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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June 24- Leaving Glasgow for home.

Not much to say here folks. Up at 5:30 and finished all my miscellaneous items in my bags and then down to wait for my taxi at 6:20. He was there 5 minutes later and we had an easy 20 minute drive to the airport. Just as agreed the price was 14 pounds with a 2 pound tip. No problem checking in and getting through security in about 45 minutes. Had a small breakfast sandwich with a cappuccino and then headed off towards where I expected my gate would be. I had about an hour before boarding but there are lots of comfortable seating areas. Couldn't connect to internet so my message to Carol telling her I was on the way didn't go until I landed in Halifax. The flight was uneventful and took about 6 hours a little less than usual because headwinds were lighter this morning. Cleared customs using my Nexus pass which has worked really well the last few times I have used it. I was requested to divert for a random interview but when the agent found out that I had only brought 2 shot glasses home for a value of $10 he sent me on.

It was lovely to see Carol's smiling face and the rest of her waiting for me when I got out of customs. This concludes my travels to the UK this year. It has been a good time and I got to experience lots of new things.
It won't be my last trip there.
June 23 Last Full Day in Glasgow, Scotland.

Up at 7:00. Looks like another nice day. I had a confirmation from Westjet that they were refunding my original change fee of $136. I didn't even expect that much so no complaints. Breakfast at 7:30 and afterwards I read until about 9:30 when I was able to check in for my flight home. Apparently it is totally booked but I have a seat. At 10 I started my 2.5 mile walk towards Victoria Park and the Fossil Grove. It was sunny and 10 c. It took me a little over 40 minutes with only one wrong turn. I arrived at Victoria Park at the exact opposite end from Fossil Grove and all their signage has been turned, probably by vandals, to show the wrong direction so after a few missteps I set off to wander through the park. It is a large green space with lots of lawns and trees spaced nicely. There are several garden beds and in some they are planting different coloured succulent plants with different messages such as an organization celebrating 150 years of service or the new motto for the city "People Make Glasgow".

Arriving at the Fossil Grove I looked at the illustrations on the sign boards and could easily have imagined myself at Joggins NS. There are 11 tree stumps in situ found in a whinstone quarry that was being reclaimed tight in the centre of Glasgow. They were found in 1880 and immediately recognized as a significant geological discovery. As a result a museum was built right over the top of them. There is also one tree trunk about 5 metres in length lying down on the ground. The stumps are upright with the roots still radiating out from them.
Fossil Stump
In Joggins we never get to see this type of preservation because of the destruction caused by earthquakes and upheaval of the geological strata. Nothing is in situ but rather raised up in the cliffs and of course constantly eroding out because of the fragile cliff face and force of the tides. I had a very good talk with the curator and 2 Glaswegian older ladies and told them about Joggins which of course they had never heard of. Nova Scotia and Scotland would have been part of a large continent and at about the same latitude 330 million years ago.

I walked back towards the park exit and before doing so decided to have some apple, cheese and a pint of Jennings Cumberland Golden Ale. I always carry my Caledonian Ale glass with me so it seems so much more civilized. I was close to a small pond that had a group of 6 swans and I think some of them were this years brood as well as a couple of coots. Yes Barry there are more things called coots than old guys like you and me. 
Swan and Coots on nest
Coots and babies

I had a nice walk home but had to stop at a pub on Hyndland to use the washroom and oh well may as well have a half pint, which was the cause of my having to use the washroom in the first place.
Arrived home at 2:00. It is a nice afternoon, 17c and sunny with a little cloud cover. 

Wrote up my diary and had a cup of tea with biscuits and back to updating the blog. At 4 I took a walk down Byres \road to see if I could find some souvenirs without any luck. I may have left this too late. Definitely did. My real regret is that I did not get to Bowness on Solway to find something for Richard. I retook some pictures of the church and Kelvingrove Museum that I had lost in the phone glitch.

Back to the hotel at 5 where I had them reserve a taxi for tomorrow at 6:30. The cost is only 14 pounds whereas I had paid 23 + on the way in. Getting to the end of a trip is always a bit anticlimactic so the blog wears on as I do. For the evening all I did was take a shower, watch some TV and finish getting the blog up to date to yesterday. I probably had a couple of beer too but it will likely come as a surprise to you that I left a full one in my room.Off to bed at 11.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

June 22 - Glasgow

Up at 6:15, breakfast will be at 7:30. Wrote up another blog. Down to the bus stop outside by Hotel by 8:10 to be picked up by Discover Scotland Tours. They arrived on time and drove us to the City Centre where we changed vans and started off on on our tour. There were only two other people in the van,  Moritzio and Jessica a young couple from Orlando and our driver Cliff. It was a 16 seat van so we all had good seats and it was very comfortable. Our first stop was at Loch Lomond one of the largest lochs in Scotland. We also stopped at a a hill overlooking Tarbett named for the place where the Vikings hauled their boats between lochs. Incidentally an unnamed loch is called a lochan.
Loch Lomond
Looking back at Tarbett

Back in the van driving through some beautiful countryside. I couldn't enter all my pictures but will try to put in as many as I can. We entered the town of Argyll, the ancestral home of the Campbell Clan. There is a castle there called  Inverary Castle. It was destroyed by fire in the 1975 and members of the Campbell Clan from all over the world made contributions to the restoration totalling about 1 million pounds. The current Duke of Argyll lives there in a portion of the castle and it it is open most days for public viewing for a fee of 8 pounds. I took a picture of the castle then walked back down to the town.
Inverary Castle - Argyll
Piper at Argyll
I walked around, there wasn't a lot to see but I picked up 2 shot glasses my traditional souvenir when I travel. Then I sat on the waterfront and had an ale in my Caledonian glass and some cheese. It was very peaceful. We were back on the bus at 11:45 (yes I had a beer before lunch) and drove through the start of the highlands. We drove by Loch Awe one of the longest in Scotland. Some of the mountains had snow on the top of them. The highlands are very old mountains and have been worn down by glaciers and erosion. Any mountain over 3000 ft is known as a Monroe named for the gentlemen who surveyed them all; there are 282 of them in Scotland and only 3 in England. Mountains between 3000 and 2500 ft are called Corbetts. The highest mountain in Scotland is Ben (meaning mountain) Nevis. 

We saw some Ayrshire cattle and lots of sheep. We stooped and saw Kilcurin Castle the original seat of the Campbell Clan which was abandoned in 1760 after being struck by lightening.

We came to a fork in the road; Right to Crianlarich and left to Oban. Crianlarich was the first place Carol and I had stayed when we first visited Scotland in 1994. So by turning left towards Oban I was entering new territory. We stopped on the way at a small church called St. Conan's Kirk. It was built in 1930 by Walter Campbell who didn't want his Mother to travel too far to go to church. He died during the construction and it was finished by his sister. It looked like it could have been built in the 1600's as it's style was certainly not modern. 
It was a magnificent piece of architecture with its own cloisters here which is unusual for a small church. Also a nice display of rhododendrons and azaleas here and on the side of the road.

We drove down through Connell which is a fair size community and then on to Oban. It is the gateway to the western islands as ferries leave from here on a regular basis. We got off the bus at 1:15 and I wanted to have haggis one more time. I stopped at a restaurant called Cuan Mor where I ordered a starter of haggis, black pudding with mash and cream. I also had one of their amber ales and to mark the occasion I ordered a dram of Ardbeg Scotch Whisky. For the first time in all my time eating haggis I was disappointed. The black pudding and haggis came separate in a little pastry shell. They just weren't what I was expecting and were extremely small. The mash and cream were good and so was the Ardbeg but then it should have been at 4.50 pounds. I finished my ale sitting outside of the restaurant looking out at the ocean.
Haggis and black pudding
Looking out to sea
I also saw an interesting shop. It was a Funeral Service combined with a Joinery business. I took a picture for Dad who was a joiner by trade.

We were back on the van at 2:30 and drove towards Glencoe. On the way we stopped at Stalker Castle located on an island, for some pictures and a coffee. Actually I had an ice cream.

We stopped at Glencoe where the MacDonald Clan were ordered to be killed by King William in February 1962 for not swearing allegiance to him on time. This was done as a warning to the other clans. There were about 200 under the age of 70 which was the order. 30 were killed immediately, 40 fled and another 40 died of exposure. My math may not be correct so probably more of them fled. There were Campbell Clan members with the government forces . Bad blood existed between these clans before and after. The following picture is of the 3 sisters in Glencoe.

We were back on the road at 4:15 and actually drove back to Crianlarich but due to a new bypass we didn't go through the town which was kind of a shame as I was wondering if I would recognize the B&B we stayed in years ago. The last stop we made was at the Drover's Inn a pub that is 310 years old. It had a wide collection of stuffed animals on it's walls.

The van dropped me off right at the hotel at 5:30. Cliff had been a good tour guide. I ate a sandwich, some cheese and had an ale. I watched some TV, wrote up this blog and was off to bed at 11:00.

June 21 Glasgow

Up at 6:15. Breakfast is not until 8 and it looks like a really nice morning. Breakfast was really good; sausages, scrambled eggs, beans, toast, yoghurt and a banana. At 9 I called Discover Scotland Tours to make sure they were going to pick me up right outside my hotel which is the main reason I chose them. Good thing I checked as they had me leaving from downtown a few miles away. Got that sorted and was pleased. At 10:10 I started walking down Byres Street towards a church at St. Patrick's Close. I got there about 10:25 right after the sermon and took a seat the the back. The priest had a very thick accent but was very well received by his congregation. After the Mass I lit a candle for Dad on Father's Day and for he and Mom for their 65th anniversary and I put the candles right together.
St. Patrick's Church

Then I walked towards the Kelvingrove Museum and it is such an impressive building. Admission is free and I spent nearly two hours there. I started off by looking at an art exhibition by the Glasgow Boys, a prominent group of Glaswegian painters in the 1890's such as Hornel, Henry, Mann and others. They were largely known for landscapes though they ventured into other genres as well. Next I looked at some fish fossils from the Devonian period and another that highlighted marine crustaceans and other animals such as ammonites and belamites such as I had seen on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. They also had a cast of a tree fossil stump that is one of eleven that were found in a stone quarry on the edge of Victoria Park. Sounds like it deserves a visit. 
Kelvingrove Museum
I also looked at a history of Glasgow from the 1100's to the present. Glasgow was the most prosperous city in Scotland largely due to its industrial base helped by an abundance of coal, iron and shipbuilding. There was also a great display of artefacts found indication habitation going back as far as 4000 BC. 

As I started to walk back towards the hotel in a light drizzle I noticed my phone had gone on the fritz. I was unable to make phone calls and my screens had all changed. This was a little disconcerting but I thought once I got back to the hotel it would connect to the internet and hopefully correct itself. On the way back I stopped and picked up some McVittie chocolate biscuits and a pint of whole milk for my coffee. I made a nice ham sandwich and enjoyed a pint of Wainwright Golden Ale. Also had a cup of coffee with my cookies. 

I want to try and update the blog but do have to try and correct the phone. It is 3:00 and in the next hour I published 2 posts and at 4 I went back down Byres St. to the phone store. There a clerk removed the SIM card, put it back in and turned the phone on and off. All was restored and I was thrilled. Back to the hotel and did a variety of puzzles from a paper I had bought. Watched some TV, Morris was on and then an episode of Silent Witness a show I hadn't seen for years. I wrote up a third day of the blog, had a cup of team with a biscuit and a plum. Made a ham sandwich for tomorrow, laid out my clothes and was off to bed at 11:30

June 20 Saturday Leaving Maryport going to Glasgow

Up at 6:20, finished packing and had a cup of tea. Then off to the bus stop a few minutes down the road to check what time the bus goes to Maryport. Scheduled for 7:45 so at 7:30 I left in a light drizzle for the bus stop. It arrived at 7:50 and the ticket to Maryport was 3.80 pounds. I was glad I kept my raincoat out because when I got off in Maryport it was raining a little harder. Bought a ticket to Carlisle for 7.80 pounds and the train leaves in 30 minutes at 8:42. It came on time and I read a book until it arrived in Carlisle at 9:15. There I bought a ticket to Glasgow for 23.90 pounds and waited for about 45 minutes for the train to arrive. It is running a little late due to a strike further back on the line. This is a direct Virgin train with no stops so that makes for a good ride. I had bought a bacon sandwich and a cake at the station and with my apple and usual cheese I had a late breakfast enroute. I was able to connect to the internet too so got caught up a little with my emails.

Arrived in Glasgow Central Station at 12:00 and caught a shuttle to the airport just up the street for 6.50 pounds. I am still quite optimistic at this point. The airport was quite busy when I got there about 20 minutes later but I was able to find the liaison company for Westjet called Menzies. They were super friendly but advised me that the flight for Sunday was oversubscribed and that the earliest I could get out was on Wednesday. Talk about being gob-smacked! (you don't get to use that word very often but it was totally applicable in this case). I did have the option of taking a flight from Dublin, Ireland to Halifax on the 22 but that would have meant me finding my own way there (because doesn't fly between destinations) probably costing $400 and the difference in my flight home was $126. I didn't like the Irish option because there were too many variables including a stopover in. St John's so I changed my ticket to fly out on Wednesday. They actually refunded me $36.

I had a half hour of internet service compliments of Glasgow airport so I started searching for a place to stay. Tried my original Guest House, Amadeus but they were full. I wanted to be in that area because there is so much to do. Staying near the airport was not attractive for that number of days. After calling a few places, remember I had cell phone coverage thanks to Kyle and Jenn (phone) and Julie (Father's Day cash), I was able to find lodging for 4 nights at Kelvin Hotel Guest House. It is at 15 Buckingham Terrace right on Great Western Road. It would have been a 10 minute walk at most from Amadeus House and is right next door to all the shops on Byres Road. A perfect location for sure. I took the shuttle back into the city and was able to catch a transfer on the 6A right to my door. I checked in shortly after 2:00 and was shown to my room on the first floor (not the ground floor).

This must have been a grand home in its day.

 It has nice decorative mouldings, a large staircase and big windows. The dining room is right next to my room and the gust lounge is just down the hall.
My room has a double bed, wardrobe and a few drawers. There is a sink in the room.

I watched some TV and was quite tired after all the travel back and forth and making all these arrangements. At least I don't have to relocate for 4 days. I called Carol and she and Jenn had just had a great day together doing Mother/ Daughter things. She was very understanding and encouraged me to explore. My first trip was to a grocery called Waitrose where I picked up some fruit, cheese, rolls, sliced ham, olives and wait for it, beer. (Actually a couple of ales). I didn't feel like going out to supper, it's not as much fun on your own all the time, so this will make a good meal for a few days.

Back to the hotel and got some butter from the dining room and made a nice sandwich which I ate with my cheese, olives and beer. Not too bad. The hotel also allows me to put my cheese and ham in the fridge. No need to refrigerate the ale.

There were several brochures in the guest lounge from tour companies so I booked one to Oban with Discover Scotland Tours for Monday for 38 pounds. Watched some mystery shows on TV and was off to bed at 11:30.

Monday, June 22, 2015

June 19 Day 6 Maryport

Up at 6:30, left for breakfast at the cottages at 7. Off to the site with John. Tony gave us an explanation about the trench beyond the hedge to the east of our site. Looks promising with several ditch like features.

Then we continued work on our feature. In this case Antonio from Spain worked with me. We continued to remove a little more topsoil down to the original soil. We now have a trench with a post hole beside it but not intersecting. We took pictures of it from both north and south views before lunch. After lunch we used the string that we had placed at each end on either side of the feature and graphed it in by using the elevation from both the top and the bottom. This would like like a drawing of it in profile. We used the surveying equipment to determine the elevation of the feature as well. We are now totally finished with this feature such as it is.

At the end of the day Tony updated us on the ditches and what looks like a cobble stone plaza which both would have reached the old Temple at Maryport. It is felt that the cobblestone plaza would have been used to display the Roman altars to their gods, mainly Jupiter. All this was found within a week and they still have 7 weeks to go. Hope they find more.

These don't look like much in this photo but are pretty impressive in real life.

Back to the hotel and am not able to contact Westjet to change my flight. Long story short there was a glitch in their system when I originally booked my flight so my booking did not show up on my profile and therefore I was unable to make the changes on-line. So I think the easiest thing to do is to go to Glasgow tomorrow and go right to the airport to make the arrangements. I would have to stay overnight on Saturday and fly out the next morning. There are lots of trains going to Glasgow from Maryport and I should be able to take a taxi or bus to Maryport.

So with that looked after (or so I thought) I joined the 5 team members who came down to the Ship for a drink. David, Elliott, Sam, Amy and Skylar were there and we all ordered supper. I had a pretty good steak and ale pie. Also a couple of beer, Yates Bitter and Sun Goddess. Tony and |Antonio showed up after supper and we all joined in on a 4 on 4 game of billiards. Our team won 3 out of 4.

We all headed for bed at 10:30. I am all packed and ready to go in the morning. I read part of anew Jeffrey Archer book before going off to sleep. I had paid my bill and it came to 192 pounds including two suppers.

I had taken a photo of a plaque outside the Ship Hotel which may give it a little more status. Apparently Charles Dickens stayed there on Sept 8. It does not say that he booked in for a subsequent night however.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

June 18 Day 5 Maryport

Up at 6, had a coffee and left for the cottages at 7. After breakfast left for the site at 8. Had an overview by Tony of the work being done in the field next to our site by the excavator. They have dug two smaller sites and intend on digging a large trench. All theses are hopeful that they will reveal some of the ditches that go under the Roman Temple closer to the museum.

Today we continued to work on our features. I am looking at what appears to be a post hole that may intersect a ditch that runs the length of the west side of our site. The idea is to remove the fill (topsoil) from the features. Each one would have two contexts; the sides of the feature where it was dug in and the fill. It was still quite cold and windy. After lunch I put on my raincoat over my jacket and it seemed a little warmer. We had to collect several samples of the fill from the features in buckets for further sieving and floatation to determine what biological items such as seeds, small bones and charcoal that might provide evidence of habitation. It is all a very logical process but labelling the material and placing the information on context sheets can be a little tedious. We finished up at 4:30.

You can see that most of the fill has been removed from the feature. The ditch is quite obviously the large depression and the post hole is sectioned and cleared only 50% so we will be able to see the cross section in profile.
The kneeling pad gives an idea of the length which is about 4 feet.

Note the string along this line that was placed here to guide the cutting of the section. The post hole (half) is on the left.

During the afternoon I had been able to connect by phone with Carol and let her know I was probably going to try and come home on Sunday. I think she was thrilled and I am glad I made the decision to do so. Now all I have to do is change my reservation, book a train from Maryport to Glasgow on Saturday and find a hotel for one night.

Getting back to the Ship I was miraculously able to regulate the shower temperature so I had a shower. Les came to pick me up at 7 for a Rotary meeting at the Waverley Hotel in Maryport . He bought me a pint of beer and we put in our order of 3 choices for our meal. I had soup, battered cod and a creme broulee. It cost 10 pounds which I paid but the treasurer refunded it to me because they get so few guests from away that they didn't want to charge me even though I tried to insist. At the end of the night I donated it to 3 members who were doing a fund raising bike ride event next week. I also bought 2 tickets on their weekly lottery and told them to donate it to one of their charities should I be the winner when they draw next week.

The President John Shanks and one other member said they had seen me on ITV Border News at 6 from a filming that was made on Tuesday. Here is the link. There are 3 items, a picture of volunteers on the site, a video of Tony and another of three of us. Here is the link if you care to view:

The meal was great and since it was a business meeting for them with the ADG David Collins in attendance who gave them a bit of a pep talk. They have 22 members and are not growing. They are a jolly bunch but don't accept women in their club and are being encouraged to do so. They will certainly have trouble surviving if they don't change this aspect. One of the members came up to me afterwards and said he travels to Alberton PEI on a semi regular basis as he has in-laws who live in that area. That's pretty neat considering my Mother comes from Piusville, near Bloomfield 20 kilometres away.

Les drove me home at 9:30 where I bought him a pint at the Ship. He new everyone there. Off to bed at 10ish, wrote up my diary and read for a while before going to sleep. (My usual habit|)