Thursday, March 27, 2008

Map - Friend or Foe?

I love my maps these days. Having recently been introduced to Google Earth, I thought it might be time to chart some adventures on a map...

View Larger Map

If all is working correctly, you should be able to enlarge, navigate, and click on the tacks for 'Fast Facts' although you may have to zoom for this to work. In this trial for my trip to Amsterdam last May, I've linked the blog entries.

What do we think... friend or foe? Might try to develop a tab functionality...?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Monday

To my mind, Easter came earlier than usual this year. Somehow I even managed to miss out on my favorite chocolate treat - Cadbury cream eggs.

After some investigation, I learned that Easter is based on the cycles of the moon - about 14 days after the first full moon closest to the vernal equinox, to be exact. Strictly speaking this can be anywhere between 22 March and 25 April in Western Christianity. Confused yet? This year the first full moon was 21 March, with the vernal equinox the previous day. So, Easter was the following Sunday, 23 March. The last time Easter was this early was 1913... And it won't be repeated for a whopping 220 years - 23 March 2228. So a bit of history in the making. For those of you living in the New World - Easter Monday is an official holiday in the UK!

A few more fun factoids for this Easter Monday evening...
1) The traditional act of painting eggs is called Pysanka.
2) The word Easter comes from Eostre - an Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn.
3) The first chocolate egg was made in 1873 by Fry's.
4) About 90 million chocolate bunnies are produced annually. Apparently, 76% of us prefer to eat the ears first.

I'll leave you with two Easter egg pictures (follow the links) from my good foodie friend, NamiNami in Estonia. She has created the most beautiful colored eggs with natural dyes:
Happy Easter
Marbled Eggs

Those of you watching the passport saga, hold on to your knickers. While I was in London, it appears the Home Office decided to return my precious. The Royal Mail have subsequently misplaced the package... Blue gnome became red gnome in a hurry on Saturday morning. Stay tuned - the district manager is going to be listening to a rather irate customer tomorrow morning.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ides of March

Traditionally, the Ides of March is 15 March and synonymous with impending doom (a la Julius Caesers' assassination). Well, it hasn't been all that bad... Thus far March has come in like a lion, though. After days of damp and hail, the skies opened to present this breathtaking scene. Can you spot the double rainbow?

The Roaming Gnome has been on a PR charm offensive over the past few weeks visiting exotic locals ranging from the dreik 'Athens of the North' to the foggy 'Merchant City' and the steely 'Granite City' (Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, respectively.). Aberdeen piccies should be forthcoming. =)

Tomorrow sees me off to London on my quasi-annual arts get-away. The last time I visited (2005), I arrived just as the Underground was being bombed for a second time, so understandably a little put off by the experience. I remember the remarkable resolve of those Londoners I spoke with about their experiences of terrorism and find myself wondering about the new security measures of our age and George Orwell's predictions in 1984.

For the readership, there have been a few upgrades to The Roaming GnoME over the past few weeks hopefully making it easier to track my adventures. Now that the kinks have been worked out, I am proud to announce the introduction of a subscription service! If you follow the link on the right just under the About Me box you'll receive a wee note whenever I update my blog. It seems to be working well so go ahead, give it a go! =)

Right-ey oh. Best get those train tickets booked before the price goes up anymore. Catch you at the weekend.

Monday, March 03, 2008

What Am I Reading?

As it seems this gnome is stuck in rubber cement, I'm living vicariously for the moment through a few new found friends. I thought I'd take the opportunity to introduce you to their travels until mine resume in a few months time.

1) Euros Ate My Dollars
Meet Ben and Brittany, two 25-year-olds from Virginia. (Oh, to be 25 again... Wait a minute, that wasn't a good year!?!?) They left the good ole US of A on 5 September 2007 for Europe. After wintering with horrible exchange rates they have recently landed in SE Asia. Their blog is full of funny stories, interesting factoids, pictures, and VIDEOS. They are doing a fabulous job of documenting the highs and lows of youngens travel. My favorite bit is the map page. So often I find myself surfing the web with one window reading a blog and another with an atlas. Ben and Brittany have kindly charted their journey round to help you out.

2) TravelBlog: D MJ Binkley
Friends of my dear mum, Dave and Merry Jo quit their jobs, sold their house, and took off on 16 September 2007. (Gotta love the wanderlust.) After a 'great American road trip' they headed to SE Asia, New Zealand, and are currently in Australia. Their blogs are information packed and touching (although I doubt I could afford to stay in hotels like they can). I loved the 'vacation from a vacation' story as I remember feeling that a few years ago when I was Eurailing through Switzerland and Austria (sometimes you have to be still to take it all in). And, like Ben and Brittany they have a map function.

3) Scotfoto
Looking for views of Scotland on a daily basis (and to find more reasons why I've been so enchanted by it over the past 6+ years)? Check out Scotfoto. He is a wonderful photographer working in Edinburgh and environs publishing new image almost daily. Great with a morning cuppa!

4) Vagabonding
And last, but certainly not least, is Mike Pugh's Vagabonding. Although his trip occurred in 2002/2003 I have been fascinated by his stories of Africa.

The great thing about all of these is they have subscribe features so you can have the URL e-mailed right to you when there is an update.

Interestingly, the stories I am following are from Americans. I was recently horrified when I read that less than 30% of the population of the United States have a passport. My spirits were raised significantly when I tumbled upon these stories of exploration-in-progress. Being an ex-pat myself, it is hard to imagine, and currently be, without my passport. I'm glad to see that new friends as well as my high school and college buddies are all taking the opportunity to live life to its fullest.

Update: In my previous post I mentioned heading to Greece. It is most certainly a go as soon as my papers return. I welcome any thoughts or recommendations...