Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Royal Scots Greys

Yesterday as I described our assault on the Edinburgh Castle, I posted a picture of this crypt, having noted as I approached the single word causes Sarge to focus like a laser.  That word would be "Waterloo!"

As the inscription reads, the Ensign was able to capture the Standard of the French 45th Regiment from which the Royal Scots Greys Insignia was developed.


Near to the top of the Castle (not AT the top, but Near the top), were two regimental museums.  One for the Royal Dragoons and the other for the Royal Scots Greys.  Mrs Juvat was concerned about the missing baggage and wanted to call to see if there was any progress (or maybe to pause, sit down and catch her breath, or both), so she elected to avail herself of the bench outside whilst I was allowed to proceed in.

I'm pretty sure the brass medallion reads "Mrs Juvat was here, March 13, 2017"
The museum was fairly small, but had some pretty neat exhibits about the history of the regiment.  For the interested, more detail can be found here,  I will focus on a three choice exhibits that struck my fancy, mostly because of their tangential references to our beloved host.

The first of these exhibits was this one.

This handsome young Sergeant is doing what good Sergeants do best.  He's carrying his Officer on his back and out of harms way.  During the Battle at Waterloo, the Regimental Colors were being carried by Ensign Kennedy.  At some point, the Ensign was mortally wounded, and the Sergeant attempted to retrieve the colors from him.  The Ensign would not give them up, so the Sergeant picked him up and carried him off the field.

The French were so impressed, that they held fire until they were off the battlefield.

That little vignette hits so many of the "Juvat List of Personal Characteristics to Strive for in Life" that it is a must include.  The fact that is occurred at Sarge's personal favorite battle, was icing on the cake.

The second of the exhibits was this one.

Now, our Host calls himself "Old AF Sarge", and I suppose that's so on many levels.  However, he doesn't hold a candle to Sergeant William Hiseland.

During the Battle at MalPlaque, which for those of you who are not as versed in the Martial history of Europe in the late 1600's as Sarge is (that would be me), took place in the Wars of Spanish Succession and was the fourth victorious battle won by the Duke of Marlborough for the English.  (I know, NOW you remember!)

In any case, Sergeant Hiseland of the Royal Scots Greys took part in the battle at age 89.  That, in and of itself is fascinating, however, the good Sergeant survived the war, eventually retiring and taking his pension at 100.  He lived in a retirement home in Chelsea until he turned 103, then was kicked out because he got married.  Lived a blissful married life until finally passing at 112.

So...Sarge, My Friend, this diverticulitis thing?  You still got 50 years til your certifiably THE Old AF Sarge, better get back in the saddle.

Finally, there's this one.

At the battle of Malplaquet, on the other end of the age spectrum, was a 3 week old baby.  Private McBain's wife had delivered and decided to return to Scotland, so as he's marching off to the battle, she hands him his infant son.  Having no other options, he puts the child in his knapsack and goes off and fights the battle.

Now, before I left for Scotland, I had asked Sarge what his ancestral clans were just in case I ran across something cool from them.  He had said his paternal Grandmother was a "Bain".  Now, according to this site, one of the Septs (a family division) of MacBain is "Bain".

So...It's a small world isn't it?  Apparently, two of the Sarge's ancestors, fought in a large battle in the 1700's (and won!).  But...Do we really know if it was one of Sarge's ancestors in the knapsack?  or was it the OLD Sarge hisself?  Cue Twilight Zone music!

All kidding aside, The Royal Scots Greys have fought in many significant engagements throughout the years and have a lot of proud history behind them.  Spending a little time in their museum was enjoyable and enlightening.

Well worth the visit.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

On the Mend

HMS Queen Elizabeth after Jutland
So I've been in the 'yard undergoing maintenance for the better part of a week. I decided to stay home, in bed, and taking my antibiotics to get better, sooner.

It seems to be working as I feel a lot better today than I did Monday night, a scant five days ago. Even managed to take on some solid food yesterday with no adverse effects.

Juvat is keeping the shop up and running with his tales of the homeland. Well, my homeland anyway, more than half of my ancestors are Scots. The rest are mostly French with the odd Englishman or three in supporting roles. (They must have been odd, look at my sense of humor! Or humour, if it pleases the Court, of St. James.)

I expect to be back in harness soon.

That should buff right out!
HMS Chester after Jutland
It sucks to be laid up!

The Castle

Wrapped up the first week back at the old millstone job.  Juvat's rules for the ratio of time off and time you must remain cheerful is one order of magnitude.  If you take off for an hour, you only have to remain cheerful for 1 minute before ripping someone's face off.  A day equates to an hour and a week is a day.  That day expired Monday evening.  So...It's been a long week.

I need to revisit Scotland.


As mentioned yesterday, we had a few rocky periods on the vacation, but even the unlucky sicko's were enthusiastic about the trip.
Mrs J and Gary (pre-Fish and Chips)
Monday morning we awoke and looked out the window of our flat to see our objective for the day.  

Troops!  Today we will dine in the Castle Keep or die trying!    DAAAADDDD!
Yes, We're going to tour Edinburgh Castle, and see what there is to see.  Oh, and we might stop by and visit the Scotch Whisky Experience on the way back down.  The younger crowd was enthused by that option, hence, the "on the way back down".

The morning mess complete, the troops fall in and the assault begins.  The light infantry composed entirely of 20 and 30 somethings, quickly takes off and soon is beginning the ascent.  The heavy infantry brings up the trail and requires several stops during the ascent for a resupply of oxygen.  

And miles to go before we sleep
After defending our flanks against the delaying tactics of local merchants distracting us with pretty baubles, we arrive at the final assault point.
The King has deployed some skirmishers, but we will NOT be denied.

Well.....Except for a snapshot of Little Juvat and DIL
Onward we go

A short pause to check that the left flank is secure.  Yep, ain't nobody comin' up that way!

Troops! Halt!  Waterloo!  The tomb of a Dragoon who captured the standard from which the Royal Scots Greys emblem was designed.  Rest in Peace, Warrior, you've got a nice view.

Breeching the Castle's main gate was simple.  It merely required the downloading of £13 per attacking trooper.  

No great victory is without cost.  (I'm sure that will go down in history as a pithy comment and be properly attributed to me!  Yeah, juvat, right!)

Once inside, our attack recommences (after the requisite stop to resupply Oxygen).

We look upward at the Flag we must capture and are undaunted by the vertical distance remaining to be covered.  However, we do perform a careful analysis of the amount of Oxygen remaining compared to the amount required.  The Issue is in Doubt! (another Pithy comment by somebody or another)

Our Lead Element makes an Exciting discovery, a shortcut, obviously built by a very clever person.

Seizing the initiative, I leap upon the battlements and direct the fire of the main battery.

The response to my tactical brilliance by the troops was overwhelming.  Brought me nearly to tears, it did.

The attack is going swimmingly as the troops rush around another bend in the cobblestone.

Only to find:

Another Gate.  

Upon Breaching, we quickly captured the King's secret weapon of mass destruction (at least in 1529).

This Behemoth (notice the full sized live people on the other side) was known as Old Meg and it commanded a spectacular view field of fire.

The attack commenced from our flat circled in the left center of the picture.

The Batteries on this level clearly were the last line of defense as the Keep is in sight.

The Royal residence when the Queen is visiting.

Having captured the summit, we take a few minutes to savor our victory (and resupply ourselves with Oxygen).  

One of the sights we take in is this bit of unusual architecture.

We interview a few of the vanquished defenders as to its significance.

Ourselves not being knowledgeable about navigation during the age of sail, they were happy to provide us with that information. Seems that Sailing Ship Captains would use the Sextant to determine Latitude, but would require an accurate chronometer to determine their position.  So, the tower would drop a cannon ball at precisely 1300 every day.  Captains would use that signal to make the adjustment to their chronometer and then would proceed on their journey. Realizing in the late 1800s that weather could interfere with the ships being able to see the ball drop, it is became accompanied by the simultaneous firing of a Cannon (now a 105mm Howitzer, my camera decided to take a break and go to sleep, just as the shot was about to go.) The tower is now called the Lord Nelson Tower in honor of something he did at some point in his career or something.  I mentioned that it might be worth a visit, but was advised against it.

At this point, Mrs. Juvat and I decide to RTB as she needed to contact Bob, from Pakistan, to arrange a rendezvous with our baggage train.  Eventually she will succeed, but not today.

Fortunately, the Oxygen level in the air seemed to be quite a bit more robust on the way down.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Tour of Unfortunate Events

Well, we're back.

And we had a blast!

Sarge's ancestral home is beautiful, full of history, friendly people and magical elixers.

However, as with most things in life, in order to truly enjoy the good things, you must endure some hardships.  All the planning in the world can't prevent a setback or two.  Little Juvat was Chief of Plans for this trip, he was assisted by Mrs Juvat as the Billeting and Transportation Officer.  Our merry band of troops consisted of myself and Mrs Juvat, My Beautiful Daughter (MBD), Little Juvat and his lovely bride, our Winemaker friends Gary and Kathy, and three of Little Juvat's co-workers.

As the Transportation Officer, Mrs Juvat set about making reservations for the trip from London to Edinburgh.  For whatever reason, when the initial plan was dispersed, the first name on the list was for "Clarence".  Now, not ever having met the man,she assumed that she was provided with the correct information, and so made reservations on the Virgin East Coast train from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Wimberly stations for all of us including "Clarence".

For some reason, travel authorities these days want the name on the reservation to match the name on the passport.  We actually met Clarence in London,  where I walked up and introduced my self.

"Hi, Clarence, I'm Juvat!"

An extremely puzzled look came over his face.  Unfortunately, Clarence's real name is Thomas.

Apologies were extended, and a quick stop at the Virgin East Coast's website got the reservations straightened out, that night at dinner (Fish and Chips and Guinness) we held an impromptu Tour Tactical Call Sign Committee meeting and "Clarence" was bestowed.  A round of Guinness purchased by the newly renamed member of the Tour Company sealed the deal.

Behold, Clarence Thomas.

Great guy with a huge sense of humor, he and MBD hit it off and were tour buddies.

Unfortunately, when we got off the airplane at Heathrow, cleared immigration and went to baggage claim, my bag was circling the rack, but my DIL and beloved wife's were AWOL.  Went to the lost luggage area and entered the queue (normally I would have said Line, but this is England!).  When we got to the the head of the queue, the gentleman asked where we'd traveled from.  We told him Austin and he mentioned that all the people ahead of us also embarked there.

Our theory was the bags were loaded on the last trolley in the train and someone forgot to latch that one to the next to last.  Took off for the jet and left it at the station.

"No Worries, it'll be on the next flight."

"When will that be?"

"Tomorrow, same time"

"We'll be on the train to Edinburgh"


Three days later, the ladies were reunited with their luggage.

A joyful reunion it was.

So...We're in Edinburgh (pronounced Ed'in Burrr a) and head out for dinner.  It's fairly late, Edinburgh time, but not for us.  The only restaurant we can find within a comfortable walking distance is a Tapas joint.

Sarge has already blogged on Tapas, and that was a factor in our selection. Hunger may have had a role in our perception, but it was fabulous.  Spanish Rioja was involved also.

Back to our B and B and a good nights sleep.

The next day, we're up early (ish), for breakfast at an Italian joint. Today will be history day.  You may have figured out by now, that Sarge isn't the only amateur historian in the crew. So, we're going to wander Old Town and specifically Edinburgh Castle.

I am not an Army guy, but even I could look at that castle and see that it was virtually impregnable.

Old Town was very interesting, and we spent quite a bit of time wandering around.  The old side of the group sporting 2 replaced knees, 2 bad knees, 3 bad backs and a bad neck, peaked early and RTB'd for a well earned nap and a bit of liquid pain killer.

Dinner was back at the Italian Restaurant, where the wait staff was from Romania.  (Hey, it's like Rome, right?)

We need to get back to the room so we can contact the Airline Baggage guy AGAIN!  His name was Bob, he was from Pakistan.

We explain to him that we are departing early that next morning and would be in very small villages and unreachable for the next 4 days.  They needed to get the bags to us ASAP.

Bob told us the bags were on a courier truck, but they didn't know the B and B  flat number.

We tell Bob to have the courier call us directly.  International Cell @ $10/day was a godsend.

As I said, shortly after we went to bed, there's a loud knock on the door and "Praise the Lord" the bags have arrived.

Off the next morning on our tour.  The tour company was named Rabbies.  I wholeheartedly recommend them.  Our tour guide/driver was a young guy named Daniel.  A history major in college, he was a godsend for the amateurs in the group.  And, as things transpired, did way more than he had signed up for.

So, we're driving up the highway to get to the River Spey, when we're about to cross the Firth of Forth.  I asked if we might stop and he pulls over at a small sightseeing spot.  Daniel proceeds to tell us about the little islands in the Firth that looked kind of like warships.

That was by design to deter German U-Boats.  Unfortunately, it wasn't entirely successful.  He did point out an interesting development off in the distance.  The British Navy's new Aircraft Carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

  Unfortunately, my picture from my little camera doesn't do it justice.

Back on the bus, and up through Perth and into Cairngorms National park (pronounced Carren' gorms with a pronounced roll of the Rs).

Beautiful drive through valleys sided by steep hilled mountains.  I spent the time assessing how many G's it would take for my F-15 to successfully transition from one Valley to another.

MBD, who suffers from Motion Sickness, didn't appreciate the trip as much.

We arrive in the small town of Braemar, and had lunch at a lovely hotel with an all-in-one Bar and Restaurant, I believe they call it a "Pub".

For some reason, I had a hankerin' for Fish and Chips and a Guinness.
I realized a little late that Sarge's requirement for pictures of food in pristine condition was not going to happen.

Our lovely waitress produced said sustenance in a prompt manner and responded to our thanks in a pronounced Slovakian accent.  Or maybe it was just my understanding of her Scottish Accent.

Dramamine for one  and other snooze inducing agents for the rest consumed, we're back on the road and finally arrive at our first tour stop.

The Glenlivet.

A very nice gentleman proceeded to escort us around the plant.  Evidently, as evidenced by the same series of presentations at four distilleries with minor variations, Barley is combined with water and allowed to ferment into a form of beer called wort.  This wort is then heated to specific temperatures until the alcohol evaporates.  That alcohol is then collected in three stages, the high alcohol, the correct level of alcohol and the low alcohol.  The correct alcohol is saved and the other two are combined and refermented to again extract the three stages.  This continues until the wort is basically completely converted.  What remains is called Pot Ale and is fed to the local livestock.  Lucky Beasts!

At that point, the alcohol is poured into barrels and allowed to ferment for a long time.

A bottle from this barrel retails for 15,000 pounds.  I don't know if there's any significance to the year. Sarge, any ideas?

After touring each of the distilleries, there was the requisite tasting.  Glenlivet and Macallan had 5 pours of about a 1/2 ounce each.  Glenfarclas had two pours of about an ounce. and Dalwhinnie had tastings combined with Chocolate.

For Lunch the second day, we stopped in the village of Tomintoul and visited The Whisky Castle which was a retail shop that featured Whiskys from all over Scotland (and apparently ships to the states, more to follow on this).  Tasted a few and bought one, a peaty Whiskey from Caol Ila (pronounced Cal'-Eel-Ah).

My nut allergic Son learned an important cooking lesson.  Little did he know Pesto is made with nuts. So his Turkey and Cheese with Pesto sandwich had unfortunate ramifications for him.  Later he asked me why he never had issues with the Pesto I made for him.  Lessee....I know you're allergic to nuts.  Hence I don't make it with them.  It's a Dad Thing!

We finish up the second day at Glenfarclas and travel back to our staging point in the quiet village of Aviemore (pronounced Av-eee'-more) where we visited a nice pub for dinner.

The young set is a little slow in getting to the restaurant, so the older generation settles in to a table and orders dinner.  MBD and Kathy order a salad.  I'm solidly looking for my 4th or 5th round of Fish and Chips for my meal, but the waitress starts with my wife, who orders Fish and Chips and then moves to Gary, the elder statesman of the group, who orders Fish and Chips.  At the last minute, I decide not to jump on the bandwagon and order what turns out to be a very nice braised Lamb Shank.  Top that off with a nice Australian Syraz and finish the evening with a neat Glenlivet Nadurra, Port Barrel.

Very relaxed we head back to our quarters, completely unaware of the impending issues.

Did you know that there is a form of Food Poisoning called Scombroid that comes from Fish?  Talk about a ticking time bomb.  If the fish is mishandled anywhere along the food chain, a histamine can be produced that causes acute, very violent, shall we say offloading events.  So, a few hours later, I awaken to the sounds of my beloved wife having a sincere discussion with the toilet.  I try to see if there's anything I can do, but no.  I stumble down to Gary and Kathy's room to see if they have anything for nausea (they are pharmacists in addition to Winemakers), only to find that Gary is experiencing the exact same issue.

This goes on all night.  In the morning I stumble down to the local Tesco (British Safeway), to see what they have over the counter to relieve the symptoms.  The two wounded birds are alternately sleeping and visiting the facilities.

The tour plan for the day is to visit Dalwhinnie then recover in Edinburgh for the train to London that evening.

Daniel arrives and we explain the situation, asking if he can take the young set to Dalwhinnie and then come back and pick us up on the way back to Edinburgh.  My navigation skills were somewhat lacking as Dalwhinnie is south of Aviemore and Edinburgh is south of Dalwhinnie.

Nevertheless, Daniel agrees to drop the kids off at Dalwhinnie and then drive back to Aviemore, pick us up and then drive back to Dalwhinnie, pick up the kids and then drive to Edinburgh.  That bought Mrs Juvat and Gary about 3 hours more sleep.

The trip to Edinburgh was mostly uneventful, although there were a few unscheduled stops.  The trip back to London for my Family was OK, Mrs. Juvat was clearly on the mend although not anywhere near mil power.

The next day we walked around at Westminster Abbey and crossed the Westminster bridge (what a difference a week makes), but Mrs Juvat faded pretty fast, so she and I returned to the hotel early.

The next morning, we boarded a 787, a really neat airplane.  The entertainment console has an option called window seat.  It allows you to select the left or right window and look outside on your console.  It also has a setting that allows you to select the cockpit view, which includes the HUD.

One guess where my console was for the entire flight.

So...While we thought our group was composed of 10 people, evidently we had a stowaway named Joe Btsplk tagging along.  He won't be invited next time.
In spite of a rash of bad luck, we had a blast, and Scotland ranks right beside New Zealand as my favorite places I've visited.  If you're looking for a recommendation, it has the Juvat Seal of Approval.

I'm sure Scottish Tourism stats will go through the roof now!
Added for Brigid, This was the bar at the Pub in question.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Aircraft Carrier

Atlantic Ocean (June 20, 2004) – The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) transits along the East Coast while participating in Summer Pulse 2004. Truman is one of seven aircraft carriers involved in Summer Pulse 2004. Summer Pulse 2004 is the simultaneous deployment of seven aircraft carrier strike groups (CSGs), demonstrating the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat power across the globe, in five theaters with other U.S., allied, and coalition military forces. Summer Pulse is the Navy’s first deployment under its new Fleet Response Plan (FRP). U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Ryan O'Connor (RELEASED)
I have been to sea on an aircraft carrier twice. Each time for just a day. Once on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower with The Nuke (I also had Christmas dinner on the Ike one year) and once on the USS Ronald Reagan with The WSO. My buddy Glenn (aka ORPO1) was along for that ride as well.

Rode USS Dwight D. Eisenhower out of Norfolk, rode USS Ronald Reagan out of Sandy Eggo. As The Nuke was part of ship's company on the Ike I got to see that side of things, as The WSO was in USS Ronald Reagan's air wing, I saw that side as well. Well, a brief glimpse, nothing more. Try doing their jobs for six to eight months at sea. Whole different thing. (I should note that Glenn was an airedale when he was in the Navy, so I got a unique take on the enlisted side of things in the air wing from him.)

So I have a thing for carriers and the men and women who crew them and fly off the flight deck to go in harm's way. While I'm still under the weather (aka "feel like crap") and while I do love cats, no funny kitten videos today (though I did like your suggestion Tuna), no sir, no ma'am. I give you another documentary, this one on the aircraft carrier. Good stuff.

A wee bit long but interesting and educational.

And I'm all about interesting and educational.

No, really.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Almost Forgot...

Started doing this blogging thing five years ago today.

Five years, 2,078 posts (including this one), 1,246,004 page views, and 29,560 comments. So far. And I'm still enjoying it.

Five years ago it was just me. Now I've got Juvat and Tuna. They have contributed a great deal. (Now I've just got to get down to Texas to actually meet Juvat in the flesh. Heck, I see Tuna all the time now, and that's a good thing!)

Mustn't forget Colin Kimball either, while he's not a regular he has contributed a few, very well received, guest posts. (Haven't met Colin in person, yet, but we have chatted on the phone. Which is something as I ain't a big phone guy. Never know what to say and all that. If I get to Texas I need to look him up as well.)

Thanks to all those guys.

While the diverticulitis might get me down, it's not going to knock me out.

Here's looking forward to many more years of this blogging thing.

Tip o' the hat to all my readers, I suppose I could do it without you, but what would be the point?

Now, back to bed. Though I am feeling significantly better today, a clear liquid diet doesn't induce one to be very active.


Battered and Bruised, But Still Afloat

Got home from work on Monday, felt okay. But as the evening wore on, I started to feel this nasty, oh-so-familiar pain down low on the left side of my belly.

No sleep was to be had Tuesday night, there was no comfortable position with that pain flaring up.

Yup, my old friend diverticulitis has apparently returned.

Spent most of the day at my Doctor's office, many tests, much blood work (I feel like a pin cushion), then it was off to get a CAT scan...

Alright, alright, a "CT scan."

Where many holes were punched in Yours Truly in order to inject the contrast. Yeah, that was fun.

Like the lady at the CT scan said, "Man, if you keep this up, they won't be able to call you semi-colon. You're running out of gut my friend!"

A kind word or two directed skywards would be much appreciated.

Dang. It is always sumthin'.