Archive for April 2005

Aberdeen, Saskatchewan

I’ve been away for work again, this time off to the gorgeous west coast to start planning a field program in one of the lochs this summer. It almost feels like I’m planning a vacation, although when it started raining while we were out in the middle of the loch in a small boat it wasn’t so heavenly. Scotland’s west coast is very different than the eastern bit we live on, here the fertile fields look like Southern Ontario with some castles thrown in. North Western Scotland is far more barren, more rugged, and more remote. It’s clear why the tourist trail makes a bee-line to the west, but I also love the lushness of the east, the colour of the grass outside my office window is a shade of green that can hold it’s own against the purples and yellows of the mountain heather.

The first of our (hopefully) long string of visitors arrives at the end of May for a weekend which will give us the kick we need to get the spare room organized. Right now it’s just a pile of boxes, with everything we didn’t have a place for immediately being relegated to that room while the living room and kitchen look clean and neat. Yes, our belongings from Vancouver have arrived (finally!) and we’re horrified to realize just how much junk we actually have. Or perhaps I’m horrified, and Cory’s too busy hiding things so I can’t find them and throw them out when he’s not looking.
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Travelling for business and for pleasure

Hamburg is a gorgeous city. In the brief time I had available I walked down to the port and saw some of the canal system, drank coffee at a cafe early in the morning before the shops were open, and ate dinner under the city hall with collegues. I’ve never seen a basement with such high ceilings before. Hamburg feels very European, in a way that Britain never does, and I’d love to go back there and explore the city properly when not constrained by meetings and networking (which in itself was very fun).

Cory’s had a different type of working experience, he was away for two weeks doing a survey on some mechanical systems. I’ll let him comment on his experience himself, but I think I can safely say that I had the better work trip. Conferences in Europe will be one of the huge side benefits on my job.

This weekend though we’ve planned a different sort of trip. We’ve rented a car and are driving up to Inverness to stay with Noel and Margaret again at their fabulous B&B. I’m so excited about having the break and getting a chance to travel.

Things are looking smoother, and Aberdeen feels a bit more homey now that Cory’s back from his trip. Don and Pat (who’ve lived in Austria and Japan) have assured us that it just takes time, and it seems they’re right. (And I ran into an old friend from UBC who’s in Hamburg doing a post-doc and realized that our move’s been far easier than moving to a non-English speaking country). Even if there is another tough spot still to come, I’m starting to feel at home 1/3 of the way around the world.
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day trips and hospitality

Cory had to work on Saturday so I took a day trip down to Edinburgh to meet up with a friend of Suze’s who turned out to be lovely (not that there was any doubt she would be, friends of friends are normally good people to meet). We walked around the city & the park surrounding Arthur’s Seat and chatted for 5 hours straight. I’d forgotten what it was like to chat, to be able to talk without thinking about interesting inconsequentials. It was wonderful. And after seeing Edinburgh in the rain last time, it looked like a different, and more attractive city.

Now tomorrow I’m off to Hamburg for a meeting, a three night trip. These trips, plus day trips to Banchory and Stonehaven, are starting to add up to some cool experiences. Perhaps the best of all of these side trips was an unexpected one though. Drinking in a pub on Union Street, Cory met a group of guys who sort of work in his industry. After several pints on several Friday nights, one of them offered to give us a tour of the Dee and Don valleys. He picked us up on a Sunday morning and drove us around showing us all his favourite places to go. At one point, high up in the hills, we pulled over to the side of the road and sat amid the heather drinking Irn Bru and soaking in the sunlight. It was one of those great days that make everything else worthwhile.
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