Blogging · My Thoughts

What Does Six Years of Blogging Look Like?

Six years of blogging—yahoo! I’ve taken the advice of writing pundits that I should blog as an author, so I did it sporadically and half-heartedly for four years. I didn’t do regular posts. I wasn’t committed. I didn’t know what to do.

Then in 2017, my husband and I took a fabulous trip to Ireland and England, and it hit me–blog about every day of the trip. We were gone for 23 days, so I had topics for twenty-three posts, and I was off and running. I realized the power in having planned blogs. My statistics changed, and in 2018, I hit it full tilt. I grew exponentially in 2019! Now I have a database of topics for 2020 already.

Last year, I looked at my first five years, and the data opened my eyes! Today, I wanted to take this opportunity to look at the statistics of my blogging and thoughtfully consider what’s working and what needs to be tweaked! Let’s look at my statistics for the last six years:

For the first two years I had 207 views but my visitors increase. In 2016 views more than doubled and visitors increased also. In 2017 again, views increased but visitors more than doubled. But 2018, my numbers went off the map! My views increased more than six times and the visitors jumped by seven times. Wow!

In 2019, I more than doubled my views and visits from 2018. I moved my website to wordpresscom so the blog and website sit together, and I think that’s helped.

Over the years I increased my posts, and last year I posted on a regular weekly basis–some weeks I posted twice a week. Readers like regular blog posts, and they like more. Regularly, I post one blog post a week, but last year I added some at the holidays and did that again this year.

Here’s how many posts I have published in six years:

  • 2014 – 7
  • 2015 – 16
  • 2016 – 6
  • 2017 – 22
  • 2018 – 55
  • 2019 – 66

Let’s look at specifics from 2019. My most popular post published was “Why Knit?” with 1939 views. Experts say to ask a question in your title and I saw that suggestion improve visitation. “Home” visitation of my website was the second popular, so moving my website is the reason for that!

What was your favorite blog post of mine in 2019?

I love the growth statistics this last year, but I continue to have two disappointing statistics: likes and comments.

Likes:

  • 2014 – 0
  • 2015 – 1
  • 2016 – 8
  • 2017 – 45
  • 2018 – 136
  • 2019 – 57

A major decrease from last year shocked me. What do I do to encourage more likes on the wordpress site?

Comments:

  • 2014 – 0
  • 2015 – 2
  • 2016 – 77
  • 2017 – 8
  • 2018 – 48
  • 2019 – 0

Many visitors interact on Facebook with likes and comments but don’t go out to wordpress.com to like and comment. How do I move the reader to go out to my blog and respond?

I want more interaction with my visitors. I end each blog with questions to stimulate conversation, so help me out. What do I need to do? What would make you like and/or comment more on my blog?

Visitors to my blog come from all over the world which fascinates me, so what countries visited my blog last year and how many did I have from the top countries?

2019

  • United States – 4893
  • Pakistan – 593
  • Algeria – 520
  • Turkey – 485
  • Nepal – 425
  • India & Mynamar (Burma) – 149

2018

  • United States – 3962
  • Australia – 108
  • Canada – 103
  • United Kingdom – 69
  • Germany – 36
  • Ireland – 34
  • India – 26
  • Japan – 25
  • Hong Kong (China) – 19
  • Sweden – 8

Notice the directional movement in readership of my blog from 2018 to 2019. It’s amazing the difference.

In 2019, other countries who visited my blog were Venezuela, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Libya, Ireland, China, Egypt, Philippines, Bolivia, Tunisia, Japan, United Kingdom, Chile, Canada, Argentina, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Iraq, France, Australia, Brazil, Albania, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Mexico, Bhutan, Ecuador, Germany, Somalia, Colombia, Guinea, Georgia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Italy, Serbia, Sweden, Malaysia, Romania, South Africa, Paraguay, Russia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Honduras, Hungary, Mali, Surname, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, Thailand, Cambodia, Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Ukraine, Peru, Austria, Macedonia, Namibia, New Zealand, Guatemala, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Poland, Haiti, Finland, Costa Rica, Senegal, Armenia, Hong Kong SAR China, Tanzania, Singapore, Kenya, Croatia, Cameroon, Laos, Mauritius, Lebanon, Fiji, Tonga, Niger, Cote d’lvoire, Spain, Samoa, Lithuania, Taiwan, Malta, Greece, Vietnam, Zambia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Maldives, Barbados, Benin, Liberia, Jordan, Sierra Leone, Vanuatu, Congo – Brazzaville, South Sudan, Timor-Leste, Yemen, South Korea, Belgium, Uzbekistan, Panama, Qatar, Portugal, Czech Republic, Uganda, European Union, Belize, Mozambique, Congo – Kinshasa, Comoros, Madagascar, Bahamas, Iran, Denmark, American, Samoa, Trinidad & Tobago, Gambia, Chad, Norway, Cape Verde, Rwanda, Kazakhstan, Burundi, Puerto Rico, Kuwait, Uruguay, Brunei, U. S. Virgin Islands, Moldova, Caribbean Netherlands, French Polynesia, and Reunion.

 In 2018, readers from 29 countries have visited my blog in 2018; in 2019, it grew to 150 countries! OMG! I changed something this year—I paid for an ad, but at the beginning of March, I selected “Worldwide” when forming my audience, and that made all the difference.

So, why did you come to my blog from such far-away places? Let me know.

I continue to add quality photographs and graphics because of good blog design.

Over 84% of all marketing strategies use images, popular GIFs, graphics, animations, and signs among others to pass information. Visual communication has more impact in passing information to people. 

In 2020, I plan to include these topics this year:

  • Our Travels
  • Square Dancing
  • MAJOR FOCUS: Marshall Flippo and promoting my new book
  • Personal life stories
  • Being 65 and fully alive
  • HolidaY highlights
  • Ranch life in southeastern Colorado
  • My 16-year-old cat, Jesse

What would you like to hear about? I’m open!

All-in-all, my blog has become a major focus of my writing career, so stick around and see where we go this next year!


~Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~I HAVE OVER 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

~Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft for digital or paper copies of all my books: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

Blogging · My Thoughts · Words Matter · Writing

What Does Five Years of Blogging Look Like?

Five years ago, I took the advice of writing pundits that I should blog as an author, so I did it sporadically and half-heartedly for four years. I didn’t do regular posts. I wasn’t committed. I didn’t know what to do.

Then in 2017, my husband and I took a fabulous trip to Ireland and England, and it hit me–blog about every day of the trip. We were gone for 23 days, so I had topics for twenty-three posts, and I was off and running. I realized the power in having planned blogs. My statistics changed, and last year, I hit it full tilt. Now I have a database of topics for 2019 already.

I wanted to take this opportunity to look at my statistics and thoughtfully consider what’s working and what needs to be tweaked! Let’s look at my statistics for the last five years:

For the first two years I had 207 views but my visitors increase. In 2016 views more than doubled and visitors increased also. In 2017 again, views increased but visitors more than doubled.

But 2018, my numbers went off the map! My views increased more than six times and the visitors jumped by seven times. Wow! Why?

Over the years I increased my posts, and last year I posted on a regular weekly basis–some weeks I posted twice a week. I more than doubled the number of posts published. What do I take from that? Readers like regular blog posts, and they like more.

Here’s what my posts published statistics look like:

  • 2014 – 7
  • 2015 – 16
  • 2016 – 6
  • 2017 – 22
  • 2018 – 55

Let’s look at specifics from 2018. My most popular post published was “Day 3 – 4 Kissing A Stone and on to Killarney.” I wondered about its popularity for months, then my husband said it was the blog post that came up every time he went to my blog, so is that the reason? Or are people enamored with “Kissing the Blarney Stone?”

“Live Lively, Square Dance” was the second most popular. I shared it on several Facebook square dance pages, and the response was great. Sharing about my personal life seems to spark more interest.

What was your favorite blog post of mine in 2018?

I love the growth statistics this last year, but I do have two disappointing statistics: likes and comments.

Likes:

  • 2014 – 0
  • 2015 – 1
  • 2016 – 8
  • 2017 – 45
  • 2018 – 136

Comments:

  • 2014 – 0
    2015 – 2
    2016 – 77
    2017 – 8
    2018 – 48

I want more interaction with my visitors. I end each blog with questions to stimulate conversation, so help me out. What do I need to do? What would make you like and/or comment more on my blog?

Visitors to my blog come from all over the world which fascinates me, so what countries visited my blog last year and how many did I have for each country?

  • United States – 3962
  • Australia – 108
  • Canada – 103
  • United Kingdom – 69
  • Germany – 36
  • Ireland – 34
  • India – 26
  • Japan – 25
  • Hong Kong (China) – 19
  • Sweden – 8

Other countries listed are Netherlands, Philippines, Qatar, Mexico, Russia, Denmark, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, France, Armenia, Portugal, Belgium, Ukraine, Spain, Lithuania, New Zealand, Finland, Egypt, Romania, Thailand, Italy, China, Cameroon, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Poland, and Colombia. Readers from 29 countries have visited my blog in 2018–Wow!

So, why did you come to my blog from such far-away places? Let me know.

One more change I did these last two years was use a variety of quality photographs and graphics.

Over 84% of all marketing strategies use images, popular GIFs, graphics, animations, and signs among others to pass information. Visual communication has more impact in passing information to people. 

https://www.eztalks.com/unified-communications/why-visual-communicaion-is-important.html

I plan to include these topics this year:

  • Our Travels
  • Square Dancing
  • Marshall Flippo and promoting my new book
  • Personal life stories
  • Being 65 and fully alive
  • Holiday highlights
  • Ranch life in southeastern Colorado

All-in-all, my blog has become a major focus of my writing career, so stick around and see where we go this next year!

I have 4 books and 3 cookbooks to check out on my web site: https://www.laradasbooks.com

25% Discount on Digital copies of all my books at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft

Blogging · Gratitude · Grief · My Thoughts

How Does Gratitude Work?

chicken close up dish food
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Thanksgiving, 2018 has come and gone. Gratitude takes center stage on this holiday. People recite their gratitude list that day–post cute animations and beautiful memes on Facebook and then what?

Could year long gratitude change our world? Where’s the power in gratitude?

We all know people who are negative, focus on what’s bad and are complete “downers” to be around. They have no understanding of gratitude because a dark cloud hangs over their lives–everything is wrong. Then there are those whose world view is positive, see the silver lining in everything, and I want to be with them. They see life as an opportunity, a joy to live. What makes the difference?

I think the practice of gratitude does. If we only knew the deep workings inside of everyone we see. Each person I pass today is battling something–disease, relationship or work issues, and/or spiritual unrest–but this attitude of gratitude makes the difference. I know peaceful warriors with gigantic loss and pain overflowing with gratitude, so I’m convinced it’s not what happens to someone–it’s something else.

Gratitude grows out of a heart and soul that has a deep connection with a Higher Power–Something or Someone more powerful and more loving than my finite self. In that connection, the negativity and darkness that consumed me changes, dilutes, and evaporates in the presence and power of eternal Optimism.

Yes, I do believe that gratitude can change my world. The moment I turn to my God through a beautiful desert sunset, a belly laugh at a child’s innocence or a dance in my husband’s arms, the world is right and gratitude oozes out of every pore of my being.

Gratitude heals all those deep hurts in my wounded heart: I’m so thankful for the times with my Mom and Dad over the years, my monthly visits with my Aunt Willie and her precious dry sense of humor, and my weekly phone call visits with Marshall Flippo this last year. All of these are losses for sure, but my gratitude for the richness each brought into my life moves me beyond the hurt to the healing.

Make a daily gratitude list this year and see how your year goes. Get back to me next Thanksgiving and we will compare the results. Here’s to a grateful year!

affection appreciation decoration design
Photo by Carl Attard on Pexels.com


For what are you grateful? I’d love to hear your gratitude list.


Visit my web site for information about my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Cyber Monday Specials at my Etsy Shop:  Larada’s Reading Loft

Blogging · Life Lessons · My Thoughts · Travel

Do You Love An Adventure?

adventure asphalt california country
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love any kind of an adventure, but travel adventures and a great road trip are my specialty; however, I was a little apprehensive about this trip because I have some eye problems going on right now, and I worried about it–for weeks. As so often happens, my worries were unwarranted and I had a delightful trip.

My day started with a flight out of the Albuquerque airport at Thursday morning at 6:20 am heading to Walla Walla, Washington. Lin doesn’t like leaving as early as I do. I stepped up to my place in line at the gate just as the Southwest attendant called our group–whew!! My flight west veered off via Denver, Colorado with a short turn-around time. We arrived in Denver early so I arrived at the gate with plenty of time.

Often on flights, I have no conversation with the people near me. On this flight I worked on my Keynote presentation (Apple’s version of PowerPoint), and the woman seated at the window asked if I was a writer–she had read my presentation over my shoulder.

“Yes, I’m doing a presentation at a writer’s conference.”

“My nine year old daughter told me this week she wants to be a writer.”

I encouraged her and told her about some writing apps–a future writer. Those are the kinds of airplane conversation I enjoy.

When I arrived in Seattle, Washington, I had to jockey three bags on the shuttle to get the rental car–one of them transformed into a backpack, so that helped.

Getting the car was the easy part! These new fangled cars stumped me because I regularly drive a 2004 Saturn. To start, I couldn’t get the trunk open to put my suitcases away, but an attendant helped me with a smile. I could start it, but the GPS wouldn’t load because I was in a parking garage. I had to leave the garage and park somewhere to load the maps and away I went.

Now I had a four and one half hour drive to Walla Walla. My goal was to get out of the congestion of Seattle before I stopped. With a dry mouth and my stomach rumbling, I stopped at Snowqualmie resort area for water and a Lunchable. I sat in the parking lot of the gas station and ate, and away I went on I-90 through Snowqualmie pass. I never did figure out how to use the cruise control.

I had no idea I would be driving through the Cascade Range–pine, fir and spruce trees, standing tall and regal along the side of the road. At times, I felt I was driving through a tree tunnel.

Finally, I breathed a sigh of relief and truly enjoyed the drive through the fall colors, but it rained almost the whole way. At times, I had to slow down surrounded by trucks vooming by. I crossed the Yakima River several times and the Snake and Colombia Rivers–water everywhere it seemed to this dry land, desert dweller.

I couldn’t connect with my husband, Lin, because his phone was dead, so I felt I was on my own, but all was right. I wasn’t sure when I needed to arrive at the hotel, and the heavy rain stopped me from taking pictures of the majestic fall colors.

wrecked iphone
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

The conference last three days.

On Sunday morning I arose at 5:30 am because I had that four and one half hour drive back to Seattle and was told by the rental car clerk to arrive at the airport two and a half hours early because of the security lines. I had passed the crowd when I left the terminal for the rental car shuttle and saw the long lines, so I knew what she meant.

As I pulled out of the Marcus Whitman Hotel parking lot, I saw a gas station close, so I grabbed a coffee and another Lunchable, this time for breakfast. The dark morning made it hard to see, and I dealt with fog off and on the whole trip. I experienced a little rain but mostly fog.

I did stop to take the following pictures as I viewed a valley full of fog and a surprising rainbow.

IMG_6261
On my drive, coming down into a valley of fog & a rainblow!

IMG_9005
Valley full of fog!

I loved the fall foliage–an amplified collection of bright orange and yellow!

This leg of the trip, I phoned with Lin–to let him know I was on the road, then he texted me vital information–his football team, the Eagles were playing in London and the game started at 7:30 am, our time, so he was up and about.

The fall colors were the brightest along the river by Cle Elum, a gorgeous city by the Cle Elum river–orange and yellow leafed trees lined the river.

As I neared Seattle, I stressed over the amount of gas in the car. I bought the rental package where they would fill it up when I returned it, so my job was to bring it back as empty as possible. This new car’s gas meter chimed “Low Fuel” when it was on a quarter of a tank and I was 70 miles from Seattle–that was shocking! Then the needle moved slowly. I kept trying to figure out the cruise control and found a button that told me how many miles left to fill up, but I didn’t trust it, so I stopped and added $5 worth of gas and the gas gauge needle didn’t move at all.

black car instrument cluster panel
Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

The gas gauge needle moved. I sweated out the last twenty miles to the airport because the needle hovered almost at empty, and wouldn’t you know it–a horrible car accident happened one and a half miles before the Seattle/Tacoma Airport exit. I inched my way by thinking, “I didn’t figure this possibility in. I hope I don’t run out of gas.”

When I pulled into the Dollar rental return space, I breathed finally–my mind had imagined all kinds of horror stories of running out of gas a few miles away.

Before catching the shuttle, I found the bathroom to relieve myself in preparation for the long wait in line. I caught the shuttle back to the airport, checked my bags and printed my boarding pass. I started to get in the long line to go through security and thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I was TSA Pre boarding?”

I looked my ticket over and I was! I backtracked out of the long line and went down to check in at gate 4. One passenger stood ahead of me, and I saw no bins to put my laptop, iPad and my shoes in.

“Where’s the bins?”

The TSA agent smiled and said, “No need. Keep your shoes on and you don’t have to unpack your backpack.”

So what I feared all day–a two and one half hours wait in the line only took five minutes. That freed me to buy a Starbucks, call my husband and relax. I grabbed a quick lunch and had a enjoyable visit with an airport worker from North Africa. I was listening to the Bronco game on my iPad with my AirPods, and he thoroughly enjoyed my enthusiasm.

I slept on the first leg of my return trip home. I sat in the Oakland airport writing the first draft of this blog. When I finished, I had tomato basil soup for dinner and then on to Albuquerque. I read and played games on my iPad on the Albuquerque leg. My husband picked me up at the airport, and the long travel day was done.

I have traveled a lot in my life–I flew all over the USA to meet my ex-husband for dancing. I taught for Lesley College and flew by myself for two years. Lin and I have traveled a lot too. Every trip has its memories. This one makes me chuckle when I think about all the worrying I did. Would I have trouble seeing and driving? Would I get to the Seattle airport early enough?

Once again, I did fine and enjoyed the serendipities of a trip!



Do you like to travel? Have you had an adventure flying? driving? Share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.


The holidays are coming!

Visit my website:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Discounts galore starting now at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft

Blogging · My Thoughts

What Do You Like to Read?

questions answers signage
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I ended my travelogue about our trip to Ireland and England a couple weeks ago and now wonder what to write about in this blog. I love sharing my life through this blog, but  what I’ve posted recently hasn’t been received well.

A friend told my husband if I wrote about sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, I’d sell more books–that’s an interesting comment on today’s society. I’m afraid it’s true though, and this attitude permeates the blog world, too.

Here are some topics near and dear to my heart:

  • Travel – Lin and I have taken several cruises since we married and I have traveled to Mexico and Guatemala–adventures all of them
  • Writing–I’m a self-published author of four books and three cookbooks and have a wealth of information about writing
  • Retired Educator–27 years as a English, Spanish and computer middle school teacher who spent the last seven years of my career working at the district level with lots of education stories
  • Retirement–what it is and is not
  • Turning 65 years old–interesting pivotal change in my life–can I be sexy at 65?
  • Co-manage a ranch in southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico–during this drought, I have wondered how my Dad dealt with previous droughts when the ranch was his sole financial means
  • 16 year old cat, Jesse–has feline diabetes and it’s been a struggle but it blesses me every day
  • Dancing–my husband and I square and round dance all over with friends from as far away as Sweden and Germany
  • My Recovery work

I’m at a crossroad and would love your help.

bird s eye view cars crossing crossroad
Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

What do you think? Let me know because I would like to share about any and all of these topics.

 

My web site: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Check out my Etsy Shop for Summer Sales:  Larada’s Reading Loft

Blogging · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 18 & 19 Bury St. Edmunds

After my cousin, Meghan and Mike’s wedding, Lin and I spent two delightful days exploring Bury St. Edmunds. On Saturday morning after another big English breakfast at the hotel, we went to the Outdoor Market held in the square a few blocks away. This tradition in Bury St. Edmunds has been in place twice a week–Wednesdays and Saturdays–dates back to before the days of William the Conqueror.  Anything you might want was available at this market: food, flowers, clothes, hardware and technology. The booths went on and on.

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The Saturday Outdoor Market Downtown Bury St. Edmunds

After the market, Lin and I wandered around the Abbey gardens–I couldn’t keep Lin away from there because of his love for gardening. The gardens took our breath away.

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The Abbey Garden With the Cathedral in the background

We also toured Angel Hill across from the Abbey and saw the Atheneum and Angel Hotel.

In the afternoon, we took a free guided tour of the city, and the guide was exceptional. We went through the Abbey Gate onto the ruins of the Abbey which was gigantic.

Then still on the Abbey grounds, we saw the Old English Rose Garden, a permanent memorial to the American Servicemen stationed nearby and gave their lives.

The guide told us about a book we needed to read: Suffolk Summer written by John T. Appleby who was an American Serviceman who toured Suffolk County during World War II on a bicycle. The royalties from this book were devoted  to maintaining the Old English Rose Garden on the Abbey grounds.

Because we both love to read, we hunted it down and finally found it the morning we were leaving Bury St. Edmunds at the Moyses museum–more about the museum in a coming blog.

We had so much fun reading the book and remembering places there in Bury St. Edmund’s that Appleby mentioned in his book like the Atheneum.

On the guided tour, we walked through neighborhoods of Bury St. Edmunds. The guide pointed out a wall in one area where rocks from the Abbey were used.

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The Guide Points Out Rocks from the Abbey

Then he took us to the smallest pub in England, the Nutshell. I don’t drink and I had to take a quick picture inside because the bartender demanded you had to buy a pint for coming in.

We ended the day meeting our family at a nearby pub, then Lin and I had a delicious dinner at the Cafe Rouge.

The next morning we met family members at St. Mary’s Anglican Church for the morning service. I’m Episcopalian so the service was very similar to what I was used to here in the USA. Afterwards a friendly churchman gave us a tour of the church, and we saw Mary Tudor’s tomb–she was buried there.

IMG_1313 Mary's Tomb.jpg
Mary Tudor’s Tomb

After church, Lin and I went to see the movie, “Dunkirk” at the local theater. We had found the theater the day before and the times of the show. Not knowing the procedure, we went there thirty minutes or so before showtime, thinking we could get good seats. The seats are sold online, so the only ones left were in the front row. I felt the bombing and explosions happened right in my lap, and I screamed.

We both were so glad to see the movie in the country it was about–the British saved the day with all kinds of private boats and ships to rescue the soldiers. As the story unfolded, we could feel the pride in the theater grow.

We had a leisure dinner at the Bushel and made it an early night because the next day we were taking the train to Cambridge with all of the family for the day.

Have you ever been to this part of England? Lin told me if anything ever happened to me, he would sell everything and move to either Bury St. Edmunds or some village in Ireland–he loved it so much.

Interested in more of my writing–my web site:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Or my Etsy Shop with Mother’s Day Specials: https://etsy.com/shop/laradasreadingloft

Blogging · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 17 Out of London & A Wedding

This was the day we were to leave London and neither of us were ready, but the whole reason we did this trip was to attend my cousin, Meghan’s wedding in Bury St. Edmunds. We had another big breakfast.

Our travel agent had pre-booked a taxi for us to pick up our rental car, but there was some confusion about the name of the car rental, the company name and where we were going to pick it up. Our travel agent booked it; I talked to her during the week on the tour bus but didn’t understand the name, so I thought she said we were picking it up at the 6th terminal at the airport. The taxi driver didn’t know either, so we had to call the travel agent.

She got a good laugh out of the mis-communication. I thought she had said to pick up the car at the sixth terminal. She had said the Sixt car rental office near the airport–sometimes speaking English and understanding it are hard! So away we went. The clerk at the car rental office, Susanna, was so helpful and saved us money.

Lin had driven for a couple weeks in Ireland and did fine. He didn’t want to drive in London so we used the Tube as our connection to London and did great. Here he was faced with driving out of London; he did fine. There was a lot more traffic than Ireland for sure. We headed north to Bury St. Edmunds.

In fact he did better with driving than I did with the GPS. I’m used to Garmin here at home. I learned the Tom-Tom quickly in Ireland, but this car had a GPS built in. The display listed the destination from the bottom up showing several turns coming up, but we made it.

We stayed at the Bushel pub and hotel and they had our room ready, even though we arrived early afternoon. We had to park around back of the pub, and Lin parked the car the best yet!

Quickly we changed into our wedding clothes–I had to do some touch-up pressing because these clothes had been underneath everything else for two weeks of traveling.

We had trouble driving to Raven Hall where the wedding was–again I had trouble understanding the GPS. We ended up on a closed road. As we came up to the road worker, he shot his hands into the air and screamed, “What are you doing? And how did you get here?” When he realized we were lost Americans, he directed us out of the construction zone, across the highway and to Raven Hall.

Thank God we left the hotel early, but we still arrived with time to spare. We walked into a room full of my cousin’s dad’s family, so we knew we were in the right spot. We met Mike Edwards, the groom before the wedding and some of his Welsh family who were fascinating and so welcoming!

The wedding was outside, simple and beautiful. The minister gave a beautiful wedding message. We set in the third row and I took lots of pictures. Afterwards we took the traditional pictures and some not-so traditional.

The rest of the afternoon and evening were delightful. There were American traditions observed and English traditions added. For dinner, we sat with my cousins (sisters of the bride) Kirstin and Lisa, Chris and Holly Carr from the USA and Nicole and her partner.

During the meal, someone spoke for Meghan’s parents, then Mike entertained us with stories about Meghan and him. Then Mike’s best man presented a PowerPoint slideshow, helping us get acquainted with Mike.

The evening continued with a dance, individual photos of the guests in a photo booth with a variety of props, cutting the cake and the bouquet toss. The cake was unique–one side for the groom (all Action figure characters celebrated) and the other side for the bride (her lavender colors and gorgeous).

The stereotype I had of the British people was so not true. I loved how they partied! As a whole, the group would dance like crazy, then they’d go to the bar and drink. The dance floor would be vacant except for a few of us, then the crowd would come back and the routine continued all evening.

We danced; we laughed. We enjoyed the mix of people there; they were so friendly.

Later in the evening, a sandwich buffet opened, and they served the cake.

As we were leaving, a hilarious story unfolded. My cousin, Lisa, had been charging her bar tab to Mike’s uncle’s room instead of her parents’ room. Mike’s dad was lamenting with much fanfare that “theseAmericans were going to break him” because he was paying his brother’s bill for the wedding. The camaraderie between the two families joined as this wedding was delightful. We left about 11:00 pm before the crowd left and got lost on the way home, meandering our way on back roads and wandering around. Again I read the GPS the wrong way, but we did make it back to our hotel.

Everyone was so friendly and hospitable and I told my cousin Meghan that next to our wedding, their’s was my favorite.

Blogging · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 16 – Stonehenge & Bath

Wow! It’s been over a month since I blogged–please forgive me! Life got in the way.

I had been anticipating Stonehenge for the whole trip because it was one of my favorite destinations on our list. So, it was up early again, a walk down the crowded escalator to get to the Tube, on to Victoria Station and breakfast at the Starbuck’s.

Realizing our tour bus was a double-decker, we watched as the first people out the door pushed, shoved and rushed upstairs to the top level. When we approached the bus, Lin and I ducked inside the lower level and landed the front seat on the left side with lots of leg room, a spacious window to see out at eye-level, and our own shelf to put our bags and drinks. We lucked out!

The tour guide, John, noted famous sights as we drove through and out of London. He had a great sense of humor and was knowledgeable. The two hour drive took us out into the English lush countryside again.

Now about Stonehenge:

“Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, 2 miles (3 km) west of Amesbury. It consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, 7 feet (2.1 m) wide and weighing around 25 tons. The stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.[1]

Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the first bluestones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC,[2] although they may have been at the site as early as 3000 BC.[3][4][5]”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge

Driving into to the Stonehenge Visitors Center, we passed fields and cattle grazing–not what I’d thought I’d see near Stonehenge. John encouraged us to use the self-guided tour provided. We had limited time, so we used the bathroom, got on the shuttle and dashed to the site.

My first sighting of Stonehenge sent a shiver down my spine–I was standing near one of the wonders of the world. The layout of the self-guided tour and the walkway around Stonehenge was circular, starting at a distance from the back of the stones.

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I took tons of pictures with my camera and my iPhone. Here’s one of my favorites:

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Me Touching Stonehenge

We enjoyed watching young adults set themselves up so that their photos looked like they were touching Stonehenge so we tried it.

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Front Side Close

We listened to the audio, took more pictures and moved in closer on the front side. The information shared on the audio was informative.

Because we had spent as much time as possible at the stones, we rushed to get back to the tour bus and didn’t have any time to shop for souvenirs–OH, NO! It broke my heart not to have a t-shirt or hat with the Stonehenge logo on it, but the pictures I took became my souvenirs.

From there we drove to Bath, seeing thatched roofs and a patchwork quilt of green  and gold fields.

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Crystal Palace in Bath

We ate lunch at the Crystal Palace.

People congregated in the square in front of the Bath Abbey.

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We did a walking tour at 2:30 pm with John. I had dressed in my rain coat but Lin didn’t, so he left us when the rain started. There was a downpour but we kept touring. My rain coat kept my camera and wool sweater dry, but my capris, socks and shoes were soaked.

Lin and I met back up–me totally soaked and him dry and looking sheepish.

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At 3:30 pm we did a self-guided tour of the Roman Baths. Again we had to rush because of time restraints. On our walk back to the bus, Lin found ice cream and we saw Ann-Marie, our tour guide for Stratford. I gave her a quick hug.

We had a two hour drive back to London–a relaxing drive. I love our drive through the English countryside.

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There were several stops a long the way to let passengers off, and we were the last off the coach at Victoria Station. We rode the Tube back towards our hotel and received a refund from Oyster Card for four pounds. After a leisure walk towards our hotel, we ate dinner at The Swan, a local restaurant and shared Fish and Chips.

I spent that evening repacking my suitcase and surprised Lin that everything fit. This day ended our week in London. The next day we would pick up our rental car and drive to Bury St. Edmunds for my cousin’s wedding.

Have you seen Stonehenge? Bath? the Roman Baths? What was your experience? I would love to hear about your experience.

See more of my writing at my web site:

https://www.laradasbooks.com

Blogging · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

My Absence!

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I didn’t fall off the face of the earth–trips to our family ranch and then a week long dance activity in the mountains of Colorado, and I’m back. This picture is of Saddlerock to the west of my hometown, Branson. I love sunsets there that magnify this beloved structure!

Also I was silent on my blog because I took a Digital Shop workshop with D’vorah Lanky to help me beef up my Etsy Shop. I started it a year ago and have had no sales. The workshop was fantastic, but I have had to go back and renovate my shop and do some digital productions–it’s up and running. The name of the shop is “Larada’s Reading Loft.” Go check it out at https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

Right now, all I have for sale is paper copies of my books, but soon I will be adding digital copies of each of my books if you are interested.

Before my absence, I was so excited about our trip to Ireland and England and had outlined my blogs about the trip and felt great about my organization–that’s when it all fell apart.

I love blogging and would love to get any comments you might have. I will continue my travel experiences in Ireland and England and other thought provoking topics, so stay tuned!

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