Wednesday, May 29, 2013

TV in the UK

I think that many people often wonder, 'What's on TV where you live?' Well, it's pretty much the same things that are on TV in the USA. Some shows are the same but are the British counterpart. For example, Hairy Bikers in the UK stars two guys from the UK. So You Think You Can Dance is the British version. We have America's Got Talent and Britain's Got Talent. Moreover, many shows that come on premium channels in the USA that you pay extra to watch, come on "regular" tele here in the UK. For example, Dexter, Spartacus, Mad Men, and Boardwalk Empire show in the UK on regularly included channels. The only drawback to that is that here in the UK, we get premiers of shows/series about 3-6 months later than the premier in the USA. When Steve and I just can't wait, we watch the slingbox or just pay for it on the AppleTV.

Just for Fun:
Frog has started walking the wall quite often in the past week. It's like he has conquered some fear and now feels like he is king. He gets up there every time he goes outside now. He spent several days just standing there in my garden staring at it. I thought he was eating my plants, but maybe he was just trying to assess the situation. :o)  haha

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Himalayan Salt Lamp

My friend, Kristi, arrives in less than a week now. I'm very excited to show her around Scotland. I hope the weather is nice for at least a few days! It was nice today. Not as warm as I would have liked, but still nice most of the day. I was looking at the guest room and noticed that we don't have a lamp in there. I have been looking on-line for weeks trying to decide what kind of lamp I want in that room. I stared at what was in there: white iron bed... blues and reds... rocks and shells... and then I stumbled upon this item randomly as a "Suggestion" on Amazon:

It's a Himalayan salt lamp! How cool is that? It matches what is in the room, and since Steve is a geologist and me an avid rock collector, I thought it was fitting! People say that it has therapeutic properties as well. Who knows? Maybe it does. If Kristi wakes up feeling good and smiling every morning... Is it the lamp... or Scotland?

Monday, May 27, 2013

The world is full of surprises...especially if you're awake to see them

 The world is full of beautiful things
Butterfly wings, fairy tale kings
And each new day undoubtedly brings
Still more beautiful things
- Bobby Darin, Beautiful Things -

I woke up early this morning. Why? Because Frog decided to puke up the strings he ate from one of his toys. I had to get up to clean the carpet. He was out because sometimes I leave their crate open at night as my back up alarm clock. They get up when my alarm rings so it forces me to get up instead of hitting snooze. Anyway, I had to get up to clean. As I walked to the laundry room to get the carpet cleaner I saw light from one of the bedrooms. 'Wait. What time is it? (check clock) 4 AM?!?' Well, if I had to be up this early for something so unpleasant, I guess it was only fair that something beautiful rewarded me for my efforts. :o)  It's really interesting how early the sunrise is here. Wasn't it beautiful this morning?

I took this picture from my bedroom window... at 4:30 AM.
Moving on. You may have noticed that my blog has undergone a little redecorating. This is for my friend, Lorissa. Every time we talk, she complains that the text color (former) is so hard to read on a black background. This is for you, Lo. :o)

Next: I forgot until tonight about another funny difference between the USA and the UK. In the States, it's pretty common to get "to-go" boxes at a restaurant. Here it doesn't seem to be common at all. The few times I've asked to take the food I didn't finish home with me, I've gotten some very interesting packing. Tonight I had risotto with a creamy sauce at an Italian restaurant. I asked to take the rest of it home expecting a plastic (or even Styrofoam) container. I had to giggle. This is what I got:
They just poured it from the bowl into some aluminum foil and folded it up a lot so that it wouldn't leak! hehe. I love it.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dogs, The Archibald Simpson, and Seaton Park - A cozy spot to read, play, BBQ, or simply walk

I love dogs. I know that I post many pictures of them, but it's just so great to see them getting to enjoy this experience as much as we enjoy it. Running and playing in parks in Texas just wasn't possible very often due to the heat. Here, the dogs have been enjoying their walks at the park, and as they become better behaved and more trusting of other dogs, I am enjoying it more as well. Here are a few pictures of them playing with other dogs at Victoria Park. I love that they have the opportunity to be around so many other dogs here.

Moving on. We explored Seaton Park today with some friends. It's a very nice park overlooked by Saint Machar's Cathedral (shown here). There is free parking, and there are many options to meet your purposes for a visit. You can bring your dogs to play or walk the paths. You can walk the paths through the trees to the walled gardens. The granite walls separate the gardens from the rest of the park creating a peaceful place of solitude. Grab a bench or a spot on the grass. If you prefer the rivers, there is path that follows the River Don all the way to the North Sea. If you fancy a spot to BBQ and relax, this is where you go to do it, alongside the river. If you follow the path that runs along the River Don you will eventually find yourself on one of the oldest bridges in Scotland, Brig O Balgownie. It was completed in 1320. At the bridge there is a staircase that takes you to a path leading to the North Sea. We didn't go that way today, but maybe some other time we will.

Just for fun:
Want another good pub to visit? The Archibald Simpson in Aberdeen has a very large drink and food menu. The venue is large, so there is lots of space. You can hang out near the bar and TV's or head to the back where it's a little quieter. There are several types of beer to choose from and a section of "World Beers" that includes Birra moretti, Erdinger, Efes, Peroni, Straropramen, Desperados, and Sol. They also have cider, spirits, cocktails, wine, coffee, and sodas. They serve food until 10 PM, which is hard to find around Aberdeen!

Photo from website:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Spoiled dogs, gaining hours of light in Aberdeen, and ironing water

I organized my first AWA happy hour today. It went really well. We had 20 people show up at O'Neill's Pub. Then, we found out the dishwasher was broken so they decided to shut down the kitchen. This led to a mass exodus. We had a couple of good hours though. Lucky for me, I ordered food as soon as I got there.

I think my dogs really missed us while we were in Germany. They have been more attached than usual. I even let them sleep in my bed last night. I woke up this morning, and Angel had her head on my pillow and one leg across another pillow in front of her. She was sleeping exactly like me (I sleep with a pillow in front of me to put my arm across)! It was really cute. They like pillows.

We are still gaining hours of daylight. Remember the last picture I posted that was at 8:40 PM? I took this one at 9:40 PM today. For those of us who aren't accustomed to living so far up in the latitudes, this is very amusing. :o)

Just for fun:
When I was buying laundry detergent, I saw something next to it that said 'Ironing Water,' and I thought, 'Why do I need that? I can just use tap water.' I have now discovered why ironing water is useful.

  1. Starch is needed pretty often for Steve's work clothes since clothes are hanged out to dry or tumbled in the condenser dryer, which doesn't really get out the wrinkles. This stuff makes ironing easier, thus, less starch is needed.
  2. After hanging outside all day, the clothes smell very strongly like... well.. outside. Sometimes it smells good, but sometimes you don't want to smell like your garden.
So, there you have it. Use ironing water if you so desire. I mix it half and half with water. I don't even really need starch anymore. That stuff was getting expensive.

The Erlangen Bergkirchweih - Day 3 - Storms and Zombie People - How Pickle got into his room revealed!

6AM flight coming our way. We decided to be responsible adults. We didn't drink any beer, nor did we stay out late. It was sodas and water for us! We still met the group for lunch, but of course that was short lived due to the storms that blew in forcing us to all huddle under umbrellas and concession awnings. Our plate of pork flank quickly filled with water. It was a greasy, soggy napkin mess. Yuck. How would you have liked a picture of that? Okay, well it's not close, but it IS on the bottom left of those next two pictures. haha

Oh have fun with this. While I was standing under the beer stand awning, an old man came running for cover. He reeked of marijuana. Sorry if this makes anybody uncomfortable, but it is what it is. I just tell it how it is. Anyway, he started talking to me.

"Ich verstehe nicht" (I don't understand)

"Oh. Where you from?"

"Texas." At that, he began singing some song that I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to know, but being that I'm me, I didn't and simply played along. He then proceeded to speak in German while making hand signals around his face. Maybe he was saying something about my face? The song embarrassed me? I seemed confused? I have no idea. Then, two young men ran over and said something to him. He turned to me and said, "Ah! This is my son ^%$%&((^%" His son looked at me surprised, and I looked back at him. "Hello." Awkward.... At that, his son beckoned him away. Never a dull moment there. The storm lasted about 20-30 minutes. We were all soaked, cold, and had legs and feet covered in dirt that was kicked up by the rain drops hitting the earth. Steve suggested that we go back to the room to change. Once accomplished, we decided that we didn't care to go back. Instead, we explored the city. It was amazing that even down town, people were drinking, partying, and stumbling all over the place. Still, it was a neat little town.
We ate Turkish food and then made our way back to the edge of the fair to enjoy a Nutella and banana crepe! Oh man. It was so good!
While eating, the show continued. Three men stumbled to the food stand next door. They walked like zombies dragging limbs and staring blankly. One guy, after getting his food, simply watched in awe as his hand turned his plate and dropped it upside-down onto the ground. Then, he just stared at it as if it were going to leap back into his hand. His friend, oh he was classy. I watched this guy, who was eating his burger, start to lean. I immediately thought of that game I used to play as a child on the bed or trampoline where one of us would fall stiffly to the ground yelling, "TIMBER!" Yeah, he did that. He took out a picnic table and two benches. I should have yelled it. I really should have. I think I was just in too much shock at the punishment he was enduring to "have fun." Afterwards, he stood up and began walking in our direction. His knees started to bend while he was walking (burger still in hand). His right leg was giving out more than the left so that he began to lean while still walking. I said to Steve, "Heads up! Heads up!" but before he reached Steve, the drunk crashed into the dividers between stands and tumbled over the trash bins. All of the guys working in the stand yelled, "HEEEEYYYY!!!" Good grief.

Steve and I went back to the hotel. We stayed there the rest of the night and went to sleep early. We got up at 3 AM. As I was getting dressed, Steve went to check out. He came back laughing.

"So, I was talking to the guy who works the front desk at night."


"Yeah. He said, 'You know your friend.. the coo?' 'Who?' 'The coo... the coo.' 'Oh, the cow! Yeah?' 'Yeah, the cow. He fell asleep in the lobby the other night. I could no wake him. I tried. So I carry him to his room and put him in bed.' HAHAHAH"

"Oh man. That's fantastic!" I laughed.

And now you know how Pickle got into his room. He was tucked in by a big German man. HAHAHA. You know you are laughing. But wait, it doesn't end there. We walked out with our luggage at 4 AM, and there was Pickle and some of the other group! At 4 AM!! You know they weren't going to feel good on that flight later.

"So Pickle, I hear you were carried to your room that night when you couldn't remember how you got there."

"How the hell do you know that? I was just told!"

"I know everything."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Erlangen Bergkirchweih - Day 2 - Laderhosen, dirndl, cow balloon, busted lip, and an ambulance ride...

Saturday after some much needed sleep, Steve and I met up with the group for lunch. Steve dressed in his laderhosen. I didn't wear my dirndl  (traditional German dress) because I was afraid I would get cold. However, after lunch I needed to go back to the room to take out my contacts (something had gotten in them and was irritating my eye...very painful), so I decided to dress up then.

Oh right, I guess you may be interested to know how Pickle got in his room. At this point, nobody knew. Anyway, after changing and removing my contacts, we went to the Kitzmann Keller where they had a live band. People were standing on the benches dancing and singing along.

They were selling all kinds of stuff, and that's when I decided that I needed a balloon. Everybody needs a balloon sometimes! I chose the dairy cow because one of our members was dressed like this. He found the balloon quite amusing. I left it in his hands as I left to go to the bathroom. When I came back, my balloon was gone... from both his hands and his mind.

"Where is my balloon?"

"What balloon?"

"The one that looks like a dairy cow just like you. You had it tied to yourself."

"I did?"

"You just lost my cow. I expect another one."

Of course, I never got one. My mom says that's what I get for leaving my balloon with a drunk person. Touché. At least it made for some great pictures while it lasted.

"Look! I have a cow!"
Got milk?

They were selling these great hats too! haha
Other than my balloon disappearing, we encountered another issue. When I left, a group of people took mine and Steve's spots and the rest were standing waiting for another group member to leave, regardless of our "Reserved" sign on the table. Also, 3 drunk, young, German girls had moved onto the bench we had previously been standing on. I climbed up, pushing them forward a bit so that I would fit. We had one foot on each of two benches that were side by side. The left bench broke as the intruders, who were rather large, tried to stand up and dance on it. Luckily, Steve and I have decent balance and just had to lift that leg up to avoid falling with them. The German girl in front of me kept turning around to try to talk to me. I know she was trying to be nice, but I just wanted to listen to the music, not her drunk babbling as she swayed toward and away from my face. I eventually had enough and asked Steve if he was ready to go. I got a bad feeling about those girls and told Steve I didn't want to be around them anymore. He agreed and as we climbed over the next table, the lost luggage couple decided they would go too. We were all hungry and tired of working so hard to keep our seats.

As it turns out, my intuition was correct. We found out later that Pickle stumbled into the girls, which pushed them off the bench. They landed on the table next to them (the people who stole our seats... oh Karma you work fast sometimes) and knocked over all of their freshly poured steins of beer. This of course started a standoff between Pickle and the men. One of Steve's friends stepped in offering €50 to pay for all of the beer and to take care of Pickle. The man stared at him after the offer and instead chose to headbutt him which split his lip. I know what you are thinking. 'Did they still take the money?' I don't know. I forgot to ask. It seemed unimportant at the time.

Anyway, Steve and I and the lost luggage couple decided to find food. On the way, some drunk girl grabbed Steve and tried to kiss him. Great (insert sarcasm). Steve's response to her was to yell and push her away. Steve's response to me about the incident, "I've stiiiiiilllll got it." Oh boy...haha.

Anyway, we all decided to get "pizza" which was actually a piece of fried dough that was smothered in garlic oil, melted cheese, ham bits, and sour cream. It was fantastic! I was really enjoying myself until the girl on the steps next to us started puking.

"I think it's time to move."

"Yep" (in unison)

After eating we holed up in a small keller that had a one-man-band playing. He had a guitar and a sound track. He played 80's music and was really good!
Back at the hotel, we shared stories with the group over a few more beers. Along came Pickle. He stumbled into the bar saying he was hungry. We told him that we were too and thus, he should go get us pizza. He turned and walked away despite our shouts to "Stop" and that "We were kidding! Nothing is open!" An hour and a half later, Pickle stumbled back to the bar. He leaned toward us, swaying, and said, "Hey! I just got a ride in an ambulance!"

"Oh my gosh! Why? Are you okay?"

"I don't knoooooww!" Pickle replied, "But they brought me to the hotel."

We still have no idea why he was in an ambulance or if maybe it was actually a police car instead of an ambulance. At least he made it back. That was about 3 AM.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Erlangen Bergkirchweih - Day 1 - Travel stories, beer, a German's impression of Texans, and the guy who climbed the light pole (but doesn't remember)

Wow. Where to begin. This is a story you will never forget. Just keep reading, and I promise not to disappoint you. Steve and I were up until 1:00 AM packing and getting our house ready for our friends who were staying to house- and dog-sit. The alarm woke us up at 3 AM, but we ignored it until 3:30. We skipped breakfast (well, I had a banana), and hopped into the taxi at 4:25 AM, me in my glasses because I was intending to be back asleep very soon. Steve booked the 6 AM flight because his friend/coworker wanted to get to Germany early. In Aberdeen, we went through security and then outside across the pavement to board the plane. Upon finding our seats, Steve and I realized that we weren't sitting together. Our tickets said seats "C" and "D" so let's see, A, B, C, D? No, the seats were labeled A, C, D, E.... Did I miss something? Whatever. I sat by a guy who was reading his newspaper. As soon as we took off, the girl in front of him turned around, reached behind her seat, and shut his shade so she could lean back and sleep. He turned toward me, and we exchanged looks of disbelief.

"It would have been nice to have a least been asked." From there, we plunged into conversation.

Turns out, that particular guy has known my Sifu for over 25 years, and he teaches Karate in Aberdeen. It's a really small world. Needless to say, I didn't get any sleep on that plane ride because we were talking.

Anyway, after landing in Paris, we had to pass through airport security again and then get in line to ride a bus to the terminal. After a 5 minute bus ride, we walked though the doors to the building to find another line leading to a passport check. The lines never end at airports. On the plane to Germany, I ended up sitting behind Steve. At least I was by myself though so I didn't have to worry about sleeping next to a stranger where I may have dropped my head onto their shoulders!

We landed in Germany around noon. We followed several of our group members to the luggage claim to wait for them to get their luggage. Of course, one couple didn't get theirs. While we were waiting on them to finish at baggage claim, we went to the cash machine. You can use your debit card just about anywhere, regardless of country. Keep in mind that there will be fees, and you should tell your bank that you are going out of the country so that they don't put a hold on your account for fraud. After a €40 taxi ride, we checked in to the hotel where we discovered that after only 2.5 hours of sleep and restless naps on the planes, we were not allowed to check in until 3 PM. I think Steve's friend felt really bad then for pushing us all to take the early flight. We piled our luggage into storage and stumbled (sleepily, not drunk) to "the berg" which was literally across the street. 1 litre of beer and some currywurst made everything right in the world. Here is the link for the Erlangen Bergkirchweih.

Unfortunately (although FORTUNATELY for me... looking a mess) I didn't get many pictures on the first day. After eating, Steve and I went back to the hotel to check in and sleep. We woke and went looking for the group around 8:30 PM. The fair streets were packed. We had to shove our way through a few places. My shoulders were pushed inward by the sea of bodies, and I held my arm up to protect my face. People were packed around us jumping, drinking, dancing, smoking, and thus, swinging all types of hazardous items from arms and legs to mugs and cigarettes. Am I getting old? I got so tired of being shoved that at one point I just threw my elbow back into the person who was pushing me so hard that I could barely get my feet moving fast enough to keep me upright.


'Wait,' I thought, 'I recognize that voice.'  I turned around to find Steve staring back at me. Ooops. He was being pushed by a bigger guy who had some weight on Steve, so it was difficult (impossible?) for Steve to hold back to keep from shoving into me. All is well though. Steve was not hurt. :o) Anyway, we couldn't find nor get in touch with our group so we finally gave in to hunger instead. As we turned around, we saw the couple from the airport who had lost their luggage (and got it back that night at the hotel). We decided to hang out with them. We found a place that sold... tada! ... sausages and beer for dinner. Luckily we chose a place that had a covered seating area because it started to rain shortly after we got our food. That was it for us that night. We were tired and headed back to the hotel after eating.

We ran into people from our group at the hotel bar and decided another beer or two was possible. One of the guys in our group, we'll call him Pickle, stumbled in a bit later. He joined the conversation we were having with a German guy who was curious about Texas. The German guy wanted to know if everybody carried guns (as he walked bowlegged firing pretend guns into the air) and was part of a rodeo (to which he started pretending to ride a bucking bull).  We laughed and told him that while many people do have guns in Texas, no, we do not all have them, nor do we all participate in the rodeo. He found his and the German view of Texas, to which he blamed the tele, a very humorous topic. It was funny, but I couldn't help thinking, 'Man, they all think we are a mix between Walker Texas Ranger and a rodeo clown. They must think we are so ridiculous.'

Anyway, back to Pickle. When we met up with him the next afternoon, he had no idea that he had been in the hotel bar, did not remember our German friend, had apparently climbed a light pole to balance a beer stein on top, and had no idea how he got into his room because he had not properly checked in. His roommate handed him his key card the next morning (he had no key card on him). You'll have to learn more about that and the rest of the story tomorrow! Gute Nacht.