Merry Christmas from Bert and Patty!

By , December 10, 2010 11:15 am

Gosh, how time flies. It’s Christmas again, can you believe it!? I hope each and every one who is reading this post is happy and healthy and enjoying this holiday season.

And, now that I got that out of the way, I’m not sure where to start so I will start by saying that every year we’ve written a Christmas letter, but this year, we are doing this post instead.

Let’s see, where to start, where to start??!! I think I will summarize the year and what an amazing year indeed. Last year at this time we were heading down the East Coast of Australia: “A Dingo Ate My Baby”, enjoying some fun in the sun, meeting other travelers and getting ready to spend the holidays with our friends Sonya, Aaron and their families/friends: “Our Time In Melbourne”. Aussie holidays are amazing as they are filled with much food (especially meat—can you imagine one meal consisting of roast beef, ham, seafood, sausages, turkey and steak?) and equal amounts of alcohol. These people know how to celebrate life and friendships and do so at the drop of a hat. We really like that and felt so privileged to have gotten to be a part of it.

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St Andrews Day in Edinburgh

By , November 29, 2010 10:05 pm

So, this weekend is a big holiday across Scotland, yep – you guessed it – St. Andrews Day. A day when everyone celebrates by bagpipe competitions, wee Scottie Dog races, Haggis eating contests, eating deep fried Mars bars, stone throwing competitions, bushiest beard contests, and fireworks. Celebrating St Andrews, this is a day when bakeries create “little blue St Andrews day gingerbread men” and children of all ages go door to door giving little bags of sticks and pebbles to elderly people.

Well, OK – most of that is made up. Actually, I guess it’s all made up.

There has been a whole weekend of festivities marking the occasion, all across Scotland. From ceilidhs (kay-lees, traditional Scottish dancing), to food festivals, free music and even fireworks. Sorry, no Scottie dog races but it was your chance to hear The Red Hot Chilli Pipers!

St Andrews Day is celebrated on 30 November, but there is a whole weekend of events. It marks the feast day of Saint Andrew, the patron Saint of Scotland. No one is really sure how it happened, there are legends and stories from every part of Scotland, but what is known is that St Andrew was crucified on a cross that was in the form of an “X” – a Saltire.

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An Ingenious Medievil Burglar Alarm

By , November 20, 2010 11:22 am

Let’s say you were rather wealthy. Let’s say you lived in Britain the 1700’s. Let’s go so far to say you lived in Edinburgh at the time, and enjoyed a residence in the city that was close to your office in the bank, the your medical practice, or other place of employment for person of stature and cunning, such as yourself.

Back in the day, there was no “Brinks”, no “ADT” no home security. No motion lights, no CCTV, not even a webcam to watch over you in your slumber or when your away.

So, how did you keep all your cool stuff safe from threat of theft?

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By , November 16, 2010 10:03 pm

Let’s go back in time. Let’s close our eyes (our mental eyes) and drift to another place. Another time. Sit back in your chair, relax and let the mental journey begin. The place for our time traveling imaginary journey is Edinburgh, and the time . . . . well, how about the 1600’s.


It’s easy to walk the cobbled city streets. The main thoroughfare is the “Royal Mile” It gets its name because it is the main street that connects the castle upon an extinct volcano with the royal palace to the east, you guessed it . . . a mile away. And since it’s only a half a mile wide, it’s a very compact city. As you can walk around, you can see that there isn’t much space for all the people milling about selling goods, walking the streets, running public houses and controlling the local government – as well as the prostitutes, petty thieves and derelicts.

And then you look up . . .

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Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

By , November 6, 2010 3:47 am

I don’t think that any other person has had so much to do with shaping British History and folklore than a man named Guy Fawkes. At 35 years of age, Guy Fawkes would do one of the most unimaginable things at the time. He was discovered leaving the a room in a cellar beneath the House of Lords and he gave a fictitious name to the agent who discovered him (no, I agree, that’s not a big deal). You see, the next day, the House of Lords – also known as the upper house of Parliament – was scheduled to open and it was to packed full of Lords, MP’s, and the presence of King James himself (becoming more intrigued?). Well, the room was stuffed with firewood, and underneath the firewood? . . . 36 barrels of gunpowder! Enough gunpowder to not only blow up the House of Lords above it and kill everyone in the room, but more than that, it would have almost certainly decimated the entire Palace of Westminster. It also turns out that when Guy Fawkes was caught leaving the cellar, he had a pocket full of fuses as well.

King James had been tipped off to one of the biggest terrorist plots of its time, and had dispatched men to search the building for who and what could cause such impending destruction – and as it turns out – he was just in time.

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Same Same . . . But Different

By , October 21, 2010 6:07 am

So, we have been here in Edinburgh for seven lovely weeks now and so many times I would find myself scratching my head and referring to a saying we heard while traveling through Asia – “Same same, but different”. That’s the only way I can describe this place.

Let me give you some examples of what I mean:

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A Letter To Us, From Us

By , October 11, 2010 9:17 am

Well now, you’ve really done it . . . haven’t you??!! You’ve deciding to just pick up and take off – are you mad? We’re you both simultaneously dropped on your heads? Well, we’re not quite sure, but we don’t think so. After all, we’re you – only 15 months in the future. Sure, that sounds kinda weird but we wanted to check in with you. We’ve had the luxury of already being where you are and we wanted to send you a note to help keep your mind clear, your options open and most importantly – to keep your sanity in check.

You’ve think that things are tough now right? Planning to quit jobs you love. Sever all ties with friends. Leave the city that you’ve lived in for the past fifteen years. And take a huge leap into the unknown. Kind of feels like jumping off a cliff, doesn’t it?!

Well, it doesn’t have to.

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The Daily Check In

By , October 3, 2010 10:36 pm

This journey has really been a whirlwind. We’ve managed to see and do more than we’d ever thought possible. Going to distant lands, meeting new people, seeing amazing sites and eating exotic foods may seem like a dream vacation – but honestly, as a couple – it’s actually really, really hard work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but there’s more going on than simply putting on a backpack and taking off towards the horizon with a smile on your face and a bounce in your step. Tension, patience, frustration, trust, anxiety, seeing things differently, varying comfort levels and a host of other factors are constantly doing battle with strange new lands, self-fulfillment, sharing new experiences while making sure your partner is enjoying themselves and ultimately – making sure that you both get the most out of this once in a lifetime adventure.

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Shake Your Money Maker

By , September 22, 2010 5:20 am

There is a saying throughout Asia that we became intimately familiar with: “same same, but different”. It’s similar to saying “six in one hand, half dozen in another”, but it’s just has a better catch to it. It’s what you would say when something is encountered that seems like what you know, but has a distinct twist or even a subtle variance to it. The shortened version is simply “same same”. This has been our mantra as we acclimate to life over the pond and deeply submerged in new surroundings and a new culture.

Everything is new for us. Most surprisingly is what you don’t expect, the currency . . . same same but different – way different.

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We’re Here ! ! !

By , September 9, 2010 12:40 am

Fill the air with confetti thrown from the rooftops, cue the fireworks lighting up the night sky and let the trumpets from the castle towers fill the surrounding countryside with music!

WE’RE HERE ! ! !

We’re finally in Edinburgh. The last leg of our journey was no less exciting or event filled than any other portion of this adventure. We flew from Belfast to Glasgow on Ryan Air (which brings to mind other misfortunes by flying the discount carriers), and from the airport came straight to Edinburgh. This final day of travel, though only a few hours, consisted of a bus, a plane and two trains.

We now have a beautiful flat, in walking distance to the Royal Mile and Princes Street, and are spending our days not only as tourists, but as something we haven’t done in over a year – assimilating into daily life and becoming members of a community.

The last month has been rather eventful that we haven’t been able to keep up to date. We have yet to write about escaping a third strike in Greece, our time in Belgium with good friends, touring Irish countryside by car, our first attempts at couchsurfing and our time spent in Northern Ireland with family.

It has really been an amazing time, and there is a swirl of emotions as we begin our new lives, so stay in touch and we’ll tell you all about it.

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