Wednesday, April 25, 2007


After the traumas of hiring a car and getting out of town, we found ourselves in the rolling, green pastures south of Edinburgh known as the Scottish Borders. The stretch of the A72 between Peebles and Melrose is particularly pretty as it winds along the River Tweed in the warmth of early spring – buds just on the trees, little moos and bahs bouncing around the field, unwinding tourists like myself driving at 45 in a 60…

Melrose, one of the prettiest and best preserved market towns in the Borders, is both the birthplace of Rugby Sevens as well as home to one of the finest remaining abbeys in the region.

This red sandstone beauty was built by Cistercian monks in 1136 in their search for a tranquil setting to adapt the Benedictine order. I continue to find myself baffled by the ploy they used to “employ” local Scots – one meal a day in winter, two in summer, and a stone bed to sleep in. Since when are locals unable to survive off the land? With the turmoil of the 14th century, the abbey was burned down at least three times and later became the final resting place of Robert the Bruce’s heart.

And who says the Scots can't do buttresses? (Admittedly, the main stonemason was French.)

From the top of Melrose Abbey looking N/NE towards the Eildon Hills. (No this photo was not retouched in PS... it was really that pretty and blue.)

My mum spotted this delicate specimen stranded in the dark stairwell leading to that fabulous view. Struggling due to the coolness, I rescued him before he was trampled by rampaging kiddlings.

This is my first entry in find the bagpiping gargoyle quest... As you'll see in upcoming posts, they are everywhere in Scotland. Can you spot the bagpipes this piglet wields?

Despite the centuries of erosion, these carvings continue to maintain their awe as the shadows approach...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Malt Shovel

Fancy a dram? Need to surf the net? Give The Malt Shovel on Cockburn Street a try. Lovely green pub with a real homey sort of feel, great live music, and over 80 whiskies to sample its a fantastic place to update ones blog and catch up with friends. Or, if you're like the gnome, make new ones... I was waiting for a mate last night when a number of chaps asked if I could help them out. They were having a quiz night and needed the 13 footie teams with double names. What's a gal with WiFi to do?

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Where has the roaming gnome been roaming? Well, it seems my company from Western Washington were keen to see a bit of Scotland... via 4 wheels.

After reserving an automatic from Enterprise on the web, I was gun ho about driving on the wrong side of the road! But, in true gnome fashion, life threw us a curve. When I arrived at Enterprise, promptly at 9am, there was only one attendant and the office was swamped. An hour later reinforcements arrived, but my precious automatic drove off the lot as they printed my contract. Reluctantly, and a foot stomp later, I hired a manual Ford Fiesta (with the optional damage waiver and a 30% discount for the hassle) having never driven a manual before in my life. (As way of an explanation for my European cousins, Americans get a drivers license with which you can drive any type of vehicle – manual or automatic.)

Twenty minutes later, I managed to get the car started and out of the lot. We were off! I only killed the car a few dozen times in town that first day. Ten days later, the car still had a working clutch and even my mum was impressed with my skill!

We roamed quite a bit – over 710 miles to places like: Melrose and the abbeys, Borders in general, Fife & St. Andrews, Stirling/Killin/Loch Lomond, and Rosslyn chapel. These long days hopefully explain the delay in posts. My company was here from 1-15 April; I’ve spent the past week recuperating. Happily, all this roaming has provided a deep portfolio of photos for upcoming posts...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Warm fuzzies

I'm starting to think it may be a universal truth that wherever I live I'll find the zoo... Pink flamingos for Dad.
Is that a small child?
20oC is to warm, turn down the heat!
Company's favorite critter.
My favorite critter.
Think monster trucks rumbling by... Wonder what got into these two besides the spring weather? Awe twitterpaited...
Last year Edinburgh sponsored the CowParade, a charity event. Around 100 'moos' were decorated and placed around town. After ten weeks, those still standing were auctioned and the funds donated to two charities - OneCity (local poverty group) and VetAide (animal health and welfare in the third world). Luckily, this marvel found his way home.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

To market, to market...

As a present, my company arrived with the sun on Sunday!

Once a month, Fredrick Street (Edinburgh, Scotland) becomes a traveling market. Barkers from Holland, Germany, Spain, and Southern France display their wares in hopes of impressing the punters… Makes for wonderful street theatre!