Friday, August 31, 2012


I'm about to leave home for a few weeks, but first I 
get to join in Claudia's Saturday fun blog party 
over at Mockingbird Hill Cottage, one of my favorite 
blogs for several years. 
Participants are challenged each week to show one 
favorite thing which she/he really enjoys in life. 
It can be just about ANYTHING, no holds barred, and there 
are no complicated rules and regulations, thanks Claudia!

This is the cover of my much treasured vintage travel brochure, circa 1963, depicting my home town in Devon, England. What could be a more favorite thing than something pertaining to HOME! 

Leaving home and crossing the pond almost 50 years ago was the biggest step of my young life. I was 18 and in search of adventure. I had no money for travel, but I was young, perhaps a tad foolish, and able to work, so working abroad was the only way. My parents encouraged me to go which made it easier to leave. I arrived in Washington, D.C., got my Green Card, was working as a secretary within the week, and planned to stay a year before heading back home again! 

Fast forward.......worked, met Paula, met and married Bob, raised a family, and went home again to England many times as a visitor, but never to live. Regrets, few, America has been good to me, but England will always be my true home. I often turn the pages of this old brochure. The photos show my hometown as it was when I was growing up. Do I still get homesick? Yes, I most certainly do!  

Stop over at Claudia's blog, Mockingbird Hill Cottage
and join in the first fun
Saturday A Favorite Thing. 

I may be absent for a few weeks if I can't get Internet 
on the ship in Australia, but I'll be 
back before you know it!

Leaving home and husband!

I'm a homebody!  
I love pottering around in my little 
cottage home and garden.

Yes, you may be laughing and thinking, sure, but she's always off somewhere else!
True lately. Although I crossed the pond when heading home a lot over the past fifty years, and have visited every US state, Mexico, and much of Canada, I was never an 'adventurer' taking off on expedition type trips to the far reaches of the planet.

Actually this is really a post about my nearest and dearest, Bob my husband.

Bob had always travelled much more than me. He saw most of Europe in the sixties when drafted into the US Army and stationed in Germany just before we married. When he returned to his job here he travelled often for business in the US and Canada, also in the UK. Sometimes he went back to the UK with me to visit my family and friends, and we managed some trips to my family now living in France. He took me to Italy when I longed to see Tuscany.

At Sea ~ on the Queen Elizabeth heading to Mumbai, India ~ 2012

Bob has a gigantic map of the world on the wall of his office upstairs! There are dozens of colored push pins stuck in it, all places HE has visited! He likes to show it off ~ well he did until Paula started inviting me to travel with her two years ago!  Now we have this ongoing discussion about two maps (no way, they take up too much wall space), or each choose one color pin and stick them in the same old map. I might just beat him one of these days! I'm going to choose blue push pins - I'll let you know when there are more of those than the color he chooses.

 Non-alcoholic fruity aperitif served before afternoon tea on level 122 of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai ~ 2012

This year has also been a great travel year for Bob. He's come along with us, seen the same amazing countries, enjoying everything, and shares vivid memories of wild and crazy things we've done such as ziplining in Hawaii, afternoon tea high in Dubai, riding elephants in Botswana, and standing on the edge of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe! He isn't coming to Australia with us next week - this one is just we two old friends adventuring forth again while still able.  

Just wanted Bob to know how grateful I am that he pushes me out the door, spins me around, points me west in Paula's direction (she lives in California), and tells me to go and have a fabulous adventure with my best friend. He'll eat out, launder the towels, iron his own shirts, and shop for necessities! 

Thanks dear - I'll be missing you but before you know it, 
I'll be home again.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Balancing act....................

This week...........................

 .....................has been a balancing act.

Lots to accomplish before leaving next Tuesday.

A little time spent pruning and tidying up 
in the garden...................

..............and time to watch a sudden influx of 
beautiful butterflies enjoying nectar from the end of 
Summer butterfly bush and roses.

Sorting through.........organizing.........decision making.........and just hanging on. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Just looking....................

Sunday afternoon............a brief stop at SuzAnna's Antiques.  Hello dear Susie - missed you. Hugs also for sweet Jasmin (our granddaughter) back from her California vacation at the lake and working there on the weekends again. So many things teens need/want and earning their own money is important.  
I forgot to take a camera but had my iPhone to take a few quick snaps.  

Loved this little corner in the shop.......a juxtaposition 
of beautiful vintage things, once loved, perhaps treasured, against the old painted wood siding.

SuzAnna's Antiques..............just looking is always a step back in time, a chance to rest your eyes on little snippets of old beauty, loved and lost, or given away..............for someone else to enjoy.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Which book for Australia?

I have to choose a book to take with me on this next's something I do every time I'm away for a while. At sea there's often down time, sporadic and very slow Internet to post blog content or send e-mails. I look for a comfy deck chair, in the shade if in a warm climate, or curl up in an armchair in one of the lounges when it's chilly. I also enjoy reading a chapter or two before turning out the light at night. Above are some of the more decorative books around the cottage - of course they're not in the running for a journey thousands of miles from home.

I've narrowed it down to two paperbacks, one thick and bulky, the other slim and light. I'm thinking of another trip planned for next year.....a lengthy adventure where a thick book will definitely be required to while away time on the ocean. That said, the smaller one will be accompanying me to Australia......and the title you ask? 

It's THE COLOR OF TEA by Hannah Tunnicliffe which I 
received as the lucky winner from Marilyn of 
Delights of the Heart in her recent giveaway.

Marilyn, I'll be thinking of you as I turn the 
pages while the ship rocks gently on those 
hot nights ahead - thanks again for the sweet gift 
which will be tucked into my bag.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Late Summer blues............

Lately the weather hasn't been great. 
The skies are often cloud covered, it's still hot and now more humid than the earlier weeks of Summer have been this year, and it rains almost every day.............often heavy, soaking rain. Making up for the dry conditions we had earlier, I know I shouldn't complain when many of you in the Midwest are so in need of rain. Lazy, sunny days of late Summer just aren't popping up, and each afternoon is a big let down with no porch sitting or gazebo gazing..........just staying inside the cottage away from the swarming mosquitoes whose numbers increase by leaps and bounds as dusk encroaches and more rain falls.

It rained most of the night. I awoke several times, listening until it lulled me back to sleep.
Perhaps today will be a beautiful one.......once over the somewhat dreary start. Feeling a nudge of soft, damp morning air as I opened the front door, I popped outside to take a few snaps of the open Morning Glories, still clambering up the front porch, their blue much bluer than the sky.

The next few days may be brighter. Afternoon tea in the gazebo is a possibility, even sipping an aperitif on the front porch without booming thunder, flashes of lightning, and soaking rain. Of course bug repellent will still be needed, but we know this is not a perfect world.

Please can we have just a few dry, sunny, old-fashioned late Summer days, before the children return to school next week, and unwelcome hurricanes consider heading toward our precious Carolina coast!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Destination west - red rocks and waterfalls......................

When I started pulling out clothing appropriate for my upcoming trip to Australia I ended up with the hodgepodge shown here on the rack. Speaking of which, this item is a most useful and inexpensive buy from The Container Store - I'm loving it. I used it to organize the last few trips, setting it up in the guest room, then collapsing it and packing away in the storage area until now. I must admit that the above clothes have been changed several times since this photo was taken a few weeks back. Remember now, I don't mind packing, it's the choosing part that's so hard for me!

Of course editing will have to happen, no way can I get all this in that one duffel I plan to haul - shoes and boots for walking, riding, climbing, paddling (OMG, why do I always want to take so many), hats for shading red hair under the blazing midday sun, hiding wet hair if I decide to swim in a waterfall, along with the teetering pile of miscellany gradually growing underneath the rack. At least I can see what's there, much easier than working out of the hidden depths of a dark closet and numerous drawers.

Hey, wait a minute, did I just say Australia?
Sure enough I'll be heading there soon with Paula. I'll be meeting her in California, we'll fly to Sydney, then across that vast continent to Broome. This coastal area of Western Australia is called The Kimberley. To see the awesome scenery a boat is required to follow, and access, the coast north toward Darwin.

It's a thrill knowing that we'll be on the ORION again, the beautiful small expedition ship we took last year to visit the Sub-Antarctic IslandsWe journeyed from Auckland, New Zealand to Hobart, Tasmania, many, many nautical miles across an empty ocean, didn't pass a single ship on the way, but had such a wonderful expedition to islands such as the Antipodes and Macquarie.

It was late afternoon when I gazed across Hobart's waterfront from my hotel window watching Orion sail away.....I stayed until she passed from view and felt quite sad. The expedition to the Sub-Antarctic Islands had been such a thrilling experience. I didn't think I would ever have the chance to board this perfect small ship again.

I'll share more of this trip soon. If you've visited 
The Kimberley and have any tips for me, I'd love 
to hear from you. Please be kind and don't mention the heat, 
the size of the crocodiles, or the many venomous snakes, 
thanks so much!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Last days and nights at Mala Mala, South Africa...............

Sunset on Mala Mala ~ the Drakensberg Mountains, rising to 
11,424 feet in the distance.

Evening game drives on Mala Mala Game Reserve brought spectacular sightings with many animals on the hunt ~ lion, leopard, wild dogs, white rhinos etc. We were never disappointed. The remaining days were beautiful under the clear blue skies, warming up to comfortable temperatures for animal and bird sightings....and of course elevenses and sundowners in the bush!

 Crested Barbet

 Magpie Shrike

 Marabou Stork

Brown-hooded Kingfisher

 Lilac-breasted Roller

 Cape Glossy Starling

The elephant herds were huge this visit, and 
each day we enjoyed time spent watching these amazing 
families go about their daily routine.

Rattray's Camp on Mala Mala is a stunning place to stay. 
I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to visit here 
twice enabling me to enjoy the best wildlife viewing, 
the excellent accommodations, and the great people 
who work here.

This is the final post on my recent safari.  It was amazing.  
I'm so happy my husband was able to come along this time.  
I thank my best friend Paula for making it all possible............and 
I'd love to do it all over again some day!

I really hope you enjoyed this journey and viewing the 
incredible wildlife. This IS Africa and I've tried my best
 to share its amazing beauty with you.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Things are looking up!

Giraffe - Giraffe Camelopardlis

The tallest animal in the world, the giraffe, with 
its long neck, is an unmistakable part of African wildlife. 
Its specific name, Camelopardalis refers to its size, 
"big as a camel", and its markings, "spotted like a leopard". 

Typically, these fascinating animals roam the grasslands in small groups of about half a dozen.

Our vehicle with Ranger Gordon spotting another giraffe with a small herd of female impala.

Giraffes use their height to good advantage, nibbling on leaves and buds in treetops that other animals can't reach, acacias being their favorite.

Mothers give birth standing up, the 5 foot drop being a rude welcome into the world for the baby! However, within half an hour it can stand up and within ten hours can run with its mother. 

This was the female beauty who spent time with us on beach at the Sand River on Mala Mala Game Reserve. I would love to have eyelashes like that!

Dedicating this post to my friend Linda here in North Carolina, she loves, and collects, giraffes.......Linda I would have brought her home for you if my bag was longer!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Africa at the mall................

I don't shop the mall often. I really only go if there is something specific I need and it cannot be found anywhere else. When I do venture into one of those modern palaces, full of pretty things, I'm a bit overwhelmed, especially if there's been a lull in my mall trawling as there was this Spring and Summer. So many new shops, so many bright young things wearing the latest trends, so many fabulous things for home and body which one never even knew existed!

A few things caught my eye - I used my iPhone as I didn't have my camera.

This kitchen or outdoor chair is at Crate & Barrel. Another knock-off on the original French cafe-bistro version by Tolix. It was larger, a different shape, and more decorative than the plain original, very nice though. I have the ones that more closely resemble the originals in my kitchen and really enjoy them as they are easy to clean, light to move about, and slide easily across my Pergo flooring.

Wouldn't you know it, Le Creuset has a new beautiful color INK for their iconic cookware. I was oblivious to the fact they produce different colors for different stores......Crate & Barrel appear to be the only company selling this shade of blue, described as 'classic navy with undertones or charcoal and slate'. I love it and am adding two pieces, a large and small Dutch oven, to my wish list. With the prices being what they are I'm going to have to wish really, really hard to ever see these in my kitchen!
Meanwhile, I'll continue using my bright red Martha Stewart knock-offs purchased at Macy's.  
They've held up remarkably well for several years now considering the much more affordable price. Yes, I believe there was a recall on them sometime back but I didn't return mine. I've had no major problems with them so far.

I saw this pillow at PB a couple of weeks ago when shopping with my dear friend Vanessa. She's in nearby Durham, NC which has the best mall around - Streets at Southpoint. It not only has amazing shops such as Nordstrom (where I can't afford much but love to look!), but also Nordstrom RACK where I did find a few fantastic buys in the shoe department over the last year or so, and the huge free-standing Crate & Barrel. The mall's indoor section provides great browsing, the outdoor section is a fabulous place to walk for a little exercise, delightful fountains, and fun statuary of children playing etc.

Elephants, being close to my heart after seeing them and riding on them in both Africa and Thailand, are always welcome of course I had to purchase the pillow. The linen look fabric and red stripe are perfect with my other authentic French pillow covers. The excellent 'notes' on both African and Asian elephants on the back are very interesting and make turning the pillow around now and then a nice change.

In fact, this pillow was also the perfect gift for best friend Paula - I never know what to buy her! She has an amazing elephant collection from her many African safaris, and a dedicated 'Africa Room' where she displays the most beautiful art, books, sculptured elephants and other animals. Soon another pillow was also on its way to California............and she is pleased with it, yeah!

I was back at the mall with hubby last week on an errand and wouldn't you know it, PB called me through the doorway yet again and directed my eyes to this handsome guy...........the zebra, another animal I loved viewing on safari! Do we perhaps have the beginnings of our 'Africa Room', which of course is our 'everything room' in this small cottage?

Do you enjoy shopping, browsing and walking at a mall?

Do you use Le Creuset cookware? 
If so, have you had any issues with chipping or interior discoloration?  
Would you say it's worth the very high price?