Friday, April 28, 2017

Edinburgh


My advice to all people traveling to Scotland is to spend quality and quantity time in this charming country.  After about eight days of running all over England, I missed my normal travel routine of staying four to five nights in one area.  I was in much need of some lazy mornings, afternoons meandering through gardens, time out to write for an hour or two, and some pub time to get to know local people.  The next time I go, I will also do a little bit of studying. 

Besides my JK Rowling's fix, the rest of my time was a hodgepodge of wanderings.  I enjoyed the architecture and signs.




On our full day, we toured the castle.  My favorite spot was the Scottish National Memorial.  My emotions overwhelmed me.  The tribute to all the soldiers and medics brought tears to my eyes.  The stain glass windows and bronze depictions took my breath away.  I thought and prayed about all those lost and those who serve today, including my husband, sons, and friends.  I was very impressed.  (Photos borrowed from the internet due to not being allowed to take pictures.)







I thought of my mom as we strolled through exhibits.  During Mary Queen of Scots' imprisonment by Queen Elizabeth I, Mary spent much of her time embroidering.  They displayed a replica of her work.  Very beautiful.  (Photos borrowed from the internet due to not being allowed to take pictures.)




I also enjoyed the little chapel where St. Margaret worshiped in the castle.  I loved her story that I listened to through the headset.  Of course, I have forgotten it at this point.  I will study her life sometime and return.



Edinburgh is a fascinating city.  I enjoyed the Royal Mile immensely.  One store front advertised excursions out into the countryside.  A sign pointed out literary tours to take.  I also pet an owl.  I believe this was the most beautiful of cities I have visited.  Oh, and I plan to go back and stay at the Witchery in the next fifteen or so years.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

JK Rowling


In Edinburgh, I experienced my third amazing encounter in the area of literature.  My first happened to be in Atlanta with Margaret Mitchell and the second in Missouri with Laura Ingalls Wilder.  This time I traipsed some areas of JK Rowling.  And yes, I am a fan.

The morning of our last full day, I woke up excited.  The itinerary combined two of my favorite things, coffee and literature.  My companions stirred us to Starbucks.  Really?  I went along because we ran early and a body can never have too much coffee.  I did get a small cup because I wanted something better.  I thought the walk would take forever.  Finally, I saw the red exterior with gold lettering of The Elephant House.  My hands shook as I excitedly  walked across the road trying to avoid traffic and take a picture at the same time.  Opps, a little fuzzy.




Walking into the shop, I delighted in the décor of elephants everywhere.  I envisioned myself sitting in the shop and writing for hours.  The young lady led us to the back room.  Windows lined the back wall.  Sunlight streamed into the open space giving a writer plenty of light to work.  The view was breathtaking with the castle and kirkyard off in the distance.  What amazing inspiration.  I wandered the shop snapping a few pictures.  I haven't tasted a better cup of coffee.  Back home, I have been to my coffee shop.  I like the atmosphere, but it can't compete.






After breakfast, we continued down the road.  We found Greyfriars Bobby.  He was a little skye terrier who guarded his master's grave sight for fourteen years.  The little dog has a special place in the city's heart. 






We found the kirkyard!  Yes, I love graveyards.  I love the old ones the best, the beauty of the aging headstones, the peacefulness of sanctified ground, the history.  This cemetery held some fun finds.  JK Rowling wandered the grounds in search of names for her series.  I found McGonagall as soon as I entered. 




As I walked around, I wondered if I would find the name that must not be named.  Though not huge item on the to do list, I really wanted to see the grave, but I didn't have time to look all day.  We planned on seeing the castle.  A worker entered a section of the grounds, so I walked over to him.  A little embarrassed, I asked where to find Thomas Riddell.  With a smile, he pointed through an archway.  As I made a beeline to the section, my sister stopped me.  A van with the name Nixon was just a stone throw away from me.  I was so excited by the graves that I don't think I would have noticed.  I took two pictures and disappeared through the arch.




I marveled at the old stones. 




But I had to hurry.  Up and down the rows I walked.  Names jumped out at me, but not the name I longed to see.  I finally said a prayer.  Yes, probably a silly prayer, but God already knew it was on my heart.  I might as well speak it.  I had one more section to search.  If I didn't find it, I had to leave.  As I turned the corner, I saw the stone.  My search complete after a few photos and I was content. 




The experts say not to set a goal of becoming famous like others in your field.  Goals are to be something I can control.  I can't control that readers will like my books let alone them becoming a pulp classic.  The logical side of myself agrees.  So my goals are to write one or two novels a year to publish.  Once my first series is done I will begin marketing.  I can except that.  However, my ultimate goal is to be JK Rowling.  I don't have to reach that to be successful, but hey, I can dream!


Monday, April 24, 2017

Hadrian's Wall


I remember studying Hadrian's Wall back in college.  The details have long been forgotten, but the feelings remain.  I longed to see the wall.  I was fascinated by the Romans creating such a barrier to keep people from flowing to the south. 

 As we drove all over the back roads, I became nervous.  Would we be able to find it?  Confusion assaulted me as I watched out of the car window as rock fences traveled every which way.  Was that the wall or just a fence?  It was pretty unclear.  We stopped at a Roman fort where we thought the wall to be located.  Nope, we still had ten miles to drive.  The museum was closing, but the really nice lady who ran the visitor center gave us directions.  Finally, we found a car park and the wall. 

         

As I sit here thinking about the wall, I am not quite sure what to say.  The countryside was vivid green.  The wall with the moss and grass held a history starting over 1,895 years ago.  The diameter of the wall was about five feet high, four feet wide, and originally 80 miles long.  Of course, the height and width vary.  A couple points of interest are that the wall is not a border between Scotland and England.  Also, along some sections of the wall, huge trenches were dug in the dirt to help detour the northerners to cross into the Roman conquered land.  Finally, a second wall runs parallel further north called Antonine Wall begun in 142.  I would like to see that someday as well.  Of course, I would also love to walk both walls.







I have to mention that seeing the wall transported me to the movies.  My favorite is of Robin Hood, played by Kevin Costner, walking along a rock fence that looks a bit like the wall.  Morgan Freeman's character asks where the cursed sun is in England as he wants to pray.  As the time grows distant from when I traveled in England, I feel my memories are but a dream. 


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Whitby



Since I graduated from high school and saw the ocean for the first time, the waves sing the sirens' call to me.  I love the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in all their splendor.  The North Sea dazzled me as much as all the other shores I have had the pleasure to behold.  I soaked in the salty moist air as my heart sang with the sirens.  I longed to jump on a boat and wander along the coast.  Alas, land held me fast as I enjoyed a few moments on the pier at Whitby. 



We meandered through the little town, population 13,213.  I snapped fun pictures, including a few at the Dracula experience.  Bram Stoker stayed in Whitby for six years where he was inspired for his novel, one of my favorites. 



With a screaming knee, I hobbled up the 199 steps to get to the top of the bluff overlooking the sea.  A small chapel welcomed us inside.  I lit a candle and prayed.  The arrangement of the church confused me.  I don't remember an alter in the main section,  Instead of pews like I am used to in American churches, boxes littered the sanctuary.  The atmosphere seemed disjointed.  I did enjoy the day chapel. 




I also delighted in my sister's discovery of C. Nixon.  A WWII plaque displayed his name for his valiant service to England during the war where he lost his life.  How he is a cousin, I have no idea, but definitely a really surprising find.



The graveyard sent chills up my spine.  The worn headstones loomed over the graves.  I envisioned walking through standing rocks at night and feeling the ghosts floating about crying.  I walked through them enjoying the beauty of the history.  Remembering back, I see the appeal for Bram.  Perfect ambiance for a grizzly story.




My companions grew tired of church ruins and paying to see them, something that I can't comprehend.  For me, I paid as a way to tithe and add my part to keep the buildings standing, keep the history alive.  I went onto the abbey grounds on my own.  I hurried along, knowing we had other places to be later in the day.  I marveled at the beautiful brown stones that constructed the ruins and the stunning view of the sea.  I longed for a bright blue sky, but going through the pictures again, the clouds capture the moodiness of the area.  Really, the entire section is stunning.




I will say that Whitby is too touristy for my taste for a seaside destination.  Yet, I loved all it had to offer for sites to see.  I would love to explore the eastern coast of Britain to find the perfect spot to stay for days on end.  Oh, dear, another reason to return to England.




Thursday, April 13, 2017

York


Can a place hold memories for centuries?  I believe it can.  I believe the memories ignite when we enter the infused space.  I believe the memories speak in the form of stories and emotions to those who listen.  I have been to many places that cry out for me to write about them.  In Virgini, I knew the Shirley Plantation anted me to write a story about a blue dress.  Ellis Island contains a story of a woman held captive by her husband.  Ross Creek Cedars whispers to me about a young girl named Nissa.

Other places hold feelings.  When we looked at rentals in Helena, both my husband and I felt an evil spirit in a house we looked at.  A place down by the river near Wolf Point is very peaceful for me, but my mother-in-law is unsettled by the land.  There is an imprint in each area that speaks to us.  We don't know why, but it still exists.  York held this for me.

In 1395, my ancestor William Nykson was born in York, England.  I have no idea where in the city.  I have no idea how big the city was back in the day.  I do know he must have seen the city walls that surround the medieval section of York.  I would think he saw the castle, though I didn't get the chance to see it.  I also know my family lived in the area during the War of the Roses, 1455-1487.  All of this fascinates me beyond belief.  The War of the Roses was my favorite era during my year of British history that I took in college before I knew my ancestors came from this area.
The White Rose,
The Symbol of the House of York


Walking through the city gate, I marveled at the walls that seemed to wrap their arms around me in greeting, like meeting a long lost relative.  I walked up the narrow cobbled streets in wide eyed wonder.  I delighted in the names of some of the taverns and laughed at finding the Missoula restaurant.  I felt transported back to the 1300's or an amazing fantasy novel.  My blood pumped with the blood of my family who forged a life on this island.  I soaked in the life and pulse of the Nyksons.  I had come home.

 
The City Gate






Yes, I loved the Shambles Market. 

 
Shambles Market

I was in awe of the York Minster with all the stained glass windows and amazing architecture and statues.  Before arriving, I studied a little bit about Saint William of York.  Our tour guide took me to Saint William's window of panels.  I need to do some studying of his life.  I also want to study all the panels.  On a side note, the guide and I chatted on our own about JRR Tolkien.  He showed me a picture of a book he found in a used book store.  The title page is signed by the author.  Amazing.




Huge!!!

A three headed queen.

An engraved pig.


William of York


I was fascinated by the Roman column and statue of Constantine the Great. 

 
Constantine the Great


Roman Column



None of this compared to my feeling of coming home.  York is my other home.  Yes, Montana will always be my primary home, but York is the second.  I will admit that I was disappointed because no story revealed itself to me.  However, I know when the time is right, I will go back to York to spend an extended amount of time.  I believe a fiction story of my ancestors is percolating in my head waiting for the correct time.  I have work to do.  I have to study the War of the Roses and the history that came before hand.  I want to play with my theory that the Nyksons came to England from Norway as Vikings when York was called Jorvik.  But this will happen about five years from now and I am already excited for that adventure.

River Ouse