Monday, June 30, 2014

The new camouflage ~~~


Arriving back to a garden which could now be classified 'a jungle', I was happy to see 
a few remaining sunflowers blooming around the fig tree………………………………
and then this morning a bright yellow camouflaged couple munching happily on the seeds.  

Welcome Mr. & Mrs American Goldfinch.


Grabbed the closest camera and had to take these through the dining room window 
so not great…………but you get the picture so to speak.

This one is Mrs. - less colorful but still such a pretty yellow bird.  
Goldfinches are always bright sparks in the garden.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

A visit to Beaulieu, Hampshire~~~


OK, here I'm going back in time to recap our Baltic cruise.
All started out on such a pleasant note when our dear friends Jean and Mike 
drove up from Devon to meet us for a 24 hour catch up on life.
We had a great supper at the 800 year old Duke of Wellington pub in 
Southampton, passing through the historic Westgate arch to where excellent 
fish and chips were waiting!



The following morning, prior to embarking Queen Victoria, Jean and Mike took us for a ride through the New Forest area to the historic village of Beaulieu. Last time I was there was around 1960 for the annual Beaulieu Jazz Festival!  The village is beautiful and it was an unexpected pleasure to enjoy the English countryside on a perfect Spring day.




After a snack lunch in the sunshine, we were driven to the port. The last time I was in Southampton was in 1964 when I sailed home from New York for Christmas on the original Cunard Queen Mary - she is now permanently docked in Long Beach, California, and is a floating hotel.


Next time……sailing to the Baltic on a beautiful ship.

Many thanks for the get well messages - getting there slowly but surely.


Friday, June 27, 2014

High Flyers~~~


If you have followed my travels you'll know I fly long distances quite a lot.
I love airports where I can watch planes arrive and depart, wondering where they 
came from or are flying off to, east, west, north, south………to all corners of the world.
 Some airlines paint their planes with brilliant colors, decals, logos, swooshes and lettering.


On the tarmac at London's Heathrow, a gigantic airport with planes landing and taking off continuously, 
most colorful was Thai Airways which I have flown on and found to be an excellent airline. 
Photo taken from the lounge window.


Classic now reigns for British Airways planes again. Some years back, in the late 90's, they 
painted their tail-fins in controversial designs which did not fare well with traditionalists.
Being the world's largest hub for British Airways, there were rows and rows of their planes 
at Heathrow - I took this pic as we were positioning for take-off.


Eight hours later, after a very smooth flight across the pond, I was looking down on 
North Carolina. Having a daily direct flight London to Raleigh is a joy - we are 
so thankful for this easy access to Europe.

I've come back with a horrible chest cold and laryngitis - for once I'm quiet!
Hope to catch up with everyone soon - will be sharing much more of the 
fabulous Baltic cruise and my time in the UK.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mr. Selfridge has left the building…



If you, like me, have been watching, and I'm certain enjoying, the series Mr. Selfridge, you will know this amazing department store on Oxford Street, London's main shopping venue.
Monday was as usual a busy day on the street and it was easy to see Summer tourists are now arriving - and Wimbledon is in full swing also.

I see our big American Airlines bird at the jetway across from the hotel room window so we're off to catch a taxi shortly and will be heading back across the pond.  Will be in touch later once settled in at home - looking forward to getting back after a great trip.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Taking Bath with a friend!!!!!


When home in the UK I'm always on the lookout for this particular sign of course!

This photo was taken in the famous Mr. B's bookshop in Bath - Edward, the charming most knowledgeable salesperson, talked me into purchasing a couple of books I might find hard to locate in the US, and the sweet lady is my dear friend Ruth who drove up from her Wiltshire village, with her husband Mike, to show us 'Insider's Bath'.
Ruth 'found me' via my blog, although not a blogger herself, when researching Penang's Maison Bleue some time back, and having visited there and written a post on the gorgeous house I popped up via Google. We have corresponded ever since, with Ruth gifting me with some fabulous books from Mr. B's.


Along with Ruth and Mike came the ubiquitous English picnic hamper. The amazing lunch, served under what has to be a 500 year old tree with roots running deep in front of the magnificent 
Royal Crescent, lovingly prepared, and included Ruth's home baked walnut bread, some fresh chilled wine, and perfectly poached salmon with healthy salads, in their historic cottage, complete with an inglenook fireplace and beautiful cottage flower garden - which next visit I hope to stroll through!

A perfect English Summer's day at the Royal Crescent in Bath.

We're enjoying a few days in London now. Will walk along the Thames River this afternoon with my family who have come over from France to share what is another perfect Summer day.
 More later……………


Friday, June 20, 2014

Beautiful days in Bath, England~~~


My view this morning from the hotel window - looking toward Pulteney Bridge.



Yesterday afternoon - the famous bridge from the other side with the waterfall.
This is the area where Javert (Russell Crowe) falls into the 'Seine' in the recent 
wonderful film version of Les Miserables.


A snippet from The Roman Baths - looking forward to sharing this wonderful
piece of history and all of fabulous Bath later.
Off now with friends to a jolly picnic lunch at The Royal Crescent.
Weather perfect - in fact the loveliest of English Summer days - we are
so lucky.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Reaching Norway~~~

Arriving in Kristiansand, Norway yesterday.





Leaving Norway last evening in a heavy swell and by night we were rocking and rolling 
across the North Sea.
Now on the last leg of the journey and will arrive back in Southampton, England early 
tomorrow morning.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

A quick look at Stockholm ~~~


These stops along the Baltic Sea have been fabulous - not more than a day in each city

(except in St. Petersburg where we had two) so a quick glimpse required much fancy 
footwork over the cobblestones…..

 …..and several stops at sidewalk cafes to rest our legs while sipping coffee and tasting local delicacies!

 At the royal palace we were able to watch the Changing of The Guard.

Many more pics to share with you later.

Just spent today in Copenhagen, Denmark. Now back on the ship and will be heading 
to Norway tonight. The weather has been grand - how lucky we are.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Photo Challenge for June - Stormy Weather


I'm cruising and have to make this quick!  Joining in Donna's always fun Personal Photo Challenge.
All pics taken with my Olympus SP-590UZ with a little editing via PicMonkey.


A sunny welcome followed by a sudden and quite unexpected snowstorm - even the
penguins seemed startled - and I was grateful I had a big warm parka and gloves.

Macquarie Island, Australia - the sub-Antarctic Islands cruise on M/S Orion - 2011

See more here - http://abreathoffreshair-mary.blogspot.com/2012/01/magical-macquarie-island-part-i.html


The old city of Hue, Vietnam - December 2012
It poured down hard but was so very beautiful, the rainstorms went on and on - sightseeing 
was definitely soggy!  It was of course "the wet", one of the two seasons in this part of the world.

Hue, Vietnam, still in the pelting rain - "taxi anyone?"
Big sales on plastic ponchos that day in December, 2012

To see more of that damp trip go here - http://abreathoffreshair-mary.blogspot.com/2011/12/taking-long-way-home-from-vietnam.html

Pop on over to visit Donna at this month's Personal Photo Challenge - http://apersonalphotochallenge.blogspot.com



Thursday, June 12, 2014

From Russia with love~~~~~~~

 Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg


Catherine Palace, St. Petersburg

So much to share with you later from beautiful St. Petersburg ~ here's just a teaser of the beautiful places we visited in the past two days - and the weather was so kind to us.

On the high seas again today in rain showers heading to Stockholm.

Lovely cruise so far ~ wish you were all here.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Raleigh to Southampton to Sea……..



 Flying into Heathrow….then south to the port of Southampton….


….not one but all three beautiful Cunard Queens showed up!  Above the Queen Elizabeth 
just leaving the evening we arrived…….

 ….then Queen Mary 2 arrived and docked….

 …..and not long after our liner, Queen Victoria (in background) came into view and docked - we 
saw all three from our hotel window which was a real treat.

Now into our third day at sea and heading for the first port of call tomorrow, Tallinn, Estonia.
The weather is fabulous…everything is fabulous!

Tea time now - here's raising a nice cup of tea and a cucumber sandwich 
to you dear friends.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

At sea …………


Sailing on Queen Victoria toward Tallinn, Estonia. Beautiful weather - everything great on board. 
Yesterday's exercise on the Promenade Deck after enjoying far too many meals!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

CHEERIO…………………as we fly away!


We're off across the pond this evening! Arrive at Heathrow in the morning, then hop on a coach for the hour plus ride to Southampton. Our wonderful friends Jean and Mike from Devon will be meeting us for an evening of dining and chatting, catching up with all the news. They are staying over at our hotel so they can spend the following morning with us prior to our embarking the Queen Victoria. I feel so fortunate to have one of my very dearest school friends still so close that she, and her lovely hubby, would drive all that way across the south of England for a little visit with us. Jean and I shared school days and fun days as teens. Later, after I emigrated to the USA, we kept in touch, always got together when I visited home, and they came to visit me here in Raleigh once.  
Something very special, Jean was a super, caring friend to my mother in her later years, helping when I could not be there, my mother loved her and Mike very much. Jean you were the best ~ I've always been so grateful to have you as our friend. A tear falling here ~ I'll be hugging you both soon!

Packing update:
No, didn't manage to get everything in that one suitcase. With a pout and a sigh I had to hang a few clothes back in the closet, but I am taking all the shoes as planned - one pair tucked into Bob's luggage, another in my carryon bag, the others in my checked bag. Happy feet here!

Next post will be from across the pond dear readers…………………

Monday, June 2, 2014

Smooth sailing……



We're hoping for smooth sailing, warm temperatures, plenty of walking 
along the cobblestoned streets of old cities, history lessons, photo ops galore, 
new friendships, and an all around jolly good time!
Will try to keep in touch if the Internet cooperates.

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