Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things at the zoo

 A quick lazy post - I've been meaning to for days, but the truth is I'm completely shattered when I get home from work these days.  So - tonight, just to get back at it, a quick post focused on pictures of animals.  All but one are in the Edinburgh Zoo - which remarkably is a really interesting, non-depressing, vast, clean place - one of the leading conservation zoos out there apparently.  The Amur Leopard took my heart, that's for sure.

I wish I had a bit more energy as I have a lot to say about the trip.  I will start with the fact I want to go back there, I want to see the rest of Scotland.  And I love the fact that when I look at Tui's blog, I can picture where she is and what is around her.   I've been thinking about what this experience might mean to her later in life - it is pointless to say old people things to her like pay attention to every second, as this is going to be one of the best times of your life.  Those are things you realize only when your life gets cluttered with all the things that it does as you get older.  But I do know she will have an amazing time, and part of me wants to bonk her on the head and take her place.  And the other part of me just wants to bonk her on the head.

 Maybe I'm feeling a bit wistful as I watch friends go through what we all go through as we and those around us get older.   I am so grateful I get to go on trips like this with members of my crazy family.   We joke about our family dysfunctions,  but I know deep down how very lucky I am.

And I also know how very very much I will enjoy bonking Tui on the head when I see her again in October :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Last day, just about...AKA goodbye Hammerhead Junior

Didn't bother blogging yesterday as I didn't take photos. It was a shopping day, with all the thrills and chills that shopping days involve. Somehow all the womenfolk ended up with new purses; Pete couldn't find one that would work with his new Camper shoes so he passed. We stopped at Henderson's Salad Table for lunch (gluten free items marked on the menu!) -very good Lots of walking, as usual.

Today we moved Tui into her new student apartment. It is new to her, but it's not a new building - so what that means is no elevator, and Pete having to drag Tui's suitcase - which must have weighed 40 kg at least - up the100 steps to her 5th floor room. His enjoyment was obvious.

Tui has lucked out with her room - it's large, with a gorgeous view over the old town and Calton Hill. Her roommates hadn't arrived yet (there will be two), but there are lots of activities scheduled for the coming week, and classes don't start until the 19th. I'm sure her social circle will be fully developed by then.

We went for lunch atPink Olive, pictured below. Lunch was really nice - and all the tables seemed to be filled with university students and their parents. Pete and I have been observing the local hammerheads ( wide eyes, overbite ) - Mum and Tui practiced their hammerhead faces at lunch, though Tui has a natural head start on the local look.


We've said goodbye to Tui now, and it is strange not to have her sitting on the other end of the couch. Something tells me that she will have a far easier time without us than we will have without her.

Tonight's events? A very brief sleep, cab to airport at 4am...good times!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Not quite the Parthenon, but close enough

And if I'd taken a photo of it with my iPad you would be looking at it now.

Today started out grey and rainy but turned into another lovely sunny day. We walked from the condo through the Grassmarket, along the Royal Mile, and up to Calton Hill - Scotland's answer to the Acropolis, topped by a truly Scottish version of the Parthenon, the Scottish National Monument (it all started out well, until they ran out of money after 12 columns...)

These photos are from Grassmarket and the Royal Mile.

The last one is where I start to snap. The full hysterical breakdown didn't happen til after pack-horsing groceries and other sundries along the busiest street in town, catching a cab home where my brother and I started bartering over what photos of each other we would delete. Removed from the history books my "Eggman" photo of Pete, and his Jaba the Hutt "Look, she's feeding" photo of me, which I might add made me laugh so hard I was weeping and close to losing control of other bodily functions. Oh, traveling with family.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:W Approach Rd,Edinburgh,United Kingdom

An addendum to yesterday's post....

We went to First Coast for dinner - really great food, lovely cozy place and nice service (foodie pals at home take note!). Pete and Mum had a wild mushroom and barley dish, Tui had lamb, and I had sea bass, with starters of roast eggplant with goat cheese and other lovely stuff. It helped Pete deal with his Scottish food concerns. Methinks the best place for Pete to stay if he comes to visit Tui is the Zoo, with the chimps, as their diet is closer to that found in his natural habitat (95% fruit veg and grains - including porridge - 5% animal protein). He would also be the oldest male in the group by 2 years, which I think would give him first dibs on the porridge, which is really the most important thing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Edinburgh - where Tui isn't the only monkey

Zoo day for the special traveling family today. We caught the bus (I was sitting behind Pete as you can tell) to the Edinburgh Zoo, which is apparently a significant conservation zoo, and it really was pretty impressive - more impressive than these photos show, because all my good photos are on my real camera. I have included some highlights below, including the bathroom that won the "Best Loo in Scotland" award in 2005 - it is a 'family' washroom with side by side toilets. I tried to get Pete to go in with Mum but he refused.


What you aren't seeing photos of are the various apes - they have 21 chimpanzees and a variety of others as well. Tui was disturbed by the chimps. I have theories as to why that might be that I think it best not to share. I also have photos of them that might disturb the squeamish. I will be kind and not post those - yet.

They have some amazing large cats, including the critically endangered Amur Leopard (there are 35 left in the wild) - so very beautiful. Zebras, warty pigs (not wart hogs - warty pigs), rhinos, and an amazing array of penguins and lots of other amazing things. I can't remember the last time I went to a zoo, and this one was really pretty impressive. And hilly. And windy as hell.

Too tired to post anything clever, so I will stop for now!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Gilmore Park,Edinburgh,United Kingdom

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Art and wind

...and not just Pete's. Though there was that too.

The weather today was supposed to be terrible - but it really wasn't all that bad. There has been plenty of sun, mixed with a lot of wind and the occasional rain shower. We walked to a local art/craft gallery first thing, then continued our walk and went through the Grassmarket (seen in the snaps) to poke into more stores and stop for gluten free pizza for lunch. Pete has been paying for the pizza cheese for the rest of the day, but he seems to be recovering.

We continued to the National Gallery of Scotland, wandered around admiring the Bouchers and Rubens and Rembrandts (oh my!) before wandering back into the crazy wind and hitting M&S and Topshop before catching a cab home. Another busy fun day.

The elder abuse continued as you might have spotted, as did the Jan abuse, but that was really caused by my overly heavy purse (I can't figure out why the thing is so f-ing heavy but my shoulders are ready to fall off at this point). The only other annoyance today was that my camera battery died as soon as we left - so my photo taking was limited to the iPad, which is better than nothing...which was good as Pete forgot his camera today as well.

There are some great local artists here, and the attendants at all the stores and galleries have been really lovely. Even the guy at Tesco Express that laughed at us yesterday was nice - and I couldn't blame him. We are pretty amusing.

Monday, September 05, 2011

A wee castle...

Another spectacular weather day in Edinburgh. We got up a bit earlier this morning (well some of us) and walked to Edinburgh Castle. I have much better photos than this, but the blog is limited to those taken with the iPad I'm afraid.

The view from the castle was amazing, as was the war memorial and various other buildings/dog cemeteries/chapels. The castle food was also pretty darned good - Pete has been a bit distressed by the Scottish diet/seeming lack of vegetables, so he was pretty happy to find a variety of salads to go with his goat cheese tart. Health panic level was brought down to yellow alert. He may be able to sleep tonight.


Pete is responsible for this photo of me. You may have to search on the page for it, as I don't think I can line photos and text up well with this app. Anyway, I think I look slightly insane, but Pete says "you look slim - it should go on your blog." OH nothing like the back handed compliment. Siblings. You can't kill them, at least not legally.

Tui took us to the University registrar's office - the University looks pretty cool, the buildings scattered about much like U of T's are.

And finally, some elder abuse. There has been a fair bit of it on this trip.

I really wish I could post some better photos of the castle; maybe when I get home and can download properly from my computer I will post a few more.

Pete abuse blog now officially over.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:W Approach Rd,Edinburgh,United Kingdom

Sunday, September 04, 2011


A gorgeous sunny day today - it may be the only one we get, we shall see. Went for a long walk from the condo to Hollyrood Park, marked by the rocky volcanic cragginess of Arthur's Seat and other high rocky things. Mum was keen to walk up to Arthur's Seat until we saw what the walk would actually entail - we took a slightly less strenuous (but still mildly treacherous) walk that still gave some fantastic views of the hills, old city and castle (the picture of Tui and Mum has the hill we walked up in the background). Despite attempts to throw family members down the side of the hill we all made it down to ground level, rewarded by vanilla ice cream topped with Flake bars.

Then on to the Palace at Hollyroodhouse, the Queen's official Edinburgh residence. We wandered through, then through the gardens. Pete tried a coffin out for size once he figured out he couldn't convince Mum to get in. After a snack we went to the gallery associated with the palace, which had a great exhibit of works from Durer and other great Northern artists. Jan discovered she really does need her reading glasses at that point.


We then caught a cab to a Tesco in Leith (looks like Leith is worth exploring) where we bought a giant cart of groceries (ooh! gluten free bread that isn't frozen!! oooh wine for 5 pounds a bottle!!! ooh scottish oat milk!! ooh black tights!! - feel free to assign the exclamation to the family member) then caught a cab back home, tired but having had a good day of exploring.

The final photo is perhaps the most touching one I have taken - a composition perhaps inspired by the 15th century art we were viewing earlier: Pete sniffing the shea-butter infused toilet paper we picked up at Tesco (Mum felt she required shea butter). Lovely.

And a shout out to my iPad - the happy blinking blue dot of the GPS on the map has helped us avoid more than one wrong turn. And it has allowed me to FaceTime with the Boy, which has been nice too (even if the connection is weird and freezy most of the time - the Scots may not have mastered wireless quite yet).

That's it for now.

using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:McLeod St,Edinburgh,United Kingdom

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Late and slightly aimless in Edinburgh

A late start this morning - not for everyone, as Pete was up early and eating soaked oats before the rest of us started moving. Mum got up, went to her ensuite and came out to find Pete in her bed. I had my first shower and the shower here does a rapid flicker between hot and cold for the first 5 minutes before settling in at a constant temperature. Not sure if that is some planned shower feature to wake you up or just weird plumbing.

Mum noticed there was a sneaker on her third floor balcony this morning - a new addition since last night. At 9 am, an Italian teen came sheepishly to the door wearing one shoe. Luckily Mum hadn't thrown his other shoe into the canal.

Another normal Chutter morning.

As for me, I got up to find a message from the Boy that the cat sitter hadn't been - thankfully he stopped by to see Moo, figured out she hadn't been fed in over a day so gave her some food - hopefully it is just a miscommunication and the cat sitter will appear soon. I had nightmare visions of what would have happened had the Boy not come by when he did. Lucky Moo. Lucky Me.

ANYWAY the day started with us walking completely the wrong direction, but thankfully finding coffee (albeit Starbucks) along the way. We walked up around Edinburgh Castle (though not right up to it yet), got Tui's local cell phone sorted out, got a 3G card for my iPad, ate some lunch (the primary gluten free option out here seems to be jacket potatoes - hoping that more variety might exist out there somewhere) then went to the Gap where Miss T found a new pair of black cord leggings. It was more a day of orienting than adventure. We will try and plan something more concrete for tomorrow.


Posted using BlogPress from my iPad