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Because Vacation Is More Fun When You’ve Planned Absolutely None Of It In Advance

I forgot to mention that we’re going to Scotland.  And maybe England.  Hell, we might get lost and end up in Wales.  We’re really not sure.  Scott thought I was planning the trip and I thought Scott was planning the trip–until last night, when we found the Scotland guidebook under the couch, in mint condition, with the receipt still in it.


All we know, at this point, is that Scott has a conference in Glasgow.  A Chemical Weapons Demilitarization Conference, to be exact.  I’m not sure what that is, but it comes with a hotel and a rental car.  So while Scott sits around with a bunch of international science dorks, I’ll putter about town.  And I say “putter” because I’ll be on foot.  There is no freaking way I’m going to drive the rental car by myself.

I hate rental cars.

First of all, I don’t like being responsible for expensive things.  I have a pre-owned 1994 Volvo precisely because it’s worth less than a new hair dryer.

Second, I’m not a great driver.  For example, I parked my car in the middle of a busy road last week because I saw a stray dog.  A few other bad drivers stopped too, and together we ran after the dog while the good drivers waited.  At first the dog looked really mangy, and then it looked more like a wolf, and then it bit a dude.  True story.

The point, my friends, is that I don’t like rental cars.  And p.s.– you should check on your local wolf situation.  You’d be surprised.

Thunder will be staying with my parents while we’re gone.  It’s really awesome of them to take her because her favorite thing to do is pee all over their house.  She’s 100% potty-trained in Alabama but when she crosses the border into Virginia, it’s go time.  Her favorite place to pee is next to the piano in my parents’ living room.

It’s the first time the piano has been used for anything since 1988.

Because we’re leaving soon, I’m using up everything in the refrigerator: leeks, cheese, proscuitto, eggs.  We can make a dinner out of pretty much anything as long as we have good bread to go with it.

This bread:

I’ve never made bread with a crust as perfect as this before.  It’s chewy on the inside and crunchy on the outside.  It’s got nice air pockets on the inside that hold butter or olive oil nicely when you serve it.  It tastes a little like sourdough.  That’s a big deal over here.

I can see why people went nuts over it when it was published in the New York Times in 2006.  You don’t have to knead it. You get the awesome crust by baking it in an oven-safe pot with a lid.  Technically it takes 15-25 hours to make, but it’s super easy because you barely have to do anything.  Just take note of the timing before you start:

1. You do a quick thing and it rests 12-22 hours (I did 22 hours)

2. You do a quick thing and it rests 15 minutes.

3. You do a quick thing and it rests 2 hours.

4. It bakes for about 45 minutes.

So here’s a shout out to Scott’s boss, Phil, who recommended this recipe.  And who probably has something to do with the invitation to Scotland?  Dunno.  Like I said, very little is clear at this point.

Crusty Bread {Download & Print Recipe}

{A slightly modified version of New York Times’ adaptation of Jim Lahey’s recipe from the Sullivan Street Bakery}


3 c. flour, plus more for work surface

1/4 tsp. instant (highly active) yeast

1 1/4 tsp. salt

olive oil, as needed

cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed (optional)


In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast and salt.  Add 1 1/2 c. water and stir until blended.  Dough will be shaggy and sticky.

Coat a second large bowl with olive oil.  Transfer dough to the oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rest at least 12 hours, and preferably 18-22 hours [I did 22 hours], in a room about 70 degrees in temperature.  The surface of the dough will be dotted with bubbles.

Lightly flour a work surface.  Place the dough on it and sprinkle it with more flour.  Fold the dough over on itself once or twice.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle just enough flour over the work surface and your fingers to keep the dough from sticking.  Quickly and gently shape the dough into a ball.  Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, cornmeal or wheat bran. [I used cornmeal.]  Place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust it with more flour, cornmeal or wheat bean.  Cover it with a second towel and let it rise about 2 hours, until it has more than doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Place a 4-8 quart heavy covered pot, such as a cast-iron or Pyrex, in the oven as it heats.  When the dough has fully risen, carefully remove the pot from the oven.  Remove the top towel from the dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel.  Turn the dough over into a pot, seam side up.

Shake the pan once or twice if the dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.  Cover and bake 30 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking until browned, 15-30 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Makes a 1 1/2 lb. loaf.


It’s going to be hard not having this little loaf with us on our trip.

But my mom goes heavy on the treats, so she’ll be okay.

p.s. If you live in Scotland or northwest England, or you’ve been, help a girl out!  Let me know what we should do.  We’ll be in Edinburgh and Glasgow and then we’re thinking of going up into the Highlands and maybe dipping down into the Lake District.  Thoughts?

102 Comments Post a comment
  1. Like the saying goes sometimes the journey is better than the destantion, so just enjoy and explore:) Have a Great Day – Happy Packing!

    May 9, 2012
    • Happy Packing is right! I haven’t started yet and have to have it done before I drive 9 hours tomorrow– I have a wedding to go to in Virginia before we go to Scotland. I just put away all my fall clothes, but shall dig through them again for rain-worthy Scottish wear!

      May 10, 2012
  2. Haha! Hope you have a great trip. My husband’s from England (but not the northwest part), and we’ve traveled up to Edinburgh. One of my favorite places we’ve been is the Lake District. We went to Ambleside and a bunch of other cool-named-places and stayed in a B&B nearby that was totally made of stone, and the owner raved about how it was so cool that we lived in a wooden house (?!?!?!). Yeah. Way cooler than hundreds of years old stone. Uh huh.

    OMG! I just Googled one of our favorite restaurants that we went to twice (but years ago–could be horrible now but I doubt it): It was called “Lucy’s on a Plate” and was in Ambleside and had the cutest atmosphere and TO DIE FOR food. Let me know if you go!

    Oh. Also: you may have already been gifted, but I listed you for the “Beautiful Blogger” award: Congrats!

    May 9, 2012
    • Um, Lucy’s of Ambleside looks adorable, and they’re looking for a manager of their cookery school! ANNE, hold me back!! (Not that I’m qualified, but I wonder if they’d give me the job if I just stood in their office and cried for an awkwardly long time….)

      Thanks for the recommendation– I’m going to check out how far Ambleside is from Glasgow and see if we can work it in. It sounds lovely. And thank you for the beautiful blogger award! It’s very kind of you. I really like your site and it’s an honor to be referenced on it.

      May 10, 2012
  3. Have a fantastic time across the pond! I’ve never been, though I did conduct a lot of business phone conversations to Ireland at one time. See how international I am? Try not to be jealous. Also, avoid being bitten by anything over there. I’ve heard they have werewolves or summat. In the mean time, I’ll be biting the HECK out of that bread!

    May 9, 2012
    • Brooke, how did you manage those phone calls? I would never have gotten any work done because I would have fallen in love with every voice I heard on the other end of the line. I’d be a harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.

      May 10, 2012
      • Well, I was talking to a guy named Dermot most of the time and I was pretty focused on figuring out what in the heck he was saying in the first place. I never did figure out what he said when he answered the phone. The only word I could decipher was “Dermot.” And mostly we were talking about grammar and computer parts. Seriously unsexy.

        May 10, 2012
  4. I have seen this bread a couple of times but have never tried to make it. I’m going to try it someday because I like crusty and chewy. By the way my mother drives a 1984 Volvo (she got it new though). Enjoy your holiday.

    May 9, 2012
    • The 1984 volvo–that is awesome. I wonder what the bluebook value is on that baby. I think you’ll love the bread if you like chewy and crusty. It’s the kind of bread you have to rip into with your teeth. I’m a huge fan.

      May 10, 2012
  5. We loved that bread for a while then somehow lost the ability to plan a day in advance. You can obviously do that, so you’ll be fine on your trip! We loved the Isle of Skye. My most important tip is to take a thermos that you can fill with hot tea every morning, otherwise you’ll be jealous of all the other travelers having “tea and biscuits” (meaning COOKIES, how cool is that? I love cookies!) at every rest stop.

    May 9, 2012
    • This is great advice! I wouldn’t have thought to bring a thermos, but now I will. The biscuit situation sounds like a dream come true. I was thinking about the Isle of Skye. With a name like that, it’s hard not to want to go!

      May 10, 2012
  6. And don’t forget the whole driving on the left side of the road thing!

    Scotland is wonderful! I just spent a week there last month. Every one told me I would love Edinburgh but even that didn’t prepare me for how wonderful it was! We had a fantastic pork sandwich at Oink (whole hog roast!!) and I highly recommend it!

    Try to get up to Skye if you can. Really lovely! I quite enjoyed Oban as well.

    We went without much of a plan too. It’s pretty easy to just drive into a town, spot a nice B&B, and check in!

    Have fun!!

    May 9, 2012
    • Lindsay, when Scott sees the pork sandwich on Oink’s homepage, he’s going to do a little dance. I’m so glad you recommended it. Thank you!

      Did you happen to do a distillery tour at Oban? I’ve had that scotch before (I don’t really like Scotch, but I don’t think I can say that on this trip…)

      May 10, 2012
      • No, but that would have been a fun idea! (I don’t drink it either.)

        Oh, and if you go to Oink I recommend the BIG size. It’s just that good!

        May 13, 2012
  7. Funny, when you mention your driving fears, you didn’t mention the left side of the road. When I moved to England, I found that switch absolutely terrifying – swore I would never drive. Of course, I did learn and adapted quickly. Yet somehow our fears seem insurmountable until we overcome them 🙂

    UK ideas for you: Edinburgh – beside the obvious Castle, walk to Arthur’s seat from Holyrood and have tea (the proper British kind) at the Balmoral Hotel. If you like design, don’t miss the CR Macintosh stuff in Glascow. And do go to the Lake District – in my humble opinion one of the most beautiful places in the UK (which is chock full of beautiful places). Hike the footpaths (anywhere in the UK), but be-like-a-Brit and sure to get OS maps before you go.

    E-mail me directly via my blog if you want more info or to see pics. We spent two glorious years there and love the place. Have fun!

    P.S. I read your blog when I have time – love your writing style and that dog.

    May 9, 2012
    • I cannot WAIT to have a proper tea. It’s going to make me so happy. Clotted cream! Jam! Cakes and LITTLE SANDWICHES WITH CUCUMBERS! I mean, I really can’t think of anything more lovely. I do hope we have time to poke around the Scottish countryside AND go to the Lake District– a lot of people are saying the Lake District is wonderful.

      Um, knowing how easy it is for Scott and me to get lost, the map detail in your comment is extremely helpful. Thanks for the kind words!

      May 10, 2012
  8. I’ve been to Edinburgh a few times – most recently in February with the hubby. The first time I’d just been dumped, via payphone, in Dublin, by my BF in Paris. True story; instead of going to Paris as planned, I high tailed it to explore the UK. The next few times I went for business, and ended up having to buy 2 suits and shoes because they’d lost my luggage & the shirt I wore on the plane had a massive hole in the armpit. Also, I was wearing runners. Neither would do for my meetings. Anywhoo, in Edinburgh, obs visit the castle, then walk down the Royal Mile, and then walk up the hill at the bottom (Arthur’s seat, next to Holyrood Palace). I have a feeling that you would really enjoy the Literary Pub Tour that leaves from the Haymarket. I met some great guys on that tour a few years ago, and am still in contact with one on FB; I expensed a bottle of champagne for the 3 of us for my dinner one night. Free champagne = lifelong friends. I’ve done ghost tours a few times, but the one we did in Feb kind of sucked, so I won’t really give a recommendation there — the one that goes into the graveyard was fun. I didn’t see it advertised last time I was there, but if you can find the Tenement Museum on the Royal Mile, it’s worthwhile. I never did find any food that I was all that interested in in Edinburgh — if you find any amazing joints, let me know. Of course, late-night kababs are required.

    May 9, 2012
    • Wow–dumped via payphone in Dublin by a boyfriend in Paris, eh? What an ass. It’s actually good to know that happened to you. It kind of puts a floor on the trip. Now, as long as Scott doesn’t doesn’t dump me via phone while we’re over there (or vice versa), I’ll consider the trip a success. The last late-night kebab I had was in Oxford–years ago. I’m overdue for another.

      There was a literary pub tour in Brooklyn that I missed last year because I was traveling. I remember thinking it was the coolest idea ever, so thank you for letting me know about this one–it’s exactly the sort of thing I’d love!

      I’m still in touch with some people I met traveling, too. I rarely message them, but it’s kind of nice knowing that they’re there and that they remember the magic too.

      May 16, 2012
  9. I’ve also seen this bread a few times, but haven’t tried it. Yours looks wonderful. I gotta try it soon!

    May 9, 2012
    • The crust! Oh, the crust! I hope you like it.

      May 16, 2012
  10. Brilliant timing. I’m going to Edinburgh and Glasgow at the end of the month (for a conference as well, but not one on weapons), so now I can read about great bread and see what everyone else found worthwhile to do there!

    May 9, 2012
    • Your conference sounds WAY cooler than Scott’s conference on weapons. Or anti-weapons. Or whatever. The spaces of (dis)location? Sounds so interesting. I took a class about law and public spaces once–it was all about zoning and freedom of speech and the urban landscape, and philosophical and legal issues surrounding the erection of monuments. I loved it. Have fun, and good luck presenting your paper!

      May 16, 2012
      • Thanks! I’m looking forward to presenting my paper- but mostly about getting to see some of Scotland. Have a great time on your holidays!

        May 18, 2012
  11. I was just talking with a Scotswoman (?) the other day, and all of the things on your itinerary were on her must see list, so it looks like you’re all set!! I’m sorry the details of our conversation elude me now, but I’m sure you’ll have a blast.

    I know I’ll have a blast eating that bread this weekend!!

    May 9, 2012
    • Oh good, Meredith, that’s great news! Thanks for your comment. We leave tomorrow and I haven’t planned much more of it, but that will leave us lots of room to poke around and make our minds up as we go. I can’t wait!

      May 16, 2012
  12. Dude you’re coming to GLASGOW? I LIVE THERE! Here. You know what I mean. I can give you recommendations if you tell me what you need recommendations for. Email me!

    Also, that bread looks excellent, I love the crust.

    May 9, 2012
    • I was just going to tell Katherine to get in touch with you. And The Proclaimers.

      May 13, 2012
      • Yeah, they can show you the east coast, me and Billy Connolly will cover the west.

        May 14, 2012
        • Just emailed, my dear Scotswoman. Thanks for the help!

          May 16, 2012
  13. hitchingpostbda #

    I went to University in Glasgow for 5 years and loved it – apart from the rain but that’s kind of a given in Scotland. By foot is best for the Glasgow city centre.
    There is sooo much to do. Not to mention Glasgow shopping is second in Britain only to London.
    Other than that the school of art is really cool and you can take tours to see all the Rennie Mackintosh architecture.
    The kelvingrove art gallery and museum is a definite to-do and is free. It is more in the west-end than the city centre but it’s an easy walk or you can take the subway (only one in Scotland). When you’re in the West End try to go to a restaurant called the Left Bank, they haev really really good chickpea burgers.
    May is such a nice time in Scotland I always thought. If the sun comes out everyone is out in the park, lounging and eating ice cream.
    The Merchant City was also one of my fav places in the city centre. Lots of good places to eat.

    In Edinburgh you have the castle obvi. Then Arthur’s Seat which is essentially a big hill right in the middle of the city that people run up. I’ve never been but def on the to do list as the view is apparently amazing.
    There are lots of little coffee shops and cafes everywhere.

    We are planning a trip there (Gla – Ed and the Isle of Skye probably) in August (the boyfriend and the fam) my Gran still lives in Ed. I am a chronic planner and the bf is more of a I wanna wing it kinda personality so I try and not plan too much but will clearly have my itinerary secretly.
    I’d recommend just having a good wander about if all else fails. You’re bound to find something entertaining.
    Hope this helps.

    May 9, 2012
    • Um, this helps SO MUCH. Thank you for taking the time to write it down. I am psyched for Glasgow. And chickpeas are some of my favorite things in the world, so The Left Bank sounds like a perfect spot for me to grab lunch while Scott is dorking it up with the science people. I had no idea there was a subway in Glasgow!

      I heard about the rain. I’m not bringing boots because they’d be so unwieldy to travel with, and I figured I could get some there. Perhaps I will regret this. Ah well.

      I could go on and on but I better wrap this up and go pack. I’ll let you know how it goes–thank you for the advice!

      May 16, 2012
  14. You’ll love Scotland. Love it. Love it. Love it. The peeps have been a couple of times. No Glasgow, though. Edinburgh? Yes. Proper pronunciation: Edin-bu-da. (Saw a car license plate the other day: ednburra. Cool.)

    It doesn’t matter what you do because EVERYTHING is beautiful and the people are warm and friendly.

    Kick up your kilts and have a wonderful time you crazy kids! (Where in Virginia will Thunder be peeing? We’ll tawdle on over/up/down to see her!)

    May 9, 2012
    • Oh good, good–thanks for the advice. I can’t wait! I wonder if I will see a lot of scotties while I’m there. . . is Scotland their homeland? Do they just frolic about on the hills? How wonderful would that be?! (sigh)

      May 16, 2012
      • Oh my friend, yes, we’re Scottish, but there aren’t that many of us there. We look forward to hearing and seeing all about your trip! AND, if you see lots of Scotties sipping wee drams in the heather, be sure to tip your hat! We still want to go see Thunder.

        May 16, 2012
  15. The UK is wonderful. We’ve just come back from Wales and loved it ~ particularly the north around Snowdonia National Park ~ loads of beautiful villages, castles, amazing landscapes. We were in Scotland a couple of months ago too ~ Edinburgh is wonderful ~ give yourselves a couple of days to wander the old town (Royal Mile, Grassmarket, Edinburgh Castle) and the “new” (still old) town (on the other side of the tracks ~ great shopping, cafes, restaurants and pubs). We drove up to Loch Ness and then around the coast to Aberdeen, Dundee and back down to Edinburgh. Next time we want to do the rugged west coast. Some pics of our trips on my blog if you’re interested. Have a wonderful time!

    May 9, 2012
    • Nic, I loved your photos! That sign about “probably” the best ice cream in the area was charming (and funny.) I went to Wales once– I was with my family and we got lost. We wound up in Wales when we were trying to go to Southampton or something, and my brother and I were little, so we were amazed that one could stumble into Wales by accident! It looks like you had a wonderful trip.

      I think we’re going to wind up doing the West Coast that you mention. I’ll take a lots of photos and will let you know our itinerary, in case you do make it there next time!

      May 16, 2012
  16. looks delish! wow, you must have a really fancy hair dryer if it’s worth more than your car. have fun on your trip! sometimes the best trips are the unplanned ones.

    May 9, 2012
    • Thanks! Yeah, my car is PROBABLY worth more than a new hairdryer. But only PROBABLY, and by a small margin. 🙂

      May 16, 2012
  17. What a brilliant and funny story. You put a big smile on my face. Thank you so much.

    May 9, 2012
    • Right back at you–thanks for returning the smile. Take care!

      May 16, 2012
  18. Jean #

    Do the Highlands and Lake District both! Both gorgeous, great walking/hiking. You’ll just need waterproofs. 🙂

    May 9, 2012
    • Jean, I do hope we’re able to do them both! I’m not sure that we’ll have time but I’m aiming for squishing it all in there. I saw “The Trip” recently, and it made me want to go to the Lake District (even though the movie wasn’t my favorite). It looks like we’ll do the Highlands first, and then see how it goes. I forgot to pack a rain coat until I read your comment just now–I’m so glad I did!

      May 16, 2012
  19. wow this is my kind of bread! make it, forget about it,remember it, do something, cook it!! YAY have a great time in scottish land.. walking is good in a strange place.. driving is usually bad, so you should be all good.. c

    May 9, 2012
    • Celia, I agree-this bread just fits my lifestyle perfectly! I do like walking. I both love and hate that tired feeling you get after walking around all day–the kind of tired that makes you throw yourself down on your bed; you’re starving for dinner but you also just want to take a nap!

      May 16, 2012
  20. I recently wrote a blog on foodie finds in the Lake District…check it out for some tips on where to go! I hope you have a lovely lovely time. Id def recommend popping down to the Lake District, its Britain at its most beautiful!

    May 9, 2012
    • Sarah, the Wig & Pen pie sampler you wrote about is blowing my mind right now. WOW. That’s reason enough to head South.

      May 16, 2012
  21. Sandra R #

    Glasgow, not too specific a memory, but if you get to a good chocolate candy shop, try the violet creams. And the rose creams too. But if you buy a pound to bring home that won’t be enough for the plane ride, just so you know.
    Edinburgh try flapjacks at a bakery. They are not what we Americans call flapjacks, they are an oaty golden sweet bar cookie, like granola only sweeter.
    But my favorite part of Scotland is the Isle of Skye. And if you go there splurge and get a nice sweater. Or really splurge and get one custom made. I have had mine for 20 years and still love it.
    Oh, and count the sheep you see 🙂 And they have the right of way. Enjoy, I am so happy to recall my memories of that lovely country.

    May 9, 2012
    • Wow. This was such a lovely comment. Violet creams? Rose creams?! I’ve never heard of such a thing (and cannot wait to try one). And the flapjacks sound WAY awesomer than pancakes. Oats make everything better.

      We are indeed hoping to get to the Isle of Skye, or at least one of the islands to the south of it. Ah, you’re making me all excited!

      May 16, 2012
  22. Jacquie #

    So exciting you’re going to Scotland! I used to live in Edinburgh and it’s my all time favourite place. For things to do in Edinburgh: Eat at the Mussel Inn, go to the White Hart Inn pub for the amazing atmosphere, walk up Arthur’s seat, walk along the water of Leith, visit the Meadows and have parsnip cake at Peter’s yard, do a ghost tour (I recommend Mary King’s close or one of the Auld Reekie ones).
    If you’re not going very far into the highlands there’s a nice little loop you can travel on a day trip near Oban (if you go to Oban make sure you stop at the whiskey distillery) and there are loads of interesting stops like Kilchurn Castle, Dunstaffnage castle, Carnasserie castle, and the Temple Wood Cairns. If you go up to Inverness go the the Culloden battlefield and take a boat tour on Loch Ness. If you go even higher up to a place called Culrain there’s a neat youth hostel that’s actually in a castle called Carbisdale Castle. Ullapool is a beautiful place to visit as well. I always find visiting the highlands invovles a lot of walking and hiking so bring good shoes!
    No matter where you go it will be amazing, Scotland is so full of history and beauty. I’m afraid I can’t say much about England, haven’t really been there all that much, but Hadrian’s wall is an interesting stop.
    Have an awesome trip!

    May 9, 2012
    • Jacquie #

      PS. Eating Haggis is a must. I recommend having it on a roll. Yum!

      May 9, 2012
    • Jacquie, this is seriously helpful. I’ve written all these stops/restaurants/castles/hostels etc. down in a little notepad that I’m taking with me, so that I can access it without getting on line! Thank you!!

      May 16, 2012
  23. Sally Z. #

    If you’re doing northern England, try Whitby. It’s utterly charming, the abbey is beautiful, and the people are super friendly. Like all we had to do was stand on a corner looking mildly confused, and within moments, some nice person would be there with directions or advice. We also did a coastal walk from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay which was very nice.

    May 9, 2012
    • Sally, I love that you mentioned Whitby because I went there once and it was MAGICAL. I was just a wee little kid so I barely remember it but I got a pair of tiny earrings made out of Whitby jet. They were my favorite for a long time, and then I lost them. I adored it, and your fond recollection of how nice everyone was makes me happy. I’m going to look at it on a map and see if we can get there. Cheers!


      May 16, 2012
  24. I hope you have a fabulous time. We love Glasgow! If you like beautiful architecture go to some of the Rennie Mackintosh buildings – I love them so! The Tea rooms are good as you can get delicious teas and cakes as well as admire the building. The Hill House is wonderful and I could go on ……
    Love this recipe here and will be trying it. 🙂

    May 9, 2012
    • This is great–I haven’t heard of The Hill House– I’ll look in my guidebook and make a note of it. I’m hearing a lot about this Mackintosh fellow– can’t wait to see these buildings. Also–tea? I can’t wait for tea. And scones. And little sandwiches. And more tea. And scones…

      May 16, 2012
  25. This is how Scott’s mother finds out that he’s going to get in a big old plane and cross an ocean? THIS is how?? Well, then — thank you 🙂

    May 9, 2012
    • I’m not sure what to do here. I’m on your side because my reaction to this was “?!?!?!?!” but technically I’m supposed to be on Scott’s side or something, right? Whatever. He’s suspect, that one. *I* will send you a post card from Scotland, I promise. And I will make sure that certain others do, too. 🙂

      May 16, 2012
  26. Sally #

    As always, this cracked me up and the comment from Scot’s mom, even more!! I loved Glasgow, Edinburgh, the Lakes District and the HIghlands. Well I’m a big fan of Scotland.. I hope you hae a gud wee trip.

    May 9, 2012
    • Thanks, Sally! I’m so glad you’ve had good times there– I am getting so excited (which is a good thing, because we leave tomorrow!)

      May 16, 2012
  27. Hubby and I went to England way back in 2001 for similar reasons. Well, minus the chemical weapons. Our trip was focused more on toothpaste tubes. Yeah. Anyway, we were supposed to be there for 2 weeks, but wound up staying for 3 after they bribed us with an all-expenses paid weekend in London that included good tickets to a production of “The King and I” and a flat out awesome twilight river cruise. We were located in Manchester for the vast majority of that time, though we did manage to get ourselves lost in London our first weekend there. (This was my husband’s SECOND time being lost in that particular city.) We were there before the super saturation of GPS units and smart phones, so I’d suggest you consider one of them to keep yourself from suffering the same fate. Unless you’re way better with directions and spacial awareness than my husband. Or unless you’re in such a small town that getting lost for hours on end isn’t likely to be a problem.

    I did the same “wandering on foot” thing while hubby was working and had a lot of fun. I also got fairly proficient at using the bus system, and made solo trips to shopping centers and the mall. (Amazingly, they actually have a mall in Manchester.) Just make sure you never go anywhere without your camera and I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourself. I’d love to repeat that trip today, with my digital camera so I could really see what I was shooting without having to wait for film development. I still came home with some lovely shots. We were there in spring and had the incredible fortune of having magnificent weather for the majority of our stay. One of our guides in London told us that we’d managed to arrive on one of only five sunny days all year. LOL

    We didn’t make it as far north as Scotland, though I wish we could have. Someday, maybe, we’ll make it back across the pond.

    May 9, 2012
  28. Grace #

    I’m actually leaving for Scotland myself next weekend. I’ll be primarily working on the north coast and in the Orkney Islands. I absolutely love Scotland (my family is from there) and I know you will have a fantastic time!

    May 9, 2012
    • Wow, Grace–what are you doing in the Orkney Islands? I just googled them and they look interesting–way, way up in the North, eh?

      May 16, 2012
  29. juanitascocina #

    One time, we were sitting at my mother’s breakfast table in New Mexico and I looked out of the front window towards the street and saw a coyote. Just walkin’ by like he owned the joint. I pointed and was all, “Hey mom. There’s a coyote.” And she was all, “Oh.” That was it. Just, “Oh.”

    Have fun puttering.

    May 9, 2012
    • Coyotes at breakfast? Not okay. But that makes for a decent band name– Coyotes At Breakfast! Or at least a good album name, right? I’m surprised you haven’t started it.


      May 16, 2012
  30. How weird would it be to ask where in Virginia Thunder is staying, in case it’s close enough for me to stop by and say hi? OK, I guess really weird.

    May 9, 2012
    • Hey there! Not weird at all! And Thunder would be thrilled to play with your pups, but I haven’t asked my parents yet if they’re down with having visitors. Since I’m leaving in a few minutes for the airport, I’m not sure we can make it work this time around. But it’s such a nice sentiment– thanks! Hope all’s well with you.

      May 17, 2012
  31. a #

    Planning? If the flight, hotel, and car are set, what else is there to plan? You just wake up, get your guidebook, and start walking! I like to have a loose plan (i.e. where I’m going to sleep at night) and an idea of what I’d like to see, and let everything else flow from there. Sounds like it’s going to be a fantastic conference (for you, anyway)!

    The bread sounds like something I’d be capable of making. I’m going to have to try it.

    May 9, 2012
    • Indeed, as soon as I know I have a place to sleep at night, planning doesn’t matter. I do relax a bit when I know where I can stash all my things and sleep, but otherwise, planning tends to cramp my style. The good news is that we have booked a b&b for tomorrow night when we arrive, so let the party begin!

      May 17, 2012
  32. Karen Asner #

    Marcus is in Scotland now (in Edinburgh for the International Fisheries Conference (i.e., serious boondoggle). We spent part of our honeymoon there. Favorite part was staying at a “bed and breakfast” (read sleeping in someone’s upstairs bedroom in their modest three bedroom bungalow) on the Isle of Skye and going down to the rugged coast to search for ancient fossils. I highly recommend it! We also loved the Lake District — nothing like hiking and climbing on those wooden steps over the fences in the fields around the lake. Enjoy!!!

    May 9, 2012
    • Karen, that sounds like a wonderful honeymoon.We plan to make it to the Isle of Skye, since you and others have said it’s very charming. I dug around for fossils once in Dover, when I was little. We found some and wrapped them in newspaper, and then went back to the b&b to play chess (it was my first time playing). I remember it well because it was such an extraordinary day. I hope you’re well!

      May 17, 2012
  33. MJ #

    Dude, good call on the not driving. I found driving (well, passengering, R drove) in Scotland EFFING TERRIFYING. Granted, we were on the back roads in the Highlands and most of those streets can barely accommodate one car, let alone two traveling in opposite directions, but still. I hope if either of you drive you get an automatic, because hello, stick shift and clutch on the opposite side as what we backwards Americans are used to.

    May 9, 2012
    • Um, crap. I am going to have the same experience, I bet. I’ll be lucky if I don’t run over any sheep. We do have an automatic, thank God. Scott tried to teach me how to drive a manual transmission a couple of weeks ago. Disaster. I can’t IMAGINE doing it the other way around. I can barely operate a blender, let alone drive a manual transmission car on the other side of the road.

      May 17, 2012
  34. How fun! A spontaneous adventure! And I totally sympathize with the whole not wanting to be responsible for expensive things + the stress of driving in a country where I would intuitively in a panic go to the right and cause a 50 car pile-up. And the bread recipe looks delicious! Can’t wait to hear about your trip!

    May 9, 2012
    • Carrie, I’m also worried about running over a sheep. I love sheep, and if I saw one I would probably drive toward it without thinking, regardless of what side of the street it was on. I could see this situation spinning rapidly out of control. Hope all’s well with you!

      May 17, 2012
  35. Hello from northern England! You absolutely have to visit The Witchery in Edinburgh. Ask for a table in the conservatory and try for an evening table…it’s so beautiful and the food is amazing.

    So is the Lake District. Drunken Duck in Ambleside is a fantastic place to stay and to eat. Make sure you go on a lake steamer! Ullswater is much quieter than the other Lakes and just as pretty.

    Hope that helps, just say if you need any more!

    May 10, 2012
    • This is wonderful advice, thank you! I noticed the Witchery on a map, so I’m glad you mentioned it. The very fact that they have a conservatory has me all excited. I do so hope that we get to the Lake District as well as the Highlands– everyone seems to think Ambleside is just charming. Thank you so much for the suggestions!

      May 17, 2012
  36. Richie #

    I love Wales. The police cars have “Heddlu” on it and I visited Gwernymynydd and a few other unpronounceable names. You won’t see Scottish in Scotland but you’ll see Welsh in Wales. I have a picture of a sign, “Humps for 360 yards” and “Twmpathau am 360 llath.” I don’t know how to speak Welsh nor will I even dare try! Glasgow’s fun and so’s Edinburgh. Coventry in England has a few historic sites. And the most haunted city is supposedly Derby, England. ENJOY!

    May 10, 2012
    • Woah. Now I’m mad we don’t have plans to hang out in Cardiff. Sounds like we would have a hilarious time in Wales. What did you do there? Walk around and whatnot? I went there once by accident with my family, for about 15 minutes, because my dad was trying to drive us to Southampton or something and he’s terrible with directions. All of a sudden, we saw a sign that said “welcome to Wales” and my brother and I were like “BWAHAHAHA! ACCIDENTAL FAMILY VACATION IN WALES–LET’S DO IT!” My parents were stressed out, but my brother and I were pretty much ready to hang out in Wales for a week.

      I can’t wait for my first ploughman’s lunch of cheese and bread and whatever at a pub, with a good pint.

      May 17, 2012
  37. I’m so jealous I could pee on your piano!
    Maybe you’d be fine driving there since you’d already be on the wrong side of the road.

    May 10, 2012
    • Sandy Sue, you crack me up. Thunder would be thrilled to have someone to hang out with by the piano. 🙂

      May 17, 2012
  38. Amber Fayre #

    Local Wolf Situation…sounds like a great name for a band!

    May 10, 2012
    • YES. YES IT DOES. I always thought “Paperclip Anniversary” would be a good name, too. (I guess it came up in the context of “what you get someone for your 1 year anniversary” or something.)

      May 17, 2012
  39. stay away from the haggis – but do have some black pudding and proper wheaten bread – bring layers – it rains most of the time LOL

    May 10, 2012
    • Shelley,

      Hmmm. Black pudding, eh? I don’t know. I’m not sure I can commit to that yet. I worked at the French Embassy in Washington DC for a summer when I was in college, and they served boudin noir in the cafeteria at least once a week. It was. . . icky, I thought. Isn’t that kind of the same thing? It’s like, blood sausage or pudding?

      Maybe after visiting a distillery. MAYBE. 🙂

      May 17, 2012
  40. Totally off subject — that blue cookware is sweet.

    May 10, 2012
    • Believe it or not, Scott came with the blue cookware. It’s a Le Creuset that his mom gave him. She also gave him a skillet and a small sauce pan and they’re our most used things in the kitchen. The woman has great taste!

      May 17, 2012
  41. Very similar to suggestions above! Haggis, neeps and tatties in a pub in Edinburgh, Charles Rennie McIntosh tearooms in Glasgow, Isle of Skye. Keswick in the Lake District is lovely – steamer ride on Derwent water and leisurely climb up the hill Cat Bells for good views. Enjoy!

    May 10, 2012
  42. I’ve made this bread before, and my Culinary Enthusiast raves about it. It’s so simple to make, especially for someone like me who has f*d up her wrists – it’s been a real pleasure to find knead-free bread recipes. The bread machine just isn’t the same. Enjoy your holiday, and go with the flow! (Schedules and itineraries are for work, don’t you think?)

    May 11, 2012
    • We have a bread machine too, and I haven’t used it yet. Do you like yours? Are there any advantages to it? I’m glad you like this bread– I thought it was really fantastic. Thank you for the kind words– “schedules and itineraries are for work” is a great way to think about it!

      May 17, 2012
      • I used to use my bread machine a lot, but now that I’ve discovered these simple artisan style breads where the dough can be made in advance and no kneading is required, I doubt I’ll use my machine again (but never say never). I find bread from the machine to be a bit moist for my taste. Also, I once threw out the paddle that I forget to remove from the bottom of the loaf, so that was a pain!
        I’m going to be posting about bread making one of these days. I’ve been making bread from a book called “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Hertzberg & Francois. In fact, I’m making another batch this afternoon. Oh, the joy of being on vacation and able to mix up some bread on a weekday afternoon!

        May 17, 2012
  43. I think you forgot “driving on the wrong side of the road.” Haha! I love this bread recipe too! Considering I tried making yeast dough last weekend and broke my mixer, it’s the only kind I’ll be making from now on. Scotland is gorgeous, and this time of the year should be fab. I went last spring for a wedding (A Scottish wedding is the only way to do it, I’m a total snob now.) Glasgow has great architecture, and it will be lovely to walk around. My friends took me on a walking tour from their place, but as I was only there for an afternoon after the wedding, I mostly just saw exteriors of places. The botanical garden was a nice little jaunt, but not very time consuming. Up north a bit there are some Lochs, the wedding was in Loch Lomond, and on weekends I heard that people will take a picnic and spend their days in the countryside. And, Edinburgh is only an hour train ride away, so you could go see the castle, do some whiskey tasting, and enjoy other fabulous sites there. HAVE A GREAT TIME!!

    May 11, 2012
    • I am so jealous that you went for a wedding. I’ve never been to a foreign wedding. I was invited to one in Mexico City a few years ago but it was the weekend that pig flu broke out (or bird flu, or something) and everything went haywire at the last minute. I bet a wedding in Loch Lomond was awesome. Maybe we’ll find one to crash. Heh heh.

      May 17, 2012
  44. 1. If I fill out some paperwork, I can get my Irish passport. Because I’m Irish. But I haven’t filled out the paperwork. I’ve been meaning to so for about eleven years.
    2. My brother’s in-laws were visiting a national park in western Canada several years back (from France), and saw a lovely dog at the side of the road. They approached it slowly, and tried to coax it toward them. The dog seemed skittish, but oh so pretty. They REALLY wanted to touch it. They barely noticed when a tour bus drove by with about a hundred people waving and screaming. And as they finally coaxed the dog over to them, just as they reached out to pat the timid dog’s head, a park ranger yelled, “stop, that’s a coyote!” Which they might have understood better if they spoke English. My point? Watch out for strange dogs on your trip.
    3. Scott’s conference sounds seriously un-fun.
    4. Next year, at baking school, we’ll be learning how to make TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY types of bread. I hope at least one of them looks as tasty as that stuff you made up there.

    May 13, 2012
  45. Amy #

    My family and I went to the Lake District a few years ago, we loved it. If you can, make your way to Derwent Water, walk around its splendour then take in a show at The Theatre on the Lake: – it was such a wonderful day for us.

    I’ve been to Glasgow once, many years ago and it was lovely. I was only there for two days visiting a friend, we went to a gig and a movie so I didn’t do a lot of the tourism thing. You’ll have to let us know what you get up to. 🙂 Enjoy your holiday!

    May 14, 2012
    • This is the second time I’ve heard good things about Derwent Water. I hope we have time to check it out because it sounds charming. Thanks for the theatre tip, too! I can’t wait.

      May 17, 2012
  46. Enjoy your trip!

    May 15, 2012
    • Thank you so much! I’ll tell you all about it when I return…

      May 17, 2012
  47. shannon #

    I want this bread so much i can hardly talk about it. i’m so over my fear of bread things now, so i feel like i’m going to make this very soon.
    I also hate rental cars. Although i don’t normally get into accidents, the minute i get behind the wheel of a rental car i assume i’ll be in some massive one within 5 miles of the rental car place. or that a giant rock will fly out of a construction truck and happen to break the windshield. or that someone will get mad, think my rental car is their ex-girlfriend’s, and key it while it’s parked.
    that’s how my mind works. i hope you have a great trip! i’m envious, to say the least.

    May 15, 2012
    • I rented a car to drive from Alabama to my parents’ house in Virginia before flying out to Scotland later today (long story, but I needed a rental car.) Anyway, I kid you not– I spent 7-10 minutes looking for the button or lever or WHATEVER to pop the gas tank. Just another example of how rental cars seriously bum me out. 🙂 Talk to you soon!

      May 17, 2012
  48. Glasgow is a beautiful city. I came here five years ago, to interview for what I thought was a back-up option, and, uh, never left. Apart from the things that have already been mentioned, the university is really pretty, just to walk around, and there’s a museum on-campus, the Hunterian Museum, which is well worth some time. There are tons of little side streets off Byres Road, the main road near the university, where the interesting vintage and independent shops are. Do you like seafood? Two Fat Ladies is a tiny but amazing seafood restaurant in the West End; I recommend it to everyone who comes here.

    It is worth mentioning that you cannot get lost on the subway. I think that visitors think there’s going to be a catch, but it really is as simple as it looks.

    If you can steel yourself to drive the rental car, or else take a forty minute train ride to Balloch, you’re close to the south shore of Loch Lomond, which is gorgeous, especially if the weather’s good.

    May 21, 2012

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