Weight and Measurements

I haven’t been getting on the scale at home because it sends my weight to Ron’s phone.

I also haven’t been measuring. I just figured if I was walking 6x week and working out 2x week I was okay.

I did realize at some point (maybe April?) that I was not losing weight and that I was going to have to watch my food intake. But I haven’t done anything about it.

Measurement discrepancies
Two days ago I decided I should take my measurements. It was the end of the day and my calf was 14. My thigh was 20. When I looked at the last time I wrote it down, those were both losses. Whoopee!

Then I put in my waist and it was significantly larger.

So I thought, I’ll get up some morning and take my measurements.

Measurement today compared
This morning I did that. My calf was at 15.5 and my thigh at 24. I’m not sure why the change. Did I do something wrong the other day measuring?

The difference between my measurements in November of 2013 and now (July 2014) is 11.75 inches gain. This is not muscle (except maybe in my legs and arms).

When I looked up pounds per inch, because I remembered losing weight and inches in a ratio, I found something that sounded familiar. 10 pounds = 1 inch lost

If I gained 11.75 inches, that would mean I have gained 117 pounds, which would put me at 280, which would, in fact, get me into my mother’s normal weight range. (Since we left Edinburgh I have been feeling like I look like my mother’s body shape. I never feel like I look good or skinny now.)

There is no way, even with stuffing myself in and size changes that the US has made so people won’t feel bad about being overweight (or bigger–but bigger only works for a little while or if you are a weightlifter), that I could still fit in my 10 jeans (even lapping over the top) if I had gained 117 pounds. (Plus the 10 jeans were after the size changes, so they wouldn’t be impacted.)

However, it does mean I have gained a lot of weight potentially with very little evidence of muscle increase.

Muscle increase
My legs, I will buy that as muscle increase. Why? Because my calves have no jiggle at all. I can’t pinch anything, not even at the top where there used to be a little excess.

My thighs now have more of that dimpling from cellulite, but don’t rub together (but they’re bigger?) and appear smaller…. Of course, it’s obvious perspective is an issue, but I still think my legs could be muscle increase only. I’ve been walking a lot here–even more than at home–and Edinburgh at least was very hilly. London is pretty flat. I feel like I ought to go climb stairs.

I have the same circumference on my arm and I will take that as muscle gain too because it is not as jiggly. Yes, it still has the floppiness, but not as much.

Clearly fat increase
However the 5.25 gain around my belly button cannot be anything except fat. And the 2.5 under my ribs the same.

Mostly belly fat
I am seeing that “more weight in the middle” thing.

I gained half an inch in my breasts and 1.75 in my hips. That is not good.

However, the really scary thing is that using the two waist measurements–under the ribs and at the belly button, I gained 7.75 inches.

Let me repeat that. In my waist alone (using the two measurements), I gained 7.75 inches.

I vaguely remember apple as being a bad shape to have, so I am going to look that up.

Apple shape
According to Mayo Clinic people who have apple shaped bodies (where most of their excess weight is in their middle/belly section) have metabolic syndrome.

Okay, that sounds bad. A syndrome is always bad. So I look that up.

According to Wikipedia (info at your fingertips), it is a disorder of energy utilization and storage. It does, in fact, make you look like an apple shape.

However, the shape is not the sole diagnosis factor. Instead you have to have at least three of the five symptoms:
abdominal obesity
elevated blood pressure
elevated fasting plasma glucose levels
high serum triglycerides
low HDLs

I have the first.

I have the second, but that’s because of the ADHD meds. When I’m off, I don’t have that. That might not matter for the syndrome; I don’t know.

I had elevated glucose levels when I was pregnant with Micah (as far as I remember the only time I’ve been tested), but they weren’t elevated enough for gestational diabetes. If that was not because of Micah, but me, then I have that.

I don’t remember my triglycerides, but I vaguely recall that my HDLs are higher than my LDLs–though perhaps not high enough.

So, I could have this. Basically, according to Wikipedia again, this is prediabetes.

Why didn’t someone tell me that when I was pregnant with Micah?

Prediabetes
According to diabetes.co.uk prediabetes, which I’ve heard more often as borderline diabetes, “almost always develops into type 2 diabetes.”

I am NOT going to get diabetes. I refuse. So what do I need to do?

Diabetes prevention and treatment
Still on the diabetes.co.uk website…

ALA
They say that ALA is a good antioxidant and helps diabetic neuropathy and reduces pain from free-radical damage. So maybe I need to add that. Anything that might reduce pain would be good.

Biotin
Biotin helps create an enzyme which is the first step in glucose utilization. That enzyme tends to be very low for folks with diabetes.

Carnitine, L-Carinitine, Acetyl L-Carnitine)
This helps the body use body fat.

They said that diabetics who use this get a rapid change and that their fats in the bloodstream (both cholesterol and triglycerides) may fall fast.

Chromium
They say it is crucial. That it improves glucose tolerance.

It can be in brewer’s yeast or as chromium chloride.

Exercise will also increase chromium.

They said, specifically, that it is important for people with pre diabetes.

Coenzyme Q10
Animals suffering from diabetes are low in this.

It lowers blood sugar levels and oxygenates the blood–which may help with retinopathy.

Inositol
Believed to play a role in reversing diabetic neuropathy.

Manganese
Commonly deficient in diabetics. Maybe a cause? Could be important for glucose metabolism.

Magnesium
Magnesium directly influences blood sugar level control.

Too low:
interrupts insulin secretion
increases insulin resistance

Vanadium
Using vanadium supplements may increase sensitivity to insulin, which is good/important.

There is a proved link between vanadium levels and diabetes.

Vitamin B6
Also known as pyridoxine, B6 improves glucose tolerance.

Vitamin B12
Helps reduce nerve damage.

Vitamin C
May improve glucose tolerance.

Vitamin D
Boosts insulin sensitivity.

Vitamin E
Oxygenates blood, fights toxins.

Increasing vitamin E may decrease risk of developing diabetes AND reduces risk of diabetic complications.

Zinc
Crucial for insulin metabolism.

Weird diet information
Still diabetes.co.uk…

Says that diets low in carbs and high in fats are healthier for blood glucose control and weight loss.

So now what?
Start with getting multivitamins and actually taking them.

Quit eating simple sugars (especially candy, ice cream, etc).

Eat more fresh foods or foods you make yourself.

In fact, I guess I am going to get up and make teriyaki stir fry for lunch right now.

Then and Now

When I was in Switzerland, I fell and sprained my ankle. I went to the hospital and got a cast.

I was just a kid then. Now I’m a grownup.

I’m in England. I didn’t fall, just kind of slid off my shoe on uneven pavement. Heard cracks. Probably just the arthritis. Walked home. Iced it. Self-wrapped it in a scarf–since I didn’t have any ace bandages. Walked to the bus stop and got on the bus to head out for my planned excursion to the British Museum.


It sounds more exciting than it was. I got off the bus halfway there and came back to the flat because there was no a/c at the Regus and we only have one key.

Ron bought a bandage and re-wrapped my foot.

Instead of going out to dinner and the 3D Printing Lab, he escorted me back inside the flat. I had brie and crackers. He went to the 3D Printing Lab where he walked 1/2 mile to St. Paul’s to take pictures. (That would have been awful for me.) He got dinner afterwards at Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

I don’t know what he listened to but I listened to the blonde and ginger from next door’s beach music and drunk people say the f word pretty much every other minute. And a discussion about how much something would be worth if it were real gold.

… Tomorrow it will be 84 degrees. I am staying inside with the two fans Ron bought today. I may or may not do any work.

First Week of July

July 1, Tuesday
Today we walked a lot. We ended up on the #6 bus and went to Cardiff Bay. We were thinking we would go to the Dr. Who Experience. However, as we and the family from California learned, the Dr. Who Experience is closed on Tuesdays.

So…

We got a map of Cardiff at the bay.

We took a boat trip around the bay. (You can see all of the bay from one place, so it’s not very big.)

We ate lunch at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which Angela says is the most American of the burger places she has found.

We went shopping in St. David’s Centre, which is a HUGE shopping mall, about 4 blocks large.

We ate dinner at the diner in St. David’s Centre.

This evening Ron wanted to know how far I thought we had walked today. Originally I said 12 to 15 miles, but then I decided that was too far. But really, we walked 6 that I know of, and that doesn’t include all the walking we did in the shopping areas and getting lost.

July 2, Wednesday
We went shopping in Queens Centre, for a bit. Just went to Primark, Debenhams, and a shoe shop. Bought two pairs of shoes—one pair of short boots and a cream and black pair of 20s-ish Mary Jane-type shoes.

We also went looking for costume pieces and various other things.

We ate crepes for lunch at a place called Sophie’s, right next to a tea room with Iced Tea! Ron wanted to get some iced tea, but didn’t. We had the Victorian Lemonade and the Rose Lemonade with lunch. Ron thought the Victorian was way too tart and I thought the Rose smelled too much like roses. But the crepes were wonderful.

I found the silver tights in a small shop called Blue Banana for £5. I also found a fairly legitimate looking piper’s doublet for £40 there. Ron didn’t want to buy it though. Don’t know what he’s going to wear. He’s thinking he might not want to go as Lazarus Long to the Retro Hugo. I think it would be perfect though.

We ate supper at Wetherspoon’s pub near the house, which had a chicken day. But it turned out to be peri-peri chicken, so I ordered the chicken strips, which were not supposed to but did have barbeque sauce on them.

Then we headed out to Cardiff’s Toastmasters, which is only 2.5 years old. This was their 58th meeting. We were 2 of the 4 visitors, though the other 2 plan to become members. One, Garret or Garreth, hopes to eventually get a job in Houston. He works for CGI, which was just purchased by or just purchased Logitech. He’d never even been to London until two years before (when the buyout happened) and now he’s there every fortnight. He quite likes it. The other visitor Kristina was coming in from Denmark. She has just moved to Cardiff.

The Toastmasters Meeting was quite interesting. They had an extended warm up instead of table topics. That’s where one person got up, introduced a topic, and then each person stood up and answered the question in a minute or less. Tony Bennett did the warm up and he said he was moving to his ideal place. Then he asked where everyone else would want to live. … He travels a lot for fun and he goes to Toastmasters on his trips. He’s only been a Toastmaster for 2.5 years and he’s already given 44 speeches. (He was in a speaking club that split from Toastmasters 50 years ago—and some of the men in that club were founding members.)

Onkar was the time keeper and he gave me his phone number in case we ran into any trouble in the city and needed help.

Dewi Rhys XXX (can’t remember his last name) was one of the two more enthusiastic members. He is a native Cymraeg speaker, not having learned English until he was 12. He spoke some Welsh for me, translating the scenario of Samuel talking to Mercy Thompson, for me. Then he called a friend up (because his mum doesn’t answer the phone after 9 pm) and told her an American wanted to hear Welsh. So they talked for a few minutes.

There are, however, short words in Welsh, even though Mercy and Samuel supposedly joke that there are none. Y is of. Heol is street. Rhodfa is avenue. Heddlu is police. … There are lots of others.

During the interval I had tea and a cookie. The cookie was amazingly good. I asked where it came from and someone told me the president had provided the snacks. So I asked Andy Power? what they were. He said they were “posh jaffer cakes” from Marks & Spensers, which was just up the road from the Quaker House where we had the meeting. I asked if that was the name of them. Oknar said that no, but if you asked where the posh jaffer cakes were, the people would point out the area to me and I could figure it out from there. They were cookies, a bit smaller than a digestive cookie. Had a chocolate top, maybe a caramel center, and a cookie/biscuit bottom. They were round. Quite good.

July 3, Thursday
Ron didn’t want to leave the house. He is going to do some laundry as all his pants are dirty. I hope it doesn’t rain.

I took the bus to Central Station. It was only a block from where I needed to be, which is good. I went in Burger King to get some lunch. I got a single whopper with cheese, took one of the breads off. Then I went to a News place and bought a bottled water and a giant Nestle Crunch with hazelnuts bar.

Then I went and got the St. Fagan’s Bus.

I asked if it were okay if I ate on the bus. The driver said yes, but that I was making him hungry. Turned out I had to pay for the bus to St. Fagan’s, which was a bit of a pain.

It’s out of town, about half an hour. Past a small village called The Freshwater? I did see a pub called that, so I guess it could have just been the pub, but it looked like a town sign.

St. Fagan’s was a bit of a disappointment. The costume displays weren’t open. The “old” buildings were mostly from the last 100 years. (They had a chapel from 1774 and a “castle” from 1580.)

While I was in one house, I heard an older woman—whom I had seen earlier and wondered if she were a reenactor—talking to the worker in the building telling him she had been five weeks without food because she’d had her back go bad and no way to get help. The doctors thought she was all right because she has two daughters, but one is in the US and one is in Germany. She’s having to wait 4 to 6 months for rehab therapy.

I prayed for her. Then I thought I could talk to her, too.

So as we wandered around, I slowed down and turned around a bit and told her I had heard her say her daughter was in America. I told her I was from the States and asked where her daughter was. She told me her daughter (Claire) was in LA. I told her I had met someone at St. Fagan’s from LA (introduced ourselves as we were trying to get in/out a door). She said it’s a small world.

Then she told me that she was at St. Fagan’s with her walking group. She is part of two that meet and walk on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This was her first walk since her fall… I thought she was particularly brave as the museum is several acres.

She told me that she has a good friend in the walking club. “We’re alike as two peas in a pod,” she said. Then she told me that her friend, when they first met, asked her if she were from Devon or Somerset. She’d said no, she was from up north. When her friend asked her where she was from, she said, “A little town up near XX. You wouldn’t know it.” When her friend pressed her on what little town, she said she was from BrittenHall (or Bricken Hall or something like that). Her friend said, “I was evacuated to there in the war.” It is, indeed, a small world.

Marcia and I walked and talked for about an hour and a half and then I left her at the Castle Buttery getting lunch and I headed out to catch my bus.

I texted Ron about maybe meeting me in town and he reminded me that we had tickets to the comedy club. So I went on home. He’d been out too; he ate at McDonald’s for lunch and bought foam core.

When I got home it was about 5 pm. He called a cab for 6, then started checking into restaurants. We tried to get reservations at the Bayside Brasserie—where Dr. Who filmed twice—but it was full up. So we just took the cab to Mermaid Quay and looked for somewhere to eat. We ended up at an Italian restaurant. They had a risotto verdure, which was the only thing on the menu without tomatoes or peppers in it. It was quite good.

We sat outside but not near one of the chimneys. It was very windy, so I was glad I had brought my scarf/wrap. Ron was even cold enough to role his sleeves down.

We ate and then we went to the Glee. We got our seats and then went and ordered ciders. We ordered the pints and they were quite good.

Ron started a conversation with the Scots at the next table, who turned out to be Glaswegians who moved down to Cheltenham 5 years ago and were just in Cardiff for an evening out.

We talked to Lauren and Murray Duncan for all the intervals. Murray bought us another round of ciders. They were drinking Zinfandel Rosé, two bottles. Lauren said I say Scotland like a Scots, but Edinburgh like an American. I’m still working on changing that.

I recommended John Branyan’s “Shakespeare and the Three Little Pigs” and they gave us the name of a great comedian—Michael M???. I want to say Michael Moorcock, but that’s an author. I don’t know who it was. Hope Ron got it into his phone.

They’ve been married 2 years. They went to New York City and Las Vegas for their honeymoon and changed planes in Houston. They recommended a restaurant—The Daffodil near lots of posh boutique shops—and a pub—The Wine Bar. At the end we traded phone numbers. They seemed nice and we asked if we could treat them to dinner in Cheltenham. They said they’d meet us at the Wine Bar and we’d see about going from there. At the end we traded phone numbers.

Talking to Marcia at St. Fagan’s and the Duncans at Glee is more than I’ve talked to anyone but Ron in the whole trip so far… And that was in one day.

Friday, July 4
Happy Birthday, America!

The model, Miss Pixie (actual surname), came about 9:35. She wore a dressy green outfit and Ron took pictures in the garden. He did the bowl of milk thing, but not the clothes on the clothesline thing.

Then he did boudoir shoot in our bedroom. Then a swimsuit/nude shoot in the downstairs shower.

After that we went to the Dr. Who Experience. Turns out if you want to do the Walking Tour you need to buy your tickets early. They book several weeks in advance. (They only do them on Fri, Sat, and Sun and then only 2x a day.)

It was kind of cheesy, but still quite good. The exhibitions were wonderful. I liked the Lego Dalek and the yellow car, Bessie, from one of the early doctors.

Ron bought a collector’s watch. I bought a hoodie and some pins. I’ve now spent £145 or maybe it’s £155. Ron’s watch was £100. … So he’s still got me beat by quite a ways.

We’re home from the Dr. Who Experience and he’s been asleep for the last 80 minutes. I’ll probably let him sleep another 15 or 20 and then see if he wants to go somewhere for supper. …He probably won’t though, because he is tired and wasn’t particularly hungry. I guess I could eat chocolate and pecans for dinner.

We don’t have any plans for tomorrow or for Sunday. Going to check on St. Donat’s Story Festival, which Martin from Toastmasters recommended.

… Not doing St. Donat’s. The festival is £100 each.

Saturday, July 5
We went to lunch at Mission Burrito. I didn’t think I was particularly hungry, but I ate my entire regular burrito with carnitas (pork). I had a Jarrisco’s Lime, which was good. It’s a soda from Mexico and we can get it in Abilene. Ron, however, barely ate his chips. He just wasn’t hungry.

We went to the other side of Cardiff Bay to go to Toys R Us. We’d never been over there. It’s all new building, which Ron likes.

We took the bus back right next to the Cardiff White Water International, which is a faux white water rafting experience, where you can learn to do white water rafting, or just keep up with your rafting. They also have individual kayaks.

We stopped at Mermaid Quay on the way back to see what all the costumes were about. (Heading to Toys R Us we saw one group in Hawaiian, Austrian, and super hero costumes.) Turned out to be Technovus’ Sing Along—raising funds for the Welsh cancer charity.

Ron went to Gourmet Burger Kitchen for his lunch. I had a strawberry shake. He did eat all of this lunch. Then we went to Jouanna’s Joys and he bought a cone of chocolate-covered strawberries.

We caught the six bus back to the city center, then we went to Sainsbury’s and got some dinner—which turned out to be chocolate muffins and popcorn. We also got the Sainsbury’s version of sparkling apple juice and a Kopelberg non-alcoholic cider, which they still had to approve us for. Apparently cider, alcoholic or no, requires an age check.

We went home and ate half a bag of popcorn. Half a bag because the microwave is so small. We did drink most of the bottle of sparkling juice. Then we went upstairs. I thought we were going to watch television, but Ron started working on photography, so I washed up and went to sleep. That was about 8:30 pm.

Sunday, 6 July
This morning I got up at 9:30. 9:30! We were just barely ahead of Daniella getting up.

I made toast and tea. I ate three pieces of toast, one with jam, and had three cups of tea, the cup of orange juice, and two cups of sparkling apple juice. These are small cups, maybe 8 oz. So I’ve had 4 of my 5-a-day. I can eat crap all day now. ☺

We packed up our computers and headed to Costa. I had to go to the bathroom on the way, so we wandered a bit. Then we discovered Costa’s wifi is only for 30 minutes, so we went to Starbucks instead.

We each got a water, Ron got a soy chai latte, and we are splitting a chocolate muffin.

My plan is to finish putting in the notes from SCMLA last year. Did that!

Also got in my FenCon10 notes by the end of the day. So, I’ve caught up on my notes in TCE. That’s good.

We went and bought our tickets to Cheltenham for tomorrow. The online booking wouldn’t let us use our discount pass AND it turned out to be £10 cheaper in person.

Then we went to lunch. We looked at Pieminister, but went to Wok the Walk. It was actually quite good and very filling. Neither of us could eat the whole thing.

Then we walked home.

On the way home we stopped in Cookies & Kreme for some strawberry ice cream. I ate about half of mine. Ron ate his and my leftovers.

Ron wrote on Facebook that he was bored…

He’s researching what we can do in Cheltenham. Not finding much.

But he does have a model shoot and a night at the pub with the guy in charge of the ModelMayhem equivalent in the UK.

Also, we have the number of the Duncans for a night out.

Plus, we can do laundry and watch television. Yes, that’s the height of joy for me these days… watching television and doing laundry.

Monday, 7 July
Today we got up, packed our bags, put them downstairs in the living room of David and Yan’s house, and went to get tickets for the Doctor Who Premiere. Yes, we had planned to be in London that day, but it’s worth coming back to Cardiff.

I got in line at 8:30ish. Ron went to Starbucks to get online and try to get tickets.

When I got there, the line was about 14 people. Seven or eight people cut ahead with friends (though not everyone did), so that I ended up being about 22nd in line.

The hour plus that I stayed in line, I talked to the woman behind me. Katie. She works at Millenium Centre and has for the last decade, even though she will only turn 32 this month. I enjoyed chatting with her and am glad we had the opportunity. She was born in Cardiff when her dad was there for a medical residency, but traveled the world as a family member of the British military.

The opened the line a little before 10.

I was able to get tickets E25 and E26. Katie, who was right behind me, got H25. The center stalls were all taken by the time I arrived at Starbucks to get Ron.

It was well worth the hour and a half to get tickets. I am looking forward to seeing the Doctor Who premiere. (I am also hoping that I enjoy the new doctor. The trailers and things seem very dark. I hope they aren’t dark.)

Older

As you grow up, you assume that your life will be good. Mine has been.

You assume you will have a good (or decent) job, that you will love your spouse, have amazing kids, and generally do well. I’ve done that.

You also assume that eventually you will become the person you’ve always wanted to be. People who meet you will like you. You will be the best person at your job doing your job. You will always say the right thing. That, however, is not me. I haven’t done that.

This, I think, is the idea/information that hits people at middle age. Unless I live as long as Karen C’s family, I’m well past middle age. In fact, if I live to be my mother’s age, I’m in my twilight years. I’m not going to go buy a new car, have an affair, or quit my job–though I am considering dyeing the ends of my hair blue.

While I am a bit disappointed in how I personally, not my life, have turned out thus far, the reality is probably that I am less bad tempered, more truthful, and a better teacher now than I was when I was 18. As Ron mentioned recently, we tend to idealize our past.

Traveling to Wales

June 30, Monday, Cardiff
The train went smoothly to Newcastle. Then it was announced that we must get off and that the train was returning to Edinburgh, rather than going on to Bristol as planned. There had been a fatality on/with a train farther south. (At first I thought they said “in the gallery,” which I took to mean in the galley, but eventually I found out it was “in Darlington.”)

We spent two hours in Newcastle, trying to figure out better train arrangements.

We eventually got on the 1:35 train to Bristol.

As we left Cheltenham Spa, we saw there was a train leaving for Cardiff Bay in only 10 minutes, but we weren’t off in Cheltenham Spa.

When we got to Bristol, it was a very small station, about the size of Brentwood’s. They announced the Cardiff Bay train was running anywhere from 28 to 42 minutes late.

It did eventually come and we didn’t have to go back into Cheltenham Spa to get there. Instead we crossed straight over to Newport. Then down to Cardiff.

We got a cab at the Cardiff Bay train station. It was £6 to the house.

We arrived with no troubles around 7:30 pm. We met our hostess, from China, put our stuff in our room, and went out to find a grocery store and dinner. The way we went, which followed mapping directions, felt very unsafe. It was filthy. We didn’t have any trouble though.

We stopped at a chicken place and got some chicken strips to go.

Then we walked down the street eating them and went in the Tesco Express. I got some milk, wipes for my make-up, and cookies. The cookies are terrible. Ron got two kinds of chips. We came back to the house and went to bed.

My Favorite Things about Scotland

My favorite things about Scotland

KILTS! The first week I only saw one person in a kilt and then the next day two. But after that I saw at least four daily and one day over fifty.

I enjoyed the history—St. Margaret’s Chapel, Rosslyn Chapel, and Stirling Castle.

I liked the fact that most things were within reasonable walking distance.

I loved the weather—especially the cool, cloudy, but not actually rainy days. Apparently Scotland was experiencing an unseasonably dry period as we had sunny days for at least a week in June.

Edinburgh is the greenest capital in Europe. I enjoyed all the trees. The flowers were lovely as well and there are many wild flowers, or flowers that appear wild, growing despite having no caretakers.

I liked having two separate rooms for bedroom and living room, with doors between both.

I enjoyed watching television! My favorite shows were:
Grin, a Scots What-Not-to-Wear program that is produced in Gaelic, but was subtitled in English. So I got to hear Gaelic, but could still follow it.
Time Team, a British archaeology show.
The Quest for Bannockburn, a specially produced, possibly Scottish, archaeology special.

June 26 to Good-bye, Edinburgh

Thursday, June 26
Went to the Falkirk Wheel by taking the train to Camelon (pronounced came lawn). Then we walked 1.5 miles to the wheel. We took the trip, which was about an hour. Then walked back to/through town a different way.

The Falkirk Wheel was a cool experience.

We had a small sweet after the Falkirk Wheel (even though it was lunch time) and caught the train back to town, planning to eat somewhere in Edinburgh.

I worked on work while we were on the train. Made some more progress on figuring out what to do about what and where to send things.

We actually went to Grassmarket to the other Armstrong and Sons and the costume shop. The other Armstrong and Sons had a piper’s doublet, but it was way too small for Ron. It also had two space girl costumes in the silver and purple in large. One was priced at £22 and one at £10. I tried them on. They both fit. Neither seemed better than the other. (Though both would be better if I actually lost weight.) So I bought the cheap one, of course.

On the way to those two stores, we went in about 10 charity shops, which were right in a row. None of them had anything particularly worthwhile, though one had some funky material in silver (like net but stronger) and one had a cute little silver dress, but in the totally wrong size for me.

I think the charity shops are a bit funny as Ron said we had gone to all the charity shops in Edinburgh already. Yeah, not so much.

Friday, June 27
Ron has the symposium all day today. He’s also going to go by and pick up his kilt.

I worked all day. I finished the research on what reading lists folks are using in Brit lit surveys; this time I did three different search topics (wrote them down!) and found a total of 77 reading lists for colleges.

Since I finished the survey, I also finished the SMART paper, which ended up only being about The Wife’s Lament, due to the length limitations. The hardest part, honestly, was putting it into Chicago.

I sent it off and then, working on the paper for CEA, discovered that I had spelled Helen Damico’s name wrong once in the SMART paper. So I sent a corrected version.

I worked 8 hours.

I also watched two Time Team shows. I needed voices! The first was on Salisbury Chapel and was quite interesting. They found the body of an illegitimate great-nephew of the bishop buried in the chapel, but not reburied when the chapel was dismantled. The second was on searching for a Roman road and actually finding where it was AND finding a church/temple AND finding an actual Roman mosaic floor. That was kind of sad/funny. The floor had been repaired, as the owner’s financial situation worsened, and instead of the tiny tiles laid correctly, big chunks in the right colors were “slapped” in.

Since we decided to go to The Dome for dinner tonight, I made reservations.

We went. It was not as cool as it appeared from outside. The Dome Garden Café, despite the sign giving The Dome address and phone number, does not have the same menu. I actually ORDERED fish. It came with skin on. Gross. But I ate it and the fennel and the carrots and the noodles they gave me, since the rice had spices in it I was allergic to.

Saturday, June 28
Today Ron wanted to stay in and do nothing. However, since this is our last weekend, we didn’t.

Really he couldn’t stay in anyway because his kilt (with the necessary adjustments) had not come in yesterday. So he had to go by Geoffrey the Tailor’s and pick up his kilt. He also needed to get there early enough that if we needed to go somewhere else to get it (since he went by twice yesterday and it wasn’t there) that we could go to that somewhere.

While Ron went to get his kilt, I stayed home and worked.

I received a reply from Kristie Bixby, the SMART editor. She said it would be several months before I would hear from them, since it had to go out to reviewers. That’s fine. I just wanted to get it done. (Is it great? No. Would it be helpful? I hope so.)

I worked on the paper for CEA (teaching women in British lit survey) and I worked on my ideas for the two panels I am on for WorldCon/LonCon3: Constructing Genre History and Fantasy and Medievalism.

I sent the Fantasy/Medievalism panelists an email, asking if they had specific things they wanted to talk about. Since I already had several things I could talk about for that, I wanted to make sure I didn’t prepare something unnecessary.

I wrote:
I’ve thought of addressing a couple of different angles:
early medieval revenants of literature used in fantasy–what they add to the stories
other mythologies than “typical” Europe (though still medieval)
urban fantasy building off medievalism, though not particularly using it

I went online and got us tickets to the Historic Vaults tour put on by Mercat Tours. We arrived early and walked around. Ron got a hot dog and an Iron Bru. The vault tours were interesting, but the vaults were built in 1785-1788. That was less interesting. However, it was still cool and interesting.

One other interesting fact is that the vaults, having been excavated in the late 1980s, were used to help a Romanian Olympic athlete defect. The bar that had access to a vault put him down the hole into the vault and left him there. His minders searched everywhere for him and couldn’t find him. He stayed in the vault for a few hours and then went to the police station to request political asylum, which was granted.

Learned that poor drank claret before the Napoleonic Wars. Everyone drank claret. And 130 oysters cost 10p.

We went to Pizza Express for dinner. Ron wanted pizza and it was raining, so we went there. I had dough balls and dessert. The brownie was more like heavy chocolate mousee with a crunchy crust than our cake-like brownies, but it was all right. The hot chocolate was good.

Sunday, June 29
I woke up at 4 but went back to sleep. When I woke up at 6, I got up and started working. Today I did two hours worth of work before Ron got up.

I received a response from two of the three panelists. Robin Hobb, the novelist, did not answer.

K. A. Laity, who is a writer and professor, said she liked the ideas I sent. She is planning to talk about the top ten myths of the Middle Ages. That sounds fun, but not something I can necessarily add to. –Depends, I suppose, on what her ten myths are. If she does (or doesn’t) talk about women as not having any roles, I could add to that. Cite Christine Fell. Talk about the women listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. Talk about Abbess Hilda from Bede, and the widow and daughter who became abbesses after Hilda. Talk about the active women with agency in OE literature: Judith, Elene, Juliana. Talk about the female gendered poetry: Wulf and Eadwacer, The Wife’s Lament.

Marieke Nijkamp said she liked the other myth ideas. She also said she would like to explore the influence of medieval storytelling as a whole—and maybe the fantasy of medieval literature, histories, and myths. Interesting idea that takes the panel in a different direction, but one I could contribute to. How were their histories fantasy? They took the stories they liked and ran with them. Composites. Creative expurgation. The normal PR stuff, but done over centuries, perhaps.

Marieke also said that she’d like to talk about medieval cities and urban culture. I’m not sure how that relates to fantasy. However, urban fantasy that builds off medievalisms –like Briggs, Andrews (the European trip), Adams? (Russian czarina), … That might be a way to go or for me to start and then she can go wherever she wants to with it.

I woke up Ron as if I were an alarm and he snoozed me. Two snoozes and a bit of a cuddle and we were up.

Went to Word of Mouth for breakfast. I ordered a crepe with ham and cheddar. It was excellent. I got it without the egg, so there was a lot less rosemary, which meant I liked it a lot better than last time. Ron got it with egg this time and had the rosemary. I am guessing he liked it as he scarfed it down.

We had both eaten and Ron said he wondered where his second crepe was. What? He ordered two crepes? Yes. A crepe with Nutella came to the table. Thankfully he let me have half. I might have had to order my own otherwise and they had turned off the crepe machine.

Needless to say breakfast was excellent.

We need some hydrogen peroxide and Ron needs magnesium, so we went up to the little Tesco, then down to the big Tesco, then to the nearest Boots. The first two had nothing. The last was closed.

Sadness! I found another Bethany Shop in Leith, a big one, on Duke Street. But, since it was closed, I didn’t get to buy anything—or even have a look.

For dinner we walked into Leith and went to La Favorita, which is an Italian restaurant with a lasagna made without tomatoes on its menu. I had a strawberry daiquiri, which was mostly rum, and Ron had a pina colada, which was mostly coconut.

I ordered the lasagna, which was very good, but came with cut tomatoes on it. I asked for a plate and a spoon and cut everything off. I hope I don’t have a reaction.

Ron ordered the risotto and duck. It came in a Parmesan crust bowl—very good Parmesan, too. He liked the duck and really liked the risotto, as he ate all of it.

Packing was a chore. We bought things we aren’t taking with us—mostly to live in the flat more comfortably. We are taking our new smaller suitcase. I’ll be pulling that, as Ron already has two rolling items.

We did a load of towels and since I woke myself up with a tummy upset, I went into the living room and when they got done I put them up on the drying racks. The small ones might be dry by in the morning.

I tried folding up the drying rack we purchased. It won’t fit in the new bag, so we’re leaving that. Hopefully the other flats we are at will have a drying rack and we’ll recognize it.

Monday, June 30
I was up at 5:30 this morning, before my alarm went off.

This morning I realized I could put my purse in the new bag and keep my backpack out… That will actually mean there is room and weight to put the toiletries and anything out that we forgot and maybe some things from my overstuffed bag in there.

I rearranged my stuff so that worked. I didn’t pull out anything from the big bag, but I did put the stuff I had out to give away and the scarves and my coat and Ron’s toiletries (which he had forgotten to pack).

At 20 till 7 I took out the trash and the recycling. They moved the recycling so only the glass was where the trash was so I had to go in and out. Then I went to Sainsbury’s to get hairspray, a Coke Zero, and maybe a pastry. Despite having checked online, it doesn’t open till 8.

Went back and woke up Ron. We both worked on our computers for a while. I got one of last year’s SCMLA sets of notes up.

We finished packing everything. I called a cab. We went down to catch the cab. He dropped us off at a roundabout next to the lift. Very helpful that. Then we got our tickets and went to Burger King.

At Burger King I got an egg and cheese butty. A butty, which I did not know till today, is a soft white bread bun. I also got six mini-pancakes and syrup. They’re rounded like those flying saucer candies and they don’t hold their heat well. They do, however, taste like pancakes. I ate about 3/4s of the butty and 2 of the pancakes.

Then we went to the platform.

The train we are taking goes all the way down the entirety of Great Britain from Edinburgh. (It could go from farther north, but I didn’t see anything about where it started. Folks did get off, so it probably did make the whole trip—which was from Aberdeen.)

Cross Country Rail goes from Aberdeen to Plymouth. I stood looking at the map while Ron was getting the tickets. I saw that we’ll go through Leeds (or Sheffield) but not through Oxford and Reading—as that veers to the east. We’ll get off this in Bristol, but if we didn’t, we could go to Exeter and then a few other places.

I wonder if the pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock left the British Isles from Plymouth.

I’ve been amazed at how many small towns and places have names I recognize from the US or Australia. For example, Melbourne and Perth are both in Scotland, but I think of them as Australian cities. …I mean, sure I knew that London, Paris, and Moscow, Texas were all named for other places, but I didn’t realize how many towns are.

I forgot to take my Dramamine till Ron reminded me. We’re riding backwards. So I’m typing and not looking out the windows much until it’s had time to kick in.

Right now our London place has no television. I honestly do not know what we will do without television. We are getting on each other’s nerves now because we are almost always together… Though at least one full day a week we’ve been separated for mots of the day.

Plus, we don’t talk to people. That’s been very hard. Yes, we’re not extraverts, but we still miss chatting with folks. I’m really going to need to find classes or something that gets us chatting with people.

Ron keeps saying the Brits don’t believe in ephemeral. I will have to think about that more…

The trip from Edinburgh to Newcastle was very nice. I looked out the window and wrote it all up, talked to the four-year-old sitting in front of me, and generally enjoyed the trip. Upon arriving in Newcastle, however, we were told that the trains south are all stopped due to a fatality near Darlington. I assume the fatality involves a train and/or the tracks. They said the transportation police are generally fairly quick, but at least an hour and our train (with our reserved seats) will be returning to Edinburgh.

Journey from Edinburgh to Cardiff

Made Monday, June 30

The sea shows up through a break in the hills and I am surprised at how close we are to the coast.

A field, closely mowed, is fenced off by trees and I can see a church steeple, probably from the 1700s, over the top.

Then, as I watch, a huge manor appears. It is in the country and is probably not a bunch of flats now. It faces the railway and is quite imposing. Six different building times, probably, based on the heights of the various parts.

Down the hill from the manor house a flat field has tents pitched, both huge and smaller tents. I wonder if they are re-enactors and, if so, what they are doing there. I can’t imagine it being anything else, a mile or so from the town.

We follow the coast and a golf course appears between the railway and the sea. It’s a Monday and the holes appear to all be being played.

I see a small group of mobile homes, and think of the storms we learned about at Whitby, and then I see a stone house, probably a couple of hundred years old, with no roof—only the walls still stand—right on a jut on the coast.

We cross a bridge to a river and I am surprised by a huge house, probably 15,000 square feet, sitting on three or four acres of land. Whatever town we are leaving has lots of single homes where we are. Single homes and big ones.

I enjoy seeing older buildings. Yes, some of them are probably only Victorian, but many are Georgian. Most of those older have been torn down and/or rebuilt. I’m sad about that, but understand. Each age has its own virtues. One of ours is to value the past.

The bridge we just went over looks like an aqueduct with lots of arches. But the bridge that is visible from our bridge is a newer one, with only three arches to span the river.

A young girl sounds more American than Scots, but her mum is clearly Scots. We heard children at Falkirk Wheel who sounded American, but their father had a good English accent. I wonder if all the American television is effecting the accents more than folks here realize. I think if they realized, they would not have so much television from the US.

Though I know we aren’t far from the coast, the hills obscure the view. Every once in a while I can see the waterways where the tide has pulled the water out.

One thing that amazes me about the farms here is how many buildings there appear to be. I can see one now with four buildings, but they’re huge. Grama and Grampa’s farm had four buildings, but they were the house, the chicken house, the cow shed, and the building with the skunk in it… What was that building?

I can see a small island out in the sea for quite a ways and there appears to be a castle on top of it. I don’t know what it is. I wonder how long it has been there and how many people/families it has seen come and go.

Our next stop is Newcastle, which was a coal mining town. How do I know this? There’s an old saying, which most people apparently don’t know, about bringing coals to Newcastle—meaning something is a waste of time or ridiculous. We’ve actually been through it before, on our way to Whitby, but I don’t remember much about it because we just went through it.

We’re an hour into the trip and the sky has gotten cloudy. This area might get rain today, as some of the clouds are quite dark.

These are rolling hills, almost berms, and a house is nestled in the trees between two folds in the land. It’s quite arresting, even though the house is less imposing than usual. I think it is what you might call romantic.

We’re passing lots of sheep. Some with black heads, but most without.

And there’s what looks like a runway with cows on it. I’m not seeing the stone boundary markers we’ve seen other places. Here there are hedges and trees… Though more hedges than trees.

And we’re coming into a small town, as we pass a trailer park—with twenty trailers set on an angle, two deep, curtained off by trees along the railway, but with no trees in their park.

The town is about as big as the trailer park, though wider, and it may have been as wide on the other side of the railroad tracks.

We’re two miles or more from that town and there are three huge buildings, each four townhouses, on about four acres. What is that about? And then a mile further on there is a huge processing area for crops. Then another mile and we’re in a largish town, with apartment buildings as well as houses.

Am I using up any of my words by typing? I hope so. I have way too many words that I haven’t used here.

There’s a coastal town on a peninsula, with townhouses painted in different colors. Are they Victorian or newer? They’re at the land end of the town, not the part closer to the coasts.

I saw a deer, standing alone in a field. The next field over was full of sheep.

We just went over a bridge and down in the valley there were sheep next to the water and above them an entire dense forest. It was gorgeous.

If these are not native trees, as seems likely, they are still thick and luxurious. In farming country I doubt folks would plant them to be filling in space, though I can see them being left for boundaries—or just here where the hillside is steep.

I’m going to have to do some research on Caledonian native trees.

Did I mention Scotland has windmill farms? We saw one in Stirling and, as we came out of the trees just now, I saw another single line of windmills around a large plant. These are not Texas-size windmill farms, but they are Texas-size windmills.

There was a coal mine, cut into the ground and still being dug up, with a pile of orange dirt making a new hill… Is it like in the Sacramento, California area, where the little hills were old gold diggings? Are these little hills old coal mines?

And there’s another open hole, that seems to be new as trucks are running across it and it’s only about three feet deep right now.

Then, outside of any town I saw, a set of allotments (what we call community gardens). They do like their gardens here, both for flowers, in their yards, and for veggies.

Another bridge and a deep ravine with gorgeous trees going up either side.

Then an RV park and a set of about twenty green railroad storage units. Then the town. I like the big rectangular stones the buildings are made of here. The few (and rare) brick buildings look like they should be at home, since there are so few of them.

As I wrote that, we passed three subdivisions of brick homes. The first were small ranches, about half brick. The second was full of two-stories, all brick. The third was also two story brick homes, but bigger and nicer looking, though I can’t really say why. Maybe they had more yards.

The little girl in front of me if four and likes dinosaurs, especially those with tails that can smash things. She has hundreds of dinosaurs upstairs in her bedroom at home, though most of them are small. And under her bed she has three guinea pigs, named George, Pep, and Plezley.

CastleGate in Newcastle is beautiful. The first things I noted were graffiti. But then there’s a silvered concert hall or something and a small church that’s old. We passed parts of an old castle or tower that is mostly new bricks now. There’s the city wall. Next to the Genting Casino on Forth Street.

The train is stopping permanently. There’s a fatality on the track to the south. So in an hour this train will be going north again.

I’m not sure how or when we’ll get to Cardiff today—or if we will. I guess I might see more of Newcastle than I expected.

I think it’s ironic that I just read this morning that only 1.2% of their trains are stopped or don’t go… And we’re on one of them. Of course, they probably have tens of thousands of trains, so 1.2% is still quite a few, potentially. When I saw that this morning, though, I thought it would be stopped due to weather… Apparently not.

I guess we’re in England, now, though, so this is the end of my Scotland trip anyway.

June 22-25 Scotland

Sunday, June 22
I took a cab to meet Angela and Josiah on Princes Street for shopping this morning, because I missed the bus and she wanted to meet soon.

We walked up and down Princes Street, also went on Rose (which I had read had good shopping), and went to the St. James Shopping Centre where John Lewis is.

I bought a dressy skirt at H&M today. Angela tried on pants and a top, but didn’t buy anything.

She recommended we go in Primart and we both looked for shoes there. They are very cheap and I need to take Ron there with me and buy shoes. I tried on boots, but they weren’t particularly comfortable. The one pair that were already had scuff marks, so I didn’t buy them.

Jon met us at Jon Lewis and we went to Frankie & Benny’s for a late lunch. (We finished eating around 3.) I had pasta with cream sauce that was very good. Angela said it is one of her favorite places to eat.

After that Angela and I went to the National Scottish Gallery and looked around both the European collection—very nice—and the Scottish collection. I found several paintings I was intrigued by. I wanted most particularly to see the Scottish paintings, since I don’t know any painters except Raeburn, and that only because of Sir Walter Scott and the Royal Society of Edinburgh talk. The gallery did have several Raeburns, including a Scott. They also had two busts of Scott.

I was walking back to the hotel with Angela and she said to get to my bus and I went home.

I texted Ron on the way and asked if he wanted to go to dinner. He called the Granary, but the first reservations were for 8:30. So we went back to the Victorian Nobles Bar. They made me a pork chop without any of my allergy things and gave it to me with polenta chips. I ate about half. I also had ordered a four-spice pork rillette, which it turns out is a ground/formed meat that looked disgusting but tasted okay on their wonderful sourdough bread. I had Thistley cider again and I really think that filled me up.

I wore my wedges, which smush my left toes, and my new skirt. I thought it looked nice. Ron said it did, too.

When Ron and I were out walking around Leith last night after dinner, looking for a cab, we saw a full sculpture of Scott. He’s everywhere!

Ron has decided to go to the Retro Hugos as Lazarus Long. The announcement said they want retro-futuristic-sci fi looks. So he went to the Heinlein books and examined the Lazarus Long pictures. He wears a kilt, a piper’s doublet, a scarf, etc. Ron has the kilt. He’s looking for a doublet. We looked at retro-futuristic-sci fi looks online.

I’m a little perturbed at how much Ron is spending on kilt, etc, but we’ll only be here once and it will look cool and he will wear the kilt again.

Monday, June 23
I did laundry and vacuumed and cleaned the kitchen this morning. I also picked up around the living room.

I also looked through the internet again this morning for things for the Retro Hugos. I found some outfits I would like and some that would work for the Retro Hugos. I haven’t ordered anything.

Ron had an eye exam this morning. They were a little confused at how to charge him since folks living here don’t have to pay.

He has a chiropractic appointment this afternoon.

I asked him if he wanted to go antique shopping with me, but he said no. Since then (1.5 hours), I’ve been on the computer. But I am fixing to get up, put on my shoes and socks, and head out.

Went out. Only Unicorns Antiques was open.

I went back to Tani Moi for an omelette. I also had a Coke Zero.

Then I decided I would go to charity shops. According to the web, Barnado’s in Stockbridge is really good. So I find the bus to Stockbridge. You can’t actually take the bus to Stockbridge, but you can get close. So I went there and walked on. Barnado’s, and four other charity shops, were in a line.

I didn’t see anything for the Hugos, but I did see a couple of nice blouses. The best one, though, had no fitting room. I didn’t want to buy a shirt without trying it on. When I got to the fourth one, which had the most clothing and was the biggest, there was a wedding dress and a bridesmaid’s dress on the wall. Right before my phone rang, I saw a “bridesmaid” type short dress in navy, without any sleeves. It wasn’t totally sleeveless, but I would need a shrug with it….

I went out to answer the phone and it was Ron. I started back towards the center of town, thinking he might want to do something. He didn’t, but since I wasn’t really planning on buying the dress, I went up to the Royal Mile and went through all the cashmere and tourist shops to Bank Street. Then I went down to Princes Street.

I went into British Homes Store (bhs) because I thought Angela and I hadn’t gotten all the way through it. However, we did. A good thing, though, was that I had forgotten they had the dressy short dresses and the one long black and white… That’s an option.

What am I thinking for the Hugos? Retro Hugos: silver skirt, silver body suit (full body or not?), silver gloves (or fingerless gloves), the light-up fingernails, clear raincoat, and silver funky hat.

Regular Hugos: Either my black dress and pashmina wrap with high heels (which I need to purchase) or something else entirely. What I want to do… is kind of a British fancy outfit, but it is in Britain, so that seems odd.

Tuesday, June 24
Tonight Ron had a chiropractic appointment and something at the Maker space here in Edinburgh. I was home by myself. I worked some and I watched television.

Wednesday, June 25
Today we went on a tour of Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle.

Went with Highland Explorer/Haggis.

We drove through Glasgow and Katie told us about Glasgow. That was interesting.

I worked on stuff I need to get done on the two and a half hours of the trip that was just driving without commentary.

Then we went to Loch Lomond, which is really just a large lake.

Then we went to Abbeyfoyle, which is a tiny village half a mile from Loch Lomond, still in the national park. –National parks were a Scottish idea; John Muir was a Scot. But Scotland only has two.—Katie recommended that we go to the butcher shop and have a pie and that was the BEST pie I’ve ever had. It was a chicken and ham with a bit of sauce and nothing I was allergic to. Quite good and only £3.50.

After the tour we went in and bought tee shirts, though neither of us could get the one we wanted. The ladies’ only came in S and M and the black men’s didn’t come in L. So I got a black men’s medium and Ron got a gray men’s large. They say “Wild and Sexy Scotland” on the front. On the back they have the tour name. (Which I didn’t realize till after we got them home, but oh well.)

Have lots of notes to transcribe.

We came home and worked on things. I actually got some stuff done, which is always good.

Notes:
Caledonian forest is almost all gone, maybe 2% left. Used to cover 98% of Scotland. Most of the deforestation has taken place in the last 200 years.
This is not accurate according to the soil archaeologist from The Quest for Bannockburn from the BBC.
Caledonian forest = aspens and Caledonian pines, lots of space under the trees
Caledonia = Latin for wooded heights
lynx, bears, wilkes (which went extinct in 1714)
a lot of animals left are in danger of extinction—except deer

thistle =/= national flower
blue bell is national flower
However, first king of Scotland was sleeping and Viking invaders were coming in. One barefoot Viking stepped on thistles and hollered, waking the king and his men in time to fight back.

A while back a poll was taken for a new national anthem in case of independence. The one they have now is not so great. “God Save the Queen” has a verse about putting down the Scots. (Talking about the Jacobite rebellion, but doesn’t call them that.)
Dougie MacLean’s Caledonia was voted #1. It’s very pretty. I’d like a copy of it.

I also liked Runnig’s Loch Lomond. They had an instrumental Auld Lang Syne, too.

Played another instrumental song called Hector the Hero.
Hector was in the Crimean War. His barracks was under siege. They were at a last stand. He held the fort alone, with only 4 bullets left, when he was relieved.
When he got home, he was outed as a homosexual. The family was humiliated and when he died, they buried him in a shallow grave.
One night the sister got tipsy at a bar and told her friend all about his great heroics in the war and about the shallow grave.
Word got out. A petition was started to rebury him.
40,000 people showed up for his second funeral. He was reburied in the Edinburgh Cemetery.

Scotland has 33,000 lochs (body of water).
Only one lake. Lake is an English word. Lake of Mantiffe is named for a betrayer of the Scots people, who lied and lured William Wallace back to Scotland and handed him over to the English. (She calls them British. So the Scots, at least, don’t differentiate between Brits and English. … She’s not the only one I’ve heard do that.)

Braveheart, which was released on the 700th anniversary, wasn’t very accurate.
Rob Roy, which was fairly accurate to history and released about the same time, didn’t tell as good a story.

Real story of Braveheart:
Alexander III was the Scots king and married to Edward of England’s sister.
Alex III and all his children died, his daughter in Norway bearing a daughter. He remarried a French woman, who stayed in Fife.
King Alexander was in Edinburgh getting work done and said he was going to Fife when it was finished.
A storm was brewing and his councilors pleaded with him to not go. He ignored them.
He and his horse went down and died.
His granddaughter was 6 and in Norway. She was known as the Maid of Norway. She was brought back to Scotland to marry someone, but she died of dehydration in Orkney. (King of Scotland, before that title, was Prince of Orkney.)

Scots spent 7 years trying to figure out who was closest to king.
Couldn’t do it. Came down to the Bruce family (strong warriors) and the Baileals (good stewards). Finally, idiots!, asked Edward of England. He said John Baileal.

Baileal became king, but subject to Edward of England.
Edward decided to go to war against France in 1292. Wanted Scotland to send troops.
Baileal said no. Instead he took troops and harried northern England.
1294 Edward has time to deal with Scotland. Strips John Baileal of his title and exiles him to the Continent.
Edward sends his armies north to take over every town and village.
He took the Stone of Destiny, the Crown Jewels, everything.

William Wallace was a knight, but not noble. Simple landowner near Glasgow (so no kilt). He was out fishing. Caught some good trout.
He was stopped by English soldiers who wanted his fish. He gutted them.
Sheriff went to his house and killed his wife.
“William Wallace (WW) was a psycho.” He hunted down the sheriff, flayed his skin from his back while he was alive, then slit his throat.
Turned his skin into a sword belt.
WW and friends attack English garrisons using guerilla attacks. (Note: Before American Indians. In our histories, we say this started with us. Nope. Obviously Vikings did it to the first King of Scotland. WW did it against the English in 1295ish.)

Andrew Demaury was in north Scotland. He was a military trained man. He gathered men and fought the English, moving steadily south.
AD and WW met at Abbey Craig Hill with 2000+ fighters.
They talked about how to get the garrison out of Stirling Castle.
In 1297 they sent 500 men to River Forth and the Stirling Bridge. The only bridge across the entire River Forth. It was guarded. The 500 men make fun of the English soldiers. Mock them.
The garrison commander gets mad. Sends cavalry after them first. Then foot soldiers.
The Scots start retreating, into the bogs and marshes.
The cavalry follow. Horses in armor carrying fighters in armor walking into a bog.
AD calls the Highland Charge and 2000 men with huge axes scream and run down the hill barefoot.
English try to retreat in a group, which breaks the bridge and some of the soldiers who aren’t killed by the Scots drown.
Huge victory.
AD died from infection from Battle of Stirling Bridge.
This left WW to fight alone. WW was not a military man, just a mad man.
King Edward was furious about Battle of Stirling Bridge (because they retook Stirling Castle) and sent more soldiers.
WW was defeated in several battles and fled to Europe and the pope. He went to the pope to plea for Scottish independence.
WW received a letter from the Earl of Mantiffe who says he has an army and wants WW to lead it. WW hurries home. It’s a trap. Mantiffe hands him over to the Brits.
–Scots hold grudges. That was 700+ years ago and the thing is still a lake.

Edward had made every Scots nobleman sign a paper saying they wouldn’t rebel.
WW wasn’t a noble. He hadn’t signed.
But Edward tried him for treason and, as the judge, found him guilty. He was sentenced to be drawn, hung, and quartered.
First they draw you. They attach your limbs to four animals and send them off in different directions, so all your limbs are dislocated.
Then they hang you, to the point of suffocation, then drop your body down on all your broken limbs. Then revive you and do it again. Quite fun.
Then they cut you, alive, from just below throat to your pelvic bone and take all the non-vital organs out and burn them in front of you. They also cut of WW’s penis and stuck it in his mouth.
Then the body was dismembered.
His head was dipped in tar and placed on the Tower of London.
His 2 legs and 2 arms were sent to major Scots cities.
Stirling, Perth, Edinburgh, and a town that is now in England.

Sir Walter Scott romanticized WW (like he did everything Scottish) and they built a Wallace Monument on the hill.

Braveheart was realeased on the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
The town of Stirling had a statue built.
The artist didn’t understand the directions and made a statue of Mel Gibson. This did not go over well.
The only thing on the plinth for the statue was “Freedom!”
People were defacing it all the time because they were mad about it being an Australian man. So they put a cage around it. A cage around a statue about freedom. They eventually recommissioned the statue and now it’s a “typical” Scots guy with a full beard and curly hair.

Stirling Castle
In WW’s time Stirling was the capital of Scotland.
15 years ago one section of the castle was painted bright yellow overnight.
Folks woke up the next day and were furious and horrified.
Turned out not to be a prank though. In AD and WW’s time the castle was painted bright yellow. They left the one part yellow and didn’t paint the others. (Only so much you can subject the Scots to before they rebel.)

Stirling Castle has lots of unicorns around.
That’s because the symbol for Scotland is the unicorn.

The unicorn tapestries may have been made here. They now are in the Cloisters in New York.

Stirling Castle and the Scottish Heritage Trust are recreating them (with cotton rather than silk, which doesn’t last as long) and they are working on the final one now… The final one is actually the one in the middle, the fifth, which is the one that decomposed the most. They had to guess at a lot of it.
The sign said that for 180 years there was no history about the tapestries.
People don’t write down (or didn’t in the past) the things everyone knows/knew.
Wonder why/when unicorn became associated with Christ. The tame Jesus of the final tapestry, in a wooden enclosure, tied with a belt to a tree, would make some sense if the tapestries were a commentary on how we treat Jesus.

Rooms upon rooms to show your relation to the queen, king. Were you close, very close, or mostly ignored? The bedroom (not where they actually slept) was the audience room for folks who were very close. A dining type room was for close. The outer room was for others.

Official mistress had a room in residence.
What, if anything, did the queen get? Just not having the king bother her?

“Old castle” not in good repair, with the ball for time is still bright and light—saw it as we passed through Linlithgow

Euan pronounced you-uhn
Is Evan a name because of orthography? (V was used for U. Why the double W looks like a double V.)

US v UK: Size and Age

For some explaining of why 100 miles isn’t far in Texas, at least.

Texas = 696,241 km² (269,000 square miles)
UK = 243,610 km² (94,060 square miles)

The oldest towns in the two countries?

The oldest community within the United States is Acoma Pueblo, 70 miles west of Albuquerque. The Acoma people have been living there for 900 years and still live there.

The oldest community still with inhabitants in the UK is Amesbury, Wiltshire. It’s been continually occupied since 8820 BC. That’s almost 3 millennia.

Oldest building still in use for generally the same purpose?

St. Peter of the Wall, in Essex, was built between 660 and 662 and is still being used as a church. It is 1350 years old.

The oldest church in the United States is San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It dates from 1710, replacing a 1626 chapel that burned. It is still a Catholic church.

Old public places?
The Old Bell Hotel in Malmesbury, Wiltshire was built as an inn in 1220. It will be celebrating its 800th anniversary soon. It’s still a hotel in the Cotswolds.

The oldest bar still in use as a bar in the US is Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (and bar) from 1722. However, it was at least nominally a shop, rather than a bar. It will 300 years old soon.

Oldest shops?
The oldest shop in the UK is in Chester, Cheshire. It was built around 1274 as a shop and home. It’s still a shop. That’s 740 years.

The oldest shop in the US is in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. It was built in 1781 as a store and is still operating as a store. That’s 243 years.

Oldest gardens?
The oldest public garden in the US is from 1820.

The oldest public garden in the UK was first enclosed in 1415 and first had seats added in 1612. That makes it 405 years older than the US garden.

Oldest bed in use in the UK? 406 years.

The oldest bed found in the world is 77,000 years old. That makes the UK bed a baby, though people are still sleeping in it.

Middle Weeks in Edinburgh

Monday June 9
We took the bus to the area near the Haymarket Toastmasters this evening.

We went into a small café down the road and around the corner from The Thistle, the hotel where it meets. I was a bit concerned because it looked more like a restaurant than a fast place to get food, but we did need to eat.

I ordered a cheese and (Canadian) bacon sandwich. (Bacon here is like Canadian bacon, not American. It can be crispy, but it’s not our thin strips.) It was excellent. It came with a salad, which was not listed on the menu, that had both peppers and tomatoes, so I was only able to eat half the sandwich. That was enough though.

I thought we would be quite late for the meeting, as the clock in the pub was fast (but I didn’t know that). It took probably 10 minutes to get our food and 10 minutes for them to get the check to work correctly—assuming they did.

We arrived at the hotel smack dab on time, which I grew up with as late.

We walked in the small room, maybe the size of our bedroom at home, and it was full. There were about three vacant seats, so we sat in those.

Toastmasters here introduce the meeting and the group of Toastmasters and the roles. The Toastmaster also mentioned that we are very encouraging and that folks clap a lot to be encouraging. They also remind of fire alarms and introduce everyone in the group (20 seconds per person, by the person). There were about 8 visitors, including us.

The group meets twice a month, each time for two hours. The first hour was introductions, roles, and speeches. They have the ah-counter here; this person is different from the grammarian/wordmaster.

There were only two speakers. One was giving their first speech and one their second. They were both interesting and fairly well done.

The second speech was from a chiropractor and Ron went and spoke to him and got his card for me. Ron is very concerned that I am seeing folks and not getting better quickly.

Then there was an interval. I spoke with the ah-counter, who mentioned that I had said um while talking to him and to Stephen (another member). I was put off and mentioned that in the US we count so’s and and’s that are connectives and used the same way and he had used two of each during his intro to his role.

That was not particularly polite of me. You’d think I’d be better at being polite after 50 plus years, but I’m not.

I also spoke with the person who was doing the table topics. He asked if I would be willing to speak. I told him yes and asked where we should speak—from our seats or the front? I told him Ron would probably speak as well.

Turns out the table topics are far more involved than ours. First, there are five! (Of course, in two weeks’ time, we might have six, so I guess it’s not that different.) Then, for this particular table topics’ round, the Topics Master told the beginning of a story and had us finish it.

Ron got the first question. It was, “You are out driving in your car in the Scottish countryside and you see a man running towards your vehicle and waving. You slow down and then stop, when you realize their clothing is burnt almost entirely off their body. You roll down your window and…”

Ron did a good job. He mentioned nervousness over a naked man in his car and that the man should be nervous as he didn’t know how to drive in the UK. He said the clothing was burnt from getting too near a volcano; this was particularly relevant as Edinburgh is built near/on a volcano.

I got the second question. “There are legends that say that on Christmas Eve at midnight, animals talk. You are watching television on Christmas Eve and your dog Bobby comes in and begins to talk to you. He says…”

I went to the front and said that I had heard of animals speaking at midnight and had read stories in fantasy about them and had always thought it would be cool. I did not comment on the fact that I would be unlikely to be watching television—especially not alone—though I did think of it. I said Bobby came in and said, “About that cat next door…” I tried to make my voice lower when I quoted Bobby. Then I told them that I immediately became concerned because we had already had trouble with the neighbor next door about getting in their garden. “I think the cat has a crush on me,” Bobby finished. “You do? What makes you think that?” I told them I asked. “Well, the cat’s hair stands up and she arches her back and then she stutters like she’s nervous talking to me—hisssssss.” I told them I looked at Bobby and said, “Bobby, that’s how cats show they’re angry and that they don’t like you.” At this point I turned my head away. I wasn’t sure what to say and I kind of looked in the corner away from everyone. Then I turned back, crossed my arms and in Bobby’s voice, I said, “Well, I didn’t like that cat anyway.” Then I sat back down.

There were three other stories. I wrote the prompts down, but I don’t want to get up right now and get them.

After the table topics, the evaluators for the speakers spoke. One was Michael (the new president) and one was Max. Michael pointed out that the first speakers’ Australian accent immediately pulled everyone in. That was a good point.

The Table Topics’ Evaluator spoke next. He got on Ron’s case for not standing up at the front. He didn’t have anything negative to say about me. He did the other three. Then he awarded the Table Topics’ ribbon to me.

The General Evaluator spoke next. She covered everything that hadn’t been already evaluated. I think it was five pages long. It was incredibly well done and very detailed.

At the end they asked the guests if they were willing to comment on the meeting. I said that I had heard that they were unlikely to be particularly encouraging… but that they had done an amazing job with that. They laughed.

Folks talked to us for about an hour afterwards. It was quite nice. We haven’t spoken to folks since we got to Scotland really.

Then we got the bus home and went to bed.

It was a very good day.

Tuesday 10
Wednesday 11

Thursday June 12
I had an appointment with the chiropractor who spoke at Haymarket today at 2:20. Ron went with me. The door was odd. Two half doors that opened about a quarter of the way and you could then reach the regular door’s knob.

We went in. We were early.

I spoke with Gary Blackwood for perhaps half an hour. Then he worked for a bit on my back. I laid on the floor for another half hour, paid, and then we left.

That evening was the Waverly Communicators meeting of Toastmasters. I was surprised to find that the info on the fire drills was included at this meeting too.

The schedule has the times when the green/amber/red will be given for each thing on the schedule. That’s a great idea.

Both Haymarket and Waverly had quotes that I would apply the next time I were doing timekeeper.
“Don’t count every minute of the day; make every minute count.” (Haymarket)
“Time is what we want most and yet what we use worst.” Wm Penn (Waverly)

The Waverly Toastmaster had quotes for every role. I particularly liked, “A man’s character may be known by the adjectives he habitually uses.” Mark Tawin

Waverly had a list of their members (or at least attendance from the last meeting). There were about 30 people and 5 visitors.

Waverly also had 5 table topics:
Tell a personal sports story
One thing still to be invented that would make your life easier.
“We most regret the things we haven’t done.” What haven’t you done—yet?
Some folks go wild when their team wins. What makes you go wild? (What are you wild about?)
Banks were once conceived of as bastions of dignity and virtue. What do you think of banks?

Ron was called on to do the banks talk and (with the exception of money in the mattress) did an excellent job of translating from across the pond to the UK. He also won table topics!

Waverly did the 20 second introductions, too, and had a general evaluator evaluating every single thing that wasn’t evaluated—except, of course, the general evaluator.

I spent the interval talking to a member about differences in the Toastmasters—and things I’ve learned in Toastmasters.

We left after about 15 minutes, rather than an hour. I think we were just too tired to chat with folks.

Friday, June 13
I went out to my last edphysio appointment today. I took the bus to get there and had a bit of a challenge following the directions to the place. (Left =/= right, no matter what the app says.)

After the appointment, however, I decided I would just walk around.

I found a nice little shop to get breakfast/lunch in. The waiter asked about what I was doing in Edinburgh and said he also lives in Leith. Several hours later, having meandered about halfway home, he passed me by on his way to somewhere Leith-y.

Another block up I found Hard Rock Café, with several eateries in sight. I don’t know why we had to eat there that day we “couldn’t find anywhere” to eat. (We passed four cafés. Maybe Ron didn’t want to eat at the same place twice?)

Crossing through the park and then walking through St. James Centre made the trip back amazingly shorter than the trip to the physio. I also figured out that St. James Centre has three floors. And I found a shoe shop that says they can reheel my boots in just a couple of hours. That would be good.

When I finally made it home, around 2:30, Ron was out. He had said he might be. I worked on things till 5:30 and then started getting ready. We were going to the International Chi.

Ron came home at almost 6 and we headed out. We were later than I would have liked, but we got to the Playhouse and got our tickets with 45 minutes left. So we went to the Slug and Lettuce, had sweet potato fries, and then headed back.

I thought the International Chi was a Chinese acrobatic group. It was more like an experimental dance company crossed with a martial arts exhibition. It was interesting and well done, but not what I was expecting. There were probably only about 75 people in the audience. There were about a third of that on stage.

Saturday, June 14

In the morning we went out to try I Heart Café. We walked the long way round, because that is the way Google routed us. When we arrived at 9 am, the place was closed and would be till noon.

We went on to the Italian café, Italian Eatery? We ate breakfast and read our iPad books there.

We stayed in all the rest of the day yesterday.

We’re watching the first Amy Pond Dr. Who. It makes so much more contextual sense.
“You’re Scottish; fry something.”
“You’re Scottish. What are you doing here?” “I had to move to England. It’s rubbish.”
bacon, baked beans, bread and butter, fish fingers, custard…

I wrote on Facebook that I’ve only seen 4 men in kilts the whole trip.

Sunday, June 15
I had intended to take a bus ride all over town, but instead I sat down at my computer and didn’t get up for three hours.

At 10 am Ron was up and we talked and dawdled.

Finally at 11 he said to go on and he’d catch up. I walked to the St James Centre for shopping—which I had decided was bigger than I thought at first. (This was incorrect.)

I brought my shoes with me, to have the heels repaired. The shoe guy, however, told me that if he repaired them, they wouldn’t stay repaired. They would just break again.

I didn’t throw them away, since they are my only dressy boots and if I need to wear them somewhere, the heels won’t really mess me up that much.

I walked around a lot and the mall didn’t have more than we thought earlier. There were shops I hadn’t paid attention to, though, and I went in some of those. I looked for shoes and for a tape measure—since we needed to measure our bags to get the plane to Cardiff.

Eventually Ron arrived. We walked around the mall a bit. Then we went… I can’t remember where. Around 3:30 we took the bus back to our house.

Ron got on the computer with me and it turned out that the train tickets to Cardiff were 165 for both, not each. So we don’t need to take the plane. That’s good.

Did I mention that a plane from Edinburgh to Cardiff has to go through Belfast and ½ of the changing planes has a 22.5 hour layover? While that would get us to Northern Ireland, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

Ron got online and got us cheaper tickets to Whitby, too, and I got us two nights’ stay in the Storrbeck Bed and Breakfast. We’re going Tuesday, just before noon, and coming back Thursday morning, which will give us a whole day at the abbey. While that is probably more than we need, it’s better to have too much time rather than not enough.

At 5ish we started getting ready to go to “Men with Coconuts,” a comedy improv group that was having a gig at the The Granary in Leith for the Leith Festival.

We went a little early, but not as early as I had hoped, to eat. Unfortunately, we had forgotten that it was Father’s Day and all the restaurants were full up. We ended up eating at Pizza Express. I had a salad, which was good, but not wonderful or anything. Ron had a pizza. He appeared to like it.

The comedy group did a series of routines that were quite good and then for the second half they acted out a “Broadway Musical” based on titles that folks within the audience voted for. We picked “Jenny of the Soviet Bloc.” It was quite interesting and decently done. I would say they were a bit embarrassing with their sexual actions, particularly the gay ones, but two of the audience actually got the going in that direction by moving their bodies (one of the routines) for them. I closed my eyes for part of that. They were very funny. I would enjoy going to see them again when they are doing something else.

Today I saw 5 men in kilts. It was quite nice.

Monday, June 16
I did get up early this morning. It still took me more than an hour to get out of the flat, but I did get up.

I caught a bus to St Andrews Garden Square, walked around and read the “The Brain is Wider than the Sky” posts with images. Some of them were quite fascinating.

Then I took the MacTours of the Edinburgh Bus Tours. That was quite fun and I learned a bit. The schtick on Dean Brodie wasn’t as interesting as John Z’s, but there were other things I learned. I enjoyed it. I’ve got notes on paper that I’ll try to transcribe soon.

When I got back I walked to the chiropractor. Or I thought I did! Actually, I walked to the physio. Thankfully I hadn’t stopped in at a café and when I realized I was in the wrong place I was way early for my appointment there (and almost made it to my actual appointment on time). I did call to let Gary know that I was running late. Then I got on a bus I’ve never been on before and went out.

After the chiropractor I went and had lunch. I ended up at Pizza Express because the café with internet was closed.

I went into a small St. Columba’s charity shop, but it smelled of cigarette smoke, so I walked right back out.

Then I caught the bus to St. Andrews Garden Square again. Well, I meant to do that. Instead I went the wrong direction. And the bus got off its route due to a diversion. So I had to wait till it was where it needed to be, then get off, then find a bus in the opposite direction. It took quite a lot of time and my phone was running down rapidly.

I found a Starbucks with plugs right before I got to St. Andrews Garden Square and stopped in there. The carrot cake is execrable. I ate about 1/3. My phone is up to 54%, so I am going to shut down and get on another tour.

I took the MacTours first. Then, after lunch and the chiropractor, I took the Edinburgh tour, which starts at Waverly Station—even though I started at St. Andrews Garden Square. Finally, getting back just as the last tour I could take started, I went on the Majestic Tour. The most interesting thing on that tour was that Leith Mills (which is in Leith) is a great shopping center for tartans and cashmere. Ron and I will just have to go check it out.

When it ended, I went down George Street, looking for somewhere to eat near the Royal Society of Edinburgh. I signed up earlier today (after Starbucks) for a discussion forum this evening on Sir Walter Scott (Uncle Watty, one of the tour guides called him) and the new science of reading. I ended up eating around the corner at a Costa; once again I had the ham and cheese toastie, which was quite good.

I have seen three more men in kilts today. While it’s not “men in kilts everywhere,” that is much better than what I had been doing. I don’t think it is simply a case of looking for them, either, because I had been looking for them.

Wednesday, June 18

Thursday, June 19
The Rileys were expected today, but they didn’t arrive until after midnight.

We went grocery shopping and I ended up going around Princes Street looking in shops.

Friday, June 20
Ron and I got up around 6 am. We went to the grocery store and the pound stores, looking for, among other things, suntan lotion. We got back to the flat right at 10.

Jon and Angela came and picked us up at 10. We went in the car out to the airport to attend the fair. I thought it was going to be very boring, but eventually Angela and I found the craft tents. We went through all of them.

Then Ron and I went through all of them again, when Jon took Angela to meet a coworker. He bought a kilt pin from a jewelry maker. It is very nice, a sword/cross, topped by a thistle, with a shield with the Scottish saltire (cross) on it. He liked one with a green stone (really glass), but he didn’t know what color tartan he would end up picking, so he didn’t get it. The pin he chose was the last one of that type that the jeweler had.

Ron and I were wandering around and saw a bunch of guys, and then a few girls, in kilts. We were looking at their different colors and the ways they were wearing their pins and things. I noticed that most had socks that matched their waistcoats or jackets. One guy, though, wore lighter socks. One guy, who had a waistcoat and jacket in green matched a different color in his tartan with his socks and I think that was probably a good idea.

Turns out this group is the National Youth Piper Band. We got to hear them do three or four songs, because we were around where they were when they began playing. Their director is from Australia, which was funky. He was in long shorts. But he also didn’t walk with them on the field. Instead they were led by some other guy in a kilt.

After that Ron and I wandered around and we found some big tents with booths in them. The kilt maker he was planning to use, Geoffrey the Tailor, was there and he was measured for and ordered his kilt—an ancient color (o/c for old color) Davidson tartan. It’s a medium blue, medium green, black, with a bit of orange. He liked it.

We found out why the students’ kilts from the Youth Band looked different from the back. They were not “set.” When you have a kilt made so that it is set, the back of the kilt will look just like the front. They fold the pleats to do it that way. Most kilts, particularly machine made kilts, don’t do that, so the colors of the kilt emphasize something else from the back.

Angela and I both looked for coats at Welligogs. Angela actually ended up buying a very cute navy coat with flaired bottom that was fairly heavy and had a nice hood and well-lined pockets. It was 150 pounds, but a good buy for that, I think.

Saturday, June 21
We got up way earlier than Jon and Angela and went to the Royal Mile. We went in several cheaper kilt places and a more expensive one. Then we went in Geoffrey the Tailor’s and there was almost nothing there.

We also went to W. Armstrong to look at jackets and kilts. I’ve now been there three times and haven’t purchased anything, so I think I should quit wasting my time going back.

Then we went up the Royal Mile towards the castle to look at the weaving exhibit in the Royal Armoury. The exhibit (with live weaving on weekdays) used to be owned by Geoffrey the Tailor, but they sold it. However, the clerk said they thought it was still up and running so we went there.

Inside the building, which isn’t particularly large from the outside, there were 6 or so half floors. Ron ended up buying a dark blue ghillie shirt and a black everyday tartan of heavy cotton. He also bought a remnant of Davidson tartan in the old colors.

While we were there, Jon and Angela showed up. Jon came downstairs looking for us—as the place was not particularly pram friendly. When he found us, I went upstairs to wait with Angela.

Then we went to the castle. All of us got ½ off because we are members of English Heritage. Angela and I both got one audio each. I wouldn’t do that again, though it wasn’t outrageous. There were just so many people you didn’t feel like you could wander around and look at things.

The first thing we did, pretty much, was go eat. I didn’t eat, but everyone else did.

We went to St. Margaret’s chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh, but it was closed for a wedding. So we went on to the place with the Scottish Crown Jewels. They are the second oldest in Europe (after Hungary). One would think that would make them truly ancient, but, in fact, they are only from 1540. However, since the English crown jewels were destroyed by Cromwell, and so are even later, I guess it makes sense. Folks’ crowns got taken off as pillage and had to be remade…

The place where the crown jewels were said it would take 25 minutes to go through. It had a lot of history things that were very interesting. The crown jewels themselves were very difficult to see as they were in a tiny room and everyone was in there and just stayed. I did get a good look at the sword and scepter though.

After a quick (2 minute?) look around the birthing room of King James I, we were heading out of the castle. Then Angela reminded me about St. Margaret’s. So I went up and went in. There was a line, but it was quick moving.

The chapel was small and had three tiny stained glass windows. I put in a pound and got the book about the place to read later.

Then we left.

After the castle, we went to Rosslyn Chapel. It was begun in the 1400s. I really enjoyed it, though I wished I had brought my camera. Then Ron pointed out that they don’t allow cameras in the chapel—which is where most of the interesting things are—and so I felt better after that.

I wrote a poem about Rosslyn Chapel and St. Margaret’s Chapel.

For dinner we went to Noble’s Bar. I called in our reservations as we were heading back to Leith. They reserved a large table for us and we put the buggy at the table.

Jon and I both ordered a Thistley cider. It was the only non-dry cider they had. Quite good. I made a joke about being old and Jon spewed cider all over the entire table. … Stuff like that happens sometimes.

I had the sweet potato soup, which was good but had too much rosemary. I also ordered the cheese board—which was awful. The blue cheese stunk so much I couldn’t eat the other two cheeses either. Ron ate some of it. Then I ordered the blood orange syrup cake with ice cream. It was AMAZING.

Ron and Jon were going to a movie tonight, but I was so foot-sore, that I went home and went to bed. I am sure Angela felt abandoned, but I needed to lay down.

Our First Week in Scotland

Monday, June 2
Ron Facebooked his friend Danielle and she offered her BF’s services as walking tour guide. We took them up on it.

We grabbed a small bite to eat, as it was almost lunch time, and hiked down to Easter Road. They met us on the corner and we began our trip around town.

We walked the Royal Mile and saw the pub at the World’s End. (The official end of Edinburgh back in the day and the last pub on the way out of town.) Now it is quite a ways from the end of town.

We went to Holyrood Palace and peaked in. It’s about $29 too. Ron’s friend has tickets, so we are hoping to be able to use those as she is going out of town this week for 2 months.

We saw the place where the Scottish Parliament meets. It looks like the architecture for a modern art museum.

We stopped at a small café on the way up the Royal Mile and had lunch. I had quiche Lorraine and a chocolate snowball. The quiche was excellent and the snowball was even better. I’d hike up there every day for those—and they weren’t too expensive either. We bought all four lunches for less than $30, including desserts.

There were Scot soldiers, in kilts and fancy dress uniform, guarding the castle. We didn’t go in because it was about $29 for a ticket each. Plus Ron’s friend said Stirling Castle was way better. Maybe we’ll get to Stirling Castle.

Then we went to a park, where there was a war memorial and a large fountain that is not being used because the water is corroding the original iron. They are still trying to work out how to use it without breaking it.

We went through a cemetery at a church and I took some cool pictures. They had stones from the early 1800s and late 1700s that were readable.

Danielle and John took us to Dean’s Gardens, which is some housing in the old mill district, with a beautiful walkway next to the river or stream or tributary. I could have sat there, next to a folly-type architectural structure, for hours listening to the water.

Five hours into the day, we said ta-ta to the friends. Then we walked an interminably long way (perhaps another ½ mile) to a place to eat. That was Hard Rock Café Edinburgh. Yes, I was that kind of tourist. I would have eaten anywhere, but Ron didn’t want to repeat a café we had already eaten in.

We walked the couple of miles home.

Did I mention Edinburgh has hills? It’s like Rome, built on a bunch of hills, though John says some of them have been razed. The Royal Mile itself is on a ridge of a mountain, so you walk at about a 45 degree angle. And, of course, it would be too simple if it were uphill one way and downhill the other. Nope, you have to go uphill both ways! (Which, of course, means there is some downhill both ways, too, but the ones I noticed were the uphills.)

I got some decent pictures and Ron got some too. He had the camera, but after a while of my saying, “Will you take a picture of that?” he got frustrated and just handed me the camera.

The most interesting random fact I learned was that a Scottish mile is longer than an English/American mile, being approximately 1.3 of our miles.

Tuesday, June 3
Had a physio appointment today. Ron called and got a taxi to come pick us up.

The physic guy worked on me for a while. He seemed to know what he was doing. He gave me another exercise to do—4x a day, 12 repetitions each time. It’s not exactly easy, because of the weakness of the muscle. I think the muscle is weak because it has been moved out of place. He re-moved it.

After the physio it hurt worse than before. That happens a lot, though, so while I wasn’t too thrilled about it, I wasn’t surprised.

We walked home from the phsyio. That was about 1.5 miles. Then, on the way, we decided I needed to stop at Boots, the drugstore, and get some more pain killers. That was another 1+ mile.

It took us 4 hours to do the physio, a short lunch, and the pharmacy. We definitely would need to take a bus more often to get stuff done around here more quickly.

I worked some this evening. I hadn’t worked enough yesterday.

Wednesday, 4 June
Today I went to get my hair cut. We took the bus. That was a good choice, though it wasn’t simple, exactly. We had to buy an app and purchase tickets and walk to the stop. But the stop wasn’t far and we only had to hop on one bus.

The shop was pretty empty when we arrived. We sat down. They made us tea. We had “cooking tea,” which is what they called the non-Earl Grey stuff. I also grabbed a Scottish biscuit, a caramel, chocolate, and sugar wafers (like Dad’s favorite cookies). They were very good.

The shop is Hot Head and Sabrina cut my hair. I showed her the cuts I liked; she took them and gave me a cut she said would be easy to care for and look good. I like it. It’s incredibly short in the back, even shaved off. The front is much longer. She made layers and they look good.

Ron took pictures and posted them on FB, after asking for (and receiving) my approval. I shared one with me drinking my tea that I had them top off for me so it would be warm.

That post is the one I’ve had the most likes on (47) and the most comments (21).

I don’t know if I will get my hair colored. I like the idea of having purple hair, but I don’t really want to bleach my hair. I guess I should have talked to Sabrina a bit more about how much damage the bleach might do.

Went to Word of Mouth for lunch. I asked if it was too late to order crepes. They said it was never too late for crepes. Later I asked if I could get tap water. They said it was off—but they would bring some to my table. The crepes were good, but there was way too much Italian seasoning.

We were heading back to the geek shop (toys mostly, based on the window display) when Ron asked if I wanted to stop in Blackwell’s (book store). Of course I did. I think we stayed in Blackwell’s for 3 hours. Ron found a book to read that was very interesting, Watching the English. It’s HUGE. He read a hundred or so pages. I actually found the same book and read about 20 pages. I also found an interesting book called Digital Literacies that had assignments in it. I’m going to order a copy when I get home. It’s a Pearson book, not British.

Thursday, June 5
I went out today on my own. I dropped Ron’s dry cleaning off.

After I dropped off the dry cleaning, I went to the Italian Café on the corner and had a bowl of oat porridge. It was a little runny, but I added some brown sugar and it was quite good.

I went back to Blackwell’s and bought the two books on Scottish pronunciation. I couldn’t order them from Amazon because they are out of print.

I also went to the National Museum of Scotland, spending an hour there. I learned that in 1946 a Scot invented color television; however, the FCC refused to approve it—so we had to wait for color television.

The museum has 5 floors, but, while I never went over the first floor, I went up and down 5 sets of stairs. There was 0, -.5, -1, and 1—plus some other floor which I don’t know the number of… I was just trying to see the Scots history things.

Ron had a skype call with Aaron this evening.

Our first home delivery of groceries came this evening. At 8:30 a noise went off in the apartment and Ron figured out it was the intercom for the delivery guy. We got three bins of food—including the smallest cauliflower I have ever seen. It was smaller than two fists.

Friday, June 6
I worked on my dissertation for five hours. Yesterday I thought I was pretty close to being done—which I have thought a lot, unfortunately. Today I realized there were all sorts of problems with the dissertation and I started working on those things.

First, I had some information in the introduction for one church but not the others. Since I didn’t know anything about the others any more, I took it out.

Then I realized that the presentation of the different works were not in consistent order. Apparently I just randomly changed them whenever I wanted to. I chose an order (single mission church, three mission church, and then four mission church with missionaries in alphabetical order) and then made one change. Since the Simpsons and the Irwins share a newsletter, I wanted the two approaches to the coverage to be next to each other. I think that works.

Right now I’m on page 122 of a 400 page dissertation. It will take a while, obviously.

We went to downtown Edinburgh together today. We walked. We went to John Lewis and walked around. It turned out to be a mall. John Lewis itself was expensive, but we went to the Cocoa Bar, which was very nice. They had internet, too.

The mall itself was fairly small; there weren’t a lot of shops around.

We made sure to head home after 3 pm so we could pick up the dry cleaning.

Saturday, June 7
I had a physio appointment at 1:30 today. Ron and I decided to walk.

We went to The Roamin’ Nose, which is up for an award from Ion Magazine, for lunch—since we arrived quite early. Since it was Saturday, the noon meal was still breakfast. Ron had eaten a piece of KFC chicken before we left, so he had bread and jam.

I ordered the “thick hot chocolate” with a vanilla bean marshmallow. It was a cup of hot pudding with a rectangular hand-made marshmallow and came with a small bottle of heated milk. I ate the first bites with a spoon and thankfully the marshmallow melted and cut the very strong chocolate flavor. After the marshmallow was all gone, I added milk, stirred it rapidly, and it turned into a more normal hot chocolate. I also had a scrambled egg sandwich. The eggs also had Italian seasonings… I ate the sandwich with one slice of bread and had apricot jam on the other. The apricot jam was very good. Ron had raspberry jam; it was a bit stronger.

Apparently raspberry is a favorite of Scots.

Called Dad tonight and talked to him for 11 minutes. That’s the longest I’ve talked to him in ages. Steph and the kids are out of town somewhere. I wonder if Dad’s home by himself.

Sunday, June 8
Ron and I got up late and walked into Leith. I’ve never walked that way, though Ron has walked part of the way.

We decided to go to the shopping mall, Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre. It looked huge, but it wasn’t actually that big. We had Swiss ice cream—passion fruit and mango. It was VERY flavorful, strong–and not particularly good.

Ron bought a shirt at Debenham’s. There wasn’t much else to get and stuff was very expensive; I guess it is kind of like the Galleria.

I had looked up places to go in Edinburgh and found two places to go shopping. We got on the bus and went into Edinburgh.

The first place I had down was the Red Door Gallery; it wasn’t anything like I was expecting and had nothing I wanted. However, next door was kind of interesting. Ron bought two books, and one he purchased two copies of… On the other side of Red Door Gallery was a woolen store with an absolutely gorgeous coat. I went in to try it on, but it was 400 pounds! It was gorgeous though.

We also went to W. Armstrong and Sons. It is a vintage shop and was very full. They had lots of kilts, but we didn’t buy any.

Then we started walking around some more. I found the Fudge Kitchen and we got some fudge. While there, I read “our version of the traditional Scottish cranachan” on one of the fudges… I didn’t know what that was.

Ron wanted a drink and I suggested The World’s End. He said it was weird to go to a pub and not have alcohol, but they had cranachan, which I wanted to try. So we went in. We both had KopenXXX. Ron ordered brown bread and butter; the waitress tried to talk him out of the brown bread and butter, but he insisted that was what he wanted. The ciders were excellent and so was the brown bread and butter. I ordered cranachan. The cranachan was good, but had too much raspberry. Of course, I should have expected that as it’s raspberries steeped in honey and whisky and then cream and toasted oats.

We came home about 6 pm and were both very tired. We stopped at PoundSaver and bought a bunch of junk food and some mousse for my hair. Then we went to Sainsbury’s to buy bread and got that and ice cream.

I picked the bread this time, because Ron insisted. I had already walked down the whole bakery shelf poking on all the bread and the softest bread was the giraffe bread, so I bought that. It’s good. It’s what I had for supper.

Our Trip: Brentwood and Getting to Edinburgh

May 25 Sunday
I woke up at 5:30, but went back to sleep till 6:17. Then I got up, made myself breakfast, put away the clean dishes and stacked the dirty ones in the dishwasher, and then went for a walk. I took the camera.

I came back to the house to get a jacket, which is a good thing, because it did rain a bit on my walk.

I walked for almost 2 hours and took about 70 pictures.

In the 2 hours (-10 minutes), though, I only went 8024 steps. That’s 3.43 miles. I should be doing almost twice that.

I admit to meandering, rather than “walking,” but still… And my leg did hurt when I started. Now it is obvious I was walking on my toes again because my left big toe area (with all the bone spurs and arthritis) is hurting. So is the outside of my left knee.

I am just going to have to muscle through these things.

I did check, though, to make sure I could stick my tongue out straight and close my eyes and touch my nose. Didn’t want to have had a stroke and not realized it.

While I was on my walk, I took about 80 pictures. Of those I kept 40. Of those I rated 19 at 3 or higher. The ones I kept and rated 1 meant that I liked the composition, but the picture was out of focus.

There was a tree root, covered in moss, that I liked better in the out of focus picture. It looked like a dragon head. But the angle I got on the image that was in focus didn’t look like that.

Thinking about it, there was no apparent rhyme or reason to which images were in focus. Some of the close ups were and some of the distance were. Some of the ones with a lot of light were and some of the ones that were very dark were. …Maybe it was that on some of them I actually took the time to focus on something. I’ll have to try that more and see if it is the difference.

We left for church at about 11. Church starts at 1, but it is in London and, of course, we had to stop at Starbucks on the way.

Angela went off to feed the baby throughout church. I walked in the back because my back hurt so badly.

Monday May 26
It is a bank holiday and so Jon is off.

We went to Burger King for lunch. The guys went in and Angela and I stayed in the car with the baby. They got the food for take away and we ate in the car before we continued driving around.

My toes are going numb. It’s odd. It feels like they are asleep. I hope the osteopath can fix that.

Tuesday May 27
Jon and I got up early and went for a walk. It was rain-raining the whole time. We went to the old zoo area and the old manor area and saw the pigeon hill where the lookouts waited to make sure they didn’t get attacked.

Coats were soaking wet when we got home, but Jon had worn the one he loaned to Ron.

When we got back to the house, Jon took another shower to warm up and then Ron and I went into town with him when he went to Starbucks.

We hung out at Café Nero and Starbucks. We ate lunch and people watched at The Slug and Lettuce.

We went to all the charity shops, and Marks and Spencer, to find Ron a rain jacket. He bought one for 7 pounds. It’s an XL, but it will keep him dry and it doesn’t look HUGE on him, just big.

I called all the places we called on Friday for chiropractic appointments, but none of them had me down for a 3 pm. One, however, could see me tomorrow at 2:45. I took that.

Wednesday May 28
Jon was off today to go to the embassy, but since they didn’t get the baby’s birth certificate, that didn’t happen.

We went to Sainsbury’s and picked up groceries. I got cheese I could eat, a roast chicken, and a few other things. Jon and Angela bought pizza and I fixed them pizza for dinner and I ate chicken.

Thursday May 29
Ron and I hiked into Brentwood today. It took us over an hour. It’s about 3 miles. We went to Starbucks.

We ate lunch at Café Whittakers. Turns out that milkshakes in the UK are more like soda pop than ice cream.

I had Amelia Emery’s thesis defense today. It was two hours. Deb asked way more academically focused questions. It was hard to hear them. At first it was because they turned the microphone the opposite way. Then they just faded in and out, depending.

The cab was only 6 pounds instead of 10 like it has been the other times.

Angela had thawed chicken for supper. I made Ron’s chicken spaghetti. Not too happy to have to cook after the emotional exhaustion of the thesis defense, but whatever.

Friday May 30
I had an osteopathic appointment today again. It went well. I still have numbness in my foot, but my hip/leg is better. I dressed for the doctor, not for walking, and my slip on shoes, as well as the hip/leg issues made me very slow.

We got a volunteer bus into Shenfield—by making the full circle with the driver, who chatted with another passenger, picked up her grands at one stop, and let us off near the train station.

We ate at a very nice coffee shop there. I had tea and a raspberry and white chocolate muffin. Quite good.

Ron doesn’t think I am actually working when I am so he was constantly interrupting me. Maybe he was just trying to make me see how annoying it is. I don’t know. What I do know is that I got very annoyed, as I was trying to finish my dissertation before we leave Brentwood.

Then we went to the train station. We got on a train to Colchester and discovered it was going in the opposite direction. It was an “express” train so it went all the way to Chelmsford.

We got off there and came back towards London—really towards London as it turns out. It was a real express train and went straight to Stratford. So we got off that and road the DLR (daily line?) back through Mary-land, Harold’s Wood, etc, to Brentwood.

This evening we watched the baby for Jon and Angela while they went out to dinner. We also watched way too much television.

Josiah wasn’t “good as gold” but he was willing to handle bouncing between Ron and I and settling down fairly quickly when he got upset. I think he has finally connected the changing table and a clean diaper, because he didn’t fuss about it tonight.

Saturday May 31
We got up early for our last day with the Rileys. We had thought about going to Stonehenge but it was too far away.

So instead we went to Maldon. I got pictures of two different Byrtnoth statues. I got pictures of the tide in and the tide out. I think some of them may have turned out very well, though I haven’t actually checked yet.

We also went to the Combined Services Museum—a one-person collection that is three stories’ tall and still growing. He owns a couple of tanks. He has swords from the American Revolution all the way back to 1400s. Also spear heads to 800 BC. Amazing place. About 5 pounds to get in.

Then we went to the Priory and to Castle Gardens in Colchester. That was John’s suggestion and it was a good one.

I got lots of pictures, including the three of them in the rose gardens.

We went geocaching and found two. The one at Castle Gardens Jon, Angela, and I looked for (mostly one at a time) for about an hour. The other, “at” the Reformed Church, all four of us looked for together for about half an hour before Ron found it.

Angela was frustrated, but I think she will enjoy it eventually. We need to go find the cache in the park (Billy Goats Gruff) and let her and Jon actually find it.

For supper we went to Chiquito’s. Everyone enjoyed it. They put small handfuls of popcorn on the table. I had one bite, spit it out, and took two Benadryl. They spice up their popcorn. The sweet potato fries were very good, but not really worth $8. There were about 25 of them.

Sunday June 1
When we got home I ate too much and went to bed. This morning I hurt so much I couldn’t sleep. Ice packs didn’t help. Now (2 hours later) the pain meds have kicked in.

Ron updated my iPad, because iBooks was crashing, and now I can’t open my Kindle, because it is not registered at Amazon. … Which I guess means that all my books are gone from the kindle too. That is NOT a good thing.

I must have been having smell seizures, because I smelled something bad—but nowhere in particular smelled. I put cinnamon and cloves on to smell the house up and overcome my nose.

I sent off my faculty goals. Those were due today. I even started next year’s. (How’s that for proactive?)

Beth P and I have been facebooking back and forth about the geocache at Castle Gardens. She couldn’t find the geocache in my picture.

I’m thinking we should start a new game—FB Geocache. Where you take pics of the caches you find and post them to see if they are visible in the pictures…

I made cinnamon apples this morning. I am making some more.

I need a nap.

Jon and Angela took us to King’s Crossing to catch the train. We got our tickets ahead of time and were so glad to have them. … However, when we got to the train, it turns out we should have purchased reserved seats or first class. There were NO seats on the train and at least 100 people were standing up.

I did not think I could stand up for 6 hours, so we got off and caught the next train. That was a problem because 1) we couldn’t trade our tickets in and get reserved seats OR 2) upgrade to first class.

We did get seats on the next train, though. It turns out if you can find a seat where the owner of the reserve isn’t getting on until later, you can sit there. We got on the train relatively early and found seats together.

There was an entire tribe/clan/movement traveling together, also without reserved tickets. They kept changing seats and moving around. I thought their kids were relatively well behaved, but the adults acted like there was no one else on the train. Ron, on the other hand, thought the kiddos just could not sit still.

It was warm on the train and my fan had broken. However, that which does not kill you can make you stronger, so hopefully I am stronger.

We arrived in Edinburgh, caught a taxi, and met our landlord at the corner.

The flat is a one-bedroom, with a living/kitchen. The bathroom is fairly large—larger than ours in Abilene, anyway. The bedroom is small, but it has everything we need. There is a chest of drawers AND two end tables, so it isn’t tiny. The thing I liked best about the flat on airbnb.com was the two rooms; it turns out that both the living room and the bedroom have doors you can close, so it is very private if you are trying to be alone.

I love Ron and he loves me, but I figure at some point, we are going to want to be by ourselves—and not have to go out into the rain.

British Isles Homes

These comments are based on surfing airbnb, our stay with our friends, and the flat we’ve let in Edinburgh. Really expensive homes (and even some that are not) will have differences. But most homes seem to have some similarities that are a little different from the US.

Homes in general:
Most people live in flats (apartments or condos). Most flats are purchased, even many of those rented out are owned by individuals rather than a large company.

Very few detached houses exist, except for those that are very old. Many of these have been converted to flats, such as Thorndon Manor, near where we stayed in Brentwood, Essex.

Homes are generally fairly small.

Our friends live in one of 5 homes that used to be stables for Thorndon Hill Farm. These are not separate, but share walls. In California our friends lived in a 2500 square foot home, while theirs here, fairly spacious, is about 1200 square feet.

They have high ceilings in some places. The second bedroom’s ceiling is slanted up to about 15 feet. The second bathroom and the part of the main room that is adjacent to those rooms also has a high ceiling. However, their ceilings also slant down to less than five feet on the other side.

The ceilings in the flat we sublet are 8-feet tall throughout. It is a very recent build.

Heat and air:
Coming from Texas is a bit different from New York, for example, where many homes and most cars don’t have air conditioning. So while the differences in heat and air are differences for some parts of the US, they are not for all of them.

Most buildings and vehicles do NOT have air conditioning, which is not limited to the UK but extends to most of Northern Europe, so I knew this already. They don’t expect to need it as, presently, the summer high is expected to be 84 and usually they don’t need it, although the summer that temperatures got into the 90s tens of thousands of people died. (2003 was the hottest year on record since 1540.)

Radiators are present in all buildings, even new ones. They are often used even in the summer months. DH turned on the heater twice in June!

Windows:
Most windows here open. They are the only way to get a breeze.

None of the windows here have screens, so if you open them, the bugs come in and, if the windows are large enough, so may other animals.

Our friends’ living area has no windows that open. They do, however, have three sets of French doors that are only four feet tall that open. Since they reach the ground (and our girlfriend is always chilly), they don’t open those.

Living room:
Our friends’ main room, often what is referred to as a great room in the Carolinas, has their living room, dining room, and kitchen. The flooring is differentiated only in the kitchen, but the ceiling beams also create a “divide” feeling for their dining room.

Most living rooms, as far as I can tell, are one room with the dining area and kitchen attached.

The main room in the flat we are renting has the kitchen on one wall and the “dining room” is a two-foot round tall table with a single stool. (The second is in the closet.) There is no differentiation between the dining and living room in terms of flooring, though the kitchen has plastic tiles (not even as fancy as linoleum).

Kitchens:
Washing machines are in the kitchen. Most folks don’t have dryers and just hang their clothes on pegs (clothes pins) or on their radiators or on their movable drying racks.

The clothes aren’t soft like ours, dried in machines, but there are launderettes (laundry mats) around–or you can take them to the dry cleaners.

Most apartments have their kitchens brought in by the folks who live there.

Refrigerators in general, as in the rest of Europe, are significantly smaller than American fridges–at least the ones I am used to. I suppose our very small fridges might be the same size. Many older, smaller flats have the larger US-dorm refrigerators.

The flat we are letting in Edinburgh has a fridge that is about three feet tall on top of a freezer of about equal height. They are both the width of one-half of a side-by-side refrigerator.

It is common to have a flat without a dishwasher. That’s fine. We haven’t had one in our home (of 3 years) until January of this year.

In addition to not having dishwashers, however, kitchens in the UK only have a single sink. You can’t soak your dishes and then rinse them in separate sinks. And the sinks aren’t very deep.

Bedrooms:
Older buildings don’t have closets, unless they’ve been added. Wardrobes are common.

Beds, called “double beds” here, are double beds, and the same size as ours in the US. These are the most common beds here.

Mattresses like ours are available, but more common are mattresses that are similar to futon mattresses. Those who have “real” mattresses note them on airbnb.

Fitted sheets are standard for beds here, but flat sheets can only be purchased in sets of bedding.

Our friends live in a recent remodel of an old stable. They have a very large master bedroom, an en suite bathroom, and a large walk-in closet. It’s very American style. The second bedroom has no closet, but has enough room for a small bookshelf and chest of drawers (or draws, as they say in England).

Bathrooms:
Bathrooms are not large and don’t have built ins. (Obviously really expensive houses would have these, but it appears that most do not.)

Some of the tubs are only tubs. I have not seen any bathrooms with only showers, though probably very small flats might have these.

Our friends’ master bath has a tub and separate shower and is as large as a small bedroom. They have a second, fairly large, bathroom, with no built ins except for the toilet, sink, and bathtub.

Closets:
Closets seem to be a fairly recent feature.

Both our friends’ home and our flat are new (either from renovation or build).

The flat we are letting has a large closet, about half the size of the bathroom, in the foyer area. It also has a wall closet with sliding doors in the bedroom. It is the length of two doors and about 6 feet in height. One shelf is installed over the hanging rack.

Instead of a coat closet, there is a small wall-mounted board with four hooks attached just inside the door, much like we installed by our back door for coats and leashes.

Our friends’ home has a large, walk-in closet in the master bedroom. This is the only closet in their home. Shoes taken off at the front door are left on the rug there. Coats are hung on chairs in the dining room.

Bookstore in Fayetteville

Buzzfeed has an article 17 Bookstores that Will Literally Change Your Life. One is in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Dickson Street Bookshop

Specializing in out of print and rare books, you’ll step off the main Fayetteville drag into this cozy shop filled with rows and rows of books old and new. The rare and more leather-bound options are right up front and absolutely stunning, while if you head into the back you can find anything from Southern cookbooks to music biographies.

Grama Delker’s Coconut Cookies

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 c (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 c sugar

1 c packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 entire package of shredded coconut.
Beat butter, the sugars, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each. Gradually beat in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the coconut.
Cook on ungreased cookie pan at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes, depending on how brown you like them. Cool for two minutes.
These freeze well in airtight containers.

Recipe/receipt garnered for my son so he could contribute a family recipe to some cookbook collection. I don’t know why.

Visiting

Friday, May 23
When I got up, Ron was out biking. He was headed into town and made it about halfway before the roads got disconcerting enough to send him back. For breakfast/lunch I had popcorn.

Jon is off today to go register the baby, so they can get a birth certificate.

Then Jon came home and we went into town.

My right hip went out badly and I couldn’t walk around, so Ron went to find the ATM and they went to register the baby. I stayed out in front of the Town Hall.

The debit card didn’t work still, so Ron ended up on the phone again with the US Chase people.

As he was finishing that up, Micah texted me that he wasn’t going to be able to rent a car because they wouldn’t take his debit card.

So I got on the phone and called Enterprise. They won’t take a card over the phone AND the person on the card has to be registered as a driver on the car. That meant I couldn’t do it. I texted my sister and she called him and arranged to get him to the rental car place. Bless her, God, for that.

Then we went to Starbucks and hung out. Jon went and got a money order and Angela and Ron ran over to the drugstore. Josiah and I stayed in Starbucks.

After everything got done, we went to Taratino’s, the Italian restaurant that Angela wanted to try out. It was very good. I had Pasta Carbonara, which was a cream sauce, parmesan, and chicken (although it said it was bacon, it didn’t taste like that). Then we came home and watched The Chase, a British quiz show.

Ron picked up the British version of ibuprofen for me, because I am already through the pain killers I brought with me. I’ve managed to really mess up my hip. At least, that’s what I thought when I was in the States. Thankfully the trip over here was not painful at all. I’m guessing that was God’s grace—for which I am very thankful.

I’ve been sitting here a lot and my hip hurts. If I sit down, I have trouble using my right leg when I stand up. My calf goes into spasms. Not good.

Ron did a massage move from the second masseuse he used at home. My hip popped loudly enough that, with the door shut, Angela could hear it happening in the living room. He was moving my leg—and it felt good what he was doing—but my hip went pop every time he moved it around.

May 24, Saturday
This morning we got up… I think I was up first at 9 am. I didn’t eat any breakfast. I can’t remember what other people ate, but everyone else ate something.

Then about 11 we actually made it into Brentwood. Lovely little town. I got what I hope are some good shots of the church ruins from 1220. (A door is still there.) Angela and I went to the charity shops (thrift stores). There was a place selling smoothies, but I didn’t get one because I thought we might go to lunch. Not quite.

The guys had the baby and they went to Starbucks. Well, that was where we thought they were going. Turns out they went to The Fish Shop for lunch.

So, Angela and I haven’t eaten, but they guys have. It’s now 2:30. Ron wants to go to the pharmacy. (I am disappointed it’s not called a chemist’s shop.) Ron was looking for naproxen for me, which in England is known as Naprosyn. He can only find pertamodol—acetaminophen in addition to the Nurofren—ibuprofen he already found. He buys me a pack.

Why? Well, apparently I’ve managed to do a good bit of damage not just to my hip, but to my back. My right foot goes to sleep as soon as I sit down. That’s a nerve issue. I did have some numbness, after some tingling, in the US. But I went and saw a chiropractor twice and each time it got better.

When I walk after sitting, my calf hurts badly enough to scream and my bum feels like someone is kicking me in the rear end with every step. It hurts to walk, but if I keep walking, it actually gets better. So I would rather walk, in pain, than sit. I know the pain will go away if I keep walking… Stopping and standing, though, is almost as bad as sitting.

When we were in the drugstore, I picked up a bottle of orange juice. At some point while we were in the store, Angela decided to go get some lunch, so she went down to the McDonald’s. … So now it is 3 pm and I’m the only one who hasn’t eaten.

After we get the car from the car park, we go to meet Angela and she is coming into the car park.

Then we go 15 minutes one direction to see Jon’s work. It’s cool, but the baby starts crying because he is hungry. I give him a bottle and he’s not happy—neither is his mother.

We get stuck in traffic after another 30-minute drive in the opposite direction. Jon eventually drives on the sidewalk to turn around. Don’t worry. People park in the darnedest places over here. Apparently anywhere that’s not marked no parking or driving, you can park and drive. Gets interesting when the car is parked in the middle of a two-way road that is smaller than our one-way roads.

We get to the mall and walk around. Ron picks up a block for the computers. (We have two converter blocks, but we have 2 computers, 2 iPads, and 2 phones with us.)

We look around other places including the Men Shop, which have model cars that can drive up walls. Eventually Ron buys socks and Jon buys a new wallet (lost his on Tuesday).

Then we’re off to Costco. While I walk around the parking lot, Jon goes in to get a replacement card and Angela feeds the baby. The baby is mighty hungry, despite the bottle an hour ago.

When we get in, I buy nuts, so I will have something to eat, and cokes to drink—since that’s what Angela drinks and we will be here for a week. I also buy some peanut butter. I need to eat.

We get back to the house about six pm and I am enervated. I open the nuts and eat some. I feel better after that. No one is fixing food. So I break open the bread that is going to expire in two days, expecting to eat it out of the package. Nope. It has to be cooked.

Angela makes a butter, garlic, and rosemary spread and goes to feed the baby. I cut the bread, add the spread, turn on the grill, and pop the bread in. How long does it have to cook? I ask. (The package says 8-10 minutes, but that’s at 200 degrees.) Angela says she doesn’t know, just watch it. So I look at it in about two minutes.

It looks fine, but it smells funny. I grab the mitt and take the pan out of the oven. The two back pieces have their spread burnt on. Very crispy bread, but the bread itself isn’t burnt.

Jon says not to worry, that Angela likes burnt bread. So I split the front loaf of bread between the three of us and cut up half the other loaf for Angela. She eats it while she is feeding the baby again.

Half an hour later, the baby is still eating! I say I’m hungry and Angela says I can cook the chicken in olive oil with a bell pepper. She likes rice with it.

I read the chicken package. It has potato starch.

I make the rice plain, with some butter.

Then I cut up a bell pepper, carefully, trying not to get any on my skin and washing my skin when I don’t succeed.

The pan is small so I cook half the chicken and divvy it up between Ron and Angela. Then I cook the other half and give about 2/3s to Jon.

I get a cup of rice, with some more butter. I had thought there was cheese, but all the slices are gone. It’s only pre-shredded cheese, which I can’t eat because it has potato starch on it. People like potato starch.

Angela eats the left overs from the second batch of chicken.

I clean up the dishes and run the dishwasher. The clothes washer was going as soon as we got home.

We watch a bunch of British cop shows, including Police Interceptors, for two hours, before those run out.

I’ve watched more television in Britain than I watched the whole rest of the year… And I’ve only been here three days. (How much? A total of 4 hours.)

Church tomorrow is at 1 pm.

Traveling

Wednesday May 21
We took off from Dallas in the early afternoon and landed in Boston with 45 minutes to make our flight to London Heathrow Airport (LHR)—and we had to go out of security and back in because our terminals weren’t connected to each other. We actually were almost hoping we wouldn’t make our flight, since the next one had more open seats, but we did—and so did our luggage.

The flight was nice. We had bulkhead seats, which was supposed to have no storage underneath, but there was enough space to put my purse. The food was pretty good too, even though I couldn’t eat any of the suppers as one had tomatoes, one peppers, and one potatoes.

The flight attendant felt badly about it and brought me an extra roll—so of course, I grabbed the one with peppers in it. I asked for a different one later, when we were being served after-dinner tea and coffee, and she brought the basket. This time I looked and took the plainest. She pointed out another as being very good. I did like it, but it was hard to pull apart. I ate the first one with my peanut butter and the one she recommended with my tea. The tea helped soften the bread and it reminded me of my Grama Rill taking me to a Chinese restaurant and letting me dip crackers in my tea. (I only dipped the bread once, having decided it was far too gauche.)

Thursday May 22
When we arrived in London we went through the passport line, which said “waits from here can reach 45 minutes,” in about 15 minutes. Then it was on to baggage reclaim (which makes sense, though it is different).

Our debit cards didn’t work at the ATM, so Ron sat down to call our bank and I sat down and worked. I’ve done a lot of work on this trip. I stopped in at Krispy Kreme to retrieve doughnuts for Ron. They were a bit confused by my credit card, as it was a “chip and signature” rather than a “chip and pin.” Thankfully, though, they were able to adjust.

After Ron had called the bank about the debits, we tried again. It still didn’t work. So I went to the Money Exchange to get British pounds. The published rate was 1.92, but on top of that they also took a £3 fee. So for $80 I got £38.

We took the Heathrow Express, which was £42 (see exchange amount above for how much that cost). We made the trip into London from the far west side in 20 minutes. Then the trip out of London, with two walks from train to tube and tube to train, took about an hour and a half. It was nice though. Only once was the tube uncomfortably full and that was a relatively short period.

We arrived in Brentwood, Essex, a suburb on the far east side of London, to be met by a cabbie. The last three miles were a shock—fear as the car hurdled down “two lane roads” that were smaller than our one ways and beauty as we entered the Town Center Park where our friends reside.