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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- Thinking of good things that happened: Everything that happened this week was good, even the rain.
- 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.
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.
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!