Sunday, January 11, 2009

Its a New Year!

I had a chat with my mother-in-law on the phone the other day, who commented on my post about how difficult a transition this can be sometimes, moving to a new country and trying to settle in and all. And she said she thought it was good that I didn't try to avoid the truth that sometimes it isn't all wine and roses. (well, no wine at all for me these days actually...) I appreciated this feedback a lot. Now I don't feel I have to, or even could for that matter, stick to a particular portrayal of our/my experience here, which would frankly be pretty difficult seeing as something is always changing, both circumstances and perspectives.

After our Christmas and New Year's holiday for example, I felt a kind of peace or settled-ness that I had been wanting to feel since I arrived. I attribute this partly to the really good times I got to spend with Aaron, some of our new friends like John and Vibeke (who is from Norway), and a friend from my high school/university days in Edmonton, Sheila, who is doing a post-doc in Bristol, but came up to Glasgow for Christmas holidays.
We only hosted Sheila in our flat for a couple of nights since our couch is short, she has cat allergies, and she was spending Christmas proper with some other friends, but she was playing part of her vacation by ear, and we ended up spending much more time together than anticipated and had a really lovely visit. One day, we saw a play at the very interesting city centre venue called The Arches, which makes use of a huge and varied space beneath the Central train station, then we window shopped in some Goth-y stores, found our way to Winterfest in George Square where we had hot chocolate and marshmallows, and then topped it all off by going for sushi!!! (nothing raw for me of course, but still it is one of my favorites...) Aaron and I then the next day took Sheila to a small, slightly hidden tea house in the University area called Tchai-ovna, which, as it outlines is their 16 page menu, compiled in a small binder, was inspired by popular student tea houses in the Czech Republic and Hungary. Their variety of teas is overwhelming and it is truly a bohemian atmosphere where 3 hours can pass quietly and quickly by in easy conversation and comfy chairs. Sheila and I had to go back again the following day.

Then there was Christmas and Hogmanay (New Years) with John (a fellow student Aaron met on his first week here and who quickly became a real "mate") and his girlfriend Vibeke. John is from Yorkshire, in the northern part of England, and is doing his degree here in Economic Social History. He has been a welder by trade for years, and welded Aaron's broken Oilers key chain for him. His lovely girlfriend from Norway, and who is doing her PhD in Middle English, is named Vibeke Jensen. John apparently chuckled the first time Aaron told him what my name was. I have been tempted recently to call her "Veebs", but I don't know how that will fly.
We were invited over to John's flat for a fabulous (and apparently traditional) Christmas roast beef dinner, which also featured a traditional Norweigan snack - a kind of lamb jerky, which Aaron really tucked into. I was a little surprised when Vibeke told us about it and then proceeded to pull an entire leg (hip to heel) of dried lamb out of a sack, but I think Aaron enjoyed the carve-your-own approach.
We also spent New Year's with them at the Park Bar, a Highlander/Islander's pub which we had been to before, and which John favours in his preference for traditional "Old Man" pubs. There was live music all night, some classics played like "Dirty Old Town" and "We will die or be free cried the Bruce",and there was even some impromptu country dancing. Then at midnight, lots of kissing, and "Auld Lang Syne" played on the bagpipes. This might have been a time when I could have had that one glass of wine that people say you can have once or twice during your pregnancy, but I still feel weird about it so I didn't. But I had a grand time any way with my three gingerales!
It was a really great and fun night, and was a good way to start the New Year, with friends, with music and with a lot of laughter.

Next postings: Some holiday outings around Glasgow with Aaron, and our pre-Christmas weekend in Invarary.

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