Today was the first day in two weeks that I ventured out of our neighbourhood. It was even the first day I ventured more than a few minutes walk in about 10 days. All I can say is that it was nice! The weather is damp and cold, but to me it felt refreshing. Walking kept you just warm enough to keep from shivering but not too warm that you wanted to unzip your fuzzy lined jacket.
R and I took K into the city centre on the subway. Being that it was late morning the train was pretty busy and we nestled ourselves into the cozy train at the end of the car. Being on this particular underground (also known occasionally as the 'Clockwork Orange' for the old orange trains and the fact it simply runs in a single loop) is much like being on a rollercoaster. Your hurtle along at what feels like to be dizzying speeds, turning sharply and being tossed about like a dingy on a stormy sea. My advice to those who get motion sickness is to stick to the middle of the cars. Still, for those who like the adrenaline rush, you can get a healthy dose of 'who the hell is driving this thing' by sitting at the end. And yes, there are drivers, which coming from Vancouver, BC, is rather novel. We always joke that Vancouver's Skytrain rapid rail system is the world's largest toy train set, but really, it's probably not all that far from the truth.
Another interesting set of facts about our underground will probably amuse or concern those of any decent height: The system dates back to 1896 and is the third oldest underground system after London's and Budapest's. Once can imagine that they weren't too concerned with people over 6 feet tall and the tunnel itself is only 11 feet (3.35 m) in diameter. Think about that for a second. Have you seen the movie The Incredibles? You know the scene where Elastagirl is on the little shuttle thingy and they go into the cavern and she has to flatten herself? Yeah, pretty much the same here. My poor brother who is 6'5" will be ducking to get into the train car.
Once you're inside though, and you get a seat, you realize the other quirk about such an old system: the noise. It is such that I can barely hear my music even with it turned almost all the way up, and a "conversation" with another person consists of shouting at each other, even if you're sitting next to each other. Couple that with the fact that few stations have escalators and there are no elevators, meaning we can't bring the K's buggy and have to carry her, means that I only ever take the subway if I'm by myself or with R. It's just too inconvenient with a toddler who still dislikes walking any great distance. Sure, it's been "updated" over the years and it's going through a modernization right now, but it's got a long way to go, as far as I'm concerned, before it's a system that can be considered accessible.
That said, we did head downtown and we managed to get two things: a pair of boots for me (much needed in the cold!) and a 3 foot pre-lit christmas tree to go on our table. I'm feeling rather festive just thinking about it.
Being out in the crowds today was nice actually, if you could handle dodging the people rushing past you. Buchanan Street (aka the Style Mile) is all decked out for the holidays and the usual pipe and drum bands have been replaced by Army and Salvation Army bands playing Christmas songs. My first hint of this was walking towards the first store I wanted to go to and hearing The Holly and the Ivy played by a trumpet and tuba. It just felt so… happy, much like how you do when you watch your favourite holiday films.
Perhaps it was the self-imposed isolation of the last week, but the crowds didn't bother me. After the bad cold K and I had, she, then I, then R all ended up with a very bad stomach bug. All I'll say to that effect is that I haven't experienced abdominal pain that bad since I gave birth…
The other unfortunate bit about being sick for so long is that now I'm behind in getting things in the mail, which is rather annoying. But I can only do what I can do and hope for the best.
Speaking of which, if you heard about the huge storm that hit the UK on Thursday, you'll be glad to know we made it through unscathed. Continual winds at 70 mph (112 kph), with gusts inland here in Glasgow at 90 mph (144 kph). On the coast, the gusts were often over 130 mph (209 kph) and I believe the highest recorded speed was at some high elevation at 156mph (251 kph)! I don't know about you, but even 112 kph is enough to make me stay inside. The last time I tried to take Kio out in a bad wind storm, a gust hit when I got to the bottom of the hill I live on and I had to throw my entire weight over the stroller to keep the last wheel from leaving the ground, as it had already started to tip. After that I promptly went home, where the wind decided to die down and the sun came out; not impressed at all. But that is the weather here in Scotland. Vancouver's frequent changes have nothing on this.
So there you go, I have surfaced, and as you can tell, am in a rather good mood even though I'm still not 100% better. Many more stories to come.