Diversity Day

21 07 2011

Its diversity day at work today.

Im not entirely sure what that means – so far the buildup has been emails with old wives tales from different countries. For some reason it has more mysticism and interest when prefixed by “the Myanmar people believe…”. I’ve been trying to think of ones we could do for Australia.

The Australian people believe:
– You’re not in til you hit the curb
– Eating is cheating
– Bro’s before ho’s

It still doesn’t quite work. Maybe that’s why the diversity day emails have stuck to mainly SE Asian cultures and hasn’t included any western groups.

I quietly paid tribute to the western groups with my breakfast choice, a traditional Australian dish:

(Actually, they are the NZ weetbix, but whatever – it counts still)

I am officially exhausted at the moment though. I’ve had a great July with friend after friend visiting me (I plan on updating my blog about it, but I was busy tourguiding and didn’t get enough photos on my cameras – so guests, please send me through some photos or upload them to facebook so I can nick them for here). It’s been so nice to see old friends and catch up properly with them – I miss all my friends spread over the world. And although facebook and email and all the rest lets us keep a bit of involvement in each others lives, nothing can replace face to face catching up.  Im very lucky in that the friends I have (or at least the ones I have retained over the years!) are the good ones where you can go for these long periods in between contact and then pick up right where things left off. This is how it should work. Awkward silences and long “soooooo……um….how are things?….” just arent gonna fly.

The other great thing about having my friends come visit is getting to show off Singapore. I really love this city – there are lots of things that are crazy or frustrating or confusing here, but for the most part its an incredible city. And I’ve taken to tour guiding with gusto! I do a mean visitors schedule now. Although I feel a bit for Megan, as the last of my three groups of visiting friends for the month I feel I have neglected her a bit – I’ve had to make/keep appointments for grooming/music etc (a month is really too long to go without these things!) and havent been able to dedicate the whole night to showing her around. She is easy going though and we’ve still seen and done a lot together. But my energy is sapped and its a shame I cant be more enthusiastic.  This is my post-night safari image from last night:

Im gross and puffy and baggy eyed and pale…urgh. (Also – look at those forehead wrinkles! I’d better keep an eye on Groupon for botox specials.)

But to amend for my awful hostessing this time round, I booked megan and I a ticket to Koh Samui to meet bec and her cousin over the weekend. Im excited about this – a weekend on a tropical island sounds like exactly the sort of thing I need!

And then Australia for a week and a bit. I really cant wait for that.





Scotland!

16 10 2008

OK, so Scotland was like three (or more!) weeks ago, but through a combination of extreme busy-ness at work and extreme exhaustion outside of work I haven’t written about it – mainly because it was one of the most amazing weekends ever and I wanted to do it justice. So here we go…

Before even leaving Melbourne we realised I would be in the UK around the same time as my good friend Ann would be – Ann was heading over to Scotland to spend time with her best mate from childhood Anne (now pay attention, it gets complicated – Ann from Melbourne has no E, Anne from Scotland has an E) and her husband Dan. The whole trip is Ann’s 60th Birthday present (a little earlier than the actual event, but no one is complaining). Anne was lovely enough to shout me a trip up to have a debauched weekend with them, and it didn’t fail to live up to expectations…!

I flew up to Aberdeen airport on a Friday afternoon and was met by my favorite Scottish trio (OK, so Dan is English, but he counts as Scottish for the purposes of this blog) and whisked off to the town of Torphins, 40 mins from Aberdeen in Dan’s 4WD – the beginning of Anne and Dan’s 4WD Tour of Scotland

Anne and Dan's Scottish Tours

We headed down to the Learney for dinner and to mix with the locals – and as the occasion was to properly celebrate Ann’s 60th and Dan’s 70th, Anne had organised to have a cake made – and what a cake!!! (the little candy Ann was originally standing, but fell down in the fridge, we decided fallen-over spread-eagle was more fitting anyway…)

The Birthday Cake

So after a big meal and lots and lots of wine and scotch (erm, i mean whiskey, they dont call it Scotch in Scotland) we headed back to the house and turned in so we could be ready for our 9am departure time.

We left the house at around 11am and hit some windey (I know thats spelled wrong, but i keep reading it as windy as in lots of wind) Scottish roads and wove our way through picturesque countryside towards Pitlochry to catch the Highland Games. We stopped in at our lovely B&B in East Haugh to drop off luggage first – isnt it cute?!
East Haugh House Hotel

We made our way to the highland games and had a blast – all the standard events were there – pipe bands, tug of war, tossing the cabre, hammer throwing, highland dancing…amazing – and the whole thing was set against these tree-covered hills with misty clouds licking the tops of them, so the whole place felt surreal and magical (my pink sky camera only adds to the effect)
Highland Games
The close of the games is traditionally heralded by a mass pipe band – where all the competing pipe bands come together and play. When you consider there were twenty bands competing that ends up being a shedload of players. It was the most amazing sound – I can see why scottish armies would have a pipe band with them before battle – I’d go running from the battlefield if I heard that noise coming towards me! Heres a few pics:
Highland Games
Highland Games
Ooh – also this cheeky bandleader decided he’d show us whats traditionally worn under a kilt – lucky my camera chose that exact moment to crap itself. Here he is in a non-compromising position:
Highland Games

After the most amazingly amazing meal at the hotel and a fabulous drunken D&M with Anne we retired for the night in preparation for the next day. The Sunday was to bring us on a beautiful drive through the Scottish countryside to see the beautiful sights of Scotland, we first stropped at Killiekrankie National Park
Killiekrankie
We went shopping at expensive luxury shops – with a whole house of Cashmere (I thought of you Kaiser Chief!!! “Caaaashmere…”) and we went looking at lovely Lochs (I’ve blanked out on the names of these Lochs Ann and Anne – any info would be appreciated!!!)
Ann at a Loch
A different Loch
We drove right through the mountains and Ive never been through mountains that big before – it was pretty amazing – would be quite a sight to behold with the heather in bloom (apparently I missed the heather by about 3 days!). We stopped in at Braemar which is famous for holding the Highland Games that is traditionally attended by the Queen
Braemar
From here we headed back to lovely Torphins for an Ann and Lauren prepared meal (ok, so all Lauren did was cut the veggies, but it counts!!!).

The following day Ann, Dan and I set out for my last day in Scotland – Anne had a backlog of work to get through so wasn’t able to join us, but was there in spirit! We stopped in first at the Bridge of Feugh which is a great vantage point to see the Salmon leaping up the River Dee – I didn’t see any, but I’d believe it would be pretty sweet to see – heres a photo of no salmon.

Bridge of Feugh
We drove further afield and came to Dunotter Castle – or at least the ruins of what was once Dunotter Castle – its set right on the cliffs overlooking the North Sea and had a really ominous surreal feel to it as we approached – the gloomy overcast sky probably only added to the ominous feeling (the sky was grey in reality, not pink!).
Dunotter Castle Ruins
From a ruined abandoned castle we continued on our tour and came upon Drum Castle which was built over a period of several hundred years with various bits and pieces added from time to time – was quite interesting to walk through the different wings of the house, like walking through time periods…

Drum Castle

We finished our day of castles with Crathes Castle – which remained the family home until very recently. They were telling us about the building features which were incorporated to deter invading soldiers such as low doorways and trip steps on the stair cases – thats not those stairs that turn into a slide like in the cartoons (I was shattered…) – its a step built to a different height to the other steps in order to trip up someone running up the stairs – now I’ve decided that thats a great excuse to explain my clumsiness when it comes to climbing stairs at home, work, at the station, anywhere really – “oops, trip step – not me.” Anyway, heres Dan looking up at Crathes Castle

Crathes Castle
We headed home to the most lovely home-cooked meal that Anne had prepared for us and I was sad to be leaving my little pseudo-family behind, I had the most amazing weekend, saw some brilliant things and most importantly had the best company ever – Thanks to Anne and Dan and Ann for making it so lovely! big kisses and hugs to them all.

XOXOXOXOX