December 01, 2002

Glasgow, Scotland (Phill)

Glasgow, Scotland (Phill)

Fieke and I arrived in Glasgow yesterday just in time for the Glasgow Four's Head (rowing regatta). My brother's crews were racing (won the regatta) so I dragged Fic down to watch. Freezing as it was, it was nice to see the old boathouse, it's strange how it brings back memories. Stranger still how many pictures of my father and mother (okay, the entire Simpson clan) are still posted there. Seems like they keep adding more and more every time I go back!

We did get a hold of Chas and also my cousin Colin was floating around. After going to the prizegiving and drinking a few beers we went back to the hostel. Chas was quite insistent that we get a room at the hostel rather than have to try to get back to Colin's house after the night we had planned. Basically the Glasgow Uni rowing club had organized a Ceildh (Scottish Traditional Dancing). We went out to dinner with his team and some friends of ours, Jennifer and Natasha came also. Off to the Glasgow Uni Student Union for 1 ($/1.40) pints of beer. I think Fieke was rather entertained by the variety of kilts that were walking about. I didn't actually wear mine, although I wish I had! We went through and I even managed to drag Fieke onto the dance floor for a Scottish dance. Not that either of us had any idea of what to do, don't think the drunken mobs noticed though!

Afterwards we moved onto The Hive, a student night club. I couldn't coax her onto the dance floor there, perhaps a sign that my Scottish dancing wasn't up to par??? :) And back to the hostel to prepare for the hangover to come....

This morning I said goodbye to chas briefly and then we moved from the hostel out to Bearsden to Uncle Gordon's house. Today is definately a day of recovery though, so I surrounded the three of us with unhealthy food (think bacon...), scottish delicacies (think potatoe-scones) and non-alcoholic drinks (think Irn-bru, which Fieke actually likes!). A nice relaxing day.

Plans are like this, tomorrow Edinburgh to be tourists, if she likes it then we'll stay there Tuesday as well, otherwise I'll be taking her to one of the Loch's and maybe a Whiskey distillery. Unforunately Fic's outta here on Wednesday morning. I'm still trying to plan the next month, the knee is unlikely to be up to Snowboarding in Canada, so I'm still working on the alternatives, but Iceland sounds promising, sitting in lava heated pools in sub-zero temperatures.... Wanna come?

Posted by Admin at 07:32 AM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2002

6/1/2002 Glasgow, Scotland (Phill)

6/1/2002 Glasgow, Scotland (Phill)

Okay, let me fill in the last week. I can't believe you guys are still paying attention, but the daily hits are still high.

After taking our day off last Sunday, we followed it on Monday with a trip to Edinburgh. Edinburgh, of course, is the tourist capital (and I suppose reluctantly the real capital) of Scotland. Although Glasgow's definately the center of culture, Edinburgh is a truely beutiful city. Towering over the entire place is the massive Edinburgh Castle. This was our first stop, so Fieke, Colin and myself all slogged up the massive hill to the gates. I didn't manage to talk them out of going in, since I was pissed off that the Adult and Student prices were the same (about $14 each). My cheapness didn't stop them!

As we walked in we walked past the two subtle statues of Scottish hero's. This is actually the exact place that Randall Wallace (writer of Braveheart the Movie) got his inspiration. Basically, as he walked in he asked the guide who this William Wallace (he claims its his ancestor) was and the guide explained the story of braveheart. Although I suspect the version Randall heard didn't contain the rather Holywood aspects that he later inserted. I mean, first of all the movie makes braveheart out to be rather nicer than he was. battles back then didn't exactly have the niceties presented in the movie and one of the big reasons Wallace was so successful was that he was a bastard (apoligies). It was a technique that worked, but probably didn't get him to hook up with the princess like in the movie. Well, we hope it didn't since the princess was around 6 years old!

Anyway, we toured the castle and then wandered through The Royal Mile, Colin and I checking out tatoo shops. Then off to some pubs before the weather started to turn and we all got lazy. So we went and saw the new James Bond film. C'mon, we saw the castle, that was enough! ;)

We had to run all the way back to catch our train which almost killed Fieke and Colin, they were pretty much passed out on the train!

We got back to Glasgow in time to meet one of my mates Robert for drinks.

Before I get to the next wee story, I should mention that Fieke is a very touchy, flirty person. Colin had of course been recieving the brunt of this for days and at some point Fieke and I had decided to play a joke on him. So there we are sitting at The Underground bar in Glasgow with Colin and Rob and we were about to put our plan into action. Rob had just met Fieke but had already began to feel uncomfortable as we elevated our pretend argument. It was a just a comment here and there, if I looked at another girl she'd say something and if she brushed against Rob or Colin I'd make a remark. Anyway, it was definately getting tense as Colin and Rob squirmed. I threw a bit of a fit and broke off to the bathroom as Fieke continued to flirt. After a couple of minutes Fieke joined me and we discussed the next plan. Meanwhile, Colin and Rob were apparently having a really awkward discussion trying to figure out if I was just joking with them (they're used to my sick sense of humour). Both these guys are particularly nice, really friendly, and still getting used to Fieke so it was pretty tense I imagine. So I come storming back to announce that Fieke has told me that she preferred Colin over me and I accused Colin of stabbing me in back. Before Col can deny it, Fieke's back and immediately kissed him on the cheek. It was terrible, poor wee Colin I don't think knew what to do. At the bathroom Fieke and I had written on a piece of paper that we were just joking and we owed him a lot of beer. The plan was for her to say she was going to leave and go find a hotel, as she left she'd drop the piece of paper with 'her number' on it for Col. Except when this happened Colin decided that the best thing for him to do was go to the bathroom! So he didn't get to learn it was a joke. So off Colin goes. It's not till he comes back that we tell him and apoligize, buy him some beer and he starts plotting his revenge. I'm expecting something big like waking up with no eyebrows!

Anyway, the following day we took it easy again. Do you think i'm just getting old? Incidently, my brother seems to think I have a receding hairline. No way! The other thing I wanted to do was take Fieke to a Whisky distillery, the one I wanted to go to was on an island called Arran. Unfortunatly, we woke up a bit late for that one, but I did manage to track down the Glen Goyne distillery which was actually only about an hour away. The tour was pretty good, we ended up drinking a few glasses of Whisky. Afterwards we had a long wait for a bus (I HATE not having a car) and headed all the way into Glasgow for dinner.

It's such a shame that Fieke was only here for a short time and that I wasted quite a bit of that on hangovers! There's so much to see in Scotland, but I suppose we did the bare minimum. Although I think Fieke and I were a bit relieved to be departing each other. Not that I've had anything but a brilliant time, but we had seen each other (and relied on the other) for almost 3 weeks. So there was definately ups and downs toward the end. We've promised not to talk until Saturday although I've already failed at that!

Today I actually managed to get an appointment to see a doctor and get my knee looked at. At this point Canada snowboarding seems off. Although I really want to go, I should probably figure out an alternative asap!

Posted by Admin at 04:31 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2002

10/12/2002 Glasgow, Scotland (Phill)

10/12/2002 Glasgow, Scotland (Phill)

Eugh, I've had a hangover for three days! These journal entries really aren't very exciting, are they. At least in this one I manage to throw up all over a nice new carpet, that ought to entertain you for a wee while.

Yup, on Saturday night I went out with a few friends to a club called The Shed. My best friend over here, Robert, works there so I was think, "free drinks!". But by the time I got there I really should've been thinking "no drinks". But I think i was pissed off at my liver that night and I felt it deserved to be punished. So here we are at this club, me refusing to dance (of course) so I opted just to drink and check out the girls dancing. I'm a total failure when it comes to clubs. At least in a bar I can pretend to have a decent Scottish accent and chat girls up with that (the scottish accent isn't quite as unique in Scotland though...) but when it comes to clubs I'm no good. Anyway, so I track bob down working at the bar, but he's pretty overwhelmed with all the demanding Glasgweigans, so I barely say hi before I opt to leave him alone. I do, of course, return to find more drinks being bought. The Scots are very very good at the rounds system, everyone buys rounds so you end up drinking perhaps more than you would normally just to get your money's worth.

Being the smart (and cheap) guy that I am my theory is always to buy the first round cause that way when the late people come you don't have to buy drinks for them but they have to buy them for you. I know I know you're thinking Cheap Bastard! but I was hanging out with Doctor's and Lawyers, I'm technically unemployed :) Okay, okay, I'm making excuses, I'm cheap.

Anyway, so the whole night I just kept returning to find more drinks or shots. When I mix drinks and shots I throw up, it's a consistent rule that I've never totally appreciated. So I get fed some drink called Aftershock which is cinnamon. Not good. But I feel okay, I'm still not drunk enough to get dragged onto the dance floor though. So the club closes at 3 or something, we all head out. I'm with two girls, Marie-Claire and Jennifer (an old family friend) but I decide I'm hungry. So I find a fish and chip shop neaby and order a black pudding supper (blood sausage and chips for the non brits). In retrospect I can understand this being a bad combination.......... We get back to Jens and I go into the spare room and off to sleep. The spare room is right next to the bathroom, all you have to do is step out the door and turn right into the bathroom. Seems easy, yeah? No! At some point during the night I wake up and realize I'm going to be sick, I exit the room and turn left. Not good, it's like a bloody volcano. And black greasy chunks go all over the new carpet (you needed that graphical description, right?). I realize that most bathrooms don't have a sofa in them and therefore I'm in the wrong room, but I don't make it to the bathroom by the time the second eruption arrives...........

Somehow Jen manages to sleep through all this, so I try and clean the mess up but the food is so greasy that it just kind of rubs into the carpet. So I do what all guys would do, I go back to bed. it's a lovely scene in the morning when Jen awakes to find the presents I left her. And then there's me with the worlds worst hangover. It manages to last all day.

Okay, on top of this I had recently signed onto a british alumni web site to try and track down some of my friends that I hadn't seen since I left Scotland to originally move to America. I did a terrible job at keeping in contact (read: I didn't keep in contact) and I've always regretted it. So i used the www.friendsreunited.co.uk website and managed to get in contact with my best mate from Holyrood and arranged to meet him that night at a bar. God I didn't want to drink, my headache seemed to intensify as the day went on. I ended up having dinner at jennifer's parents house (The Tilstons) and got to endure 2 hours of puke-related comments. They're a lovely family and always look after me when I come over so it was nice to see them. I kinda wish I had taken Fieke to meet them too, a real scottish family, plus their house has a great view of Celtic park! So I end up meeting with Andy have a few beers, definately good to see him, really. We'll be keeping in contact, I think we both kinda regretted our lapse.

yeah so that's Sunday, but it's not over. On monday it was Robert's birthday. In addition it was the night before Uncle Gordon (whose house I'm staying in) returns from America. Colin and I have done a great job at making the house look like a tornado swept through (in fact it might have, we wouldn't know!). So we both had to tidy the place up last night. bob and I had pretty much agreed that neither of us really could be bothered drinking but I said if he changed his mind just call me and I'd show up. My head still raging, he does indeed call. I was a bit reluctant to go out, but it was his birthday so there was no way I could say no. It turned out to be a great decision, Bob's a brilliant guy, i never see too much of him when I come over and i regret that. When he phoned me to say he wanted to go out I was just settling down to watch a movie with Col. So i called a taxi and had 4 minutes to get ready. I just pulled on a green shirt and wore the khaki's I was wearing, pulled on my old tatty leather jacket and headed out. I found bob and we caught a taxi to where a lot of bars and clubs are. it really was a great night. Nothing significant happened, well, some girl told Bob that she thought I had terrible dress sense and I got really really drunk again. not good. I suppose since I'm getting to the end of my trip (and my journal entry I hear you praying) I'm less inhibited about wasting time getting drunk.

Certainly I've got drunk quite a few times this year, but really you kind of have to. I'm sure you could say no, but since I was travelling by myself for some of the time, it's a good way to meet people. People in your dorm will tell you their plans for the night and invite you along and so you go, if only for the company. I've met some brilliant people this year and so I think it's the right thing to do. basically everynight or two you'll end up out, rarely out long enough to get drunk, just one or two beers to be social. But occasionally it did go further, always only when I felt it was safe (getting drunk in a foreign city is never a good idea unless you're sure you can get home safely and not sold into slavery on the way back to the hostel!).

This is far to long. The other significant thing is the update on Fieke and I. There isn't really one, we're both still trying to figure out how to handle the situation we're in. Obviously both really liking each other, but since there's a decent chance I'm going back to America I think we're both aprehensive about what to do then. i won't delve into the details and I'm sure you can figure out the basic problems for yourself.

heading to London tomorrow on the train to see my mum. I'm really excited and my sister might even be coming accross with ben and Clarissa (my neice!) and that would be awesome. I'm going to check Canada prices for a week, but my doctor did advise me against snowboarding on my knee (no surprise) but if I can find a cheap enough deal then I'll be on the plane to hang out. But if no it's okay cause i need to slow my spending until I'm sure that I can get back to a job in America and recharge my bank account. I'm still underbudget so travelling longer is an option, but i doubt I'll do that. The only place i still want to go is South America and I need to take some Spanish lessons before doing that. Maybe in a few years, who knows.

That's it! my hands hurt (from all the TYPING Rob, nothing else!)

Posted by Admin at 05:30 AM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2002

17/12/2002 London, England (Phill)

17/12/2002 London, England (Phill)

Very quick, I've only been in London for a few days. First night I met up with John (best friend from Austin, studying law here) and went to a resteraunt called the Texas Embassy. Really good Tex Mex food. Had a nice chat and some beers, no biggie. Then Felicity, Ben and Clarissa arrived so i got to play with my neice some more. Then I went out and met my mate Andy (Aussie i met in Finland
/Russia) and had a brilliant chat with him, sounds like hemight be in Edinburgh for New Years and it'd be cool to meet up with him. In the meantime I've decided to go meet Fieke in Paris this week so I'm hitching a lift back with Felicity and Ben tomorrow. Will babysit for them on Wednesday too, all by myself with a newborn. Clarissa just better hope she doesn't dirty her nappie/dyper or she's in for an uncomfortable wait for her parents to return... ;)

Posted by Admin at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2002

23/12/2002 Moutiers, French Alps

23/12/2002 Moutiers, French Alps (Phill)

Merry Christmas! Okay, so I just got back to London on the Eurostar this morning. Over the weekend Fieke came to Paris to meet up with me and we rented a car to fulfill my wierd goal of being in the snow. Think I was a bit dissapointed that I couldn't go to Canada so since I was in France and they have such great snow there right now.... Anyway, Fieke put up with my wierd idea and came along with me. Of course, she met Clarissa first but we wern't able to kidnap the snowball sized girl to bring her with us.

I rented the worlds smallest car and we drove the 8 hours to get there. I followed Ben to the highway and it was supposed to be pretty easy: "When I turn off, just go straight onto the highway and follow signs for Lyon" (in a french accent) :) Well, we got on the highway and confident me decided it was about time to tell a story frommy childhood (anyone who has ever taken a long trip with me is probably pitying Fieke right now..). Except I started telling this one where me and Kelly got blown off the road while returning from New Mexico skiing (I actually wokeup to find the car crashed off the road into snow and a rather shaken Kelly behind the wheel). Somewhere near the middle of the story I saw a sign on a neighbouring highway pointing to Lyon.. Dammmit! I had missed the exit! I was still actually a bit shaky driving in France (they're INSANE! on the roads). So this little hiccup didn't help! Anyway, we lost about 45minutes tring to get back on the 'Lyon' road...

We finally got to our hotel in moutiers and checked in, after 8 hours in the world's smallest car, but we hadn't killed each other. I think Fieke came close when i was chanting 'snow!snow!snow!snow!' as the Alps came into view! I was a bit hyper active!

We went to the resort the next day and since I couldn't ski cause of my twisted knee we took the ski lift up the mountain to drink hot wine and hot chocolate while watching all the snowboarders fall. I felt like a bit of a dork walking off the ski lift surrounded by well dressed skiiers, who were skiing. I was wearing a nice pair of jeans and doc martins... So...

Anyway, it was a really nice retreat away from the real world to see how the other half lives... We had a great time, returning to paris was only 5 or so hours, much better without all the silly french traffic. I swear you would sit in traffic jams for half an hour for NO reason. no wreck, no roadworks, nothing. Frustrating, but I played a game of 'flick off the dutch cars' while Fic played the same game with british cars. Don't think she was as entertained by it as me! i think I'm still 10 at heart.

Last night we got back to paris and I gave my sister and ben their Christmas presentand we went shopping getting home at midnight.

Anyway, we parted this morning at gare Du Nord in paris as I got on the train. I was sad to see her go, mainly cause we can't figure out what to do if I end up going back to America (I have an interview at the embassy on the 7th). It's pretty stressful but we'll figure it out. I don't think she'll fit in my hang luggage to smuggle her back to America, but I'm willing to try! :)

Anywya, in London now at my mum's getting ready for Christmas. She's well stocked up on Irn-bru (http://www.irn-bru.co.uk/) so things are looking good!

Have a great Christmas, thanks for all your emails etc..

Posted by Admin at 07:15 AM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2002

28/12/2002 Cobham, England (Phill)

28/12/2002 Cobham, England (Phill)

Well, there's good news and bad news. Good first: My Africa
pictures are through. Bad now: Most of them are ruined. Probably a combination of me dropping the camera in the sand after I had already cracked it open on the concrete. But maybe worse when I left all my rolls on top of a really hot radiator for 8 hours.... Yeah, umm sorry bout that.

Go check out the photo pages. I'll get most of the gaps filled in with pictures from other people from my truck. Most of South Africa
is a write off but the pictures wern't too important anyway, still got quite a few from the first Safari to the Serenghetti Plains.

Plans for New Years are simple. Catching a train to Glasgow on Moday with Chas. Spending the night at Uncle G's, then meeting Fieke on New Years Eve in Glasgow before heading accross to Edinburgh for the festivities. Then a hectic few days before taking the train all the way to Paris for Clarissa's bapitism. Then the interview at the US Embassy and hopefully if everything goes okay (goodness only knows) then I'll be on a plane around the 11th to Houston. My car is at the airport there and I'll drive it back to Austin, stay at my friend Rob's at first. Start work on the 13th, and it'll officially be over. You can't wait, can you? You're only reading this in case I quiz you about it, aren't you? :) Have a GRRRRRRREAT New Years (in a Tony the Tiger voice).

Posted by Admin at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)

December 31, 2002

31/12/2002 Glasgow, Scotland (Phill)

31/12/2002 Glasgow, Scotland (Phill)

Happy New Years! I ought to say it now cause there's no way I'll be able to in 12 hours time. Plan is to meet Fieke this afternoon and meet up with the group and head into Edinburgh. Edinburgh is definately one of the top places in the world to be, generally rated second after Sydney. 100,000 ticket holders for the main event, but I havn't managed to get tickets yet, although I do have a hook up I'm going to try. Otherwise all the clubs, pubs etc.. will be doing a thing so we can do that.

Managed to survive the British Train system yesterday, took ages to get from London to Glasgow. Although after this year I'm the master at sleeping on demand, so I just slept the trip away. Weather is pretty bloody cold up here, so the jeans and vest i chose to wear perhaps were a bit silly. Need to wrap up for tonight, it'll be subfreezing and so I need something (in addition to the Whisky) to keep me warm. They're expecting snow late in the night and tomorrow morning, woo hoo!

Have a great time whatever you're doing tonight, in Texas you can think of me at 6pm cause it'll be midnight here!

Posted by Admin at 03:57 AM | Comments (0)