Monday, October 20, 2008

Actual blog about the UK. Not just a video.

Category: Travel and Places
Someone emailed me and said he was enjoying my Travelogue YouTube videos immensely, BUT ... it's almost like watching the movie version of your favorite book. Not exactly as you envisioned the main characters. Not disappointing; just different.

So for today, I'm reverting to pen and paper. Or rather, aching fingers and a bizarro British keyboard where the @ is where the " should be and I haven't yet found the proper emdash.

Peter is watching "Shaun of the Dead" right now, as any good zombie-phile would be doing in October in Scotland. I am tempted to join him, but I've got so much going I'm feeling mentally constipated. I need to siphon it to a blog, so that I'm not thinking so much.

We've been here just long enough that things don't seem so strange anymore. I honestly enjoy driving on the left side of the road. It doesn't terrify me when a double-decker bus approaches me on a narrow cobblestone street. I still have a little trouble remember which way to look when I cross the street as a pedestrian. I just look both ways about four times each and all's well.

I am, however, planning on going on total detox when I get home. Touring has always been hard on the stomach, especially as a vegetarian. At home, I rarely eat dairy, but that's been nearly impossible on this trip. I haven't had much cheese, but it's all the other crap that is just commonplace in British lifestyle.

Breakfast is a massive heap of toast, eggs, and various fried animal parts or potatoes. Lunch is more fried things. And even my veggie burger I was thrilled to find at a restaurant last week came to me deep fried. There's a place here in Edinburgh that will deep fry anything you bring to them. I managed to find a vegan place in Glasgow, where I had vegan haggis with neeps and tatties (turnips and mashed potatoes). The Baked Potato Shop (tagline: "The hottest tatties in town!") is a vegetarian delight, with all sorts of treats to top off a baked potato. But I don't want to live on tatties forever.

A venue in Wolverhampton cooked broccoli and carrots for us (our rider asked for a homecooked meal -- cool!), and I about cried as I devoured a heaping plate of vegetables.

But mostly -- and I admit, it is a weakness of mine -- it has been: chips. No, not potato chips, my friends. Those are called "crisps" over here. Chips are french fries. But not just any french fries. They are divine wedges of tatties, deep fried to golden perfection, with the perfect crunch on the outside and mash on the in. It is impossible to resist them.

The British serve EVERYTHING with chips. I ordered veggie chili at a pub, and it came to me not in a bowl, but upon a pile of chips. My friend Danny ordered chicken curry ... and it came over chips.

They are sooooooooo good.

Thank goodness for all the walking we've done. Between the Scotch expert I've become (My Glaswegian friends couldn't believe I was able to drink not one, but two, of the "not-for-beginners-or-women" Scotches. At least that's what I think they said. It was hard to tell through that Glaswegian accent...) and the chip expert I have always been, I'm surprised my pants still fit.

But when I get home: vegan detox. I'm tired of my fingers and joints aching from all the crap I've been eating. First orders of business upon return: a massage, a pedicure, and a trip to Whole Foods.

Tonight, however, I'm going to dinner at The Sheep Heid Inn, the oldest Pub in Edinburgh, dating back to at least 1360. Mary Queen of Scots, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson frequented the pub. Tonight they'll be able to add two more names to the little plaque outside the building: Brigid Kaelin and Peter Searcy.

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