Archive for October, 2009
In for a Penny is listed on Amazon!!!! I had been checking it obsessively for a while to no avail and had finally given up, figuring it wouldn’t be up until a couple of months before publication. Then last week my friend Paul Pollack (who, by the way, just published a lovely number theory textbook, “Not Always Buried Deep“) IMed to say “Hey, your book’s on Amazon!” There may have been chair-dancing.
I have arrived.
It’s been almost a month since I got back from the UK, and it’s taken me this long to organize and upload all my pictures. But my trip was AMAZING. We started out in Newcastle, where we spent most of our time on our friend’s couch giggling and watching TV–”Black Books” is my new favorite thing!–but also managed to take in a castle and gardens, some art museums, and lovely architecture. One of my favorite things about the UK is how old stuff lives right alongside new stuff: in Newcastle I saw Tudor wattle-and-daub buildings jostling Georgian Neoclassical stone, Victorian townhouses, and modern glass-and-steel.
Then we took a train, bus, and ferry up to Orkney. I was horribly seasick on the ferry, which I didn’t expect because I’ve never had a problem with boats before. You know those scenes when characters are crossing the Channel and someone’s seasick and they’re lying there shaking and moaning, “I’m dying, I know it”? I always thought those were an exaggeration but no, it is exactly like that.
Orkney is, hands down, the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, and its history is fascinating too. I was lucky enough to be staying with a friend who works for Historic Scotland so she had all kinds of great information and recommended a couple books as well. I’ll be setting a book there sooner rather than later, I think. I was also pathetically amazed by the sight of cows and sheep grazing right at the edge of the sea. As an American, I’m just not used to the lack of beaches!
Then we drove down to Edinburgh and spent a few days there before flying home. My friend took us on the scenic route through the Highlands, and wow. I get what the big deal is now. (There were sheep on the highway, too, in case you were wondering.)
We also discovered that the most popular brand of oatmeal in Scotland has this picture on the box:
I think it’s the shotput that makes it.
I’ve uploaded all my best pictures to flickr. You can see them here. To whet your appetite, here are some of my favorites (I apologize for the sides being cut off, I can’t figure out how to make it not do that):
The Poison Gardens at Alnwick. Our guide was a truly macabre elderly woman in a sweater set, who kept making pronouncements like, “Two berries from this plant will kill a small child in ten hours. If you grind the berries into powder and sprinkle them on the ground, you will become invisible.”
I told you Orkney was beautiful:
These are naturally occuring steps in the rocks by the sea. What a great place for a kissing scene!
This chapel was built out by Italian POWs during World War II so that they would have a place to hold Catholic services. They used two Nissen huts, some plaster, and leftover concrete from the causeways they were building. Here’s the Wikipedia article–it’s a fascinating story and the chapel is beautiful.
And now for something completely different! This stuff was everywhere in Edinburgh.