Thursday, September 29, 2005

Well. Well, well, well, well, well. Hm.

I went to the Women’s Clinic and have myself a free appointment for Friday, thank you very much, Dr. Full Of Himself. Unfortunately it’s at 8:50am (damn it!) because I thought there would be the possibility that I’d be going to see Jamie and Hans that day, so I wanted to leave myself enough time. Stupid. Well, at the time it wasn’t, but now it is.

Anyway. This would be… Tuesday? That I made the appointment. The only way I know what day of the week it is is if there’s dancing (Tuesday or Thursday) or if everything’s closed except a few pubs which are open because what else is there to do when everything’s closed (or when everything’s open, because people drink constantly here) (and that would be Sunday, by the way).

Right. Then I went over to the train station so as to see about getting tickets to go off and see Jamie and Hans. There was a line 20 people long to get advance tickets, and so I waited. Luckily they’re clever to the point of having you take a number and then letting you sit down. Otherwise I think they’d have people sitting in a very organized line on the floor in front of the ticket counter.

It wasn’t too bad as I knew someone in the waiting area. Sulayman is the husband of one of my flatmates. He’s visiting her for a few weeks while on holiday from his studies in Greece. One of my other flatmates – the contra dancer – his wife is also not living in this country. She’s in the states. But there are plans for her to move here.

If I were less open minded I might make some kind of inadvertently crass observation about the curiosity of married people living so far apart, but I’m not, so I won’t.

Yes. So Sulayman is in a similar position that I am, in that he’s here with no real schedule. We catch each other around the house on occasion and end up chatting for a while as neither of us really has anything more pressing to do. Generally. I figured that we would eventually end up wandering around the city together, but it didn’t happen until I saw him at the train station.

He was planning to head south and was checking prices and possibilities. I got myself a return ticket to Inverness for the 2nd. The great thing about train tickets here is that you can use them any time (except Fridays) in the month after you purchase them. So I could go any day (except Fridays) and stay as long as I want. If I’m out there and decide I want more than one night then by golly, I don’t have to worry about getting a new ticket. And I can stop anywhere along the way, tool around for a while, and then jump back on the train and not have to pay any more money. Full of awesome.

And so it was that we wandered around town together for an hour or two.

Then home again, and then out for – oh yes indeed – swing dancing! Finally!

The swing dancers here seem to be much friendlier than those in the states. There are a lot of cliques in swing dancing circles there, but it didn’t strike me as being that way here. But then again, if you have a decent idea as to what you’re doing then people tend to be a lot more welcoming.

I chatted with people and danced a bunch, as I do. They do the shim-sham here, but it’s to a different song and in a circle rather than in lines. They also do a completely silly dance to some Squirrel Nut Zippers song that I need to learn.

I talked to Jacqi who seems to be involved in the community there somehow and she wants me to teach a blues dancing class which is very exciting and also highly terrifying. Which is silly because I’ve taught blues dancing before. But I really want to impress these people, and since my dancing was a little rusty I felt I really needed to work on that. Plus teaching on my own, plus teaching a large group. On my own. Eek.

I danced a number of times with Alan, who, you may recall, is the gentleman who walked up and introduced himself in an unprovoked manner. We dance rather well together and had a good time talking. He’s, in many ways, a quintessential Brit (being from England, firstly). He’s tall, slim, quiet, and seems exceptionally sober. I’m surprised every time he smiles.

He’s going away on holiday but asked if I want to hang out when he comes back, maybe grab a cup of coffee. I cut him off while agreeing that that would be great. I’m thrilled, but I’m starting to wish I could meet people that really did just want to hang out.

Also, I start to feel awkward when more than one person asks me out at a time (or in a few days).

They had a steal jam for two Aussies who were visiting. Their steal jams are so polite! At Guilford we shove people out of the way. Here they just walk up and wait near the dancing couple and then one person steps out. Wild. They announced hellos to them, and later announced one to me! Over the loudspeaker! They’d never do that in the US.

On Wednesday… very little. Grocery store. Looked at clothing. The same pairs of trousers and same shirts are getting a little old. I harbor this delusion that I look good in hats and so tried a number on, but was already well over budget for the day and so passed. They have the weirdest taste in clothes here. It’s exceptionally eclectic, going from 80’s punk to Victorian ruffles and stumbling drunkenly everywhere in between.

And so I found a sweater dress that was blue and gray striped and, needing a laugh, tried it on. Over my jeans, thank you. I’m not completely crazy.

And damned if it didn’t look good on me. But I didn’t want to drop £40 on it, so I passed.

Today I decided I was finally going to do something Cultural, so I went off to Holyrood Palace. Palace of Holyrood. Holyrooditude. What the hell is it called? Hang on. Palace of Holyrood. Okay. It’s where the queen stays when she’s in Edinburgh, which I gleaned wasn’t all that often.

You get a free audio tour, and while I usually eschew those things it was free, and as we all know, it’s all about the free. I followed and was followed by a camera crew that was going through the tour. A striking and oft-blinking man was interviewing another gentleman about the place. My favorite part was in the dining room, where the audio tour said that this is where the Queen eats when she’s here, and then overheard the interviewee telling Blinky that actually she wouldn’t usually eat there while visiting. Ha. Oops.

I thought it was pretty boring. I’m sure it’s exciting for people who, you know, care about royalty, but I actively seek to avoid any information on them as, let’s be honest here, they’re completely insufferable.

The ruined abbey and the gardens were much better. I wonder, though, that they covered the floor of the abbey with gravel. One would think that with all the people walking around and with the stones it would ruin the gravestones, which lie flat on the ground and aren’t protected. But hey, what do I know?

I was feeling fine upon leaving, and so on a whim decided to climb Salisbury Crags – cliffs that run a smidge of the eastern edge of town. I hadn’t had lunch yet but I had chocolate with me, so I figured I’d be okay. The first section is incredibly steep, and there’s sheer cliff on the left and a grass-covered drop off to the right. Despite the five-foot wide path I could feel my ABSOLUTE TERROR OF HEIGHTS make my legs a little shaky. But it also could’ve been the thinner air and the climb up there in the first place.

Lovely (fairly short) walk. Great city views. Four stars.

What killed me were the people who looked as though they were just on a brief jaunt up the calf-exploding incline, for which my knees will never forgive me. I especially liked the grandmotherly-looking woman who was making her way along the path as though it was nothing. And the men in suits!

Could I really be that out of shape?

Anyway. Walked to the peak, saw there wasn’t much reason to go farther, then headed back. Stopped for battered sausage and chips, and managed to gain back every calorie I’ve ever worked off in my life. And then some. It was right tasty though.

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