Daily Journal: 31 October 2016 (Monday)

Happy Halloween! Saw some people dressed up for Halloween, but not many. Maybe will see more in the evening. Currently 57 F / 14 C and partly sunny at 4:00 p.m.

Was well enough to put in some time at the gym and did a partial workout. Really tuckered me out. Making some split pea soup – so will have some delicious soup for the next few days. (I’m not too modest when it comes to my split pea soup.)

Received my ballot today in the mail and sent it back so I can be counted in Oregon. I’ll have to get the absentee ballot process figured out before the next election. Just didn’t have time to sort out the process before leaving Portland.

Found out some information on a shop that I pass on the way to the gym. Up to a couple of days ago, as I passed Doubtfire Gallery, just thought it was funny that it had the same ‘Doubtfire’ name as the movie, “Mrs. Doubtfire”. Until I read more about the history of Stockbridge and found out that the two are related! Following the picture below, is some background info I found.

img_20161031_140246920_hdr \

“The original Mrs. Doubtfire or “Madame Doubtfire” lived and ran a rag and bone shop in South East Circus Place, Stockbridge. The novelist Anne Fine who also lived in the area was inspired by the name which remained faded above her shop (now a solicitors) many years after Madame Doubtfire’s death. Her novel of the same name was in turn the inspiration for the movie based on her book, although Robin William’s character bares little resemblance to the ‘real’ Madame Doubtfire.”  (South East Circus Place is where this gallery is located.)

Around the corner from Doubtfire Gallery, there has been roadwork in process since September to repair or update the cobblestone streets. I’ve been interested in the process of this work, and can see that it goes very slow given that each stone needs to be handled. A very noisy process as well since the digger removes the stones then uses the digger’s bucket to shake off the mortar. Anyway, thought I’d include a picture.


My last stop on the way back from the gym was to the pharmacy. I had run out of Aleve, that I take when my back or legs hurts. The product ‘Aleve’ is not sold in the U.K. so I was going to ask for the equivalent. At first, a pharmacy clerk said that the active ingredient, Naproxen, is not available in the U.K. – but just as she said that, another clerk said that Naproxen was in fact used in another product. Please see below. No more explanation is needed, but we had a good laugh as I paid for the product.



Daily Journal: 30 October 2016 (Sunday)

Edinburgh got a little sun earlier today. Still cool but no rain.

Still resting and trying to get my energy back. No fever or cough, just tired. A shower earlier helped wake me up. Looking forward to make split pea soup tomorrow and also get back to my gym routine.

Have Skype configured and ready. Have been using WhatsApp and Messenger for calls and texting, now adding another way to communicate.

I’ve been looking into various tour packages to the Scottish Highlands. Still trying to decide if this is something I want to do. I have one more month in Scotland.

Thursday, I’m meeting some of the local InterNations group to visit the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. I haven’t been there yet, so will be fun to visit with others and get their feedback as we tour the gallery. Not sure if I had included my involvement with this group.  Here is more information: www.internations.org

All for today.  Cheers!

Daily Journal: 29 October 2016 (Saturday)

Another fine cool day in Edinburgh. Still not feeling 100% so taking it easy and getting rest. Early this afternoon, decided to get up, take a shower and head over to the local Waitrose to pick up some food supplies.

While resting and watching TV, thought about renting a car and taking a trip up the eastern coast of Scotland. Saw a documentary about the small ports up the coast north of Edinburgh. I’m still not sure about driving, but I’ll give it some thought and will see what happens.

I took some pictures of the bins used to collect trash and items that can be recycled. Very impressed with the effort of everyone to separate out their items and use the bins as intended. I enjoy the sound of the rig that picks up the glass – the sound of recycling at work!

img_20161024_155615135 General Rubbish

img_20161024_155636257 Food

img_20161024_155654798_hdr Plastic Bottles and Packaging Materials

img_20161024_155658613_hdr Newspapers and Magazines

img_20161024_155711786_hdr Glass

Extra pictures:

img_20161024_154510009 Funny!

img_20161024_155320066 Parking Payment Station

img_20161026_171123 Ordering at McDonald’s



Daily Journal: 28 October 2016 (Friday)

Fall is definitely here. Windy, cold, and the leaves are blowing around. In other words, I’m loving it! Fun to walk down the sidewalks, bundled up, and enjoying the fresh breeze. Had some hot chocolate after I came in from an afternoon walk (made from chocolate powder, a little sugar, and stirred together to dissolve the powder before adding the hot milk).

Slept a good portion of today, maybe have a little bug, but well enough to make some tuna noodle casserole for dinner. No mushroom soup, but use fresh mushrooms, a white sauce, and sauteed onions and celery, with peas added before adding in the noodles – then baking at 190 C or 375 F for 30 minutes (with bread crumbs on top). (I’ll let it cool a bit while I’m finishing this update.)


Have been enjoying the Apple TV. While I enjoy British documentaries, I need to diversify what I watch. Still not settled down enough to read books. The last Kindle book took me two months to read. Difficult to sit still unless I’m exhausted, and then I don’t feel like reading. Even some of the local papers take me a week or more to pick them up to read. I’ll get back to reading again.

Speaking of food, I noticed the other day that we have not one, but two cheesemongers in Stockbridge. One at each end of the village. I’ve not gone into the shops – wouldn’t know what to ask for. I’m doing just find with the supermarket cheddar and parmigiano-reggiano cheese – but good to know, just in case. Both business seem to do a steady business.



And below is a Grit Bin. These can be found most anywhere there is a chance of snow and ice and the contents of the bin, generally salt and grit, and spread when needed on the road or sidewalk. The one below looks like an early model, but I’ve seen some made of plastic.

Here is the Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grit_bin


Aurthur’s Seat – Continued

Still cool outside and overcast with a chance of rain later today. Really enjoying these cool, and for the most part, dry days. Will head up to the gym later but thought I’d submit an update beforehand.

Arthur’s Seat (Continued from yesterday’s update)

The map below shows the size of Holyrood Park and the location of Arthur’s Seat.


Why the name: Arthur’s Seat? Below is from Wiki:

“Many claim that its name is derived from the myriad legends pertaining to King Arthur, such as the reference in Y Gododdin. Some support for this theory may be provided by several other hilltop and mountaintop features in Britain which bear the same or similar names, such as the peak of Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) in the western highlands, sometimes known as Arthur’s Seat,[2] and Arthur’s Chair on the ridge calledStone Arthur in the Cumbrian lake district. There is no traditional Scottish Gaelic name for Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, but William Maitland proposed that the name was a corruption of Àrd-na-Said, implying the “Height of Arrows”, which over the years became Arthur’s Seat (perhaps via “Archer’s Seat”).[3] Alternatively, John Milne’s proposed etymology of Àrd-thir Suidhe meaning “place on high ground” uncomfortably requires the transposition of the name elements.

To get there, I walked up to Princes Street and over to Holyrood Palace and the Parliament Building where I was last week. From there, it is a short walk to Holyrood Park, which is dominated by the hills that contain Arthur’s Seat. As I discovered from reading before the hike and when I arrived, there are many trails that lead up the hills – and few of them are marked.

The hills of Holyrood Park are shown in the picture below. Arthur’s Seat is the middle point in the upper center of the picture.


I headed up a trail that claimed to be the “Main Route” but it didn’t say to where. It looked like a good number of people where headed in the same direction so I just followed along. A little way up the trail, there was a fork in the trail. While I was consulting directions on my phone, a couple came along and also looked puzzled. After we talked for a bit, and asked some other hikers as well, we decided to take the lower trail.

I saw a ruin of a building off to the left and decided to head over to get a closer look. Had read that there was an old chapel, St. Anthony’s, located on the way up. And here it was. Seems to have been built as early as the 1300’s.



Took some pictures while up by the chapel. First, looking back at Edinburgh, then over to Firth of Forth and a view out to the North Sea.








From there I joined the trail again. From that point on it was a steep, uphill climb for the next 45 minutes until it leveled out.


From a plateau just below the top, I took a couple more pictures.



From there, the climb was even steeper. Some of the path had actual steps with a chain handrail, but most of the way up it was climbing on the volcanic rocks. There didn’t seem to be a defined way up the last 100 feet or so, but found a number of smaller trails. On the way up, I met up with the couple from earlier who were descending from the top, who said it was very windy up there. When I got to the top, they were right! Had to hold onto my hat otherwise it would have blown off and be halfway down the hill.

img_20161026_151003458 Steep!

img_20161026_151629877 The peak

img_20161026_150650239_hdr The top

Very nice views from the top. Had to hold the phone steady while taking pictures. There were some young men up on the highest point (picture above) having a good time playing with the wind and almost falling off. Given that getting up to this point is difficult and the wind, there were no handrails or printed warnings. Think it is understood that you’re up there at your own risk.

I decided to head down a different way. There was a grassy path leading down to a paved road down below. This path, minus the rocks from the uphill climb, looked more inviting. What I didn’t take into account that it was much steeper, but in no time I was on the paved road.



This road followed the base of the hills and dropped off at the point where I started the hike. It was a long walk, though but very much enjoyed the solitude and the cool fall day. Took a picture of St. Anthony’s chapel from a different angle.


Really glad I decided on this hike today. It gave me another perspective of Edinburgh and Scotland and the opportunity to enjoy the cool and pleasant weather.


I treated myself to a coffee at the Waverley Station’s Starbucks. Then headed home from there.

img_20161026_134951157_hdr Waverley Station




Arthur’s Seat

Today’s update is going to be really short. Got home a little while ago after walking somewhere between 20,544 (Smart Wristband) and 21,868 (Phone) steps today, or about 10 miles. And I’m tired! Most of the steps were going up to Arthur’s Seat, the highest point in Edinburgh.



Authur’s Seat is the highest point of the hills of Holyrood Park, within Edinburgh. The rest of the pictures will be posted tomorrow.

Daily Journal: 26 October 2016 (Wednesday): Was up late this morning and woke to sunny weather again. So, decided to head out to climb up Authur’s Seat. (Somehow that sounds odd.) Planned to do a lot of walking and a little climbing today, so dressed in layers. It was breezy outside as well. Thankful that I have Shepard Pie leftovers for dinner tonight – just need to warm up. Will have a more complete update tomorrow.



Daily Journal: 25 October 2016 (Tuesday)

Beautiful morning here in Edinburgh. A little chilly and very sunny – not a cloud in the sky. In the afternoon when the sun in shinning in my flat, that will keep the place warm until sunset, which is now 5:47 p.m. (sunrise is now 8:08 a.m.).

I took a walk this morning to get some more pictures from around the neighborhood. I’ll show the complete collection below with a few explanations. The idea is to show Edinburgh (at least the Stockbridge area) up-close to give a better perspective of what can be seen and appreciated in many of the neighborhoods in Edinburgh. These are things I see as I go to and from the gym, from Comley Bank Row (my street) to the Bannatyne Health Club on Queens Street.  It tried to show the route I walk, but this is close enough – generally walk up Howe Street to Queen Street.


To reach the Health Club, I walk from my street, Comley Bank Row over to the main street of Stockbridge, Raeburn Place, then up to Howe Street. The name of the street changes along the way, but you would never know it since it looks like one contiguous street. Raeburn Place turns into Kerr Street (after the bridge) and then as it goes up the hill it becomes N.W. Circus Place, then Circus Place, and finally, S.E. Circus Place as it enters Howe Street. Howe Street becomes Queen Street Gardens West just before it intersects with Queen Street.

Just behind Comley Bank Row, there are two Mews streets. A mews is a row of homes that were once carriage homes, now converted into flats. It looks like the bottom half, in some cases, still serve as a garage. I’ve found that some of these buildings are designed to look like a mews street, but were never used to house horses and carriages. Below are some views of two mews streets near me.

Just down the street in Stockbridge, you can purchase fresh meat and game from a local butcher. In this case, from George Bower. This morning he was displaying a pheasant and a rabbit – but generally he displays his wares in the store window.



Across the street is a fish monger who also displays his catch of the day in the window.  Maybe a little difficult to see, but there is quiet a variety. One day, I saw what looked to be a 40 lbs. fish – not sure what it was, but it was huge.


And there are green grocers on the street as well.  Quiet a variety of places to buy food in Stockbridge. You can find a food store, of one sort or another, about every 50 feet. I generally shop at the local Waitrose which offers one-stop shopping.


One interesting feature of Waitrose, is that you get a green token at the check stand. On the way out the door, you can drop the token into one of three plastic charity boxes – the box with the most tokens, gets a donation from Waitrose. There is a brief description of the charity on each of the three boxes. Nice idea!


Nearby mews streets. You can see the carriage doors on the ground level.



And I’ve become good at not tripping on the cobblestone streets. Very important, especially at night, to watch where your stepping and to walk heel-to-toe so you don’t catch your step in an uneven brick or paver.


In Stockbridge, there are a number of places that arrange or manage flat rentals or sales. This is one I pass as I get on Raeburn Place. I also included a typical ad. I’ll have to count up how many in Stockbridge – perhaps close to 10.



Below is the Stockbridge bridge, built in 1801, and spans the Water of Leith (also below).



As you walk up to Queen Street, you pass several private parks, that are found in New Town and the West End. The question of who has access is still an open discussion. Each of these private parks are gated and a key is required to enter the park.



The walk up Howe Street from Stockbridge to the gym is quite a hike. Not sure if the picture below really gives the whole perspective of the climb. I am thankful that after my workout I get to walk down the street.


To cross most streets, it is helpful to press the walk button. I think some signals will not change unless someone on one of the corners presses the button.


For those taking buses, the shelters are well-maintained and helpful. (Thankfully, very helpful to those who are new to the bus system. Like me.)  Note that the seat in the bus shelter does not accommodate long-term sitting – or perhaps someone using the narrow bench to sleep overnight, but good enough to rest your legs.



When I walk by this doorway, find it amusing that some homeowner did not want anyone to use his railing as a place to sit.


Orange juice can be either smooth or with bits.


Good sign!  Points out that on Royal Circus, the even numbered address are to the right and the odd numbered addresses are to the left on the other side of the street.


Benches, like the one shown below, can be found most everywhere. They are also called Memorial Seats or Benches. The one below was dedicated from a father to his daughter who passed away.



Just as I saw this sign below, I came across a Buggy shop.



I have more pictures to post, but I’ll include them in tomorrow’s update. Time for dinner – made Shepherd’s Pie.

Daily Journal: 24 October 2016 (Monday)

Daily Journal: 24 October 2016 (Monday)

Temperature got down to 36 degrees (2.2 Celsius) last night – getting close to freezing, but haven’t seen anything in the weather forecast about colder weather. One of these days I’ll probably keep the heat on overnight rather than turn it off before I go to bed.

Seems that most places where I’ve stayed have a boiler within the flat and registers scattered around in each of the rooms. The register in the bath also serves as a towel warmer. We’ll see how warm the place stays when cooler weather sets in.

Used most of this morning researching a trip up to Dundee or Aberdeen (north of Edinburgh). I’d like to go over the bridges that respectively span the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Tay.  (A Firth is like a large sea bay, or even a strait, and even can be a smaller inlet.)  The Forth is located next to Edinburgh and the Tay is up in Dundee. Both bridges each span a wide expanse of water and were considered to be engineering marvels when they were built.

I’m also starting to research a January trip to Giza, Egypt (pyramids) and to Luxor. Also a visit to Italy (Florence and Venice) that I’ll combine with the Egypt trip. Some great fares to Florence from London around the first part of January. I’m thinking about flying from Italy to Egypt, which is practically “in the neighborhood” from each other.

Made my way to the gym early this afternoon. (Took two days off.) Yesterday, I decided to put together a photo project that provides a closer look at life in Edinburgh. Took most of the pictures while going to and from the gym this afternoon, but there were a couple of shops that were not open today that I’ll include in tomorrow’s update.

Finishing off the Paprika Chicken tonight and will make a Shepard Pie tomorrow. Watching more of the Victoria series tonight on Apple TV. This series is very well done and historically accurate, with undoubtedly some dramatic license taken to emphasize the story. This is the telling of how Victoria became queen at 18 and her relationship and marriage with Albert (her first cousin). Don’t think this series is available in the U.S. at this time. Below is a link to the opening credits.

Victoria Series (Opening)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECSnDV7DS88


Daily Journal: 23 October 2016 (Sunday)

Daily Journal: 23 October 2016 (Sunday) 

Overcast and cold again today, but did get a little sun this morning. Was up first around 5:30 a.m. to drink some coffee then went back to bed. Just because I can.

Then I remembered I was going to pick up my new Apple TV today. Yesterday, I ordered the RJ45 and HDMI cords via Amazon, and with my Prime account, they will arrive today (next day delivery). I just need to go via bus to the store where I will pickup the Apple TV appliance.  Was surprised that several outlets who carry the device did not have any in stock. The store that did have it is about 45 minutes away by bus.

Also, today I needed to get a load of wash going. Nice to have a washing machine in the flat. But, yet to have a washer with a dryer, so that means I get to hang up my wash to dry. I miss the fluffy softness when I used a dryer, with fabric softener.

Took a shower and then applied one of two daily doses of Efudex to my face and top of head. I put it on twice a day for two weeks each year. It really does a great job helping to prevent skin cancer (basal carcinoma) from recurring – and since it works like an acid peal, the overall results are nice.

I bought some bus passes on-line, so when I got onto the bus this morning to take me to Curry’s, where my Apple TV is on hold, I just activate the ticket on my phone and show the driver. I like the Edinburgh bus system. Easy to tell if the buses going in one direction are headed into the central part of Edinburgh or outside of the city, by looking up at the bus stop sign. Each shelter has the routes of the buses that stop there along with the time of all of the stops. In this case, I had to take the local bus to central Edinburgh, then catch another bus heading out to Fort Kinnaird Park Shopping Center. It all worked out well since I didn’t really have to wait for a bus, and when I got to each stop it was there (or a wait for a few minutes) – both to and from the Fort Kinnaird Park Shopping Center.

Got back to the flat and immediately starting setting up the Apple TV. The connecting of the wires went okay and got a picture on the TV, but I need to set up another iTunes account for the UK so I can see programs from the UK. Nice that I can still use my US account to see shows from the US. I just have to remember which account I’m signed into. Apparently there are restrictions about what shows can be shown in certain countries.

For lunch had a toasted cheese sandwich, followed up by some hot chocolate milk. The cheddar cheese that I find in the stores is a very pale yellow and almost brittle to cut. The flavor, however, is amazing! I miss Tillamook cheese, but this chedder is great for cooking.

I managed to get my exercise straps out and set up for tomorrow’s workout. (They have been sitting in the bottom of my closet since I moved in on 30 August.) These are straps that you set up, a sturdy door to hold you, and the straps are used while doing various moves that address different parts of the body. I’ll use these in the morning before I head out to the gym as warm ups. This is one of the few flats that I’ve stayed in that had a sturdy door in a location that I could use.

Tonight will be Paprika Chicken leftovers and movie night. Would be nice to have some howling wind, but I’m sure that will come soon enough. This is Scotland!

Forgot to add that I’ve been watching a series on famous bridges in the UK and one of them is in Edinburgh – will probably go see that next week. It is the Forth Bridge, a cantilever railway bridge over the Firth of Forth. Making a list of the remaining bridges which I’ll try to see while I’m here.



Daily Journal 22 October 2016

Was thinking that adding some day-to-day detail to this travel blog might be interesting, at least to me when I read again in my twilight years. Haha…  Will label this in each update as “Daily Journal” and will include at the end of each post, when I post on a specific topic.

22 October 2016 (Date format that I think most countries use, and will try to remember to convert measurements into metrics.)

  • Committed to writing a daily journal. Will try to write something daily, if only a few lines.
  • Temperature was cool early this morning – around 34 (F) / 1 (C). Woke up first at 3:00 a.m. – was wide awake. Went to sleep around 12:30 last night, but took a nap earlier in the evening – maybe that was why I woke so early. Actually made some coffee at 3:00 a.m., read the news, then went back to bed and slept until 6:30 a.m.
  • Yesterday, I made arrangements for my lodging in London, as of 9 December. My travel has been booked to visit Iceland 1 December – 8 December. I’ll stay in London until the first part of January, then leave for Egypt (TBD).
  • Need to phone Verizon to find out why they want to continue to send paper statements when my account is closed with a zero balance.  (Received email yesterday from Verizon.) The person receiving my mail in the U.S. would appreciate getting fewer pieces of mail with my name on it. Related to this, just received notification from Vodafone.UK that I do not have any international minutes left on my “pay as you go plan” so will need to add £5 to my account to get another 50 minutes so I can phone the U.S. I try to use Messenger or WhatsApp for making free calls, but that doesn’t always work when I call a 800 number.
  • Just got back from grocery shopping, with two bags of groceries, for about £50 or about $61. Considering the amount of food, think this is about right. One day, I’ll take my receipt and itemize each line. Also, I get to use another coupon that will reduce my receipt by £10 if I spend £55 or more – this is the second one of these coupons that I’ve received. This is from Waitrose and I have one of their discount cards.
  • Tonight I’m going to make Paprika Chicken again. I have some good Hungarian Paprika and have been trying different recipes and finding the best of the best. I cook about 90% of my meals at home. For breakfast today, I had a Weetabix with blueberries, raspberries and banana on top – then later had some tea and toast. Not really hungry now, will maybe eat something later.
  • Decided not to got to the gym and work out today. I’ve been every day for the last week and also did a lot of walking on Thursday, so I’m giving myself the day off.
  • I’m still in the process of organizing my pictures – both the pictures that I have pre-Europe and those that I’ve taken since being in Europe. Still looking for the best way to label them. Most are on both the cloud and an external hard drive. The cloud is fine, but trying to work with them (even to download) is a multi-step process.
  • I’ve been working steadily on the family genealogy. I’m now getting the ancestors from England together and mapping out the home towns of each, so I can visit at some point. Most of the family is from England and most arrived in the 17th and 18th century in the U.S. and records from back then are a little sketchy, so take a bit of resource to gather the information and confirm, as best that I can, that it is accurate. Have a few ancestors from Ireland, none from Scotland, a few from Germany, a couple from Netherlands, and one branch from Switzerland. I got the Switzerland one visited a couple of months ago and now look forward to the ones from England.
  • The Paprika Chicken turned out very well, I my humble opinion, and have enough for leftovers. Think I’ll keep this recipe and make again. Most of my recipes are bookmarked on my browser and filed under a bookmark folder named (get ready): Food.  Once you learn to CNTL+D, everytime you want to bookmark something, it gets to be a habit.
  • Also ordered an Apple TV which I will pick up tomorrow. I should have brought along the device I had in Portland. If you don’t know what one is, here is a YouTube link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_GUuJyyyRQ