Greetings from Aberdeen, where I have been having a very nice weekend seeing friends, eating Thain's pies, and generally relaxing.
I've been meeting up with lots of people, including Kieran, who had a flatwarming party last night, and Mark, who has the wonderful job of "freelance ornithologist". The three of us first got to know each other in 1999 when we went on an aid convoy from Aberdeen to Kosova shortly after the war there, and spent much of the flatwarming party reminiscing over photos.
Talking of excellent job titles, my former travel buddy Niall (known to some as Nev) is now fully settled back in Aberdeen after his two years' teaching in South Korea, and has got a new job with an oil engineering company as an "Operator". Although that sounds a bit sinister and makes you wonder whether his company is a front for the sort of people Doctor Who should be fighting, it's actually about examining new prospective oil fields or something.
Alarmingly, though, Niall's job involves quite a bit of travel around the world to exotic, oil rich and unstable countries such as Venezuela, Angola and Nigeria. Alarming not because I care for Niall's safety, but because it threatens my chances in our long-running travel competition. We are both trying to have more countries under our belts than birthdays, and also are seeing which of us can visit more countries. I am in the lead, but by no more than one or two at the last count. Niall says that his new job could see him on up to ten overseas trips a year.
So keep hunting for those mullets, dear readers – I have a lot of catching up to do…