Thursday, December 29, 2011

ESL Professor

So this semester I got a job at the Community college as an ESL professor. Ooh-hoo!
NEver mind the fact I haven't even finished my Master's degree. I was teaching college - grown-ups again! Yay! It was a nice break from all those little peanuts I have to teach every day. It's not that I don't like children... it's that some days I just don't want them anywhere near me. Especially when they are sneezing and coughing or breathing funny!
Some day I will quit my job as a school teacher and teach only grown-ups. While this day hasn't arrived, I will suck it up and do my best to get the little munchkins to learn some English...
While the state believes it can tell me what to do, because as everyone knows, I the teacher am the sole responsible for the children's grades. Right? Yeah, right... times have changed, and for worse. Why did I choose to be a school teacher? Oh! Yeah! I did not have a choice. Teaching grown-ups did not happen when I needed it to.
But now it did. I came as an adjunct position for a non-degree program. I was the last one hired. You know what that means... but it's ok. I will just keep my fingers crossed till January 21st when they will tell me whether or not I am coming back this spring semester.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A storm in October

Wow! A snow storm in October! A big one! And suddenly we were all in the dark and in the cold. Our fridges, those cold boxes we use for long-term storage of perishable food became useless smelly boxes. That held perishable food while they perished. Some of us could not even get hot water for basic stuff such as personal hygiene.

In a matter of a few hours most of us were set back about 200 years, and without the resources or the knowledge that those who actually lived 200 years ago had to survive.

How fragile are we? How dependent are we on something that wasn't even available for the common citizen in the 1800s? And how much do we take for granted and just assume everything will always be ok?

There is absolutely no guarantee that everything will always be ok. In fact, chances are much greater that everything will not always be ok.

How do you view this past week's events?
As a quick nuisance that should be taken care of as soon as possible by the people in charge? Or as a learning experience?

Did you take it as a test of how prepared you are to survive in case of a major and long term disaster? Did you try to think back and evaluate how you could make it better next time? Maybe you should learn a little bit about life without modern day comfort, not just for making yourself a more well rounded human being, but to make sure you can survive?

Did you take it as a way of realizing how frail human life is? How in the blink of an eye life as we know could be over? How everything we have today that makes you feel so powerful is actually hanging by a very thin thread? Electricity was gone for but a week, and we felt so powerless. Many of us could not keep ourselves warm, or cook food, or even keeping food from going bad!!! We can do all these things and we think we have all the power. All the power could be gone just like that. And then, what would happen to all-powerful 21st century human race?

Did you take it as a way of realizing how much thankful we should be for all we have? If you had a hard time dealing with basic everyday stuff that is essential for survival, shouldn't you be grateful for the things that make dealing with all of life's simple tasks such an easy thing to do that you don't even think about it? Think of how you and I grew up in a world where we simply flip a light switch, push a microwave button, plug a TV or charger into the wall, talk to someone who lives far away in real-time over a small speaking device, some times we can even see their faces as they talk to us!!!! (Skype and the-likes) Did you think how grateful you should be, because there is actually a possible reality in which none of these things are possible? It's a reality that is closer to us than what we think! Did you think that in parts of the world, so many people live without some of the things we thought it was so hard to live without? How grateful are you for these things we take for granted?

Did you think of it as a way of checking how much you can do with your family without TV, video-entertainment and internet? Which one of us, living today has grown up in a world without one or the other? I grew up in Brazil, so I did not have internet for most of my teenage life. But very few of us might have actually known a world without TV. And those who did will hardly remember the times that came before that. Don't we often complain how often those things get in the way of family quality time? Did you take advantage of the lack of those things to try to do something together? Like talking, for instance!

Finally, did you take it as a way of seeing God in all things? How He is sovereign and he could make it all go away just like that? How He kept you safe and allowed you means to survive? How He is the one who actually allowed all these modern-day wonders to be available to us? And how He make nature so perfect! The trees shed in the fall when every time the snow comes in the winter, we don't have total chaos like the one we did. God made everything well thought out. And while I won't try to explain why He allows tragedies like these to happen (even though I can think of a number of reasons that are Biblical and sound) I will just say that I know He is in control, and nothing happened without His permission. Just as He had Pharaoh's heart in his had, He also has nature in His hand. Did you think this week could be a way of thinking about God?

Wow! Looking at it this way, this storm aftermath was actually not as bad as we thought!

I hope you think of any of those things I've thought of. Or think of all of them. Think about something else I have not thought of. Just, please, don't think of it as a quick nuisance to be left behind. It was anything but a quick nuisance.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs and my I-Phone

Why Steve Jobs passing yesterday such a big deal?
It was indeed a tragic death. In our day and age, death at 56 is awfully early. It is tragic that such a rich and famous man could not keep this cancer from taking his life so soon.

But why is it such a big deal to so many people?
Well, Apple computers are either loved or hated, but you don't have to be an Apple fan to know that this man's invention, the I-Phone, changed the world.

Steve Jobs was not only some rich and famous guy. He was one of those unique people that happen to be hard-working, talented and able to seize the opportunities that life throws their way. There aren't many of those around. And when one of those is gone, it is kind of a big deal.

But I dare say that is not even what makes his death such a big deal. At least not for me. Steve Jobs was the brain behind the little device to changed the way I manage my life.
When My husband showed me yesterday the front page of the Apple Website, I was surprised, and I was sorry. But Later on I thought how meaningful this was. Yesterday a genius died. The genius that created my little personal secretary. That's when it is a big deal for me.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Life today

Just a little bit too hectic. Somehow I am beginning to find it easier to cope. It's almost as if there is normalcy to the hectic-ness. I find myself almost getting the hang of it. Or resigning myself to the fact that I have no choice, and that I'd better just dance according to the song they play.

I find it hard however to keep up my work out rhythm. I'm just too tired when I get home. I just want to veg. Yet, somehow I am managing to going back to cooking, cleaning, keeping the house in a somewhat organized situation. I just really need to go back to my work out routine if I want to lose this stupid tummy. Th disgrace of my existent.

Big E

The last weekend of the Big E 2011 was this past weekend. When Thursday came however I knew that I would not be setting foot there until next year. Since I teach on Thursday nights and Friday, Saturday and Sunday have no discounted prices, I knew CHeese curds, Maple cream and other delicacies would have to wait until next year to come my way again.

I miss it. Really REally miss it!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Great-Britain trip part 8(last part, snif, snif): London

Day 14, August 12, Friday

Wow, Sure enough! I was having an omen when I wrote that "what if we have to call the reception!" Yes, we are no longer at the crappy Croydon hotel - Peckham Hotel. We are at a much better Days Inn just a 15 minute walk from Big Ben.

What happened? Oh, nothing major! THere was a leak from the ceiling onto Dean's side of the bed at 2 am. Not a dripdripdrip leak. it was more like a it's raining cats and dogs on my bed leak. Dean gets dressed and goes to the reception where they informed him that it was bath water and sent him back to wait for the leak to stop, that they will come to fix the problem. Their fix? A few towels and an apology. No new room? No refund? Nothing to ameliorate the situation?

Wow! When the stupid hotel guy came to the room for the third time with that stupid smile on his face to say, oh, dear it hasn't stopped yet, I flipped. You are getting us a new room, because my husband will not be sleeping on a soaking wet mattress. I don't care what you have to do, but you are getting us a new room.
So he looked at me with another smile. Really? Ok! I got on the phone with days inn and booked us the rest of our stay there.

The next day morning we canceled our stay and moved into days inn. Oh, what a joy. Yes, paid internet and paid breakfast, but what a joy not having a leak above our bed. what a joy having windows and no spell of fresh paint! What a true joy!

Today, after we happily dropped our luggage at Days Inn, we headed downtown. Got breakafast at McDonald's and started to walk.

We crossed Millenium bridge and visited a reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe theater. At the theater we grabbed a brunch and guess what drink they had there!!!! Yes, Elderflower soda!!! Then we crossed Millenium Bridge and went to see St.Paul's , where we found out , Lady Di got married.
We climbed the tower all the way up and saw teh cutsie red bus from up there. We took a pciture, but we never made it to the bus.

Before we went anywhere away from downtown, we made it to the Jewel Tower, which no longer has, actually it never has had, the jewels. It was a wardrobe at first, then a customs house, then a place where important documents were kept. The oldest door in England is there.

We hoped on the tube towards the Soho. I wanted to have tea there. We saw this crazy mall that looked like a medieval house. INside I saw some Stella McCartney hats and of course I had to take a pciture with them. And from there, we proceeded to find a tea room. Whew! We did find one! and Just in time for tea! How did we fit all of that in one day? I don't know. After tea, we went for a walk at the Soho Square and saw Paul's company, MPL. We also walked around trafalgar square and Picadilly on our way back. We did a lot today. And we had a nice dinner across the street from our hotel.

A much better day than yesterday. A bittersweet reminder that our vacation is almost over.

Tomorrow we are going to see the real jewels and take a trip along the Thames. I hope tomorrow we do get in the red bus.

Day 15, August 13, Saturday

We were going to see the buckingham palace change of the guard, but we decided that we'd visit Westminster instead, since we might not be able to make it to the changing of the guard at all. We could try to visit BUckingham on Sunday, before we go home. Westminster Abbey, where the Confession of Faith was written; Dean had a fit becayse there was no mention of the confession of Faith anywhere in the abbey, the books or the guided tour. THere was also n mention that king james was buried there.

Today we Crossed the London Bridge. Much to Dean's and mine disappointment, the London Bridge is not that fancy looking one. THe fancy looking one is the Tower Bridge. Well, so we walked to London Bridge, and ate at the anchor, that Dean had seen yesterday on our way to the Globe theater.

Fish and chips. Of course. Can you not eat Fish and CHips in London?

We made it to the Tower of London on time but because we did not buy the guide we had no idea that we should have skipped a bunch of stuff in there to get to the jewels before just when it was closing. Yes, we saw the jewels, but we were being rushed.

Oh, yes, a few days ago, I think back in Street or Hastings I suggestted that Dean had iced cofee, and it turned out it was the only coffee he actually enjoyed here. So two days ago we stopped at a starbucks and got their Frappucino, and I loved it too. Today we got it again! On the way to the tower. I love that thing!

THe jewels! The jewels are so amazing!!! No pictures allowed inside the vault though.

Oh, and we saw one of those British soldiers. The ones that don't blink! We coudl not really get close to him, but we took a picture with him in the back ground and did a small film of him walking. poor thing. I feel sorry for him. Dean says he holds his position as a great honor. I am not so sure about that. But, there's all kind of wacko's in the world, right!

After the tower, we hopped into the Thames Cruise. Oh, so nice!!! OUr guide was very spirited. With him we learned that Big Ben Is not the tower but its lasrgest bell. And Ben is the nickname of the guy who made it, Because his real name was Richard, so Big ... would sound a bit crude ( I am not at all convince this is the reasoning behind the name). We did not make out of there in time for tea, so I guess two tea and scones is everything we get for this UK trip. Oh, dear. TOmorrow we head home.

And yes, we are all packed.

Day 16, August 14, Sunday

We made it to our flight. I was beginning to worry we would not. We headed to Abbey Road early this morning. I took a picture crossing the road. Duh!!!! Of course I took a picture crossing the road. What beatles fan would not!!!!

THen we dropped my book of at MPL and I am crossing my fingers that someone that works there actually gets the book, because I left it at the door, where any one can take it. THey don't have a mail slot and that is probably to avoid wackos like me.

We thought we would be able to make it to Buckingham, but when we got there, they only had tickets for 1 pm. Well, 1 pm is boarding time. Forget it. Disappointment.

We had breakafast at a pub and headed to the hotel to grab our luggage. Good thing we could not make it to Buckingham! We barely made it from the hotel to the airport in time! But we did! And I got in the airplane withut anytrouble because of my maiden name. Tks to the girl back in america who changed my ticket.

This little british boy who got a position as steward's helper of the day keeps passing by us asking us if we have any rubbish. That is so funny. Yesterday we took a piture of a trash can. It had litter written on it! Litter, not trash.

Man, I will miss this place.

Good-bye, Good-bye, I will see you again someday.

Great Britain trip part 7: Hastings and London day 1

Day 12, August 10, Wednesday

We left our Tavern early and headed to the longest driving day yet. We drove all the way to the south coast - to Durdle Door, apparently a very popular beach, not a=only among tourists. But guess what !!! I met a Brazilian there. A Brazilian who's also headed to London tomorrow and who was just on the phone with his cousin who lives there to make sure it was safe.
My cousin said it was safer than ever, he told me. Awesome.

Well, we took pictures at Durdle Door. And by the way, our GPS played a prank on us, becayse the address for durdle door was not at all the address we were supposed to follow. At one point I just told dean to stop blinding following the stupid GPS when the signs on the road were blantantly telling us to go the other way. Goodness gracious!!! GEt a brain!

Anyway, we found it, we took pictures, and I decided I had to try the water. I was under the impression it would be freezing!!! NO! It was not freezing. it was actually warm!!! Seriously! Dean got his sneaker soaking wet, by the way.

We drove along the coast to Southwick, and then to our final stop, Hastings, because along that coast, Paul McCartney supposedly has a recording studio. We did find the studio, and as we were having dinner at this fancied up pub, I heard some tourists mentioning he also had a house there somewhere. Since it was late and we had to go back to our B&B (my favorite B&B so far), we decided the next day would skip Windsor Castle, because I had to find Paul McCartney's home, somehow. I have been trying with my Iphone, locate this place they mentioned. I think I got it. Tomorrow morning! TOmorrow morning we are seeing Paul's home!!!!

Dean was super tired today, because we did so much driving, but it was all worth it! Guess what we found right at the end of the road form our B&B!!! A reliant RObin, those little glass fiber cars with only one wheel on the front! Two of them!!!! Seriously! We took a picutre next to them!

THe place we stay is all medieval themed. Dean is loving it. It really is the bext B&B so far because it also is the B&B with the most privacy so you don't feel like you're right at your host's face.

Day 13, August 11, Thursday

Today was about tied with the most frustrating day of our scotland trip.

Well, I blew it at finding Paul's house. Now that I can check the internet again I see that we drove right by it. I can remember the driveway, but I had no clue it was it. I hate myself. All I wanted was to find an employee or something who would take my book. I am convinced I saw that employee! And I did not know it at the time. I am more than mad, I feel like i dreamed my whole entire life with this day and then I blew it big time. I am a total and complete failure! Dean wanted to go see Glenbogle in SCotland and he spared nothing to do it. He asked around and he undertook a 3 hour walk to make it there. He went and saw what he went there to see. I on the other hand, simply wasted the chance I have dreamed of my whole entire life. I am an idiot.

OK, so we made it to London. We returned the fiesta one day late (I screwed the reservation somehow), so we had to pay for the extra day.
We tried finding our hotel by train, and that was completely useless! A huge waste of time. We finally decided that we should take a cab there. The hotel took our luggage and we finally went on to see London. We did not make it in time to see Westminster, but in the time to get into westmister for the evesong service. We took a picture right in front of Big Ben. and that was all we did for that day. Now, let me tell you about this hotel. It is not nice. Our room has no phone, no window, it's in the basement and it smells like fresh paint. Oh, and it's not even in the same building as the reception. can you imagine if we have to call the reception in the middle of the night? This is ridiculous!!!! But, fine. We're only coming here to sleep anyway. And breakfast is included. and... we have internet.

great-britain trip photo-log part 6: Wales and Scrumpy land

Day 10, August 8, Monday

Today everything was supposed to work just fine. I think We've made enough mistakes during the trip and we have learned how to work together well by now, right?

Well, see, that's where you start getting it all wrong - when you actaully assume that I can learn anything at all.

There is a reason why I schedule things on the days I schedule them when I am planning the trip. THere is a reason for everything in my planning, that's why you don't mess with it.

Bath had been scheduled for Sunday for a reason. On Monday the Georgian House is closed!!!!

Well, Here we go. We leave our tavern in the tiny town of Avebury, we try to spot the Avebury stones on the way, but the paid parking tunred us off, and we figured we really did not have to see those stones. So we headed straight to Bath. The car park (parking lot) however played a nasty trick on us!!! I wouldn't let us put in all the money we had. Just like it happened in Oxford!!! What is it with car parks rejecting tourist money?

Anyway, we had to be back by 5 which ruined any tea plan we might want to make.

We walked to the Circus and to the Royal Crescent. The Circus is a bunch of buildings built in a circle, inspired by the coliseum. The Royal Crescent is a bunch of buldings built in the shape of a crescent moon. With a very interesting seamless wall marking the limits of their garden - to keep out the peasants. IN my picture yu can see the garden from the dwellers point of view and then the place where I am seating is the peasants' area. You can see the wall behind me.

When we tried getting into the museum Royal Crescent #1, nothing but a GEorgian style flat in the Royal Cescent that is open for visitation, we realized it said - not open on Mondays. Darn it! See! That's why you don't mess you my carefully laid out plans on a last minute basis. I am not a very good last minute person.

Well, let's walk. Let's go on to the Museum of Costume that Dean really wanted to see. The Museum of Costume has original clothes from the 1800's till today. Very interesting. We wasted some time looking at movie costumes and the amount of room allocated to 21st century clothing was excessive according to Dean. I especially enjoyed looking at the evolution of the Bridal dresses.

After the Museum of Costume, it was time for lunch. So We grabbed a sandwich and a drink at a small shop and that's when I tried the best soft drink yet. It is called Elderflower. I regret not having taken a picture of it. I hope I find it elsewhere. It's so .... I don't know, flowery?

Anyway, We headed to Bath's Cathedral for a tour of the tower. But not before crossing the bridge over the Avon River, and taking the river path to the Cathedral.

Oh, yes, we are taking the river path. During this walk, we say a Toyta IQ upclose. The tiniest car I have seen yet.

Oh, and this morning we also saw a Fiat Uno!!! At the Parking lot! Oh, I mean car park.

Oooh, then the cathedral! There we climbed up the tower and we took a picture behind the clock and saw the bells. We also got to see the whole town from up above including the Roman Baths, where we would soon be heading.

We got a little Bookmarker as a favor for having climbed all the way up. Oh, then girl that was leading us up asked me if I wanted to take my JUMPAH with me. By JUMPAH, she meant my hoodie. How cold is it? I asked. She said it got quite windy up there and she was often cold herself. Well, well, well, a local saying she is cold! I better bring my JUMPAH with me!

The Roman Baths are the whole reason bath is there, so that 's where we headed next. Why did we make it our final stop? Well, it was the only thing that would be open till late. So there we went. Out pass did not grant us line skipping privileges, so we had to wait like regular people. Darn.

Inside the ROman Baths however, even though touching the water was not allowed, I had a kick out of the thought that in tha very spot ancient Roman citizens walked and went about with their lives, unaware that one day, crazy tourists like us would be intrigued by the remains of their favorite bathing and hanging out spot. We say the belongings and remains of a person who had traveled all the way from Africa to Bath. World-famous Bath, attracting people from all the known continents of the world.

THe end of outr trip was rushed because we had that stupid timer at the parking lot saying we must leave by 5. Five it is! We rushed through the stuff that was meaning less, all the way to the fountain where we could try the actaul bath warm water for free ( I mean, included in the admission that was included in the pass we purchased six months ago).

The water was served in the Pump room, where it was time for tea. Can you believe it! Every tourist in town was having tea at the fancy Roman Bath Pump Room, but we had exactly 17 minutes to make it back to the parking lot, and by the time we got there and back it would be too late for tea. Another day in which tea plans would not work.

We hopped in the car and headed to our next Country - Wales, and the only reason we know we got to Wales was becouse the signs were now in ENglish and Welsh.

Day 11, August 9, Tuesday

Everytime I think about the time that's going by so fast I feel sad. But then I remind myself that worrying about the future is no good when the present is so full of things to enjoy. Yesterday we got to Wales and the place we stayed was my favorite of all motels we've stayed so far. On the way there we stopped and got cash at some shopping plaza where we also got some coffee (whch Dean hated - he has been hating the coffee here in the UK. THey serve some sort of Americano, but Dean says it is just expresso and water. "that is not what we drink in AMerica!" he told the boy back at the Day's Inn in Lanarkshire, much to the surprise of the boy!!!). I got a hot cocoa, and hot cocoa is the same everywhere - none are comparable to the one we make at home with real chocolate.
At that same spot we bought ourselves a new suitcase for deal! TEN POUNDS for a SMALL SUITCASE with wheels.

We visited 2 Castles today. Actually they were the first castles we actually visited since we've started our trip. Oh no! I'm wrong. We did visited the Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness. In Wales we visited the ruins of Caerphilly Castle and the fancy rebuilt Castle Coch. Castle Coch was owned by a very rich mommy's boy in the 1800's who liked the medieval times very much so he paid some highly priced architects to rebuild the castle the way it was supposed to be in the medieval times. It was supposed to be a vacation home for him.

OUr trip to Wales was this short. ON the same day we went back to England and drove into SCrumpy land - Summerset (i think it is a county)

Oh, let me just say that the people at the hotel in Wales were most helpful and friendly. They even didn't mind my ignorant inquire about what language was that in the road signs and started up a conversation about how they learned it in school as a heritage language.

But we left Wales soon nonetheless and drove to Sommerset. OUr tarvern in the town of Street is, of all the Taverns we have stayed, my favorite one. Also the best priced, which greatly influences my liking a place. But the ownner is very friendly and directed us to a place where we could try scrumpy. We tried scrumpy, we drove to Glastonbury and climbed Glastonbury THor, and we even had time to see the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey - another place destroyed by Henry the VIII. What an evil and nasty old man!

Glastonbury THor was the best though. We were told by our hosts that you could see all the way up to wales on a clear day. We have no idea what we saw, but it was one of the neatest places I have been. ALso one of the windiest ones. I was so scared going up! Scared taht the wind would take me away of course!!!! My whole life I always heard my family telling me I 'd better eat some more or a strong wind would carry me away, cuz I was so lightweighted. I am scared of wind alright!!!

On out way back from Glastonbury thor We saw the place where King Arthur Supposedly founf the fountain of youth. BUt they were already closed. See I did not know about this place. So, I could not possibly have planned for it.

But we made it back just in time for Tea at this very very cute tea room. A very traditional looking tea room in a very hippie looking Glastonbury. CRAZYYY, but we gladly stopped by and had tea and scones! Finally!

SInce the Cathedral ruins were still open, we went there to end our trip for that day and made it back to our tavern in time to eat dinner and talk with locals.

They asked us about our trip to London, since everyone is still talking about the riots. I am concerned, yeah, because our hotel is in the Croydon, the place where some of the riots happened. But they said not to worry. It's probably the safest place to be right now. Well, let's see. Tomorrow we are getting breakfast delivered to our room.

great-britain trip photo-log part 5: The Costwolds

Day 8, August 6, Saturday

It's hard to believe we are halfway through our vacation. We've been here for a week. But it is as if I'd been here my whole life. It is like a dream and I can't imagine it otherwise. I try to avoid the thought that soon it will all be over and I must go back home. Back to real life.

Today was a day of mixed feelings.

We drove into Shakespeare's hometown and it was much of the stuff that Dean had expected. Thatched roof houses and stuff.

Again, walking into those places that have been standing there for centuries is so magical. We had lunch at some sort of pub-like place place called The Bell, nearby Ann Hathaway's Cottage.

We found out that Shakespeare married very young for the common marrying age of his social class, because he got his girlfriend Ann pregnant. Teenagers!!! People of Shakespeare's social class used to get married in their late 20's.

We forgot to stop by the church where he is supposed to be buried. Apparently Shakespeare's authorship of his works is not widely-accepted. I had no idea.

Then we headed to Oxford, where we would be seeing Christ Cathedral College, where some of Harry Potter's scenes have been filmed. We would also walk into Alice's Shop, a shop where the real Alice in the Wonderland used to go.

Well, we made the same mistake from Edinburgh. Instead of parking outside the city, we missed the entrance for the [parking lot and drove right into the city. We even made it into a parking garage, but the machine would not take out money. Dean very patiently (as it is characteristic of him) decided we'd not spend another minute there.
So that was all there is to say about Oxford.

So we drive into the Costwolds, a region of quaint medieval towns. The first one we hit was Burton-on-the-water. Such a pretty little town, Dean says!
The funny thing is - the houses look like they could be found at the slums of Salvador!!!! LOLOL

Dean proposed that we had tea and scones. So we proceeded to find a nice little tea room. Well, it was 6 o'clock and all the stores and tea rooms were closing!!!!

Very disappointed we headed to our lodging for the night. A tavern called The New Inn, in the town of Avebury. Avebury is also a medieval town. They have no street names. They still don't have any street names!!!! Can you believe that!!!!

The place, filled with very welcoming people, was in a driveway. And yeah, the place is filled with driveways. That's all the have. A main road, and driveways out of which people's houses are built.

There is internet here, but only in the pub, not up in our rooms.

Tomorrow, we were supposed to go see Stonehenge and Bath, but we have decided to do Bath on Monday instead. We will go to stonehenge, then visit a couple other costwold towns, and maybe we will have time to go to Oxford. ... Oh, who am I trying to trick.

Day 9, August 7, Sunday

So, we saw Stonehenge today. We were going to see the Avebury Stones as well, but it was paid parking and the parking lot did not open till 10 am. Oh, we have better things to do with out time! (or as they say it here, our tame)

At Stonehenge Dean and I lost each other. So we did the only thing we could possibly do. Headed for the car. Dean had the smart idea sooner than me, but that's bc he did not have the smart idea of taking his ticket with him when he decided to go look for the restroom. I mean, the toilet.

So, we headed to this town called Lacock where we had lunch in the second oldest pub in England. It is called The George Inn. There we met a very fun local who happens to have been a DJ for most of his life. We also had pudding for the first time since we've been here. I've been seeing pudding in the menu everywhere I go. We've meant to have it over and over again, but we are always way too full. Well, what happened today was I decided I was going to have it, period!

Then we headed to Castle Combe. On the road to Castle Combe, we had our worst driving experience yet. What happened? Well, in one of those awfully narrow roads, those roads that were made for one sub-compat car only, on a sharp turn, this stupid pickup truck came from the other side at full speed.

Yes, have I mentioned that the speed limit in these f---ing little roads is 60mph? There comes the truck! Dean threw the car over the hedge while I waited for the crash. Since we didn't crash I had enough time to panic and start crying. I officially hate these stupid little roads!

Well, Castle Combe was fantstic. It's a little nothign town, that has changed little, or mayne nothing since the middle ages. Milk is still delivered to the door!!!!

I was hoping to make to Oxford, but Dean really wanted to make it Wendover where some of his mother's family is from. SO we headed to Wendover hoping to make it in time for tea. Well, traffic! We got there an hour later than we expected.

We went over to the church graveyard. Most of the graves were covered by grass and moss. They say in a sign that that is to preserve nature. Well, what about the memory of those people? Who preserves them? I mean, it upsets me to think that under that high grass are the remains of someone who lived and walked on this earth. Who was that person? What is his name? We will never know, because the gravestone is covered by moss. How is that fair? How is that fair to the memory of a human being who once lived among us? Who knows how many people he helped, how many children he raised, how well or badly he chose to use his time. We will never know. It's forever lost under grass and moss.

That's what will happen to all of us someday, isn't it? We will be just a gravestone, covered by grass and moss. No one will care about what we did or who we were.

We ate dinner there and then headed back to The New Inn. It's called new, because 400 years ago, they decided to change that place into an Inn. LOL

Friday, August 19, 2011

great-britain trip photo-log part 4: Scotland

Day 6 - August 4, 2011, Thursday

Today was probably the most frustrating day of this vacation so far.
All the other days have been ok. The fact that we can't complete a whole itinerary has been driving me crazy. But we have been able to get things done and enjoy it.
Today, however, the day that I described to my husband as the one day nothing could go wrong or else everything would go wrong, simply went all wrong.

To start with we left half an hour late and it was raining. I programmed the GPS to take us to Alamo, instead of to the Airport, and that was my first mistake. The GPS took us downtown Edimburgh on a rainy weekday and there was no sign of Alamo. So we forgot about the fact that we wanted to get a new car and simply found parking.

Then we walked to the place where we were supposed to get the passes to get into the castle. basically they made us wait about an hour just to tell us that Edinburgh Castle and Urquhart Caslte were no longer part of it, but they'd be giving us an extra 3 days to our pass. Ok, great! So now we not only have to pay to get into the Edinburgh Castle, but we also have to get into a gigantic line.

No, we gave up on that one, since that would mean we'd see nothing else for the rest of the day.

We went and saw St. Giles Church, where J. Knox used to preach and is buried. We saw his burial place, in parking lot number 23. We had a delicious lunch (smoked salmon meals) at this place called Deacon's House and headed out of Edinburgh to visit 2 castles and and admire 3 other ones from the outside. It took us about 1 hour to be able to leave Edinburgh in the rainy traffic jam.

By the time we hit the road there would be time for only one castle visit. That castle should have been Glamis. But Castle Fraser had ties to Dean's family, so I would not be the one to say "Fraser is too far and we might not make it, let's do Glamis," as much as Glamis was important to me. I had to let him choose. And he chose to skip Glamis and go straight to Fraser.

Bad idea. First of all we had to stop at ASDA to get an aux cable so Dean would not be falling asleep behind the wheel. Then 45 minutes behind a Mack truck. Just what we needed to be there 5 minutes too late.

At that point, I knew exactly what had happened - the whole day of castle visiting was done, and we had visited exactly ZERO castles. Every choice we made on this day was the wrong one. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, on a day that nothing could have gone wrong.

I was done. Done with delays, done with plans followed only halfway through, done with my own incompetence to just stick to the perfect plan i had spent I year working on. A year of hard work and dream ended here - on nothing.

That's what was going through my mind when I fell apart and started crying. Frustration. The kind of frustration that comes from knowing you had planned everything so perfectly and failed miserably in its execution. And the knowledge that this was your one shot at it. This day, the chance to visit those castles will never come again. That was it. And I had to drag my husband along with me, in my perfectly flawed vacation.
that's what was going through my head when I stood there and cried like a baby.

NO. I did not want to. I did not want to cry in front of my husband and make him feel like somehow it was his fault. But when all those things go through your mind as in an instant flood, along with all the little failures to follow the plan from all the previous days, the tears just come . And it's silly to think you'll be able to hold them back.

We went to 2 more castles. And we took pictures and you'll see me smiling in them. Just on the outside. And just because I refuse to ruin my pictures. Inside I was destroyed. But I would not let anyone who ever sees our pictures see that.

We arrived at our B&B in Nairn. All the buildings here and in most of the Scotland we have seen are made of stone. Some sort of yellowish stone. Huge pieces of stone.

We had a nice dinner ( I had salmon risotto, but Dean went for some different thing in the menu) and I had a WDK blue, which I was introduced to at that place in Liverpool. It's a yummy drink.

It was nice arriving at such a warm place as this one we're staying. It makes me hope that tomorrow things start to get better.

Day 7 - August 5, 2011, Friday

We left home a week ago. It's hard to imagine. It's also hard to imagine how yesterday was such a crappy day and today pretty much everything went so well. We drove along the Loch Ness and visited the Urquhart Castle. We were not going to get in, but ended up doing so. It's not a full working castle. Just the ruins of what used to be one.

We tried to spot Nessie. Then we drove to the place where Monarch of the Glen was filmed. We walked 3 miles there and back just so Dean could have a glimpse of the castle, since we could not get in (people actually live there, so we didn't even get really close, in order not to bother them.).

Well, 6 miles totals about 2.5 hours, so my plan of still taking a chance at Glamis went out the window.

We did drive through the highlands, and no, no sheep herds crossed the roads in front of us, but the beauty of the place was breath-taking. I wanted to simply bow down and worship the Lord for such an amazing creation.

We stopped at Glasgow and got a new car! We got a Fiesta diesel.
We stopped for dinner at the same place we'd slept the night we drove up from Liverpool. It was quite a coincidence. Dean Mentioned the kid that served him yesterday morning was surprised to see us back. NO wonder. It is a rest spot! How often do you see the people driving by?
Then we drove into England and the place we're sleeping tonight (a Day's Inn) has internet. Again, it's just a bit too late for me to be able to enjoy it.
Tomorrow we drive down to Shakespeare's hometown.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

great-britain trip photo-log part 3: Liverpool and the Lake District

Day 5 - August 3, 2011, Wednesday

It's been really hard to understand people here. Irish people have an accent that is really hard to understand. Hoase for house, dewn for down and other words I could not identify.

Well, it's midnight and we are spending the night at this Days Inn at a rest spot. They have internet here, but it's so late that it's hard to do anything on it at all with a clear mind. I am lucky if I am able to utter intelligible words after midnight.

Ok, by the time we are done with our vacation, I will want to stay away from rotaries, narrow streets, and speed cameras. They have been driving me crazy.

Dean says he does not mind the rotaries so much. Well, if you think about it, it's not really a terrible thing. But I do think they overuse it here. Gee, these people do not know what an intersection is, do they?

oh, another thing that's wierd! There was absolutely nothing telling us that we had entered N. Ireland or Ireland. And while they stamped our passport on the way in to Ireland, they did not do it on the way back into England. I don't get it!

Oh, any way! Let's get to the news of the day:

Today we spent the day in Liverpool. We drove to George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon's childhood homes. Then we walked to St. Peter's Church, where Paul and John first met. I think John was 15, or Paul was...

We walked to Strawberry Fields and drove through Penny Lane. We wanted to see Ringo's childhood home, or the schools they went to bc it was getting late and I wanted to make it to the Cavern Club.

Before The Cavern though we visited the Beatles Story Museum and took the tour. I did it more for Dean than for me, since I pretty much know everything about the Beatles history. When we were done, just outside the Museum we found those Range Rovers playing in the water.

I enjoyed being in Liverpool, being able to imagine what it was like for Paul, John, George and Ringo to grow up there, walking in those very same streets we were.

I am not the kind of person that thinks it's this magical thing to step on the same place SO-AND-SO stepped. I see nothing special about touching the same objects SO-AND-SO touched. It's not magical or special. If I cared about that I would be collecting objects touched by Paul McCartney and be excited just because I was in the same building he was when I tried to get into SNL. But no, I don't care about that. I might tell you that if I shake hands with Paul, I will never wash my hands again, but you bet I am joking.

But I love history and I love thinking about how history happened just because it happened. I love being in places that are historical. I love imagining that so many years ago this Paul I really like was a little boy in those same streets and lived his life there not having a clue that we would care so much about him someday. There is something magical about being in a place of historical value and trying to feel the weight of that history, trying to imagine those lives that once were there.

Paul really walked along Penny Lane. That street was so influential in his life he wrote a song about it. John really used to go to Strawberry Field as a little boy, and he recalled it so well that he wrote a song about it. About 55 years ago those two boys met in that St.Peter's Church backyard and they had no idea how important that meeting was.

To me it was magical being there, in the same places where history happened. Unfortunately I had to keep reminding myself of what was really happening, because I could not grasp it just yet. Maybe when I get home I will. Maybe I will kick myself for not having understood what this meant today.

After the Beatles Story (where I bought a Beatles T and a lunch pale, while Dean used the internet at Starbucks), we headed to Cavern Club and accidentally found The Grapes, the club where the young Beatles would hide from their fans and have a drink (since the Cavern was not allowed to sell alcohol). I took a picture of a picture that was taken in a corner there, but I could not sit in the corner myself, because this fat old man was sitting there taking his sweet time. I was so mad!!!!!

At the Cavern I found out that Paul McCartney went there a few years ago and the place held 300 lucky fans. And I also found a shirt singed by.... PELÉ!!!!

The street Cavern and Grapes are on is called Matthew Street. Everything on Matthew Street breathes Beatles. They really market it.
We had lunch/dinner at a pub in that street, called the Irish Pub and then headed to the Lake District.

Dean really wanted to see small cities in the Lake District, because some of the cities there were listed as the top ten most charming cities in England. So we picked one that was in the heart of the Lake District and GPS'ed it. The city name was Keswick. Unfortunatelly it was getting dark already, but there was enough light to enjoy some of the beauty of that quaint little place. The Lake District is a great place to spend a holiday if you live in England. Just rent a house there or go camping.

I think my grandma would love it there. The houses are made of some sort of greyish stone and they have flowers hanging form windows. The whole place just looks elegantly old-fashioned. A must-do for anyone who loves charming places. I can't quite figure out what to do during the day though. Do you go swimming?

Today we drank Red Bull in order to make it to the motel. We've been on Red Bull since Ireland, in order to be able to arrive places in one piece.

Oh, this morning we had an issue with the car rental.
See, when we left Liverpool to go to Ireland, the rental place was closed and so we just left the keys in the car, right?
They thought we simply had not returned the keys. Well, when we said what we did, the guy was horrified at us. Would you do that if it were your car? As a matter of fact I do that all the time when I leave my car at the mechanic, replied my husband.
Anyway, so they give us again, what we did not ask for - a Corsa. But we ordered a micro! Oh, but we are all out of micros, sorry!

Can I tell you that the experience at the Hertz rental place in Ireland was one bugillion times better than both Alamo experiences so far? I am so pissed at Alamo, it's not even funny! And he was lecturing us on where to leave the keys, when they gave us no instruction as to what to do with them!!!!! And he looked at us and said that a compact car and a micro car get the same mileage bc it's got the same engine!!! Well, congratulations on your amazing thinking! It's a larger car, so the engine has to work harder, but it does not matter, does it!

At Hertz, in Ireland, we were helped by a trainee who told us every little thing we could possibly need to know including what to do about tolls and how to return the car!!!!!

Oh, the fact that we paid for a micro and got a compact was not the only problem! Nor the terrible knowledge of the teller about mileage, or the fact that he lectured us.

The freaking Corsa's gear box is busted. Tomorrow morning we are driving right into Edinburgh's airport, and, before we go anywhere, we are getting a new car from Alamo.