Our First Week in Scotland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We walked the couple of miles home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron had a skype call with Aaron this evening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apparently raspberry is a favorite of Scots.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Trip: Brentwood and Getting to Edinburgh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I need a nap.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

British Isles Homes

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

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

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

Homes are generally fairly small.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closets seem to be a fairly recent feature.

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

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

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

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

Bookstore in Fayetteville

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

Dickson Street Bookshop

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

Grama Delker’s Coconut Cookies

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 c (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 c sugar

1 c packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

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

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


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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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