Edinburgh: Day 2

Not as big a day as yesterday, I only managed 15,000 steps over 12km, however there were a few Uber’s taken instead of very long walks. Among those was a trip down to Leith to board the Royal Yacht Britannia, a major drawcard for tourists. We both felt the Britannia was more interesting than the Castle or the Palace.

As previously mentioned, we followed the Britannia with lunch the The Kitchin (review), which was an amazing experience.

After some canapés in the club lounge this evening we made our way to The Dome to check out the amazing architecture and try a steak, two for £30 with unlimited fries. However, we found the serving of the dinner quite peculiar. We ordered blue, but were served the steaks on heated plates, with the steaks sat on a heated pedestal, and the unlimited fries had to be asked for by a server. If a server came round and saw you were low on steak on your plate they would serve you some more from the pedestal. I almost expected them to help chew it for me!

Following dinner we took a walk up Calton Hill, one of the first public walking trails in the world (or Scotland/the UK… I can’t recall what the sign said exactly). The view was stunning, as you can see. These photos were taken shortly before 10pm, in case you needed any more proof that daylight hours here are nuts!

Edinburgh: Day 1

I’m tired, it’s 19:30 and the sun won’t set for another 3 hours! It’s not jet lag, it’s the fact that today I walked 25,128 steps, totalling over 20km. I enjoyed the walks between the hotel and the various sights, but it has left me burnt out before dark! I couldn’t even survive a walk into town for dinner tonight, so it’s lucky I have club lounge access. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me share with you some photos of my day.

We went for breakfast at The Edinburgh Larder in the old town. We both had a full breakfast and that gave us the energy we needed to power through the day. The black pudding on my plate (Dee-Anne didn’t have any) was delicious!

Following breakfast we headed up the road to Edinburgh Castle where there was a big line of tourists waiting to get in. It was just good timing that we arrived not long before opening time, however the mix of nationalities proved there’s no room for manners anymore, as the line became a mob as soon as the entry opened and we soon lost our good spot. For once, it wasn’t the Chinese that were the worst, though they did like walking in front of me every chance they got. Manners: it’s so simple!

We had a whirlwind tour of the castle. There was a lot of history in various rooms and you could have spent all day there, but I get bored easily, so chose the smarter option of just taking things in and moving on to the next attraction. We got through the whole castle in not much more than an hour.

Following the castle we headed back into old town and chose to check out the National Museum of Scotland, along with far too many school children! Plenty of exhibits to see and a lot of interactive ones to get hands on with. A really cool museum.

We didn’t stay for long though, as while it was chilly outside, they were using every radiator inside. We got far too hot too quickly and longed for the cool air again, something we didn’t think we’d want after stepping out of the hotel this morning. We headed back to the hotel to rest for a bit, before setting out to the Palace of Holyrood, just down the road from the hotel.

Manners were a bit better at this attraction, and we had a good look around the house before the gardens. On leaving, we headed to the Scottish Parliament, located across the road, and we were able to sit in the chamber and watch the gears turn.

We took a walk down Princes Street in the late afternoon (or what I would call such a thing – before 5… but what happens if the sun sets after 10) to check out the new town and trendy shops and that brings me to where I am now, failing to keep my eyes open as sleep takes hold of me. What will tomorrow bring?

Cockpit Visit

Arriving into London Heathrow on Monday afternoon we were invited to the cockpit on landing for a photo opportunity. During the flight Dee-Anne and I had spent some time in the back galley of the upstairs economy section talking with the various crew members and were looked after superbly by them. I can’t praise Jimmy and Eugene enough for putting up with us when the rest of the cabin was sleeping or watching movies on QF9. It’s times like this flight where I am so happy to be a frequent flyer of Qantas.

Holiday Inn Express, Brisbane

As my European holiday is about to start, I have taken an award night through IHG at the new Holiday Inn Express, Brisbane. Brand new, only 8 weeks since opening, we found the room adequate for a budget hotel and nicely styled inside. It was a short walk from Central train station and not hard to find. The views were as you would expect from an inner-city location.

It wasn’t just the room that was stylishly decorated. The Holiday Inn Express model is that every booking comes with a free breakfast and the dining hall was impressively styled. I didn’t get a photo unfortunately, but the checkin-counters and bar area shared the same space, allowing for minimal staff as they operated both stations. I found it quite a smart design.

We had a small bite to eat before heading to the airport and walked away impressed with the experience. It’s certainly a welcome addition to Brisbane.

The Quest for Platinum

If you are reading my blog it should come as no surprise to you that travel is a big part of my life. I enjoy it. I also enjoy the perks that come with a lot of frequent travel and even strive to attain those perks. A few years ago, this took me right to the top echelons of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program when I attained Platinum One status. The year that followed was certainly worth it, in my eyes. This entry isn’t about aiming for that level again, as I just don’t have the time or money for that. However, I recently dropped back to Gold, having been a Platinum (or higher) frequent flyer member for the last 4-5 years. I was happy and ready to accept that fate, when a double status credit offer appeared in my inbox and suddenly all bets were off.

Over a long weekend in April I took 12 flights that placed me back in the Platinum arena for the next two years. Where I go from there is unknown and is not important. This entry serves as a record of that journey in pictoral form. I don’t think anyone needs to know what it cost, except to note it was extremely good value. 

Travels in 2016

This is a rather late entry, as I realise I forgot to do a 2016 travel recap. I had a little more activity than the previous year, travelling as far West as Perth and as far East as Fiji.

Despite the slightly larger map, I only flew one more flight comparatively, and not many more thousand kilometres. That said, 2017 looks set to be a huge year. But you’ll need to wait till the end of the year to hear more.

Haematology

For those following along with the health of my blood, you will know that I took a blood test last week, in preparation for a haematologist appointment this morning. As I pretty much already knew before taking the test – and confirmed at todays appointment – my Neutrophil count is again low. The reason I knew this was because it took a very long time to get over a sore throat/associated congestion a few weeks back, and I have been feeling very tired lately. Both tell tale signs for me that my white blood cell count is low, based on previous experience.

While Lupus has been ruled out as a diagnosis, the rolling hills of my Neutrophil count mean we are taking a watch and see attitude. My last count was 2.2 when they found out there was nothing wrong with my bone marrow (fun test by the way), while today it was 1.1. I’m told, if it goes below 1.0 again (the previous trigger for the bone marrow test) and remains consistently low, I may get special injections to boost the white blood cells.

My next blood test will be before my dental surgery in July.

Yananyi Dreaming

While I was visiting Uluṟu recently I had the chance to take home some artwork with me. Something to remember my time by. I saw a few I liked, but nearly missed out completely as we were initially focused on getting something both Dee-Anne and I liked – and we simply couldn’t agree. On the last full day I saw a work in progress though and decided no matter what, I’d take it.

Francine Kulitja

When I saw it at first it was still in progress, but I expressed an interest and luckily by the end of the day, it was complete.

I’m not sure what drew me to it exactly, although I do like dot paintings and having previously kept lizards in Hong Kong I expect it was that. However the biggest revelation was to come when I got home.

On a whim, I decided to google the artist, Francine Kulitja. Naturally, there’s not a lot of information available online, but her work (that is similar to mine) was announced as inspiration for a tourism business in Uluṟu late last year. In that announcement it mentions that her mother, Rene Kulitja, is famous for a Qantas plane design. Suddenly my choice of artwork comes full circle, as I have always had a love for the Boeing 737-800 Yananyi Dreaming, and soon I shall have art on my wall that evokes a familiar feeling.

Dougie Howser

I’ve felt a little like Dougie Howser this week, where at the end of each episode he sits at his computer and contemplates what he has learnt. In a not too dissimilar position I’m also contemplating a life and death decision. That of my dog.

She’s 16 and a half and getting quite frail, and as she lives with me I have the ultimate responsibility, the only discretion, in whether she continues living or is put down. It’s not a decision I am looking forward to making.

While we were away at Uluru recently she was in a kennel, a supposedly very good one. However she came back with a UTI (urinary tract infection) and that necessitated a trip to the vets for some antibiotics. The vet informed me that she had very little muscle left in her hind legs and was very thin, the latter of which I knew already. She’s dropped to 18kg. It was suggested to me that she would be in pain, but wouldn’t tell me she was and would keep on doing her best for as long as she could. This I’m told wouldn’t be fair to her.

Trouble is, when I look at her she’s happy to see me, she doesn’t whimper and she does get up and move around. Sure, she’s a little weak in the legs sometimes, but she is the equivalent of 112 years old!

Over the past few days she’s had good and bad times. Bad times are when I find her effectively shivering, unsure if it’s cold or a muscle spasm. I don’t want to prolong her life if she’s in pain, but I don’t want to end it if she isn’t and I don’t want this decision in my hands.

If euthanasia is illegal, why can I put down my dog? Our bond is just as strong.

I have people to talk to, but at the same time I don’t want to speak about it. I have too many questions.