Thursday, 29 November 2018

Edinburgh, Scotland (6 Glencairn Crescent)

I’ve moved to the Glencairn Crescent flat as of the 16th of November. After three weeks at Great King Street I was ready to move, though I really liked the flat. I have settled with Donna and Adrien, the owners of both flats, that I will book stays at these locations next June and July. Glad I got that out of the way.

After the first of the year, I’ll stay in the Larnaca, Cypress flat for a month starting January 8th. I’ve booked both the flat and my flight from London on the 8th. Tentatively, I’m planning to visit Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon in February, after my stay on Cyprus. Then either Malta or starting my tour of southern Italy in March.

My workouts at the gym continue. I’m there 4 – 5 days a week, which gives this old body some time to rest on my days off. Speaking of which, I’m getting reminders to sign up for Medicare since I’m turning 65 in March. So much to read about Medicare! Before I sign up, I scheduled a full physical and also to visit the dentist.

The dentist visit went well. No cavities. He said that even though it has been over a year since my last cleaning, he found very little tarter on my teeth. The best thing is that my bill for the visit was $115. This included the dentist consultation, cleaning and x-rays. As for my physical, today I went to a highly rated private clinic and got my vitals checked and blood taken for a full blood test, including a PSA test. I’ll meet with the doctor next week. On top of this, my medical insurance agent reached out to let me know that she can be a resource to help with Medicare, and I know she will be available to sell me supplemental insurance if it comes to that. Some preliminary good news, from my clinic visit today. I learned that my blood pressure was normal (137/90) and my resting heart rate was 51 bpm. I’ll report the rest of my findings next week after I visit with the doctor.

One of my projects I recently completed was to transcribe a travel journal that my grandfather Marsh wrote as he and my grandmother traveled to Detroit to pick up their new Packard in 1949. My dad joined them in Hornell, New York where they visited family after they picked up the car. I sent this transcription with a few pictures to my Marsh cousins, Brother Rick and my niece. The journal will be sent to my brother for safekeeping. I’m trying to further reduce my load since I’ve been carrying this journal with me since June 2016. A few other items will be sent away over the next week or so.

The food prices still amaze me. I bought a large whole chicken for around $7, which would be closer to $10 – 12 in Portland, if I remember correctly. I’ve been eating all my meals at home. No McDonald’s while I’ve been in Edinburgh. The kitchen in this flat is very large and have plenty of room to prepare food. The kitchen in the other flat was much smaller with limited counter space. Both have all of the modern conveniences, but this one has a dishwasher.

Next Friday the 7th I travel to London where I’ll spend the holidays. Christmas is well-celebrated in London. The street decorations are over the top. I’ll post pictures to Instagram. Speaking of which, I’ve let Instagram go idle, but I will post a few pictures over the next couple of days. I’m in no rush. Nice to have time to totally relax.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Edinburgh, Scotland (23 Great King Street)

I’ve certainly have been enjoying my time in Edinburgh. I’m staying in a flat where I’ve rented before, so I don’t have much to get used to. Everything is where it was from last year.

I’ve been consistent with going to the gym, except for my weekend visit to London a few days ago. I’m trying to add more to my workout, at least those things that don’t mess with my back or legs. Mostly more time on the rowing machine, stretching exercises and work on my upper body.

While in London I visited a friend and took part in the Remembrance Day activities. After I got into London on Friday, I took the underground to the Tower of London to see the 10,000 candle lights in the old moat the surrounds the tower. Very busy on a Friday – even with the wind and rain. But I did get a few good pictures which I posted on my new Instagram page. (See link below.) More visiting on Saturday and then on Sunday before I left I went down to the Cenotaph to see the Queen, but didn’t get within a block of where she and the royal family were, but I heard some of the music that was being played. So many people! By 2:00 I was checked out of my hotel and on my way back to Edinburgh.

Today, at noon (called “midday here) I heard the cannon from the castle go off and wondered why it was so early. Normally, the cannon is fired at 1:00 p.m. every day. Then the cannon went off again and again. I looked it up via Google and it was to celebrate the Duke of Rothesay’s birthday. Who? I found out that is Prince Charles’ primary title in Scotland and today was his 70th birthday.

I’ve been keeping grocery shopping receipts to report the cost of food. Here is a sample of what I’ve bought, the cost in Pounds and in U.S. dollars.

Bread (Whole Wheat)  £ .95   $1.24
Milk (1 Quart)                   .85     1.11
Cheddar Cheese              3.00    3.90
Onions (3)                          .75       .98
Dishwash Liquid              .55       .72
Celery (Bunch)                  .79     1.02
Carrots (Package)             .30       .39
Rolled Oats (Package)    2.00     2.60
Whole Chicken                3.95     5.14
Butter                                1.80     2.34

I figure that when I was through eating the chicken and used the bones (with carrots, celery, and onions) to make the broth and added the remaining chicken meat, the cost was $7.53. I included the cost of the whole chicken to offset the cost of the noodles I had previously purchased. That $7.53 covered the cost of two lunches and two dinners. My favorite snacks are apples with cheddar cheese and also toast with a little sugar and cinnamon on top.

Most of my time over the past two days has been organizing pictures. Since I didn’t transfer a few months of pictures to OneDrive (my cloud service) they were lost when I lost my carry on bag. Fortunately I could recover pictures from Google and my website, but that has not turned out to be as easy as I thought. But I’m working on it. My fallback is to copy pictures one at a time from my website, but I doubt if it will come to that. I’ll get what I haven’t uploaded to OneDrive before I leave Edinburgh, so if my current hard drive fails, I’ll have my OneDrive as a fallback.

I’m getting much more (and better) sleep since I’ve been working out. Also what has helped was a conversation that I had with my financial adviser. I admitted to her that I overspent this past year as a result of my extensive traveling during the first nine months. Next year I will stay longer in more affordable housing in Cyprus and Malta during the first part of the year to offset my overspend this year. She also confirmed that after 70, my monthly income will be more (not a lot) than my planned spend, with a healthy reserve. Over the next year I will decide how much longer I will be traveling in Europe. At this point, two more years at least.

Speaking of next year, I’ve decided for sure to come back to Scotland for most of June, July, and August to avoid the heat. I’m confirming with my friend Mary in Stornoway, Scotland and my hosts here in Edinburgh. I’m thinking of staying in Edinburgh for June and July, Glasgow for the first couple of weeks in August. Then either Stornoway or Inverness for the remainder of August, perhaps into September.

On Friday I’m moving to my other place in Edinburgh where I stayed last year. I’ll be there until the 7th of December. My hosts for this flat also own the other flat as well and they give me a bit of a discount.

I’ll post another blog update in a week or so. I’d like to report that my pictures are now all secure in OneDrive. I should have mentioned above that I had tried out using Google and Amazon for backups but wasn’t as satisfied as I am with OneDrive. Because of this extra work to restore some of my pictures (over 8,000 so far), I’ll be more careful performing backups. But, I was able to prove that my backup plan (overall) has worked. Nothing has been lost, just the painful part of restoring is certainly giving me something to do this past week.

Saturday, 4 November 2018

Edinburgh, Scotland (23 Great King Street)

I’ve been relaxing the way I like to relax this past week: go day by day without a plan. Though I generally find a couple of things to do each day so I have some sense of accomplishment. I don’t want to get too soft during my time off in Edinburgh.

My major accomplishment has been to re-join, and actually workout, at Bannatyne Health Club. Starting on the 29th I have gone each day in the early afternoon. I thought I was going to have all sorts of aches and pains starting up again but was surprised to just feel the good health benefits without the pain. Though I haven’t been pushing myself too much which probably helps.

As for cooking, so far I’ve made a cottage pie, roasted chicken, chicken noodle soup, and today I made a big pot of beef stew. To be honest, I was getting a bit tired of the cottage pie after the third day. Next up will be my Skinny Lasagna Soup that I’ll make after the roast beef is gone.

No plans to do any sightseeing while I’m here. I’ve seen most everything in the city and the surrounding countryside over the past two years. I’m happy just to hang around my New Town neighborhood and enjoying the quiet life.

The weather started off a bit chilly, then for the past few days it has been very windy. A couple of showers is all that I’ve experienced so far. Also, partly to mostly sunny each day so far.

I’m planning to return to Edinburgh this summer for another long stay. My plan for a mild summer in the Scandinavia and Baltic State countries during July and August wasn’t as “cool” as I had hoped. I’m currently working with my Edinburgh hosts on determining the exact dates for my next stay during July and August 2019.

I’m planning on finally getting both my travel and other pictures properly organized and uploaded to my One Drive account. This effort will take a few hours each day to accomplish. Also, I now have my Instagram account properly set up and this is where I’ll post pictures of my travels. (See link below.) Please let me know if you have any problems viewing the pictures if you’re not an Instagram user.

Click on the link below to go to my travel pictures: