Sunday, July 22, 2007

HP #7 Complete

I finished the 7th book last night around 3 am, Charlotte finished hers this evening before dinner. Overall an enjoyable read, one of my three predictions was correct, and now I can go online and not worry about spoilers :)

Our pre-ordered Amazon copies arrived at our local UPS office on Thursday night. I was watching, tracking online. Here I thought I was going to be ahead of the game and get them delivered on Friday but nooo.... the books sat there. When the box arrived on Saturday I discovered that Amazon was ready for this - the books shipped in a special Harry Potter box with a "do not deliver before July 21" message emblazoned across it. Foiled again!

Nitpick about the writing style of JK Rowling: she has this build up and build up.... and then there is the climatic moment.... but then more build up and build up and more action. It gets lost, too much going on, sticking a very important event or action in the middle of a paragraph in the middle of a chapter and then everything around it is moving at 100 miles an hour - woman, you got to STOP after the climax, let us savor it, catch out breath. Too many times I'm rushing right along caught up in the action and have to say "WHOA! Wait a minute, what the hell just happened?" and go back and re-read the last page and see what Great Important Moment I missed. She doesn't do this all the time but too often she does - break it up there, end the chapter, let us go WOW. Or whatever. Anyway.

Have Charlotte's bridesmaid's dress purchased and off for alterations. The seamstress looked at Charlotte wearing it and said "This dress is too big!" to which I did not reply, as much as I was thinking it, with "No fucking duh, that's why I'm here at our appointment for alterations." I guess they aren't used to people in a bridal party wanting anything more than a hem or something. Half a box of pins later and we had something - we go back in for a fitting in four weeks. Now it is off to get Duncan fitted for his tuxedo - that should be interesting.

Friday, July 20, 2007

vacation photos

finished the first round of edits - photos from the Uk trip posted on Flickr

Next step: edit those down to a reasonable/manageable amount and post to a gallery.

Friday, July 13, 2007

we now return you to...

view from Dunscaith Castle ruins
Vacation's over, back to the real world.

Two weeks in the UK. We started off with a few days in London and then took a train to Glasgow, picked up a rental car and then spent ten days driving around the highlands. Ended up at Edinburgh, trained back to South East England to visit my grandmother and then back to London and Heathrow to home.


British Air - very nice flight. Having individual tvs was great for the kids (me too, caught a triple feature for the seven hour flight home.) The option of ordering a "kids meal" sounded wonderful but I'm not sure where they get their idea of what foods children will eat as the choices of an egg salad sandwich or the cheese & chutney sandwich were not made any more agreeable because they had the crusts cut off. (The morning flight over had Duncan receiving a breakfast meal of spaghetti and meatballs while we all had bacon, sausage and eggs. How strange.)

Craig logged in 947 miles on the rental car. We saw a lot. Unfortunately the gas mileage for our car wasn't the best, and at $8 a gallon it was a comfortable yet expensive way to travel. (96 pence for a liter. 4 liters to a gallon. Exchange rate of $2 to
£1 = $8.00. And here everyone is bitching about $3.00 a gallon. Yikes!)

While I've always been a big fan of England (having family there and being part Brit myself) I have to admit that the highlands of Scotland have now bumped into First Place. The Isle of Syke was absolutely magnificent and we wished we had spent more time there. Desolate, remote, miles without seeing a house or signs of life, and utterly breathtaking scenery. Quite the change from living in the Beltway of Washington DC. Will definitely go there again.

"Kidnapped" by Robert Louis Stevenson is a good book to read when you are traveling around Scotland. "Trainspotting" - eh, not so much.

Weather was pretty good, midges were happily absent, people where friendly, sheep were knee deep, and haggis was on every menu. And while all the establishments in Scotland might offer it I didn't hear a single person order it. You can buy vegetarian haggis as well - which really boggles my mind. Not so much the "how" part but moreso the "why?" Are vegetarians so hard up for food choices in Northern Scotland that they have to resort to fake haggis?

Gin & Tonics come with a slice of lemon and sweetened, lemon-flavored tonic water. Odd. No one had ever heard of B&B so I remained mostly dry this trip - not being a beer drinker nor a scotch lover I was in the wrong part of the world for alcohol. (And while I can appreciate the exact measurements for all bar drinks the single shot of alcohol in that big, tall glass is mighty weak compared to the "glass of gin with a splash of tonic" I'm used to in DC clubs.)

Sweets everywhere. Kids overjoyed, KinderEggs in every shop. It is a wonder the whole country isnt diabetic. (Mind you some days I lived off of Cheese & Onion Crisps and packets of Fruit Pastilles.)

There was a car bomb scare in London while we were there not too far from our hotel. Only learned about it while sitting on a bus reading the headlines on commuter's newspapers. We arrived in Glasgow at 2:45 pm Saturday, June 30 - the exact time that the car bomb hit the Glasgow Airport. Luckily we seemed to shake them when we hit Skye - probably thought it would be a waste to blow up some sheep and a hill or two and so the rest of our trip was terrorist-free.

We saw millions of sheep. A large number of cows (highland variety and others). An impressive number of seals (was brilliant, made me very happy). Horses of all sizes, shapes and colors. A few dolphins (they were camera shy.) Wild rabbits. A couple of the red Scottish deer. Pine martins. And a variety of birds from kestrels to oyster catchers to blue tits and a zallion other types I know nothing about and couldn't name - but no puffins. The Edinburgh Zoo provided us with the most entertaining Sea Otters as well as a hundred Penguins to get up close and personal with so we can safely mark off "wildlife" from our itinerary.

Everything in the Highlands is furry. Cows. Horses. Trees. Everything. Purple FoxGloves grow wild by the thousands in Scotland, whole fields of them (some thistles in bloom but they are a bit later in the season), and the heather was flowering which made for mountains of reddish purple plants.

We hit all the Monty Python Holy Grail spots - some took a little detective work and some climbing but we got them. The kids had the script in the backseat and practiced it for an amazingly long time.

I saw seals, Craig got to the Cave of Caerbannog, Charlotte got to visit Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, and Duncan was able to be in a country that recognized and revered his name - It was All Good.

panoramic Isle of Skye