Friday, August 31, 2012

Here's to you Ms. Cell Phone....

Well, technology again.

I was going to do this yesterday in the DFW Admiral’s Club, but my mouse died (yes, you can laugh). So I only posted that little Facebook teaser you may have seen from the Droid. I am now back in the digs, and have had to borrow MFO’s wireless mouse (without her knowledge).

So, I have lost a little of my vitriolic edge. But dear cell phone lady, this is for you. I know you won’t read it because you won’t have your phone out of your ear or thumbs flashing on the blackberry long enough.

It all started in the LAX waiting lounge Thursday morning. Getting to the airport quite early, I had been relaxing in the Admiral’s Club, and finally wandered down to the gate a few minutes before boarding. [Since I don’t travel much anymore I spent some of my (expiring) American Airlines miles (and now cash!) to upgrade to first class – more on this another day]. Anyway, I arrived shortly before boarding began and settled into a chair to await being beckoned to board the aircraft. I became aware of a lady next to me with her cell phone in her ear. She was fairly well dressed, maybe in her fifties (?) and maybe she had been “worked on”as she had that kind of taught face, not that I notice these things. She had one of those Pandora (?) bracelets on her wrist, you know those things with little knobs of various shapes. Anyway, she was talking loud enough for her other party to hear as well as half the people in the lounge. well, we’re just going to have to let her management know that she is not suitable for the team” and other business related inanities, that I at least would not want to share with most of the gate 48A folks. But she of course was oblivious and so important she didn’t care.

Eventually the podium announced they were ready for boarding, and invited anybody that needed a little extra help to board at this time. Upon seeing the door open to the gangway, Cell Phone Lady (CPL) immediately sprung to her feet with cell phone tucked between shoulder and ear “tell them I need to meet with everybody as soon as possible” and lunged for the door, passing a gentleman on crutches. Only at the door did the attendant try to inform CPL that it was not her turn. Somewhat startled, without eye contact and without missing a sentence “I need to see those charts as soon as you can send them” she turned on her heel and stepped a few feet away. Finally the extra help and armed forces people boarded and it was the time for first class passengers. No break in talk “Why NOT!” and charged down the gangway leading the first class passengers.. Oh God, I thought, please, please, please! But of course when I reached seat 4F (window) guess who was in the aisle? CPL!! It took a couple of “excuse me, EXCUSE ME!”attempts to get her to come to the realization that another human existed beside her, and she vacantly rose to let me in, with no eye contact. Yak, yak, yak.

The boarding process continued as did her stream of do this, do that’s, but after a bit she said “well, that’s all I got for now” and hung up. Thank goodness. But no, that meant it was time to catch up on email! Scroll, click, thumbs flash, scroll, click more dexterity. Finally the door closed and the announcement that “all electronic devices must be turned off at this time” was totally ignored as she was again making a call. I know the first cabin gets cut a little slack, but it took personal urging from the attendants to make her cease. Finally the phone was extinguished and stowed in the Gucci purse. It’s about a three hour flight from LAX to DFW and not once did she look in my direction (which, at this point was a relief).

Lunch came and went (it was quite good, again more to come) with her vacantly turning pages of some romance novel that I am not sure she absorbed. Finally we were on approach to DFW, and I am not making this up, the INSTANT you heard the squeal of rubber meeting asphalt, she dove like Dana Vollmer entering the pool for a gold medal for her Gucci, grasped the phone, kept her head below seat level and started dialing. By the time we pulled off the active runway she was already in full conversation although in hushed tones. I expected something like "Is Mother out of Intensive Care?" But no, it was only “hi, I just thought I would check in…”. And at one point (again not making it up) was “it was so hot yesterday I was soaking wet all day!”. Crucial information to be sure. She was standing up prior to the seat belt sign, mining her luggage from above, and shot out the door, phone blended to ear. Eventually I saw her salmon colored sweater heading for the tram (Damn DFW airport) and she boarded the same train as I did although in a different car. My last (thank God) view of her was as I was walking away from the train, she was sitting in the car ahead of mine, texting feverishly and had to stick an arm in the door to get off.

I am only a poor engineer, but I think there is something very wrong here….

Which then got me to thinking, maybe it’s ME! Am I so out of step that I am the one that is out of touch with reality? For instance when sitting in the Admiral’s club there are any number of folk, from elder travelers to very busy thirty somethings, to college kids. At one point I was sitting quietly actually reading a real book with real pages, and five youngish people (NOT DFD, at all) came in and sat in the same section. No sooner had butts hit the seats when out came the devices. All FIVE of them sat absorbed in their own world. Although they were almost touching, they might as well have been hundreds of miles apart. Do we no longer have fun by enjoying our company and talking to each other? Another couple came in, him in a “US Open”T-shirt (at an age that would not support that mode of dress) and she in those dark denim, stud spangled jeans with a fancy blouse and one of those floppy hat (sleazy chic). Plop. Yank. Text, text, text. At one point without raising her head, she said “Brittney posted on her Bill Board!” “is that facebook?”, a look of disgust was dispatched in his direction.

I know that I am somewhat at fault here, but I do look you in the eye and talk to you. I’d love to find out about you. With words.

God love you important CPL, may your battery go dead.

Well time to go get DFD for our dinner commemorating our 49thwedding anniversary. Where does that time go? We are returning to Café Des Artistes in Leonardtown and not only does it recognize our 49 years of marriage, it also marks the anniversary of the experience that resulted in the campaign to


Thursday, August 30, 2012

California Dreaming...

i just put out a teaser on facebook.  drat that site.  tried for two days from Droid... unable.

anyway here i am in southern california with a couple of hours on my hands, still kind of living on Eastern time.. that makes no sense but there you are.

i am here as part of a technical review panel which thought my flutter expertise might be of value.  so i've spent the last couple of days discussing this and that, looking at viewgraphs.  One of the very nice thing that happened was that there were several other panel members from my checkered past.  YF-23, F-18 veterans i have not seen for a while.  it was a treat.

Anyway since i'm now employed by a "Contractor" i decided to NOT rent a car since some of the other members stayed at the same hotel, and i could bum a ride from them to the meetins and back.  Down side is that upon return to the hotel after a long day, the "group eat" syndrome kicked in as i expected, so seeking out that nice little spot in Redondo was out.  Last night we ate at the mega chain

i have to admit they do it right, the staff was friendly and seated our table of 7 in a spacious booth.
for those that have dined at one, you know the menu is a spiral bound book with so many choices it is kind of bewildering.  Specials, Pasta's; sea food, salads on and on.  one of the things that caught my eye was the "nutritional guide".  a multi page affair listing all the numbers for every one of those choices on the ment

some of the drinks at our table i will not comment on.  I will divulge that this one was ordered by a male.

i ordered an item from the "combo" section, an herb crusted salmon and shrimp scampi.  described as:

Enjoy our fresh salmon that comes with a delicious lemon sauce and asparagus. Also served with Shrimp Scampi that’s sautéed with whole cloves of garlic, white wine, fresh basil and tomato - served with mashed potatoes.
well this is what hit the table
I thought that the amount of mashed potatoes dwarfed the other items.  Heavy and dense the weren't very good.  The shrimp and salmon were not bad, but asparagus looked like feelers..
we eschewed the name sake (rhymes with....)
okay, fatigue kicking in and a long day of travel tomorrow.  I have a story on the trip out which i will embellish with the story of the trip back tomorrow..
and yes, i was

Sunday, August 26, 2012


No, not the past tense of expectoration....
As environmentally alert readers know, our little friend Crassostrea Virginica has not been treated very well lately in our Chesapeake Bay.  Over the years, we have managed to screw up the conditions in the bay to where the oyster has been in decline over several decades, and it isn’t getting better fast.  The demand for the bivalve hasn’t decreased with its numbers, so replenishing the oyster has some economical incentive.  So, there are several schemes evolving to raise or “farm” oysters.  Catch word is “aquaculture”.   Some people are trying to put them back in their natural environment by constructing artificial reefs to duplicate what they would do if left alone.  Others just put juveniles into the bay and hope they build their own reefs, others put spat in little bags with floats and tether them in creeks, etc.

I had the opportunity to see yet another technique late last week, and make a visit to "the farm".  Their technique involves starting them in a hatchery (I suppose that’s not the word, but best I can come up with) where they will grow until they can be put in bags to fully mature.  The little farm is a nicely engineered affair, lots of piping, valves, pumps, and stuff.  It consists of a larger "vat" and contains little circular tubs (in this case 9) where the babies live 

Water for food for the little ones is supplied directly from the river, and is pumped into the larger vat via that big green hose ..


Which fills it to the rim with water which then over flows into the "return"

and then drains back into the river. Goes inta ...goes outa, zero sum!

The little oysters live in those nine tubs on a paper meshed screen which allows the water to circulate around and feed them.  And “feed” they do!   Here’s the result of one day’s worth of feeding (and pooping)


So the daily task of the intrepid oyster farmer is to drain the vat, and then wash away the bad stuff so pollutants don’t build up.

Before (left) and after (right) washing


And a closer look at the freshly bathed “kids”


After their bath, the vat is filled again, and eventually they will grow to the point where they can be transferred to bags


And spend the rest of their time in the river..  neat, huh?

In case you’re wondering, that facility currently holds about half a million(!) oysters.  The farmers estimate that they oysters will “mature” to eating size in around a year..  A very nice look at local, sustainable farming.  Which will result in locally raised oysters for us to enjoy.  What an enjoyable experiece.  We'll revist when the children are a little further along....

Contrast that local operation with the latest invasion of the chain culture here in the park,


displaying the sign that is second only in county popularity to “coming soon”.  Yes, it is jobs, but the servers are only a conduit to take money out of the community..and you can be sure that the bottom feeder will not darken their doors (or gift shop).. even if he would be


PS -  tomorrow the Bottom Feeder will be winging his way west to participate in a little gray beard review of a program on the west coast…



Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Middling meal....

We’ll give the Scots a little time to catch their breath for playing the bagpipes, and recount a pleasant day trip we made yesterday (in fluttermobile II - which is VERY pleasant)

A friend of MFO's has a historical document that she wanted to give to the Maryland Archives in Annapolis, so we took the day yesterday to drive her up for the transfer of the document.  It was a pleasant day for driving and even the journey across the two lane Route 2 to the city wasn’t as hair raising as on some trips.  Most everybody seemed to be willing to drive in a reasonable proximity to the speed limit.  We got to the Capitol City around lunch time so we decided to have lunch before we met with the State Archivist.

We had not been up there for a while, and our passenger had not for even longer than us so rather than our (in a rut) Harry Browne lunch spot, we decided that we should go down on the City Dock.  It was a pleasant day and many boats were parked in “ego alley” and many tourists were around.  Amazingly we found a parking spot right there, and only after parking and getting out did we find out it was a thirty minute limit (for one quarter per).  I had a pocket full of quarters so figured I could feed the machine as needed.

Next question was where to go.  There are plenty of options down there, but since we were kind of in a “tourist” mode we figured what the hell, let’s follow the example of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin and take our guest to Middleton Tavern, the venerable landmark of the city dock dating back to the late 18th century. 

 (that’s Maria’s peeking out on the far corner with the green awnings, another veteran)
Regular Annapolis visitors know the Tavern caters more to tourists than fine diners, but for lunch why not experience the real deal.  As an aside we noticed that that little “market” in the center of the dock area (behind the red car) is again vacant. Several attempts at populating it with deli’s, candy counters, bread vendors, etc. seem to have again failed.  Anyway we told the nice young man on the porch that we preferred inside rather than outside dining.  As I said I have not been in the establishment for more years than I can remember, but I was pleasantly surprised once inside.  Two smallish dining rooms and a separate bar area (called “the lounge” by staff), with suitably nautical stuff on the walls.  Kind of fit if you know what I mean.  The inside person said we could sit anywhere that was open (and many tables were) so we chose a round table kind of tucked in the corner.  Unfortunately, we soon learned that …. would be taking care of us and asked us if we would care for anything to drink while reading the menu, always a bit awkward situation with an unknown diner, so MFO said she’d have ice tea.  Whereupon our guest spoke up and said “why don’t we have a glass of wine?”.   Amen, thank you.  Soon, three glasses of Kendall Jackson (best choice I saw) accompanied the menus and silverware.

The (tri-fold laminated) lunch menu was pretty as expected, soups, sandwiches, plates, appetizers, oysters (from the little raw bar in “the lounge”), plus a little card on the table with today’s specials.  Most of the items came with a side salad or soup du jour (today’s was a “mixed chowder”, meaning it had fish, sausage, and crab).  Our friend decided she’d try the (market price) crab cake sandwich, MFO had  the chicken barbeque sandwich from the special card, and I took a hot corned beef and swiss on rye from the same source.

Speaking of crab cakes, at one point I overheard a diner at an adjacent table ask their server: “Are the crab cakes good?”  I have heard several versions of this question posed many times, and I never can understand why it would be asked, and what the expected response would be:  “No sir, our crab cakes are awful”;  or “they aren’t really that good”.  Of course she replied “they’re very good”.  Wierd. The staff was quite informal and easy going, no “are you still working on that?” or “how is everything?” just water glasses full when needed. The food arrived, and it wasn’t remarkable either way, MFO’s BBQ Chicken was pretty much a boneless breast on a open faced bun with what looked like a paint brush application of Open Pit sauce slathered on it.  My sandwich was kind of a cylinder of rolled up “corned beef” luncheon meat style encased in a melted slice of swiss, I suppose pre (Sysco?) made and warmed up.  It did have some taste but was more like a eating a large hot dog than a flat sandwich.  The crab cake (I resisted stabbing a forkful) did look pretty nice, broiled and exhibiting a fair amount of lump.  Our friend quite liked it.  It was a nice relaxing lunch with pretty much as expected results.  I did kind of like the homey atmosphere, so I left with a better opinion than when I went in.  Good for a quick bite and for showing an interesting space to a visitor.  Oh, a quick comment:  to reach the rest rooms, you have to climb three flights of stairs - plan ahead!

So off we went to the Archives and our appointment with the State Archivist.  He had many nice things to say about MFO calling her a “wonderful archivist”, as she has helped him many times with things historical at Historic St. Mary’s City.  He was quite overjoyed to receive the document our friend donated, a (I think a land patent) document from the late 17th century.  It is good to have those things where they should be, accessible to all (with controls) rather than some dealer trying sell it, or showing up on Antiques Road Show.

Anyway a very pleasant day in the life, and nice to be a part of passing history..

Oh yeah, in Middleton Tavern they didn’t worry so much about


I owe you a small rant, been a while.. this is trying to be as apolitical as possible. 
I’m sure we all have our views on the people and programs new or existing, promises or achievements, but geez, can’t we all just get along?  Why is the major platform of every candidate to run down and criticize their opponent?  He’s all bad!  Vote for me!! We try to watch the local evening news every night, but it’s getting so that it’s so venomous and isn’t enjoyable.  And how far to the election?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Eating my way through Scotland...

Perhaps it is fitting that the last (well, maybe) chapter in the Scotland journey is about the food.  While it certainly was not the raison d’être for the trip, it was a fascination for the Feeder.  Being a stranger in a strange land that has a different cultural heritage in foodways is always fun.  Just for reference, out of the 1260 photos I took, roughly 100 or so were of the food (not to mention the settings). So, almost one of ten were about the food..

And probably it is also fitting that we lead off the food of Scotland discussion with the enigma of “Haggis”.  As I noted before, knowing I would be in the land of Haggis presented me with a challenge.  The common perception (IMHO) here in the colonies (aided by helpful recipes) is that Haggis is made from unmentionable parts of the sheep and you have to consume a half bottle of Scotch before you eat it.  Well, nothing could be further from the truth (except the half bottle of Scotch which is always good).  My first opportunity to try it was on the initial night of our trip (excluding the miserable cattle car airplane), in our hotel in Ayr.  Before our dinner, there were passed appetizers, and one was little ping pong ball sized globes of a dark material (it may have had a coating I don’t remember).   “And what have we here?”   Haggis.   Yikes!  Okay, Feeder put up or shut up.  So without the benefit of liquid courage through Scotch, I took one, and hesitatingly took a small bite…….Hey!  This isn’t bad!  A big grainy, but not heavily flavored and has a nice little kick.

The other (mistaken) impression that I had was that due to the (presumed) disgusting nature of Haggis, it was only reserved for drunken festivals, like Robert Burns Dinners, or special occasions (like our Thanksgiving, for instance).  Wrong again, oh presumptive one.   Throughout our journeys,  Haggis was a common staple and appeared on many menus.  Fried at breakfast (along with black pudding – another story), a specialty item (Such as the “tower of Haggis” starter at the Carrick Lodge Restaurant), used to stuff chicken or guinea fowl, such as this “Guinea Fowl with haggis, potato and turnip dauphinoise, red cabbage and Whisky sauce” from our group’s farewell dinner in the Amber restaurant in Edinburg.

Come to think of it, the dish sort of characterizes Scotland: Haggis, potato and turnips (tatties and neeps), cabbage, and whisky.  A country on a plate!!

In general, we tended to eat as a group in the hotel where we had lodging, usually with a special room and menu for the forty some odd of us.  Most days we were all tuckered out from touring castles and such anyway, pooped from climbing those damn circular stone stairs, and were just as happy to remain where we were and not venture out.  Also some of the places where we stayed were kind of isolated (Western Scotland/Highlands). Typically for dinner, there were choices of starters, main plates, and desserts, with at least two, mostly three, sometimes more in each category.  Here’s the menu made for us at our hotel in Ayr (where haggis appeared) which was pretty typical of what we found on the rest of the trip

 (note expert photographer including his hand's shadow)

Generally the food was nicely prepared and presented.  For instance, here’s the excellent smoked salmon starter from the menu above

All in all, (aside from our one night at a restaurant) there were 70 items offered for our dinners.  Lots of seafood (duhh)

(Always served skin side up which I still haven’t figured out)


(Hey, what’s that dark stuff?  Take a guess)

And occasionally beef (or venison, such as this dish in Mull)

What was surprising to us was that although most days we looked at fields and fields and fields of sheep, it (lamb) was offered only once as a menu choice.  Our Scottish bus driver said that it was quite expensive and most of the meat was exported.  Still a bit strange.  Most of the time, there were vegetarian offerings, such as a pasta dish.  That pretty well covered evening meals, so going back to the start of the day for

Breakfasts (a tradition) varied.  Some places had a buffet either fancy

or Plain

Pretty generally there was a lot of stuff on them… many kinds of sausages and meats,

this was a little less quality than most, but has you guess it, haggis and black pudding

eggs of some sort, tomatoes usually fried or grilled, cheeses, cold meats, a variety of breads and pastries, cereals both hot and cold, several juices, and tea or coffee.

Other hotels had buffet tables for breads and pastries, but a menu for a la carte of your choice

Always hearty, even though we weren’t facing a hard day in the fields.  Before we leave breakfast I have to remark on Scottish bacon (just above is more typical).  Nothing like the “streaky bacon” (as ours is referred to) we have here, it was always wonderful, salty, thick, and tasty.  There was a pretty wide variation in the sausages, but generally the haggis and black pudding were the same where ever we went.  Kippers didn’t appear often.  I never had the full blown “Scottish Breakfast” which was offered on several menus, just too darn much stuff for somebody who generally skips breakfast altogether..  If only I could get the bacon though..

So with bookend meals taken care of, that leaves the meal in the middle,


A lot of the time we were “on our own” for this meal, with an hour or two between motoring to morning and afternoon sites.  Time to shop a little, find an ATM (for even more pounds) and stroll about observing local culture.  Mostly due to time constraints, we ended up in little pubs or tea rooms and had soups and sandwiches.  You couldn't miss on the soups,  usually potato and leek, or barley, but always thick and tasty. 

I kind of found I liked their “toasties” which to us would be like grilled ham and cheese.

Or some of the sites we visited had food service, like one of our first lunches was in the (converted) stables at Drumlanrig castle.

If you can strain your eyes a little, note the “cheese and pickle” at the top of the sandwiches.  That was something that turned up a lot.  Turns out that “pickle” would generally be like chutney to us.   And most any cold sandwiches with cheese looked like this Lockerbie Cheddar and Baked Ham

Shredded cheese (and a little short on ham - but excellent bread).

We did have a couple of group lunches that were very good.  One was at a charming little inn that had a great little salmon dish (which I may have posted previously)

And another memorable lunch was in the Columba Hotel on the lovely little Isle of Iona and a wonderful BLT

(Ripe tomatoes, that wonderful bacon, hearty bread, and a pint.  ahhhhhh)

We also had a nice pub lunch on a rainy day in Inverness one of the oldest ones in the city

And had a traditional shepards pie

Not Haute, but just right for the surroundings..(actually tasted better than it looks - with a pint, or two)


Okay, everybody is getting tired (or hungry) so we’ll cease there (and we didn't even talk about desserts!)..  there are so many more meals to tell, but you get the idea...  what was my favorite meal?  Hah!  I won’t fall in that trap!  Was it the gorgeous bacon breakfasts?  The little sandwiches and chips in a cozy little shop or pub on a rainy day?  The multitude and varied dinners? 

What a great food experience, one which I won’t forget any time soon, and besides I have all those hundred or so pictures to remind me.. 

Maybe my overriding memory of food will be HAGGIS is GOOD!

And you can even eat it

okay, maybe one more Scottish memory...without videos.  still can't figure that out.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Technololgy Note

I have learned that the imbedded video of which I was so proud will not be included in the latest (the Bard) if you receive the Feeder by email.  what a drag... 

You can, however, see and hear it (definitely worthwhile) if you use your browser (IE explorer, Firefox, etc.) and go directly to ""

Or you can just click on this link

stupid technology..

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Bard...

First of all, happy 100th Birthday Julia Child!

A few loose ends...

It occurred to me that I didn’t say much about one of the (many) Scottish national heroes, Robert Burns.  Although there are many more (Bonnie Prince Charlie, Robert the Bruce, etc.), it seems that Robert Burns has a special place in the hearts of most Scots.  I may get in trouble here with some of my more historically literate friends, but he was kind of the Mark Twain of Scotland.  He was an iconoclast, and wrote many poems (pronounced po – EMS in the local dialect) and was called (among other things), the Bard of Ayrshire.  One of his more famous poems, Address to A Haggis, is now legendary and gave rise to the dish’s consumption on Robert Burns night dinners, celebrated annually on January 25th.  It begins with this first verse:

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace


We visited a couple of places that were important in his life.  The first was on our first day of the trip (same day we arrived in the bleary eyed morning).  We stopped at Mauchline, where Robert lived in the 1780’s and where he wrote many poems and songs.  Mauchline is a quaint little town with a museum in the place where he lived for a while.  Our group was met by one of the senior members of the local Burns Society who gave us a little talk Burn’s life and time in Mauchline.

It seems that old Robert had quite an affinity for the ladies, and had many liaisons and miscellaneous children which we won’t go into here.  After the little lecture, went into the little church where Robert would have attended services, and our guide showed some of the pieces that would have been used.

One of the other things he showed us was an actual book which chronicled some of the tribulations of Robert and his ladies that were addressed in the church (dating back to late 18th century).  He proudly displayed the book holding it in his hands turning pages for us to see the names.   We were invited to come up to the front and see for ourselves, whereupon MFO immediately stormed the alter and informed him that he ought to be wearing gloves!!  After that blew over we toured a little more of the churchyard and surrounding village.

They have such neat places

Upon leaving Mauchline we drove to that night’s overnight destination of Ayr.  A pleasant place.  This is where I was introduced to the practice that I was to see throughout the rest of the journey (and may have commented on it before).  I strode to the bar and asked if they had any special scotch.  Why yes, they did: one that was distilled locally.  Well, then I’ll have one with an ice cube.  The barkeep produced a glass and a jigger and poured a carefully measured portion of maybe a half ounce that barely coated the bottom of the glass. (I think I did say this before).  Make it a double.  Maybe two sips.

The next day we visited

It’s kind of divided into two parts, a new sleek visitor center and also a museum in his home

They always do a nice job with displays in these places.  Very informative.

We found out that there was to be a little talk on Burns in one of the meeting rooms in the visitor center so we went over and listened to part of that.  There was a very engaging guy there (whose name I didn’t write down), of course who recited many of Robert’s poems, some even in dress

He also sang some songs (and here hopefully is a technological breakthrough for the Bottom Feeder - disclaimer, this is the first time i've tried this so qualtiy may suffer...)

It is left to the listener to try to figure out what the hell he is saying.  It is English, by the way, just as historically spoken.

After a while you kind of get enough Burns, but he is part of the amazing fabric of Scotland

Looks like maybe he was


Monday, August 13, 2012

... NOT in the air...

Well, we (reluctantly) need to leave Scotland to the memory vault, and move on to more topical things like how is the Cracker Barrel coming on their “Now Hiring” campaign..

"Leaving" is kind of problematical…I would love to take you on the day by day journey with us, because each day held such great sights and experiences that could be shared, but it would take at least as long to talk about it as it did to do it, so I am forced to condense.   We've seen some of the magnificant natural scenery, so maybe a few of the castles we saw.   Castles are funny things.  Most were built to provide a place where you could try to lead kind of a normal life, protected by massive walls, defensible positions (like on tops of mountains), many people with weapons, etc.  As I mentioned before, battles, conquests, invasions (from both “internal” and foreign sources) were such a part of life they were forced to fortify themselves.  Mostly it didn’t work.  While some of the castles we saw were from antiquity, some were not.  This is the castle at Drumlanrig, built in the late 17th century and home of the very powerful Douglas clan, and now the residence of Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry.  It has a fabulous art collection including a Rembrandt.

Much older ones remain, such as from the “reformation” in the 1500’s, during which John Knox and the Calvinists pretty much destroyed many of the Catholic Cathedrals and presumably art, leaving things such as this one in St. Andrews (built in the late 12th century).. how magnificent it must have been to see - a mere 800 years ago!

But we also saw many others in places like



Which had a wonderful exhibit on their kitchen (of special interest to the feeder)

Near Mull

On way to Skye

On Loch Ness (we missed Nessie)

There are more.  Each of course had its story and history, the rise and fall, who and when, why it was important and what part it played in the wild history of Scotland.  I must say most had great exhibits, some had interpreters like Stirling Castle.

It is hard to describe this fellow’s job, although he was pretty graphic about it.  Let’s just say it involved helping the King with his daily duty, and he had a very good view of the backside of the King.. these days he would be in a commercial for Charmin… nuff said.

Tomorrow we’ll delve into the food aspects of the trip and yes, Haggis.

And in closing this phase, you know my usual byline, well, guess what?  Nothing much changes…