Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good News!

An article in our local newspaper has just reported that Edinburgh has been voted the "best" place to live in the UK. After a survey of all 434 UK cities, Edinburgh was determined the "best" on the basis of its' galleries, museums, restaurants, impressive education results, and low crime rates. While I have been especially happy to discover the musuems, galleries and restaurants -- and Matt has obviously discovered the education to be of fine quality -- I am especially glad to hear of the low crime rates! After assisting criminal defence attorneys here in Edinburgh, I was a bit curious about the criminal activity!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Princes Street at Night with the Christmas Festival going on in the Background -- It truly is Magical!

In Front of St. Giles Cathedral where John Knox the reformer Pastored. We had just taken part in an Advent Service, and it was amazing! The University of Edinburgh Chamber Choir performed with several Norwegian musicians. So special!

Mom, Dad, and Matt at Costa Coffee - an Italian Roaster

Dad at the Elephant House

Thanksgiving in Scotland

Friday, November 19th, I anxiously awaited my parents arrival at the Edinburgh airport. I could not wait to see them! I had to coordinate two different buses to get to the airport, and I was afraid I would be late! Can you imagine landing in another country and your daughter not being there to pick you up? Yikes! What would you do?

My parents arrived a few minutes late from their flight from London which worked out to the good since my ride to the airport was during commute ... and we went arduously slow through a massive office park. When I finally saw my parents, I hugged them and did not want to let go! I think I kept my mom on my arm for a good half of the day. Once my parents arrived, they were mega-troopers! They did not come back to my flat to sleep ... they kept going! After lunch at Monster Mash, a british diner serving Shepherds Pie and the like, Mom was ready to hit up Ikea and help make our flat a bit more homey! Later that evening we decorated the Christmas tree and hung the stockings with care.

Saturday was a full day -- we took my parents to the Farmers Market, a walk on the Royal Mile, lunch and coffee at the Elephant House (where J.K. Rowling penned the first Harry Potter book), shopping, and tea with Mom at the National Gallery Art Museum.

On Sunday Hilary arrived and the gang was complete. We had Sunday Roast at the local carvery, which was a fantastic Scottish thing for the family to experience. As I've stated previously, Sundays are treated like true holidays here in Scotland. Families open their homes, have feasts, and lounge in living rooms with tea and biscuits for hours after the completion of the meal. The local carvery served turkey, gammon, roast, eight different vegetables and a bar full of sauces and gravies. Matt prefers the mint sauce while I am enjoying a tartar sauce --- and the Scots put it on everything: the meat, potatos, and vegetables. I have to say, I'm enjoying the sauces and gravies! After lunch we took Hil in to town before the sun set - which is at the late hour of 4 pm (today, I think the sun is setting at 3:49 pm). After a quick tour, we retired to to the flat for take out chinese.

The rest of the week included visiting museums, dining on fabulous food, spending time with my loved ones, visiting French and German markets, having Thanksgiving dinner (we had chicken from my local butcher and not turkey -- we didn't even need naps after our dinner), attending an Advent service with a chamber choir and Norwegian musicians at St. Giles Cathedral (where John Knox the reformer pastored), enjoying coffee and tea at every turn, and hanging out at the flat. We had a blast! Unfortunately dad was a bit under the weather for most of the week, but he too was a trooper and got out there and enjoyed Scotland.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The week with my family has been great! We're about to head out the door to the Christmas markets that open today. Updates to come!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Things about which I'm Excited:

1. My parents arrive tomorrow morning!

2. Hilary arrives Sunday afternoon!

3. I get to watch the expressions on their faces as they discover Edinburgh for the first time.

4. The first weekend in December, Matt and I go to Paris.

5. I'm getting to hear my favorite Supreme Court Justice speak on December 11th -- the Antonin Scalia. (After years and years of reading Supreme Court Opinions, his opinions are hands down my favorite ones to read).

6. The following weekend is the Santa Run! Matt and I are running a charity race in which every single runner wears a santa costume. How fun!

7. Then the next day, we fly home for three weeks!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Note about Picture Below

I forgot to mention one thing about a picture below. The lighthouse was built by the father of Robert Louis Stevenson and was an inspiration to Stevenson when he penned Treasure Island.

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day occurred this past Sunday in Great Britain. This holiday is celebrated on the eleventh month, of the eleventh day, at the eleventh hour by two minutes of silence at all of the churches in the country. After the silence, a moving service is held in honor of those slain for the freedom of the United Kingdom. As an American, it was interesting to observe this service.

During the two minutes of silence, I prayed for the safety of all troops and for peace to be secured in our world. Currently, I am teaching quite a few students that serve in the U.S. military. At the start of the course, one such student informed me that a blackout could occur during the semester (where she would be unable to participate for five days in the class because of no internet access), and that this would always happen if someone in her unit or area of the Middle East was killed. This student also described to me the conditions in which she is living ... a tent in the desert. I pray for this students most often. Thus far, she's been the most studious and interested pupil in this particular course.

The music on Remembrance Day was particularly interesting. As Matt and I walked to church, we passed another parish which boasted a bag pipe player in full Scottish apparel - kilt and all. It was particularly moving to see the congregation hurry inside to this memorial service as the bag piper beckoned them to worship. At the service we attended, the ceremony concluded with signing of the National Anthem. Here are the lyrics:

God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.

While it was a bit odd joining the Scottish in asking God to save the Queen, the strangest bit about the song is that it is to the tune of the patriotic song America!

After a little internet research, I found the following:

The American song at:

The British version at:

Because the Brits first sang their anthem in 1745, the tune must have originated with them and not the Americans!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

We Love Sundays in Scotland!

Sundays in Scotland are true holidays. Look where we went today with our neighbors Margaret and Fraiser:

Friday, November 9, 2007

The following pictures are a combination of the following:

1. Our first visitors to Edinburgh! Charli (in the middle) is a friend from Union who has been teaching English in North Africa for the past several years. She's accompanied by Edna, who has also been teaching English, and is a new and wonderful friend.

2. International Food Market

3. National Gallery of Art

4. Writers Museum and Quotes by Various Writers

5. The Coast of Scotland (only 5 minutes away!)

6. The Fishermen's Village (former) on the Coast

7. Princes Street Garden Fountain

8. Gift from America to Scotland after the First World War

And a Few More ....

And More Pictures ...

Pictures from the Last Few Weeks

So Much for Simplicity ....

So much for simplicity ... I thought not having a cell phone would bring about a simpler life. However, yesterday I arrived at New College to meet Matt for lunch and ended up waiting 25 minutes in the lobby because there was no way to call him and say "I'm waiting!" (The bus had been exceptionally fast) And then, if I want to talk to my parents via Skype on the computer before they go to work, I have to be at the house in the prime of an Edinburgher day which is between noon and 3:30ish.

So here's the official announcement: we have Skype cell phones!!!! We are so very excited about this discovery. This new phone just arrived on the European markets about five days ago. Luckily, we walked into a 3 Store (I don't think we have these stores in America) just in time to snag the last two Skype phones in Edinburgh. Here's how it works: we have regular cell phone minutes/texts, but we also have FREE Skype through our cell phone. Therefore, I can call my parents internationally from my cell phone for free if they're signed onto Skype at home or have their Skype calls forwarded to their cell phones. You can also text message us for free through Skype.

Yesterday afternoon dad called me through Skype and I answered on my cell phone!!! I was so excited!!! I can be anywhere in Europe or the U.S. and receive phone calls. Matt talked to his parents in Brazil for about half an hour yesterday. Yay! We love this new discovery.

If you want Skype, go to their website: It's free to download and use. There are extra options, like calling a landline, having your calls forwarded to a cell phone or landline, and other such things that have a small additional fee.

Doesn't this make the world a smaller place?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Great Discovery

Love it!!!

(especially when our FULLY FURNISHED flat doesn't come with stereo or cd player as seen in pictures - haha)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Seven Sacraments

During this past week, I decided to take advantage of the numerous museums in Edinburgh. Last monday I visited the National Gallery of Scotland in the center of the city. Known as the best free attraction in all of Scotland, the Gallery boasts works of art by Suerat, Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh, Degas (both paintings and sculptures), Raphael, Boticelli, and so much more. I absolutely loved the French Impressionism exhibit. Another moving exhibit was the "Seven Sacraments" by Nicolas Poussin. Described as one of the most important post-Renaissance works of art, the display was set in an octagonal room with the entry making up one of the sides and the seven paintings filling the rest. Here's a link to a page with one of the paintings:

I also visited the Writers Museum. This particular museum celebrates three great Scottish Writers: Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott. The first exhibit I wondered upon was that of Stevenson. While looking at paintings of his homes, a lady (probably in her early 90's) asked me if I was an American. I'm not sure why it is so obvious that I'm an American, but I pleasantly responded yes, as I was interested as to why she asked. This interesting lady is a former English teacher, and she also has a slight obsession with Stevenson. She told me that Stevenson married an American lady, and that she was the first American lady he had ever laid eyes on. She repeatedly told me of Stevenson's letter about his wife, and that he said something like "her eyes were like shooting pistols." This dear, dear lady loved whatever he said. I think it's so funny she was so touched by an analogy of a woman's eyes to shooting pistols!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

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