Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Quick Trip Recap: London & Scotland

I’m sure it will be awhile before I get to do some of my usual thorough post-trip blogging of my trip to the UK, what with all the having-to-go-back-to-work-and-teaching-and-catch-up-on-all-the-work-I-missed-while-I-was-galavanting-around-the-UK, but for those of you who just can’t wait, here’s a high level summary of all the fun I had while you were working like a bunch of suckers.

Oct 12

Flew to London. Spent most of the flight marking assignments. I should do more traveling as I am really efficient at marking while on planes1.

Oct 13-15

London. Saw a bunch of London things. Went to the Natural History Museum and couldn’t figure out why nothing there looked familiar since I’d gone there on my previous trip to London. Turns out, I hadn’t. I went to the British Museum in London and the Natural History Museum in Dublin *and* the Natural History Museum in Washington, DC, but never the one in London. As it turns out, I prefer all of those other museums to the NHM in London.

Oct 16

Train trip from London to Glasgow. Had a steak dinner and then went to my favourite of the pubs we visited in the UK (and we visited quite a few): The Pot Still ((Dr. Dan,The Pot Still is like Fet’s Whiskey Kitchen in Vancouver but without the cool ladder but with cool Scottish people instead. I think you would like it there.)).

Oct 17

Glasgow. Glasgow Cathedral and the Glasgow Necropolis are spectacular. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is an interesting mix of a natural history type museum and an art gallery. Did the first of our scotch distillery tours: Clydeside Distillery.

Oct 18

Visited the University of Glasgow – I can’t believe that people get to go to school on such a beautiful campus – those old buildings are amazing! The business school is named after Adam Smith (he was a philosopher professor there) and we proceeded to see his name a lot around Scotland for the rest of our trip. Then we drove to Glencoe, making various stops along the way. Scottish countryside is stunning.

Oct 19

On this day I got to do the thing that had originally prompted me to go to Scotland (but was by no means the only reason I wanted to go) – I visited my Highland Titles Estate! For the uninitiated, the Highland Titles Nature Reserve sells plots of land and when you buy one, you become a Scottish landowner, which means you are allowed to use the title Lady, Lord, or Laird. As you know, I love titles, designations, and anything else I can add to my name, and I like to support nature conservation, so of course I am the Reverend Lady Dr. Mary Elizabeth Snow. It was a rainy day when I visited my vast 1 square foot estate, but visit it I did! After that we drove to the Isle of Skye and took a ferry to the Isle of Raasay, where we stayed in a hotel that is in a distillery – the aptly named Isle of Raasay distillery. We had dinner at the only place on the island to have dinner, Raasay House. The Isle of Skye and the Isle of Raasay are absolutely spectacularly stunning!

Oct 20

Did our second scotch distillery tour – Isle of Raasay Distillery. Then took the ferry back to the Isle of Skye and drove around and looked at various things there. So beautiful.

Oct 21

Looked at more Isle of Skye things and then drove back to Edinburgh. Got a flat tyre2 on our rental car, but the rental car company sent a guy to put the spare tyre on and then we were on our way again. It was dark when we got to Edinburgh but a lot of buildings were lit up and they looked incredibly beautiful in the night.

Oct 22

Squeezed as many things into our half day in Edinburgh as we could: St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, two cemeteries, and a bit of shopping. I got to see where David Hume is buried, so I was pretty chuffed about that. Then it was back to Glasgow, where we had just enough time for a cup of tea and then got onto our train to London.

Oct 23

Flew home.

Also, here’s some random other thoughts/observations:

  • Dairy Milks taste way better in the UK than in Canada. So does butter.
  • Things that you don’t tend to find in the UK: conditioner, salads.
  • Things you find a lot of in the UK: sheep, meat, cemeteries.
  • Three banks in Scotland makes their own banknotes. They are basically equivalent to pounds sterling that are issued by the Bank of England, but they are issued by retail banks. At one store in Scotland, the clerk told us that these banknotes are not accepted in England, but the internet tells me otherwise. I suspect she may have just been trying to get us to spend our money in Scotland instead of England!

More to come, including photos3 once I get myself unburied from all this work I need to catch up on!

  1. I also wrote most of this blog posting on the plane – just didn’t add the links or post it because I’m way too cheap to pay for wifi access on the plane. Hence why I’m posting it now! []
  2. Because that’s how they spell it in the UK! []
  3. I took about 8 million photos. []

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Museums of London and Dublin

I think of all the museums I visited on my holidays, I liked the British Museum the most. I got to see the freaking Rosetta Stone!

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And this awesome scarab:

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A smaller version of which my aunt bought for me:

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I think I’ll make it into a necklace.

We also went to the Victoria & Albert Museum1:

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and to the National Gallery in London, which were both pretty awesome.

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I especially liked this giant blue rooster outside the gallery in Trafalgar Square2:

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I just googled it and appeared it is called ““Hahn/Cock” and was only installed about a week before we got there!

We got there a bit late in the day, so didn’t have a tonne of time to look at everything before it closed, but I did get to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Virgin of the Rocks, which was pretty awesome. We couldn’t take photos in these museums, so you’ll just have to go there yourself if you want to see the awesomeness.

The museums we went to in Ireland, however, were not nearly as exciting. The National Gallery in Dublin seemed to have about four rooms of painting and sculptures by people I’ve never heard of:

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And the Natural History Museum in Dublin was a giant room of taxidermic animals3:

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Though this giant basking shark is pretty kickass:

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As is this skeleton of a giant Irish deer:

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In their defence, it looked like both of these museums were undergoing renovations, and I think a bunch of their exhibits were inaccessible because of this.

Also, there was so much awesomeness all over Ireland that I don’t want to give you the impression that Ireland does not rock, just based on these two museums. The awesomeness of Ireland shall be the subject of a whole slew of upcoming blog postings.

  1. We were going to go to the Natural History Museum too, but the line up was hours long and we figured we’d rather spend that time seeing stuff than waiting in line. Because it’s not like there’s a shortage of stuff to see in London! []
  2. Which you may recall from this posting that I posted earlier today []
  3. I thought that they were called “taxidermied animals, but my spell check said it should be “taxidermic” and Merriam-Webster agreed. But spell check says that both “Merriam” and “Webster” are not words, so now I just give up. []

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England Has A Dirty Mind

I noticed pretty much as soon as I got to England that they use the word “cock” a lot. My first experience was getting on the Piccadilly line at Heathrow and seeing this sign:

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Because of where our hotel was, we took the Piccadilly line a fair bit and so repeatedly heard that we were on the Piccadilly line with service to Cockfosters. Which made me given. Every. Single. Time.

Other cocks we saw in England include the Famous Cock:

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Laycock Street:

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And this giant blue cock outside the National Gallery:

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But it wasn’t just cocks. There were also balls:

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and my personal favourite, Smallbone:

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The Sights of London

This is the first of a bunch of blog postings that I’ve been putting together from my trip. Rather than going through chronologically, as I’ve already done a quick chronology of the trip, I’ve done these more detailed postings by themes1. Apologies in advance for flooding your Twitter stream, Facebook feed, and/or RSS feed.

The London portion of our trip involved a lot of walking around and looking at things2. And shopping, because it’s against the law to go to London and not shop.

One of the coolest things we did in London was going on the London Eye, which is a giant ferris wheel type thingy on the River Thames. It takes about half an hour to go around the whole thing and thus gives you a good opportunity to look around and get the lay of the land – you could see the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and even, way off in the distance, Buckingham Palace. As someone who had never been to London before, I really enjoyed it and it helped me to figure out where everything was so that we could then go see all sorts of famous London sights.

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Houses of Parliament, as seen from the Eye:

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Big Ben, as seen from the Eye3:

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Another capsule full of people on the Eye:

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Shadow of the Eye on the River Thames, as seen from the Eye4:

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And here we are on the Eye – my Aunt Eileen is in the front, wearing white, and my mom and I are on the right, wearing sunglasses. Aunt Lynn is in there somewhere, but she’s hiding from the camera!

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We also did a boat cruise along the Thames, which we got as a package deal when we bought our tickets for the Eye. Because we are thrifty like that5. The tour was awesome because the tour guide gave a running commentary as you cruised along, so you learned a bunch of history about all the stuff you were looking at:

Going under the London Bridge:

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The Tower Bridge:

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Houses of Parliament, as seen from the river cruise:

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I think the Houses of Parliament are my favourite site in all of London!

After our trip on the Eye and our boat cruise, we wandered around to see some of the sights up close.

As it happened, the day we were there was the day of a 100 km bike race from Surrey to London, so we got to see a bunch of people racing:

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I took this photo of a statue of Oliver Cromwell near Parliament without really knowing much about him:

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I’d hear a lot about him when I got to Ireland, and none of it was very nice. I looked it up when I got home and apparently there was controversy over the statue, as opinions on Cromwell are divided, what with the attempted genocide of the Irish and all.

We couldn’t actually go into Westminster Abbey the day we were there, but it looked lovely on the outside:

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The first time I saw a sign for Cafe Nero, I totally thought it said “Cafe Nerd”:

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Needless to say, I was very disappointed when I realized its actual name.

This priest was walking out of a church and he totally made me think of The Exorcist6.:

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Buckingham Palace was a bit of a let down, because the palace itself was pretty crappy looking and it turns out that they only do the changing of the guard every other day in August, but they don’t tell you anywhere which day7. The gates were very pretty though – here I am with my mom in front of the gates; I’m doing my best royal wave!

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Saw this pub on the way to do some shopping. In retrospect, I wish we’d stopped in for a pint:

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The English national lottery logo bears a striking resemblance to the one for the Oregon state lottery8:

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Oregon Lottery Sign

Of course, no trip to London would be complete without going to Harrod’s:

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My mom bought a purse here, which was actually cheaper than buying the same person back in Toronto. Only my family can go to Harrod’s and find a bargain! On the not-a-bargain front, I wanted to buy a tin of cookies that had the most adorable pigeons on it, but it cost €30 – or about $45 Canadian – which is criminally expensive for nine cookies, regardless of how cute the tin is.  I also didn’t buy this coat at Marks & Spencer, but only because I couldn’t find it in my size9. I did, however, get three dresses at Miss Selfridge, which my Aunt Eileen insisted on buying for me. Thanks Aunty Eileen!

Speaking of shopping, one of the things that my mom was especially interested in doing when we were in London was going to Stephen Einhorn’s jewellery store:

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After my dad died, my sister and I got my mom a pigeon charm for a charm bracelet, as my dad was an avid pigeon racer. Naturally, the place we found said pigeon charm was in England – from Stephen Einhorn, to be specific. The pigeon charm was quite heavy though, and didn’t work with my mom’s existing charm bracelet, so she wanted to buy a bracelet here. And then she bought a couple of charms. And another bracelet. And my aunts bought bracelets too10

Here are my Aunt Eileen and my Mom showing off their new bracelets:

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And here’s a frequent site you see in England if you take the Underground (a.k.a. the Tube):

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Mind the gap!

  1. Or by clever titles that I thought of and then came up with themes of stuff to write about so I could use said clever title. “Clever” as defined by me. YMMV. []
  2. My mom and Aunt Eileen had been to London before (though for my mom it was about 30 years ago), but my Aunt Lynn and I had never been, so there were tonnes of things that we wanted to see! []
  3. I didn’t know this previously, but Ben is actually the bell inside the clock tower, not the clock itself. []
  4. So meta. []
  5. Yes, nothing says “thrifty” like going to Europe in August! []
  6. Also, he doesn’t look too happy about me taking his picture. []
  7. At least, it wasn’t on the sign that told us it happens every other day, nor could I find it on their website. []
  8. I took the photo of the Oregon state lotto logo on a trip to Oregon a couple of year ago, as the idea of the logo being crossed fingers struck me as particularly funny. []
  9. Despite checking one M&S store in London and two in Dublin. Plus the website – apparently every women in the British Isles who is my size will be wearing that coat this fall. Also, M&S had free shipping to Canada if you order online, which is good to know! []
  10. I contemplated buying a ring, but in the end decided that while I liked it, I didn’t *love* it, so couldn’t justify the purchase. []

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2,580

I have *finally* finished uploading all my holiday photos to Flickr and that’s how many photos I took – 2,580. Well, I took a few more than that, but some were blurry or contained only the face of the random person who walked right in front of my camera as I tried to take a photo of something else, so I deleted those. So 2,580 useable photos. When you combine that with the 1,638 photos that my aunt took – well, that’s a lot of photos.

I don’t imagine you actually want to scroll through thousands of photos though, so I’m posting a few of my favourite ones here. And then I’ll write some blog postings about some of the stuff we did, and I’m sure I’ll put some of the photos in there too. And then I’ll stop flooding your social media streams with stuff about my holidays!

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T-shirt in a store window in London.

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I still don’t know what this is an ad for.

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Shadow of the London Eye on the Thames, taken from the London Eye.

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My mom, leaning out the window and calling “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”

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A British racing pigeon. Look closely, you can see the bands on his legs!

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Me and the Tardis.

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Eyeballs in a garden at Blarney Castle.

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My Mom, Aunt Eileen, and Aunt Lynn, at the top of Blarney Castle. They are ready to kiss the stone!

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Oscar Wilde statue in Dublin. His shoes are real leather and are polished every day.

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No trip would be complete without a picture of me in front of a sign, doing what the sign says not to do. Don’t sit on the steps. Pfft!

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Aunt Lynn, Mom, and me!

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Fearless whiskey tasters at the Old Jameson Distillery in Dublin.

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Me, my mom, and Aunt Lynn at the Dunbrody famine ship.

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Aunt Eileen, captain of the Dunbrody!

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I’d make an excellent Queens guardsperson.

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This really does not need a caption.

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My mom’s favourite jeweller in London.

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Giant blue rooster outside the National Gallery in London.

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My mom and I on the tour bus in Ireland.

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Grave of W.B. Yeats.

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Baaaa!

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Nice, France.

 

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Ireland.

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Ireland.

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Me feeding a lamb in Ireland.

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Aunt Eileen and a sheep in Ireland.

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Me, my mom, and Aunt Lynn at the Cliffs of Moher.

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Aunt Eileen and me in Ireland.

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My mom worked for the Royal Bank of Canada for 45 years. Her she is at the Royal Bank of Ireland.

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Nice, France.

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Nice, France.

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Moonlight on the water in Nice, France.