Sunday, April 28, 2013

What I’m Listening To

I’m about to head off for a while. I’m not sure what kind of living conditions await me, but I’ve heard Army style barracks and, more importantly for this blog, no internet in the rooms. I tend to write more when I’m not at home working a normal job, but the internet thing (and no car) could put a damper on that. So just in case I became a more infrequent poster, I wanted to let you know what new music has come into my life lately.

The 1975 – Chocolate

This song is incredibly catchy. The sort of alt-rock meets indie-pop that fans of Foster the People and Walk the Moon will love.

London Grammar – “Wasting My Young Years”

There guys are ready to burst onto the scene. With barely anything more than this track and the equally great “Metal & Dust”, London Grammar is something you won’t want to miss.

Cub Scouts – “Told You So'”

This is just plain fun, both peppy and melodic during the chorus. Will be checking more out by these guys.

Lana Del Rey – “Young & Beautiful”

The tracklist for the Great Gatsby soundtrack looks like something that can’t be missed. Lana Del Rey is a perfect fit for a movie like Great Gatsby, and shows why here.

Barcelona – Come Back When You Can

This one is a little bit more in the mold of The Fray or something like that, but I was actually pretty impressed with these guys when they opened up for Andrew McMahon in Scottsdale. As I say goodbye to my wife for way to long, the refrain of “come back when you can” is all too appropriate.

I’ve stocked up on music from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Iron & Wine, Lord Huron, Phoenix, The Neighbourhood, Caveman, Kurt Vile, Guards, CHVRCHES, and Youngblood Hawke before I go, so hopefully I’ll find the chance to let you guys know what I think and what’s worth your time and money. Take care!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Strokes – “Comedown Machine”

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Over time popular opinion seems to mesh together about certain music that we all agree is “a classic”. We immortalize albums in Best of the Decade lists and use them as comparison tools to other albums. The Strokes have been fortunate enough to exist amongst the legends, mostly because they gave the world Is This It, a gritty, cool rock album. Whether you know it or not, you’ve heard “Last Nite” before, and probably “Someday” as well. I wonder if there’s anyone out there right now who hasn’t heard The Strokes since those days. I’m sure there’s plenty of people, actually. It’d be interesting to watch their face as they listen to the two most recent Strokes albums.

I was not just a defender of their last album Angles, I was a promoter. It didn’t get panned necessarily (MetaCritic score of 71, compared to 91 for Is This It), but it mostly lacked a lot of attention and fanfare. This was undeserved, and I still stand by calling it the best Strokes album of them all (and “Machu Picchu” the best song). And now we have Comedown Machine, another album is a similar mold and style, though perhaps a little more eclectic even. It also happens to be very good.

The two most apparently good tracks to me are very different. “One Way Trigger”, which features a catchy synth and even a gentle piano at one point, is simultaneously ridiculously great and preposterously different from anything in the old Strokes catalog. “Chances”, my personal favorite, is not just slow, but positively melodic. A great soft guitar line, reverby verses, and the most pleasant chorus they’ve ever constructed form the backbone of “Chances”. Other highlights include the frontload of the more rock-driven “Tap Out” and “All the Time”, “Happy Ending”, “Welcome to Japan”, and the more classic sounding “50/50”.

Many bands change their style over time. The Strokes are just one of many. But very few have ever transitioned so well. I don’t feel The Strokes have lost their identity. It’s still somewhere in there and the early style shines through at times. This album may not be as good as Angles, but it’s still very good, and rivals Is This It for second best.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Foals – “Holy Fire”

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During my rundown of 2012’s best songs, I noted my annoyance at the purveyance of bedroom electronica as the vogue music style of the day. Many of the blog buzz bands and artists are following the lead of Purity Ring and Grimes (two who do it well), and it seems like finding solid indie rock right now is a little difficult. In other words, as I sit here in March of 2013, it’s not bands like The Strokes, Modest Mouse, or The Hold Steady getting all the attention. Of course, that hasn’t taken away my taste for something that has the independent spirit but still is driven by guitar and drums and not merely synths. Which brings me to “Prelude” and “Inhaler” by Foals, the first two tracks on Holy Fire. “Prelude” and it’s build up, and “Inhaler” with its release represent the opening two tracks I’ve been searching for. “And I can’t get enough…SPACE” is sung over driving guitars reminiscent of some of Muse’s best early work. I don’t know how the rest of the year will stack up, but “Inhaler” will certainly populate the upper regions of my list.

Foals’ knack for nailing the modern rock genre is also featured almost equally well on “Milk & Black Spiders”, a song that doesn’t even feel like it’s necessarily building, until it breaks out into a monumental swarm of guitar, synth, and strings. “Late Night” builds nearly as well, but rocks a bit more. The album’s strength is also bolstered by some softer and more melodic numbers, namely “Bad Habit”, “Out of the Woods”, and “Stepson”. There’s also the more radio-ready “My Number”.

Foals’ Holy Fire is a surprisingly top notch album, but most of all it’s album that has a little bit of a kick. The sequencing of the album is also done very well, transitioning song to song effortlessly and intuitively. With 25% of the year gone, this is definitely one of early 2013’s best offerings.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Follow the Year’s Best Tracks on Spotify

Like what you heard on the Top Ten So Far post? Didn’t like it but have faith I can do better? Then go ahead and subscribe to my Spotify playlist and I’ll keep it updated as we go. Here’s the link: http://open.spotify.com/user/derubino/playlist/6ViABedn9vOSYHjcdBKglH

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What Are the Top 10 Songs of the Year So Far?

I know reading a year-end top 50 list can be overwhelming, so every now and then I like to check in and offer you up a shorter list of the best songs that I’ve found so far. The good news is that 2013 is already looking stronger than 2012, and this is before getting new releases from The National, Kings of Leon, Jimmy Eat World, and other historical favorites. So without further introduction, here’s where I’d say we’re sitting at the 1/3 portion of the year.

#1 Phosphorescent – “Song for Zulu”

This is one of those rare songs that has the ability to get under your skin and strike an emotional chord, and there are a few reasons why. First, it’s the soft strings that circle and sweep in, not unlike The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” years ago. Then it’s the wounded nature of the song, and the way the lyrics marry up to the vocals. “But I saw love, disfigure me, into something I am not recognizing…” is sung painfully and trails off into the strings. As he pledges “I will not open myself up this way again”, it’s one of the best manifestations of heartbreak you’ll ever hear. Powerful song.

#2 Foals – “Inhaler”

I have to admit I’ve soured a bit on the bedroom electronica being pumped out on all the blogs lately, so I was hungering for a good indie rock song. Not since early Kings of Leon have I heard this good a mix of gritty vocals and indie rock, and “Inhaler” is the welcoming party to a great album. It builds and builds and just when you want it to explode, it does. “I can’t get enough…..SPACE” becomes a moment in itself. Turn it up and let it go.

#3 Local Natives – “Mt. Washington”

Picking a favorite off this album is a chore. “Columbia”? “Heavy Feet”? I make no promises they won’t be top ten by the end of the year. Nearly every song exists on some level of amazing, but “Mt Washington” is the one that rises to the top. I have a soft spot for songs that build, and “Mt. Washington” grows into a cathartic 3 minutes. “I don’t have to see you right now” is repeated over a swelling mass of instrumentation, and the usually sunny Local Natives get a little darker in the best of ways.

#4 The Strokes – “Chances”

Over the years The Strokes have dominated the world of cool, retreated from it, and morphed stylistically. I am in the minority of people who adored their last album “Angles” and preferrred it to the style of their early stuff that got them famous. Along these same lines is “Chances”, the most melodic  track off their newest album. The song has a tepid, nighttime thoughtfulness quality to it, and when “I will not up for anymore, so you can ask me if something is wrong” is sung before raising into falsetto, it’s as different and equally great as anything The Strokes have done before.

#5 Cold War Kids – “Miracle Mile”

There have been fewer bigger disappointments to me musically over the last five years than the Cold War Kids’ last album, a blatant attempt to change one of the most unique styles in alt rock in order to gain popularity. I’m not above popularity. In fact, I strongly desire more people listen to Cold War Kids, one of the most unappreciated bands in the world. But the album was not good, and lacked the bar-room piano, high energy style that makes Cold War Kids the Cold War Kids. Cue the first track “Miracle Mile” off of there newest album. There’s the piano. There’s the pounding drums. There’s the declaration “I was supposed to do great things!”. Welcome back, Cold War Kids, I missed you.

#6 Django Django – “Hail Bop” (late 2012)

How did I miss this last year? Django Django is alternative rock band that has clearly heard the Beach Boys before, and that promises great things. The modern spacy-ness combined with the layered harmonies and the toe-tapping beat is infectious, and when it breaks into the meaningless “Hail to the bop, believe me, took your time to come back and see me, I‘ve been waiting here so long and now you’ve taken off again” I guarantee you that you’ll be singing along.

#7 Biffy Clyro – “Biblical”

Are you a fan of sweeping alternative rock anthems slathered in strings? Biffy Clyro is and thankfully for us, they are good at making them in a way that doesn’t come off as too cheesy. “Biblical” is as sweeping as they come, putting a dose of the epic with the woah-ohs over the swarming chorus. If you loved “Many of Horror” as much as I did, this is the track you’ve been waiting for.

#8 How to Dress Well – “Cold Nites”

Probably the best track that I found circulating on everyone else’s year-end lists is “Cold Nites”, a unique electronic and falsetto romp tailor made for darkness. Turn the lights off, take a night drive, walk out to your back porch at night. Do what you have to. “Cold Nites” creates it’s own sonic landscape and mood and sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before.

#9 Youth Lagoon – “Mute”

I suppose a fair warning would be that I’m pretty sure neither of the two people I’ve played this song for have liked it. I guess I know why. There’s a share of dissonance and unintelligible vocals going on here, but underneath it is the most depth to any Youth Lagoon song yet. Right around the two minute mark, the song break forth, and Youth Lagoon’s typically hushed vocals become a thing of the past. The song rates high on this portion alone.

#10 Kodaline – “High Hopes”

I have a hunch about this song. The song is #1 in Ireland right now and climbing the charts in the UK. The album drops this summer, and by year’s end you’ll know this song all too well, and maybe I’ll have overplayed it on my own already like I did with the Gotye song. But “High Hopes” has that moving quality that Snow Patrol has and occupies a wonderfully listenable space between alt rock and pop rock. If you hated the Youth Lagoon song above, you’re likely to love this song. Just be careful falling too far in love with this one, because if I’m right you’ll have already put it on all your mixes by the time the US starts overplaying it in October.

Also worth a mention:

  • Jim James – “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)
  • Dutch Uncles – “Flexxin”
  • Chad Valley – “Shell Suite”
  • The Airborne Toxic Event – “Timeless”
  • Local Natives – “Heavy Feet” & “Colombia”
  • Foals – “Milk & Black Spiders”
  • Guards – “Coming True”
  • Sun Airway – “Close”
  • Ra Ra Riot – “When I Dream”
  • The Strokes – “One Way Trigger”
  • Pinback – “Proceed to Memory”
  • A Silent Film – “Anastasia”

So those are my top recommendations. What do you think? What am I missing?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

EuroBlog! The Last One: From Scotland to the Moors, and Passing Judgment on Foreign Lands

As far as blogs and the United Kingdom go, this one will stretch about as far as possible: from Scotland up in the Northeast all the way down to Dartmoor National Park far in the Southwest. We awoke on Wednesday in the town of Edinburgh, Scotland, which is about as foreign a feeling town as I think we saw. When you travel around the United Kingdom and even Canada there’s a sense that things are different, but there are also so many similarities, perhaps mostly due to such a common heritage. Not so in the dark city of Edinburgh.

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Due to the lengthy drive that awaited myself, Holly, and Meleah, this was our only destination on Wednesday before we readied for the very lengthy north-to-south drive from Edinburgh back to the West Row. But we had to have some fun with it, right? Meleah rightly detoured us off the quickest path and to a path that left us in pursuit of Hadrian’s Wall. But first we had a little fun at the England/Scotland border, representing some of their shared history of warfare and rivalry. Holly represents Scotland with her festive scarf, and I similarly represent England with my own festive scarf:

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We also sought Hadrian’s Wall, the one-time border between England and Scotland. Seeing that we had to drive considerably past the border in the pics above, I guess congrats to Scotland for usurping more land! Using just an atlas and road signs, we found this humble portion in the middle of nowhere. But it was OUR portion. Here' is me planking, because I am the only one of us tall enough to be in both countries’ former territories at the same time.

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Always ones for togetherness, the England and Scotland sides beckon to each other.

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The next morning we unfortunately had to separate from Meleah, as she headed to view the tulips in Holland. We hopped in a rental car and headed off for one last adventure.

Oh, that rental car was a stick shift too. I asked for an automatic. So here I am driving on the wrong/”different” side of the road, sitting on the wrong/”different” side of the car, shifting with my left hand, trying to negotiate roundabouts. Then it started snowing. The very fact that I live to type this means I’m okay.

Our destination was the Cotswolds and then the unique city of Bath. The Cotswolds are the kind of charming place you often see in the movies, all adorable cottages and small little towns.

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We walked into the quietest tea shop in the region too. And I mean eerily quiet. The place was nearly full, but Holly spotted a table by the window so we took our seat. No one in the whole place was saying a word. Then the lady came out from the back and saw we’d taken a seat, then not-so-nicely asked if we could move to a smaller table. Having been place in a non-window seat by an impolite lady, we kindly moved right out the door and frequented a much nicer tea shop. I don’t know if maybe the owners of these two adjacent tea shops are friends and hang on the weekends, but I like to imagine they are bitter rivals, and I hope Tea Shop #2 vanquishes the other in tea battle with their nicer attitudes and delicious paninis.

On to Bath it was then! I didn’t know this but Bath was a major Roman site back in the days of the vast Roman Empire. This meant we got to see actual Roman artifacts and buildings, such as the (go figure), baths.

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Bath is also the former home of Jane Austen, who I think is Holly’s favorite writer, and unless she leans over my shoulder to correct me, I’m just going to go with that. Anyhow, they have a whole dedicated museum where you can have “Tea With Mr. Darcy”.

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Tea might not be the manliest thing in the world, but I could eat scones with jam and clotted cream all day.

in an attempt to be a Good Husband, I also played along during the dress-up portion. Check out this attractive fellow:

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They take the Jane Austen thing quite seriously here too, marking the bathrooms like this:

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Fortunately I didn’t get in too much trouble when—while looking at the Jane Austen movies exhibit--I told the very-into-it fellow that “Finding Jane Austen” was a terrible film that sucked my life away (or something like that). Perhaps my compliments for the Alan Rickman/Hugh Grant “Sense & Sensibility” won me points. I also didn’t mind staring at Keira Knightley during “Pride & Prejudice”.

We ended the day at the Fern Cottage, an award winning B&B that serves a heavy breakfast and is run by two extremely nice people. I could have chatted with them all day. I also may send them this photo I snapped of the room, since it looks like it could be website worthy in my mind…

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The next morning the destination was Dartmoor National Park, but what would a trip be without a spontaneous stopover in Wales??? With just the intention of crossing the bridge, we ended up taking a blind detour to the Wye Valley, where we found a hike we’d never researched, and set off onto a trail for no reason but to say we’d spent some time in Wales. We were treated with these views.

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Then it was on to Dartmoor, an entirely Sherlock Holmes inspired portion of the trip. Holly handed me two of the strangest requests I’d ever heard: that we visit Grimspound and the Fox Tor Mire. The things is, neither of these two sites are particularly famous, even in the UK or even in the national park itself. It took some Googling, but somehow we found Grimspound, a secluded ancient rock circle an a road literally called “Unnamed Road” in the GPS and marked by nothing more than a sign that said “public path”. But apparently this pretty-cool site was where Watson holed up during a terrifying night in the Hound of the Baskervilles.

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Naturally Holly holed up herself with the Hound of the Baskervilles case notes she’d bought at the Sherlock Holmes museum back in London.

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For my part, I enjoyed seeing the windswept peat bogs. It’s definitely a piece of landscape I’ve never experienced, and although this is not a common tourist destination, we fancy ourselves to be not-so-common tourists.

The Fox Tor Mire ended up being a little fun mostly for the visitor center, which seemed to having some Sherlock nerds ready and excited for Holly to come in asking about how to find the otherwise non-descript bog mentioned in the book.

So, uh, here it is in all its “majesty”.

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The last thing we did was wind over to WInchester and see the grave of Jane Austen (this also happens to be where Queen Mary Tudor was married and the sire of the 12th century Winchester Bible). Now I sit on a plane heading back to my home.

Before I go, I want to say thanks for reading. There were many more of you reading than I ever could have imagined. A couple thoughts before I bring this thing to conclusion. I’ll present them in bullet points because I’m American!

  • In the US we like to be signs up like “Do Not Go in Water” or list bullet points out. In the UK they would say “Do not go in the water, because entering the water could lead to injury or sickness”. The best sign we saw said “Speed 50 MPH…for a reason” on an actual speed sign.
  • I came here wanting a full English breakfast badly. Go back to my first blog and see what I mean. After about 4 full Englishes, one full Irish, and one full Scottish, I can say I never want to see that much bacon and sausage again in my life.
  • I like the subtle differences. Why do we say “to-go” and they say “take-away”?
  • Ireland’s interesting relationship with the English (they haven’t even been independent 100 years) and their camaraderie with Americans as fellow rebels against English oppression, was one of the funnier surprises. I had no idea Ireland related to Americans like that.
  • If you ever do a trip like this, don’t skip the Ring of Kerry/Skellig Ring/Slea Head Drive. I feel like I got a lifetime of memories out of just two days of scenic driving.
  • I didn’t have to be over here long enough to miss America for one of its great features: choice. We have variety everywhere. It’s most evident in places like Burger King, where besides ketchup there are two other sauce choices, a poor BBQ sauce and sweet chili.

Finally, a special shout out to the people who made this trip as amazing as it was. Here’s to Julie at the Allman’s Heath Cottage, our carriage tour guide Shaun in Ireland, our Irish bartender, the girl who prepared our room while doubling as our waitress, the fellow at Travelodge who almost redeemed the awful city of Glossop, the worker at the castle on Loch Ness, Sue and Pete and the Fern Cottage, the Dartmoor visitor center nerds, and most of all our overall tour guide, Meleah. It was fun!

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

EuroBlog! Day 11: Of Nessie and The Scots

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Hello from Edinburgh, Scotland! We started today way up North in Inverness, the largest town on Loch Ness, home of Nessie AKA The Loch Ness Monster. I don’t know why people think it’s so hard. Here’s me with my girl!

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She even let us ride her.

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The thing is, aside from the draw of the monster-seeking crowd, Loch Ness itself is quite beautiful, especially when Urquhart Castle is in the foreground.

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You know why people have trouble finding Nessie? The lake is flippin’ huge.

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From there we wound down the Scottish highlands via the less-scenic Cairngorms National Park route. If you ever take the drive to Inverness you MUST take the route from Loch Lomond to Fort William to Inverness. It’s an hour longer but the views are some of the best I’ve ever seen and much, much better than the quick way down.

We ended the slightly shorter day with a trip to Stirling, as recommended by my friend Kristen. To be quite honest, we didn’t know much about the castle heading in, so we had to get a quick refresher first, since confusion reigned.

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We found it to be surprisingly historic, covered with names like William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots. Very cool. They also let you play dress up as long as you don’t mind being the 14,564th person to wear a hat.

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You can also pretend to be a royal! Clearly I’m the softy during our reign. Queen Holly does have an amazing face on here though.

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We then headed down to beautiful Edinburgh for dinner. What a fascinating and very foreign feeling town it was.

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Tomorrow we hit up the castle in Edinburgh then start the loooong drive back to Meleah’s pad. We’re nearing the final day of our crazy journey! Which I guess is okay because I’ve worn the same pair of jeans and the same jackets basically every single day…

Monday, April 1, 2013

EuroBlog! Days 8, 9, & 10: Walking in the Steps of Lady Sybil, Insanity in the Peak District, and On Towards Scotland

Lack of an internet connection does quite a number on blogging. So do late night returns. But given the cottage we stayed in last night, I’m totally okay with not having an internet connection! Tonight I write to you from a B&B in Inverness, Scotland, waaaaay up north. The last time I wrote we were leaving the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, so getting here has been quite the story.

We awoke early on Saturday and headed towards Highclere Castle. Highclere Castle is mostly known as the actual filming site of Downton Abbey.

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Of course, the true reason for visiting Downton Abbey is to walk in the footsteps of Lady Sybil, the Goddess of Downton, or something like that. Sometimes I have a hard time following the show because it’s hard to pay attention when an angel speaks…*

*In case you’re wondering, Holly is highly aware of my feelings towards Lady Sybil AKA Jessica Brown Findlay. I cash in my She-Won’t-Shut-Up-About-Christian-Bale points.

If you didn’t get to see us attempt to recreate the Downton Abbey opening (and fail), it might be worth a watch.

After Highclere we made our way down to Stonehenge, which was only 45 minutes away. The classic shot:

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We then dined in Salisbury, where I ordered a steak, hence a “Salisbury steak”. At least in my mind. It wasn’t actually called that. What I actually ordered was the Mixed Grill, which was actually referred to as the “unhealthy option” by the waiter, who also took the time to check up on my progress eating the preposterous meat platter, and egging me on.

The next morning we started off on our Scotland road trip, which involves a great number of detours. We started off at Chatsworth House, the inspiration for Pemberly in Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” and the filming location for the Keira Knightley version of the movie. Holly—who had the Sherlock place in London already showed her penchant for reading books at actual locations—popped our her book and read.

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By the way, before you go thinking that Chatsworth is just the second stop in a chick tour of England, this house was ridiculous. Better than any palace or castle or mansion I’ve seen.

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Okay, so here is where the day got crazy. Story time folks! So for some context, Holly wanted to see this thing called Stanage Edge, which the Keira Knightley character stands on during the movie (and the song that played during our wedding played during that scene). The place was supposedly close so we made our way to where the internet told me to go. Then it all went wrong. Or right. I don’t even know anymore. We ended up on a street barely big enough for our car. Confusion led us to a tiny church in the town of Hathersage, which is pretty remote. We stumbled upon three locals, one of whom was a raving fellow in a USA ski cap, who told us he had a lot on his mind because of problem in his personal life. He also shared his time in Seattle with drug dealers. Interesting!

Then the bizarre happened. First, he randomly pointed out that Little John (of Robin Hood fame) was buried at this church. So random. We literally came to this nowhere town by accident.

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So then one of the people gives us directions to Stanage Edge, which turn out to either be incorrect or we followed them wrong. We turned up a road that turned out to be a private drive covered in snow, and when we tried to turn around we got stuck. Like, really really stuck. It was a nightmare. Abandoned country road. Snow. Mud. Spinning tires. We a lot of pushing and 30 point turns, we managed to reverse down the steep hill before getting stuck in front of a local man’s house. Him and another man walked out, thinking they’d help three stranded folks literally pushing their car. But what did he do? He told us to be careful of his flowers, then stood their angrily watching us attempt to get unstuck, as if we were stuck on purpose. It was crazy.

Finally, we got out. It was exhausting, and we ended up meandering down to the town of Glossop to look for a place to stay. We tried a first hotel, no luck. And a second. And a third. Then a frickin’ Travelodge. Still nothing. We went zero for eight. Our last desperate call went to a B&B just out of town. Wouldn’t you know they had two rooms.

And this is where greatness happens. It had been an upsetting period of the day, and all I wanted was a sweet British lady to take care of me. This is where Julie comes in, proprietor of the Allmans Heath Cottage.

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The place was cozy and perfect. It barely felt real. She had a fire going. She’d lived there her whole life. She only had one rule: “Make yourself at home”. Hanging in a corner, tucked away, was a plaque showing she was a finalist for the whole district’s “Friendliest Landlady Award”. Unreal. And how did this crazy night end? Unable to find a place to eat dinner, we ended up at a Chinese place above a bar, where we ended up inside someone’s birthday party singing Happy Birthday in the dark while downing Chinese food on Easter Sunday.

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When I get home Julie and her B&B are getting five stars on Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, and anything else I can find.

This morning (we now have reached today), we kept heading north, detouring through the snowbound Lake District National Park.

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A long drive up to Scotland, and we headed past Glasgow and to Loch Lomond.

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Then came the scenic drive to end all scenic drives through the Scottish Highlands:

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In a strange way to close the drive, we ended the day by driving to Inverness via Fort William, which appeared to be on fire:

So that was our last three days…amazing scenery, stuck in the snow, cruel people in Glossop, the nicest landlady in history, beautiful national parks in the snow, and some of the most fun you can ever have. And it’s all led us to here, a Bed & Breakfast near the shores of Loch Ness, Scotland.