It goes without saying that it was a real joy meeting all of Tom's extended family, along with friends of the grooms.
However, along the way we met, or chatted with strangers, adding another layer of pleasure to our trip. Not unlike, I suppose, the tourists I meet at the market who have a nice long chat with me? Or so I hope.
So, here we go....
Before the wedding on Saturday afternoon, I saw this group on Whitechapel High Street. No clue what they were up to.
For the moment, they were posing for my camera!
Once we'd arrived in Edinburgh, walked a half hour in the rain to our gorgeous b&b, we began exploring the surrounding area. We stayed in the West End, a little village unto itself. Firstly it was very cold which sent us looking for a scarf for me. Bruce, having traveled so much in the Northeast, was fully prepared, unlike me. The shops we all visited were so cute, and if they did not have any more scarves to sell, or warm ones I should say, they kept sending us to one of their competitors--obviously a very nice thing to do. Once the warm scarf was around my neck, we went into one of the neighborhood pubs, followed by yet another pub for dinner. Seated there, waiting on our food, we began chatting with the couple seated to our left who seemed only to happy to chat. Meet Cicely and Colin:
We asked them where, and what we should do, seeing as they live there and all. After a bit, she left to go to band practice, gathering all her things, heading out in the cold rain on her bike. Not in a million years would I go out on a bike in that weather, so I guess it goes to show you what folks get used to! In September the Scots are going to the polls to decide if they want to break off from England, so we asked Colin, who by now had moved over to our table, his thoughts on the matter. He, unlike our b&b manager, was still undecided. Pretty monumental decision to make for sure.
It was Cicely who gave me the idea of walking along the river to the Royal Botanic Gardens. So, that is what we decided to do next day, in spite of the gloomy weather. Except we got lost along the way, my fault really, however, with the kindness of strangers, we headed off in the right direction taking a path through a large park I've forgotten the name of.
Serendipity strikes! Years ago, on a visit to Cambridge, Bruce purchased a small book entitled, "Men and their Sheds" which he dearly loved. By golly, as we began our walk through the park we came across this fenced in area FULL of sheds!
Except, it was not open to the public. Bummer.
Then along came Sally.
After a little chat, she agreed to take Bruce in to see her allotment, or in our terms, an individual garden patch for private use on public lands. You might notice her rain boots and walking stick fashioned from a branch. She was delightful, enthralling Bruce with tales of the gardens, including the fat that there is a nine year waiting list for a patch! Here she is showing off her shed:
We spent about an hour there; I mostly roamed around while Bruce did most of the chatting. Did I tell you that it was cold, misty, and that my shoes and socks were soaking wet? I should have.
Sally proceeded to tell us that SHE would drive us to the Botanic gardens in her nearby parked car. Who were we to protest the offer of a ride? During the short journey, she also gave us a description of her home, and asked if we might come by for a coffee after our visit. Seriously? Well, guess what?
We actually found her home using her description of a white picket fence as our guide. Out in her garden when we arrived, she invited us in, and up the steps we went to her second story flat which was, oh so interesting. We oohed and awed over her crown molding, furnishings, and the photographs of her children, and grandchildren. She and Bruce had coffee, while I had a variety of tea I'd never tried before--Lapsang souchong-- delicious. So too were the chocolate covered ginger biscuits, the term the British use for cookies.
I asked if I might photograph her in her surroundings for my blog, which Bruce told her was popular (haha!). She kindly agreed.
If she doesn't look delightful, I don't know who does! Whether it was true or not, I don't know, but she proceeded to tell us that she had to go back out for some gardening shears, therefore, she insisted on next driving us to the Modern Art museum. Can you believe it? Although the weather was not nearly as menacing as the previous day, it was still grim to a Floridian. Sally to the rescue!! We couldn't thank her enough for her hospitality and generosity. Our encounter definitely made our day, and we hope it did hers as well.
During my garden visit I saw these two adorable little boys playing, and could not help but think of our own sons when they were young:
I only wish I'd had on as many clothes as they did!
From Edinburgh we traveled on the train to York, about a two hour train journey. After the usual walk to our hotel, dropping off our bags, we began exploring, however, before we went to far, we stopped for some lunch in a lovely pub. I was so surprised to see three dogs chilling along with their owners. As you well know, I've no problem with talking to strangers, much to my family's mortification. How else can you find out about the world if you don't ask?? So, here are the folks sitting next to us:
You can't see it, but there is a second dog resting by the young man's feet. That young man? Turns out he is a photographer!! Check out his gorgeous portraits by clicking this link. We had a nice little chat about cameras, specifically the Micro-Four Thirds type which I was using, and he'd only just purchased. Another pleasurable meeting.
On our second day in York we gathered with a group for a free walking tour led by a native, in our case 80 year old Fred.
We'll talk more about the history of York later, but let's just say it wasn't easy keeping up with Fred in spite of the fact that he used a cane! Then too, once our two hour tour, which ran over, by the way, was complete, I watched Fred get on his bicycle for the two mile ride home! I so hope I have his energy when I'm 80!
York to Melton Mowbray for a visit to Ray and Jane's charming home. More on that later as well, however, on Sunday, late morning, we walked over to their friend Duncan's lovely home for, you guessed it, coffee and biscuits. I was the lone tea drinker in the group. And you thought all English folks drank tea...
What English folks do have, if they have the means is a "conservatory", or what we call a sunroom. Duncan is seated on our left. This space overlooks the vast gardens with pear trees, vegetables, and of course gorgeous flowers. The English weather seems to be perfect for growing flowers. Duncan showed us around the gardens and here he and Bruce are chatting about the wood shed, which is super old. Well, of course it is, we are in England!
How wonderful to be able to meet old friends of Ray and Jane. They thought of everything during our visit, but that's a story for another day.
Back in London for our final three days, we spent a rainy day sight seeing. Matt joined us in the afternoon and after some discussion we decided to visit the National Portrait Gallery which was tremendous. While there, we saw some "living art."
Now that would have been cheeky had I talked to him. I resisted.....
And then there was Nick, the friendly policeman who helped us make the most of our time in Windsor on Tuesday.
Yes, that is a parade route, lined by the Beefeaters. What for, you ask? An historic first--the President of Ireland had come to see the Queen!!! There's a lot more to this story and it is time to get back to work--the market is today and we'll see how that goes. Hold that thought--we saw the Queen!