Sunday, June 18, 2017

Passive Money

  A few of the people I follow on various forms of social media have various forms of passive money.  It usually has to do with something they did once; a logo, or ebook that then sells off of a website.  I have had a bit of that with the two pay knitting patterns I have up on Ravelry.  I know I had plans on putting up more at this point, but I keep getting distracted.
  I do have the yarn I need for it, so once I finish the Better Together shawl, a commission knit, a little leafy dress, and the Impulse Scallop Shall, then I should have time for it.  It also gives me a bit more time to decide if I want to make it into a half or full circle shawl.
  Bill has taken a bunch of really nice pictures while we were on vacation and I thought it would be really cool for him to do something with them.  I know a lot of cosplayers sell prints online and that is how they get most of their money.  I know that Bill would rather be seeing the sights than stuck in a cubicle, so I thought this might be a neat idea.  Do both for a while and if the photos become popular enough, switch over to that.  Don't know if he will try it out or not.

  Two of my neighbors have put their houses up for sale recently.  One sold really quickly (the one I saw before we left for Scotland) and the other has been listed for a few weeks, but has had no real bites yet.  At first I was a bit bummed because of the picture above.  I didn't know that Gail crocheted and of course I learn about it as they are leaving.
  When I talked to her I got some good news.  They aren't in a huge hurry to get their house sold.  This means that I got to tell her about Wednesday knit-night and tell her that I also crochet.  She was really interested in it and might come out some Wednesday and hang out.
  I also got to learn more about what she makes.  She got tired of just crocheting afghans for people and they got tired of receiving them.  She then started making bears for Mother Bear Project.  The bears can be either knitted or crocheted.  I told her I would keep an eye out for some bear colors at the Free Yarn Event that was in the plans for later in the day.

  One of my friends told me about this and we decided to check it out.   My mom was worried that if we got there too late that all the yarn would be gone.  I was less worried about that even though it wasn't mentioned anywhere how much yarn or what kinds there would be.
  The picture above is about how it looked when we got there.  This doesn't show any of the yarn taken by people who got there before us and it doesn't show the many bins of yarn that were brought out while we were browsing.  There was a ton of Homespun.  I have a love/hate relationship with that stuff.  I love the way it feels, but the twisted texture isn't very friendly to work with if you hold the yarn in a tight manner.  There were also a bunch of fluffy bulky yarns and some Red Heart Super Saver.  It seems the yarn was in bags which had to be generally sorted and put into the bins, that is why it was taking a bit for them to get it all out.
  The pervious owner of the yarn had gone to stores when they were closing or going out of business and buying all their yarn.  The amount of yarn that has gone unused may look impressive, but it turned out that she has made over 300 prayer shawls for her local Prayer Shawl Ministry.  That is super impressive and also explained why most of the yarns she had were nice and soft.
  Later in the day they posted on the Event page that all the yarn has found new homes.  It was really hard for me to not grab all of the bulky yarn since there were so many fun colors and it is so nice to work with.  I did grab a few colors and hope to figure out what to do with them soon.  I'm glad Ravelry has the search features that it does.  Put in the yarn, how much I have, and also have the option to put in what kind of item I might have in mind.  So nice!

Monday, June 12, 2017

I Wish I Remembered What The Commercial Was For...

  During one of our down night's in Scotland I saw a really funny commercial.  It starts with the guy looking at a clock doing the usual "If I fall asleep right now, I will get 5 hours of sleep."  It then cuts to him in his brain like a control center asking for the statistics.  Someone hands him a sheet of paper and tells him that if he falls asleep right now he will get 4.5 hours of sleep.  He says "Let's Do It" and someone says "Bring on the sheep."  Someone shoves a sheep into a spotlight, everyone in the command center turn to it and they all say "One!" together.

   I wanted to take a picture of the wraps before I took them out.  I thought that part looked odd when I was looking at the picture of the finished shawl on the pattern, but it wasn't a big deal.  I don't know if I just wrapped mine too loosely or what, but I really don't like the way it looked.

  I definitely like how this looks better.  I really like how the second set of slipped stitches seem to come out from no where.  I know there are probably a lot of people out there who would like to make it have some sort of transition and the wrapped stitches will definitely give you that.

  I was starting to get nervous about how much green was left.  I was hoping to get to the last row needing it with only a small tail left.  If that was not possible I was hoping to get at least 2 or 3 rows with only the tan being slipped with a small tail left over.
  I got none of these things.  I got one row without the green being slipped and had enough green to get about 3/4 of a row done.  So now it is bouncing around on the back in a butterfly bundle until I get annoyed and cut it off.
  Something else I would change would be how the diamond shape is done.  I would have slipped the stitch before my slipped one on the right side of the marker and the one after on the left side for one row before my first twists during the last purl row.  I then would have followed the pattern until I got to the top of the diamonds.  I also did only a twist to the right or left at joining point of the diamonds.  I might have followed the pattern if I hadn't started them early, but I was worried that I was going to decrease too many or too early.
  I also decided to do it sooner since I ran out of green early.  I'm doing it 9 times instead of the 6 I would be doing it if I had waited.  I like the fact that it isn't hard to do something like that if it is needed.  I also would only slip the stitch that would go on the back of the last twist of a diamond during the twist stage, but not past it.
  I might also do the sizing of the diamonds a bit differently.  I think it would be fun to do the first level of diamonds with one more step outward, the second as written, and the last one with only one step out and in.  Then continue with straight lines.  Maybe next time.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Heading Home from Scotland.

  The Taxi was scheduled for 8am and we were there in time to see a Taxi pull in.  Turns out it wasn’t ours so we waited for our taxi and he waited for his passengers.  We all waited long enough without anyone else showing up that he just told us to get in since we were heading to the airport and that was really close.
  We got breakfast at the airport and I got a croissant that was both more flaky and more substantial than any I have had before.  It was really good and I wish I could get it at home.
 We got in too early for our flight to have an assigned terminal, so we hung out for a while.  Bill even entered to win a car.

  I am a huge fan of planes that have the sections with the middle seat being used as elbow room/tray table.  I gives everyone in the row more room to put things and even be able to stretch their legs to the sides some.  It also means that if you have two people who know each other (or can agree) you can share the center seat’s underfoot area and get more stored away near you and not have to put it above.

  I am very picky about my potato salads.  Turns out I liked the one on our first flight.  I think it is because it tasted like potatoes mixed with cream.  You could actually taste the potatoes and not just mayo.  The dessert was also nice, a layered thing with blended mango under a layer of blended strawberry all topped with vanilla yogurt.
  Since I didn’t want a full lunch on the plane we stopped in at Wagamama and I got the roast duck donburi.  It was really good.
  Our next stop in all of our wondering was to go to the Harry Potter store.  I didn’t think I was going to get anything, but then saw a Hufflepuff keychain with the 9¾ on the back.

  We didn’t have to go through security again.  I wonder if it is because we already went through security once while on the continent and last time we came from another one.
  The long flight back was on a similar, but older plane.  I had planned on charging my phone so I could keep my row counter going, but it looks like I don’t get to.  The dividers are also down the middle again.  It makes me feel like I don’t have any under-seat storage and that I’m just encroaching on the space of both people beside me.  Luckily I know both of them.  The screens are also obviously older and the seats are a bit more narrow.  It means that I was hitting the volume button randomly until I pulled the remote out and hung it next to my legs.
  At one point Heather commented that I was getting farther on my shawl than she was expecting.  Seeing how long it took me to cast on and get the first row correct, I have to say that I am too.
  The process to come back into the country has been semi-automated.  You scan your passport, answer some questions, then it takes your picture and compares it to your passport photo.  For some reason mine had a huge X on it.  I figured I wasn’t allowed back.   The next step is to wait in line for an official person to check your computer print out and let you pass.  He was also confused why mine had an X on it.
  One amusing thing while in line was some guy who was having a bad time.  At one point he threw down his bag and than made big exaggerated arm motions at the guy at the desk.  He really had it when the guy had to leave the desk to get a fan.  He started going off on the girl who was telling people which line to go to about how he was an American and that he shouldn’t have to wait in this line for so long.  He didn’t seem to care when she pointed out that everyone else in line was also an American.
  At least the line wasn’t a two to four hour wait and I am home.  It was a bit weird because I was just getting used to the cars and drivers being on the other side of the road, but not too bad.
  We also think we have figured out Nessy's secrets.  She isn't really a huge thing which would be easy to find.  She is really quite small.  That is why she can hide so well.  It also explains why the pictures taken of her are so grainy and bad, it is becase they had to zoom in so much to catch her on film.  Sorry Nessy.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Scotland Day 13: Last Full Day

  I had a good night’s rest and a very artistic breakfast.  I didn’t know you could mold scrambled eggs into a cylinder, but they did.  One thing that was annoying was that my shoes weren’t dry from our walk yesterday, so I had soggy shoes to start my morning.

  There were some fun boats to look at outside our hotel.  I took a few pictures while Bill checked us out.  Most were little motorboats, but there was this one sail boat.  I’ve noticed that a lot of the sailboats I have seen all have dark sails.  Now, I don’t know if that is a stripe or not because they have all been rolled up.
  One of the power boats was circling it’s mooring all night.  I don’t know if it was doing a full 360° but it was definitely doing more than 180°.  That doesn’t seem quite right.

  Sterling Castle was pretty interesting.  They have these carved wooden portraits that used to be painted and some even had gold studs in them.  They used to hang from the ceiling, but are in cases currently.

  The Kelpie statues were a lot bigger than I was expecting.  You could walk around and take pictures for free, but if you paid you could get to go inside and up to one of the eyes.  You get to see how they are constructed as well.  I liked the fact that they were made with pieces and you could see bits of sky through them.

  Our last night is in at the Novotel where they want to look very futuristic.  The wall behind the check-in desk had LED circles which change color.  The headboard on the beds also has a little arm-rest like thing that serves as an end table and little cut outs for light above.
  The desk also has a section that swings out and makes it into a T shaped desk.  Though they only gave us one chair that can be used at the desk.  The bathroom has two doors, but they both fit in the same size as a single normal door.  One very skinny side has a mirror and the other can just be used as a door to enter or leave.
  For dinner we walked over to KFC.  Yup, we have one across the street.  Nothing jumped out at me, so I just ate some of Bill’s fries.  I then wanted to go to Krispy Kreme because their Hot Light was on.  When we walked in I saw that they were making the filled ones.  I didn’t get any because I like the glazed hot off the line and want to eat it before it gets cold.  The filled ones have to cool before you can fill them, so they are fresher, but not warm.
  Later I got hungry and just went over to the Tesco near the TKMaxx we stopped in at to get more luggage.  Turns out we are bringing back more souvenirs than will fit.
  I got two grab-and-go sandwiches and a Volvic Touch of Juice.  It was a very nice dinner.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Scotland Day 12: Haggis Pizza

  I know it was earlier in the day and they are being considerate for anyone who wants to sleep in, but I was disappointment that they didn’t ring the gong to signal the beginning of breakfast.  They did it for dinner last night.
  I was happy to have gotten to the part of the pattern where I added a new color while in the room.  That way I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to add a new color while winding down the small island roads.  The long drive ahead of us would have been a waste if I had been stuck without knitting.

  Caisteal Maol was just off the bridge to and from Skye.  We couldn’t find any good parking for it, so we actually took some of the better pictures while sitting in the car idling in the section of road we were using to turn around and head to the main road. 
  We saw another pretty waterfall and pulled off to see if we could find it again.  It was easy to see from the road, but a hill was in the way when in the pull-off.  I got reminded again that my shoes are not good for things like this.  I didn’t think to check before I packed them, but it seems they have mesh in the slots.  Bill thinks it is to help cool when jogging.  I find it not useful for Scotland.

  The Well of Seven Heads was unobtrusive and hard to be fully appreciated by tall people.  There was a monument to it that could been seen from the road.  There was then a set of stairs that lead to the well itself.  The was an arched tunnel that lead to the well itself.  I could fully stand in the first section and had to duck a little to get in the second section to see the well.
  On our drive past Loch Lochy (yes, that is what it is called) we passed a spot that had a snack van.  The food truck was called Burger Queen.

  We made a pit stop at the Spean Bridge Woollen Mill and while we were there we decided to take a look around the gift shop.  There was a weaving exhibition also going on.  The resident weaver was also in and working on a piece when I walked by.
  There was also a section that had scotch and two of them had tasters.  One of them tasted like honey.  I had Heather try it and she was also amazed that it tasted like honey.  This lead to everyone trying the Bruadar Malt Whiskey Liqueur and then buying some.

  At some point near the beginning of the trip we mentioned something about me trying haggis pizza.  We tried going to another pizza place the other day, but they needed reservations.  We stopped at the Crianlarich Hotel for lunch and they had a Highlander pizza.  It had haggis, black pudding, Ayrshire bacon, and Locherbie cheddar.  It was really good and I even finished my half of the pizza.

  Where we are staying at wasn’t originally in the plan during stage one.  But we didn’t want to drive for about five hours then get on a plane for eight hours.  I’m glad we are here.  The rooms have a lot of purple plaid, purple pillows, a purple lamp, and even a purple kettle.  The beds also feel nice and soft.
  The one thing that we are not happy about is that each device only gets one hour of internet for free per day.

  The guy at the front desk of Achray told us that there was a walk up to a scenic overlook.  The guys wanted to go and I was also interested in what there was to see.  It was fun and though it was rainy and hard to see, it was still a pretty view.  I also liked the short walk through town.  There was even a brewery, but they seemed to be closed at that time.

 Dinner was done at the hotel since it was just easier.  We all got an espresso cups worth of white bean and chorizo soup.  I got the cauliflower fritters, they were formed into patties with herby tomato sauce and a slab of cheese.  I also got a side salad and a small frier basket of fries.  They were the best I’ve had yet.  I didn’t want it at first, but couldn’t resist the Banoffee Pie.  It is banana with toffee and is amazing!  It didn’t last long enough for a picture.  I will need to make it at home.
 The bed is so soft and is calling my name.  I think I will knit until I fall asleep.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Scotland Day 11: Fairy Pools in the Morning.

  We knew that the Fairy Pools were popular and that there was not a lot of parking so we decided to get to it early.  We asked if we could get the To-Go Breakfast option and the lady seemed really worried when they didn’t have 8 rolls, but only 6.  We told her it was fine.
  We arrived and there were a few other people, but there were also a few open parking spots.  The walk up was very pretty and there were a few spots where the shorter people got to hop on rocks to get over some small streams.  One guy said he got there about 6am and there was already someone there even then.
  The pools themselves are a series of waterfalls of various sizes, and the pools or streams they create.  It is a really pretty walk with some really beautiful places with more than one waterfall within viewing distance at a time.
  As we were leaving there were more and more people passing us to go up.  The parking lot was definitely full and people were starting to get creative with their parking.  Some had better ideas than others; the middle of the road being one of the worse ones.  We got to watch this from our spot in a more secluded parking area as we ate our bagged breakfasts.
  The boys made a stop in at the Talisker distillery while Heather and I got tea from the tiny shop/shed across the street.

  Dunvegan Castle was another that you were not allowed to take pictures while inside of.  One thing I saw while in there was a Knockin’ Stane.  It was a stone about three feet wide with a good sized dip in the middle.  It was used to process grain.  Then in another room I saw a Singer Sewing machine.  It was one of the ones secured to a table and powered by treadle.
  While we were in one of the gift shops we saw one of the boards used for whiskey tasting flights sold separately from the glasses.  All the other places have only had the sets, which were expensive and we have a bunch of the glasses at home.  I told Bill to get the board alone because then he could hold fancy whisky tastings at home.  This one is curved and looks like it was made from a cask stave.
  We had considered going on a Seal Tour.  Not the Navy kind, but the lay in the sun kind.  The group in front of us was a group of 6 and the next one they could get fit on was over an hour later.  Since there was a good chance that our group of four would have space even later than that, we decided not to.

  Fairy Glen was a lot of fun for me.  There was a pond with a little tree that sheep liked to drink out of.  There was also a very large rock, pictured above, that people liked to climb and take pictures of the surrounding area from.  I also got some really good pictures of sheep and their lambs.

  One guy saw a pair over a ridge and yelled “SHEEP!”  When the lamb got scared and scampered off he called after it asking where it was going.  Definitely going away from the loud scary thing.

  Loch Snizort Béag Lake was something we had to drive by and take pictures of.  It wasn’t because it was overly impressive or pretty to look at, but how amazing is the name?

  Everyone else wanted to go back into town for a bit before our hotel reservations for dinner.  I didn’t really need anything so I stayed in the room and knitted, update the blog some, ate one of my Kinder Eggs, and just enjoyed the view from our room.
  I feel like Kinder Eggs are being made a bit more durable these days.  I remember when I first found them, if they were jostled too hard the chocolate coating would get broken and you wouldn't get that joy of breaking it open yourself.  One of the ones I have been carrying around felt like it got a dent in it that I knew wasn't there before.  I figured I would eat it first since it was most likely broken.  When I unwrapped it I found that the chocolate had dented a bit, but not broken.  I'm pretty impressed.

  Our dinner at the hotel was really good.  I had the soup, the fish, and then the sticky toffee pudding for dessert.  The soup was nice and light and had a swirl of cream on top.  The fish was nice, but I liked the nut topping best.  The sides were not what I was expecting; small white potatoes with cream coating, roasted butternut squash with onions, and zucchini julienned with a slight onion flavor to them.  The dessert was awesome, but that was to be expected.
  We get to sleep in some since the in-hotel breakfast isn’t until 8:30am.  Time to get a bunch of knitting done.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Scotland Day 10: On The Bridge to Skye

  On the menu for the hot foods at the hotel there was an option for French Toast and either bacon or mushrooms.  The menu assured us that the mushroom option was a Must Try.  I just can’t picture mushrooms and syrup going well together.  I was not brave enough to try it.  Neither was anyone else, even though two of us got the French Toast.
  On our drive we saw some elk.  Finally!  There have been signs to watch out for them crossing the road all the time, but we had not seen a one of them.  We have now passed a small herd of six.  Since they blended in with the landscape there wasn’t time to pull out cameras.

  As I’m working Better Together more it feels more and more like it would be easy to knit from the top down.  I would just always double wrap the increase on the edges because you would be increasing every row.  I would also consider double wrapping the center stitch on the second ‘plain’ row since you would slip it so many times after a double increase.
 The curl in the ends reminds me of fiddle-heads.

  Eilean Donan Castle was one of the ones that didn’t take our Adventure Passes so we would have had to pay to get in.  Since there was no photography allowed inside we all decided it wasn’t worth going in.  It had also started raining as we were walking in towards it and was really raining when we were done taking pictures of the bridge and the outside.

  This was a random spot we saw on our drive.  We were behind some slow traffic, so it’s not like we even really lost a lot of time by stopping.

  Viewfield House Country Hotel is pretty impressive.  They also have a tub, so I get to take a nice long soak tonight.  We checked in and tried to find lunch.  It seems that downtown Portree is just full.  We couldn’t find any empty parking spots that weren’t for a church.
 To further re-enforce this, every place with a room to stay said “No Vacancies”.  We ended up walking down to town and finally found a restaurant that was opened before 5pm.  I had my second round of mince and tatties.  The walk wasn’t too bad since part of it was a wooded area.

   We got stuck behind a caravan of caravans on our way to the Old Man of Storr.  A long queue makes the passing places a lot less effective.  The place was super busy and we decided to try for it tomorrow morning.  It was also raining and taking a picture of a rock in front of another rock is difficult when there isn’t good lighting.

  Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls were crowded.  You can see the falls in the foreground and the rock behind it.  The rock is popular due to the stripes of color that can be seen. 
   When we got there some sheep and lambs were hanging out close to where you parked and walked in.  I didn’t have my long lense on, but was hoping that on the way back I could grab it out of the car and come back.  Unfortunitly some of the other tourists were more eager to get cell phone pictures of them.  So a bunch of people walked towards them with their phones out.  The sheep then wondered away, as sheep do in those situations.
  I know I said right above that we decided to do the Old Man of Storr tomorrow morning, but as we were passing it on the way back to town we saw that there was more parking and the sun was starting to come out some.
  The way up had two sections.  The first three quarters was a bunch of uphill paths and the last quarter was a path up the very steep hill.  Jim was the only one of us who went up the steep hill.  On the top of the hill it was a bit windy and there was someone with a tripod with a few people holding equipment.  Jim figured his 15lb backpack on its back would be fine.  Nope, the wind tried to roll it downhill anyway.

   Sticking with the theme of Portee for the day, all the places we tried to go eat at needed a reservation.  One of the hotels we went to had an opening at 8:30pm, but we felt that was too late.  We found a place called The Prince of India.  There was only one person on as waitstaff so he had to take all the orders, and take them to the tables.  He had a little wheeled cart at least.  He was getting overwhelmed and it was showing.  The food was okay, but the spice levels seemed to be exaggerated.
  Super early morning for us tomorrow and I've already stayed up way too late!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Scotland Day 9: More Beaches for Your Buck

  Another day with a long drive and seeing what we can stop at along the way.  I do wish we could have spent more time at Pentland Lodge House if only to talk with Liz and pet her dogs some more.  She gives off very positive and happy energy.  She even had electric car charging stations out front.
  Along all these drives past the sheep filled pastures have let me see all levels of sheep laziness.  Sheep will be eating grass in one of the following states: standing, kneeling downward, laying with their legs curled under them, or flat on their sides and munching.
  I have also noticed that the lambs wag their tails like crazy when they are nursing.  This area also has the type of sheep that tend to have twins as long as the mother is healthy.  I’ve seen a lot with two, some with only one, and even some with three.

  Farr Beach was one of our random stops.  As we were driving by the sun was making it a very lovely sight, but by the time we pulled over and got the cameras out it decided to go into hiding.

  Coldbackie was another random stop with a beach.  It was a lot easier to stop at than the last one.  There was a picnic area and we didn’t have to stop in a No Parking pull off.

  Varrich Castle was a bit of a hike.  We also did not walk down the correct path at first.  We parked in a fine place, but when we walked down the road we found a gate that was locked and lead to the wastewater treatment area.  We were going to turn around, but one of the locals just told us to hop the gate and that it connected to the path that lead to the castle.
   The walk wasn’t too long but it was a lot of up hill.  The other day my calves cramped and I was unable to soak them, so the uphill was not fun.  I had to stop many times and try and stretch it out.  I did finally make it to the top though!  I didn’t go up the spiral stairs in the center because I felt it was unnecessary.

  Sango Sands Oasis Bar and Cafe was a very small eatery in a very small town.  The food was really good though and I could see it being a place I would go to if I lived closer.

  We stopped to take a few pictures of the scenery and some motorcyclists stopped to do the same.  They had been coming from the other direction and mentioned that there was a waterfall just down a bit on the left.  There was even parking right there for it.

  It had sounded like there was going to be a long walk but when we parked by the waterfall it was quite close.  My leg felt fine at that point so I had no problems going up and down the small hills.  My only problem was that I had my long view lense on and I had to get a bit of distance between me and whatever I wanted to take a picture of.

   Ceilidh Place in Ullapool has some nice big rooms.  They also have a very swanky lounge area where I am typing this now.  The bathrooms are also quite large, but unfortunately, no tub.  We got talked into booking dinner at the hotel, and while it wasn’t bad, I’m sure we could get good food if we had wondered around.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Scotland Day 8: Back on the Ferry

  Today we started with a more proper Scottish morning.  It was about 56°F and rainy.  Much better!  We were too early for the tour of Maeshowe Chambered Cairn so we took a quick stop at Loch of Harray.  There was a cute dog and a camper van.  Most of us were happy enough just looking at it from the parking area, but Jim ventured forth.  Can you find him in the picture?
   Turns out the first available time they had was at noon and we were hoping to get on the 10am one.  Since we are leaving later then we decided to go to another distillery since they only had two current expressions.  Though in true fashion for today, they didn’t open until 12:30pm.

   Orphir Round Church was another one of those things that we decided to go do since we had some time to kill.  The ferry’s earlier time was all booked, so we couldn’t move up our departure time.  We followed signs to the Earl’s Bu and Castle.
  It was everything promised.  There was a visible circle on the ground and some stones in a configuration that looked like it had once been a structure.  There were some lambs frolicking in the field nearby.

  Tomb of the Eagles was another fun trip back through time.  The first stop along the path was in the bronze age at a building that they feel was probably used as a community center and also used to make hot water.  There were a bunch of spots that were too small for beds, but looked like they would work for seating.
  The Tomb of Eagles was still very enclosed.  There was a tiny cart you laid on and pulled yourself in by rope.  It would have been nice if they had added a track or something because the little cart liked trying to run into a wall, not matter how hard you tried to aim down the middle.

  Scapa Distillery was a quick stop because while we didn’t want to get to the ferry too early, we also didn't have a lot of extra time.  Bill was happy because he was really hoping to get to one on the island.  He also got a bottle while we were there.  Below is a No Drinking and Driving sign we saw on our way in.

  While waiting for the ferry to load we had most of the windows closed and only the driver’s side fully open.  I saw something that looked like a small rock fly into the car but Jim didn’t seem to notice.  Upon further inspection it turned out that it was bird poop.  The bird had managed to hit him on his rain jacket about 8 inches inside the car without hitting any part of the car.  Nothing on the outside or on the seat belt.  There wasn’t even that much of a breeze.  That was one very talented bird.

  We got to be first on the boat this time!  The water was a bit rougher this time, so we got to see these more calm areas.  Once we got closer it almost looked like something bubbling up.  Bill thought it might be oil.
  We were also on the boat with impulsARTive.  Another website that needs to be translated unless you read German.  He was a really nice guy and had some good stories.  He had his website on his jacket and his UN vehicle.  If you go under “Active” you can see his travel log.

  We went to dinner at the Y Not restaurant.  Why? Because why not!  I got the Aloo Saag burger which was pretty much a giant falafel on a burger bun.  It was quite good.

  The lady who runs the Pentland Lodge House where we are staying really likes rocks and puts a particular rock from a variety of her favorite beaches in each room.  We have three stones of different sizes in our room.
  Pictured above are two stones I have collected from this trip.  The one on the left is from Arthur’s Seat, and the one on the right is from where we crossed to walk to the Brough of Birsay.  They are both smaller than my palm and fit nicely in my pockets.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Scotland Day 7: Walking to an Island

   Got up and had a nice shower before a buffet style breakfast.  Our first stop was the Stones of Stenness.  Oddly enough, there were a few sheep munching the grass around them or leaning on them.  There were more babies in the next field over.

  We took a quick walk to an area that had the ruins of a neolithic village.  There was not much left of the Barnhouse Village, though it was interesting to see the general layouts of the insides.

 A quick drive down the road lead us to the Ring of Brodgar which was a circle of stones on a hill.  It is a current archeological dig, so that is why there was a fence around it.  Most of the stones were still standing but a few have become more fragile over time and have broken.  We left just in time because as we were headed down, a whole tour bus was headed up.  A bit harder to take nice pictures with 20 strangers wandering around on a hill trying to do the same thing.
  Heather had a picture in mind that she wanted to take.  It would have been at these stones at either sun rise or sun set.  The only draw back was that the sun rose at 3am and didn't set again until about 10:30pm.  She might have been willing to do it if we had been staying another night and could stay up late then sleep in.

  Skara Brae was our next stop.  We just had to take a quick walk back in time so we could visit this little settlement.  The problem seemed to be that we didn’t walk far enough back because the place was in ruins and there was no one home.  Well, that isn’t right.  I saw a bunny in one of the houses.  I didn’t have enough zoom to get a picture of him in the doorway, but it was really cute.  The houses looked like they had all been connected.

  We then walked up the path to Skaill House.  It was really interesting that photography was allowed inside.  The house is the manor home of a Scottish Lord.

  Yesnaby place was nothing but amazing views.  There was also a group getting ready to go either snorkeling or scuba diving.  The walk was about four miles and took a bit because everything was just so pretty and I had to take a million pictures.  This is another spot that I would not mind going back to.  Castle Rock was really interesting because when you first came up on it all you saw was a tall rock.  As you kept walking around you saw the hole in it near the base.
   We needed to keep an eye on time so we could get everything done we wanted to before it all closed for the day, so lunch was MREs in the car.  It was a bit too windy to eat them outside, but the view was nice.  I had the cheese tortellini, it was the first I’ve had in awhile.

  Orkney Wine Company and the Italian Church were down the same small road.  We stopped in and I got some special yarn.  The sheep eat seaweed and are on a small island.  Heather and I also tried some brandies and liquors and each got a few.  I also got more yarn gifts for people, the price wasn’t too bad and comes with a fun story.

  It was a small, but interesting church.  The walls were just flat but were painted to look like nice stone work and bricks.  It looked very expensive on the inside.  The walls are delicate but have semi-recently received a touch-up since it had been built back in World War II.

  There was some time to kill before low tide so we took a drive all the way out to Broch of Gurness.  On the way there we passed under something that looked like a giant hedge with an arch cut out for the cars to go under it.
   The actual broch is really interesting.  It seems that when one was doing well they would build up and their neighbors were close enough that they could show off.  The view also wasn’t too bad.  The center structure was a big meeting hall, and the smaller ones houses.

  The reason we had to wait to get to Brough of Birsay was because it is on a island.  An island that you can walk to.  It is a bit of a long walk, but cool  They have a path that leads to the smooth rocks that are normally underwater.  The lighthouse itself was alright.  I was hoping for something taller, but it doesn’t need to be since the island was a tall hill.
  The sign said that there were no dogs allowed past a certain point on the island because there were sheep grazing.  Though it wasn’t a tiny island, it was big enough that you couldn’t really hide sheep on it.  We saw signs of sheep, but not recent ones.
  There is also a sign that tells you to call the emergency number and ask for the coast guard if you get stuck on the island.  Heather and I think it would be a good idea to open a tea room/lodge for the island.  Anyone who gets tired can stop in for tea, or someone can stay the night if they get stuck and don’t feel the need to hurry back until low tide again.

  It was getting late enough that we were all hungry and other things in the area were closing.  We had dinner at the Indian place again because the place that had fajitas needed reservations.  The Saag Balti was really good.

  After that I wanted to get more of that Volvic Juiced.  It was so nice.  A lot like if you were eating an orange.  You get the fresh orange flavor, but it is light and not overpoweringly sweet.  I have also heard talk of a Pimm’s Cup.  The Tesco Bill and I walked to had some in a can.  I decided to give it a try.  It is Pimm’s No.1 Spirit Drink mixed with lemonade.  The closest thing I can compare it to is if you took a spiced rum and mixed it with lightly carbonated lemon soda.  I like it.
  We still have two more things to get done on the island before we catch the ferry back, so it will be another early morning.  Hopefully it won’t be as sunny and my sunburn won’t get any worse.  People have actually been apologizing about how sunny and warm it has been.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Scotland Day 6: Stanes! Stanes Everywhere!

  A much better of a morning as we got ready to leave Archiestown.  I really like this little town and would not mind visiting it again at some point.  Charlie even let me pet him after we checked out.
  I made sure to have both colors of yarn with me because we had about a three hour drive to get to the ferry we had vouchers for.  There were also a lot of pheasants standing on or next to the road.  They are pretty but kind of dumb.  Tank would love chasing them, they are everywhere.  We had to slow down and go around them, other birds get out of the way when you get within their sight and they see you approaching, but these would glance over and meander away.
  As we were traveling to the ferry and looking at possible stopping places for interesting things I kept thinking that I wanted to keep an eye out for yarn shops.  The only problem with this is that the prices at the mill would be hard to beat.  I know the ones I got at the mill were at least half the price I would have seen at my local shops.  I also don’t know if any of the prices near me are because they are imported goods, or just because it is an actual store.

  As we were going Heather spotted something on the map that was the Hill o’Many Stanes.  I was excited because I take more pictures of sheep.  These had babies with them!  I wished I had had a bit more zoom, but I think they were cute.
  The stones were not easily visible from the road, so we had to take another winding one laned road to them.  They are 27 stones just standing there on the side of a small hill in a fan pattern.  Very perplexing and mysterious.

  On our way to lunch we passed the Carn Liath off of A9.  It was a fun looking thing.  A ring of rocks with a doorway and grass on the top.  No one deemed it something that we needed to stop for, but I am glad that I got to see it.

   We stopped for lunch at John O’Groats which is one of the ends of the End to Enders.  It is a popular thing for motorcyclists to take pictures of their bikes a both ends within 24 hours.  It seems like a lot of cyclists also like going from one end to the other, they just tend to take a bit longer.  While Bill thinks it would be fun to do it on a motorcycle, he also doesn’t want to try it in the 24 hour limit.

   The Castle and Gardens of Mey were the only ones actually owned by the Queen Mother.  She had many places to stay at, but this was the only one she owned.  She owned some tacked tacked-wellies so when it rained and she took her corgis out she would have traction going up the hill.

   There was also an animal centre and I have to say that was my favorite part.  In pens there were a bunch of different animals.  A few kinds of chicken, sheep, a mule, pigs, and a few kinds of geese to name a few.  In the barn there were some lambs, birds, a rabbit, and eggs incubating.  I was so happy to get to see the lambs up close!  The cage of chipmunks really threw us off though.

  Winding country roads are not the best to try and fix knitting on.  It seems that at some point I decided that one of the rows of slipped stitches didn’t really need to be slipped and I would just work it like all the other stitches on either side of it.  The front looks a fine and though the back looks a bit funny I am only on row 12, so I am not too worried about it.  They are long rows and to completely fix it, I would have to go back to the set-up row.  There was another one where I was slipping until about four rows ago, then I decided to just work those plain too.  So I need to remember to pay more attention when working the wrong side row.

   Dunnet Bay was another fun detour on our way to find the ferry.  We had allotted a lot of time to get there, so all these stops were only sort of planned in.  There were a bunch of sand worms and the sand dried out a little as you stepped on it and then rehydrated when you stepped off of it.

  We got to the ferry nice and early but still weren’t first in line.  Someone who arrived after us checked in first and queued up before we did.  The vouchers said that we needed to turn them in and get tickets in their office that was about 18 miles from the actual ferry.  A quick call told us that we just had to show our voucher to the person when we checked in before getting in line.  We had enough trouble finding the ferry, who knows what would have happened if we had to find another office as well.
  I had to borrow Heather’s sweatshirt because my suitcase fit the best in the car with the zipper facing inward.  The boat was pretty windy and got really chilly because of it.  It was a fun ride though and I even got some hot chocolate to help fight off the cold.  I am looking forward to when we do it again, but I am not in a hurry to leave.
  A lot of where we are on the island of Orkney closes fairly early.  The only place we found to try and eat at was an Indian place called Dil Se.  We weren’t the only ones in there for that same reason.  Luckily they had some good food, though I wish it had been a bit spicier.
  There are currently some guys driving their modified cars around town again and again, but hopefully they will get bored before I want to go to bed.