Sunday Morning 9/29/2019: Week 4 in the UK

Edinburgh Castle (Photo credit: http://thechaoticscot.com)

We are off to Edinburgh tomorrow! We’ll be traveling to Gatwick Station in the morning and then changing there for the train to London, departing for Edinburgh from King’s Cross Station in the early afternoon. Back when we were riding the train across Australia, we were told by several of our fellow travelers that the ride from Kings Cross to Edinburgh was one of the most beautiful in England and filled with gorgeous scenery almost the whole way so we’re almost as excited about this part of our getaway as the destination. Our Airbnb in Edinburgh sits just a couple of minutes below the castle and is also close to the meeting points for the three walking tours we’ve signed up for: a historical tour of Old Town, a mysterious medical tour (Edinburgh has a deep and sometimes creepy history with medicine in the UK), and a spooky evening historical tour. Hopefully, they won’t overlap, at least not too much. Outside of the walking tours, we’re going to visit the castle and a few other places, have a drink in the New Caledonia Hotel bar and tour the Edinburgh gin distillery (a whiskey sampling might be more expected, but neither of us particularly cares for whiskey). We’ll return on Friday following the same route we will take going up.

The Queen’s Head pub in Stow-in-the-Wold (I’m assuming that’s Queen Mary on the sign).
A side entrance to St. Edmunds church
We stopped in here while we were in Broadway . . .
. . . did a couple of tastings, and left with these (the nice shopping bag was complimentary).

This week’s been a very full and fun one in spite of some miserable weather. On Monday we took the bus over to Stow-on-the-Wold to see if we could find the elusive paper coffee filters at the Tesco superstore . . . and we did! We had nearly two hours there before the bus to Moreton-in-Marsh arrived, so we did some exploration around the center of town and also stopped for tea and scones (well, we actually had coffee with our scones). Afterwards, we headed over on the bus to M-i-M to do our weekly grocery shop at Aldi. We made it home from that errand just in time to miss getting soaked, and the rain made Tuesday a stay-at-home day. On Wednesday morning we met Laura and had a wonderful visit with her, including coffee at the village cafe and lunch at The Great Western Arms. It was like getting together and catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while and I was so happy we were able to make this happen. Friday was another miserable, soggy mess and we stayed home, but we finally got over to Broadway yesterday afternoon where we toured the high street and visited the Cotswold’s Gin flagship store as well as enjoyed tea and scones (again), arriving home just in time to miss more rain.

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The bell-ringing experience on Thursday evening was fantastic! Before the group got their practice started I was showed how to ring one of the bells and learned very quickly that traditional English bell-ringing requires a great deal of skill. It was definitely not as easy to do as I imagined with a whole lot more to it than just pulling on a rope. We stayed for the whole practice and had a good time chatting with different members of the group who came over and sat with us during the practice as they rotated through their turns. One of the group, an 87-year-old man(!), has rung the bells in over 2,200 churches throughout the UK and Ireland! He was fascinating to talk with and I learned quite a bit from him about what was going on, about the bells, and so forth. At the end of the practice, Brett and I were invited to climb further up in the tower to see the actual bells (Blockley Church has 10 bells and is the envy of quite a few churches in the area). A few of their bells date from the 17th century, a couple from the 19th century, and two new bells were added during this decade. All of them were HUGE. Anyway, it was a great experience and I was invited to come back after we get back from Edinburgh and sit in on a few more practices during our time here. I know I would definitely learn to be a bell ringer if we lived here.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I took a sort of detour this week with my reading. I was reading Middle England one day and a couple of characters were talking about the Mike Oldfield song Tubular Bells. This got me thinking about the movie The Exorcist, which then got me thinking about the book. I read it when it first came out (1971) – I started it at around 9:00 one evening and ended up staying up all night to finish it because I was too frightened to put it down! Anyway, I ended up downloading the book again and re-read it in a couple of days because it was just as frightening and chilling as it was the first time I read it. I now want to see the movie again as well, although I’ve never found it anywhere near as scary as the book. Anyway, I’m back to reading Middle England again and am almost done. Then it’s on to The Pioneers.

    A spider web on our patio wall glistened with raindrops early Wednesday evening . . . and then a rainstorm blew it away that evening!
  • Listening to: I fell asleep last night to the sound of rain and wind, but woke up to just the wind howling outside this morning (and the church bells ringing). It’s definitely another good day to stay indoors. It’s quiet inside – Brett is reading now but in a little while we’ll get started on our laundry and finish up getting things ready for us to go tomorrow.
  • Watching: Besides continuing with The Great British Baking Show, we also started the new season of Doc Martin this past Wednesday. We’ve also watched a couple of episodes of Poirot and Miss Marple earlier in the week.
  • Cooking: Tonight we’re finishing up odds and ends in the fridge – I’m going to have some last bits of cheese along with fruit, and Brett will be having a leftover lamb kebab with some leftover vegetables. I going to make the meatloaf when we get back, and we also have a bacon and cheddar quiche and roast chicken to get us through the weekend after our return.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I can’t tell you how happy we were to find those coffee filters – who would have thought they would be that difficult to locate, especially since ground coffee is available all over the place? We had two great outings to two nearby villages as well, got our grocery shopping done, are packed and are ready to go to Edinburgh, and with a little help we finally figured out how to use the gas stove in the living room (important as it’s starting to get chilly at times).
  • Looking forward to next week: Visiting Edinburgh has been on my bucket list for ages, so I’m currently beyond the looking-forward-to-it stage for this getaway! We’re excited about our train trip up and back as well and the walking tours we’ve booked.

    Loved, loved, loved getting to finally meet “the other Laura.” Our meetup was the best thing that happened this week.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Everything that happened this week was good, even the rain.
    A fresh-baked plain scone with clotted cream and preserves and a cappuchino at Huffkin’s Tea Room in Stow-in-the-Wold . . .

    . . . and a fruit scone at Tisanes Tea Room in Broadway. Pure heaven.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had three no-spend days this week and our daily average for the month would have been below $35 except we bought those two bottles of specialty Cotswold gin in Broadway yesterday which bumped us up to a little over $36/day, which we can live with. We spent just £44.46 ($54.92) for our weekly groceries this past week but and otherwise it’s been the usual: no wasted food, all leftovers eaten, and using what we have on hand.
  • Grateful for: The House of Representatives finally exercising its constitutional authority.
  • Bonus question: If you decide to keep traveling, what countries would be at the top of the list? We still talk about doing a long-term driving tour around the U.S. and Canada, but otherwise our most desired new destinations are Scandanavia; Germany and Austria; Greece, southern Italy and Croatia; Ireland; and Mexico. We’d love to go back to Argentina and see more there and spend more time in France and Portugal as well. For now, we’re booked through mid-June of next year but after that have no idea what or where we’re going to go, or whether we’ll continue traveling or settle down. We greatly enjoy our nomadic lifestyle and it fits our budget and temperaments well, so we’ll see how we feel about things in a few more months.
Getting her hair done . . .

We got a lot of fun photos from our daughter-in-law this past week because it was our granddaughter’s three-year-old Shichi-Go-San (7-5-3). Girls celebrate when they are three and seven, and boys when they are five, with a visit to a local temple in formal wear a rite of passage for Japanese children. For three-year-old girls, it’s the first time they wear a kimono, but it’s without an obi; that’s worn for the first time at age seven. I especially love how our granddaughter’s hair was styled for the occasion with pretty kanzashi pinned in and spilling down. There will be more formal photos coming, but we loved getting to see these ones our DIL took on K’s special day.

. . . and then formal portraits were taken . . .
. . . followed by a visit to a shrine. A big day for our little girl!

Finally, I won’t be blogging this next week because of our getaway, but the past couple of weeks I’ve also been thinking about changing up when and how much I post. I’m not going to stop writing, but I do want to give up pushing myself to adhere to a schedule like I have been, and I’ve decided that going forward I will post when I have something to say and on Sundays (because I enjoy doing these posts). So there may be one post up a week, or two or even three, or there might not be any at all. We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I hope everyone had a great week, had lots of good things happen for them and is looking forward to what’s coming up next week!

22 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 9/29/2019: Week 4 in the UK

  1. It sounds like you had a wonderful week. I can just imagine being in your little cottage with the rain coming down outside. I would be all curled up with a book for sure. Your walking tours sound wonderful. Have fun!

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    1. We did have a happy, busy week, but looking back we also spent a good part of it inside and out of the rain! It’s supposed to be drier this week and we’ve got our fingers crossed that Edinburgh won’t be too wet either.

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  2. You will love the train ride. We did London to York (we stayed in York overnight – you should visit – very nice place) and then York to Edinburgh last August (2018).

    The London to York is kind of like riding through the US Midwest – flat and farms but the York to Edinburgh runs up the coast and there are great views of the North Sea. We had first class seats with 2 seats facing each other over a table on the sea side of the coach – so coffee and snacks all the way. Great scenery!

    We hit Edinburgh in the middle of the “Fringe” so it was really busy but we were visiting friends up in Fife so we did not stay in town very long. Just enough to walk around for a few hours.

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    1. I’m thinking we’ll love the train ride! We got a good price for the trip by “splitting” the ticket – we booked from here to Gatwick (and back) separately from the London to Edinburgh piece of the trip. We’re traveling second class, but it was more than comfortable on our trip out here from Heathrow (tables were available). I hope we’re on the ocean side of the train on the way up!

      All of the tours we booked are small group, and none of them is full, so hopefully that means the city won’t be crawling with extra visitors. We’re staying within walking distance of everything we want to see and do and will be up early and out to see what we can (outside of the tours).

      My ancestors come from Yorkshire, so that’s a trip I hope to be able to make in the future!

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  3. I so love train rides! I loved the California Zephyr going over the Rockies at Christmas! It was magical! I am excited to read about your train ride!

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    1. We have come to love train travel as well, especially in Europe. The trains are clean, fast and on-time. We’re especially looking forward to our trip through the English countryside.

      Have never done the California Zephyr, but we once took the Pioneer up to Seattle (that route has been discontinued though). It was in January and the scenery was amazing – like traveling through a Christmas card in place.

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    1. I enjoying doing the Sunday posts – they’re such a good way to look back and the week, and set things up for the coming week as well as reflect on what’s been going on. They’re also fairly easy to write since it’s always done from a template.

      K does look more like our son. I never noticed her mouth, but she does have my ears (poor thing). Our grandson looks exactly like our DIL.

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  4. Coffee and scones, Laura! Nooooo!
    Also I don’t like Scotch but we did the Scotch tour and tasting as my son was interested. It was fascinating and trying the different scotches under guidance also fascinating. Mind you, the gin might be enough!
    Beautiful family and I am glad you are having such a good time
    Xx

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    1. I like tea, but having a cappuccino with my scone gives me the best of both worlds.

      We really looked hard at doing a whiskey tasting, but they were too expensive for something we weren’t sure we would like. We’re both gin fans, and we were told at the Cotswold Distillery that the one in Edinburgh is very good and well worth a visit. We’ll get a free G&T at the end of the tour!

      We are having a wonderful time, better than we hoped.

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  5. That side entrance is so unique. Sounds like the villagers are really friendly and so helpful. There was a bell ringing episode of Father Brown that made it seem like bell ringing was quite physical required a lot of skill, which you’ve confirmed. Your granddaughter looks wonderful in her kimono–definitely a photo to treasure. Have a wonderful time in Edinburgh!

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    1. I actually gasped when I came around the back of St. Edmunds and saw that door on the side. It looked like something out of The Hobbit. The church itself was OK, but I learned that John Entwistle’s (of The Who) funeral was held there – he lived just outside of Stow-in-the-Wold.

      Bell ringing is very physical, and you have to time your pulls with the others in order to keep things going round – that’s another tricky part. Plus, you don’t want to grip too hard – the rope needs to slip through your hands and then you need to grip it again at just the right point – difficult!

      Our DIL’s mom still has the kimono our DIL wore for her 3-year-old Shichi-go-san and offered it to her, but they decided to rent the red kimono instead. I can’t wait to see the actual formal photos. Our grandson’s from his day are wonderful.

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  6. How exciting! A lot to take in: bell ringing, visiting with friends, visiting the area, grocery shopping, there isn’t a dull moment in your life right now, isn’t it? Your granddaughter looks adorable, it must be fascinating to see the whole celebration.
    Have fun next week and looking forward for more pictures and stories!

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    1. Looking back, we really did a lot, but it also seemed like we spent a LOT of time indoors because of the rain. You are right though – never a dull moment.

      A fall visit to a shrine in Japan on a weekend will guarantee the opportunity to see lots of children in their Shichi-go-san finery. In Tokyo and Kyoto, at the bigger shrines, you can sometimes catch a formal wedding going on as well. Can’t wait for the formal pictures!

      I will be posting to Instagram while we’re in Edinburgh, but will definitely be posting about the trip when we get back.

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  7. Your grand daughter looks AMAZING! From “terrorist” to a lovely young lady – quite the transformation!

    I know last week I talked about Tracy Chevalier’s new novel, but there is bell ringing in it too! The main character falls in love with a bell ringer. It used to be only men…..I learned about sally(s) and cinque and then to have your photos and experience – WOW!

    I would love to see more photos of the foods you buy and how much they cost. I loved when you did this on Kauai and I’m always fascinated about the small differences in everyday life and how much things cost.

    Sending best wishes for a wonderful experience in Edinburgh. Can’t wait to see the photos and hear your stories.

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    1. Oh, I’m pretty sure she’s still a “terrorist” at times, but she does love dressing up so I know she enjoyed all the hoopla on her day.

      I will try to remember to take pictures again when we go shopping next time. I cannot get over the selection and prices at the Aldi over in Moreton-in-Marsh. I never ever imagined being able to get a week’s worth of groceries for around $50 – amazing. Their low prices allow to splurge on things like the passion fruit curd and fancy gin.

      I’m a little afraid that I might overwhelm the blog with photos after we return!

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  8. There can never be too many photos. Love the ones of your granddaughter and the side entrance to the church. It is amazing all the things you get to do on your travels, bell ringing must have been fantastic.

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    1. Thanks Vivian – sometimes I think the photos are overloaded – I try to avoid having it be like someone’s slideshow of their trip to somewhere.

      Wasn’t that side entrance something – I gasped when I came around the church and saw it. It was like an illustration from a book.

      The bell-ringing was fun. We were told some people in the village hate the noise, but I find it very pleasant to listen to, even up in the tower where it was quite loud.

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  9. Love all the photos, and your granddaughter – wow! How adorable! I can understand not wanting to make yourself keep a blogging schedule, and I’m glad your Sunday posts will continue. They’re always great. Look forward to Edinburgh pics. I’m going to dig out mine from the 70’s (!) and see what has changed at the castle. 🙂

    So happy to hear there is another season of Doc Martin! I thought it was over. Can’t wait to watch it, but I’ll wait until the season is over and pay for Acorn TV here to binge it. And I had EXACTLY the same reaction when I read The Exorcist in the 70’s. Read all night because I was too scared to sleep! Ha!

    The bell ringing is fascinating and I would be right there as you are. It would be fun to learn. And finally, I too am grateful to finally see our constitutional checks and balances kick in.

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    1. K is very cute to begin with (well, in my opinion anyway) and those Shichi-go-san pictures took it to the next level.

      We arrived to cold and rain in Edinburgh but the sun is out today so yeah for that (although it’s still quite cold). It’s good walking weather though. I hope we can access Doc Martin while we’re here so we don’t miss an episode.

      Re. impeachment, I think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Hang on!

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  10. Gorgeous grand daughter. How cute is the formal photo!!

    I immediately thought Hobbit Door when I saw the side entrance. Good choice of TV shows – you are living the Midsommer/Miss Marple village life – scones, bell ringing, train trips.

    I understand the impost of regular posting, but I do hope you do let us continue to live though you.

    As to the Queen’s Head pub, is it Mary? I thought it may be Elizabeth? Was the hair red on the pic?

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    1. The “real” formal photos should arrive in a few weeks. The studio our son and DIL use does a whole portfolio of shots in a variety of settings so we always love getting those.

      I have been blogging for nearly 10 years now (anniversary is the first of December). It helps having a schedule but at the same time it can make it a burden – sort of I HAVE TO have a post ready whether I feel like it or not. But, I enjoy the writing process so want to continue at least as long as people continue to read and interact.

      Don’t know if it’s Mary or Elizabeth on the sign, but it’s sort of a floating head and Mary was the one who lost hers, so that’s my assumption. I’ll do a better check next time we’re over there.

      I do feel like we’re in a sort of Miss Marple life right now (well, more like Father Brown, since it’s filmed in Blockley). Our little village is very cozy – lots of people who were born there have stayed. Everyone is very friendly and helpful. We feel very blessed to be having this experience.

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