Friday, February 17, 2012

What's so great about Great Britain? I'll tell ya!

 Hello everyone! I finished my stay in Edinburgh with a romp around the city with David and Brigid. They led me into a room with my eyes closed until I reached my destination. They told me to open my eyes, and there she was...DOLLY, the cloned sheep! I was definitely star struck. As a self-professed science geek, it was an honor to meet her. If you don't know who I am raving about, please visit

 This National Museum of Scotland was amazing! There were so many things to marvel at, but soooo much to see. I was told that when I visit London's Museum of Natural History...I would get to see more and then some. Such a brain-full.
I'll be your candle on the waaaaaaaaateeeeeeeeerr!
 One of the many things "Scots invented"...they claim to have come up with literally everything. I don't question it, because it is fun to indulge them.
While we were strolling down the street, we heard bagpipes in the distance. This is not an unusual occurrence, however these pipes were getting closer. We turned around and saw a father escorting a bride through the city behind a piper. She looked bashful but obliging :)

I have always been fascinated with cemeteries. I've never really seen them as eerie. It always seemed sweet to me that most graveyards were just outside a village chapel or cathedral. Citizens enjoyed having their loved ones nearby. I think it's a lovely idea. But...ask me again when accidentally walk through a graveyard at night by myself. I will most likely think it is still lovely as I briskly run as fast as I can away from the vampires.
I remember when Sherry Talley (my brother's godmother) hosted the Whiteside children at her house in San Angelo. She took us to the cemetery and took pictures of us playing around the headstones. She was integral in teaching us that these are just places where loved ones are laid to rest.

 We had a lovely euro-picnic next to the Holyrood palace (the Queen's house in Scotland facing the park. We dined on cheese, baguettes, and fruit while we watched the owners play with their dogs at the base of Arthur's seat.
Here is said 'seat'.
David and I in front of some of the Parliament's thinking pods. I can't believe how long we have been friends. We started in pre-school at Westminster, served as student body officers together at Lubbock High, to visiting him and his wife in their lovely home in Scotland. LOVE IT!
This is where we watched my first Rugby match on TV: Italy vs. England
The sentiment David shared with me about Rugby loyalties goes "I go for Scotland and any team that plays England."
Here we are at the Cabaret Voltaire, and underground music venue where Brigid had a gig with a band she plays with every now and then. David and I were the best cheerleaders for Brigid and the band she was playing with...obviously. These are Red Stripe tall-boys that we ordered. I was so excited! I have never seen these before in tall-boy cans. Sooooo we bought two's just more efficient to not have to go to the bar during the whole set. Work smarter not harder, I say.

 Here is Brigid (far left) rocking that accordion. She interjected with yodeling between songs. BRILLIANT! (As they say)
 I made my way down to Bristol, where the Jervis-Battilega's live. I nannied for this family in Norman and Tulsa, OK. It was so great to see them and have them show me Britain. This is a photo of Eudaemone and I playing with English fancy hats when were supposed to be shopping for valentine's gifts for the kids. I am dying to go to a British wedding so that I can rock a ridiculous frock with hat!

Unfortunately, the family had been hit by a super mutant plans were altered. Eleison (10) and I stole away from the house for the day to visit the city of Cardiff in Wales. We visited Cardiff Castle (pictures below).

 Archer's fire!
I heart moats.

 I was successful in archery at Camp Longhorn...but I'm not sure I would be able to handle this profession back in the day. I would've been a better horse wrangler.

Inside the fort.
 View of the Cardiff Castle apartments with the giant rubgy stadium in the distance.
 Who sees the giant key?

 Eleison, the conqueror!
 Super cool stain glass (just humor me). Depicted here are Richard III and Elizabeth of York, King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, and I forget the last one...oops.
 When I look at the roof of this room, one word comes to mind...exquisite. I cannot imagine working on this ceiling. My mother painted a mural in our bathroom when we were growing up to look like you were standing in a striped cabana on the beach looking out on our family. I had to assist in painting the ceiling. It was awful and painful and I almost didn't make it....these people amaze me.

 Your typical, run-of-the-mill fireplace. Available at your local IKEA.
 Octagon staircase. We were forbidden to see it, which made me want to break through that velvet rope that was taunting me. I was sure I would find something very 'Angels and Demons-eque' that I could solve in a short 1hr 45min film.

The detail!!! Again, I hope that I continue to stand with mouth and eyes gaping at the marvelous decorative details and not become jaded by ALL of the beauty that surrounds me.

could've just swapped out the "wife glass."
Ah, the FALCONRY! This was so awesome. Please attempt to read the plaque below. At each castle there was an assigned 'Falconer'. My brother, Tom, and I are enamoured with the falcon and all of it's strength and skill. It is a way the we empower each other in particular life challenges. I dedicate this section of bird photos to my Falcon brother. Caw CAW! Caw CAW! Miss you :)

Sleepy Hedwig.

Detail! What time is it? Oh, just look for the colorful and ornate time piece. It definitely makes you want to tell the original residents of the castle "Get over yer'self already, mates!"
When Eleison grows up, he either wants to be a rock star, movie star, or spy gadget inventor.
Eleison and I took a break from exploring Cardiff city centre to go see Big Miracle. It was wonderful!
This is Epiphany (3), she was also hit hard by the mutant virus. Earlier this day, she was running around playing and then all of a sudden crashed on the couch. I managed to capture this tuckered-out tike.
Once Ondinea was feeling better, we escaped to historical Bath for the day. This is a closed garden that you have to PAY to get into. Again, get over yourself, Britain.
Here is an intensely grandiose water fountain. Literally, this ENTIRE sculpture is to dispense water.
Puttin' out the vibe in Bath.

You can take pictures of street performers if you give them a coin. Because I am still learning my British pounds, (because I got so used to Euro coins) I gave him a POUND! Ugh. Kills me. The UK is sooo expensive. Even Rick Steves says that once you leave Britain, everything becomes cheaper.
Ondinea and I went to a tea and sandwich shop called Mad Hatter's. This is Ondinea in the Queen's chair.
The tiny tiny shop is only big enough for three small square tables to fit snugly next to one another. Along the beams of the ceiling are hung tea pots, and the walls are covered with antique drawings of Alice in Wonderland's famous tea party. I ordered a chicken pesto sandwich. The Brits butter EVERYthing. Imagine butter with your pesto ;)
The quirky outdoor furniture. A giant tour bus unloaded in front of the shop while we were eating. We saw stereotypical "Americans" step out with their Harley Davidson hats and American Eagle sweatshirts. Ondinea said "They're definitely tourists...they're wearing color."
This was the main event. The Roman Empire stretched very far north, even to Britain. I believe they civilized Aquae Sulis around 67 A.D.

The "social network" of the 1st century.

Thermal vents have ALWAYS been the height of fashion.
They pieced together remnants of the entrance to the Minerva's temple. Here is basically what we learned about the symbolism of the design.
For my anatomy friends: Studying this skeleton was very interesting. Most of the bones looked exactly as ours, however, the lumbar vertebrae were huge. Also, the metatarsals were big and thick and the phalanges were super tiny. Intriguing.
Eudaemone told me that the triplet of women pops up all over the history of Celtic and Druidic societies. It reminded her of the three witches from Macbeth. Fascinating!

So notes that were carved or imprinted on metal were left at the temple. These photos show petty complaints or grievances that the accuser would like to be punishable by death. For example: stealing gloves, speaking offensively at the baths, taking a bathing tunic that wasn't theirs, etc.

Ominous head of Minerva. This was found hundreds of years later on a street nearby. Most of the artifacts that were recovered were found in the spring.

The source of the sacred pool.
Physics undt history! Yah!
The drain with all of the ancient dirty Roman bath water :)
At the bottom of the bath, they found stones that must've been loosed from jewelry. Each gem is hand carved (gems on the left, enlarged version on the right) with a pastoral scene or a depiction of gods.
I love this girl! We had the most fun on our girly day date.
Playing a Roman at the baths.
Pondering life.
How warm is it?

This was the "cold plunge." People have thrown coins in it? Silly tourists.

After a while, officials of Aqaue Silus separated the Women's spa from the Men' poopers.
All I could think about is taking a sample of this water. How cool is it that water is not created but reused?? We are still using water that was used by Dinosaurs, great Emperors, and our earliest settlers (this is the positive side to this idea...I'm sure you can infer the not-so-positive side of this idea).
We ended the day at the smallest pub in Bath (pronounced: baaahhh-th).

When we returned home, we found a soup dragon.

I love this family.

So I leave tomorrow for London. I have a loose itinerary to work from. I have a lot of things to see, and after that I plan to meet some couchsurfers in the area to have a drink and share travel stories.
Then I am off to Paris on Wednesday!! I am hoping for some sunshine...I'm about done with the grey, gloomy UK. Insert Beatles song: Here comes the sun.

Thanks for sharing this trip with me, my loved ones. I hope all is well in every one's world. Please send me notes about how you are and what is going on in your worlds!

Travel soundtrack artist of the week: Bob Dylan
(Please send me music suggestions as well)

With all the love in my hobo-heart, 


  1. Looked at every picture, read every word, "walked and sight-saw" with you, and so enjoyed seeing & reading about how much fun you were having with your beloved friends. Fantastic! Your pictures are superb and your commentary is the best. Enjoy London and take lots of pics to share. Can't wait for Paris!

  2. Although you are having what appears to be a BLAST, I know those kids had even more fun seeing you. You just have a way with them! Here's to some sun on your next stop! :)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Here comes the sun and hot Frenchmen! -Nevin