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Well, we are back in the land where people drive on the right and don’t talk (too) funny. We had a GREAT trip…expect many posts over the coming weeks on some of the sights that we saw. We took a few photos, some of them actually worth viewing. Below is a screen grab showing the locations of the shots we took, courtesy of Aperture & our GPS.

The pins show locations of photos shot.

(Geek notes: Each day I created a new track on our tiny GPS and it tracked where we went that day. Back at home, I loaded each day’s photos and the associated track and Aperture assigned a location to each shot based upon timestamps. It’s a very nice feature that allows us to rapidly find photos that we took. Technology can be a good thing.)

So, a good time was had by all. We met some interesting folks: the guy we met at dinner in Oban who’s walking the perimeter of Great Britain, the geologist who had spent some time on the rig in the Gulf that is now so famous and who had some interesting words concerning BP’s approach to safety, the bartender from New Orleans we met in Edinburgh who also had a few choice words for BP, the four Englishmen we met at a distillery who provided us with some excellent pointers on enjoying Whisky (and who I educated on the making of bourbon), the nice couple from Tasmania who are essentially on their way around the world, and many others.

We had, as usual, several unexpected experiences. We spent an immensely enjoyable afternoon watching a falconry demonstration. We watched bands at an open mike night in Inverness prior to the opening of a music festival there. We learned how dyes for yarn are made from natural ingredients at a shop located at what felt like the end of the world on Skye. We utilized high technology to finally understand a battle that took place almost 300 years ago. And, again, many others.

We also watched World Cup everywhere we went. We experienced the USA – England match with a bunch of Englishmen on Skye. We learned that the Scots are cheering for whomever is playing the English. We learned that the BBC must provide an option to turn off those damn horns and only listen to the commentators. And we learned just how much the World Cup is a truly international event. Our pilots provided updates and the bar in Newark was PACKED with folks watching…they were stacked well into the concourse outside the bar we were eating in, straining to see. (Reading the UK newspaper coverage was a lot of fun, too.)

Now we’re just trying to get back on our feet and re-adjust to the oppressive heat of Florida in summer. Not to mention our return to our desks tomorrow. All good things….

Dunrobin Castle, Scotland, 2010

Above: Falconry demo – yes that’s an owl, not a falcon. His name is Plop.

Below: Recipe book for yarn dyes

Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2010

(BTW: upon leaving each city, village, District, whatever, there was a sign that said “Thanks for visiting, Haste Ye Back”. Thanks, we may just do that.)

We arrived in Oban, our last major stop, Monday afternoon after a beautiful drive down from Skye. Oban is the “Seafood Capitol of Scotland” and we have been eating well (salmon, halibut, mussels, scallops, oysters). Yesterday we took a trip out to three islands (Mull, Staffa, Iona) which involved a ferry ride, a bus ride, a boat trip, another ferry, return on the bus and finally one more ferry. It was a long day but we saw some extremely beautiful sights.

On the ferries, there are announcements before you set off. They all consisted of something along the lines of: “Good afternoon, I am Captain Colin Campbell and mumble mumble mumble mumble safety mumble mumble mumble whisky mumble mumble mumble.” Not very helpful. On our last ferry of the day, while nursing a wee dram, I swear I heard him say “and ferrets to port.”

Which would, of course, imply that badgers are to go to starboard.

Oban, Scotland, 2010

Above: the lovely town of Oban

Below: Fingal’s Cave on Staffa

Fingal's Cave, Staffa, Scotland, 2010

Leakey's Bookstore, Inverness, Scotland, 2010

Yes, jackets have been required almost every day. Patches of snow have been seen on the tops of mountains.

No kilts have been purchased. Sorry to disappoint. The good ones are budget-busters and the cheap touristy ones are … cheap.

A good kilt needs 8 yards of fabric to make.

We are indeed developing a taste for the local drink. We even have a favorite. Too bad it’s so freakin’ expensive.

Whisky Tutorial, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2010

This country is absolutely gorgeous. And the people are very friendly.

John has become quite adept at driving on the left (note I did not say wrong) side of the road. There have only been a couple of close calls. Also, the roads here are much better than in Ireland. And we have to stop for sheep in the road. Lots of sheep. And a couple of cows. And one bull.

Niest Point, Scotland, 2010

This is apparently a favorite place for cyclists. They have been everywhere. I think they’re nuts. These are some serious hills.

There was no service available at the B&B in Inverness. We are now back on-line and quality posts will resume shortly. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Glenmorangie Distillery, Scotland, 2010

Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2010

While wandering the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, we have been sticking our noses down the “Closes” that branch off quite often. All the guide books say that there are some cool & interesting things down there and that we should poke around, so we did. The Close pictured above looked interesting due to the carvings over it, so we went in & found a kilt maker tucked away back there. We spent a very enjoyable half hour or so learning about the many patterns and eventually making a purchase. See below.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 2010

While in there I asked one of them how old the building was and he told me that that that depended upon how you defined it. It seems that in the 1700’s the building fell down, hence the quote above the entrance to the Close.

Huh?

A guy was trapped in the collapsed building. When he heard workers in the rubble he called out to them. His words are recorded above the entrance for posterity and are well known by many (at least many of the folks that we know):

“Heave away chaps, I’m no dead yet”

Who knew? (And that’s not a typo; it’s Scottish.)

Edinburgh, Scotland, 2010

BTW: Shortly after this, we went and tried “whisky”. We discovered that 1) we like it and 2) we have expensive taste. Neither comes as a surprise.

OK, so we arrived OK (extra $ for extra legroom = totally worth it) and the weather was beautiful. We were guided by the car rental lady to the local mall in order to get something to eat. First thing we see in the mall: Disney Store. Jeez. After minor navigational issues we arrived at our B&B to find that our room was ready! Woo-Hoo! We freshened up and set out.

Our landlady recommended a walk up to Arthur’s Seat so that’s where we went. Now, we’re from Florida. A hill in Florida is called a causeway and you drive over it. Arthur’s Seat to a Floridian who has been awake for 24 hours is a challenge. We didn’t quite make the peak, but we did well. But it was steep & hot. Then we just wandered about the Royal Mile and a party district called Grassmarket and people watched. Lots of hen & stag parties, which made for some interesting sights, a couple of adult beverages and finally dinner. At that point it began raining, hard, so we taxied back to our beds where we finally collapsed.

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland, June 2010

Above: Arthur’s Seat on a beautiful day. High, hot and very pretty.

Below: The first of countless George Moments.

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2010

Below:Our first dinner…and no, there was no haggis involved.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 2010

We are in the Orlando airport and we are ready to go!  Exit row for the trans-Atlantic portion is a beautiful thing.  We’ll be in touch.