Out of Office Notice

It seems kind of presumptuous of me to assume I have an audience, one who’s too lazy, too cool or too technically challenged to ‘follow’ me, but checks back regularly to see if I’ve written anything. But I’m gonna assume there’s at least one of you from the three daily views this blog gets (I’m kidding. It’s nowhere near as low as that. It’s at least five). And I’m gonna assume you didn’t just land here by Googling ‘Chupa Chups’ or ‘Cooking with Semen’ (my blog’s top keyword search terms – seriously) and may have noticed the lack of posts lately.

So to you, my sole dedicated, lazy, cool or technically challenged reader – yes, thanks for noticing, I have indeed been away. To Italia I went, but you would know that since you’re a dedicated reader and I mentioned it a few posts ago. Alas I was gone for a paltry seven days, but as some famous person no doubt once said, seven days in Italy is better than seven days in reality. Or something like that.

But that’s only half of my excuse. I’ve also started a new blog, and this one will give you a clue as to why I went to Italia, and why I’ll be going back quite a few times in the next 12 months.

So if you check back here again, and there’s still nothing new to help you procrastinate at work during that interminably long fifteen minutes after can’t-be-arsed-anymore o’clock and thank-fark-it’s-home-time o’clock, why don’t you click over here to my De Winter Retreat blog?

There’s not much now, but give me a couple of weeks and there’ll be Italian stories from my past, Italian stories from my present and I’m sure lots of long winded stuff about food. There’ll also be pictures, like this:


And this…


And if you’re super diligent and observant, you might even see an extremely rare picture of me – in all my daggy tourist glory – like this…


If none of that appeals, then just hold your bloody horses. I’ll get back here eventually.

The Postman Always Rings… until someone let’s the poor bugger in.


OK that’s it, the love affair is over. It’s been a month now and the cracks are beginning to show. Me and Edinburgh have managed to finally get out of the bedroom and those little annoying habits are starting to show up. It’s all Edinburgh’s fault. I liked it so much I was gonna marry it. Then I found out about the garbage and the post situation.

What’s up Edinburgh? You don’t have a selection of bins in the apartment blocks for trash? You’ve got skips at the end of roads instead? So I have to walk my garbage alllll the way to the corner? Pfffffft. Seriously?

Well… maybe this would be acceptable if each corner had each type of bin for this big green world we now live in. But no. Half a block from me is the normal bin type bin, a whole 2 blocks is a paper/plastic bins and what might as well be the depths of outer Mongolia – 3 blocks!! – is the distance I need to schlep in order to dispose of glass products.

Am I just a complete lazy bum? Or am I right in thinking this is a complete pain in the bum? Whatever’s going on, there’s a bum involved somewhere.

The only person I see who benefits from this are the garbage collectors. Yes, maybe it’s uber efficient for them, but it’s bloody annoying for me. Now each morning I’ve got to think about which way I’m walking and gather up the correct garbage for whatever bin I might be passing along the way. Uggh.

Or… maybe people here just do special bin trips a few times a week?? Can’t say I’ve seen many people marching along the streets laden with garbage though. Or… maybe I’m just being a dickhead and Scots don’t really pay much attention to where they’re putting what? Yeah, it’s probably that second one. I’m a dickhead. Continue reading

Planet Nice – aka Scotland


Living in Edinburgh requires an attitude adjustment. I’m so used to people being rude and unhelpful I’ve totally forgotten what nice is. My years in London have conditioned me to not even expect it any more. Every situation dealing with another human being is approached with the expectation that it’s going to be a hassle, voices may be raised and if it’s on the phone, there’s a pretty good chance the F bomb shall be dropped.

In the short time I’ve been in Scotland, I’ve had five separate incidents of friendliness. And I’m calling them incidents because they felt so strange to me, they may as well have been interactions with aliens. I almost expected Mulder and Scully to make an appearance after each one. I swear, there’s so much niceness being thrown at me, I might have to wear a raincoat to avoid being drenched in it. Well, that and the wet stuff from the sky.

Driving to Edinburgh from London, I was supposed to first go to the Big Yellow storage facility to unload most of the van, but as you can read here, there was no way that was going to happen after eleven hours on the road and five hours before that packing and cleaning. The next morning, one of the ladies from Big Yellow rang to see if I was alright, because she knew I was driving and the weather had turned bad. They already had my money, so I figured it wasn’t secretly about a possible lost sale. After I hung up I had to admit to myself this was just a complete stranger interested in my welfare… being nice.

A couple days later I was buying two things in HMV. One of them scanned up as zero. So the guy said “I didn’t see that” and gave it to me for free. Hello. Unheard of. Well, in London it would be unheard of. Then again, HMV has just gone kaput, so maybe the soon to be unemployed staff don’t really care much about the last weeks of HMV’s profits.

Then a lady in a shop gave me change of a £20 note for bus fare, without expecting me to buy anything from her. I was about to walk out after figuring out they didn’t sell bus tickets, because it just didn’t occur to me that someone would change my note for me, but before I could, she offered to change it. When I asked if I had  to buy something first she said “No, don’t be silly”. She could have said “No, don’t be a Londoner”.

Later still, when realised I didn’t have any money left on me except a few coins, the lady in a pet store let me have some cat litter without paying and just said “Come back later with the money.” I actually stood there for a few beats, silent, trying to fathom what she meant, like she’d just turned into Brian Cox and had tried to explain the universe to me.

Seriously, what planet is this Brian? Continue reading