Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Scotland-Our Heritage

Although I need to dig much deeper into our Scottish heritage, here are a few things I know: Jeff and I both have Stewarts in our line. His is a little more recent with his paternal grandmother being a Stewart (that's where we got Elijah Stewart). Mine goes back a few generations, and I also have Stuarts in my line. For a bit of history, Mary Queen of Scots was a Stewart but changed the spelling t Stuart because she preferred France to her native Scotland. She had married the Dauphin of France and since there is no "ew" in French she replaced it with "u", but they are the same family line.  She had a son, James VI of Scotland who became James I of England. He gave us the King Jame Bible. There is a little more delving to do, but maybe we have a little royal blood in us. i also had several ancestors who came from Edinburgh, so maybe we walked in their footsteps while we were there.

We had a great time, beginning with our train ride from London to Edinburgh.  We met a family who was going to Edinburgh on vacation.  They were really great.  We also sat with what had to be England's version of a redneck family.  I guess every culture has them!

Once we arrived in Edinburgh, we sought out a good pub.  We gound one that from the outside looked really good.  The downside, they weren't licensed for kids, and it did smell of beer and piss.  Blunt, but the only way to really describe it.  So we found a really nice pub just across from our hotel.  Haggis!  That is what Jeff had been looking forward to (really) for a week.  We ordered the appetizer size first.  I have to say, it was really good.  He went on to order the meal.  I had salmon and Elijah chose chicken.  The salmon was really good, but I would guess after haggis, that is a food the Scots are known to do well. 

The next morning we headed off to Edinburgh castle.  It is very imposing and you can see immediately why the site was chosen.  We really enjoyed our look around.  We saw Scotalnd's crown jewels and the Stone of Scone (Destiny or Lia Fail).  While not nearly as impressive in quantity or splendor, the crown jewels are actually older than England's.  Afterward we went to to theTartan Weaving Mill.  It is next to the castle on the Royal Mile.  We bought a couple of Stewart plaid scarves for Tabitha and me and the guys got neck ties.  I really wanted a kilt, but the one I wanted were too short in my size or tehy didn't have my size in the longer ones.  I also think I was teh blue Stewart.  I may order one in red and in blue.  Here is a picture of the looms set up. 

It was a great day.  I think we all enjoyed Scatland more than we did England, even though it was only for a day.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Few More England Pics

I promise it is just a few. And Calais really is in the picture, you just have to look at a larger version.

London, Folkestone, and Dover

We had a great time in England!  We arrived before 6 a.m. in London so we had a bit of time to see the sights.  We had only two places that were musts. Two years ago we had seen most of what we had wanted to see on a lay over in London.  What we didn't see was the Tower nor did we ride a double decker bus.  We made sure this time to do both.  We knew we didn't want to be stuck on what has been called by some, the world's largest parking lot, the M25, so we knew we should be back to the Avis before 3 p.m.  We ate a quick bite at the airport and then hopped on the Tube.  I love the Tube!  It is so easy to navigate, if you don't let the map overwhelm you.

We got off at Piccadilly and walked around a bit. We went to Trafalgar Square since that was another place we missed the last time.  I forgot to put these pictures in the slide show so I'll just add them here.

We hopped back on the Tube and made our way to Westminster station.  Here is where you will see Big Ben, Parliament, and of course Westminster Abbey (which we have managed to miss both times in London, I guess we'll have to go back sometime).  Here we decided that we should ride the London Eye.  The giant Ferris wheel takes 30 minutes to complete a revolution, and you get great views of the city!  We thought we might have to stand in line for a while, but we got there right as it opened and were actually on the second pod to load.  I'm so glad we decided to add that to the day. 

From there we hopped on a bus.  When we were in London last time Elijah was crushed that we didn't have time to do this.  I think he was a little let down that it was an open air bus, but that was to come later.  We got off this bus after a few stops because we weren't quite sure where it was going.  Not a good thing to do in a large town.  We did know that it wasn't far from our destination.  We were also getting pretty hungry by this time.  We stopped in a little cafe and had a nice English breakfast; t brown toast, eggs, and smoked salmon.  Definitely not your southern breakfast from back home, but tasty just the same.  Then on to the Tower.  We came to London Bridge and walked along the Thames to Tower Bridge and crossed over.  We were starting to run out of time, so it was a good thing I had prebooked our tickets.  We walked around a bit and headed towards what I really wanted to see, the Crown Jewels.  WOW!!  I just wish that we could take pictures.  Here we had a bit of a surprise, in a city of over 7.5 million people and who knows how many tourists, we saw people we knew!  Dave and Shadise!  That was probably way too much Okie for the Tower to handle in one day, but I don't think it suffered too much.  We didn't get to stay as long as I would have liked (another reason to return sometime) but we wanted to be sure to get out of London before rush hour.  Back to the Tube,

Now here is where it got interesting.  We got our car, steering on the right of course.  Manual transmission to boot.  Now Jeff had driven this way in Tobago many times so that wasn't an issue.  What was an issue were signs telling you where to go right at where you were to turn.  No signs a block or two ahead of the turn, just at the turn.  Of course we were in the wrong lane every time.  It took over an hour to get out of Heathrow!

Wow, this is long and I haven't even gotten to Folkestone.  Okay short and sweet.  At Folkestone we had a bungalow that looked out over the channel.  We could see France from our living room.  Jeff and Elijah even dove into the Channel for a swim, a very short swim.  We spent a lot of time with friends.  We also made it to Dover castle a couple of times.  I highly recommend it and the wartime tunnels are a must.  I couldn't find all my pictures from Folkestone, so I will post them later. 

Next post: Scotland!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Getting There

The last few days have been filled with canning. There has not been a lot of time to blog about our great trip to the UK and Ireland, much less get pictures posted. Hopefully tomorrow. In the mean time here are a few pics from canning.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hiatus Over

Well, it's been awhile, and I have several things to post. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get some pics up while I get some work done.

In the past couple of weeks I have picked over 50 pounds of peppers. They have been frozen, smoked, and turned into jelly and jam. More to be made tomorrow along with some bison stock. I don't really need more bison stock, but I do need the freezer space!