May 21, 2006

Other: Lower Than the Lowlands

Phase Two draws to a close...

Day 21 – Dallick House
Last full day here, and we’re alone again; almost, anyways. One knitter ended up being allergic to some combination of seafood in the bouillabaisse, much to everyone’s surprise, and she ended up staying home. The others were to head out onto Loch Lomand, but there are a few sensitive stomachs among them and the winds were high.
The feeble one has been seeking special recognition for the things she almost did (like going to a Spanish restaurant) if it weren’t for the stairs. Also found out today that our FOX “News” fan is not only very well travelled, but just realised this trip that England is an island. She never suspected it until now. She’s been comparing the cost of living between Scotland and the US, constantly converting into “real dollars”, by which she means USD. An irritating enough habit when the country she’s visiting uses dollars (like Canada or Australia), but astounding in a land which doesn’t.
Tell me again why Americans have a bad reputation when they travel abroad? It is a shame, because the three remaining have been very nice – just not as noticeable.

Day 22 – Newcastle Ho!
Drove most of the knitters away today, and not a single tazer was used. I spent most of the day tossing ducklings into trains while the Significant Other cleaned the kitchen and our quarters. Good deal for me!
Also picked up our horrendous artwork, which ended up being quite acceptable. About as good as my artwork gets, I’m afraid, but it will have to do.
We ended up getting massive amounts of tips from various and sundry – about the same as our actual pay – and some very nice notes and letters. They were effusive in praise to the SO’s cooking, of course, but somewhat more hesitant in thanking me, not knowing exactly what it was that I was doing there. Fair enough: I’d be hard pressed to tell them.
Bottles into the hard case, then packed up and away on the train. We got in to Newcastle-on-Tyne by about 8:30 and sat up with one of the uncles-in-law drinking wine and watching the changing colours of the steel music hall across the river, talking politics and religion (FINALLY!). And so to bed.

Day 23 – Newcastle-on-Tyne
The SO managed to sleep in ‘till about 7:30 (amazing) and we grabbed a shower and a couple of guides plucked from among the family members to see Durham Cathedral. Huge stonking place with some fascinating stonework and an enormous wooden organ case carved by a local God Knows When (so to speak). Couldn’t get any pictures, as no cameras were allowed. Wandered the 370 or so steps up the tower for a look-see (got the camera out there) and back down again. The choir was in rehearsals for a performance tonight, and it made a marvellous backdrop for exploring Norman (we’d call it Romanesque) cathedrals. Brilliant soloist among them. Both St. Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede (of English Lit. fame) are buried there.
Ended up having dinner with several of the in-laws for the first time. As the SO says: “the greatest joy of getting married is that you realize that every one else’s family is crazy, too.” Fine bunch this: whip smart and barking mad, the lot of them. Felt quite comfortable, oddly.
Bed early tonight, as we are up early tomorrow for a short flight to Stansted, and thence to London. Huzzah!

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