Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Week 31 - On the Mend

This week was still all about my knee. It was also the beginning of fiscal year end closing meetings week plus I was watering at Lorri's and would be watering at Lisa's (my neighbor 2 doors up) by the end of the week, even overlapping a few days. Add in the county fair and PT and it was going to be a busy week.

I scheduled my first PT appointment for 7:00 a.m. on Monday, which was too damn early but got me to work earlier so I went with it. And Monday night was fair prep for my knitting entries so I quickly grabbed 12 items after work and spent most of the 2 hours at the library prepping those so I could give them to Drae to submit for me. Because Tuesday after work I'd be at the fair doing vegetable check in for 4H, which is my annual master gardener volunteering. I was back at PT first thing Wednesday and Cory told me not to swim. I think I'd been in the pool twice all summer and the rest of this week wasn't looking good. Oh well.

Darla IM'd me Wednesday afternoon to ask what I was doing after work. When I told her I was going to the fair to check on ribbons, we made a plan to do it together and get corndogs for dinner. Fun. Well, I got about 2/3 red ribbons. WTF! I never enter anything that isn't absolutely perfect so was a bit surprised, even considering the lame judge they have who knows nothing about modern knitting. Nothing to be done about it but see what the comments are when I get my projects back. Then there were no corndogs to be had at the fair. Seriously? I really wanted one so Darla and I headed to Dairy Queen for a corndog and soft serve supper once we were done at the fair. They were yummy and it was great to catch up with Darla. It always is.

Closing meeting prep was in full swing so the work days were flying by and it was Friday afternoon before I knew it. I'd scheduled 4:30 PT on Friday, hoping it'd be my last, so left work early. I was ready for the weekend big time. Well, not only was it not my last PT (they always want you longer than you think) but Shane manhandled me so much that I woke up with joint pain on Saturday morning. Not good. The muscle was only a little tight first thing in the morning (the med pack of steroids I'd remembered I had and started on Tuesday was also helping) so it was getting better. At least there was that.

I didn't get a ton done all weekend. I got dressed and went to the library Saturday morning thinking I'd make a deposit but the money wasn't ready so I got presentable for nothing. I was supposed to sit in the library booth at the fair Saturday night but got a reprieve when Lorri called to say it was so slow that we could break the booth down at 5:00, which meant I wouldn't be sitting there until 9:00. Then Andrea offered to pick up my entries on Sunday evening so another reprieve. Nice on both counts.

I was under the gun to finish my July challenge socks so knitted at home all night Saturday then knitted between chores on Sunday. I got the 2nd sock done Sunday night only to find a mistake that required me to rip out 2/3 of the second sock. Oh well. Between all the knitting and all the regular chores, I did manage to go through the upstairs freezer so at least all my frozen food is in good order. My cupboards are next up, btw.

So all in all, a good week. Progress on my knee, lots of knitting and enough productivity to keep my ever present self-imposed guilt in check. I even baked a cake to take to knitting. Plus it wasn't super hot - I even slept with the windows open several night. See? All good.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Week 30 - Now Knee Pain

Yup, my knee blew again. It happened on Tuesday afternoon when I was getting back into the car after getting my free iced coffee at Panera. Nothing’s free, right? Anyway, I grabbed my cane out of the trunk, hobbled back to my desk and called Nebraska Ortho. I needed to make an appointment with a new doc since mine had retired last June.

I had called a month ago to make a new patient appointment but they said to just call when I was in pain. Right. I did and they said my replacement doc was booking new patient appointments a month out so I got in for Wednesday with another doc who had an opening. Whatever. I needed help.

Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon when, long story short, I found out that all the shots I’ve gotten in my joint over the past years have been for nothing! My pain is not now and never has been in my joint so cortisone in my joint has had zero effect. That explains so much, like why when this happened 4 years ago (my last full blow out) the shot did nothing and I was still limping and using a cane after 6 weeks. PT saved me then and that was the plan for this go ‘round too.

One session with my PT in Wahoo first thing Thursday and my hamstring spasm, which has been the problem all along btw, was released. Not that it felt good after a 44 hour Charley horse though. I knew I’d be in PT a long time but at least there was hope on the horizon. I can work with muscular. I had another session at the end of the day Friday – 1 hour and 45 minutes of pain and torture but it was getting better.

Needless to say, I didn’t do much on the weekend. Sitting and knitting – all good. I did manage to do the long overdue basement freezer defrost, which left me cooking and baking with some of the stuff I found. I made a nice blueberry pie with crumb topping (single frozen crust and 4 cups of blueberries from the freezer) to take to knitting, which felt great. I’ve been dieting, or trying to anyway, for so long that I do very little baking and I miss it. I also picked the first beans from my garden and made 3 bean salad. At least that was healthy.


My latest rotation was definitely off the rails but at least I’d lost my vacation weight gain in the week I'd stuck to it. There’s always the next one, or maybe not. I’m giving serious consideration to doing a 2 or 3 day fast (600 calories) and see how that works. And one of these days I’ll be able to swim again. I live in hope. More PT will do the trick.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Week 29 - Drama and Pain

I had started a rotation on Sunday so was happy to be on a 600 calorie day on Monday. I was determined to have a good rotation and lose some of the 7 pounds I'd gained before and during my trip. The fridge was stocked with healthy food and swimming was back so I was stoked.

Somewhere in the wee hours on Wednesday morning, I managed to pull a muscle in my back while sleeping. I was fine at 3:30 when I woke up to pee but was a mess when the alarm went off 2 hours later. It was between my shoulder blades just along the left side of my spine and hurt every time I moved my head. I made it through work OK but made the mistake of thinking swimming would help. I only lasted 25 minutes and it wasn't pretty. And when I went to bed, the only position I could stand was flat on my back with no pillow. Needless to say, I didn't sleep much.

I woke up feeling much worse Thursday. I went to work but the pain was so all encompassing that I couldn't concentrate, not even to hold down a conversation with Dodie at lunch. I'd talked to my friend who's a personal trainer that morning and she suggested laying on a heating pad so I left work after lunch and did just that. It felt good just to be home and after an hour of heat, my back started to loosen up. I was on and off the heating pad for the rest of the day and slept in my awkward position again but this time on the heating pad. I was 80% better when I woke up on Friday. Despite the improvement, I wasn't going to chance swimming again so hit HyVee and went home for the weekend. It was a gorgeous evening on Friday with low 60's overnight so I slept with the windows open, which felt like a treat. Blazing heat was coming back on Sunday and would be around for weeks so I enjoyed the night and slept better than I had in several nights.

There was some post-trip drama late in the week. Someone posted to our private Facebook group asking if anyone had heard from the tour company on the bus fiasco, at which point our leader posted a snarky, accusatory comment that got everyone riled up and emailing. My email complained about many things beyond the bus, the leader being problem one. After flurries of emails and posts, we got an offer of a $300 refund for the bus problem and a $200 credit if we'd take another trip with the same leader. Not a chance in hell! Moving on....

I had a nice, relaxing weekend, interspersing chores with bouts of sitting and knitting. I'd done pretty well on the rotation so was down 5 pounds and was starting 1200 calories, which always feels great, on Sunday. I'd also been able to sleep with my pillow on Saturday night. Yay! Nancy stopped over for tea and a chat on Sunday afternoon. We hadn't seen each other in ages so had a nice catch up. And my back was at about 95% better so only hurt once in awhile when I moved my head the wrong way. Progress. I'll take it.


Week 28 - Meet Gansey Girl

Monday was the 4th of July so I had another day at home to get over jet lag and back on track before heading back to work. I woke up with the intention to leave the house but as the day went on, I just couldn't muster the energy and so didn't. I puttered in the yard a bit, getting some weeding done, and stepped outside to watch the fireworks at 10:00 but that's as close as I got to leaving the house. Tuesday morning would be soon enough.

The re-entry to work wasn't bad and I stopped at the bread store on the way home then headed out to Lori's after a quick dinner to drop the last of the pre-trip produce for her chickens and her gift for airport transportation services. There was no water aerobics all week so I was free to get things back on track. I prepped for the cleaning lady, restocked my produce at Fresh Thyme and made it through the week to Friday, which was going to be a banner day.

I'd made it known years ago that if Husker Cats came across a female orange kitten, I'd be interested. There had been one a year ago but I wasn't ready. Well, Becky had one now and with Wrennie gone, it was time. Becky had bottle fed her and her 2 litter mates from when they were just a few days old and they were ready to be adopted. I went to Becky's house after work on Friday to meet Gansey Girl and after playing with her for awhile, I took her home. Becky set me up with absolutely everything I'd need - kitten food, litter boxes and litter, a couple of toys and her favorite blanket. She was an angel in the car too. This was going to work out great.

It was fun to have a kitten in the house again. For me anyway. The other cats bolted out the door and refused to come back in so I fed them on the deck and spent the weekend bonding with my new kitty. I've never had a round eyed kitty before and Gansey (named after a knitting style) is a peach. I think having only known a human as her mother, she's not fearful at all. And she's cute as a button, don't you think? What a nice ending to my first week at home. : )

Week 27 - Scotland and Home

I was not happy to be leaving Shetland so took an extra long walk after breakfast - our last by the sea. We'd be heading in search of puffins before flying to back to the mainland. The puffins were in cliffs at the very southern tip of the island and were fun to watch. After having lunch in an old hotel and checking out a Norse ruin, we got on a plane and headed back. I would miss Shetland dearly and was sorry to be leaving. It only took an hour to fly back and then it was onto the bus - the same broken down, stinky, heap of a bus. They'd listened to none of our complaints! Go figure. We settled in for another crappy ride on the bus headed to Tilloch Castle where we'd be spending the night. It's the most haunted castle in Scotland, or so they say. After a dinner that had more drama due to bad communication on the part of our leader (ha!), we took the ghost tour but ducked out early since it was pushing 11:00. Again, so sad to not be in Shetland anymore.

I had haggis with my breakfast the next morning, my first since New Year's Eve 1982 unless you count the deep fried haggis balls appetizer I'd had earlier in the trip, and it was wonderful. Then it was back on the bus. Ick! It was a gray, rainy day so I guess that could have happened on a worse day. Our first stop was Loch Ness for a boat ride but our leader left us huddled in the rain without tickets so that when we finally got on the boat, we had to sit outside because all the covered seats were taken. It was cold up there! Luckily the boat stopped halfway through the hour long cruise and some people got off so we could get inside. The entire thing was a touristy waste of time. Then it was back on the bus. Are you seeing a trend here? We stopped for lunch at a cute restaurant before heading to the highlands, which were gorgeous and the only thing worthwhile all day.

The bus was always a rattle trap but it was making progressively more alarming noises as the day wore on, which was all the more troubling because in the highlands there were many places where all that separated us from a plunge down a mountain was a single guardrail. Well, we were on the outskirts of Edinburgh when a passing motorist started honking and pointing so the driver pulled over and when he did, lug nuts fell to the ground. One of the tires was 6" out from the others and was about to fall off. Yes, we were nearly a story on the evening news. You know the one - 19 knitters killed when their tour bus careened off a mountain this afternoon. WTF! We waited by the side of the road while the bus company sent a replacement bus. I should add that our leader chose the last day to make a snarky comment that left Erica near tears and me mad and stewing all afternoon. What a banner day, right! I couldn't wait to get through the farewell dinner and get packing. 

The tour was over the next morning but since Anne, Eileen Gail and I were taking a train to York, we weren't going to the airport with the rest of the group. Good thing because the driver was an hour late, leaving some people having to take a taxi to the airport rather than chance missing their flights. The tour was just getting worse with every passing minute! We happily got into a taxi and headed to the train station. We'd met some lovely people, visited gorgeous places and had lots of knitting fun but it was all despite the inept Celtic Journeys. Good riddance! We'd never be travelling with them again.

The trip to York went off without a hitch and the B&B we'd booked was perfect. We had the two rooms that were above the breakfast room so could open our two doors and have the whole floor. We had made plans to see Philip and Jean Thursday for elevenses so had Wednesday afternoon to explore. We couldn't go into the Minster so shopped - Ramshambles (the yarn shop on The Shambles) and Duttons for Buttons plus anywhere else that looked interesting, then went to Betty's for tea. Unfortunately they sat us in the basement but it was still fun. We walked back to the B&B via the Museum Gardens, where we took a break to knit on a bench then took lots of pictures of the flowers and ruins. We ate a light dinner back at the B&B and collapsed into bed exhausted. It was a long but fun day and we were happy to be on our own in York. And tomorrow we'd be seeing Philip and Jean, which is why we'd gone to York.



After breakfast, we were looking to kill some time and headed in the direction of Philip and Jean's thinking we'd check out a park. Well, we found a lovely shop - Birdie's Perch -  on the way to the park and spent an hour there, happily purchasing all kinds of fun things, and it was only a 5 minute walk to Philip and Jean's. It was so good to see them! We sat in their garden chatting over coffee and cookies for a couple of hours. It made my day to see Jean looking happy and on the mend. After a brief stop at the B&B to offload packages, we headed back to York, popping into the Minster, which was full of stands and props for a mystery play they were doing, then hit the National Trust Shop (best gift shops in the UK) and then shopped a bit before having our personal farewell dinner at Jamie's Italian. So delicious and far better than any meal we'd had on our tour. Anne and I were headed to Manchester Airport for our early flight the next morning. It was hard to believe the trip was over but I was so glad to have ended on the high note of York with Eileen and Gail and getting to see Philip and Jean. Now to get home.

The train to Manchester was uneventful and the hotel we'd booked at the airport was comfy. We were at the airport first thing ready for our flight home. We had an empty seat between us so spread out for a day of knitting and watching movies interspersed with airplane food. I watched The Big Short, Joy and The Martian, which is more movies than I've seen in the previous year. 

Unfortunately we got bad news once we landed in Newark. Our flight to Omaha had been cancelled and there was weather over Newark screwing up all the other flights. After waiting in line to rebook, they told us the best they could do was getting us to Houston with potential for standby to Omaha later that night but with a confirmed flight to Omaha Saturday morning. We had no choice but to take it and hope for the standby. Well, that didn't work out. The flight that was supposed to leave for Houston at 4:30 didn't leave until 11:00, at which point we'd been awake 22 hours! Tired doesn't begin to cover it. I was dead asleep within seconds of sitting down on the plane, never even noticing when someone sat down next to me. I got 2 solid hours of sleep and we got to Houston at 1:00 a.m. 

Despite needing to be back at the airport at 7:00, when Anne suggested waiting at the airport, I put my foot down and insisted we get a hotel. We'd done some checking from Newark and all of the hotel shuttles stopped at midnight but I pointed at the flight crew and said someone was picking them up. They said they were staying at Doubletree so we hopped the shuttle with them and Anne was a trooper, making online reservations on the bumpy ride over. It was the nicest room we'd been in and we got about 4 hours of sleep, which made it all worth it. The flight to Omaha was uneventful and Anne and I split up to head home. It had been a wonderful trip despite everything and Anne and I were perfect traveling companions. Two weeks of being together 24/7 and never a spat. I'd travel with her again anytime and will for sure.

Lori picked me up with a gallon of milk and a big bowl of fruit in her trunk then we went through BK drive through on the way home. I was home by noon, feeling pretty decent and thanks to Lori's food, I was set to stay home. I unpacked right away and started getting back to normal. It was the same on Sunday. It felt great to be home, eating regular food and hanging with my kitties. I had lots of gorgeous pictures and nice memories so it was all worth it. Now to get back to reality, by which I mean work.



Week 26 - Fun in Scotland

After a great night’s sleep, Monday was a new day. After an early and wonderful English breakfast at the hotel, Anne and I headed out for a walk to start the day. It was cool to be walking the streets of Edinburgh early enough that there were few people out and about. We explored the cemetery where the Greyfriar’s Bobby memorial is, which neither of us knew anything about but it’s an old Disney movie so we must be out of the loop. Our first knitting class of the trip was first up on the agenda and before it was over, alas, our fears about the level of the trip were confirmed.

The “leader” was a total slacker and acted more like a customer than a tour leader. The bus was on its last legs – dirty, smelly and held together with duct tape – and the nickel and diming started first thing. After paying thousands of dollars for the trip, they actually made us pay 5 pounds for some scrap yarn for the class, which was in a tiny, one room yarn shop with a workroom that was designed for 12 people tops. There were 19 of us sandwich in there. And speaking of sandwiches, the lunch that was available at the yarn shop was actually mandatory so we had to pay 9 pounds each for a sandwich whether we wanted it or not. The class was over in half the allotted time and since there was no room to comfortably eat, we grabbed out sammies to go and took a cab to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Our mantra had already become “She’s not Philip and that’s OK.” Clearly we would be making the most of a tour that was not a good value but I wasn’t going to let that spoil my trip.

The gardens were gorgeous and the glass houses were wonderful. We took a break at a café and enjoyed some of our sandwiches, giving the rest to a homeless man with a dog later in the day when we were shopping on the main drag. We had fun and bought tons at the Kath Kidston store, which was having a big sale. Nice. Then we hit Wagamama, my fave UK noodle restaurant, for dinner. Very few dinners and few lunches were included in the trip. Sheesh!

After another early morning walk on Tuesday, a bus tour of the city was next up. Well, that was pretty lame. We saw very little of classic Edinburgh but there was lots of driving to the docks of all places, where there was nothing to see. I had mentioned the other yarn shop, that my friend Rene had been to last year, so the tour was cut short to stop there – McAree Brothers. They had more yarn than Kathy’s (the shop our class had been in) and I’m sure sold more in an hour than they had all week. Why the leader didn’t know about this shop is beyond me. Later that day we were back on the bus for a trip to Rosslynn Chapel of DaVinci Code fame, which was interesting. We ate at a restaurant - Holyrood 9A - that was recommended by an online friend in my sock group on Ravelry, dining on haggis balls and yummy burgers.

Our morning walk Wednesday was to a big city park called The Meadows. Gorgeous again with some cool plantings inside tree stumps. Then it was back to the hotel to check out and get back on the bus. I felt like we hadn't been shown much of Edinburgh but were now headed to the cute seaside town of Anstruther for a class with Di Gilpin (famous knitter.) The class was on gansey knitting and was lots of fun. I was on the hunt for an ATM so missed the best fish and chips in Scotland but did enjoy Eileen's leftover chips when we met back at the wharf after finding cash. From there we went to Di’s studio in the country, which was charming and we got to buy some of her signature lamb’s wool. From there we went to Scone Palace, which I foolishly thought was a tea stop but it’s actually a palace. Luckily we did have tea and scones after our tour and then stopped at a little yarn shop in Dundee before checking in at our hotel there. Dundee is a sort of grubby town with minimal dinner options (yet another dinner on our own) so we walked the deserted downtown in search of a restaurant, finally finding a Panera-esque thing full of students. Dinner was fine and then it was back to the hotel to figure out how to repack since we were headed to The Shetlands and had strict weight limits for the flight back. We could leave stuff on the bus but Anne and I were also planning to do laundry so we had to be very strategic with packing to maximize room for yarn and still get all our dirty laundry in. First world problem, I know.

The next day we visited a kilt maker for a fun demo and lecture which made me want to go home and experiment with pleating plaid. The studio was out in the country with beautiful views and she fed us the best meal of the trip (had to pay for that too and it’s telling that a home cooked meal was the trip’s best meal, don’t you think?) It was a lovely day and we ended it on the ferry. I was excited that we’d wake up the next day in the Shetland Islands. The seas were calm so I slept like a rock.

We woke up to hear the shocking results of the Brexit vote and I caught Cameron’s resignation on the TV in the bar after breakfast. Wow! Then it was onto the bus (a brand new Mercedes with a fabulous driver, although his accent was so thick I didn’t understand half of what he said) to head across the island to Jamieson’s – one of the 2 makers of Shetland wool yarn. We had a factory tour and bought some fun yarn before stopping for lunch at a gallery in the middle of nowhere where I scored some pins and had plenty of time to take pics. After a stop at the Shetland Textile Museum, we checked in at our hotel, where we’d be staying for a few days so could settle in. Anne and I asked where the laundromat was and the manager offered to drive us there so we quickly pulled out our dirty laundry and took him up on his offer. They were closing in an hour so we threw in our load then headed out for a walk until it was done. We found an ancient ruin to explore – Clickimin Broch – right across the street. We hiked back to the hotel and had dinner there. It was a fun, full day and I was excited to be in the country. I always like the country better than the city.


Since we’d gotten the laundry done on Friday, that meant we were free to shop on Saturday morning, which we did in downtown Lerwick, finding all kinds of fun stuff. We visited the other Shetland wool manufacturer that afternoon and got tons of cool information on wool grading from the Wool Man, then got to buy more yarn. How fun. Then it was back to the hotel but since there was a chunk of time before dinner, we took a stroll by the water, which was right outside our window and a piece of heaven. After a decent dinner, we had a talk with Ella Gordon – a wonderfully enthusiastic young designer. She brought huge bags of Shetland knits, most of which she’d rescued from thrift shops. Her energy was a balm for the soul and a perfect ending to another blissful day in The Shetlands.


 

We had a knitting lesson with Hazel Tindal, the world’s fastest knitter, on Sunday morning after breakfast and a walk. I did my first steeking (knitting colorwork in the round then cutting your knitting so it lies flat – Scary!) and pretty much finished the project (a bookmark) in class. That’s a first. After the class, we headed to a local museum for lunch and a tour. After listening to the guide a bit, Anne and I opted to walk back to the hotel via a city garden that was breathtakingly beautiful. We chatted with a woman in the park who was there with her dad and got back to the hotel in time to enjoy tea and knitting on the rocks over-looking the ocean. Perfection!

In yet another instance of piss poor tour planning, we were on our own for dinner on Sunday night when most local restaurants were closed. So we headed to Tesco to triangle sandwiches and various other goodies, which we ate in a back room of the hotel’s bar so as not to disturb any of the paying bar patrons. Alas, we’d be leaving Shetland the next day and I’d miss it for sure. I will definitely look into another Shetland vacation.

I've put a few pics here but if you want to see them all (600+ - you've been warned!), check them out here.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Week 25 - Heading to Scotland

As if the tree drama from last week wasn’t enough, this week was AWFUL. It was just one thing piling up after another. Good thing I’d be ending the week in Scotland.

I had been worrying about Wrennie, my ancient cat who was at least 16 years old, skin and bones and getting thinner with each passing day. She was so frail that I was concerned that she wouldn’t live through my trip and although Lori had offered to take her to her house while I was gone, I was concerned that that would be stressful for the cat, never mind for Lori if Wrennie died while I was gone. Then she had an attack of sorts after coming up the stairs from the litter box. She collapsed on the kitchen floor and was gasping for breath. I truly thought I was watching her die but she snapped out of it after 10 minutes. But it’s what I needed to see so I called the vet and made an appointment for Tuesday afternoon to put her down. When I took her in, the vet said it was a thyroid problem that had already affected her heart and I was making the right decision because she wouldn’t live another 2 weeks. That made me feel better and I took her home and buried her in the garden. While it’s never easy, I was at peace with my decision.

Then I got a call from Erica on Wednesday at work. She had dropped her kids off to mow and weed whack but they called her to pick them up early saying that a strange, half naked man was in my yard and his wheelchair was in the alley. I had Erica hand him the phone and it was Dwayne – the tree butcher – back in my yard. He’d been pulling things in my back yard for who knows how long. I spoke to him and threatened to call the cops if he ever set foot in my yard again and I think he got the message. But to be sure, I called the administrator at the halfway house to make sure he wouldn’t be coming back when I was in Scotland. She assured me she’d already talked to him with threats of eviction so I could only hope he got the message. Who needs this?

Thursday was a miserable day at work. That’s all I’ll say. MISERABLE! I could not get out of the country soon enough. I knew exactly what I was packing clothes wise but actually spent more time deciding what knitting to bring. Whatever, I went home Thursday, happy to be doing laundry and packing. All I had to do was get through Friday. I bailed on water aerobics in favor of having more time at home, going to bed with just about everything done so I actually had some leisure time on Saturday morning, which was nice. Anne’s dad dropped her at my house at 11:00 and Lori drove us to the airport. We were on our way!

All I ever hope for is uneventful travel and we got our wish, having no issues with connections and getting on our flight to Edinburgh without and problems. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep at all so was exhausted when we landed but I’d cope. Or so I thought.

The only thing scheduled on Sunday beyond the airport transfer was dinner so we checked into the hotel where we lucked out because our room was ready. We dropped off our suitcases and headed directly to Edinburgh Castle. Big mistake. Not only was it 16.50 pounds to get in but it was clear I could not function. After walking around with Anne and Molly (another person on the tour who’d transferred with us from the airport) for a bit and absorbing NOTHING, I opted to sit on a bench while they kept going. I actually fell asleep sitting up! They checked back with me a couple of times and when they were done, I opted to head back to the hotel. Since our hotel was directly below the castle (the pic is from in front of our hotel), I walked down a series of steps rather than taking the longer route but was so unsteady on my feet that I had to clutch the railing the whole way down. I grabbed a 2 hour nap and woke up a new woman. Now for the official welcome dinner and start of the tour.


Well, there was absolutely no welcome about it. We met in a private dining room on the top floor of the hotel and ate but there were no introductions at all. If you hadn’t made the effort to introduce yourself before we sat down, you were high and dry. Clearly this wasn’t going to be a Philip and Jean trip, which we’d known ahead of time, but when the mediocre food came, I began to wonder if it’d even be in the ballpark. Oh well. It was great to see Eileen, Gail, Cindy and Erica and I’d have run no matter what. A leadership free leader wasn’t going to impact my fun and I had a full night’s sleep ahead so would face Monday morning fresh and happy. Edinburgh here we come!