Category Archives: London Life 2008-9

Searching for Booze in Ireland and Scotland

For Easter in April, I went to Ireland to visit the relations in Co. Cork. Then, towards the end of April, my friends Jen and Michelle (Michelle was visiting from Canada) went to Scotland with me for four days. So, Ireland and Scotland. What do these two nations have in common? That’s right – the love of alcohol! Ireland is nearly synonymous with Guinness, Scotland with whiskey.

Yet, the oddest thing happened in both places! On Good Friday, in Ireland, my cousin Deirdre picked me up from Kilnamartyra to take me to her place in Lissarda. On the way, we stopped in Macroom, and I was going to pick up a couple of bottles of wine to bring to her parents, as a thank you for having me stay there for the weekend. But what did I find when I went into the grocery store? I couldn’t buy ANY alcohol! I didn’t want to DRINK it that day, I just wanted to BUY it! But we could buy chocolate and meat. In fact, we bought some pasta salad that we thought was vegetarian only to discover it had ham in it. I didn’t check if the sale of condoms was outlawed that day or not. But seriously, it was so weird! Not only were you just not allowed to buy alcohol, but there were gates blocking any alcohol in the aisles so you couldn’t mistakenly pick some up and try to pay for it. I really should have taken some pictures…
Then in Scotland on the Sunday, we also encountered a weird alcohol law. Apparently, at least where we were, we could only be served alcohol between 12.30 and 2.30. WEIRD!!!
Anyway, those were just some odd laws and regulations I’ve encountered recently. Here’s some beautiful photos of our trip to Scotland. First, the fog is rolling in as we head to the Isle of Skye:
But then it clears.
Some wildlife.
A famous castle – if anyone’s seen “Maid of Honor,” this is the castle of Patrick Dempsey’s best friend’s fiance.
This is driving back towards Loch Ness.
And the fog rolls back in – but at least we had our Scottish flag!


Some Musings

First, apologies for not updating in so long (there may in fact be very few of you actually reading this anymore due to my lack of commitment).

So these are just some things I’ve been musing over.
#1: Jobs. The job application business is beginning. So far, there are two I really like. One is in London and I’ll actually get paid. The other is in Strasbourg and it’s an unpaid internship. I seriously doubt I will be returning to Toronto for good in August. I’ll still be returning for my cousin’s wedding and some general meet-and-greets with my beloved family and friends, but then I will likely be jetting off somewhere else. My top choices are: London, New York, or an on-the-ground position in Africa or South America.
#2: Ironically, my Irish cousin Deirdre has been talking about coming to Canada for a summer and we’ve been oh-s0-excited about it. And guess when she’s going? This summer!! So, I’ll basically be in Toronto at the same time as her for 3 days at the end of August. It’s pretty funny, but I’ve had fun telling her what she should do and see. She’s going to be stopping by TSP to check it out – be nice to her, my fellow TSPers! 🙂

This is me and Deirdre hugging part of a ruined monastery in Co. Cork over Easter.

#3: I don’t know how we got on this topic, but some of my friends and I started talking about when people get engaged (in a heterosexual relationship) and the guy goes to ask the girl’s parents for permission. Everyone thought it was a sweet gesture, except for moi. I got my feminist claws out and started ranting about how that stems from when women were property and how offensive it is and blah blah blah. Seriously, if a boyfriend ever did that in my situation, I would seriously have issues ever accepting his proposal. I may never. Because he really wouldn’t know me if he went and did that. It’s not sweet, not traditional – it’s archaic! You’re marrying ME, not my parents! Get my permission, not theirs!
Ok, ok…rant over. So I brought it up with some of my friends after class yesterday and got a different reaction. The two girls I talked with both agreed with me that it was not such a “nice” idea. It was after my Human Rights of Women class, so I could have seen that coming. But still, I wanted some assurance that not all women think like that. Ok, so maybe I seem a bit extreme to some people. But I still think it’s offensive.
#4: In other news, Fred Phelps and Shirley Phelps-Roper have both been banned from entering the UK. If other members of their family decide to come, the UK has said it will consider banning them too. Hallelujah!!!

Celeb Sightings

So back in February, the BAFTAs (like the British Oscars) took place at the Royal Opera House, around the corner from my flat. My friend Jen and I decided to go, so we lined up for armbands, went back home to nap, and then went into “the pits” along the red carpet, where we got to see the stars. Here’s a sampling of my fav photos from that night:

Jen and I waiting to see the stars!

Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire
Sharon Stone – a presenter
Dominic Cooper, “Sky” from Mamma Mia. It was funny because there was a fan of his near us who just kept screaming “Dominic!!! DOMINIC!!!”
Penelope Cruz
Brad and Angelina – they are SO gorgeous and were really cute together.
The amazingly fabulous Meryl Streep
Look – it’s Bond! a.k.a. Daniel Craig
Goldie Hawn. She has for sure had work done. Like wow.
And Brendan Gleeson – Mad Eye Moody; and I loved him in “In Bruges”
And this afternoon, Jen and I are off to see Obama and the other 19 G-20 leaders here in London at Buckingham Palace (a.k.a. Harper, but he’s less exciting than Obama). Should be fun!
But right now, I must go get my yellow fever vaccine, in preparation for Rwanda. Ick.

when it snows…

I’ve heard before that when it snows in London, the city just can’t handle it.

And it snowed today, and seriously, I was expecting the army to be called in at any moment! It was ridiculous.
I left Paris VERY early this morning and it was snowing in Paris, and was really beautiful! But then, when we got to London, it was a madhouse! The Eurostar took us to St. Pancras, which is connected to King’s Cross. But when we got off the train, there were announcements that the underground at King’s Cross was closed. So we went outside, saw the gates being lowered at the tube entrances, looked at the taxi queue (it would take about an hour to actually get in a cab) and went to the bus stop. But after waiting about 5 min, we realized we were not seeing ANY buses. Later, we learned that all bus service was suspended. So then we trekked over to Euston station and finally got home.
Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. There were maybe 3 cm of snow where we were. The horrible part was that we’d been up at 5.30 am Paris time (4.30 London time), were exhausted, and I was carrying my duffle bag, plus a shopping bag and my purse. NOT fun.
When I finally arrived home and turned on my computer, I saw that LSE had also hopped on the “let’s freak out about the snow” bandwagon. All teaching was cancelled today, and all classes have also been cancelled tomorrow. Two snow days in a row for less than 20 cm of snow? Being Canadian, and being in Toronto a month ago during a few blizzards, it does make me laugh. But, at least I was able to have a genuine snow day today!! 🙂
To read about it, check out this link: SNOW
Info on Paris to follow…as it’s a snow day, you know I’m going to procrastinate at some point!!
p.s. My mom had her thyroid surgery this morning, and all went well! I spoke to her this afternoon, and she wasn’t in any pain, so it’s all looking good. She’ll be in the hospital for 2 nights, and then will be back home.

A Little Bit of Good News

The inauguration last night was amazing! It was on at 5pm London time, so my friends and I went to a PACKED bar on campus, drank some bud, and cheered Obama on! It was great. I even felt a bit teary-eyed (imagine how I’d be if I was American??)

And my friend Eleanore is here, staying with me for a week, which is awesome!! I think we’re going to go for a big walk around London today, which will be nice, since it’s sunny.
Til next time!

This Weekend

This weekend has been amazing!
First, Friday was a bit tumultuous. It was my first full day at my internship for Minority Rights Group. I was up til about 1am editing a paper that was due Tuesday morning, and didn’t get to sleep til after 3am. Then got up at a horrid hour, dropped off my paper at LSE, realized I’d forgotten my Oyster card, bought a return ticket at Holborn, and got to work, already exhausted. It was a very very long day. I left at 6pm, got on the tube, and then heard the announcement: “Holborn is closed due to high volume.” WTF??? I now had to take a convoluted route home, and I was starving, and cold, and my new boots made my feet feel like death, and I was exhausted, and it was NOT good. Then I finally reached my building, just wanting to get on the elevator and crash on my bed. But BOTH elevators were out of service!! So I had to drag myself up to the fourth floor (the fifth in Canada/USA). Not good.
But then that evening my friends and I went to see Slumdog Millionaire. It is amazing! I’d recommend it to everyone. It won the people’s choice at the Toronto Film Festival, and I saw the one that came in second, and that was amazing, so I figured this one would be. And I was right!
Then I got up early Saturday to meet my friend Estee, and we got in line to get 10 quid tickets for the play PIAF. We got second row!! And then it was off to the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square to see the Annie Liebowitz exhibit.
I am in love with her. It was such an intimate exhibit; I enjoyed her personal photos, especially those of her partner Susan Sontag (who was also an incredible woman!) more than her celebrity ones, although those are, of course, mesmerizing as well.
As we left the exhibit, the protest against Israeli action in Gaza was setting up in Trafalgar Square. Here are some photos of that. It’s such a sad situation. A community health clinic that KAIROS (I worked for them in the summer) funds was hit by an Israeli missile last weekend. No one was killed, but now a place that helped Gaza’s poorest communities can no longer function. I heard about the ceasefire this morning, so hopefully that will bring some semblance of peace to the area. Hopefully innocent civilians, on both sides, will stop being killed.

On a lighter note, after lunch, we saw PIAF, and it was such an amazing show! The lead had an incredible voice! Plus, when we’d been waiting in line, this woman asked me if she could give me 10 pounds to buy her a ticket because you’re only allowed to buy 2 tickets per person and she needed three. So then she bought me some English fudge as a thank you and gave it to me at the theatre. It was SO sweet!!
I got home, washed about four days worth of dishes, and then went out for my friend’s birthday, which was so much fun! Six of us are going to Paris in 2 weeks, so we also booked our apartment, which looks incredible! I can’t wait!!
Today, I decided to go for a walk at dusk along the river (the North side), and snapped some photos like the tourist I still kinda am.

And now I am doing laundry and writing about the perpetration of atrocities. But, life is being pretty good to me! And my friend Eleanore is coming to stay with me on Tuesday for a week, so I can’t wait for that! 🙂

I never thought I’d say this, but…


Honestly, the LSE library has become the bane of my existence. Reasons include:
1. Postgrads are only allowed to take out 20 books at a time. This is problematic when you have three essays plus a dissertation on the go.
2. The “innovative” staircase is a pain in the ass. The steps are so wide apart that I feel like a one-legged pirate using the stairs. (ok, so I stole that comment from a Facebook group about the LSE library, but that only shows how bad it is!!)
3. The fines are exorbitant! I had a lot of books out (no more than 20, obviously), and didn’t realize that one of the books I took out was a one-day loan. So I returned it this morning (so less than 12 hours late), and what was my fine? SEVEN POUNDS FIFTY!! That’s like $13.50 with our current exchange rate!!
I hate the library. Ick.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Canada! In Waterloo now with one of my best friends, Michelle, for a New Year’s extravaganza. She has a cat named Dr. George O’Malley, who is super super cute. Photos to follow once I find my USB cable.

So, a belated Merry Christmas, belated Happy Channukah, and Happy New Year!!!

Hopping the Pond Again

I’m coming home in 2 days, and I am SO excited!! I can’t wait to see all my family and friends, and the familiar sights in Toronto. But there will be some people and some things I will miss in London. I’ll have to make the most of my Canadian adventure, as I won’t be back again for 8 months.

Here’s a photo from Brussels this past weekend: it was gorgeous! Will post more about it soon:

Aberdeen: Where I seem to always be holding either a baby or a glass of wine

A few weeks ago, I went to Aberdeen to see some family-of-family. Y’see, my Dad’s sister Patty married my uncle Allan, who is from Aberdeen, and most of his family is still there. They often visit us in Canada, and I’ve visited them twice (before this trip) in Aberdeen. So, it’s one big family of family!

This is me with the newest addition – baby Lauren

And with my Aunt Pat, her sister-in-law, and mother-in-law
Drinking with my Uncle Allan
Standing in front of Kildrummy Castle

Drinking again, before flying back to London (there were many more photos of me with a wine glass in hand, but those just get redundant after awhile, eh?)