We are leaving in a couple of days to get on the transatlantic cruise to Amsterdam. We have a balcony on the cruise and plan to use it a lot. So all the packing and things to do before we leave are being done.
Our sons are moved in. The dogs are doing well.
We are packing ( oh no). We take one rolling suitcase and one backpack each for the six months we will be away. That means that I take very few clothes and they all are black and can be worn together. For color and variety I pack scarves. I pack in packing bags; the shirts, the pants, the underwear, the jacket all can be pulled out and used as needed. I bring 2 pairs of shoes and a pair of saddles. It is not much but it leaves some room to pick up something irresistible .
There are some things that we bring from home because they are difficult to get in Ireland and England. These are the special ear plugs I use, I love my husband but I still need to sleep. Our vitamins and medications ( luckily we take only a few meds so that is easy). My prepared journal and my journal tools. We take a laptop computer, our phones, an ipad and a Magic Jack phone. It is all very lightweight. When you are getting on trains and buses in Europe there are no porters to help. You must lug your bags up the train stairs very quickly as they only stop for a few minutes and there are lots of other people getting on.
The worst part of the trip is the flight to Fort Lauder dale. I hate flying, it is so cramped. That is the reason we will take a cruise over and a cruise back. If you want to follow our adventures pet and house sitting please click the “follow” button and put in your email addy. You will then get an email only when I post ( no one wants more emails than needed). There will be very few posts on the 14 day cruise since the internet is difficult and expensive to use in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Bon Voyage!
We have been at home all this time since returning from England in August. Our son got married in December. Then we got through Christmas; with a small tree and all of our Christmas decorations still in storage. We have made the downstairs comfortable with furniture from our office and our bed. The upstairs is completely empty. We find we do not need to live in much space these days after being on the road for 6 months. All of our clothes fit into 1/2 of our closet. It is good to have our sweet doggie Mac back with us.
The housing market seems to be depressed here at the moment so we are taking some small trips while we decide what to do. I find that I am restless and want to be back on the road again.
So we are spending a week in Las Vegas. There are some interesting places to take photographs here. This is the glass ceiling at the Bellagio Hotel that is stunning. And some glass Cherry flowers from the inside of the hotel. We also went to an abandoned mining town near here, and got photographs of lots of rusted cars and signs. The next day we went to the stunning Valley of Fire. This is a state park that has lots of sandstone rocks the are standing straight up from the ground due to violent up thrusts from the time of the dinosaurs. It is pretty dramatic.
And today we visited the Atomic Testing Museum. We had a Groupon (2 for $26) and you should look for such a discount, as the list price is $22 each, and I don’t think it’s worth that. Those of you who are of our age will remember those duck-and-cover drills from the 60s, and this will certainly make you realize how useless that would have been, and how crazy the whole nuclear industry was.
There is a lot to do in Las Vegas besides gambling.
Well, I thought I would up date you on some of our events. Not as exciting as the summer in England but still interesting.
If you want to purchase any of these photographs they are available in my Etsy shop.
It is very strange to come home to an empty house after 6 months on the road in Europe. We did have a bed to sleep in but that is all. We moved some of my office furniture into the the family room. We got my dining room table back from my sister and got an outdoor table with some patio chairs that we had in storage. I got my long art table out of the storage unit and am in the process of setting up my studio again.
I have vacuumed and mopped the floor two times. Cleaned and waxed the teak table and even put up a painting in the dining room. We bought a new TV and are slowly finding things that we need from the storage unit. This is our dear son Brian and David working together . We swan in the pool the other day and it was heaven. It is coming together.
We have a large house and have decided to only live in the downstairs. We are used to living in small spaces now and are trying to only add what we need. It is refreshing.
We have also had time with our son, his fiance, our family, our dog and our friends. This is the best part of being home.
We took the train to St. Ives in Cornwall from Truro, it only cost about $5 each for us to go to the beach and to return to Truro. Here is an old fashioned signal box house for those of you who are railroad fans that is still operating in the Truro train station. The train goes to St. Erth where we got on the St. Ives train. This train only goes back and forth to St. Ives.St. Ives is a seaside town on the western edge of Cornwall. It is a popular summer resort. We went on one of the few days of sunshine that we experienced in Cornwall and it was crowded. Here is a photo of the beach.Many people put up wind breaks and small pop up tents. There is a lovely harbor where the local kids jump off the pier to go swimming. There is a picturesque Lighthouse on the end of the pier. And some local seals patrol the harbor walls hoping some of the fishing boats might lose some fish. We did get some fish and chips in a fun restaurant on the harbor front. Here is a photo of David looking happy after eating salmon. It was a wonderful day train trip.
We are taking care of 2 lovely dogs in Truro, Cornwall. Here is a picture of them having fun.
We have been walking these babies 2 times a day in a lovely field nearby.
But we have not done any sight seeing because….I love the Olympics. All my favorite sports come in the first week. Swimming, volleyball and gymnastics are the big three for me. The problem with being in England is that the swimming finals are live here at 1-4 am because the the time difference with Rio. Oh no…..my normal schedule runs until 1 am everyday but this is really making my clock crazy. Luckily, next week we can see some of lovely Cornwall and I will put up some lovely photos for you.
Here is the view from our pet sitting home, so lovely.
Oh and go USA!
It is summer here in England but sometimes it is hard to tell. There has been more rain than sunshine during our visit. For someone from Southern California it is an amazing amount of water from the sky. The wonderful part of all of this rain is the glorious flowers that bloom here. I have been going crazy taking photographs of some of these lush blooms. I thought I would share some of them with you. A bouquet of English blossoms for you to enjoy.
Well, we have been lucky so far with our travels and except for a terrible cold and some allergies have not had any health issues. That was until Tuesday. David had hurt his big toe when he accidentally dropped a suitcase on it a week before. It had been healing until Sunday night when it started to bleed and to hurt. By Tuesday , we knew we would have to see a doctor. What do you do when you are in a foreign country?
Well, here in the UK they have the National Health Service (NHS, free coverage for all of their citizens and indeed anyone from the EU). After a little Googling, we followed what they ask you to do when you need help. David called the NHS hotline (111) and spoke to a nurse who advised him to go to the ER near where we are staying. (A little surprisingly, there are Walk-in Centres (kind of like US Urgent Care) only in more rural areas.) So we took the #2 bus, which conveniently stops 100 feet from our door, to the hospital and waited for about 1.5 hours to see a doctor. The doctor was very nice and after we all talked about it , we decided that the toe nail had to come off. Here is a photo of nursing assistant Lauren, who did all the hard work and helped the doctor take the nail off .
We got the toe bandaged up and went home on the bus with a round of antibiotics to take. We changed the dressing Saturday and the toe looked good. Today it looks normal and a regular bandage is enough. We were thankful for the NHS assistance and the good work done in the Cambridge Addenbrooke’s A&E.
By the way, we immediately confessed to being visitors from the US, and the word “insurance” was not heard, nor was there any request for payment. They even waived the co-pay for the medicine, which is normally £8.40. They did take our address, so perhaps the final outcome will be different. but right now we think this care was free. The NHS website seems to say this is the case for emergency care when you’re not admitted to the hospital.
Also by the way, there is a full complement of reality TV in the UK just like in the US. It includes police (highway and city), border control (from the UK, Canada, Ireland, US, and Australia), lifeboat rescue, and yes, medicine (both emergency and GP (general practice, you local family doctor).
We spent six days in Glasgow after our two-week pet sit in Edinburgh (I still miss Jodi the dog). One of the places we visited there left a big impression on us. It was the Tenement House. This was a upper working class tenement home of one Miss Toward and her mother Mrs. Toward. They lived in this one bedroom flat from the early 20th century until 1965. Here is her story from the exhibit. It was being able to see how a single working woman survived in the 20th century that was so affecting. She rented her apartment, like most people in the city. She was very thrifty and saved whatever money she could. Here is a layout of the apartment she and her mom lived in She and her mom slept in the double bed recess in the kitchen and rented out the bedroom to a boarder to save money. The kitchen would have been the warmest place in the house to sleep in those cold Scottish winters. The docent told us that the bathroom was very luxurious in 1911 because it had an indoor toilet and hot and cold running water. There was a shared wash house in the back of the building in which everyone had a day to use to do their washing.
Here is a photo of a photo of her kitchen ( I was not allowed to use a flash and it was not bright enough for a photo from my camera) That is a coal heated stove and oven. Above the the oven she had a drying rack that pulled down to hang clothes and up to dry them. Miss Toward did not want to pay for electricity to be put in for her landlord’s benefit, so she made do with gas lights and no refrigerator. She did break down and converted to electric lights in 1960, but the stove was still working so no replacement was needed. She left the flat exactly the way it is now when in 1965 she went into the hospital. Not having a refrigerator was not as hard as it seems. The door in the upper right hand of the photo opened into a cold larder. A shelf room that had holes drilled into the walls that kept everything as cold as outside, which in Scotland is pretty cold.
There was even a bit of elegance in this hard working woman’s life. It was the parlor. This room was only used for company. Here is the table as it would have been set for tea. In this room there is also a stand up piano that both Mrs. and Miss Toward used to play. No electricity meant no radio and no TV .
Remember she worked long hours being a typist including Saturday (they eventually got a half day off on Saturday). There were no grocery stores, you had to purchase food almost every day from separate stores (groceries, produce, meat, etc.) and prepare it from scratch. It must have been an exhausting life, but she and her mom kept their standards and their sense of dignity.
She spent ten years in the hospital before she died in 1975. Her apartment was rent controlled at around 30 pounds a year and she kept paying for it the entire time she was in the hospital ( I supposed hoping someday to get to return home).
After her death the house was left in her will to the church which intended to sell it to raise funds. It was only on inspection of the flat somebody noticed its potential as it had remained completely unchanged from the olden days and decided to preserve it. That lady purchased it and lived in it for 9 years before selling it intact to the National Trust for Scotland. They reinstalled gas lights and made it as close as possible to the way that Miss Toward lived there. (##budget travel tip: If you have an English National Trust card you can get into any of the National Trust of Scotland properties for free).
We both found this testament to a thrifty hard working woman to be uplifting and beautiful.
The last blog was about wee Bobby the dog and his loyalty to his master. This was the lighter side to Edinburgh’s Grey friars’ graveyard. Now we move from a Disney movie to the Body Snatchers movies. Grey friars cemetery started out life as a Franciscan herb garden for the infirmary that the monks ran from the middle ages. The monastery was dissolved in 1559 and the garden was turned into a graveyard in 1561. The oldest graves have a distinctly decrepit look. They seemed to like all kinds of variations on skulls and cross bones, possibly to make sure they remembered that death from disease, famine, or religious disagreement was always imminent. This particular medieval monument would keep me on the straight and narrow . And even an angel keeps a skull on her knee in case you thought about sinning. But the decorations are just the beginning.
There are some really creepy grave monuments like these; Here is a husband and wife united in death ; holding hands under that famous skull.
Edinburgh had a progressive and excellent medical college. The doctors and their students from the 18th century wanted to be able to dissect real bodies in order to learn anatomy. The problem was that the surgeons were only allowed about 4 criminal bodies a year to dissect. The body demand created a new industry: ‘Resurrection Men’ who sold the newly dead bodies and could get high prices for one. The rich started using mausoleums, vaults and table tombstones to deter these crafty tradesmen from lifting their beloved dead for an anatomy lesson. Here is a table tombstone from the Greyfriars’s graveyard. Ironically, I believe this was the grave of a surgeon. He knew how to keep those pesky body snatchers away.
In the 1820s in Edinburgh there were two men (Burke and Hare) who decided to cut out the undertakers and started to murder people by smothering them while compressing the victim’s chest. In one year they sold 20 bodies to Edinburgh’s doctors before they were caught. But all good things eventually comes to an end. The government in the United Kingdom passed the Anatomy Act of 1832. Now bodies of unclaimed paupers were confiscated by the government and disbursed to licensed doctors only. The grave robbing trade was dead.
I liked this gravestone; short and to the point; I think this would be the perfect place for a Halloween party or a seance .
Now we see both sides of this historic graveyard; the sweetness of loyal Bobby the dog and the sadness of death and grave robbers.