Sunday, September 2, 2012

Safe Home

I arrived back at RDU at about 3:00 pm on Saturday.  Hank was there to greet me after collecting my bag and going through customs. The flight was painless, on time and direct. I  read the new William Boyd Waiting for Sunrise which made the time go by on the eight hour flight.

The London part of the trip was greater than anticipated. I was able to see both Cambridge and Oxford, both beautiful university towns. Liz Dewar gets the award for best tour guide. Having a native show you around town is a great way to go anywhere. Liz was really helpful. She knew I was interested in books and always kept that in mind wherever we were. Of course, she also knew Steph and Jim were interested in pub culture so we saw the inside of a few of those, too. I couldn't have asked for a better trip. 

I am glad to be home and will use the next 2 days to readjust to the time and organize myself for getting back to work. Thanks for reading throughout the trip. Hope you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some New Friends

On Sunday, Steph, Lizzie and I took a train out to Cambridge to take a look around. It was a perfect day, sunny and bright.  Some of the pictures I've posted are from that visit. We walked around the University Colleges which were mostly closed. We went to Kettle's Yard and spent time walking through the house and gallery. The art collection is amazing. You could spend hours at the house enjoying the library and art.  

Later that evening we went to dinner at Jane Valente's home just outside of Cambridge on the river Cam. I can't begin to say how warm and welcoming Jane and her husband James were. The evening's entertainment was provided by our new friend Edward, Eddie to his friends. I can't describe this 10 year old except to say he had us all laughing and answering questions all evening. Here is an example of something Eddie and his sister Lucy put together recently.

The Ed Show: 11 Year Old Cooking Pro making Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins

Yesterday we spent the day in London exploring and shopping. Lizzie directed me to some wonderful book stores on Charring Cross Road. Books from many eras and genres are available in the shops. I made a few purchases and was particularly delighted to find the Pat Barker Regeneration trilogy.

This morning we got up and went to Westminster Abbey. It was one of the few famous London sites I was keen to visit. We arrived right at 9:30 when it opened and there was no line at all.  The abbey is even more spectacular in person than in film or photos. 

I have poor internet connection here so uploading photos has become challenging. This trip has been so full of fun and interesting experiences. I'll have lots of good stories to tell for a long time to come. The next couple of days will only add to the store of adventures and fun. Steph, Lizzie, Jay and Jim have been wonderful guides and travel companions here in London. We've had a lot of laughs and been to new places together. Neither Steph nor I would have ever considered that we would travel together like this when we were growing up in McKeesport, PA. How lucky are we?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bank Holiday London

Sorry, I know it's been days since I posted.  Steph has kept me jumping since she met me at my train in King's Cross Train Station Saturday afternoon. I'll just put up a few pictures now and caption them later.

Yesterday was a wonderful day with breakfast in the park in the quaint village of Pinner, then off to Cambridge for a walk around and dinner with friends. Today we took a bus tour through London in the rain then it cleared up enough for a walk through Hyde Park and the Kensington Gardens. Really lovely.

Liz is taking me book shopping tomorrow. That will be delightful.

Laurie and Steph in Harrow

King's College Cambridge
The Round Church Cambridge

Big Ben London

The London Eye in the Rain

The Tower of London from the Red Bus

Kensington Gardens

Steph and Lizzie at the pub

Friday, August 24, 2012

Palace of Holyroodhouse


On our final day in Edinburgh, we visited the grounds of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Our visit included the Queen's Gallery, the palace, the gardens and a walking tour of the nearby Holyrood Park. The Palace of Holyroodhouse was where Mary Queen of Scots spent alot of time. It is also where Queen Elizabeth awards honors to Scottish notables including the Order of the Thistle. Sean Connery was knighted by the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in 2000. 

  Thistle & Heather


Holyrood Park 


Arthur's Seat 


Walking through Holyrood Park

 Looking towards Edinburgh


Palace of Holyroodhouse

Remains of Holyrood Abbey

Friday and Farewell

Calling all Harry Potter fans. This is the cafe in which J.K. Rowling wrote the books. It's called the Elephant House. There are tons of pictures of Rowling all over the wall on the left. Fortunately for me and Lindsey, this little place was convenient to our flat. We enjoyed many a sandwich and pot of tea here during our stay. And they have a nice after dinner drink composed of hot chocolate and Bailey's Irish Cream. Yum!!

And, the bathroom walls, ceiling and floor are covered with lovely accolades to the books and writer. Very charming.

Yesterday was our last day for the book festival. We heard Ian McEwan discuss his new book Sweet Tooth.  I know he's not for everyone, but I loved his book Atonement and this new one is about the Cold War. It was interesting to hear him talk about being an English writer.

I've acquired a stack of new books. I'll probably have to ship them home there are so many. Edinburgh has been wonderful and spending time with Lindsey and books made it extra special.

Off to London to meet Steph and Jim tomorrow. I'm looking forward to the train ride from here for a bit of reading time and hopefully sightseeing along the way. Who knows what's in store in the next week?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wednesday's adventures

Aunt Laurie and I have spent most of our time at Charlotte Square Gardens  where the Edinburgh International Book Festival is taking place. But on Wednesday, without an event to dictate our schedule, we spent time exploring more of the city. 

 This is what I would call 'home base,' a Guardian sponsored chair in Charlotte Square Gardens.

 National Museum of Scotland 

Each night from our flat we are treated to the bagpipes and fireworks coming from the  Edinburgh Military Tattoo , which takes place in the stadium next to Edinburgh Castle. 

My favorite place to have a tea break is eteaket, a tea boutique that serves tea and scones on mismatched porcelain. Here is the aftermath of afternoon tea. I forgot to take a picture of all the lovely food before I tucked in.

Princes Street Gardens is a lovely green space, which also serves as an escape from the busy sidewalk traffic along Princes Street. There are many statues and memorials throughout the city that honour notable Scottish men and war heroes. 

Detective Inspector Rebus on the case

On Tuesday evening, I had the great pleasure of listening to Ian Rankin speak. As a fan of his novels, especially the Rebus series, I was thrilled. The moderator for the event had planned an evening of 'Desert Island' style questions for Rankin related to Rebus. To name a few: favorite one liner, favorite joke, Rebus' favorite song, best bar scene, favorite description of Siobhán, favorite scene in all of the series. For a crowd of Rebus fans, this was heaven.

Rankin was forthcoming with humour and honesty. It was obvious that he cares for his characters and his readers. As he signed my book, The Impossible Dead, he asked where I was from. I replied Portland, Oregon. I asked had he ever been to Powell's. He remarked that he done gigs at Powell's and enjoys staying at the Heathman hotel. He will be starting a U.S. tour in January to promote the long awaited next book in the Rebus series, Standing in Another Man's Grave. So exciting!

 Here is Rebus' favourite bar, The Oxford Bar. Be advised, it does not have a foot rail, and the bartender may be cross if you order a gin and tonic. 

Fleshmarket Close a.k.a Fleshmarket Alley: the scene of a gruesome murder in the Rebus book of the same name. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Good Day in Edinburgh

As you can see from Lindsey's photos, we visited the castle yesterday. It was a lovely sunny, slightly cool afternoon which made the hike up the hillside pleasant. The castle itself is impressive with buildings spread across the top of the hill with fantastic views of Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth and the North Sea beyond.

Last night was a big night for me. We had tickets to the sold out China Mieville event. I wan't sure what to expect since he always looks so dour in photos I've seen.  Turns out he has a great sense of humor and is really quite charming. When he signed my book I gave him a wooden bookmark from Flyleaf and invited him to come see us at the store sometime. He seemed genuinely touched. Maybe on his next book tour he will make his way to Chapel Hill.

Here's a picture Lindsey took of us as we chatted and he signed a copy of his book.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Atop Edinburgh Castle

A view of our flat as we ascend the castle. We are on the first floor, not street level. Our building has the red door.

In Edinburgh Castle, which is a working military post, here is a statue of a deserving field marshall. 

The castle is impossibly old...I forget which century, but Robert the Bruce had it destroyed after he won it from the English invaders. Here is a relatively new addition. 

This is Mons Meg and Lindsey. She scared away any further invaders. 

The views of the city were quite lovely indeed. Here is Old Town Edinburgh from the parapets of the castle.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day two

Here is Lindsey sitting on the lawn at Charlotte Square as we wait to hear Anne Enright read this evening.  We had a great day of exploring the city today. We had breakfast on Rose Street and then went straight to the festival.  It was a bit rainy this afternoon so we headed back to the flat for a brief respite then went back to hear Anne Enright this evening.  She was marvelous - bright, funny, irreverent and insightful.  Afterward we had a wonderful Thai meal and then went to the Elephant House (famous as the place where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter) for drinks and cake.  What a wonderful day!!

The view from our flat

A view of Edinburgh Castle from our flat in Grassmarket. 

Ways to get around: a taxi, a bus, and a bike. But there is no bike lane. 

Had our first cup of tea on Rose Street

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day One

Lindsey and I made it safely to Edinburgh which is in full festival season mode.  Crowds of people everywhere this weekend which should thin out during the week.   We are about to venture out to get a bite to eat.  We are both more exhausted than hungry but are trying to adapt to the new time.

This picture was taken earlier today in one of the tents at the book festival site in downtown Edinburgh.  We ventured over to the venue in Charlotte Square while waiting to check into our flat.  We are thrilled to be here and looking forward to a good night of sleep so we can get out and explore the sites in full form tomorrow. 

We've heard lots of pipers so we've been thinking of PapPap.  And this morning we flew over Wimbleton on our way into London and Lindsey said she would be sure to mention that to MumMum.

All is well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Testing: one, two, three...

I want to be sure that I can upload pictures before I leave for Edinburgh. (Thanks for the loan, Suzanne!) I took this shot of Smudge on her perch on the porch as a test.  Isn't she lovely?  I'm going to miss her while I'm away. She'll be in good hands with Hank though.  They have a connection. Hank says she likes Star Trek. I'm not so sure.

Anyway, it seems to have worked so I'm good to go with the photos. Ta Ta For Now

Thursday, August 9, 2012

One week and counting

As some of you may know, niece Lindsey and I will be leaving North Carolina for Edinburgh, Scotland  in a week.  Our primary activities on this trip will be tea drinking, book shopping and enjoying the spirit(s) of Scotland.

Niether of us has ever visited Scotland before so we are both thrilled to be going.  We've rented a flat for the week in the Grassmarket area of town, with great views of the castle. We plan to do a lot of exploring and investigating the interesting sites of Edinburgh. It just so happens that the Edinburgh Book Festival will be going on while we are there.  We have tickets to see the Ians (McEwen and Rankin) as well as China Mieville, Anne Enright and Suzanne Joinson.  There will be over 800 writers in attendance over the two weeks of the festival.  Who knows who else we will run into?  

I will be blogging and posting pictures about the book festival over on the Flyleaf Books Blog as well.  If you aren't interested in our personal escapades you can always read about the author readings and book related stuff there.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Anticipating Adventure

In just over a week, I will be headed to Edinburgh, Scotland with my Aunt Laurie. We will be attending the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It is so difficult to remain focused as the day of departure nears. Aunt Laurie and I will be blogging from here during the stay. So stay tuned!

Aunt Laurie in Powell's Books during her visit to PDX.