What Were You Doing a Year Ago?

Sometimes these days, in the last few minutes of the morning before I open my eyes to face the day, I lay in bed and try to remember what we were doing a year ago, in the Before-Covid times.

Although I know we were in England at this time last year, I could only guess what we were doing. We had spoken with YaYu yesterday, and she had mentioned that she should be on her fall break this week, but instead was taking midterms. Last year she came to spend the week with us in England, so that’s what I assumed was happening a year ago. But when I checked it turned out that time was yet to come, and on this day one year ago we had just returned from our three-day getaway to Edinburgh!

October 6, 2019 was a Sunday, so the post below was a Sunday Morning one. What happy memories we made!  It was fun and nostalgic to read through the Sunday post and think about all we experienced back then, from our travel to what we were eating, courtesy of the Aldi store in Moreton-in-Marsh. I’m someone who almost always looks forward, and rarely dwells on the past, but these days I find looking back to be comforting. I am happy and grateful to be where we are now, and know this crazy year will eventually pass, but I also don’t believe things will ever return to what they were, and it’s helpful to remember better times and all that we did and were able to do as we find our new way. We’ve had a blessed life.

My Sunday post from 10/6/2019: Week 5 in the UK

Looking out over the Old Town to Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags (in Holyrood Park) from Edinburgh Castle.

While we had a great time in Edinburgh this past week, we are also glad to be home again in our little village and in our cozy cottage. We stayed busy the entire time we were away, but the rides up and back, while beautiful, were long and tiring. The trip up to Scotland went according to schedule, but although we left Edinburgh on time Friday morning and arrived at our first stop in London on time, after that things fell apart. It turned out our ride from Gatwick out to Moreton was scheduled for 20 minutes before our train even left St. Pancras for Gatwick Station (I blame myself for not checking the timing better)! Then, to add to the turmoil, trains from St. Pancras station to Gatwick were not running on schedule anyway, with five trains already canceled. We were able to get on a train at 3:05 with hopes of getting to Gatwick in time to catch a 4:00 train to Reading (where we transferred to get to Moreton) but the train from St. Pancras quite literally poked along and we got into Gatwick at 4:25. We finally caught the 5:00 which got us into Moreton at 8:00 p.m., where a lovely young couple at the Moreton station offered to share their cab with us as Blockley was on their way. We were back in the cottage by 8:30 although feeling completely wiped out at that point. We spent yesterday doing laundry, reading, and resting and will continue the reading and resting today as we’re both still feeling a little tired.

This was the view from behind our apartment building – Edinburgh Castle was only a 10-minute walk away. All those clouds were almost blown away by the wind by the time we got up to the castle entrance. We were fascinated by all the chimneys everywhere – apparently back in the day every apartment (tenement) had its own fireplace (or two).

We enjoyed absolutely beautiful weather for our first two days in Edinburgh but woke up to a steep drop in the temperature, strong winds and cloudy skies on our third day (but thankfully no rain). Rain arrived on Friday morning but for some reason let up just when it was time for us to walk over to the station to catch our train, thank goodness. It’s colder here in Blockley now as well – we’ve got the heat on and the gas fireplace going in the cottage to keep us warm. Fall has definitely arrived.

We’ll be heading back up to London (Heathrow) on Friday afternoon – we’re spending the night there so we can meet YaYu’s plane early Saturday morning (before 7:00 a.m.). We plan to drop off our bags at our Airbnb in the morning and then head into the city for the day, or at least for as long as YaYu can handle being up. We’re doing a walking tour of Notting Hill early Saturday afternoon and a morning tour at Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard on Monday, but otherwise our time will be our own to fill and we’ll go along with what YaYu wants to see and do. On Tuesday we’ll come back to Blockley for a couple of days, and then go back to Oxford on Friday and spend the night there, putting YaYu on the bus to Heathrow for her flight back to the U.S. late Saturday morning. We’re thinking of going down to Bourton-on-the-Water for the day when we’re back here in the Cotswolds, but will have to see how we feel – we may just want to rest again and only do some walks around Blockley. Whatever happens, it’s going to be another busy week.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finally finished Middle England, but after we got back because I was too exhausted to read while we were away. I’ve just started Resurrection Men because I wanted to read something about Edinburgh and nobody does it better than Ian Rankin. He makes the city as much of a character as any of the people in his books.
  • Listening to: It is peacefully quiet here this morning both inside and out. Yesterday morning the church bells rang for over three hours! It was fun listening knowing how it was done and who was doing the ringing. It also rained quite a bit and the washer and dryer ran all day.
  • Watching: We didn’t watch any TV while we were in Edinburgh, but we did watch The Descendents on our last night there (the DVD was available in the apartment). We traditionally watch it on Thanksgiving, but missed it last year and will again this year, so we thought we should catch it while we could. It sure made us homesick for Kaua’i – can’t wait to be there again in January. I watched an episode of Endeavour on TV here last night but that’s it.
  • Cooking: We’ll be having leftover meatloaf tonight along with vegetable soup made from several odds and odds of vegetables that I want to use up before we go shopping tomorrow. This week we’ll be having chicken and vegetable stir-fry; chicken vegetable soup; meatballs with marinara; lamb burgers with roasted vegetables; tuna melts; and breakfast for dinner with eggs, sausages, and sauteed apples. YaYu doesn’t eat meat anymore so we’re also going to look for some vegetarian things to have on hand when she’s here at the cottage.
    After three busy days in Edinburgh, we were already tired when we started the long journey back to Blockley. But we were happy – we’d had a great visit!

     

    The scenery along the way going and coming back was beautiful, but it was especially thrilling to pass along the North Sea as we got close to Edinburgh.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: The train journey to and from Edinburgh was an effort and an accomplishment as each way involved four different train changes and getting through three rather large stations (including crossing the street to get from St. Pancras to King’s Cross). We also got stuck in rush hour traffic in London on our way back on Friday which kept things a bit more challenging. We made it to each of our four Edinburgh tours on time, a feat considering we had to figure out how to maneuver through a city we didn’t know very well at the time. We walked a minimum of three miles each day, and one day walked over six miles. Last Sunday evening, before we left I booked an Airbnb in Massachusetts for our stay for YaYu’s graduation, and another in Maine for a visit there afterward. We’re going to spend one night in Vermont or New Hampshire in between but haven’t chosen where yet. Laundry day yesterday was an accomplishment – it took over 10 hours to get everything done and put away (because the washer is very small and it takes nearly two hours for one load to run).
  • Looking forward to next week: We’re very excited about YaYu’s arrival next weekend and getting to visit London and Oxford with her, as well as showing her around our village. It was exciting seeing things like the Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye as our trains passed through London, knowing we’d be there soon. If it doesn’t rain this week we’re hoping to ride the bus over to the village of Broad Campden and then walk back to Blockley (around three miles).
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Everything went better than expected on our getaway. We had absolutely gorgeous weather for the first two days we were there as well, and the rain held off our entire visit and our walk over to the train station on Friday morning when we left (it was raining when we arrived on Monday, but we took a cab to our Airbnb). Even though we missed our original train home to Moreton, we were able to use our tickets for a later train at no extra cost.

     

    Chicken and mushroom pie for lunch at the Mitre pub on Edinburgh’s High Street. It came with vegetables, mashed potatoes, and gravy and kept me full the rest of the day . . . all for $14.75.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We took a bag of food up with us up to Edinburgh, and the apartment was stocked with yogurt (for me) and oatmeal (for Brett) which helped us keep our food costs down. We went out to dinner the night we arrived (which provided leftovers for the next day), and then had lunch out each day at a pub, where the meals were large and reasonably priced, and then ate leftovers or the things we brought at night. Other than taking the taxi from the train station when we arrived, we walked everywhere while we were in Edinburgh. We did buy some souvenirs but discussed those ahead of time so we weren’t tempted to make impulse purchases.

     

    Brett and I got ourselves a cashmere scarf, and we also bought a bottle of Edinburgh gin – we got a discount on it at their shop because we took a tour of the distillery (and because it’s delicious), and got a discount on the scarves because we bought two.
  • Grateful for: Once again, some very kind strangers stepped up to help us get back to Blockley when we were otherwise stranded. We were thinking we were going to have to walk into Moreton from the station when we arrived (in the cold and dark) and go to a hotel to call a taxi, but a young couple from London who arrived at the same time offered to share their ride with us as Blockley was on the way to their destination. We were extremely tired at that point and their kindness made a huge difference after a long day.
  • Bonus question: Did you eat haggis in Scotland? NO! I had absolutely no desire to give it a try before we went or while we were there and that still holds. We did get to sample a “wee dram” of whiskey on one of our tours and I was reminded once again of why I don’t drink whiskey and prefer gin instead. We did have some lovely pub meals, including incredible meat pies in one place. I’ve never had such a wonderful, flaky crust in my life and the filling (chicken and mushroom) was divine. We tried a can of IrnBru (Scotland’s soft drink) while we were there – it was tasty – and ate some authentic Scottish shortbread. I thought Walkers shortbread was pretty good until we visited a shop and tasted some that just melted in our mouths and were less sweet too – so delicious! I’ve been spoiled for life.

One thing Brett and I both realized on this trip is that although we are healthy, and in pretty good shape, we do tire more easily these days and couldn’t have sustained the pace we kept for much longer than the three days we were there. Our visit reinforced why we enjoy being able to stay in one place for a while and keep a less hectic schedule. Our time with YaYu will most likely be just as busy, but after that we know we can slow down again and not have to work so hard. We’re wondering now if we really want to do a full week’s driving tour down to Cornwall, and think maybe we might go down by train for a couple of nights instead.

14 thoughts on “What Were You Doing a Year Ago?

  1. What a wonderful memory of England and Scotland.
    This time last year we had just returned from Idaho to purchase our land. I was in the middle of planning my trip to Hawaii to celebrate my sister in law’s 60th birthday in November. Most importantly, this time last year I was in my bed, with a sling around my shattered arm awaiting surgery. They removed the shatters and made my arm (well two bones and my elbow) bionic on Oct 7.
    Wow—that seems like a million years ago. My 2020 began early for sure!

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    1. Wow, you really had a time of it last year, both good and bad. 2019 really does seem like a lifetime ago – we are in such a different place now, but grateful for all that we got to do and for our continued good health.

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  2. Last year I had just finished up a murder trial and was in my post trial sleep status ( I usually sleep 12 hours a day for several days afterwards) and was also preparing to fly to see my grandchild….sigh. Not this year…thank you Covid!!! The good news is that grandchild is happy and healthy and we live in an age where we can Facetime. This week I am dealing with the sudden death of a close friend from cancer on Monday, and preparing for a possible hurricane/tropical storm, yet again. To be real, 2020 sucks. However, that is life. My momma always told me to suck it up and deal. Really, do we have a choice? I remember your trip last year with great interest. The food looked fantastic, as well as the walking tours.

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    1. Do you sleep like that after every trial, or just murder trials? I think I would react like you; just go and sleep for a while (that’s what I felt like after my jury duty experience in 2018).

      2020 has been the worse – I feel like I’ve been strapped into a car on the roller coaster from hell at times, and it won’t stop and I can’t get off. I am dealing with, but there are day when I sure wish I didn’t have to. But like you say, do we have a choice?

      Seeing Edinburgh was a dream come true for me as was our time in the Cotswolds.

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  3. A year ago today was my birthday (just like today 😃), and we celebrated it at my daughters with a BBQ and then a walk to the beach to see the amazing and thrilling Thunderbirds Airshow. The airshow was cancelled for this year, of course, but today we are enjoying the end of a lovely RV trip to the Central Coast of California. We started the day with a slow start while sipping hot coffee in our cozy trailer, then enjoyed an insanely delicious breakfast at Buttercup Bakery Cafe here in Morro Bay where we are currently, then a seven mile beach walk that included sightings of adorable otters among other things, decaf lattes after at a super cute small local coffeehouse, and are now back at our travel trailer cooking up BLT’s for dinner. Too full from our late breakfast to go out again for a celebration dinner, BLT’s sound heavenly. Dessert will be locally made Brown Sugar Cookie Co.cookies we picked up yesterday in nearby Cayucos.

    I am trying hard to turn COVID lemons into lemonade!

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    1. Happy birthday! What a lovely place to spend the day too, in Morro Bay. It’s so great that you and your husband could get away and RV up the coast for a while, and get out for walks, stop at bakeries, restaurants, etc. A BLT after an otherwise perfect day sounds like a great birthday me to me. Your lemonade sounds pretty darn sweet!

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      1. I should add that mask wearing there (SLO County) was imoressive- I’d estimate 90% of the people we saw out and about were masked, and the restaurants we visited for take out or for alfresco dining were very COVID conscientious. Much appreciated!

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      2. Yeah! We ran into people again yesterday (visitors) at the farmers’ market who were not wearing masks. It’s so frustrating, but they seem to feel very entitled.

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  4. I was getting ready to leave for a hiking trip to Ireland with Ottsworld travel. I got out of Dodge the day before we got dumped on with over 2 feet of snow. We were without power for 4 days and some a week or more. I was thrilled to be on the green, green grasses of Ireland. I hope to return soon as I’ve only touched the tip of exploring there. Hopefully next fall.

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    1. What a great tour – it sounds like it was a lot of fun as well as getting to miss out on a long power outage. We’d love to hike in Ireland as well – our big issue now though is getting there from here – it’s a two to three day trip for us, and it’s EXPENSIVE. I’m thrilled we found the walking tour company in Japan – so many places to visit that we know about but have never had the chance to visit.

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  5. It’s interesting to look back a year. I couldn’t remember what I’d done 3 days ago so of course I referred to an old daytimer for a reminder. As usual, seasonal activities included clearing flower beds and garden vegetables or what I call “putting the garden to bed.” Pickling carrots, canning tomatoes, and stacking firewood all happened this week in 2019, just like 2020. We had celebrated my young cousin’s new house with a housewarming party and were anticipating the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and the first Home Routes house concert of the season. There’s not as much to anticipate with cancelled concerts and social gatherings but I’m still inspired by the changing seasons.

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    1. Sounds like a good and productive time for you! I’m with you on having little to anticipate for the time being. We’ve got plans for 2022, but that sometimes seems like such a long way off.

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    1. We staying in the village of Blockley, which turned out to be a wonderful place for the three months we were there. We had a small cottage in the square in front of the church, so a prime location in town. Unfortunately, the cottage is not currently for rent, although I imagine it will be again someday (it’s called Glebe Cottage). The cottage was very comfortable and fully equipped, with a full kitchen and washer and dryer! We did not have a car during the three months we were there, but were able to get around very well using the local bus service.

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