Category Archives: 2019 Scotland

Edinburgh to Kerry, Day four

Short workout, pack it all up—and we have a LOT of bags with the five of us. We drive out of Edinburgh in a steady rain. The forecast says we’ll land in the same.

A short flight, but a long process at the airport. Apparently this airport’s particularly finicky so we’re an hour delayed in take off.

Griffin’s thrilled to see his plane girlfriend. He loads on the charm and flirty smiles. I expect, with the weather, the flight will be pretty rough. I’m prepared to use the full power of my mind to keep us up.

And am more than pleasantly surprised when the hour’s flight proves pretty damn smooth.

I risk a glance out the window on our descent—I don’t like to remind myself I’m way up in the air—and there it is! Those stunning shades of green spread in patchwork fields, rich browns tossed in.

Editor note: Kat doesn’t mind looking out the windows.

Vibrant green patchwork. Photo by Kat
Cows in the center of the patchwork

Another surprise is the sun. It’s breezy, warm and bright in our part of Kerry, so we’ll take that gift.

The air smells gorgeous.

We rent a car, eventually pile in. And off we go for about an hour’s drive to our home for a week.

It’s a lovely drive, shining green under stacked clouds where the sun burns through here, then there. Hills rolling and rising, brown cows, white sheep.

Neat, pretty houses of creams and rose and pale yellows with flowers in the dooryards.

I’ve missed this.

We’re met on arrival, so welcoming, and our mountain of luggage taken care of while we all go out to the hotel’s patio, overlooking the river, for a light lunch.

Flowing river. Photo by j a-b

It’s perfectly beautiful day, and the tea colored fall of water makes its music. Griffin’s fascinated with the little falls, and absolutely cheerful.

He travels better than his nana!

He still wants to fly. Photo by Kat

We have a spacious, thatched-roofed cottage here with a river view—and if we get more fine weather, our own patio where we can sit and enjoy.

It feels good to fully unpack, though I need to do a little organizing—but that can wait. 

Let’s have some fun exploring the cottage—there’s a bedroom on the ground level where I can set up to work when the mood strikes. A pretty little kitchen should Kat and I have an urge to cook. Lots of room for Griffin to crawl around safely.

And outside the wide river, the green, green trees, the splashes of flowers.

Kat starts some laundry. 

The baby takes a late nap—he earned it—but his mama has to get him up for dinner (and so he doesn’t wake at ten and decide it’s party time!)

We have a relaxed, casual meal with Jason and Kat taking turns walking Griffin around and about before the meal comes. He wants to sit with Nana again, and she’s fine with that. He eats like a champ, veggies, chicken, mashed potatoes.

I swear he ate more than I did.

Back home to put Griffin to bed, and the rest of us aren’t far behind him.

Woke to rain. Looks like a damp, breezy day. I’ll likely gear up and go out to walk a bit at some point. We’re thinking of going into Kenmare for shopping and lunch, so we’ll see.

Workout’s done. Kat, BW and Griffin are at breakfast. 

Time to clean myself up, do some of that organizing.

It’s good, more than good, to be back in Ireland.

Nora


Meanwhile, back in the states an Unsupervised Cranky Publicist kidnapped Flat Nora from Turn the Page Bookstore and took her out on the town.

To shop at Gifts Inn BoonsBoro…
to shop some more at Josie’s on Main…
eat some Vesta pizza…
and to meet the delighted guests at Inn BoonsBoro.

I obviously have time on my hands. ~L

Edinburgh, Day 3

Lazy, late start today as we have some tired people, and a baby who wanted a morning nap. No problem because, hey, we’re on vacation.

Turns out to be a perfect summer day here, warm—bordering on hot!—blue, blue skies with puffy white clouds.

When we got out (Kat stayed back to catch up on sleep) we cabbed as close to Edinburgh castle as we could—lots of roads closed during the Festival. A nice walk, so nice, I took off my light jacket. 

The perfect day and those blue skies obviously brought out the hordes. The sidewalks are jammed with pedestrians. And in my short time here I’ve learned about what I think of as the Lost Tourist Zombie Walk. They’ll walk, in clumps, at less than a snail’s pace. Pretty much impossible to get around or through the clogs of tourist who obviously don’t know where they’re going, stop dead—in groups—to discuss, and routinely block everyone else from just moving on.

So you shuffle behind the wide knots of them until you see an opening, then go for it.

We eventually get to the castle, which is massive and stunning, and full of people. There are views from that high perspective of the city, the firth beyond, the wide green spaces. 

A boy, a castle and his minions. Photo by BW

The roads are steep and cobbled. It must have been a hard climb for those hauling supplies, and harder still in winter. Defensively, it’s a brilliant position.

We can’t wait over an hour in a queue to see the Crown Jewels, especially with a baby in tow, but wander here, climb there, into the Scottish Memorial Building with its lovely stained glass windows that fascinate our boy.

Along to the Grand Hall, more stained glass, incredible wood work, and weaponry. Seeing some of those swords up close you have to admire the sheer strength needed to wield them.

Griffin likes the armor, and so do I.

Griffin size? Photo by BW

We walk through the prison, and it’s a forbidding sort of place still. The air’s dank, the light’s dim.

Out again into the sunshine for the walk back—crowds of people coming and going, and more still when we hit The Mile.

There the energy’s much different, so festive. Crowds circling musicians, lots of LTZ walkers, and we’re in search of a late lunch.

Local color. Photo by BW

We find our spot in a bustling place where we can spread out in a booth. They have pulled pork! I’m sold. But as I see no actual veg, and the boy should have something approximating it, I ask if we can have a little dish of guacamole—which he loves.

He doesn’t want the high chair—he’s tired and hungry. So he sits with Nana, eats his guacamole, and some pork—and fries while Nana has a very nice margarita. He’s happy; we’re happy. The food is more than fine, the waitress delightful, and as we finish, Griffin falls into a post-lunch coma. 

More, please. Photo by j a-b

His daddy has to cart him back—with a stop to buy tickets for BW and Jason to see a show tonight. BW queues up, and we continue on. More LTZ walkers. 

They’re everywhere.

Griffin pops awake in the elevator. We think because we got on with a room service guy—and French fries. He eyes the fries, and I suggest the room service guy run for his life.

Back, and Jason takes a nap. Kat’s going to run some errands for all of us now that she’s fully rested, so Grandda and I play with the boy.

He’s happy, as he almost always is so we have a fun time. Grandda plays some Cajun accordion, and Griffin starts doing a little dance. Kid’s got rhythm already.

I have a light dinner with Kat, and Griffin gets some nice veggies and salmon. I don’t know where he puts it!

And for dessert, a tasty new brogue. Photo by Kat

He stayed happy all day, such an easy kid, and I hear him laughing as his mama gets him ready for bed.

Last night view. Photo by j a-b

The guys are back—the shows are short—baby’s sleeping. I’m pretty well organized as I write this right before I settle in for the night.

We’re leaving for Ireland—a week in Kerry to start—in the morning after a whirlwind couple of days in Scotland. A short flight—I’m grateful for that. Wet weather forecast, but oh well. I’ll be glad to really settle in, glad to spend time in the countryside.

Nora


In today’s #randomkatness

View of the city penciled in.


Edinburgh, Day 2

Walking’s the word of the day. We do a lot of it.

Head out first to get cold meds for BW, then he and Jason peel off for a bit to check out the park while Kat and I hit a couple of shops.

View from a walk: Scott Monument. Photo by BW
View from a walk: Edinburgh Castle. Photo by BW

Griffin needs some clothes for his next size up. But we find his current size in a ridiculously cute plaid vest and pants—and bow tie. And tam. Irresistible.

Then there’s clan ties for the big guys. Fun stuff.

Into Marks and Spenser for Griffin clothes. The low level there has a kid department, and flower shop (gorgeous!) and grocery store. Fascinating.

We load up, and he’ll be a fashionable boy this winter.

The guys not only checked out the park, but rode the Ferris Wheel, so they were entertained.

More walking, with clouds rolling in. So back to the hotel to drop off the bags and get rain gear. 

How about lunch? How about pizza?

We find a place right off the Royal Mile. Pizza, pasta, and a very generously poured glass of red for me.

While we wait for our order Griffin invents a new game. Kat offers him her wallet to fiddle with, and he sweeps it off the table to Daddy. Daddy slaps it back on the table.

Slap the wallet!

Griffin finds this hysterical, so the game begins. Maniacal laughter, sweep, slap. The waitress says: What a happy boy, when she brings the food.

Yes, he is. And more so when he spots pizza.

Good food, good wine, and a nice rest for the walking feet.

Right call on the rain gear as it drizzles again as we start to walk The Mile. Such energy, such movement. Music playing.

A drummer (from NJ, it turns out) has drawn a big crowd. He’s got a fun routine we all (esp Griffin) enjoy before moving on. 

To someone who mentioned it in the last blog (Editor note: a comment by Sue Towery on Facebook), we did slip into Thistle Do Nicely. Who can resist a clever pun? Not me.

There’s a group—three women and a guy, all in pink suits—just setting up. Performers can promo their show for about ten minutes on the mile. 

They’re the Sushi Tap Show.

 I can no more resist a tap routine than a clever pun. They’re fun, fast talented feet, crowd engaging. They draw a young girl from the audience, hand her a bell—like a front desk bell. The guy is miming conducting, and his partners do their thing on cue, and the girl hits the bell—right on the money, time and again. It’s petty damn adorable.

Raining a little harder now when Kat spots some stall tents. We can’t resist those either. Fortuitous, as it turns out, because the first one we check out has terrific gifts (can’t say what) for many of my girl pals for Christmas. 

We hit a jackpot!

Kat helps me pick out which for who—and that’s a BIG help to me. We’re having a great time, and while the lovely woman—who’s giving us much information on the gifts—bags them up, an heroic clap of thunder blasts. 

And the downpour follows.

We’re undercover—lucky for us. People are scrambling for their own, lots suddenly finding religion and rushing for the gorgeous cathedral right across from our stall. Some people crowd in with us, and are welcome. 

It’s a big one—lighting, thunder, torrential rain. But doesn’t last but ten minutes or so. 

It slows, allows us to start back. BW, Kat and Griffin head back first. Jason and I get about half way back when the rain gets heavier. A shout out here to my Azita for putting the lovely rain jacket in my sight line at Kat’s spree at Saks. It’s not only really pretty, it’s light and easy to pack. And it seriously works.

I stay dry except for below the knees.

We duck into a souvenir shop as I have things I want to get for my other grandkids—and I have a Sherpa in Jason.

He’s pretty well soaked when we get back. Heads to a hot shower. I head for the champagne!

…and a banana for Griffin

A busy, entertaining day, with all kinds of weather. We’re tired enough to stay in for dinner.

It’s Edinburgh Castle today.

My workout’s done, BW, Kat and Griffin are down at breakfast. Jason’s catching some extra ZZZs. Hey, up now. Good morning!

We’ll head out in a couple hours.

The sky looks promising, but yeah, it did yesterday, too. Good thing I love my new rain jacket!

Nora


Introducing #randomkatness #momedition

You’re interesting. I am suspicious. (Photo by Kat)
What the heck Mom? Photo by Kat

Edinburgh, Day 1

BW, Kat, Griffin and I flew out Monday evening to meet Jason, who’s been in Edinburgh for several days. Boonsboro High School’s Theater troupe got an invite to the Fringe Festival here. This is a very big deal, a terrific honor and opportunity. Jason came as one of the chaperones, and as he works in theater, a tech advisor.

Before I get into us, I have to say I’ve been following the kids on FB, and what an amazing experience they’ve had. A couple days touring London, then the long bus ride here. Four performances of their chosen play, Almost, Maine.

Just huge congrats to everyone, all the kids, all the parents and families who got behind them, the community of Boonsboro, and to Mr. Bair, the guy who works with and inspires these kids (as he did withJason) every day. (See note below.)

Our flight was smooth. I say that as someone who hates to fly. Have I mentioned that before? It bears repeating. I hate to fly. In this case, the flight was so smooth I got a solid three hours sleep, only woke once to some turbulence over the wide Atlantic where I had to use the power of my mind to keep the plane in the air.

Best of all Griffin does NOT hate to fly. He’s a traveling boy with some experience under his belt already. He loved it, crawled up and down the aisle, flirted outrageously with our flight attendant, who flirted right back.

And he conked out for a good four hours.

We landed in a drizzle, packed a van, went through Customs, did the whole round. Lots of traffic on the drive in. Jason tells me that Edinburgh is a city of about 500,000, but during August, during Fringe, that swells to 1.5 million.

A lot.

Gorgeous old buildings, dour gray and brown stone majestic in the gloom—just as it should be. Mountains and hills in the not so much distance. Sheep in the fields.

And in town buses, tons of double deckers, streets lined with those gorgeous buildings, and the grand spread of the castle on the hill.

Flowers, flowers, flowers, and green.

The main part of our suite is ready, and we’re so weary and grateful for that. We have expansive views of the city, big windows we can open enough for fresh air.

A very Edinburgh view. Photo by BW

Griffin’s happy to explore.

Some lunch in the room—I have amazing tomato and basil soup. BW and Kat get fish and chips. The fish is enormous—and enjoyed. Griffin also approves there.

Fish & chips still life. Photo by BW

Naps come next.

I get about an hour down—that’s how I like to do it.

Jason arrives—his wife and son are asleep on the couch, so we catch up.

Sensibly sleeping. Photo by Griffin’s Nana

When they wake, Griffin’s so happy to see his daddy he wants no one else. Joy.

BW and Kat are going to BHS’s last performance. I would love to see it, too, but I know with my bleary brain if I sat down in a theater, I’d wake up again at curtain call.

Ticket and program. Photo by Kat
Festival programs for the taking. Photo by BW

So they go off, and Jason, Griffin and I walk around the city. A light drizzle, busy streets. Then The Mile—shops, restaurants that becomes, as Jason puts it, a kind of temporary Times Square during the festival.

He’s not wrong.

I see some actors still in costume and makeup, lots of tourists, lots of performers buxting. We climb steep streets and steps, head down steep alleyways.

We head to BHS’s venue to meet up with BW and Kat, wait in the little lobby. We can hear some of the performance, and Jason explains the scene to me. We can also hear an enthusiastic house, and that’s gratifying.

Cheers and applause at the end for these talented kids who are now international players.

The BHS actors, plus a small special guest.

I’m ridiculously proud.

Jason peels off—he’s staying with the troupe one more night, and they’re all going to The Tattoo—the big show at the castle.

We head back, taking the most amazing (and endless) marble stairs. The Scottish Stairs have a different color of marble on each tread, each landing. Kat’s carrying Griffin, BW and I take the stroller.

Street level view. Photo by Kat

I got my workout in, for certain.

Another nap for the boy, and as Kat went out and found a wine store, some much appreciated champagne for me. A relaxed evening in, room service, early to bed.

Sustenance — by the glass, not the small spoon. Photo by Nora

Before I turn in, I hear fireworks, and look out to see the castle lit up for The Tattoo.

And sleep a solid eight.

Kat and Griffin join me in the morning right before my workout. He is a huge infusion of cuteness in his little jacket and cap.

They’d off to get batteries for one of his toys, some breakfast.

I have the bulk of my workout done when they get back, and as BW’s fighting a head cold, Kat wonders if she should go down and bring him breakfast. On his birthday, too!

We end up ordering room service again as BW rises, and Griffin does part of the workout with me.

I entertain him with the Mash-Ups on Shaun-T’s Cize program. He loves these, and laughs, snuggles, begins to fade.

A quick nap for him while we eat.

Stretches for Nana, and here’s Jason.

Griffin wakes thrilled to see Daddy.

Ready to take on the world.

We’re going to walk around, do some shopping on this marvelously sunny day. You have to take the sun when you get in here, so we will.

And we’ll see what we can see.

Nora


Editor’s note: You can read more about the BHS trip on Facebook or their You Tube Channel The energy is amazing. ~Laura