England Scotland Wales

England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 1

So what do smart people do when they’ve been out of work for months and months? Ya got me; I have no idea.
What I did, however, was go off to Europe to visit the family in England, check out Scotland with Friends, and take a tiny sidetrip into Wales just cuz it’s there. We’re off!

I so love to fly coach. Why does it seem like everyone has an airline hookup but me?

Distance to Destination? The Devil’s miles! Rawk!

Mander is much more chipper than I.
Right! So we made it to jolly old England without a hitch, and headed to Chris and Yvonne’s to take advantage of their extreme hospitality forthwith.

Where was this?

Mander, Jason Chris, Yvonne and I headed to Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. Here’s a shot outside looking in.

Amanda found the well. Drink up; it’s yummy!

You can see the holes for the joists that once held up the wooden floors throughout the castle.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 2

Amanda, Chris and Yvonne check out the castle…

And Jason looks down from above.

These are Murder Holes; holes in the ceiling of the entryway designed to allow folks in the castle to pour hot oil or throw rocks or other objects down onto any potential invaders. Word! I’m going to start a metal band and call it Murder Hole. Yeah!

Darn kids and their graffiti. Notice the date here; 1850.

One corner of the castle, from the inside…

And the other.

Look there to the left… see? There’s the top of the murder holes. Kool.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 2B – Manual Shots

Bodiam Castle by moat.

Chris being pursued vigorously by Scampi and Miel.

Chillin

Jason looking contemplative by the castle.

Jason, Yvonne and some dork.

The perspective on this pic is trey bizarre.

Scampi takes a dip.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 3

Look! They still have captives!

A WWII pillbox out on the castle grounds.

Back at the house, and it’s chill-time. Friends Jason and Kristen are due in tomorrow morning for us to
accompany to Scotland. Jason, the other Jason, enjoys a tasty beverage.

Manda and Gemma. Gemma’s makin’ a sign to hold up at the airport to meet up with Jason and Kristen. You know, like them chauffeur lookin’ guys who stand near baggage claim holding a “Mr. Goldenblatt” sign or whatever.

Jacket on backwards? Check. Gotcher bag? Check. Gemma’s ready to hit the town. Have another drink… hah!

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 4

Jason and Kristen have arrived, and embark on a whirlwind tour of London courtesy of Jason Larkin. See how wonderfully alert they are after a 8 hour plane ride? Dandy!

Don’t we look like world travellers?

Jason conducts the biz in Trafalgar Square. Wheelin’. Dealin’.

Well all right!!

Jason enjoys the underground. Toobey, fool!

Only tourists take pictures in the subway. Take note.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 5

Welcome to Scotland! Just outside the airport, wondering where the hell to go from here.

And here is the illustrious B&B where we’ll be laying our heads.

Edinburgh!

We were there too… see? See?!

Can’t resist this; very Giger-ish. Dark and spooky. Gotta take a closer look.

Scott Monument.., not so old, comparatively speaking, but 1846 is pretty good for us ‘Mericans. Besides, it just looks so damn cool.

Lord Demanda, in the shadow of her Dark Tower. Bwah hah hah!

Feel the evil chill in the air. Hey; do I smell panini?

The cemetaries here are awesome. They’ve got a real thing for skulls and other creepalicious images.

Cool skull on a gravestone marked 1730.

Check it… headless skeleton, crossbones, crossed scythes… I found my gravestone.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 6

I can’t resist… ain’t nothin’ like a shop called the Mutts Nuts. Sweet!

Downtown Edinburgh… cool.

Check my groovy panoramic shot from high atop a hill.

Another castle. Ya better like castles, ’cause there’s plenty more to come, my friend. This one is Edinburgh Castle, obviously enough.

The US Toolshed Contingent is mos’ def inna house, y’all!

Quite a view of the city from the castle.

They had some Heineken Rugby Cup presentation going on at the castle. Seemed important, so I took some shots.
The rugby fans in Amanda’s family were suitably impressed.

Amanda spits on the placemarker for the “Heart of Midlothian,” Walter Scott’s nickname for the old Tolbooth, the building that served as council chambers, police station and town jail for several hundred years before being demolished in 1817. It’s the only place in Edinburgh where it’s legal to spit… and is actually considered lucky to do so. We found this out only after essentially walking right over it (ewwww) while exploring, only to be stopped by some friendly locals who filled us in on the story. We then watched as a number of folks made a point to hock just the right loogie on this spot.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 7

It’s the Bean and Grape, a place we knew about from the folks at Grapes and Beans, in Clayton Georgia.

Welcome to Hollyrood Chapel. Hooray for Hollyrood!

Scary tomb. Jinkies!

Communal coffin living; how very flower child of them.

I see dead people. Really, really old dead people.

I just thought this was a cool shot. Strange how you can wander throughout this joint and touch whatever you want.
The US would rope this shit off and never let anyone near… and we haven’t anything close to being this freakin’ old.

Awwww… he’s happy.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 8

Not too many people here, thankfully. Kristen wanders amongst the deceased.

Danzig’s buried here. What? Danzig isn’t dead? Well he’d like to be buried here, darnit. Smell the power of the devillock!

I wonder where these folks are. Must be a shift change.

1587 fool. 15 freakin’ 87!

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 9

The construction of this joint is amazing. Here’s the ceiling. A little scary, but amazing. Duck!

More folks tiptoe’in through the dead.

A nice shot by Mander.

Tiny man? Giant goose? The mind boggles.

We’re standing on top of a very important historical Scottish figure right now!

Here’s the joint from the outside. Another Mander shot. Hot analog action!

Tartan-tastic!

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 10

A didjikal shot of the front of Hollyrood this time.

What goes better with crusty, dusty corpses than… beer!

Amanda hooked up with some total dweeb while in the tavern.

Drunk yet? Let’s roll!

We shot on over to Glascow and figured, since it was bitterly cold and Manda was rocking some sort of nasty snot-making plague, what better way to tour it than take an open top double decker bus! See Jason look on giddily as Kristen watches in horror while Manda slowly slips into a flu-induced coma.

Feed a fever! Feed a fever!

Downtown Glascow by bus.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 11

Indeed this is a popular way to sightsee this time of year. Those folks up there? Dead. Frozen. Corpsicles.

Omigod! I think my brain is shutting down!

“I can’t feel my face. Isn’t that funny?”

Old, old buildin’s.

This statchoo sports the height of Scottish fashion headwear, and nobody around it seems to give two shits.

Have no fear, clinically obese US citizens; your fix is available here. Git a big mac, then head to PC World to buy some crap! Scotland’s fun!

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 12

On the road again. Jason wonders if he’s accidentally taken a swig from Amanda’s spitoon cum snotbottle by mistake. Chunky!

Open road. The sun’s sorta kinda fighting to emerge.

Highland cattle. Scottish shoe (err, hoof) gazing mop-headed moo bulls!

Though Walter refused a haircut, constantly carried around a small black notebook in which he would jot down “deep thoughts,” and insisted everyone refer to him as Damon, his parents knew it was just a phase.

Glamis Castle approacheth! Or rather, we approacheth it. You get the picture.

Kristen and Jason feel all snuggly in the shadow of their new summer home.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 13

Do you like my garden? It’s tended to by the Lothians.

The Lambs of Glamis! Majestic steed of the Mighty Lothians! Tremble in fear, mortal!

“So that’s a foil, hey? Looks good onya. How often do you have to get it touched? Do the cows dig it? Heheheh… I bet they do!”

“Work it! Yeeees… now gimme those bedroom eyes and lick those pouty lips. You’re a saucy little moo-moo, aren’t you?”

Special K meets the Duke of Handlebar Mustache.

Oh yeah… we were there too.
Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pics within the castle (gotta buy those pricey postcards at the gift shop, right?). If you like you can read all about Glamis (the Fairytale Castle) at the official site right here.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 14

So part of the purpose for this trip was so that Jason could finally meet some long lost relatives here in Scotland. As such we headed on over to the lovely town of Dundee to try and track them down because, well, we hadn’t bothered to tell them we were a’comin! It’s actually a long,interesting, remarkable story, but as I hope to get Jason to “guest commentate,” I’m going to refrain from detail for now.

In the town square Manda meets up with the magnificent Desperate Dan.

And who is that? Why it’s me! On the can! In Scotland! Amazing!

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 15

Kristen and Jason, after spending an inordinate amount of time with us, finally came to the conclusion that we’re nasty, stinky people. As such they refused to spend even one more iota of time with us, and we left them in Edinburgh to head northward.
Actually this was the plan all along, but I still secretly harbor the opinion that Jason was at least slightly glad to be rid of us, what with the mighty Manda spitting on him (out the drivers side window, in the passenger window! Tasty spray!) and all. So north it was. First stop, Stirling Castle, where we were told the views were magnificent. Little did we know…

Welcome to Stirling Castle. Demandas in the mist!

There’s a cemetary and stuff down there. No, seriously. There is. Look, just take my word for it, ok?

Creepy spideyweb.

Cannons lined up to fire away blindly into the fog. Condensation abounds.

Keeping the cannonball thieves at bay.

Down the sweaty, sweaty barrel.

Inside the castle renovations to the staff quarters abound. Wet paint y’all.

The gardens surrounding the castle are amazing. Again, you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Inside one of the structures. More roofing madness.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 15b

Amanda took some pretty awesome pics at Stirling as well. Without further ado, here they be!

Misty cannons agin.

This pic inspired me to compose a haiku, which I’ll share with you now.

still figure
emerging from mist
he should bathe

And further north we go! Sure, we’re gonna stop at purty places along the way just to take pics. That’s how we roll, dawg.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 16

Lush. And the sun’s out! Wonders never cease. Sure am glad I got those powerlines in the shot. That really makes it, doncha think?

I can’t remember if that mist was coming in or going out. Either way, pretty cool huh?

Lakes n’ mountains, lakes n’ mountains.

Oh. Sorry. Them’s Lochs. Which, for all its eerie connotations, is simply Scottish for, um, lake.

Pretty. Obviously Manda took these on her manual camera. These are probably slightly out of order but whaddya want? It’s been awhile. I know, I know. My bad.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 17

Ok. It’s pretty obvious that mist was coming in now. Yup.

Halfway to nowhere in Scotland and here’s a John Kerry bumpersticker. To the civilized world: I sincerely apologize. Look at it this way; since the reign of Dubya the slow rot of the American empire has become a full on blight. A few more leaders like this toolshed and you won’t have to worry about us anymore; we’ll be too busy killing each other for our own differences and devouring our own young for sustenence.

And on that pleasant note, things are a’changing as we head further north to the Highlands.

If you’ve got the fortitude (and, more importantly, the bandwidth) clickee on this here pic to check out a panorama shot of what lay ahead. It’ll open in a new window, doncha know, so if you’ve got a popup blocker enabled grant the majestic sub-par.com leeway. Dead ahead; an ambush by the dreaded Lothians!

Lonely Mountain, lair of Smaug.
And more Lothians, of course.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 18

The landscape has definitely changed. Beautiful but, at the same time, lonely.

And after much travelling we arrive at our next B&B, which is a proper house overlooking a loch (as you can see here) and surrounded by pastures.

Another panorama for you to clickee clickee. Check out the view from the front porch. Stunning.

Name name name. Get her name. This is us with our wonderful host. The beds were soft, the food was rockin’ (and vegetarian without complaint), the conversation was excellent. When we come back, (and I do mean when) I’ll want to stay here again. Oh, and get a damn haircut, hippy!

Back on the road after a restful night’s sleep.

This panorama is kind of arfed up due to the variable lighting, but it’s still worth eyeballing. Notice how the picture above it is
part of the whole. Clever cleverishness!I’m such a damn nerd.

We quickly learned that we could not stop for every breathtaking view, as we’d never get to our destination.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 19

Us, just prior to the dreaded Lothian attack wherein we barely escaped with our lives. Come out of the mists, they do.

I heart tongue, yes I do, I heart tongue, how ’bout you? Good to know the US isn’t the only place where people announce their weird proclivities on their vehicles. Hey, don’t get mad. Have you seen my car?

Trickle trickle. Had to stop.

Amazing.

Welcome to the Island of Sky and Lochalsh. Whoopie!

Another waterfall. It’s probably getting late, and I’m probably getting bitchy thinking we’ll never find our next stop in the dark. Sorry Manda!

Cliffs and sheep, dead ahead.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 20

Toldja so.

Here’s a groovy panorama looking down from atop one of the designated pull offs.

Manda debates base jumping.

It turned out to be a gorgeous day. Amazing waterfall, no? This is Kilt Rock.

Guard dog of the Lothian titans on the loose!

Manda vogues coldly.

Amanda chasing sheep. Sheep chasing Amanda.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 21

Manda takes some sheepy shots.

Dah-ah-ah-ah-ah-dy!

Welcome to Duntulm Castle. Or at least what’s left of it.

Amanda goes for a shot through the peephole.

Her shot.

Strike a pose. Weird to consider what may have gone on in this very place hundreds of years ago.

Off in the distance inland.

Finally! I’ve been needing a bath for some time now.

Moo moo’s chillin’.

Get a haircut! Get a job!Damn longhairs…

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 22

Manda’s way into cowpetting.

Quite a backdrop they’ve got.

Tired of cattle yet? Too bad!

What ho? In the distance… Eilean Donan Castle rises.

Why it’s none other than Scotland’s “Most Romantic” castle!

Can you feel the love… tonight?

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 23

Right! Up and at ’em… we’re off to the Isles of Mull, Staffa and Iona to do a little blue-lipped sightseeing! Unfortunately this is the wrong time of year to see their famed puffins, a fact which aggravates me to this day. Not that it wasn’t amazing regardless, mind you.

Stormy seas await, matey. Stormy and cold.

We’re being followed.

I’m having fun! I’m having fun! I’m having frostbite! I’m having fun!

Isle of Mull.

Quaint, ain’t it?

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 24

Headed out to Staffa, and Fingal’s Cave. Lookit them wussies keepin’ warm inside.

Welcome to Staffa, which means “Pillar Island.” Makes sense, right? It’s comprised of colums of basalt, and is riddled with caves.

I think they might have filmed the moon landing here. You know that was faked, right?

Careful… them’s slipperly!

I ain’t skeered… I’m goin’ fer it!

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 25

I just like the textures and symmetry in this shot. It ain’t crooked; it’s arty. Seriously.

Welcome to Fingal’s Cave, the joint that inspired Daddy Mack Mendelssohn to write his Hebridean overture. I can call him the D.M. cuz we’re like that. Don’t you be tryin’ it though.

Inside lookin’ out.

Mander by the entrance. She wasn’t so thrilled with this part of the journey. Not that she didn’t find it amazing, but all the sheer drops and slippery rocks kinda set her teeth on edge. She never trusts me in situations such as these.

Holy Flyin’ Spaghetti Monster! All this and I gotta climb too? I’m coming, damn it! If this were in the US there’d be a damn escalator. Actually, if this were in the US nobody would be allowed out on it at all for fear of impending lawsuits.

Atop Staffa.

Beautiful, but forbidding.So we spent a fair amount of time stumbling around Staffa, thoroughly coating our shoes in all manner of birdy doody, before moving on.

The abbey on Iona.

It’s the sign of the southern cross! Bang yer head!

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 26

More on Iona.

Suitably spooky.

One more of the abbey.

This whole joint feels so ancient.

Within the abbey.

Old, old, old.

Ok, I lied. Here’s another shot from outside. They’re doing some major renovations.

Welcome to the Street of the Dead. Insert sinister laugh [here].

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 27

A mausoleum-ey structure in the midst of an ancient graveyard.

St. Oran’s Chapel, obviously enough.

Here’s all them dead the previous sign was referring to.

I just liked this shot. Windows within windows.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 28

And here’s Oban from off in the distance. See their Colosseum? That’s McCaig’s Tower (tho it ain’t no tower at all), lovingly referred to as McCaig’s Folly. Old, but not nearly as old as you think, it was built in the late 1800’s by a rich banker who intended it to eventually house a museum. Alas, he croaked, construction ceased, and here it sits, overlooking the town.

And then… Wham! Blam! Thankyewma’am! Scotland is done. Abrupt, ain’t it. Too bad, Brad. What follows is back in Jolly Old Englandizzle. ‘Til we get to Wales, that is.

This is some richass hoity toity stuff I ought to remember, but I don’t. Eat the rich!

This is more stuff I should remember… but the pills, they affect me. I’ve been strictly pills for three years now, you know.

Mander and Claire bust a pose by a bridge possessing ears. Or horns. Or reverse horns. Or something.

Given that we actually own a real live wookie (Lucasian spelling, of course)… or, rather, he owns us, it seemed a must to visit his hole. I mean, the hole.

Fear the Wookey’s Hole! Next door to the Cheddar Gorge, a mighty crevasse filled to the brim with tasty, tasty cheese. It’s like a bread bowl, but completely different.

Within the Wookey’s Hole, we search for the infamous Witch o da Wookey. I’m more afeared of the dreaded dingleberry of the Wookey Hole myself. I’ve had many an encounter. Trust me, it isn’t a pleasant experience.

Our tour guide keeps us safe.

Things grow deep within the Wookey’s Hole. Ewww.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 29

Amanda braves the Wookey’s crack.This is getting ridiculous, isn’t it.Too bad! My website… Hah!

Claire (looking lovely, if not just a wee bit coneheadish) and I, deep in the hole following old man Grizmald, who woulda got away with it were it not for you darn kids.

This is a more minor Wookey oriface.

No hole is complete without a hall of mirrors, say I. Demanda clones on the rampage.

Yeah. Cripes!

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 30

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 31

Back in Bristol. We’re movers! We’re shakers! We gotta make dinner!

Matt boils his hand after accidentally handling my underthings. I’m severing my thumb from my body as penance for leaving my underthings strewn about the flat.

Manda, Jennifer and Claire’s knees. Manda lovey her tripod.

Left to right; Dirty, Jen, Mander, Claire, Matchew.

Omigod! Now we’re back in London! Good lord, them vagabonds just can’t sit still! Patsy amuses herself with shiny things.,,

…while Max dances around the kitchen, singing along to the lilting strains of Tom Waits Bone Machine.

Patsy grasps the concept of the camera-phone; to take adorable pictures of oneself! Work it! Work it!

Richard watches Patsy preen while Max recognizes that it’s high time his drink was refreshed.

Dom Perignon! Cristal! Yeeeeaaaah! You can’t front on this!Remember; there is no sex in the champagne room. Never.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 32

Manda and Max, rosey cheeked from the Cham-pag-ney.

Good grief… now we’re back in Crowborough, where Ollie’s proving that indeed he does know every single lyric off of To The Extreme, and can deliver them with mad flava. I do believe the rhyme he’s spitting in this particular pic is the legendary:
To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal
Light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle (hard emphasis on “candle,” coupled with throwing of vague gang sign for emphasis)
But I could be wrong.

Sam, known hereafter as MC Oxygen, is practically beside himself in awe of Ollie’s mad skillz.

Chris is engaged while Max wonders where she is and just how long she’s been holding this glass of champagne. And who keeps filling it, for that matter.

Richard doesn’t care, so long as it stays full.

MC Oxygen lives so phat that he actually has a personal crunk juice handler.

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England, Scotland, Wales :: October 06 – 25 2004Part 33

You are getting sleeeeepy…. Mc Oxygen has you in his grip now!

Sporting his Horn of Infinite Power.

It’s chowtime in Crowborough again!

Gemma, Max and Richard. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but Richard seems simultaneously curious and determined not to seem curious. Don’t you think?

Chris, Yvonne, George and MC O.