Monday, 29 July 2019

6 Glencairn Crescent (Edinburgh, Scotland)

My rest in Edinburgh will soon be over and I’ll be on the go for the next few months. This two-month stay couldn’t have been timed better. Also, being in Edinburgh, and being in a cooler climate, was a good move as well. My friends in London, and those in Germany too, were miserable during this last heat wave. Meanwhile, it was much cooler up here and a few opened windows kept me comfortable.

I’m thinking about staying for a month in Edinburgh before returning to the U.S. next year. Probably during the month of June. While here, I’ll again schedule appointments with the dermatologist, dentist, and ophthalmologist. I might have a quick physical as well. So much cheaper here than in the U.S. Was shocked at what I was charged to have my teeth cleaned and polished – $49!

I decided to not continue with my workouts for the remainder of this stay. My right knee is just now starting to get back to normal. Though still a little pain when I touch my kneecap. I’ve been walking, but not too much. I’ll do plenty of walking when I return to London. My only remaining concern has been a series of headaches and migraines that I’ve had over the past few weeks. Probably from my fall but they have now gone away and I’m feeling much better.

I visited another castle just south of Edinburgh in Alnwick. Actually the castle is Alnwick Castle and its claim to fame is not only its size but the numerous times it has been used in exterior shots for movies and TV. Such as Harry Potter and Downton Abby. My visit was a bit of a struggle due to the connections that were needed to get me to the castle and back to the train station. Though I did a lot of walking that day and was a bit sore the following day.

I took a timeout from travel planning. Think I was getting a little overwhelmed from the planning and booking process. I discovered a mistake that I was able to get corrected. I had booked my hotel stay in Rotterdam for the wrong month! I only found this out when I looked at my phone’s calendar and saw the incorrect dates. It was a non-refundable / non-changeable booking that I made with Hilton. Was almost out $500 if they couldn’t make the change.

I finally finished with transcribing my mom’s notes that she made in my baby book. My brother and I both have books that our mom used to keep notes of our early years. My book was fully completed, front to back. I sent the transcription to our cousins, my uncle (her brother) and aunt, my brother and my niece. While transcribing I kept looking for clues to see how this little boy, now grown, decided to move to Europe for four years. The only clue I saw was a note she made about some of my first words. One in particular was “what’s that” that I started to say at the time of my first birthday. She also noticed that I was curious about everything, especially mechanical things. I remember how I liked to take things apart – though I wasn’t very good about putting them back together.

I’ve really enjoyed the kitchen in this flat. One of the best Airbnb kitchens over the last three years. The induction stovetop (or “hob”) I love. Almost as good as cooking with gas, though it can heat up a pan much quicker. I made a batch of Italian meatballs and tried out a new recipe for marinara sauce. These meatballs also make great sandwiches.

Last week I went to watch a movie, “Yesterday”. It was about a guy who discovered that after a global power outage, he was the only one who remembered the Beatles. (It was a fantasy film.) He was a musician and he started to play a few of the Beatle’s songs for his friends and then for audiences once he found out they were hearing the music for the first time. Was fun to watch.

I’ve been saving the grocery receipts so I could document the prices of items I purchased while here in Edinburgh. I converted the prices into USD. (I’ve done this before in different countries.)

Milk (2 pints): $1.22
Banana (5): $1.53
Cheese (.75 lb.) $3.60
Bread $1.10 (small whole wheat loaf)
O.J. (1 Liter) $1.80 (freshly squeezed)
Ground Beef $2.80 (1/2 pound)
Chicken Breast $4.90 (1/2 pound)
Whole Chicken $6.75 (Large)
Spinach (Bag) $1.22 (Small)
Eggs (6) $1.25
Tuna (Can) $1.35
Green Peas $2.50 (Large bag)
Diced Tomatoes $ .60 (28 oz can)

Tomorrow is my last full day in Edinburgh. I have a couple of museums that I’d like to visit before I leave. Other than that I’ll start to pack so I’ll be ready for the 10:30 a.m. train to London on Wednesday. My idle days are over for awhile, but like I wrote before, I’m glad I had this opportunity to collect my thoughts, visit doctors and rest before moving forward. Good to listen to yourself and act accordingly.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

6 Glencairn Crescent (Edinburgh, Scotland)

My right knee is feeling better every day. Suppose I could start working out again at the gym but I don’t want to chance a setback with the healing process. I’ve been following RICE Therapy¬†(rest, ice, compression, elevation). Seems to be working, but I still have a bit of a bruise on my chin.

Each day I’ve made progress on my Ireland tour that will start August 18 and will be there until I leave for the Braemar Gathering on September 5th. While in Ireland I’ll visit Londonberry, Sligo, Galway, Limrick, Cork, Waterford and Kilkenny. I found a nice place to stay near Braemar and the host’s husband will drive me to the gathering on the morning of September 7th.

I’ve also been working on my trip to the continent after the Braemar Gathering. I’m planning to visit Hanover, Dusseldorf, Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Zurich (and Liechtenstein), Bern and Geneva. Then will travel to Cairo for a rest and meet up with Hussein. I just finished confirming Airbnb stays in Ireland and will start solidifying my plans for the continent over the next few days. I’m meeting up with Cousin Molly and Ori in Strasbourg so I’ll confirm those dates with them before locking in the dates for the other cities.

I really enjoy cooking in the kitchen where I’m staying. All the appliances (dishwasher included) are new and plenty of counter space with a complete set of cooking utensils, except for a potato masher. You would think a potato masher would be required for a kitchen in these parts. Actually, the flat on Great King Street had two.

Tomorrow I’m visiting the dermatologist to check for any spots that need treatment. Of course there is a chance that a growth will need to be removed, but I’m aware of this likelihood.

I just finished watching Gentleman Jack (BBC) which was an amazing program. I hope the folks in the U.S. get a chance to see it. Now I’m watching the new season of Stranger Things. I only have a couple of hours to watch TV at night. It seems that after working on various projects and then cooking dinner it ends up being 9:30 or so before I can watch anything.

Only a few more weeks of rest and then I’m taking the train to London for a few days, then to Wales to look in on Prean. Viktor is still in Russia. From there I’ll travel to Glasgow before flying over to Ireland.

On Friday I’m meeting with my financial planner again. Time to plan my financial transition strategy for when I return to the U.S. next year.

Friday, 5 July 2019

6 Glencairn Crescent (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Yesterday I moved into the Glencairn Crescent flat. Donna arrived at 10:00 a.m. and helped transport by luggage to the new flat. So nice to walk into a flat and feel like it’s home. The flat is just how I left it last December.

I’m still enjoying the improved vision out of my left eye. I had no idea it was so blurry out of that eye. Though I’m still getting used to the “floaters” that I guess are remnants of when they cleaned the lens. I’ll put up with it a few more days then phone the clinic.

As for my right knee, it’s improving day by day. No pain but it is a bit stiff. Next up is my dermatology appointment next week to check out my skin. I have a few questions about some spots, so I expect the doctor will freeze those. Then I have a teeth cleaning appointment on the 24th. I’ll be in good shape when I start up traveling again in August.

For dinner tonight I had chicken and green peas for dinner. Hooked my laptop up to the TV and enjoyed a few program before heading off to bed. Tomorrow I promise to start planning travel for the remainder of the year. I’m ready!

Today I went to the local grocery and bought the ingredients for cottage pie. I no longer need the recipe. I only look at it now to make sure I have all the ingredients. One of these days I’ll have a permanent location and not have to make so many trips to the market. One more year!

I sure slept a lot today, and as a result, I was late getting out to do my shopping. The days are so long here I generally don’t eat dinner until 9:00 p.m. But I did keep my promise and started to map out my travel itinerary for the remainder of the year. Sometimes the first step is the most difficult, but now I feel ready to start planning.

This batch of cottage pie turned out really good. Perhaps I was just hungry since I didn’t eat dinner until it was close to 10:00? I’ll have enough pie for several days. Nourishment to help with my travel planning!

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

22 William Street (Edinburgh, Scotland)

On the 26 of June I moved to the 22 William Street property. Even though I made reservations for my stay in Edinburgh last October, I had to fit into existing bookings. (My host’s properties are very popular.) So, I needed to move out of 23 Great King Street on the 26th and will stay in the Williams Street flat until the 4th of July then move to the 6 Glencairn Crescent where I’ll stay until I leave Edinburgh.

I’ve not stayed in the William Street flat before. It was smaller than the other two and located in a more lively part of the West End of Edinburgh. I figured it was only for 8 nights and I’ll manage, which I did. Except for Friday when it was warm outside and people were out on the street talking until 1:30 a.m., but that was about it.

Walking to the gym is a bit longer but I don’t have to walk up a hill. I guess that it’s an even trade off. I’m not pushing myself too much during my workouts, but add a little here and there each day. I’m definitely feeling more fit and limber, which is my goal. But no change in weight so far. Looks like I’ll need to make some changes to my diet. First change will be to limit how often I make my hash browns and eggs in the morning. I’ll try to have a breakfast of orange juice, fruit and oat meal and see how that works out.

My only out-of-town visit was on the 1st of July when I took the train to Newcastle, about 90 minutes away from Edinburgh. I caught the 9:15 train and arrived in Newcastle at 10:45.

Newcastle (formal name is Newcastle upon Tyne). The city (along with its sister city, Gateshead) was a major shipbuilding and manufacturing hub during the Industrial Revolution. A number of important bridges span the River Tyne. Now known as a university city and a center of business, arts and sciences.

As I left the train station I saw that there was a barber shop across the street. I’ve been meaning to get my hair cut and the big arrows pointing to the shop was a clear sign that this was the place I needed to be. The barber was very familiar with the city and gave me his suggestions on what to see while I’m here.

The first stop recommended by the barber was the nearby Cathedral Church of St. Nicholas. While walking there I fell flat on the sidewalk. I hadn’t seen that there was a step down. The step was at a 45 degree angle and when I stepped on it, over I went. I landed mostly on my right knee, both hands, and chin. No major bleeding and I was able to get up and walk slowly with a little pain from my right knee.

I continued on my way to the Cathedral. On the way I was stopped by three different men asking if I was okay. I suppose I should have gone to a clinic to be checked out, but being a bit stubborn and on a mission of site-seeing, I didn’t give it much of a thought.

Though a bit painful to walk, I toured the Cathedral, then the Newcastle Castle and the adjoining Black Gate. Nearby was the historical High Level Bridge that was built in the mid 1800s and considered to be the most notable historical engineering work in the city. From there I could see a few other bridges that span the river.

By this time I needed to sit down and have lunch. The city’s quayside area that featured a number of restaurants was down by the river. I found a set of stairs that took me to there and I took one step at a time. Was good to sit down and rest.

There were a couple of other sites I wanted to see. My plan was to call of an Uber and pay a bit extra to help me get around. First on my list was to see Washington Hall, where George Washington’s great-grandfather lived until 1613. My driver, Sean Patrick, was from Ireland and we had a great time chatting while he drove to Washington Hall. He was okay with driving me around and we agreed on a price that I would pay in addition to the Uber fare.

Washington Hall has been extensively refurbished and some of the original features of the large manor home were restored. The home, or some part of it, was there since the 1400s. I just walked around the ground floor since it was the more historical part of the home. The guide was very informative and talked about the history of the Washington family in England. George Washington never visited England.

From there we drove to see the Angel of the North. A very large contemporary sculpture (statue) that was completed in 1998. It is considered to be the most recognizable pieces of public art ever produced. You don’t fathom how big it is until you see it with your own eyes. You can’t help but stare at it.

I asked Sean to take me to the station in hopes that I could catch an early train back to Edinburgh. I gave him a bit extra since he was so helpful and great company. One of his stories was about helping to reroof a tavern in his hometown in Ireland. He drives every so often to Ireland and helps out. He told me that once they removed the roof they saw that the main beam holding up the roof was actually a double mast from a ship. You wonder if the Mayflower’s mast is holding up some roof in England.

When I arrived at the station, I asked at the ticket office about getting an earlier train. I learned that it would cost nearly 50 pounds. The ticket that I wanted to exchange only cost 11 pounds. I decided to wait the hour and a half until my train arrived.

As I was waiting around I saw a small group of people who looked a bit worse for wear. Almost like they had been camping or perhaps unemployed misfits. Since they looked a bit sketchy I moved away just a bit. Though surprised when one of them asked me to take their picture. I learned that they had spent the last five days at the Glastonbury Festival, the largest greenfield festival in the world with around 200,000 people attending. Okay, now I was impressed. After we talked for a bit they asked if I wanted to join them for a beer. But I had a train to catch. I’m sure they had some great stories.

I couldn’t wait to get back to the flat and rest. The Uber driver that I called at Waverley dropped me off at a Boots pharmacy near to the flat so I could buy some ibuprofen and then I went to the Tesco next door and bought a bag of frozen green peas. Both helped and my leg felt much better by the time I went to bed and even better the next day.

Yesterday I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist to see why the vision out of my left eye. I forgot to include above that I had a bad migraine a few days before. I called OHSU, who performed my cataract surgery, for advice. They recommended that I contact an ophthalmologist. I had thought that after the surgery my vision would stay constant. I was concerned that my migraine might have caused a change in vision.

Glad I made the appointment. I learned that it is somewhat common for the lens gets a film on it and a laser is used to blast off the film to restore vision. What a relief! Though the bill for the appointment and procedure was over 750 pounds. I guess the lens had progressively gotten worse but I hadn’t noticed. The ophthalmologist said that he could tell that my right eye will need to be done sometime in the future. Oh well, it is a small price to pay for good eyesight.

Tomorrow I move to the Glencairn flat. Looking forward to being in a nice large flat until the end of July. Perhaps that will inspire me to confirm travel plans for the next couple of months.