Blog

Kosovo.

What a dream it was to visit this place. I don’t mean that it had been a lifelong ambition. But my aim at the beginning of 2018 was to go to places ‘off the beaten path’. The Balkans epitomised that but more so than the others, the Republic of Kosovo.

I only stayed one night in the capital city Prishtina before heading further north to the city of Peja. I’d never felt so surreal to be there. The youngest country in Europe. It’s safe to say I didn’t look remotely native. But everyone I met were all humbly welcoming and I even had a conversation with a local in French. He invited me for a coffee the next time I would visit.

Throughout my time travelling in these countries I encountered Islam on various occasions. I didn’t know a great deal about the religion and its teachings but on a personal level for a while now I’ve felt compelled to research a little. So I visited my first mosque while spending time in Sofia and then visited another two throughout my time in Kosovo. The hostel where I stayed in Peja was also stacked with plenty of books and I stumbled upon an English version of a book teaching Islam. I spent one of my evenings reading some pages and resting quietly in my bed area.

I’m not a believer of any religion. My own opinion is that to be a believer in any faith would require years of studying and education. I never enjoyed being raised as a catholic mainly because I didn’t understand it. What I do respect now is the power religion has to change someones life for the better and for that I would not attempt to persuade anyone to give up their learning. Unless it was some dark, hateful shit.

Here’s to you dear Kosovo. You helped me live out a small dream and welcomed me with grace. Until next time.

p1000969
Prishtina.
p1000973
Abandoned Church.
p1000999
Political Graffiti knows no bounds.
p1000977
Architecture 101.
p1000984
Prishtina
p1000980
Newborn.
p1010093
Albanian Roots.
p1010002
Mosque in Prishtina.
p1010027
Peja
p1010096
Trail Beginnings.
p1010048
Peja Mountains.
p1010050
Peja Mountains.
p1010076
A Tim in Kosovo.
p1010086
Peja Mountains.
Advertisements

Pour L’Amour des Verts

As promised, here are some snapshots from the Saint Etienne and Lyon Ligue 1 derby match. Unfortunately for the home side a first half goal wasn’t enough to see it through. After a disappointing first half Lyon came back out from the break and took control. The final score was 2-1.

However… Quelle ambiance! 

It’s been a while now that I’ve hoped to make it through for a game and, the result aside, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The supporters were friendly & passionate and even reminded me of going to the games back home in Glasgow. Something I miss dearly.

Until next time, les Stephanois

 

p1010964

 

”Stade Geoffroy Guichard”

 

p1010965

 

”Le chaudron va bouillir!”

 

p1010974

 

”Absolute screamer of a vintage kit in the museum. If anyone knows where I can get me one, hit me up.”

 

p1010983

 

”For the love of the Green..”

 

p1010996

 

”Combattre pour son club. Mouiller le maillot. Respecter ses couleurs.”

 

 

Allez qui c’est les plus forts?
Évidemment c’est les verts
On a un bon public et les meilleurs supporters
On va gagner!
Ça c’est juré allez…

 

 

Hangin’.

So I’m trudging downstairs to the bins out the back. Pair of old shorts and last nights jumper. It’s late in the afternoon of the first day of the New Year. The end of the festive season for me as it’s back to 6am wake-ups and out on the grind tomorrow morning. I pass a couple of fresh-faced neighbours and we exchange the usual niceties.

‘Bonjour monsieur. Bonjour messieurs-dames.’

There’s something about the people I meet in this same situation that I can’t get my head around. The seemingly carelessly ecstatic aura that they encompass. Emanating an ambience of sheer life and energy.. Ready for the adventures of the day that lay ahead. Even if (for talking’s sake) the Gilet Jaunes were to successfully overthrow Macron and his government or an ISIS uprising raised hell in the French suburbs these same ostensibly & untouchable folk will always be there to meet me, dishevelled and hanging, on the first floor landing of the flats of Cours Berriat.

I’m back in my cave now. The room is a tip. I haven’t taken the time to unpack my bag from the week spent back home in Glasgow. In all honesty I haven’t even managed to sort myself out yet. But I don’t really mind. For now I’m back in my own little world ready to jump back into my studies and my work. Back into grafting. Learning on the go. And I fucking love learning. Learning is power, strength.. profound and utter bravery. To me anyway. It takes a courageous soul to commit to education in the world that we live in. Often I think about what it means to rebel against the system of education in fear of something truly feign. A common theme throughout young people who choose to walk a path that strays away from their potential. Like me when I left school. Why did I not want to learn? Why did I not want to acquire knowledge? I think it was probably just that I couldn’t be arsed. Are all the disenchanted folk similar in that respect? Can we all just not be arsed? It’s possible. If it wasn’t for this hangover I’d probably indulge a bit. But I’m fucking hanging and for my own well-being I’ve decided to give it a by. Earlier on a friend asked me why I once collected so many records and threw myself into the clubbing industry as an aspiring DJ, only to give it all up and sell all that I had. I wish I had just said ‘I couldnae be arsed.’

I’ve got a few hours left now to prepare my work things and lay low for a while. I’ve just finished reading ‘Hings’ by Chris McQueer (what a book by the way) and I’m about to stick on the trusty Fitbaw Manager in the hope that signing foreign wonderkids will nurture my bevvy-riddled corpse back to a decent standard.

Happy New Year everyone. Bonne Année.

Aidan x

This Mad Fabled Land Called Skopje.

 

P1000956

 

Skopje

 

When I started planning this trip I asked myself what I wanted to do and at the very top of my list was to go and see some places that didn’t fit the norm. And just like Limmy spoke of Yoker as ‘some mad fabled land‘ I definitely felt a bit like the man himself, sitting at Sofia Bus Station with the rest of the troops as we humbly awaited to hit the road. Obviously a peely-wally Scotsman wi’ ginger hair stuck out like a sore thumb at the Balkan bus stop. But I wasn’t for caring. I was heading on my merry way to the Macedonian capital of Skopje.

I’m not gonna lie. This place is a bit mental. Half the city is being reconstructed as the government try to promote tourism and move away from the carry on with the name and the culture. I don’t even know where to begin if i’m honest. The people sound Slavic. The alphabet is Cyrillic. But the fridge magnet I brought back was definitely a wee Greek soldier. I think that’s why I bought it. It represented my confusion by this mesh of cultures. I’m not the only one. Bulgarians say Macedonia is Bulgaria. The Greeks say it’s Northern Greece. Albanians say it’s Eastern Albania. And the whole time there’s a collective of politicians sitting in the Macedonian government ripping the arse out of it and spending millions on rubbing in the fact that they don’t really care.

And if you thought that was bad, I hadn’t mentioned religion. On the outskirts of Skopje there were some hills, the top being visible from the city centre. Erected at the peak of the hill was a massive Christ’s Cross and at night it glowed clear white so as to look as though it was suspended in the dark night sky. Sound lads. Looked a bit like a Justice cover album and that gave me some peace of mind. But when walking through the old Town with this in full, clear vision and the Islamic Call to Prayer blasting through the Mosque speakers not far ahead… I grew up in the West of Scotland so religious tension is generally not a bother to me. But this was probably on another level. At least, the natives  didn’t seem too fussed.

In the city centre there’s an Arc de Triomphe twenty yards away from where Mother Teresa was born. Then another short distance down the road there is a garden with miniature sized statues and memorials inspired by different countries. There’s a replica of the Berlin Jewish Memorial. In the main city square there is a massive statue which is basically Alexander the Great but because the Greeks are absolutely raging it’s been officially named ‘Man On a Horse’. They don’t give a monkeys.

There was a free street festival on during my time. The headliners were a national hip-hop treasure. I didn’t understand a word and there was points where it seemed like more of a political rally than a concert. It was government funded after all. Still, it was class.

 

 

”Rap music is not dead. It faked it’s own death and moved to Skopje.”

 

It’s not all about the madness though. I took a bus from the city centre with some others to Matka Canyon. Twenty five minutes away. Beautiful place with a nice bar, a restaurant and a small pier where we hired some kayaks.

 

P1000957

 

Matka Canyon

 

An absolute anomaly of a place. Bewilderingly abnormal.

The North Korea of Europe. There I said it. Inspired by they mad Macedonians. Bold as brass.

And I absolutely loved it.

 

Unfortunately I didn’t take too many photos, but the internet is a smashing place. And here is a site that documents perfectly oor Skopje. Have a look!

(https://bbqboy.net/wild-wacky-skopje-macedonia-one-strangest-places-weve/)

 

 

 

 

The Snowfields.

I recently began reading a new book, the Wild Boy. Written by the Italian author Paolo Cognetti the book has been released in several different countries and languages. My copy is in French (Le garçon sauvage) and it’s the first ‘Roman Français‘ (French translation of novel) I have tested myself with. I’m fairly struggling to say the least. My knowledge of French vocabulary is not at an extremely high level. Nevertheless I’m enjoying it, and enjoying learning French in general. It’s opening up my world in very significant ways and has given me a desire to learn a little bit of others too. Whenever I’m using Duolingo (a fantastic language learning website) I find myself having a bash at ‘plusiers langues‘. So far I’ve done French, Spanish, German, Italian, Irish and Russian. But don’t expect me to be publishing multilingual posts anytime soon. I had considered writing more in French as it’s my strongest second language. For now I aim to continue like so and share some international works in the meantime.

 

le garcon sauvage

 

”Une expérience de la solitude en montagne pour retrouver l’écriture.”

See if you can work that one out for yourselves….

My desire to share some work from this novel has been slightly muddled by the fact that I am an English speaker reading an Italian novel translated into French.. My head is fried with the multilingualism at the moment. I don’t think anyone realises how tiring it can be just until they’ve tried it. My cognitive skills have been retrained to think and develop thoughts in an entirely new structure. And with these new structures often comes new attitudes to general life because languages are formed by different human perceptions. All in all it’s fascinating to say the least…

Before Cognetti begins his novel he shares some work by an Italian poet, Antonia Pozzi. Despite committing suicide at a very young age she managed to produce hundreds of poems. I love the French translation and I’m very happy to share that along with my own attempt to translate into English.

”J’ai séjourné dans les hauteurs
au-delà des sapins –
cheminé par monts et vaux
lumineux –
Traversé des lacs morts – et les ondes prisonnières
m’ont chuchoté
un secret –
longé des rives blanches, appelant
par leur nom les gentianes
assoupies –
J’ai rêvé dans la neige d’une immense
ville de fleurs
ensevelie –
J’ai écumé les monts
hérissée comme une fleur –
regardant les rochers,
les hautes parois
dans les mers du vent –
et, chantant à mi-voix, je me souvenais
d’un ancien été
où les rhododendrons amers
prenaient feu dans mon sang.”

La Route du Mourir, Névés. Traduction de Patrick Remaux.

”I stayed in the heights
Beyond the firs –
Surrounded by mountains and valleys
luminous –
Crossing the dead lakes – and the captive waves
they whispered to me
a secret –
Along the white banks, called
by their name the Gentians
drowsy –
I dreamed in the snow of a vast
city of flowers
buried –
I scoured the mountains
Standing tall like a flower –
Watching the rocks,
the high walls
in the seas of wind –
and, singing in a hushed tone, I remembered
a bygone summer
where the bitter rhodonderons
caught fire in my blood”

Road to Death, The Snowfields. Translation, Aidan Meehan.

antonia pozzi  Antonia Pozzi.

 

 

 

 

 

Le Ciel Rose du Soir.

A thought track I wrote at the weekend about reflection. Feel free to share with anyone who this may be of use to, or give your own input in the comment section below. 

P1000441

In a long, drawn-out, thought provoking attempt to piece together my own opinion I’ve sit myself down on a Saturday evening with a pen, paper and the privilege of time. It’s my 24th birthday and for me this one is quite significant. Not for most people. Or maybe it is. Normally it’s the number 18 or 21 that push people into some form of unadulterated frenzy. The landmarks that symbolise the new beginnings, the next steps or the turning of corners. ‘Starting a fresh!’ Naturally turning 24 isn’t one of those. A purgatory of age. Which in fairness is probably why there is a deeper significance than its predecessors. Turning 24 has done exactly what it says on the tin.

It hasn’t been a new beginning. A next step. The turning of a corner. Or a fresh start.

It hasn’t been any of them. And thats where my thoughts begin to rumble.

Every time a birthday came around, or a trivial occasion like new year (mibby even a win for the Scottish national team at the fitbaw) I suddenly became enthused at the thought of an opportunity to redefine myself. Big promises were made and a few prayers were said (depending on whether I believed in the Lord Almighty at the time.. He always seemed to pop up for the big moments.) resulting in sparks of genuine hope to seek out new levels of self-fulfillment. A desperate ploy to make life bearable disguised as renewed ambition. Eventually the fatigue set in. The mask slid off and left me helpless. Stranded. Exposed in the glare of a million spotlights. At least thats what it feels like when the walls are closing in.

This years anniversaire has come and gone without the chance to notice it. It is turning 24 after all. I’m a big boy. Nae presents and parties at this age.

But I don’t have that desire or thirst for radical change. I’m toying with the notions of a challenged contentment and doleful dullness. No complaints of an urgent nature. My position, my direction all seemingly positive. Its the first time in my life I’ve felt responsible and (to a certain extent) capable. I’m growing as a person and I’m enjoying it. And in the grand scheme of things I would say that this is a basic requirement in the quest for accomplishment.

So whats the deal with the doleful dullness?

From a young age I understood what it meant to not have control over dangerous situations that impact greater than what is feasibly contained. Losing that control would be another harsh lesson despite the willing endeavors to avoid and resist. To describe the emotions of revisiting certains memories is a difficult picture to paint. On a personal level, an arduous notion to grasp. How does a 12 year old know how to act in life changing situations that will go on to shape him for the rest of his life? Even with hindsight an answer isn’t clear.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m in a good place right now. And I have been for a while now. But it’s always there. That back-to-earth feeling whenever I go to take those fucking happy pills. Every day I remind myself theres two 50 milligram capsules of Sertraline waiting to align the chemical imbalance in my brain, and one day sooner or later when the time is right I’ll have to restart a battle with an old foe in order to win my freedom again.

Yet how does one approach a battle with himself?

Honestly I take great fear in this. I know what its like to already feel defeated and I know what its like to look up from the pits and not see any lights. I don’t want to go there again. I was afraid of everything. Afraid of myself. Afraid of my surroundings. I didn’t work or go out nor could I bare to eat. I had turned on myself to a point of almost no return. My mind began to run riot and in some cases tricked me. One day at my lowest point I went a walk along the River Clyde with the intent to find some headspace. . I stopped beside the river and looked across the water, gazing intentedly, trying to make sense of it all. My head filled with darkened fear. I was losing control again. My mind drew my eyes into the middle of the water and I felt the river speak to me. There weren’t any voices, just this magnetic-like energy drawing me to the barriers. My entire being locked in for a few minutes and then I pulled myself away. I remember this time as clear as day. Birds flew over the river but they didn’t settle me and the sky was a cruel mixture of very deep, hoar clouds and a bitter, crimson sky.

I know this makes for troublesome reading. Nevertheless it would be easier to pretend this didn’t happen at all. For the sake of comfortability I could swear to never mention it
for as long as I lived. Comfortability for you. Locking it away in a forgotten chamber in my head for it to scream at me sporadically like a damned and caged soul. I’d call that regression. This year alone I’ve achieved too much to start going backwards now. I’ve broken personal barriers! Wandered down unfamiliar roads! Crossed foreign & disputed borders! (due to entering Kosovo while on my Balkan wanders, I’m now very likely to have some issues should I ever visit Serbia. They, along with Russia, don’t recognise Kosovo as an independent nation.. in the eyes of the ruling Governments I entered Serbia illegally. Probably a good thing I don’t plan on going there any time soon then). I urged myself to live in ways I didn’t know I was capable of and still I yearn for more. Despite the trials, troubles and tribulations of it all I am the Wide-Eyed Scotsman and every waking moment is more significant than those before.

So long may it continue…

P1110258

“It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.” 

― Albert Camus, The Stranger

 

Sofia in Picture.

Dobre došãl! Добре дошъл! (That’s welcome in Bulgarian, ya dafties).

I spent five great days in the capital. After only planning a day visit, I met some great folk and loved the city. Here are some of the sights I took in during my visit.

“While two Bulgarians are arguing, a third one always wins.”
Двама се карат – трети печели

(Bulgarian Proverb about strength in unity).

 

P1000912

”Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The posterboy for every Sofia tourism campaign.”

 

P1000917

”Sofia”

 

P1000921

”Levski Stadium”

 

P1000922

”Life after Revolution”

 

P1000928

”Chupa Chups”

 

P1000934

”The former house of the Bulgarian Communist Party.”

 

P1000945

”Difficult following Cyrillic signs..”

 

BULGARIA

”Until next time, Sofia. Благодаря ти..”

 

Feel free to follow, comment on or share the Wide-Eyed Scotsman if you find something of interest/ potential value. I regard this personal project mainly as a facility to continue my own education. If you believe the content could impact, intrigue or inspire (or if there are any constructive criticisms) then your interaction would be greatly appreciated. 

Aidan X

 

 

 

Posted Missing.

Hello all, salut!

I’ve unfortunately neglected my duties to this project whilst I attempt to adjust to my new chapter in life. My partner and I moved into an apartment in Grenoble around two months ago. My time has been dedicated mainly to my new career (Landscaping and Green Space Management), part time work to keep the rent coming and improving my French so I stand a chance of understanding my studies.

Yes, I am studying entirely in French. It’s tiring. Ça me fatigue. But it’s utterly rewarding and I can’t begin to tell you just how putain smart I feel. Now things are settling and I have more of an idea of my routine I hope to continue writing and sharing my experiences with you. I still have many pictures and stories from my Summer trip in the Balkans which I hope to upload in the coming weeks so please bare with me. For now, I’ll leave you with some snaps of my new home, the city of the Alps. I can’t wait to share this wonderful region with you all…

 

P1010458

”Le tram de Grenoble.”

 

P1010729

L’Art de la Rue.”

 

P1010761

”Parc Paul Mistral”

 

P1010619

”The mountains of the Alps at my doorstep.”

 

Don’t forget to follow. À la prochaine 🙂