Archive for December 2002

Scotland :: Cities

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Scotland :: Skye 2002

bridge.JPGChristmas 2002: Isle of Skye
bridge.JPG

Christmas Day, 2002, in Portree, Isle of Skye. It rained most of the day, in a dreary sort of way, but then, just for an instant, the sun came out and turned the town into colour.

Even the secret location of the leprechaun gold was revealled, clearly stolen by the Bank of Scotland

The boats in the harbour at Portree looked cold and forlorn in the winter weather, and although it felt like every pub in the street should be full of people escaping the cold, everything was closed for the holiday season and rather quiet.


The scenery was amazing, these pictures of the coast difficult to capture in low light, but utterly captivating.
We travelled on tiny roads around the perimeter of the island reaching ruins, fairy bridges, and the notorious ruins of old castles.

Perhaps the most moving was the graveyards, where hundreds of family and clan members had been laid to rest before the depopulation of most of the islands.



These sheep thrilled us, so calmly wandering across the already too narrow roads as Cory drove race-car style and I got felt vaguely car-sick.


We spent one night at a tiny 6 room inn in Stein, the building itself over 400 years old but in better shape than its neighbour. This was the night when we met Neal the vet.
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And I drank far too much whiskey and wine leaving me slightly worse for wear the next day.

Skye is beautiful, both traditional and welcoming, and in the off season, empty of tourists except ourselves.


Scotland :: the Highlands 2002

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Scotland :: Speyside

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Edinburgh

we’re having a lovely time! exerpts from the journal:

arrival “Upon arrival in Edinburgh we found that our luggage had not made the connection. BA provided us with nice overnight kits (T-shirt, shampoo, toothbrushes, etc) and in the end our bags were delivered to us at the B&B this morning at 9am.”

“Our B&B is lovely, from the outside it’s unremarkable, just one door in a line of many in a block-long grey building. I think we were both nervous last night as we stood outside the door but once we saw our room, we both felt relaxed. It’s small, clean and well kept with a nice little bathroom and a good firm bed with a thick duvet.

The thought of going out was appealing; Princes Street was bustling when we arrived with shoppers and a small carnival. But after lying down we decided to just stay in and were asleep by 8pm.”

today“… We had a fabulous view of the city from Calton Hill, a strange and almost abandoned place at this time of year. Below the crest of the hill is the impressive old High School which was considered for the site of the Scottish Parliment but deemed too small. Next to it is a striking tower house and the old Calton Hill graveyard. Up high above most of the city in the light rain mist of a calm December day, the buildings seemed grand and infused with history.”


honeymoon

we leave tonight. I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a trip since I went travelling for the first time back in 1998, and this time I’m with my best friend and husband.

There may be sporadic updates while we’re away, but hopefully we’ll be curled in front of a fire with a glass of scotch somewhere far away from computers and work. There’s something so perfect about the thought of 20 days of time together … a chance to enjoy this marriage we’ve embarked upon! This past year has been a whirlwind of changes, of accomplishments, and of beginnings. It’s been tough and tiring, and lovely and wonderful. I am so happy to wake up each morning with him beside me, to cuddle into his warm back, and kiss his shoulderblades. I’m a very lucky girl, and I know it.
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New Zealand



Auckland


Lanarch Castle


complete with palm trees


Christmas in Dunedin


Dunedin


Dunedin train station


boat cruise


Otago University


Long Beach


Marty BBQing
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beach bbq

one last post before I hop on a plane tomorrow morning and begin the two day trip home. It’s been so lovely, this is an amazing country and I am very tempted to go home, find us jobs and work visas, and convince cory to move here with me. I’ve seen an albatross in flight, two types of penguins, an octopus devour a crab, and some of the best scenery in the world. I’ve drank great local beer (Speights), eaten haggis, and met more friendly people that I would have thought possible. New Zealand, and Dunedin in particular, is a wonderful place.

After the conference ended this afternoon, one of the locals (known as M) took S (another canadian) and I on a whirlwind shopping trip downtown where I managed to buy Cory’s Christmas present and his NZ gift in the span of about ten minutes. It helps when you’ve got a local to point you in the right direction – Cory’s going to be thrilled. Then we, and a few others, drove out to Long Beach just up the coast from Dunedin, a fabulous drive which runs along the shore for a while and then climbs up and over the hills for a stunning view of the coastline. M brought his bbq from home and we swam in the southern ocean, a few of us (not me) did some climbing, and finally barbequed some sausages and had a picnic. It was the perfect afternoon with (almost) the perfect company. Wow.

I am ready to come home though because cory’s in Vancouver, it has been a wonderful trip, but not the same without him to share it with. I’ve missed you…
(here it’s Friday evening, December 6th, 10:27 pm)
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here comes Santa Claus

Palm trees, tank tops, and hordes of little kids mobbing the ice cream man, it’s a southern hemisphere Santa Claus parade. On Sunday I had free time to explore Dunedin. This is a beautiful city, nestled into green hills are neighbourhoods of middle class well tended brick houses. I met up with another Canadian (from Newfoundland) and we explored the beautiful little train station, the sports hall of fame, and the octagon main area. We were sitting having a coffee in the park and commenting on what a family friendly city dunedin is when we realized that the hordes of children running around were actually lining up by the sides of the road – a parade.

There was something surreal about watching the Santa Claus Parade wearing T-shirts and listening to piped music sing “walking in a winter wonderland”. I was suprised that such a song would be part of the New Zealand Christmas repetoire, that they wouldn’t have a series of their own holiday songs complete with palm trees and beaches…

Today I have the morning off to explore, it’s my first chance since Sunday to get away from the conference and relax a bit. The weather here has been lovely every single day and it’s hard to wake up to blue skies and then sit inside a darkened conference room. I’m really looking forward to another look at the city – and then this afternoon’s conference field trip to see some NZ scenery and wildlife.

(oh yeah, and my presentation went well!)
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