Monday, May 6, 2013

To Continue...

So sorry to just drop off last night...I was super tired and exhausted from my day of travel!  But I'm back to tell the rest of the story.

Story 2: Nor Loch

So I mentioned in my earlier post about Edinburgh being known as Ol' Reeky?  Well, this is why...

Back before there was a city, the volcano (King Arthur's Seat) ERUPTED!  And lava went everywhere (obviously).  And this lava hardened into rock.  Then, the ice age came along and a large glacier tried to move through the area, but couldn't get past the bit of hardened lava.  So as the glacier melted, the North Lake or "Nore-Lock" (that's how they pronounce it) was created.  Well, then people started to come into the area and settle there and named the town Edinburgh.  They built lots of houses, a castle, and a palace.  But there's a key to this story - there was no indoor plumbing.  So...if you heard "Guardie-Loo!"

Don't look up.

Don't run out your door.

Because...well...they didn't have indoor plumbing.  And so when someone shouted all got thrown out the windows and into the close or alley way below.  Disgusting.  And due to the rain and downward slope of the closes, all of the waste eventually made it guessed it...the NOR LOCH.  NASTY.  At one point in time, the smell was so bad that people in Glasgow could smell it (roughly 40+ miles away).  So that's how Ol' Reeky came to be the nickname for Edinburgh.  But this isn't my whole story.  No, no, I'm just setting you up.  This was just part one.

Part Two:

As you should know from any sort of history class, that at one point in time, people were terrified of anything that had to do with witches.  So mass witch hunts broke out and people were going crazy (over something that didn't really exist, I might add).  The "witches" of Edinburgh were not spared from this hunt either,  Many women were bound hands to ankles and thrown in the...Nor see if they drowned or floated.  If they drowned, then they weren't a witch, but they died anyway.  If they floated, they were witches and were then burned at the stake.  So really, lose-lose situation, eh?  Not that this wasn't awful enough...but I want to point out that they threw women into the NOR LOCH.  THE PLACE WHERE ALL THEIR TRASH AND SUCH WENT.  Gross.  Really an awful way to die. do these two parts really come together in my story?  Let me tell you:

Well, finally Edinburgh had had enough of the nasty lake and decided to drain it.  And drain it they did.  What they didn't expect to find?

Around 800 human skeletons.

From the witch hunt.

You may now run away from the computer screaming in horror.

The End.



Anyway.  We also ate at a lovely little Italian place that served delicious tortellini.  And coke with lemon.  Like I had a lemon slice in my coke.  Very tasty.  And apparently that's completely normal.  I'm going to start doing that when I get back to the US.

After we ate we ran up to the castle to take a couple of pictures and such.  We didn't have enough time to take a tour, sadly, but I still got some pretty good pictures.  And I bought a few things in the gift shop there.  We then made our way back to the train station to head home.

That night I got to stay with a couple who lives in Lanark.

Hopefully this name rings a bell.

I'll give you a hint: Mel Gibson.

If you thought Braveheart, you're correct!  I've never seen the movie (please forgive me), but it was still really neat to be in such a historical place!  (No worries, I plan on watching the movie very soon)

After going to church that morning in Livingston, we headed back into Edinburgh so that I could catch my train back to England.

So what did I do today?

It was bank holiday, and what a beautiful holiday it was.  It was SEVENTY DEGREES AND SUNNY.  Absolutely gorgeous.  So I took full advantage of this and went into Nottingham.  Where I happened upon a festival of sorts honoring a certain day in the 1945 called VE Day or the day that World War II ended in Europe (this actually happened officially on the 7th of May, but I guess they were celebrating early since it was bank holiday?).  How cool is that?  I paid £3 to get in and got to explore!  Many people were dressed in 1945 fashion or in a soldier's uniform.  People were dancing to music of the era, and I was standing in line for some 1945 style ice cream.  Until I was told they ran out of chocolate flavor.  Sad.  I also went inside a mini museum about the 1940s in Nottingham.  So interesting!  I also found out that the city of Nottingham has the most caves out of any city in England, but ALL of them are man-made.  Apparently people used to live in them, too.  I got to explore a few of these caves as well. 

Overall?  Today was a great day.  And I got to eat fish and chips one last time.  Perfection.

Tomorrow, I head in for my last day of student teaching.  I'm excited to teach my lesson tomorrow, but sad that it's my last.  I'm off to put the finishing touches on it now...I'll let you know how it goes!


Picture time!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Whirlwind of a Week.


I can't believe that I only have TWO days left here in England before I fly back to the US.  This past MONTH has literally flown by.  It really is hard to believe that it's almost over.  I've had an amazing experience here teaching the young minds of the UK.  This past week I taught at least one lesson every day.  I taught wee little year 7's all about how we need to protect our Earth and not pollute the air and sea.  The year 9's also got to learn a little about the growth of key Chinese cities and how urbanization has affected the country as a whole.  For year 10?  We learned all about sustaining the coastal defenses to prevent us all falling into the ocean (...well maybe on a slightly less dramatic scale).  And last, the year 8's continued to analyze UP, and we created a movie poster based on all that we've learned thus far.  This past week was also a different one for year 9 as the school was hosting French foreign exchange students.  I had FIVE of them in one of my lessons.  They were only supposed to take notes on the lesson and what they learned from it, but I'm still not completely sure they understood what I was saying.  Minor details.  I'm sure they knew English, but they didn't volunteer to answer any questions or what not.  Heh.

The weekend has also blown by in a whirlwind.  It was the weekend I wish lasted the longest because I was in Scotland!  I still can't believe how beautiful the city of Edinburgh is.  The Old Town is exactly what I had pictured all of Europe to look like (clearly this isn't the case).  All the buildings in the Old town are stone, and the streets are nothing but cobblestone.  Sigh.  It was lovely.  Taking two tours around the city, I also learned so much about the history.  On the midday ghost tour, I learned that at one point in it's history, Edinburgh made it illegal to be homeless.  Therefore, all those people who were homeless were forced to live down in the vaults underneath the South Bridge.  (It was already haunted at that time because the first person to ever cross it was a corpse was pulled across the bridge by a horse....).  I sadly did not see any ghosts or demons or specters or orbs or anything except a few spider webs, puddles of water, and a stone circle trapping a dark entity (more about that later).  The second tour was of Mary King's Close.  Sorry.  The REAL Mary King's Close.  The tour guide said it was the real one because it was about real people...I think that either a) some people were trying to argue that it was somewhere else or b) they were trying to cover up the fact that all the stories I've heard about it say that when the Black Plague struck Edinburgh the last time, they bricked in the sick in the Close and let the die...their bodies being found hundreds of years later.  Ew, but that's the story.


I also have another story...but it's not as creepy. 

Story:  Wee Little Archie

Once upon a time, in Ol' Reeky (nickname for Ediburgh back in the day...), some people believed that there was an underground tunnel running along the Royal Mile of the city connecting the castle to the palace.  People searched and searched for it, but could never prove that the rumors were true.  Terrible.  Anyway, one night there was a nice party, but obviously some of the guards were not invited to the stately dinner (I'm pretty sure they were guards or something of that memory's a bit fuzzy about it).  And they were down in the dumps, so they had a little too much to drink.  So in this state, they decided that it would be funny to set off 1:00 cannon.  (At 1pm every day, a cannon is fired even now.)  However, it was 1 in the MORNING (just...hilarious...right?).  Well they set it off and the cannon backfired (right wording?) so far (?) that it busted a HOLE IN THE CASTLE WALL.  Well, they knew that this was the end of life as they knew it...they busted a HOLE IN THE WALL.  But when they went up to inspect it, they noticed that this whole led to a tunnel!  THEY FOUND THE TUNNEL TO THE PALACE!  However, the hole was too small for any of them to go through to see if this was true.  So cue Archie, the wee bagpiper.  He was tiny enough to fit into the hole.  They told Archie to follow the tunnel until it ended while continuously playing his bagpipes.  This way they would be able to follow above ground and know where he was.  So off goes Archie into the tunnel.  Bagpipes are playing the whole way until at a certain point....they just stop.  The crew figures that Archie hit a dead end and decided to go back the way he came.  So they head back to the castle....

No Archie.

Still no Archie.


Nope.  No Archie.

So the guards get another wee lad to go explore to find Archie.  The wee lad pops through the hall and immediately comes back up saying that there was no tunnel.  It was just a gaping hole.  With no tunnel.

No tunnel at all.


Where was Archie?

Well, folks, Archie the bagpiper was never seen again.

The weirdest part of this story?  If Archie fell down the hole (which he obviously should have done), why did the guards hear the bagpipes playing almost all the way down the entire Royal Mile?

The end.'s 1 am here.  I'm gonna have to hit the hay for the night - sitting on a train all day can wear you out!  I will finish my weekend tomorrow.  AND post pictures.


Friday, May 3, 2013

The Weekend is Here!

I don't have much time to post at the moment - I have to go catch a train to Scotland!  I will update about my fabulous weekend and week teaching at school when I get back!