This is Edinburgh.

I walked the length of the Royal Mile twice today. Edinburgh Castle. St. Giles Cathedral. Street performers. Waves and waves of tourists. Scottish Parliament Building. Tartan shops with names like, "Thistle Do Nicely." Holyrood Palace. At the end, I shook the tourist out of me and just wandered. (For a good couple of hours.) The guidebook I've been reading since June is so right: Edinburgh is a wanderer's paradise. Every street is storybook material, and at least eight times today I have done a double-take, walked back about ten paces to marvel at the thing that is the "close". (Advocates Close is my favourite.) They are tiny alleyways that lead off a main road, down a flight or two of stairs, and onto another main road, side street, or courtyard. For the incurably curious such as myself, this city satisfies like no-place else. Favourite find of the day: "The Old Children's Bookshelf" on Canongate off the Royal Mile. I spent a good hour and a half in this wonderful lady's shop, browsing (astonished, overwhelmed, hushed) through gorgeous, antique copies of books. Shirley is the only person I've ever talked to who has as much random knowledge of rare childrens books as I. Maybe this little shop is my 65-year-old self's destiny? Hope so.

On another note, I tried IRN-BRU today. This is the neon orange Scottish beverage that has so intrigued me for months and months and months. Is it orange-flavoured? Is it like candy? Is it really that bright? Okay, well. It tastes like bubble gum. Or does it? Either way, the Scots seem to love the stuff like it's divine nectar. I will give them credit for their funny ads, though. Hee.

So tired. Need to rest up and get me strength for to-morrow.


This is kind of what it looks like.


I just...my heart is overwhelmed.

Scotland is an incredible country with some of the warmest people I've come across. Also, thanks to the hundred plus hours I've spent listening to Scottish music, I have been well prepared for the accent. Except for Glaswegian. I have come across one or two little old men from Glasgow at bus stops who I simply could not understand. The lady is an embarrassment, but I thought this was a pretty funny example.

I've spent a few days in Edinburgh, taking a seaside break on Sunday for St. Andrews and the tiny fishing town of Crail. The train ride out from Edinburgh, over the Firth of Forth and through Fife was gorgeous. Baaaagh (a favorite exclamation), the past two days have just been incredible. The sheer nature of it all has completely floored my ability to capture just how magical this place is; whether it is with camera or pen, I am incapable.

I can't wait to tell you stories and show you photographs from this incredible place...once I get it together.

P.S. If you want to look like most Scottish girls you just have to wear lots of makeup, comb all your bangs over to one side, reach for your nearest Urban Outfitters catalog, and dress accordingly. No leather jacket? No tight denim pants that are actually the same fabric as pantyhose? Oops. Men, however, need just to take notes from him. I say!


Nottingham, England.

"Robin Hood and Little John walkin' through the forest, oo-de-lally oo-de-lally..."

....stuck in my head all day as I'm walking through a fairly modern city. But I couldn't help it, because the streets had names like "Friar Lane" and "Maid Marian Way". It's not uncommon to see a very traditional English building next to an avante-garde, modern European business complex. The mix of architectural styles threw me off a bit at first, but I think it adds to its charm. Nottingham is historical, yes, but it is also a hub of England's intellectual advancement. At least, this is what the brochures for Nottingham Trent University told me (the real reason I was in Nottingham today, as big a fan of Robin Hood as I am). The university itself felt like SPU--not in its setup as much as in the way it falls short in comparison to other schools. It is a very good school, no doubt, but lacks the prestigious appeal that universities such as Cardiff and Edinburgh. It wouldn't hit me that I'm studying in the UK walking into their library--not quite like I've dreamed. But, I really like the city. It is definitely a university city much in the same way that Timisoara is for Romania; it carried the same air as I walked about.

So, I've spent a sum total of 8 hours on trains today, so I am going to bed to rest up for tomorrow's adventure.

P.S. The train attendants here like to call you things like "Love" and "Lovely" and "Dear" and "Darling" and "Sweetheart". I like them, especially the sweet lady on the way to Manchester Oxford Road who looks and sounds like Mrs. Potts.


Sycamore Gap along Hadrian's Wall, the piece my camera couldn't capture. Only the grass today was greener and the sky much more grey with about 20 minute intervals of sun. Altogether beautiful. Altogether good for the soul.

These are some of the best things I've heard all day:

"Best let it go! It'll only go up!"- Man walking by me as I'm clutching my scarf and making my way through some windy wind.

"Mind your toes, now. I'm not a very good driver." - Little old lady in a pub scooting past me with her walker.

Also, British greetings:

Hey-o. Hi-o. Thanks, hey. Mornin', hey! Afternoon, hey! Lovely day! Cheers.

Ohhh I just love it here. I thought about this all day.


A review, if you will.

Today I took a pink-and-purple-and-blue bullet train through the greenest countryside I've ever seen. There are crumbling old walls going every which way and clouds that hang so close to the earth you can feel them on your shoulders (in a good way).
Today I stepped off Platform 2 and into the Wilson Home on Warwick Road. I have a view of a nice yard of hydrangeas looking over a bowling green. (The grey team is really good).
Today I had the best scone of my life made by a dear woman at John Watt & Son. It seems every shop in Carlisle is owned by some somebody and their son(s).
Today I ran into about 8 people walking on the right side of the sidewalk. Keeping left is hard.
Today I paid in pounds and tuppence. A pair of hot pink shoes for £ 2, with which I will walk along Hadrian's Wall to-morrow.
Today's dinner was fish and chips with malt vinegar and garlic mayonnaise. When in Britain...

Did I mention my room is purple?

P.S. Camera photographs will have to wait until after the trip. I forgot my USB cable. Oops!


I love, love, love that it is raining on the seventh day in August. You can barely hear it; it's something like white noise. Looking out the window you see it fall in minuscule drops, a constant outflow like static. The smell mingles with the familiar scent of peppermint brewing in my tea--but today it is all the more befitting. I spend my grey afternoon planning a trip-for-one to the United Kingdom. Rail pass, notebook, prospectus, and guidebooks strewn about as I scribble down names of places that will soon become stories with photographs and journal entries and conversations; it's quite unreal.

Photo, Andy Monaghan


"Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over."
F. Scott Fitzgerald


Riches of life.

I have a whole box and about 10 digital files of unpublished photographs. A friend back home encouraged me to share what I capture, and I am only now starting to believe her. Why do I keep these things to myself? From now on, I will try to archive my adventures photographically. First, there is much catching up to do; I woke up this morning and uploaded an entire box of film photographs onto my computer. Here are some favorites from my post-graduation road trip home with Tia. And the rest you'll find conveniently displayed on Facebook.