Sunday, February 28, 2010

Small Town

This morning at breakfast the sweet hostess that I've had most days of my stay here asks me if I enjoyed my shopping yesterday. Confused, she let me know that her mother owns the bookstore I visited yesterday. It is a used bookstore and I dropped off a book and purchased another. Apparently the American lady is making an impression.

Many people have asked where I'm from...must be the accent!v

Yesterday, the coffee shopped that I visited, implored me to return. They were quite intersested in my travels and my impression of Scotland.

My impression of Scotland? I've met no nicer groups of people anywhere. Everyone has made me feel very much at home. And for that, I'm very grateful.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I went to the Hootnanny this afternoon to see when they would be having some musicians in. Well, there's a lot of drop-ins, I heard, and today was no exception. I was treated to some GREAT Scottish folk music. I had a half pint of really too mellow ale and listen for a little while. I found myself nearly crying.

I was in this beautiful old building, decorated inside with antique wood, doorways, lights and tables and this fabulous local music filling the room. There were a lot of old people in there smiling, those who still could, moving their bodies back and forth in a little jig, and a lot of thigh-slapping being done by all.

I was truly overcome with emotion thinking about the fact I was there, witnessing it all.

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

I did it today....I had haggis. I had it in a puff pastry. Sarah said I needed to get it with the neeps and tatties too. That would be with turnips and potatoes. I liked it. Hopefully, I'll get to have it again before I leave.

I'm loving the Scottish breakfasts. The roasted tomatoes and mushrooms are incredible. I love the porridge too.

The snow this week closed the tracks between Inverness and Edinburgh. I'd planned on not going as early as last night out of fear of more snow and not getting back here on time for Monday's go live. Checked the status this morning and found it cancelled. Went to the train station for a refund and the clerk was kind enough to tell me I could still get there going partially by bus and partially by train. Yeah and it would have been nearly dark by the time I got there, with most everything closing down and over half of everything else not open tomorrow or opening three hours before I had to leave. I didn't bite. I got on line and it says because I pre-ordered my ticket, which was recommended, I'm not entitled to a refund. I hope they'll refund. Then at least I can hopefully plan to go next weekend.

Mother's Day is celebrated March 14 here. I find it kind of odd that one of the most prevelent presents I'm seeing is decorated, pink, rubber cleaning gloves. Happy Mother's Day Mum - get on with your cleaning now!

I have to send my work receipts back home each week which usually requires a brief wait in the queue in the Post Office. Like the U.S. they post packages and provide passport services. Additionally, they offer no service fee currency exchanges, auto taxs payments, mortgage loans, auto insurance and cellular phone services.

I collect lapel pins of the places I have visited. They are small and easy to travel with and easy to display. Today, while in a shop, trying to decide what my Scottish one would be, I asked the sales clerk if I should pick an intricate heart with a crown on it or one a celtic weave. She said the heart one and told me the legend behind it is beautiful. She, in her mid to late sixties, told me to Google it's meaning and wrote it on the back for me. It is a Luckenbooth. I'm glad she told me about it. I love it!

I shopped a bit hiking boots and a goat herder's hat.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Different Place, Different Pace

Last night I was delayed at the office whilst waiting for a ride. I worked on some home office items and did what I could do for the site I’m working on here.

When I got home, I found myself very tired. Not having any responsibilities, I simply ate some leftovers, ran a bath, soaked and finished a book and slipped into bed following. No computer, no television. I slept nine hours. My usual “at home” was five….if I was lucky.

The book was the first one I’ve been able to complete in ages! I’m enjoying having time to read. In fact reading saves me form a boredom I don’t want to entertain.

This morning, I was obviously rested, and up and about without exercising the snooze so much. It was snowing. Hard. I got 75% ready for work, slipped on my jeans, an extra pair of wool socks, and my hiking boots. I got out my hiking jacket and took off for a walk. It was a wonderful diversion to the normal routine I’ve established here already. The old buildings looked lovely with their touch of snow.

Everyone used to ask me why I worked such long hours, often suggesting that I should let things ride and get to it when I could. I’m really glad I worked so hard. I do feel like it has brought me to being able to do what I am now. And, I couldn’t let things sit, if there was any way possible to get them done. I am here. And I am reading. And I am walking. It is all worth it.

And I still have 9 and 10 hour work days. I just don’t have a house and family to attend to right now at the end of those long days.

Enjoying the change as much as I am missing my normal.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday's Meanderings

Scotland blessed me with sunshine today. Very cool air (long johns, jeans, fleece, more fleece and coat), but sweet, welcoming sunshine. I followed the banks of River Ness though/over the Ness Islands and over to the Caledonian Canal.

After having passed the Tomnahurich Cemetery yesterday on the way to Loch Ness and hearing the fairy story the driver told about the hill. And after sighting the cemetery today and being so very, very close to THE HILL and having looked at it everday and wanting to be on top of it, my canal hike was quickly aborted. I love cemeteries. This one was one of the most beautiful I have visited. Forest paths lead up and up and up to the top.

Here is the fairy story about Tomnahurich Hill .

Here is a picture I took yesterday of a war memorial. I passed it again today. What struck me was the number of panels with the letters Mac at the top. The three shown here were not all of them. The other panels indicated A-C, C-E, etc. But the Mac's commanded five panels or more panels. I knew Mc's and Macs were indiginous to Scotland, but I did not realise the true concentration or sheer volume. Even at work, 1/3 of my trainees fall into that category. The rest, fall into most of the names I found very prevelent in the cemetery. See why I like cemeteries?

Pretty things:

Ice in the mud at the cemetery.

Snowdrops in the cemetery.

One other note about today. As I was walking past the castle, I noticed somthing sitting on the grass. There is a very steep slope from the castle grounds, down to the "Ladies Walk" running along the River Ness. It was a rabbit. A very BIG rabbit. Looking closer, there were about a half dozen (6) very big rabbits. By big, I mean Destiny-sized rabbits. We're talking 20 lb. bunnies.

I notice a lot of the wildlife here is BIG. The seagulls are HUGE! The doves-pigeon combination bird I saw in the park today was HUGE! Obviously the location suits them.

And for my mystery English reader - pictures! Enjoy - I have a busy week ahead.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness is a pretty lake. A lake. I had a boat ride on it yesterday and a chilly one at that. Later, a visit to the Loch Ness Exhibit Centre, did the 50-50 evaluation about real or made up. Actually, I preferred thinking of it in mystery terms from afar. My take away? The loch is 23 miles long, about two miles wide and at places over 750 feet deep. And it is stunningly beautiful.

On the banks of Loch Ness is Urquhart Castle.

The castle was very beautiful. It had been destroyed by the Jacobites to assure that the enemy could not take a stronghold.

Gaelic and English road sign.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Inverness, Scotland - First Exploration

Today I went back up to the Inverness Castle (in daylight rather than dusk) and strolled around. I imagined it to be much grander. But, a castle is a castle after all! Many of the homes in the area that I walked today had massive crinolated top stone fences with mossy drives leading to them. Quite the stately area.

I strolled about town, locating the bus and train stations, the Post Office, a cemetery (surprise), churches, places to eat and visit. I also visited the Victorian Mall.

The Church of Scotland churches, here are as plentiful as the LDS wards in Utah. I located two Catholic churches. This is a picture of the banks of the River Ness. River Ness is west of the Moray Firth and East of Loch (lake) Ness
I love this place. Once here, it is easy to forget that I'm not home and I have to remind myself I'm in a foreign country. Everyone is so nice and kind. My weeks here already feel short and I've only just arrived.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Before The Weekend

I can tell, already, that this weekend will bring much discovery and items to post about. I wanted to post the things I've experienced my first work week in Scotland. Then, this weekend can post those adventures.

So many things are different, even down to the coffee. Same - Starbucks in the airport at Inverness, even though there were only two luggage carousels. That surprised me as most of the small airports in the US don't even offer a Starbucks. Most of the coffee available here is instant. Dozens, literally, of kinds and brands of instant coffee. Coffee offerings for our class are in indivdiual paper cups, stacked one in another, with a service of instant coffee between. Light, more robust and very robust and also cocoa cups are here.

Food - Such yummy, yummy food. I've had very good pea and mint soup. Had it not been for Rod introducing me to this dish before I left, I would have missed out on it here. So good with a roll/savory scone. I had a most excellent Briyani, four meals worth served. The Indian restaurant is less than two blocks from my hotel. I will be frequenting them often and a very spoiled eater by the time I return. I've had a chicken and bacon sandwich and tuna and sweet corn pasta (I'd seen a sandwich with the same the day before). Fruit is plentiful and most often packaged in take-away form. This is great for me as a traveler.
I've had my tea and cream each day. Another thing I'm going to be hooked on for having spent time in GB.

Clothing - understated for the most part with a splash of color now and again. Beautiful boots here, most often worn with leggings. The coats are beautiful. I've found most people are not ever casually dressed. Men are most often seen in ties. I saw a few about town in kilts.

Moray Firth (pronounced Murray). Firth is an estuary. I a told I may be able to see dolphin in the water when the tide is up. It reminds me of Puget Sound. The sunset on Wednesday was spectacular. I have not seen a prettier on in all my travels. Every time I thought it must certainly be at its peak, it displayed more color. Everyone at the office was talking about it the next day.

The color of the grass here, even in the winter is as green as the pictures show it. Very bright. Each day has brought a little more warmth to it. A little less cranking of the radiator. And, I found, that many, many homes here are still heated by woodstoves.

I love working with foreign money. Initially, I always feel like a small child, facinated by every coin while being frustrated at the same time at not knowing how to count it out to the sales clerk. One can only hadn over paper bills for so long before the purse is too heavy to carry. And, unlike home, I can't cart it from country to country and save it for a rainy day.

Such a change in lifestyle for me. I also found that I actually get a real night's sleep now. The site doesn't begin their day untiil 9:00 so I don't have to leave for work until 8:30. I get to sleep until 7:00! The last few weeks before I left for my trip, I was getting up at 3:00 or 4:00 and getting to work by 5:00 or 6:00. This is like sleeping in late EVERY DAY!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Scotland - Beautiful

Inverness is a beautiful city! I haven't had a chance to explore yet. I'm working during the day, so I haven't seen much, but I'm very much at home with what I have seen. The beauty is relentless. I soooo look forward to exploring this weekend.

I have a train station, mall, grocery, spice store, castle, etc. within a couple of blocks of me.

My little feet and having two days to explore are sooo very excited.

The people here are so wonderful. I love the lyrical speech patterns. And I met a person at the paper who plans to do the Camino next year! Kindred spirits abound in this world.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Things You Hear Around Here

I'm posting these things, not to brag, but to have something to refer too when I feel alone. I know I will - I've had my family with me forever, with the exception of a year. I liked that too, but this is a little different. The contrast of adventure and life, in a different country with no impending week to go back home will be both a blessing and a curse. Thes are words from friends, family and colleagues. I honor this support.

So here's my non-caloric comfort food:

" The bottom line is the UK wins and we are going to have a lot to do to make up for your leaving. It will be a great experience for you working over there. The why you are going doesn't really matter. That you are does. I know I will miss you. Safe travels. Oh yeah, say hello to the queen for me, princess. ;-}"

"I just read your latest post. Was thinking how overwhelming, yet exciting, this must be. A little jealous, yes!! You're so amazing - you'll knock them dead. Hard to believe how quickly our lives can completely change, isn't it? I love you so much. I love you for who you are. I love you for how much you loved my brother. I hope this "little adventure" :) is everything you want it to be. And I want pictures!!!!!!! Send me a picture of a pretty little castle in Scotland that I can paint!"

"Darn, you're gonna miss my Super Bowl Party! LOL...funny how you already said you couldn't make it...and now you REALLLLY can't! So happy for your new adventure....a dream come true! Teri - you are ONE LUCKY WOMAN!!! ♥ ♥ ♥ "

"I want YOUR guardian angel!!"

"Best wishes Teri. Thanks for your help with my last upgrades. It made a big difference."

"It's good to have dreams come true, and I know you'll make the most of this opportunity personally as well as professionally. I've enjoyed our work and play, too, and wish you all the very best.

"You have a good time with your tea a crumpets."

England Swings - Roger Miller

I have the most wonderful friends and family. They never fail to never fail me.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Do Something Drastic

Do something drastic and you hear the most amazing things about yourself. Or not.

I have heard the kindest, most wonderful things from so many people. Some of which, surprised me. And some, whom I thought would be happy for me....say nothing. And that is OK too.

I have amazing friends and an amazing family. Their support is what allows me to do amazing things.

Thanks for being a part of me.

Every Hour Brings More Information

Wow -today was a wild one.

I have my ticket! I will be off on my new adventure shortly.

Instead of going to our office outside of London for a week or so, I'm going directly to my first site - in the Scottish Highlands! And instead of commuting back and forth to England, I'll just stay in Scottland for about six weeks! A few weeks in Brentwood and then I'll be back to Orem to pack up my life.

I know that a stone = 14 pounds.

Nick and I studied the Loch Ness Monster tonight. I promised him a picture of Loch Ness.

Pinch me. Pinch me.


It was very strange this morning as I created my timesheet for next week. I clone it a week ahead of the need from the one I'll be using this week. Saves me having start from scratch every week.

It was very odd this morning, as I created next week's, wondering if it wouldn't be the one I would use. That I would be switching my time to a new/old ifferent task, in a different office, in a different country.

Everything thing I pick up either mentally goes on a list to stay, bundle up, pack for later or goes now. Every piece of food I bite, I wonder if it will be commonplace next week. I wonder too, if I will ultimately end up wanting it in a care package.

I wonder how much I need to take, not knowing if I'll just be traveling, have some time in a hotel at home or when I'll have my apartment and how much I will/won't have when I move it.

It is quite the adventure. It will be nice when it isn't just a story and it is really "just my life".