Wednesday 16 December 2009

Kindness of Strangers

Well the exams are all over and I am almost back up in Aberdeen. Politics was not too bad: a question on the comparison of powers of the Prime and First Ministers and the other about the Economists’ Democracy Rating positions. I should have done reasonably well in them.

As I write this I am on the train up to Aberdeen but I will not get internet access until I am home, so the post is artificially late! The doors have just shut and we are leaving Arbroath so it is not long to go!

After getting my two ridiculously over-filled holdalls onto the street (in addition to my overfilled back-pack) I was beginning to regret being 100% convinced that I needed EVERYTHING in them! A very kind woman saw my predicament and helpfully offered to take one of the holdalls along to the station a few minutes away. She was an absolute life saver, honestly. I think I would have probably missed my train that was meant to be 30 minutes later but for her but thanks to her taking the other one I actually got there just before the earlier train, giving me more time in Queen Street to get my lunch and find a trolley to put the bags on. In the unlikely event that this said woman is reading this blog, thank you very much indeed, and enjoy your trip to Australia. Do not over-pack like I did!

I am sitting here with my hamsters snuggling up in their small travel case. It is nearly one and a half years since I got my two Roborovskis 8-bit and Byte. They are still going strong, with Byte being a wee bit fatter than 8-bit (I do not know why, they get the same amount of food!) Hopefully they can have a good Christmas and live for a good while longer. They are timid creatures compared with Syrian hamsters but I love them all the same. Word to the wise though is that if a water bottle falls out of its holder they WILL escape through that tiny hole and make their way to the bathroom and hide with their emergency food supply behind the bag of Andrex loo rolls!

I have been informed by someone with a reliable anonymous source that as well as it SNOWING in London (though not staying when it lands, admittedly) it is raining in Aberdeen. This is most disconcerting as it was sunny when I left Glasgow and there have been only sporadic splutters of rain on the way up thus far. It is absolutely typical of Aberdeen though, and it would be when I return. Far from a white Christmas this year, we are destined to get a wet one, and instead of snowball fights, we will be swimming in the streets!

The bank balance has taken a minor hammering in the last couple of weeks while after a period of being quite frugal. Not too bad though, and I am going to see if the newspaper shop at Midstocket has got some work I can do over the holidays. Before I started Uni I had a spell as a paper boy, with a Monday to Saturday morning round and a couple of Sunday morning rounds, which brought in £35 a week. Such moneys would definitely come in handy over the festive period!

That is us nearly arrived in Montrose! We are slowing down as I type... I should probably give dad a buzz when I get to Stonehaven. He is not replied to my texts saying that I was leaving Glasgow and that I had got to Dundee, but he is probably not got his mobile on him... honestly he actually does not get the whole point of a mobile phone! Minor rage.

I am getting all excited for Christmas now. What I am really looking forward to getting a few good meals down me after 3 consecutive days of using baked beans and toast as it was all that was left in the house. Can’t wait to see everybody again, too. Dad said something about us doing a fun musical piece for the Carol and Mince Pies event on Sunday, which should be fun. He also said something about us going to the Boys Brigade’s ten-pin bowling this evening, seeing Bill and Edith down in Laurencekirk tomorrow and then going to Dundee to see a performance of A Christmas Carol, which sounds like it might be enjoyable.

That is really about it. We’re about to arrive at Laurencekirk, and I am reluctant to kill the battery on my laptop, so since there is plenty time to let you know about future events in the coming days, this is where the day’s update ends.


Monday 14 December 2009

Skating on Thick Ice!

Well today wasn't the nuclear destruction I'd quite expected it to be! I woke up in a buoyant mood and the Contract exam seemed to go pretty well, too. A huge weight off the shoulders that the "biggie" has been sat and it's just the Politics one left on Wednesday.

I have, incidentally, discovered that it is now a proven fact that the regime that is the most efficient in killing pre-exam nerves is to stay up until 3:30am installing Windows 7 as acquired at the special student price of £34, then force yourself to get up at 6:30am, eat a bowl of Sugar Puffs, walk 3 miles mostly uphill to University, buy a half litre bottle of Sprite and a bacon roll from the Hub, consume, read over notes rapidly as a final half-hearted attempt at retaining knowledge, and then pray that the compulsory question contains the stuff you actually know the cases for. Infallible. Fact.

On the subject of Windows 7 I've obviously not been using it long but already appears stabler and slightly more aesthetically helpful than Vista. long may it continue!

Afterwards, as a means of celebrating the end of the Law exam diet, a few of us went into George Square to partake in something I last tried about six years ago: ice skating! Michael quickly picked things up again after his lessons in the distant past, and Jonny and I eventually got the hang of it. Meanwhile, Messrs Cameron and David watched on sneering before bailing abruptly to KFC. They missed out on good fun. I must confess to falling once, though in my defence, I was trying to slow down as I got stuck in traffic... honest guv!

I've always liked German food in it's "stodgy" filling sort of way. With this in mind, I decided to take a quick gander down to the German Market outside the St Enoch Centre. Smoked pork loin with sauerkraut in a bun: I died and went to heaven! It reminded me of the food we ate in our holiday to the Rhineland in 2008. It's not fussy, it's not special or particular: it's gleeful and cheerful and leaves that glowing feeling inside. I'd recommend that those who have the opportunity head along: it's great. I was tempted to try the Mulled Wine, but on a student budget, the price was prohibitive!

On a slightly sadder note, I also went into Borders today to spend the remainder of last year's Christmas gift card! Of course, there was the "small" issue of them being in administration and gift card expenditure having to be matched pound for pound by the customer. It's a real shame that book retailers are succumbing to the monopoly of Waterstones. Sure, they provide a huge library of books, but it just feels too franchised. It was the same when Ottakers was bought out in Aberdeen. Terrible shame. In any case, I bought Eddie Jordan's autobiography, which ought to be a good light hearted read for the Christmas break!

Finally, I had the Jags Trust monthly board meeting this evening. I thought it went relatively well and we were well on the way to getting to the heart of some pretty key issues. A lot of work still to do and obstacles to outmanoeuvre, but we're getting somewhere. It was promising to see the Race Night balance sheet looking pretty healthy too, so hopefully the money raised can go to good use.

That's everything for now. Tomorrow I'm going to make an ambitious attempt at half heartedly studying for Politics, pretending to have read Lijphart and Dicey. Excellent.


Sunday 13 December 2009

Work before anything, really!

Regrettably I decided to stay at home today in order to prepare for my exam in Contract Law tomorrow. I'm involved in the Hyndland Church Choir, and today we were supposed to be singing Daughters of Zion as an Anthem. Had it been any other day, I'd probably have gone this morning, but a combination of tiredness and revision means that I missed out. I'm a wee bit disappointed, as it's the last service I could have been at until the start of Second Semester, as I'm heading back up to Aberdeen midweek. Ach well, as long as the exam goes well tomorrow.

I'm really hoping the two questions aren't a nightmare. I've done a fair bit of preparation for this, but I can't help but feel woefully unprepared all the same.

Anyway, after a pretty solid 5 or so hours of reading through notes, and trying to memorise case names I've decided to take a break and make some food. The cupboards are nearly bare though so it looks like beans on toast! Oh for the joys of student life...

Points of View's on just now. Just occasionally people make a decent point on this show, but most of the time, the music and credits Nazis are out in force. And I'd like to know exactly WHO likes Miranda. It's quite possibly one of the most unfunny "comedy" show ever to have been commissioned, and its "star" is the least funny individual I've ever seen on television since Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.

Then you've got people who criticise The Thick of It because of the strong language in it. Well here's some news for you all. People swear. A lot. Especially in stressful situations. People who don't/can't swear are often far angrier people because they have no stress outlet. It's maybe not desirable in certain company, but for the context here it's entirely appropriate. What's more some of the lines are absolutely priceless. My personal favourite tags are "fucking omni-shambles" and "they won't eat their own dicks: they're journalists not Rangers fans!". The semi-ad-lib nature of it also makes it seem so much more authentic and it makes it just so much more endearing. That said, the final episode of the series was a little bit of an anti-climax. His return seemed to be too easily engineered, although they have surely set themselves up for an election special. Stay tuned!

Still on TV, I can't believe some of the bad criticism Gary Tank Commander has come in for. I don't think people necessarily realise the stereotypes it sets out to ridicule properly. I found it absolutely side-splitting and light hearted: probably one of the best sit-coms to have come out of Scotland in the last few years (and I include the original Still Game in that.) I was in tears in the last episode when said protagonist started comparing the War with Iraq to making a cheese sauce! A must watch for everyone!

That's all for today. Time for some nosh then back to this Contract exam preparation! Can't wait to get it out the way as then it's just the Politics exam and I'm off home for Christmas!