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Showing posts from August, 2012

Scotland day 8 (end of trip)

We drove into Edinburgh just before noon on Saturday, parked near the airport and caught a bus downtown.  We had been told that navigating and parking can be troublesome in UK cities, especially in summer, so we opted for finding our way into the city via the top deck of a double-decker bus.  We stepped off near Edinburgh Castle and were immediately surrounded by a large park, bustling shops, throngs of tourists, and Starbucks.

After gawking at Edinburgh Castle for awhile, we sauntered around the park, slowed down to listen at a music stage, then headed up the hill to High Street.  It really is high, you know.  The first thing we encountered once we reached High Street was (you guessed it) a bagpiper, this time with a drummer.  A really funky combination!  We spent the afternoon walking from Edinburgh Castle (we didn't have time to go in, but we saw the police dogs sniffing around the stands for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo which were situated right in front of the castle and th…

Scotland day 7

After a yummy lunch with my theology/theatre colleagues on Friday, the conference was done and Dean and I left St. Andrews (sorry we didn't have another day to spend there to enjoy the town).  We headed north up the coast and stopped at Arbroath, a fishing town, to check out the seafood.  Dean had been told to try a smokie, so we parked at the harbour and walked around.  There were plenty of fish shops scattered around the area, so we walked into one and Dean picked up a filleted, smoked fish. He said it was pretty tasty, but it took a bit of work to eat around the bones.  Dean and the car both smelled like smokey fish for the next day (ew!).

We continued our drive up the coast, stopped at some wild crags for a bathroom break (in the public toilet, not off the crag), went for a wee walk in the windy hills, and then decided it was time to get on the road and find our lodging for the night - I had been warned that it was a bit tricky to get to.  We overshot our turnoff once, then w…

Scotland days 5 and 6


Wednesday morning we drove a few miles to the William Wallace memorial in Stirling and hiked up the hill to see not only WW but a fabulous view of the surrounding countryside.  It was warm and sunny as usual (for our trip, not in general for the UK) and as we walked back to the car, we discussed whether or not to go see Stirling castle.  Due to our time constraints, one castle was probably all we would get to tour and we weren't sure which one to choose.  I mentioned that we had driven past Doune castle on our way to the hotel last night and it was only about 10-15 minutes away.  You know Doune castle, the one used as a location for Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail?  That settled it for Dean: off to Doune we went.


After Iona, it was the highlight of our trip.  Yes, we swing easily between the sublime and the ridiculous.  Doune castle is in good repair for a late 14th century structure.  We opted to listen to the audio tour narrated by none other than Terry Jones …

Scotland day 4

Day 4:

On Tuesday we came down to breakfast at 8:00 am and both of us paused when we entered the dining room.  The view from the table was across the channel to the Isle of Iona and one could just make out the abbey underneath a grey sky.  We ordered our breakfast (Dean had haggis along with his eggs and some salmon...because he could), had some pleasant conversation with people from Manitoba (yes, we had mutual friends), Japan, and Britain.  Then we caught the first ferry over to the island at 8:45am.  Iona is a beautiful, quaint island (population 125) with a small village located right where the ferry disembarks.  There are no cars allowed on the island except for locals, so pretty much everyone is on foot, which is no problem really because the island is only 3 miles long and 1 mile wide.


Dean and I walked up a road and soon found ourselves at the site of a 13th century nunnery.  The ruins are now the site of a well-tended garden.  We wandered around for a bit, standing in the c…

Scotland days 2 and 3

Day 2:

Well, there was no choice but to jump in and drive once we landed in Glasgow.  Dean managed the left-right reversal magnificently and we navigated our way through multiple roundabouts (it felt so wrong to turn left), onto a major freeway, down a few (what we felt were) poorly marked roads and 15 minutes later were at our hotel.  After getting settled and foraging for a bit of food, we wandered the streets of Glasgow, ooh-ing and aah-ing, until we met our friend Lisa for dinner.  She had promised to take us to a place where Dean could get proper haggis, neeps, and tatties (a sausage-like mixture made from sheep's pluck, parsnips, potatoes) and that she did.  I ordered a cider and a plate of mixed vegetable goodies and even got brave enough to sample the haggis (pretty major deal for a mostly vegetarian) which was quite flavourful indeed.  Another walk around Glasgow after supper, this time with Lisa as guide, and we were ready for bed.  The next day was going to be our tric…

Scotland Day 1

I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Scotland and am still trying to get back into things here in Montreal.  A few days before we left on our trip, we acquired some house guests (a young family who is immigrating from Venezuela to Montreal and staying with us until they find their own place) and they were kind enough to take care of Jazz and our condo while we were away.  It is always a joy to help people out who are new to Montreal, but is also means that my writing/thinking/studying time is usually cut back.  So this is the first time in a few weeks that I have had some time to write here.

So...Scotland.  Where do I start?  There were so many wonderful experiences and quite a few complications, which is normal in any trip that is as involved as ours was.  We drove to Toronto, flew from there into Glasgow, drove through Loch Lomond Park, visited the Isle of Mull, the Isle of Iona, Stirling, Doune, St. Andrews, Arbroath, Ethie, Inverkeilor, Lunan Bay, and Edinburgh.  We stayed at…

lessons from improv #2

I have been doing some reading on improvisation these past few weeks.  This is in preparation for a presentation I will be giving in Scotland in mid-August on the links between audience participation, improv, and theology.  Pretty fun stuff.  I came across some thought-provoking words in a few articles that seemed to speak directly to spiritual formation and what it looks like to follow Jesus.  But they were all about improv!  Let me share a few of these morsels with you...so you don't have to come all the way to Scotland to hear them.

From a book on improvisation techniques:

"In improvisation a mistake is simply a gift you weren’t expecting.If a set piece falls, or a line is forgotten, or an entrance is missed, it’s as if so many gems have fallen in your lap.Instead of bemoaning the fact that you’re ensconced deeply in the Actor’s Nightmare, you should rejoice that this may be the only moment in your entire career to inhabit your character freely, to breathe as another, fett…