Hello Wieners!

Where do I start?

So much stuff has happened in the last few days, so I will just sum it up quickly, to stop me from writing tons of stuff: I found and repossessed a shopping trolley, we got the keys to our new amazing flat on Marchmont Road and moved most of our stuff, Adam left, I made an important decision, Helle broke her tail (bone) and now Hellipp can’t bang bang bangity bang for 6 weeks, I went to a hockey party on Friday, we threw an amazing party that lacked nothing but black light, and only just on Saturday, I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, David projectile – threw – up on his Teddy ClaireBear, I changed batteries in a CO alarm in the flat that kept going off throughout the night, we cleaned the crap out of our old flat twice in 24 hours, I discovered I might be diseased with a tick bite, I started considering calling up the Revenue Office and registering for self-emloyment, I finally went and registered with a GP round the corner, I peed on my hand, my story didn’t win the competition so I have to resubmit and I finally got a reply from a possible distant relative in the US…

Also, it’s Hallowe’en today!!! Happy Hallowe’en everyone!

Mastering away…

This morning I have put on my brand new Joe Brown’s skirt to go to work. That and a coat. I’m looking all professional and sorting the shit out of this problematic staircase.
No wonder, as I am now Kitteh McNabb, MArch, not only sexy but now also smart, I am the Master of all Architecture…

Ok, dramatic intro but I think I’ve made my point. Yesterday I received an email from ECA to say that I will be awarded the degree in a graduation ceremony in November (which I shall not go to). It is very exciting news, as I have been waiting for the results since the end of June when I handed in my thesis on A Practical Taxonomy for Virtual Architecture.
Also I can finally prove I’m still eligible for the University hockey team!

I have said it on the book of faces and I will repeat it on here… Big thanks to my friends Claire, Helle, Philipp and Dave for help and support, to Chmeli for the brain cells and constantly asking about the results, my supervisors Chris and Douglas for their guidance but most of all to Benji, my mentor and the guy who is good with words and supervisors…

So what is next? Part 3? Still working on the logbooks… Genetics? A Masters in something? English? Computer Science?

Regards to all three readers,

Kat McNabb, BA(Hons), DipArch, MArch
(I might be all of those but then again I was never good with titles so who knows…)

PS. Tomorrow I’ll probably do the Paddington Bear again…

XXXX II: The Return of the Wallaby

So we have returned to XXXX!
After the last hurried wet day trip to Inchconnachan on Loch Lomond, Benji and I were crazy keen to go and have a closer look at the cute marsupials that roam the island. Our planned trip to Ireland fell through and that opened an opportunity for another trip out to the Bonnie Banks. So we hired a car for two days, prepared sandwiches, bought steaks, wine and diposable barbecues, packed up boats, tents, tarpaulin covers (yes, we were smarter this time), Benji’s brother Adam, spare clothes, gumboots and cameras and headed out to the wilderness…

It started well when we were upgraded to a Vauxhall Zafira, instead of the small car we paid for. The boot space turned out to be very handy as it looked like we were going for a week. The start on Saturday was slow and painful since we’d failed to pack the night before but we eventually made it to the island before nightfall. As usual, the rain started in Glasgow, and the Trossachs looked even bleaker. It was raining while we were preparing to launch, raining while we rowed, raining when we got there, raining while we were setting up the camp… in fact, it didn’t stop raining until about midnight. When the tarpaulin and the tents were up and we were cosy in dry, warm clothes with the bbq aflame, Fate struck us in the face with its mighty fist. The steaks! The steaks were left behind, all alone, in the deep dark compartments of the fridge. Yet far was it from us to be discouraged by this cruel twist of fortune. We grilled bread with cheese instead. For dessert, we grilled halloumi. Yum! We drank wine and beer and sang merry songs (ok, we didn’t sing, as far as I remember). As it now gets dark very early, and there wasn’t much to do once the wine was gone, we opted for an early night.

When I woke up at 3 am the moon was so bright it cast shadows and the sky was clear enough to see Orion. For a while. The morning was also dry and mostly clear. The coffee from the thermo-flask was still luke warm for me and Benji, piss warm for Adam.
We were finally ready to head into the depths of the island in search of marsupials. Our first critter sighting was enlightening and disappointing at the same time. When we peered over the ledge, on which we had originally spotted what we thought was an albino wallaby, into the valley where we’d been at the time, we found our situation had turned. Up from the hill, we were peering into the valley at the albino wallaby! Or should I say… the white deer! Maybe it was an albino deer. It was stark white while one of his friends was sand coloured and another wallaby coloured. We took but a blurry picture before they pranced away.

The first real wallaby sighting occurred not long afterwards.Two marsupials hopped up towards us from behind a hill and started feeding. When we didn’t move, they didn’t seem to notice us much. So we watched me wallabies feed, mate, for about an hour and a half. We stalked them sneakily and stole their souls on many occasions, as they were scratching their pouches, heads, arms and munching twigs. We got close enough to one to hear it chew before it got bored and hopped away. They were very cute up close. Like a hybrid of a bunny, a rat and an antelope… i.e. bunny-ratelopes. Here’s one:

When we hit a boggy area we decided to turn back and break our fast. We lit another fire, finished the food and packed up the tents. Because it was a clear and sunny day we decided to casually row around our island before heading back to Luss. The loch was perfectly still with no hint of the wind or waves from last time. When we were to the west of the island, that somehow seemed huge all of a sudden, we stopped taking pictures for reasons that will be clear very shortly. Here is the end of that story:




Needless to say, we had steaks for dinner!

Moral of the story: When rowing gets tough, the tough hitch a ride.

Shine, Moon, Shine!

After the great success of last year’s mermaid costume, I have decided to take the festivities seriously again this Hallowe’en. I had picked a costume a long time ago, and have kind of started collecting material for it. By collecting I may or may not mean buying expensive boots on amazon because they fit into my costume.

As I have been emotionally intimidated by the evil protagonist of Karel Jaromír Erben’s famous poem Vodník as a child, I have decided to go as one of these creatures. The English (and apparently Russian) name is Vodyanoy or The Water Goblin. It’s a guy who lives underwater, usually wears a green coat, a green hat and red boots. In children’s stories, they tend to be funny, friendly fellows that pop out of the water to return an important usb device that fell out of one’s pocket while walking over a bridge, yet in reality they are evil. Just ask Erben. They prey on helpless water seeking tourists and maidens, drown them, and store their souls under upside down porcelain cups, although I have never found out whether this is just a disturbing hobby or a survival necessity. With maidens, they usually just marry them and father children on them. I think they don’t obey the law of the countries they live in, so polygamy would be possible but let’s face it, how many maidens do their laundry in the lakes these days?

The only problem with my costume is that here in the West, no one has really heard of this popular character of Slavic mythology, so I will end up being a misunderstood zombie-like weirdo with a cup. They are about to learn something new I guess.

So far I have collected a few items for my costume: the boots that I have mentioned before, some pretty seaweed all the way from Mull to either put on my hat or make accessories out of, stripy red and white tights. And I’m about to look around for a green bush hat.
I am particularly excited about trying out coloured lenses for the first time in my life. I am going for violet, as it seems like a good colour for someone who lives underwater, judging by how pink the whites of my eyes get when I open them for swimming. Also, I am hoping to ask the make-up artist Claire to make me look a bit drowned.
The pants will be the most challenging part. I might have to sew some up, like last year, which brings me to the climax of my post:

Sviť, měsíčku, sviť, ať mi šije niť.

The Lords and Ladies of the Isles…

So we made it to the Isle of Mull and back… with the car in one piece, seaweed for my halloween costume, lots of photos, Benji’s newfound childhood and yet more things on our TO DO list…

We started off badly, but once we’d successfully located the hand break and the reverse gear things picked up a bit. The vibe was good from the start as the foreign visitors (my mum, her sister Mima, her cousin Eva and Eva’s husband Lubo) really liked the Vauxhall Zafira that I booked for the trip. A seven seater but supposedly they felt like they were on a bus. The “ideme” and “nejdeme”of an infamous slovakian advertisement clip were more than common.

The weather that Metoffice threatened us with didn’t take long to make an appearance; when we got to Doune castle (Winterfell) at was already raining unscottish rain and as my shoes are easy to get soaked through, I had my first chance to test out the new gumboots… best buy ever! Stylish, comfortable, swell, they keep out the water and they keep in the smell!!!
We didn’t go inside the castle but the ticket lady was saying how amazing it was to see the great hall all done up for the filming of A Game of Thrones.
In Killin it was pissing down so I went straight into the tourist shop and got myself a poncho. We had lunch at the old inn and then went to the MacNab island, which was pretty but very very wet. Thank fuck for gumboots!

We decided the next stop was going to be our destination in Tralee bay. Fortunately, the day before we managed to book ourselves a six berth caravan unit in a caravan park by Oban.
The rain had stopped by the time we got there and the Slovakians were pretty blown away by the place. Located on a beach, the trailer won them over with a huge living space and smartly arranged rooms. Also, it was probably a lot better than what they imagined when I said we were staying in a caravan, mwahaha! For £25 per head it was by far the cheapest thing we could get and the ratio of price / comfort / privacy (yes, a triple ratio, geek!) was more than favorable and made me an accommodation guru in an instant.

Having a few hours of daylight left we decided to go check out the nearby town of Oban, which neither of us had ever been to. There we discovered a pretty little fishing town with a waterfront promenade, a crazy colosseum-like structure called McCaig’s Tower and rightfully nicknamed McCaig’s Folly, lots of ducks to spit on and lots of old ladies to disapprove of us doing so, and a Tesco supermarket with the most shocking car park in the world.
When we got back to Tralee bay with provisions of beer and whisky, we still had a little while to go and check out the little beach before it got dark. On the way there, we ran into a playground with a foofy slide where Benji finally had the opportunity to discover the joys of childhood other than candy and video games. I have pictorial evidence of this!
We spend the rest of the evening drinking whisky and leffes, chilling and talking in our caravan, yo!

The next day started off easier from the driving point of view, as we headed off early on Sunday morning. It was drizzling and the hills were wrapped in clouds. After we crossed on the Corran ferry, the mist started to lift and reveal beautiful countryside. We took some toursity breaks on the drive to the next ferry crossing which ended up being a huge mistake. When the road changed into a single track with passing places, we realised we might not make it in time for the ferry departure. It was hard to speed up on that road as one could run into oncoming traffic behind any odd hill and if the road happened to be straight, there were weasels promptly crossing the road to make the task more impossible. As we neared the terminal the traffic off the ferry slowed us a little bit more and we arrived to the slipway when the goddamned ferry was about 2 meters off the shore! Next crossing in two hours time!

A friendly lady from the refreshments stall gave us advice on how to spend the time and sent us up the old Drumnin road which supposedly goes all the way to Mull underwater. (Which we considered as an alternative way of getting there, with 0 excess and all, our liability reduction waiver never listed underwater driving not being covered.) We drove along the coast with a pretty view of Mull that had evaded us, but the sky was blue and cloudless by that point and everyone’s mood was improving. We found the wishing stone that the lady had mentioned and we made wishes before climbing through the hole, the way it’s meant to be done!

We finally crossed over to Mull and decided to take the low road, as Benji has not been down there with his parents. The plan was to see what happens and we ran into a sign for Duart castle, so we spontaneously went for it. It was a pretty location for a castle, with an underwater wreck of HMS Swan nearby. In the boggy area under the castle I managed to get my gay shoes wet. The only time I didn’t wear gumboots on an outing and this was what happened, dammit! It was nice and sunny otherwise.

Since we’d missed the “Last eating place for the next 27 miles” sign in Craignure, we pushed ahead and tried to look for a restaurant, to no avail. The hills were beautiful but when we finally got to the loch (about 26 miles from Craignure) we had to turn back to the wish of the majority (or more like people that expressed the wish, as there might have been four of us wanting to push on). That has left the isle of Iona and its famous abbey on our TO DO list.
Craignure Inn had amazing food though. I was hesitating for a long time but eventually decided to go for fish stew which was exceptionally yummy!

After that we pressed on! We took an earlier ferry back and made it just in time for the small Corran one this time. That way, we managed to see Glencoe before it got completely dark. The drive back started to be tiring somewhere along the Bonnie (but windie) Banks of Loch Lomond and after we hit the motorway a few gay signposts and missed turns didn’t help, but we saw some real life police action on Erskine Bridge, where a suicidal fellow on the phone was standing on the edge. Eventually we made it back safe and sound and before the hour of ghosts to the open arms of Claivid and Hellipp.