Saturday, October 29, 2005

River Leith Walk

We decided to explore our city a little today. We finally journeyed up Carlton Hill, opposite Arthur's Seat. It provided lovely panoramic views of the city and the Firth of Forth. Though it was bright and sunny when we woke up, it became very overcast for most of the rest of the day, so pictures wouldn't do the views justice. I did post more pictures on flickr, so be sure to check them out!

We then descended the hill and headed over to the River Leith Walk, which we stumbled upon one day when I was showing Josh where I work. It was a nice escape from the hussle and bussle of the city as the walk was mostly away from the busy roads. At about midpoint we found the Royal Botanic Gardens and lingered there for a while. It is a free attraction and we plan to visit again when the flowers are in bloom. It did provide a nice place to view some pretty fall colors.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Meadows

I took a little walk across town (not too long) to the only store I have found that sells chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (I put them in the scalloped potatoes tonight. YUM!). I took a diversion on the way back, expecting to get lost, but then I realized I knew exactly where I was. I had stumbled upon the large grassy area south of us called The Meadows. This would be much like Grant Park (but greener!) with trees lining its borderd and the pathways through it. On a nice day you will see families lingering, children running around, dogs fetching and sometimes games going on. It is a very peaceful walk through the city. I had not been this far west though, and I remembered something I had just read earlier today. I was looking at an illustrated map and on this particular part of The Meadows was written 'The land undulates because over 10,000 plague victims were buried in pits here.' I knew that this was the place when I looked at it because it was very hilly, and not only was it hilly, it looked like it had all kinds of pock marks or something. Hard to describe. I paused for a minute to take in these sobering thoughts. It reminds me now of the tombstone I saw last week of parents who had lost their children at ages 11 yrs, 8 mos, 7 yrs, and 25 yrs. As I walked on I could tell that there was something strange going on here because the rest of the landscape of the Meadows was completely flat.


We just recieved a piece of mail threatening that if we didn't pay for our TV license we would be slapped with a £1,000 fee. They threatened that there would be an investigation and we would get a visit from one of their officers and WARNING: we can detect within 20 seconds if you are using a TV. Funny. We don't even have a TV. Anyone who owns a Telly here has to pay for a TV license for each TV (£125 per year) which pays for the 5 BBC stations that you get to watch. When you buy a TV you are registered, and if you do not pay for the license "they" come after you. I think what we recieved was just something they send to any address that has not bought a license. Good thing English is our first language because the letter was very threatening and I can see that it could cause some people a fright!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Feels Like Indian Summer!

I was just describing to a co-worker what Indian Summer is, and here now we have it! Well, technically we have not had a frost, but we have had some very dreary, rainy weather and now it is sunny and probably in the mid-70s! Everyone is out in the parks and buying ice cream and throwing the ball around. Too bad I had to work today, but maybe I can convince Josh to take me to a chipper and we can eat dinner outside.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Thanksgiving is only one month away! Of course, Thanksgiving is not celebrated here, but I plan to ask not to be scheduled that day and cook a small feast. It doesn't feel like November is upon us because there are not Thanksgiving decorations. Not even much in the way of Hallowe'en. I hope to find a ham somewhere, but then, I just realized I don't even have a roaster. Maybe by then I will be brave enough to roast a pumpkin for bread or cheesecake. MMM...

I started to get sad yesterday as I was looking through my dearly missed cookbook and I arrived at the holiday cookie section. It was already enought that the holiday season was going to be different this year. No Christmas shopping, no snow, no Christkindlemarkt, no tree, no family, no friends, no hot spiced cider. Then I realized that I wont even be able to do my usually baking! I don't have the equipment and ingredients, and baking is difficult enough having to weigh everything (and I don't even have a scale!). This probably sounds incredibly silly to some of you. I love to bake and I guess I thought when the wind is blowing and the rain is pouring and friends and family are thousands of miles away, as least I can warm our flat while the oven is baking delicious desserts and scenting the air with familiar smells of Christmas. I know all these things don't make Christmas and we can celebrate our Messiah's birth anywhere in the world we choose to live. The American Expats talk about the 6 month slump, where the excitement has worn off and one gets tired of learning new things, being the outsider. It will only be 4 months by Christmas, but I have a feeling that may be my slump.


I realized that I forgot to answer a question of Andrea's a while back. She asked if we usually stick around campus. The University's buildings are scattered all over the city. New College is not very large with it's 2 buildings. We live in student housing about 100 feet down the street which is not New College's housing, but post-grads. That is the campus around us, so no, we (at least I) do not stick to campus. Unless I am going to a class or lecture with Josh, I am off campus grocery shopping or running other errands.

I had questions about our housekeeper, as well. For those who don't know, the building we got in includs housekeeping. We have been very pleased to have Kate here every week. I am usually here while she cleans so we chat and she tells me where I can find things. Our housekeepers clean the toilet (bathroom) and kitchen and hoover (vacuum) the living area. Kate has even offered to hoover our bedroom and wash our dishes, but I told her I can't make her do more than she has to. Our part is to just have things picked up from the cleaning area so she doesn't have to move too much around, which I am finding is not really that bad. I love how clean our flat feels after she has been here.

I just learned on Sunday as I was talking to my Aussie friend that when Daylight Savings ends they will go forward and hour! This is probably not new to many of you, but I found this interesting. I did not know that the southern hemisphere changes time opposite of how we in the norther hemisphere do. So, she said the time difference between her and her family will not be 9 hours, but 11! This whole conversation came about as she was trying to figure out which way the time will change this weekend and I said, "Fall back, spring forward." She thought it was very cleaver and I was suprised that she had not heard that before. Just thought I'd share. See, I may not be learning about philosophers and creeds, but I am learning the way the world works. :)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

St. Andrew's

It was nice to see another part of Scotland, even though it was cold and rainy. For those of you not familiar with St. Andrew's, the city if famous for it's university (which Prince William graduated from this last June) and it's Royal and Ancient Golf Club where golf was first played around 1400. There were also some ruins of a castle and cathedral. Pictured above is St. Andrew's Cathedral which was started in 1160 and plundered by supporters of John Knox during the Reformation in 1559.


I wanted to thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We were able to arrive safely with very little hassle. We were able to get settled and adjusted with reletively very little headache. I was able to find a job quickly where I already have an aquaintance! I don't think we feel that our relationship was strained because of the challenge of the move and beginning a new life. Many of you were able to give generously to help us get settled in our new flat. We are very greatful for your monetary gifts and your prayers and the other ways you helped out while we were still in the process of moving. We could not have done it without you.

ways you can pray now:

Josh is asking for prayer for competency and speed in putting a paper together.

Pray that we can form a community here where we can find support.

The winter months are quickly coming upon us and many people get depressed from the dark and cold. They are predicting a particularly bad winter this year. yeah

Friday, October 21, 2005

Yes! Our Books!

I was thrilled to see Josh walk in the door with 2 huge white bags. I recognized the M bags we had sent some of our books and my card making supplies. I had forgotten what books I mailed and it felt kind of like Christmas. It is good to have my Favorite Recipes cookbook again.

I was especially thrilled to finally be able to look through my scrapbooks of friends and family from home. I am having fun posting pictures of our own adventures, but we would love to see what you are doing, too. Let us know if you have a website or e-mail us some of your pictures.

I added a bunch of pictures to our photos link, so have a browse. You can click on the photos on the left of the flickr site to see the groups of pictures. You can then enlarge the pictures in the group by clicking on it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

So What's the Difference?

Spencer asked if there were any different flavored drinks at the Starbucks here. It could be different in the busier stores, but we are pretty slow and there really aren't any different drinks. There are drinks that they don't have. They don't have anything pumpkin flavored here, so no pumpkin spice during harvest time. We don't have as many syrups, so I can't get either of my favorites (malt mocha frapp or raspberry mocha). Mint and peppermint are considered the same thing. I think the biggest difference is the food. They sell a lot of sandwiches, paninis that we have to put on a grill and wraps and other ordinary sandwiches. The strangest thing to me is the egg and marmite breakfast sandwich. Marmite is a yeast extract that you spread on your sandwiches. I think I also saw a baked bean and sausage breakfast sandwich. I never bought food at Starbucks in the States, so I don't know what other foods would be different.

I worked on the till (register) for the first time on Tuesday. It is a little confusing because before I do anything I have to find out if it will be 'sit in or take away' but usually they start rattling off this crazy long drink before I can do anything. I also have to learn a new way of counting out change (glad I already studied the change a couple weeks ago). There are so many denominations of coins, too! They have 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, 1pound, and 2pound.

They have an interesting machine that I would love to take home with me just because of the novelty of it. You put your money on it, it weighs it and tells you how much money you have! It has to be all the same coins and bills, but I thought it was grand and saves so much time.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Training is Over!

I have had 2 days of training at Starbucks and expected just another day of training today when I walked in at 6:30am and my manager said, "Hazel is sick today. It's just you and me." OH, dear! I was so glad I reviewed my material for how many shots of this and how many pumps of that. So I ran the bar most of the day (made the drinks). It was a good learning experience. Before I knew it, I had to squeeze in my lunch, read my training books for 30 minutes, and head home.

We had an anniversary last week. Our fourth! We celebrated by going to a little ristorante. It was very romantic! Our first chance to get out to a real restaurant. (Ikea doesn't count!)

Saturday we hiked Arthur's Seat again. It was such a lovely day and not nearly as much wind as our first try. Before the hike I went to the local farmer's market for the first time. They did not have nearly as much fruit and veg at the markets at home would have. It was focused more on meats. There were some interesting meats: veal, venison, ostrich, wild boar. I am interested in trying the ostrich burgers sometime. They had a pig on a spit that they were carving away at. There were duck and quail eggs. It was a good time of exploring.

Yesterday the minister of the church we have been attending invited us and the other students who have started attending recently out to a small cafe for lunch. There were also a few other regular attenders. We were quite relieved to finally get to know some of the regulars as Scottish people, while they are very polite and friendly, do keep to themselves and do not want to "intrude."

I am finding I get different reactions from people when I say I work at Starbucks. From Americans I get, "Wow" "How fun" "Ooh, free coffee." From UKers I get a slight raise of the eyebrows and a polite "oh." It seems that the big, international corporations are bad and rather they like to support the small time companies, especially when they use free trade products whenever possible.

One thing I just have to mention that I always laugh at is outdoor dining here. There are many, many restaurants that have outdoor seating. It amazes me that people sit out in 55 degrees and eat their meals, chatting away wearing their gloves and scarves like it is nothing. They even dine out in light rain! I just laugh everytime I see this. I guess since the weather doesn't stay warm for long they like to enjoy it as long as possible. Only once when we had heavy rain for 2 straight days did I notice the tables and chairs were taken in.

Well, here are a couple of photos from Arthur's Seat. I will also be posting more photos on Our Photos link, so be sure to check that out. It will also include photos from our sea walk a couple of weekends ago.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

Hello, friends!

These are some pictures of Carberry Tower in Musselburgh where our Divinity School retreat was hosted last weekend. It's a 16th century family home that was donated to the Church of Scotland in 1961. It is historically significant because it is the location where Mary, Queen of Scots surrendered to Protestants in 1567.

The retreat was relaxing and entertaining. Most of my professors came and embarrassed themselves through silly games and performances. We also enjoyed the company of Micheal O'Siadhail and his live poetry readings throughout the weekend. Other activities included a sea-walk with some wonderful views of the grassy hilly coast of Scotland, a professional puppet show, and a Ceilidh dance .

Somehow folks found out it was my birthday and presented a cake and a card for me after Sunday lunch. It was a wonderful time and we really enjoyed the company of our fellow students.

For dinner, De suprised me with pizza (a luxury for us here) as well as scouring the city to find ingredients to make a batch of chocolate no-bake cookies (my favorite!). So thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes; and for the record, I'm 28. Cheers!


Monday, October 10, 2005

First Day on the Job

Bright and early...well, not bright...dark and early at 5:30am I quietly slipped out of bed so as not to rouse my husband. Well, actually, as the alarm is on his side of the bed he purposely did not turn the alarm off until I was sitting up in bed. I often don't even hear the alarm and did not want to risk sleeping through my first day at Starbucks.

I don't know what time the sun rises in Chicagoland these days, but I imagine it is nearly the same here. This is the first job I have had where I had to treck to work in the dark. I was greatful when my manager asked me what kind of coffee I wanted. Yeah! Peppermint mocha. MMM. I don't think I have had so much coffee in one day (unless you count that all-nighter I pulled in college). First the mocha, then a caramel macchiato (I don't know how to make them or spell them yet), then a mocha frap with my lunch. I desired something to keep me company on the way home, but I restrained myself from coffee...Raspberry frappaccino! Oh yes, and I got to bring home my first of the weekly bags of coffee (I was sad to hear that I can't take tea or chai).

Today was the first of four days of training. Paperwork, setting up and fetching pastries, reading about health and safety, steaming milk, bussing, grinding coffee, making Americanos. Just a little of everything. Nothing too exciting. When I was reading about the dress code I had to ask what a jumper is. My manager laughed and said it is a sweater.

I don't know if it was being there for 8 hours or just the familiarity of Starbucks, but I almost felt shocked as I walked out of the store and realized I was in Scotland.

Friday, October 07, 2005


So as not to bother you all with another e-mail, I thought I would just post that I had my "trial run" at Starbucks. I think it went well and I had fun. There is another girl who just started, too, so we had fun messing up together. :) Actually, I found out that her husband is studying at New College as well! Small world.

So, I will begin next Monday and start off with 2 8-hour shifts a week and I guess sometimes I will pick up a third day here and there. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. It is really liberating to finally have a job (sort of ironic, huh?). And best of all....I finally got my mocha! :)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

My First Photographers Meeting

I am not kidding when I say that EVERYTHING is downhill from where we live (well, except the castle), which means that in order to get home we inevitably have to go uphill and many times up lots of stairs! To get to my photographers club meeting I walked downhill constantly for about 15 minutes (this is also the general location of Starbucks, only Starbucks is further downhill). This was a new part of the city for me and I laughed as I kept walking down, down, down.

I felt rather overwhelmed at this meeting. It was the kick-off meeting of the year, so it was geared towards new members with tours and sign-up tables. The overwhelming part of it was how extremely SCOTTISH is was. We have not been totally submerged in anything where we were totally surrounded by Scottish folk (there are other international students at church and New College is mostly international students). It is not that it is bad to be surrounded by Scottish folk, but it sort of gave me that shocked feeling of when someone splashes a bucket of ice water in your face. I felt like I stuck out like a soar thumb, even though I look just like everyone else and I purposely didn't speak to anyone so as not to uncover my identity (though I am sure that I had a big sticker on my forehead that had "AMERICAN" written on it).

Another aspect of the overwhelming feeling is that I have not truly done photography for photography's sake in well over a year and here I am forcing myself to do it and expose myself to criticism. And if you didn't notice the from the previous post, cost of film is high, so I have to make every snap shot count!

I feel that this could easily be something that I would love to do, but feel too scared and inept to pursue it without forcing myself to feel a little discomfort for a while. I do like what they have to offer. They have a darkroom and a studio which are both available to members 24/7. They have a digital en suite where you can play around with their software and print your photos out (you supply your own paper and pay 1 pound to cover ink). There are competitions where you can have your work critiqued (which scared me, but was also one of the draws). They have a small library where they supply various photography magazines and books.

Just another new thing in a new country.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"So, what's the cost of living like?"

petrol - about $7/gallon
chicken - about $2/breast
Starbucks - $5 for a tall mocha
Payless sort of shoes - $30
small candy bar - $1
lunch at a casual restaurant - starting @ $20/plate
"budget" soup and sandwich - $10
film - $10
film processing - $.40/print
dollar store towels - $10
cd - $25
books - very expensive
laundry - $2 for wash, $2 for 30 minutes in dryer (which hardly dries the clothes)

Needless to say I have not had a Starbucks since we got here. I could really go for a mocha!

Fortunately, I have been able to find some things very cheap. I pay about $.50 for a loaf of bread (but we go through bread like lightening now!). We have been living mainly on some of the staples I can get a good deal on. I managed to keep our food budget at or below what we were spending in the States, although I am now becoming more familiar with what is available and have been doing a little more cooking. :)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Arthur's Seat

We made a little treck today up to Arthur's Seat. Just about one mile down the street from us, next to the Palace of Holyroodhouse is a beautiful park with some hiking opportunities. We decided to take advantage of the sunny weather and take the hike we had been wanting to do since we arrived.

We persevered the wind and the rough terrain (though we found a much easier path on our way down) and took in some beautiful views of the city and mountains on one side, and the Sea on the other
side. We were huffing and puffing on the way up, but eventually we will be able to skip right up like several others who jogged past us. :) Take a look at more pictures by clicking on the photos link.

I also wanted to share something the minister said today that I chuckled at. He was talking about our young congregation in the old city of Edinburgh, then he said, "After all, we are only 200 years old." Can't say that in the States! Today he brought out a book that was made as a gift for the church 100 years ago when they moved into their new building. The book was remeniscent of the Book of Kells in Ireland with the ornate designs and the calligraphy and gold leaf accenting the pages. It was very beautiful and worn. It seemed like something that should be in a glass case rather than letting us parishoners handle it.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Guess Where We Went...

It's the one store you can go to have every need met that you can possibly think of from birth to death (yes, in Chicago they started selling caskets).

We finally made our long-awaited trip to Costco! Oh, yeah. IKEA was right next door, so we stopped by there as well. Can you imagine?

IKEA was a bit more familar as they had similar things to our stores in the States. It was a little smaller and a LOT more confusing! I think they try to get you lost on purpose. Costco was pretty familiar, but definately British. I couldn't deny it when I saw the guy carrying a huge jar of hard boiled eggs, and the haggis and the mincemeat pies...

Well, the familiarity began with the prices. Our brains first thought, "This is a little more like it," but then we realized we had not done the conversions yet! :) They had the same trail mix that Josh likes for about $20 (only about $8 in the States). We managed to get out of Costco only purchasing potato scones and baguettes.

We also had our first experience on the bus. Having used public transportation in Chicago, we kind of had an idea of how things worked. We looked at a map, figured out the fare, and headed out to the stop. The stops within the city have a little ticker telling you how long until your bus should arrive (and they are on time!). We were used to being able to get on a bus within just a few minutes of arriving at the stop. We looked at when the bus would be coming. 34 minutes! And it was cold and we were underdressed. But we endured. Fortunately I asked the lady waiting with us which bus we needed for Ikea just to make sure. She told us she was taking the same bus and that she was getting off at the stop before we should get off, so to just watch for her. After a few minutes on the bus we realized that they do not call the stops! I don't know how you are supposesd to know where to get off if you are unfamiliar with the area. From what I can tell it doesn't seem that you get any free transfers, either, but you can get a day pass for little more than 2 rides. Well, I guess it will take a little trial and error.