Monday, July 12, 2010

Looking down on Edinburgh, July 10 2010

This was a new experience for us, driving across Scotland from the ferry terminal at Stranraer all the way to the far side of Edinburgh. We decided to see what way the trusty Garmin would direct us... We'll go back to double checking its choices. The views were stunning, but these were not the easiest roads for a long day of driving.

Still, we got there, and that's the important part. The next day - Friday - Steven had a day off from work, but he went in anyway just to show us around.

Back in college, my favorite places to be were the library and the physics lab. At the Royal Observatory, we got to wander through labs big and small, where everything from micro technology to huge elements of telescopes were being developed and tested. Steven was a great tour guide, showing us through educational displays and working laboratories alike.

And the library! Surrounded by the history of astronomy in books and journals going back to the 1800s, I could easily have gotten lost for days, but we had other places to be. Steven had arranged for us to see the Crawford Collection.

I'd have been thrilled just to leaf through the first editions of Copernicus, Gallileo and Newton, but what really took my breath away were a couple of amazing medieval manuscripts. Oh yes, and the view of Edinburgh from the lecture room...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Mountains of Mourne, July 7 2010

We’re on the move again, heading back over to Scotland on our way to a couple of shows in England, and visiting some of our far-flung friends along the way. After so many years on the road, we have close friends scattered all over, and we always look for opportunities to drop in. A couple of days with Ferris and Sam, in County Down, was a relaxing, musical and scenic way to start the trip. Look at and for some of their wonderful international and early music.

Our first glimpse of the mountains, from Rathfriland, was so unexpected I snapped a picture of them through the windshield as we drove through a junction.

I didn’t know that we’d end up walking along the beach the next day, right past a monument to Percy French from whose lyrics so many of us have first heard of these beautiful mountains.

It's a gorgeous, long beach with a wide sandy strip across the top and rocky tide pools closer to the waves. We saw a family coming out of the water after a swim, which we wouldn't have thought the day was anywhere near warm enough for.

Beachcombers were more common; a couple of lines of hoof prints showed that some riders had been by that way; and, mostly, folks were walking like us, enjoying the fresh sea breeze.

The sand was littered with washed-up jellyfish. Most were six inches across or less, but a couple were much larger.

"Oh Mary, this London's a wonderful sight,
With people here working by day and by night.
They don't sow potatoes nor barley nor wheat
But there's gangs of them diggin' for gold in the street."

"At least, when I asked them that's what I was told
So I just took a hand at this diggin' for gold;
But for all that I've found there, I might as well be
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea."