Some of the sights from the streets of Edinburgh.
Here is a short summary of our recent Scotland adventure for anyone who may be interested in a synopsis of our trip.
We flew to Edinburgh from Charlotte via Heathrow, then spent 4 nights in Edinburgh, exploring the city and attending the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The Tattoo was the main reason we went to Scotland in the first place, and it completely lived up to our expectations. During the time we were in Edinburgh, the International Festival and the Fringe Festival were taking place, which made for a lot of crowds, but some interesting sights and sounds. We did our best to participate! Besides spending lots of time walking around, we did a bus tour of the city, toured the Royal Yacht Britannia and Edinburgh Castle, ate (and drank) in a number of pubs and restaurants, and generally absorbed the atmosphere of the place. It was quite the spectacle!
After our 4 nights in Edinburgh, we rented a car (yes, I drove!) and set off into the countryside in search of sights and experiences. We stayed at inns in Pitlochry, Inverness, Portree and Luss. We visited The Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies, toured 4 distilleries and a cooperage, drank some whisky, drank some beer, toured castles, drove some narrow single-track roads and saw some incredible scenery. A lot of the scenery was in places where it wasn’t safe to stop the car, so I had to make do with making the best photos I could where I was able to stop! We took boat cruises on Loch Ness, Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine and visited a couple of lighthouses. Once it was all done we were back in Edinburgh for one last night before returning to Charlotte via New York JFK. Flights were all on time, the trip was comfortable and the airline food was surprisingly good. I must say that 8 hours is a long time to be on an airplane!
I’ll continue to post photos and narratives to detail some of the individual highlights of our trip. Overall it was an incredible vacation, but it was also a lot of work for both of us. Our next vacation, someone else may need to do the driving and navigating!
An annual event in Waynesville, NC is the Folkmoot Festival that takes place at the end of July. We typically get to Waynesville during the month of July, but for all our trips there we had never made it to the Folkmoot Festival or anything that had to do with it. This year, while planning our July visit I happened to notice that some of the performers would be participating in the annual Street Dance in downtown on Friday night, and that the Parade of Nations on Saturday would be right down Main Street That was too easy to pass up, so we went.
At Friday’s Street Dance, the Ogon’ki Ensemble from Russia (Siberia) were featured. They put on a great show with several groups of performers. These photos are from that performance. I also got some photos from the parade the following day, but those will need to wait for another post!
Got a bit behind (again) but catching up.
Kathy & I spent some time at the NC coast in early July, visiting Belhaven, Washington and Ocracoke. While I took my camera with me, it seemed like whenever I saw something interesting all I had with me was my phone. Out of a total of 93 photos, 77 were taken with my phone and only 16 with my camera. These are all from my phone.
I haven’t been terribly motivated to process photos lately but forced myself to get a few done for this post. It’s a tough job and no one is going to do it but me! 🙂
Kathy & I spent the Memorial Day weekend at Half Moon, a resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Quiet and laid back, Half Moon was just the answer to a hectic spring and early summer. I went with only my lowly Olympus point & shoot, but still managed to come home with a few photos.
Kathy & I had occasion to pass through Lake Lure, NC this past weekend. I was interested to see that the lake levels and the supply of resident boats have returned. Some may recall an earlier post in January where the lake levels were lower for the winter. It looks like things are ready for spring at Lake Lure!
From our recent cruise. The ship is Celebrity Summit, and she sailed nearly alongside us for a few hours one evening. One of the few Celebrity ships we haven’t sailed on!
A very interesting phenomenon happens this time of year in the corporate world, as people try to use up their “carryover” vacation time – time that they weren’t able to use in the previous year when it was allocated. Most of us get a set allotment of Paid Time Off (“PTO”) each year, and it usually must cover any reason that a person needs to take off, such as vacation, illness, parent-teacher conferences, etc. In some cases, employers allow unused vacation time to be “carried over” into the next year, and it usually needs to be used by a certain date or it is forfeited. In my company, that “use it or lose it” date is March 15.
Kathy & I tend to think of carryover PTO in the same way we think about leftover wine or saving for our kids’ inheritance. “Why would we do that?” 😉 We use every day our employers give us and would gladly take more if we could, whether paid or unpaid. And we never have any trouble using it. The trouble comes when we have to strategize over how to get our travel done in the time we’re allotted. We’re always coming up short!
The “phenomenon” I spoke of is that all those people who couldn’t figure out how to use their PTO time during last year are suddenly inspired to use it all up in the first few months of this year. We’ve got people taking off Fridays and Mondays in January, February and part of March, and a few of them actually manage to take whole weeks off. In some cases these are the same people who managed to be off for two whole weeks at the end of the year just to get their carryover “down” to the amount that they could actually carry over. I’ve offered to help people with travel planning but for some reason no one ever takes me up on it! 🙂
The downside for me is that I often end up being asked to cover for the people who are off. And since managers are generally among the people who are impacted, the usual limits on the number of people who can be off at any one time are largely waived. And we’re generally busier this time of year than we are in other parts of the year, so there is more work to do then there is, say, over the Christmas holiday. But for the most part I don’t mind, because I always feel like I’ve gotten the most out of my time when I’ve taken it. And I certainly wouldn’t want to be off over the Christmas & New Year holidays – it’s a lousy time to travel, you can’t go anywhere because everyone who is off work is out shopping, and then I wouldn’t have that time to use when I want it!
Now I don’t intend to make fun of or condemn people for this. In a number of cases there are good reasons and it is completely justified, as in they have to save days for child care, their personal situations (money, health, caring for another, etc.) require that they hold back time or other reasons. The sad thing is that a lot of people don’t actually manage to do anything with their time off. They just do whatever it is they usually do on a weekend, they just do it longer. Maybe I just don’t get it, but like with a lot of things I just like my way better. And as long as other peoples’ way works for them, it’s nothing for me to get worked up over. But I do admit to a certain amount of smug satisfaction when I sit at my desk in March and think about all the fun things I’m going to do with my own PTO. And I have plenty of work to do so the time goes faster!
One of the stops on our latest cruise was Tortola, an island in the British Virgin Islands. Kathy & I had been to Tortola only once before, and had forgotten how much we loved the area, the islands, the scenery and the people. The itinerary for this cruise put us in port for only a part of the day, so our options for things to do were limited. I checked with a few private operators for a sailing cruise around the islands, but because of our limited time in port they could not offer us anything that would work. We could have done an island tour in a taxi, but spending 3 hours riding around in a van was not on our list of goals! Fortunately the cruise line offered a catamaran cruise to Jost Van Dyke, specifically to a place called the Soggy Dollar Bar.
The Soggy Dollar Bar is a famous beach bar on the island of Jost Van Dyke and is reputed to be the birthplace of the popular drink known as the Painkiller. The Soggy Dollar Bar is so-named because when it was built there was neither a road nor a dock. To reach the beach where the bar is located, it is a common practice for boaters to anchor off the beach, swim to shore, and pay for their drinks with wet money. Thus the name “Soggy Dollar.”
The only downside of this tour was that it was scheduled to meet at 7:00am! So we set the alarm for an early wake-up, caught a bit of breakfast on the ship, and headed off to meet our tour. Once we got underway it was about an hour’s sail to Jost Van Dyke, and we ended up at the Soggy Dollar about 9:00am. Usually a little early to start drinking, but in the islands…. Besides, you can’t drink all day unless you get an early start.
My dollars weren’t soggy, but they spent just fine and I managed to have a few Painkillers. The Soggy Dollar makes its own rum and Painkiller mix, and it is quite good. Unfortunately they don’t sell it, so you have to enjoy it there. And we did! I suppose how much pain they kill depends on a person’s tolerance. I have a fairly strict training regimen so I didn’t have too much difficulty with two, but there were obviously a few amateurs among the group!