Thar Be Wintar in the Norf

Edinburgh castle in the snowTime for another update, and a fresh new look to the old kuhlschrank. For this post I’m going to mostly focus on my recent trip UP NORTH.  Scotland. Where everything is deep fried and the snow flakes are so big it would scare an English person back behind Hadrian’s Wall.  It was snowing quite heavily when I arrived in Edinburgh which made the city look at the lovelier.  It was just getting proper dark out as well and things were beginning to light up. 

I really enjoyed my four days there. I got around quite a bit of the city (as it is rather compact) and saw: Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, the Royal Yacht Britannia, The Scottish Museum, The Royal Museum and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the views from Calton Hill.

On Saturday Pat arrived for the weekend. That night we took in a couple ghost walks. The first tour was of the South Bridge Vaults, which are supposed to be very haunted, despite not being inhabited for very long. It was pretty spooky and we got to play around with some EMF readers.

 

The second one was a tour by the name of City of the Dead and has been featured on Britain’s Most Haunted (you know, that show that’s filmed almost entirely in night vision camera with the lady shouting a lot and the chap who does all the medium work).  Anyhoo, our guide for that tour was a bit off the wall and nearly completely clad in leather.  A fair amount of the tour took place at Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, where we entered an area that has been locked off because it’s ghostly happenings have been so off the radar.  This area had been used as a prison for several hundred Scottish prisoners of the English in the 17th century.  An exorcism was attempted on the area but failed and the priest responsible died of a heart attack shortly there after.  At one point we were all ushered into a mausoleum that was reportedly the most haunted area in the grave yard.  Nothing too extraordinary happened in there, however earlier in the vaults Pat did have the feeling of someone breathing behind him.  Thinking it was me, he turned around but I was at the other side of the room.

The city itself was quite interesting.  There is the Old Town in the south and the New Town in the north.  Edinburgh is home to some of the earliest high rise tower blocks.  The Old Town was so cramped, and difficult to build outwards from that they built upwards instead.  Some of the buildings reached 14 stories, and that’s several hundred years ago.  The richer you were, the higher up you lived.  The crazy layout with it’s numerous little lanes and closes makes walking around the city pretty interesting, and most of the street layout is all intact.   Makes me all the more want to be able to go back to the City of London pre-WWII to see the old city before it got hit by bombs.  Someday I shall find the Tardis and do just that.

I haven’t even mentioned the train ride from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh.  That alone would have made the trip worth it.  Being in a train rushing along the coast, over looking the ocean.  Yes please!

This trip was the cap off to a rather busy Christmas.  My dad got his passport in time to come over for the holidays and he and I did quite a bit of jet-setting.  We did 3 days in London (during which I finally got to see the finished insides of St. Pancras Rail Station in all it’s glory and my dad was thrilled to see Greenwich Observatory and take in some classical Christmas carols at St. Paul’s), 3 days in Bristol and Salisbury (Salisbury Cathedral being a highlight) and day trips to Cambridge, Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and Ipswich.

My first English Christmas went well.  I now rather enjoy mince pies and this year I could watch the Doctor Who special on TV on Christmas day rather than downloading it on Boxing Day, hurrah!

Have a gander at my photos of Edinburgh over on Flickr.

Oh Hello There

Oh hi. I haven’t been around these parts for a while. Time flies when you’re settling in and getting adjusted to everything. It’s hard to believe that this coming week is the 3 month mark since Pat and I were sitting at Hamilton Airport for hours on end waiting for the plane to take us to England.

We’ve both been working and trying to make the best of off-work time, which pretty much boils down to the weekend. This weekend was the first in about 3 or 4 weeks that hasn’t involved a trip to somewhere. I did two Saturdays in a row in London (as you do) and last weekend both days were spent venturing farther east. Saturday was Ipswich, which despite being the butt of many of a rubbish town joke, we both really enjoyed. From there was out to the country to the Sutton Hoo Anglo Saxon burial ground. It was great to see the actual location after seeing the helmet, shield and other finds from the site at the British Museum last summer.

While there, we signed up for our membership to the National Trust. Sweet deal ahoy! We now have free access for the next year to all National Trust sites in England, Wales and Scotland. And what a heap of sites there are. With our welcome pack we got a fairly hefty guide book that just covers England (and Wales as well if I remember right).

Last Sunday was our first trip to the coast at Felixstowe. The one thing that we both noticed we missed was being near water. Newmarket is basically located on a somewhat flat plain. Felixstowe is located right on the east coast of England and is the country’s biggest cargo shipping port. It also was quite the sea-side resort and beach in it’s Edwardian hay day. It was really nice to be by the water and hearing the waves crashing. I had been getting a bit homesick for being able to head out to the country and being able see, hear and smell the water. The day before in Ipswich we both got a bit excited to hear sea gulls.

Next weekend is another jaunt into London. No complaints here. Our friend Ash’s sister has a stopover for a few hours once arriving in Gatwick and we’re going to show her around as best you can in the given time. Elsewhere on the trip front, a trip to France looks imminent next month while our mate Adam is. A (long) weekend trip to Vimmy Ridge is in the works and I’m pretty excited about that as well as the trips around this country that will ensue with him visiting as well as Pat’s mom right after.

Oh I got a new camera a few weeks ago. Something a bit smaller than my Fuji I’ve had for the past few years for carrying around on trips out and about. It’s a Canon PowerShot A550 and I’m really happy with it. You can see all the snaps I’ve been taking with it over on my Flickr page.

I’ve picked up a few books so far (nothing in comparison with Pat’s growing collection of everything Isle of Man). A few weeks ago I got a hankering for a good book to read and on Lisa’s recommendation picked up Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks. I’ve only worked through about the first third of the book but I’m enjoying it. On a trip into London I picked up The London Collection at the Tate Modern. It’s a cool, quirky guide to each area in London that I had wanted for some time. It was put together by the folks behind Londonist.com. I’ve scored a few good finds at local charity shops as well, getting A History of London by Stephen Winwood which is about as large and in charge as Peter Ackroyd’s London The Biography that currently resides at my dad’s. Another London book I got yesterday is London Orbital about the author, Iain Sinclair’s, year spent walking around the M25 ring motorway around London and all the weird and wonderful things found along the way. And last but not least yesterday I also picked up a copy of the 1953 Illustrated London News special edition for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. I was thinking how it would be neat to find old copies of the Illustrated London News and this is a pretty good start.

On the music front, I’m currently listening to Blur after watching the last part of The Seven Ages of Rock this evening. It covered the indie movement and focussed mostly on The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Oasis and Blur and touched on the rest of Brit Pop and the current rock/indie music scene. I love programs about the impact and social importance of music in Britain. It seems, or at least feels like a bigger and more unifying thing than it does on the other side of the Atlantic. Another case of the relative smallness of the country lending itself to it all feeling so much closer. Other than that I’ve been enjoying the New Young Pony Club’s debut album as well as Dragonette’s first (and now delayed) album, Client’s latest one called Heartland which is probably my favourite album of theirs thus far and enjoying Girls Aloud’s new single goes without saying. Had a bit of a Coldplay revival last week, almost totally for nostalgic purposes.

Goodness it’s about time for bed! Back to work tomorrow for another week that will no doubt fly by.

K bye, P.E.I.

So after working on packing for most of the weekend, my bags are all ready to roll. Except for a few odds ends that will have to wait until the AM, I do still need to brush my teeth. Tomorrow morning I fly out of Charlottetown at 5:50am for Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton. That reaction you just had is the same one everyone has. A discount airline by the name of Globespan flies out of Hamilton. And they’re very cheap. Plus, it was a convenient spot for Pat and I to meet up and fly out of. In case anyone isn’t in the know, m’colleague Patrick will be joining with me for life in the UK.

We have quite a bit of time to kill in Hamilton airport. DSes will no doubt be in heavy use. We fly out of there at 8pm and arrive at Stansted airport Wednesday morning. My company is most eager for me to pop in and visit on Wednesday so we’ll probably do that. The offer to drive us around only sweetens the deal.

Once we get settled and get the internets I should hopefully be posting about our adventures more regularly. I’ll also be posting all my photos on Flickr, so keep an eye on that if you like the purdy pictures.

Where To Begin…

So, no posts since January huh? Surely Andrea wasn’t totally comatose for the past several months? She wasn’t and don’t call me Shirley. I’ve been quite busy since Februray, but it’s been something that has been (somewhat) under wraps. Until now. Let’s rewind this back to last summer.

I had been applying for jobs in England for the past few years now. Mostly in London, naturally. On monster.co.uk one day in early July, a job in Cambridge caught my eye. The ad was pretty snappy and the job sounded interesting. What the heck I thought, I’ll apply for that as well. A few weeks later, I check my voicemail. I’ll admit this is something that I don’t do very regularly. I had not 1, but 2 messages from the company in Cambridge. Oh Em Gee! I’m pretty upset though. It’s a Sunday so I can’t call back, so I just brood on the (in my mind) fact that I just blew a very good opportunity by being lazy with the voicemails.

First thing, and I mean around 6am first thing, Monday morning I call the lady from Cambridge back. She’s very glad I called and we arranged to do an iChat video interview that Wednesday morning. The interview went really well, had a few technical questions and about why I was looking for work in the UK. I was honest and just said that I’d love to live and work there in order to travel and see more of the UK and beyond. I also explained that they would need to apply for a work permit in order for me to work there. This didn’t seem to be an issue thankfully! At the end of the interview it boiled down to this. They really like the sound of me and would love to have me on board, however they needed the position filled right away. She said that if I could wait a few months, they will work something out on their end in order to bring me over. I was quite alright as this was the first positive repsonse I had receieved from all those applications.

Fast forward now to February, and lo and behold they have a position for me! We started the long old process of filling out forms and me sending lots of letters and paperwork to the UK for our work permit application. Finally, yesterday I got word that the work permit has been granted, meaning that I have the official ok from the UK government to move over there and work. Woo yay! So now I just need to apply for my visa / entry clearance, which hopefully won’t take long, and I’m ready to go. I already have my flight all booked for May 15th to fly out to London. Just under three weeks away, it’s mad but very exciting all at the same time. Great timing too, as I sort of jumped the gun and had already made plans for a weekend meet-up in London with a good friend of mine for the last weekend of May. Glad all that ticket purchasing won’t go to waste!

So there it is, what I’ve been up to. Of course amid all that is preparing to leave, involving sorting through the ample amount of junk I have in my apartment. Taking bags to Value Village, selling off stuff at Cash Converters, selling my car, my iMac, buying a MacBook to replace it and general running around associated with tying up all the ends here before leaving. There is another bit to tell about the move, but I won’t spill the beans on that quite yet.