Saturday, June 11, 2011

Our (new) home and (my) native land, and..."flying" a high performance, vertical lift umbrella"!

Somewhere over Greenland - which sounds rather like a Jimmy Buffet song!
As with many great adventures, ours "took off" with a take off - first from our long driveway in our Linda's highly polished Pontiac Vibe, followed by another inside a DeHavilland DHC-3 Turbine Single Otter seaplane from Nanaimo Harbour, followed by yet another in a MD-11 wide body jet from Vancouver International - and, last of all, in a Boeing 737 from Amsterdam to Glasgow, Scotland - my birthplace.

At YVR, it was great to meet our exchange partners, David and Catriona, who I know will be welcomed with enthusiasm and embraced in their new home and parish for the next five weeks.

After the first nine hours of flying and at least "10,000 steps" at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, we completed the last flight, to Glasgow. Curiously though, my place of birth did not seem (at first) inclined to have me back! A recent change with the UK Border Agency meant that for the purposes of this particular exchange, a work visa was normally required in addition to a passport. The officer in charge, however, was very gracious. Upon seeing our faces pale into several "shades" of surprise and after checking with the chain of command, he allowed that this was an instance where the "spirit" of the law should supersede the "letter" of the law. We were, therefore, permitted to enter the United Kingdom - whew!

Joan and Mike and Stirling Castle on Castle Hill.
My cousin, Mike, who had waited patiently at the airport while we dealt with our small "situation", shared wonderful hospitality with us at his home in beautiful Bridge of Allan. Revived by dinner and his kindnesses to us, we enjoyed an evening walk from his home along a pathway that brought into view the Wallace Monument, ancient Stirling Castle, and so many reminders of life in years gone by.

Once-upon-a-time, in a day long past...this was home sweet home.
No day, of course, is complete without a morning run. Totally jet-lagged and turned around time-wise, we were awake and ready to go at 3 am - we resisted, however, and didn't risk disturbing the neighbourhood peace (and the neighbourhood dogs) until close to 0600. 

The castle in sight...and perhaps in the footsteps of Sir William Wallace?
Note the Merrell "Trail Gloves" - really nice minimalist footwear to supplement VFFs.
Running along the peaceful early-morning road, with the castle in sight, gave us goose bumps - the awareness of the local history alone, more than breath-taking. "Braveheart" himself fought for Scottish independence here at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, September 11, 1249.

After breakfast and a walk around town, Mike kindly drove us to our new home, in the town of Forfar and delivered us safely into the warm and welcoming hands of the folks of St. Margaret's who we will tell you much more about later.

Yes, this is the Forfar of the famous Forfar "bridies"!
Duncan, attempting to exit the "Wee Bake Shop" - unnoticed. Nice try.
Resisting the temptation to drive on the streets and highways of Scotland until we were completely over jet lag and with the required sense of situation awareness, we have elected to walk, for at least the first few days. The constant rain, however, meant that we needed to make use of a large, "high performance" umbrella so kindly left on the back seat of David and Catriona's car. You must have known! :) Much can be learned when the uninitiated carry such a device - even those from Canada's "wet coast" and Vancouver Island. For example:
  • Umbrellas, sufficiently sized for two, can be hazardous to other pedestrians - although we didn't actually make physical contact with all that many folks.
  • Umbrellas can develop lift. Having flown small aircraft, I know how important "lift" is - ah, well, not so much with umbrellas.
  • Wide umbrellas don't always fit through narrow spots, hence the need to perfect the "lateral avoidance manoeuvre" on narrow passage ways.
  • Umbrellas can serve as effective camouflage cover - when leaving bake shops.
  • Umbrellas are like Golden Retrievers - they love long walks in the rain.
  • Umbrellas are totally cool and really very practical.
  • Real men carry umbrellas!
Joan, performing an absolutely textbook, "lateral avoidance manoeuvre"!
Watch out folks, high-performance umbrella coming up behind you!
So there you have it, just the first couple of days - and the adventure definitely continues.

Got a busy day tomorrow with the folks at St. Margaret's and better get in just a little more preparation. :)

So from rainy (but beautiful) Forfar, Scotland.

Duncan and Joan.

Added note: It's now Sunday evening, and the skies have been blue over eastern Scotland all day!


  1. Ah well you shall be right at home with all of the rain...still mostly sunny skies here! Can't wait to hear and see more. Looks wonderful!

  2. Good to hear from you. Also note that L beat me to it here like I told you might happen. David also had a similar problem with Immigration here and his outcome was the same as yours, so all's well that ends well! So what's new? You left one rainy coast to go to another. Look forward to hearing and seeing more. Enjoy.

  3. I think your more prepared than you think for tomorrow!


  4. Thanks, L, and today the skies of eastern Scotland were clear and blue - CAVOK, totally!

    Yep, tough to get in to the country but worth the wait!

    Thanks Lee, I appreciate your good faith - I'm going to quote you! :)

  5. A the super charged, VTOL umbrella! An essential piece of kit for manoeuvers in Forfar! As a last ditch defence it can be used to repel boarders or local dogs when then sniff that you have a bridie about your person! Sorry that the weather is not bether for you, but it is the same on VI.

  6. Right you are, David. And among the many Gulf Islands where you are, a VTOL umbrella might also be used to "island hop" - way better (and more forgiving) flight characteristics than a broomstick. :)

  7. Don't tell Harbor Air! They will sell their brollies as personal VTOL transporation devices at $100CDN each! ;)

  8. Maybe you and I could refine the idea, David, and submit the proposal - a fortune could await us! I'll look into further aerodynamic testing - will also take good advantage of today's rain!