Sunday, June 12, 2016

Scotland-Final Thoughts

Hello Again,

Our trip to Scotland was originally planned to be longer and to cover more territory but my husband fell ill only a couple of days into the trip and we had to return home. But even though it was a short visit my impressions of the country and it's people can be summed up as beautiful and gracious. Everywhere we went people were so kind and friendly to us. I worried about us running into anti-American sentiment but we never did. And once my husband fell ill and it was apparent we needed help, people went out of their way to assist us. And I am very very grateful for this.

The countryside is every bit as beautiful as it appears on line and in books. It's incredibly green and there were wild flowers all around. One thing both of us noticed is the care and concern the Scots have for their environment. It's nice to see that.

People their seem less stressed or anxious than my contemporaries here in the US-both my husband and I noticed that and they all seemed to have an easy familiarity with each other. There was also a readiness to help each other-we went to the pharmacy in Morrison's department store and there was a line to pick up prescriptions there. In the line was a very elderly man and the pharmacist who was working with customers saw him, stopped what she was doing, got a chair and took it over to that man and saw to it that he sat down and was comfortable. It was very touching to see that.

Glasgow looks different from an American city. The building materials used to build buildings are different, and the roads are narrower than our roads are. And it has miles and miles of small shops, which unfortunately we didn't have time to see. It has both older and new architecture and someday when we return we'll explore that in greater depth.

People and Businesses to Thank

Alison McAdam-we love you Alison. Thanks so much for everything.
Anne and Graeme Nelson of Helensburgh-thank you for a lovely evening.
Jackie, Alison's friend (I apologize, I can't remember her last name)-thank you for your assistance. It was greatly appreciated.

Also many thanks to:

The staff at the Titan Crane
The Hop on and Off Tour of Glasgow
Morrison's Grocery Store
The Royal Glasgow Infirmary A&E Department
Lloyd's Pharmacy
The Glasgow Airport staff for their help getting us to our flight home.
Icelandic Air for assisting  us in changing our flight plans on such short notice
Kevlavik Airport, Reykjavik, Iceland for their assistance

Also the TSA staff at Minneapolis St. Paul airport for their professionalism and assistance.

I can't think of anything else to write about so I'll close. I hope you all have enjoyed reading this.

Until Next Time,

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Schoenstatt Retreat Center

Hi Again,

While driving through the Scottish countryside we stopped by the Schoenstatt Retreat Center which is a small pilgrimage and retreat site run by the Sisters of Mary. It's a pretty spot, very quiet and the perfect spot to come and rest, and reflect.

Here are the photos:

This is the main building next to the parking lot:

This is a very small shrine. Inside it was beautifully painted:

This is a mosaic set into the ground in front of the shrine:

There were flowers all over the grounds:

The Stations of the Cross

And two more photos of the grounds:


The Falkirk Wheel

Hello Again,

Here is something you don't see everyday and that's because this is the only one in the world: this is the Falkirk Wheel which is a large wheel that lifts boats and barges between the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal in western central Scotland and replaces the 11 locks that were necessary to move ship traffic between the two.

I'm not going to go into detail about the Wheel, but instead I urge you to read the Wikipedia article about it by clicking on the link above. And I also urge you to Google Image it online as you can see it from different angles. But I did get to go there and see it for myself and it's really amazing. It's quite large as you would expect and it just strikes me as so inventive and creative a way to accomplish lifting a barge. Incredible.

Anyway here are the photos I took:

These first two photos I took show the wheel in the "up" position and if you look at both the front and the rear of the wheel you can see how much of a vertical distance there is between the canals:

Here is a photo of it moving:

This is a much clearer photo of the wheel. Visitors can ride the wheel on a small barge and you can see this in this and the next photo:

We got to ride in the barge. It takes about 20 minutes for the wheel to lift a barge from one canal to the other:

Here we are inside of the barge waiting for the lift to begin. The water here is about knee deep:

Notice the huge gear wheel:

And here we are on the "top" of the wheel. The barge then exited the wheel, made a short turn around and went back into the wheel and came down:

Ha! Ha! This little fellow was visiting the Wheel with his mom, dad, and little brother and he was a wiggle worm the whole time. He and I kept waving at each other and I finally took a photo of him and told him I was taking his photo back home with me. He really seemed to like that.

In the next 2 photos we are in the process of turning around so we could float back down to the visitor center:

Here we had turned around and were slowly dropping down:

This is the visitor center. We're almost back down to where we started:

It was a really hot day and this capped off a long lovely drive in the Scottish countryside.


Dinner with Anne and Graeme Nelson

Hi Everyone,
Back again.

The highlight of the trip was dinner with a Scottish couple who are good friends with Alison, Anne and Graeme Nelson of Helensburgh, Scotland.

Helensburgh is a lovely town on the west coast of Scotland. According to Wikipedia, it had about 14,000+ residents in 2000. It has a beach front and an esplanade and a town square that has won some design awards.

Dinner was really good as Anne is a terrific cook. The main dish was a genuine haggis which Anne's butcher made especially for this dinner. Here are the photos:

This is a photo of Anne and Graeme and their lovely dog Daisy, who shows up in many a social media post:

Here is the first course-scallops with black pudding layered over a pea and mint puree. It was every bit as delicious as it looked:

And here it is everyone-the haggis! It was probably 10 or 11 inches long and about 6 inches wide. This is usually a holiday meal but Anne's butcher made it just for us. As we went through the meal, I kept asking about ingredients, cooking, etc, but when it came to the haggis, the recipe was kept a secret so no, I don't know what was in it but it was delicious and I had seconds:

Here it is being sliced open:

We also had neeps and tatties, which are mashed turnips and potatoes and were served with the haggis. The potatoes tasted different than American potatoes - the flavor reminded me of mashed potatoes I ate as a child. Anyway, I had several helpings of both:

This is the main dish-the haggis had a whiskey sauce on it. Very good:

Here is the poor haggis about 20 minutes later, demolished:

Ahhh, desert. This is cranachan, a whipped cream, honey, scotch whiskey, oatmeal, and raspberry dessert. It was really good. I could have eaten probably 20 of these easily. I am going to attempt to re-create this tomorrow evening by using this recipe- Cranachan recipe:

We spent the evening chatting and getting to know one another and I sincerely hope at some point we get to meet them again.

Thank you Anne, Graeme, and Daisy for a terrific meal and evening.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Exploring the The Titan Crane

Glasgow has a very long tradition of shipbuilding that probably began in the middle ages (see Shipbuilding on the Clyde for a brief discussion) and one of the artifacts from that industry is the massive Titan Crane, which we got to see. 

The crane is about 150 feet high and was used for lifting heavy ship engines and boilers. It could lift as much as 200 tons. It was tested in 1907 and it cost 24,000 pounds to build. 

When the shipbuilding industry declined in Glasgow, so did the need for the crane and it changed hands a number of times until 2001 when it was closed down. 

With the redevelopment of the Clyde River area, the crane was restored and recognized for it's historical value and it is now open for touring. Here are some photos:

These first two photos show the crane from the ground up and they really don't give the structure it's due-it is really massive:

This was the contract for the crane. It's only one page long.

Here is a photo of some of the workers who built the crane. In the center of the photo is a young boy whose job it was to carry hot rivets up to the iron workers who would then hammer the rivets in place.

This is a view from the top of the crane. You can see the River Clyde very well.

These giant spools hold the cables that lifted the loads.

Here's another photo. That handsome gentleman to the left is a world famous engineer....

Another photo of the river. You can see how clear and sunny it was.

And the last photo of the crane. That massive structure on top just sits there-it's not actually attached to anything.

My next blog post will be tomorrow. See you then!


Grocery Shopping

Hi Everyone,

When ever I go someplace, of course I wind up seeing the tourist stuff but what really interests me is how people live out their daily lives. Where do they do their shopping? How much does gas cost? How hard is it to get around?

We needed some supplies and as we were staying in Alison's flat, we all went to the same grocery store that she usually goes to, Morrison's a large grocery chain in Britain, much like Cub Supermarkets here in Minnesota.

Alison's store is really large. It has multiple departments similar to most grocery stores here: a pharmacy, a deli, a tobacco counter, a fish display,  floral section, a meat department, produce, and the general grocery section of the store.

Here are some photos of some of the products (and this is for my friends in the meat department at Cub Foods in Eagan, MN):

The next two photos are photographs of the meat counter. There is a variety of steaks, chops, kabobs (yes the dreaded kabobs), bacon and the like. There are also roasts and the meat cutter cuts steaks to order right there at the counter:

Next are meatballs, very carefully laid out in the package:

Another photo of the meat counter. You can see the cutting table:

Stewing beef

Beef briskets

T-bone steaks

Sirloin steaks
 Pork shoulder roasts:

Square sausage, which is slices of pork sausage:

Pork shoulder steaks

And last but not least, hamburger patties!

And the fish case! These are fresh kippers:

Salmon, bags of mussels, and other shell fish:

And to top it all off, the American section. With nothing but junk food.

And that was our trip to the grocery store.