Friday, May 16, 2014

Odds and Ends

Tower Bridge
There are always odd and unrelated occurrences on trips. This blog is composed of images that I didn’t fit in anywhere else. For instance, we saw the Tower Bridge and once again did not make the stroll across. We did, however, walk across the new Millennium Bridge from the Tate Gallery of Modern Art to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The National Gallery was a super place to spend a few hours. The day we attended was devoted to kids learning about art
Golden Rabbit
galleries and there were a bazillion of them hunting for pictures, making art, and writing their reflections. It was crazy but good to see that many young people broadening their experiences. No matter what art gallery I enter, I’m constantly on the lookout for rabbits. The gold sculpture caught my eye, but I’d seen something similar before. In one of the large, exclusive malls in Dallas this rabbit is done on a grand scale at Easter. The mall rabbit is about 10 feet in length and advertises a particular store. While there were a lot of things I liked in London’s National Gallery, two

Girls Running by Steer
 paintings in the Tate caught my eye. ‘Girls Running’ by Philip Wilson Steer was considered avant-guard in the 19th century. A true British Impressionist, hiswork was criticized as ‘evil’ at an art show in the late 1890s. Whereas Monet focused on the setting of his paintings, Steer was interested in the people as well as the setting. The other picture I liked was ‘The Arrival’ by 
The Arrival by Nevinson
Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson. As with Steer’s painting, critics weren’t enthusiastic saying that ‘The Arrival’ looked like ‘a violent collision’ . . . of a steamer ‘with a pier’. I like it; it puts me in mind of a scene from Ghost Busters II when the Titanic pulls into New YorkHarbor. We fount another favorite piece of art on the street in Edinburgh. The statue of Sir Arthur Conan
 Doyle marks the house of his birth and is across from a pub he 
frequented. Sculpture and Sherlock Holmes is a double win for art!
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Red and green curry
Walking around looking at art can make you hungry and we really had our taste buds tingle when we saw these giant woks of curry. We were walking through a street fair that had lots of food vendors plus people exhibiting arts, crafts, jewelry, and other wonderful things. Makes me hungry, again, just thinking about that curry!

Everywhere we went there were signs that the folks in Scotland are stewards of their 
Loch Lomand
environment. Renewable energy is important to the Scots. We saw many valleys that were filled with windmills, houses with solar panels, and rivers with hydroelectric generators. However, one area in particular is protesting the addition of windmills. There is a national park next to Loch Lomand where the valleys are incredibly beautiful, with streams full of fish, flocks of songbirds and few man-made noises. All along the roads were signs entreating people to vote against the insertion of windmills into this lovely area.

And then there were the animals; we saw oodles and oodles of sheep. Sheep in fields, on the 
moors, on rocks, climbing craggy pinnacles, staring at us from on top of walls, anywhere and everywhere there were sheep. They were marked using some kind of dye on their heads, sides, butts, backs or where ever. Depending on how old they were, the lambs were marked, as well. There are at least nine types of sheep in the Lake District of England and Scotland and I think we saw all of them. As we went north,
Highland Sheep
there were fewer lambs but I’m guessing that by the end of May there will be lots of the babies bouncing around. We also saw llamas, rescue donkeys, and alpacas. What really tickled me were the feral goats that were busily tending the grass along the roadside and in the medians. We encountered this same sort of highway maintenance in Curaçao several years ago, but they 

Feral goat
were called ‘town goats’. Lucy was a real favorite for all of the guests at one of the B&Bs we visited. She was a resident at Edinburgh House, spending her days making sure that the guests were comfortable and that there was always a warm spot for her 
Lucy waiting for company
next to the radiator. Lucy enjoyed being scratched behind her ears and under her chin and was fond of hiding from her owner.

Every once in a while I hear Willie Nelson in my head singing, ‘On the road again’ and that’s what we did every day after we left London. While lots of people walked or traveled on bicycles, we rented
Racked bicycles at the subway station
a car and took off for the Lake Country and Scotland. Looking at online maps led me to believe that travel by car would be straightforward and since we had both driven on the left side of the road previously, no big issue. The ‘M’ roads are super highways with a speed limit of 70 mph, rest stops and generally good conditions. ‘A’ roads with a 
single digit are very similar to ‘M’ roads
Tight squeeze on an 'A' road
but with fewer lanes and speed limits of 60 to 70 mph. As the number of digits following the ‘A’ increases, the size of the roads decreases; the center stripe disappears, and there may be pull off areas where the roads are too narrow for two cars to pass at the same time, but unless you are passing through a town the speed limit is 60 mph. ‘B’ roads don’t have a center 
Meeting logging truck on 'B' road
stripe but do have numerous pull off areas; the shrubs scrape the sides of the car and you’re likely to be able to pick flowers from the road if you roll down your window and yes, the speed limit is 60 mph. These roads make for interesting driving especially if you meet a city bus (yep, full size) or a fully loaded logging truck. Is it any wonder that DM had 'white knuckles' most of each driving day?

Rare stop sign

Figuring out the the road signs was both challenging and amusing. It was only in Statford-on-Avon that we ever saw a stop sign and it looks like it’s making a rude gesture. 

Trying to read the names on Welsh road signs aloud gave us the giggles but didn't get us less lost. 
Welsh road sign

It took us a while to decide that the sign meant that the police were using cameras to check speed rather than indicating a scenic area in 50 feet. 
Speed Camera

Tiny Lanes
Other signs show that you can only be so wide to drive in certain lanes. 

Still others let you know that you can get a free tow if you need it. 
Free Tow

Queuing traffic
Our GPS was kind enough to tell us where the traffic could be found, but not nice enough to show how to get around it.

England-Scotland Border
The Northumberland sign welcoming us back to England is in a pretty place near where we finally got to see the heather in bloom.


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