Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Third word: Haggis

Haggis: early 15c., now chiefly Scottish, but common in M.E., perhaps from O.Fr. agace meaning "magpie," on analogy of the odds and ends the bird collects

Alex and I have been tourists more than I thought. While swimming through all the red tape and bureaucracy of -well, living, I guess- I hadn't thought much had happened since we moved here. However, things have been happening little by little. So, to keep up with our bureaucratic matters: we got a phone today! Not two, but one, because I "haven't been living in the UK long enough to establish a credit record" so TalkMobile won't allow me to purchase two phone lines. But one phone is not none, thank goodness. Also, Alex's computer is fixed and we should be getting internet tomorrow (yay!). Oh, and we got our cost of living check that I deposited in our fully functional bank account! Things are coming together!

Our adventures started with haggis. We went to Greyfriars Bobby's Bar for dinner one night and Al got haggis. Before I talk about haggis, a little background info on Greyfriars Bobby, the dog. He was so loyal that when his master died he laid on the grave for 14 years until he himself died...so they say. Anyway, haggis. It's actually not that bad. It usually consists of heart, lung, kidney, rusk (?) and is mixed with oats and onions. Basically, it tasted like meatloaf-good meatloaf (Mom, your meatloaf tastes like haggis...heehee).

Last week we also toured the Palace of Holyroodhouse ('rood' being the ol' fashioned way of saying 'cross'). We got to see bed chambers and sitting rooms, the dining room etc. I don't think the Queen uses these rooms much. We only got to tour the second floor. We got to see Mary, Queen of Scots' bed chamber and where Rizzio, her personal secretary, was stabbed like 18 times by her husband and bled to death in front of her. The gardens and abbey ruins were awesome. I took a picture of Al standing exactly where the Queen and Pope were standing in the picture I took of them. That was cool. We also got to turn our tickets in to annual passes, so if anyone comes to visit Alex and I can go for free!

You can go a little stir-crazy living in a busy city and I really needed to get out. So, last Saturday, Alex and I took a bus to Stirling, a town comparable to Edinburgh in layout but a lot smaller. It's only about 30 miles away. We climbed up the streets of the old town to reach the castle which, like Edinburgh Castle, is situated at the top of  a volcanic rock formation. Alex and I paid 26 pounds each for free access to all the castles in Scotland (basically if you go to two castles you've paid for it)! The views were amazing (I prooooomise pictures soon). We got to see the foothills of the northern highlands in one direction and the lower hills of the southern highlands in another direction. Sterling Castle had a panoramic view of the whole valley and was certainly advantageously situated. Nearby is where William Wallace fought and defeated the English. Mary, Queen of Scots spent most of her early childhood in this castle but was born in nearby Linlithgow.

We walked to the royal gardens, which have long been deserted, to see the castle from below. It was a beautiful day with little wind and a bright sky. The leaves were beginning to turn as well. Also, we got to go to Primark. For those of you who know, this is God's gift to the shopaholic. Cheap(!!!), stylish clothes. It was awesome.

 I'll write my next blog about my classes, which are in their second week now. The odds and ends are slowly coming together and maybe life will soon be a bit more normal. For now, we are settling in, figuring it out, and having some fun.

Pictures of Week 1:
Pictures of Week 2:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Second Word: Move

move: late 13c., from Anglo-Fr. movir (O.Fr. moveir), from L. movere "move, set in motion" (pp. motus, freq. motare),

Edinburgh greeted us with blowing wind and whipping rain. We didn't care. If that was the price to pay for fresh air (not the stale kind they provide you with on airplanes), then we paid. We've been here a week, and since then, we've had only light drizzles.

Our apartment is compact but just the right size for us. Two good sized bedrooms, a living/dining/kitchen room, and a bathroom no bigger than the one we had in the US (which was quite small). Alex and I had our first "breakdown" of respecting the local culture and trying to fit in when we went grocery shopping the night we arrived and saw this:

We died laughing right there in the store over the fact that we could buy orange juice with "juicy bits" (aka "pulp"). If you didn't want "juicy bits" you could get "smooth". We felt bad, but what can you do?

The week continued with several business items to attend to. I registered for classes, and just to impress you, here are my courses for the two semesters:

Sem 1
Intros to Phonology, Semantics, Syntax, and Language Research (4 different classes)
Middle English

Sem 2
Diachronic Linguistics
English Word Formation
Medieval Dialectology

The stressors of home apparently followed us to Edinburgh. We can't get internet in our flat until we have a phone number, but we can't get cell phones until we have a bank account. The bank account is going to take five days to process. And, still, my computer is at HP for a third time being "fixed".

Alex and I did have time to be tourists this week though. We climbed up Arthur's Seat, a dormant volcano right in the middle of the city. It's about an hour climb and the scenery is beautiful! For those of you who didn't know, the Pope's only papal visit this year was to Scotland and happened to be the same day we were climbing Arthur's Seat. The Palace of Holyroodhouse, where the Queen stays when she visits, is at the base. Since the Queen is Duchess of Edinburgh, she met the Pope at the Palace. We happened to be about 300 feet up the hill and could see over the Palace walls. We saw the Queen come out on a red carpet with the Pope, and then we saw their motorcade leave the Palace on their way around the city and eventually to Glasgow. Both times I've been to Edinburgh now the Queen has been here too.

I promise pictures as soon as we get our own internet. We like it so far and there are many things to occupy our time. We are getting our bearings and finding the city very walkable.

I start classes on Monday and the adventures will continue. Though the cogs of our adventure (phones, bank account, internet, computer) are a bit rusty, we have set in motion a new life and it's moving along whether we are ready or not.