Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve 2017. . . . . . . .

Arrived home safely from Europe last night.
No unpacking, just fell into bed.
May celebrate the coming of the new year a bit more 
quietly this time around as we are somewhat exhausted, 
and now Bob is sharing my nasty cold!
Lovely to be home after a great time in England, 
Portugal, Spain and Morocco. 
More on all that later!

Hope your celebration is fun - may the year ahead bring 
you good health and much happiness.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Traveling to London. . . . . . . . .

 . . . . . from the West Country was not easy the past couple of days. 
Cold, damp nights brought icy conditions and thick fog on the main motorways, 
sadly there were several multi-vehicle pileups with at least one fatality during early
 morning commuting hours.

We awoke early this morning and I rushed to take photos from the balcony before
my cousin came to drive us to the coach station to catch our Heathrow airport bus.
I'd never seen Tor Bay like this, early on a foggy morning. Remember, I didn't live
 here with bay views as a youngster - so this was totally different from my memories
 of our lovely town by the sea.

The tiny boat is the small winter ferry which plies back and forth between Torquay
 and Brixham, carrying mostly commuters on its 25 minute journey. We've watched
 it chugging back and forth several times a day whilst staying in the flat.
Today, the fog banks gave the shoreline a beautiful mystical look which was a
 new and quite different view of my hometown. . . . . . one I will always remember.

We are now in our hotel at Heathrow. 
Our window looks out onto the main runway of this gigantic world famous airport.
 We always request a room on this side as we love watching planes leaving for every
 corner of the world. Every 2 minutes a jet takes off. . . . . . it's been happening since
 our arrival at 3 PM and still continues now at 11 PM as I sign off here. 
Soon though it will shut down for the night. We will then enjoy calm hours for our
 'last sleep' here in my lovely England before flying back to the USA tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Boxing Day Dip!

It's an old tradition shared by many waterfront communities here. . . . . . . and probably 
around the world. Crazy brave souls don their swimwear and jump or paddle into
 freezing cold water for the Boxing Day Dip on December 26th.

I was sitting at the table enjoying a late breakfast when screams and yells rose from
 the beach below! Hurrying to the window I was amazed by the huge crowd which
had appeared on the sands. Many were already in the water, some with their
 four-legged friends, perhaps clearing their fuzzy heads after the overeating
 and drinking which has become usual for many over the holiday season!
With this lousy head cold I had no plans to join in - plus I forgot to pack my
 swimsuit, or the even more needed wetsuit! 

This beach is Torre Abbey Sands, one I frequented as a young child because the
 water is shallow for a long way out, therefore safe for children and a great place to
 learn to swim. The large white building to the left is the Grand Hotel.
The long building closest to the grass is the stadium at the Recreation Grounds where
 rugby football is played. The one behind it, with the more fancy roof, is Torquay 
Station - trains arrive from all over the UK here bringing tourists to enjoy the coastal 
towns, country villages, Dartmoor, and Tor Bay which is popular for sailing etc.

Harbour sunset this evening.
Tomorrow morning we leave here for London - more coming later 
when I get home, and get caught up.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas greetings. . . . . . . .

We are ensconced in my home town of Torquay in Devon 
on the southwest coast of England, ready to enjoy 
the Christmas holidays with family and friends.

Sending Happy Christmas greetings to you and your 
families and loved ones.

Christmas Eve at home in England . . . . . . . .

The spectacular sunrise from the balcony on our first morning in Torquay yesterday.
The sky was on fire for several minutes, turning the harbour and bay waters many 
shades of pink and mauve.
Torquay Harbour looking across to Brixham.

Later, one tiny passenger ferry arrived from Brixham, the little fishing port across 
the bay, and then the blustery day began.  Winds strong enough to knock one over,
 then rain. . . . . . but hard to use an umbrella without flying away Mary Poppins style!
Yes, English weather can be wild and wet especially here along the coast.
This lovely view is still here this morning, again with brilliant painted skies,
 screaming sea gulls, and I see the little ferry heading over from Brixham.
Much calmer weather is forecast for today but it will be turning colder.

 The shoppers will be making that last run on the shops.
This evening Christmas Eve parties will be in full swing.
Hopefully I can participate despite catching a miserable cold. . . . 
most likely from the ship where several people were hacking
 during the cruise. 

Hope your Christmas plans all work out and that you and your 
loved ones have a wonderful time. 

From beautiful Devon, a very Happy Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

La Coruna, Spain. . . . . . . .

 Last port of call in Spain was La Coruna which we enjoyed.
Following a somewhat rough crossing of the Bay of Biscay,
we are 'home'.

This morning Queen Victoria is back in Southampton and we are preparing
 to disembark shortly after a really wonderful pre-Christmas cruise.

Heading to Devon today - more later.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The voyage continues. . . . .

. . . . . . but the Internet has not been friendly!  
Will be catching up with you once we are back in the UK hopefully.   

Beauty on the walls of the cathedral in Malaga, Spain.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Crossing the Bay of Biscay. . . . . . .

Queen Victoria left Southampton Monday night with us, and a full complement
 of 1,900  passengers, 90% of whom must be Brits!!!  
So far the crossing from the English Channel to the Bay of Biscay has been
 fabulous with a moderate swell. Walking on the covered Promenade Deck
 and open Lido area has been a bit chilly, however this morning the sunshine
 is bright and I'm off shortly to promenade again while Bob sits comfortably in
 the theatre for the morning lecture by a well known British broadcaster.
 Why anyone would want to listen to someone talk about world politics
 rather than enjoy looking at this amazing ocean, beats me! 
Here, we are now passing the northern coast of Spain on our way to the
 first port of call, Lisbon, Portugal. We will arrive there tomorrow 

Two views from our balcony on this brilliant morning.

Anyway dear readers, Internet is somewhat slow, and very expensive,
 so I'm off now to enjoy life at sea!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Different Christmas. . . . . . . . . .

We made it!  
Arrived here at Heathrow Airport, London this morning, right on time, after a smooth
 flight through the night. Signs of Christmas everywhere. This was the bus station
 where we enjoyed a coffee - so much better than what they serve in flight - whilst
 awaiting our bus to Southampton on the Hampshire coast. 

This evening we took a walk to the German Christmas Village in Southampton's
 city center. As darkness fell, the festivities included an early visit from
 Father Christmas flying in his sleigh across the sky. . . . . . . . 

. . . . . . then he came down to earth to meet the children and hand out treats.

Then, as it turned chilly, we headed to a quaint old pub for a fish and
 chip supper by an open fire, taking a few photos of the interesting historic buildings
 along the way. 

We are tired having skipped a night of sleep, but we believe 
that staying up, staying awake and then going to bed at the normal time 
the best cure for jet lag!

Tomorrow we embark on the ship and sail away to the first port of call, Lisbon, Portugal. 
Two days at sea with plenty of time to unpack, get organized, and relax at last.
Note, I've had no time to learn how to get decent night shots with the new camera!
Will try to do better next time.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Crossing the Pond tonight!

Awaiting the flight to London right now. The packing was crazy for this complicated
itinerary but, as you can see, it was completed early this morning.
Yes, I still love old fashioned padded hangers by the way!

My next post will hopefully be from lovely England tomorrow!
I had to buy a new camera yesterday - totally not planned! More on that another time.
These are my first photos - I'll be reading the manual on the plane tonight!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Getting Away From It All. . . . . . . . . .

No, this isn't happening at the cottage this Christmas season.
 These are decorations from another year when I had time for such. 
This year we will be gone from home so the green boxes are staying tucked
 away in the attic. I'm somewhat sad to think the house will be in darkness 
for Christmas. We fly across the pond tomorrow night. Hoping for a great cruise
 and then back to England for Christmas week. 
Hope to keep in touch with you all here, but just in case I'm having too much
 fun to blog, or the Internet lets me down out on that ocean, know I'm sending
 good wishes to each of you, my dear friends, for a wonderful holiday season.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Magic Paintbrush. . . . . . . .

Sometime, during the chilly, rainy night, someone
 tiptoed through the garden with an artist's palette
 and a paintbrush.
At last we've had some rain. 
Early morning light showers later turned into a steady
 rain yesterday. 
This morning, when the sun came up, I puttered about storing a
 few items in the potting shed for Winter months, taking out the
 garbage, (someone has to do it!), and of course capturing a
 few garden shots to share the radiant colors, heartbreakingly
 beautiful after the rain.
We actually raked a ton of leaves on Saturday, now 
there are tons more! They will have to stay until we 
return after the holidays . . . . . too wet and too little
 time to work in the garden now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Pre-Christmas cruising . . . . . . . . .

We sailed on this 'royal lady' in June 2014 and loved everything about Cunard's
 smallest - but still large - ocean liner. She took us to the beautiful Baltic
 countries and on to St. Petersburg, Russia - an amazing journey.
This weekend we fly across the pond to London, then head down to the port city
 of Southampton to board Queen Victoria on Monday afternoon and sail away
 that evening. Looks like our deck chairs are waiting - hopefully it will be warm
 enough to relax out there on sea days - bring on the blankets and hot toddies
 please - and calm water will be hugely appreciated!
This ten day cruise will take us to Portugal (Lisbon), Spain (Cadiz, Malaga, La Coruna), 
and Morocco (Tangiers), and return us to England in time for a quick whiz down to
 Devon and my home town for Christmas week with family and friends.
Am I excited? You bet I am!
As always, I will do my best to share highlights of our trip along the
 way - it's all up to the Internet of course!

Monday, December 5, 2016

A dash of Christmas magic. . . . . . . .

Because we'll be so far away for the Christmas holidays, decorating
 is not happening around the cottage this year. It's somewhat sad for me
 as I do love that part of preparing for the festivities . . . . . . .but come
 next year I hope to be here dragging out all those boxes of ornaments from
 the attic, setting up my tree in the gazebo, along with lights, wreaths and
 fresh green garlands on the front porch.

At SuzAnna's Antiques open house last week,
 I did buy this beautiful golden reindeer (oops,
it's more likely a stag!) also the sheet music stenciled
 with a sweet bird sitting on a holly branch with the
French greeting,  Joyeux Noël.
I'm displaying them so at least I have a small touch
 of Christmas to look at this week. . . . . . 
. . . . . . and of course I'm enjoying looking at all the 
beautiful decor around your homes.