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Sarum
by
Edward Rutherfurd


WHAT I'M WATCHING...


NEW

Samples of two of the
slide shows I've been making
can be downloaded from
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Pictures from the Cincinnati are now up at Steve's Club Photo page.

Pictures from our Family reunion are on my own Club Photo page.



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That's it for today!

NO BIG MACS

23 September 2001

This is our fourth day here. We have traveled all over three different islands and it suddenly struck me that I haven't seen one single American franchise anywhere. No McDonalds, no Jack-in-the-Box, no Pizza Hut, no Burger King, no Blockbuster video. This may be the last place in the western world that has not succumbed to American marketing.

"Fast food" here is a fish and chips take-a-way, but usually you stop in the shop and eat it anyway.

We had the antithesis of "fast food" last night. We tried to return to the Royal Hotel, where we'd had our first dinner here, but it was full and there was no room for us. so we went across the little street to an underground cafe, which recently changed owners. The new owner is Austrian and, in conjunction with Orkney's current food fest ("A Taste of Orkney") they were offering an Austrian menu (I'm not sure how that is a taste of Orkney, but let it pass).

It's a teeny place. Six tables, half of which were occupied. The waitress handed us our menus and told us that nothing on the first page was available. Which eliminated the entire Austrian menu. However, we did have the option of the traditional dishes, and all three of us chose lamb with mint sauce. Seems kind of cruel to eat lamb when we come face to face with them everywhere around here--in pens, on the street, crossing the road, etc., but such is life.

The waitress apologized and explained that there was some problem in the kitchen and it might take 10-15 minutes for our dinner to come. 35 minutes later she put a bowl in front of each of us. In the bowl were two of the smallest lamb chops I'd ever seen. If I cut real small, I could get six bites out of each. She apologized for how long it had taken. Fortunately she returned about 10 minutes later with potatoes and a bowl of courgettes (zucchini) or I think I'd have raised a row about paying 8.50 for a dozen bites of lamb, half of which was fat! It was tasty, mind you, but just not much of it.

We enjoyed our dinner and it took forever for her to give us our bill, and then forever for her to pick up Walt's credit card. While he sat there holding it out to her, she cleared the glassware off of two tables.

Fortunately we weren't in a hurry and were enjoying our visit and only mildly annoyed at the long wait. But I suspect the concept of "fast food" might not go over here!

Today we visited the isle of Hoy. It's one of the larger islands in Orkney and from where I am now sitting, you can see its dark mountain rising up from behind the green hills. It dominates most of the views around here and Walt got to calling it "Bali Hoy." But I forgave him anyway.

Hoy is quite desolate in parts, but that makes for spectacular scenery. We drove a long way from the ferry up through blooming heather, watching the clouds settle on the mountains. At one deserted spot, Sian whipped off the road to a picnic table (which had "keep Orkney clean--take your trash with you" painted on it). She brought out a thermos of hot water, tea bags, and sweets and we had a proper tea there at the foot of the mountain, surrounded by heather. What could possibly be more civilized?

We continued up to a breathtaking overlook of the cliffs and the crashing waves and walked down to the shore to see the cliffs on the other side. Unfortunately the famous "Old Man of Hoy" was a 3 mile walk and we didn't take that. But I've seen pictures so I can imagine how it looks. It's a piece of a cliff, separated from the rest by centuries of erosion, and standing like a very tall standing stone, all by itself. Very spectacular--but not for a 3 mile hike up a wet, boggy cliffside!

We continued our drive around the island and ended up at a pub near where Sian used to live, where we had a nice lunch.

We were early for the ferry (ahead of schedule, Mary!) so stopped at the museum at Scarpa Flow. It's a military museum, with lots of relics of WW I and WW II. I told Sian it seemed ironically appropriate, as we start WW III to be visiting this museum. Chilling reminders of what men can do to each other when they get to playing with their dangerous war toys.

At one place in the museum was a plaque dedicated to the memory of one young soldier, age 17, by four of his cousins. That did me in and I had to leave the museum, in tears. Too sad for his parents, for his relatives, and for the people of all ethnicities who will die as we start our war of retaliation.

But for how, we are far away from all of it--even from big Macs--and it's kind of a nice place to be, actually.


One Year Ago:
Laughing Sal
My City By the Bay
She bought a clothesline
It Ain't Over
Mid-Night Musings
House of Mirrors
From Tears to Tahoe


Some pictures from this journal
can be found at
Club Photo


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Created 9/5/01 by Bev Sykes