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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The Wild Rover Returns

And so my first every trip off the continent has come to an end. I have many blog postings1 about my various adventures that I will post over the next week or so – tales of castles and churches and cemeteries and more castles and more churches and pirates2. I have much newfound knowledge about my motherlands3, and new jewels and artwork to show you.

I am also pleased to report that, as planned, I knocked not just one, not just two, but THREE items off my 101 list:

55. leave the continent
12. re-read Momo
13. re-read Johnathan Livingstone Seagull

Moreover, within a space of 24 hours4 I set foot in 4 different countries! That’s the same number of countries that I’d been to in my ENTIRE LIFE prior to this trip5! I also looked at Italy while I was in Monaco, but since I was there on a tour, I couldn’t just pop over. If I’d been driving myself, I totally would have, just to say I’d been.

As a teaser, here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

  • Aug 2 to 5: 4 days in London, England, galavanting with my mom, my Aunt Eileen, and my Aunt Lynn. Highlights include: the London Eye, cruising the Thames, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace6, Houses of Parliament, museums galore, Harrod’s.
  • Aug 6: Arrived in Ireland! Stayed in our first castle hotel: Dunboyne Castle. Met the rest of our tour group.
  • Aug 7-8: Stayed in our second castle hotel: Kilronan Castle. Visited the town of Kells (where the famous Book of Kells is from), the Holy Well & Mass Rock at Tobernalt, saw W.B. Yeats’ grave, Donegal Bay, Glenar Waterfall, Parkes’ Castle, Trim Castle, and took a boat ride on the Rose of Innisfree
  • Aug 9-10: Stayed in our first non-castle hotel of the Ireland portion of our trip7: Connemara Coast Hotel. Learned about making textiles at Foxford Woollen Mills, how to shear a sheep at Rathburn Farm8 ,9 (not to mention having some delicious tea and scones10 ), and how to make marble at the Connemara Marble Factory11. Stopped for lunch at a Tim Horton’s in a gas station12. Saw Kylemore Abbey, Galway Cathedral and dipped my feet into Galway Bay. For our last night at Connemara we had a private show by a harpist who also plays at the Cliff of Moher.
  • Aug 11-12: Stayed at the Malton Hotel in Killarney. The absolute highlight was the stunning Cliffs of Moher, but other cool stuff included a ride on the Shannon Ferry, a jaunting car13 ride through Killarney Park, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kerry Bog Village, and some fantastic lamb stew at the Thatched Cottage Restaurant. Also, we stopped to shop at Moriarty’s and inadvertently left my Aunt Lynn behind! Once we realized what had happened, we turned the bus around and picked her up – though she was flirting with a bus driver from another tour group when we got there – I don’t think she actually wanted us to come back! Another awesome part of the Killarney days was that the hotel we stayed in was right in town (others had been further out), so we could go out to pubs at night and listen to all the live music.
  • Aug 13: Stayed in the Faithlegg Hotel (at a golf course). Blarney! Spoiler alert: I kissed the Blarney Stone14! So did my mom and both my aunts. It’s pretty freaking high up and you have to hang over an edge15 and arch backwards to do it. Also of note in Blarney, I bought a painting from a local artist. Actually, wait, no – my Aunt Eileen bought me a painting from a local artist, because she kept insisting on buying me stuff for my birthday. lol! Also went through Cork’s English Market, and had Murphy’s Irish Stout at the the Marine Bar
  • Aug 14-15: Clontarf Castle, Dublin. We learned how to make crystal at the Waterford Crystal Factory, and more about how to weave at Avoca Woollen Mills, visited the Dunbrody Famine Ship, had some fish & chips at Leo Burdock’s Fish & Chips and listened to more live music and watched Irish dancing at the Arlington Hotel. Learned how to make whiskey at the Jameson Distillery, where I became a certified Irish whiskey taster16. Visited the Garden of Remembrance & the Glasnevin Cemetery17, a super cool statute of Oscar Wilde18, some museums19 and had dinner at Abbey Tavern where there was, again, music and dancing.
  • Aug 16: still at Clontarf Caste. Due to a screw up by the travel agent, we were booked to fly out of Dublin the day after the tour ended, instead of the day of, so we stayed on an extra night at Clontarf and explored more of Dublin on our own. Checked out Trinity College, Dublin Castle, the General Post Office20 and a bunch of statues.
  • Aug 17: Traveled to Nice! Had a stopover in Zurich, Switzerland, meaning by the end of this day I’d set foot in 4 of the 5 countries planned for this trip. Checked into my hotel – the Hotel Boreal – grateful to be staying in a single hotel for more than 2 nights in a row! Headed to the beach for an evning stroll.
  • Aug 18-20: A series of days of strolling through the town checking out all the interesting streets and shops and whatnot, and going to the beach. Actually did more of the former and less of the latter than I thought I would21. Ended every night on the Promenade des Anglais  to watch the sun set.
  • Aug 21: Half day trip to the village of Eze and to Monaco! Absolutely gorgeous! Learned how to make perfume at Fragonard, saw Grace Kelly’s grave, and followed the race circuit for the Formula One world championship held in May every year in Monaco.. Plus, I went with a little tour group – 7 of us in all – and it was really nice to be around such friendly people22. I’d been getting a little lonely only talking to either salespeople or creepy men who were trying to pick me up, so it was nice to have some people to hang out with. Ended the day, as always, watching the sunset on the Promenade des Anglais
  • Aug 22-23. Returned to London, via Geneva. Then home to Vancouver. Happy to see my frogs!

Hmmm… that wasn’t very condensed, was it? And I didn’t do it from memory – I kept a travel journal throughout my trip, because I knew I wouldn’t remember all the details without a little help. As I flipped through my journal to write this posting, I got excited all over again by the things that I did and the fun memories I have now. I was especially lucky to travel with my mom and my aunts. We had so much fun together – one of the other people in our tour group told us at the end of the trip that “You are what a family should be like.” And I couldn’t agree more!

So, as I mentioned, there will be more blog postings on some of the most exciting things that I saw/did/learned/ate/bought on my trip. Complete with photos – as I took about one zillion of them23. But I have to admit, even just writing thing post has me wanderlusting already! I wonder where my next trip should be?

  1. Where by “have” I mean “mostly in my brain still, but with a few bits and pieces jotted in my notebook.” []
  2. OK, just people dressed as pirates. []
  3. OK, more about one of my motherlands (Ireland) than about my other motherland (England). Because I went on a guided tour of Ireland, while the England portion of my trip consisted of only 4 days and no guide. []
  4. Between 2 pm on Aug 21 and 2 pm on Aug 22. []
  5. I realize that for people from Europe, where there as so many tiny countries all packed close together, being in 4 different countries within 24 hours might not seem like a big deal, but when you come from a country where it takes a week to drive across your country, it’s pretty cool! []
  6. Spoiler alert: the palace is not all that exciting to look at. []
  7. Though it was still lovely! []
  8. Which will come in useful since I learned all about weaving at Foxford []
  9. Also, I got to feed a lamb! []
  10. I bought a copy of the recipe for the scones, because I’ve been trying to find a good recipe for scones for ages, as all the recipes I’ve tried so far turned about mediocre at best. Expect a scone baking blog posting in the not too distant future. []
  11. OK, so I guess you don’t “make” marble, you mine it and then make things with it. But I learned about that anyway. []
  12. Did I mention that everyone in our tour group was from Canada? []
  13. Read: horse & carriage []
  14. Don’t you see how my gab giftedness has become even more gifted already? []
  15. There’s safety bars beneath, so it’s not *that* scary. []
  16. The tour guide there totally wanted me. []
  17. Which was really freaking cool. I couldn’t believe a cemetery could be that cool! []
  18. Did I ever mention how much I love Oscar Wilde? []
  19. Spoiler alert: They were underwhelming. []
  20. Important in Irish history, but not all that exciting to look at, really. []
  21. My feet are *killing* me from all the walking! []
  22. There was an older couple from Belgium, and two couples around my age: one couple from NYC and one couple from Washington, DC. []
  23. Don’t worry, I won’t make you sit through all the photos. I’ll pick out the prettiest ones to share here. []