I need to clean up the house. I need to get rid of stuff. It is starting to stress me out to the max, but the idea of actually doing it is also freaking me out.

I wonder if I could find someone to come do it with me?

Today I spent most of the time doing Toastmasters and then driving around looking at potential home sites with Ron, even though we won’t be moving for quite a while.

I have hours, but I just can’t bear to deal with it. Maybe if I just hired someone to take it all away?

December Thanks

Dec. 1
I am grateful for the internet, where I can see how friends and their kiddos are doing, look up calorie counts, and browse real estate. It can be fun, relaxing, and calming–in addition to other, less positive, attributes.

Dec. 3
I appreciate how much my students care. They have a lot of zeal.

Dec. 4
I am so grateful for second chances. I know that none of us is perfect; certainly I am not. And sometimes I don’t want to give second chances. I don’t want to regrade that paper because student wasn’t paying attention in class before the paper was written and therefore will get a 0 for not citing any of their sources. But I will. And I will be grateful that I can give second chances. I am grateful that many someones over the years have given me second chances.


I got a tetanus shot on what would have been Mother’s 70th birthday (Monday). Saturday evening I went to walk the dog and managed to “attack” a rusty gate post on the inside of my thigh. Had 7 inches of double scrapes (with bleeding) and four inches of bruising after.

SFF Christianity

Thinking about M Lackey’s Valdemar series, where she goes from Christianity as positive but minor, to only chastising the views that are Christian.

When we were reading Mark 9:2-13 it talked about Jesus’ clothes becoming dazzling white. This is an image from the Christian faith and Lackey uses it for the Heralds of Valdemar.

Something to think about, consider, bring up in class…

Other Questions

Last week the preacher talked about Joseph and what a great guy he was. God picked him to be Jesus’ stepfather–which proves he was a great guy. I’m going with that interpretation because I like it. Also, because the only thing we really know about Joseph is that when he found out his fiancee was pregnant he decided to put her away quietly, so she wouldn’t be reviled. Then, when he found out she hadn’t been sleeping around on him, he took her into his home and didn’t sleep with her till after Jesus was born–that way everyone else assumed Jesus was his baby.

I like those two things.

But I wonder… why didn’t God tell Joseph when he told Mary? Why let Joseph have to deal with the stress of thinking that Mary had sex with someone?

The Star, the Magi, and Questions about Death

Preacher read from Matthew 2 today. I listened to the sermon, but what struck me about the reading was that it appeared that the star got the magi on the way but didn’t get them all the way to Bethlehem.

They saw the star, knew it was the king of the Jews and headed out. Then they went to Jerusalem for directions.

Then after they heard Jesus was in Bethlehem, they got back on the way and the star they had seen when it rose came and guided them in.

That sounds like in the middle maybe the star disappeared.

I also have to wonder why God let them go to Jerusalem. Since he gave them a vision not to go back to Jerusalem, couldn’t he have given them a vision to go to Bethlehem and not had Herod kill off all the under 2 baby boys in Bethlehem and the surrounding area? Why did Herod need to kill all those babies? I mean, yes, Herod chose to do it, but I am sure he chose lots of other awful things. Why did God give him the opportunity of that one?


We moved offices August 1. Well, I didn’t, because I was still in the UK. But the stuff got moved. Not all my stuff, though. I had moved it out when the sewer pipe broke and my antique cupboard had been left in the crap.

Most of my stuff is still at the storage unit.

In my office I have my antique desk, far too small and short to work at, a small fridge on a wall table to get it up off the floor and where I can reach it easier. My tiny typewriter table, which is actually a very nice end table with my green sari over it. My blue chair. Love my blue chair. My brown rolling chair. My black rolling chair. Six boxes of books–either this semester’s or Nancy’s. And my paintings. One oil, two digital prints, and the watercolor original that the grad school left for the English department.

My office has 14 foot high ceilings. It is 13×9. They are going to build bookshelves for one of the long and one of the short walls. The long wall shelves are going to be 8 feet high. The short wall shelves will go under the window. Aside from my desk and fridge, there are probably three feet of space on the door wall that is available. The filing cabinets are inside the walk-in safe which is the department’s closet–and is in my office and takes up the other short wall.

I have modern furniture and an antique desk. I have modern art in plain black frames. I have a fragile gold and purple tea cup and a black and gold Art Deco bowl that Mom bought. I have a Pursuit mug with pencils and pens in it.

I need a rug. I was thinking red because I brought the red blanket here, but I could also have orange, which is the blanket at home. Both red and orange are in my blue pear painting. The grad office watercolor has red and purple, as well as the predominant blue. So red would work best for that. My tiny digital women’s faces pictures are mostly blue, with some purple, green, and red. So really red would be best. But the reds are all different and that is hard to match.

I found a red/orange/yellow rug at overstock.com that I like. It’s 7.7×10.5, which would cover most of the floor in my office and really would be too big. I didn’t realize it, but a lot of the floor will be covered by desk and bookshelf. So I really need something closer to 4×6. Even the rug I have at home, two colors of blue none of which are matched by the blues in any of the paintings, is even too big.

Funny Meme off Facebook

It said to google your name and “is a” so I did.

I’m an Akkadian misinterpretation for Babylon, though actually I am a city quarter.

My youngest son is a collection of small literary units. That made me giggle.

My eldest son:
Elijah is a loyal friend. When he holds you in his arms you never want him to let go. Elijah makes you feel beautiful about yourself <3. “Thanks for the blanket”….. ” That’s an Elijah. by luvnheartbeat February 14, 2011. 786 457. Merch. 6. Elijah.

And my husband? He is a time traveling dumbledore. But only three down he is a focused and realistic person. When you click on that link, it says that he is the guy you should throw your arms and legs around and hold on tight. LOVE IT!

3,900-year-old Suit of Bone Armor

relevant to Dielli

i09 has a post on the armor, with pictures and drawn images.

Archaeologists working near Omsk in Siberia have discovered a complete suit of bone armor that likely belonged to an elite warrior. Found in near perfect condition, the unique armor dates back to the Bronze Age.

Books I Read in London

London Lore: The Legends and Traditions of the World’s Most Vibrant City by Steve Roud… It tells lots of ghost stories from the 19th and 20th centuries as well as older stories. It also talks about May Day, many fairs, and churches. … Lots of old London stories, including St. Clements Danes church and the oranges and lemons rhyme.

July 8-July 15

Tuesday, 8 July

We walked quite a long way to the shoot Ron had. We stopped at the costume shop—which has three floors right now—kitschy stuff, a floor for dancewear and a seamstress creating bespoke costumes, and the bottom floor for costumes.

Ron purchased a female police hat and some fake blood.

Then we walked on to the shoot. We were on the wrong side of the road and getting across the middle of a 5-lane very busy road was a trick, but we managed it. We to the flat at 10:59—right on time. Then, however, it turned out to have several flats. Ron looked up the number and we were supposed to be at 6. So I started off. Then he hollered (I’d actually managed to make it quite a ways) and said that the first was right. It was number 26 and flat 6.

The model buzzed us in and we went up three very steep flights of stairs. We knocked on the door and went up another very steep flight of stairs.

Ron and her partner chatted about computer stuff. Then they started the shoot. Ron sent me back to the costume shop to get the Russian KGB outfit. They shot that. Then, even though he’d paid for half day, after an hour and a half, they stopped.

We all four went to a pub and chatted for three hours.

Then we went back to their flat to get our bags and walked home.

Wednesday, 9 July
I went off with the bicycle map to go shopping. I wanted to go by one of the charity shops we saw on our walk.

However, the names of the streets weren’t always listed and I ended up doing about six miles out of my way—and out of town—to get to the High Street area. Even when I got to the area, I went the wrong direction and ended up another mile or so of excess walking going away from town center.

Once I finally got there the shop I’d seen didn’t seem as interesting as it did yesterday. Then I went around and saw a bunch of others. I found an absolutely stunning top—didn’t come close to fitting. I found a beautiful fancy silver dress which would work for the Retro Hugos, didn’t fit.

I bought seven or eight hand-painted silk shawl/scarf/table runner things. I think they are beautiful. I hope they can be worn as scarves, because that’s really what I bought them for. They’re my gifts from the UK: Melanie, Karen C, Nancy… We’ll see about the others. None really seemed perfect for MD—and she’s been here herself. They certainly aren’t “typical” English things, but they are gorgeous. They were for sale at the Blue Cross for Pets shop; they were created by a volunteer at that center.

I found a gold and see-through black outfit that I thought might work for the Retros, if I could find a black one-piece underwear thing. Looked at several department stores, went in the Beechwood Shopping Centre and the Regent Arcade. Finally found one, quite a bit cheaper than the others I’d been looking at (that didn’t fit) and bought it.

Then I went home.

Ron wasn’t impressed with the gold and black thing.

One oddity about being in the UK is that I see myself here (unlike at home—where I feel like I’m much smaller than I really am) as very fat and overweight. I felt like I was my mother’s size when I put the black and gold thing on. I love my mother dearly—she was an amazing woman. She was about 100 pounds heavier than I am, however, so that is an odd view to have.

Tonight we watched Michael McIntyre, the comedian the Duncans had recommended. He is funny.

Thursday, 10 July
Today we just stayed in, ate our food, slept late, watched videos, and generally vegged.

We watched the Michael McIntyre Road Show. It’s not as funny and in the Edinburgh version, which we watched first, he dissed Scots throughout his opening shtick.

Friday, 11 July
We went shopping some today. I got Ron to go back to the costume shop we went to for the photo shoot and he ended up purchasing the space man costume that was for sale. The pants will have to be altered, but it shouldn’t be a difficult alteration.

I guess that means I will definitely be going in the silver and purple space girl costume, although I still need shoes. (Ron can wear his black tennies he hasn’t worn yet on this trip.)

We met the Duncans, Moray and Lauren, at the Wine Bar. We were there about 1.5 hours. Her dad came (from the north) about the time we were supposed to be breaking up. Ron and Moray talked and Lauren and I talked. It was an enjoyable time.

They had told us to eat at The Daffodil and we thought about going there for supper. However, by the time I called for reservations, we couldn’t get in till 9:30.

So we went to Sainsbury’s, bought some to-cook meals, and went home and ate. We also watched a couple of episodes of Castle.

Saturday, 12 July
We went to the Tewkesbury Festival today. It’s a re-enactment of the battle of 1471 between the forces of Edward IV and Margaret of Anjou (wife of Henry VI and mother of a prince). Edward IV (York) beat the Lancastrians, killed the prince, and secured his own seat on the throne. He’s the one who put Richard III and his own brother in the tower—the famous “Princes in the Tower” captivity thing.

The bus ride to Tewkesbury was £5.50 for a return trip ticket for one. We each got one, of course. Four people sitting next to us, who got on when we did, were in costume. I asked if they had been to the Festival before. They said no. The folks in front of them also said they were going and had not been before.

When we got near Tewkesbury, it was obvious that lots of people were going. The bus slowed to an occasional crawl. A few people who I think were going to the fair got off early and just hiked in. They may have made it before us, but it wasn’t that big of a deal.

We got off at the bus stop near the festival. It was just around the corner and down the road—maybe a quarter of a mile—to the entrance.

There’s no charge for these things. Folks volunteer to be re-enactors. People bring their tents and sell things. It does cost £60,000 to put on, so the money comes from somewhere I suppose. When I was getting my lunch, the guy told me it was an English Heritage thing. In that way, at least, we were doing our bit to support them, as we joined English Heritage when we were at Whitby Abbey. Ron also put money in the bucket—all the “change” he had, which should have been at least £4.50, as he paid his ticket with a £10 note.

We walked down the first row of tents and it was crazy crowded. You couldn’t really get in and look at anything without waiting. Then we skipped the next row and went over to the food tents. Ron got a burger and we both got drinks. We went a bit farther and I got a ham and cheese crepe. It was hot, which should be good, but it was also very hot outside. I ate about half the crepe and two bites of Ron’s burger. I also drank every drop of my Classic Lemonade in a can and more than 2/3s of my water bottle.

Several people said it was cooler than last year, even though it was hot. And obviously last year was a significant issue because they came on the loud speakers and announced that you needed to keep drinking and stay hydrated.

I was looking at the program and someone asked if he could look at it. He was dressed in costume and said, “Someone told me the script is in there. May I look at it? They didn’t give us the script.” I handed it over.

He told me he has been Sir William of York, maybe Hastings? for 24 years. Last year, he said, they ended up having 4 different Duke of Somersets. The first was so dehydrated he couldn’t go onto the field. Two others dropped out upon the field. The fourth just barely made it through. Apparently last year it was 100 degrees out there!!! (The year before it had flooded horribly.) 100 degrees in England. Whoa! That is HOT.

Sir William also told me that in an earlier historical battle someone of significance had died of heat exhaustion, during a blizzard! Those 5 stone of armor, not including all the necessary clothing, had him overheated and dead, despite the intense cold outside.

We went down the second line of shops, then back up when I told Ron there was a steampunk shop and he hadn’t seen it. Then it was 1 and there was nothing to do until 3 and the falconery exhibition.

I suggested we go to town and come back, so we headed to the path and Ron said, “Before we go, let’s go check out the battlefield.” I’m glad he did.

Turns out that they also have tents pitched all around the battlefield and these tents are filled with people in costume living out Living History. They are doing things that folks would have done in that day, cooking, sewing, harping, herb drying, and giving instruction. I listened to one man give a talk on who went hunting with what types of bows when.

I took some pictures. I don’t know how they came out as I haven’t looked at them yet.

Someone, who won’t be there because she is graduating next weekend, said there is a Living History weekend on the English Heritage events calendar about an hour from Tewkesbury and that it has folks dressed in all eras of costumes. I talked to the two folks in her tent and said that we had Ren Fairs but they were different. The guy said that the Living History was more like that.

We, of course, will be in London, so we won’t be going.

Eventually we sat on hay bales that had been set up and then Ron went to take pictures. Eventually people started coming along and asking if the place was taken. I said yes to at least three people. Finally an older woman sat there anyway, with her grandchild on her lap. I didn’t say anything. Her husband or son had said that there would be room for three on the bale—not quite. Only room for us when we sat next to each other. The woman on the bale next to mine offered the granny her bale.

I probably should have. But I’d been sitting on that prickly hay for two hours holding our place and then people just came along and sat on it after asking if it was taken. Wow. Quite a bit of cheek.

Saw more of that as people came to sit down. People sitting in places where people already had been (though one had gone to the bathroom) and taking up space with their blanket that could have been filled with three or four more people…

By the time the battle was on two kids were standing/sitting on our bale with us. I ended up with a scratch and about 25 little bites that were very itchy (but healed up by the next day).

The battle was… different. First off, you could only see one side, since we were at the end of the battle area. Also, the commentator was telling you what was happening, but sometimes he said it before it happened and sometimes after. No one died until the end, when they had to have some bodies on the field. People behind me were talking about resurrection and miracles. Three people left the field with injuries, but at least one of those came back on.

The weirdest thing to me about the battle was that there were about 8 musketeers on both sides. Folks had guns in 1471? Why weren’t there more? According to Wikipedia, muskets were available at that time period—and used—in China and in their wars (from 1300s on). It says that muskets weren’t used (in the West) till the 16th century. So does a Humanities 369 website. But
Britain Explorer
says they had muskets, as well as cannon.

By the way, cannon are very loud. They were shooting them off about 12 feet from us.

It started raining towards the end of the battle and we left before the battle actually got to where we were. Ron had his disposable raincoat over his computer and I had put my camera in my purse and covered it up.

I was in a lot of pain by the time we got back to the bus stop.

There looked to be a sort of queu and we got in and then it turned out not to have been as queu-ed up and 4 people who were there ahead of us ended up several people behind us.

When we got on the bus, we went towards the back and set by ourselves, since the seats were taken. For a while the bus was jam packed, with two little girls sitting on the two stairs next to me.

We got off at the Boston Tea Party and ate dinner. I had a ham and cheese with béchamel (and mustard, it turns out) and a Bakewell for dessert. We were both exhausted.

Then we came home, watched two or three more Castle videos and went to bed.

Sunday, July 13
We were going to sleep late.

Ron was up about 8, but I stayed in bed till 10.

When I got up I made spaghetti chicken, using the cooked chicken I had purchased. It was quite good. I ate all of it and only afterwards realized that I had overeaten.

Around 2 we headed into Town Center and we ended up eating lunch at KFC. It took us a while to figure out the menu and the folks behind the counter were Asian and French, so the language/accent barriers were tricky.

Then we looked for hydrogen peroxide, came home, and hung out here.

We watched a few more episodes of Castle. Ron started getting ready to go to bed and so did I. I wasn’t actually falling asleep but I refused to get up. Ron, on the other hand, hopped out of bed and went into the living room. My brain thought it was being very productive; it ran through all the things I have to do and gave me ideas about how to do them and what to do with them. I still didn’t get up. Eventually I fell asleep.

Monday, July 14
This morning we got up around 8 and started preparing to leave. We were packed and the house re-organized by about 11. We ate leftovers for lunch. I took out the trash.

One of the things my brain told me last night was to send Mikee a CFP about teaching rape in medieval Brit lit classes. So today I wrote Mikee about the CFP I thought she might be interested in. I was writing her with ideas for non-Chaucer works and decided that I wouldn’t send those. If she had the ideas, well and good. If not, and if I had time, then I might end up writing that.

One of the things my brain said last night was that I should not waste time re-organizing my dissertation (even though it needs it) because Edwin Mellen didn’t ask for it and there’s no reason to do it. Do I think anyone is going to read that book? No. So why spend time fixing it? I need to get it sent in, so I should just finish the edits, give it to someone to edit for me (check on number of sentences in paragraphs and general sense), and then send it in. Now my brain is arguing with itself, but I still think it’s a good idea.

I was re-reading some Weber stuff and found a person for Reading British… It’s Scott MacDallan, though the novella is written by Linda Evans. I know I wrote that down at some point, somewhere, but I don’t know where. I hope I find enough other works to make this a good presentation. But, anyway, I’ve got two more paragraphs to work on.

Ron arranged for Uber to pick us up at London Paddington. I would have just taken a taxi. However, it may be quite different, which is what he wanted.

The cabbie parked two houses down from us and carried three of the bags down there. The trip to the station is much faster when you are driving as opposed to waking.

Ron gave me some interesting advice from Neil Strauss. Write books 4 times. The first time is for you, put everything in. No one reads this version. Then you take out what doesn’t need to be included. He said he’s taken out 100+ pages for this next book (whatever book that was/is).

If I did that, maybe I’d finish the Ceeley BBB book. Or maybe not. Sentences are very long and the main characters aren’t the viewpoint character, which is odd.

We got here safely, brought our stuff in (got something black on the carpet bringing in our suitcases), and settled in. There are not a lot of hangers nor is there much hanging space. However, since we don’t use many of our clothes, we were able to just leave them in the suitcases.

Ron went through the whole kitchen. It is very well set up. I mean, you could not wash dishes for a week, they have so many plates and silverware. (You would still need to wash cups and glasses.) The plates have actual gold trim and the silverware looks like it is old silver, though it is marked stainless. I wonder if the person/people who own the flat like old stuff or if they think it is fitting with the Victorian age of the flat.

He also got online and started ordering food. We have a delivery from Tesco coming tomorrow at 2. Right as he was finishing I remembered how little space we have in the fridge and had to think through whether what I ordered would fit. I got 1.25 kg of chicken, some veggies, some fruit, cheese, crackers, chips, rice, and spaghetti. Should fit.

Tuesday, 15 July
We got up quite late, almost 10. Just the whole stress of moving thing, I think. That and the sun doesn’t set till 10.

We went for a walk in our neighborhood. The park catty corner to us has a rock climbing wall, a baby slide, a big circle (about the width of a tractor tire) for sitting on, and some plants and shade.

We also found that Islington has a walking path set up, but it doesn’t say how far it is, just how long it should take to get from one place to the next.

We came home from our walk and had toast and tea. Then Ron got out one of the chocolate chip muffins and I had one and a glass of milk. I think that will keep me till supper. I do need to go get some teriyaki or soy sauce or something for dinner tonight. I decided to try to do the Japanese hibachi type meal.

We will be here in Islington for a month. Then we are moving to a hotel near ExCeL–the place where the World Science Fiction Convention is taking place.

We brought two 26-inch suitcases, our backpacks for computer gear, a carry-on with all the photography gear, and my purse.

Both of us have about 1/3-1/2 of a suitcase that we haven’t used at all–wrong things (shoes, clothes).

We’ve also bought some stuff here–four books, a jacket, etc. So we are probably going to have to buy a suitcase to get the stuff home.

Ron has been working on the LonCon3 projects today. He went to the Maker space this evening. He came back quite late and enthusiastic, even though he said the Maker space at home is way better.

I’ve been working on my tenure and promotion portfolio and my classes for the fall.

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.


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.)

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.

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.


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.

Celsius to Fahrenheit

Hubby is switching to pounds and kilometers and celsius. I am having a harder time converting. But 10 in C is 50 in F and 20 is 68. So that gives me a relatively good span for the early part of the summer.

Thursday, when we arrive in London, it will be 11 (52) to 18 (64).

It will also be raining. I was planning on wearing my raincoat. Now I am wondering if I should take my umbrella as well.