It’s been quite a summer on several fronts (medical issues, sorting out retirement, social security, medicare, etc), but I’ll focus in this post on getting Jack to the U.K. Britain has recently changed its visa requirements, causing a scramble of activity from ICLC, particularly Bill Sheasgreen and Claire Mokrauer-Madden, to get Dottore Gianni a Tier 2 Work Visa for a full year in the U.K. They started work well before the summer, and their request was denied twice before finally being accepted. Then we had to make sure that my end of the deal, the application for the visa, the appendix to the application, biometrics, proof of pay from Ithaca College for the last 12 months etc etc etc (I COULD go on) was in order. And processed in time to get me to London before the fall semester began.
I was moderately frantic through the whole process, calmed a good bit by Claire’s and Bill’s confidence (seeming confidence?). I was introduced to SKYPE during the process in a 90 minute chat with Claire. It wasn’t a complete skype success because I could see her but she could not see me, but the substance of the chat was more than worth it, as we went through, line by line, the application and the appendix (appendix FIVE but who other than I is counting? So now I do skype! No more details (certainly not my skype name!) from the process. Suffice to say that on Monday 20 August I was informed that I now had a U.K. entry permit and on Tuesday t21 August I received my passport with the all-important page containing the visa in it. That seems like some time ago, though last time I checked today is Wednesday 22 August! WHEW!
Later in the day I was finally able to purchase my round-trip flight to London. I leave the U.S. on 27 July and return on 7 May 2012. I have been partially packed ever since graduation – in other words I am keyed up about my last year in academe, my full year based in London and traveling to several other places during my residence there. As the blog is primarily a travel journal, in the weeks leading up to my flight from the U.S. (there’s a double meaning in that!) I’ll describe some of the places I intend to visit. And if you care to comment, please make suggestions as to what I should do in these places (I have a lot of good ideas but am always open to more), what other places I should attempt to visit, and any other thoughts you have for the good professor.
As I noted in my introduction to the blog, I have already completely booked a “highland fling.” I did a day trip to the Highlands with one of my favorite alums, Jessica Martenson, a few years ago, and it was fun, but a bit of an exhausting race to see how many sights we could see in 12 hours.
But this time I'm giving it a week. Let me tell you a bit about it. I leave London (after I’ve got there of course, heh heh) on 11 August and train to Glasgow. I’ve never been to Glasgow, even though it’s only an hour from Edinburgh, a place I’ve been many times as many of you know, some from direct experience. I was convinced that in all my trips with students to Edinburgh, if I chose to spend an afternoon in nearby Glasgow, that would be just the afternoon on which a student would break a leg (and I don’t mean that in its theatrical sense) falling down Arthur’s Seat. That has happened, but not on my watch fortunately!
I’m also taking a day train trip from Glasgow to Oban, from what I understand one that abounds in scenic views, to lunch on excellent fish (Oban is known as the seafood capital of Scotland) and to wash it down with a tasting at the Oban Distillery, home to a fine single malt Scotch!
From Glasgow I head to Inverness in the highlands, which I will also investigate, and from which I will take two other day trips: one to the Isle of Skye, the other to the Orkney Isles where I’ll see places like Skara Brae inhabited as early as 3200 B.C.!
From Inverness I head down on 18 August to Dundee on the sea, primarily because it’s close to Edinburgh, but also to nose around another interesting Scottish town. Then on 19 August I arrive in Edinburgh in time to meet the students at Waverley Station, on my last excursion to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.