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Trains, planes, and libraries: solo trip, open-jaw EDI/LHR

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May 2nd, 2009, 05:37 AM
  #21
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Day 5: Around about Edinburgh, 21 April

Already up to day 5. The time sure flies when on vacation!

I had purchased a 4-day consecutive BritRail pass so the plan was to train around from Wednesday to Saturday. Monday and Tuesday were for the Museum of Flight and visiting sights around Edinburgh.

Today I let myself take it easy in the morning, no exact bus to try and catch. I walked across Holyrood Park to get the #36 by the Palace to go up to the Waverley Bridge area.

I walked to the National Gallery and revisited some favorite pictures. I really like William Bell Scott's The Nativity with its Ayrshire setting. The posted description notes the "strange choice" of summer but I have heard some theories that spring/summer was a more likely time for the shepherds to be out with the sheep anyway. One detail I would bring up in an art discussion: the donkey has the stripe across the shoulders and I think I have heard one myth that the stripe showed on donkeys after carrying Jesus into Jerusalem, so maybe a non-striped donkey could be called "accurate"

The first picture I faced almost upon entering the Gallery was a "I know that place" picture: Frederick Church's Niagra Falls from American Side."

Somehow I had a thought that cauliflower is a new vegetable? Not so, I would guess if Richard Waitt could paint one in 1724.

I went back to Waverley Bridge to catch another #36 to go to Stockbridge and visit the library. It was closed for a renovation project last year and nice to see the final result.

I picked up a juice and banana from the Scotmid store and walked to the park on Logan Street for lunch (had packed another sandwich).

The rain started as I left the park and while walking up Broughton Road that was the only 15 minutes I used my umbrella. The rain was not heavy, but it sure was a driving rain.

The rain was done by the time I arrived at Rosebank Cemetery. The entrance is on Pilrig Street, just off Broughton Road. I did not know for sure where the memorial was for the 1915 train crash victims but found it easily by just walking around and it was a large cross in a space of green.

The Wikipedia article about the crash has an animated graphic demonstrating how all the trains involved hit one another, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quintinshill

I had forgotten the name of the fellow from 25 Waverley Park so I took time to read the entire list. It was sad to see the same last name shared about 15 times, and 3 or 4 times you would see the same last name for 3 men. Some may have been just coincidental same last names, but some were surely brothers and cousins. Very sad.

Another #36 picked me up on Broughton Road to go back to the Royal Mile area (very handy, the #36). I visited the Museum of Edinburgh to see the display about Greyfriars Bobby and then walked across the street to visit the People's Story (though I was disappointed that the video room in the very top was closed that day). Then I walked up to the Greyfriars Kirkyard area to visit the Bobby statue and headstone.

It made me smile to see the list of very famous politicians, historians, poets, etc. buried at Greyfriars, but the headstone you see entering the gates is for Bobby.

A walk back down to get the #36 (probably could have just kept going downhill, but I used the bus) to get to Holyrood Palace and then walk across the Park to the apartment and some supper.

End of day 5.
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May 2nd, 2009, 06:09 AM
  #22
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Day 6: Wednesday, 22 April, Time for Trains

I walked 6+ miles on Tuesday, after that I figured I was not so interested in tracking mileage and stopped wearing the pedometer. It was just a minor hassle to make sure I had not lost it while walking around. I know I went several miles each day, anyway

Today I tried the #45 from the bus stop on London Road to Waverley Bridge, saw some new streets between Waverley Park and the Bridge (new for me, lol).

I validated my RailPass and learned a lesson that I think was mentioned by sallyky in her trip report. When you look for the train and platform, you need to know the final destination. When you get to the platform you can then make sure your stop is on the list of planned stops, but when inside and looking at the list of trains, it is final destination that matters.

My first train was a Virgin train and oh, that was nice!

If not mentioned earlier, I had purchased a first class rail pass. I will not likely get to experience a first class air ticket, but the $120 or so difference between first class and standard I could afford. The trip budget can only be spent once, but it was my deliberate choice to put more on that line than some other place.

When going to the food counter to ask for a complimentary water (no trolley service that trip), up came a whole little bag with a panini, muffin, cookie, and the requested water! Other trains gave water and a cookie, but Virgin was the best, I think. It has me studying the Virgin route maps wondering if that will be how I decide an itinerary for next year, lol!

I went down to Carlisle for the day, visited the Cathedral, the public library, and the Tullie House Museum (between £5 and £6 for an adult).

I was in time for the noon Eucharist at the Cathedral. I thought one other woman was in attendance, turned out she was the wife of the priest doing the service so that was why he spoke more directly just to me in welcoming anyone to the service. Coming from the direction of the rail station you see the 900 year old stonework of the Cathedral. I learned in conversation after the service why there's much newer brickwork on the other end. During the 1600s revolution, that end of the church was destroyed, so there's actually a lot missing and just a little area in brick was put back on.

The Carlisle Library's main branch is right in the middle of a shopping complex. Very nice to see the hum of activity.

The Tullie museum is another great one for kids, lots of activities here and there. I enjoyed the Hadrian's Wall display. You can experiment shooting small rocks from a model onager (one-armed stone thrower).

A video program tells you about the Reivers, all the fighting between just about anyone/everyone who lived in the Borders. The program started automatically when anyone entered and lasted about 8 minutes. I had feelings of Hatfields & McCoys during the description of the fighting. As one voice said of the Reiver fighting days, "Who can remember who began it?" So many women lost their menfolk to the Reivers attacking, they were spoken of as "be reived."

The train back to Edinburgh was a Transpennine. If I had stayed another hour I would have been on another Virgin train. I figured I had to try more than one to make decisions later. And now I know I would next time stay the extra hour, most probably,

When leaving the train, to get to the main area of the Waverley rail station, everyone had to show his ticket. I was wondering what to show and remembered the rail pass Is my ticket, showed that and walked through.

Back to the apartment by way of the #36 and end of Day 6.
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May 2nd, 2009, 06:29 AM
  #23
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Day 7: Thursday, 23 April

I had planned to take the train to Leuchars, walk around town, then also stop in Cupar on the way back to Edinburgh.

In Cupar, I had used Google maps to find the library and that would also take me by the Douglas Bader Community Garden, http://www.dbcg.org.uk/. I was interested in Douglas Bader from reading his biography years ago: Reach for the Sky : The Story of Douglas Bader, Legless Ace of the Battle of Britain by Paul Brickhill. Excellent book. I recommend it.

Another excellent biography of a WW2 ace is the one written by Larry Forrester: Fly for Your Life : The Story of R.R. Stanford Tuck, D.S.O., D.F.C., and Two Bars. That's Robert Stanford Tuck for a more complete name.

However, I woke up not feeling so great and I just stayed on the comfy couch until noontime. When finally leaving the apartment I made my way to Waverley Bridge (#36 again) to get reservations for Friday's train rides. I had gone to Carlisle without reservations, no problem going down, not many seats open coming back, and I wanted to be sure of a seat on Friday.

I went to the National Museum of Scotland, http://www.nms.ac.uk/our_museums/national_museum.aspx, on Chambers Street for a while, then used #35 to get back to Easter Road and walked home.

I stopped in at the Sea Breeze again for some supper and ordered a hamburger. Weell, you know how to get something you do not expect is just a gentle reminder that you are a visitor in someone else's homeland? My hamburger was a meat patty, batter dipped, and deep fried. I really could not eat much of it, lol. I loved the fish/chips and pizza from the beginning of the week, but I will not order a hamburger again without a tad of trepidation.

End of day 7.
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May 2nd, 2009, 06:52 AM
  #24
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Day 8: Leaving Edinburgh, 24 April

Thursday evening had me packing up and I was up early on Friday for final packing and organizing the apartment for leaving. I called for a taxi and it arrived pretty promptly. I saw some new back streets getting to the rail station! The cost was £5.

First, I trained to York and spent a couple of hours in the National Railway Museum, http://www.nrm.org.uk/. Wonderful, wonderful museum for train lovers! I had searched the museum's web site for directions but it is also well marked right from the rail station.

I saw trains of all kinds. You can walk on a few, watch the turnstile demonstration, walk under a train, view a cut open train, and wander the warehouse of items in open storage. A 9 3/4 sign on one side and 9s on the other turned out to be a sign that had the "s" on one side painted over for a day of book signings by J.K. Rowling.

My next rain was from York to Peterborough, a brief wait and the next train rolled from Peterborough to Ely.

I checked in to the Riverside Inn Guest House, http://www.riversideinn-ely.co.uk/. I read about the Guest House in rogeruktm's trip report from last year. He recommended it and I ditto the recommendation.

I walked around Ely a bit, found the public library, again in a shopping area. I picked up a couple of books from the booksale shelves: Lester by Dick Francis and "Dead Ringer" by John Francome. I thought John's book was dead boring and left it for the guest house's library and/or it could go back to the library's sale on their next trip to the shopping area.

Lester was a very good read. It is a biography of the jockey Lester Piggott and has both Lester's and Dick's signatures in the front. Added to my weight for coming home, but it also provided a lot of reading pleasure while waiting around for my flight on Sunday!

After another fish/chips with some mushy peas, too, meal, I walked back to the guest house by way of the Cathedral, http://www.elycathedral.org/. It was already closed to visitors so I only saw the outside. The place is HUGE! A descriptive sign said it costs £3000 per day to take care of the Cathedral, and from being a very old building (listed at 1300 years), I would bet more money is needed for restoration work on regular occasions.

End of Day 8.
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May 2nd, 2009, 07:37 AM
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Scottlib, glad your trip went well. I was wincing at the thought of you eating mushy peas. When I taught in a boarding school in Ireland many years ago, mushy peas were on the menu at the noon meal every day but Thursday when we got boiled cabbage. (The weekly menu was the same every week, so if it was ham, for instance, we knew it must be Wednesday--except Ash Wednesday.) Mushy peas made me almost gag. The noon meal was eaten with the students so I had to set a good example and eat it without comment. A few times I tried swishing them around in the gravy to make it look as if I had eaten most of them. A few times I got away with scooping them into a handkerchief, hiding handkerchief under napkin in my lap, and flushing them away after the meal. I still gag when I think of them.

I thought the hamburger trick was gone by now, but I guess not. Tuesday evening's meal was those disgusting deepfat fried burgers. In the evening, staff did not have to eat with students (gave us all a break), so before the meat could pollute the roll, which was really good,I would whip the burger out of the rolls and then slather peanutbutter and honey on the roll. I would toss the meat out the staffroom window and then later pick it up and toss it in the waste patch across the road. The nighborhood dogs wouldn't even eat those burgers!

Thanks for your trip story!
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May 2nd, 2009, 07:55 AM
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sdcotlib

I too read rogeruktm's trip report and that, plus yours, has almost persuaded me to do likewise. I'm in the middle of planning my annual trip to Greece but I think perhaps a late autumn/early winter week on those trains would be wonderful. I'll build in the Museum of Flight. I'm pleased you enjoyed the National Railway Museum. It's been a few years since I visited - reason enough to go back!

I'm only an hour or so home from the Rosslyn Chapel. Some friends are here from Greece and it was one of their 'must sees'. Have you visited it?

Bill
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May 2nd, 2009, 09:39 AM
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Hi irishface,

As much as I like the mushy peas, I probably would not want them every day. Eating them to set a good example for the students is a wonderful thing, good for you!

The 6th grade here does an International Dinner in the spring. I made a mock mushy peas using split peas and adding a bag of frozen peas. The students wouldn't even serve the peas, lol! They could not believe it would be edible, so I got to eat my mock mushy peas for several days. Quite good when nuked, a sort of consistency of green mashed potatoes.


Hi Bill,

I saw Rosslyn Chapel on last year's trip. It was a stop on the day tour I took from Edinburgh with Heart of Scotland Tours down to Hadrian's Wall. I did enjoy the stop, really enjoyed visiting with William, the black kitty who would come everyday to visit the visitors. I hope he is well and still visiting with them.

I would like to go back and visit again when I can visit without watching the clock to get back on a tour bus. I would like to walk to the Roslin Castle remains, too, on a return visit.

Cheers.
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May 2nd, 2009, 10:10 AM
  #28
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Day 9: Duxford!

I read of the Imperial War Museum at Duxford by following one of rogeruktm's trip reports. The fact you can get to it by public transportation is what put it on my itinerary.

Duxford also has connections to Douglas Bader and Robert Tuck, both flew from there in WW2.

I enjoyed a very good breakfast at the Riverside Inn Guest House, paid my bill, and left. It was £50 for the night, £20 had been paid on deposit with credit card when I made the reservation.

I headed over to the train station and took a short ride to Cambridge. I found the left luggage (oh, used that at York, too, while visiting the Railway Museum), and then found the correct bus. While I was studying the schedule and not planning to take a bus that was at the stop because I knew IT wasn't the one I wanted, the driver took time to ask what bus I did need and pointed out the correct one that had just pulled up on the other side of the street, so many thanks to helpful Stagecoach drivers in Cambridge!

The left luggage for Cambridge Rail Station is at a Bike Shop. You leave the station, head over between the Police station and City-something hotel, walk out that way and you'll see a left luggage sign on the bike shop building. £3 for the day, I think, £5 back in York.

Compared to many of the bus drivers I had experienced up to then, the C7 driver on Saturday morning was positively sedate! It was not quite an hour to the museum and we arrived 10 minutes or so before it opened.

I was able to be by the door as a line formed and 40-50 people were ready to enter when the doors opened.

3 hours of a lot of fun at Duxford! Lots of planes, some good video presentations to watch, and did I mention planes

A WW2 something or other took off and came back a little while later to do a 10 minute or so quickie show: buzzing the runway, going up .. up .. up, loop down, buzz the runway again.

I bussed back to Cambridge (speedier driver had me hanging on during curves!), got my luggage and took the train from Cambridge. I don't remember exactly which one this was, Cross Country or First Capital Connect? Yes, there was a first class section, but it had four seats across, not 3 like the bigger trains. You did have a little section with its own door, making it quiet for comfort. I enjoyed a conversation with a couple headed home from their own holiday time.

From Kings Cross .. (little) sob, I forgot to look for Platform 9 3/4 .. I took the Tube to Paddington .. walked up some stairs, passed the ticket line .. walked around a corner .. walked down some stairs .. and onto a Heathrow Express train. Talk about nice. The Express trains certainly seemed larger, and must be newer? On almost all the trains up to then I would have ear pressure trouble with going through tunnels and under bridges, but not with the Express. More insulation?

From arriving at Heathrow I went to the Central Bus Station and then found the Hoppa bus (£4) by Terminal 2. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Ariel, bed and breakfast for £47 + VAT, so a total of £54.05 was the bill. I think I had a pretty good price, found it one night on the web. My room was on the inner ring, very comfortable for the single traveler.

I had supper at the McDonald's in the Airport Bowl, just along the road from the hotel. I could have done some bowling, but travel tiredness was really hitting me by then. I just ate my Big Mac (more what I expected for flavor) and watched the bowlers.

End of Day 9. Only one more to go.
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May 2nd, 2009, 04:52 PM
  #29
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Day 10: 26 April, Heathrow to Home

Sunday involved a lot of sitting. After the breakfast buffet I packed and read my new book Lester, waiting until it was time to leave.

I used the Hoppa bus again to get back to the terminals. The ride was 45 minutes, from when I got on to getting off. I have read that some of the hotels can be reached using the free local buses or cheaper to reach with some buses, and going to the terminals sometimes is free. I did not research enough beforehand and as a single traveler it was just easier to pay the £4 each way (at least for this time).

I really wanted to be sure that my duffel was under the 6 kg limit for Virgin Atlantic. The Cafe bag had all the paper I collected this trip: brochures, small books, flyers, my journal. On top was a tin of cookies purchased at Duxford. The chargers went into my coat pockets, anything small and heavy went in other pockets. Lester is a hardcover book; I just carried it openly. I used the self-service kiosk first and the duffel weighed 5.4 kg. I did not put my coat or Cafe bag on the scale!

I could not figure out the kiosk check-in and stood in front of the various Virgin check-in desks, wondering which one was appropriate to approach, when Teresa approached me asking if I needed some help. Yes!

Many thanks to Teresa for walking me through the check-in kiosk correctly, except then the machine would not print out my boarding pass, so she called to Verra who walked me over to Kylie. I am very grateful for the help of all 3 to get me checked-in.

Next was security. Well, I walked, and walked, thought I was reaching the end of the line so used the toilet nearby, then walked some more to actually find the end of the line. From the Terminal 3 security I went all the way to the elevators past the chapel.

It took 45 minutes from finding the end of the line to getting through security. It was not much fun, but the line moved at a steady pace and staff regularly would call out flight times for people who needed to be moved up and get done quickly to make their flights.

The directions said to not remove shoes unless directed. I did not have to, a quick glance at my feet seemed to suffice. Other people were sent to a secondary screening to get their shoes x-rayed.

Once finally through all the official stuff, that put me in the area with all the many shops. Until about an hour and a half before my flight this was where I stayed, reading.

Near the end of the book, when Lester was getting ready to retire (he was a jockey from age 12 to 50), a special match race was done for him and a jump jockey just retiring the same year--John Francome, the author whose book I had left behind!

When the gate was shown on the screen, I made my way there; boarding began soon after.

I found the Virgin Atlantic crew very helpful and friendly. My economy seat had plenty of leg space (I'm shy of 5' 6"). And the food was plentiful: after drinks, supper, then a round of ice cream bars, and later another round of cookies and brownies and more drinks as requested. One more treat, mints, before landing.

A chocolate pudding for supper had me wishing I had known about this before leaving the UK .. Gü. The little chocolate ganache and raspberry pudding was delish!

A quick trip through passport control and customs in Boston and I was able to make the 5:30 pm bus to Portland. Two hours on the bus, another hour to home.

I walked through the door and my doggy did a "You're home! You're home! Let's go for a walk!!" act and was ready to leave right then. She did give me five minutes to say hello to the two-footed family, but it has been a walk every chance she can get me out the door since.

Well, that's the trip. I have final thoughts to add as they come to me, and I would like to post at least a few pictures. Thanks for coming along on my review of 10 fun days.
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May 3rd, 2009, 10:08 AM
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Sounds like it was very nice trip, Scotlib. Thanks so much for posting your report.

And thanks for mentioning the chocolate ganache and raspberry pudding. Will definitely keep an eye out for that! Gu is the name?
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May 3rd, 2009, 11:06 AM
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I also like to visit libraries on my trips. Thanks for posting.
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May 3rd, 2009, 11:31 AM
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I am very pleased that you had a good journey. Time to start you return.
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May 3rd, 2009, 12:54 PM
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Hi CAPH52,

Yes, Gü (with dots over the u) is the brand. If you see that in the stores (Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury's, etc.), do try it!


Hi WillTravel,

Thanks for the reply to the report. I used Google Maps extensively. I type in a starting (apartment, rail stations, etc.) location and then do the Get Directions From Here to find the locations for libraries.

Google Maps is great for just exploring, too. Instead of an exact name, I just put in a descriptive word (episcopal, pizza, takewaway) and get a results list of possibilities.


Hi rogeruktm,

So often I think, I really want a travel partner, but then I start thinking of possibilities for a new trip and know it is likely the itinerary would only interest me, so solo again.

After the pleasant experience on the Virgin Train, I am really thinking of spending the fall planning a trip around the route map. Hmmm, I have heard Chester is pretty, and it has a Roman history. I live only 2 hours from one Bangor, might be nice to see the original(?), http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/travel...k/default.aspx


Cheers.
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May 3rd, 2009, 01:01 PM
  #34
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Couple more memories

The Virgin Atlantic flight also had a very nice goodie bag: socks, eye shade, toothbrush/itty-bitty toothpaste, and pen (handy for landing card), all in a very reusable pack (not toss-out thin plastic. Overall, I really would like to take VA again!

When I went to check out of the Ariel, I was first presented with a charge slip for $82 US. No, no, I told the girl, my bill is £54.05. See, she said, we have it in US for your convenience.

I did another, No, no, I want £54.05 and so she re-did the charge and that was what I signed.

This was that dynamic currency conversion, DCC, I believe? The exchange rate on the slip said $1.52 and I know the rate was about $1.47 that day, so about $3 more for me to pay if I had not said, No, no!

Yes, I will be checking my card bill when it comes.

Cheers.
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May 3rd, 2009, 01:15 PM
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Tips

Mentioned already, I need to learn more about buying air fare at reasonable times and costs. I cannot buy very often to learn from actual experience of buying, but I think I could do more tracking and watching, then really not buy so far, far, in advance.


Hoard your 10p and 20p coins for paying toilets. Both Waverley Rail Station and Kings Cross had turnstile access on this trip.


Know your train's final destination to pick it out on the list in the station.


Taking less, I still think (this is a personal decision) that I need to pare down. The paring may come to ounces, but find 16 items that can be reduced by an ounce and I will have found a pound! Counting out the supplies in my little med kit .. 3 sheets of Pepto pills and 9 band aids .. 2 and 3 respectively probably enough, eh.


Journal .. if a journal is a trip keepsake you enjoy, make time to work on it every day. Skip a time or two and next thing you know you have lots of blank sheets and you're starting to forget what happened on what day! I take a glue stick and mini scissors to cut out bits of flyers/brochures and add to the pages as I go. I admit I did not work on it quite enough on the trip, so this is a work in progress to practice what I am preaching, lol.


Itinerary sheets .. I really liked having sheets for each day. Notes of this site, directions to another, train times, suggestions of little things to do that I have read on Fodor's, etc. It is not that I planned my days to the minute, but I had information on hand to use to fill my day as I liked.


Bring 2 copies of itinerary sheets, if used .. I thought I had lost the sheets one day and all the information for the following days were stapled on, so a moment of Ack! before seeing it safe in my Cafe bag. A backup copy will be included in the pack next time.


Well, that's what coming to mind, today, for tips.
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May 4th, 2009, 11:24 AM
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Some pictures put into a video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QF_K5OCO7G8
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May 4th, 2009, 12:14 PM
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Very nice, Scotlib! Thanks for sharing that link! I don't know if I missed it but I couldn't find the name of the music. It's lovely whatever it is!
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May 4th, 2009, 01:51 PM
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Hi CAPH52, no I didn't mention the name. Found a midi online and threw it in for a quick background. The song is Come by the Hills, http://www.cs.uleth.ca/~kaminski/mid...ish/comeby.htm

Cheers.
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May 5th, 2009, 06:47 AM
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Thanks, Scotlib!
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May 6th, 2009, 07:24 AM
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Scotlib, can I butt back in here to ask you a question about something you told me on another thread?

You advised me to make sure my son takes his school ID along and mentioned using yours to get the student rate on tours, etc. We had originally thought he'd be getting one of the international student ID cards. But have decided to hold off on that because, at this point, his semester abroad is somewhat up in the air (he's thinking about doing an internship in the US instead). So I just wanted to check back with you to make sure that you had no problem using an ID from your school rather than one of the above-mentioned cards.

Thanks!
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