We’re going to Britain

York Minster, York, UK    One of the places we hope to visit!

York Minster, York, UK One of the places we hope to visit!

In just a little over two weeks, we are headed “across the pond” to visit my dear hubby’s homeland, Great Britain.  Five years ago we took a forever memorable trip to parts of England, Ireland, and then did a tour (bus tour through Insight Vacations) of Europe.  This time it’s just Britain, and for the most part, England.   We are heavily in the planning stage of this trip (yes, I know it’s kind of late to still be planning!) and are finally beginning to get excited about going.  🙂   With that in mind, we decided to keep a blog, strictly devoted to our journey – so we started one over at Blogspot.com.

So, if you don’t see much on here for a while, it’s because we are:    A) away   and   B) blogging on a different site!  Please check it out and follow along with us on our trip at:  www.buzzingaroundbritain.blogspot.com

Of course I’ll be back here after the trip – this blog is NOT going away.   There will be more to come… and if you know me (like I know myself) I will be SO ready to come home by the time our 2+ weeks in England has come to an end.   I do love to travel, but I also LOVE the comfort of home.

Advertisements

Our trip – part two

Charleston at sunset, out our hotel window.

Charleston at sunset, out our hotel window.

Charleston, South Carolina.  This was my first trip ever to the “real South”… I guess I don’t count Florida as the “real South” – not sure why.  At any rate, with the help of our Magellan GPS system – and the woman inside who tells us where to turn and which lane to get into – we arrived without a hitch in Charleston after a several hour drive from Florida.  You know, I used to be my dear husband’s “right hand woman” — his number ONE navigator – the “super duper map reader” — until this GPS came along.  We nicknamed the female voice “Maggie”.  At first I was a bit resentful of Maggie.  After all, I was always the one calling out the twists and turns to our travels.  All that changed this trip, and people, while I was a bit reluctant at first, I grew to LOVE that woman!!!  I didn’t trust her in the beginning and had my map out and open… following along with her instructions.  But then… as I noticed that she suggested all the same exits that I would have, I gave up.  I gave in to “Maggie Magellan”.  It was soooo sweet to NOT have to flop around with that map!!  Just plug that girl in, type in the address, and wait for HER to tell us just how to get there.  I’ll never go without “her” again!! 

In Charleston, we had a limited amount of time.  I wanted to go to two plantations.  We made it to one.  John wanted to get out to Fort Sumpter, and we did manage that.  I had lists of “good restaurants” I’d gleaned off one of my favorite webistes, tripadvisor.  Tops on my list was a carriage ride through the historic district.  We went with Palmetto Carriage.  The carriage driver/tour guide was superb – we learned so much about the history of the city! 

On the carriage ride through the historic district of Charleston

On the carriage ride through the historic district of Charleston

We took a ferry out to Fort Sumpter, and learned more about the Fort and it’s part in the history of the US Civil War.  I just love history and historical sites and thankfully so does John.   Then, it was on to Boone Hall – a plantation just outside of Charleston.  WHAT A GREAT place to visit!  All right, I’ll admit that one of my favorite movies of all time was/is Gone With the Wind.  I became fascinated with “plantations” when I first saw that movie back in the 70’s… and the trip to Boone Hall was like a dream come true.  It is still a working plantation, although they no longer grow cotton or Pecans as they once did.  Check out the view going up the “Avenue of Oaks”!

Imagine being on a horse, riding up this driveway!

Imagine being on a horse, riding up this driveway!

These Live Oak trees were planted in the 1700’s by the original owner, Mr Boone.  “Live” oak trees are evergreen, unlike your run of the mill, basic Oak, like we have here in Washington!   We attended a presentation on the Gullah culture, set up behind one of the slave cabins on the plantation.  Since the slaves came from all parts of eastern Africa, they all spoke different dialects and the “Gullah” language was born… a blending of all the dialects – so they could communicate.  It was a fascinating presentation. 

She told us a story in Gullah, and then translated it to English.

She told us a story in Gullah, and then translated it to English.

 

The third home built on the same site.

The third home built on the same site.

We took a guided tour around the plantation and then a brief tour inside the lower level of the home – which is actually the third home to be built on the same site.  I believe the other two burned down.   All I can say is that this was a wonderful piece of living history and I wish I’d had more time to go to more plantations!   After our visit to Boone Hall, we began our trek southward again, to Savannah Georgia…  a place that would prove to be not only interesting and again historical, but a little spooky, too!

Time for a cruise!

Well folks, it’s that time again – time for a few days off work; time for some R & R; time for some fun with family; time for A CRUISE!  I’m so excited about our upcoming trip to Mexico!  For one, we’ve never been to any of the places where our ship docks (Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta), and this time we are going with family!  Dear son #2 and DDIL will be on the same cruise with us – their first, our 4th.  A few years ago, my dear husband was totally against the idea of taking a cruise.  He said he would go “stark raving nuts” stuck onboard a ship, even a big one, for a week at a time.  Somehow, I managed to gently convince him that we should at least give it a try.  That was in 2000.  We were living in southern California and took a short 3 day cruise from L.A. to Ensenada Mexico.  It was a borderline disaster.  It was horribly disappointing.  We were assigned to a table for eight each night for dinner.  That part was A-OK with us, we enjoy meeting new people…. our tablemates were… well, quite an odd bunch.  First there was the couple who spoke ONLY Chinese.  They seemed quite nice, but it was nearly impossible to converse with them.  Then there was the “Father/Daughter” duo – who we were pretty certain were NOT father/daughter!  Then there was the couple from Chicago who we actually did enjoy visiting with.  The food was ‘so-so’.  The onboard activities included watching NAPKIN FOLDING and ICE CARVING, which we were not too thrilled with.  We had one shore excursion – to a winery near Ensenada which was OK.  We met quite an array of folks onboard who had ONE and only ONE plan – and that was to get into downtown Ensenada to buy DRUGS!  In Mexico, you can purchase over the counter, a lot of drugs you can only get with a prescription here.  People were heading to town to bring back their year’s worth of antibiotics like penicillin, and only God knows what else.  One woman informed us (proudly!) that this was her 18th time on this same cruise to Ensenada.  Hmmmm.  The only real bright spot was when I managed to annihilate my dear hubby at Ping Pong – fair and square!  Ahhh yes, a moment I’ll remember always!! This grand moment in our married lives has never again been repeated, unfortunately.  After that cruise, DH said he’d never ever do another. 

Once again, somehow, I managed to gently convince him that going to Alaska on a cruise ship would be MUCH different than the little 3 nighter to Ensenada.  We boarded in Vancouver B.C. and had the time of our lives — truly loved every minute of it!  Since that experience was sooooo good, he was easily convinced to do New England and Eastern Canada last year.  It was so much fun – we had a great time!  This year, it’s the west coast of Mexico and we are certain it will be fantastic once again.  I am SO looking forward to our balcony cabin (this is a FIRST for us) and also spending relaxing moments with son #2 and DDIL.  Photos coming next time!!!  Bon Voyage!  🙂

Time for a holiday

Yup, it’s time for a bit of a break.  A vacation if you will.  Soon we will board our aircraft and fly south for some of the hottest summer weather anywhere.  Are we crazy you ask?  Crazy like a couple of foxes I say!  We lived for four years in the California desert (it’s all we could take of the summers to be honest) and so when I say that the area around Palm Springs virtually becomes a ghost town in July and August, I do know what I mean.  We are going there for a variety of reasons.  One – to enjoy some honest-to-goodness sunshine; Two – to romp at will in the swimming pool; Three – to look pretty darned hard at the real estate market there, and TRY like crazy to find a steal of a deal!  We doubt there are many folks braving the 114 degree weather to go make silly, low-ball offers on homes this time of year.  We hope to be one of the few.  Our goal is not to move back to California permanently.  No, we are hoping to find a good investment property, possibly a home we can rent from time to time to friends, family, and acquaintances.  A place that in a few years time we will be able to “escape to” for a week or two at a time in the winter especially.  A home that maybe, just maybe… we will flock to as real ‘snowbirds’ do – flying south for the winter and back north for the summer.  A residence that sometime in the future will again be worth substantially more than we plan to pay for it. 

While there we decided to rent a house for the week!  We looked at staying in a hotel, and while they are much more reasonably priced this time of year (as opposed to wintertime), we still felt like it would be nice to stay in a home.  A place where we can not only sleep, but also cook lots of our own meals as well as enjoy the thrill of our own private swimming pool!  We found it on VRBO.com – a fantastic site that has vacation home and condo rentals all through the USA and the world!   We also have plans to visit at least three of our friends still living down there.  Hopefully it will be a great week long getaway. 

I’m taking three books with me — ahhhh I can close my eyes and see myself beside the pool, reading eagerly as I LOVE to do!  Here are the three:

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

This book I have in audio form – it’s on my iPod and I will be listening to it on the airplane, waiting at the airport, etc.  So far I’m really enjoying it – I’m about 1/3 of the way through. 

The art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

This is a new book (published in May) and has received RAVE reviews!  If you are a dog lover, if you read “Marley and Me” – apparently it’s a must-read!  I had it on ‘reserve’ at our local library and picked it up today.  Can’t wait to get started. 

James Herriot's Cat Stories

James Herriot's Cat Stories

I have happily read everything by James Herriot, and loved it all.  So this will be a re-read for me.  Picked this one up for pennies at a garage sale 🙂  Since it’s been a good few years since I’ve read it, it will all seem like new!
Our lap top is coming with us to the desert so my next post – complete with pictures- will be from Palm Springs!  I CAN’T forget the sunscreen!!!!

Vacation pictures added!

Some time ago (about 6 months), we went on a fantastic vacation.  My dear DIL reminded me that I had obviously forgotten to  blog about this great trip, and of course only one picture (my current header photo) was posted.  Today I got around to opening a Flickr account and posted a sidebar of random photos from the trip.  If you click on the bottom where it says “more photos” you can see the rest of them. 

All the places we visited last year were totally new to us.  We flew into New York City then got onto a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship, the “Norwegian Spirit” – which took us out of New York Harbor and north to Eastern Canada (aka “the Maritimes”).  We stopped at Halifax Nova Scotia, St John New Brunswick, then down to Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, and back to NYC.  We then spent three glorious autumn days in NYC.  I particularly loved going to two Broadway musicals — it was one of those things I think I had always dreamed about, and it finally happened.  🙂

 I believe in an earlier blog I mentioned how much I love to travel, but that coming home is nothing short of wonderful.  I still feel that way, but I’m getting the “itch” to go somewhere new again!  My dear English/Canadian/American (yes, he holds all three citizenships!) husband and I have been looking seriously at just where we’d like to escape to this year.  Another cruise?  Well, maybe…. but to where?  Ok.  We really (and I do mean really) want to do a Mediterranean cruise that would encompass Rome, Greece, some Greek Islands, and maybe Monte Carlo or Barcelona.  We have looked at prices and the cruise itself isn’t too bad when you consider you get transportation-food-lodging all rolled into one price.  BUT, cruise fare plus the airfare is a killer.  We won’t be headed to Europe this year, not even with the income tax rebate check that is supposed to be coming our way soon.  We have also considered a trip to Washington DC since neither of us have been there – and it’s a “maybe”.  My concern is that the Smithsonian Museum that I most want to see is still closed for renovations.  It’s been two years now that the National Museum of American History has been closed.  So until I get a firm date for the grand re-opening, I won’t be buying any airline tickets.  Wherever we go (assuming we go anywhere in this year of recession and belt-tightening) it will again be an autumn trip.  A great time of year to explore sights unseen!