Thoughts on this day before our country’s Independence Day. First, let me say that I am very lucky to have been born and live in this country. While I may have lived most of my life well below the poverty level, I rarely felt like I was a lower class of person than anyone else I may have encountered. I also never felt that I was better than anyone I ever encountered. Maybe I am the odd one out, but in my mind that is what this country should be all about.
Due to a fortunate set of circumstances, I have been lucky enough to travel to many other places and countries. None more beautiful than this country for all it’s natural and man-made beauty. I do appreciate that this country has the freedom given its citizens to make choices for themselves on almost everything we say and do.
I am grateful to all those who came before me to give this to me. May you have the safest and happiest Independence Day.
Well this title is a bit misleading, our remaining days of travel were all outside of London. This was the week of the Royal Wedding and I was pretty much prepared to change travel dates, but my grandson said Yes, so off we went. He scouted out the best route to get to Windsor and we took a bus, double-decker of course, to a train filled with other wedding watchers.
The trains were filled with people from all over the world, speaking a huge variety of languages and all seemed quite charmed by the event about to take place. Windsor is a smallish town fairly distant from London and very much like the places you see on TV shows.
With the help of the “Royal Wedding” signs around town and a local giving us directions as he watched from his front lawn this parade of people going past. We made it through security and safely on the grounds of Windsor Castle. About 100 yards in front of our location was a huge, movie screen size, TV for viewing the wedding. Now, just to wait. A camera in a tower on the grass was about 10 feet away and he was filming all around the area. When he turned the camera on the people right there a lot of flag waving and cheering happened. We were “officially” at least in our minds, a part of the royal wedding. We found a fairly open space to watch and settled in.
The people watching was fun and a few cars with guests and Megan with her Mom came right past us for us to all wave to. We then watched them disembark from those same cars at the front of the castle. Once the wedding started the grounds quieted a little but not completely. Many of us on the grass joined in with the songs and cheered the events happening. We all sang God Save The Queen and waited for the carriage to come past.
We were certainly rewarded for our efforts and were no more than 20 feet from the carriage and saw Prince Harry and Megan!!!!! This was never officially on my bucket list, but certainly is crossed off now. The locals asked what would this compare to back in the US. The only thing I could think of was seeing the President. I have luckily seen 3 and shaken hands with 2 and this felt the same.
I have a couple of adventurous grandchildren who are always up for almost anything fun. I was doing a bit of whining and saying it had been far too long since I had the opportunity to do any international travel and I would be doing some soon. I had some eager companions who said they were willing to take time off from jobs and school if necessary to go along. My grandson and I settled on a weekend where he knew he could make himself available and we decided on London. So I checked the calendar and flights and hotels and discovered it was the weekend of the royal wedding. He said let’s go anyway so we did.
We arrived Friday morning and first stop was the hotel we were staying in. It offered a great rate but was a bit out-of-the-way. My cell phone never did work while I was out of the country so we had no sense of where we were going. We stopped in a pub by the underground stop that I remembered was near the place for lunch and directions.
By the way, for any of you going there. I am not sure if it was the wedding weekend or just the summer weather starting but it was the worst time ever getting out of the airport. When we got off he airplane there was a queue that snaked through the airport at a snail pace. We spent almost three hours in line waiting to get up to the front of the line and have our passports checked and stamped. This was my 7th trip to London and I have never seen anything so bad. They were bringing water for us standing in line because they thought someone might pass out.
Found the hotel, but they had no storage facility for our bags so off we went on our adventure. First the London Eye. A truly giant Ferris Wheel with huge enclosed cars for about 20 people in each car. Moves very slowly, no shaking or wobble almost don’t even know you are up in the air. A short walk over to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben is in scaffolding for the next 5 years with some major repairs to the building.
We took a pedicab to Buckingham Palace, just because it really is impressive, between the gates and the people and the size and the park area, I’m not sure I would want to live there. Then off to Piccadilly Circus because it is like going to Times Square in New York, just an iconic place to see. I was pretty much done for the day, but when you have an 18-year-old boy along you just keep going.
Today for my early morning walk I started very early. In the midwest, many of us, missed spring. We had some nice spring days, then it got cold and rather than go back to spring the weather jumped into the middle of summer. We are having several days in the low 90’s which does not usually happen until late July or early August. Who stole spring?
I do love early morning and the nice mirror and stillness of the water. This photo surprised me with the pretty reflection of the clouds in the water. I was very lucky with this shot.
While I was walking among the lake houses my mind wandered back to my recent trip to England and many homes have names, not just the huge manor houses or castles. So I decided to name a few.
Eagles Nest went to a home that could be a tract home elsewhere. A simple 2 story aluminum sided house. But, this home has an enormous half dead tree in front, the kind I have seen eagles stand in to survey their next meal, it also had an eagle with its wings spread nailed above the doorway.
Another smallish home with beautiful blue siding became the Bluebirds Roost. We have long ago dubbed a quaint home The Witches Cottage because of the moon shaped cutouts in the shutters. So you can see, the is a bit of whimsy in this process.
So let’s get really cheeky as you might hear across the pond. This we call Skiers Rest. That is because they have used retired water skies to surround the mail box. Very clever.
We named this next one Evita’s Cottage because of the great view from the balcony overlooking the lake.
We also found a Rabbit Hutch due to the bunnies nibbling on their lawn. Lilac Cottage due to the purple flowers blooming throughout the lawn, no lilac bush in sight. Old School House is named for the large bell hanging near the front door and it never was a school to our knowledge. Whales Tale is due to the fact we saw an airline pilot getting out of her car one day. ( Pilot Whales in case you were wondering.) Guppy Cottage is due to the collection of fish always swimming near it.
What would you call your neighbor’s houses? I think I need to get busy and quilt small banners for the neighbors to hang in their homes or yards and let’s see if the names stick.
The greater Chicagoland area, much of the midwest for that matter, is experiencing some unusually cold weather this far into spring. There is a very easy solution, we all just have to head to where the warm is.
My family has discovered and embraced lake life. From hanging out on the beach in summer to ice fishing in winter it is a very large part of their lives. Getting home from work often means driving past the lake and seeing what it looks like today, checking the radar to see can we get some time in on the boat. From early spring to late fall it is all about the boat.
The lake they live near is a nice size private lake that is over 200 acres large. At the deepest part it is about 40 feet deep. There are a couple of large beaches for residents and quite a few small beaches for private use only. The lake supports about a dozen different types of fish as well as a fair amount of migratory water fowl.
All summer long there are events on the waterfront for boaters and non boaters. Summer camp for children is at the beach and lessons are offered in sailing and boating. All sorts of water craft take advantage of the mostly calm waters from kayaks to paddle boards to canoes and jet ski’s.
I think we are quite lucky that the lake has become an important part of so many lives. It gives family a ready event to get out on the lake and watch 4th of July fireworks or a quiet concert on a weeknight. Not to mention the winter of boat repair and prep that has become the new normal.
On Amelia Island we found a distillery that makes a variety of alcohol, not at all like moonshine, but a small operation that has only been around for a couple of years. So on a bright sunny morning we decided to go in for a tasting. What a great way to start a day of touristy activity.
Never having been in a distillery before, I was pleasantly surprised. Marlin & Barrel make some very unique products that are not widely distributed, yet. Very much like a craft beer they use local Florida product as much as possible. Each bottle I saw had the above saying about finding your Spirit.
The grapefruit cello is made from Florida grown fruit as is the orange cello, at this time no lemon cello, but who knows. This has a wonderful mild taste and the grapefruit cello mixed with a sparkling white wine is perfectly delicious.
With various flavored vodka on shelves everywhere, this is quite interesting. First not a potato vodka but molasses flavored with smoked pepper. In a Bloody Mary this adds a certain amount of heat from the pepper. Lovely.
Other products are their rums and some souvenirs. Very much a hand operation with filling bottles and putting on labels with the batch number on the label! They have plans for more product and only a few places to purchase their product. This is not a place to miss. I consume about 4 drinks a year and I purchased what should be a 3 year supply and can’t wait to go back for more.
I was lucky enough to have a friend staying on this island for a while, and following my theory to say “Yes” whenever possible I wound up here. More posts will follow about the wonderful things here, but this was one of the most delightful experiences there. A few of us felt the need to explore and happened on this museum. It is located on 2nd Street in Fernandina Beach, FL.
This is a non-profit, and is owned and operated by U.S. veterans. There is a small fee ($5.00, at this time) to tour the facility and it is a work in progress. They have been open for only a short period of time and it would seem only good things will come of this. Make sure to add this to your list of places to visit.
The displays are well done and cover a great deal of time. Some of the early items are things recovered from the ocean floor. Among the coins, silver, anchors, tools and dishes, one of my favorites was a 40+ carat rough cut emerald. That alone could lead to many stories of how it came to be there.
This goes from the early days of merchant ships to more current maritime activity. On display are the uniforms of brothers and a father and son who are all from the island and served in the military.
We were very lucky to have another visitor come and join our tour. There is a special display that is still being set up and this gentleman gave a portion of the display for exhibit here. It is an actual large piece of metal from the Arizona that sunk in Pearl Harbor. He was in Hawaii about 20 years ago and was in the right place at the right time to have been able to have a piece he took off the ship in his personal collection.
I can hardly wait until I have an opportunity to be in this part of Florida again in the near future. This will be one of my first stops when I arrive.
The entire world is the palette for this challenge, which makes it very difficult. So I looked through photos to see where the most vibrant color jumped out at me. In my collection it was the photos taken in my favorite quilt store in Anchorage, Alaska.
Here is a small sample of the fabrics in the store and a quilt that is one way to show off those vibrant colors. Many of the fabrics they carry are exclusive to Alaska and can only be purchased at stores in that state. I hope you enjoy.