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London!

How could I have lived this long and never visited London? Thanks to Champlain College’s commitment to juniors studying abroad, Chris chose London and we, of course, HAD to go for a visit!! So much to see and do – how to choose? We just took it one day at a time and had a blast! Stayed in Kent (about a one hour train ride away) in a small town called Edenbridge at the Hever Hotel, next to the Hever Castle. So we were daily commuters on the train to Victoria Station and then primarily “tubed” it or walked around town.

Food highlights:

Hereford Road in Notting Hill – amazing menu! Appetizers we enjoyed were Roast Jerusalem Artichoke, Hazelnuts and Rocket (note to self: get some Jerusalem artichokes and roast them – divine!!) and Braised Cuttlefish in Red Wine. Main courses: Roast Pheasant with Lentils and Girolles; Braised Hare Leg with Carrots and Pickled Walnut. We passed on dessert, but I must mention a few of the options here: Sticky Date Pudding, Rice Pudding and Baked Fig, Buttermilk Pudding and Poached Quince, and Apple Crumble with Cinnamon Ice Cream! Very interesting that the chefs are preparing the food at the front door where you walk in – an open kitchen! They greet the customers as they enter! Considered by the foodies who we shared a cab with (met them at a bus stop!) to be one of the best restaurants in London!

–Wanted to go to Cow off Portobello Road (recommended by Fodors) for Sunday Roast, but when we arrived they were all booked up. Ended up across the street at The Westbourne and loved our lunch: Pumpkin soup with sage; Grilled sardines with baby spinach and beetroot salad (they call beets “beetroot” all over the UK); Steamed mussels with “chilli”, garlic, and parsley; Roast Welsh Black Beef, with roasted potatoes, carrots, green beans, Yorkshire pudding, and horseradish cream. Marvelous!!!

–Dinner at Chris’ favorite corner hang out in South Kensington, Builders Pub, offered some great food too: Deep fried whitebait with tartare sauce; Sweet potato and coriander “houmous”; Free range Gloucester Old Spot sausages with kale colcannon, and red onion gravy; Slow cooked Ox cheek with red wine pie; Roasted Barbary duck breast, sautéed cabbage, bacon and potatoes with red wine sauce. All delicious!!

–Another Fodor’s recommendation that really panned out well for excellent food AND great prices (3 course prix fix menu for L18 = $30) was Arbutus on Frith Street in Soho. Our group tasted and loved: Salad of beetroot, endive, quinoa, seeds, and grains; Soup of autumn greens, lemon and nutmeg; Chicken and smoked ell terrine, with a fruit relish; Lamb shoulder pappardelle with olive oil and Parmesan; Roast rabbit, cabbage and bacon; and Grilled Cornish mullet with white beans. For dessert we enjoyed: Soft meringue with custard and pralines; Poached pears, toasted rice ice cream with amaranth popcorn; and Cold chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream.

Cultural highlights:

The National Gallery – groundbreaking Leonardo da Vinci show was our goal, but sadly it opened the next day. Really enjoyed the Impressionist’s paintings in their collection.

The London Eye – great fun and great views of the city!

St. Paul’s Cathedral – along with the protests going on outside

Wicked! Brilliant, brilliant show! We were lucky to have scored great seats in the “stalls” for 1/2 price (L42 = $71)!

The Tate Modern Museum – we barely scratched the surface – you could spend weeks roaming around this vast museum which used to be a power plant. Brilliant renovation, huge rooms and installations.

The Tate Britain – saw a fabulous show of John Martin’s Apocalypse – he lived from 1789-1854 and painted huge monumental landscapes of biblical catastrophes and cataclysmic events. Perfect for those who are afraid of the end of the world! Amazing command of landscape elements, composition and depth of field.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) – again vast amount of space. We focused on the show that Chris recommended on the main floor called Power of Making – a brilliant exploration of objects and arts and crafts made in completely new and unorthodox ways. The opening sculpture was a huge gorilla made up entirely of coat hangers. An innovative knitter made huge knitting needles (6′ long) and created a large cable stitch swath about 10’x20′ that used the wool from 18 sheep!

Harrod’s Department Store – a tourist destination for sure – and a cultural icon! We decided that at least 50% (if not more) of the customers were Saudis – many many women in head scarves with stunning make up! Enjoyed all the designer gowns and actually looked at a price tag on a pair of studded jeans – L1,300!!!

The Borough Marketplace – fabulous food vendors of all stripes and great food products! If I lived anywhere near, I would shop for all my food there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the slideshow of the rest of my photo memories from London and Kent.

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Scotland, my ancestral home

We just returned from a fabulous two week sojourn through Scotland and England! As always, editing the photos is quite challenging – there are just so many phenomenal sights to share:  today, Scotland – next, England.

Our departure from Newark Airport on October 28th was miraculously smooth, considering the next day a freak snowstorm blew through the Northeast and the airport was closed! We arrived in Edinburgh with a rental car awaiting us: stick shift Jetta diesel with the steering wheel on the right side. I left the driving on the left side of the road to my intrepid husband Richard who did a valiant job negotiating the many roundabouts we encountered on our 2 hour journey to our hotel in the Trossachs region (northwest of Edinburgh). As we got closer and closer to our hotel, the roads got narrower and narrower until they were almost one lane, with moss-covered stone walls and hedgerows defining the edges, no shoulders! I still consider it a miracle that we made it safely that day considering the lack of sleep traveling overnight!

Our hotel, The MacDonald Forest Hills Hotel overlooking Loch Ard, was originally a château which had been added onto over the years and “modern” 60’s time share units added somewhere down the line. Not much to look at from the outside, but once we opened the doors, the two bedroom, two bathroom unit was lovely with a big roomy living room, kitchen and dining room. It was a great base of operation for our week of exploration in Scotland!

We started our first morning in the elegant hotel restaurant with a full Scottish breakfast of eggs, haggis, black pudding, mushrooms, baked beans, sausage, tomato, and fried bread! Richard took on haggis as one of his culinary challenges for the first few days and ate it in many different forms at breakfast and as an appetizer at dinner. The name sounds revolting, and the description is sketchy too: (here from Wikipedia “Haggis is a dish containing sheep‘s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal’s stomach for approximately three hours.”) I must say I tried it with trepidation and was quite surprised at how tasty it was!!

Black pudding? Here’s another mystery food to me that was actually quite tasty, as well: “Black pudding, blood pudding or blood sausage is a type of sausage made by cooking blood or dried blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled. The dish exists in various cultures from Asia to Europe. Pig, cattle, sheep, duck and goat blood can be used depending on different countries.” (Sourced from Wikipedia.)

Baked beans for breakfast? I must admit, I’m a simple yogurt and granola girl, so I watched the guys (oh yes, we had the distinct pleasure of our son Chris joining us for our first few days in Scotland!) chow down at breakfast and I had wee tastes of the mystery foods!

The greatest pleasure we had was exploring The Queen Elizabeth National Forest in the Trossachs – the experience of being immersed in vast, stunning landscapes that awaited us just up the road and around a few precarious bends from our hotel: Loch Katrine (pronounced Kaatrin), Loch Lomand, and the epic views of the mountains that have been carved out by the glaciers. I hope you enjoy the pictures, which of course can never truly share the sense of grandeur, but attempt to do so.

Chris had to take an early flight Monday morning back to London, so we decided to spend a night in the heart of Edinburgh and explore the city as well. Fodors recommended the Scotsman Hotel, so I booked a Sunday night special that included a bottle of champagne and a bouquet of flowers, plus dinner and breakfast for two! Such a deal! And it was a spectacular room with a stunning view of the city, great food in the restaurant – the only drawback being getting to the hotel through the maze of streets in Edinburgh! And the next morning, despite our best efforts getting OUT of town was equally challenging (1 1/2 hours of driving in circles we finally escaped!)

The next leg of the journey was really at the heart of the trip for me: visiting the home at the heart of my Turnbull family bloodline called “Hassendeanbank” near the beautiful village of Melrose, one hour southeast of Edinburgh. We had arranged to meet a potentially distant cousin named Alan Turnbull who generously offered to drive us around to the important family sites. We found Hassendeanbank, which has been documented as our family home all the way back to my great great great great great grandfather Adam Turnbull who was born there in 1969! We then visited the family gravestone in Bowden Kirk Church yard (on Halloween day – crawling around cemeteries was perfect!) which lists my great great grandfather Thomas Turnbull and all his siblings, as well as his parents – thrilling!

The next morning offered an even more amazing experience of connecting with another distant cousin, still alive at 92 in her home that also has been part of the family tapestry since the 1700’s when her ancestors built the home, along with many other important homes including one for Sir Walter Scott!

We made a pilgrimage even further south into the rolling hills of the Borders Region to the town of Hawick (pronounced Hoik) to view the Turn-e-Bull statue, erected to honor the man who is responsible for the name Turnbull. Here is an excerpt from a page written by Wally Turnbull explaining the origin: “On a day that began like any other, William Rule saved Scotland’s beloved King Robert Bruce from death by wrestling a charging bull to the ground in the Caledon woods on the borderlands of Scotland and England. As a reward for his feat, William was given lands in Bedrule and dubbed Sir TURN-E-BULL (Turnbull). Centuries of persecution drove countless members of the Turnbull Clan out of their beloved homeland and forced many more to change their names in an often-futile effort to escape execution. The Turnbulls became Trimbles, Trumbulls, Turnballs, and Trumbles. The names may have changed, but the legacy has remained as strong as the man who turned the bull.”

Another highlight that day was lunching at Turnbull’s Delicatessen, founded in 1855 by James Turnbull – almost positive he is part of my same blood clan – more research to follow on this! Purchased a bottle of 8 year old Turnbull scotch to bring home, just because – not a scotch drinker, but when one of our clan comes for a visit, we’ll break out the bottle for sentimental reasons! Driving back north that day, we stopped at a mill where they sold tartans and I was able to pick up two swatches of my Turnbull clan tartans: one for dress and one for the hunt! Now I’m official!

The next few days held divine adventures hiking through the moors, experiencing the marshy earth covered with heather and peat! remarking on being in a vast landscape where there were no other humans, vehicles, or homes in sight! taking in the sweep of clouds running down mountains, rainstorms blowing through to reveal bright blue patches of sky and then the descent of clouds and mist again! An ever-changing landscape to delight the eye of the beholder. Scotland is a land of enchantment that I hope to return to again and again.

Enjoy the slideshow of magnificent Scotland!

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This appears to be Dad’s last letter to Mary before shipping out for home. I’m attaching an interesting publication called “Angels Harp” dated July 16, 1945 with news of the day and a piece called “Opened by Mistake” which details life aboard the ship!

I am taking a short break from the letters and will resume when Dad reaches American shores.

6 July 1945

Hello, Cutie, This (again) is probably the last letter from over here. We’re in Camp Lucky Strike now (staging area) and the last stop before the boat! Tonight should be our last night here, but we have no orders yet so never know. Have been here four days. Got all of our reports & everything set the first day and since then have just been lying around & playing ball. How do you like my new pen? Got two of them, in fact. Stolen Jerry pens (I imagine) bought ’em from a GI for 75 francs each (3 bucks). July 3rd I got a pretty nice thing (surprise for you all when I get home) and July 4th was just another day. I also have a homecoming present for you which I think you’ll like.

For me, just getting home will be enough. Haven’t had any mail for a long time now —but I don’t mind. Should be seeing you in a couple of WEEKS!!!
Love love love LOVE Pappy

He’s estimating just a few more days until they go to the staging area where they will be shipped back to America. They have a pool going to see who can predict the actual date they land on US soil.

30 June 1945

Good evening, sweetie, Here are a couple of MOs that will be of interest to you (to fly the Bauers to Seattle?) and I also got off my last box of junk to you today. That makes three, the other two were from Bielefeld. Included in this one is the ten rolls of film which I bought for you in Brussels, plus a couple of more pairs of tiny souvenir wooden shoes.

We are becoming very hot. Rumor has it that we will be leaving here in a day or so, for the staging area near Le Havre, where we should not be for over three or four days before catching the ol’ boat for home ”” We have a pool (ten bucks each) guessing the time that we will tie up at a dock in the States. I picked July 18. It would not only be a good day to get in, but would also net me about two hundred bucks. Ten bucks a crack is a bit steep, but as I’m doing all right with the poker dept (witness the money orders) I figured it wouldn’t hurt much.

We have been pretty busy putting the finishing touches on our final movement procedure, but we’ve also had time to play a game of hard ball with some colored boys last night, in which we had a thousand laughs, but lost 8 to 2. Hey, bottom of the page coming up and I’ve taken no time to tell you how much I love you , and how I can hardly wait until I see you. This may very well be my last letter to you from this side. I may wire you from the port if we have the facilities, but that is not important—compared with the fact I’m really beginning to get a bit excited about going HOME”” I can’t believe it myself until we’re on the boat. But, anyway, darling, I love you more than I’ll ever be able to tell you in the next 75 years—get set, baby, here I come…Rol

En route, June 24, 1945

Dad’s back in Rheims in a camp much like the US where they’re in tents with no lights, no water and they could be here for up to one month. But he’s chipper because he knows he’s on his way home. Trying to make plans to visit his folks in Seattle, as his Dad isn’t well and he’s very concerned about that.

24 June 1945

Mary darling, Here we are a short distance from Rheims in a camp that is very reminiscent of camps in US. We live in tents, with dirt floor no lights (thank gosh it is light from about four AM until around 11 PM no water, and it is dusty, hot and windy as hell—but we are on our way home, so we don’t mind…Received your swell letter of June 8 yesterday…while I remember it, Mrs Larry Trombly address is 114 Brinkerhoff St., Plattsburg, NY (to send the goblets on to). Also glad to hear that you are getting Yank all right…no, I never heard in the other letters. Did I tell you that besides the ice cream in Brussels, our last morning for breakfast, we each had five (5) eggs??? We still hear all kinds of rumors here…will be here from a month to 45 days, or that we’ll be leaving in a week…we don’t know. We sleep on cots, walk about a half a mile to eat, and do very little else but play ball and poker…so far I am doing very well in the latter, and if I can get a money order I’ll be sending you some money for our Seattle trip soon. What would you think about flying out? I’d hate to spend the money, but we’d probably have to taka a compartment with Karen, anyway, wouldn’t we? Do you want to look into the deal so that we can consider it? You will please pardon the typing but I have bunged up a few of my fingers and typing with bandages is a bit complicated. In reading back over this damn thing, I see that my thoughts are really rambling, but as I’ve told you before, I’m just so fed up on writing that I have no desire to take the time to do much more than make sense. By the way, I think I’ll write my folks now that we may be coming home. Mom wrote and told me about dad. It seems that he has a leakage of the old hemorrhage, and every time he gets excited he has convulsions and doesn’t remember what is going on. I don’t like it at all, but feel better now that I know what the score is. That is why I think it will be better to break this thing to him in easy stages, so that he won’t get excited at all. Well, my darling that is about all for now. I’ll try to wire you more details of when we will due home, and in the meantime I will write you…occasionally. All of my love to you, sweetheart, and I hope that I’ll be seeing you VERY soon — Rol

Coming home, June 19, 1945

This is it folks – the moment we’ve all been waiting for! He’s coming home! In his mind to that warm fuzzy place that he’s been fantasizing about for years – he’s hopeful – joyous even though he doesn’t know what really will happen to him. I thought it would be interesting to google what was going on in Germany at this point in time – and frankly, the politics of the region are so complex – that I’ve decided to stick with the personal telling of my Dad’s story. It looks like Germany is set to be divided into two countries right about now -so keeping up with the history of Germany will have to wait till another time!

19 June 1945 V-Mail

Guess where I am, Cutie – on my way! At present in Brussels for 3 days!! Sunday we finished packing up the old Msg Center, and Monday morning took off for here for a bit of a rest prior to going to the Assembly area. Haven’t done a darn thing yet except eat a couple of steaks and french fried potatoes, and take in a vaude- show tonight. Tomorrow at ten we take a tour of the city. Oh yes — have been eating ice cream & pie ala mode like crazy! Got you five rolls of 620 film today.  If I have any money left will get you more tomorrow. Am sitting in the Red Cross Club (a fair spot) admiring the bosoms as they go past. The French gals have the legs, but, my back! the Brussels belles have the bouncers! A man, I’ll bet, could make a fortune here in the girdle and brassiere business.

As usual, I sit here staring at the paper – thinking how much easier & pleasanter it’s going to be telling you about these things. So–good night–my darling–I can hardly wait. Going to kick around some time yet before I see you–but I’m on my way– ALL my love
Pappy

Great letter! Fraught with emotion!

14 June 1945

I’ve been waiting a long time to write this letter, sweetheart, so sit down and take it easy…Unless something goes wrong, we should be home in about a month to six weeks from now!!!!! We have finished our mission here (last Sat, in fact, when we were called together by the Col and he told us that we are CBI bound “indirect”– through the States) and are now preparing like crazy for overseas shipment. He didn’t want us to talk about it for a few days, but now it “Can be told”. Frankly, I don’t know what to think. I mean I’m all mixed up emotionally. I’m crazy happy, of course, to be coming home (we could have been shipped “Direct”, you see) but I also don’t care much for the idea of leaving again…our only consolation is that, at least, while we are home, something could happen so we would not have to leave, such as the end of the Japs, or lowering of age limit, or me having enough points (dream on Neibauer)…well, you see what I mean? I’m emotionally mixed up….but I am quite sure that we’re on our way, anyway, darling. Still in Bielefelt, but expect to be pulling out before many days for the Assembly Area, and then to the boats…I’ll try to keep you posted.

Don’t you think that we had better plan on a little time in Seattle, darling? It will cost a lot of money, but I know that my folks would be heartbroken if I came back to the States and didn’t see them before leaving again. Can we take Karen and go out for a week, anyway? We have no idea how much time furlough we’ll get (probably between 20 and 30 days) or where we will be stationed as we go into training again before we take-off on our new mission, so I can’t give you anything to plan on except we should get home around the middle of July —but DON’T count on it beyond making tentative arrangements. I’m not going to write to my folks or anyone else about this, honey, as I’d hate for them to be disappointed in case something goes wrong, but I thought that you should know what our probable plans are, anyway. Unless you hear differently from me,  you may as well stop writing to me around the first of July, because I doubt if the letters would catch up to us. I may not be too good on the corresponding from now on either (gosh darn, but I’m tired of writing letters!) but don’t fret, sweetie, you know that I’ll keep you posted on any and all new developments as they come along.

In the meantime, my very darling, get ready, because I’m supercharged with millions of volts of love for you—Pappy

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