Category Archives: United Kingdom

London

I am now going to attempt the impossible and write a blog post about London without posting a picture of Westminster in general and Big Ben in particular.  This isn’t to say I don’t like either, but rather you all know what they look like and I’d rather focus on some of the more unique things I liked about this visit to London.  It’s a wonderful city in that “if anyone needs a PhD student let me know” sort of way, and the days of beautiful weather and great company didn’t hurt!

These are my hosts, Doug on the right and Ryan to his left, at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.  I met Doug and his lovely cousin Laura two years ago in New Zealand while they were on their gap year, and I received an all too kind invitation to stay in a spare room when I got to London.  Doug was kind enough to spend his days wandering about with me, which resulted in an odd mix of sights ranging from “tourists never come here” to “Doug has lived here for years and has never been here before.”  Just perfect and I am indebted to their hospitality!

But before I forget, the Globe!  If you ever come to London and have very little money but want to catch a show, do what all the broke kids do and head for the Globe Theater.  The yard tickets are 5 pounds a pop, the plays are wonderful (we had As You Like It and I nearly died laughing), and you’ll have one of the best spots in the house if you show up a little early.  Oh, and you can drink, a la what they did during the era of Shakespeare.  What’s not to like?

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None of the Londoners had any idea you could go see a show for so cheap (but you guys are going to be regulars now, right?) but made  up for it by introducing me to Camden.  Wow, what a great area.  Camden is an interesting combination of one of the best markets I’ve been to and the home of the punk scene in London, meaning you can spend many happy hours checking out the goods, eating delicious stall food, and people-watching.

And then, this being Camden, time for the pub!  Where a great band you would kill to hear back home is playing even in the late afternoon whilst you argue what counts as an “unusual pet.”  An iguana?  A tapir?

Here’s another place I was determined to check out but Doug hadn’t ever been to voluntarily- the British Museum!  I love the atrium here by the way, which wasn’t around the last time I visited here five years prior.

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Some of the cat mummies in the British Museum.  This place is fascinating because basically the British during their heyday went everywhere in the world and took the prettiest stuff back to London.  Obviously now this causes a bit of consternation in some relations- the Egyptians would really like their Rosetta Stone back, the Greeks are arguing over the Parthenon carvings- but until further notice the pirate’s treasure remains here.A sight we stumbled upon while walking from the British Museum- the infamous changing of the guard.  Apparently it happens twice a day but the middle of the night one isn’t half as showy- we watched  for nearly a half hour while the band paraded around, playing classic marching tunes like Elanor Rigby and the theme from Doctor Who.

Finally because I’m certain under normal conditions this doesn’t happen in London, a few artists were doing sand sculptures on the South Bank. (I love the South Bank by the way. Can I get a flat here when that PhD position opens up and promptly go bankrupt?) Possibly the best sand-sofa I have ever seen, because I have clearly seen so many.

PS- This blog post is stopping right now because on average it is a week behind, meaning right now I am in Greece with my parents and sister for the first time in four months.  And we are sitting at a table in Crete where the waiter gave us a bottle of Power Ade that curiously does not seem to be Power Ade, and we are on the fourth shot of this strong clear liquid.  My writing can’t stay clear much longer…

Cardiff

I came to Cardiff for two reasons: I wanted to dip at least a toe into Wales and because of the hostel.  I’m sure the latter reason sounds like an odd one to visit anyplace, but for months now I’ve been primarily relying on Hostel World for my hosteling information, and while some have been good and some have been bad it has not escaped my notice how at 96% the River House Backpackers in Cardiff is often rated the best backpackers in the world.  I soon became fascinated with this- what constitutes the world’s best hostel anyway?  Wasn’t it worth a two night detour to find out?

Anyway, this is the River House backpackers as seen from the water bus  that runs up and down the river.  To be honest it really is nice- excellent location and breakfast spread, above and beyond friendly staff, and a comfy lounge with big TV and the rest of the works.  While I can see why they win on the ratings scale, I confess this hostel was a reminder of how what you remember most about places are the people you meet which is a factor you can do nothing about.  For example, I was awakened at this hostel at 8am by a German girl blasting her hairdryer beside my bed who uttered an unconvincing “sorry” when I shot her the death stare known in the hosteling  world as synonymous with “you are being a jackass, stop now,” and it’s not like you can do a thing about that!  So it goes.

Anyway, Cardiff.  I like Cardiff.  The weather was this clear blue sky that makes you convinced the Welsh really have great weather they make up stories about so they don’t have to share (cue the maniacal laughter from anyone who has lived in Wales ever), and there’s enough going on in the city that you can happily spend some time exploring.  This here is a view of the enormous Cardiff castle that takes a few hours to explore properly.  My favorite  thing about it is it turns out residents of Cardiff can enter the castle for free so on days like this many do to picnic with their families, and after lunch the parents laze about while their kids are encouraged to run around with cheap plastic swords and other props.  Wouldn’t be awesome to grow up where your playground is a castle?!

I also realized I liked Cardiff Castle because it has the exact same layout as the Playmobil castle that we had back in the day- nice large square area in the middle, large gate, a tower on the corner, and residential houses on the side. This was possibly the favorite toy  my brother, sister, and I had as kids, and we spent many happy hours inventing adventures for two Barbies and a stegosaurus.  So I got a bit nostalgic about that…

The interior of Cardiff Castle is pretty sweet as well- the nobles that had it in the past century redid everything in a lovely classical style, so the whole thing feels a bit like Ludwig II’s castle in Germany.

Oh, and there was a falconry too!  They used to have peacocks at the castle up until two years ago as well, but they kept climbing up a wall and launching themselves into a busy intersection and wandering into Burger King.  Needless to say this caused much unhappiness on both sides, so the peacocks were sent to a farm far out in the countryside where there are no fast food joints to disturb for miles.

Perhaps I’m mean, but when I saw this museum I laughed out loud.  Perhaps the reason the Welsh could never defeat the English is they didn’t realize goats aren’t exactly the most frightening of creatures to have in your regiment?

Speaking of Welsh, I was always on the lookout to see how many differences there were between Cardiff and England proper, even though I’m told this isn’t “real” Wales yet.  Verdict?  It’s much more like England than Scotland was, but the Welsh really have the Scots and even Irish beat when it comes to speaking their original language.  Only 3% of Scots speak Gallic and you see  it on roadsigns occasionally, Ireland you see Irish most everywhere and they learn it in high school but hardly anyone speaks it, but in Wales it’s written first and lots of people speak Welsh over English!  The above is from a festival by the harbor that was a language festival where I couldn’t understand a word- the kids above are singing along in Welsh to the costumed characters in front- and you saw several kids wandering around working on their Welsh school assignments.  Speaking as someone who speaks an obscure language that has minimal use outside its borders, good for them.  Glad to see they still use it.

image254Finally, a sunset over the river with the Cardiff stadium on the side.  What a nice little city.  It was a short break from the capital I’d been slowly working in the direction of seeing all this time, London…

Bath And Stonehenge

I confess I’ve wondered about this a lot- do we call a bath after the town of Bath, or is it Bath because of the baths there?  I’ve been doing this a lot in Ireland and the U.K. actually- discovering place names that I already know as other places or whatever and having an “aha!” moment about the origin of the word or name.  The county Bath is in, for example?  Somerset.  Not at all like the one I immediately think of an hour from Pittsburgh, but there you go.

Anyway, I ended up in Bath for no real reason other than I’d gone down to Manchester and that was so non-touristy that after a night I needed another place to visit and all the outdoorsy stuff was booked solid due to a bank holiday. (They have a lot of these around here- this particular bank holiday was the second in May!) Somehow Bath came up in my survey of opinions, and I’m glad it did.  It’s a lovely town I quite recommend checking out at some point.

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The cathedral square in Bath dominated by a religious building of some sort.  No really, the abbey in Bath is stunningly lovely, and I say that as someone who has seen a huge number of religious buildings in the past few months!  If you don’t sit around for awhile slowly noting every lovely flying buttress and gargoyle from your side I’m guessing the never-ending English rain is falling down in buckets again.

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The main tourist attraction of Bath are, of course, the baths!  Specifically the ancient Roman ones- about a century ago a house built up on this area kept getting water in its cellar, and they started digging around and discovered some of the most wonderfully preserved Roman baths in the world today.  The reason they’re here is there is a hot (45 C) spring that wells up from underground that the Celts in the area worshipped, and Romans being Romans it was only natural for them to build a marvelous set of baths here once they took the place over.

Another fun detail because I have nowhere else to put it- if you go to the Roman baths you get a free audio guide, but do yourself a favor and just listen to the kids version.  This is because the grown-up audio guides are notorious for some producer saying “hey, let’s put in a lot of random music that sounds old with a guy doing a voiceover of some marginally related text- that would totally excite everyone!” and all the grown-ups stand around politely listening to the crap because they’re trying to be cultured.  The kids version, on the other hand, quickly tells you the important dates, what said object is, and an interesting fact or thing to notice about the object.  Simple.  That’s what I want over “and now we will recall what Sillyfus the Ugly had to say over the Roman practice of caldera use…”

Oh, and the baths got Bill Bryson to go around and sort of talk about what he was thinking and put that in a special audio guide tour as well.  I happen to really like Bill Bryson though, so I will approve of this.

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Anyway, back on my mini-tour where you are captives of my commentary until you decide to stop reading, one of the reasons the baths in Bath are so famous is because of the amazing amount this stuff was preserved- when the Romans left the subsequent English kings just built their baths on top of this bath, so all the Roman stuff is remarkably well preserved really.  This face here was at the front of the Roman temple dedicated at the spring to Sulis Minerva, patron of the healing water at the spring.  The “Sulis” part comes in because the Celts here had her as their god of healing, so the Romans diplomatically said “oh yeah, must be the same goddess!” rather than causing a fuss over it.

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The heating tiles that used to hold up the Roman floor of the warm room in the baths- you had air heated via furnace moving about the pillars that were holding up the floor, which thus warmed up the room.  I include this because anyone who took Latin in any detail probably studied Roman baths to death, and can understand my excitement to see “hey they actually did do that!”  The Roman baths here are really great at giving you a visualization of what the place was like, really.

The other tourist thing I was looking forward to seeing in Bath, by the way, was the house of a certain famous astronomer named William Herschel.  Herschel was famous for his discovery in the 18th century of the planet Uranus, one of the most revolutionary scientific discoveries of all time, in addition to being an awesome astronomer in general.  And hey, I found the house!  It’s a nice house, on a nice residential street.  But I never got to go in the house- it turns out the darn museum is closed on Wednesday of all days and I was already set to leave Thursday, thus ensuring that the only person planning to voluntarily go to the Herschel astronomical museum in weeks was deprived of seeing it.  Sigh…

To make sure I get a new stamp on my astronomy geek quota card though, because if I get 10 stamps they send me a decoder ring, I did make a trip to Stonehenge which is an hour away from Bath.  Besides the lure of a decoder ring the St. Christopher’s hostel in Bath threw in a free Stonehenge tour if you booked two nights with them (thanks, guys!) so I headed out.

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A rather fascinating signpost on the Sailsbury Plains on the way to Stonehenge- they say the miliatary does excersises here.  Fascinatingly this is also the “crop circle” area of England though I arrived too early for the season of seing pretty patterns flattened out in fields with pieces of wood.  Darn?

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Stonehenge!  Which is really, really windy!  I admit this place isn’t half as exciting as you’re led to believe- it looks nothing more than a pile of rocks, so you have to spend a lot of time reminding yourself that it’s a really important pile of rocks over 4,000 years old with stones dragged here as far away as Wales for reasons we’re not entirely certain of.  So if you get something like a free tour go as it’s worth contemplating this with your own eyes for a bit, but probably not worth going out of your way excessive miles to see.

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The astronomy-related part of Stonehenge is, of course, how the stones correspond marvelously with the sunrise.  This view specifically is showing where the sunrise is in midsummer, ie June 21, with the heelstone in the appropriate gap.  Apparently modern-day Druids show up here on June 21 every year to mark the occasion, but it should be noted the ancient Druids never actually did anything at Stonehenge, so the modern ones are just full of it.

And that is my journey in the Essex region of England.  Unlike Bath though I actually know what Essex is from though- it refers to the Saxons that used to live here, once they beat the Romans out.

Loch Ness

To start things off, there is no actual scientific evidence that the Loch Ness Monster exists.  Every single picture you’ve seen is thought to be a fake, sonar efforts don’t turn up much of anything, and incidentally there are monsters reported in other bodies of water around the world that have never showed up with a shred of evidence.  So why do the locals still talk to you about the Monster and their experiences and all the evidence they can’t release for one reason or another?  It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that it’s the only Loch tourists have ever heard of and hence one of the most visited places in Scotland right?  Nah.

To be fair, Loch Ness is a rather lovely body of water-

And deep.  230 meters deep at its deepest point to be precise, meaning it has more water in it than the rest of the lakes in the U.K. combined, because it happens to be along a fault line.  It’s also about 37km long, so why not check out the Loch Ness booze cruise in the evening?image156

A local brew available on the boat that had to be tried once I saw it.  Actually quite tasty!  I also was beside myself by discovering on the same day that there’s an ale in the U.K. called “Fursty Ferret” with pictures of ferrets all around the label.  Just brilliant.

Of course, lest we forget this is a Loch Ness booze cruise.  And how can we cruise around the lake drinking beer with questionable names if we aren’t equipped with sonar to make our intentions look legit and stuff?

The sonar readout- the above picture is actually just the GPS map.  You can see the loch drops off precipitously and if you look very closely in the black part you can see specks which I’m told are fish.  The boat crew also says that a few times a year they get a ping that’s the size of a fingernail, corresponding to an object several meters in size.  Conclude what you want but I never did get a good  explanation as to whether they get false positives with the sonar system.

But perhaps I was too much of a skeptic.  After all, look at this picture I snapped on the cruise-Ohmigawd, it’s proof of the monster!  I mean there is just no way that’s just a decal on the boat’s window lined up with the water!!!

Perhaps I’m coming across as a bit harsh here about the whole thing, as I did talk to a few kind souls who genuinely believe they saw the monster in the loch at some point. (“I saw a hump rising up from the water and disappear within a few seconds, so I don’t have a picture of it.  You think I’m full of shit don’t you?”) To be fair once your skepticism is established I highly recommend saying “stuff it” and going along with pretending there’s a monster down there.  Frankly it’s more fun that way, and what good is traveling if you don’t expose yourself to different viewpoints anyway?

The Highlands

Getting out to the Scottish highlands can be a little tricky when you’re a solo traveler trying to not spend a fortune, but the backpacker solution is to get a good deal for three days in the highlands with Haggis Adventures.  So a motley crew of us ended up going around in a bus like this-

Of  course, it almost didn’t happen.  I got the girl at the hostel desk to call the Haggis office for me and she told me the tour would start at 9:45am the next morning… at 8:42am I was in the perpetual argument of convincing myself to get out of my bed when another hostel worker stuck his head in to ask what was I doing, didn’t I realize my tour was going in two minutes?  What?!  That got me up, and within five minutes I was downstairs with my packed bags hailing a cab to speed me to the departure point, wondering why it normally takes me 20 minutes to pack if I could do it so quickly.  Shots of adrenaline will do that I suppose.

Anyway, I made it because it turns out Alan the driver is a saint and waited a few minutes extra for me.  I didn’t perk up until lunchtime when I got something in my stomach, but by then the scenery had picked up as well-

So it turns out the highlands are pretty.  Really pretty.  As in you will no longer wonder why the Scots settled the South Island of New Zealand because it looks just like it.  Granted, the South Island is a lot bigger so they probably still win overall, but it’s a close call.

One thing they don’t have in New Zealand though- castles!  Really, I think I said this before if we could get an artistically-placed castle or two in the American West it wouldn’t seriously deter from the scenery.  States could even charge permits and admission or whatever to help their budget crises.

Hanging out in said castle, whose name currently eludes me.  I’ve seen a few of these so I can’t say much except it was like any castle only more so, but the kitchen was exceptional.  This was because they tried to recreate what it must have been like back in the day with wax figurines and the like, which gave the whole thing a bit of a wonderfully disturbing feel.

Me with Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the U.K., in the background.  The north face of Ben Nevis is considered to be one of the hardest climbs in Europe due to the swiftly changing weather and almost cliff-like steepness, and in fact this is what North Face climbing gear is named after!  The more you know…

Another interesting detail about the highlands is how, well, empty it is compared to most of Europe.  You travel through this huge amount of space without hardly seeing a soul- turns out the reason for this is a few centuries ago the English forcibly resettled all the Scots to the lowlands so next to no one lives there today.

An aside- it goes without saying that the Scots and English do not particularly like each other.  It seems like the Scots will leave the U.K. sooner instead of later (and if you had that much North Sea oil and whiskey to export I wouldn’t blame you), but I think that will be an interesting debate when it happens.  Not like the English can invade again, right?

The most interesting point I learned about the English-Scottish relationship though was how it turns out Scottish children don’t actually learn about Scottish history in school, the argument being that it would just incite greater hatred towards the English.  I couldn’t quite believe this and was a bit dumbfounded- by the same argument does this mean we shouldn’t teach American kids about slavery because it would inflame racial tensions?  Call me odd, but I’ve never been met with a thorny problem and thought “you know, being more ignorant would surely solve this issue!”

Anyway, some of the loveliest scenery in Scotland is found on the Isle of Skye, and after a mere day there I have to agree.  I mean, just look at it!  For those astute moviegoers out there they filmed Stardust on the Isle of Skye, though I’m certain they waited a long time before they got the good weather.

My favorite Isle of Sky tidbit is how you need to cross a bridge from the  mainland to get to it, and when said bridge was constructed it was so overbudget it had the highest toll in the world to cross it (6.50 pounds one way for a car!).  The farmers weren’t happy so they made an exception for vehicles carrying livestock, which prompted everyone residing on the island to borrow a farmer’s sheep whenever they wanted to go to work.  Needless to say, the toll was abolished rather soon after.

Kilt Rock, the stone in the middle so named because of the tartan-like pattern in the cliff.  Allegedly where a giant put his kilt when hiding from another giant or due to a special type of volcanic flow, whichever you prefer.

Speaking of kilts, ever wonder what traditional Scottish people dressed like? (Before, yes, the English banned the style.) We went to a little show where the skill was demonstrated on one guy and a girl, and my friend Conor and I stepped up to the task.  Should be noted that unlike private school the girls aren’t the ones to wear kilts, only the guys, as the girls just wear tunics.  And I’m wearing a red-haired wig because about 80% of the Scottish population was redheaded at the time.

Something else very Scottish- a hairy cow!   Pronounced ‘airy coo’ and properly known as Highland Cattle, they’re mainly around for tourism these days.   And also very cute in that shaggy sort of way.And as a final detail, you see bluebells everywhere in Scotland and they are absolutely lovely.  Countless fields laced with blue.

Of course there’s more to say about the highlands, including a monster who may or may not exist, but that will have to wait until later.  Cheers!

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and is one of those places you fall in love with the second you arrive.  The stone buildings are beyond lovely, there are so many funky stores it can take an hour just to walk down a street, and odds are you can hear some bagpipes playing in the distance at any moment.  What’s not to like?

I went to Edinburgh twice, once when I flew in from Ireland and once again after heading up to the Scottish highlands and it turned out the European rugby championship was in town the next day.  It was an Irish team versus an English team and the Irish barely won, and how could I miss a fun bit of culture like that?

To start with, this is Edinburgh castle, perched intimidatingly on a hill and flying the U.K. flag higher than the Scottish one to great controversy (you learn pretty quick that anything dealing with the English is bound to be controversial around here).  It’s shockingly expensive to go in even when you remember everything in the U.K. is expensive, but it seemed a mild travesty to not go in so I said goodbye to my 12 pounds (US$19!) to enter the place.

To be fair, it is a rather nice castle and big enough inside that you can wander a few hours before you leave- they have a mess of cannons, the Scottish crown jewels, and all the other castle-y things one usually comes across.  My favorite was the prison- they redid the dungeons to look like they used to back in the day with a slight Disneyfication of wax models and spooky people talking in the background and such, which they did in perfectly entertaining proportions.

A Scottish guardsman at the castle.  You know how the English guards at castles wear red uniforms and ridiculous giant hats that make you conclude the queen’s primary defense is people will start laughing at the guards?  Well I wouldn’t mess with their Scottish counterparts- this guy is macho enough to wear a kilt, and stand rock-still when tourists pose for pictures beside him while still sending a “yeah, I could kill you in five seconds without my weapon!” look.  Definitely hardcore.

Speaking of kilts, I am going to be terrible and just post my opinion on this that I already said on Facebook-

Dear Scottish souvenir stores- please stop stocking my high school uniform.  Sincerely, recovering private school student.

Bonus for Ellisians, our plaid is in this picture for you to find!  Though those more expert than me say the exact plaid doesn’t mean anything because synthetic dyes are “only” one or two centuries old.

Speaking of things that annoyed me in Edinburgh, here is the view looking up from the lovely lobby of the hostel I stayed at, which was a converted barracks.  See where the steps end on the top floor?  Yeah, that’s where I lived.  And you’re not allowed to put a lift in the old buildings because they’re protected.  Needless to say, this hostel was one of about five or six places thus far on my trip where I felt obliged to use the backpack straps on my bag instead of the wheels.

On the other hand, I am fairly certain that this pig is one of my favorite things in Edinburgh (that and his other bretheren I consumed at this place).  It’s a hole in the wall type establishment called Oink where their only product is making cheap sandwiches out of a roasted pig.  They have one pig a day and work until they sell out, typically just after lunch.  And my God, it was delicious.  I became as obsessed with the pig place as much as one can be over the course of only a few days.

What you get at the pig place for 3.50 pounds.  You choose from either sage and onion or haggis, though I went for the former instead of the latter.  Not that there’s anything wrong with haggis- I tried it a few times while in Scotland and have no opinion on the taste one way or another frankly.

Anyway, now that I’m done ranting about the deliciousness of the pig roast let us move on to some more Interesting and Important Places, shall we?  This is a view of the Scottish Royal Museum, with Dolly the  Sheep in front and one of James Watt’s first steam engines in the back.  The Scots are one of those people who have done a disproportionate number of contributions to science and culture considering their size, and like such nations they are always proud to remind you of this fact.  In fact, Scotland is the first place after Hungary where you can mention something random and people are quick to tell you “did you know the Scottish invented/discovered/created that?!”  It got a bit much when they proudly told me Pontius Pilate was born in Scotland and hence they’re responsible for killing Jesus though.

A word on the Scottish Royal Museum before I forget- I’ve seen enough national museums by this point that don’t strike you as particularly impressive, but the Scottish version is not one of them.  Not only is everything expertly done and crammed with enough steam engines and prehistoric relics to satisfy anyone, there are even people going around in period costume telling you about how back in their day if you misbehaved your ear would be nailed to the church door or whatever (you will inevitably conclude from this place that Scotland was a pretty rough and dreary place to live for most of its history actually). The nicest thing about the museum though?  I remembered that the physicist James Maxwell is Scottish and asked a curator if they had anything from him- said curator was sorry to report that particular part of the museum was closed for renovations, but snuck me in so I could see the Maxwell case.  How kind is that?

The curator also mentioned offhand that there is a Maxwell statue erected in Edinburgh for the man, so I obviously needed to do a quick pilgrimage the next day to see it.  For any interested physicists the statue is located in George Street in the newer part of Edinburgh with traffic going by it on both sides, but these are the things we put up with to have pictures with our idols…

And for non-physicists who are wondering who on Earth James Maxwell is that I harassed a curator and went out of my way to find his statue, Maxwell is the guy who figured out that electricity and magnetism are related and the equations for them- equations so important that it’s from this Einstein figured out his theories of relativity actually!  So if you’re thinking of the most important physicists of all time first would be Newton, second would be Einstein, and third would be Maxwell.  The fact that I have taken two years of courses studying his equations and have a third coming up didn’t hurt my interest in the guy either.

Now that I’m done with my geek moment, I should make a note that one of the reasons it was a touch difficult to find Maxwell’s statue is there are so many erected in memorial to famous Scotsmen in Edinburgh (I say Scotsmen because I never saw a woman statue).  Some you can’t help but stop and pose with, such as the Hume one above, but some they could tone down on.  Like Sir Walter Scott.  He has several as well as a several-story memorial.  Now I realize the Scots are proud of him, but have any of you actually read Sir Walter Scott?  The man is boring– so boring that most English classes these days won’t touch his works knowing everyone will just reach for the Cliffs Notes- which I realize upsets the four Ivanhoe fans out there but it’s my blog!  And I needed to somehow explain why I never took a picture of any of the Sir Walter Scott memorials in Edinburgh.  The End.*

*I realize you’re not supposed to end things with “The End” but this is a blog, not high literature.  If it was high literature you would now be asked to critique what the pig roast sandwich symbolizes in my journey and what the theme of my James Maxwell search was, and I would mark you off for writing “she’s a nerd” because that’s not a complete sentence.