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


We have welcomed spring into our lives with open arms.  Edinburgh has erupted with vast expanses of beautiful daffodils.  And, we in the Bechtel household have been busy.  Last Saturday we bid farewell to our cozy, fourth-floor home of the last 19 months and moved into a new ground-floor flat with a little more elbow room and leg room for the budding walker in our midst.  The new flat has been wonderful and we’re starting to feel at home here now that most of our things are unpacked and (roughly) in their proper place.  To be honest, we’ve felt a little lost in here at times–not that it’s so very big, just that it’s so much bigger than our last place!

The only thing that is not an improvement on the last place is the fact that we have downsized our refrigerator size.  We were lucky in our last flat to have a fairly large refrigerator/freezer for this part of the world.  Nothing like an American sized-fridge, mind you, but roomy all the same.  Now we have traded that in for a true dorm-sized fridge that fits under the counter.  That I can certainly deal with.  What I was not sure about was the fact that the flat came with NO freezer.  I realize, again, that’s not that strange for this part of the world, but I just wasn’t sure I was ready to adopt this culture quite so completely.  As idyllic as it may sound, shopping every single day for the food one needs just for that day, is not my idea of a fun way to spend time, energy or money.  I really like being able to plan ahead, prepare food ahead and stock up on sale items to store in the freezer.  So, after nearly a week of experimentation, I decided a freezer was not a luxury I was interested in living without.  I had a little box freezer delivered yesterday from our local used furniture store and it is now humming away happily in the corner of our bedroom.  (No, it doesn’t quite fit anywhere in the kitchen.  Oh well.)

In slightly over a week in our new home, we’ve already enjoyed visits from many people, not least of whom were a group from the Covenant High School tour group last Thursday including friends, one family member and some former high school teachers. 🙂  We had a lovely time reconnecting with them.  Now we just hope this volcano lets up so they can make it back to the U.S. one of these days!

Speaking of that volcano, one of the visitors we had hoped to enjoy last week whom we’ve now had to put off seeing was Christopher’s mom who was scheduled to arrive last Friday.  Sadly, the volcanic ash caused her flight along with thousands of others, to be canceled.  We currently hope to see her early next week, though some are warning this volcano will be erupting for the next two years.  Hopefully we won’t have to wait that long to see her!

19 months ago we moved here with 2 suitcases each. Last weekend we moved this pile plus some to our new flat. How did that happen?

A "springtime" walk on the beach

Julian enjoying the playground under the shadow of Edinburgh castle

Julian enjoys the playground under the shadow of Edinburgh castle

Enjoying that springtime weather with a family picnic. Julian and I walked up to the Princes Street Gardens to meet Christopher for lunch.


So, Jackie apparently resembles art done by 19th century artists who were trying to recreate a pre-15th century look.  Who do I resemble?  Before you smart alecks answer, check this out.  On Saturday, as we peacefully strolled along the harbor of Newhaven a woman with a shaggy, drooling dog interrupted our reverie.

Newhaven Harbor

First, it was ‘oh, how cute’ (or something to that effect) referring to Julian squished immobile into his stroller.

We stopped to chat briefly, showed Julian the mangy mutt, wished her happiness, and resumed our stroll.  Then, three steps later, she called out to us. Jackie graciously returned only to hear, ‘Is he part of the royal family?’  Sensibly, Jackie offered the only logical response, ‘What!?’  ‘You know’, the lady enthused, ‘the tv show, The Royle Family. Is he that guy that’s always going on about having a cup of tea? I’d love to get his autograph.’


The dog-lady is/was somewhat disappointed to learn that my career aspirations–let alone successes–have not ventured into the netherworld of British sitcom.  But, now that it’s been mentioned, maybe I’ll give it some thought.

Art and Life

Is art patterned after life or does life follow art?  Hmm…deep questions, but we think we might have some insight after Jackie’s decidedly non-American encounter today. You know you’re not in the good ol’ US of A when:

a) you’re talking to two people whose title is ‘Lady’

b) those same two people comment, ‘I’ve been sitting across from this beautiful Pre-Raphaelite’ and they’re not talking about a painting.

Jackie had exactly this experience, and, to make matters all the more foreign, the two Ladies were talking about her! Yeah, she’s the Pre-Raphaelite, and, according to the Ladies, it’s absurd that anyone wouldn’t think of her as resembling a 19th century painting: ‘Oh, I’m sure you hear this all the time, don’t you?’  Well…NO!

Is this Jackie? No, it's 'Proserpine' by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1874.

Writer’s Block

So, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m not easily motivated to write blog posts.  That is, until you sit me down and ask me to write something much more difficult, like an article tracing why human dignity often trumps human autonomy as seen through the history of European law and why this is relevant to the euthanasia debate.  Yes, I suddenly feel very motivated to write a blog post.  I almost feel motivated to dust and polish the leaves on my houseplants.  It’s not that the topic is so very difficult–I think I’m just struggling with some good old-fashioned writer’s block, so what better way to open it up than writing (something else)?

Since it’s been a while, I’ll just give a little update on what’s going on in our day-to-day lives.

Christopher is, of course, busy with work on his dissertation which is coming along slowly but surely.  If you have any questions about divine kingship in Ezekiel, he’s your man!  He also spends several hours a week working on various projects for the Scottish Council for Human Bioethics as well as preaching periodically at church.

My first priority and greatest source of fun throughout the day is a funny, little, nearly-toddling, nearly-one-year-old who requires not a little of my attention and guidance.  Alternately, I occupy myself with various odd-jobs: most significantly, editing/writing for Harper Collins and for the last several months, writing press articles for the above mentioned bioethics council (no, I’m not writing that article for my own amusement).

Julian will celebrate his first birthday in two weeks.  He enjoys “reading” books, going for walks and swinging at the park.  (Sounds kind of like a personals ad, doesn’t it?)

Like most people, we are all desperately anxious to see winter melt into spring.  As our previous posts indicate, this has been a particularly cold, snowy winter for Scotland and we can’t wait for the luxury spring will afford of more opportunities out-of-doors, and hopefully, more interesting things to blog about. 🙂  Until then, happy February, everyone.


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.

The blog lives

We had thought that a fitting resolution for the new year would be ‘abolish the blog’, since we haven’t proven to be faithful bloggers.  The idea was that this virtual reality needed to meet its maker, go the way of all flesh, rest in peace, kick the bucket. Add your own idiom; you get the picture.  But, since some people do read our scattered musings, we have bequeathed another year of existence to ‘Bits ‘n Bobs’. Three cheers!

We begin the new year by inviting you to join us in Edinburgh, courtesy of Nivea, yes, that’s right, the body-care company whose slogan is ‘beauty is confidence’.  I’m not sure what the connection is between Scotland and Nivea–both are creamy?, fresh?, leave a greasy residue?  Doesn’t matter really because the important thing is that you enter the sweepstakes and win.  Best of luck…I think you’ll really need it since, I’ve just realized, the contest is probably closed by now. Oh well. Try again next year.