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Mather and Mt Washington.

April 4, 2010

It is 4.00pm in Pittsburgh on a lovely Easter Sunday afternoon.   The cherry trees are in blossom (apparently very early) and the sun is shining but as I got up at 4.30 am on another continent  (here that would  be just before midnight yesterday, if I can put it that way) I admit to feeling a bit shattered.

Two Scottish Government Ministers at Newark Airport, New York on Easter Sunday !

Both flights were uneventful , though I wasn’t aware that Jim Mather was going to be on the same plane and didn’t notice him until about two hours into the journey – he was sitting behind me and he hadn’t seen me either.   We had a bit of a blether at Newark Airport (including on the monorail that links the terminals) but it had to be cut short as my connection was tight.

He and I both took part in Scotland Week last year , but this year he  is finishing up taking part in the Parade in New York, whilst I am moving steadily west – Pittsburgh tomorrow (for a school visit, a meeting with the Education State Secretary and then to deliver a lecture at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, and meet the Provost and the  Education Dean)  , Toronto on Tuesday  and Wednesday  – many meetings and visits including ones for SDI and Visit Scotland as well as hosting the Scotland Week reception  –  and San Francisco for the end of the week. of which much more later.

On Mt Washington with Pittsburgh behind

Obviously education will be at the forefront of my mind and I am keen to see some more different ways of doing things (as I did early last month in Finland and Sweden) and hear about common problems and solutions.   But on any of these trips – and on all of mine – there is work to be done more generally in promoting Scotland and showcasing particular strengths to particular audiences and companies.   On this trip those will be as varied as the environmentalists of the Sierra Club, or the computer gurus at Apple.

But I am getting ahead of myself.    I have never been to Pittsburgh before.  It is a steel town, and has a strong connection to Andrew Carnegie. Above the town there are a series of high bluffs, one of which is called Mt  Washington.  Unsurprisingly there is a monument at the top  of George Washington himself, deep in consultation with Guyasuta, a Seneca leader  with whom he held a famous conference here in January 1759.   The view is dramatic, but over a very different landscape – the city rises between two rivers and there are lots and lots and lots of bridges !

Time for a wee walk around the city centre and an early dinner.   After all I haven’t been to bed since yesterday !

Washington and Guyasuta in conference

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