Saturday, May 31, 2008

A lot of dead folks in Scotland

Scots are very proud of their history, bloody and violent though it is. William Wallace, for example, was beheaded and cut into bits and pieces were sent to various towns in the country to show what King Edward would do to those who defied him. After Mary, Queen of Scots, married the man thought to have murdered her first husband, she was imprisoned for 21 years before her beheading. In St. Andrews, the bishop there, who was very corrupt and kinda evil, was hung from his own castle, naked, after the people revolted (the bishop pissed them off when he had a "good" man killed in the town square).

The moral: Don't piss off the Scots.

St. Andrews has more to offer than a beautiful golf course. It features a magnificient coast line, the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral, and lots of interesting history.

Culross is another coastal city in Fife that appears to be in full restoration. It looks like people live in these wonderful homes, and there were children walking about and riding bicycles and old men chatting in the park. Idyllic.

Today is Saturday, and we have a free day (our only day without a set plan). Some folks plan to ride the train to Glasgow, but I plan to hang out in Linlithgow, knitting and drinking coffee and beer. The Linlithgow museum has a special exhibit on Scotty, James Doohan's character on Star Trek. Scotty was born in Linlithgow in 2025, I believe. It should be a great day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Let's take bets

"I think this Di Gilpin is going to be a weirdo," says my roommate, Linda.

We are going to knit with Ms. Gilpin all day on Sunday, and we need to have an 'inspiration piece' to, well, inspire us. I am actually looking forward to said inspiration.

"Does she not sound weird to you?" Linda asks.

Today is Kathleen's 50th birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KATHLEEN!!!!) and we celebrated with a pizza party at the "Atlanta Girls'" cabin tonight. It included a lot of wine, DrumBray (a very special treat), and pizza.

Today, I climbed 246 steps to the top of the William Wallace monument in Stirling.

Sue, my other roommate says, "It is very interesting what our guide calls a 'gentle incline' and a 'mist.''

It rained pretty hard today. But, we managed to go to Di Gilpin's shop in Perth, and see yet another castle. William Wallace is a national hero to Scotland. You may remember him from the movie, Braveheart. Mel Gibson is about 20 inches shorter than the real William Wallace, though.

Tomorrow, we'll see Fife and the St. Andrew's Cathredral. I hope it stops raining before then...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Scotland, Chapter Two

It is Sunday morning and I am in the cottage alone. My roommates have left for the day's activities, but I am staying behind with Alice and Debbie. The three of us are taking the train to Edinburgh today to watch Alice's friend, John, in his running race. It should be a pleasant day.
We spent yesterday with Ms. Louisa Harding, a lovely woman and very interesting knitwear designer. We were knitting samples of her "Betty Wrap" design, and, inspite of how horrible we thought the wrap was based on pictures from her "Knitting Little Luxuries" book, we really enjoyed making the lace pattern. In the end, we decided the wrap was actually quite nice -- the colors in the sample in the book were terrible.
The yarn, for the most part, was not my style. But her Grace yarn is magnificent. I believe it's a 50/50 silk/merino yarn, and it truly is wonderful yarn. It's on my short list of yarns for a good project.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Scotland, First Installment

Alice, Debbie, Kathleen, Kim, Me and the rest of the Scotland team arrived yesterday -- or thereabouts -- in Linlithgow, a lovely town about twenty miles west of Edinburgh. The above picture is the Bonsyde Hotel, with which our cabins share grounds. It is a lovely place to stay, on a high hill overlooking the small town of Linlithgow.

The bright yellow flower shown here is called a "rape," which is grown for fuel in Scotland, but is better known as Canola Oil in the U.S. Alice talked with a Scot, who told her either 17 or 70 percent of the Scottish population is allergic to the flower. She couldn't decipher which from the conversation. In any case, I was sneezing like a fiend until I took some allergy pills.

We are in "self catering" cottages, so we are shopping in the town market, the Tesco, and this aisle sign was pretty hilarious. Bacon and Toilet Paper. If you have one, chances are you'll need the other, I guess.

The walk to town is about a mile and a half, and we pass along a lot of farms and parks and fields along the way. Cows and sheep are everywhere!

The is the Cross, the Main Square in Linlithgow. Here is where the ancients had their public hangings, festivals, and where they watered their horses. Now, it is a tourist attraction.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Vacation Anticipation

I have spent a lot of my career on airplanes, and I have been lucky enough to get to go places that I might not otherwise have seen. But travel for work is WORK. There are suits to wear, meetings to attend, PowerPoint presentations to view, and lots of time spent in hotel rooms writing up memos and stories and garbage like that. That's why I am so excited about going to Scotland (in THREE days!). It's not WORK. I'm going because I want to go -- what a concept!
Working at Knitch yesterday, a couple customers who know about the trip asked if I was excited. I used my reserved-for-home words and told them I was so excited I might pee. Oops. They got the idea, I'm excited.
Kathleen delivered the trip goodies to Knitch, so I now know all the details of the trip. We fly out from Newark late Wednesday night, allowing for overnight snoozing -- much better than leaving from Detroit for Europe at 5 p.m.! Back in those days, I was never tired enough to get any sleep before arriving in my destination the next morning. Made for a bad first day. But, I am confident I'll sleep on the overnight trip to Edinburgh.
One nice lady, who is a Knitch customer, offered to loan me a book for my flight -- 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith of "Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency" fame. Love him! So, after my shift I went to her home to pick up the tome. Judy has an amazing collection of Folk art -- and I am a big fan, so I spent a hour there getting the grand tour. She has an Elvis room, and Mexico room, a bathroom dedicated to religious art. Oh yes, it was quite the spectacular collection! She and her husband, Bud, were married by probably the most famous Folk artist today, the late great Reverend Howard Finster. (A side note: His granddaughter went to college with Len.) She has a funky garden with man-hole covers (she found them, she says) as stepping stones, and bottle trees and lush greenery. It was a feast for the eyes.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Spring Madness

My trip to San Diego was fabulous. I was lucky enough to have a room on the 24th floor with two walls of windows, which allowed me to view the city on one side and the bay on the other. Very good, since I spent pretty much the rest of my time behind the stage of Ballroom 6 at the San Diego Convention Center. I did have a couple nice meals at night in some Gas Lamp district restaurants, and I managed to walk a couple times around the pool area. Still, the event was a huge success, and I walked many miles each day -- proving that I am prepared for my splendid trip to Scotland. Castles and yarn stores, here I come!
Said trip to Scotland begins late next week and every day I will be sending out pictures to all my yarnie friends on these blog pages. Debbie, Alice, Kathleen and the rest of us will be having a great time eating haggis and drinking Scotch while knitting. Fun, indeed!
We leave on the 22nd and return June 2. Check these pages those days to see what we are doing!