July 23-29

Wednesday, July 23
This morning I got up and texted Angela about coming to the house to visit her either today or tomorrow. She said she was free either day.

When Ron got back from his walk—about 1.5 hours—and brought pain killers and soda pop, I left.

The computer said it would take an hour and a half and it did actually take that, even with me having to walk to two different stations. Of course, Forest Gate is only one long block from Wanstead Park, where I got off the Barkington train.

Angela picked me up at the station parking area and we were off. We put money in for 4.5 hours, but she said she didn’t expect to stay that long.

I bought a denimish skirt. I found some red shoes but didn’t actually try them on. I found a nice suit, same thing.

We ate lunch at The Slug and Lettuce. At the end of lunch, which we stretched out to an hour, I think, the baby woke up. I carried Josiah and we began our next round of shop tours. I bought a book on friendship in Plato and Aristotle, thinking of the Shakespeare paper, and she bought a book and a quiz game.

We went to a baby shop and a children’s bookstore. Finally she stopped in Poundland for milk. Josiah and I waited outside in the shade.

We got to the car but it was so hot I couldn’t put the baby in right away. We left the doors open to get some breeze. Then I tried to put him in the seat but it wouldn’t stay buckled. (It was hot and I was trying to keep it from his legs with the blanket, so that might have made the buckle too taut.) I ended up just holding him in the back seat the whole way home.

We hung out for several hours and I talked about my t&p and showed her mine and another example.

Jon came home early and we left for church, though planning to eat dinner first. We went to The N (needle? noose?) and food was excellent. A new pork menu item tempted me but I decided it would be too much food. However, it had nothing I was allergic to and the pork just fell apart. (Jon ordered it.)

Afterwards they brought me to the flat and we went to the Landseer. Angela and I each had a coke and shared a chocolate cheese cake. The cake was quite good, though served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which was odd.

I read the book London Lore by Steve Roud. Interesting, though lots of more modern ghost stories took up at least a quarter of the book.

They left around 10. Ron got home around 9:30 from Maker space.

Thursday, July 24
I slept in till 10. I had taken 2 Benadryl and apparently my body thought ten hours of sleep was what it needed. I did wake up enough to realize Ron was coming in and out of the house, but that’s it.

I put on the new skirt I bought in the charity shop in Brentwood, and make up, and fixed my hair. Ron was like, “Whoa! Where are you going?” I told him wherever he was going.”

We took a 1.5 hour tube trip out to a craft store on some edge of town. This place really is more like Houston than I think of it. People stay in their suburbs with their cars. Some people come into town to work, but most don’t.

We ate a very late lunch at Subway—almost 4 pm.

Then we went into the Outfit, which kind of looked like an outlet store, but didn’t have the prices to match. Ron bought two shirts, including one to wear to the cabaret tomorrow night. I bought a pair of off-white frilly socks to wear if I need them.

We got the second bid on the air conditioner.

Also, I called Morgan Stanley again and got my account information. That took 20 minutes, but it was worth it.

Ron went to Maker last night again. I don’t know what he did but he came back exhausted.

We talked about money for a bit and then I said I thought we should get the full replacement. I called to see when they could get it done… It looks like maybe not till Monday. I’m not happy about that. I’m going to call them back this morning.

The other bid for this part was more money, and these guys have worked on my ac for 2 years, but I don’t want the guys living in my house to be without ac for a full week. That’s cruel. It will be 99 tomorrow and 100 both days this weekend.

Ron went to bed and I stayed up till 2.

Before I went to bed I filed all the flex I could.

Friday, July 25
I’ve set my phone to ring so I can call and see what the ac people have to say.

Ron said I should file the Boots stuff for his glasses with Flex, too.

..I wonder if I filed my glasses stuff. I don’t think I did. That means when we get home I need to find it and get it done.

I went through my suitcase and couldn’t find the receipt from the third osteopath, but then I looked in my notebooks and it was in there. For some reason I thought it was several sheets, but it is only one.

I thought about taking pictures with the iPad. That might work. Otherwise I will have to find somewhere to scan the pages.

Ron went to get his head shaved; he had let it grow too long to do it himself.

I did a load of laundry this morning.

I also changed the sheet on our bed. It’s gotten dirty. The duvet cover has too—and they have another one—but I am not sure I know how to get those on and off. Plus, I wouldn’t have anywhere to lay those out to dry right now. I almost don’t have enough room for our clothes on the one drying rack and then the window/door rack.

I went to Morrison’s to get Coke Zero and DP. They didn’t have any diet DP. I went to several little shops along the way, as well as M&S, but no one had diet DP. Not even individual bottles. I wonder where he found the ones he brought home yesterday.

I went ahead and bought a cabbage because Angela’s baby class said that a cabbage leaf will pull out swelling and it was only 69p. I’ve had two on my foot so far and while it feels better because the leaves are cold, I don’t think any actual reduction in swelling is happening.

Turns out I left the door unlocked when I left, because I didn’t realize he had left the door unlocked when he left.

Ron is working.

I need to get started on my t&p again, although really that is what I plan to do tomorrow. …Work for hours, I mean. I wish I knew where there was a building with wifi, plugs, a/c, and comfortable chairs. (We have the first three, but not the last.)

I actually did work for 6 hours.

Tonight we are going to the cabaret. I put on my dress, shoes, and the cute little socks we got yesterday. It looked nice. I think I could also just wear the shoes without the socks, as long as we aren’t walking a long way.

Ron’s planning to Uber there and catch a cab home. That didn’t happen.

Saturday, 26 July
Worked 8 hours on t&p.

Ate at The Narrow with Jon and Angela. She was wearing a pre-baby dress! It’s Josiah’s 3 month birthday.

Sunday, 27 July
Worked 11.5 hours on t&p.

Went to the London Eye with Ron. He was disappointed. The glass is rounded and colored and distorts pictures.

We went to Wahaca for dinner. I had frijoles, chips, and two mini-tostados with chicken salad on them.

My foot hurt by the time we got home. I should definitely have wrapped it. Now my bum is sore from the last 5.5 hours of work.

What I wrote down in the trip diary is only 69 hours of work. But I don’t think I counted any of the reading I did and I didn’t always write down work, since we are supposed to be on vacation.

Considering that this weekend I did 19.5 hours of work, 69 hours doesn’t seem like much. I had to have done at least 100 hours. Or I wouldn’t be anywhere near as close (no matter how far away that is) to done.

Monday, July 28
I called Mindi’s hotel and figured out how she would get from Heathrow there and I emailed her that information.

I also told her how to get an Oyster card, and how much she would need to have on it to make sure she didn’t run out.

Further I told her how much time it would take me to get from my flat to her hotel (1.40).

Ron said I should tell her I will meet her somewhere, but I assume she wants me to come to the hotel because she’s never been in London before and she’s a bit scared. I would have been without Ron so I’ll make the trip to her hotel.

I worked on t&p about 16 hours today. Just when I think I’ve made progress, I find something else I need to fix.

Tuesday, July 29
I don’t actually remember this, but I am fairly sure, because it is about all I ever do, that I worked this morning. Ron and I were up at 6 and we worked till 11.

Then we went to meet our pick up for the Stonehenge trip. It was 40 minutes by bus and train. The train station closest was closed, so we had to walk 1.5 miles. We were booking it—which I was not impressed with as my ankle was still hurting.

Then the bus didn’t even show up for fifteen minutes. We were standing outside in the hot sun. Not fun.

We were the last to get picked up so there were no open seats. That was less than exciting, but Ron did end up with his feet in the aisle, sitting in the very back of the bus.

We had to get in line to get our tickets, since we “purchased” them with English Heritage.

The bathroom line was not long—Thank you, God.—Then we went and got in the shuttle, which is a little wagon of four or five cars and not air conditioned and not all the windows open. The road is a typical English road, meaning there isn’t enough room for the traffic to go both ways and people to walk, even though they do. That was exciting at times.

Stonehenge was much more amazing than I expected it to be, especially since we couldn’t get very close to it. But it was amazing. And the archaeologists they were interviewing… Ron said something and I told him to wait 60 years and they’d be saying something else. He started listening to it better (normally my problem) and realized that they were just making stuff up.

The exhibition is cool.

Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote that giants brought the rocks from Ireland. They came from 200 miles away (or more) and from northern Wales, but they came in on the boat, which would have been what they felt was Ireland… Except Geoffrey of Monmouth was from Wales, so that doesn’t make much sense. Unless Ireland was ruling that area at the time that the story was passed down, which is a possibility.

The blue stones (the center ones) were thought to have healing powers. But they also came from areas with streams and it’s quite possible that whatever minerals the blue stones have leeched into the water and it was healing. I saw a documentary on English treacle wells that turned out to have healing waters because they were full of iron or whatever.

Ron got some great pictures. I haven’t even looked at mine and I’m too tired to look at them.

We were supposed to get back in at 6:30 but we got stuck in traffic and we got off at Trafalgar Square at 8 pm. Then we went to Gourmet Burger Kitchen to eat dinner and went home.

I tried the camembert and cranberry panko-crusted chicken (the menu said crumbed). It was very good. It was good Wednesday night, too, when I ate it with Mindy. On the other hand, it was HORRIBLE when I ate it with M and Bob. They didn’t heat the cheese and they barely put any cranberry sauce on it. It sucked. I wouldn’t go back to that GBK ever and I’m glad it wasn’t my first visit. I would have been truly unimpressed.

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 16-22

Wednesday, July 16
I walked down to Morrison’s to get groceries. There are some interesting shops in that alcove.

I worked on my t&p quite a bit today. I’ve done 17 hours in the last 2 days.

Thursday, July 17
Ron took me down to the overground station to fill up my Oyster card, but I still had £30 on it, so I didn’t need to top it off. He left, to go to the Regis and work.

As I was walking home, I slipped off my shoe on the uneven sidewalk. I heard a crack, like bones. I stood there and prayed that it was a sprain, rather than a break and that the crack was just my arthritis.

I limped home. It hurt quite a lot. I iced it for about an hour.

Then I decided that I was going to go to the British Museum despite my foot hurting because that is what I had said I would do and Ron would think I was a wimp if I didn’t.

It was quite swollen, so I wrapped it in a scarf and wore my short boots. They were more comfortable than flats on my foot.

I walked about .5 mile—very slowly—and caught the 91 going to the British Museum. I had just passed the British Library when I got a text from Ron saying that he was on the way home… I ended up getting off the bus and going back to the flat.

He asked me if I was crazy, going to the museum with my foot all messed up.

He bought two fans to help make the flat cooler. Thank goodness! It is so hot. (I know it’s only about 81, but inside is about 10 degrees hotter.)

I went to bed early and slept a lot.

Friday, July 18
Ron went by to pick up his shirts at the dry cleaners and they’d lost one.

We went down to Morrison’s to find teriyaki as none of the three smaller stores I tried earlier had it.

We also went shopping for Ron some short-sleeved shirts. He bought one light blue one at Marks and Spencer. It was so hot in there, even though we went early, that we just went home after that.

We also went by the 99p store. We found two space guns, but nothing like what we originally wanted.

I made stir fry today for dinner. It was good. Ron even liked it. I made fried sticky rice.

He went to the Maker Space tonight and got some help with his costume.

Saturday, July 19
We went back to the 99p store and bought thread. We also stopped at the fabric shop and Ron found silver material. He needs to get his space costume fixed.

Ron had a lot of trouble threading his needles. He broke his threader. I pulled out my sewing kit. That didn’t help. He kept losing his stitches, as he was stitching a single thread without any knots. He got very frustrated.

We went around town to the costume shops. Thank goodness Mad World, which was very far away, had fans. I bought one, even though it was £7. There wasn’t much there in terms of numbers of costumes and very little to purchase. I did buy a light up space gun though. We now have 3 to choose from.

We also took the bus to Shoreditch to go to Retro Vintage. Ron was not happy when we finally got there and I barely looked at stuff. They were very expensive for second hand clothes and had very few in my size.

I worked on my t&p for 5 hours today. Ron thought that was plenty.

We ate at Benets on Brick Lane while we were out. We had a nutella crepe with marshmallows and a coconut milkshake (British milkshake).

Sunday, July 20
We started out to go to Mountain Warehouse, down near The Strand, because Ron needed a pair of shorts.

I suggested we eat lunch on the way and we ended up eating at a Mediterranean place. I ordered an omelette, which was quite good, despite looking terrible. Ron had the Greek chicken. It was apparently incredible. Oh, and I had fresh squeezed orange juice, a whole big glass, that tasted like you were sucking the juice right out of the orange yourself.

After that we continued down Holloway.

However, as we were almost to Old Holloway Station, we passed Vivien’s of Holloway. We went in. I tried on several dresses and bought an off-white halter top dress covered in cherries, single, double, and quadruple, with no leaves, one leaf, or two leaves.

We didn’t want to carry the dress around all day, so we took a bus back to the flat.

Then we decided to catch a different bus into town. We ended up on The Strand and Ron went into the place that is known for being a bigger Radio Shack, but for electronics only.

You can see Lyceum Theater from that corner.

Then we walked up to Mountain Warehouse. Ron bought a pair of shorts. We went next door and the cheapest shorts were £40. Ron did buy a shirt there, though. He’s been looking for nice, short sleeve shirts. This looked very good.

Then we walked around and around Covent Gardens. There were way too many people. You couldn’t see much and the shops (like Burberry’s) are out of my price range.

We left and there was a TKMaxx and other shops, but we didn’t go to them.

We decided we would go to the other Mad World Costume Shop. However, when we finally found it, it turned out to now be closed on Sundays.

Ron looked for a place to eat dinner and found Wahaca. It’s supposed to be the best Mexican food in London. They have several kinds of anejo tequilas (among others). They even had food I could eat—at least 3 different things. Yay!

After that we caught the tube home. Ron suggested catching a bus for the two stops to the house, but I thought I could make it.

I did, but by the end I was wincing in pain every step. Should have taken the bus.

Monday, July 21
Having overdone it yesterday, I decided that today I would just hang out in the flat all day. That is what I did.

We got up late, 10 am. Ron ordered us lunch from La Selecta about noon; then he went to get it. When he arrived they told him that they had seen the excellent review he gave them and so they discounted his meal. The food was delicious, though. I had the pita bread and hummus. He had the Greek chicken again.

Ron was waiting for his package from Lady Ada and for the delivery of groceries.

The grocery delivery was a bit odd as they sent us Vinto’s instead of DP Zero. Nothing alike, except for carbonation. We sent the Vinto’s back.

He got the package from Lady Ada. He asked for two 1-meter strips and they sent one 2-meter strip. He said it was fine, though. He’s going to use it for his costume belt, so it will light up and be cool.

I dyed my hair.

We may have gone for a walk in the evening, but I don’t think so.

Ron did set an alarm to get up at a reasonable time Tuesday morning (8 am).

Tuesday, July 22
I got up early and did the dishes. Ron got up when the alarm went off.

Ron wanted to get needles and red shoes for our Friday night date today. I had bought bus tour tickets, but those are good for six months. So, we ended up doing both. Well, I did the bus tours.

This morning he headed out to Starbucks or Nero (though he ended up at McDonald’s, which also had wifi and better chairs, he said).

I thought we were going to meet at 1 for lunch, but he thought we weren’t going to meet till dinner time.

I took the Original Tour yellow (person giving commentary) all the way round and then the red (similar sites but with recordings). The recordings were better than Edinburgh’s recordings, but I still got off after 4 or 5 stops to ride the Thames River cruise by City Cruises. It was a 35 minute cruise and quite nice—even though it was hot and sunny.

I thought I was going to be late, so told Ron that and he left at the time we had eventually decided on as a compromise (3 pm). I got to Trafalgar Square at that time, despite having to walk and gotten lost, because I caught a regular bus back to the square.

Because I then had half an hour, I went in the National Gallery and saw some Boticelli paintings and some religious paintings that I have pictures of in my iBooks.

Went back outside to wait for Ron and saw him wandering around the square. He had texted and asked where I was, but the phone hadn’t beeped (or I didn’t hear it).

We walked to Covent Garden to shop. It was less crowded than Sunday and we went in the Apple Store.

Nothing had red shoes in my size, so we caught the tube to Oxford Circus and then walked around a bit more. We found a China Town area which had lots of fans, from £1-5 for the same style, depending on the shops. I didn’t buy any more fans, though I thought about it.

We ended up at Debenham’s and my foot was about to give out. They had a reddish pair of shoes that Ron kind of liked and we bought them. I didn’t realize they cost £80! I hope they last forever.

We walked through the back of the shop and out the door to Meat Liquor, a restaurant with “real American style burgers and fries.” They were. I had the naked grilled corn with my meat burger. Then I had the peanut butter chocolate sundae. It was EXCELLENT. Very expensive cans of soda pop, though, £3.50 each.

Got home worn out and went right to sleep.

Weight and Measurements

I haven’t been getting on the scale at home because it sends my weight to Ron’s phone.

I also haven’t been measuring. I just figured if I was walking 6x week and working out 2x week I was okay.

I did realize at some point (maybe April?) that I was not losing weight and that I was going to have to watch my food intake. But I haven’t done anything about it.

Measurement discrepancies
Two days ago I decided I should take my measurements. It was the end of the day and my calf was 14. My thigh was 20. When I looked at the last time I wrote it down, those were both losses. Whoopee!

Then I put in my waist and it was significantly larger.

So I thought, I’ll get up some morning and take my measurements.

Measurement today compared
This morning I did that. My calf was at 15.5 and my thigh at 24. I’m not sure why the change. Did I do something wrong the other day measuring?

The difference between my measurements in November of 2013 and now (July 2014) is 11.75 inches gain. This is not muscle (except maybe in my legs and arms).

When I looked up pounds per inch, because I remembered losing weight and inches in a ratio, I found something that sounded familiar. 10 pounds = 1 inch lost

If I gained 11.75 inches, that would mean I have gained 117 pounds, which would put me at 280, which would, in fact, get me into my mother’s normal weight range. (Since we left Edinburgh I have been feeling like I look like my mother’s body shape. I never feel like I look good or skinny now.)

There is no way, even with stuffing myself in and size changes that the US has made so people won’t feel bad about being overweight (or bigger–but bigger only works for a little while or if you are a weightlifter), that I could still fit in my 10 jeans (even lapping over the top) if I had gained 117 pounds. (Plus the 10 jeans were after the size changes, so they wouldn’t be impacted.)

However, it does mean I have gained a lot of weight potentially with very little evidence of muscle increase.

Muscle increase
My legs, I will buy that as muscle increase. Why? Because my calves have no jiggle at all. I can’t pinch anything, not even at the top where there used to be a little excess.

My thighs now have more of that dimpling from cellulite, but don’t rub together (but they’re bigger?) and appear smaller…. Of course, it’s obvious perspective is an issue, but I still think my legs could be muscle increase only. I’ve been walking a lot here–even more than at home–and Edinburgh at least was very hilly. London is pretty flat. I feel like I ought to go climb stairs.

I have the same circumference on my arm and I will take that as muscle gain too because it is not as jiggly. Yes, it still has the floppiness, but not as much.

Clearly fat increase
However the 5.25 gain around my belly button cannot be anything except fat. And the 2.5 under my ribs the same.

Mostly belly fat
I am seeing that “more weight in the middle” thing.

I gained half an inch in my breasts and 1.75 in my hips. That is not good.

However, the really scary thing is that using the two waist measurements–under the ribs and at the belly button, I gained 7.75 inches.

Let me repeat that. In my waist alone (using the two measurements), I gained 7.75 inches.

I vaguely remember apple as being a bad shape to have, so I am going to look that up.

Apple shape
According to Mayo Clinic people who have apple shaped bodies (where most of their excess weight is in their middle/belly section) have metabolic syndrome.

Okay, that sounds bad. A syndrome is always bad. So I look that up.

According to Wikipedia (info at your fingertips), it is a disorder of energy utilization and storage. It does, in fact, make you look like an apple shape.

However, the shape is not the sole diagnosis factor. Instead you have to have at least three of the five symptoms:
abdominal obesity
elevated blood pressure
elevated fasting plasma glucose levels
high serum triglycerides
low HDLs

I have the first.

I have the second, but that’s because of the ADHD meds. When I’m off, I don’t have that. That might not matter for the syndrome; I don’t know.

I had elevated glucose levels when I was pregnant with Micah (as far as I remember the only time I’ve been tested), but they weren’t elevated enough for gestational diabetes. If that was not because of Micah, but me, then I have that.

I don’t remember my triglycerides, but I vaguely recall that my HDLs are higher than my LDLs–though perhaps not high enough.

So, I could have this. Basically, according to Wikipedia again, this is prediabetes.

Why didn’t someone tell me that when I was pregnant with Micah?

According to diabetes.co.uk prediabetes, which I’ve heard more often as borderline diabetes, “almost always develops into type 2 diabetes.”

I am NOT going to get diabetes. I refuse. So what do I need to do?

Diabetes prevention and treatment
Still on the diabetes.co.uk website…

They say that ALA is a good antioxidant and helps diabetic neuropathy and reduces pain from free-radical damage. So maybe I need to add that. Anything that might reduce pain would be good.

Biotin helps create an enzyme which is the first step in glucose utilization. That enzyme tends to be very low for folks with diabetes.

Carnitine, L-Carinitine, Acetyl L-Carnitine)
This helps the body use body fat.

They said that diabetics who use this get a rapid change and that their fats in the bloodstream (both cholesterol and triglycerides) may fall fast.

They say it is crucial. That it improves glucose tolerance.

It can be in brewer’s yeast or as chromium chloride.

Exercise will also increase chromium.

They said, specifically, that it is important for people with pre diabetes.

Coenzyme Q10
Animals suffering from diabetes are low in this.

It lowers blood sugar levels and oxygenates the blood–which may help with retinopathy.

Believed to play a role in reversing diabetic neuropathy.

Commonly deficient in diabetics. Maybe a cause? Could be important for glucose metabolism.

Magnesium directly influences blood sugar level control.

Too low:
interrupts insulin secretion
increases insulin resistance

Using vanadium supplements may increase sensitivity to insulin, which is good/important.

There is a proved link between vanadium levels and diabetes.

Vitamin B6
Also known as pyridoxine, B6 improves glucose tolerance.

Vitamin B12
Helps reduce nerve damage.

Vitamin C
May improve glucose tolerance.

Vitamin D
Boosts insulin sensitivity.

Vitamin E
Oxygenates blood, fights toxins.

Increasing vitamin E may decrease risk of developing diabetes AND reduces risk of diabetic complications.

Crucial for insulin metabolism.

Weird diet information
Still diabetes.co.uk…

Says that diets low in carbs and high in fats are healthier for blood glucose control and weight loss.

So now what?
Start with getting multivitamins and actually taking them.

Quit eating simple sugars (especially candy, ice cream, etc).

Eat more fresh foods or foods you make yourself.

In fact, I guess I am going to get up and make teriyaki stir fry for lunch right now.

Then and Now

When I was in Switzerland, I fell and sprained my ankle. I went to the hospital and got a cast.

I was just a kid then. Now I’m a grownup.

I’m in England. I didn’t fall, just kind of slid off my shoe on uneven pavement. Heard cracks. Probably just the arthritis. Walked home. Iced it. Self-wrapped it in a scarf–since I didn’t have any ace bandages. Walked to the bus stop and got on the bus to head out for my planned excursion to the British Museum.

It sounds more exciting than it was. I got off the bus halfway there and came back to the flat because there was no a/c at the Regus and we only have one key.

Ron bought a bandage and re-wrapped my foot.

Instead of going out to dinner and the 3D Printing Lab, he escorted me back inside the flat. I had brie and crackers. He went to the 3D Printing Lab where he walked 1/2 mile to St. Paul’s to take pictures. (That would have been awful for me.) He got dinner afterwards at Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

I don’t know what he listened to but I listened to the blonde and ginger from next door’s beach music and drunk people say the f word pretty much every other minute. And a discussion about how much something would be worth if it were real gold.

… Tomorrow it will be 84 degrees. I am staying inside with the two fans Ron bought today. I may or may not do any work.

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.)


As you grow up, you assume that your life will be good. Mine has been.

You assume you will have a good (or decent) job, that you will love your spouse, have amazing kids, and generally do well. I’ve done that.

You also assume that eventually you will become the person you’ve always wanted to be. People who meet you will like you. You will be the best person at your job doing your job. You will always say the right thing. That, however, is not me. I haven’t done that.

This, I think, is the idea/information that hits people at middle age. Unless I live as long as Karen C’s family, I’m well past middle age. In fact, if I live to be my mother’s age, I’m in my twilight years. I’m not going to go buy a new car, have an affair, or quit my job–though I am considering dyeing the ends of my hair blue.

While I am a bit disappointed in how I personally, not my life, have turned out thus far, the reality is probably that I am less bad tempered, more truthful, and a better teacher now than I was when I was 18. As Ron mentioned recently, we tend to idealize our past.

Traveling to Wales

June 30, Monday, Cardiff
The train went smoothly to Newcastle. Then it was announced that we must get off and that the train was returning to Edinburgh, rather than going on to Bristol as planned. There had been a fatality on/with a train farther south. (At first I thought they said “in the gallery,” which I took to mean in the galley, but eventually I found out it was “in Darlington.”)

We spent two hours in Newcastle, trying to figure out better train arrangements.

We eventually got on the 1:35 train to Bristol.

As we left Cheltenham Spa, we saw there was a train leaving for Cardiff Bay in only 10 minutes, but we weren’t off in Cheltenham Spa.

When we got to Bristol, it was a very small station, about the size of Brentwood’s. They announced the Cardiff Bay train was running anywhere from 28 to 42 minutes late.

It did eventually come and we didn’t have to go back into Cheltenham Spa to get there. Instead we crossed straight over to Newport. Then down to Cardiff.

We got a cab at the Cardiff Bay train station. It was £6 to the house.

We arrived with no troubles around 7:30 pm. We met our hostess, from China, put our stuff in our room, and went out to find a grocery store and dinner. The way we went, which followed mapping directions, felt very unsafe. It was filthy. We didn’t have any trouble though.

We stopped at a chicken place and got some chicken strips to go.

Then we walked down the street eating them and went in the Tesco Express. I got some milk, wipes for my make-up, and cookies. The cookies are terrible. Ron got two kinds of chips. We came back to the house and went to bed.

My Favorite Things about Scotland

My favorite things about Scotland

KILTS! The first week I only saw one person in a kilt and then the next day two. But after that I saw at least four daily and one day over fifty.

I enjoyed the history—St. Margaret’s Chapel, Rosslyn Chapel, and Stirling Castle.

I liked the fact that most things were within reasonable walking distance.

I loved the weather—especially the cool, cloudy, but not actually rainy days. Apparently Scotland was experiencing an unseasonably dry period as we had sunny days for at least a week in June.

Edinburgh is the greenest capital in Europe. I enjoyed all the trees. The flowers were lovely as well and there are many wild flowers, or flowers that appear wild, growing despite having no caretakers.

I liked having two separate rooms for bedroom and living room, with doors between both.

I enjoyed watching television! My favorite shows were:
Grin, a Scots What-Not-to-Wear program that is produced in Gaelic, but was subtitled in English. So I got to hear Gaelic, but could still follow it.
Time Team, a British archaeology show.
The Quest for Bannockburn, a specially produced, possibly Scottish, archaeology special.

June 26 to Good-bye, Edinburgh

Thursday, June 26
Went to the Falkirk Wheel by taking the train to Camelon (pronounced came lawn). Then we walked 1.5 miles to the wheel. We took the trip, which was about an hour. Then walked back to/through town a different way.

The Falkirk Wheel was a cool experience.

We had a small sweet after the Falkirk Wheel (even though it was lunch time) and caught the train back to town, planning to eat somewhere in Edinburgh.

I worked on work while we were on the train. Made some more progress on figuring out what to do about what and where to send things.

We actually went to Grassmarket to the other Armstrong and Sons and the costume shop. The other Armstrong and Sons had a piper’s doublet, but it was way too small for Ron. It also had two space girl costumes in the silver and purple in large. One was priced at £22 and one at £10. I tried them on. They both fit. Neither seemed better than the other. (Though both would be better if I actually lost weight.) So I bought the cheap one, of course.

On the way to those two stores, we went in about 10 charity shops, which were right in a row. None of them had anything particularly worthwhile, though one had some funky material in silver (like net but stronger) and one had a cute little silver dress, but in the totally wrong size for me.

I think the charity shops are a bit funny as Ron said we had gone to all the charity shops in Edinburgh already. Yeah, not so much.

Friday, June 27
Ron has the symposium all day today. He’s also going to go by and pick up his kilt.

I worked all day. I finished the research on what reading lists folks are using in Brit lit surveys; this time I did three different search topics (wrote them down!) and found a total of 77 reading lists for colleges.

Since I finished the survey, I also finished the SMART paper, which ended up only being about The Wife’s Lament, due to the length limitations. The hardest part, honestly, was putting it into Chicago.

I sent it off and then, working on the paper for CEA, discovered that I had spelled Helen Damico’s name wrong once in the SMART paper. So I sent a corrected version.

I worked 8 hours.

I also watched two Time Team shows. I needed voices! The first was on Salisbury Chapel and was quite interesting. They found the body of an illegitimate great-nephew of the bishop buried in the chapel, but not reburied when the chapel was dismantled. The second was on searching for a Roman road and actually finding where it was AND finding a church/temple AND finding an actual Roman mosaic floor. That was kind of sad/funny. The floor had been repaired, as the owner’s financial situation worsened, and instead of the tiny tiles laid correctly, big chunks in the right colors were “slapped” in.

Since we decided to go to The Dome for dinner tonight, I made reservations.

We went. It was not as cool as it appeared from outside. The Dome Garden Café, despite the sign giving The Dome address and phone number, does not have the same menu. I actually ORDERED fish. It came with skin on. Gross. But I ate it and the fennel and the carrots and the noodles they gave me, since the rice had spices in it I was allergic to.

Saturday, June 28
Today Ron wanted to stay in and do nothing. However, since this is our last weekend, we didn’t.

Really he couldn’t stay in anyway because his kilt (with the necessary adjustments) had not come in yesterday. So he had to go by Geoffrey the Tailor’s and pick up his kilt. He also needed to get there early enough that if we needed to go somewhere else to get it (since he went by twice yesterday and it wasn’t there) that we could go to that somewhere.

While Ron went to get his kilt, I stayed home and worked.

I received a reply from Kristie Bixby, the SMART editor. She said it would be several months before I would hear from them, since it had to go out to reviewers. That’s fine. I just wanted to get it done. (Is it great? No. Would it be helpful? I hope so.)

I worked on the paper for CEA (teaching women in British lit survey) and I worked on my ideas for the two panels I am on for WorldCon/LonCon3: Constructing Genre History and Fantasy and Medievalism.

I sent the Fantasy/Medievalism panelists an email, asking if they had specific things they wanted to talk about. Since I already had several things I could talk about for that, I wanted to make sure I didn’t prepare something unnecessary.

I wrote:
I’ve thought of addressing a couple of different angles:
early medieval revenants of literature used in fantasy–what they add to the stories
other mythologies than “typical” Europe (though still medieval)
urban fantasy building off medievalism, though not particularly using it

I went online and got us tickets to the Historic Vaults tour put on by Mercat Tours. We arrived early and walked around. Ron got a hot dog and an Iron Bru. The vault tours were interesting, but the vaults were built in 1785-1788. That was less interesting. However, it was still cool and interesting.

One other interesting fact is that the vaults, having been excavated in the late 1980s, were used to help a Romanian Olympic athlete defect. The bar that had access to a vault put him down the hole into the vault and left him there. His minders searched everywhere for him and couldn’t find him. He stayed in the vault for a few hours and then went to the police station to request political asylum, which was granted.

Learned that poor drank claret before the Napoleonic Wars. Everyone drank claret. And 130 oysters cost 10p.

We went to Pizza Express for dinner. Ron wanted pizza and it was raining, so we went there. I had dough balls and dessert. The brownie was more like heavy chocolate mousee with a crunchy crust than our cake-like brownies, but it was all right. The hot chocolate was good.

Sunday, June 29
I woke up at 4 but went back to sleep. When I woke up at 6, I got up and started working. Today I did two hours worth of work before Ron got up.

I received a response from two of the three panelists. Robin Hobb, the novelist, did not answer.

K. A. Laity, who is a writer and professor, said she liked the ideas I sent. She is planning to talk about the top ten myths of the Middle Ages. That sounds fun, but not something I can necessarily add to. –Depends, I suppose, on what her ten myths are. If she does (or doesn’t) talk about women as not having any roles, I could add to that. Cite Christine Fell. Talk about the women listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. Talk about Abbess Hilda from Bede, and the widow and daughter who became abbesses after Hilda. Talk about the active women with agency in OE literature: Judith, Elene, Juliana. Talk about the female gendered poetry: Wulf and Eadwacer, The Wife’s Lament.

Marieke Nijkamp said she liked the other myth ideas. She also said she would like to explore the influence of medieval storytelling as a whole—and maybe the fantasy of medieval literature, histories, and myths. Interesting idea that takes the panel in a different direction, but one I could contribute to. How were their histories fantasy? They took the stories they liked and ran with them. Composites. Creative expurgation. The normal PR stuff, but done over centuries, perhaps.

Marieke also said that she’d like to talk about medieval cities and urban culture. I’m not sure how that relates to fantasy. However, urban fantasy that builds off medievalisms –like Briggs, Andrews (the European trip), Adams? (Russian czarina), … That might be a way to go or for me to start and then she can go wherever she wants to with it.

I woke up Ron as if I were an alarm and he snoozed me. Two snoozes and a bit of a cuddle and we were up.

Went to Word of Mouth for breakfast. I ordered a crepe with ham and cheddar. It was excellent. I got it without the egg, so there was a lot less rosemary, which meant I liked it a lot better than last time. Ron got it with egg this time and had the rosemary. I am guessing he liked it as he scarfed it down.

We had both eaten and Ron said he wondered where his second crepe was. What? He ordered two crepes? Yes. A crepe with Nutella came to the table. Thankfully he let me have half. I might have had to order my own otherwise and they had turned off the crepe machine.

Needless to say breakfast was excellent.

We need some hydrogen peroxide and Ron needs magnesium, so we went up to the little Tesco, then down to the big Tesco, then to the nearest Boots. The first two had nothing. The last was closed.

Sadness! I found another Bethany Shop in Leith, a big one, on Duke Street. But, since it was closed, I didn’t get to buy anything—or even have a look.

For dinner we walked into Leith and went to La Favorita, which is an Italian restaurant with a lasagna made without tomatoes on its menu. I had a strawberry daiquiri, which was mostly rum, and Ron had a pina colada, which was mostly coconut.

I ordered the lasagna, which was very good, but came with cut tomatoes on it. I asked for a plate and a spoon and cut everything off. I hope I don’t have a reaction.

Ron ordered the risotto and duck. It came in a Parmesan crust bowl—very good Parmesan, too. He liked the duck and really liked the risotto, as he ate all of it.

Packing was a chore. We bought things we aren’t taking with us—mostly to live in the flat more comfortably. We are taking our new smaller suitcase. I’ll be pulling that, as Ron already has two rolling items.

We did a load of towels and since I woke myself up with a tummy upset, I went into the living room and when they got done I put them up on the drying racks. The small ones might be dry by in the morning.

I tried folding up the drying rack we purchased. It won’t fit in the new bag, so we’re leaving that. Hopefully the other flats we are at will have a drying rack and we’ll recognize it.

Monday, June 30
I was up at 5:30 this morning, before my alarm went off.

This morning I realized I could put my purse in the new bag and keep my backpack out… That will actually mean there is room and weight to put the toiletries and anything out that we forgot and maybe some things from my overstuffed bag in there.

I rearranged my stuff so that worked. I didn’t pull out anything from the big bag, but I did put the stuff I had out to give away and the scarves and my coat and Ron’s toiletries (which he had forgotten to pack).

At 20 till 7 I took out the trash and the recycling. They moved the recycling so only the glass was where the trash was so I had to go in and out. Then I went to Sainsbury’s to get hairspray, a Coke Zero, and maybe a pastry. Despite having checked online, it doesn’t open till 8.

Went back and woke up Ron. We both worked on our computers for a while. I got one of last year’s SCMLA sets of notes up.

We finished packing everything. I called a cab. We went down to catch the cab. He dropped us off at a roundabout next to the lift. Very helpful that. Then we got our tickets and went to Burger King.

At Burger King I got an egg and cheese butty. A butty, which I did not know till today, is a soft white bread bun. I also got six mini-pancakes and syrup. They’re rounded like those flying saucer candies and they don’t hold their heat well. They do, however, taste like pancakes. I ate about 3/4s of the butty and 2 of the pancakes.

Then we went to the platform.

The train we are taking goes all the way down the entirety of Great Britain from Edinburgh. (It could go from farther north, but I didn’t see anything about where it started. Folks did get off, so it probably did make the whole trip—which was from Aberdeen.)

Cross Country Rail goes from Aberdeen to Plymouth. I stood looking at the map while Ron was getting the tickets. I saw that we’ll go through Leeds (or Sheffield) but not through Oxford and Reading—as that veers to the east. We’ll get off this in Bristol, but if we didn’t, we could go to Exeter and then a few other places.

I wonder if the pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock left the British Isles from Plymouth.

I’ve been amazed at how many small towns and places have names I recognize from the US or Australia. For example, Melbourne and Perth are both in Scotland, but I think of them as Australian cities. …I mean, sure I knew that London, Paris, and Moscow, Texas were all named for other places, but I didn’t realize how many towns are.

I forgot to take my Dramamine till Ron reminded me. We’re riding backwards. So I’m typing and not looking out the windows much until it’s had time to kick in.

Right now our London place has no television. I honestly do not know what we will do without television. We are getting on each other’s nerves now because we are almost always together… Though at least one full day a week we’ve been separated for mots of the day.

Plus, we don’t talk to people. That’s been very hard. Yes, we’re not extraverts, but we still miss chatting with folks. I’m really going to need to find classes or something that gets us chatting with people.

Ron keeps saying the Brits don’t believe in ephemeral. I will have to think about that more…

The trip from Edinburgh to Newcastle was very nice. I looked out the window and wrote it all up, talked to the four-year-old sitting in front of me, and generally enjoyed the trip. Upon arriving in Newcastle, however, we were told that the trains south are all stopped due to a fatality near Darlington. I assume the fatality involves a train and/or the tracks. They said the transportation police are generally fairly quick, but at least an hour and our train (with our reserved seats) will be returning to Edinburgh.

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.

Middle Weeks in Edinburgh

Monday June 9
We took the bus to the area near the Haymarket Toastmasters this evening.

We went into a small café down the road and around the corner from The Thistle, the hotel where it meets. I was a bit concerned because it looked more like a restaurant than a fast place to get food, but we did need to eat.

I ordered a cheese and (Canadian) bacon sandwich. (Bacon here is like Canadian bacon, not American. It can be crispy, but it’s not our thin strips.) It was excellent. It came with a salad, which was not listed on the menu, that had both peppers and tomatoes, so I was only able to eat half the sandwich. That was enough though.

I thought we would be quite late for the meeting, as the clock in the pub was fast (but I didn’t know that). It took probably 10 minutes to get our food and 10 minutes for them to get the check to work correctly—assuming they did.

We arrived at the hotel smack dab on time, which I grew up with as late.

We walked in the small room, maybe the size of our bedroom at home, and it was full. There were about three vacant seats, so we sat in those.

Toastmasters here introduce the meeting and the group of Toastmasters and the roles. The Toastmaster also mentioned that we are very encouraging and that folks clap a lot to be encouraging. They also remind of fire alarms and introduce everyone in the group (20 seconds per person, by the person). There were about 8 visitors, including us.

The group meets twice a month, each time for two hours. The first hour was introductions, roles, and speeches. They have the ah-counter here; this person is different from the grammarian/wordmaster.

There were only two speakers. One was giving their first speech and one their second. They were both interesting and fairly well done.

The second speech was from a chiropractor and Ron went and spoke to him and got his card for me. Ron is very concerned that I am seeing folks and not getting better quickly.

Then there was an interval. I spoke with the ah-counter, who mentioned that I had said um while talking to him and to Stephen (another member). I was put off and mentioned that in the US we count so’s and and’s that are connectives and used the same way and he had used two of each during his intro to his role.

That was not particularly polite of me. You’d think I’d be better at being polite after 50 plus years, but I’m not.

I also spoke with the person who was doing the table topics. He asked if I would be willing to speak. I told him yes and asked where we should speak—from our seats or the front? I told him Ron would probably speak as well.

Turns out the table topics are far more involved than ours. First, there are five! (Of course, in two weeks’ time, we might have six, so I guess it’s not that different.) Then, for this particular table topics’ round, the Topics Master told the beginning of a story and had us finish it.

Ron got the first question. It was, “You are out driving in your car in the Scottish countryside and you see a man running towards your vehicle and waving. You slow down and then stop, when you realize their clothing is burnt almost entirely off their body. You roll down your window and…”

Ron did a good job. He mentioned nervousness over a naked man in his car and that the man should be nervous as he didn’t know how to drive in the UK. He said the clothing was burnt from getting too near a volcano; this was particularly relevant as Edinburgh is built near/on a volcano.

I got the second question. “There are legends that say that on Christmas Eve at midnight, animals talk. You are watching television on Christmas Eve and your dog Bobby comes in and begins to talk to you. He says…”

I went to the front and said that I had heard of animals speaking at midnight and had read stories in fantasy about them and had always thought it would be cool. I did not comment on the fact that I would be unlikely to be watching television—especially not alone—though I did think of it. I said Bobby came in and said, “About that cat next door…” I tried to make my voice lower when I quoted Bobby. Then I told them that I immediately became concerned because we had already had trouble with the neighbor next door about getting in their garden. “I think the cat has a crush on me,” Bobby finished. “You do? What makes you think that?” I told them I asked. “Well, the cat’s hair stands up and she arches her back and then she stutters like she’s nervous talking to me—hisssssss.” I told them I looked at Bobby and said, “Bobby, that’s how cats show they’re angry and that they don’t like you.” At this point I turned my head away. I wasn’t sure what to say and I kind of looked in the corner away from everyone. Then I turned back, crossed my arms and in Bobby’s voice, I said, “Well, I didn’t like that cat anyway.” Then I sat back down.

There were three other stories. I wrote the prompts down, but I don’t want to get up right now and get them.

After the table topics, the evaluators for the speakers spoke. One was Michael (the new president) and one was Max. Michael pointed out that the first speakers’ Australian accent immediately pulled everyone in. That was a good point.

The Table Topics’ Evaluator spoke next. He got on Ron’s case for not standing up at the front. He didn’t have anything negative to say about me. He did the other three. Then he awarded the Table Topics’ ribbon to me.

The General Evaluator spoke next. She covered everything that hadn’t been already evaluated. I think it was five pages long. It was incredibly well done and very detailed.

At the end they asked the guests if they were willing to comment on the meeting. I said that I had heard that they were unlikely to be particularly encouraging… but that they had done an amazing job with that. They laughed.

Folks talked to us for about an hour afterwards. It was quite nice. We haven’t spoken to folks since we got to Scotland really.

Then we got the bus home and went to bed.

It was a very good day.

Tuesday 10
Wednesday 11

Thursday June 12
I had an appointment with the chiropractor who spoke at Haymarket today at 2:20. Ron went with me. The door was odd. Two half doors that opened about a quarter of the way and you could then reach the regular door’s knob.

We went in. We were early.

I spoke with Gary Blackwood for perhaps half an hour. Then he worked for a bit on my back. I laid on the floor for another half hour, paid, and then we left.

That evening was the Waverly Communicators meeting of Toastmasters. I was surprised to find that the info on the fire drills was included at this meeting too.

The schedule has the times when the green/amber/red will be given for each thing on the schedule. That’s a great idea.

Both Haymarket and Waverly had quotes that I would apply the next time I were doing timekeeper.
“Don’t count every minute of the day; make every minute count.” (Haymarket)
“Time is what we want most and yet what we use worst.” Wm Penn (Waverly)

The Waverly Toastmaster had quotes for every role. I particularly liked, “A man’s character may be known by the adjectives he habitually uses.” Mark Tawin

Waverly had a list of their members (or at least attendance from the last meeting). There were about 30 people and 5 visitors.

Waverly also had 5 table topics:
Tell a personal sports story
One thing still to be invented that would make your life easier.
“We most regret the things we haven’t done.” What haven’t you done—yet?
Some folks go wild when their team wins. What makes you go wild? (What are you wild about?)
Banks were once conceived of as bastions of dignity and virtue. What do you think of banks?

Ron was called on to do the banks talk and (with the exception of money in the mattress) did an excellent job of translating from across the pond to the UK. He also won table topics!

Waverly did the 20 second introductions, too, and had a general evaluator evaluating every single thing that wasn’t evaluated—except, of course, the general evaluator.

I spent the interval talking to a member about differences in the Toastmasters—and things I’ve learned in Toastmasters.

We left after about 15 minutes, rather than an hour. I think we were just too tired to chat with folks.

Friday, June 13
I went out to my last edphysio appointment today. I took the bus to get there and had a bit of a challenge following the directions to the place. (Left =/= right, no matter what the app says.)

After the appointment, however, I decided I would just walk around.

I found a nice little shop to get breakfast/lunch in. The waiter asked about what I was doing in Edinburgh and said he also lives in Leith. Several hours later, having meandered about halfway home, he passed me by on his way to somewhere Leith-y.

Another block up I found Hard Rock Café, with several eateries in sight. I don’t know why we had to eat there that day we “couldn’t find anywhere” to eat. (We passed four cafés. Maybe Ron didn’t want to eat at the same place twice?)

Crossing through the park and then walking through St. James Centre made the trip back amazingly shorter than the trip to the physio. I also figured out that St. James Centre has three floors. And I found a shoe shop that says they can reheel my boots in just a couple of hours. That would be good.

When I finally made it home, around 2:30, Ron was out. He had said he might be. I worked on things till 5:30 and then started getting ready. We were going to the International Chi.

Ron came home at almost 6 and we headed out. We were later than I would have liked, but we got to the Playhouse and got our tickets with 45 minutes left. So we went to the Slug and Lettuce, had sweet potato fries, and then headed back.

I thought the International Chi was a Chinese acrobatic group. It was more like an experimental dance company crossed with a martial arts exhibition. It was interesting and well done, but not what I was expecting. There were probably only about 75 people in the audience. There were about a third of that on stage.

Saturday, June 14

In the morning we went out to try I Heart Café. We walked the long way round, because that is the way Google routed us. When we arrived at 9 am, the place was closed and would be till noon.

We went on to the Italian café, Italian Eatery? We ate breakfast and read our iPad books there.

We stayed in all the rest of the day yesterday.

We’re watching the first Amy Pond Dr. Who. It makes so much more contextual sense.
“You’re Scottish; fry something.”
“You’re Scottish. What are you doing here?” “I had to move to England. It’s rubbish.”
bacon, baked beans, bread and butter, fish fingers, custard…

I wrote on Facebook that I’ve only seen 4 men in kilts the whole trip.

Sunday, June 15
I had intended to take a bus ride all over town, but instead I sat down at my computer and didn’t get up for three hours.

At 10 am Ron was up and we talked and dawdled.

Finally at 11 he said to go on and he’d catch up. I walked to the St James Centre for shopping—which I had decided was bigger than I thought at first. (This was incorrect.)

I brought my shoes with me, to have the heels repaired. The shoe guy, however, told me that if he repaired them, they wouldn’t stay repaired. They would just break again.

I didn’t throw them away, since they are my only dressy boots and if I need to wear them somewhere, the heels won’t really mess me up that much.

I walked around a lot and the mall didn’t have more than we thought earlier. There were shops I hadn’t paid attention to, though, and I went in some of those. I looked for shoes and for a tape measure—since we needed to measure our bags to get the plane to Cardiff.

Eventually Ron arrived. We walked around the mall a bit. Then we went… I can’t remember where. Around 3:30 we took the bus back to our house.

Ron got on the computer with me and it turned out that the train tickets to Cardiff were 165 for both, not each. So we don’t need to take the plane. That’s good.

Did I mention that a plane from Edinburgh to Cardiff has to go through Belfast and ½ of the changing planes has a 22.5 hour layover? While that would get us to Northern Ireland, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

Ron got online and got us cheaper tickets to Whitby, too, and I got us two nights’ stay in the Storrbeck Bed and Breakfast. We’re going Tuesday, just before noon, and coming back Thursday morning, which will give us a whole day at the abbey. While that is probably more than we need, it’s better to have too much time rather than not enough.

At 5ish we started getting ready to go to “Men with Coconuts,” a comedy improv group that was having a gig at the The Granary in Leith for the Leith Festival.

We went a little early, but not as early as I had hoped, to eat. Unfortunately, we had forgotten that it was Father’s Day and all the restaurants were full up. We ended up eating at Pizza Express. I had a salad, which was good, but not wonderful or anything. Ron had a pizza. He appeared to like it.

The comedy group did a series of routines that were quite good and then for the second half they acted out a “Broadway Musical” based on titles that folks within the audience voted for. We picked “Jenny of the Soviet Bloc.” It was quite interesting and decently done. I would say they were a bit embarrassing with their sexual actions, particularly the gay ones, but two of the audience actually got the going in that direction by moving their bodies (one of the routines) for them. I closed my eyes for part of that. They were very funny. I would enjoy going to see them again when they are doing something else.

Today I saw 5 men in kilts. It was quite nice.

Monday, June 16
I did get up early this morning. It still took me more than an hour to get out of the flat, but I did get up.

I caught a bus to St Andrews Garden Square, walked around and read the “The Brain is Wider than the Sky” posts with images. Some of them were quite fascinating.

Then I took the MacTours of the Edinburgh Bus Tours. That was quite fun and I learned a bit. The schtick on Dean Brodie wasn’t as interesting as John Z’s, but there were other things I learned. I enjoyed it. I’ve got notes on paper that I’ll try to transcribe soon.

When I got back I walked to the chiropractor. Or I thought I did! Actually, I walked to the physio. Thankfully I hadn’t stopped in at a café and when I realized I was in the wrong place I was way early for my appointment there (and almost made it to my actual appointment on time). I did call to let Gary know that I was running late. Then I got on a bus I’ve never been on before and went out.

After the chiropractor I went and had lunch. I ended up at Pizza Express because the café with internet was closed.

I went into a small St. Columba’s charity shop, but it smelled of cigarette smoke, so I walked right back out.

Then I caught the bus to St. Andrews Garden Square again. Well, I meant to do that. Instead I went the wrong direction. And the bus got off its route due to a diversion. So I had to wait till it was where it needed to be, then get off, then find a bus in the opposite direction. It took quite a lot of time and my phone was running down rapidly.

I found a Starbucks with plugs right before I got to St. Andrews Garden Square and stopped in there. The carrot cake is execrable. I ate about 1/3. My phone is up to 54%, so I am going to shut down and get on another tour.

I took the MacTours first. Then, after lunch and the chiropractor, I took the Edinburgh tour, which starts at Waverly Station—even though I started at St. Andrews Garden Square. Finally, getting back just as the last tour I could take started, I went on the Majestic Tour. The most interesting thing on that tour was that Leith Mills (which is in Leith) is a great shopping center for tartans and cashmere. Ron and I will just have to go check it out.

When it ended, I went down George Street, looking for somewhere to eat near the Royal Society of Edinburgh. I signed up earlier today (after Starbucks) for a discussion forum this evening on Sir Walter Scott (Uncle Watty, one of the tour guides called him) and the new science of reading. I ended up eating around the corner at a Costa; once again I had the ham and cheese toastie, which was quite good.

I have seen three more men in kilts today. While it’s not “men in kilts everywhere,” that is much better than what I had been doing. I don’t think it is simply a case of looking for them, either, because I had been looking for them.

Wednesday, June 18

Thursday, June 19
The Rileys were expected today, but they didn’t arrive until after midnight.

We went grocery shopping and I ended up going around Princes Street looking in shops.

Friday, June 20
Ron and I got up around 6 am. We went to the grocery store and the pound stores, looking for, among other things, suntan lotion. We got back to the flat right at 10.

Jon and Angela came and picked us up at 10. We went in the car out to the airport to attend the fair. I thought it was going to be very boring, but eventually Angela and I found the craft tents. We went through all of them.

Then Ron and I went through all of them again, when Jon took Angela to meet a coworker. He bought a kilt pin from a jewelry maker. It is very nice, a sword/cross, topped by a thistle, with a shield with the Scottish saltire (cross) on it. He liked one with a green stone (really glass), but he didn’t know what color tartan he would end up picking, so he didn’t get it. The pin he chose was the last one of that type that the jeweler had.

Ron and I were wandering around and saw a bunch of guys, and then a few girls, in kilts. We were looking at their different colors and the ways they were wearing their pins and things. I noticed that most had socks that matched their waistcoats or jackets. One guy, though, wore lighter socks. One guy, who had a waistcoat and jacket in green matched a different color in his tartan with his socks and I think that was probably a good idea.

Turns out this group is the National Youth Piper Band. We got to hear them do three or four songs, because we were around where they were when they began playing. Their director is from Australia, which was funky. He was in long shorts. But he also didn’t walk with them on the field. Instead they were led by some other guy in a kilt.

After that Ron and I wandered around and we found some big tents with booths in them. The kilt maker he was planning to use, Geoffrey the Tailor, was there and he was measured for and ordered his kilt—an ancient color (o/c for old color) Davidson tartan. It’s a medium blue, medium green, black, with a bit of orange. He liked it.

We found out why the students’ kilts from the Youth Band looked different from the back. They were not “set.” When you have a kilt made so that it is set, the back of the kilt will look just like the front. They fold the pleats to do it that way. Most kilts, particularly machine made kilts, don’t do that, so the colors of the kilt emphasize something else from the back.

Angela and I both looked for coats at Welligogs. Angela actually ended up buying a very cute navy coat with flaired bottom that was fairly heavy and had a nice hood and well-lined pockets. It was 150 pounds, but a good buy for that, I think.

Saturday, June 21
We got up way earlier than Jon and Angela and went to the Royal Mile. We went in several cheaper kilt places and a more expensive one. Then we went in Geoffrey the Tailor’s and there was almost nothing there.

We also went to W. Armstrong to look at jackets and kilts. I’ve now been there three times and haven’t purchased anything, so I think I should quit wasting my time going back.

Then we went up the Royal Mile towards the castle to look at the weaving exhibit in the Royal Armoury. The exhibit (with live weaving on weekdays) used to be owned by Geoffrey the Tailor, but they sold it. However, the clerk said they thought it was still up and running so we went there.

Inside the building, which isn’t particularly large from the outside, there were 6 or so half floors. Ron ended up buying a dark blue ghillie shirt and a black everyday tartan of heavy cotton. He also bought a remnant of Davidson tartan in the old colors.

While we were there, Jon and Angela showed up. Jon came downstairs looking for us—as the place was not particularly pram friendly. When he found us, I went upstairs to wait with Angela.

Then we went to the castle. All of us got ½ off because we are members of English Heritage. Angela and I both got one audio each. I wouldn’t do that again, though it wasn’t outrageous. There were just so many people you didn’t feel like you could wander around and look at things.

The first thing we did, pretty much, was go eat. I didn’t eat, but everyone else did.

We went to St. Margaret’s chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh, but it was closed for a wedding. So we went on to the place with the Scottish Crown Jewels. They are the second oldest in Europe (after Hungary). One would think that would make them truly ancient, but, in fact, they are only from 1540. However, since the English crown jewels were destroyed by Cromwell, and so are even later, I guess it makes sense. Folks’ crowns got taken off as pillage and had to be remade…

The place where the crown jewels were said it would take 25 minutes to go through. It had a lot of history things that were very interesting. The crown jewels themselves were very difficult to see as they were in a tiny room and everyone was in there and just stayed. I did get a good look at the sword and scepter though.

After a quick (2 minute?) look around the birthing room of King James I, we were heading out of the castle. Then Angela reminded me about St. Margaret’s. So I went up and went in. There was a line, but it was quick moving.

The chapel was small and had three tiny stained glass windows. I put in a pound and got the book about the place to read later.

Then we left.

After the castle, we went to Rosslyn Chapel. It was begun in the 1400s. I really enjoyed it, though I wished I had brought my camera. Then Ron pointed out that they don’t allow cameras in the chapel—which is where most of the interesting things are—and so I felt better after that.

I wrote a poem about Rosslyn Chapel and St. Margaret’s Chapel.

For dinner we went to Noble’s Bar. I called in our reservations as we were heading back to Leith. They reserved a large table for us and we put the buggy at the table.

Jon and I both ordered a Thistley cider. It was the only non-dry cider they had. Quite good. I made a joke about being old and Jon spewed cider all over the entire table. … Stuff like that happens sometimes.

I had the sweet potato soup, which was good but had too much rosemary. I also ordered the cheese board—which was awful. The blue cheese stunk so much I couldn’t eat the other two cheeses either. Ron ate some of it. Then I ordered the blood orange syrup cake with ice cream. It was AMAZING.

Ron and Jon were going to a movie tonight, but I was so foot-sore, that I went home and went to bed. I am sure Angela felt abandoned, but I needed to lay down.