Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Beating Auntie Di and my Mom to it!

Okay, I know it's been a while. I have to say I'm just happy that I'm still blogging more than both my Aunt and my Mum. We're all terrible procrastinators, but I feel as though I've won a small victory by getting this done before them! So, HA!

   Moving on. Christmas was wonderful here, and it was a white one at that. I heard we had more snow than Salmon Arm! Last year I couldn't shovel enough of the bloody stuff. We woke up Christmas morning, and Tara and I exchanged gifts in our room. She absolutely loved all that I got her, especially the ring. She gave me a very moving card, and then told me my gift was in the mail! A Nikon D50! It's older, but will be a great starter camera. I hope I can take some good pictures in Thailand to better express what its like there.

    We got out of bed and headed out to the lounge to open up our stockings. Mine was packed with candy, a small puzzle, and a STIG flashlight key chain, among other things. After Stockings, Tara, her brother Graham, and I went to the Stables to feed the family horse and put him out into the field. We then returned to the house, and opened Presents! Gifts of Note: We three kids received an indoor Skydive experience, I got a pair of Tartan Boxers from Tara's family in Scotland, Tara's Mum and Dad bought me a really Nice 6-Nations Rugby Jersey... Lots of nice stuff all around.

   The last few days have just been really lazy. Tara has re-taught herself how to sleep-in, which is nice. The snow is all gone now, washed away by rain and warmer temps. Last night I went out with another good friend from Australia, Leah. We had dinner, then went to see Sherlock Holmes. Really nice, as with the friends of a week ago, to just catch up reminisce. Tara and I are heading to town tonight for dinner and a movie. Will be nice to have a Date night! And, fingers crossed, my Camera arrives tomorrow. Will be busy snapping away, so will post some photos. Here are some of our drive North to Scotland: Tara, her Gran and her Aunt Sandy, an old Abbey, the view from our B&B room, and The M6 in snow...

That's all for now. Not much of a post, but too much has been going on for me to put all my thoughts together properly. Will post soon! See you later, B

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Sooooo, been busy with driving all over Britain visiting Tara's family, then having Christmas! Will make sure to do a proper post in the next few days... Too much going on!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tara is here!

After all the waiting! And flying! And waiting! Tara came home last night around 11pm, and we just had a great chat for a few hours. We went into town today to get some maintenance done on her car and she needed to do some shopping. Things are going well, but there is definitely a transition period... One gets so used to living alone (or in the army in her case) for 4.5 months.

   Southeast England is at a standstill today, as there is 4in of snow on the ground! I've been stifling giggles all day watching people slam on brakes, gun it up hills, and pour water out of a kettle to melt the snow away from their tires. No joke. They had police officers on the high street in the nearest village with shovels directing traffic and helping people get unstuck. If there ever was a need to invade Great Britain, forget the Artillery - bring the Snow Makers from Whistler.

   That's all for now. We were planning to drive up North to Leeds to see Tara's friends, then onward to Scotland. May not happen now as we'll be bound to the house as the slush turns to ice... End of the world as we know it, honestly!

See you later, B

The Kite Runner

So, the other day on my train journey back to Tara's place, I finished The Kite Runner. I picked up this book... apprehensively. I've never had a desire to read about the middle east. I'm not sure why, it has just never interested me. The were two reasons I did decide to pick this book up. One, it came so well recommended, and two, I've been wanting to know more about Afghan culture and their history for various reasons. Were my reasons validated?

   Yes. All the praise and acclaim directed at this book was well deserved. Also, I came away with a new understanding of Afghanistan and the country's tumultuous past and present. As some of you may know, this new understanding and education was something I've been searching for recently.

   The book is also very emotional. The protagonist, Amir, endures a great deal throughout his life. Love, loss, and the like, though what really struck me hardest (and caused me to get a little teary eyed), was the stark contrast between past and present Afghanistan. I never realized, due to my own ignorance, that Afghanistan was once a prosperous country with a Monarchy and all the things we take for granted. Now, its cities are reduced to rubble, its people controlled by fear, terror and violence, and the Taliban rule for themselves alone.

   I can only ask that if you, like I was, are the slightest bit in the dark as to why the western world's armies must be in Afghanistan, read this book. It may not fully change your opinion, no single book can do that, but it may answer a few questions. I cannot wait to get my hands on A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini's second novel.

 The Kite Runner @ Amazon.ca

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cancelations, delays, and an Oxford Circus.

Yesterday I went on an Adventure. Tina, Tara's mom took me to the nearest train station. There, I purchased a ticket and headed for London, but more precisely Liverpool Street Station. Upon arrival I left the Underground Station, and walked not 5 minutes to the Train Station. I purchased an Open Return Ticket to Needham Market in Suffolk. This place is North/North East of London. The train journey was about an hour long. Not bad. The whole trip, with transfers and all was closer to 2.5 hours. Still much more simple than the National Rail website made it out to be.

   Needham Market was cute. Sleepy. One High Street, or "Main Street" and not much else. I was early, so I walked up the High street both directions, and didn't see anything of note except a lovely old church, and a Lotus Elise.

    Fearing frost bite and finding nothing else of interest, I headed for The Swan. The Swan was the pub where I was to meet 2 friends I had not seen in over 3 years. Rip (James is his real name) and Sarah lived with myself and others in our house in Cairns for a few months, so we had been quite close. Well, I had an hour to kill so I ordered myself a drink, found a booth, and dug into my book. Soon, they arrived, with a surprise in tow. Nick Noy! Another one of the guys that lived with us! I had grin on my face for the next few hours that couldn't be shook. We talked, BSed, gossiped, and remember the good old times in "House of Patricia." I;m not sure where the name of the house came from... When we had finished our few drinks at The Swan, We headed to Nick and Rip's flat for some Dinner and Nintendo64. Talk about a nostalgic night! WE played Super Mario Kart64 for a couple hours and just howled with laughter. And curses. Freakin Lighting bolt!

   By 10:30 Sarah had to leave and the boys needed to get to bed. Oh the days of having to get up for work! We said our goodbyes, and I went to bed on the sofa. A really, really good night! The next morning I was up by 9am, and the guys had left for work. I got dressed, and made my way to the train station. I figured it'd be just as easy getting back to London. Ha. 10:50, next scheduled train. Okay, plenty of time to head back to that Coffee house, grab a Tea and sandwich to go, then catch the train. Arrive in London around noon, so I'll have time to wander and shop a bit. Ha. Got Tea, Sandwich, train canceled, next one at 11:50 delayed 'till 12:00. Ok. Back to coffee house, 2 more cups of tea, an hour of reading my book. Back to the Train station. delayed till 12:22. It's snowing. I'm cold. I want to get to London!

   I did, in the end, cruised around on the Underground to get to Oxford Circus. It was recommended to me by a tourist info guy. Holy Moly was it ever a circus. The whole street is like a shopping mall, but due to my Canceled/delayed train its now RUSH HOUR! I found a shoe shop though, while narrowly avoiding smashing into many other pedestrians. Tried on a few, got a pair i liked, then made a B-line straight for my train home! Good riddance. Couple of real rude people in London too. I'm looking at you Black Lady That Snapped at Pannini Seller then didn't even buy anything and Greasy Haired Saggy Jean Bottom Guy who butted in front of me! Stewie is too...
   Reading The Kite Runner right now. I'm pages from the end, and it has exceeded all my expectations and lives up to all the hype. It is a moving book. How moving? I cried, but I'm like that. I'll say more when i'm done it...

   See you later,
Tara's here late tomorrow night!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Top Gear

Alright, well, here I am. I made it to Great Britain.

   My one-night stop over in Calgary was nice, if cold. Thank you's to both Alden and Courtney for Pick-ups, drop-offs, drinks, and sleeps! A bit of a long wait in the airport before my flight, but it was not the longest I've had to endure. As for the flight? The BEST long haul flight I have ever been on. There were honestly 30 people on the entire Trans-continental Airbus. We all had an entire row to ourselves. Nothing like stretching out across 3 seats and sleeping for 6 hours!

   Tina, Tara's mum, was there to pick me up, despite my dreams and hopes Tara would be there instead. Sadly, she was in Wales as she said she would be, hiking through the "Mountains." Don't take that the wron way - i love Tara's mom! One can hope though... After winding our way through both Gatwick Airport and Enlgand's Motorways, we made it back to the Cochrane home. Once here, Tina and I just relaxed, watched TV, had some amazing Omelettes, then went and did some shopping. It was obscene how busy that Department store was, on a Sunday. I now understand why so many English leave here! Cramped roads, cramped shops, cramped everything. I did though, manage to stay up from 3 am English time, to well into the evening. Take that Jet Lag! Or so I thought.

   So I woke up at 2pm this afternoon... I do place the blame on Tara's Alarm Clock. The same Alarm Clock which has been taunting me for the past year and a half... The same bloody Alarm Clock that STOPS trying to wake you up when you clap. Or talk. Or yell at it. How (d)effective is that? Due to my sleeping in, I missed my chance to purchase a SIM card for my mobile phone. I'll plan that for tomorrow. Again. I did take Max, the family dog for a nice long walk this afternoon. We went for a short exploration of the neighbourhood, woods, and fields. Some nice homes in the area, yet all so different than Canadian homes. Now, I'm just chilling on the couch watching my favourite TV show ever, Top Gear.

   A few comments on the Yukon. I had an amazing Visit. To see friends again, family, and even the Territory was great. On the drive my Grandpa and I took to Haines Junction to see my Aunt and her family, I came to realize what I love about the North. For one, you can drive for 2 hours on an entirely empty highway. You can see nothing but glittering icy mountain ranges, frosted trees, and clear, crisp, blue sky. Okay, and the odd car. But still. Second, some of my greatest friends still live here. The visit with my Auntie Di, Uncle Ken, and their three munchkins was great. Helped remind me that a great deal of my family is in the North, and I love that. It was also... cold. Very Cold. -25C  with a windchill and dropping cold. And dark. Dark from 4pm to 10:30am. And... still Whitehorse. No, It was home, and where I grew up, but I don't think it will ever be my place of residence again. Sorry guys. There are too many other places in the world with so many more opportunities and experiences. If these places happen to have winter, chances are they will be shorter, lighter and warmer.

See you later,

Saturday, December 12, 2009

So... tired... must...

...Stay awake. Trying to avoid the ol' Jet Lag when I get to England. Courtney was nice enough to stay up with me into the early hours of this morning BSing and drinking wine, so I think my chances of sleeping on the plane are good! 4ish hours of sleep. I've still got a little under an hour until check in opens, and to be honest, this is taking waaaay too much effort. I think I'm going to go and watch Eddie Murphy's Delirious.

   See you Later!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hangover #1

Soooo, dancing at Coasters. What a riot. I very much needed to let loose like that. My little sister drove me down, and i have to say it's odd having my little sister drive me to the bar! I joined friends already there, and hugs were traded all around. Many faces I didn't expect to see, which was a great bonus. I very quickly drank 2 rye and cokes in quick succession. Okay, when you ask for doubles (tall) in BC, its pretty smooth. Here, a tall is in a regular glass! STRONG. Holy cow are they strong drinks. In no time at all the liquid courage had done its job and I was out on the dance floor with Kate, TD (kate's sister), and who ever else would join us. I kept up a rhythm of dancing for a while, then joining the "cool" folks waiting at the table just watching us. Also, keeping up a steady consumption of double Ryes, Jack Daniels, and the like.

   While waiting at the bar for a tasty beverage, I bumped into a few girls I went to high school with. One of them was having their birthday party, so they were out in numbers. It was great to see so many more familiar faces! Definitely a bonus of having one's hometown be so small. It is bloody easy to see everyone! Our night carried on with more dancing. As is the norm, by midnight the dance floor had been overtaken by more than just Kate and I. We had company to look foolish with! We danced on till around 1:30am, and decided to head off before we all fell asleep. Tim Horton's was a must on the way back to Joel's house, and we each devoured a bagel. Upon arrival at Joel's house, we poured another drink each, put a movie on, and I attempted to not pass out. I was successful! For half the movie...

   I awoke the next morning, early, on the floor. Crawling back onto the couch, I went back into a broken sleep, untill 10:30 when my sister came to pick me up. Sunday was filled up with Brunch at Ricki's with Rory and his girlfriend Shannon, then a bike building fest with Rory at the bike shop.

   I miss the young naivety that comes with having both parents' health insurance cover the cost of things like teeth and glasses. After my optometrist visit today I was shocked to have to shell out $270 for the appointment and a 6 months (2 boxes each eye) supply of contacts. It's going to be another $310 at some point, far down the line, to have the lenses replaced in my glasses. *sigh* After the hit to the bank this morning, it is uber budget time!

Off for a swim at the Rec Center. Hoping to avoid getting fat and lazy again this holiday!

See you later,

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Chrsitmas" #2

Well the last 2 days have been nice and relaxing. Yesterday, yes, I slept in! It was a day of not doing much. Mom and I spent close to an hour chopping an inch off the trunk of her christmas tree. All for better water absorption! It was quite the sight, her sitting on the wrapped tree, and me in my pj's and sneakers sawing like a madman through the thick trunk with the teeniest of saws! We got so frustrated in the end (surprise again!) we busted out the big guns. Two jigsaw blades and more frantic sawing later, we were done. We then hauled the seemingly petite tree up the stairs, leaving a trail of fir needles to be embedded in the carpet. The trunk fit into its new stand with only a little massaging, and soon stood in all its 8 foot glory tightly wound in twine. The snips came out, and in no time at all we began to fear of a death brought on by smothering of fir boughs. The tree was expanding beyond anything we imagined, breaking loose from its polyethylene bonds! Honest, it was that dramatic. In the words of my youngest sister Abby, "Yeah, it's big."

   The rest of Friday was spent lounging, running errands with my mom, and eating. Errands was more exciting than hoped, as I bumped into quite a few familiar faces. Cindy Rusnak, Akiko Allen, the old Staples Crew, and even faces i knew with no names to go along! After dinner that evening, Mom, Abby, and I headed to the Qwanlin Cinema to watch New Moon (of the Twilight Saga).

   Okay, now I'm going to rant a bit. These Whitehorse/Yukon/Qwanlin Cinema's are absolutely hurting. Every citizen should stop going to the movies, and force Landmark Cinemas to do something about it all. The screens are ancient and very nearly hung on the roof! You sit mid-theatre and you need to crane your neck. And don't even get me started on the sound... Salmon Arm's Cinemas are are community run and owned through the Salmar Community Association. All of their profits go into the cinemas or the community. Not only do they have one 4xMultiplex built by them in 1997, they still use their old Cinema with modern Digital Projectors. If a small place like Salmon Arm with so many other activities available can provide a quality, cheap (Matinees $5, Film Society Saturday Screenings $6) movie going experience, why is Whitehorse so behind the ball? No wonder my parents never wanted to come to the movies with us.

   Now I could bore you with a rant on the Twilight Saga, if you're still reading. Or, I could send you to read another blog or 2.
My thoughts on the twilight franchise...ALL of them
Twilight Saga: The legal way to take advantage of little girls

   Tonight mom and I are heading into town for some dinner, then we'll be picking megan up from work and heading home for our Christmas! Abby and I exchanged gifts earlier today, before she left with Steve for Dance class. After Christmas this evening? Dancing in Coasters with Rory, Kate and Joel! Perhaps others aswell... it should be an awesome time. About time my liver took a hit, eh?

    Mom and I also had a photo session today after she snapped Abby's school picture! Here is one of my favourite shots:

I cannot wait to see Tara. I am getting so excited!

Well, See you later,

Friday, December 4, 2009

The start of a 3 month trip abroad.


Well, here we go. Off again. I am now 3 days into this trip. That's 2 days of procrastinating, tossing around the idea of starting this blog, yet not making the slightest effort to get it off the ground. I was tired, honest. So here it is. I would like this to be a place where my friends and family can come to catch up with what kind of shennanigans I'm up to while abroad for the next 3ish months. I'll tell you now, please do not have high expectations. I'm a serial procrastinator notorious for ignoring the simplest of tasks. A blog is a high order. So, here. We. Go.

    I flew from Kelwona to Vancouver on Tuesday, and spent the night at Gramma Anne and Grandad's. I find as I get older, I enjoy these visits more and more. Perhaps due to the more adult conversations? The fact I am not locked away in the computer room "MSNing" with friends I've just left? Either way, it was a visit I thoroughly enjoyed. Tuesday night in bed I struggled to sleep. The strange bed didn't help, nor did my excitement. After attempting to sleep for half an hour, I turned the light back on and continued to read The English Patient, eventually finishing it. Then, I slept.

   Wednesday morning. Got up early. Airport. Check bags. Wait. Start to read The Road by Cormac Mccarthy. If there is one thing (out of many) I love most about traveling, it is that I get my head out of TV land and back in to the pages of books. Wednesday was a day filled with surprise reunions with family, lunches with ladies, and many a chat with old friends back in my hometown of Whitehorse. By midnight, The Road was another book added to the "Done" pile. I read fast, by the way.

   Today, Thursday December 3, has been another great day.  I slept in, surprise! My friend Kate then picked me up, and we went to her new place for a... Well we coined it a "Blunch." I believe brunches need to take place well before 2pm to deserve their name. Eggs, sausage, beans, fried potatoes and coffee. All with a side order of chat about love, life, and everything between. Our friend joel joined us in town for another coffee and dinner, then I came home and here I am now, typing away. To my own surprise!

Now... How to sign off? What parting comment should I end each of these staggeringly good reads with? My Auntie Di signs each of her blogs off with "'til next time," Always leaving us expecting more greatness... I always remember a book I read as a child. It taught me, never say goodbye, as it's never goodbye. Always say, "see you later". So,

See you later,