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‘A House of Verie Good Strengthe’

Well, we wandered around on Saturday and found the Hailes Castle. This castle was first built before 1300 is one of the oldest Scottish stone castles still partially standing, and has seen a lot of history. This castle was run/owned by the 3rd husband of Mary Queen of Scots for a bit. In 1446 Archibald Dunbar decided to raid the castle and “Kill all he found therin”. If that wasn’t bad enough in 1650 Cromwell’s Roundheads dismantled a good portion of the Castle.

There isn’t a whole lot of it left at this point, but it’s an interesting ruin to wander around. It’s in a very pretty location about 10 miles from our house near East Linton.

Here is the first view of the castle as you walk down from the road.


Here is the remnants of the outer wall and a picture of the girls to give a perspective of how thick the thing was.


The castle sits just above a small river. Here are views of the river and of the castle from the river.


The castle even came with it’s own Bread oven and brewery pit. My kind of place.


And what’s a castle without a Pit Prison?


 And just a couple more random shots of the West Tower, main hall and the girls checking out a stream that was on the grounds.


If you want to see our house in Newtongrange you better come visit soon. The property management company called today to inform us that the home owners (who live in France) have sold the house we just moved in to. Looks like we have until the 22nd of July (6 months from the start of our lease) to find another place to live and move.

 Oh and the fun, we don’t get our deposit back until after we move out. So, we get to find the money needed for a deposit on a new house and the money to move again, 6 months after we just moved half way across the world. Which was 4 months after we moved from California to Montana.

 So much for not moving around anymore.

Are we having fun yet?

Question? Why the hell did we do this again? We should have just taken a vacation to the UK and called it good.

A couple more things that are unusual from the perspective of an American moving to Scotland.

Lorries, semi’s for us Americans, just stopping in the road to unload goods at stores. Literally just stopping. Gumming up traffic in both directions through a villages. I know in the US UPS and Fedex are now doing that and pissing off motorists to no end. Here where the roads are half as wide it’s a common practice.

You go and buy a garden hose and it comes with no ends on it. None. You actually have to buy the ends seperately. So much for washing my car the other day. Bought the hose, a spray nozzle and some soap. We get home, I unroll the hose, and what the hell?

Crappy cuts of meat. We’ve been through about 10 different cuts of meat from both the store and the butchers. Every one is half fat, and not the nice cut off the ends fat but the mixed in fat. If you think you’re getting a good cut of steak, well, when you get it home and flip it over, the bottom half is fat. Now, I know we’re spoiled with just coming from Montana,  but please. There has to be a good steak around here somewhere.

I measured my commute today. It’s almost exactly 10 miles. I leave the house, go under the Lothian Bridge, cruise a little farm road towards the Dalhousie Castle, cut over through Bonnyrigg and then off to Roslin Glen. Down through the glen past the Rosslyn Castle and Rosslyn Chapel, up out of the glen, through the Growkly Moss round-a-bout and into the Bush estate. Where at one time if you were caught cutting down a tree for the third time meant execution. And I’m at work. It’s actually a fairly fun commute. Takes about 20 minutes in my Mini.

Just a couple of things I’ve noticed about the UK that are different than what you could expect in the US.

When ordering a soda/coke you may be asked “Draft or Bottle?”. Which in the US is only ever asked if you’ve ordered a beer. This one threw me the first time it was asked. I barely understood the waitress and then she asked “Draft or Bottle?”. I replied, no, no, a Diet Coke please. “Yes sir, Draft or Bottle?” Uh, draft? “Ice?” uh, sure.

After eating your meal the wait staff will clean off the table and then ignore you. This pissed me off the first couple of times it happened. I was ready to leave, even had my jacket on and still no bill! Then I discovered, by asking, that here in Scotland, it’s considered rude to rush a patron from their table. So they won’t bring the bill until you ask for it. Or do anything else for that matter. You want after dinner coffee, you need to ask.  So, heads up, you will probably need to ask for your bill.

No one here is in a rush to do anything. This can be very frustrating if you’re in a hurry. Need to make a quick stop at the bank? Good luck with that. Last time I had to speak with a person at HSBC Bank it was almost an hour before I spoke with anyone. And then they told me I had to go to this other branch and speak with them! Ooh I wasn’t a happy camper.

It’s really strange, and frustrating, when you think you understand how things work and then realize you don’t. It’s little things like getting a bill after a meal that can drive a person nuts until they learn the way things work.

So, if you come visit the UK. Deep breath. Most people here are really polite. If you think they are being a pain or rude, odds are it’s because of a social difference you haven’t caught on to yet.

Ever notice that most of the data for Global Warming goes until 2000? Ever wonder why they started calling it “Climate Change” instead of “Global Warming”?

Global cooling.

From the “American Conservative Union Foundation” 

The official thermometers at the U.S. National Climate Data Center show a slight global cooling trend over the last seven years, from 1998 to 2005.

Actually, global warming is likely to continue—but the interruption of the recent strong warming trend sharply undercuts the argument that our global warming is an urgent, man-made emergency. The seven-year decline makes our warming look much more like the moderate, erratic warming to be expected when the planet naturally shifts from a Little Ice Age (1300–1850 AD)  to a centuries-long warm phase like the Medieval Warming (950–1300 AD) or the Roman Warming (200 BC– 600 AD).

 Don’t tell the polititions. They have to much money and reputation riding on their fear driven end of the world policies. Keep in mind that it’s about 10 times worse here in the UK than it is in the US. It’s nuts over here. All in fun.

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March 2008
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