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Worst Blogger. Ever.

May 25, 2007

Gosh, I’m so close to being done.  Yet so faraway!

I started my grad program last week, and it’s really intense.  I also start a new job on June 5!  So things have been crazy.  If anyone is still coming by here for updates, I apologize for being such a slacker!  As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”.


But I wanted to share this link with you all.  These are all my Edinburgh photos.  Most of them anyway.  Please check them out!  I’m hoping to share my last few days on this blog at some point, but my time is limited these days.  I tend to take forever to write a blog entry because I’m trying to think of exactly what we did and what happened, plus I look up links to places we visit and decide on which pictures to upload.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks to those that have kept in touch with my journal.  It will be finished someday, when I have a few minutes.  Until then…take care.


Day Seventeen: Edinburgh

April 14, 2007

Our second day in Edinburgh started off grey and rainy, but the skies cleared as we began our day of sightseeing and hiking. Before we took off, we had a massive breakfast which kept us going until 5 p.m.: eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, baked beans, grilled tomato, fried mushrooms, plus juice and coffee. Our servers in the breakfast room were very nice and helpful with info, and we enjoyed our conversations with them every morning before we set out on our adventures.

Our agenda for the day was to climb the Scott Monument, hike up Arthur’s Seat, and have haggis at The Sheep Heid Inn. We began by taking a bus around the city, just to become more familiar with the area. After riding the entirity of a large loop around the city, we ended up getting off the bus and walking to Princes Street to the Scott Monument.

The outside of the monument features sculptures of characters from Sir Walter Scott’s novels, and as you climb the narrow (i.e. claustrophobic) staircase up to the top, there are four levels which allow you step out and take in the beautiful views of the city from above. Some photos:

Athur’s Seat from Scott Monument:

Princes Street and Calton Hill from above:

As we reached the top of the monument, the staircase became even more narrow. I realize that I’m not the postergirl for all things slim, but at the top level the entrance for the lookout was so small that I could barely squeeze my butt through! Guess I should have showed a little less enthusiasm at breakfast….ha. On the way back down, I took a picture of the staircase at it’s most narrow:

Going back down the 287 steps to the bottom without stopping on the lookout levels made me a little dizzy, but it was so worth it for the view! I took this photo of the monument when we got out:

As you can see it was partially eclipsed by some of the festival rides. Beautiful day, huh? We were so lucky to have such a perfect day for our climbing and hiking!

Before walking to the Royal Mile on our way to Holyrood Park to begin climbing Arthur’s Seat, Drew and I stopped to pick up some water for the hike. On the mile itself, we encountered some friendly locals on our way. This is what I really loved about Edinburgh. Everyone who knows me is aware of my London obsession. Such a great city, with so many fun things to do. But compared to Edinburgh, London is cold. If you’re stopped on a street corner poring over a map, people couldn’t give a crap if they ran you over, just so long as you get out of their way. Being in Edinburgh felt more like being in a small town. Whenever Drew and I were utterly confused, looking at a map, and/or arguing over which direction to head in, someone would always approach us and offer their help. It was really nice, and just so darn refreshing. I loved and really appreciated every minute we were there.

But back to our trek. There are several different paths you can take, while climbing Arthur’s Seat. We ended up choosing three such paths, as the first two we took didn’t take us to the summit, but instead, kind of meandered us around the sides. Not that we minded, since it was such a beautiful day:

This is one of my favorites of Drew and I:

Drew’s camouflaged here:

We really had a great time wandering and around and enjoying the views, though it was quite windy at the top. Drew and I eventually made our way back down, with The Sheep Heid Inn being our next goal. It was around five at this point, and we were starting to get hungry. A little bird told me about The Sheep Heid, and all I knew was that it was at the bottom of Arthur’s Seat in Duddingston Village. Of course we ended up getting lost, and walked several more miles along the way. By then I was hungry, tired, cranky, and my feet were killing me. Thankfully another wonderful Scot came to our rescue, and she gave us the correct info on how to get to the pub.

Once there (sweet relief!), we were greeted by our delightful bartender. We mentioned how we got lost looking for the place and he jokingly made some kind of comment about how the building had “only” been there for the past 700 years. Drew picked his brain about what kind of whisky he should try. All I wanted besides some food was a pint of Strongbow, but they both convinced me to have a wee dram myself. When in Rome, right? The bartender picked out something more complex for Drew, and something totally wimpy for myself as I don’t really do liquor. We gave him our food order, then settled into a cozy booth in the back by the fireplace. The same little bird who recommended the Sheep Heid to me also told me that they had excellent haggis, so that’s what we both had. It was perfect:

It felt so nice to relax, and give our feet a rest! We enjoyed our meal, then took a few snaps of the place outside:

After saying goodbye to our wonderful bartender and the pub dog, we hopped a bus back into the city to the Royal Mile area. I had read about Frankenstein’s pub, and wanted to give it a go. I tend to like all things kitsch, and Frankenstein’s was definately that. Even more amusing is that the pub used to be a church. We each had a pint, and enjoyed the cheesy scenery there:

Shortly after, we hopped a bus, and dragged our tired selves back to the Ardenlee…


Day Sixteen: Edinburgh

April 5, 2007

The Slacker returns! Now back to our regularily scheduled program…

Our trip to Edinburgh began very early in the morning. Mark offered to drive us to the station so we wouldn’t have to lug our bags there. Our train left around 7 a.m. It was still dark outside, and Drew slept for the duration of our four hour trip. I read a bit, then enjoyed the scenery out my window as the sun came up. To pass the time, I also kept track of our journey on a map, drawing a line from each stop we made to pick up more passengers. Passing through the Lake District I caught quite an eyeful of beautiful landscape and what seemed like a bazillion sheep. I tried to take a picture of the area from my window and this was the best that I got:

Drew and I were hoping to get the Lake District during our trip, but even with three weeks, we just didn’t have enough time, energy, or money. Hopefully we’ll get there next time!

We arrived at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station around 11:30, and made a caffeine stop before checking out our guide books to see which direction we should head in. Outside it was a perfect day: warm, though windy (50s) with plenty of sunshine. It was a pleasant break from all the doom, gloom, and rain we had almost everyday in the Stockport/Manchester area. Our caffeine levels replenished, we began our 20 minute trek to our B&B, the Ardenlee Guest House. Edinburgh is quite hilly, so thankfully our walk to the B&B with our heavy bags was primarily downhill. This is the first picture we took, heading down Hanover Street to Eyre, where the B&B is:

At the Ardenlee, we chatted with our host, Alasdair, who was extremely helpful with our questions and got us all settled in our beautiful room. Since I didn’t sleep on the train, I wanted to spend an hour or so there to relax and clean up before beginning our exploration of the city. On our walk back up Hanover, we found an Italian restaurant with good lunch specials and ate there. The food was great, but the service was attrocious and our waiter completely ignored us. Granted, service in the U.K. is much different than that in the U.S. in that the servers don’t rely on tips to make money, but this was ridiculous. What seemed like hours later, we finally got our check, and we headed out to explore.

We had a good idea of what our main agenda would be for the next few days, but for the first day, everything was up in the air. There was a winter festival going on, which we decided to investigate later in the day. I took some photos of our surroundings while we made our way to the Royal Mile:

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Notes From A Slacker

March 10, 2007

Hello all!

Just a quick note. I promise to finish up my writing soon! This past week found me working split shifts, which has me all screwed up. I’ll probably be staying with this crazy schedule for another few weeks, but I will get my writing done.

I have some good news though…I got into my grad program!!! I start May 17, and will complete six consecutive terms for two years. Time to buckle down, and finally get my masters in library and information science!

It feels good to have direction again. I hope all is well with all of my readers. Stay tuned for Edinburgh….


Day Fifteen: Liverpool

March 2, 2007

I’ve been a massive Beatles fan for most of my life. One of my earliest Beatles memories was of my friend Megan and I playing “Yellow Submarine” over and over again on a turntable in her den. If it wasn’t the song Yellow Submarine, it was the Simon and Garfunkel album Bookends. But I digress.

I love the Beatles and I always will. Their music never fails to bring me joy. When I was in junior high and high school, if I was home sick from school I would always watch A Hard Day’s Night and Help! to pass the time. While A Hard Day’s Night is obviously the superior film, Help! has always been my favorite. It’s cheesy, slapstick, and utterly ridiculous. I bet I could recite every line in it! I still have my old VHS copies of these movies and dust them off from time to time.

Who’s your favorite Beatle? Mine has always been George, and I’m not ashamed to say that I wept when I found out he died. I had to settle down and stop crying before I went to class that day. My favorite album? Abbey Road. It’s perfection. Going to Abbey Road Studios and getting a photo outside as well as another photo with my brother and I crossing the road together was a big highlight from my trip to London in 2002.

Can you imagine my excitement in going to Liverpool? After all these years it was a big thrill.

Drew and I got up early to leave for the train station that morning. We waited around 20 minutes for our train, then we had an hour to kill on the train itself. When we arrived at Lime Street Station, we hadn’t a clue in which direction we should head to first. I had some books with me and the street name of the closest information center. The information center ended up being extremely easy to find, and Drew and I discovered that Liverpool was the most user-friendly city we went to in the U.K. in regard to street signs and directions. We wanted to buy tickets for the 2 p.m. Magical Mystery Tour. All of my guidebooks said that during the winter months, there was only one tour per day. However, when we arrived, we found out that a tour was leaving in ten minutes! Perfect. We bought our tickets and waited for our guide, along with a handful of others.

We followed him outside to our bus:

The bus made me so very happy. Drew and I took the last seats all the way in the back so we could sprawl out and have some room to hop to an empty window if a good photo-op should arise. As soon as we started moving through the city, “Magical Mystery Tour” came on through the speakers, and I was again in my full geek element. Our first stop was at George Harrison’s childhood home at 12 Arnold Grove:

The street was so tiny that we had to park on a main street and walk to get to the home. Our next stop? Strawberry Field:

From there we hit Penny Lane:

All the road signs are painted since people would steal them! On Penny Lane, we also saw the barber shop (In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs, of every head he’s had the pleasure to know), and the roundabout (Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout, the pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray). Cool, huh? I thought so.

The next stop was John Lennon’s home that he lived in with his aunt and uncle from 1945 to 1963:

From there we went to 20 Forthlin Road, where Paul McCartney lived with his family:

It is estimated that he and John wrote a hundred or so songs in that front room in their early years. The lucky man who lives in the home now and gives tours of it was also along for the ride. What a job! He does it six months out of the year. Seemed like a very nice bloke, living out a fan’s dream.

We did a quick drive-by of the area where Ringo grew up, and saw this shop which was featured on the album cover of his first post-Beatles album. We ended up in an area close to the Cavern Club. It was rebuilt, but still thrives today. We went inside for a pint and some photos:

T.V. screens broadcasted old Beatles footage, which we sat and watched for a bit. Outside of the Cavern is a statue of a young John, along with the Cavern Wall of Fame:

We wandered about the city after this, in search of an early dinner. We settled on a bustling pub and had some yummy steak and ale pie. After eating, we decided to find and hit up the Beatles Superstore. I managed to restrain myself and didn’t buy a darned thing (mom would have been proud!). Drew bought a Sgt. Pepper shot glass and called it a day.

What next? It had been a long day already, but we decided to take a ride on the Mersey Ferry and view the lights of the city at night (again, I am the queen of the fuzzy night photo):

At the end of the ride, we arrived at Spaceport museum, which just happened to have a massive Dr. Who exhibit going on (Uncle Tim, I know you’re jealous). Drew’s a huge fan, and really wanted to go in. But at this point it was late, and it would have cost us another 12 pounds each to get in. So he settled on going into the gift shop for some Dr. Who memoribilia. We had to wait a good half hour to take the ferry back to the city, and after that, there was another good half hour’s walk to get back to Lime Street Station. Drew and I raced through the city, and collapsed on the train back to Stockport. Geeking out on the Beatles is exhausting!


Day Fourteen

February 25, 2007

All is quiet on New Year’s Day…all is quiet here, too. Has my tardiness driven you all away? I miss hearing from everyone, but I will continue on.

New Year’s Day at Mark and Sara’s was indeed quiet. It was raining yet again, no big surprise there. In London we had some sunshine here and there amongst the fog, but as soon as we headed north, the weather was crap almost everyday. This is England, right? Drew and I awoke to tea and bacon butties (I take mine with brown sauce….mmm). Since the next five days would be hectic (a day trip to Liverpool plus four days in Edinburgh), we relaxed and didn’t do too much.

However, in the evening we finally went to the Curry Mile in Rusholme, Manchester. Mark regaled me with tales of the Curry Mile when I saw him last in April, and when Drew and I were planning this trip we knew we would have to spend an evening there! What could be better for the curry obsessed than a stretch of over 70 Asian restaraunts and kebab houses, plus markets and sweet shops? Plus the most gaudy jewelry you could ever hope to see:

Ick! But never mind that. When we all got out of the car, the smell was incredible. Reminiscent of my first whiff of barbecue at Rendezvous in Memphis, but much more complex and wonderful. The neon signs were blazing in the dark, and there was so much to look at that we didn’t know which way to go first. So we set off aimlessly, letting our noses guide us.

Outside of most restaraunts were men beckoning us to eat at their establishments. If Drew and I were alone, we would have had no idea of which place to try out, but luckily Mark and Sara were seasoned veterans and knew of the best places to eat at. But first we stopped at a market so Drew could pick up spices and such so we could try our hand at making Indian concoctions at home. Mark followed Drew, who was running around like the proverbial kid in the candy store, while Sara and I sat back and laughed at his enthusiasm. He was so excited at what he found, and it was too cute. Since such spices and things aren’t as abundant here in Ohio, he decided to take advantage of all that was available in Rusholme.

Afterward, we hit up one of Mark and Sara’s favorite restaraunts in the area. Drew and I treated them to dinner, to offer a gesture of thanks for all the generosity they showed us throughout our trip. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of the opportunity to spend three weeks in the U.K.! We all had a great time sampling everyone’s dishes, and ate like kings. We strolled around a bit more afterward to walk some of it off. Unfortunately we were too full to partake in the goods at the sweet shop:

A few more photos from the evening:


Meet Cosmo!

February 20, 2007

On February 8th, Drew and I added a new member to our family. Cosmo Sullivan is a wonderful gift to us from the great folks over at the Humane Society of Greater Akron. He’s a year old or so, and looks to be part Rottweiler/Lab/Border Collie. All in all, he’s just a cute mutt:

We’re still mourning the loss of Nesta, but Cosmo has brought us so much joy already. He helps lessen the hurt a bit. Cosmo had some problems at first with his food, but he’s doing much better. He’s adjusting to us and the new house as well too, though the cats are probably cursing his arrival. He loves going on walks, playing with his toys, and meeting new friends at the Akron dog park. Cosmo also thought that the giant snowdrifts from last week’s storm were the coolest thing ever. A few photos from Valentine’s Day:

Funny, as it was my mother who warned us against looking at dogs so soon at the Humane Society and she’s the one who is most excited about spoiling her new “grandson”!