Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

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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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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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


Poking around Princes Street Garden on a drizzly afternoon.

Poking around Princes Street Garden on a drizzly afternoon.

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Well, last Saturday morning we said a sad goodbye to Christopher’s parents who had been with us for  two weeks.  We had such a wonderful time enjoying the sights of Edinburgh and the surrounding area, catching up a bit and, not least, taking a week long trip to Paris together to visit some family.  It was refreshing to get away, and ahh…Paris in the Springtime…what could be better?  Here are a few shots of our time together.

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Well, in the three (almost four!) weeks since we last posted we’ve enjoyed a variety of activities.  Most fun was the week long visit with Julian’s Aunt Sharalyn.  One day, after we locked both sets of keys in the flat, we ventured out on the #41 bus to the nearby village of Cramond for an afternoon of exploration and for the refreshment of being out of the city.  We also enjoyed a lot of good chats, long walks around Edinburgh, tasty meals, including our first experience with Bangladeshi food…all told, a lovely time.

Aside from Sharalyn’s visit, these weeks have seen a continued effort to establish a routine life that’s peppered with interest.  One memorable experience was Julian’s first academic encounter, a lecture by the renowned physicist and theologian John Polkinghorne.  The subject was the intersection between science and faith, a fascinating subject well worth our time.  But also fascinating was that of the nearly 100 in attendance, two people slept soundly:  Julian and a fellow that uncannily resembled Dr. Doolittle (as played by Rex Harrison).

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With Blairgowrie as our homebase, we took a day trip up the A93 to the town of Braemar.  The pictures here are of Braemar Castle and Balmoral Castle.

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