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Holiday Part 2

After our western Scottish holiday, we managed an equally short but sweet trip to the north of England.  When Enterprise has rental deals cheaper than what you’d pay to own a car for three days and when relatives have traveled over 6000 miles, what else could we do?  Again, thanks to the hospitality of people we’d never met (relatives of relatives), we enjoyed one night in the seaside town of Whitehaven.  The next day we poked around the iconic Lake District and stayed the night in the 18th century Barton House B&B where the caretaker seemed about as old and full of character as the B&B.  Our little jaunt concluded with a scenic drive on the backroads of Northumberland where we met the longest, straightest, hilliest stretch of road any of us (Julian included) had ever seen.  It’s really too bad this blog can’t share the thrills of those hills. They were roller-coaster caliber, the kind that throw your stomach into your throat as you unexpectedly crest one hill and plummet down another.  And, yes, we were safe.

The view from our first night's lodgings. That's the Irish Sea in the background.

At Whitehaven Harbour with Uncle Aldie and Aunt Bev

First stop in the Lake District was Keswick, home of the Cumberland Pencil Museum. Not sure we'll ever use pencils again, chum.

Traffic stopped for several minutes because ol' Bessie and her family tried to cross the road.

Typical scenery in the Lakes...when the sun was out

Our water taxi on the lake called Ullswater. Not 'Ullswater Lake'; just Ullswater.

From the boat

In front of Barton House, our B&B. Looks like Uncle Aldie has assumed the professor's stance. And, it also looks like Julian is a delinquent student.

Lingering over the full English breafast...it wasn't IHOP, but it wasn't bad either

On the journey back to Scotland we passed this 12th century church.

A 14th century castle turned posh hotel with peacocks (!) roaming the grounds. See http://www.langleycastle.com for more.

This hut is not very old, but it stands on the site of a Celtic settlement dating from about 300 AD.

Yep, those hills in Northumberland were a blast.

At the Scottish border looking toward Edinburgh. Looks a bit ominous!

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In mid-May we enjoyed a weekend visit from our friends Wes and Steph up in St. Andrews.  The weather was particularly lovely so we decided to take a little trip down into the Borders for a day hike.   As always, it was wonderfully refreshing to get out of the city and enjoy a bit of nature.

This backpack shot is getting quite popular.

It took Julian a while to get used to this pokey pasture grass, but he eventually came to terms with it.

After our hike and a little drive around the countryside, we stopped in the little Borders town of Peebles for some ice cream cones.  It was a first for Julian who wasn’t sure at first if he liked ice cream and ultimately decided he preferred the cone.  Whose son is he, anyway?!?

The aftermath

We decided to kick off the month of June with a celebratory picnic in a nearby park.  We had enjoyed gorgeous weather all week and decided on Saturday night that a good old-fashioned picnic was in order.  I spent most of the afternoon preparing barbecued chicken, baked beans, tabbouleh, corn on the cob, etc.

About half an hour before we headed off on our excursion, we were a little chagrined to see some rather ominous looking clouds move in from the west.  Not to be put off, however, we ventured forward, wishing the clouds away all the time.  We were encouraged when we got to the park, to find it packed with other picnickers–surely there is strength in numbers, right?  I felt confident that our collective will would be sufficient to hold off the rain, at least until our picnic was over.  My confidence quickly melted as we sat down on our blanket and instantly felt the first large, full drops of rain.  Thankfully, I had thought to throw some umbrellas in our bags and we quickly pulled them out to help us stay dry.  The rain got heavier and heavier.  Apparently we were the only picnickers that evening who had thought to pack umbrellas amongst their picnic items and the park quickly cleared completely.  We were the lone survivors in the field, sitting stubbornly under our umbrellas, determined not to let even the worst rain storm ruin our picnic.

Christopher kindly shared his umbrella with Julian which also meant he had a steady stream of water dripping down his back.

I stayed nice and dry under my umbrella. The trouble is, it's a bit of a challenge to eat picnic food with one hand.

After twenty minutes or so of steady downpour, we finally realized that maybe this wasn’t just a passing cloud and we reluctantly began to pack up our lovely picnic.  We rung out our picnic blanket and packed up our Tupperware containers which had become efficient little rain collectors–our chicken bones were now swimming.  On our walk home, the streets had sprouted veritable rivers and by the time we reached the front door, we were all thoroughly soaked.

Arriving back home, dripping wet.

Julian was determined to enjoy his first corn on the cob, which he gnawed on all the way home.

Our picnic ended with Julian in the bath while Christopher and I finished our salad from the dry comfort of our home, watching the rain continue to pour down.

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Skye

On Thursday we said goodbye to Christopher’s mom after a wonderful week-and-a-half long visit.  We had a great time together with lots of site-seeing, talking and “grandma-time”.  Julian was, of course, thrilled to have a real-live grandma (as opposed to a Skype-grandma) to play with him and read to him.

The highlight of her time with us was probably the trip we made up to the Isle of Skye for two nights at a B&B.  Not only was the six hour drive thoroughly enjoyable as we viewed the wild and varied scenery of the Scottish Highlands, but the Isle itself is breathtakingly beautiful.  Here are a few shots of our time there–if only pictures could do it justice!

Neist Point Lighthouse in the background

We saw LOTS of these

Julian at the Neist Point Lighthouse

"Excavating" a 2000 year old dwelling on the northern coast of Skye

Boats at Portree Harbour

After a satisfying dinner of fish and chips

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Snow

How many other ways can you spell ‘snow’ phonetically?  I can think of one, well maybe two if we include King James English phonetics.  Since mid-December, we’ve had record-breaking days of snoe here. One long-time local told me it’s the most that she’s seen since ’79, that is 1879.  I knoe; the Scots have incredibly long life-spans!  Ha. Here are a few pics that shew that Edinburgh is lovely in snew and that we’ve enjoyed it.

Sunset over the Pentlands, hills south of the city

Salisbury Crags with the castle in the background

This is New College, University of Edinburgh, the daytime home of toiling, wannabe academics.

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Running Errands

Yesterday I had an errand to run across town and just for the fun of it, decided to take my camera along.  We don’t generally think to take the camera with us for the simple reason that most of our days are just normal, daily grind sort of days.  We go to the grocery store, church, school, to visit friends and on other unglamorous errands.  But yesterday I was realizing that it would be a shame if when our time is done here, we have posted mostly pictures of special occasions or our trips away from Edinburgh and not of the beautiful city that we see every day as we go about normal life.  So, these are just a few shots of Edinburgh, taken while out and about yesterday.  I realize it’s uncharacteristically long, but I hope you enjoy the pictures.

The journey begins--just leaving Edina Place.  And, no that's not our convertible Saab.

The journey begins--just leaving Edina Place. And, no that's not our convertible Saab.

We found a wee Julian-sized castle just down the road.  Actually, it's Queen Mary's Bathhouse outside of Holyrood Palace.

We found a wee Julian-sized castle just down the road. Actually, it's Queen Mary's Bathhouse outside of Holyrood Palace.

Up the Royal Mile and past Greyfriar's Kirk. At this point Julian got tired and decided to catch a little nap.

Up the Royal Mile and past Greyfriar's Kirk. At this point Julian got tired and decided to catch a little nap.

No such luxury for me.  We had at least a mile to go.

No such luxury for me. We had at least a mile to go.

And so we trudged on.  The steeple in the distance is actually near our destination. Yay!

And so we trudged on. The steeple in the distance is actually near our destination. Yay!

Aha!  There's that steeple up close.  Our destination was right across the street.

Aha! There's that steeple up close. Our destination was right across the street.

Mission accomplished.  As you can see, the stroller has taken on new cargo.  (In case you're curious, we were buying a second-hand play pen from someone online.)  But, where's Julian gone?

Mission accomplished. As you can see, the stroller has taken on new cargo. (In case you're curious, we were buying a second-hand play pen from someone online.) But, where's Julian gone?

Now it's time we headed back home  (Edinburgh Castle in the background).

Now it's time we headed back home (Edinburgh Castle in the background).

Oh...there's Julian!  It was quite an intricate arrangement!

Oh...there's Julian! It was quite an intricate arrangement!

Passing George Heriot school.  We nearly broke down and caught a bus at this point, but where's the fun in that?

Passing George Heriot school. We nearly broke down and caught a bus at this point, but where's the fun in that?

Towers?  Or are they spires?

Towers? Or are they spires?

Looking down the road toward Grassmarket.  The bus was looking better and better.  That play pen was a little heavier than I expected. Or maybe Julian's put on a few more pounds...

Looking down the road toward Grassmarket. The bus was looking better and better. That play pen was a little heavier than I expected. Or maybe Julian's put on a few more pounds...

Crossing Southbridge...

Crossing Southbridge...

...and North Bridge. (The Scot Monument in the distance.)

...and North Bridge. (The Scot Monument in the distance.)

Looking back toward New College and the castle.

Looking back toward New College and the castle.

Back down Regent Road overlooking (underlooking?) Arthur's Seat.

Back down Regent Road overlooking (underlooking?) Arthur's Seat.

It's all downhill from here.

It's all downhill from here.

Julian was hungry so we stopped in at a park for a little snack along the way.

Julian was hungry so we stopped in at a park for a little snack along the way.

Ahh...it felt good to stretch those little legs.

Ahh...it felt good to stretch those little legs.

Much better.

Much better.

Ready to go home?

Ready to go home?

Rounding the corner toward home.  And, we made it!

Rounding the corner toward home. And, we made it!

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Around Edinburgh

When visitors are in town we have a good excuse to play tourists in our own town.  Over the last week we’ve enjoyed the company of friends from college who are moving just north of us to St. Andrews for his PhD studies.  So, here are a few pictures of the fun activities that we enjoyed around Edinburgh.

Hiking blustery Arthur's Seat seven months to the day after the previous time, the day before Julian was born.

Hiking blustery Arthur's Seat seven months to the day after the previous time, the day before Julian was born.

Caribbean? Nope--Tyninghame, on the North Sea east of Edinburgh

Caribbean? Nope--Tyninghame, on the North Sea east of Edinburgh

The Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth is a former prison and summer holiday spot.  Today it's a bird sanctuary, and the birds have white-washed the top with their droppings.

The Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth is a former prison and summer holiday spot. Today it's a bird sanctuary, and the birds have white-washed the top with their droppings.

Colourful tidepool at Tyninghame

Colourful tidepool at Tyninghame

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Poking around Princes Street Garden on a drizzly afternoon.

Poking around Princes Street Garden on a drizzly afternoon.

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Year Two

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of our arrival in Edinburgh.  Unlike our first day here, our 366th was sunny, and we hope that’s a portent of the year to come.  Below are a few pictures from our recent visit to Washington. Though it was good to be there, we’re glad to be back in Edinburgh.  A few things in Edinburgh feel strangely more natural and satisfying than their counterparts in the States, most notably, our transport.

Here we walk; there we drive.  Probably the biggest reason for the commonness of walking is the small radius of our life here.  We rarely have reason to go more than two miles from our flat.  Church is .3 miles as is the major supermarket.  Other grocery stores are within one minute’s walk.  A fab park is also less than half a mile away.  We have friends within walking distance, and those a bit further a field are generally willing to pick us up, especially if the weather’s unpleasant.  The university is 1.5 miles as are all the tourist shops. (No we don’t go to tourist shops, except to buy presents, but if you’re wanting to visit, you’ll want to know how to plan your trip.)  While in Washington we drove nearly 1000 miles in just over six weeks…and we didn’t even go out of town!  Wouldn’t Al Gore would be proud of our small carbon-footprint?

One thing we didn’t miss while in Washington was the Edinburgh mouse population.  In fact, the idea of mice scampering across our living room floor was a fuzzy memory for seven hygienic weeks.  But, we have been jarred back to furry reality, as the picture below testifies.  Jackie was cooking, her back turned to the wall only for a couple seconds, but seconds were all that the wee mouse needed to 1) emerge from his hole, 2) lie down on the kitchen floor, and 3) die.  As the picture shows, Julian wasn’t phased in his exuberant bouncing. We would like to know, though, ‘how did the mouse die?’.  Regardless, here’s to a mouse free second year!

In Puget Sound for Julian's first canoe ride

On Puget Sound for Julian's first canoe ride

Two-weeks-apart-cousins, J and Naomi

Two-weeks-apart-cousins, J and Naomi

See the wee mousey?

See the wee mousey?

First night back in Edinburgh, J was readjusting to his crib.

First night back in Edinburgh, J was readjusting to his crib.

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