June 18, 2013
I spent far too much time trying to upload the Scotland gallery below this post so I won’t go into any detail tonight about the beauty of Bath, our exquisite dinner, or bursting into tears when I realized we were near the Jane Austen Museum.

We left Edinburgh this morning and caught the 4 hour train, which turned out to be the 7 hour train, to Bath. No, it wasn’t a train delay; it was me listening to MIke (ever the optimist) when he said he thought it was about 4 hours… Still it was better than driving, which I don’t think we would’ve survived. There’s something so wrong about the left side of the road thing although I’m sure it’s the same for Brits traveling in the states.

As we rode south, the sounds of Scottish voices gradually dropped away so that by Sheffield I could understand most of what I was hearing, usually when people were on their mobiles. Raising the voice while on a phone appears to be a universal phenomenon. I think it’s easier to understand British and US accents because they are so common on television and in movies. Think James Bond and Harry Potter, not to mention Downton Abbey. The French waiter in the Spanish restaurant in Edinburgh (it’s a global society we live in) commented last night that while he could understand Americans and the English, he couldn’t understand the Scottish or Irish very well. He may have an attitude problem because he acted like he couldn’t understand my high school French either….

I was thinking about words today and trying to come up with synonyms for UK colloquialisms. I think that “brilliant” is equivalent to “awesome” and that “cheers” is kind of an aloha word. It seems to mean “here” in the sense of “here’s your food so enjoy it” and “drink up” in the universal sense, and “thanks” in other instances. “Ta” is a one-syllable way to say good-bye and thanks. I think. Reading 17th and 18th century British literature hasn’t prepared me to integrate seamlessly into the culture, not that I haven’t tried.

Other observations about rail travel in the UK: No one offered to help me any of the times I struggled to drag my duffle from a train to the platform. I can’t imagine anywhere In the US where that would happen (not being helped I mean). Everyone was perfectly pleasant and readily answered questions. Maybe it’s impolite to offer physical assistance–as if there would be implied criticism if one helped. Or maybe I just looked scary with my tense expression and scary hair (both frizzy and limp). At Bristol-Temple-Mead, we had 3 minutes to tear down the stairs from one platform and up another set to a different platform to make a connection. (I kind of regret how many gifts we bought in Scotland, now that I’m schlepping them through Europe.) During that transfer I twisted my ankle while vaulting on to the platform with my bag a few seconds ahead of me (hence the jarring and the sprain). Several men who looked like Colin Firth smiled politely. I managed not to moan or swear and kept the stiff upper lip that must be a legacy of my genetic past.

And finally, a message to the elegantly dressed gentleman on the train into Bath Spa. He apparently had (I’m being charitable here) an itch deeply inside one nostril. You’re not invisible, Mate!

Off to bed–I’m knackered.