Friday, June 29, 2007

Kinda sad

Maria and me
We are starting to get down to a lot of 'lasts.' Today was the last day I would see Maria. She is flying back home to Spain on Sunday. Today was also the last day I would get to work with any of my favourite colleagues. Maria is gone, Josh is LONG gone, Sylvain was on holidays this week and we are not scheduled to work together next week, Danny is on holidays next week. So that's it.
This move is sad and very different than our move here. When we came here, though we were sad to leave family and friends, we knew that we would see them again. Now we are leaving a place we are not sure that we will ever see again, and we are leaving people we may never see again. If we do, it would require an awful lot of traveling on someone's part.
I am starting to say good-bye to my customers, too. Some of them say they will be sure to come in Wednesday morning for my last day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Frolicking sheep

I really, really want one of these for a souvenier.

I just can't bring myself to pay those prices for a wee mug. And I mean wee! Highland Stoneware is a good investment, but I wouldn't just stick it up in a cabinet somewhere. I would want to use it and of course I will end up chipping it.

We are going to end up coming home with plenty of other souveniers.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Very exciting, indeed.

I don't have any pictures of actually doing work. Maybe that says something.

There has been a group of us leaving, so we have been bringing in our cameras to capture our last days. It's been fun to get pictures of the people I have been working with the last 1-2 years.

I don't know why I chose to pose with a milk pitcher and an espresso cup.
Maria and me on her last day.

Nevermind the shiney faces. It was hot and we just finished a rush.

Maria's last day was last week. She is going back home to Spain.

Danny, me, Maria. This again was on Maria's last day.

Josh's leaving do. He recently went back to Canada.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The misty Isle of Skye

And it is not for no reason that this isle is called misty

As I said in a previous post, we decided at the last minute to do a 3 day tour of Skye. Agian, with Rabbie's Trail Burners. They have really good tour guides! Our guide this time was named Richard and he told stories about Scottish history nearly the entire time. They were all bloody because as he said, there are no nice stories about Scotland.

Our tour was lovely, except for the torrential rains on Thursday, the day we toured the island. But by Thursday afternoon the skies cleared and the sun shone (off and on, and rain off and on). That is why they say 4 seasons in one day in Scotland.

On the tour with us was a group of 5 from Malaysia. We learned on the last day that in that group was a couple on their honeymoon! They were also in the hostel with us, in the same room. Now, it's nice to travel with family, but I couldn't take them on my honeymoon with me.

I don't really remember all of the names of places and the exact sequence of things. It is hard to describe the trip, so I will just let you see some of the pictures and see for yourself how lovely it was. I will try to explain some of the pictures when I get them on flickr. It might not be until tomorrow, though, as I am getting ready for work just now.

Can anybody tell me what this looks like?

Can anybody NOT in Scotland (or the UK for that matter) tell me what this looks like?

Eilean Donan Castle

Kilt Rock

You can't see it here because this is when we had the torrential rains, but this is called kilt rock because of the creases in the rock, which look like a kilt.

Portree (the royal port)

Where we stayed

Neist Point

Glen Coe

Much more foggy this time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

And now, time to go home

So then, it was time to say good-bye to my parents. I don't have any pictures of us on this day. We had to get up before the sun, so I wasn't about to risk the wrath of those with blood-shot eyes.
It was so nice to have my parents for a visit, and we were so glad that they enjoyed the trip. This was their first flight ever and we were so worried that it would end up being traumatic for them. I am glad they came in April, too. They were thinking of coming in June, but seeing this weather now, I am so glad they came when they did. We have had about 2 partial days of sunshine in the last month!

We got to enjoy a nice sunrise on the bus ride back in to Edinburgh.

Day 6

I think I must have gotten my days mixed up because I thought the last day was a free day. But anyways, here it is. The last thing we went to see was Rosslyn Chapel. No, I have not read The DiVinci Code. I just know that it is a very ornate chapel and if was high on my dad's list of priorities.
My parents got to enjoy their first ride on the upper deck of the bus. It was here that they saw just how close the busses come together and my mom could not help but panic every time.

Though it was much smaller than I imagined, it was really a lovely chapel. So much work went into the intricate carvings that covered the entire interior. There is so much meaning in the carvings. If you can I suggest reading a bit about it. I couldn't really find any links that went into the detail of the carvings, but here is a start:

And again, like always, vitis flickr for more pics.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Day 5

Today was the big, much anticipated tour to the Highlands. We chose to go with Rabbie's Trail Burners (notice the pun, Robert, or Rab Burns is one of their celebrated author's). There are so many touring companies in Edinburgh. We are glad we went with them because the tour was more intimate. Only 15 people to a bus (our tour happened to only have 8).

First of all we had to make a stop at St. Giles to see John Knox's grave. The first time we were there it was hidden under a car. Yep, carpark #23 and a simple unmarked plaque.
So then we hopped in a minibus and headed off to the highlands. It was good doing this with a tour guide. Don't have to worry about maps and figuring out what the road signs really mean. It was especially good in the highlands as the roads are very narrow and twisty.
Our first stop was to visit a beloved heilan' coo (highland cow) named Hamish. He gets so much attention.

My absolute part of everything we saw during this whole week was Glen Coe. It was so stunning and haunting. I wanted so badly to go in and explore some of those hills, but it was only a quick 10 minute stop. Glen Coe will always haunt me.

Other than it's spectacular beauty, Glen Coe is famous for the Glen Coe massacre. We heard of many battles between the clans on our tour (a bloody, bloody history Scotland has), but this one is very well known because the MacDonlands had given highland hospitality to the troops that had slaughtered them. It was an unwritten rule to always provide hospitality to those who came to your door, even if they were an opposing clan, as the Campbells were to the MacDonalds. And in return, those who accepted the hospitality were not to do any harm to their hosts. The weather in the highlands could be very severe so this hospitality could be very vital to the lives of travelers.

We reached our destination: Loch Ness. Our stop on Loch Ness was Fort Augustus. Loch Ness is not just a wee loch. It is 23 miles long. It is the largest loch in Scotland by volume and contains more freshwater than all of England and Wales combined. Though it is only 1 mile wide in some parts, it is very deep. Its deepest point is 754 feet. The depth of the loch leads to many stories about what could be lying at the bottom of the loch. Including Nessie. And look! We even got a peek at her!

Please take a look at flickr for many more stunning photos of our tour.

Remember, there is more than just one page. Click on the little numbers at the bottom of the flickr page to see more pics.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Is Ecover really best?

When I was on my detox diet I decided to buy some eco-friendly cleaning supplies. I thought that if I was detoxing then I should be aware not only the toxic stuff I digest, but also the stuff that I put in the air and in our clothes. I bought Ecover hand soap, dish soap, multi-purpose cleaner, and laundry detergent and fabric softener. I felt that the laundry stuff was the most important right now as it is what we put in our clothes and our clothes are on us always.

Anyways, I noticed that when I do the dishes or clean the bathroom I have to use twice as much soap or cleaner as I would with the other stuff to get the same results. So I am wondering if this stuff really is more earth-friendly. Will twice as much of the more 'friendly' chemicals do just as much damage as the 'non-friendly'?

I am also wondering how much our footprint will change when we move back to the States. Some things here are sort of forced or automatic. We do not have a car. We do not have a dryer. A lot of shops do not offer you bags or you may have to pay for them. One of our larger grocery stores offers 'points' if you bring in your own bags. And they certainly wont bag it for you! Our heating is hot water and I love that you can put it on a timer to just have it come on once or twice a day for an hour or so.

I know that when we go home we will be driving a lot more. It is just not as easy to walk places as it is here (or take the bus). I will probably still try to do some of my grocery shopping without a car, or try to pick things up on my way here or there. I plan to use my own bags. I am really used to that. I will probably get strange looks when I start to frantically pack my own bags. I'll have to get used to someone else doing it for me again. While I do miss having a dryer, I will probably just use the dryer on a lower setting for a shorter time and air dry the clothes the rest of the way (I am just tired of crunchy clothes, sometimes smelling of mould if they don't dry fast enough). I now have my 'woobie', my beloved hot water bottle. And I drink tea a LOT more, so I will utilise those methods of keeping warm rather than turning the heat up. We will see...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Carboot Sale

I set up a blog to help sell (or sale) our items off before moving. If you are located in Edinburgh please take a look. If you are not in Edinburgh and are really interested in something I may be able to arrange shipping. I am DESPERATE to get rid of things (though some things are difficult to part with).

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Another move from the 'nanny state'

Crackdown on middle class wine drinkers

This article from the Times says that the government is trying to crack down on excessive drinking. Good on them! I do think there is a problem. I question their motives and the way they are going about it, though. A tax on wine is supposed to curb the drinking of those who sip wine at home, causing health issues, costing the NHS money. And that is just it. 'costing the NHS money.' One of the things you get with universal healthcare (and I love free healthcare, not looking forward to paying for insurance, doctor's visits, prescriptions once we get home) is a lot of laws that are supposed to keep the general public in better health. Hmmm, maybe they should be cracking down on chippies... ;)

It seems to me that a more effective approach would be to crack down on public intoxication. It is not illegal to be publically intoxicated. Last night as we were walking back late from the cinema we had to dodge drunks who were inclined to nearly fall on us as we walked by. Some looked sick and I was worried they would keel over and vomit on my shoes. I told Josh that we were probably one of the few out on the streets who weren't drunk or nearly drunk. And these weren't the drunks on the road that I would have pictured a couple of years ago (dirty, scruffy middle-aged men in flannel shirts and torn jeans, had their licence revoked, live with mom). These were professional 20- and 30-somethings, even teens (it is legal to drink at 16), men and women, a lot of women. There are a lot of fights when people are drunk. I saw a lot of tension between strangers as we walked by. There are very, very strict laws on the weapons you can carry - nothing, really (absolutely no guns allowed ever, no mace, no knives other than a wee non-locking pen knife), but people coming up with their own weapons to do combat with a fellow drunk. They are using broken beer and wine bottles to stab when they can't use a knife.

The article said that they are also going to require labels on bottles and signs in pubs stating the units of alcohol per glass because people are just not aware of how much alcohol is in a drink. I am sorry but people just need to be told that they need to take responsibility for their actions. I laugh at a mental picture of someone throwing up on the curb (there is a LOT of vomit to be dodged on a Saturday, Sunday, or even Monday morning...heck, ANY morning), cursing the pub for not telling them that the amount of alcohol they drank was going to make them drunk. Drinkers ought to be responsible for their own actions, listening to their own bodies and being aware of when they are getting to their limit. Your mind will tell you when you are having too much to keep all of your faculties.

I find that people are very responsible about drink-driving. There is zero tolerance so most people will plan ahead for this. They will walk home, call a taxi, or there will be one designated driver. But beyond this there needs to be more responsibility with how much one drinks and how it will effect their own health and their behaviour in public. I am tired of dodging vomit on the sidewalks.

Ok, that's me done bletherin'