This ominous cloud man must know that the cab ride to Newark is going to cost me
$50 plus $28 in tolls. This is the price I pay for a non-stop flight.
In the Newark airport I spend an hour nursing a glass of wine and staring at beef.
(In my usual manner, I have allowed myself hours and hours at the airport, just in case.)
Strange restaurant decor. Glad I'm not vegetarian.
Finally, at 10:10PM, we're wheeling around over Manhattan.
Our pilot informs us that this is the first plane out of Newark that day to be on time
(because of earlier ominous cloud men, no doubt).
Last glimpse of Manhattan!
Dinner is served! What a shock. I expect the usual Delta peanuts.
But this is United. I especially like the iceberg lettuce salad.
First glimpse of Scotland, an island in the mist.
Tiny bales of hay dot the fields. Haying in Scotland must be a dicey business, as you
have to have long spans of dry weather for it to dry after cutting.
This I learned from my farming years, where I would watch angry cloud men
drift over my particular field of drying hay and rain down on it.
Nowhere else, not across the road on Arliss Hoff's hay, no, just on mine.
What kind of bridge is this?
Look, blue skies over Scotland!
What's the weapon that looks like a dress?
I am not very weapon-savvy, it appears, because I don't know what some of these are.
But they all look extremely offensive.
Breakfast! I've jumped ahead five hours, and enjoy my airplane roll and butter
at Costa Coffee, the airport chain, while I wait for Aaron to arrive.
We take a fun double-decker to our hotel in the Haymarket area.
None of these drivers seem to know what they're doing.
You're on the wrong side of the road, buddy! Look out!
All the buildings are made of stone.
Aaron is fascinated by the architecture.
We are staying a place called Ashgrove, which is not the above place, that's across the street, the former Donaldson College,
which is empty and for sale along with its eighteen acres.
It was a school for the deaf which has now moved to newer digs, and has been empty since 2003,
owned by a development company that it appears is trying to sell it in turn. It's a landmarked building, otherwise it would probably be long gone.
But maybe something of a white elephant for an owner?
Fun fact, well, not so fun, but in 1916 much of its glass was destroyed by a German zeppelin hit.
At our abode, Ashgrove, Aaron enjoys the Scottish ambiance.
The back yard of the Ashgrove shows another activity reliant on sun and wind,
drying clothes on the line. I later discover that the towels have a fresh, rugged feel
that is much appreciated. American dryer-dried towels will now seem soft and wimpy to me.
The red button doesn't set off the apocalypse, it starts the shower, we finally learn.
After resting, we go in a quest to find the Edinburgh Castle.
We see this door, which seems to be a portal to another world, yet it's "shut" for the night,
or so the green sign says...
And this door also seems to lead to somewhere with a dark, dark history.
Also closed to us. Just as well.
Here's the little guy telling us to wait. Seems like he's gone yellow in the wrong places.
More enigmatic signs, this one in the trash...
Variations on a theme...
In other word(s), YIELD!
Our first glimpses of the castle!
The cliff rises in front of us like something out of a dream.
We're walking down a street, make a left turn, and this appears!
This stadium is connected to the castle, Aaron says it's where they play quiddich.
We're too late to go on a tour, and have to make do with roaming the streets of Edinburgh.
What is this strange structure? It looks like the Clingons** built it.
Here's another view of the structure, well, okay, the same view, with a couple of additions,
including the cool double decker bus (why don't they have these in NYC???) and the amazing neoclassical Scottish National Gallery, which we won't get time to visit, this time anyway.
It's raining so we are forced to duck into the basement of a nearby building that has a handy
The place is named Amber, and Aaron gets a whisky (no one calls it Scotch here, of course)
and he gets an order of chocolate "flapjacks" which are
a kind of dense oat cake, not at all what we expected, which would be like a stack of pancakes
with chocolate stuck in there somehow.
But it's good, nonetheless.
I'm in whisky-ville, yet I insist on a cool crisp Chenin Blanc.
And later, dinner, we share an order of "Guiness-and-steak pie."
We watch a little music by "Gus" playing the guitar...
...but end up being a bit distracted by trying to figure out the ins and outs of cricket.
Kind of like baseball, but something else entirely.
And tomorrow, the Isle of Mull.
**Oops, wrong spelling, should be Klingon, I've been informed. Hope you didn't notice.