Build Me a Summer Home in Dunoon

Posted on Sep 27, 2011 in photos, stories | 4 comments



This place is beautiful! It reminds me of Alaska and Oregon, rolled up into one.

on Loch Eck, a fresh-water lake a few miles from the house in Dunoon

Ryan on the ferry

view from the ferry route between Goulock to Dunoon

a cute little cottage on the way "home" from Glasgow Airport

an old hotel in Tarbet, a small town on the A83 highway


Holy Loch in the evening (our view from the house)

a kayaker on Loch Eck



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A Day Trip to Ely

Posted on Sep 17, 2011 in photos | 0 comments

September 17, 2011

Today marks the 50th travel day of our trip. That happened fast! To celebrate, Ryan and I took an afternoon trip to Ely (pronounced “ee-lee”) to explore the town and see the cathedral.

I make it sound like we planned the whole thing, but in reality, Ely happened at random. We got in the car to go to the grocery store, looked at the rainy-turned-sunny skies, and decided to head the opposite direction instead. That’s the joy of travel (with a car)!

Ely is a character-rich city—the second smallest in the UK, in fact—with historic architecture and a beautiful 1080 A.D. cathedral.

The cathedral is quite an impressive one, with intricate gothic features and a tower offering nice views of the city (or so I’ve read; it helps that Norfolk is as flat as a pancake). You can purchase a tour of the building and/or tower inside the cathedral (£6.50/adult for a ground-level tour; £12–13 for ground level and tower tours).

It took us 20 minutes to get to Ely via car, and parking was a breeze—we found a spot in a busy short-term (and free) parking lot in 2 minutes. The cathedral was only a few blocks away, so after a light lunch at a random café (Café Carrington’s, half decent), we ventured through the local shops and along the city’s castle-like walls until we reached the cathedral grounds.

The grounds are open to the public, so we walked the paths for awhile, admiring the unique gothic architecture of the building and snapping a few photos.

Afterward, we found Oliver Cromwell’s house. Like everything else worth seeing, you have to pay for a tour of the place (£4.50/person). We figured the gift shop, located in the front portion of the house—could count just as well.

After that, it was back down Ely’s High Street, past more little shops holding this or that treasure. I found the post office there, too, and was excited—I’ve had checks in need of depositing for 4 weeks now!—but I was met with a locked door and a Closed sign instead. Bummer. Better luck next time.

A few hours in Ely seemed to be more than enough. From start to finish, we spent about 4 hours there (including a 1-hour grocery spree at Ely’s Waitrose), and I felt I’d had plenty of time to get a feel for the city and its short list of sights. We enjoyed that time without spending a dime, too. (We got lucky: parked 4 hours in a 2-hour Waitrose parking lot without a ticket to show for it!)

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Pet Sketch: Jimmy

Posted on Sep 15, 2011 in photos, stories | 1 comment

September 15, 2011

Animal: Feline
Petsit area: King’s Lynn, UK

Jimmy is a huge orange tabby. I’m talking bigger than any cat I’ve ever seen in the US. He’s like a lion. This cat is friendly but not overly so–like Muki is. He’s still getting used to us. If you move too quickly or do anything too loud, he sneaks away as fast as he can.

This fur ball is hungry all the time, and he tells us so. When he isn’t basking in the sun outdoors or lazing on our bed, he’s staring at us with eyes that bore into your mind: “If you don’t feed me, you have no idea what I’m capable of.”

Jimmy has all kinds of health concerns, mainly digestion related, so he gets lots of pills–one capsule that we take apart, so the powder can be hidden in his food each evening, and a quarter pill that he gets twice a week. Laura, the homeowner, said he was pretty good about taking the quarter pill, but I think she lied to me. lol To give it to him, I have to corner him, pry open his mouth, and drop it down his throat–but I have yet to see him be cooperative about the whole thing. Usually, I just end up wrestling this big cat on the ground and trying not to gouge my nails into him as I open his mouth and get the pill inside. Doing this two times a week is two times too many, me thinks. And I feel bad, because he usually acts less civil to me after we go through the pill routine. He is plotting against me, i know it.

The funniest thing about Jimmy is his relationship with the cat flap (kitty door; call it what you will). He is afraid of it and for good reason–he barely fits. The problem for him is that the cat flap is the only obstacle between him and the outside world. So he sits by the cat flap and pushes it back and forth with his paw. And the door creaks every time he moves it.

Creak. Creak. Creeeeak. This is what we hear from the other rooms in the house. And we laugh, because it is so funny. I will have to capture it on video before we leave. Jimmy will move the cat flap over and over again until he finally gets up the nerve to jump through the hole.

If you are in the kitchen, the cat flap no longer becomes a last resort. Jimmy just has to convince you to open the door for him. I’ve learned his language, and I feel a bit badly for him, so I usually comply when he looks at me and meows pathetically. Ryan is a bit harder to sell. He usually just holds the cat flap open for him, and when Jimmy jumps through, it’s very obvious that he barely fits. There is zero room between the sides of the hole and his big belly.

Jimmy also makes me laugh when he stretches. He has this way of stretching his whole body out lengthwise on the floor and then extending every toe on each paw, and then yAWNing in a totally zen kind of way. And then he’ll toss himself back and forth and meow while he looks at us.

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