Tag Archives: Bastille

Vegas, Baby!


Last month Hubby and I had a mini-vacation in Las Vegas.  The trip was his Christmas gift to me because my favorite band was playing a concert there at the fabulous Cosmopolitan Resort.  I am frugal to a fault; we stayed at Bally’s for $100, and it was fine.

It was the first time Hubby and I had been to Las Vegas in 28 years, which is due to the fact that the last time resulted in a terrible fight when we decided Vegas was the only place we were NOT compatible.  He thought we were going to sit at Blackjack tables the entire time; I thought we were going to have foofy drinks and check out all the casinos. When I woke up at 4am Sunday morning and Hubby was still out gambling, I was madder than a wet cat and I’m pretty sure I gave him the silent treatment for at least 24 hours.  It’s not that he lost money (he didn’t), but I didn’t get what I wanted. And one of the things I’ve learned in the past 28 years is EXPECTATIONS ARE EVERYTHING!

When I say Vegas has changed a lot in 28 years, I’m not kidding.  Wow!  Everything is Over the Top.  The buildings are beautiful, the restaurants are amazing, and the shopping is ridiculously expensive.  We didn’t go INTO any shops, but what a cool experience to walk through an underground shopping mall created to look like a street in Paris.  During our 48 hours in the Vegas, we saw huge aquariums, amazing works of art, terrific views of the city, dancing fountains, and the Bellagio’s Oriental Gardens which were breathtaking.  Picture if you will 3D butterflies the size of a small car  . . . made completely from flowers (mostly carnations) so they even SMELLED as beautiful as they looked. Magical!

And can we talk about smells for a sec?  After we arrived, I washed my face, redid my make up, redid my hair, and put on fresh clothing so I’d look my best for the Bastille concert.  It took maybe five minutes of walking through the casinos before my hair and clothes smelled like a big, stinkin’ cigar. OMG.  It was disgusting.

And can we talk about clothing for a minute?  I’d brought my coolest going-out duds, because, well, you know: VEGAS.  Vegas in the old days meant bling, it meant high heels and high rollers and high stakes; it meant your biggest earrings and your reddest lipstick.  OMG again:  What I saw were people who looked like they were sneaking out to the grocery in the morning before their showers and hoping not to run into anyone they knew.  They looked like the photos of Walmart shoppers I’ve seen on Facebook. Oh sure, there were a few exceptions to this rule, and I have to admit, the pair of jeans I brought for Saturday were too big and spent the day awkwardly pulling them up (oddly there are no suspender stores in Vegas, and the belts were all too pricey).

I’d promised Hubby some Blackjack table time since he was so kind to attend the Bastille concert with me.  I actually had a great time during our three hours at a $5 table at the Flamingo (it’s hard to find $5 tables these days).  The dealers and other tourists at the table were funny, and the bar brought us free drinks!  Well, can I tell you about free beers for a sec?  After number two, JUST SAY NO!  I thought I was fine, and then I stood up and it was all, OH NO, why are my legs made of rubber?  And how do flip flops work again?  I lost about an hour there and have hazy memories of walking briskly, exploring more casinos and zig zagging through massive crowds.  We walked 11 miles that day . . . which counteracted the very late dinners and too many cocktails!

Our room at Bally’s was very large and very clean and not too outdated . . . but alas, no in-room coffee pot.  Picture me at 2 am Friday night looking through all the drawers and closets so I can have the coffee set for morning, yelling, “NO COFFEE POT??? What is this, RUSSIA???”  When you’ve stayed out too late in Vegas and the next morning you’re trying to shower and ready yourself for the day and there’s no coffee until you can be seated at a restaurant, it’s hard to put two words together.  But we survived . . .

And the Bastille concert . . .  well, the concert was amazing.  (She takes a moment to smile, remember Dan’s face so close, swoons just a tiny bit.)  Eve and I saw Bastille on Tuesday in Phoenix, and even though it was really good, the guys in the band explained they’d spent the day in Texas making a music video. (You could totally tell.)  STILL fabulous, and so fun to attend the concert with my girl.  But in Vegas, they were really ON.  The Vegas concert was in a third floor ballroom at the Cosmopolitan Resort and we had standing room tickets, which I prefer since you can move away from people who are being arses.  Bastille put on an amazing show which I’ll never forget.

But I kind of got in a fight with some girls.  It really wasn’t my fault. I mean, clearly the event had been oversold, and we were packed in too tightly.  Picture me:  dreamy look on my face, completely engrossed in the performance, hand placed over my heart ( so embarrassing) when all of a sudden a group of six “Woo Woo Girls” pushes up through the crowd and stand directly to my left.  And they begin to talk . . . LOUDLY.  We’re only 25 feet from the stage where Dan is singing his heart out, and these girls are SHOUTING—how rude, right?  Why do you go to a concert to chit-chat??  I tap the shoulder of the lead Woo Woo girl and put on my sweetest face, and I say these words: “I’m saying this with so much kindness in my heart and you all seem like such nice girls, but I’d like to ask you a huge favor—-could you please be a little quieter, because I’m having trouble hearing the band?”  (Followed by a pleading, sweet look and sorry smile.)  Well.  Lead Woo Woo gets a really mean look on her face and says loudly to her friends, “OH NO, I think we’re in trouble!”  Then she says something I can’t hear to the other Woo Woos and they proceed to SCREAM through the entire next song.  I sighed.  At least I tried, right? And then they were truly much quieter after that, so HA HA, joke’s on them.  I vow to continue requesting proper behavior in a civil manner for the rest of my days, no matter how embarrassing it is to my husband or children or friends who are with me.

I know I’m going on and on, but I MUST tell you about the floor at this concert venue.  It bounces.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  I swear on a stack of Bastille albums that the floor was bouncing up and down at least 3 inches when people were dancing.  The lead singer came out on stage for the first time and stopped singing.  After the song, he explained that the movement of the floor moving up and down was “surreal”–I guess that’s one word for it.  I hope not to read in the future about the thousands of people injured when the floor of the Chelsea Ballroom at the Cosmopolitan gave way!

Apologies for this rambling all-over-the-place trip report, but that’s how Vegas is:  too much to eat, too much to smell, too much to see, and too much to talk about!  I’m still not sure if I liked Vegas, or not.  I’m thinking in 28 years, we’ll try it again.




Gum on My Shoe


The smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in my oven is making my mouth water.  I love the dough more than the baked product, don’t you?  I already ate one uncooked cookie, so NO MORE for me!

Last night was magical . . . Eve and I saw my favorite band, Bastille, in downtown Phoenix.  We had decent seats, and Dan (the lead singer) is great about walking through the audience—so exciting to see him standing in our aisle!  They played most of my favorites, and it was great to see my best band with my best girl.  I was shocked Eve didn’t want me to buy her a beer—she’s 21 and I remember what I was like at 21, anyway, I’m proud of her that she was being responsible about getting up early for work next day.  I was not the oldest person there, the crowd was so pleasant, and not one person held a phone up to block my view.  The only negative is I somehow stepped on a huge wad of gum . . . so dancing along with the music was, well, a bit sticky.  I sighed because I knew it was karma paying me back for taking the stale piece of gum from my mouth and throwing it out into the pristine desert on a hike last week.  Well played, Universe.  Well played.

(Excuse me while I go take the cookies out of the oven.)

(Uh-oh, I just ate another cookie.  That’s two.  UGHHH.)

Part of our concert adventure was I had my very first Uber ride to the venue. I felt like a movie star being let out at the front door of Comerica Theater, and not having to park in a stinky parking garage a mile away was a huge perk.  But when it was time to go home after the concert, the rate had increased from $12 to $40!  YIKES.  Eve uses Uber all the time and suggested we walk away from the venue. Half a mile and 15 minutes later, the rate was down to $17 so I grabbed it.  Poor Eve got home at midnight and had to be at work at 6am.  She said it was worth it.  I was so jazzed from the concert, I stayed up until 2am replaying the concert in my mind and playing Words with Friends on my phone.

In other news, I’ve been interviewing for a new school job.  I love my school sooooooo much—but I just don’t dig working full time. I’m still subbing about once a week and love love love my time there (it’s all good).  Today I interviewed for a 20-hour gig as an instructional assistant at an elementary school one mile from my house.  I was so awkward.  I parked in the wrong parking lot and had to walk all the way around to get to the office.  As I was asked into the office by the principal, we were chatting and I didn’t pay attention to where we were going . . . so when we were finished talking, I tried to exit through the closet door (which was right next to the correct door) and then turned the wrong way down the hallway.  On the way home, I checked my eye make up in the mirror and was dismayed to see a very long hair protruding from my left nostril. Really??  Seriously?? (I need to get better bathroom lighting.) When discussing the candidates, I will likely be referred to as “Chubby Lost Woman with Nose Hair”. I don’t have high hopes for landing that job.

There goes my oven timer again.  I’m going to eat another cookie.  Cookies for dinner—there are worst sins (but it explains why my figure has become so matronly in the past few years).  And with that, I will stop here, because my oldest son told me he tends to read the first few paragraphs of my posts but does not finish (said with a very serious look in his eye), “Because, Mom, you know, you DO tend to go on and on.”  Sweet boy.





Big news:  I’m a winner!

That’s right—for the first time in my whole life, I’ve won an election.  I guess it’s not that amazing if you consider the fact that I’ve only ever “run” for something once before, and that was for 5th grade class treasurer.  I was new to Rural Elementary that year, having just moved from Illinois, so I’m thinking it must’ve been my mother’s idea.  I remember making posters decorated with tin-foil coins and buttons I made classmates wear that read, “Keep it rockin’—vote for Mary Koppen.”  It was not a surprise when Mary Ann Hendrickson won—I mean, she’d gone to school with those kids since Kindergarten . . . and in all honesty, I was a bit relieved.

This week’s election was for the Warner Ranch Phase II HOA Board.  My competition was a lovely neighbor who has served on the board for years, and a cranky woman I’ve never met who ran on the platform of breaking up “the old boys club” who didn’t even bother to attend the annual meeting!  I was a shoo-in, but still, I came home from the meeting feeling special about my glamorous new appointment.  (I’ve threatened to run for years.) My (hidden) agenda is to try to convince the board we really don’t need to call the attorneys every time somebody leaves their car on the street overnight.  I’m all about saving us some cash, yo.

In other news, Ruby the Wonder Spaniel is having a health concern.  Suddenly her breath is terrible, and when I say terrible, when we drove by the dairy farm in Maricopa last weekend on our way to Mexico, our car smelled BETTER with the windows down to allow her stink OUT, and allowing the cow small IN.  Her breath is so terrible the cats back up with their ears down and run away when she attempts to kiss them.  It’s so terrible that my car still smells like her death breath a week after our road trip, even though I’ve been driving around all week with the windows open.  Ruby has a teeth cleaning scheduled in two weeks, so hopefully it’s something as simple as a rotten tooth that needs pulling.  Her teeth have rarely been brushed since we are very selfish and value the existence of having ten fingers over Ruby having healthy, clean teeth.

This next week is HUGE.  You may want to sit down to hear this news.  Are you sitting? BASTILLE IS COMING TO TOWN!!!! My favorite band is coming to town on Tuesday, and on Friday, Hubby and I are driving to Vegas to see them a second time.  I’m giddy.  More than giddy, I’m nervous something will go wrong and I won’t get to go to the concerts. A sick child, a car accident, the loss of a finger when brushing a dog’s teeth.  I know I’m being ridiculous.  I’m THAT excited.  This morning I hugged Hubby and said, “You are the sweetest husband in the whole world to take me to both Bastille concerts this week!!!”  I think he’d forgotten because he looked stricken . . . and now I’m looking for a sub for him on Tuesday.  I think our daughter will go with me.

I know I should be embarrassed to be so excited about a musical group at my advanced age, but answer me this:  Why is it okay to be gaga over classical music, but not progressive music?  I went to hear Gustav Holsts’ The Planets a few years ago and there were PLENTY of old people there who were clearly exhilarated to hear this performance, yet when I mention going to a rock concert, I feel the quiet mocking.  And let me tell you, Bastille concerts are 100% more interesting than the Phoenix Symphony playing Holst (it was quite the snooze fest).

Last but not least, I was happy to see a new sculpture installed in the lobby of Phoenix Art Museum.  I’m a big Yayoi Kusama fan, and her large-scale aluminum pumpkin with holes cut out of it is whimsical and charming.  Come check it out!






Life Moves Pretty Fast


So many exciting things have happened in the past few weeks! Our oldest son, Patrick, and his fiancee, Samantha, bought a cute little house just 1.5 miles from our home. A small crew of us spent a weekend painting over the hideous colors on the walls which required a base of primer and two top coats of “Linwood Sands” by Lowes, a very calming beige color. I painted from 10:30 til 8:30 with only bathroom breaks and a small lunch break for pizza, and when I woke up on Sunday morning, I said, “OOOWWWW!!!”  Everything hurt.  My arms had rollered all day, I’d squatted to paint at the baseboards, and I’d gone up and down a ladder 100 times to do the areas at the top.   I hope they will enjoy being homeowners, and since both sets of parents are can-do people, their house will look “House Beautiful” in no time.  Seriously, I could not be more proud of our kids.

This week Hubby  got a new iPhone 6S plus– which is a Very Big Phone.  The first day he had it, he complained that his thumb did not reach the huge screen, and I suggested he create a “thumb extender” out of clay. Hubby looked it up, and apparently someone else already invented this apparatus. DRAT.  You may recall I invented the Concert Diaper which I thought of during a Dave Matthews Band show when beer vs. body collided, and I missed my favorite song while waiting in line for the loo at Desert Sky Pavillion back in 2009.  I had another “inventive” idea this week after a friend told me she’d been offered a shawl at a fancy restaurant.  I thought that was hilarious, but . . . wouldn’t it be fun to have a “costume” restaurant?  Guests would change into formal wear when they arrived. You’d be offered sparkly sequined or poofy ball gowns, tuxedos in many sizes, and bow ties and top hats, and tiaras, and faux-diamond necklaces.  We’d serve old-fashioned elegant dishes like Beef Bourguignon, Oysters Rockeller, Vichyssoise, and Chateubriand. We’d have chandeliers and lots of mirrors on the walls so guests could admire themselves, with low lights and candles on the tables . . . and people could feel like they were someone else for a few hours.  What to name it.  Hmmmmm.  The Cultured Cafe.  Chic Bistro.  Cafe Chandelier?  I’ll ruminate on it some more.

William was home for a whole week for Spring  Break, which was so wonderful.  But then the week was over too quickly and as he drove away on  Sunday afternoon to return to NAU for seven more weeks, I allowed a few tears to fall.  I felt sad all afternoon, but I know he’s where he is supposed to be and is working hard. I must say, all this coming and going is really hard on a mom (and a dad–Hubby was sad, too).

I have so much to look forward to!  It’s been a slow few months, but April 1st will find us at our favorite beach in Rocky Point for a long weekend.  April 11 we are seeing Bastille (my favorite band) who are playing in town at the Comerica Theater, and we are driving to seem them AGAIN at the Cosmopolitan Resort in Las Vegas on April 14 and staying for the weekend. Hubby is going to Berkeley, CA later in April on business, and I’m trying to talk him into letting me come along.  I’ve never been to that area of California and think it would be fun. William is coming home to take his best girl to Prom in early May, then just a few weeks later, we’ll be driving up to pack up his dorm and move him back home for the summer.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in awhile, you could miss it.  I hope you all are taking time to enjoy life in this beautiful first week of Spring.








All I Want for Christmas


What gifts have you asked Santa to bring you this year?

I have asked for a fox (live), a hedgehog (live), and tickets to see my favorite band, Bastille, in Vegas (also live).  I bought myself a fetching pair of earrings at Cost Plus  ($6) and gave them to Hubby to wrap up for me.  I bought them months ago, so truly it will be a surprise (and something I like since I chose them, ha).  My kids pressed me for gift ideas, so I asked for a copy of the book Lord of the Flies because a) I loved it when I read it in college and b) I’ve become interested in boyhood interactions after all my hours of school playground duty and c) the library does not have a copy.   I also asked for recently reprinted books by a charming favorite author, Beverly Nichols, who wrote about his plants, his home, his neighbors, and his cats in England in the 1950’s.  He was a blogger of his time and place 70 years ago, and was quite influential to my writing style.

I must explain the desire to own my own personal hedgehog:   I’ve loved the author Beatrice Potter since a young age, and her character, Mrs. Tiggy Winkle, is a favorite, not to mention Jan Brett’s Hedgie in her winter books. Two summers ago, we took our boys to Ireland for two weeks. We drove hither and yon, stopping in rural areas to greet cows and chickens, always with an eye out for hedgehogs.  Why, you ask?  Because they are adorable! But alas:  We never saw one hedgehog.   Same thing happened when we took William and Eve to Scotland last summer.  I asked the young woman at the hotel desk where we might find a hedgehog and she said, “Me Mum has some that sleep in her garden, and she lives just down the road.  I dunno, they come out at night, don’t they?”  Well. We had no idea they were nocturnal!  The next night we went out into the dark armed with flashlights, exploring the vast property . . . yet never found even one hedgehog.  As for wanting a fox?  Check out this video and you will want one too!

I’m confounded when I think back to my Christmas list from just ten Christmases ago:  A diamond ring?   A Viking stove?  A Kate Spade bag?  Those things seem more ridiculous than the fox and hedgehog on my list this year.  The older I get, the harder it is to make a list of “stuff” I want, because truly I have more than a person would ever need. Christmas is laughing with friends at our annual White Elephant Christmas party, the joy of finding an unexpected package at your door, the pleasure of tasting a homemade baked good from a dear friend.  I am blessed with a happy family, fun friends, a comfortable home, and opportunities for travel.  What more could a girl ask for?






William arrived home at 6:30 pm Friday night, which was his first visit after moving to NAU in Flagstaff, AZ a month ago. He sat at our kitchen table with his siblings and their significant  others while we celebrated his 19th birthday with steak, mashed potatoes, and a chocolate birthday cake with colorful striped candles on the top.  It was as if he had never left.  He is comfortable at college and very interested in his Chemistry classes.  That is all a mom can ask for, right?  But having him home for less than 48 hours (and having to share him with his sweet girlfriend) has left me feeling more sad than happy.

It’s been an interesting month getting used to being “Empty Nesters.”  I hate that term, but after googling alternatives and seeing “Better in Our Fifties” and “Wise Owls” . . . and worse yet, “Emerging Eagles,” it’s clear I need to invent a new moniker for those of us who have successfully raised our children to adulthood.  Whatever it’s called, we don’t like it.   I have friends who couldn’t wait for their kids to leave and told their kids home would now be known as “Naked House,” and funny as it may sound, they were serious!  Kudos to them for not feeling wistful, and for creating a whimsical (yet truthful) moment to communicate to their two college-aged children they were expected to live near campus.

So many of my friends are experiencing this huge change in their lives:  Our children are at college and from now on, will only be home for school holidays.  We’ve been busier than ever hosting friends and family for impromptu cocktails and potluck dinner and afterwards, Shanghai  Rummy at our kitchen table. (Thank you, Universe, for sending me friends who are such good cooks, interesting conversationalists, and who are beating me heartily at cards.)  After work each day, I have either a coffee date or a happy hour.  My life is full.

I should be happy, but I miss cooking and caring for my children.  I know this will pass. Wish me luck with cooking for two instead of four.  I hate throwing away food, but as a person who lives for trying out new recipes, it’s been a challenge. Today I sadly threw away a tupperware full of the Southwestern Potatoes from the New York Times recipes I made for our family dinner last Sunday.

I have never been good at transitions.  What’s getting me through the most difficult transition of  my life is time with friends, cuddling with pets, listening to new music (Bastille, Banks, and Bon Iver), reading historical novel  (A Taste of Scarlet and Miniver and The Vanishing Velasquez), and tv shows like New Girl, A Chef’s Life, and Penny Dreadful. For me, it’s been difficult accepting the “new normal,” but I  hope to eventually bring my mind around to the “naked house concept” where we are happy to be here just Hubby and me . . .  or at least find happiness knowing we have raised our children so well that they are succeeding on their new independent paths, and that we can now move on and focus on our own futures. Tonight as I cleaned the kitchen of weekend messes, I left by the sink one small striped birthday candle. I need this candle to remind me of the gift of William’s visit home this weekend.





That Day I Almost Met the Queen


A few days ago we returned from a two-week vacation to England and Scotland with our two youngest children, Eve and William (who are 20 and 18 respectively).  We had many adventures, and as circumstances would have it, had brushes with Very Famous People while we were in London.

On our first full day in London, we woke up early and got to the Tower of London by 9am. We knew we’d have fewer crowds if we arrived early, and it would be easier to catch a tour with one of the witty Beefeaters who dress in brilliant red costumes and wear silly plumed hats.  We were having a fantastic time exploring this tower, and then that tower, and since it was our first day of vacation, we happily paused to read each and every didactic, soaking up all the great British history.  I’d put it in the top ten of all the places we visited, and I would highly recommend it.

Anyway.  We were having a grand time, but I began to feel annoyed with a family who had a very loud, obnoxious “private” tour guide.  It seemed they invaded our space each time we entered a new room.  The guide’s voice was shrill and self important, and finally, I glared at her, hoping she’d understand she was being too loud.  It was then I heard a very distinctive voice—the voice of Katie Couric, once known as America’s sweetheart of the morning shows.    It was Katie on vacation with her family!

Allow me to pause my story for a moment and state for the record that I am NOT a superficial person, however, I take great interest in current culture, including famous people. I’m intrigued at their stories, since they, too, were once lowly folks such as myself yet now have international fame and boatloads of money.  So when I meet a “star,” I get pretty excited.

And Katie Couric it certainly was.  She is tiny.  She wore no make up and was still cute as a button.  She was dressed very casually and had a cap on with a ponytail  under it.  Her daughters (in their early twenties) are taller and thin, and her husband just looks like a plain Joe. I could have followed them (and their rude guide) but instead I watched her using my peripheral vision while sneakily pretending to look at my phone.  I figure the woman deserves to have a hassle-free vacation with her family without a sort of/kind of fan following and staring at her.

So.  THAT VERY SAME DAY we missed my favorite band who just happened to be playing a concert in a park ONE MILE from where we walked that afternoon.  I leaked out a few tiny tears when I found out, and kept thinking that if we’d known, we could have lingered about and heard them outside the venue since it was just in a big park.  In the end I calmed myself by remembering we were not in London to see Bastille perform, and we had a perfect day seeing the sights we’d seen.

The very next day we spent the morning at the National Gallery, walked an hour to see one of my favorite artist’s (Yayoi Kusama) thrilling new exhibit at a small gallery on the edge of town, and after many tube stops, finally arrived at Westminster Abbey.  It was at the top of our list since the ridiculous coach tour we’d taken three summers ago had not included entry, yet we spent a teasing hour lolling about the lobby and gift shop.  We arrived  at the huge cathedral to find many people milling about outside the gates, but nobody going in. My family walked the entire periphery but I (per usual) cut to the chase by asking the uniformed man at the gate.  “Closed today for a special memorial service, mum.”  I looked around and sure enough, there were signs announcing the vigil marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.  The vigil remembers those lost in the battle, which claimed over one million lives and affected the lives of millions more at home during WWI. Those who took part on all sides of the Battle were represented, and the internet said all were welcome . . . but that was clearly complete HOGWASH because the uniformed men at the gate were keeping everyone out,  excepting the Very  Fancy People who were arriving in limos.  We had fun watching the swank guests arrive, and the next day found out the Queen (yes, THAT Queen) had arrived just minutes after we’d moved on to find a snack. A SNACK.  I missed seeing the Queen of England enter Westminster Abbey because we wanted a SNACK. (Kicks self in the arse.)

And yes, there’s more.  You remember I’m a fan of the band Florence + the Machine. You guessed it—she was playing Saturday afternoon at Hyde Park—which was only a half hour from where we were at the British Museum when I first heard the news.  After just missing Bastille, I was determined not to miss another opportunity and besides, Florence Welch is the coolest chick ever who happens to have the voice of an angel. I searched and found tickets were available but a) we had a full day planned, b) the tickets were expensive,  c) the concert was starting soon, and  d) the sky looked threatening.  Hip hip hooray for me that I did not insist upon seeing Florence because that afternoon, the rain came tumbling down sideways, drenching us from head to toe, the nasty wind inverting our umbrellas, ultimately causing us to board a bus to who-knows-where just to save ourselves from what seemed like an Emergency Situation.  Not the best day to be attending an expensive outdoor concert!

The final brush with greatness occurred days later in Edinburgh, at the East end of the Royal Mile.  It was our second day in this beautiful city, and William (Eagle Scout, Lover of Hiking) had requested we do a hike.  Lucky for us, there was a strange, yet accessible mountain called Arthur’s Seat which looked like what we in Arizona would call a butte.  Anyhoo, the bus system let us down and when we finally arrived to the little flat mountain, the weather was threatening, and because we had tickets to an underground ghost tour at 2pm, the hike was not doable.  William was disappointed, and because we didn’t have a Plan  B, we plunked down dejectedly at the edge of a fountain in front of the Scottish Parliament Building. It was our first low point of the trip, and we weren’t sure what to do.  The gates to Holyrood  Palace were right there, but we’d heard it was closed that week for some reason or other.

We began to notice crowds of well-dressed people walking toward the palace.  In fact, they looked so dressed up that we wondered if there was a wedding or a formal party.  After asking in a shop, we found at the Queen was visiting for one week and today was her big Garden Party!  As we shopped and lunched along the Royal Mile, I had fun watching all of the Fancy People in their finery, on their way to have tea with the Queen.  SO COOL.  Most women had a hat of some sort, even if it was only a “fascinator” which is a head band with some decorative stuff happening on the top of your head.  The following day, I met two people who had attended this party and they said it was to honor volunteers and also service men and women.  I closed my eyes and imagined what it would be like to curtsy for the Queen, then sip champagne and nibble sandwiches at a palace, but alas, that is not what we do here in America.

Tune in tomorrow for “The Many Sausages of the UK” when I’ll explain the mysterious Scottish dish of “neeps and tatties” and many other strange menu items seen on our trip to the UK.