Friday, August 30, 2019

A mixed bag -

 It's been one of those weeks. . . . . . routine doctor check ups, cat sitting for the
 neighbor, quick stop at the mall (only because it's near a doctor's office and I was
 an hour too early for my appointment - am I losing it?). Men digging up our
 cul-de-sac searching for water pipes, duh!  Interrupted sleep due to shoulder pain. 
Too much online time dealing with VISAS for travel to new islands - more on
 that later! Deadheading hydrangeas fried to a crisp and looking so sad, while
 almost frying myself in 90F plus humidity in the garden that day. . . . . . . .definitely
 a mixed bag of daily ups and downs.

Can you believe this?  After celebrating their 30th birthday with this pretty
 Sept/Oct issue, a card in the mail this week announced the demise of
 bi-monthly issues and mail subscriptions, which many of us have.
Traditional Home will become one of those 'special interest' publications now
 and then, perhaps overpriced and often full of already published articles.  
Sad, sad, sad - this was always a classy magazine and seeing it go the way of
 others only makes one realize how turning real pages may become a thing of the
 past in the world of print journalism.

Next door neighbor Nala. On a diet and looking good - but still
 really a hefty girl to lift!

Yes, that whip round the mall included a stop at H&M where I found this zebra print
 caftan-style dress on sale - very inexpensive!  Light, comfy and may be perfect for
 travel to hot places - moonlit evenings on deck, or even as a robe/coverup. 
I like that it has hidden buttons too. At home, I can wear on the front porch or in
 the gazebo for a casual supper and not look like I'm still in my robe! 
Actually, I had forgotten just how cool a flowing dress can be on a hot day.

The hummers are really busy and hungry this week - perhaps they feel Autumn 
in the air with the slightly cooler nights starting.
 Thankfully, if they are planning to migrate further south, they don't have the journey
of UK swallows migrating to Africa. . . . . . 6,000 miles and they travel at 35 mph!

One more purchase - from Pier 1 - this week.  Fell for this pretty pillow when
 killing that time before the doctor appointment.  As we'll be traveling in October, 
sadly I won't be visiting our favorite pumpkin farm for the real thing. I just knew this
 would be perfect on my chair, and give me the feeling of my favorite season
 approaching.  Again, with 25% off, it was a great buy.

I was able to dry this basket of hydrangeas, the ones I cut on my return
from Ireland, prior to the heatwave which lasted the past 6 weeks or more.
They are pretty, mostly muted greens with a little dusty blue remaining on
some heads.

It was lovely today and will remain sunny and in the high 80's over the Labor Day 

With approaching Hurricane Dorian, this holiday weekend may not be a good, 
safe one for our Florida friends. If you live there, please know you are in our
 thoughts and prayers. . . . . .and our fingers are definitely crossed that it won't 
be as serious as expected. We here in the Carolinas may get some bad
 weather from this storm later the week after next as it may hang around 
far too long!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Green Mountain Country -

VERMONT is a beautiful state known for its GREEN MOUNTAIN National Forest.
The countryside, lush with rolling hills, endless fields of wildflowers, crops and
 dairy cattle, is amazing in summertime. Throw in scenic golf courses, thousands
 of acres of mountains, hiking trails and ski slopes, historic covered bridges,
 maple sugar, cheese and ice cream - all that makes it a great place to visit
 prior to what is usually a cold, snowy winter.

Note the station weather vane!

Our late day stop in White River Junction was mainly to eat at a wonderful, lively 
restaurant named ELIXIR located in the old freight house. We called from the 
road and were able to get a late table which was so worth waiting for. 
White River Junction is just that, a train junction with the station and tracks right
 across from our window table. 
The host/owner was charming and engaged us in conversation about the history
 of the railroad there. 
The food was awesome, I chose the vegetarian risotto of the day and for me
 it was the best dinner during this New England trip.
If you head that way on your travels, know the restaurant is only open
5-9 pm Tuesday - Saturday, and best to make a reservation, it's a busy place.

White River Junction Street Art

A visit to Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory for a light lunch!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Salmon and figs. . . . . . . .

This season was a great time for the fig tree but, like all good things, 
it's now just about over. 
I did pick one lonely ripe fig today - will chop it into
 my yogurt for tomorrow's breakfast - and there are a few
 green ones left which the birds will probably peck on.

It was a very good year but I only got around to making my favorite summer salmon
 dish once, seen here.  It was certainly as delicious as always and I'm kicking myself 
for not repeating it more often. Overwhelming hot, humid days made lighting the oven 
unpleasant, traveling often cut down on cooking time. . . . . .  and perhaps I just got lazy!

Fresh fig leaves - once baked to a crunch they are so tasty
Fresh fig salsa
Yukon Gold Potatoes

If you would like the recipe for this really good dish go HERE where I shared it
 in a 2015 blog post. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

New Hampshire Seacoast -

You can never cross the ocean until you
have the courage to lose sight of the shore.
--- Christopher Columbus, Explorer

Small boats sail or chug their way not far from shore. Beyond, before the open
 ocean, lie the Isles of Shoals. On the seaweed crusted rocks, large black cormorants
 dry their wings in the hot breeze as gentle waves roll in to shore.

Some day I will take the ferry to the Isles of Shoals straddling the border of New Hampshire and Maine. 
That journey has been on my list for some time, the only thing causing me to hesitate
 is the abundance of mosquitoes out there apparently enjoying island life!
The history of these islands, including their tie to the art world, is an interesting read.

Late summer brings fading, falling petals from the wild roses clambering
along the sea walls and rocky ledges of the shoreline.
The hips are gigantic, the size of small tomatoes, and such beautiful colors!

I love this part of the United States and have such fond memories of the years
 when I lived here in the sixties and seventies. 
 It was all so new to me, fresh from my home in England. That too was on the 
coast in South Devon on the English Channel, so I was thankful to still be
 close to the ocean. . . . . . just on the opposite side!

Enjoy your weekend.
We have some cooler weather at long last, hooray!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

"The road not taken.................."

..............a snippet from that wonderful poem.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost - Pub. 1916
Robert Frost, pub. 1916

After spending a few lovely days in Vermont, western and northern New Hampshire, 
and the seacoast, we returned to Manchester, Bob's hometown.
Having lived there for a few years long ago, I've seen a lot of places of interest 
in and around the city, but one I really enjoyed going back to, just short ride
 from the city, was the farm home of renowned and much-loved American poet,
 Robert Frost.

Though very hot, it was a perfect afternoon to stroll here for a little while
 taking in the country views, fruiting trees, birds chirping. . . . . . and only a
 few other tourists.

I'm home now and have lots to catch up with including comments - I'll 
stop by soon!
These August days of overwhelming heat are uncomfortable and tiring. 
Our travel back to Raleigh was exhausting with delayed, then canceled, flights
 due to storms . . . . . . . . and arriving home at an ungodly hour! I need to catch
 up with sleep and chores.  Laundry is done, ironing awaits. 
Garden is parched and sad looking, must water deeply today with no rain due. 
Bird feeders need washing and refilling. I'm now kitty sitting for my neighbor
 for the next two weeks. 
So lots to keep me busy - but I'll be back here soon with more of the 
great New England trip, including a fabulous visit to a favorite blogging friend,
discovering some lovely places to eat, a little shopping. . . . . . and a wild ride!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Lovely New England. . . . . . . . .

Flying into New Hampshire. 
The heavy clouds parted as we landed in Manchester yesterday.
 Hometown for Bob. Full of memories.
The sun came out. No humidity. It's green and fresh. Cooler.
I can breathe again!
We lived here in another time. Long ago. Perhaps we will move back.
New England, old England. . . . . . .how would I choose?

Heading to bucolic Vermont - another day of sunshine.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Flying and figs. . . . . . . . . .

 As I prepared to fly away to New Hampshire, the garden birds continued
 to fly in. . . . . . to the the fig tree which is still producing a lot of fruit. 
Most of the sweet, ripe, juicy figs are up high though and beyond our reach.  

Yesterday while checking the figs I heard a rustling just above my head.
Looking up I saw this beautiful Brown thrasher, a large but somewhat timid 
bird, the size of an American robin, making a meal of the ripe fig. 
We actually made eye contact, then I headed to the house to get my camera, 
never expecting the bird would still be there when I returned, but it was, 
and I managed to get a couple of shots before it flew off.

Special moments in the garden like this make me so happy.

 An American robin also paying a visit to the fig tree recently.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Childhood Memories - Double Decker Bus

A Devon General bus - The Strand, Torquay bus stop - c. 1950

The main transportation of my youth was the red double decker. 
I rode it to and from primary (elementary) school, into town,
to other towns to visit family, even to the beach!
We never owned a car which meant my parents rode 
the bus to work, and just about everywhere else.
The big red bus was the usual way people got around
in the United Kingdom in the 1940's and 1950's.
In cities such as London, many still do commute via bus, and of course
 tourists often ride the 'sightseeing buses'.
In my hometown, Torquay, regular buses still run everywhere,
though less frequently, and the open-top sight-seeing versions are
 popular in summertime for runs between the beaches of the coastal
 towns around the bay.


A double-decker bus is a bus that has two storeys or decks. 
Double-decker buses are used for mass transport in the United Kingdom,
 Europe, Asia and many former European possessions, the most iconic example
 being the red London bus.

Early double-deckers put the driver in a separate cab. Passenger access was via an open platform at the rear, and a bus conductor would collect fares. 
Modern double-deckers have a main entrance door at the front, and the driver takes fares, thus halving the number of bus workers aboard, but slowing the boarding process. The rear open platform, popular with passengers, was abandoned for safety reasons, as there was a risk of passengers falling when running and jumping onto the bus.
Double-deckers are primarily for commuter transport but open-top models are used as sight-seeing buses for tourists. William Gladstone, speaking of London's double-deck horse drawn omnibuses, once observed that "...the best way to see London is from the top of a bus".    via WIKIPEDIA

Off tomorrow, but not on a bus. 
Neighbor kindly driving us to the airport.
Two planes taking us north to New England.
Rental car will be waiting. 
How times have changed!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Childhood Memories - The Marine Spa -

childhood memory. . .

The Marine Spa, Torquay, Devon, England - 1857-1971

Sometimes do you just want to run away? 
Return to a place of childhood, a place that brought happiness.
No big special celebrations, just ordinary days full of simple 
moments of joy in familiar places.

I learned to swim here in the indoor pool.
 Even went to afternoon teas under the palm trees in the
 sunlit conservatory - a very special treat when a young girl.
Never got to dance in the ballroom though.
Sadly the beautiful spa was torn down in 1971 and it continues
 to be missed so much.

I am running away soon! A trip north to New England will take me
 away for a short while. A change of scenery, mountains and sea, 
with some cooler weather. . . . . . hopefully it will be a pick-me-up!