A day in Edinburgh

IMG_8929Yesterday, F. and I went to Edinburgh for the day. We’ve been meaning to go for ages and we still didn’t do all the things we could do. (I think my list of things I want to do in Edinburgh might be longer than F.’s…) We wandered around the National Gallery and then ate lunch sitting outside. It was a good thing we were sitting under the awning because just after our food arrived, it started POURING down rain! I was mostly protected, but F. caught the backsplash of rain hitting the pavement and the wind blowing the rain towards us. Fortunately we had umbrellas with us.

The rain had abated by the time we finished eating, so we went to Edinburgh Castle. I’ve been to Edinburgh Castle more times than I can count, but F. had never been. He got the benefit of my added commentary to the guide’s tour of the castle. We had tea and cake in Queen Anne’s tea room and spent time paging through the books of the dead in the war memorial. F. found a book of women personnel and a list of civilians killed during the two world wars. If I were a modern historian, I would study women in the military during the first and second world wars. I’m curious to read more about them, anyway.

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But the real reason we went to Edinburgh on Friday was because Andrew Peterson was playing in Edinburgh. Andrew Peterson is an American singer-songwriter, a great storyteller, and whose music is the among the best, most honest Christian music I’ve heard. I first heard him play when he opened for Nichole Nordeman about 11 or so years ago in San Antonio. He played from his album “Love and Thunder” then, and I was in love with the strong, folk harmonies of his music and the real-ness of his lyrics. His craft has only improved over the years and I was very excited to hear he was going to be playing in Edinburgh on his European tour. F. had never heard any of Andrew Peterson’s music, so I was also looking forward to introducing him to one of my favourite artists.

IMG_8943The concert was held in one of Edinburgh’s Baptist churches. The setting was intimate: tables and chairs and couches scattered in front of the stage, each table lit by a candle. His tour was part of his family holiday, so it was just him playing on the guitar or piano. He played songs from his most recent album, “Light for the Lost Boy”, as well as a few others. Among my favourites were, “Dancing in the Minefields”, “Shine Your Light on Me”, and “In the Night My Hope Lives On”. What I loved best about the concert was hearing his stories behind each song. His ten year-old daughter Skye joined him on stage to sing “The Voice of Jesus” and “Isle of Skye”, both songs he had written for her; her voice singing harmony brought tears to my eyes. As F. later said, Andrew Peterson’s music is “balm for the soul”.

It was also very nice for this ex-pat to be in familiar territory: Andrew Peterson has a Southern accent, many people in the audience were American, and it was an evangelical setting. I didn’t realise how tightened up I was until I settled down to listen to Andrew talk and sing. Sometimes this Texan gal just needs some familiar accents and music to relax.

We left the concert too late to catch the bus, so we went to the train station instead. I played with my camera while waiting for the train to come. This is the best of my experiments:

IMG_8957We got home nearly midnight, and then I woke up early for a very long and busy day at MUSA. But I’m listening to the album I bought last night (“Resurrection Letters, Vol II”) and I’m so glad we made it down to Edinburgh to see both the castle and the concert. It was a Very Good Day. 🙂

* As ever, click on the pictures to see larger versions.

Favourite things

Daisies:

IMG_8528…and trim green grass and Sallie’s Hall quad.

 

Favourite things

Ducklings!

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The burn (read: small river) I cross every day to go into town hasn’t had ducklings for the last couple of years. There used to be problems with flooding, so a few years ago the council paid to have banks along this stretch of the burn redone. They essentially dredged the river and put up new walls along the sides of the banks. Unfortunately, they did this right during nesting season and we haven’t had ducklings since.

That is, until this year! The mama ducks have finally deemed our part of the burn safe again, and have been parading their wee ducklings for all to see. Each day I’ve seen more ducklings. This morning I even saw three (3!) families of ducks, with a total of twenty-three (23!) ducklings!

How can you not love ducklings? Just look at them! And they go ‘cheep, cheep’, and paddle their little feet, and they’re just little balls of fluff! I love ducklings, and I’m so glad I get to see so many of them this year.

Just plain tired

It doesn’t matter if I get “enough” sleep. I’m still tired during the day. Why?

  • Allergies make me tired.
  • Anxiety makes me tired.
  • Borderline anaemia makes me tired.
  • Chronic sinus infections make me tired.
  • Hypothyroidism makes me tired
  • Rheumatoid arthritis makes me tired.

Even some of the medications treating these various ailments make me tired.

I strictly don’t drink any caffeine after 5PM, and I only have 1-3 cups of tea a day anyway. I can’t drink coffee because it makes me sick to my stomach. Sodas are too sugary for me (and too chemical-y). I take a complex B vitamin daily anyway because of my mostly-vegetarian diet. I’m not a fan of naps because they tend to just make me really groggy. Taking a walk outside helps only so long that I’m outside (and away from pollinating plants).

Yes, I know: I work a lot. Being a PhD student and having a part time job is exhausting. Maybe if I worked less I’d be less tired… that’s the Holy Grail for once I submit my thesis, anyway!

I think I’ve been complaining of chronic tiredness since I was age 13. This is just another round to that age-old complaint. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. 🙂

World Traveller

A friend of mine said it was “hardly hyperbole to say that [I’ve] been everywhere in Europe”. I was curious to see how true this claim was, so I found an interactive world map. For good measure, I did one for the U.S. too.

U.S.A.: I’ve lived in four states and have been to 29 states total.

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Looks like I need to do a road trip across the northern U.S. to get the rest of those states!

The world: I’ve lived in 3 countries and have been to 17 countries total.

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There are 50 countries in Europe and I have been to 14 of them. We can safely say that I have been to most of Western Europe. I want to visit northern, central, and eastern Europe, too, though! I wonder when?

And well, let’s not get started on the continents I haven’t even stepped onto yet. My new passport has extra pages in it and I intend to use them!

Lugano

During choir tour, we had one day off as a free day. Some people went to Lake Como nearby, others stayed in Lodi, and some went to Milan. F. and I went with F.’s dad to Lugano, a town and lake in Italian Switzerland.

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It was low key. We went to Lugano, had lunch, found a spot next to the lake, and hung out. We swam a little bit but the water was really cold and got deep very quickly. We read some, and I fell asleep. We didn’t have time to go up one of the mountains in a cable car, but that’s okay. I got what I wanted: to relax.

Delayed trains got us back to Lodi at nearly midnight. We were worried about getting back into the boarding school, as there were only four keys for the twenty of us and neither F. nor I had one. But we needn’t have worried, as there was a group from our choir still having drinks in the piazza.

Since they were going to stay out a bit longer, F. and I went back to where we had heard some dance music. It was an open air club, full of teenagers, with a bar and a DJ — only, no one was dancing! But we didn’t care. Despite being nearly twice the age as most of the other patrons, we chose a corner of the square and danced. Freestyle, discofox, a bit of ceilidhing, and other steps F. taught me. Afterwards, we discovered that the choir had followed us there and were watching us, but it didn’t matter — we enjoyed ourselves, and probably had the most fun out of everyone there!

Choir Tour: Lodi

IMG_8720Renaissance Singers hadn’t gone on tour for years, but we went in 2013 to Lombardia in Italy. We were based in Lodi, staying in a Catholic boarding school, and had concerts in Lodi, Milan, and Crema. During these six days we rehearsed our repertoire, sang in concerts and in Mass, and wandered the streets, eating lots of pizza, drinking Prosecco, and simply enjoying ourselves.

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The school we stayed in had its own church, San Francesco. We held our rehearsals there and one of our concerts. How can I say how beautiful it was? It was just stunning.

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Our rooms were basic, but homely enough. I enjoyed having an en suite bathroom and a balcony. I would sit on the balcony in the mornings, brushing my hair to dry, watching the swallows and listening to the bells. The bells ringing out across the city were one of my favourite things about Lodi. I could never tell the time by them, or what was going on, because there were so many and at odd times. But they were melodic and lovely.

The view from my window.

The view from my window.

Lodi was far enough from Milan to not be touristy at all. That is another thing I appreciated about where we were staying. I was so proud of myself and F. when we were able to buy allergy medicine, paracetamol, and contact solution (preservative free!) by speaking a mix of Spanish, Italian, and English, and when I was able to order a salad with the vegetables I wanted and ‘sine tonno’ — no tuna!

I for one wasn’t expecting to get as much publicity as we have. Not only did we make Italian television, but you can also watch our first concert in full on Youtube. (If you don’t want to watch the video, and miss hearing our lovely voices, you can still see pictures from our first concert here.) Our first concert was at Università Cattolica in Milan – it wasn’t our best, but it’s still pretty good. Our absolute BEST concert was held in San Francesco church in Lodi. It was amazing. I remember cameras recording that one as well, so I hope the video is uploaded soon!

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