Sunday, April 29, 2007

Twelve miles

As training for the MoonWalk on June 16th, my teammates and I walked from Cramond to Musselburgh on Saturday. It took just over three hours and afterwards we treated ourselves a delicious lunch of cheeseburgers and ice cream sundaes at Luca's in Musselburgh. Surprisingly, it wasn't all that difficult and, although I was knackered on Saturday evening, I'm not even sore today. Fantastic! More long-distance walking to come in a couple of weeks.

Addendum: Oddly enough, I got sunburnt only on the right side of my face and neck. We were walking more or less directly west to east along the coast, so my right side was directed south for three hours from 11am to 2pm, but I never realised it would make such a noticeable difference when it came to UV exposure. Weird.

Homage to Catalonia

I've been back from Barcelona for a few days now, but haven't quite got back into the swing of posting yet. We had a lovely relaxing time in Barcelona, with beautiful weather and lots of cerveza, cava, ice cream and tapas. It's certainly up there as one of the most stunning cities I've ever visited (the history, the architecture, the museums, the palm trees!) and the public transport systems were very clean and impressive. I must go back and revisit it in the near future because there was so much to see and do and four days simply wasn't long enough. My recommendations: El Xampanyet cava bar down the street from the Picasso Museum (drink the yummy xampanyet (the local cava) and the sardine tapas), the Gaudi-designed Casa Batllo, purchasing a Barcelona Card for unlimited travel on the subway and buses and free entry into quite a few museums, and taking a leisurely walk around the parks on Montjuic, near the Olympic stadia.

While wandering around the Born neighbourhood, we came across this closed shop. Unfortunately, the shop stank of mothballs, so I didn't buy any of their otherwise lovely yarn when we went back the next day.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Barcelona bound

I'm off to Barcelona tomorrow for four days, so I'm afraid there won't be much blogging this weekend. However, I promise to post lots of photos and things when I return next week! I'm away to pack...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Shout out

My oldest brother, Richard, is in the May issue of Popular Science magazine. As our mother would say, "Isn't he clever?"

He's the one standing on top of the white pickup holding a notebook.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dance me round and round the kitchen

The race for Dallas mayor is on and I've received my overseas ballot in the mail. It always feels a little weird that I'm allowed to vote in local US elections, given that I haven't lived in Dallas for twelve years and not since I've been of legal voting age, but I appreciate my enfranchisement and do generally vote (even though after the 2000 election debacle, I suspect my overseas vote isn't necessarily counted). In order to make an informed decision, I've been trying to read up on the candidates in The Dallas Morning News. It's not very easy, though, so I don't feel any more enlightened and am still undecided.

There are Scottish MSP elections coming up next month, as well, and in which I can also cast a vote (yay, dual citizenship!), but I don't yet know anything about my candidates for that race, either. I'd better get reading the paper.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Saturday night's all right

Laid up on the sofa with a bum leg again, I stayed in and watched TV tonight (I reinjured my calf muscle again today doing exactly the same thing I did four weeks ago, but it's now even more painful and swollen. I'm going to go to the doctor about it on Monday). Any Dream Will Do, the talent quest for the next Joseph for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, is fantastic! My current favourite is 28 year old Daniel from London -- his voice is gorgeous and he's got a beautiful smile. My secondary faves are Lee, Seamus (the oldest contestant at 35) and Keith, although Keith is a perhaps a little too youthful and skinny to look good in a loin cloth.

Unfortunately, Chris has decreed that he hates the show, so I may not have many more opportunities to tune in, but I'll do my best!

Book review: White Noise

I just finished reading Don DeLillo's White Noise this morning. I'm not entirely sure what I thought of it, so perhaps I'm not in the best position to blog about it, but I'm going to anyway.

It was a pretty quick read, and I found J.A.K. Gladney's children quite endearing -- particularly Denise and Heinrich, who were both infinitely more mature than their parents -- but I didn't sympathize much with any of the adult characters. I just didn't care about Jack or Babette's mortality and wished they'd stop whining.

However, there were a few lines that struck a chord with me; in particular, this line of Jack's in Ch. 33, addressed to his father-in-law:

"Routine things can be deadly, Vern, carried to extremes. I have a friend who says that's why people take vacations. Not to relax or find excitement or see new places. To escape the death that exists in routine things."

Thank goodness for my trip to Barcelona next week! I can't wait to escape my mundane routine for a few days and revitalize myself.

I found an interesting article
here on DeLillo's annotations on the opening page of the book. His appreciation of the tactility and spacial awareness that goes into creating his books appeals to me, as well as his sense of rhythm in the text.

Chai: Adventures in Tea

Last night, we went out for dinner and drinks with my friends to Chai: Adventures in Tea on Candlemaker Row. I'd only been once before and had a pot of exotic tea, and I really liked the atmosphere and the decor, particularly the brightly coloured silks upholstered on various interesting little poufs and small chairs. There was a DJ playing, but it wasn't particularly busy for an Edinburgh Friday night and had a very nice, laidback vibe.

Unfortunately, they've recently changed their menu and it's pretty much limited to salads and sandwiches, which were fairly mediocre; there wasn't even any dressing on my chicken and avocado salad. Also, their stock of white wine was very low; twice we ordered a bottle off the list to be told that they didn't have any of it left. The boys enjoyed their pints of Staropramen, though.

Regardless, we had a great evening of chat (seats on a Friday!) and I'll definitely return for tea and nibbles, but not for dinner, unless they revamp the menu again. I've heard that Edinburgh's Stitch 'n Bitch group meets there on Wednesday evenings, so I might go along to that finally one day soon.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

I'm generally not a great fan of Easter, but I happily awoke late this morning to find a big Terry's Chocolate Orange Easter egg from Chris at the side of the bed. Hooray! Orange chocolate is my favourite. I've already eaten about half of it, and this is in addition to the Lindt Egg and Bunnies I got from my Secret Easter Bunny at work and the Mars egg I bought myself, which I've been gradually working my way through since Wednesday (better to do that than binge today, I thought. Ahem...). I gave health-conscious Chris a Green & Black's Organic dark chocolate egg, which he has yet to open, but he says he's looking forward to it. If only I had the same self-control when it comes to chocolate.

Chris's parents are arriving from down south later this afternoon, so we've been cleaning and tidying this morning. It will be the first time that his mum has seen his new flat, so he wants it to look its best. However, he also decided on Friday night to start laying wooden flooring in the studio, so there's quite a bit of vacuuming to do!

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable and lazy Easter Sunday.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Flow it, show it, long as I can grow it

I finally carried myself off to the hairdresser today for a long overdue haircut. It must have been at least six months since my last chop and I had lost my fringe altogether! However, now it's back! I'm really please with my fresh 'do (even though I look a little sullen in the pics).

Given that it's Good Friday, I was pleasantly surprised that Ishi was open today and that they had an appointment available this afternoon. I'd been meaning to visit the salon since it opened in Marchmont a year or so ago, but hadn't yet managed. All the staff were very friendly, the products all smelled good, my hairdresser -- Rachel -- listened and gave me what I wanted, and I didn't come out looking like a wet seal, but with lots of swingy body. (I hate it when hairdressers OD on the straighteners and wax, plastering my very fine hair to my head.) A very successful trip and I'd recommend Ishi to anyone looking for a new hairdresser in the Southside.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Meat Loaf and me

I've known since I was a child that the singer Meat Loaf and I shared the same birthday (he's exactly 31 years older than me), so I've always had a fondness for him, but I only just discovered today that he also grew up in North Dallas. I wonder what else we have in common -- hopefully not too much. I may have to read his autobiography.


Mildly horrified by the large purple bruises that have appeared on my right calf two weeks (!) after crippling myself, I decided to do a little research into what damage I might have actually done. On Wikipedia (which seems a silly and simple point of reference, given the number of medical textbooks to which I've got easy access), I found that the subentry on Calf Strain (Torn Calf Muscle) describes what happened to me exactly, from my thinking I must have somehow hit it against something (despite there being nothing obvious that I could have banged against; it felt like someone swung a bat at me), to the horrible 'pop', and my subsequent agony writhing on the floor. So now I know. Thanks Wikipedia!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Latest FO: Sizzle

I finished Sizzle last week and have already worn it out and about a couple of times, over a button-down shirt, and will probably wear it through the summer on its own. I'm really pleased with it. It was made from about four and a half balls of Rowan Cotton Glace yarn on 3.5mm needles, which was lovely to work with and has a nice, smooth sheen. I made a slight measuring error with the length of the armholes and, as a result, the neckline and everything is a little higher than it was meant to be, but it's still wearable and not worth correcting. I think I might make another in a slightly heavier gauge and in a cotton blend, rather than pure cotton.

Wendy Bernard's patterns are really well-written and easily executed, so I've bought the pattern for Flair, her take on the swing coat. It's on the needles already and will be made from pale blue 100% cotton Patons yarn that's been kicking around my stash for a couple of years.

Love otters

This is the sweetest thing I've seen in a long time. Watch right to the end.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Weekend whirlwind

This weekend has blown past with incredible speed, and I'm completely knackered, but I've had a great time. I took Friday off work to attend a lovely wedding at Polwarth Parish Church, followed by an elegant champagne reception and dinner at Howie's at Waterloo Place (which always reminds me of the posh restaurant Ferris Bueller blags his way into). The bride made almost everything herself, from her dress and the cakes to the invitations and the butterfly-shaped cookies we each got as favours. It was very impressive! A ceilidh and a disco followed in the evening and I'm still aching and a little bruised from the Dashing White Sergeant but, amazingly, blister-free (I packed a pair of ballet pumps in my bag). My mum made my dress for the occasion, which I was very pleased with, if I did flash a bit too much skin (I didn't heed my mother's warning to reinforce the neckline; I will next time).
On Saturday afternoon, Chris and I went to Edinburgh Zoo, ostensibly to see the penguins on parade, but we missed it by just a few minutes (we'll go back). However, we did see the four Asiatic lion cubs, which are really more like adolescents now (after we'd seen them, Chris asked where the cubs were), and an adorable, striped baby tapir, which was only born a month ago. My other favourites included the beautiful jaguar with big, soft paws the size of saucers dangling akimbo from his perch, the incredibly hyper and endearing pygmy hippos running and splashing around their enclosure, and the sea lions, just because they were so graceful. The Gentoo penguins were nesting, and I caught this shot of one standing over its egg; the one behind it was seemingly lying on its chick, to the distress of one of the onlooking children ("Mummy, that baby's going to DIE!!"). There aren't any giraffes at Edinburgh Zoo, so we're going to have to visit either Blair Drummond Safari Park or London Zoo sometime in the near future.

Today, the sun continued to shine, so we got out on our bikes and cycled along the coast from Leith to Cramond. It was the first lengthy ride I've done this year, so my backside and thighs are giving me some grief already; here's hoping I can sit down tomorrow. We had a lovely lunch (scampi, salad, chips and a Deuchars each) at the Old Chain Pier pub in Newhaven, where we watched sailboats, tugboats and seagulls go by outside the window; it was very peaceful and a great way to spend a sunny Sunday.