Sunday, June 30, 2013


Lorna's time to blog. My original title summed up our challenging travel day: WE DID IT! But after we finally arrived my fellow adventurers suggested we change it to "We're in Heaven"--our Chester river house.

However, most of the day was spent in Purgatory again:
12 days--oops, hours--of travel, starting out in rain
2 ferries, 1 bus, 4 trains (including a harrowing 7-minute connection at Haymarket)
And, shall we say, more than a wee bit of confusion over the need to book seat reservations in advance. No chance to enjoy the 1st-class experience we thought we had paid for....

But we are here! Ensconced in our beautiful house overlooking the river Dee in Chester

and sipping wine our host returned with as a welcome gift after meeting us at the station and lugging our bags up the narrow stairs.

Heaven with nectar!

And tomorrow night, the Chester mystery plays....

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Purgatory Addendum

Oops! We forgot the picture of us stepping VERY CAREFULLY along the rocks!

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Through Purgatory with Rev. Carolyn

It's my turn to describe our Scottish adventures and the phrase for the day is Dinna fash yersel, which for the non-Scots translates as don't worry. First, the calm: here are two photos of the stunningly beautiful ruins of a nunnery on Iona

Carolyn wanted us to take a boat to see Fingal's Cave on the island of Staffa, so the three of us, along with about sixty Spanish tourists sailed off through somewhat choppy seas on the great adventure. Here's a view of Staffa, formed by a rock-throwing fight between two giants

What Carolyn didn't tell us was that the road to Fingal's Cave is a slippery, narrow sharp track lacking a guardrail, with a sheer drop into a green, roiling sea. There is, sometimes, a plastic line to grab, otherwise you're on your own. Linda isn't fond of heights, Lorna shredded her leather gloves hanging onto the line and I don't care for drowning in the icy Atlantic. It was memorable, and we drank beer with our lunch in celebration of being alive.

Tomorrow we leave Iona and head for Chester. This will entail taking a ferry, then a bus, a second ferry, and four trains. On with the adventure!

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Location:Iona and Staffa

Friday, June 28, 2013


H. L. Mencken writes: "The harsh, useful things of the world, from pulling teeth to digging potatoes, are best done by men who are as starkly sober as so many convicts in the death-house, but the lovely and useless things, the charming and exhilarating things, are best done by men (sic!) with, as the phrase is, a few sheets in the wind." (Or women!)

And with these words, we ordered whiskeys in the bar of our hotel. Wonderful scotches, Carolyn's first, and one who wanted gin. Still, the luxury of sipping our drinks after a day of getting oriented, sightseeing and terrific food was lovely.

In the morning we began the next leg of our cab, by train, by ferry, by bus, by another ferry, and finally, by foot we found our lodgings in Iona. The voyage was beautiful and ever so green as we travelled North, crossed the Isle of Mull and arrived on the rugged island of Iona. Once established, we began to walk. There was something about the time and distance of of trip that allowed us to soak in something of the quality of the thin spaces on the island. And we saw the monastery...

And we walked, and we were charmed to discover the Bishop's House of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

And we kept walking, and we saw sheep, black and white and brown in the fields, embodying the gentle and tender pastoral aspect of the island. We stepped carefully through the grass and over the poo.

And we walked, through fields and by the sea attempting to encircle the island but were finally rebuffed by barbed wire. On our return we saw the ruins of a nunnery.

What impresses most, however, is the extraordinary courtesy, no, it's a very special hospitality. Warmth and charm and grace have embraced us throughout the trip and it's the Scotch. Linda

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Priest, the Librarian, the Poet, and the Shrink begin their Adventure!

Alas, we have only a day and a half in this charming, friendly city with so much to do - including catch up on that lost-night's sleep in the airplane!

The people of Glasgow all seem so friendly - cab drivers, police, waitresses, guides! It's been absolutely delightful! After a lovely dinner at a pub called "The Butterfly and the Pig" (?!) during which we were sort of punch-drunk and giddy with a combination of excitement and fatigue, we returned to our hotel (Malmaison - a former Episcopal Church!) and fell into a deep catch-up sleep!

Early this morning we began exploring the city... In the rain (the natives Glaswegians - rhymes with "Norwegian" - explained to us what that unfamiliar wet stuff spitting from the sky was!) we walked to the Glasgow cathedral, and later explored the adjacent St. Mungo museum for Religious and Interfaith life and belief.

A highlight (well, there were so many!) of the day was a tour of the Glasgow School of Art, whose building was designed by Charles Mackintosh. Tour and building were wonderful! Here is a view of Glasgow from the top of the school:

Later, we had high tea at the Willows, another Mackintosh design.

Everywhere we hear of the city legends, encapsulated in the oft-repeated saying:
"The tree that couldn't grow
The fish that couldn't swim,
The bird that couldn't fly,
The bell that couldn't ring."

We also saw a number of signs that proclaimed: "Weak Bridge" - ah, yes?! So we can avoid it?!

Near our hotel is a lovely "Wee Park" (so quite aptly named by Linda).

Tomorrow we leave early for the train and ferry to Iona!

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