 

Women's Sprint – Semi Final (1st)
Men's Omnium (Event 5) – Scratch 15km
Women's Sprint – Semi Final (2nd)
Men's Individual Pursuit – Finals
Women's Sprint – Semi Final (3rd i.r.)
Men's Keirin – 2nd Round
Women's Sprint – Finals (1st)
Men's Omnium (Final event) – 1km Time Trial
Women's Sprint – Finals (2nd)
10 Men's Keirin – Finals (places 7-12)
11 Men's Keirin – Finals (place 1-6)
12 Women's Sprint – Finals (3rd i.r.)
13 Women's Omnium (Event 3) – Elimination

It was such a fantastic and exciting night; I absolutely loved watching the keirin and elimination races. Even more impressive was the velodrome itself and I am so excited that we weegies finally have our very own velodrome - not too many cities can boast of such a thing. Very shortly, G and I are going to our first accreditation session at the velodrome, in order to get certified so we too can cycle on it. 

The shocking and sad moment Jason Kenny crashed out of the keirin final 

And finally, I've been experimenting with sugar-free baking/ cooking and made some raw "peanut butter cookies". Inspired by this recipe, I mixed it up by making these "cookies" with raisins, peanut butter (the no sugar added variety, obviously), hazelnuts and extra vanilla extract. Delicious! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I've decided to go sugar free - until Christmas, at least. I'm going to try and document my struggle journey, as I go. If you're interested, I'll be posting about it on Sweets Free. I'm going to leave this blog dedicated to kvetching and ranting about Scotland, as per usual.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Yesterday was surprisingly sunny and half-way warm; I say surprisingly as Scotland is soon-to-be descending into its notorious autumn/ winter season - when mornings tend to be dark, cold and wet. Yesterday, however, we were blessed with few clouds, a warm Fall sun and most importantly, no rain. As such, G and I took full advantage and cycled out past Helensburgh, looped around Rosneath peninsula, past Kilcreggan (up over Peaton Road - an epic HILL!) , back through Glen Fruin, before gliding into Balloch for a coffee and then catching the train back to Glasgow. In total, we managed about 60 miles. 

During our ride, we cycled past Faslane: home to the UK's "strategic nuclear deterrent" - a.k.a. submarines that contain nuclear warheads. How can such beautiful scenery of this land be punctuated by the horrors of man? Maybe I'm naive but as I stopped to take a picture and take in the view, I wondered: in what world do we live in wherein we no longer "guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought by the military-industrial complex". Although that said, Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, recently announced that should Scottish people vote "yes" in the referendum and we become independent in 2014, he would rid Scotland of nuclear weapons. That's enough to illicit a "yes" from me then (and yes, I can vote in the referendum). 

Stopping for a coffee in the Cafe at Kilcreggan 

 Making our way to the top of Glen Fruin 

And atop one of the undulating hills through Glen Fruin - you can see a big grey box, home to weapons of mass destruction.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I'm trying to get back into longer cycling expeditions on the weekend. On Sunday, I struggled up the Tak Ma Doon Road, near Kilsyth; it's been a while since I have been up it. View from the top, from the parking lot.

One thing you may or may not know about me is that I love to bake: cakes, muffins, pies, you name it; pretty much anything sweet, I'm going to bake it. And I love to eat said cakes, muffins and pies. Naturally, I love the UK show, The Great British Bake off (Canadians: imagine a sweet and well-made version of American Idol only, instead of delusional singers, it's populated by talented self-taught bakers).

Anyway, my FAVOURITE baker on the programme, James (who also happens to be Scottish), stopped by my work earlier in the week. James made it into the final three on the Great British Bake off. Sadly, however, he wasn't crowned the winner but no doubt, he is the unofficial winner in Scotland - he did us proud with his inventive recipes that often combined Scottish ingredients.

Ok, when I was back home in Toronto, I discovered these sweets from Japan. I AM ADDICTED. Anyone seen them in Glasgow? I can't stop thinking about them: green tea with a hint of cherry blossoms. W O A H.

Another thing I became addicted to whilst back home: Toronto's very own Drake. I'm late to the party, I know, but his latest album, Take Care, is simply amazing. Such variation and so much talent. No wonder the ladies love him.

On Monday 8 October, it was Canadian Thanksgiving, which also happened to fall into the same week as G's birthday. As such, we had about 8 people round to my house, where G and I cooked an elaborate feast (menu at the bottom). In true typical Thanksgiving fashion, there was too much food; too many leftovers and too much alcohol. Success!

Not to brag y'all but it was pretty amazing. I probably should have taken pictures of it all because not only was it outstanding, but also the last time (for a while, anyway) that I make such a huge feast from scratch. 

Hence the reasons for 50 mile bike rides on the weekend. 

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Two Drifters Off To See The World

So G and I got back from Canada a couple weeks ago; it was G's first time in Canada and surmise to say, he wants to emigrate. How serious he is remains to be seen, however. Obviously as a fervent Canadian, I love my home country and I miss it dearly but am I ready to move back to Canada? I'm not sure. There are so many elements that I miss about it though: the four distinct seasons, decent coffee, cream for my coffee, amazing sushi in abundance, friends, family and of course, Montreal bagels.

Did I mention the weather?

Coming back to Glasgow, this time round, was really hard for me. Saying goodbye to my oldest friend, Bombo/Coco, was sad for me and strangely, I found myself missing his chubby wee bulldog too. I suppose after my recent health run-ins, it was nice to just go back home, stuff my face with doughnuts and coffee and not worry too much about the ever-increasing growth on one of my internal organs.

Which brings me back to reality; back to Glasgow; back to the rain; back to more tests and ultimately surgery.

But at least I'm back in the city I fell in love with; back amongst the grumpy and warm people of Glasgow; back on track to getting healthy; back to cycling in the land of rolling hills and £2.50 for shite coffee.

Sunday, September 23, 2012