Sunday 29 July 2012

Sunday bike ride

So, yeah, wow, I must be back on a train, tippety typing away on my phone, as that seems to be the only place I actually get around to writing. Though headachey and more than a bit of a space cadet today, I still had a very nice 70 mile ride up to Cambridge. The heavens did open at one point, but thanks to the wonder of goretex I managed to stay dry and comfy. What always gets me about this area of England is how much it reminds me of the Upper Midwest, with rolling fields of wheat interspersed by oak woodland. It is not an unpleasant place. I bought my tickets back from Berlin for September, which means I actually have to do that now. I hope that isn't a silly idea! Yeah, so, my birthday. David and I had a lovely afternoon at Kew, followed by dinner with Robin. We all rushed home then to catch the opening ceremony. I have to say, with the exception of wheeling out embarrassing old fossils (Ali and McCartney) I thought it was fantastic, and I loved that I have been in this silly little country long enough that I actually felt a part of the whole ironic "in-joke" aspect of the whole thing. I don't know, I may have actually felt proud to be British? Now that's something that's going to require a few years of therapy! ;-) Anyway, I loved it. Back to work tomorrow. Gotta start working on the fellowship. Maybe I will actually have a brain tomorrow? Dare to dream!

Tuesday 24 July 2012


Sigh. Well, that certainly went quickly. Typing this on the 1430 back to London, just heading out of Edinburgh. It's always a funny thing, coming back here. It's one of the very few places I go from which I don't want to go back to London. I don't know what it is about this place. I've wondered before if maybe it was because it was where I studied abroad, or if it was because it was where I had my first kiss (I still know the guy, btw; he lives not far away from me now). I don't actually think that's it. I've changed and the city has changed. It was actually a little bit weird staying back in the dorms. It felt a bit incongruous, somehow. The city though still has a grasp on me though I can't shake. Last night, after a lovely dinner with Doug and James, I walked, through the rain, to the top of Calton Hill, from where the city spread out in all directions. I could see north, across the Fifth, to the distant Highlands, and the blue and pink late evening glow of the sun below the northern horizon (the rain was clearing by this point). I don't know, I hate to use words like "special" or "magical", because they are dorky and cliched and overused, but it kind of was, to be honest. Anyway, Jennifer and I spent the afternoon yesterday wandering in the pouring rain, her in a sensible long raincoat and me in my screamingly fluorescent waterproof bike jacket. We climbed Arthur's Seat, which is actually a little bit dangerous in cycle shoes with metal cleats, on wet rock. Still though, no one died, but it's quite possible that we got very very very wet. No matter. I still showed up to the nice little restaurant for dinner with Doug and James, looking like a drowned rat. I told them that Jennifer was going to a poetry reading, to which Doug said, "is she a lesbian?". No, just literary... So, not much sleep again last night. Princess and the pea could feel all the springs in the surely well loved dorm bed. I really am a delicate flower. Anyway, I got to have the minor thrill this morning of stealing food out of the dorm cafeteria. It wasn't as much fun though as when I was a student, when they actually had old women stationed at the exit to prevent such thieving. Now they just have signs. Cutbacks, I'm sure. ;-) So, yeah, it was a pretty cool time, and has convinced me that yeah, I want to cycle all the way to Berlin. Tomorrow though it's back to the splendour of Hackney and back to work. Yippydoo.

Monday 23 July 2012

Dorm glory

So, tonight I am tapping away in the Spartan splendour of Pollock Halls, a sprawling mass of University of Edinburgh dorms at the foot of Arthur's Seat. The last time I was in one of these dorm rooms was 19 years ago, as a student. It's quite weird actually being back in them. Partly it's a bit nostalgic, but it's definitely peculiar as well. For one, there is just about no one here, except for some Olympic athletes, who, unfortunately do not seem to be in this building, but more because I feel like I have tried to step back into a very different part of my life. The basic structures are still there, but the people and activities that completed it have moved on. However, Jennifer is also in town, which is the main reason I'm here. Jennifer is the reason I first came here as well, so, in this way, it actually feels complete. She and I both decided to go to Edinburgh, 20 years ago, after meeting two very sexy guys from here at this dive of a hostel in Vancouver. It was that experience of that trip that led me to the UK, yet, oddly, this is the first time we have been here together. Jennifer met Craig this evening as well, whom I'd not seen in years. Anyway, today was a 60 mile ride through the beautiful Scottish Borders. It was all hills and one proper pass, and I loved it. The only slight issue was the wind, which was relentless, yet, luckily, mostly at my back. I did think I was going to blow over though, at least once. Today has upped my courage level though for cycling to Berlin. I think I'm going to do it. I keep talking about it, yet I get scared away by distance. I'm definitely not ready for this ride to be over yet. I think it's time for a long one. And, it's also time for bed. Lots of wandering to do tomorrow...

Saturday 21 July 2012

Spread eagle

So I am, in the aptly named Spread Eagle Hotel in the bustling metropolis of Jedburgh, Scotland, not too far from the English border. I never seem to actually write anymore except when I'm out cycling, when I actually have to tap this out on my phone. I just never seem to get around to it. Work, gym, sleep, rinse, repeat. I guess I've been feeling a bit in a rut of late. There is one work related opportunity I'm going to try to follow, a fellowship through UCL for GIS work in a non academic establishment. Anyway, I can only try! (As I'm not too sure how to pay for another degree). Right, I digress. So, yeah, I'm spread eagle in the Spread Eagle Hotel, apparently Britain's longest continuously licensed hotel (I read the brochure). It's on the main drag of Jedburgh, a pleasant, and, at the moment, very quiet Border town. I spent the day cycling 71 miles up from Penrith, via mucho many hills. It was generally a fab day, marred only slightly by having to get up at the crap of dawn, and by my bottom bracket, which is creaking and clunking and generally being a pain in the ass. Hmm, an unintended pun. Anyway, I have to say I really am just about my happiest when slogging my way up a long grade. There is probably something wrong with me, but that's another story. ;-) It's good to be out of London for a bit. For one, it reminds me how much open space and how many really friendly people there are in the UK, but also bc there's a lot of the country that really is gorgeous. Can't wait to start my Europe riding next month! Anyway, I'm so exhausted I'm going to start to dribble (and I'm looking at what I've written and it's mostly drivel, but whatever, and bite me ;-) ). More tomorrow, I guess. Oh, btw, a really good way to blend right in to a small quiet town is to walk around in very noisy cycling shoes with cleats and wear a neon jacket. Apparently it's not always quiet though. During the festival they throw around some sort of a ball that's supposed to be an Englishman's head. Those wacky Scots... ;-)