Saturday, April 30, 2011


Today's soundtrack:
"Barbra Streisand" by Duck Sauce
"In the End It's Your Friends" by Shout Out Out Out Out
"Piste 1" by Galaxie
"Stop or Start" by Fine Mist
"Synesthésie" by Malajube
"True Patriot Love" by Joel Plaskett

Living in Scotland is a lot like living in a parallel universe: Everything looks the same, but is just a little bit different. And I'm not referring to the driving on the other side of the street. Well, not only. I'll be going about my day when, all of a sudden, I'm forced to admit that Scotland is another country that I know very little about (Braveheart and Trainspotting aside). A smattering of observations from the past few days:

- Fresh Produce: I had no idea how much we overpay for fresh produce in Canada. Jets, schmets. We should be up in arms protesting for cheaper produce this election. A week's worth of tomatoes used to run us around $9 CAN. Today, we spent a scant £2. Even with the conversion, that's a steal at twice the price. NAFTA was supposed to makes things like veg and fruit cheaper, but really didn't. The EU actually has.

- Lingo: I know say things like "veg" instead of "vegetable". I also say "chips" rather than "fries", "crisps" rather than "chips", and "christened" instead of "ah crap, a seagull just shit on me". Also, I've learned that "frisky wee burn"* is not as dirty as I thought it was.

- TV License: In the UK, in addition to paying for cable, you must also pay for a license. Failure of payment will result in several men showing up at your door for an inspection (NB: a lack of need to pay for a license may also result in several men showing up at your door). The means that if you want to watch TV or a show live on your computer, you must pay a fee of around £150 per annum. But if you wait an hour, the show'll turn up on the iPlayer and then you can watch it for free (it's no longer "live"), without having to pay the fee. As a result, even though we don't have a TV license and I must wait an extra hour before being able to see the new Doctor Who episode, I can still watch it hours before my Canadian Whovians.

- High Anglicans are more Catholic than the Catholics: We went to a lovely wedding ceremony today which was celebrated in a High Anglican service. I've never seen so much incense flung around in my life. Am now very curious to see what passes for a Catholic mass in this country. My suspicion is that it's nothing more than a drum circle of folks singing "Kum-by-ya" by comparison.

- Crazy Old Ladies: Granted, we do have these in Canada as well, but usually I can understand what the toothless old lady is yelling about at the bus stop. Today, all I managed to glean was "miner's daughter", "Dundee", "handicap", and "my own country". I also don't think teeth would've really helped the situation.

- Beer, wine, and spirits can be bought at the supermarket. Warning: buying San Miguel may result in a particular Spaniard shouting "donde va triumfa!" at random intervals. May also result in an Edwardian polishing off a bottle of wine and then deciding this was the best time to blog about moving to Scotland.

- Sean Connery: Don't be surprised if one or more of your neighbours bears a striking resemblance.

- Birds: The variety and differences are amazing. When I was down on the seashore, I snapped a photo of a black and white duck I'd never seen before. I asked the local experts if they knew what it was. "An eider", they smartly replied. "An eider?" I asked, trying to get the pronunciation right. The resident Sean Connery piped up, smiling, "Aye, eider a bird or a duck".

These are just a smattering of slightly-jarring differences I've noted. In all, it's been a surprisingly easy transition. Everyday, thus far, has been sunny and beautiful. We've ventured up to St. Andrews, around the village, and I've wandered up and down the seashore. We have wonderful landlords/neighbours who threw a welcome bash for us last night, making sure we met the rest of the neighbourhood characters. Tragically, the Spaniard did not break out either his beret or his blanket kilt for the occasion.

Aside from our neighbours, who've gone out of their way to make us feel welcome, my acclimatizing to Scotland has taken the form of writing in a "Keep Calm and Carry On" journal that the great and illustrious Lady J gave me, alongside copious amounts of wine (of which, I've no doubt, the Lady J would also approve). The Spaniard's acclimatizing has taken a different form. He's hibernating with the final Harry Potter book, shouting about giant snakes and does from the Tower.

* a fast-moving stream.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post!!! And not just because of the nods (for the record, I do totally approve of both activities). It's so great to hear happy musings from Scotland -- I love that your neighbours rock, and that the weather is great, and that you're generally having a blast getting settled in, and that Miguel is reading Harry Potter. Love it all, Lady K! Can't wait to hear more.