Cool spell

Last week, I traveled to the USA for ConsimWorld. Shortly after I arrived in Tempe, Arizona, one of the locals asked me if I was enjoying the cool spell of weather the city was enjoying. Of course I was. Who wouldn’t like temperatures of 95 degrees (Fahrenheit – 35 degrees Celsius) when the alternative was 105 degrees, or higher? (At one point it reached 11 degrees.)

It’s just as well I have been here often enough that I am sort of used to the ferocious heat. However, it’s one thing putting up with it for a week, and quite another to endure a whole summer. Still, I was grateful for the cool spell.

A tale of two cemeteries


As part of my January trip to the UK, I popped up to Glasgow to see my brother, and do a cemetery visit. I went to Glenduffhill Cemetery on the morning after a short snowfall had turned the usually dreary place into something of a black and white postcard. It’s never a cheery place to visit, despite the efforts to make the gardens bloom and flourish, but the snow changed the atmosphere into something more stark, and more beautiful. Continue reading

London and back

"Created by Jim McEwan from whisky matured in American oak casks alongside Lochindaal, and chosen to represent the classic, unpeated distillery style. Bruichladdich's new signature bottling is made with 100% Scottish barley."

“Created by Jim McEwan from whisky matured in American oak casks alongside Lochindaal, and chosen to represent the classic, unpeated distillery style. Bruichladdich’s new signature bottling is made with 100% Scottish barley.”

Last weekend Susan, Lori, and I flew to London for Emma and Liam’s engagement party. The flight out (with Easyjet) was a balagan, because you have to go through check in, and all the preliminaries at Terminal 1, and then get a transfer coach across to Terminal 3. That messing about, plus the fact I was tired, made for a less than pleasant journey. Oh, and the damn seats on the flight did not move back, so that didn’t help. Then it was on to a train at Gatwick, and off at Clapham Junction where Richard kindly picked us up to take back to his place.

Although we didn’t get in till late on Thursday, we did manage to get up in time to go to shul. This was especially important, because it marked the end of the shloshim for Susan’s mum. After breakfast, Susan and I hopped on a bus to Westfield, did some shopping, and raced back in time for Shabbat. It came in at 3.45, which was somewhat of a rude reminder of a bygone life in Glasgow.

Friday night we walked along to Sarah’s parents for a lovely Shabbat evening meal. The weather was kind to us the whole time, only giving us a wee fright with some showers on the return walk.

Saturday night was the party, with Richard and Sarah’s home overrun with people having a good time. We also had a chance to catch up with some friendly faces. (I did not say old friends!)

On Sunday morning, I had time to pack and say goodbye, before starting my return  A veritable flying visit. The return flight was much better, especially because there was no transfer involved, and I got there nice and early. I had bought a collapsible suitcase for the goodies purchased there. It was pretty full…I did manage one bottle of whisky.

It’s good to be home.


Adventures in Arizona – Friday

[Background: I have traveled to Arizona for the forthcoming ConsimWorld Expo, a gathering of gamers. The plan is for me to blog about the games, of course, but also little snippets of my general experiences here. Well, that’s the plan.]

I spent Thursday travelling. I left the house at 5.00 AM and, subjectively, got to my hotel in Scottsdale Arizona about 4.00 AM Friday, having gone first to Heathrow, then Phoenix.

The flight was remarkably easy, and I managed a decent amount of sleep. The kosher food served was even edible, apart from the meat in the main course. (If the IDF is ever looking for a new supplier of boot leather, tell them to get in touch.)  There was so much food, however, I did not go hungry.

I had a very pleasant surprise during the stopover at Heathrow; after passport control and before security, in the transfer area, I bumped into Yan Tiefenbrun en route home from the Paris Air Show. I was in another world, trying to tune out the general hassle, and it was Yan who spotted me. It was so good to see him (and his colleague, Michael) and spend time before they caught the flight to Glasgow. (No, I was not tempted to join them.)

I had not been able to get a room at the convention hotel for Thursday night, so took the opportunity of booking a room in Scottsdale so as to do a bit of looking around at a different part of the Phoenix area. Old Scottsdale, in particular, is very touristy – in a nice sort of way.


  • I stayed in the Hyatt Place in Old Scottsdale. The room was big, clean, fresh, comfortable, and had all I needed. The staff were pleasant and helpful.  (No, this is not a paid endorsement; it was a nice play to stay, and I wanted to give them a mention.)
  • Everything of interest was in walking distance. If you feel suicidal. It was so hot, that walking was not really practical.
  • I took a cab to Scottsdale Fashion Square, a huge modern mall with lots and lots of shops. To my inexperienced, 99% were chain stores of one type or another.
  • There’s a free bus service round the Scottsdale area, so I used that to head to my next stops which were within a short enough distance of each other so as to allow perambulation.
  • Guidon Books is a wonderful store specializing in American Civil War and Western history. I picked up David Powell’s book on the Chickamauga campaign.
  • Poisoned Pen is another wonderful store, this one specializing in crime. I had to hold back here, but did manage some purchases for reading over Shabbat.

Although I enjoy reading on my tablet, and love the convenience of being able to get books electronically, instantly, I still very much enjoy browsing and buying in real bookshops. And, of course, there is still nothing quite like reading a (physical) book.

I could have spent hours in these shops, but time was against me, as I needed to get to the convention hotel in time to get set for Shabbat.

I now realize I did not take a single picture; I was too busy trying to take in the sights and sounds, and clearly was not in camera mode. A shame, because there are parts of Scottsdale that I wish I had more time to explore and photograph. For example, there’s an interesting waterfront development. Next time! It is more important I get pictures of the games at ConsimWorld Expo.