Friday, May 31, 2019

No wonder. . . . . . . . .

We arrived in rain and it hasn't really stopped yet - perhaps not constant pouring
 rain, but enough to dodge umbrellas and puddle hop throughout the day.  
Yesterday we took an all day coach trip to The Giant's Causeway and other
well known places. . . . . it rained most of the time but the countryside was
gorgeous and green.

We're in Belfast, Northern Ireland for a few days which, though full of history, 
is damp and dreary under a leaden sky. We now know why the pubs are crammed
 with people still in winter clothes and rain wear, boots, and warm scarves
 wound round cold necks, those dripping umbrellas everywhere. . . . . . it's cold
 and everyone is soaked!

So let's lift a pint, sip a glass, and chat to whoever is nearby, after all it's Ireland,
 the locals are happy, very friendly, talking is the national pastime. . . . . . .and if
 you're lucky enough to find a seat by the fireplace, you will be warm and it's
wonderful to come in from the rain. . . . . . . 

. . . . . . . there are also loads of coffee shops everywhere if it's too early
 for the pub, we saw an intersection with well known ones on each corner, 
all full of damp cheerful people!
Thankfully I'm prepared - boots, rain jacket etc. and of course my umbrella.
Tomorrow the train to Londonderry where of course it will be raining!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Day trip to beautiful Cornwall. . . . . . . .

When we meet up with long time blog friends gifts are not required.
Smiles, warm hugs, non-stop chatter is always lovely.
Reading a menu, choosing a wine, toasting to happiness,
good health and friendship . . . . . . . . and a ton of thanks for making time
 in one's day, perhaps traveling some distance, to get to a meeting point is
 what long distance friendship is about.
I've done it often around the world, and many of my blog friends 
have gone out of their way to meet up with me - and usually Bob is
there too!  It's always so exciting, and I have to say it has never been 

We took the train from Devon to Cornwall to meet up with Barbara
 (also known as Elizabethd) of the lovely blog Small Moments.
Barbara and I met via our blogs many, many years ago when she and her
 husband were living in France. They returned to the UK a few years ago and have
 made their home in a small Cornish village. She took a train also and we met
 just about halfway.

I must admit Barbara really spoiled me. Such lovely gifts, and all from Cornwall. 
 I wish you could see the exquisite, delicate embroidery of the 'Cornish Lane' 
framed piece. The rose hand cream smells wonderful, the beeswax candles are lovely, 
and the tea is actually tea grown in Cornwall - the only true English tea - delicate and
 perfect for a summer afternoon. These lovely gifts were packed in the canvas bag
also made in Cornwall - I will find it useful toting items to my car.
Barbara also included a great book for Bob about unusual Cornish places -
he's busy reading it so I forgot to add it to the photos.

Thanks so much dear Barbara. It was so much fun meeting up at long last
 and spending time together over lunch. Hopefully we can do it again some day 
when we're able to return to the lovely southwest of England.

Today: We're in Belfast, Northern Ireland heading out early on a coach trip
to the Giant's Causeway etc.  Guess what, it's raining and chilly!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Back across the pond today . . . . . .

Packed and ready to head east today. 
The overnight to Dublin followed by tomorrow's early morning train to Belfast. 
 A huge change in weather and temperature for sure. Prepared for rain, hoping for sun.
Green and pleasant Ireland with amazing history, scenery, music and food.
It may be hard to beat the trip there a few years back, but travel is what 
you make of it . . . . . . . . and we're planning to make it special.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday morning walk around the seafront. . . . . . . .

Our one Sunday morning in Torquay was cool and somewhat hazy across the
 bay, but with plenty of intermittent sunshine it was perfect for a leisurely early 
walk around the harbour and seafront.  Less exciting things awaited back at 
the flat. . . . . such as packing up to leave for London the next day! 
The tide was in so not much beach was visible, however there were other 
surprises awaiting.

Abbey Sands beach - tide in - and the Rock Walk.  Last visit we spent Christmas 
 in the condos on the far right of the cliff. Beautiful view but 277 slippery steps
 down and then back up was a bit much . . . . . . which is why we chose the much
 more convenient harbourside location this time! 

The cruise ship Artania had anchored in the bay!
In all my years of living in Torquay, then visiting so many times since leaving,
 this is the first I've ever seen. Some years back there was chatter about building
 a 'cruise port' here but apparently that didn't go over well. Ships come now and
 then I hear, anchor in the bay like this one, then ferry their passengers and crew
 into the harbour via their own tenders/lifeboats to enjoy some time ashore.
Passengers we chatted with during our walk were German and told us the call
 there was part of a world tour. . . . . . how nice.

As you can see we still required warm clothes - it was cool when the clouds came in.

The outer harbour and pier.

English dogs are very well behaved on the whole - rarely have I ever seen street
 fights between passing dogs. They walk politely on their leashes, sit quietly at
 outdoor cafés, sometimes indoors in pubs when permitted, and they like to
 pose for photos when requested by their person. . . . . . . and I can assure you 
this handsome pair did not try to bathe in the historic Victorian fountain!
Perhaps English dogs are well educated and can even read!

This sweet mix and matched pair had been for a swim and were drying off on
 the low sea wall - when their person told them to sit, smile and stick their 
tongues out for a photo shoot - they obeyed!
It just seems no matter where you decide to take a walk in England there are 
always really interesting dogs of every breed, color and size.

Yes, there are palm trees in Torquay!!!!
The Gulf Stream passes by the bay as it makes its way through the 
English Channel blessing the area with some type of micro-climate
in which the tropical palms do grow very well.

Corbyn Head and the historic Grand Hotel.

We walked as far as this little cove which holds many childhood memories for me.
When in elementary school - about a two mile walk from here - on warm June 
afternoons before school was out for the Summer hols, my neighbor, whose two
 children were in school with me (sadly all are gone now) would meet us at
 4 PM and walk us to the beach. She'd bring our swimsuits, towels, cheese
 and tomato sandwiches - delicious and soggy after an hour or so in the
 sun - and orangeade drinks, and we'd spend wonderful late afternoon hours
 swimming and hunting for hermit crabs in the rock pools when the tide went out.
Those are days I will always cherish.

Tide in, rock pools just visible. Wasn't until I looked at this photo whilst editing I
noticed the girl - could have been me as she even had pigtails as I did back then!!!!!

The café already busy, and sprucing up the beach huts at Corbyn Head ready for the summer season was in full swing.
I'd love to still be there - must plan to stay longer next visit!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

My Men!

Each in their own way made this recent visit home very special for me.

John, my 'little' brother who lives in France - Bob, my patient and wonderful
 husband - David, my cousin, who has also been a best friend since childhood.
With these guys around me I felt safe and much-loved. We shared great
 memories - sad and happy, laughed a lot, probably drank too much wine - our 
AirBnB being next door to the most elegant wine bar in town - and really
 enjoyed our all too brief time together.

Here's to the next time and we're able to do this again. . . . soon I hope.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The blues. . . . . . and the weather

Up early again this morning - not getting over jet lag too well this time but
 finding small pleasures in waking before the sun.
 Daylight seems to arrive much earlier, more so than usual it seems.
Five honking geese flew overhead as I picked up the newspaper from
the bottom of the driveway - baby birds are everywhere trying out their wings.
I changed out the floral welcome flag on the front porch and hung "Old Glory" 
to honor Memorial Day. Coffee at 6:00 am and, on checking the weather here
 via phone, it's already 72 and the expected high today is 95! 
At 10 am I have have a nail appointment and then I'll hurry back home
to make a quiche - need to use up eggs. I'm cat sitting Ms. Nala 
next door over the holiday weekend and will make a quick visit to
my daughter Kim on Sunday when she celebrates birthday fifty two -
where have all those years gone?

We fly to Northern Ireland Tuesday. Our first week shows rain, rain and
 more rain, high only 60 with chilly nights. 
Packing tomorrow. . . . . . needless to say warm clothes, cozy pj's, and 
a pair of waterproof booties are going with me.
Irish summers are not like North Carolina summers!!!

Early evening yesterday - hydrangea gazing was a feast for my eyes and
 I had to take some photos. 
You my recall I cut these front porch shrubs to the ground September 2017
 when the exterior of the house was re-sided and painted. Last summer, 
due to a very late spring frost, although they had grown back the buds were
 damaged and there were very few blooms. This year look what has happened 
in the past week while we were in England. . . . . an amazing display.
 I love these shrubs so much. 

Hanging baskets still empty - Boston ferns will have to wait until we return from this trip.

Besides the hydrangeas doing so well, the Celeste fig is now at peak
 display and I think looks beautiful thanks to the early spring pruning I did.
The stems of those lovely leaves are showing a riot of tiny figs.  
Toward late summer hopefully we'll be picking and eating, and of course 
the birds and squirrels will be gobbling up their share!

Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend wherever you may be celebrating,
and be sure to remember the true meaning of this holiday.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Living at the seaside. . . . . . .

 Growing up in Torquay was a privilege. 
Recovering after WWII, it was still a more simple town, a small fishing port,
 on a lovely bay opening on to the English Channel. Although not visible, 
as children we would wave to France across the water!
Still important in British history, but quiet and elegant, it remained one of the
 loveliest places on the south coast to visit for a 'seaside holiday' with it's many 
beaches, hotels, guest houses, bed & breakfast establishments . . . . . . . . . . and
 now of course AirBnBs and vacation rentals.
Built on seven hills, you can see some of the older historic buildings still standing,
but of course times change and blocks of flats and condos have appeared.
Although we've enjoyed renting some lovely flats and houses over the past
 15 years when visiting (since the family house was sold), we are now excited to
 see - after years of planning permission - a Hampton Inn by Hilton hotel being
 built right on the harbour side (crane on left below), to be completed next year, 
so future visits home will most likely find us staying there. 
As family and friends agree, we're now at the age for ease, comfort,
access to public transportation, and in-town location, all of which a modern
 hotel can offer, and for us holidays now require cooking and housekeeping
 done by others. . . . . plus good lighting in the bathroom, haha!

I have so much more to share about this great trip home. 
It will take some time to edit photos and write posts.
We are now preparing to leave home early next week!
Yes, crossing the pond again - excited, and definitely happy that we'll be
 missing expected extremely oppressive hot, dry weather here in NC - please
 God spare the lovely hydrangea bushes - and heading to the cool and
perhaps damp shores of Ireland.

I'll be back here when I can - don't think I've forgotten you!
 Wikipedia covers the history of lovely TORQUAY quite well if you
 would like to know more about the town.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Heading southwest to Devon. . . . . .

May 6th saw us racing with the breeze and sunshine through the English countryside 
on the bus journey to the southwest county of Devon.

Leaving Bath on a bright, sunny, almost warm morning was hard. 
I would love to spend more time in that city some day.
There is so much of interest, history and beauty.  

But Devon was calling. . . . . . .family, friends, familiar places. HOME!

iPhone photos only from the bus window  - this is Teignmouth, a seaside
town where I spent many a childhood summer holiday with my dear cousin
 Sue. . . . . . . . .who still lives here, and of course we visited later.
Teignmouth is at the estuary of the River Teign, in these views as we
 crossed the river, but also has a wonderful beachfront complete with
promenade and ocean pier. As children, Sue and I would climb the hill 
in the background and play in those glorious green fields.

Most Devon seaside towns are big on boating - tiny sailboats to huge
 ocean-going corporate yachts.
Arriving in Torquay, we were met from the bus by my cousin David who
 transported us through town and around the harbour to our AirBnB rental.
A new place for us which we found so convenient. 
More to come of course.