Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas surprise

When we got home from Salem Christmas day we found this on our doorstep.

There was a little bag of extra candles for inside him. Chris lit him up right away.

Thank you Nick and Marci!

Christmas at our house

Another Christmas has come and gone. We had Chris' family over to our house in the morning. We hung around for a few hours and then drove down to my Dads to spend the evening. We got back home around 11pm. We took the next day off and just hung around the house. It was a fun day with lots of presents and surprises.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Our Christmas Card

This year we decided to do something related to Halloween for our holiday card this year since this was our big year for Halloween.

We decided to make another tombstone with the Scrooge epitaph. We put it in the yard next to a Grim Reaper to set the scene from A Christmas Carol where Scrooge sees his tombstone as shown to him from the Ghost of Christmas future who looks like death.

It took a few days to make the tombstone, cold, rainy weather is not the perfect conditions for drying paint. I then set it up outside with rebar stakes and then hauled out a reaper to set beside him. I used some cobwebs and got some branches and leaves from the yard and made the tombstone look forgotten.

I took a BUNCH of pictures of it. Chris suggested using fog so I got the fog machine out and blasted it with fog and to a BUNCH more pictures. Chris then did her magic in Photoshop, I suggested the phrase "Bah Humbug! Halloween is over." and we had our card.

A good day for Hal

We have a bird feeder right outside our office window. I often keep the window shade open to let some light in the office and to have something to look out into when working.

Hal LOVES this vantage point to see all the wild life. He can sit in the window and see all the creatures he wishes he could catch.

Our Edinburgh Flat

The flat we rented was located at Number 7 St. Marys Street and it was flat #7 on the 4th floor with no elevator.

St. Mary's Street Crosses the High Street or Royal Mile about midway down. The flat was located just around the corner, just above the World's End pub (one of our favorite hang outs.)

For what it lacked in vertical location, the owner Janet made up for in appearance. The place was very nice with a comfortable living room, a comfy bed, a kitchen with everything we needed and a big bathroom. We felt very much at home and Janet's little touches really made a difference.

So even though the climb up the steap stairs got old fast we really enjoyed our stay and would recomend it for your stay in Edinburgh.

Royal Botanic Gardens

The day after we got back from Skye we decided to go to the the Royal Botanic Gardens. We had been there before right before they shut, so this time we went back for a longer visit. We caught a cab on the High Street in the morning and get out there just after they opened.

We of course had to buy squirrel food because the squirrels are all starving. (Well, that is what Chris believes! ) We saw a lot of interesting trees and plants and got to visit the new Queen Mother Memorial. One of our favorite sites is the huge hedge that runs down the center of the gardens.

We had lunch in the cafe then stopped at the gift shop and then caught a cab back to our flat.

Rosslyn Chapel

On our last day in Edinburgh we decided to take the bus out to visit Rosslyn Chapel made famous these days by the DaVinci Code.

The castle was built by the Clan Sinclair who were thought to have ties to the Templars hence the whole Grail connection. The entire structure has been covered in a protective scafold that allows visitors a better look at the exterior carvings.

The chapel is very old and tiny. The amount of stone carving is extrodinary, which is why it has links to the Free Masons.

The chapel was quite amazing and we were glad we took the time to visit it.

Edinburgh Castle (again)

We found a semi-sunny day to visit Edinburgh Castle again. It is a beautiful castle at the top of the city.

We explored the familier areas and took time to walk through the new soldier museum.

St. Margaret's chapel, the oldest building in the castle complex, was closed for a wedding while we were there.

We had lunch in the Red Coat cafe and watched the firing of the one o'clock gun.

Dunvegan Castle

We got to Dunvegan castle on Skye before the castle opened so we walked around the property for a time. It is a beautiful setting with lots of of waterfalls and stunning view of the sea.

There are many beautiful gardens on the property but the walled and round gardens were the most interesting.

It is home to the Chief of the MacLeod clan so it looks like a residence on the inside. (No pictures were allowed in the castle.)

We got to see the Fairy Flag and several other interesting treasures.

3 days in Skye

Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing,
Onward, the sailors cry.
Carry the lad that's born to be king
Over the sea to Skye.
- Skye Boat Song (traditional)

(Chris has been dying to go to Skye for years!)

We headed out of Edinburgh at 8am on Sunday and drove north on the A87 and crossed the bridge at Kyleakin and stoped for a snack in Broadford the main supply town. We drove along the east side of the island to Portree the main city where we stopped at our B&B around 3:30.

Took a quick nap and then set out in to town for dinner at the Cullen Hills Hotel in Portree.

The next day we headed west due to the stormy weather and visited Dunvegan Castle the home of the Macleods. We then headed down the west coast to Carbost to visit the Talisker whisky distillery, the distillery on Skye. From there we headed back to Portree for another nap and then into town for dinner at the Bosville Hotel.

The next day the weather much improved so we set out to explore the north of Skye. We stopped at Kilmuir Cemetary where we saw the grave of Flora Macdonald the famous lady who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape the English. As we headed back down the east coast of Skye and headed home we stopped at Culloden Moor outside of Inverness to see the famous battlefield. Then back to Edinburgh by evening.

3 days in London

Our first day out we went to the National Portrait gallery. We stopped at Trafalger square to take a picture of the clean square without the pigeons.

The next day we went to the Victoria Albert Museum. There is a huge Chahuli glass sculpture in the main entrance. We looked over the duplicates room and explored the new courtyard.

Our last day we wandered around Convent Garden market and saw some human statues. We went to Spamalot that night and walked along Shafstury ave where all the Theaters are.