07 February 2008

Last post from Scotland

I promise - it's the last for a while... (With facts from our excellent guide.)
The cows, now also in Edinburgh!

The thistle, as you may know, is Scotland's national flower. But did you know it's the Norwegians' fault? This happened a long time ago, and the Scots and vikings were at war. (Well, the vikings were at war with everybody, so why discriminate the Scots?) The Scots had made camp and had gone to sleep, ready for battle the next day. But those sleezy vikings ... they planned to attack at night! Such ungentlemanly behaviour!! The Scots were in luck, though, for two reasons: 1) The vikings didn't wear proper shoes, and 2) The Scottish camp was surrounded by thistles.

You do the maths...

This, though it may look like one, is no window. In the 1690's William III issued a Window Tax, and so people started bricklaying the former window openings - but were made to keep them look like windows for architectural purposes. Many places these have survived!

Leaving Edinburgh - heading north! If you've found your spectacles by now, you may see the Firth of Forth waaaaay over there...

The railway bridge. Quite a few workmen were trapped in one (or more?) "leg" of the bridge during construction. Due to structural defects, perhaps, and possibly the fact that water was so polluted, the workmen would only drink whisky and beer... There was no way of bringing them back to the surface, and in the end, the queen ordered that there be poured poison down the "legs" so the men could die peacefully, rather than starve to death. (Apparently there was enough to drink.) Think of that the next time you pass the bridge - there be bones underneath...

Stirling Castle. Which you may know from Braveheart. (Apparently, there is some historical correctness in the film...)

Up there - and beyond! - that's where The Highlands begin...

Ewan McGregor's home town Crieff. Or the main street, at least.

- And thus ends my Scottish tale!

02 February 2008

How do you do, PWP?

Or, more intriguingly - how do you do it? I know you're out there. I've met a few of you. But I can't for the life of me understand what drives you. Or not, as it were.

Passionately posing for a picture, 1985

Now, I would walk 10 miles afoot, to look at the house of someone who once met Rufus Wainwright's neighbour. I admit it freely, I'm that sad obsessive interested. I would refrain from all other forms of shopping (that used to include food - before I had others to care for...) - for life, if need be - if that enabled me to get tickets to every Rufus, de Lillos, Sting or U2 gig there was - or to as many visits as I'd like to Berlin, Lisbon, Crete... I would give my right hand (and left arm!) for Liverpool to win another cup - let alone the premiership!

Passionately back in Greece! (I was 14 - what can I say...)

I would (and I have, in fact!) spend 8 months passionately wooing my chosen one until he broke down and promised to marry me...

But you, People Without Passion... You wouldn't even go next door to see the first alien-human offspring, would you? You like all kinds of music, you say. Any town you visit is as fine as the next. And caring about football is just plain silly...

I can't help but wonder - do you [not] have fun in the same way? Polite ha-has, no guffawing or even small giggle fits? And relationships, do you really care? "Sure, I loved him, but hey, I'll meet somebody else." Are you for real? Or are you lurking somewhere underneath, quenched by real life, chores and routines, and too weak to find a way out? Are you living, or are you just ... alive?

Being artsy in Edinburgh II

I was in Edinburgh with my job (easy to forget, as I had plenty of time to roam around on my own!) and one night we were all 'cordially invited to Scottish Evening'. Which was basically a room crammed with people from every corner of the world - including England (they were mockingly insulted all evening)... It all started off with a bagpiper and then a few Scottish songs from the band. The food was nothing to write home about, and so I didn't. After the meal, and after the concert, though, we were finally given haggis to taste. The waiters looked mischievously at eachother while serving, but frankly, that was the best part of the whole evening.

See? I liked it :)
What I didn't like... This probably very nice and charming lady unfortunately didn't join the crew that night to be nice and charming, but to sing... I'm sure she'd been told she had a beautiful voice, and to match it, she changed dresses for every song!

Not that it helped. I was severely disturbed and had to stoop to playing backgammon on my mobile with a colleague to calm my nerves (and hers)... You can hear for yourselves!

Being artsy in Edinburgh I

These lovely buildings caught my eye, and I walked down to see what they were.Turned out it was the National Gallery Complex, so I stepped inside and had a look around the National Collection. I obviously didn't do a good job at it, 'cause I can't tell you what I saw, but I remember that I enjoyed myself at the time...

Now, the next building - the Royal Scottish Academy Building - was interestingly clad, don't you think? And gallery open until midnight, Saturday night? We all went - it was packed!

Yup, you guessed it,
Andy Warhol exhibition. Loved it!

Especially I loved the room full of helium-filled "pillows" (see below). It may look like an ordinary thing, but it was a weird feeling bouncing these pillows up - then watching them slooooowly descend. And repeat... I don't know how long I stood there - we all did, in fact - but it felt like the whole world became serene and calm and that everything was ok... Wonder if Warhol planned for that exact feeling?