|The Clock Tower (Big Ben is the bell inside)|
Day 1: On our first day in London it was grey and overcast and we were a bit jet lagged so we went to the British Museum, which was conveniently located just around the corner from our hotel. Entry into most museums in the UK is free, although they do ask for a donation, it's optional. We spent four hours there and only got through a few rooms - Chinese pottery, Korean pottery, some medieval British displays, and a room showing the evolution of clocks (which is tragically not called 'A History of Time'); the place is absolutely huge. I managed to bang my knee into a table when we stopped for some lemonade.
|The British Museum|
Day 2: On our second day we went on a bus tour called 'London in a day'. First we swung by the Royal Albert Hall, which was indeed named for Prince Albert. Here's a commemoration of him:
And the music hall itself:
|Prince Albert in gold.|
|The Royal Albert Hall|
|St. Paul's Cathedral|
|The Tower of London.|
Day 3: The next day we started with a visit to Westminster Abby. I now know where Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton are buried or commemorated. Plus a whole lot of other people too. Apparently Winston Churchill refused to be buried here on the grounds that he would not like to have tea with most of the people interred here. He has a plaque though, which he'd probably be mad about.
|One of four giant lions in Trafalgar Square.|
|Giant thumb in Trafalgar Square.|
That's it for London, from here we started to make our way to Scotland and the wedding.
Day 5: From London we tried to take the train first class to Edinburgh. We also completely forgot to look for Platform 9 3/4 while at King's Cross Station.
|King's Cross Station|
Then we were dumped on the platform at the York station and told to make our own way to Edinburgh on any train we could get on. Seriously? Anyway, we hopped onto one heading in the right direction but it stopped, I forget where, and left half the cars behind so we had to scramble to get onto the part of the train that was still going to Edinburgh and ended up standing for the last 2 hours of the trip. So much for first class tickets. Mom's trying to get her money back. We did eventually make it to our hotel in Edinburgh, Parliament House.
By the time we arrived it was late and the bistro, appropriately enough called 'MP's Bistro' was 10 minutes away from closing but the front desk agent called down and warned them we were coming so we got dinner after all. It was a relief not to have to go find a place to eat as we were five hours late arriving and exhausted.
Day 6: Having been revived by a good night's sleep we started our visit to Edinburgh by going to Edinburgh Castle. This houses the Scottish Crown Jewels including the Stone of Scone, sometimes called the Stone of Destiny. After the British Crown Jewels a rough looking sandstone block is just not terribly exciting even if there is a movie about it. Fortunately the tour guide had warned us to lower our expectations when it came to the Scottish Crown Jewels. ;-)
Our second stop this day was at a wool mill just to your right as you are approaching the castle. Unfortunately, we'd spent so long at the castle that the weavers had shut down the looms for the day. Oh, well, it makes for an excuse to come back another time.
That evening my sister and her daughter and fiance joined us in Edinburgh. My Wee Niece arrived wearing the overalls I knit for her. So cute.
Day 7: With our party having grown to 6 including a toddler off we went to the new Scottish Parliament Building. Mom, Dad, and I took the tour, which is about an hour long and covers a lot about the architecture of the place, apparently the architect died before it was completed and his wife took over finishing the building. The picture is the back of the building because I forgot to take one of the front and didn't feel like walking back there to do so.
|Scottish Parliament Building|
|National Museum of Scotland|
In the scramble to leave my soon-to-be-brother-in-law left his backpack at the bus station. Fortunately, we were able to retrieve it for him before leaving on the train the next morning.
Day 9: Another travel day. We didn't have first class tickets this time which was just as well since they once again cut the train in two and we had to scramble to get onto the part that was going to Aberdeen. Fortunately we got seats but I can't figure out why they bother assigning seats when they sell you a ticket; it just ends up being a free for all anyway. And in the mad scramble to get onto the correct part of the train my Mom forgot her bag. She was able to get it back a few days later but it was a serious inconvenience.
Day 10: Having had yet another bad experience with the British rail system we took an easy day and went to a park with my sister, Wee Niece, and Yogi. Dad had injured his heel at Edinburgh Castle, stepped in a hole or slid off a cobble stone or something, and could barely walk for rest of the trip so he stayed behind and rested his foot. And my soon-to-be-brother-in-law had to work so it was just us girls and the dog.
|Yogi at Duthie Park|
Day 11: Another quiet day. My sister had to go to visit her horse Fern and do some farm chores so I went and helped her out. Stole this picture of Fern from my sister's Facebook page. She's a lovely mare.
Day 12: A trip to Johnston's of Elgin where they process some of the best cashmere in the world. Unfortunately they don't sell yarn, only clothing and accessories. There were so many of us going we had to rent a minivan. They don't call them minivans in the UK, they call them people carriers, but that's what it was.
|Johnston's of Elgin|
Day 13: Left for the wedding venue. Met up with a number of wedding guests for dinner, including an old friend of my sister's from High School.
Day 14: The Wedding. There were lots of kilts and plenty of caileigh dancing.
|Random men in kilts picture|
|The bride and groom and daughter|
|University of Aberdeen campus.|
We also stopped in at a small church with an interesting graveyard but I forgot to take any pictures. My youngest sister and her husband left today to continue their adventure in Edinburgh.
Day 19: A trip to the Falls of Feugh, which aren't all that spectacular but the restaurant was amazing. The tablet was delicious. Tablet is a Scottish sweet I've never seen anywhere else. I expect you can get in in most of the UK if you look for it; but you'd probably have to go to a specialty import store in North America. If they'd even have it. Probably just as well really. Although, come to think of it, I suppose there's no reason why you couldn't make it yourself. Hmmm......
Then a trip to the Edinburgh Woolen Mill, which sells surprisingly little wool. It's more like an outlet store. They have shirts that Dad really likes and my Wee Niece entertained the staff by being terribly cute. She's awfully good at that.
Day 20: Spent the day getting ready to leave. Made my Wee Niece cry when I took all the sweets I was taking home and put them in my suitcase. Fortunately she recovered quickly from her disappointment.
Day 21: Home after an uneventful flight.
Knitting While Away
I finished two pairs of socks while on vacation.
First, the Longshots Socks, done in the colours of my Scent Hurdle team. These were started in Canada before I left, then I finished the first sock and knitted the entire second sock all before leaving Edinburgh. This was helped by getting stuck on the train for three hours when it broke down. The benefit of knitting is you can be productive even when stuck in a broken down train and stranded on the train tracks.
- Pattern: Improvised
- Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Solids, Heathers & Twists in Black and Dandelion
- Needle: 2.5mm
- Gauge: 41 stitches / 4 inches
This yarn is really neat, one 100g ball made two virtually identical socks. Sweet!
- Pattern: Improvised
- Yarn: Schachenmayr Regia Pairfect in a peachy colourway
- Needle: 2.5mm
- Gauge: 41 stitches / 4 inches
|Socks in the Scottish sun.|
I also tried to work on the cabled sweater I'm making for my sister (the one who just got married) with the vague thought that I'd leave it with her if I finished; however, it required too much concentration so I didn't really get anywhere with it. Have made progress since getting home though. She can take it home with her this summer.
I had left a hat partly finished before leaving on vacation. Mom said she like the hats I was making to use up some stash yarn that I'm tired of having and would like the red one. So, it's hers. Hopefully she won't need it anytime soon.
- Pattern: Improvised
- Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Solids
- Needle: 6.5mm
- Gauge: 12 stitches and 18 rows / 4 inches
As mentioned earlier I was layed off from work before noon on my first day back from vacation. This really sucks but there's not much you can do but apply for EI and start a job hunt. Also got my taxes filed, stopped my RRSP automatic withdrawal, and changed my car insurance since I no longer need to be covered for driving to work every. So goes life.