Sunday, September 30, 2007

When I Last Left You...

...we had picked up The Bubble and were on our way out of Glasgow. In spite of the fact that I had studied the atlas and knew generally where we were headed, my navigation skills failed when we got to Perth. I was having problems reading signs and locating where we were on the map and, consequently, I directed us in the wrong direction. But..I quickly recovered and found an alternate route to where we wanted to go. In the process we stumbled upon the Wal-Mart (which goes by a different name) that Aimee remembered being in Perth. So we figured the detour was meant to be...vbg. We stopped at Wal-Mart because I wanted to buy a curling iron (or tongs as they are called in Scotland). I have such baby fine hair and I need all the chemicals and help I can get to give the impression that there is a HINT of body in my hair. I could have brought my own curling iron but I would have needed a converter, so I decided it was just as easy to buy a cheap iron in Scotland. Now, where would you look for a curling iron? My initial thought was health and beauty aids. By the hair products? Hmmmm....there it is! By the clothes irons!! And I had the choice of ...oh, three! We also picked up some snacks and Aimee found Coke Orange....yes, it looked like an orange Coke bottle. She decided she needed to try it and said it was horrible -- like Hi C or any other orange soda mixed with Coke. We got back on the road and saw signs for Scone Palace (pronouced SKOON). It wasn't on our list of places to visit but we decided since we had time we would stop. I'm SO glad we did. We pulled up and parked in the car park (or parking lot as affectionately known in the US) and went to get tickets. While Aimee was waiting in line for the tickets I was taking in the beautiful location and the "Highland Coos". They are such magnificent animals. There were also peacocks wandering around, including white peacocks which I undestand Scone is known for.
We then walked up the long drive to the Palace itself. A little bit of history...1500 years ago it was the capital of the Pictish kingdom and the center of the ancient Celtic church. It has been the seat of parliaments and the crowning place of kings. It has housed the Stone of Destiny upon which all British kings/queens sit when crowned. The Stone was last used at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Scone Palance was immortalized in Shakepeare's Macbeth. It is still the home of the Earls of Mansfield. The interior is incredible and the imagination runs wild thinking about what it must have been like to live in such a place.

After visiting the Palace, we decided to walk the grounds. They are so beautifully maintained with gardens and extremely lush lawns where peacocks wandered freely. We saw Moot Hill which was the Ancient Crowning Place of the Kings of Scots. It is immediately in front of the Palace near a Gothic Chapel, which is still used for special occasions. We wandered through an ancient cemetery and Aimee, of course, had to climb on the walls of the cemetery. We then set out to explore the Wild Garden and Pinetum. Absolutely incredible!! There were beautiful gardens set in clearing of trees. Aimee decided it was where she was going to hold her wedding reception! Of course, she had to attempt to climb one of the huge trees. I can't take her anywhere! (In the past I've had to peel her off one of the smokestacks on the Queen Mary.) She tried to get onto the huge branch but it was too high (or she was too short!) She took a run at it and attempted to jump but only managed to knock herself to the ground when her chest hit the branch.

The trees planted in the Pinetum where breathtaking. It originated with the planting of coniferous trees in 1848 and further trees have been added over the years. I have never in my life seen trees as tall as these. Aimee is a mere speck among the trees and you can't even begin to see the tops. I also do not have the words to decribe what it felt like to be in the Pinetum. The floor was covered with pine needles and it was soft to walk on and absolutely silent. The peacefulness of the spot was overwhelming. It truly made me feel small in the presence of God. Being in such a place was very moving to me.

After leaving the Pinetum we took on the Murray Star Maze. I'd always wanted to get lost in a maze and this one was tough! We kept wandering and wandering and could hear the fountain in the middle, but couldn't find our way to it. We finally made our want out of it and went up on the bridge over the maze at the entrance and figured out the proper route....all along the far edge of the maze. Finally we made it to the center!

After spending several hours at Skone Palance and wandering the grounds, we again hopped in The Bubble and continued our trip to Pitlochry. We stayed in a very cute bed and breakfast where our hostess was very accommodating and friendly. After checking in we walked into the town center where I had my first dinner of fish and chips...YUMMMMMMM!! Then it was back to the BnB for a shower and a good night sleep.

Thursday, September 27, 2007



Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following...they have to be real places, names, things...nothing made up!

You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question.

What is your name?: NEILA
TV show: NCIS
4 letter word: NICE
Boys name: NORMAN
Vehicle: NOVA
Occupation: NOVELIST
Girls Name: NANCY
Something you shout: NOW!
Something you wear: NAIL POLISH
Something found in a bathroom: NIGHT LIGHT
Reason for Being Late: NAUSEOUS
Cartoon Character: NATASHA (as in Boris & Natasha)

Who's next?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Have I ever mentioned that I love, love, LOVE Halloween? It is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday. I don't get to dress up much any more except in my mind where I wear the most outrageous costumes. I am truly a Halloween addict! I would love to decorate my entire house, inside and out, in Halloween all year round, but I might get a few complaints. Maybe when I FINALLY get my own craft room, I'll have to decorate it like Halloween 365 days a year (or Victorian...can't decide).
One of my favorite Halloween memories is when I was 12 years old and lived in a suburb of Denver. I dressed as a vampiress (is that a word?) A favorite neighbor helped me get dressed, and probably helped develop my love of Halloween. I wore a black skirt, black tights, black blouse, and black high heels. My neighbor cut open a black velvet skirt and let me wear that as a cape. She then applied white make-up and LOTS of black eye makeup. I remember feeling so WICKED! My friends and I started trick-or-treating early and stayed out until after 10:00...back in the day when it was safe for kids to stay out that late. I filled 1 pillow case with candy and went home to get another. At one house, the people invited all the kids into their back yard where they had a cauldron of water with apples we bobbed for. They also gave us hot apple cider. (We'd probably get arrested if we did that in this day and age.) At several houses we had our photos taken.
Yes, Halloween is my favorite holiday. I think I have more Halloween framed cross stitch projects than any other theme and my to-do pile is mostly Halloween. I just can't resist!
I hereby declare myself the Queen of Halloween! Who wants to be in my court?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Driving in Scotland

Driving in Scotland can be a challenge in other ways besides the obvious difference of driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Fortunately Aimee has an incredible road atlas put out by AA, the UK's equivalent of AAA in the US. It literally shows each and every road in the country, as well as the location of all the roundabouts. It was easy to navigate (IF you kept track of where you were and realized that each little lane was on that map...I didn't always do well). There are basically 4 types of roadways: (1) major freeways (blue in the atlas), such as the M8, M80, etc.; (2) "dual carriageways" (red) like the A9, A93, etc. These roads are well maintained 2 lane divided highways with occasional "crawler lanes" which allowed faster traffic to pass slower vehicles and passing places on the side of the road to pull off the roadway; (3) 2-lane highways (yellow) which are narrower with fewer crawler lanes and not divided; and (4) narrow single-track lanes (white) where there is not enough room for 2 cars to pass. When 2 cars approach from opposite directions, the first car that reaches a passing place must pull over and stop to allow the other car to pass. Our trip took us on all 4 types of roadways, but we seemed to travel mostly on the dual carriageways. Most of the roads in the Highlands were very narrow and VERY twisty and turny. It was necessary to always be alert to see if you were meeting other cars and be prepared to pull over.
Here are some examples of now narrow some of the streets could be. Some of the most gorgeous scenery was along the smaller roads. Driving through forests that came right to the edge of the road or farms and field with sheep and cows grazing right next to us was phenomenal, very beautiful and incredibly peaceful and idyllic.
Many bridges are only wide enough for 1 car so the streets were often painted with white lines (think cross walks) indicating who had to "give way" and who had the right of way. In some places, particularly when going under low, narrow bridges, there would be lights indicating who had the right of way.
Roundabouts are tricky until you understand how they work. For anyone not knowing what a roundabout is, it's a central island where vehicles travel around it in one direction. I'm not sure they would ever work well in the US with our rude drivers, road rage, impatience, etc. A driver must yield to cars already in the roundabout because they have priority. Then, you have to know what leg (street) you want to take off the roundabout in order to determine where you want to be in the roundabout, i.e., outer edge, inner edge, etc. If you are taking the first leg, you want to be in the outer edge; if you are taking the third leg, you want to be in the inner portion of the roundabout. I actually think they work well and traffic flows nicely.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Scotland - The Adventure Begins

Aimee began her trip at the crack of dawn on Saturday, September 8th. She flew from Burbank to Denver to Minneapolis. We were crossing our fingers that she wouldn't have any delays in Denver. Her last couple trips through there haven't been the best. At Thanksgiving time she "only" had about a 4 hour delay. Fortunately this time everything worked out well and she landed in Minneapolis almost a full 30 minutes early. We picked her up at the Lindberg terminal and Chuck then dropped both of us off at the Humphrey terminal where we checked in for our flight on Iceland Air. We had about a 3 hour wait which would have been okay if there was something to do in the Humphrey terminal! It's a very, very small, quiet terminal with only 1 small shop and a coffee shop. So I got coffee (what is life without coffee!) and we bought a couple large bottles of water for the plane. Our flight to Iceland was nice and smooth. The flight was just under 5 hours. We got a hot meal on the plane (meatballs of some kind of mystery meat and rice plus a very bizarre salad of some sort that neither of us could eat). We landed at Gate 9 in Iceland and our connecting flight to Scotland was out of Gate 8. We thought that was convenient. Little did we know!! When we got off the plane we went down an escalator and around a corner where we waited in a long line to go up another escalator. At the top of the escalator they confiscated our water, which we thought was strange. Why are they confiscating unopened bottles of water when we're connecting to another flight? The next thing we know we're going through off, bags x-rayed, etc., and then our passports are checked. Yes...we are ENTERING ICELAND! But wait...we don't want to enter Iceland! We just want to connect to our flight to Scotland. After we've cleared immigration we went through the door, around the corner and got in another line to (you guessed it) LEAVE ICELAND!! We had our passports stamped twice..once to enter and once to leave. We waited at Gate 8 (virtually where we started). Aimee noticed that the overhead screen said "Go to Gate" for our flight. All of a sudden people just started boarding. There were NO announcements of any sort....we just boarded as a herd.
Here's Aimee with both stamps in her passport. The flight to Scotland was only about 90 minutes and we again jumped through the hoops at immigration. It was pretty painless, except for the HUGE group of people ahead of us in line who spoke no English. There were only 3 guys working in immigration and they were having quite the time with this non-English speaking group. Eventually it was our turn and we breezed through. We stopped to change some money and then went in search of Enterprise where we'd reserved a car.
We finally found the booth (after wandering around the airport, both inside and out) only to find a sign telling us that we had to go outside to their facility. We had no idea where it was so we started wandering in the area where we saw other car rental places. Finally we saw Enterprise in the furtherest corner from the airport terminal...but we were on the wrong side of a fence. So we climbed over the fence with our suitcases and FINALLY got there. They had a car ready and waiting for us.

Here's our little car (at Scone Palace) which we affectionately nicknamed The Bubble. We heart that little car!! I have to said that Aimee can drive with the best of Scottish drivers! She definitely impressed me. She is a PRO! She handled all those roundabouts like she did it every day. We hopped in The Bubble and headed out of Glasgow toward our first stop...Pitlochry.

To be continued..................

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pay It Forward

It’s the Pay It Forward Exchange.

It’s based of the concept of the movie “Pay it Forward” where acts or deeds of kindness are done without expecting something in return, just passing it on, with hope that the recipients of the acts of kindness are passed on.

Here is how it works.
I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I do not know what that gift will be yet, and it won’t be sent this month, probably not next month, but it will be sent (within 6 months) and that’s a promise! What YOU have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

Remember, it's the first THREE who comment on the blog that they want to participate in the PAY IT FORWARD exchange.

P.S. If you don't have a blog or a google account, please email me if you want to participate. I don't want anyone to be left out!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I'm Back!

Did you miss me? Aimee and I returned Tuesday night from our WONDERFUL vacation in Scotland. Of course, my body clock is now SO out of whack. I hardly got any sleep Tuesday night so I was a total and complete zombie at work yesterday. I did manage to push myself to stay awake until 930 last night by knitting a dishcloth from start to finish. When my head hit the pillow I was totally out and surprisingly slept to 530 this morning. Eventually I'll get back on track. I was also pleasantly surprised to find I was not overwhelmed with files at work. My boss doesn't hire anyone to take my place when I'm gone; he just keeps dictating! I put a HUGE dent in what was waiting for me (even in a sleepwalking state) and should be able to finish off the rest today. Not bad, if I do say so myself!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wouldn't You Know It...

We are leaving for our long-anticipated trip to Scotland on Saturday and I have come down with a cold. BOOOOOO!! I am loading up on vitamin C, zinc, and echinacea. I'm eating all the chicken soup I can consume and drinking gallons of fluids. I haven't had a cold in years...why now?? But I am determined to fight it off and enjoy my trip.

Now, the next question is, am I going to be brave enough to actually drive in Scotland? I absolutely panic when I have to drive in a city I don't know..let alone a country where the people drive on the "wrong" side of the road! Aimee says she's going to force me to do it. I hope it's when we're out in the middle of nowhere and there are no cars on the road. I do have Aimee's atlas and I am working on navigating our trip. That I know I can do (once I figure out all the round-abouts).

Now I just have to pack and probably stock up on more tissue!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What a Weekend!

I spent the Labor Day weekend in CA. I flew into the Burbank Airport and arrived about 230 on Friday. Aimee met me and, since neither of us had had lunch, we made a stop at Corner Bakery. Because it was SO hot (at or near 100 degrees) we went Aimee's office at Disney where we sat in the Tiki Lounge, watched TV and stitched. I was knitting dishcloths for Darcy for Christmas and Aimee was working on handsewing the binding on a quilt she made for Darcy to celebrate 5 years of being cancer free. Yes, it was 5 years ago that she was diagnosed with breast cancer and we're planning to celebrate. This was only Aimee's second attempt at making a quilt and the finished result is breathtaking! I know Darcy is going to cry.

Saturday Aimee and I drove down to my cousin's condo in Huntington Beach. We had to pick up our packets for the Disneyland Family Fun 5K at the Disneyland Hotel by 900 pm. Neither Aimee nor I had slept well Friday night because of the heat so we decided to get out of the Valley and go where it was cooler. Gail has gotten into beading and has made some beautiful pieces. I wanted to make some stitch markers so Gail and I made a run to a bead store. She picked up pearls to make a bracelet for me and I got what I needed. We hightailed it out of there as fast as we could to get away from the very "WITCHY" shopowner. What is it with shopowners who have to make a shopping experience miserable? I can name a few cross stitch shopowners who are just as bad. Aimee's friend Holly arrived around 500 pm and we all then headed to Disneyland to pick up our packets and eat dinner.

We were up bright and early Sunday morning because the 5K started at 700 am. To our surprise, we were on time. I can't say we were all awake...but we were there. Aimee and Holly ran the race while Gail and I walked. I must say, Gail and I kept up a good steady pace and finished in a respectable time. BUT IT WAS SO DANG HOT!! We were all drenched when we finished. Holly left to go home and Aimee, Gail and I changed clothes in the car in the parking lot before heading back into Disneyland for breakfast. While eating an earthquake hit SE of LA, but none of us realized it until we went to ride a water ride in California Adventure. We then found out that the ride was temporarily closed for inspection following a 4.7 earthquake and we all mentioned that we had all felt our chairs either moving or being bumped while eating. Must have been the quake.

It got so incredibly hot during the day at Disneyland. I bought a hat to keep the sun off my head. I also bought a bottle of water early and kept refilling it. (The "trick" is to go into First Aid and fill your bottles with very cold filtered water AND pick up their iced towels.) Unfortunately, Aimee didn't rehydrate herself properly after the 5K and by 300 pm she was feeling very, very ill. She was chugging water but it wasn't helping much. She waited too long to take in the fluids. We left Disneyland and went back to Gail's condo so Aimee could get a nap and cool off. By 500 she was feeling much, much better and we drove back to Burbank. We had planned on opening-and-closing Disneyland, but because of the extreme heat we weren't able to do it. So that's our plan for our annual Girls' Weekend this fall.

Now to get my clothes washed and repacked for our trip to Scotland which begins on Saturday!! YAY!!

Saturday, September 01, 2007


This is a test. This is only a test.

If this was a true emergency, this message would be followed up by another message that would be scarier.