Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Update on Hamish the Haggis

Firstly I'm getting hungry just thinking about him... But, I'm beginning to wonder if by the time he gets here I will have become so personally involved that I can't find it in my heart to eat the poor little beastie.

Anyway, after his clearance delay at Oslo, he sobered up enough to pass the breath test this morning and was released.
Of course, this being Norway, nothing happens quickly... I guess he's been indoctrinated into the Norwegian lifestyle all day as he's had to sit around Oslo until 20.21 tonight.. Assuming he's been denied access to alcohol, he's most likely been eating cake and drinking coffee.. Now, Norwegian cakes are GOOD, and I mean REALLY GOOD, (coffee is crap, but best not say too much about that).. So Hamish is likely to arrive here heavier than he started out.. YUM YUM. ;)

So, I'm sitting here drooling over my keyboard, trying to remember what Haggis tastes like. Wondering if I can afford a bottle of whisky to drink a toast to this wonderful creature, and Chieftain of the Puddin Race, when he arrives....
Or should I just eat the bugger first and celebrate later?? Because if a real Scot like Hamish gets near whisky there will be nothing left for me.

These questions and more may be answered later. Or earlier, if our broadband connection speeds up. ;)

Yun's aa fir enoo

Monday, January 30, 2012

Up Helly Aa.

Above image courtesy of Kozetland1 and Shetlopedia.com

In the small town of Lerwick, capital a small group of islands known as Shetland, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea, and on the last Tuesday of January every year, normally sane men start dressing up as women.... As well as Vikings, and just about anything else.....
Of course that's why some locals jokingly refer to this day as 'Transvestite Tuesday'. But it's all part of the world famous fire festival called Up Helly Aa.

Here's a few links which will explain it better than I could ever do:
Shetlopedia.com, with hundreds of pictures (That's a wiki based site so navigation is easy with the normal category system)

Kozetland1 (Bloger, photographer, and one of the main contributors to Shetlopedia for pictures and info related to Up Helly Aa.)

Official Up Helly Aa Website

And finally a link to a webcam broadcast which will become live tomorrow, 31st January, the day of the festival.
That webcam link will be well worth watching tomorrow evening from about 1900 UK time.

Oh, just while I'm here:
An update on Hamish the Haggis.
As last reported he arrived in Oslo at 05.15 on Thursday 26th.. God only knows what he's been getting up to since then, because when I checked DHL tracking tonight, this is what I found:

Monday 30th January, 13.45: Clearance processing completed, Oslo - Norway
Monday 30th January, 1855:  Processed for clearance, Oslo - Norway
Monday 30th January, 1856:  Clearance Delay...
This last line is kinda what I expected anyway... Just think about the usual problems with Scots travelers.... Yup, now I've figured out what he's been up to since Thursday. He's spent the weekend in the pub, now he's not allowed on the flight until he sobers up.

Onywye, yun's aa fir enoo.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hamish the Haggis

I suppose like most things which happen in life a simple word or name can trigger a chain of events which seem almost impossible to comprehend.
This was the case when a simple mention of Robbie Burns made me realise that I hadn't eaten Haggis for 5 years. And just like a Glasgow teenager who hasn't had a bottle of Buckfast for a while the craving for Haggis grew stronger and stronger with every hour that passed.
So what could be done about this dreadful situation? The answer of course was Google.
Now since I live in Norway I knew it wouldn't be simple to obtain a Haggis. Firstly import of wildlife is seriously restricted, with the exception of Shetlanders which seem to be allowed. Secondly importing of meat is impossible, so that ruled out getting somebody in Scotland to bump one off and bung it in the mail... Actually, since I've just mentioned 'bumping off' (slang for killing), I'd better explain a bit more about what a Haggis is, and how to catch and kill it, purely for the benefit of folk who don't know what the beast is.

The Haggis (Latin name: Haggis Haggis) is a small creature which is indigenous to the upland regions of Scotland. Because of the hilly nature of it's habitat and the fact that it will only run anti-clockwise around the hills, it has undergone a rather unusual evolutionary change to its undercarriage over time. Its left legs have become shorter than the right ones in order to help it remain upright, and although this must have been helpful in the days when Scotland had predators like wolves, it has become a problem since man realised how tasty this little creature is.
Man being a more logical predator than the wolf quickly figured out that to easily catch a Haggis all he had to do was place an obstruction in the beasts path which forced it to turn round. It then went off balance because its legs are no use going clockwise around hills, tumbled to the bottom of the hill, and could be easily captured before it regained its composure.
Over the years many obstructions have been used to reverse the path of the Haggis. Including stone walls, fences, Hadrian's Wall, and the latest one,,,, Wind Turbines. The latter has proved to be useless as an aid to capturing Haggis, which is a pity since there are so many windmills about and it had been hoped they could be of some use for something..
Now that the beast has been captured we come to the grizzly business of dispatching it from it's earthly existence. Perhaps if you're squeamish you should skip to the next paragraph before I tell how it is done. In the past there were many methods used including knife, bullet, humane killer, and sedative overdose. But all these methods had to stop due to animal rights concerns, and another method was quickly found. It is the most evil form of death ever invented.. The poor beasts are forced to watch TV repeats of Big Brother.. It is a quick death though, usually only taking a few seconds.

But, back to my desire for Haggis. I eventually found a site which could send this delicacy to me in a manner which was permitted by Norskie import regulations.. The beast had to be hermetically sealed in a metal container. So now that I knew it was possible, all that was left was which size of Haggis to order, and this was decided by the shipping costs.. £42 to ship a 1 Kg baby Haggis, £38 to ship a spotty teenage 3Kg Haggis, or £42 to ship a fully grown and haired over 10Kg specimen. So that was that decision made, although I'm still trying to figure out why 5Kg was cheaper than 1Kg.

As is always the case with me, at this point I thought that it was best to assign a name to this poor creature, rather than call it 'IT', so thus the good old Scottish name of Hamish was given to this poor little armour clad highland animal which was soon to be travelling to Norway.
Now I've traveled to Norway with Flybe, and SAS. Both of which are fairly competent carriers which tend to fly in straight lines,, point A to point B,, but poor little Hamish was to be entrusted to the care of DHL,, (Which means something like 'Don't Hope Long'),, and their idea of a direct route is from point A to point B, via points C, D, E, F,,etc..
And so his journey began, and to date it goes something like this, according to the DHL tracking system:
23rd January 15.48 : Stuffed in cans and shipped from Edinburgh
23rd January 16.56 : Processed at Edinburgh (Guess that was painful)
23rd January 19.35 : Departed Edinburgh facility (And let's face it departing Edinburgh is GOOD)
24th January  03.42 : Arrived at sort facility Gatwick
24th January  05.23 : Clearance processing complete at Gatwick (I wonder if he had to suffer a full cavity search?)
24th January 08.01 : Departed Gatwick (What a relief,,, that's no place for man nor beast)
25th January 01.43 : Processed at Brussels,, Belguim...
At this point I started to feel really sorry for this poor little traveller. After all he was heading for Norway but getting further away all the time.
25th January 03.01 : Departed Brussels (Happy, but wondering where to hell he would land up next.)
26th January 05.15 : Oslo. Yup that's in Norway, or at least it pretends to be...
Where to hell was the poor little fellow during that 26 hour period between Brussels and Oslo?
This question, and many others, may well be answered when he eventually arrives in Vestnes.

To be continued.......

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's been ages...

I don't know why, but I just suddenly lost interest in writing anything.
That horrible weekend in Copenhagen killed my interest in travel, taking pictures, and human nature all in one quick disaster.
So I've been quiet for a while.
But it's hard to stay quiet when there's so much I want to share, so I'm slowly crawling back to my blog, and maybe, just maybe, we'll get some weather this year which will make it possible to take a few pictures of this wonderful country I stay in which are worth sharing.

In the meantime I have a little story to tell about something which is currently happening:

I'm not sure how much my readers know about Haggis, (try a Google search if you don't know what it is), or better still just wait for the story of "Hamish The Haggis" which will be posted here over the next few days, that way you'll know the real truth about Haggis and how the poor animals life cycle can be so dramatically affected by the interventions of import regulations, international carriers, and my hunger for a taste of Scotland.

I'll post part one of the story tomorrow with information gleaned from the archives of DHL about the trouble Hamish has had in his travels from Scotland to Norway...

Oh, and just in case you think I'm going to write something sensible. You've lost the plot.
If you think I'm going to write something stupid. You're right.
And if you think I've lost the plot... You're wrong. I'm just so very concerned for the welfare of the Haggis, Scotland's most beautiful little animal, which has somehow managed to escape the protection of the World Wildlife Foundation.

Check back tomorrow....

Yun's aa fir enoo.
;) ;)