Wednesday, 29 June 2011
The Scottish Parliament buildings are a lovely sight and it's pretty easy to get in to look around - we did have to pass through security, but after that it was pretty much as welcoming as the New Mexico legislature - in other words there were people around to answer questions and try to explain the voting procedures. I didn't pay too much attention to all the details about the electoral process. The Scottish National Party won the bulk of the seats in the May 5th election and we'll see what that holds for Scotland's future. To me, Scotland looked as if was doing very well economically - like Canada, its a resource-rich nation and the oil drillers were at work in the North Sea. The Kintyre Peninsula looked an awful lot like B.C. - full of cutblocks, only ours offer better skiing. If you go to Edinburgh, visit the Scottish Parliament - it's got a lovely view of Arthur's Seat and is across the street from Holyrood Palace.
While in the UK, there were general elections in both Wales and Scotland and the voters throughout England had a chance to vote on an alternative voting procedure that was, unfortunately, soundly defeated. We saw lots of charming signs everywhere in England and this one was my favourite electoral sign. It says it all, doesn't it?
Sunday, 26 June 2011
When I lived in Britain in 2003, I loved watching all the clotheslines from the top of a double decker bus. On this trip, I got to observe them on oh so many walks and as we drove in our small car. Even though this isn't the greatest picture, it was my favourite "clothesline" picture from our trip - it was taken in Stromness on the Orkney Islands on a very windy day. I'd managed to peg out my own clothes across the way in Thirsk and they dried in an hour. I was doubtful that the clothes pegs would hold the items any longer than that. It was a great way to celebrate a Royal Wedding - doing the laundry and pegging out clothes in a strong Scottish breeze.
Friday, 24 June 2011
Last week we went to visit the Myra Canyon, just south of Kelowna, and famed for its old rail line and numerous trestles. This is a picture of the canyon - the burn that hit the area in 2003 has made the views really good, but there are a lot of black trees still standing. A total of 18 (?) trestles create accessibility to the canyon area. The bike/hike is 11 km each way and is level. A lot of the trestles are really high but I didn't find that I got vertigo going over any of them. We were lucky that we didn't get wet - the weather has been distinctly bad in the Southern Interior this month. We did 3 bike rides - this shortish one through the Myra Canyon, 26 km from Kettle River Provincial Park to Midway along the old Kettle Valley Railway, and 30 km from Paulson Bridge to Christina Lake along the old Columbia/Western Railway. Each area had unique qualities - highly recommended!
Thursday, 23 June 2011
One thing that I did notice in Britain - there just seemed to be more "traditional" readers than what we see in Canada - by this I mean people who are reading an actual book. I captured this picture of lunch hour readers in Edinburgh. Don't you love the yellow boots? I noticed book readers on the tube, waiting in line ups at stores, walking through busy stations - public reading in the UK still seems to be a bit of the norm and this is becoming a very rare sight over here in North America.
Tuesday, 14 June 2011
We did hear a fair bit about the royal wedding in the last two weeks leading up to the big day. We happened to be in Edinburgh two days before it was to take place so the news coverage was extensive. On wedding day, I did watch the arrival of the bride and her sister at Westminster Abbey and their march up the aisle. Then I went to hang out the laundry in Thurso, Scotland. At noon, we took the ferry over to Stromness and the kids and teachers there didn't even get a day off school! This was a single "royalist" shot I was able to get on that particular day. Now, when I compare it to what we're hearing about the Canucks EVERY day here in B.C., the royal wedding was a pretty quiet affair. I've stopped listening to the radio (we really only get CBC) this week because I'm so tired of it all. Glad to know there's only one more day of it no matter who wins.
Monday, 13 June 2011
On our last day in the UK, Dave and I travelled out to Dulwich College where Ernest Shackleton had been a student. The College now houses a "Shackleton Room" with various bits of history from his remarkable adventures. The boat, James Caird, is located here. I'd always wanted to see it after reading about his voyage on Endeavour and its aftermath. This is the boat that he sailed for 800 miles across the Southern Ocean, from Elephant Island to South Georgia. It wasn't all that small, to my mind, but remembering what the sea was like on the south coast of New Zealand, with waves that came all the way from Antarctica, I can't imagine how these folks survived. Five men were on board and they successfuly navigated themselves by looking at the stars and making mathematical calculations. It is one of the great epic survival stories and anyone with a longing for that kind of reading, I'd highly recommend anything written by Shackleton.
Friday, 10 June 2011
We stopped at Betty Hill for a short walk while we travelled along the north coast of Scotland. You can see why this would be a favoured place. The weather was perfect for travel that day (although pretty windy) and we continued to be amazed at the stunning scenery of northern Scotland. Driving towards the highlands afforded us the opportunity to see one of our favourite things - high hills! Blue skies, highlands, oceans, inlets, lochs, waving grasses, blooming gorse and pretty much empty roads - it can't get much better than that!
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Britain is a busy place and in London it is very crowded. The British are so very polite! Canadians are known for being super apologetic about being an inconvenience to anyone. I found that the British are even more that way! I earned so many apologies absolutely EVERYWHERE if someone didn't hold a door long enough, if we had to dodge around each other in a street, if personal space was too limited in the tube, and so on and so forth. I was a bit surprised at it all, actually. I guess compared to Americans, Canadians are considered to be apologetic and polite, but the British win this round everywhere. Even on the hiking trails, people moved out of the way and apologised for "being in the way". It is lovely to visit such a polite country, I do say! It was also refreshing to see so many people with a book in hand as well.