Friday, April 27, 2007

In Glasgow about to set off...

So my time at the Coylet has come to an end and I headed for Glasgow Friday evening, driven to the ferry courtesy of Fraser before getting the train on the other side. I left some things that I don't want to travel with over the summer (like winter clothes) in a small backpack there, so I'll be back not only for a visit but to collect my things.

Well, I'm killing time in Glasgow today before I had to Preswick airport (south west of the city by a fair bit) at 11pm. That's the last train I can catch if I'm going to be there in time for my 6am flight to France. The things one does for a plane ticket that costs under £20.

In anticipation of travelling abroad, I have changed my phone number to a network that will work outside the UK, namely Vodafone, and will be using that now as my permanent number. If for some reason you need that number, let me know by comment or e-mail. I won't be using my phone for other than emergencies abroad because roaming is expensive, although I can probably get away with the occasional text, but no one that I know outside of people I've met abroad uses texting anyway.

There's an election coming up in Scotland next week, for the devolved Scottish parliment at Holyrood. Julie showed me her postal ballot instructions when she received them, and it's a complicated voting procedure. Because they have proportional representation for Scottish parliment, there's two votes - one for the constituency representative, and then one for so many regional seats that are given out according to proportion of vote received. There's also a list of something like 20 parties running for those seats, some of whom seem to be a party of one, and some with very specific agendas: the indoor smoking party (Scotland passed a law last year prohibiting smoking in public places that are more than 50% closed on their perimeters. Basically, you can't smoke in anything approximating indoors unless it's your own home. Even separately-ventillated smoking rooms are not permitted.), the UK-independence party (the lets-get-out-of-the-EU and keep all the foreign workers like the Polish from coming in, as far as I understand their policies). There's several socialist-to-communist parties, many of whom were out loudly spreading their messages on the streets of central Glasgow yesterday. There's also several Christian parties involving titles like "Proclaiming Christ's Lordship".

The main race is coming down to the Scottish National Party (SNP), the pro-independence party, and Labour, the current ruling party. It seems that SNP may do quite well not because of support for independence but because people are sick of Labour. It's looking like a minority government for SNP though, so they'll need to form a coalition, probably with the Liberal Democrats as the Conservatives won't really comply.

I went to the Post Office yesterday in an attempt to find a postcode for a community, and discovered that since they have computerized their directory they cannot find a post code unless I have the full street address. If I had that I don't think I would need the post code. I was hoping to find a directory like Canada Post has, where you look up the community and it tells you that the post code on this side of such-and-such a street is this for so many numbers, etc. Then I could probably have figured out an approximate one.

Then I bought some Euros as the Post Office doesn't charge commission. I was then offered travel insurance by the teller, and then subsequently informed that they also offer home and auto insurance, which I declined saying that I didn't have those things to insure. I thought Canada Post had really branched out when they started selling teddy bears and Harry Potter collectible coins, but Royal Mail has got them beat. They seem to offer a lot of other services as well, although they never have more than two teller windows open even when the building is equipped for 10.

An interesting thought (perhaps): Royal Mail has postmen (posties) to deliver the post; Canada Post has mailmen (no nickname!) to deliver the mail.

I've been hiking around the city a fair bit here since I haven't figured out the bus system and the subway hasn't been of much use because it's a big circle that misses most of the locations I've been trying to go to, so walking to the stations and back would save little time. I took the subway on a previous visit to go to the Kelvingrove Museum and the Museum of Transport (both great museums and free!). I was shocked to find how small the carriages are - and I mean in height. I practically had to duck to get through the door. Inside the upholstry is that of a 1970's living room, I believe, which reminded me much of the LRT in Edmonton. I'm not sure if the decorators thought that those patterns in harvest gold and autumn orange or whatever were esthetically pleasing or if they just figured that the pattern would conceal filth quite well.

Back to time at the Coylet: I got to go out in one of the boats that the hotel hires last week, namely the powan, named for a fish in the loch (the other is our non-motor boat called the char). The trip commenced with Chris driving and Julie and I sitting about admiring the view and the rain. Then when Chris tired of driving he convinced me to do it, which was easy enough although hard on the left arm after awhile because you have to hold it almost behind your back to keep the throttle down. We cut the engine as we approached some swans and Chris and Julie rowed us in, as shown below:

Then I started the engine up again with instructions from Chris, and we motored around some more over to some sheep on the shore, and then back to the hotel. The rain had stopped after the first few minutes, at least for awhile, so I got some photos.

Here is the Coylet Inn and the mountain that it sits in front of. It never seemed so big when I was just living below it; the Coylet looks so small by comparison. I climbed the bit toward the right of the photo, where there's no trees to the right of the bright green bits.

This photo I actually took when I walked part way up the hill on the other side of the loch; here you see the caravan park on the left and the Coylet to it's immediate right.

I have more photos but will get them off my camera when facilities permit.

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