Tuesday, May 30, 2006

OK, well I wish this were a 'woohoo I'm in the UK and starting my wonderful adventure' post, but it's not. This is one of those posts I truly don't want to write, but I feel compelled to publicise this before everyone hears it through the grapevine. As I simply don't have the time or energy to write a bunch of individual emails, explaining what's going on and I'm not sure who will really care...I'm simply going to tell y'all here.

I am in the UK, in Edinburgh specifically, however it has not been a smooth ride. I was detained, interrogated and my luggage searched upon arrival at Glasgow Airport. Immigration officials asked me numerous questions, poked through my papers and personal belongings, held me in a detainment room for three hours and then proceeded to tell me they were denying my entry to teh country because thye did not believe I was here merely as a visitor. I can't go into all the details, but basically they had their 'suspicions' based on circumstantial evidence that I might be planning to stay longer than three months and find employment. It was a horrible, horrible experience and I wouldn't wish it on anyone else. I told the whole truth and they twisted it all around to make it seem like I was lying...when in fact I volunteered more information than they would have readily been able to access.

I've been trying to sort it all out and called on the help of the local Citizens Advice Bureau and my former employer back in Canada, but it seems I am in a corner. The immigration authorities have absolute power and there is nothing I can do about it. I have to return to Glasgow airport on Saturday for a formal determination of whether I will be granted entry into the country, but it is just a formality and it looks like I will be flying home via Zoom on Saturday at 3.00 pm GMT.

So, yeah. I am blown away by this and not so happy about it. As you can probably understand...

Friday, May 26, 2006

So, it's my last full day on PEI for a long while. Tomorrow I take off into the great known...well, kind of. So I'm landing in the familiarity of my home away form home, Edinburgh, and couch surfing at Ailbhe's for the first few days, but after that I am heading down to Berwick-Upon-Tweed, where, if all goes well, I will be setting up residence for the summer. I haven't been there before but Jen & Kelly assured me it's a lovely little town and I've checked it out abit - there's a gym, leisure centre, organic store and farmer's market, so I think I'm set! It's also on the coast, so there are apparently some really nice coastal walking/cycling paths. Me thinks I should train fora triatholon. Except, wait does that involve swimming? Because I quite swimming lessons back when I was five years old - the instructors were way too patronizing for my taste....

Yesterday I opted not to go see my nutritionist and instead I ate a number of sinful foods. I also did some productive things, like go for a jog, clean my room and pack my luggage. I learned that :

a) I'm NOT allergic to dust, or I would have suffocated in my sleep, my room was just that bad
b) I've picked up some travelling tricks ove the years that will benefit me greatly - my carry-on is 24 lbs..I put everything heavy in it and when I go to check in I'l have my sister watch over it, so they can't weigh it and charge me for extra poundage
c) I am addicted to chocolate - no big surprise there but even I was impressed by how I polished off the pan of Chewy Gooey Looies that I had made. (recipe to follow at bottom of this post)

Right, so today I have to finish packing, cleaning and burning Cds for my personal MP3/CD player. I should have just broken down and bought an iPod. Maybe once I start making bigger bucks..or any bucks for that matter. As it is I already spent A LOT of money this week on gym clothes, Asics sneakers (Go to Hasheem's Convenience on Fitzroy St..way cheaper than Sports Chek!), a BritRail Pass, books (The Stroy fo B and The Time Traeller's Wife) and other stuff I can't recall..mostly toiletries I guess.

This week I've been saying a lot of goodbyes. I'm not grat at goodbyes, which is to say it doesn't usually sink in that I am leaving and won't be seeing these familiar faces for a long long time. That being said, it was difficult to say goodbye to my dad and then to follow that up with farewellls to Keri, Patrick, Jen & JOan, and to think I've already said goodbye to Adama and Tash. Tomorrow till be the most goodbyes though - Mom, JIm, Sahra, Henry and, if she shows up at step class, Rana. Bah I say to goodbyes.

I also discovered afew great things this week:

1. A yummy Thai take-out on Pownal Street - same block as the Legion. I highly recommend it for quality of food, prtion size, friendliness, selection and because you are helping a local family.
2. Amos Lee - a brilliant singer/songwriter. He only had one CD out, but I recommend you get it if you like music.
3. People will surprise you every once in awhile. And that's a good thing.

Chewy Gooey Looies

1/2 C. Corn Syrup
1/4 C. Honey
1/4 C. Margarine

Heat ina saucepan, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and is bubbling throug. Take off heat when bubbling and immediately add the following:

1/2 C. smooth peanut butter
1 C. graham wafer crumbs
1/4 C. cocoa
1 1/2 Cs. Rice Krispies or Just Right or other small-flake, low sugar cereal

Stir well and pour into greased 8 x 8 or 9 x9 pan. Refrigerate until cooled. Cut in squares and devour.

Friday, May 19, 2006

OK, I have to admit that I am getting just a wee bit excited about my trip to Scotland now that it is imminent!! I've been throwing out phrases like 'Cheers' and 'Brilliant' on a regular basis and, well, I've been dreaming about British Pounds. No, not simply day dreaming about them - I've actually had dreams where I'm out and about spending British pounds! Oh how I am looking forward to the simplicity of tax-included shopping and seeing ten pounds cover my bill on a grocery shop!

This week I had a catch up session with my roomies from Scotland Summer '05, Lindsay & Kelly. Wow, there was quite a bit of news to catch up on! We shared stories and a Boost bar ( I had refrained from eating it since September '05 - a point of pride for this chocoholic!) Of course, seeing them here reminded me yet again that Scotland will not be the same upon my return - most of our friends from the first round are no longer there..they are back in Canada. This is, of course, with the exception of Mr Lucky to Have an Ancestry Visa (Brandon)! Nonetheless, a few of my European friends remain includingAilbhe, Gary, Helene, Margaret and Derek and me thinks the greatest part of anyu adventure is in meeting new and wonderful people, so I"m scouting out ways to go aboot that (Canadian phrasing toatlly intended there!)

This is my last weekend on PEI . So far it's gone wonderfully. Kicked off Friday night by watching the Da Vinci Code with Keri and catching up with here. The movie was good - not amazing or astounding, but v. good as movies go and it was true to the book. T be honest, I think I may have enjoyed it more if I hadn't read the bok and didn't know anything about the story because it's supposed to be intrigue, but, well if you know what's going to happen...it kind of isn't intriguing! I had no problem getting past the fact that Tom Hanks was playing the lead role - he seemed a natural for it and I don't think his stardom took away from the character.

Sahra & Henry showed up late on Friday night and when I got home from the flick we had a brief chance to chat and the such, then it was time to hit the sack. I could not resist reading a few more pages of Long Way Round -this is a book narrated by Ewan McGregor and Charley Booreman about their motorcycle adventure, which began in London and ended in New York, crossing through Siberia and a few other areas along the way! It's brilliant !!!

Saturday AM was regular step class, then I went home and jogged 4 k, then lifted weights for 40 minutes. Some might say I am overdoing it. Oops. Anyways - Saturday afternoon was extremely productive because I SOLD MY CAR :) ! The lucky new owners are a youngish couple - he's from the States, she's from England. Her father happened to be visiting and came to check my Echo out too. We had a bit of a chat - he seemed suprised that I actually liked living in Scotland! Anyways - happy, happy, joy, joy - my only commitment has now been dispersed of!

Saturday night was fab! I called up my newly discovered neighbour (and hairdresser to boot), Patti, and followed her and her boyfriend into Ch'town. We were heading the Renee's wedding dance. We ended up doing a bit of pre-drinking at the Inn on the Hill then caught up with the wedding party et al at the Charlottetown Hotel for some grooving and moving. There were quite a few nice looking men..of course they were all Serge's friends, and none were from PEI (big surprise there! I guesss Quebec is the place to go!). Anyways- there also happened to be a lovely veggiee plater and TWO kinds of wedding cake just sitting out there waiting to be eaten. . .

Today I paid for last night's sins by doing two hours of working out at the gym. Now I am home and eating my breakfast at 2.12 pm.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

OK folks, it's two weeks to D-Day. Somehow, the third time around it doesn't seem nearly as daunting, yet still just as surreal. I mean two weeks from today I will be getting on a flight to Glasgow, Scotland and I have absolutely no idea when I will be returning to Canada, when I will see my family again, when I will care about the fact that Harper is our PM, when I will ever be here to catch a season of Canadian Idol and when I will next savor the sweet, sweet taste of North American style Peanut Butter again.

Aside from landing in Scotland and crashing at Ailbhe's for a few days, it's all up in the air. That' right, mega-planner Shannon is going to try flying by the seat of her pants (which she sincerely hopes her butt will continue to fit into upon returning to land of tempting chocolate and haggis!).

Ideally, I'd like to stay in Scotland for the length of my tourist visa (90 days) and then, by that time, have sorted out and arranged my next adventure, which will most likely be Teaching English in Korea or Living it Up Down Under in Oz or NZ.

So..yeah. It's kind of strange. I have started asking myself why I am leaving again. The truth is, I don't know if I really have a good answer, but here's my general rationalization, which sunds pretty good when I get the spiel down pat:

Firstly, I very much miss Edinburgh. I miss everything about the city - Princes Street, with its lovely gardens perfect for lounging an afternoon away and Edinbugrh Castle perched on a rocky cliff, dominating the skyline. From rocking out at the Walk About, trying to catcha glimpse of the Old Guy to the high energy bands that fiddle it up at Drop KIck Murphy's, the cobblestone streets and quaint little shops, the way you can while away a Saturday drinking outside a pub or laying in a park and not feel quilty about it at all. Oh, and did I mention the chocolate and pic n mix.

OK, so that's why I am going to Edinburgh, but as for the rest of my adventure....

WEll, quite frankly, there isn't another, better option here in Canada that appeals to me. My greatest fear if I stay here is that I will find myself in a decent-paying job that is just that - a job. It pays the bills, it provides me with something to do from Monday to Friday, but it does nothing more - it does not stimulate the mind, it does not offer me the cahnce to meet new people from all corners of the earth, it does not encourage me to think outside the box. It simply becomes something I depend on for a steady income...and then I would start accumlating 'stuff' and maybe sign a lease and then, suddenly, I'd have those things called 'commitments' or 'obligations' and I'd find myself trapped. So, yeah that's my fear.

I have been thinking about going back to school and I may very well go back and do my Masters..probably in something related to journalism or writing, but I'm not ready for that either - it's more of a time and financial commitment then I am ready to make at the moment.

So, I guess, by default, travelling the world seems like a pretty good option. It's something I can do now, that I may not be able to do later..especially after I hit the all important 3-0, it keeps me from being tied down, it offers me the chance to meet more incredible people, take on new and interesting challenges, learn more about who I am and what I'm made of and..er...maybe get some sunshine , eat some fine fare and conquer some more countries...

There -that's my rationalisation. So, with two weeks left here on PEI, I'm trying to spend as much time relaxing and with my family as possible. They're all such wonderful people and I am going to miss them a lot...especially during BBQ and harvest season eh Ma & Jim?!

K - gotta go get ready for a Bachelorette shindig!

Monday, May 08, 2006

I am leaving for Scotland in less than three weeks, thus trying to divest myself of all assets. I only have on major asset and it is officially for sale now! Here are the details:

2000 Toyota Echo for Sale - Fuel Efficient & Reliable!!

Silver, 4 dr, 5 spd (standard). Inspected until March 2007. Only 123,000 kms. Extra set of tires (winter) included. In excellent condition, great on gas and ready to be driven home by the right person! Asking $6400 (neg). Please contact me by email if you want further details or would like to take a test drive.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Who knew Pittsburgh would be such a gastronomical experience? If I'd been forewarned I would have brought more stretchy pants...or an additional stomach. As it is I've been sampling numerous All-American specialities such as the Krispy Kreme donut, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Eat'n Park's Smiley Face Cookies. I've also indulged in some Pittsburhg specialities such as Primanti's, The 'O' (no, not THAT one..I wish!) and lots of Hershey goodies..which are made in Hershey, PA :)

Anyways, will get my game plan on for eliminating effects of over-indulgence. Three weeks on PEI, an appt with Alison and all the time in the world. Now I only neeed a new gym outifit since my high quality Roots outfit from Christmas has huge holes in the upper thigh area.

Right, so yesterday I was left to my own devices during the day as Emily was doing that thing called 'work', which has become quite alien to me. Anyways, I decided to take public transit and go downtown. I quickly learned why Americans are sooooo in love with their car. Firstly, I had to walk about twenty minutes to the bus stop along a rather busy road. Despite the fact that there were bus stops along the road and it was a mix of business and residential, there were NO sidewalks!! Evidently, encouragement of walking is not high on the priority list. In fact, I was in a couple of different suburbs of Pittsburgh and there where NO sidewalks anywhere!!!

At one store I asked a worker how long it would take me to get from Point A to Point B even though I pretty much figured it would be less than ten minutes. When I clarified I was walking she looked at me like I had two heads. In another instance I asked Emily's co-worker how to get to the movie theater from the coffee shop (just killing time while Emily was working). The girl started to give me directions as if I were driving until Emily came over and told her I was walking. I got kind of worried it would be a hike cause the driving directions sounded confusing. As it turned out, teh movie theater was just across the street, only seperated by two large parking lots.

I am reading a book called 'Shopped' which is about the grocery retailing world of the UK, although it could easily be applied ot the North American market. Anyways - its extremely disturbing to learn what we've lost in regards to quality and selection for the promise of 'convenience'. But serioulsy, how convenient is it to drive to a grocery store and tripase through its expansive floor space in search of a few staple foods? Every time I head to the grocery store with the intention of picking up one or tow items I leave with five or six. Right, well in any case this book exposes a lot of disturbing truths - especially about the plight of farmers who are prisoners of the retailers' crazy demands. We might as well just go back to teh feudal system for all the freedom farmers and consumers have. All we realy have is the ilusion of choice and freedom. Of course, we could consciously choose to rebuke the system - to go back to shopping at independent stores and farmers' markets (those that have survived anyways). But, well, how convenient would that be right? I mean, who cares if we'd be supporting our local economy, getting better food at better prices and avoiding the tempting aisles of nutritionless, prepackaged, processed food.