Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Canuck and a Yank in Edinburgh...

Monday, after seeing Linlithgow and the William Wallace monument, we came back to Lynn and Keith's and my friend Sean had left a message. Sean is my road warrior friend that I mentioned in one of my Viva Blogs. He was going to be one of my chalet mates at the Rave, and since he had a few days to kill, had never been to Edinburgh, decided to visit some of his friends in Edinburgh. After a brief chat on the phone, I called a taxi and went down to a pub to meet up with Sean.

Sean was wearing the appropriate tie for Scotland:

Sean and his buddy, Tony:

During the evening, Sean looked over at me and says, "Hey Kim...we're in Scotland!"

We had a good night hanging out and at about midnight I took a cab back to the Turner's and quietly let myself in and up to bed. 

The next day was Tuesday, and Keith and Lynn had to work, so I had plans with Sean to meet him on the bridge under the Scotsman hotel. I caught the bus down and he wasn't there. I was concerned, since I was 15 minutes late, but then thought that he might be waiting in the market UNDER the bridge. I looked over the edge at exactly the same moment he looked was like out of a movie or something. He told me to wait and he found his way up through the Hotel. 
First thing we did was EAT. People warned me that the food in the UK was not very good, but I want everyone to know THAT IS A BIG FAT LIE, and I got the 10 extra pounds to prove it. We ducked into a pub in a little alley, called the Half House (located next the the Jangling Jordy) which boasts of being the smallest pub in Edinburgh.

Sean ordered Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. I snapped a photo of his meal, but didn't bother snapping a photo of my Bacon Brie Pannini and crisps. FYI: in the UK "Crisps" are what we call "Potato Chips" and "Chips" are what we call "Fries." 
The food I probably ate the most of when I was in the UK was the bacon. Their bacon is different and although it may be hard to believe, it is BETTER. I have always believed bacon to be a gift from God, and was in complete awe that it could be better than it already was, but darn, they do make it better over there! If you are from the US, just imagine a thick slice of lean beef, little fat, cooked well, but tastes like bacon. THAT is what UK bacon is like.

After our satisfying meal, and Sean's after meal Scotch, we took off up High Street towards the castle. No guards that day, but we arrived in time to watch them shoot the 1:00 cannon. This is done every day. Across Edinburgh, at the top of Calton Hill, there is the Nelson Monument, which is a tower that raises a ball every day. When the cannon sounds, the ball drops and all the ships in the harbor are able to set their clocks. 

Me, walking up the alley under the "Jangling Jordy"

The view across Edinburgh from the castle to Calton Hill

Sean snapping a photo

The One O'Clock Cannon

Close up of The Nelson Monument on Calton Hill
 Sean and I explored the castle and saw the Crown Jewels of Scotland, and the other historical things around the Castle. After that we walked towards Calton Hill and stopped in a cemetary. I was surprised to see a U.S. Civil War Monument there.

At the Castle

Bombshell with a view of Edinburgh below
 Honest Abe in Edinburgh

After the cemetary we walked over to Calton Hill, which is a public park atop a large hill in the middle of the city. There are some beautiful buildings and  the Nelson Monument is open to the public to climb. I was a little queasy up that high, but Sean loved it. I left him up there to take photos and made my way back down. 

We walked back to Sean's friend's flat and spent a little time visiting with his friend, Benoit. Benoit is a french Canadian who was working on his Masters at the University in Edinburgh. Something about creating sound using computers, It was interesting but WAY beyond my simple understanding. 

Sean and I had a Chinese buffet dinner, which was pretty good, and after a big hug and "See you in a couple days at the Rave," I took a cab back to the Turners.

I spent Wednesday repacking and resting since Thursday we were leaving early to catch the train to London on our way to the Rave. Wednesday evening, Kenny picked up Keith and I and after stopping at his place we drove out to Glasgow for them to have a final listen to a CD they had just recorded with Mary Jean Lewis, the neice of Jerry Lee Lewis, who resides in Scotland. 

Mary Jean was very charming, and has the cutest accent...very southern with a hint of Scottish. The CD sounds amazing, some real rockin' tunes with some country thrown in. There are original songs written by Keith and Kenny, and also a great tune written by the guitarist for the Frettones, Keith's other band. When it is released next month I will write a review. 

My visit in Scotland was really wonderful. My hosts were great, and everything I saw and did was so interesting and beautiful. I really hope to return some day. 

My skater son...

Just wanted to share these photos of Mason skating at Lake Cunningham yesterday. I'm so proud of him.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A break from travel blogs...let's talk music! Keith Turner and the Southern Sounds

My host is Scotland, Keith Turner, is not just a dear friend, he's also a talented musician, with several bands. He has just released his first solo project (well, not exactly solo, it's him and some very talented musicians backing him) on Rollin Records. Rollin has some of my favorite bands on their label, like the Excellos, The Playboys, The Blue Mambas, and another band with Keith singing, the Frettones.

I am really digging this new CD Keith put out. It's got a lot of blues, but also some rockin' style tunes, and even an old rock-steady cover, done rockabilly style. Don't forget to turn off the music player on the right before you play the video.

Enjoy this preview of Keith's new Record

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I discovered I like ruins!

Sunday Kenny picked us up and the Turners, Kenny and I drove out to the Forth Bridge. This amazing bridge was constructed a long time ago (sorry wasn't paying attention to what they told me) and was a man made wonder or something. I was more interested in the beach next to the bridge and the amazing anchor that was just sticking up out of the beach.

When we got back in the car, Kenny asked, "Is there anything particular you want to see. I thought for a moment and said "Do you have any ruins?" They all laughed, because apparently, Scotland is full of ruins. We drove out to St. Andrew to see the 8th Century Cathedral ruins and the adorable, quaint town where Prince William met and fell in love with Kate.

The following day I still had a yearning for more ruins, so Kenny and the Turners took me up to Linlithgow Palace Ruins. You can read the history if you click the link. This was amazing. You could walk all around inside and I climbed to the top turret and snapped pics across the Loch just outside.

After Linlithgow, we headed out towards Stirling to see the William Wallace monument and view his sword....pretty awesome.

Next, we were going to head over to the castle at Stirling, but when Lynn and I saw the Primark, we decided shopping was what we needed to do. We headed back to the Turners after stopping for dinner. By the way, Primark was amazing..cheaper than anything in the states, even with the exchange rate.


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