Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Exercise note

Okay. I am going to really like this pedometer, I think.

Today, I walked 12429 steps = 5.688 miles = 485.5 calories.

I think that this will be hard to beat until tomorrow when we really start spending the whole day walking around at the tournament. Of course, I have to consider that we have a tendency to find a good spot and stay put. I like hole 12 and hole 17. :o)

The real challenge will be when I get back home and don't have a golf course to walk through the whole day. Of course, this could be the start of my walking routine on my way back to health and fitness.

When they say to start out slow...

...I should believe them...

So after walking around the golf course for almost 3 hours in my Nike Frees, my feet are exhausted!!! And now they are getting a nice massage in my adidas massaging sandals.

We made it to Ohio. Cher picked us up and we stopped at Adobe Gilas (get it?) for Mexican food. They had really good tacos!

Then we decided to walk around the golf course and get in some of the practicing and pro-am stuff. Saw Jack Nicklaus a couple times and took a look at the store. Not a lot but what was there was expensive. Jeez.

Now I am totally exhasted! Ack!!

But my pedometer tells me I've already walked over 5 miles! I am going to keep a log and see what happens. I think this week will be the statistical blip that statistics types always talk about. So it really won't count as a standalone but will in the overall if you averge a month or two, let's say. And I have to redo my Fitday profile to take out walking in general so that I can log that separately.

Also, Cher looks G-O-O-D. I never thought she looked bad or heavy... but she looks GOOD now that she's lost 10 pounds give or take... She basically did it by upping her training and using portion control. Makes me wish I could train and run ...

Monday, May 30, 2005

In a galaxy far far away.....

....A bunchapeople went to the theatre to watch Star Wars....

Episode III. What a terrific movie! Now it all makes sense. We went home and watched Episode IV and I finally got it!!!

After the movie we went to Dim Sum at Chau Chow City. Then we mosey'd our way up Boylston Street and Lo and Behold! A Burberry store that was like a sale store!!! They had a lot of handbags and the clothes were a little picked over. But we found a nice shirt that fit Elizabeth so we got that for her. There was a denim jacket she liked but the size 2 was just a tad snug and they didn't have any size 4's. I know she thought the size 2 was ok but it was snug enough that she wouldn't be able to wear it next year. She's only 16 and yes, she will change sizes and at that price, you would like to keep somethinjg for more than a year!

Then on to City Sports. I got my adidas massaging slippers! They don't make them for women so the guy suggested a boy's size 5 which fit perfectly. I got the wobble board for my ankles, a pair of Nike Frees, and another Nike bag (I love bags) and a pedometer!! I am going to keep track of my steps and see how much I walk in a day! I gotta get on the horn here with the exercise. Everything that Cher is losing, I am gaining!!! GAH!!!! I have a feeling I'm going to have to eat dinner at 6pm and cut out alcohol. But one step at a time. I have to start exercising again.

Dinner was filet mignon, my fully fatted mashed potatoes and spinach salad.

I had the rest of the cinnamon ice cream for dessert.

Of course I haven't packed for our trip tomorrow! GAH!!! And this time I am taking korean spices so that I can cook for Cher and Milt. Love. To. Cook. And the more the merrier I say. I figure I'll make my dumplings one night and some other meat dish another night. I bought little containers at the Korean store this weekend so I can leave them for Cher when I leave. This way she can use them when I'm not around! Or leave them for next year! LOL.

Gotta. Go. Pack.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

How slick is Hog Snot?

I have no idea. I didn't run the race; I merely supported.

John left for Korea this morning and Elizabeth decided to sleep in.

I drove Harriet's car and Joseph drove the Subaru, picking up Josh and Simon around the corner at the Hard Rock Cafe. We made it to Sturbridge in plenty of time. The race was flat in comparison to the hilly nature of the area.

The T-shirt looked pretty good but I'm still glad I didn't run it.

Josh ended up coming in first and as he rounded the corner, I had my digital out and Click Click Click... ARG!!!!! It wasn't on! Then Simon comes in third or fifth, and Click Click Click.. ARG!!!!!! Again it wasn't on!!! GAH!!!!!!

Then I see Joseph. He finishes in 7th place. And this time, I made sure the camera was ON!!!!!

Doug was also there. He was mid-pack but finished strong. Doug did RTB with us and looks like Mitt Romney! LOL. Anyway, nice guy, quiet with a wild streak. Last year he and his wife did the Wife-carrying race. Yup. Don't ask.

It was a nice drive back, although we took the wrong way out. H was so sure that it was the right way out, and of course, since we already know that I never learn, I went the wrong way out against my best judgment. And kept going even though nothing looked familiar! Thank G-d the road ended before too long.

Then I went the wrong way on the main road to get to I-84. And I had to call Joseph and there I am, screaming into the phone and he tells me to turn around..... Grrr.... I hate those roads where the on ramp and off ramp are not together and you can't tell where they are! GAH!!!!!

So dinner was at home. We went to the grocery store and did a bunchaerrands and it started raining HARD so no one wanted to go out. So I ended up making ma po tofu and korean spinach, mung bean pancakes, fresh made kimchee, gahkdughee kimchee, etc. It was rather yummy!

Elizabeth and Joseph walked the dingle and brought back ice cream. H took the caramel and I took the cinnamon. Of course I ate half and saved the rest for tomorrow. Amazing how far a small cup of ice cream goes.

Tomorrow is a holiday! Yahoo!!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Busy busy busy...

What a day! Preparing for the weekend and a house full of people takes a lot of energy!

Got my massage today. Turns out my foot is a MESS!! Also I have a crick in my neck. And my ITB insertion into my hip iS TIGHT. It turns out the area of my foot that hurts are the ones tied to my shoulder, back and hip. Go figure. Needless to say, I am going back in two weeks instead of the usual month. Blast!

John was home by the time I got out of my massage. Joseph and John met me at Clery's and we had a late lunch.

Harriet arrived as we arrived home. She was unloading just as we were walking up. Perfect timing.

Then we sat in tha hall talking to our upstairs tenant until it was time to pick up Elizabeth.

After getting Elizabeth home and settled, we had about an hour before it was time to go to dinner at Croma. A new little pizza and wine bar, it was amazingly good! The crust was perfect and the toppings were unual. But the flavor was excellent!

Tomorrow, we are going to a trail race out by Sturbridge. I am not running, of course. I bet it's buggy if it's not raining. Almost makes you wish for rain.

Okay. Time for bed. It's late... gotta get up early, etc etc etc.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Just when you think you've got it right...

...you find out, you've got it wrong…

So, this morning I look out and the ground is wet and the sky is gray and it looks like rain.
The weather report says something about possible rain.
And I have to drive to RI again.
The question is whether I take the Miata or the Subaru.
I hate driving the Miata in bad road conditions because of the dangers involved and well… it's a tiny little car.
So I pick the Subaru.
I cross over into RI, and the sky clears.
I get into the cafeteria to get my tea and the sun is streaming through the window.

It's going to be a full weekend. John, Lizzy and Harriet are all coming in tomorrow for the weekend. Lizzy is staying. John is flying out to Paris on Sunday. Harriet is also staying. Harriet, Lizzy and I are going to the Slicker 'n Hog Snot Trail Race on Sunday. We are picking up Simon and Josh around the corner. Neither one has a car. Yeah. Whatever. Anyway... I am not running. Lizzy is not running. Joseph, Simon and Josh are running. Harriet is going to be running very very slow. Or walking very quickly. It depends on your perspective. I wonder if Josh, Joseph, and Simon realize that they will have to wait for Harriet to finish. And they are twice the speed. I hope they can occupy their time. Thank goodness it's only a 5miler. At most they will be waiting for 30 minutes. By the time she gets in, the rest will have rested and eaten. It will be a bummer for Harriet because she won't be able to graze they way she likes to after a race. By the time she gets in, the rest will be ready to leave.... Hopefully, Josh will want to do a cooldown of several miles. That MIGHT give her a little bit of time.

Should be an interesting weekend. LOL!!!

PF Note - Day 2.
The foot is feeling better most of the time. I've figured out how to lift up my foot or my heel whenever I bend down. Once in a while I forget. And it hurts!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Just a bunchanotes...

PF Note.
I slept in the stupid night splint last night. I found it in the basement. I thought it would take hours of search and profuse use of profanity only to discover that I (a) can't find it, or (b) discover it's in storage. But thanks to the clear plastic bins and my wonderful Hunny Bunny's organization in the basement, I found it in about 5 minutes. So I retrieved it and brought it upstairs and the first thing Joseph did was LAUGH. And then I turned my back for ONE SECOND and he had the stupid thing ON! Ok. So.... Why did that NOT even surprise me? He said it made his KNEES hurt. Huh?? I can't even being to understand that.

Head Cold Sinus Thing Note.
Still there. Still hanging on. Sort of like the damn weather we are having of late… just sort of fizzling and hanging in there but not going away, either. Just enough to make you miserable enough so that you know it's there, hanging on, interminably, like forever, as if you will live out the rest of your life in it's evil grip.

Exercise Note.
It's interesting. I was going to start going to the gym and then I thought there is very litle I can do with the PF thing. First, I can't do anything that makes me bend over and lift because the combination sets off the nerve and I feel as if I stepped on an electric pad. And I can't do anything that forces my legs straight while I am bent at the waist with my foot flexed - like leg extensions or hamstring curls. But I can do upper body weights as long as I don't bend over. So far, standing up hasn't been a problem.

Next week, I am contemplating walking since we will be in Ohio visiting my good friend Cher. I'll see what kind of stress that puts on the foot. Then when I get home, I'll hit the upper body weights. It's better than nothing.

I am also thinking about getting myself a pedometer to see how much walking I do in a normal day. I think that I need to walk more but it's an unconscious activity for me - I only walk when I need to and I try to minimize even that… although since I live in the city, you can only minimize so much. So this weekend, I hope to do some research to find a really good pedometer.

Scotch Note.
We got out Mailboxes Etc package the other day. Lo and Behold, one of the packages contained the Oban 32 year (yeah!) and the licquer we bought at Stirling Castle. Joseph talked to the MBE guy over in Scotland and he is sending the other three bottles through the mail. That would be the Edradour, the Oban 28 or whatever year - can't remember, and the McClean clan-distilled special gift from Paul McClean in Scotland. I am so so so happy! We should get in within the week! Then I can take a picture of our stash and post it. Of course, it will make me wish I had bought two of each yet again, so I have to put that out of my mind once and forever. At least until we plan the next trip to Scotland. That also gives me a chance to brush up on my Scottish accent! HAH!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Random Thought: Email

I am loving this email blogging.
Whenever I get a thought, I just send an email!!!

Love it love it love it!!!

Small surprises

…make the world go round…

I think I've said that before. I know I've thought it to myself many many times.

So, this morning, I have the umbrella because it's raining cats and dogs outside.
Yes, folks, we have nor'easter…
And if it were a few degrees colder, we'd have snow. In May.
And that is not unheard of around here.

It is so cold here right now that we have the heat going.
And I am very relieved that I haven't mailed the box of fleece and winter sweaters to my sister.
I will dig through it this weekend if the cold does not abate…

So I open up the umbrella and lo and behold, there is no hole!
I have one of those "venting in the wind" umbrellas.
I lost the first one and then my Hunny Bunny brought home another - another small surprise.
Well, one of the tied-down thingies on one of the vent flaps came apart and the flap flapped open and the way it's made, it would stay open.

So it always looked like I had a small hole in my umbrella.
And the last time it rained - the rain came through the small hole.
Thank goodness it wasn't raining that hard.

So, I opened up the umbrella this morning and no hole.
My wonderful Hunny Bunny had secretly wired it all together with one of those ties that come with plastic sandwich bags.

I had been meaning to do this but, as with all things I mean to do, it never got done.
My Hunny Bunny, on the other hand, means to do things and he actually does them.
I could use a little lesson in concrastination - if that is the opposite of PROcrastination.
Our good friend Amanda would know what the correct word would be if it were to exist.
Not that one exists, I don't think…

So, again, another small surprise that give in a big way…
making my world go round and round.

Yes, I grabbed the gold ring on the merry go round of life when I met my Hunny Bunny.
Happy happy!!!

And the results are...

…PF with nerve impingement…

Runr53 was right. The nerve impingement is side thing when I bend down.  The bending down position stretches the tight muscles and ligaments, that presses on the nerve. And the weight in the right place, makes it worse.

So now I have to massage the foot, fascia, lower legs, stretch - making sure the nerve doesn't get stimulated, and find a way to bend out without putting any weight or strain on the foot so the nerve isn't impinged.


I went to the podiatrist this morning.
And I can start running, he said.
The muscles will get tighter but as long as the nerve isn't damaged and I am diligent with the other stuff, I can run.  Great. Now only if I actually CAN run… I might start with the walking first…  I can't do the bike anymore unless it's outdoors - Elizabeth the Niece will be using the front room as her bedroom for two months this summer…

Oh, and I have to sleep with the night split again.  For four to six weeks.  If the pain goes away, I don't have to come back to see the doctor.  But in two or three weeks if the pain level is the same or worse, then I need to come back and I might need a shot.  GAH!!!!!!!!!!!! GAH GAH GAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I will be diligent - I've been lax in stretching, anyway… and since I never learn (obviously), this will get me back into the stretching routine.

The question is, how many OTHER routines have I dropped or forgotten about that might cause other proglems along the way.

This sucks.

Strange thoughts...

…pop into my head every once in a while…

Upon waking this morning, I thought about what it would be like if people had tails.
Tails, like dogs do. Long tails, short tails, fluffy tails, nubby tails. I thought that people watching would be interesting if people had tails. You could see their facial expressions and gestures and what came out of their mouths, and then check it all out by looking at their tails. I then imagined a bar scene with people lined up on stools with their tails hanging down or wagging or sticking straight out. And the pickup scene would definitely be more sportive to watch! LOL!

Anyway… I told Joseph all this and of course his immediate reaction was, "why people DO have tails already…"
Seeing as how this came out of Joseph, I didn't even flinch and I kept going with the conversation. And he said it again. Then after a moment, he said, what is interesting is whether the tail reflex is automatic or if you can control it. And I thought, well, it could be reflexive but then you could control it after you realized the tail was in full swing. Or not.

And that, folks, is the type of conversation that occurs in our family.

yup yup yup…

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

God humbles us...

...in a myriad of small ways...

There is a guy that I see every once in a while when I take the 5:55 train home. He sits in the first car at the beginning for the car.

He works for the Childrens Museum I found out today because he was wearing a staff shirt. And his name is Chris. He was wearing a name tag that had "Chris" on it.

The name tag was the kind you could pin or clip. His was clipped to a chain and hung around his neck. I imagine it would be hard to clip the name tag or pin it to his shirt. You see, his hands are horribly disfigured. Incomplete fingers that end in stubs, not to mention there isn't a complete set of 5 on either hand.

He walks a bit funny - with effort, feet splayed out with a distinctive side to side gate. His face is a little larger than the average - that is, it's enough to make a you look twice but not enough to make you linger - nothing unusual as large heads go - but then you DO look twice because his forehead juts out, his eyes are wide set and bug out a bit like, well... like a bug. And his nose is hard to describe except to say you can tell he would have a hard time breathing.

I try not to look but I do. I give darting glances because I am afraid to catch his eye. Not because I am ashamed or embarassed to be looking but because I don't want him to think I am staring. I don't want to hurt his feelings. But then, do I look and pretend there is nothing different?

Intelligence is undeniable. He is always reading the newspaper... although whether the daily rag actually contains anything worthy of any level of intelligence is up for discussion - but then it caters to the norm, I suppose.

And as I sat there on the train, wondering if I should make an attempt to make eye contact and give him my warmest smile, so that maybe for a moment he is like any other stranger on a train that happens to match glances with another stranger on the train, like any "normal" person, I was suddenly ashamed.

I thought that sounding as if I was speaking in a tin can, and looking like I had 10 more pounds on me than I actually weighed, paled in comparison to the 'normal life' that Chris faced every day. And I was humbled.

God works in mysterious ways. He speaks to all of us. We just need to wait, watch, and open our ears and maybe we will hear what He has to say. If we are lucky...maybe...

Okay... I am done...

…well done…
Done for the day.

I am tired and exhausted and I am gonna go home at a "finally decent" hour today.

I did go to the studio to get taped.
It took about an hour and then it was "in the can" as they say.
They will work on it for the next month and then I will get my 2 minutes of fame.
It will be shown throughout the company and the whole thing will last about 15 minutes.

Of course I won't watch myself. I never do. It's like heights. I hate it and I am afraid of it. I feel the same way about any kind of photography where my person is captured in celluloid or digital images… Not sure why. Maybe I was a cannibal in the prior life and my soul was captured when the white man came and took my photo for National Geographic… But, I digress. As usual.

And of course, my company has their own production company... doesn't everyone?

Anyway… they promised I wouldn't sound like I was speaking in a TIN CAN and that I wouldn't look fat. I told the guy I know where he works. He can run but he can't hide...

It will be a miracle if they can do all that.

So, I am going to try and make the train before 6pm for a change.
I think I just need a little down time.
I can't seem to focus on anything because I am so damn tired.
Must be this head cold allergy thing that's going on…


Tin Can

I sound like I am talking into a Tin Can.

Damn Allergies!!! ARG!!!!
And I am getting ready to get taped for my 5 minutes of fame to be aired in a month across the company. Great.

I am so thrilled.

Monday, May 23, 2005

...and Bad News...


I get home and within 15 minutes of arriving, every day things are making my heel hurt.
It's weird.
It hurts when I bend over.
And I do a lot of bending over - pick things up, pet the dog, put things down, feed the dog and cat, water the dog and cat, etc etc etc.
It's amazing how much bending over one does in 15 minutes.
I can't imagine what happens in a whole day.

Looks like I am going to the podiatrist....


Good news...

Arun can change my appointment to noon so I will get my massage after all! Yahoo!!!

Next week, we are going to Ohio to visit our good friend Cher and her husband Milt. It's always a lot of fun when we get together. This year, I am packing my spices and a small jar of Kimchee (yup) to take with me. I will be cooking. I LOVE TO COOK! And the more people I can cook for the happier I am! Although, I've been told that there is a vegetarian in the bunch. Not a problem since Joseph's mother is a vegetarian. I've already got a few things in mind to make! I have to go to the Korean grocery store this weekend - been putting it off so this gives me a perfect reason to go ahead and do it.

Speaking of food, I also ordered the usual filets and burgers from Omaha Steaks. YUM! Summer time is quickly approaching, although you would not know that from the weather lately. We are at least 10 degrees cooler on average than the normal average. It's gray, cloudy, drainy, dark and drab outside. My favorite kindaweather... although a few minutes of bright sun peeking and out every few hours or so wouldn't be unwelcome...

Okay... gotta finish up some stuff so I can get out of work...

Small things....

They say not to sweat the small things and I believe that's true.
I also believe that small things make the world go round.
Especially small things like these.

I am thinking of cashing in some American Express Reward points to get a pair.
I might even get a pair for my wonderful Hunny Bunny!
The Apple earphones I have keep falling out.
I have little ear holes and these types of earphones have always been a problem for me.

What to do what to do what to do…

We have already cashed some points in to get this and I can't wait for it to come in!

And speaking of iPods, I have to make time to finish downloading all the rest of the CD's that we have. I think I have room for another 350 more songs or something like that. After that, I have to start making some priority decisions about which songs to get rid of and which ones to keep.

And speaking of taking some time… now that it's almost June, it's time to think about plans for next Valentine's Day. That should give me enough time to come up with something creative for a weekend away. It's my turn this year and I know I won't be able to beat the one that Joseph put together this past Valentine's Day but I should be able to come up with something decent. I hope. I am not the most creative person in the world…

Head cold is getting better. I was going to start thinking about getting back to the gym but I am having some strange heel pain - it's on the inside of my heel at the edge of the heel pad. When I bed down, I tend to lean into this part of the heel and I get a sharp jabbing pain. I know it's not PF or Achilles Tendonitis. It's entirely different! I almost feels like I've got a bruise there. I need to do some research on this or I will have to go to the podiatrist. GAH!!!!

This weekend will be rather a full one. We have a lot of people coming in this weekend - the Nephew, the Niece, and Harriet. It's like all three of our almost grown kids are coming home for a visit. And Harriet may be bringing a friend but I haven't heard from her. No surprises there.

And my massage may be canceled for this Saturday! WAHHHH!!!!!!! I have a feeling that my stirrup muscles are tight which is causing the heel pain. Just a hunch, knowing how the stirrup muscles wrap around and under the foot in the same general area. If the Arun has to cancel, then I am in a world of hurt. I'll have to find someone else - maybe Rick can do it… We'll see... Still have to talk to Arun first.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Sunday night rituals...

We are back home. Got in early - glad we left early because we avoid the traffic. From churches getting out, from graduations, from two traffic accidents near Boston that could have turned into miles and miles of stopping and going.

Went to lunch in Chinatown at Ho Yuen Ting... cheap, in the basement, and mostly attended by Chinese people, which is a good sign when it comes to Chinese good. This place is also owned by a cousin of someone who works for me. But then, they all seem to be related... Anyway, no credit cards, cash only. They have the best hot ands our soup. The. Best.

Now we are watching the many DVR'd recordings of House, Law and Order, CSI, Numbers.

The head cold/sinus thing is getting better. Thank goodness. I still sound like my head is in a tin can, though.

On a somber note. It seems that A&G's Toemas has departed the earth. So sad. Rest in Peace, Toemas. We hardly knew you.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Another weekend away...

...and we've been home for four days...

In the Berkshires. Got here last night. We were going to try to leave a little early but my 3pm meeting got out at 4:45pm and then I got a phone call from my boss and had to take care of something which meant I didn't get out until 5:10pm. Of course that meant that I didn't get home until 6:30pm... which isn't bad since it's the height of rush hour.

Had a busy day... we went into Adams to take care of some things, visited Joseph's Granny for a while, and had lunch at the Firehouse Cafe on Main Street. Then we went to the house and relaxes whiled M&D went to see Grandma. Then we went to Jae's Inn with a couple of his Uncles and Aunts... phew...

I am totally exhausted...

Execrise Note.
Lots of running around.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Okay... it's time to give in....

…and admit that perhaps, just perhaps, I DO have a head cold.
I think the allergies turned into the sinus thing which turned into a head cold.
I wouldn't normally care but next week I have that taping for the webcast at work and the camera lights are harsh enough as it is. The last thing I need is a read nose, raw under-nose-area, stuffy head, red -looking eyes, and congestion which would make me sound like I was in a TIN CAN!!! GAH!!!!

Tonight we are off to Joseph's M&D's out in the Berkshires.
We are bringing back the Miata! Yahoo!!!
Which means that the summer will be filled with moving cars for street cleaning, figuring out which car to drive, moving garage passes from car to car… it's a PIA but I LOVE CARS! I can't help it. I can't imagine getting rid of one. And lately, I've been thinking that maybe I need another car…

Of course, Joseph will probably veto that outright.


It all works!!! YAHOO!!!!

That's all.


It worked!!! ACK!
I guess I will be sending my random thoughts through email.
There have been so many times when I wanted to write something down and I didn't have my computer in front of me.
Now, I can write whenever I want to! Yahoo!

And the best part is that it won't actually publish until I get into the blog site and do a "hard publish".
So that means I can change things around before I post!!! Yahoo!

I wonder if it will take bold and italics and stuff like that.



Just testing out the email posting thing.
I tried it before and typed in the wrong address.
Oh… that was about four months ago?
And here I am four months later, trying it again.
Yeah. I know. FOUR months.
Inertia and all, you see...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Morning is dawning...

...a little too early for my comfort.

Got up at 4:15 am and laid in bed for another 29 minutes until I couldn't stand lying there anymore. Finally got out of bed at 4:44 and sat downstairs for a bit until Joseph got up to take the Dingle Doggie out for her morning walk.

I think my allergies are caused by my taking a supplement. I had heard of this a few years ago - that if you take plant based natural supplements, it may cause allergies. It had never happened to me before and I take a LOT of supplements. But I have a sneaking suspicion that is the case right now. So I am off the morning supplements to prove or disprove my assertion. I know it will take me a few days to get a clear head in this is the case.

I have lost all the weight from my travels and then .2 pounds more. Yikes!
I think that my eating dinner early at work and not drinking alcohol for two days hasn't hurt. Not to mention that my body was probably conserving water because I was dehydrating on the plane. Just have to keep the momentum going.

Next week, I've decided will be when I get back into working out. I will start running again and I am looking forward to it. Trying to it my workouts in while trying to get back into the swing of work and catching up from vacation is basically giving me angina... so I am being kind to myself.

So, today I go up to the NH office and knowing that gas is cheaper, I filled up the car. $2.05 a gallon. As opposed to $2.26 a gallon in Massachusetts. I thought that was enough to take me to RI tomorrow and then through the weekend until Monday when I am back in NH. But all the meeting in NH for Monday got canceled or MOVED TO BOSTON and it looks like I'll have to get expensive gas for the week! ARG!!!

And I didn't pack lunch today. The cafeteria in NH is SO MUCH BETTER than all the other ones. And I just had the best portobellow wrap panini and creamy tomato soup!!!

Random thought: I want to cut off my nose and dig out my eyes. GAH!!! I. Feel. Like. Shit. DAMN ALLERGIES!!!!

Okay. Now I think my allergies are really a cold. A head cold. It's so hard to tell unless you have fever and chills, which is the flu. Okay. Rambling.

So, my Hunny Bunny brought home dinner - pizza from The Dish. It looked so good. Too bad I couldn't taste any of it. GAH!!!!!!!

Exercise Note.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Vacation is like...

...a distant memory...

Has it only been two days since I got back?
Work has been filled with intrigue... and NOTHING was resolved while I was gone.
Soooo... WHY would I think anything would be different when I got back?
I know. Brain fart. Stupid moment. Too much vacation has surely dulled the brain...

One poor guy in India has been trying to get 30 minutes from me for the last two days.
In fact he tried to get in touch with me while I was away on vacation.
But I've been flat out since coming back and besides, he is moving to another group and I am not really pleased with how it was done... so I am not sure I want to give him 30 minutes of my life. Especially given that I can't find 30 minutes to give to the people I have taken to calling my "wing men."

I suppose tomorrow I might have to talk to him...

So, the big news of the day is that I got a phone call from someone in the R&D group... they want to do a "telecast" and want me to be in it. We have our own film division at work... And it's very professionally done and will be sent out on the intranet for the whole of the company to see...

Next Tuesday, I am going to the studio to get interviewed and filmed.
I think she called it "getting it in the can."
Which sounded a little strange to me, but what do I know about filming?
And to think that I avoid the camera at all costs!
Yes, I told her that too.
I told her I had better not look FAT.
She laughed and said the men don't want to look bald and the women don't want to look fat.

Nothing much of note happened today.
Just another day in the wild wild rat race...
It's like I never left.

Exercise Note.
Nothing. Running from meeting to meeting and trying to get out of work at a decent hour - like 7:35pm.

Random Thought: Allergies...



Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The first day back...

...is always the toughest...

Ok. My sinus thing is a full blown pain in my head.
It's getting worse and my throat hurts - WAH!!!
I am hoping it's just allergies and not an infection.
Might be allergies because it's similar to what I felt before I left and there are different allergans here than there are in the UK.

Sleep was hard - got up at 1:15am, 2:42am, 3:55am, and finally called it a day and got up.
Funny thing, I didn't make it work any earlier than I usually do on those days when I don't work out in the morning. I packed workout gear in case I had a chance to go to the gym but of course, I was overly optimistic - again.

Another full day - lots of updates from my team and a good sense of what has been happening. I am glad that I caught up on work email while I was because I was at work until 6:45pm as it was.

Got home in about 50 minutes of driving - there were NO PEOPLE on the roads! It was very very strange! Almost surreal.

Got a note from Elizabeth the "Niece." She is coming on May 28th and returning after camp to school on August 27th. Hmmm... typical teenager - I remember doing this. Just just enough information so that none of it was that useful... I told her there are many days in between those two dates and many hours in between all those day and could she please be more specific... She will be here for a month, gone for a month, then back for a month. We will deliver her to camp in VT and pick her up from camp in VT - "another get away for the weekend opportunity". Yeah! Unfortunately, the first week she is here, we will not - going to the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield with our good friends Cher and Milt.

Speaking of Cher... she's been running a lot. She has lost 10 pounds and I bet she looks AWESOME!!! Can't wait to see the results!! If I didn't like her so much, I'd hate her. GAH!!! Anyway... she's been working really hard at this - giving up alcohol, which is like giving up kimchee for me - ACK! and running very consistently. She is getting really fast as well. I am afraid that between my 15 pound weight gain and my injury-recovery cycle for the past 5 months - I will not be able to run with her... I know that she is going to qualify for Boston! I am so psyched at the possibility of her doing this!!! The only problem is that if she can do it, then I can probably do it - but I am not as disciplined as she is. GAH!!!!

Okay... time to go to bed.... so. tired....

Exercise Note.
Nothing... gimme a day or two. Sheesh.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Home Sweet Home...

We are back!
Got in this afternoon, managed to unpack, did a errand or two, and finally uploaded the rest of the pictures and sent the link out to a bunchapeople and put the link on the sidebar, too.

I have a sinus thing going on... just started hurting - it's almost as if the stupid thing is starting up where it left off right before I left!

There are a few things of note that I should put down about the UK.

First, the price of gas! The Americans have NO IDEA how easy they have it at around $2/gal. Gas in the UK was around .87BP/liter. Now you have to remember that one liter is around .22 of a gallon. So you need to multiply that .87 by at least 4.something and you get around 4BP/gal. If that is not bad enough, add insult to injury at today's exchange rate you pay $8/gal. Even if the exchange were ideal at 1:1 (which hasn't happened in a long time), it still means that gas is $4/gal.

I think that gas is really expensive in Europe in general and with all the people in the U.S. bitching and moaning, it just goes to show how so many people are so globally unaware, don't really understand the oil and gas situation, and are very self-centered - which is typically the general case with Americans in general, anyway. So next time someone complains about it, I'll just give them a little story about having to pay $100 to fill up a 12-13 gal tank on a rental car we had in Europe. We did get 435 miles out of the tank - which is not a lot more than cars at home but a little better and the car was also DIESEL! The low mileage we get in the U.S is the price for getting clean fuel burning - which adds inefficiencies to the fuel utilization - and the price for being able to drive gigantical SUV's - especially for those who do NOT need these types of cars...ahem. So shut up, buck up, and pay the damn gas attendant or do something different about it!

In addition to driving on the left side of the road, the toilet flush handles are also on the opposite side. When I got to the UK, it took me a day or two to get used to this. Now that I am back, I am finding myself reaching for the toilet flusher on the wrong side!

We ran errands this afternoon - picked up a package we had shipped in Johnston's, which turned out to be only one of two packages. Dang. Anyway, it felt weird and relieving at the same time to be able to ride on the right side of the road again. Joseph drove but tomorrow I am driving to RI for work so I will see how used to the wrong side of the road I got. Hopefully, I won't drive the way I keep flushing the stupid toilet!

It was a great vacation. Joseph and I agree that we will definitely go back. We MUST go back!!! There were so many things we didn't see!!!

The first priority would be Scotland. We might even have a layover in Iceland to go to the Blue Lagoon since Iceland air offers free stopovers in Iceland if you are going to Scotland (and a few other places in Europe). I have a long list of places I must visit... I definitely want to do the islands on the west coast - Mull, Skye, Jura, Islay - and have another stay in Oban as well as take a day and drive up to Glen Coe and another day to drive down to Campbeltown. This will take more than a week as it is - having done it once, we now know how to pace ourselves.

The second place might be London - I would like to see more of Harrods and go shopping, needless to say... And visit the public library where they have original manuscripts on display, St. Paul's Cathedral where Prince Di got married, the Victoria and Albert museums, and spend a day back at the Churchill Museum! This is another "more than a week" trip.

I also learned once again, the hard way, not to go too budget because budget in Europe means something different than in the U.S. Having stayed in everything from their 3-star to 5-star luxury this time around, I would stay at their 4-star and up hotels and GUEST HOUSES! - Forget Inns and B&B. Gotta say Hotel or Guest House on the sign.

And we will have to wait for the exchange rate to get better. We need to buy more scotch - one to drink and one to keep, of course. But some of the goods there are less expensive at full price than here in the U.S. at a sale price. That is, IF the exchange rate were better - so we need to keep our eye on that. I would buy more cashmere, and cosmetics are cheaper, too. Also, certain name brands - like Louis V and Burberry.

I have a feeling that sleep will be off slightly. Joseph is making us pasta with meat sauce for dinner (YUM YUM YUM - I've missed this) and we will have a nice bottle of wine - at the private functions we went to the wine generally sucked! Otherwise we drank beer - you have to - it's Europe with European beer!

Okay. Too tired and hungry to write more...

Exercise Note.
Traveled - it's a long way to fly from UK to Boston!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

And on Sunday...

...we rested...
Nothing really was scheduled for today.
We had a private party we were going to for dinner so decided to take it easy for the day.

At first I toyed with the idea of going to Sunday services at St. Paul's Cathedral.
What a great way to see it! Well... I got up this morning and it didn't seem such a good idea... not sure why but needless to say, I didn't make it. I thought I would catch it next time I am in London!

Joseph went and ran this morning so I spent a couple of hours on the internet - checked emails at work yet again (no, it seems like I never learn). Then we walked to Chinatown for lunch. After much angst and gnashing of teeth on which place to eat lunch - we finally settled on a hole-in-the-wall place on the main drag that had only Chinese people in it. It seemed like a good idea to eat Chinese food where Chinese people ate it! And it was a great idea! The food was so awesome and we didn't overeat! Thankfully! LOL! As it is I think I've gained 5 pounds so far these last couple of weeks!

We were looking for a Korean restaurant but they were all closed! ARG!!!

On our sojourn, we popped into the Vintage House - a whiskey shop - smack dab in the middle of London's gay mecca. But we didn't know what we had found until Joseph went into the dark bowels - aka, the back of the shop. He discovered a WEALTH of whiskeys on display! They even had a bottle of 20k# (as in British Pounds.... as in 20,000... TWENTY THOUSAND BRITISH POUNDS! ACK!!!) 1924 Macallan! ACK! And we took lots of photos. The guy there was great to talk to. And sure enough, I finally popped out with the British accent! GAH!!! I KNEW that was going to happen eventually! Anyway... after searching, what did Joseph find but the Springbank 21! We got two bottles - one to drink and one to keep! And we also got a listing of all of their malts. The guy who manages the store, I assume that's what he was because I asked him if he was the proprietor and he said no, (whose name is Mac and hails from Scotland - which I could have guessed from the name and the accent), said we could get things shipped if we call him and pay for the whiskey, then call UPS and pay for the shipment, and UPS would come by and pick up the whiskey and mail it to us! So happy happy happy! I know that Amanda has had whiskey mailed from the UK before so I'll have to double check with her on the process.

We went back to the hotel - another leisurely walk with a stop into Niketown London to take a look at the NikeID.com stuff and the Nike Free shoe. They had a lot of soccer and rugby gear! Too funny! Not much on the Boston Marathon, as they do in Boston, I am afraid! LOL!

We went back to the hotel for a brief rest back at the hotel and then onto the party at Madame Tussauds! First we went into a room that had standing figures. They looked so real that I thought they were blinking! I would look away and it looked like they winked! And I'd look back quickly only to find a wax likeness. The first part was a standing cocktail party so with people milling about, the figures really blended right in. It was very eery at first. Then we went into another room for dinner, again with wax fivures but only on the sides as display. Again we took a lot of pictures. There was a three piece jazz ensemble which was mingled with a few wax figures of musicians so it was very funny to see three real people mixed in with another three fake people! LOL! You had to do a double take!

Dinner was very tasty and I was pleased with the evening! Afterwards, we came back to the hotel to pack for our trip home! BAH!!!!

Exercise Note.
Walking around and carrying out Whiskey stash back to the hotel. Happy happy happy!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Monday is getting closer...

...and I am already starting to get anxious about work! GAH!!!!
I am still on vacation, I am still on vacation... I must repeat that to myself...

After breakfast we did another half day tour of Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle is in Windsor which is about a 40 minute ride outside of London. Had we know that Windsor was a quaint little town with lots of shops to rummage through, and had we known that the Castle grounds were so big, we would have opted for the full day excursion and it would have been nice to even spend the night there and head back to London the next morning. Oh well... next time.

The Castle grounds are huge and as a result of the tourist trade it turns out that a little thriving town has sprung around the Castle - just outside of the gates, in fact! And there is even a Legoland in Windsor - and no, we didn't visit.

On the drive up, we went by the carriage path that leads from Windsor Castle to Ascot - there were people in carriages and on horseback and peope running and roller blading. And I thought, if I had to live in England, I'd live in Windsor!

We did the requisite tour of the Castle - we couldn't take pictures, unfortunately. And it was the case for the other places we visited including the Tower and the Crown Jewels, which I forgot to mention. Anyway... the Castle that we saw is still used today for state functions. The area where the Royal Family lives is gated off from the outside world, along with a guard to make sure that no one climbs over. That section alone was huge and I can't imagine a small family living in that huge place! At one point, we saw people moving around in one of the rooms! Not sure who they were though. We did know that the Queen was in residence there because her flag was up on the flag pole as opposed to the Union Jack (which signifies that she is out).

We also visited St. George's Chapel, which is inside the Castle walls. They were doing a lot of restoration work but we saw a lot of people's graves - including Darwin (Joseph's favorite), Newton, more recent kings and queens, Shakespeare, and a bunchaother people of historical note that I had never heard of.

Again, Windsor Castle is built on a HILL!!! And it was WINDY!!!

After the visit, the bus driver dropped us off in front of Harrods. It was like a gigantical Macy's - the requisite place that everyone visits when they are in London. We ate lunch at the food court which was absolutely amazing! Harrods could be yet another day-long visit! And too bad about the *&^%$!!! Exchange rate! GAH!!! Things were cheapers than in the USofA if you went pound for dollar... but since it's DOUBLE right now, we couldn't take advantage! I am so bummed out about that! We ate sushi at the food court and it was really delicious. One thing to note is that all over Scotland and London, seafood was superb!

We walked back to hotel from Harrods - through the madding crowd!!! GAH!!! and rested up before our show! Yes, we went to the theatre.

But before that, dinner was at Bertorelli's in Soho. Nice pre-theatre meal.

We saw The Woman in White. I typically do not like going to things that I don't know the plot or know the ending, etc. And I had no idea what this was about other than it was an Andrew Lloyd Webber thing. Well... The music wasn't his best but the plot and the scenery was awesome. The scenery was basically a huge panoramic projection back drop on a semi circular wall made up of smaller panels - some with doors - with a circular platform that moved around and a half round panel that moved in and out... basically there were projections of buildings and scenery on these white circular wall panels, and if a door was there, someone would walk through a door that had a project of a door superimposed on it. The scenery was minimal - maybe a chair, a table, a bed. That was it. And as a result you could focus on the actors instead of watching the little figures in the background dressed in black setting up the back for the next scene! It was VERY innovative and exceedingly well done. If the show comes to the USofA, I would recommended that they go see it. In fact, Joseph and I agreeed that we would go again if it came to the NYC or Boston.

Exercise Note.
Walking all over Windsor Castle on the HILL and in the WIND!
Then more walking through the Madding Crowds from Harrods to the hotel.

Friday, May 13, 2005

No superstitions on Friday the 13th...

...in merry ole England... Not a single mention of it except from the Americans.
Speaking of Americans, you could tell who they were - shorts, sneakers, t-shirts.
Yup, a picture perfect example of the Ugly American - especially with winter white skin and no muscle tone...

We had a very full day today.

After breakfast, we had signed up for a half-day tour of the Buckingham Palace area, which included Westminster Abbey. But before arriving there, we drove through Oxford Circus and Picadilly Circus and Trafalgar Circus, which is just up the street from Trafalgar Square with the big fountains and all those pigeons (which by the way are illegal to feed - if you do, it's a #100, which translates to roughly $200 USD due to the TERRIBLE exchange rate).

The first stop was the barracks of the palace guards to watch as they prepared for the changing of the guards. This takes place twice daily - one at 11:30 and one in the afternoon (not sure of the time since we were there to watch the 11:30). It takes place in the middle of daytime traffic - there is a roundabout (what they call rotaries over in London) in front of the gates where they march out toward the Palace. Turns out a couple of mounted police are on guard and at the appointed time, they stop traffic to let them out. After they get onto the street and if it is wide enough, the traffic goes on. It's so funny to watch them march along on in the left hand lane of the street with cars wizzing by them. But no one seems to mind.

England is full of parks. St. James Park is across from the barracks and seems to span the whole of an entire large block up the road from Buckingham Palace. Too bad I forgot to take my allergy meds - there was crap from the plants flying around because, you see, London is WINDY, TOO!!! ARG!!!

Next we viewed Buckingham Palace from afar. There was a throng of people, which I was duly informed was rather smaller than usual - egads! - so we decided to stay well away from the madding crowds! The lightpoles around the palace had little crowns on top! They were so cute! I guess the Queen was not in as the Union Jack was flying from the flag pole. If she is in, then they put up her own flag. Turns out that the minute she leaves or enters, that flag is being changed. If she goes out for an hour, they still change it. Go figure. Anyway, today the Queen was in residence at Windsor Castle, where they call "home." I guess Buckingham Palace is the"office." This what the English said even though some information status that it's her residence. I guess it's the idea of the country house and city house. Whatever...

Next onward ho to Westminster Abbey... Did I mention that when I think to myself, I am thinking with a British accents??? ARG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just a matter of time before my mimic-ability comes out and I actually speak that way... turns out I am already picking up a few words here and there and starting to use them as if I'd been a Brit all my life.... Bloody hell...

Westminster Abbey was just huge. Turns out that the Abbey grounds have been turned into a school called the Westminster School. It's a boy's school but just this year they decided to experience and admit a handful of girls in the upper grades (I think the equivalent of 11th and 12th grades in the USofA). The boys all wear uniforms consisting of jackets and ties. There is also the Westminster Boys' Choir School, which is a different school than the Westminster School. The Abbey is large and shadows everything around it. It is so beautiful and so massive - it's hard to imagine people building these structures by hand!

After the tour was over, we decided to go to the Tower of London. About three years ago, I had spent a lot of time, like a YEAR, reading about the Elizabethan age in England. Don't ask me why. It's just something I do... Anyway... I had read about the Tower and Elizabeth R, and Mary Queen of Scots, etc etc etc., and I had read about the "Bloody Tower" and the two princes were had been murdered there - presumably by there Uncle who was sitting on the throne at the time, so one story states - so I was SO excited to go to the tower. It's nothing like I expected. By the name, I thought it was a TOWER. The name is the TOWER! Well.. it's another palace-like structure without the palace part. It does have a tower where lots of people had been imprisoned before they were beheaded - most notably Sir Walter Raleigh (who came to NC and Raleigh NC is named after him) and two of King Henry VIII's wives, but it also has a chapel and grounds, shops and such that kept the Tower running! It was on the Thames and common prisoners would be brought by water through the Traitor's Gate. Also there are ravens being cared for on the grounds. They've been there for almost forever. Rumor has it that if the Ravens fly away, then Britain will fall. So they've clipped the wings of the ravens. Seems like that's cheating to me...

The Tube is awesome. Very clean and very much used. There are buses everywhere and it seems that everyone uses public transportation - except those who drove the cars we dodge when we crossed the street.

Back to the hotel. We changed into bathing suits and I sat in the jacuzzi to recover from the full day while Joseph swam.

Dinner that night we went to a private cocktail reception at the Cabinet War Rooms. It was the bunker used by Winston Churchill all through WWII. It was a little city all unto it's own. It had just opened and turns out that my work contribued money to the restoration. We saw the maps that had been used, and all the rooms were laid out just as if Winston and Clementine Churchill had stepped out for a moment. There were lifelike figures displaying what they did on a normal day. We saw the red phone that had a direct link to Washington DC. It was so awesome. I will definitely go back and spend a day there. One neat part was the actual Chruchill Museum. There was an interactive digital calendar that was like a gigantical long table top. You used your finger to slide the arrow and information would pop up. If you pressed November 30th on a particular year, 90 candles would appear; it was Churchill's 90th birthday! And I think August 6th was another special day but I can't remember what it was... Dang!!!! It spanned from the 1800's to right before Churchill was born almost modern times. I could have spent the whole day reading every single thing!!! We even took pictures in front of the original door from 10 Downing Street where Churchill lived. AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME!!!

Dinner was at an English Pub. What can I say? Just a Guiness and fish and chips. Now, they know how to make fish and chips in the UK!

Back to the hotel...another full day tomorrow!!

Exercise Note.
Lots of walking!!!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Getting to know London...

...is a lot like getting to know NYC...
It's too big to do it in a day. Or a week. One would need a MONTH to actually SEE all the site in and around London. And then another MONTH or two to go through the Museums. And the way I like to read every single word on every single plaque or document, it would probably take us close to three times that.

Got up this morning, had a leisurely breakfast at the Club Lounge, got on the internet a while (logged into work again - will I NEVER LEARN???), and then went to our spa appointments. I had a massage at 11:30am with Chantelle. She was French. I had a deep tissue massage. Now, I've had a lot of massages and most of them do not measure up to what my local MT's can do. Chantelle was different. A tiny little thing, she was as strong as any of my local MT's that are male! I really needed the deep tissue massage - my whole body ached from the hill walking and the traveling, and just walking in general. After that my facial at 12:30. Too bad I can't do this myself. A rubber masque layer that is really cold, then another layer that turns hard and heats up... it was really bizarre but I loved it! I am going to search around to see if anyone in Boston offers this particular massage.

Oh, and speaking of French... the Langham has a LOT of French people working there... the cute guy in the Club Lounge was French, too...

After the massages, we went to lunch at a local pub. I am generally surprised about the level of smoking. It was not as bad as I thought it was. And I guessed from a few notices and signs I read that in 2008, London is going No-Smoking throughout. The pub had no atmosphere to speak of, really, but the food was good (I had a steak sandwich which was HUGE) and Joseph had a chicken sandwich. Both were served with the ubiquitous fries that seemed to be served with almost everything you order - except for Indian food.

Then it was back to the hotel and met up with some people. We went to dinner that night at Memories in the hotel. Cocktails first and then a nice buffet dinner, where I tired a little of everything. I didn't overeat, thank goodness. But dinner was a little late - which has been the norm since we arrived in the U.K.

Back to the room and then off to bed. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow. We are going to Buckingham Palace!!!

Exercise Note.
Walking around London, darting between slow walkers, dodging smokers, and trying not to get killed while crossing the street.

BTW, just about every cross walk has "Look Left" and "Look Right" painted on them along with the appropriately pointing arrow! Must be for the dumb tourists from countries that drive on the OTHER side of the road - I think a few might have got themselves killed at some point!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Glasgow to England

We got up early to catch the 10am train.
Had a wonderful cab driver.
It was a woman who had dated Neil Busch (of the beer family).
She regaled us with stories of her experiences with this very strange family (her words) in her very Scottish accent. She was so funny!

Turns out she met him in NYC and she ended up in the Hamptons with him at some point.
It was the family home and the grandparents were there, etc. Turns out they didn't get out of the pajamas all day long, which made her observe that some people have so much money they don't have to dress.

Anyway... there was the nice train ride back to Kings Cross and then a cab ride to the Langham Hotel in Langham Plaza (yes, the plaza is named for the hotel).

London reminded me of NYC. It was very busy, very crowded and most of the cabs looked alike - except they were black and very cute and looked like they came out of a 1950''s cartoon book! Some of them were painted in bright colorful ads, like the Green Line trolleys in Boston. I loved looking at them!

We checked in and they led us to the Club Level, which is in another part of the building. It was maze getting there so they had to GUIDE you there. Then at the Club Leve desk, another check in, then off to our room - got a bit disoriented in the maze of halls but finally made it. We were in room 782. I might have to play that number when I get back! LOL! The room was beautiful! After the Old Schoolhouse Inn, Joseph was so happy to be in a luxury hotel with amenities - like soap! LOL!

We relaxed a bit, looked at maps and got on the internet. After only two days of no internet, you would have thought we were withdrawing from drugs! At least, me! LOL! We got on and blogged and look at email. Yeah, I looked at work email and I wished I hadn't - GAH!!!! The shit hits the damn fan whenever I am not there!!! ARG!!!!! At least I managed to clean out stuff that was easy so I don't have a big pile of poo when I get back into the office.

We decided to go to an Indian restaurant for dinner. But first a stop down in the spa to make appointments for massages and a facial for me. We lucked out and there were slots open for us - we might have snapped up the last ones, in fact. Then, we asked the concierge for a good place for Indian food and he gave us a choice of two - we opted for the closer one that was a five minute walk away.

Indian food was the one thing I kept hearing over and over again that I had to have while in London. And this was from real Indians who were born in India. And I am so glad that we did this. Anyway, we ended up at Gaylord and the food was incredible! I wished I could go there every night for dinner - they had the ubiquitous curry but it was only a small part of the menu. And I have a feeling that had we ordered it, it would not have been anything we were used to - and this is based on the food we did get! It was Northern Indian so there were a lot of meats (no beef) and the food was spicy and flavorful. It was the best Indian food I've ever had!

Then a nice casual walk back to the hotel to rest and relax for tomorrow.

Exercise Note.
Sitting in a train and then walking around London.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Back to Glasgow...

...and the lumpy mattress at the Old Schoolhouse Inn...
At least it's only for one night.

We got an early start - right after breakfast and drove to Glasgow - yes... another hair-raising ride. It was made worse because the Glen road we took was so damn narrow!!!! And the crossings over bridges were quite literally a SINGLE LANE with a small sign that told you to be careful and to give way! GAH!!!!

The other thing is that people pass all over the place. They see you are on the oncoming side and they pass anyway! I had to stop and slow down a few times to avoid head on collisions. The people in Scotland KNOW how to PASS PEOPLE! They speed up and then they slide over FAST! I had to practice this myself because I tended to slow down as I passed and tried to get back into the other lane. Of course, I didn't know I slowed down until Joseph told me while he was up on the armrest of the passenger side, clinging to the handstrap with both hands, and gasping for breath.

We finally made it back to the car rental place, thank goodness for Joseph's sense of direction because we didn't have a map and were coming to Glasglow from the opposite direction of when we left!

Then to the Inn and then to the internet cafe where we spent a better part of the afternoon! So happy to find internet!!! A day without it seemed like a WEEK without any communications!!!

Then we went back to the Inn after a nice leisurely meal.
Tomorrow we are off to London!

Some Scottish observations...

...before we go to London...

Scotland is very hilly, very beautiful, very green and very windy.
The weather is highly changeable.
And Bostonians think they have a corner on changeable weather.
Well... they have NOTHING on Scotland!

We would get sun, then rain, and wind, then clouds and then sun again - repeat.
At one point we got hail for about 5 minutes.
And all of that in a single day!
As we drove, we could see the weather line far in the horizon and we would drive through all of it in the span of 30 minutes!
When the Scottish talk about "gentle Scottish rain", they aren't kidding!
We rarely used our umbrellas.

Bathrooms are called Public Conveniences! LOL!
And you have to PAY 20pence to go to the bathroom.
This pays for the upkeep of the bathrooms -and Scotland had some of the cleanest bathrooms I've ever been in!
We think they should do this in the USofA.
And if you asked a merchant where the toilet was, he would kindly direct you to the public convenience in the square, "just a short walk down and around the corner!"

The People in Scotland are so NICE! And Polite!!!
They always said hello, and were never rude.
They were glad to talk to you and explain everything.
They even corrected your pronunciation of in a gentle way that seemed as if correcting people is the most natural thing in the world and expected as a part of daily conversation.

They also argued gently - it was so funny to listen to all this..
And all of it was so POLITE!

Joseph and I agreed that we could definitely live in Scotland.
And we are looking forward to another trip.
Next time, we will be doing the westerly islands (Islay, Jura, Skye) and go back to Oban and take a trip down to the Springbank Distillery in Campbeltown. I would also like spend a day taking in Glen Coe.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Oban Oban Oban...

... is like a chant in my head.
We Must Make It to Oban.....

We had a lot to do today. If we could make it to Oban in time, we could make the tour. But we knew there would be lots of things to see on the way! So after a few quick pictures at the front of the hotel, we headed out south on the Great Glen Road which runs alongside the Loch Ness! We had debated whether to take the 2-hour Loch Ness tour but decided to head down and stop along the way for pictures. Not being "water people" the idea of bouncing around on a small boat over the waters of the loch was not alluring.

First stop was totally a surprise. Loch Ness exhibit that was interactive enough to keep you from yawning or rolling your eyes. It took you from room to room which were stylized in the manner that reflected the topic, and through a series of videos and pictures, showed you the evolution of the Loch Ness Monster legends and the scientific work surrounding the mystery. It was surprisingly well done. That took about 45 minutes. We did by the requisite stuffed Loch "Nessie" at the gift shop - our only real acquisiton of a useless dust-collector bought on these trips (aka the souvenir).

Then down the road again to The Urquhart Castle which had a very nice video on the history of the castle. Again, nicely done. That took about an hour and we agreed that it was best that we did Loch Ness and the Castle "our way" instead of taking the boat tour because we saved at least 30 minutes!

Back in the car and another windy-roaded, hair-raising car ride in the LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE ROAD with Buses, trailer trucks, and all manner of scary wide-load vehicles going at full speed, tailgating you, and all sort of other hair-raising things! ACK!!! I had to slow down a couple of times due to the wide-load vehicles! Unbelievable.

I wanted to go to Glen Coe but we didn't make it. It's supposed to be eery and gloomy and the site of the famous Clan MacDonald massacre... and it seems that the Campbells were involved. In Glasgow, we would find out a bit more on the Campbells.

I also wanted to go by Loch Lomand but that would have to wait... and seeing as how we drove the length of Loch Ness, I figured one Loch is like any other Loch. So I really wasn't disappointed on this part.

We finally arrive in Oban and run to the Oban Distillery and what happens? We are 30 minutes LATE for the tour! ARG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARG ARG ARG!!!! But we did buy a bottle of the 32 year and 28 year - one of them was rare - no more left - one more cask and they had bottled that were only selling it at the distillery. The other one was NOT being exported to the USofA so we bought that one, too. I know I'll regret not buying a second bottle of these to keep but the damn exchange rate! ARG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know... we are busy making a large purchase back home so no excuses could even being to negate the expense - otherwise, we would have gotten more.

We then walked down to the Whiskey Shop and found a Springbank 28 (under the Chieftain label) and got a bottle of that. Then to the Kitchen Shoppe where we picked up a Longrow. Both of them are hard to find so we splurged. We have been on the search for a Springbank 21 but no one seems to have any more!!! ARG!!!!!!!!!! But we will keep endeavoring! Too bad we can't make it to Campbeltown to the Springbank Distillery! Springbank 21 is probably my most favorite non-Islay (pronounce Eye-lah) whiskey. Dang! Next trip...

After looking around Oban city center, we checked into the Hawthornbank Guest House which was our favorite place of the trip - and also a favorite of Paul McLean from McLean Scotland who made the arrangements. He also left us a bottle of McLean Scotch that the clan had specifically bottled to give away, I suppose. Anyway, I highly recommend this B&B.

Dinner time rolled around and we went to The Studio Restaurant - up yet ANOTHER HILL! But it was a short walk. It was a homey little place that was under some apartments. Our waitress was awesome and she said her "mum worked here." LOL. Turns out the people next to use - older but they were a strange oddly matched couple - she was much older and he was asian but a little older - and the staff thought they were married but it seemed odd to me - well... they had been coming to Oban every year for 10 years and now they were there again and could they "please make a reservation for tomorrow night at quarter past six?" They were VERY cute, though. The food was really good and I had the best mussels I had ever had. They had been plucked from the mussel farms in Loch Elich (or something like that) and they were "young" so very tender, soft, and buttery. Mussels will never be the same for me again!

Then back to the Guest House and a night of rest.
My thighs were really hurting! I couldn't believe it! All that HILL WALKING! INTO THE WIND!!!!

Exericse Note.
See above.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Speyside is simple....

...and just beautiful....

We got up and had our breakfast of traditional porridge again and headed out. I was driving and it was hard trying to keep to the center of the road. I kept looking on the wrong side for the rear view mirror and I had a hard time finding the left hand side mirror. Joseph's warning system of gasping and grasping the handle above the door clued me in when I went too close to the shoulder. Oh. That's right. There weren't any shoulders. There were just stone walls or sheer drops. Details details. At least he didn't clutch the dash in front or jump in his seat.

We had two simple things on the agenda. Make our way to Elgin to visit the Johnson's Cashmere Centre and the Elgin Cathedral. The roads were narrow and the driving was hair-raising so it took a bit more time that we had imagined!

The Johnson's Cashmere Centre was easy to find and as luck would have it, the Elgin Cathedral with almost right across the street! Yahoo! The exchange rate really sucks right now! ARG!!! But we did manage to find some cashmere at a very good price - we had some on sale and even with the exchange rate, it was a good buy. I also found a wonderful leather jacket lined with shearling that was a very good buy and Joseph found the "perfect fleece" with windproof lining that can replace about two or three coats that has at home! My coat is wonderful! And I can't something similar for double the price. And if I had gotten it at Burberry in Boston, well... it would have been a pretty penny, about four times what I paid here! We shipped home about 15 or 17 pieces to save on VAT (Value Added Tax which is about 15-16%!

Then off to the Elgin Cathedral. Joseph stepped inside and stood at what would have been the door to the Cathedral. He was shouting for me to take his picture! I told him we needed to get a ticket. He said, just to take a picture?? I said, I'm not getting into trouble...
A woman from a trailer right next to the entrance stepped out and in her wonderful accent, asked, "Do you have a ticket?"
Of course she knew we didn't!
I started laughing!
Joseph said, "Just to take a picture?"
The woman laughed and said, "Yes, of course."
Joseph said, "I just want a picture."
The woman said, "You must purchase a ticket."
I was laughing so hard and at this point we went into the trailer to buy a ticket! LOL!

We told her we loved her country. It's very beautiful and we had discussed how we could live here. She asked where we were from and when we told her Boston, she said she would LOVE to live here! LOL! She was wonderful to talk to... EVERYONE in Scotland is SO GENTEEL and SO NICE!!!!

The Cathedral is essentially a ruin and it was wonderful to roam the grounds and climb up to one of the towers for a good view!

Next, we walked to town center, which is TINY and had lunch at Wetherspoons. You basically order at the bar, pay, given them your table number, you get your beer, sit and they bring you your food! Very novel. That way you didn't have to wait for your check, etc., and you could leave as soon as you are done! They had a funny attitude toward children - you could bring them but you had to eat with them, you couldn't leave them unattended, you had to leave the premises 30 minutes after eating, and you couldn't let them go into the toilets unattended. Oh, and you could only have ONE BEER if you were with your kids! We thought that was a GREAT idea but imagine the uproar in the USofA if some0ne tried that??

On to Fort George where Joseph wanted to show me something. But we got there too late! ARG!!! Just when the door closed! Blast! Turns out that Fort George is built on a point and one the far side, you could be looking straight out onto the ocean. It would have been beautiful view. But instead, we get a wonderful rainbow instead!

Next stop was the Culloden Battlefields. I had always heard of it and wanted to stop. It reminded me of the memorial fields at Gettysburg with markers right out on the battlefield. And since we were close, we also stopped at Clava Cairns. We were too late to get inside but we took some pictures and they are three well-preserved burial sites that dates back to who-knows-when!

Then the nice drive back to the hotel after a very full day. We didn't want to get to the hotel really late or eat too late. So we headed back early for a nice leisurely drive. As we approached the Maple Court Hotel, we noticed what looked like a restaraunt at a hotel across the river. If it were a straight shot, it would have been an easy walk. But we would have to all the way down and around. Or... cross the little suspension footbridge to get over the raging river! Of course, Joseph thought it was perfect. And of course, I thought he was INSANE! I was NOT about to risk drowning by falling off of a little suspension bridge that swings in the Highland WINDS over a RAGING RIVER! GAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Needless to say, we drove.

Dinner was at the Waterside Inn. We wanted a very quiet dinner and this was a good place for it. We got a window seat and the food was fabulous.

Back to the hotel to get ready for another drive tomorrow - this time to Oban (it's pronounced O-bin, not O-bahn as they like to say in the good ole USofA.

Exercise Note.
Lost of walking on loose cobbles and grass - more rehab for the ankle.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Whiskey Trail...

...is a real trail complete with signs marking the way...
Who knew?

We packed up our things and left behind the lump mattress of the rooming house known as the Old Schoolhouse Inn. Took a taxi over to the Arnold Clark (like a Hertz only they also sell cars and do repairs and such) on Vinicombe on the West End of Glasgow. Picked up a rental car and headed out toward Inverness - our first stop in our Great Highland Adventure. Actually, Inverness straddles the Highlands and Speyside.

The car was bigger than most we saw on the road. It was a Kia Sedona, diesel. Joseph started out driving... I was glad because we had to drive on the other side of the road, etc. It was nerve wracking as a passenger but I would also find out how much worse it could be driving! ACK!

First stop was in Stirling to visit Stirling Castle. It was amazing. We spent a couple of hours there, and it isn't one of the bigger castles. However, the buildings were intact and we took a guided tour. Very beautiful and VERY WINDY! They are redoing some of the tapestries a series of 5 about a unicorn hunt. The real ones hang in the Cloisters in NYC. They are making duplicates to hang in the castle - to recreate an all-out effort to reproduce what it might have been like in the old days. They had the weaving being done on the premises and it was AMAZING!!! To sit there all day long and weave these threads and recreate the original by using photographs, etc. They had explanations on the research they did leading up the weaving - like weaving swatches to determine the type of weaving... who knew that weaving could be so damn complicated???

After that, it was onto the village of Blackford and the Tullibadine Distillery where we got a personal tour of the place by Alastair something-or-other... very good tour. Tullibadine started out as a brewery, the oldest brewery dating back to the 12th century! It was turned into a distillery in 1949 (after being purchases in 1947) and continued until 1953. It lay dormant until it was opened in 2003 when it bought by new owners yet again along with all of it's existing stock! It was wonderful to have him explain in more detail the things I already knew about making scotch and to have him fill some things in for me, and to touch and feel the stills and the grinders and to look inside the giant tubs of wash. We made a purchase of the Tullibadine 10 year and the Tullibadine Vintage 1964 - which is limited. Due to the exchange rate, we could not get a second bottle to keep (you know, as in "one to drink, and one to keep") which means that we have to come back another time when the exchange rate is better.

Next onto Edradour, the smallest distillery in Scotland. The scotch is small batch and made by three men, just as it was over 150 years ago! Cool! The distillery was a treat! It was so CUTE! Not to mention the copper skills that are the SMALLEST in Scotland allowable by law! They still use many of the old equipment that was newfangled in the 50's but are not veritable antiques! Talk about not messing around with a good thing. Of course we had to get a bottle - it was a special bottle and the name escapes me right now. Sigh...

After that, we drove through the winding hillside until we reach Inverness and after much roundabouts and u-turns, etc., we found out hotel, the Maple Court Hotel on the riverway. It was a nice step up from the Old Schoolhouse Inn!

After unpacking we made our way a few blocks up and had dinner at Rocopool. At dinner we discussed what we would do tomorrow. It's hard trying to get in all the distillery and the sites. Given that we are not real Speyside fans, we decided to forego the distilleries and drive up to Elgin to look at the Elgin Cathedral and a few other things along the way if we could. (Elgin is not pronounced like El-Jin, but El-gin with the "g" in "goat".)

Lights out for a full day tomorrow...

Exercise Note.
Driving and walking again... My thighs are hurting like crazy... I think they are feeling the effects of the hills.

Friday, May 06, 2005

A day in Glasgow...

...is like another day in another city....

Got up and had our first Scottish Breakfast of Porridge. Itwas interesting - oatmeal in milk. It was really good - probably steel cut oats soaked overnight. I was glad I didn't get the bacon and eggs - which is what Joseph got. The bacon was more like ham, as we know it in the USofA, except that it was shaped like bacon. But it was NOT bacon. That's for sure.

OTOH, I LOVED my porridge.

But neither Joe nor I were feeling all that well... very queasy in the stomach...

Afterward breakfast, we decided to take the city bus tour. It takes you all through the main city and you can get on and off at certain stops throughout the tour. So we walked DOWN the Big Hill to St. George Square and boarded the bus. First stop was ... St. George Square. Turns out the statue in the middle of the square is Sir Walter Scott. Turns out that Henry III who was King at the time lost the 13 colonies in America so the people were not about to put HIS statue up! So they settled for Sir Walter Scott.

We decided to take the bus to the next stop which was St. Mungo's Cathedral, which is situation next to the Necropolis (the City of the Dead) which is behind the Museum of Religious Life and Art. St. Mungo is actually St. Kentigern. Mungo was a nickname. Not sure where it came from.

The City of Dead is a gigantical cemetary and as the bus driver put it, the rich people got buried and the rich family gave the dead person the biggest memorial their rich money could by and so the City of Dead features spires and spires of momuments to the rich dead of Glasgow. It's a sight to see.

In the Museum of Religious Life and Art, there as the portrait of Christ of St John of the Cross by Dali. Dali is one of my most favorite artists and I've been dying to see this painting in person. It was wonderful!

We hopped on the bus and next stop was the People's Palace which is a museum that highlights Scottish life in Glasgow through the "modern" centuries. Very interesting.

Next onto the Museum of Transport. Took lots of pictures. Old cars and motobikes, and some bicycles, even. It was a lot of fun to see the old cars and buses and trolleys. We even saw the original rail car used by the Prince of England. Not sure which Prince.

Joseph and I didn't feel good all day. We had queasy stomachs and so dinner was at the local noodle house. We had the broth and left much of the noodles. But it was just what we needed.

One note. Scotland is not only hilly and very green, but it's windy. WINDY! CAN I TELL YOU!?!?!?! I hate wind.

Then it was back to the Schoolhouse Inn to pack for Inverness tomorrow.

...and to all a good night...

Exercise Note.
Walked all over Glasgow on the Hill in the WIND!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

On to Glahs-go...

...as opposed to Glass-GOW...
Another Scottish speak.
The nice cabbie from the hotel to the train station said that calling Glahs-Go "Glass-Gow" is a dead giveaway that we are Americans.

Anyway, we got up and toured Edinburgh Castle which was wonderful.
It was my very first castle ever and I always wanted to see what one looks like.
Mostly stone, large, etc., and sort of like all the medieval movies I saw, only smaller.

There is the Esplanade before you get the Gatehouse, which is the weakest point in any castle. Then up a short walk to the main gates which leads to the outer close (there's that word again). This is the main area where people and life took place. I didn't know this but apparently there were a lot of people employed by the castle and this attracts other people from "outside" or the countryside - like people selling stuff, livestock keepers, merchants, etc. The castle was like a small village all onto itself! Who knew?

Anyway, this leads to the inner close, which is private and only the gentry and the people invited
by the king, etc., are allowed in the inner close. It was really an experience to learn all of this.

Afterwards, we walked down the Royal Mile, which leads down to the Abbey where the kings were crowned, etc etc etc. We didn't walk all the way down because we got distracted by the high priced shops along the way... Oh, and our hotel, The Witchery, it should be noted, is right
on this Royal Mile right below the castle. Ahem.

Afterwards, we decided to take a cab to the train station and then took the commuter train
to Glasgow.

In Glasgow, we definitely took a cab to our hotel, the Old Schoolhouse Inn.

Okay. In Edinburg, we definitely experienced one end of the European luxury spectrum and were now about to experience how the OTHER HALF lived - the half that IS NOT European luxury. What to say about The Old Schoolhouse Inn? Alarms should have rung when Joseph could not find a website for it.

And maybe I should not have told the Concierge and the travel people (Mclean Scotland) that 2-3 stars were okay and that we wanted to stay in traditional Scottish Inns and B&B's. I should have checked the translation from American to Scottish-Speak before I said OK, or better yet... NEXT TIME, I will just let Joseph handle the arrangements!

The Old Schoolhouse is a building that reminded me of a rooming house - not that I have ever been in one. You had to ask for towels and there was no soap or other amentities, except for the requisite hair dryer. And you could feel the coils in the mattress. Now I know why the people at Mclean Scotland were so concerned when we requested 2-3 star B&B's after requesting a night at The Witchery. In fact, they were so concerned that they offered to hire a limo to drive us around through Scotland! We said, no... uh... we kinda want to do this on our own...

One thing I should have known from traveling to Spain and Greece - 3 stars translates to our
1.5 to 2 star MOTELS, and an INN is a damn rooming house! And B&B's are in rundownish sort
of homes... where you have the bedroom next to the people who own the place (this is just a
guess from seeing B&B signs out on some of the houses we passed).

Anyway, we checked in and roamed around Glasgow, which is a city. Plain and simple. Oh, and Glasgow is ALSO on a hill. It's very hilly. Our rooming house is at the top of a hill on Renfrew Street, right behind the school of arts. To get anywhere from there is a HUGE downhill walk in all directions and coming back you have to climb back UP the hill. We did find an internet cafe. And there is a Starbucks on every corner. Amazing...

We had dinner at Rococo on West George Street.
The meal was DELICIOUS!!!

Back to the hotel to get some rest for tomorrow.

Exercise Note.
Traveling and more walking.
I swear. I think I've walked 10 miles today!