Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ABC Wednesday--G

G is for George.

Do you know George?

Everyone should know George. You can meet him and read about some of his antics at Finding Life Hard. His people are pretty cool, too.

We visited George, Liz, and Mike in Wales. It was one of the  highlights of our trip.

George was a bit upset that he didn't get to help take us to the station.

George is out of sequence in the story of our trip, but perfectly in sequence for ABC Wednesday's arrival at the letter G. See what else starts with G at ABC's link site.

Hadrian's Wall

Back in the year 122, the Emperor Hadrian traveled to the limits of the Empire to check things out. Rather than try to expand further, he decided that it would be wise to consolidate and strengthen the existing expanse of Roman territory. Visiting Roman England, he ordered that a wall be built--to keep the barbarian Picts from crossing into the Empire and making mischief.
You see, there was trouble from the Scots even then. My Scots husband had no trouble going down the steep hill on this portion of the wall trail. Myself, I was scooting down one stepping stone at a time on my seat.

The wall stretched from the Irish Sea on the west to the North Sea on the east--about 73 modern miles. From Carlisle to Newcastle--from the River Solway to the River Tyne--portions of the wall are still intact and the route of the wall makes up the popular trail.
It was eight to ten feet wide and 15 feet high. In a few portions of the path, you actually walk ON the wall, not just beside it.
It was not just a wall. Small forts called milecastles were built into it every Roman mile. There were gates opening to the north (not everyone on that side was feared.)
And several large forts were built as well.
the ruins of Houseteads--one of the larger forts

Since the Hadrian's Wall Path shares itself with sheep pasture, there are some means of keeping them in place. These gates do not assume that everyone will remember to close the gate behind them. And in some places, instead of a gate, there is a stile.
We hiked along just a few miles of Hadrian's Wall. We would like to go back to walk more of the wall and see the ruins of the Roman town of Vindolanda, where civilian artifacts have recently been found, including typical letters home.

Monday, August 30, 2010


We didn't have to range too far to see some of the sights of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Our hotel was just half a block from the station--indeed, our window looked over the station but the room was quiet.  Not so the streets on a Saturday night. We'd been told that Newcastle was the in place for a weekend party, and there was a lot of partying going on about. We were ready to hit the sack, though, so after a meal, we waited till the morning to have a good look around. Just down the road to the right, St. Nicholas Cathedral (Church of England) and to the left, the Cathedral Church of St. Mary (Roman Catholic) where we attended Sunday morning Mass. It dates only back to the mid-1800s, the Gothic Revival design was the work of architect Augustus Welby Pugin, and its stained glass windows are significant.

The statue of Cardinal Hume in the memorial garden makes a lovely spot to reflect.
Like any British city which has been around for a very long time, Newcastle has--a CASTLE!!!

...and like any good city on a river--the River Tyne--Newcastle has some fascinating bridges. (oh, Geometry for Monday!!!)

We used Newcastle as a starting point to get to Hadrian's Wall, but there is lots else about the city. On the weekend, it is party hardy; there's a huge exhibition center for science and related exhibits; but sometimes all you need is just a spot to sit and philosophize.
Next stop, Hadrian's Wall, then on the Lincoln and another great blogger meet-up. Yes, Stewart, we are almost there.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Train Travel

Britain's rail system is a very efficient way of travel in the UK. Once we had left our hiking group, we moved between cities by train. We didn't feel that the short time we were there was enough to be comfortable or safe with driving on the "wrong" side of the road. The rails and tunnels and wires and signals of  Waverly Station in Edinburgh make an interesting abstract.

And the traveling companions of our fellow travelers make for interesting speculation. Is there a story behind this character?
The trains keep their schedule and you must be ready to board and alight when it is time. But some hooligans threw a monkey wrench into the schedule between Wales and London on the day we traveled there. Many trains were cancelled because someone had stolen equipment in one of the key areas. Cancellation was necessary for safety sake.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sunday's Psalm--22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.

blooming on Stac Pollaidh

The just rejoice and exult before God;
they are glad and rejoice.

piper in Edinburgh
Sing to God,
 chant praise to his name;
whose name is the LORD.

 in your goodness,
 you have made a home for the poor.

The father of orphans and the defender of widows
is God in his holy dwelling.

St. Mary's Cathedral, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

God gives a home to the forsaken;
he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.
windowbox at old mill

God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.

A bountiful rain you showered down, O God, upon your inheritance;
you restored the land when it languished;

rainbow over Loch Broom

sheep near Hadrian's Wall
your flock settled in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided it for the needy.

God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor. 

from Psalm 68

Friday, August 27, 2010

Our community was rocked...shocked...

I take a break in the posts about our trip to Scotland, England and Wales, because today marked a sad event in our local community. In the early morning hours one night last week, a devastating fire took the lives of three Washington State Patrol employees from the area.
We knew Gary Miller back when he was a patrolman in the Grandview Police Department at the beginning of his law enforcement career. An Eagle Scout himself, he was a volunteer with our Cub Scout Pack.
He went on to a career in the State Patrol. Whenever I saw a patrol car pass, I always gave a glance to see if it was Gary.
His wife Ann worked in the Emergency Dispatch Center. It was she who calmly called in the 911 call about the fire. Though I never met Ann, I knew her parents.
Trooper Kristopher Sperry was staying with the Millers until he could move into his new home this week.

A memorial for the three was held in the Yakima Sundome today. About 2000 people attended. Many more lined the streets or gathered on overpasses along I-82 as a procession of 213 police and fire vehicles made its way to the services.

We joined a group on the Outlook overpass that included several Fire and Rescue employees, some others who knew Gary, and 90½ year old (he included that "one half" specifically the several times he mentioned his age) Alvin Hufnail, who told us he was the first person Miller met in Grandview. Hufnail says a hungry Miller came into the grocery he was working in for some purchases and they later became fast friends.

He had carefully fastened his American and Washington flags to a long bamboo pole to display on the overpass.

Near the staging area, Sunnyside jail trustees gave a spruce up to patrol cars that had come a distance for the procession. Officers from as far as Montana participated in the procession, while some Canadian officers also attended the memorial.The highway lane was closed to other traffic to clear the way.

It took about twenty miinutes before the last of the procession passed.

I'm not sure, but I think this fly-over was a WSP aircraft--"the eye in the sky".

And all covered by the local TV reporter.

Gary Miller, Ann Miller-Hewitt, Kristopher Sperry
May you rest in peace.

Hercules' Garden

So our week of Highland hikes has come to an end and we are on our way back to Edinburgh to make our ways back to the next phase of our lives. Alexander and Elizabeth back to their studies, Nicola back to work, and the two of us on for further adventures. Shaun had another group to meet on Saturday, so Jon from Walkabout Scotland came to join us and escort us on our journey back to reality. He had a few small adventures for us along the way, though, including a stop at Blair castle's garden.
Outside the garden was a statue of Hercules, thus its name. The formal garden spans ten acres, but the best of it was the pond. This pair of swans had a single fledgling, who stuck pretty close to mom and dad.

Some other random bits from the day are appearing at my photo only blog. Haven't been over there? Be sure to look through all the August archive. They are all full screen images--odds and ends from the Scotland trip, and will continue into England and Wales with us next week.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


That second half of our Scottish Highlands week, while we were hiking Cul Mor and Stac Pollaidh, we stayed in the little port town of Ullapool. Lynda, back in Edinburgh had told us that Ullapool was the port that the first settlers of Nova Scotia had sailed from. It has  changed quite a bit since that time, though many buildings are quite old. Unlike many Highland villages which just kind of grew helter skelter and then roads were put in to connect, Ullapool was built on a grid, and is quite an orderly layout. Our B&B was in this street across from the harbor with this view of Loch Broom. As you can see, we
continued to have gray wet weather, some days wetter than others, some days grayer. This was to our delight, as we had escaped the summer heat of Central Washington, but, then, some of the wettest we could have done without.

From our window we could observe quite a bit of local activity, as the harbor was really a center of it all.

These boys were passing the time one morning splashing rocks.

And here, for the SkyWatchers is one of our brilliant Highland rainbows. The photographs do not do justice to the brilliance of the colors. One that we had had on our way back to Kinlochewe from a hike was so bright, we just pulled over and stared for several minutes. It was complete in the field beside us, and double, and I have never seen colors so extraordinary. (No pictures of that one--the cameras were in the back of the van drying out.)

SkyWatch links can be found here.

The boating activity in the loch was quite varied--small pleasure craft gave us their reflections (A bit early for Weekend Reflections hosted by James at Newtown Daily Photo but I have another for tomorrow.) and we were, of course, properly checked out by the local inspector:

Fishing boats tied up at the docks.
And the arrival and departure of the ferry to the Isle of Harris and Lewis was an important part of the day.