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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Greetings from the Jolly Judge!

Holy cats, it's been a crazy couple of days!

We spent over 26 hours in a row just getting to the farm house we're staying in for the first four days of our time in Edinburgh. It's quite literally in the middle of nowhere and virtually technology-free. There's no phone (!!) no cable TV, although we've got a whopping 8 channels, and, needless to say, no Internet. It's actually a cottage with horse stables on one side and a field of wheat on the other.

But first things, first! The trip was hellish, but luckily went fairly smoothly, for us, anyway. Our stop-over at JFK (formerly known as Idlewild before JFK died) was just right. Just long enough to update my blog but not too long as to be bored. In fact I tried out my Skype number and voice chatted (sp?) with Tim Toon for about 15 minutes or so. It was pretty cool--especially since we were doing it for free :)

As soon as I got off "the phone" with Tim, we had just enough time to get sandwiches from the good pain (Au Bon Pain) and get aboard the plane to London. We were a little concerned with a couple sat in front of us with their very small child, but as it turned out, she was perfectly well behaved and the trip was quiet and comfortable. Well, as comfortable as you can be travelling coach, 7 hours to London. The food on this flight was slightly better than the last in that we didn't have to pay for it and we got dinner and just short of a full meal for breakfast.

The entertainment on both flights was kind of a joke, but on the flight to Heathrow we got a lot more variety of crap to not watch. Instead I played a bit of my DS and read my step-dad's book.

Annoyingly, there's something about the air onboard planes that makes me tired, so I did actually manage to sleep a bit--but only for an hour or so. We got to London at about 9am local time which put it at 2am LA time. We got our checked bags from the "baggage reclaim hall" after going through customs. 30 seconds of interaction with a native Briton was all it took for me to annoy him. It was the customs agent who, once he stamped my passport, wished me a good trip. I replied with "Same to you. Well, have a nice day or whatever."

"Yes," he said and looked to the next person in line.

Way to feel like a dork five seconds in the country, Pete!

We then grabbed our checked bags after literally seconds of waiting and made our way to the Underground. No terrorists as far as I could see, although I did notice a lot of bobbies wandering around keeping an eye on things. Though, I didn't feel nervous about them shooting me until I got to Kings Cross where the pleasant, fluorescent yellow coloured police officers were replaced by SWAT-looking cops equiped not only with pistols but with submachine guns, too.

The Underground trip was fun--or would have been if we weren't weighed down by the clothese we'd be wearing for the next 2 weeks. At one point I wasn't sure we'd be able to get off the train because there were so many people on the train--with our bulk we simply couldn't make them create a big enough hole for us to escape through. Luckily, they all got off the train with us.

Once at Kings Cross we made our way to the "rail station" which is above the Underground station. This is the giant trainstation that I think we saw in the Harry Potter movies--where he catches the train to his magic school. This was where we were supposed to meet up with three other members of our crew. They're Dana, Joe and David--they're all involved in the show TheFiancee is performing in at the Fringe. We were supposed to meet them at a place called "Cooper's" which was a sit-down restaurant TheFiancee had found on a map online. I suggested we go with a place called "Taste" because that was an easier name to remember.

Alas, when we got there, there was no Cooper's. So, we waited by Taste, instead. Turns out Cooper's had its name changed to Duke of York. We weren't sure how long we were going to have to wait, so we just hung out. We grabbed some food and beverage from Taste and people-watched for abotu 3 hours. We had no cell phones to coordinate with, so finally we gave up hope around 2 and hopped on the train to Edinburgh by ourselves. At this point, I was barely conscious. TheFiancee had managed to sleep a lot while on the plane, but despite how sleepy I was, I could only manage that hour.

On the train, however, I was fatigued enough to just not care. Of course, as irony would have it, this was when we ran into a loud kid. This kid was very much interested in seeing just how loud he could scream. What was worse was that every time he seemed satisfied that he had reached his loudest, he would only decide to renew the test and scream some more. His parents were impotent to stop him.

Man, was I in a lousy mood by the time we got to Edinburgh. The train ride took 4.5 hours instead of the 4 we had heard and when you're in that lousy a mood the extra 30 minutes were killers. However, once in Edinburgh, my mood changed substantially. It's such a beautiful city, just stepping outside the station was a spirit-lifter.

We got a cab and the poor guy driving it had no idea where our farm house was. I was pretty sure he said he'd "have to pass" on taking us, but when TheFiancee produced directions on paper, he had a look and decided he'd give it a go.

"It's OK if you get lost, man," I told him. "We've been on the road from Los Angeles for 26 hours, we're just happy to be here and to be close to where we get to sleep for more than a couple hours in a row."

"Oh, OK," he said. His accent was wonderfully thick. ""I won't get lost though, don't worry.""

He studied the directions some more and then added "I probably shouldn't have said that."

We laughed as he began the trip. He did manage to get lost a little, but like I said, we didn't care. We were just happy to be where we were. The sights were beautiful and ancient and everything we had remembered from our visit back in 2000.

Finally, after we stopped twice to ask for directions, we found the cottages we'd be staying in. They were down a long, unpaved road surrounded by fields and patches of trees as far as the eye could see (literally). We met up with our hosts who were very cool. They were Joe's mom and step-dad and both were surprised to see us, but not Joe, Dana and David. In fact, they saw my long hair and assumed I was David--but David's a blond and not as good looking as me ;)

We got our stuff situated in the cottage next door to their's and did manage to be social for a bit. Since we'd never met them before getting there, I thought it would be a good idea to show them that we weren't psychos or anything. We got along well and were very nice, friendly and hospitable. Joe's mom even made us dinner, which was pretty tasty, actually. Locally made sausages and pasta--yummy. As we made our way back to our cottage to go to sleep, we were amazed that it was still so light out--at 9pm!

We took a quick look at the field of wheat and then headed in. The accomodations were so rustic (I think that's the word) but in a good way. Living there will be seriously old-skool for the next couple days. I laid down on that bed and vanished into unconsciousness. I was so dead and it wasn't even 10pm local time, yet. I can't remember the last time I was in bed while the sun was still up.

Then, in the middle of the night, my eyes snapped open.

'Gotta check the news!' was the thought that popped into my head. Then I remembered that I couldn't because our cottage has electricity, running water and that's it. Then I noticed light coming from behind the curtains.

Was it still light out?

I slid out of bed and pulled the curtain slightly aside. Yep--still light out.

'How long have I been asleep?' I thought to myself as I moved to my iPod which lay on the floor recharging next to my PowerBook. I hit the button and maneuvered the readout to display the clock. 9pm LA time is what it told me--that made it 4am my time. Still light at 4am??

I do not know how I'll be able to write with the sun up the whole time I'm here...

When we awoke, the coolness of our situation hit me.

We just woke up...

...on a farm...

in Scotland!

Click the pic to watch a short mp4 video of our back yard and the stables nearby. I'll try to post more footage later.

Joe's folks were nice enough to have breakfast almost waiting for us when we made our way over. Over that breakfast we talked politics and discovered we've got a few opinions in common :)

We also formulated the plan for the day. Through the caretaker of the cottages (and her phone) we managed to get in touch with Joe and the others. It turns out their plane was delayed 5 hours--they got into Edinburgh extremely late and just stayed at a hotel over night. So, Joe's step-dad drove TheFiancee and I to the hotel they had stayed at which was in the center of Edinburgh. We climbed out and they climbed in.

We had to find a 'net connection! We wandered around on foot for a bit but eventually stumbled upon the Jolly Judge--it's on High Street in the middle of a very old area of Edinburgh. We actually found this place listed at but managed to stumble upon it by accident. The Jolly Judge is a pub down a "close" or alley. Alley's here are not seedy or gross at all but in fact are clean, tidy and the home to many a shop and restaurant.

Here is the baked potato stuffed with Haggis that TheFiancee and I ate while typing up this blog entry.
And that pretty much takes us to this very moment. TheFiancee got bored waiting for me to finish using my PowerBook and went off by herself where she was able to find a pair of nail clippers--thanks honey!

Now, I'm going to set about transfering and uploading the pics and video I took on my minicam once fixing the damn thing with the help of a multi-purpose tool Joe's step-dad let me borrow. Keep watching ThePete.Com for more of my international adventures!!


  1. 30 seconds of interaction with a native Briton was all it took for me to annoy him. It was the customs agent

    Oh, I wouldn't take those customs agents as an indicator of Britons at large ...unless Britons happen to be condescending arseholes. When I went to Europe, the guy at Heathrow who checked me in -- first Briton I met on British soil -- thought he'd welcome me by laying into me about my 'little backpacking holiday', so thanks for putting the 'ass' in ambassador, british customs guy!

    Jen, any stories to contribute?

  2. That makes me feel a little better. :)

    Yeah, Jen, what about your adventures? Piss off the locals while you were over here?