Nice People are Creepy

Nice People are Creepy

Maybe it’s because I’m Scottish, but whenever someone is overly nice to me, I immediately become suspicious and jump to the conclusion that their niceness MUST have an ulterior motive. I know – it’s pretty sad, but I can’t help it. Nice people are creepy.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this view. On the plane over to Canada, I could easily have pointed out who was Scottish and who was Canadian just by their response to the air hostess’s suggestion that we give “the beautiful Macie” and her “cute, cuddly penguin” a wave. The Canadians giggled, waved, and said a big hello to Macie and her penguin, while the Scots bore an expression that was part confusion, part terror. I, being an extremely nervous flyer, wanted to get off the plane. Anyone who made a bunch of adults say hello to a toy penguin could not be trusted in ensuring a safe flight.

Although, having been in Canada a few days now, I do know that Canadians are actually, just nice. It’s who they are. You walk into a shop and they come bounding up to you, smiling, and say, “Hey, how are you today?”, and what’s more, they actually care about your answer. The first time this happened to me, I almost dropped my bag, and ran out of the shop, screaming, “Take whatever you want!!!!!!! Please don’t hurt me!!!!!!!”, but now I manage to stutter a “fine” and then swiftly, but calmly, make an exit.

It’s funny thinking about it the other way around. I mean, if we are scared of Canadians and their friendliness, what on earth must they think of us?! The other day, for example, we were sitting in a restaurant and as I was reading the menu, Dad slapped me on the head, telling me to hurry up and go order. I laughed, but as I got up, the family sitting next to us looked absolutely horrified. I almost had to tell them that it was just a joke and that the slap didn’t even hurt, but that probably would have confused them even more so I just went and ordered.

Hmm…having thought about it, it’s probably us who are the weird ones.

Aaaaanyway, despite this cultural divide, being in Canada has been pretty great. We used to come every summer, but haven’t managed to make it out in the past four years. The last time I was here, I had just finished school, just passed my driving test and was excited at the prospect of university. Now I have just finished university, just got my degree and am terrified of the prospect of full time employment. How times change.

The journey here was pretty uneventful. I’m getting better at flying thanks to Fly Without Fear. It’s a self help book (I know, I’m sorry) that miraculously, helps. I think it’s because it’s written by a pilot and not someone who tells you to just breathe and count to ten. His voice is so rational, calming, and he’s even a little funny – I think I may have a crush on him. But I really would recommend it. If it can transform me from the pill-popping, Rescue Remedy drinking, hysterically crying lunatic that I was, into a calm, almost normal passenger, then I’m sure it would work for you too. I mean, I still have those moments of incredulousness that everyone is acting like it’s completely normal to fly at thousands of feet in the air in a hurtling tin can, but now (thanks to that sexy beast of a narrator Captain Godfrey) I can contemplate these thoughts without having a melt down – like a curious, open minded spectator of a surreal play.

Mmm…breakfast (pancakes, bacon and maple syrup) is calling. My sister thought I looked a little skinny and peaky when I arrived (too much time spent in the pub) so she’s been feeding me up, and I’ve certainly not been complaining.

Not Quite the Waltons

Not Quite the Waltons

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So the family dinner was quite nice. Mum didn’t actually make it for dinner, but we saved her some leftovers (minced fajitas – how ridiculously difficult is it to eat these things?!). She also brought pudding (chocolate eclairs and creamy meringues), but she’d accidentally kept them in her car all day in the sunshine, and so they were absolutely disgusting. Well, that’s what my brother and dad said anyway – I, at the time, had already eaten an eclair, and while I thought it tasted a bit funny, I powered through because I love nothing more than a nice, big cream pie.

Stop it.

The conversation around the dinner table mainly consisted of mum and dad swapping their barrister stories from when they were getting divorced. Dad said that mum’s was a right nutter, but I couldn’t really understand why. You had to be there, apparently. They also told us that they mainly fought over money, and that they didn’t really care who got the kids so that was nice. Nothing like the loving devotion of parents, eh? They then talked about their childhoods:

Dad: You know your mother was constantly high on marijuana when she was younger?

Mum: No I wasn’t!

Dad: Yes, you were.

Mum: I was not, I hardly ever smoked! I just drank a litre of cider every day.

Well, that’s much better mum.

I actually get a bit stressed about this. My parents were absolute rogues when they were younger. My dad started smoking when he was 11 (11!!!!!) and left school at fifteen, and mum’s parents went back to Ireland when she was 16 and left her in Glasgow with her two older sisters (you can imagine the shananigans they got up to – there were a lot). But they’ve done alright for themselves. It’s like dad said, one day they just cut their hair and went to work. I don’t have any hair to cut! I don’t smoke, I don’t constantly drink, and I would much prefer staying in with a cup of tea and reading a good book over going out and partying all night, and because of this, I am absolutely certain I am going to fail at life.

I’m actually going out to celebrate an 18th tonight. It’s the daughter of my mum’s best friend and we’ve sort of grown up together. The last time we saw them, her mum said that she couldn’t believe how sensible we are – because we’re their spawn – but her daughter hit the nail on the head, saying, “It’s really no wonder we’re so sensible. We grew up putting YOU to bed.”

That shut her mum up.

Ach weel, we are who we are, and as much as I wish I could be more crazy and fun, I’m not. I told my brother of my worries yesterday after a mammoth Facebook stalking of someone’s gap year photos:

Me: I worry I’m a bit boring sometimes.

Brother: Why?

Me: Well, everyone goes off travelling by themselves and sees the world, and hugs monkeys and things. They seem to do so much.

Brother: Well, why don’t you go off travelling? You could easily do that.

Me: But I don’t want to. I don’t like travelling – it scares me.

Confused glance from brother.

Brother: Riiiiiiiiight. So don’t do it then?

Me: But that’s boring!

The conversation sort of went round in circles. He’s not boring. He does all kinds of reckless things. He was once drunkenly playing with flares on a boat, and I was raging, telling him not to be so stupid and to give them to me. He laughed, asserting that I should just “live a little”, before the flares blew up in his hands, and, crying his eyes out, he had to be taken to hospital.

I bet you’re thinking that the moral of this blog post is going to be that, sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to be sensible, but my brother ended up having the most blissful sleep, gassed out of his mind while I was curled up on a chair in the hospital reception next to an old Greek man who did not stop farting.

It may be time to grow my hair.

Old Before Our Time

Old Before Our Time

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Yup. Ullapool’s lovely, but we’re probably the only people here who are under the age of seventy. This is not something that bothers me though as I LOVE old people. Like, really love them. I love speaking to old people, films about old people, books about old people and just old people in general. Well, apart from my Grandma – she was a bit of a scary lady. Terrifying, really.

Aaaaanyway, so yes, we’ve reached Ullapool. It was a nice journey, actually. I insured my boyfriend on the car so I was able to just kick back and have a wee snooze. I woke up when we arrived and it was absolutely pissing it down – pretty standard weather for here I’m guessing, although yesterday was quite sunny. I keep trying to tell my boyfriend that I’m actually a little sunburnt, but he’s adamant that the redness of my cheeks is due to the copious amounts of red meat and butter I eat.

RED MANSo we checked in and I’m pretty sure the hotel owner took a double take when he saw us. It did feel as though we were 12 year olds playing at being grown-ups, but he took us to our room and after another wee snooze (we definitely belong amongst the older generation), we headed out to wonder around the town and try a pub called The Seaforth – the place where I finally got my long awaited for mussels. I was going to take a photo of them to put on here, but I couldn’t stop eating. They were served in a creamy, garlic sauce and were absolutely delicious. I don’t know why you never get a spoon to go with your mussels because the sauce is definitely the best bit. I usually use one of the mussel shells to scoop it out the bowl, which I think actually adds to the flavour, but you do end up with sticky, fishy sauce all over your hands and running down your arms, but I don’t mind that.

We then headed to another pub called The Ferry Boat Inn and we were lucky to bag a comfy seat by a window that was decorated with fairy lights and overlooking the harbour. Ah, there’s nothing quite like a pint and good view to make you feel content. There was also a couple of couples sitting next to us who I was hoping to make friends with and as we were leaving the pub, I saw my chance! One was taking a photo of the three others so I offered to take a photo of all four of them. I was met with the reply, “Oh yes please, you’ll know how to work this phone better than I do”, but I didn’t. I ended up taking a video of them and had to ask my boyfriend to do it. They then told us to have a good night and wondered off in the opposite direction so my hopes of friendship were dashed.

Ach weel.

The next day, we had a proper wonder around the town and came across lots of jam and short bread and tartan. Classic Scotland. We then went on a wee boat trip to see some seals. We saw the seals and I guess they were cute, but I couldn’t help flinching at their shimmying down the rocks. I know they’ll have tough skin, but it still looked sore. The tour guide was a bit useless as well. He didn’t tell us anything. He just parked the boat next to the seals and we sat there for half an hour, listening to people go “Awwww…” He then took us around the corner, and parked there for another 15 minutes, but I wasn’t sure what we were meant to be looking at. There were a few seagulls and a lot of rock, but that couldn’t be it, could it? I think everyone else was a bit confused as well. There was one confused “Awwww…?” and that was it.

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Back on land, we returned to the hotel for another snooze before setting off for dinner and this time we thought we would try The Ferry Boat Inn as all the food we saw there the night before looked really good. And BY JOVE it was. I really wanted to get mussels again so we got some to share for a starter and they were even better than the ones I had the night before and what’s more, SHE GAVE US A SPOON! Finally, a woman after my own heart. It was funny that it was only one spoon she gave us. It’s like she knows drinking the sauce is only something some people do. We both had scampi and chips for our main course, which I’m sure was delicious, but I hadn’t eaten in 12 hours and before eating my mussels, I’d had a pint of cider, so naturally, I felt a bit drunk and sick. My boyfriend told me to stop eating my scampi, but I powered through and sure enough, the scampi soaked up the alcohol (hehe, drunken little scampi) and I was right as rain.

We also decided to go to The Ferry Boat Inn because they had an open mic night on so we thought we’d be in for lots of music and laughs. We were. A group of older people joined our table and didn’t stop talking about sex – or “bonking” as they called it – the entire night. They come to Ullapool every summer, by the sounds of it, and rent a bungalow that sleeps around ten people. They hit tea rooms by day and pubs by night and all I have to say, is that retirement looks AWESOME!!! After a few pints, my boyfriend then got up and played, and by the end of the night, I had to fight the old ladies (and a few old men) off him with their walking sticks.

So that’s us up to date. This morning I had haddock and a poached egg for breakfast – trying to be healthier – and it was nice, but I missed my sausages and black pudding. Tomorrow, there’s always tomorrow. As for now, we’re away for a wee drive to Gairloch.

But not before another snooze.

Road Trip!

Road Trip!

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Another summer, another road trip to the west coast of Scotland and this time we’re heading to Ullapool. This is a place I’ve been wanting to go to ever since someone told me about a restaurant that serves the most delicious mussels and chips. Nom nom nom. It’s also meant to be quite pretty, although the weather forecast is absolutely dismal, which means my effort to secure my bikini bod was entirely wasted:

Stonehenge tourists braving the driving rain

I guess it’s just as well I didn’t actually secure my bikini bod.

But I’m excited, despite being met with confused and horrified glances when I told people I was going to Ullapool. They asked me what there was to do there, to which I replied, FISH AND CHIPS! Which is probably the main reason I’m going, but there’s also boat trips and seals and pubs with alcohol and board games and…ok I’m out. I would love to go swimming, but it really looks too cold. I’m still bringing my bikini though.

So I’ll try and let you know how it goes and prove those people who said we were crazy, wrong.

Bon voyage!

Freshers

Freshers

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Is it strange that I am enjoying Freshers a lot more now that I am not a Fresher? I don’t think so. There will be others who think of Freshers as one of the best weeks of their lives, but if I could turn back time…well, I wouldn’t. Although, I’d happily take the first year work load.

So that’s me back in Glasgow. For good. And I’m loving it! Maybe it’s because I know it’s my last year here so I’m all filled up with love – I love my squeaky, taped up bed; I love my crazy carpet that clashes with everything; I love the mice – actually, no, I will never love the mice. They look weird and scary and are getting too cocky for their own good. But I do love everything else and really will miss it come next year. I don’t even want to think about next year – I think I accidentally told the Spar I could work for them, but I’m hoping I passed it off as a joke. I mean, it’s a nice job and everything, but I would like to work somewhere else – got to keep Better Together happy as well. Oh God, I wish I was there for the referendum – Better Together must be absolutely shitting himself right now and I’d love to see what stops he’s pulling to persuade people to vote NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! He’s probably manically burning every single copy of Braveheart.

So now that I’m back in Glasgow, I should get back to the tourist-in-my-own-city blog, although it might just be a bunch of theatre this year – RADA’s made me a tad obsessed. I saw A Streetcar Named Desire last night and holy fucking cow, was it INCREDIBLE. Gillian Anderson was Blanche from her very core and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. On our first day at RADA, they asked us what “good” theatre was and I still don’t know – I mean, I know when I see good theatre, but I can’t analyse WHY it’s good apart from the fact that you get that nice feeling in your tummy. And goosebumps. I almost what to get a bus to London tonight so I can see it in the theatre. There’s a debate in the Theatre World right now about streaming plays in cinemas. Some think it’ll stop people from going to the theatre and that once again, the modern world is taking something personal and making it impersonal, but I am so happy they do it – I would never have seen this play if they didn’t. And I don’t think it’ll make less people go to the theatre as I think theatre lovers will always choose seeing it in the flesh if they can and it just gives those who can’t afford the time and money to travel to London, the chance to see these amazing plays. If you haven’t seen Streetcar, GO BOOK TICKETS. The whole cast was good, but Gillian Anderson was something special – I don’t know how she gets on the stage and does that every night. It’s one of the most haunting plays I’ve ever seen.

GUSH, GUSH, GUSH.

I’m going to see The Full Monty next week, which is meant to be hilarious. Also, I think there might be naked men on stage – woop, woop! Jokes. This doesn’t make me excited. Nudity on the stage actually makes me very uncomfortable (AAARRRGHH A PENIS, AAARRRGHH A VAGINA; WHERE DO I LOOK; WHERE DO I LOOK?!?!?!?!), but at least I’m not sitting at the front. I really don’t understand the people who sit at the front. A play is so raw, personal, and in the moment – who the hell wants a moment staring them in the face? I like to be a least 50 feet away from any moment.

But as for now, I should really, really, REALLY do some work on my dissertation. I have the scariest supervisor in the whole University and if I don’t have any work to show after FOUR MONTHS, he will kill me, stuff me, and then pin me up in his office like a stag head as a warning to all students.

But maybe I can fob him off with some milk chocolate hobnobs…

Blogging on a Boat; Day Two; Mayonnaise and Tabasco

Blogging on a Boat; Day Two; Mayonnaise and Tabasco

IMG_0995Today, I woke to sounds of laughter and convorting and splashing at four in the morning – my brother and my sort of brother were back from their night out and they had brought friends. It really did sound as though they were having loads of fun, but it also sounded as though they were very drunk and as I was very, very sober, I decided to roll over, plug into Pride and Prejudice and go back to sleep.

Lamest twenty-one year old ever.

But I did head to the bow of the boat today as we set sail! And it was going very well as the seas were a lot calmer. But then Dad turned on the generator, which turned off all the navigation instruments and made the boat lurch to the right and proceed to go round and round in circles until we figured out what the hell was going on. I swiftly returned to the safety of the cockpit once again, but maybe, maybe tomorrow will be different and I’ll get a full sail out by the bow. Although when I asked Dad what the chances were of dying if you fell off a boat and he replied with, “Man over board equals man dead”, my courage levels did indeed plummet and so we shall see.

Isola Ventotene proved to be a lovely place, although after dinner there, my courage levels in ordering the unknown have also plummeted. I went for “Il Crudo” and what I got was a plate of raw tuna and prawns. I usually quite like raw fish – it tastes so fresh and delicious – but I find the texture a bit difficult. If I was to eat it, I would only have a tiny bit of the fish to get the taste and a lot of rice or toast to mask the slimy texture, but last night I was confronted with just a big pile of the slimy fish. No bread or anything. And so I ate as much as I could and then swapped with my brother who absolutely loved it. He had ordered octopus, which I’m also a bit iffy about (tentacles) but I was hungry and it wasn’t as slimy as the tuna and prawns and so I gulped in down.

Something else I’ve noticed about Italians other than their laid-back attitude is the fact that couples do not talk to each other when they go out for dinner. I’ll have a look again tonight, but last night there were four or five tables of couples, eating their dinner in complete silence. I thought that it was nice that they were so comfortable with each other…or perhaps so accepting of the fact that they have nothing to say. Makes another difference from Britain where people tend to go purple with the effort of carrying on the conversation. If all else fails, MENTION THE WEATHER.

My brother has just turned up, brandishing a bowl and asking, “Josie, can you do this?”. He wants me to make my mayonnaise and tabasco dip. It’s really easy – it’s mayonnaise and tabasco – but he still insists that I make it. Lazy cow. But if you haven’t tried it, you should give it a go; it’s delicious with some bread or crisps! Although everyone (bar my brother and I) thinks it’s really spicy, but apparently Dad used to put tabasco in our milk when we were little and so we’re used to it.

I have no idea whether or not to believe this.

Blogging on a Boat: Day 1

Blogging on a Boat: Day 1

I woke today feeling slightly nauseous after all the red wine I drank last night and so I have decided that from now on I shall just stick to vodka. Definitely the healthier choice. I also had quite a fitful sleep – any time the boat lurched I’d sit bolt upright and claw at the walls until I realised that I was perfectly safe and not locked up in a mental asylum. They – whoever “they” are – have not come for me as of yet. I did, however, wake up to a policeman banging on the door and demanding to see our papers. Oh joys, I thought, Dad is going to be arrested again. But thankfully, everything was in order and after TWO AND A HALF HOURS, we were allowed to be on our way.

So yes, one thing that I have observed about Italians is that they sure take their time. I remember reading about this in Eat, Pray Love and thinking that it would be lovely to live in Italy, away from all the hustle and bustle and busy nothings in Britain, but since arriving, I have found out that I just cannot hack their laidback attitude. I am trying – a lovely German girl I befriended at RADA kept telling me to “stop being so bloody British”, but alas, I cannot.

What I can hack, however, is their food and scenery. The menus have all been in Italian so far (I know, shocking) and so it’s been quite fun not knowing what on earth we’ve ordered. You certainly learn things about yourself – for instance, I thought I hated anchovies, but that’s what I got for my starter last night and they were delicious! I also thought that clams in spaghetti just wouldn’t go, but turns out they do. And so the food may be slow in getting to you, but it sure is delicious when it arrives.

As for today, we have anchored up near Isola Ventoten, which looks very pretty. The journey here was bliss. I sat at the bow of the boat, revelling in the brisk sea breeze and thinking that sailing is perhaps the only thing that I am not scared of. A rather big wave, however, shooed me right back into the safety of the cockpit from which I was not to venture out again.

Maybe tomorrow.

As for now, I am away for a swim as my face is melting and my thighs may have to be surgically removed from this chair.

Over and out, folks!

P.s. I tried to write about RADA, but it was so gushy and emotional that it has been confined to my diary. Far too many feels for this blog.