17 November, 2009

Inverness!

This weekend I went with my friend from CU and Celtic class, Lindsey Stirling, to visit her family and the sights in Inverness! It was truly a blast and I'm so thankful to have been so well looked-after by Lindsey and her family!

We took the crowded Friday evening train to Inverness, where her parents collected us and fed us and put us to bed. The mattress in the loft was paradise compared to the Hillhead mattress, and I slept like a baby!

Next day (Saturday), we rose early (for college students, okay?) to visit Culloden Battlefield! I have been an amateur historian-fan of the Jacobite Wars for a long time, and this was a special experience (a wee guide for those unfamiliar with the battle here http://www.britishbattles.com/battle_of_culloden.htm). Considering the tragedies that occurred there in 1746, I look way too happy in the pictures. That would be the geek side of me just being excited that I was there. (I smiled at Lexington, MASS, too.) I did have my quiet moment of respect for those that fought and died there, too, but you just can't photograph that sort of thing.



Unfortunately the museum doesn't allow photography, so most of my pictures are from the battlefield itself and the cairns and monuments erected there in the nineteenth century. I did however, try to sneak a pic of a brace of pistols engraved with "Murdoch"--since that's a family clan name. My illicit efforts were not rewarded, as the pictures did not really turn out.





A few minutes drive from Culloden we visited the Clava Cairns. This was honestly the most beautiful area I have seen so far in Scotland, and it was such a surprise. The pictures hardly do it justice (there are some better ones here: http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/inverness/clavacairns/ but still, really, nothing like being there), but I tried. Just the combination of the gnarly trees, the orange leaves of autumn, the moss-covered rocks, the pagan mystery, the standing stones, the mist--gorgeous! The surprise favorite of the trip!







We turned out to be too ambitious in our planning and had to save Urquhart Castle (pronounced, basically, like "irk" + "heart"--just omit the second U) for the next day, but I was rewarded with a hillwalk around the shores of Loch Ness with Lindsey's family and dog. The country they took me through was beautiful, and by the time we got back to the Loch the water was perfectly still (Nessie's nap time?) which made for some great pictures.









After a wonderful supper ("tea" is what they actually call the evening meal) prepared by Lindsey's mother, we gathered in the family room to play a game of LotR Risk! I had never played this version, but I've always been keen on World Domination, and despite being the red "orc" team, I felt no remorse when Lindsey and I won! The victory is documented!



The next day we went to Lindsey's lovely church, and afterwards took a packed lunch to Urquhart Castle! (http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/drumnadrochit/urquhart/) My camera pooped out about halfway through the visit, but I will get pictures from Lindsey when we get around to sharing photos. Built in the 13th century on the site of an old fort visited by St. Columba in the 6th century, and blown up as testament to Scotland's inclination towards scorched earth tactics in the 17th.



The ruins were beautiful, and Sunday was a much brighter, prettier day, so the visit to Urquhart Castle was a success. Lindsey has a great eye for photography, so I'll post her pictures when I get a hold of them: we visited every nook and cranny of the ruins and photographed each other in them. It was a lot of fun. There's also a trebuchet outside the castle walls, allegedly built by some American medieval history students.











We took the train back Monday morning, and I arrived back thoroughly pleased with my visit. It was great having not only a local but a local with a car and a heart of gold showing me around the place.

I returned to an empty kitchen but Lynne totally rescued me, cooking up a batch of tacos and macaroni and cheese, and I was so glad that the taking-care of Megan was continuing I stayed at her flat all day and we watched movies. A perfect lazy end to a wonderful trip!

Now it's really back to the daily grind, probably until Christmas. I want to get studying done early, but besides that I'm staring down the barrel of three papers and a presentation. Wouldn't have fazed me before, but either I'm getting lazy or I just want more time to explore!

Hope this rather more entertaining post finds all of you in the best of health and happiness! Love!

02 November, 2009

Fireworks and Halloween and Ceilidhs, Oh My!


Well, I caught up on my homework just in time, because it's been nonstop fun since then!

The Bible Study I go to Tuesday nights are awesome. I've included some pictures. While going through the book of James we bought an enormous pizza that made Pudge Bros' Monster look like a midget. Good times!




Since then my activities have mainly included movie nights at Jennifer and Tom's place with Lynne. Long Island Iced Teas and much good-natured fun abound. They haven't yet let me synch up Dark Side of the Moon with the Wizard of Oz, but I am working on it...


One excitingly Scottish thing I've done recently was, ironically, not very Scottish: Aberdeen's Malt Whisky Society hosted a very fancy tasting session of INDIAN whisky! They make it Scotch style, but in India! They have a whisky ranked 3rd in the world! It was very informative and swanky and I learned a lot. And I confirmed how much I love my peat!



The highlight has been Halloween! Lynne, Jennifer, Tom and I met up with AURA (Aberdeen University Roleplaying Society--the gamer folk--ooh! And I'm now officially First Year Representative on the Committee!) at the student pub where they played really loud music but drinks were yummy. It was so not my scene but I managed some dancing in my sweltering costume. Then we went to a better place called the Bassment where they played good music not too loud and we got to talk with other AURA members. A fun group. Lynne was Anakin Skywalker (RotS), and Tom went as Darth Vader. Jennifer went as a Twi'lek, and made an awesome tentacle-headress for herself.




I was, of course, an Ewok. I will post better pictures when I have them, but suffice to say it worked out very well. Jennifer helped my build the hood, and I rented the bear costume and bought a small spear. The cute fuzziness was a total dude-magnet-- which was awesome! (Although it says some unfortunate things about the male population of Aberdeen...)

A few days later I attended a Ceilidh! Sadly only my second one, but it was a blast! Hosted by the CU (Christian Union--come on, people, learn my acronyms!), there was fun-filled dancing and, luckily, a full bar. You don't have to be pretty or a good dancer to get asked to dance at a Ceilidh! Yes! I was only allowed to sit out the one dance which I insisted on photographing.




Then, for Guy Fawkes Day, a few members of AURA put on a fabulous fireworks display on the beach! There were glow-sticks and sparklers and beer and s'mores (well, sorta), as well! That was a blast!

video

I'm now off to Inverness with Lindsey for the weekend, to see Culloden Battlefield, Loch Ness, and perhaps a castle or two! I will hopefully be much more prompt in posting my adventures there!

Love!

27 October, 2009

The Vacation's Over...

...Let the "living" begin!

I'm officially over the honeymoon stage of my trip to Scotland. It's less about being in Scotland and doing touristy things (and not just because I've been sick--though I'm getting better now, finally), and more about buckling down to homework (I have a whole whopping single 2,000-word essay due. Oh, noes!) and hanging out with friends. I finally feel like I live here. That's kind of nice.

The weather's been tolerable here, with only a few intolerably wet (but not quite cold--yet) days. It's not a bad life: afternoons in class, evenings (when I'm avoiding homework, like now) watching movies with good friends, with bible studies and roleplaying games thrown in the mix, and sleeping in in the mornings way more than I ever would have back home. I could do worse.

I've been elected to sit on the committee for the roleplaying society (AURA, technically Aberdeen University Roleplaying Association) in the "token freshman" role: apparently foreign exchange students count as freshers over here. This is kind of exciting. This is the equivalent of an officer of a club back home! They needed some female rep on the committee, anyway. ;) (Not really, but don't think I don't know the real reason I was elected LOL!)

Big plans for the Halloween weekend. The Ewok costume is coming towards fruition! (The bear suit is already rented, though I have yet to build a hood, and I plan on purchasing a small tribal-looking spear or sling, and bundling my hair into bear-ear-like-buns.) Lynne is going along as Anakin Skywalker, and Jennifer and Tom will be Leia Organa and Han Solo. I will so be posting pictures. Please join me in fervent prayer that it will not be raining on Halloween night, as pub-hopping will get my fuzzy feet wet and make me owe the costume shop money! We will hopefully snag more people from AURA to join us. Need more Star Wars characters!

And this is exciting to me, although I doubt anyone will share in my geekery: I am actually writing on King Arthur for all of my class essays! Get this: For the Celtic/Roman class I am writing on the case for the historical Arthur (Gildas, Nennius, etc.); for my War and Society class I'm going to write on concepts of chivalry and the conflict between literary ideals and the reality of war; and for my Gaelic/Welsh Arthur class I'm going to write on, you guessed it, Arthur (I think I'll try to do something with Gawain). Fun! Except I'm truly freaking out because I'm staring down the barrel of under 10,000 words of essay total for the semester, when I'm used to looking at 20 or 30,000. I don't know if my gregariousness can handle it!

See, I told you. Rather boring, mundane, un-Scottish stuff. It's like I just live here. Weird.

I do have some fun things lined up: my friend Lindsey is taking me up to visit her folks in Inverness in a few weekends! Inverness! The capital of everything Highland! Loch Ness! Culloden! Tourist-Megan will be back in action! I will of course have pictures for that, as well.

Well, it appears I've avoided my essay long enough, and I have Bible study in two hours. I miss and love you all, and I hope this post finds you all in states of happiness and general satisfaction with life!

Wicket wants YOU to join her Star Wars pub-hopping Halloween clan!

16 October, 2009

Wait, I Can Explain....


So I've gone through my life thinking I'm just really cool. I don't get sick. My sickly childhood aside, once I hit puberty I fancied myself rather invincible in the face of the common cold, flu season, etc.

Turns out it was only because I lived in a favorable clime. The main reason for my going AWOL from the internet for so long is that I succumbed to "Fresher's Flu" or something else. Weakened as I was by the cool, moist air, and bogged down by far too much oxygen in my lungs, I got some sort of bug in my chest that wouldn't go away. (Still hasn't, really, but free health care makes me nervous. You get what you pay for?) I was so ill I was off chocolate! Chocolate! Me!!

So that's my excuse for at least a week.

One of the really exciting things was going to a Sunday night mass marking the 500th anniversary of the consecration of King's College Chapel! I have classes in that building! (not the chapel, but the adjacent buildings) The service was lovely, and the Archfreakingcoolbishop of Edinburgh was there, among others in a star-studded cast! It was just really neat and beautiful. Since I haven't photographed it yet (and felt too trashy to take pictures during the service), here's the article on it: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/news/details-4649.php

I've also made some fantastic friends. Lynne and Katie are my American buddies with whom I watch crappy/awesome TV shows with, and Lindsey and Floriane are my Scottish and French buddies (respectively) with whom I do CU events (and Lindsey is taking us up to her home in Inverness some weekend soon!!), and Jenny is in my Serenity game and her boyfriend Tom and I are in a history class together. Ended up having a history-discussion-lunch with Tom and his friend Adam, which was a blast. Also got Jenny, Tom, and Lynne involved in Whisky Society, and now Tom and Lynne are in a Wednesday night game with Jenny and I. Fun, fun, fun!

I almost went to London this weekend with Lynne and Katie, but on account of the last-minuteness, my lack of money, and the fact that I will get for sure at least two more chances to see London, I decided to pass. Still not sure it was a good move, but at least now I have time to post here!!

Also swung by Edinburgh for two nights of pubbing with Lindsay (for her birthday) and Sam and their friend Suzanne. The train ride is epically gorgeous. It takes you by the sea almost the whole way, and I swear it's practically the best part of the trip. Wow. Just beautiful. Wasn't able to photograph it, unfortunately, because the train was moving. A photograph wouldn't have done it, anyway.

Speaking of photographs, find here a meager selection of Scottish images, considering I haven't posted in a while.
In Edinburgh. Just a nice pic of the castle.

For my Terry Pratchett crazy bro and sis back home... here's what awaits you!
The William Wallace statue at the center of Aberdeen. Notice the blue sky in the background.
Also notice I'm totally looking up his kilt!

Another beautiful day in sunny sunny Scotland. And by sunny I mean windy. Bad windy. Scary windy. And of course I was out in it, like a moron. But the rainbow helped.

You can see how windy it was here:
It really isn't for girls. It's like 400 calories per bar. But I'm converted. This was the awesome stuff I was off when I was sick. Argh!
A view out my flat window. Not much of a view, but a sunny, blue sky is nothing to sneeze at!!