Archive for October 2010

Honey, I’m Home!!!…well sort of….   2 comments

Well today was the day us Georges finally returned home–to Dundee!!!  It was actually quite interesting.  Not really a lot to see there but we did a lot of driving around the area.  One place we wanted to go is called the Dundee Law.  It’s probably the highest point above Dundee with an incredible overlook of the area.  Sun wasn’t in a good position at the time of day we were there but we took a ton of photos anyway.  It was rather moving to be standing there on top of that hill thinking that at one time our g-grandparents had probably hiked up with their kids to see this incredible view and were standing in similar places that we were standing in right at that moment.  I’m really glad we had a chance to visit our old “home”.

Here are a couple of shots from up on the Law:

Before we got to Dundee, we stopped by and visited Aberdour Castle–one of the oldest castles in Scotland.  It is the ancestral home of the Mortons and Douglases.  Tons of fascinating history that happened here.  Beautiful scenery as well.

We spent the rest of our time today in St. Andrews—stopped at the Golf Course, of course! 🙂  But the REAL excitement came in visiting the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral and St. Andrews Castle.  The Cathedral just blew us away–it was huge!!!  MUCH larger than any of the Abbeys we visited the other day and much larger than St. Giles.  What it must have been like we can only imagine but we were just astounded by all that we found there.

The ruins of the Castle were just down the street and we didn’t have as much time to visit it but found it incredibly fascinating with all the history and things that happened there.

We absolutely loved St. Andrews and the weather was probably the best we had of our entire trip so far.  Nothing out-of-the-ordinary happened today, no “Plant Crossings”, nothing like that.  The countryside was beautiful–not as beautiful as the Border country we just visited–but still beautiful.

Tomorrow we plan on visiting Edinburgh Castle, Sterling Castle and hopefully one other that might be in the area.  Time changed here, too, and so it gets dark early–which is a bummer because we’re having a hard time getting up as early as we’d like 🙂  Oh well, tomorrow’s another day…

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Posted October 31, 2010 by Howard George in Aberdour Castle, Castle, Cathedral, Dundee, St. Andrews

The Border Country   2 comments

So glad to have the internet working again.  We had a great time again, yesterday.  We just spent the day touring the Royal Mile and checking out all the shops.  Even stopped in at a pub for dinner.  Of course I had to have some REAL Fish & Chips and was VERY surprised when they brought it out to have the fish portion the whole side of a large fish!!!–but it was terrific!!

Spent some time in St. Giles Cathedral where John Knox used to preach.  VERY impressive.  I was so caught up with taking photos I forgot to take some time to get up in the pulpit to get a feel for what it must have been like—as a minister I always find taking some time to stand where so many others have stood to deliver God’s Word very moving.  I’ll have to remember to do that later.  To stand where John Knox once stood…..

I’ll include photos from yesterday with the slide show collection from today.

Today however…..we decided to get away from the city.  Our first stop was Rosslyn Chapel–made famous by the book and movie, “The Da Vinci Code”.  I’ve known about this place since I was a kid–long before the book ever came out.  The Georges are a sept of the Clan Gunn, and the Gunns have been closely associated with the Sinclairs–who built Rosslyn, so that is why I wanted to see it.  It was extremely interesting–you could spend days studying the carvings.  All so very different and unique.  But the thing that surprised me the most was it’s size.  It was MUCH smaller than I had expected it to be!!

Unfortunately, photography on the inside is not allowed and the outside, with scaffolding and construction items for the preservation work, did not lend itself to attractive photos but I took a couple anyway.

Headed out to tour the Border Abbeys after Rosslyn.  Now I had always heard that the pace of life was a little slower over here but on the way we came across a sign that brought that notion to ridiculous extremes….

REALLY…you’ve got to be kidding….

But then later we saw a sign for a CRAWLING Lane….

The first Abby we visited was the Melrose Abbey.  Built in 1136,  one of the significant things at this Abbey is that this is where the heart of Robert the Bruce is buried.

We next visited Jedburgh Abbey.  Established in 1138 with 9th-century Celtic stonework that survives from an earlier structure.  We tried to get to Dryburgh Abbey, where Sir Walter Scott is buried but we didn’t make it in time–they had just closed.  So we decided to go up to Scott’s View and catch some photos before the sun went down.

If we have time we’d like to come down here again.  The Border Region is breathtakingly beautiful—especially now with the Fall colors.  Sometimes we were so amazed by the beauty that we would forget to take photos……

Ryan and Ben are doing a great job driving, and I’m actually happy for them to drive–I get to see more that way and I don’t want to miss anything.  One thing is for sure—GPS is a MUST!!  Makes traveling SOOOO much nicer.

Well, the guys want on the computer so I’ll add a slide show of photos from the past couple days and turn the laptop over to them….

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Posted October 30, 2010 by Howard George in Abbeys, Border Regions, General, Scotland

Sorry no post…   Leave a comment

Sorry no post for yesterday.  There was a huge internet outage here last night and didn’t get back up until this morning.  We spent yesterday on the Royal Mile and are leaving now for Rosslyn and the Abbeys.  Will post some things this evening to catch up.



(This is a photo I took inside St. Giles Cathedral)


Posted October 30, 2010 by Howard George in Uncategorized

Calton Hill   3 comments

Didn’t do a lot today.  Slept in–needed that!  Then around noon we decided to go exploring a little down in Edinburgh.  Ryan was voted in as driver again…once we got into downtown proper, we were glad he was–with his superior experience over Ben and I (1 days worth, that is).  It would have been bad enough had we been driving on the right-side of the road but having to navigate in streets undergoing construction, taxis zipping around in mad-capped fashion, the dreaded round-a-bouts every 3 blocks–it seems like, etc, etc.  The most unnerving things it seems is pedestrians crossing the streets just where-ever they want to and you don’t know whether they are going to walk out in front of you or not.  Added to that, we’ve discovered that you can park on either side of the road facing either direction!!  VERY unnerving—you turn down a street and you don’t know if you’re on a one-way street or not sometimes.  At one point we suddenly had an Ambulance with Blue lights and siren on our tail!!!  We didn’t know which way to pull over, it happened so fast–in the middle of Edinburgh–but somehow we managed to get out of the way.

We’ve discovered that the locals know we’re tourists…..there’s a sticker on the back of our car that says “Arnold Clarke”–our car rental place.  We occasionally get “helpful” warning honks to let us know we’re doing or about to do something wrong….ah….we assume…..

What we decided to do today was to go up to Calton Hill, which overlooks Edinburgh with some spectacular views of the city, New Town, the Port of Leith, the Forth River, Holyrood Park, Arthur’s Seat, etc.  Took us awhile to figure out, once again, just how to get there—this time WITH the GPS, but we finally made it.

Took some photos and am posting a number of them here for you today—can’t vouch because I’m processing these on my Netbook.  Will have to wait until I can get home and process them properly on my computer.  But here are a few for your viewing:

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Today has just been kind of a take-it-easy day to just recoup from the trip over.  Not sure what we’re doing yet tomorrow.  Better close this post and get to planning that……..

Cheers!!  (new word I learned  🙂 )


Posted October 28, 2010 by Howard George in Calton Hill, Edinburgh, General, HDR, Scotland

We made it…..sort of…..   6 comments

Well, we finally made it.  We’re in Edinburgh now.   I got up at 2:30 am on Tuesday, the 26th, to finalize things before heading out to the airport and it is now 11:00 pm, the 27th, Edinburgh time…..I’m beat, tired and exhausted.

Valerie dropped Ryan and I off at the San Francisco International Terminal in plenty of time for our “direct flight” to Amsterdam only to discover that our flight had a stop in Minneapolis…therefore not direct, not international and NOT in that terminal…..fortunately we got there early so we had time to walk, take a tram, etc, to finally get where we needed to be to check in.

The flight was uneventful until we got to Minneapolis and hit that huge storm that was going through the Midwest.  They told us that the airport was down to only 1 runway so we had to circle around for awhile until it was our turn to land.  Storm was really bad and winds were gusting up to 50 mph.  Many flights were being delayed in the area.  On the ground we were able to get in touch with Ben.  His flight out of Omaha had been delayed and it turned out that his “direct flight” to Amsterdam was ALSO making a stop in Minneapolis, but that it would be after we had already left.

When it came time to board our flight we ended up having to sit there in the plane at the terminal for about 2 hours.  One of their computers was acting up, they couldn’t fix it and needed a replacement.  Once that was completed we were finally able to taxi out for take off…but they couldn’t find anyone to push our plane out….so we had to wait another half hour for someone to do that.  Eventually we were number 1 in the takeoff spot and ready to go, when the Captain came on the speaker, said their computer was acting up again and that we had to go back to the terminal to get it fixed.  So back we went and there we sat for another hour and a half.  All this while, it was really amazing how this huge plane was being rocked back and forth and buffeted by the winds—while we were still on the ground!!  Pretty soon, the Captain came on again, “Sorry folks we can’t fix the computer, we need to put you on another plane.”  So back into the terminal we went to sit and wait….some more…..

In the meantime, Ben’s delayed flight arrived at Minneapolis and since our plane was only about half full–because of the winds the didn’t want to fill it—we were able to get Delta to transfer him to our flight so we could all be together for the rest of the trip.  THAT was GREAT!!!!

Another hour and a half goes by and finally a new plane pulls up for us to get on.  Woo Hoo!!…..nope….now it turns out that the flight crew had reached their FAA 16 hr limit of on duty time and they had to get us another flight crew.  So we had to wait another hour or so until they could get someone to fly us “across the pond”….

Our flight WAS scheduled to leave at 3:30 pm…..we finally boarded to leave at 11:30 pm……  Then another wonderful surprise….the stewardesses began handing out airsickness bags to everyone.  They said that the first hour and a half was going to be really rough and that they were even going to be strapped in and not allowed out of their seats…….FORTUNATELY that didn’t turn out to be the case.  It was bumpy, but not as bad as what it could have been.

Got to Amsterdam, and of course had to be re-booked because our scheduled flight was long gone.  We were scheduled to have arrived in Edinburgh around 10 am, but arrived after 6 pm.  All week long the weather I was checking on the internet was predicting “Brilliant Sunshine”…..well….it was there….but above the rain clouds…..all we had below those clouds was rain.  No worries, though, we were (are) in Scotland!!!

We got our rental car.  Got printed-out directions to our lodgings and headed out.  Ryan was the “guinea pig” to test out driving on the left side of the road while Ben and I “navigated”……picture being in a strange setting, in the dark, in the rain, disoriented, getting honked at and every couple of miles coming upon these demonic creations called “Round-a-bouts”…….yup, you guessed it….SOMEWHERE we made a wrong turn and got hopelessly lost.  Fortunately we had the “good sense” to get a GPS for the rental car so we decided to pull over, read the directions and try to use that to figure out where we had to go….believe it or not while we were pulled over trying to figure out the GPS unit, someone pulled up next to us to ask for directions!!!!

So why didn’t we use the GPS from the beginning??….ah…well….ah…it’s a “guy thing”—you know the “thrill of the chase”, “we’re not lost–we still got gas”….you know, one of those mysteries of life….

Anyway it turns out that this GPS unit must only take you on the “scenic route”—we were going all through Old Town areas, little neighborhoods, down narrow brick streets barely wide enough for one car.  Finally after a hour or more we suddenly happened upon our place we were going to stay.

It’s been an exhausting couple of days, but quite an adventure.  Plus for me, being in Scotland is literally a dream-come-true.  As far back as I can remember I have been in love with Scotland and have always wished that “some day” I could go visit the place my family came from.  I read everything I can get my hands on about Scotland.  I know it’s history, music and arts as well as I know that of my own country.   Something about it has always drawn me and even though I never really believed I would ever be able to actually GO to Scotland, it still holds this special place in my heart.  Being here is REALLY Big for me, and being able to share it with my boys is even better!!!  I really look forward to seeing all the things I’ve read about, studied and dreamed about.  Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.  I’m going to savor every moment.

Sorry no pictures yet….hope to have some soon. But right now I’ve got to get to bed…I’m REEAALLYYY Tired……….



Posted October 27, 2010 by Howard George in Edinburgh, General, Scotland

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