Archive for July, 2015

That better not be my beer!

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

We are out on the porch at Hilton Head drinking wine and suddenly we hear, “slurp, slurp, slurp…” and I’m remembering the commercial with the dog who gets the master’s beer…. The barbeque is heating up and we are doing burgers tonight. We are so lazy! Karla and I went to church this morning and then Karla and Mark went to the eye doctor and Chuck and I read books and took Jessie the dog outside to sit in the sun. We are planning still to go to Virginia Beach to visit Francis Skinner next week.. Until then, lots of play and wine. Love. And God bless you.

Sitting pretty in Hilton Head

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

We arrived at Karla and Mark’s beautiful house on Hilton head island at about 3pm on Friday. Got through the guard gate (who hadn’t been updated that an itinerant, homeless couple were coming to visit), but a call to Boone got us permission from Karla and Mark. We went on to find Mimi (Mark’s sister) out walking her dog with her arm all wrapped up. She broke wrist in a gardening fall. She gave us the house key, and we got in just fine, and proceeded to spread our stuff all over the house! Swept the driveway and back porch, shopped at Harris Teeter, and tried to go to outdoor market for fresh vegs, but market closes July 4. A kind farmer gave us 2 eggplants that I have earmarked for a pasta dish , if Karla approves… We cooked several meals, I went to Mass, we ate and cleaned up. Today Chuck and I are cleaning up our messes and preparing a big supper to greet Mark and Karla when they arrive from Boone late this afternoon. Mimi will join us too. We hope during this visit to see Karla’s son Brad, wife Becca and baby Saylor who live nearby in Charleston. Other than giant mosquito or other insect bites that we periodically go nuts over and apply more cream to, all is beautiful. There is a small pond out back and we got a magnificent photo of a great blue heron proudly standing and posing. Decks are ready for evenings of wine drinking, singing, and laughing. We called Frances Skinner who used to visit Miami with sweet husband Ray. He passed away and Frances misses him mightily. We will visit her and take her out for some Chesapeake Bay seafood when we leave here. God bless you.

Staying Safe

Friday, July 24th, 2015

I woke up this morning in Clinton, South Carolina, headed for Hilton Head Island to visit Karla. Actually we will open up Karla’s house and cook a meal for her and Mark who arrive on Sunday.  I came down to breakfast to find Chuck eating and reading peacefully, but on the wall the TV news had Bobby Jindal talking about yet another shooting this time in a quiet beautiful town where evil came from outside… Lafayette, Louisiana… I don’t think it is laws on gun control that we need. We live in a culture of violence. We accept the games and TV and movies with great noise and violence. We don’t recognize the face of evil. Who was that guy? In western movies he used to wear a black hat; he sneered from behind a big drooping mustache; he had big guns strapped to his hip.   We have met people whose very mien frightened us… the look, the words, the attitudes frighten us. But this man who shot up a movie theater in Layfayette is ordinary looking. He isn’t from “our town”. He drove into a responsible town and he wrecked havoc. The pieces will be put together; we’ll state over and over that “there’s bad stuff in the world.” I’m quoting a local congressman. So can we keep guns out of the wrong hands? No. We can only pray for our own peace.  Pray we could help others. Pray we could lower our head over a friend and protect the weaker one. Pray to see God’s face. God bless you.

Tenessee heat

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

The wedding of Lisa and Allen Paparelli was breathtaking in simplicity and full of laughter and love. The minister called on the two young people to call on the strength of Jesus and on family when in trouble and actually in good times too!  We stayed in a beautiful hotel and just walked downstairs to the celebration which means a lot as driving in downtown Atlanta isn’t fun! We hugged everybody good bye and headed out on my birthday morning for Cookeville Tennessee where many Miami folks retire. We’re visiting friends from Miami (Al and Shannon) and Dave and Debby are here too. So… small pleasures taken far from home. I’m about to go outside and paint Shannon’s daiseys in amazing hot weather. Apparently they have had extremely cold winters and hot dry summers when the corn don’t grow. So… all is well. We head east slowly on Thursday to spend a few days on South Carolina lakes or rivers (I’ll reveal which lakes or rivers when I find out…) and end up in Hilton Head on Sunday for a nice long visit with friend from college Karla and Mark. God bless you.

Ships, boats, taxis, and a train

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

Written after the fact from an Atlanta hotel room! I walked up the stairs from the 6th to the 7th floor to get coffee on our last day on the QM2, and as per usual procedure, I checked the weather by poking my  head outside.  WOW! Imagine how the immigrants felt, all my 4 grand parents, as they saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time.  She stands proudly in New York harbor today, green from weathering, holding her book and light, inspiring gulps of joy in my throat. I took some photos of the Statue and then I turned to my right and caught a first glimpse of the new World TradeCenter. Clouds were rolling in, and those are the best shots I got all day! We stood in a line of hundreds to get a taxi, so Chuck bought off a guy who hailed us a private cab (seems you can get anything with an extra $20). He took us through the tunnel from QM2’s perch in Brooklyn and pointed out the World Trade Center and memorial garden. We checked in at the hotel and immediately set out for a circle line cruise that goes all around Manhattan Island: 20 bridges, 19 tall and 1 rail road bridge that has to open for each boat. We could not see up the Hudson waterway for clouds and the tops of the tall buildings were shrouded in cloud as rain poured down. We went under the George Washington bridge that Sully Sullenberg “glided over” after he lost engine power and saw the spot on the Hudson where he “landed” near the aircraft carrier Intrepid. Rain continued to pour down scrapping any thoughts of going out to the World Trade Center site or the Battery Park to see the QM2 light show as she sailed away.  Instead we relaxed and then, noticing it had stopped raining, walked up to Broadway and Times Square and had an early dinner at an Irish pub. Morning came and we got the first taxi we hailed who dropped us at Penn Station. With all our 13 bags… I stood on the side walk as Chuck disappeared down into Penn Station to look for Amtrack and a porter. I waited bravely on the sidewalk and then they came! Chuck and a “red cap.” The train ride was fun except that Amtrack has cut back with no dining car for sleeper cars… so we were reduced to hotdogs and beer. As we rolled and rocked along listening to the train blow her horn at every crossing I thought of all the country western songs I’ve heard about the lonesome whistle of the train, and I thought of all those little nameless towns we blew through. The train was a little late due to heavy freight traffic on the lines, but our dear loyal cousin Dennis picked us up and took us out for lunch (waterside in Tampa).  Greet the dogs waiting for us, throw the ball a million times, hug Laura and Dennis good bye and head for Atlanta on Friday morning. Arrived Atlanta at about 4pm on a Braves game afternoon and oh do not forget rush hour on I75/I85 in Atlanta. I was frazzled, but our little GPS girl got us to the front door of the beautiful Georgian Terrace hotel where we have a small suite with washer and dryer. I filled the suite with open suitcases, put up a clothes line and went to work on laundry! We went out for a walk with Charlie Paparelli to the restaurant for rehearsal dinner and tonight is Lisa’s wedding. So, just as I asked for prayer for my niece Jennie, so tonight I ask for prayer for Lisa. Two beautiful young ladies setting out to continue a happy and beautiful life. Heard last evening at the rehearsal dinner: “You can’t explain marriage to someone who hasn’t been married. Marriage is a challenge and only Love carries us through.” And we aren’t strong enough to love on our own with poor puny human love… Ask God and his angels to come and be with.  God bless you!

Disembark is such a scary word!

Monday, July 13th, 2015

We have had a smashing time. The sailaways have been grand with fireworks and all kinds of sailing vessels escorting us out of Halifax and Boston. Last evening we sipped champagne, leaned on the 12th deck railing, and watched planes take off and land from the Boston airport as our Queen Mary 2 backed out of her slip and backed into Boston Harbor. We sat there for over an hour as we watched the lights on shore and finally fireworks! A grand show. Today is swimming, classical music, an art lecture. The luggage is packed and ready to go outside the cabin door. After the art lecture, I’ll pick up Chuck for our final evening with friends Margaret and Bill in the champagne lounge. We’re a bit sad to leave, and moving from ship to New York hotel to Amtrak will be a challenge. Then we will have our own car (kept for us by cousins Laura and Dennis…) and all will be relatively normal again!!! I might not write again until we get to Laura and Dennis’ house on Thursday. Have a wonderful week! Think of us and say a little prayer for our safety as we bravely go out to find food in a world not personed by white gloved waiters who wait on our every need. God bless you!

Scone, jam and cream

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Yesterday I had a little afternoon tea. Chuck went early to shave, shower, brush his teeth and lay out his formal wear for the last formal night, and I went for a cuppa tea… I couldn’t resist the scones and the cream was lovely! Jam is just an additional treat. Today we are in Boston and we just cleared immigration with a very cute immigration agent! I swear he had an Irish accent but it was just Boston! We will hop on hop off the red bus here in Boston with our Scottish friends Margaret and Bill. We will visit the Copley Square Marathon finish line memorial, do a little Freedom trail like I did with cousin Laura here in Boston a few years ago, and talk about Revolution with the Brits! Eat some lobster and clam chowder at Durgen’s market/seafood and (burp) back to the boat for champagne and maybe a romp in the pool as it will be 91 degrees today in Boston. The ship promises fireworks as we leave the harbor for our last and home port of New York. We arrive Tuesday morning and catch the Amtrak to Tampa on Wed. Arrive Tampa on Thursday I think… Paperwork is buried in a suitcase under the bed. I’m just going where I’m told to go at this point! No send off could equal the amazing send off at Halifax… I have about a million photos if anyone wants to watch. I need to download to a pc and just sit and watch it all float by! Happy Sunday. Jennie should be married by this time in Jacksonville. Say a little prayer of happiness for my lovely niece and her new husband! - God bless you!

Pride and Prejudice at sea

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Today Chuck and I split up a little bit… I went to a lecture on New York skyscrapers (the high end residences) and Chuck went to meet with Military service men and women. Then we met at the pool where I bounced with my friend Margaret for an hour, ate lunch (burp…), and then the fun part: we went to Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice acted out in unquestionably great accents! It was fun and very well done! Where else but on Cunard will you find such amazing English talent! I then went for tea… oh my gosh this includes a scone, cream and jam… and tea. burp. Followed by getting all prettied up for another formal night (4 nights in 12 days) champagne with friends, another amazing dinner, and here I am with a minute to spare before Apassionata (an extravaganza of exciting dance styles). I let Chuck go free tonight to go to a movie called Kingsman the Secret Service with Colin Firth and Samuel L Jackson. I wanted to go to the movie but I felt I need to watch the dancers… It all fits in with the cruise thing. Tomorrow is Terra Firma USA. Boston here we come, but we are still tourists! To disembark in America and walk all around and do stuff but then to go get back on the ship is really neat. We have to go through immigration tomorrow and then again in New York. When we get kicked off in New York and have to deal with the luggage - now that will be The End. Ick. but not yet! God bless you. Happy Sunday.

Strollin’ west OR oh my goodness my pants still fit!

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Barely buttoned, my favorite white pants fit… I’ve resisted the elegant desserts and only snagged a profiterole or petit four (sp?) occasionally. Last night I resisted hot chocolate and cookies at story reading time (a beautiful Welsh girl read from Dylan Thomas… I found myself lulled almost to sleep as I listened to Thomas read with the lilting Welsh voice!). Despite eating few cookies.. the pants are tightening. Pool today. I must do lots of kicking and moving. But I get ahead of myself. Must not neglect Halifax! We left the ship dutifully at 9am and met Brian our taxi driver. Hiring a private car for the first time was something Chuck and I don’t do… what if they have a flat tire? what if they leave us half way across the island, what’s the guarantee we’ll get back to the ship??? But our Scottish friend Margaret assured us Brian was polite in his correspondence with her, and she hired him and she felt confident. Indeed Brian was an ex police man so he and Chuck hit it off in the front seat while Margaret, Bill and I sat back and looked out at Nova Scotia. We drove out of the city and to Peggy’s Cove which is a lovely fishing - art community with rocks and a light house. There was a charity event this weekend so there is a big tent (a yert) full of art to look at and buy, and artists were perched all over painting the rocks and light house. I took photos of the artists and their paintings and then looked over their shoulders and photographed what they were painting! Lovely! We had cappucinos and moved on towards Lunenburg, but first stopped at a painted house! took a lot of photos with the artist book writer Ivan Fraser who has written the legend of Peggy who washed ashore and did not know her name… She was named Margaret and called Peggy hence the place names Margaret’s Cove and Peggy’s Cove. We walked through the artist’s antique strewn home, looked at his amazing paintings, and generally had a grand time! He even had the shed painted with his heroine Peggy! I left there very inspired to update my own house and shed paintings! As we drove, we passed the site of the Swiss Air flight that disappeared 5 miles off the coast. Fishing boats went out to save people, but there was nothing. Debris did wash up on the coast. We have made a new friend Tania who worked for Swiss Air and came to Halifax to work the arrivals of flights of families… but there were no bodies and no survivors. We passed the site of the convention center where people were housed and cared for when about 65 airplanes had to land on Halifax on September 11. Onward to Mahone and Lunenburg beautiful little villages the second is a port for a sailing vessel called the Blue Nose. We ate lobster sandwiches and drank Canadian beer. On again to the cemetery where some of the recovered Titanic bodies are buried. Just as Chuck and I visited the cemetery for the Pan Am flight that crashed into Lockerbie Scotland, we visited here and said a little prayer for those identified and those not identified. Margaret and I talked about the events recently passed when the British had to wait for days to identify their dead. It’s a hard world and we must carry on and have faith that God sorts it all out in the end. I remain steadfast wanting to see God’s face. From the morning announcements: Use each day’s time and live in the present only! Today is a gift and that is why it is called the present! God bless you!

What a difference a day makes OR Sunshine in Halifax

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

How the Pilgrims and early immigrants must have felt as they trundled up against land here in Halifax or in other North eastern cities! Or I guess there weren’t cities yet were there? Anyhow. It was about 7:30 am when I went up for coffee and I saw “bright!” and then I stepped outside and saw “Green!!!!! grass and a light house!” The past few days on the north sea have been mother nature at her gloomy worst. Well I guess Mother Nature can be worse. She did not pour a storm on us. Yesterday at noon, I insisted on going swimming and kept looking up and begging for just a hint of sunshine to warm the conservatory or solarium whatever you would call it. Nope. She was just grumpy. So it has been cool and quite cloudy. One day and it is sunny. We will eat a little snack of breakfast and go ashore with friends from Scotland who go around sleeveless! Margaret swims with me! We will tour Halifax and beaches, islands and lighthouses together. Then another day at sea and back into the USA! Yesterday we listened to a talk on the building of the World Trade Center… a story of bravado, gumption, vision and grief. When the Empire State Building was erected midtown Manhattan was the center of commerce and the south seaport was almost a slum of little electronics shops… The rich men of vision planned to build A World Trade Center!!! and they planned on taking a large piece of land and exercising emminant domaine (sp) (they enlisted the NY and NJ Port Authority).. and the argument went all the way to the State supreme court who said, “OK build the building” and then the store keepers took it to the US Supreme Court who said it was not a Federal matter. So the shop owners were thrown off. Their property was purchased for about $3000 each.. yikes. That was mean. What was important for the builders was to build over a dirty grubby commuter rail terminal and they were right at the sea port. Actually when the towers went down there were many telephone and communications connections and several rail lines lost. To get Mayor John Lindsay’s approval to reroute streets the planners determined to use the refuse from destruction to build Battery Park City. And so the world Trade Center two towers went up in 1973. 50,000 people worked there and 200,000 people visited there every day. We looked longingly at pictures of Windows on the World where many of us dined at some time (the engagement scent from Sleepless in Seattle looked out on the Empire State Building from there) and Cellars in the Sky and the Greatest Bar on Earth… all gone now. The speaker showed the picture of the 2 lights shining up into the sky and then we moved on. The new one building opened November 2014 and that too will become an icon. I have to go, but first we saw the funniest interview with our on board commedian and a magic show… we are busy busy!!!!! I hope we get to swim this afternoon after Halifax. It might help me to continue to get into my pants! Have a wonderful day! God bless you.

Busy busy at sea!

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

My dear we have something every hour!!! I actually snagged a few hours yesterday to sit in a wonderful little button or mushroom shaped chair with my feet up on the window sill looking out at sea and reading! Otherwise…. Pretend this is a movie! Days go by with white chocolate and pistachio pancakes with vanilla sauce. Talks on the sky scrapers of New York (Empire State building built especially to be the tallest building in the world by Al Smith (ran for president) and DuPont. Was indeed tallest for a long time.. In 1908 tallest building was 612 feet high. Empire passed the Chrysler building that was 1046 feet in 1930. Chrysler is actually more interesting look as it is Art Deco with gargoyles, tires, and wheels on it and the hood ornaments of 1929 Chrysler!!! Picasso, Matisse, Expressionism and Fauvism influenced Chrysler. Empire State building went up to be a rental and almost went bust until the movies showed it in the background… of course remember An Affair to remember and Sleepless in Seattle!!!! Ahhhhhh.) Planatarium shows where we watch the progression of the creation of the universe and galaxies and stars blow up and planets formed. Afternoon concerts from Puccini to the Beatles on Oboe, violin, guitar. AHHHHHHHH! Pool bouncing most every day. We’ve made friends with many people, but my special pool friend is Margaret. She does not mind the somewhat chilly atmosphere on the pool deck (she is from Scotland and has the most beautiful Scottish brogue!). Daily Mass to which I must go now.. Champagne, tuxedos, celebrations and today the talk will be on the World Trade Centers. Think sunshine for tomorrow (Halifax Nova Scotia (New Canada)… Swim today no matter what Mother nature says - she has been blustery and chilly with rain in the north atlantic where we ply the waters. God bless you dear readers.

July 7 a day of memory

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Good morning dear friends. Today is a day of memory and silence for the bombings in London. There will be a minute of memory at 11am, and at Mass we prayed for God’s mercy for both victims of terrorism and the terrorists. It seems we are doing this a lot lately… and it is a problem that we don’t have a state or a head of state to talk to and to prosecute. Pray for God’s mercy. Today I peeked outside as I went for early coffee and dear Mother Nature is having another temper tantrum. We need sunshine to heat up the solarium so Susie can swim today. I swam yesterday and it was nice and I plan to swim today too. I like it when my friends join me and we bounce around and gossip in the warm water! We have settled into a routine here on the sea. We awake around 7 to 8 and check our watches to see what time it is… It is constantly dark in our inside cabin, but we would not be able to even open our door in this weather! I get coffee and then go to daily Mass with a priest from Connecticut. Then we eat breakfast in the Kings Court (on RCCL this is called the Windjammer). I then fit in a lecture, a swim for me and an afternoon entertainment (busy busy). Yesterday we watched a very funny Midsummer Night’s Dream and today is 2 1/2 hours of Carmen the opera. I might miss that. We have books to read. The lectures are by a gentleman who has made the architecture of sky scrapers his life’s work… Yesterday he started with the Flat Iron Building and today is the Empire State Building. Very interesting! Sky Scrapers couldn’t be considered until the problems of plumbing that could get up to heights and elevators. We intersperse activities with pub lunch in the Red Lion Pub, Wimbledon (yesterday we watched Serena Williams pummel her sister Venus). Today is quarter finals. We dress for dinner every night (4 formal nights and all others are jacket for Chuck and dress for me. ) We have met several wonderful friends and expect to fill Miami with Scottish accents and some wonderful fun! We’ve met American and British submarine veterans, have dinner with a Korean Marine veteran, and I plan to spend some time with an American Anglican vicar to understand our mutual beliefs. All is well. Let us be peaceful today. Let us remember the mercy of God. God bless you.

“right on time” or an hour late

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

Good Sunday morning to my dear readers! “Right on time” applies to yesterday: I was inputting my blog when at 3:30pm there was an announcement that the Red Arrows would fly over the Queen Mary 2 at 4:15 on their way to Belfast. I finished up, went to get Chuck and we went upstairs with glasses of wine to await the fly over. There were very few people on the upper decks as many were in the second concert at the Cathedral, and many were on shore. I had wanted to get back to the ship after the concert as I was so FULL of the grandeur and pomp, that I wanted to be quiet and savor it! We sat on loungers and chatted with an American couple and said, “I wonder if they are coming,” suddenly an English lady shouted “There they are” and indeed, right on time at 4:15 the Red Arrows flew over us with red, white and blue streaming from their tails!!!! I was able to snap 4 pictures. How grand! “Right on time” the lady said, “they are English!” The amazing did not stop as we had a lovely sip of champagne in the Chart Room bar (we finished the anniversary bottle of Veuve Cliquot) and we listened to a harpist play music including Canon in D major… then we went to a grand dinner. Our table mates are American. A lovely couple from South Carolina, both French teachers who live 1/2 the year in Paris, and another from Springfield Missouri, a Korean veteran Marine who became a lawyer and his wife. They now live in Florida. It was Don’s (the Marine) birthday (the 4th of July: he said he always thought the fireworks were for him!) The waiters brought him cake and sang happy birthday, then a waiter with a fine tenor voice sang him an a capella happy birthday that was breath taking. Off we went upstairs to deck 12 to the party …. we leaned on the railing watching the pier fill with citizens who were there to watch the Queen Mary sail off just as the Brittania sailed off for Halifax 175 years ago. Below us on deck 8 were revellers and a band… The sun set about 10pm and the fireworks that followed, while they were for the 175 anniversary, were also for the 4th of July, as Hail Brittania was mixed with New Orleans Jazz and our National Anthem. We waved American flags and sang and celebrated. We met another couple from northern Scotland and we will tour Halifax with them. When we got to our cabin, the daily news said to turn our clocks back… so we did as dutiful little cruisers, but that was for tonight, so I got up to go to morning Mass this morning at 8:30, but it was already over! 8:30 is really 9:30 and I will now go get Chuck to tell him he just lost an hour and it is breakfast time. I haven’t been outside yet, but an American couple told me it is cold and windy and a British couple told me it is brisk. You choose. I’m going to try to go swimming in the pavillion pool with my new Scottish friend Margaret. I am sure she will love the temperature! Happy Sunday and God bless you.

Pomp and Circumstance

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

Today is the fourth of July and we are spending the day celebrating the 175th anniversary of the first Cunard ship sailing out of Liverpool, and all the other Cunard ships that have sailed the seas. Samuel Cunard wanted a ship that could carry cargo to America and back in much less time than other ships so he commissioned the Brittania “a plain and simple boat,” and he built the first steam ship for Cunard and bettered the previous 6 week crossing time from 6 weeks to 10 days! He was celebrated today in the Liverpool Cathedral along with the ships and men who sailed them. We were carried to the Cathedral on busses in very efficient fashion and we listened to an organ concert, chatting with new English friends while we waited for the Cathedral to fill. Some statistics and emotional details we learned today: Boston’s trade doubled in one year after the Britannia sailed so Boston gave Cunard the “Boston Cup.” It was carried on with much ceremony. After singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic the history of Cunard ships at war was described. Cunard carried every horse of the light brigade and every soldier into the Crimea. During WWI, U boats plied the waters and Cunard lost 20 ships as she continued to ferry soldiers and supplies. Of course the Lusitania was the victim who finally brought the US into the war. But before that, the White Star Titanic sailed from England in 1912 on the same day as the Cunard Carpathia sailed from New York. Carpathia was a small slow ship but when she heard the distress call she shut down all essential services and poured on the steam to go to Titanic’s rescue. Carpathia rescued 705 survivors. 2000 perished. After that the Queen of England asked Cunard to buy White Star and Cunard claims to give Prime White Star Service and Cunard security and safety. The captain of the small Carpathia claimed that God guided him through the ice strewn waters to the rescue. We heard the story of the Lusitania who sailed and was sunk very quickly by a German U boat. After the remembrance of the losses of the wars, the ship’s bell tolled in the silent Cathedral for the 20 ships that were lost during the wars. During WWII Cunard carried whole divisions of Americans (15,000 in a division) on ships that were built to carry 3000. The men slept and ate on shifts. Over half the D Day troops and 5000 prisoners of war along with multitudes of wounded were transported by Cunard. Simon Weston, a Welsh Guardsman who was seriously wounded in the Falklands, and was carried home on the QE2, testified to the help he received to rebuild his life. The Welsh Guard marched, blew bagpipes and played fine music. Finally, to end the story, jet planes practically ended the need for fast ocean travel and Cunard settled in to a “gentle decline,” but Mickey Arison had a dream, to build a new ocean liner, Carnival purchased Cunard and built the Queen Mary 2. She is luxury on a grand scale and Carnival is enabling Cunard to continue the grand tradition. The ceremony ended with a rousing and flag waving “Rule Britannia” along with a Welsh Guard Hymn. I admit I stood and waved the flag with the best of them! I’m a teary eyed girl and you know how I feel about our English cousins. Happy 4th of July. We are a better nation for our peace, for our love of God, for our laws, and for our hope in the American Dream. God bless us all.

On the Queen

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

We left the hotel at 11am and were in our cabin at noon thanks to my saints and angels… thank you St Francis for I was praying. I had misplaced the piece of paper I wrote bank access codes on… but found it in my stack of greeting cards to paint. Whew. There was a lady at the terminal handing out boarding cards in a big crowd of people… so I just walked up to her and asked for a card. She said “A” “go there” … and in Chuck and I went leaving a large crowd behind us… Like I said. One hour from hotel to room. We ate a beautiful salad lunch, waited for the fly over of the special fly over group, but the weather turned rotten and they could not fly. We unpacked all our things, did the compulsory lifeboat drill, ate a fine meal with 2 other lovely couples who travel as much or more than we do. One lives in Paris for 6 months. We now have 3 bottles of wine at various bars. Traveling with Chuck can be very expansive. We are already celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary with Veuve Cliquot and 2 bottles of Merlot at two different places. Burp. All is well. God bless you.

The next part of the journey

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Today will be another ship boarding, and this time we can’t say, “been there done that” as today it is The Queen. I was thinking last evening about these trips to England and what I would say to why we keep returning. We like England! We’re lazy with languages, and they speak English here! We get teased for our accent and our ways. I’m loud and Chuck is a little quieter so sometimes I have to tone down my laughing out loud or my political views. I side completely with our English cousins on stopping the terrorism and I’m not sure this will happen in the air, but I sure do hate the idea of boots on the ground. Today on the news there was a UNESCO report on the destruction of antiquities. There is a desire by the terrorists to wipe us, our culture our religion and our whole history out. I felt like I was watching Oliver Cromwell and his anti Catholic henchmen with sledge hammers busting up the antiquities. I feel helpless against a nameless placeless foe who hates us and kills retired grandmothers who are taking a little break from baby sitting. Wow! How did I get here? We have spent a month soaking up old homes and gardens, visiting and sleeping in the guest rooms of English family, enjoying the comraderie of English pubs, watching the English take respectful care of their monuments to soldiers both English and American, and watching with tears the English bring home their dead from the last terror attack. Why do I love these people? Because they are cousins of my heart. Shakespeare, Chaucer, Lewis Carroll, the Rolling Stones (Keith Richards and Mick Jagger are opening an exhibition in London), Harry Potter, Monty Montgomery. I can go on and on. Yesterday as we walked back to the hotel at the end of the day, I crossed the street to get a look at one more monument… To pilgrims and to the men who left Southhampton on boats headed for Normandy. The war monument plaque is placed right on the Pilgrim monument. Let us cherish our history and teach to children love, to respect our freedom, and to cherish our religious beliefs and freedom. God bless you.

Did I mention pubs?

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

This is our last day. The rental car has been returned within walking distance of the Holiday Inn where we had a good night’s sleep with window closed and air conditioning turned on (praise God). Yesterday when we checked in, one small window street side was open. We have had some sweaty nights this way as most buildings are not air conditioned for the five hot days England has. Most nights I am happy for the fluffy duvet pulled up to my chin. But I digress. This is about pubs. You can tell the old proper pubs as they are dark and they have a pub menu with meat potato peas and carrots. Most places now bow to vegetarians also. The proper pub cherishes social communication and there is not a TV. This one we just found in Southhampton has a TV tuned to Sky news. Britons are still awaiting the final count of names of dead from the beach shootings so we keep an eye on TV. Also it looks like Greece would like the EU to turn the other cheek and, what? Forget the debt? Meanwhile Wimbledon churns on in the heat. Pint almost finished and time to head for the Duke of (good grief what is his name?) pub for lunch and.maybe a nap? Last day before the brand new adventure. God bless you.

Charity Shops

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

We love the villages in England. Chuck often talks about the 3 building town…the pub, the church and the everything else building. Usually the towns that are slightly larger than villages have a High street that is also called town center. Here you find the market place which is a little like the Big Pine Key swap meet on Saturday morning. Here at the market I got a new watch band for £3 (about $4.50), Chuck got an English made leather belt for about $10 and in the past we purchased the amazing cold weather jackets that clog our Miami closets. Also the market has home (farm) grown local vegetables, cheeses, and meats. The charity shops are out on high street also. A little like the Habitat shop again on big pine key. People donate their stuff there, and English “stuff” is likely to be amazing little antiques. Several times I have mused, “How much Kathie would love this shop.” All sales go to various charities especially cancer and children. Today I will be going to the charity shop near our hotel to donate shoes and some pants. One pair is too big, one pair is too tight. Odd. I wonder if at the last minute I did not try stuff on. Actually I am also dropping off a pair of sneakers I wore for 2 months and are getting thin on bottom. Have a spare pair to wear today! Heat wave outside so I am in shorts and sleeveless shirt. Unheard of for Peabodys to be hot in England! Off now for a final pub lunch. Tomorrow lunch on the Queen Mary II while Red Arrows fly over. Pip pip. God bless you.