Friday, December 28, 2012


Kevin has safely arrived in the UK to visit for two weeks and life is very, very happy. We went with my family to the British Museum today. He managed to power through the full day after flying in at 7 am and is now very deservedly crashing hard. Hopefully this means he will sleep through the night and be instantly over the jet lag!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!

It has been quite a while since I've posted...I've been rather occupied - because +Gregory Farnum, +Charles Farnum, Kendall, and Granna are in the UK for Christmas!  We have been trekking about the London-Norwich-Cambridge triangle and having a fantastic time.
A bit of a peek into the Farnum Clan's last week:

Happy Christmas from the UK!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Unitarian Carol Service

I sang tonight in the choir for the Octagon's candlelit carol service.  It was really lovely, and similar in feeling to a Christmas Eve service you'd expect from a Protestant church in the States.  The entire service was lit only by lit candles for the congregation and small reading lights for readers and singers.   The choir would sing an anthem, there would be a reading, there would be a congregational hymn, repeat.  It was quite delightful.  The Unitarian bit: readings included not only the story of Jesus' birth, but reflections on the winter solstice and other "pagan" rituals that have become part of Yuletide, how the hymns we sang weren't necessarily meant to be literal truths, and our closing hymn was "Good King Wenceslas" rather than the "Silent Night" that would traditionally finish off an explicitly Christian Christmas carol service.  And, rather than departing in silence or wishing everyone a "Merry Christmas" and heading off, we turned the lights back on and had mince pies and sherry together.  It was very English.  And very lovely.  :)

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Cambridge is only about an hour and a half away from me, but I hadn't made it before now. I had to take a friend the camera she left in London over Thanksgiving - the perfect excuse!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

To callback or not to callback...

I'm currently facing quite the dilemma:
I auditioned yesterday for "13," a play being put on by UEA's Student Drama Society. They produce several plays and musicals a year, completely extracurricularly.
What fun, right?  Totally need to be involved.  Also, "13" sounds incredibly fascinating:

‘An identical, terrifying dream haunts Londoners in the midst of economic gloom and ineffective protest. Whilst the prime minister considers a preventive war, a young man returns home with a vision for the future.’ The play focusses in on a time where spiritual belief and nightmares walk the streets, circling around the lives of 13 individuals who all fear what the future holds. Set in 2012, ‘13’ by Mike Bartlett, causes us to question our thoughts on morality, justice and our own parts to play in the fate of a terrifying future.

So I auditioned yesterday, and callbacks are today. We were told we'd find out last night if we were called back.
No email.  No Facebook message.  No text.

Okay, I think: It must be standard practice for them to tell only those they want back, and just not bother, given time crunches, saying "thanks but no thanks" to everyone else.

Except I messaged a mate of mine, and she auditioned, and got a message telling her she wasn't called back.

Do I go and check?  Or do I stay happily curled up in bed, taking care of final papers?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dinner and Herman

I had a spontaneous trip to Anne-Marie's today, home of a German friend, a two-year-old, a fun Welsh British man, and a delightful American expat.  Made dinner together (the two-year-old was a huge help, of course): butternut squash risotto with spinach and pine nuts.  Had a very varied dinner conversation: horror books and films, Israeli-Palestinian-American politics, gender quotas in politics and businesses.
I am now the proud owner of a Herman.  "Herman" is a German friendship cake - see for information on my newest small project.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Albie Sachs

Friday evening, I was very privileged to attend a lecture from Justice Albie Sachs.  Justice Sachs has been a human rights activist for all his life.  Growing up in South Africa, he faced regular threat from the apartheid government.  He was a refugee in the United Kingdom and elsewhere multiple times.  I really encourage you to read some more notes on him from the link above (good old Wikipedia) - he truly is fascinating!  In addition to racial justice activism, he authored South Africa's Constitutional Court decision to legalize gay marriage.
Justice Sachs was giving a lecture on behalf of CARA, the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics.  He discussed the importance of welcoming refugees, focusing on refugees' skills and talents to include them in society, etc.  I really appreciated his honesty, in admitting that his gratitude for the UK on taking him in while he was on the run was tempered by a good deal of anger at the UK for its colonial history and enduring racism.  Great quotations and themes from the night include "humanizing dialogue," "there's something subordinating about gratitude" - affection is better, "nobody's anointed by history to be good," how the sharing of ideas and academic movement is "internationalism at its highest," and, my personal favourite: "the good doesn't wipe out the bad, but the bad doesn't destroy the good."
I am now the happy and proud owner of a signed copy of "The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law."

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Good Morning in London

This weekend finds me once again in London, but this time with significantly fewer responsibilities and more informal fun.
I have been invited to a lecture given by Albie Sachs, an epic judge from South Africa who has worked for human rights all his life and has been in exile repeatedly, given the apartheid regime in South Africa when his work began.  Judge Sachs is hosted by CARA, the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics.  Tonight's the lecture, and I'm really looking forward to that.
On the docket for tomorrow is lunch with a good friend, meetings with other Marshall Scholars about our class service project, and dinner with a fellow Michigan State University alum at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Bar.
This morning, I met a fantastic social geographer currently teaching at King's College London.  We had a great chat about various geographers and departments in the UK for me to begin my PhD search (yes, even as I'm looking at LLMs for next year).  The current plan is an LLM 2013-2014, and a start to my PhD in fall 2014.  Though it's tempting, after my talk with Alex, to just start with him right away...

Beyond Alex, KCL's Geography Department also boasts a wonderful location.  It's very close to Trafalgar Square.  We also walked by the Somerset Ice Skating Rink, featured in so many movies!
A trip back to London just for ice-skating may be necessary...

Just to cap off a delightful morning, I made my way back to Goodenough College (where many of our London-based Marshalls live) without consulting a map or using the Tube (Underground)!  London and I are getting along famously.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

ELSA Meeting

Yesterday afternoon, the Earth & Life Systems Alliance Group held a meeting at Norwich’s Institute of Food Research on “Agricultural Transitions: Enhancing scientific impact on a global scale.”  One of my course conveners, Bruce Lankford, spoke at the event.
It was a good afternoon for feeding my inner science geek.  Heard about genetic research on crop breeds, modeling where certain crops will be able to thrive when the Earth warms, etc.  Pretty technical and lots of fun.
By far the most entertaining part of the meeting was Bruce’s lecture, during which he asked me to Vanna White for him.  When discussing irrigation and questioning concepts of “efficiency,” “waste,” and “savings,” Bruce pours marbles in a “field” (i.e., plastic tub) over a large basket.  The “wasted” water really just returns to the basket, or “watershed,” and isn’t necessarily wasted.  But if there’s another “field” nearby who is waiting for their water to be given, the “wasted” water does become an issue, just a temporal one rather than a concern of “water lost.”  I got to hold the tubs.  Definitely the crowning moment of my masters thus far…  ;)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More options for next year...

I had a great chat with the coordinator for the Marshall Scholarship administration yesterday. I have been encouraged to consider LLMs at Aberdeen and Edinburgh as well, and development studies programmes at the University of Sussex.
I really must narrow this down eventually.
The good news: I don't need to get applications in until late January. The great news: there is finding available for my traveling to all those universities to explore them and chat with course directors. One major tour of Scotland coming up!

Friday, November 23, 2012


Flat 21 of Mary Chapman Court did not mess around with Thanksgiving this year! We had a wonderful dinner with 11 people last night. Nationalities included American, British, Kazakhstani, Thai, and Bangladeshi. Food included a whole turkey (which was cooked brilliantly by the lovely Audrey), mashed potatoes, au gratin potatoes, mac and cheese, asparagus, rolls, turkey gravy, "cranberry sauce" (Norwich ran out of cranberries. Sowe hadcraiisins with apples and blackberries. But it tasted quite similar and went over very well!), pumpkin pie, stuffing, and chocolate caramel bars, almost all of which were homemade.
We had a ton of fun. A group of people from very different cultures who don't really know each other is always a bit nerve-wracking, but it went over brilliantly. All was fun and laughter, and it was really fun to introduce our foreign friends to the insanity of Turkey Day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Next year...

Where and what should Becca study next year? Votes, comments, and suggestions are now invited!

I am planning to do another one-year programme, followed by a three-year DPhil or PhD in geography. So I am leaning toward a non-explicitly environmental programme next year, just to dive into a different way of thinking. The current top two programmes are:

  1. LLM at the University of Glasgow in International Law and Security.
  2. LLM at Queen's University Belfast in Human Rights.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Venturing to class...

I left my flat today for the first time since Friday night. I'm still feeling rather shaky, but wanted to attempt at least a half day. I warned my social analysis professor at the beginning of the class: "This is the first time I've left my flat since Friday night, so I'm sorry if I have to leave early. But I love Harri Englund [the author we're discussing today], so I had to come." Social analysis instructor: "Alright, well, I'm sure it's reciprocal." Hahaha. Yes, I'm sure a distinguished professor of anthropology at Cambridge knows of and greatly appreciates my respect for his work. Thanks, Ben.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Uh oh

Becca is experimenting about whether or not being sick in the UK is more enjoyable than it is in the US. So far, result are inconclusive. She'll get back to you on that.

Friday, November 9, 2012


As a fellow Marshall Scholar pitot: "It's cute watching you kids back in America get so excited about "Skyfall." Advantage to living in the UK not often thought much about: certain movies premiere here earlier. Such as the British ones.
I haven't actually SEEN the new James Bond yet. I am not really that big a fan - too much violence. But it's fun being able to hold the possibility over my US friends who are fanatics.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I got to play with the two-year-old today. It had been far tool long since I'd seen him, so that was delightful.
The morning included a dance party session, during which two stuffed rats were made to sing and act such childhood favourites as "Somebody to Love" and Barry Manilow's "It's a Miracle." I take no responsibility for the rats' actions, nor will I confess or deny having played "Le Jazz Hot." The kid's dad is a jazz pianist, and it definitely shows. Played some jazz and he ran spastically and ecstatically around the room, repeatedly jumping onto his "stage."
When I left, he cried. Must be doing something right!

Sunday, November 4, 2012



I owe you all a blog post!  London was fantastic; the Development Studies Association Conference was delightful; "Matilda the Musical" was fabulous.

I need to write an essay, you might have to just sit in suspense.  And then I promise a vlog!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ode to my iTARDIS

Results-Based Management

This reading week began with a lovely and very useful workshop on results-based management. We were focused on logical frameworks, ensuring that grant-funded projects in development and poverty issues are actually doing what they mean to be doing. It was primarily an exercise in learning the current language and framing used by donor agencies, but it was really helpful. It was particularly interest for me, because we did this at GenCen all the time...and I would frequently proofread or format the frameworks, but I never really understood why on earth we used the particular format we did. I get it now! :)
The instructors were particularly good - I really enjoyed them both as instructors and as people. Current PhD students who have a good deal of practitioner work, so they bring a wealth of experience in bridging the practice-academic divide.

Next up: some interesting talks on campus, a job interview to be an admissions ambassador for North America, and a trip to London!

Kevin meets Sandy

While I lolly-gag about without classes during reading week, Kevin is also out of classes...except he doesn't have classes because his town is being ravaged by Frankenstorm. I'm sure there will be some updates on his blog, so be sure to check it out!

I will update you about the great workshop I am participating in tonight when it is done. :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Happy Daylight Savings Time!

Clocks in the UK shifted back an kid at 2 am this morning. I am always appreciative of extra sleep, of course, but it isn't as wonderful as usual because this is reading week for me and I do not have classes. So the extra sleep could be acquired regardless. Ah well.
I will be participating in a grant workshop, interviewing for a job, visiting friends in London, volunteering at a conference, and writing an essay this week. Here goes!

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Greetings from Becca's iPhone 5, featuring unlimited Internet. You're in trouble now...the posts will be unceasing. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rose Tavern

Last night, the Water Security and Climate Change students had a social night at the Rose Tavern in Norwich, accompanied by our course directors and other instructors.  It was a lovely time; got to chat more with several of the PhD students and instructors I haven't had much yet in class.  I haven't been too all that many English pubs, in reality...this and the place Reen and I went for dinner on Monday night are really the only ones.  To be rectified, I suppose...

Education in Tunisia

A few rambling and not all that fleshed out thoughts on educational investment in Tunisia, written for my "Introduction to Education for Development" class.

Imagine a country that has actually managed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education (European Back for Reconstruction and Development, 2012).  A country with a virtually 100 per cent youth literacy rate (World Bank, 2012).  A country ranked in the top ten globally for its science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education (World Economic Forum, 2009: 230-231).  A country where women outnumber men in tertiary education enrollment (Millot at al., 2003; European Back for Reconstruction and Development, 2012).
This country actually exists.  On paper, Tunisia has done everything right, in the education for development realm at least.  Over one-fifth of government expenditures are invested in education (World Bank, 2012).  Ben Ali’s government bought into – and seriously invested in – a popular assumption about how to grow a country.  They focused on education, particularly in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, and worked toward basic gender equality in education.  The government minimized the rural-urban gap in school enrollment so prevalent in developing countries.
Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, Tunisia was touted as an example for developing countries.  Here was a country that did it right, that properly prioritized and was well on the way to economic prosperity and inclusion in the society of “developed” nations.
And then came 17 December 2010, the self-immolation of a young Tunisian street vendor that sparked widespread protests in Tunisia and throughout the region.  By 14 January 2011, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s government was no more.
This was not, to say the least, how the story was supposed to go.  Development economists and others have been selling a promise for decades, a path leading from incapable, ignorant people to a skilled, productive workforce through investment in human capital and the promotion of education.  Making education a government priority is supposed to result in prosperity, not overthrow.
What went wrong?  Using ideas from three dominant frameworks of education (human capital, human rights, and capabilities), this paper will critique the “educational myth” that guided Tunisia and falsely promised individual- and state-level success.  The paper will conclude with some suggestions about improving educational investment so that Tunisia, once an exemplar for the “right” way to do things, does not become merely the first in a long list of countries made chaotic by a narrow model of education.

Buying and Selling the Myth
The government was not the only actor in Tunisia who bought into a myth about education.  The state, in turn, sold the idea of citizens successfully navigating several years of school, receiving a valuable degree, and finding a good job with that degree.  It is a common story in our world, this door that education is supposed to open.
But the realities in Tunisia simply do not allow for this myth to play out in many people’s lives.  Unemployment in the country has been above 13 per cent for the past decade (World Bank, 2012).  These rates are even worse (above 20 per cent) among individuals with higher education (Achy, 2011: 8), because Tunisia’s economic growth strategies have focused on low-skill sector investment with cheap labor even as its government has focused on intense educational improvement (ibid: 3).  Thus, though some data seems to indicate that there are jobs available in Tunisia, it seems likely “that increased education raises the expectations of these new entrants to the labor market, making them reluctant to take the jobs that are actually available” (Rama, 1998: 71).
A serious mismatch has arisen between educated skills and existing jobs; this no doubt was a significant contributor to the political unrest in 2010 and 2011 (World Economic Forum, 2011: 6).  The perception of overeducated yet unemployed individuals in the country is so strong in the country that several news outlets reported that the street vendor whose self-immolation set off the Arab Spring had a university degree, even though he never graduated high school (Ryan, 2011).  Many of the leaders and participants in the protests, however, were unemployed youth with university degrees.  As Achy (2011: 10, 17) puts it,
Education turned out to be a double-edged sword by raising the expectations of educated youths and fueling their frustrations. Most educated youth choose to wait for jobs in the formal and public sectors, which offer better wages and benefits. On average, each university graduate remains unemployed for two years and four months, which is nine months longer than for of nongraduates…
The poor and middle class invest in the education of their children and reap frustration and unmet dreams and expectations.
The implied guarantee that a good education provides a good job is further confounded when children and youth from rural areas generally need to travel for their education, often resulting in disconnects with village life and the creation of local power struggles (Hill and Woodland, 2005).  Given the tensions between urban and rural, traditional and modern, and the apparent mirage of education’s promise, it is not surprising that the populace rose up in protest in what some are labeling a “higher education bubble burst” similar to the US’ housing bubble burst (Carney, 2011).

Too Much Education?
A complete picture of Tunisia’s economic and educational situation begs the question “Could there be such a thing as ‘too much’ education?”  This paper will conclude by analyzing this question through three dominant frameworks of education: human capital, rights, and capabilities (Robeyns, 2006).
From a strict human capital understanding, there may indeed be too much education happening in some areas (Woodhall, 1987).  Human capital is based on the assumption that current investment in individual’s skills and abilities can reap future benefits through higher wages and the like.  In Tunisia, though, the rate of return on this investment is currently rather minimal for both the individual and the state; indeed, it is all too often essentially zero in terms of wages and productivity.  If the purpose of education is to invest in human capital, you can indeed have too much investment, especially when human investment and investment in other forms of capital are unevenly spread. A proponent of human capital might argue that there is nothing wrong with the myth of “educationàgood job”; instead, Tunisia’s government did not properly diversify investment.  The solution, then, is to ensure that human investment matches other investments, so that the kinds of jobs and workers available balance.
Human capital is often critiqued by human rights advocates arguing that education should be regarded as a human right, valuable in its own right and not merely as a tool to enhance productivity.  Tunisia’s focus on and investment in universal primary education is important in the human rights framework regardless of whether or not an educated populace is more economically valuable.  As a friend put it, “what’s wrong with having philosophical factory workers?”  But most human rights advocates would also consider the ability to have a job or make a living a human right.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists “protection against unemployment” among its rights (United Nations, 1948).  The human rights framework is notoriously bad at making value judgments between rights.  While there may be strong ethical arguments for refusing to prioritize certain rights, this stance makes it difficult to determine whether Tunisia should be chided for providing too much education or too few jobs given its limited resources.  A human rights advocate would probably argue adamantly against the idea of too much education but might concede that governments should ensure all other human rights are met before pushing past primary education levels.
The capabilities approach to education believes “the intrinsic aim of educational policy should be to expand people’s capabilities” (Robeyns, 2006).  The idea of “capabilities” focuses on ensuring that individuals have the freedoms to be and do what they wish, living the lives they have reason to value (Sen, 2000).  Robeyns (2006) argues that the capabilities approach is the best of the three frameworks in acknowledging the many roles that education can take (increasing wages, expanding values, sharing cultures, enhancing enjoyment from life, etc.).  From a capabilities standpoint, it is difficult to think of any level of education as “too much,” unless it is a faulty education that is detracting from, rather than adding to, capabilities.
Here is the true question and problem: What kind of education?  Any amount of the “wrong” kind of education is too much.  But what makes for the “wrong” kind of education?  Each of the three frameworks can shed some light on this issue.  From a human capital standpoint, education that is provided promising future returns on investment when those returns are not truly present is the wrong kind.  Tunisia’s training a huge number of engineers without creating an equivalent number of engineering jobs made for bad educational policy.  From a human rights perspective, education that negatively affects your own or another’s rights is the wrong kind of education.  Models of education that systematically destroy or offend cultures are the wrong kind of education.  Importing an educational system and knowledge from the West to rural Tunisia, without proper precautions and alterations, is likely to do exactly that.  The wrong kind of education, from a capabilities standpoint, has already been alluded to.  Education must expand people’s capabilities and abilities to live a fulfilling life.  In Tunisia, educating a generation with a myth in place about the promised returns of an education detracted from that generation’s ability to live happy lives.  The current attempts at educational reforms going on in Tunisia should not focus on how to get more people in schools; instead, they must focus on creating schools that people want to go to, with transparency about the purpose of schooling and a multi-potentiality of uses for that education.  We must somehow find a way to make educational systems that enable people to be fulfilled in many walks of life, not merely one narrow path whose dominance is quickly declining.

References Cited
Achy, Lahcen, 2011.  “Tunisia’s Economic Challenges.”  The Carnegie Papers.  [Online].  Available at: [accessed 24 October 2012].
Carney, John, 2011.  “Here’s The Real Story of What’s Happening in Tunisia: A Higher Education Bubble.”  [Online].  Available at: [accessed 24 October 2012].
European Back for Reconstruction and Development, 2012.  “Country Assessment: Tunisia.”  [Online].  Available at: [accessed 24 October 2012].
Hill, Jenny and Wendy Woodland, 2005.  “Globalisation and Culture: A case study of two subterranean communities in southern Tunisia.”  Geography 90 (1), pp. 42-53.
Millot, B., Waite, J. and Zaiem, H., 2003. “Tunisia.”  In D. Teferra and P. G. Altbach, eds. African Higher Education: An International Reference Handbook. Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, pp. 601-610.
Rama, Martin, 1998.  “How Bad is Unemployment in Tunisia?  Assessing Labor Market Efficiency in a Developing Country.”  The World Bank Research Observer 13 (1): pp. 59-77.
Robeyns, Ingrid, 2006.  “Three models of education: Rights, capabilities and human capital.”  Theory and Research in Education 4 (1): pp. 69-84.
Ryan, Yasmine, 2011.  “The tragic life of a street vendor.”  Al Jazeera, 20 January 2011.  [Online].  Available at: [accessed 24 October 2012].
Sen, Amartya, 2000. Development as freedom. New York: Anchor Books.
United Nations, 1948.  “Universal Declaration on Human Rights.”  [Online].  Available at: [accessed 24 October 2012].
Woodhall, M.,1987. “Human capital concepts.”  In G. Psacharopoulos, ed.  Economics of Education: Research and Studies. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
World Bank, 2012.  Tunisian Country Data.  [Online].  Available at: [accessed 24 October 2012].
World Economic Forum, 2009.  Africa Competitiveness Report 2009.  [Online].  Available at [accessed 24 October 2012].
World Economic Forum, 2011.  Africa Competitiveness Report 2011.  [Online].  Available at [accessed 24 October 2012].

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Participant Observation

I had what should have been a long day today – four two-hour classes, back to back, straight from 9 am to 5 pm.  But the final class of the day was an active class on participant observation, during which we were sent out into campus and told to identify an issue/topic/problem and try to collect some ethnographic data on it.
My group and I headed straight for the door of the main Arts Learning Hub (central office), and took note of the apparent sex, nationality, and staff/student affiliation of people walking through the doors.  We also noted down whether or not people used the mobility access button to have the doors open automatically or held the door open for others.  With over 100 individuals in about thirty minutes, we almost certainly misclassified some of them (I had some staff vs. student debates, and I’m sure some of the people we wrote down as British were, in fact, American or from somewhere else in Europe.
We came back together as a group to discuss the issues we’d faced and the benefits or drawbacks of ethnography and participant observation.  I frantically analyzed data, which I had been recording in Excel.  Approximately 35% of people used the button, even though none of them seemed to have mobility concerns.  Use of the button was pretty well spread across age and sex, but British individuals seemed far more likely to use it.  (Of course, it’s very possible they were also far more likely to know where it was and be accustomed to having an automatic door opener at every door).
Anyways, that was a fun and fairly light-hearted way to end a day discussing oceanic sulphate emissions, human capital investment concerns, and Gambian conceptions of reproduction.  I am now off to have an authentic Chinese dinner, cooked by Yarui, a student who was hoping to swap accommodation with me but is still living in Mary Chapman Court and has actually come to find he really likes it.


I got to see Reenie today!  One of my good friends’ mums from Battle Creek was in London with her sister.  Her sister was at a conference; Loreen was just having some well-deserved fun after finishing another 1000-mile walk along the lakes of the United States.  Reen is a published author and quite the Great Lakes explorer – check out
Anyways, we had a lovely time catching up and exploring London a bit.  Loreen knows the city much better than I do, as I’ve only been where the Marshall Orientation took me.  I will be going back to the city next week during part of my school’s Reading Week (i.e., no classes or seminars), so hopefully I’ll see a bit more then.
My favorite part of the day, though, was when my train was delayed…because there was a cow on the track.  Yes, indeed.  Welcome to the United Kingdom, where things that you mock in romantic comedies as being unrealistic actually do happen.  I was not, however, rescued from the cow delay by a Scottish lord on horseback.  Which is really more than fine with me.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, please ignore.  Just know that rom coms really are rather egregiously ridiculous.
Then again, perhaps a Scottish lord wouldn’t have gone amiss…unfortunately, someone took majorly ill in a train at a station ahead of us.  Because of the emergency services dispatched, our train was freakishly delayed.  At one point, they announced our train would be terminating early and we’d have to find other connections to our final destinations.  And then we proceeded to pass right through the station they’d told us we were stopping at…the poor conductor doing the announcing was as confused as the rest of us.  Turns out we did go straight to London, but we didn’t make all of the stops we’d planned, I don’t think.  In any case, Loreen and I found each other eventually, but it was not exactly the easy in-and-out of London I had been expecting!  We had a lovely day, even though we didn’t make the wonderful lunch reservation Reen had made.  Alack and alas.