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Saying goodbye

I left the lovely place I called home for a year just as the season they call summer started to change into the chillier winds of the upcoming autumn. For the longest time, I’ve hesitated to put feelings into words into this entry just days after I had handed in the biggest work of my life (s0 far!) partly out of sheer laziness, but because of the overwhelming sadness and the newly minted loss that’s churning deep in the tummy at the moment as I type this in yet another place which I should know like the back of my hand but is still to me so foreign. The happier...

Damaged in Newcastle

I’m talking about my poor brolly at least, that took a fair amount of beating in the blustery winds and heavy rains that accompanied my visit down south to Newcastle – a less than perfect backdrop for the famous 7 bridges across the River Tyne. Newcastle, suspiciously run-down and dreary from the train on a sunny day, looked like an industrial wasteland whose construction was abandoned in the 1800s after the Revolution in the rain and cloudy weather. But a step out from the Central Station and onto Grainger Street where the urban centre begins and the atmosphere as I imagine it would be minus the bad weather, would have...

Wandering (part of) the Black Country

I found out not too long ago from a quick perusal of the trusty Lonely Planet Guidebook that the Black Country was another name for the West Midlands area of England, the blue collar championing area where the ‘real’ people toiled and laboured at work before celebrating hard in a pub with tons of beer, and spoke (according to some websites that had forums) with the ugliest accents. A last-minute journey required me to go all the way to Walsall via Birmingham and I practically pounced on the opportunity to do something else other than travel the eastern Coast as I’ve been wont to do so much these days. The...

Heat in the Granite City

Yet another train journey, in a pale, pale imitation of Paul Theroux’s penchant for them. Only that this left me with an aching bum (never mind the rather nice countryside obscured greatly by fog that lined the North Sea east coast of Scotland), and a lingering bit of train feebleness (read: motion sickness). It was however, fantastically quiet in the Quiet Coach – that’s not really the norm by the way – and I tried to pacify myself by bringing a large book to lug around in the hopes that some academic distance might be gained in recompense for taking a day trip when it seemed just unnecessary. “Did you...

Elitist Boundaries

The airport bus was late, so the irate faces of the would-be passengers told me. The driver however, did apologise for the lateness, on the grounds of “people not being able to drive properly”. And then it was yet another 50 minutes from London Stansted to the town centre. Cambridge seems to typify the posh bit of the so-called ‘Englishness’. I found that its open spaces achingly beautiful, its grounds almost sacred (almost like Edinburgh with Hyde Park built in) but infuriatingly elitist, its city centre small and after a while…dare I say..boring.Punting is the highly-rated pastime and the order of the day. One punter tried to imitate a Venetian...

A better version of London

The Travel Companion (TC) was with me once again this month, and we decided to make the 5-hour train journey to London from Edinburgh. I was adamant that he should be the one to write this entry because our last trip to London last December was pretty much accidental. My own memories of London spent in the summer of 2007 were exceptionally good, and I had desperately hoped that TC would have at least enjoyed that same privileged experience which I had. This meant packing a heck of a lot of activities in the 3 days we were there (the majority of them consisting of visiting galleries in the day,...

Englishmen in (Old) York

I decided that England is a dreadfully dismal place to be in the whole of God’s cheery earth, as the National Express East Coast wound it way southwards towards York. Clear skies in Edinburgh soon became a memory as the train chugged through England – and fog intuitively seemed to roll in at the Scottish borders after Berwick-upon-Tweed, hugging the coast line and passing Holy Isle en route to Newcastle, Durham, Darlington and finally, York. Even the weather hates the English, I thought childishly. Thankfully the 2.5 hour-long journey to York was mostly without incident, save for screaming children who got excited over sheep and inconsiderate parents sitting in the...

Winter of (Dis)content

TC and I congratulated ourselves on the relatively fuss-free and brilliant KLM internet check-in procedure as we were ensconced in the Airport Shuttle (also pleased that the driver found the pick-up location) en-route to Edinburgh Turnhouse Airport, replete with our bagfuls of gifts and other stuff sitting behind us. Once more, the security checks and baggage drops seemed effortless, as we found a nook adjacent to the gate that had reclining chairs on which no one seemed willing to lie. Near-slumberous repose overtook us, until an announcement for our flight woke us into anticipation, and catapulted us into dread and unprecedented panic as we were told that this flight to...

Skye unravelled

The morning in Portree began with a frenzied photo-taking session of the harbour from the room window. Sated with Charlotte’s vanilla plums and the generous breakfast a little later, Bill proceeded to tell us that hordes of tourists queue up in front of their door, taking photos of the harbour. “The second game we play is figuring out where they come from,” he smiled in glee. Breakfast was heavy, and we were soon on our way once more. A855 towards Staffin from Portree is a single carriageway (and at times a single road!), and an RBS truck and other larger vehicles hilariously overtook our leisurely romp in the Vectra as they looked in...

The Daze of Skye

It started as an insane and unthinkable plan. Going to the Isle of Skye with either Rabbies or Timberbush Tours seemed to be the default mode of seeing the Highlands until the Travel Companion (the TC) remarked that a road trip in a rented car may not be that implausible after all. TC’s short visit meant that we had just that pocket of time to visit some place out of Edinburgh before he was dragged into relentless shopping, and he came rather prepared to join Scotland’s nationalistic fervour. “They [the Scots] will be very happy. My father said my jumper resembles the Scottish flag,” TC remarked. “And everyone seems to know...