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.
What do you think? Let me know because I would like to share about any and all of these topics.
Back to the last three days of our magical trip to Ireland and England.
At Meghan and Mike’s wedding, we were asking locals about sights to see around Bury St. Edmunds, and someone suggested Lavenham, “noted for its 15th-century church, half-timbered medieval cottages and circular walk. In the medieval period it was among the 20 wealthiest settlements in England.”
They also said it’s only about twenty minutes away, so we took a winding road from Bury St. Edmunds to Lavenham–what a delightful time we had.
The looming architectural presence on arrival was St. Peter and Paul’s Church.
The grounds are covered with crosses and graves. A sign greets you at the door: “Welcome to this Holy Place where people have worshipped and prayed for over 600 years.” The inside was massive and beautiful. I loved the stained glass windows and handcrafted cushions on the pews. The grandeur of the place was overwhelming and took my breath away.
In the corner by the front door, Lin and I were surprised to see an American flag. This plaque explains its presence there:
After parking the car, we walked through this amazing town with medieval buildings and modern cars side-by-side.
Our next stop was the Guildhall of Corpus Christi – “By the late 15th century, Lavenham was at the centre of the East Anglian wool trade and had become one of the richest towns in England. To reflect this prosperity, four guilds were established in the town by the local merchant families. The most important of these was the wool guild, which founded the Guildhall of Corpus Christi in 1529. Given the dominance of the cloth and wool trade, the guildhall soon came to function as Lavenham’s principal meeting place and centre of business, situated on the town’s thriving market place.
With the decline of the wool trade and Lavenham’s prosperity, the guildhall’s role changed. By 1689, and until 1787, the guildhall was in use as the Bridewell (a prison for petty offenders such as a reform school), and was then used as the workhouse.
Here we saw our first preserved cat–the British have a belief about cats.
Afterwards, we went to the plaza and found a hidden tea room, the Lavenham Blue Vintage Tea Rooms, for a full British Tea and scones. We relaxed on the patio and enjoyed the respite.
Our next stop was the Little Hall – “One of the oldest buildings in the best preserved of the Suffolk wool towns, this 14th century house was built for the Causton family of clothiers and its subsequent development has mirrored the changing fortunes of Lavenham.
Little Hall was restored by the Gayer-Anderson brothers who filled the house with art and artefacts collected during their extensive travels.”
When we first started our plans for this trip, I knew in my heart of hearts that I must go to William Shakespeare’s birthplace and home–Stratford-upon-Avon. I was an English major in college and took upper level Shakespeare classes from a world renowned professor at Colorado State University. Some semesters I lived, eat and breathed Shakespeare, so this was a dream come true.
Immediately, I knew our day was off to a right start. After our regular big English breakfast and trip on the Tube to Victoria Station to meet up with our tour bus, we had a fantastic tour guide, Ann- Marie Walker. This was our first tour day out of London and she quickly shared pertinent information about sights and streets in London as we passed–she didn’t waste a moment. We passed Harrod’s and red double-decker tour buses. Her knowledge was amazing.
Soon after leaving London and the city life, we traveled by lush green pastures fenced off with rock walls with cattle grazing and golden wheat fields.
When we arrived in Stratford-upon-Avon, we went straight to the Guild Hall where William attended classes. Emotions overcame me, and I cried–I was standing where William Shakespeare had gone to class. Ann-Marie said she wished more people enjoyed this as much as I did.
At the Guild Hall, we sat in on a classroom with a teacher dressed in full period garb who treated us as Shakespeare would have been treated. The grade levels were mixed and the older students helped the younger students.
We walked by where Shakespeare’s last home was, but it had been leveled.
I loved the main street, lined with hanging colorful flowers. Mimes entertained the people as the passed.
From there we went to Shakespeare’s home where he was born.
We continued our walk through downtown and what a festive atmosphere. I enjoyed one specific mime. We passed him once and then came back by–how amazing they are to stand perfectly still yet communicate with you. He and I had fun playing with each other.
We took a break and I had a rhubarb pastry and latte at a Cornish bakery–absolutely delicious! Lin shopped for sweets and our time ended there–my most favorite part of our trip so far!
Lin and I toured the State Rooms together, then Lin went exploring on his own. We had a limited time there and I didn’t want to rush. He towered the tower, the gaol and the dungeon. I leisurely shopped and took pictures of the courtyard and enjoyed the day.
The courtyard was brimming with people dressed in period costumes–Lin found one fair maiden.
Here I am outside the castle in stocks!
From Warwick Castle we drove through the Cotswolds to Oxford. The Cotswolds is “an area in south central England containing the Cotswold Hills, a range of rolling hills which rise from the meadows of the upper Thames to an escarpment, known as the Cotswold Edge, above the Severn Valley and Evesham Vale. The area is defined by the bedrock of Jurassiclimestone that creates a type of grassland habitat rare in the UK and that is quarried for the golden coloured Cotswold stone.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotswolds)
We passed by fields of verdant pastures with sheep grazing and wheat fields. We saw thatched roof houses in small villages. Ann-Marie told us that the villages were expensive to live in and that thatched roofs were coming back. It was delightful afternoon’s drive where I reveled in the scenery.
Our final stop for the day was Oxford–the city of bicycles! Ann-Marie warned us to be cautious about the bicyclists, not the drivers.
After our outside tour of Christ Church, we shopped and enjoyed the downtown area. Our first tour day outside of London was a smashing success. Exhausted and full of travel stories, we traveled back on the Tube to our hotel and relaxed in our room. We thoroughly enjoyed Ann-Marie and sights of the day.
Have you ever been to a place that brought you to tears? Share a comment below.
Our travel guide set up a free day every other day for us in London and that was brilliant.
We ate another great breakfast and headed for the Tube. Lin had spent the night before crafting our route on the Tube, so away we went. We had to a couple changes and walked a ways, but we arrived at the Charles Dickens museum in the rain–it was closed! So we were able to spend a longer time at the British museum.
I had been warned before we left home about the engrained habit of looking left at a traffic light wouldn’t work in England and Ireland. I was so glad the Brits had these warnings at stop lights.
As we walked, I had my picture taken by one of the red phone booths.
So we did another long walk by Russell park to the British Museum and spent the afternoon there!
I finally figured out how to turn the flash off on my Canon Rebel camera, so I took lots of great pictures at the museum.
We saw the Rosetta Stone and because we only had the rest of the day to see the museum, we followed a self-guided tour provided by the museum and raced through the place. As we were leaving, we saw a banner for the Mummies which we was one exhibit we missed. There’s no way we could see it all!
We did see a famous sarcophagus, the Holy Thrown from Christ’s Crown, an ivory mask, Royal Game of Ur, gold Egyptian cape, Lewis Chessmen Set, The Royal Cup, The Portland Vase, and the Gayer-Anderson Cat (later we visited Laventham and saw their home).
Also around the whole museum, we saw artists drawing different items–what an amazing place!
We had a leisure walk and Tube ride home after a delightful day in London.
Have you ever been to the British museum? What was your favorite part of it? Let me know.
Check out my web site: https://www.laradasbooks.com
Our hostel in the downtown area of Dublin, the Aparto Binary Hub, was a short walk up to James street and across it to the Guinness Storehouse, so we planned our tour for this morning because we flew out of Dublin for London at 3:35 pm. We left our bags at the desk for 10 Euros and walked a short trip to the Storehouse.
The Guinness Storehouse tour was fascinating–years ago, I went through the Coors brewery in Golden, CO often, so I knew the brewing story, but the Guinness story is unique for sure. The six story building had something for everyone, and it was obvious that this was a main attraction in Dublin–lots and lots of people.
Lin thoroughly enjoyed the tour. He was excited about tasting “Real” Guinness beer because he had been a bartender at the Leprechaun Bar in New York City for many years, and any Irish patrons said the Guinness in the USA didn’t taste the same as the Guinness in Ireland. After his sampling, he agreed.
I’m a recovery alcoholic so there were parts of the tour that were hard, but I kept focussed. While he did his sampling, I roamed the gift shop. We ended our time there up on the top floor with a 360 degree view of Dublin–it was breathtaking.
Afterwards, we retrieved our bags and hailed a taxi for the airport, arriving early, so we ate lunch leisurely. Our flight to London left at 3:35 pm, and both of us regretted leaving Ireland. We added Ireland to our trip more for Lin than me, but Ireland and its people captured my heart, too! It had been a delightful experience.
When we landed at Heathrow and retrieved our bags, we had a hard time finding our taxi driver that our travel agent had pre-arranged, but finally Lin succeeded amidst a sea of drivers waiting for arriving passengers. The driver was talkative and informative on the drive to our hotel, The Mornington Hotel.
The rest of this day was leisure and low-keyed. The hotel clerk, Charlotte, helped us as we prepared for our week in London. She directed us to where we could exchange dollars to pounds and how to get to “The Tube.”
So off we went on a walking tour. First we exchanged money, then we made our way to the Subway station–easily in walking distance. Our tour guide had sent us two Oyster cards preloaded with 20 pounds to get us started–what a true gift!
We returned to our lovely room and relaxed in the evening, excited about our next day’s adventure in London. Our tour guide had set up a wonderful itinerary for our five days:
First day – Total London Tour – Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Tour of London, River Cruise on the River Thames, and Ride on the London Eye
Second day – a free day to do as chose – we chose to see the Charles Dickens’ museum but it was closed. The rest of the day we spent at the British museum.
Third day – Tour outside of London – Enjoyed a day-tour to Warwick Castle, probably England’s finest medieval fortress, Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, the rolling hills of the Cotswolds and the historic university city of Oxford. Admission to Warwick Castle, Christchurch College and a walking tour of Oxford were included in your tour.
Fourth day – a free day to do as chose – We went back to the Charles Dickens’ museum and “Les Miserables” at the Queen’s Theater in the West End of London
Fifth day – Tour out of London – Enjoyed Bath, Stonehenge and Salisbury Tour
That’s a quick summary of our time in London. I will go in more detail with each day because they were filled to the brim with adventure.
Check out my web site: https://www.laradasbooks.com
Share your thoughts and comments below–I would love to hear your reaction to this post! Have you traveled to Ireland? England? Let’s have a conversation.
On our way to Westport, we drove through the Burrens, “. . .a region of County Clare in the southwest of Ireland. It’s a karst landscape of bedrock incorporating a vast cracked pavement of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological sites. On the Atlantic coast, the precipitous Cliffs of Moher are home to thousands of seabirds, including puffins. Irish: Boireann, meaning ‘great rock’.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burren)
Our first stop was at Kilfenora and the Burren Center. We also went through the Kilfenora Cathedral and the High Crosses.
One of the crosses!
From here, we drove through the Burrens and stopped at the Caherconnell Fort where archaeologists and workers were digging–one of my secret passions. A docent shared an informative tour with us.
The rock walls of the fort fascinated me.
Look at those green fields!
From the fort, we continued through the Burrens and stopped at the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb. The tomb was constructed from great slabs of limestone over 5,000 years ago.
From here, we drove to Cong, an added stop to our day. Lin is a big fan of the movie, The Quiet Man, and it was filmed for the most part in Cong. We toured the Quiet Man Museum, sought out places from the movie, ate dinner and walked through this scenic village.
The playful statue of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara from The Quiet Man.
Lin and I enjoyed The Quiet Man museum and all the memorabilia from the movie.
We had a hard time leaving this quaint village, but we had to; we arrived in Westport at 7:00 pm–the latest arrival of any of our travel days. We found our bed and breakfast, St. Anothy’s B & B, much easier than the other ones. I had finally figured out the GPS. The house dates back to 1820, when it was built for the Minister of The Presbyterian Church. Our room was gorgeous and spacious–right on the Carrowbeg River. In fact, we opened a window and the river was right there.
Our evening was delightful. We walked around Westport, took pictures, shopped and had a relaxing evening after a busy travel and tourist day. And Lin found a place to buy ice cream–one of his passions!
We crossed this bridge over the Carrowbeg River on our walk, enjoying the beautiful flowers and all the water.
We started this day with pancakes (crepes) for breakfast–delicious! I was good to vary away from the full Traditional Irish breakfast for once!
Lin spied a church and cemetery on his side of the road in the small town of Tulsk which ended up being the Tulsk Dominican Priory.
The Tulsk Dominican Priory on our rainy day! Thanks for making us stop!
I looked to my side of the street and saw a Heritage Center, so we took pictures and then went into the Center–what a find it was!
We met the manager of the center, Daniel Curley, and he encouraged us to go through the center and then join him on a tour of Rothcroghan ruins. Unknowingly, we had just passed the ruin driving into Tulsk.
The displays were very informative and gave background information for the tour. It also had a great video.
Lin donned the helmet and experienced the displays to the max.
Afterwards, we retraced our journey a few miles, following Daniel–we were the only takers for the tour on that damp day.
The Rothcroghan complex is one of the five royal sites of Ireland with many references found in early Irish medieval manuscripts.
Daniel stood in the rain and shared his visual aides (in plastic sleeves) with us. His passion for the site and the tale were evident. He went into great detail sharing “The Tain” from the Irish epic, “Tain Bo Cuailnge.” The display behind him in the picture below shows the path of the tale.
Daniel Curley, our tour guide, shared his knowledge in the rain–before he put on his rain gear!
When it really started pouring, Daniel excused himself and put on his rain coat and pants. I wondered why they were so muddy, but I didn’t ask.
The actual Rothcroghan ruin was never excavated physically but with geophysical survey. “Scientists from the National University of Ireland, Galway, have taken nearly 150,000 magnetic gradiometry readings in the 30 acres around the great mound.” (https://archive.archaeology.org/online/news/ireland.html)
On our trek up to the top of Rathcroghan we were in a sheep pasture and had to hopscotch over sheep droppings. When we finally got to the top, the rain and wind let loose, so we didn’t stay long.
Our next stop was Oweynagat or Cave of the Cats–the entrance to hell in Irish mythology. The rain continued; Daniel continued his lecture telling us people can go down into the cave. I asked how and he said, “Slide down into it.” Now I know why his rain gear was muddy–thank God our tour didn’t include sliding down into the cave.
In passing conversation we told Daniel about visiting a Bog village when we toured the Ring of Kerry. His eyes lit up and he told us that a bog man was found on his farm and that it was in the Archaeology museum in Dublin. I made a note of that.
I have never been so wet in my life!
We returned to the Heritage Center and warmed up with tea and scones.
Daniel suggested we change our itinerary and not go to Newgrange and Brú na Bóinne, prehistoric sites since we had stopped at Rathcroghan and received so much information there. He suggested we stop at Trim Castle on our way to Navan to see a castle, so we did! This is where they filmed Brave Heart. We did a tour of the castle and our guide was delightful. The stone stairway was circular and steep, but it was fascinating. When we topped out on top of the castle we went outside, and the rain poured again.
We made it to Navan that evening in good time to our hotel, Newgrange Hotel. It was gorgeous. We had a delicious dinner and I spent the evening drying my tennis shoes with a hair dryer. I had only one pair of tennis shoes with me for the trip, so I needed the dry for the next day!
Of all our days on the trip, this day stood out as the serendipitious adventure of a lifetime–Rothcroghan wasn’t on our itinerary. It just happened, and I became one of the highlights of the trip!
Our day began again with a traditional Irish breakfast again. We especially loved it here in Killarney.
Our route from Killarney to Lahinch changed because Pat, our host at the bed and breakfast in Killarney, suggested we go up to Tarbert and take the ferry across the River Sharon. Originally we planned to go through Limerick, so this new plan shortened our travel and gave us a delightful ferry trip. The drive through the countryside in Ireland dazzled me with all the variety of greens!
Lin waited in line to get on the ferry. Yes, he drove on the left side of the road–some say the wrong side, but he did a great job.
The ferry we rode across the River Sharon.
Arriving at the other side of the river, the scenery was breathtaking with cattle grazing in lush green pastures. The hedge fences accentuated the symmetry of the pastures–a magical line drawn around each pasture.
From here, we drove to Lahinch. Again we had trouble finding our bed and breakfast, but Lin listened to his gut and we found it. Susan Harrington was our hostess and provided us a beautiful room.
Susan suggested a great lunch spot a long the way–Vaughn’s, so we stopped and had a seafood platter that was mostly mussels. It wasn’t my favorite meal of the trip for sure, but Lin loved it.
Our next destination was one of Ireland’s most popular: the Cliffs of Moher and what a sight–gigantic vertical cliffs plunged down to the Atlantic ocean abruptly.
I loved to focus on trees or plants in the foreground on a picture like this.
The beautiful cliffs unobstructed.
Another one of my pictures with something in the foreground.
Lin and I hiked the path that wove its way near the edge of the cliffs, but we didn’t walk the other direction because he was dealing with plantar fasciitis the whole trip. It was here where the pain affected him the most! And thank God–I couldn’t have hiked the other side of the cliffs anyway (the direction of the above picture).
The path we walked to arrive at the sheer cliff below.
The birds soaring between the rock face and me highlighted this view. This was our destination. Standing on the edge of this cliff overwhelmed me–usually I’m OK with heights but the sheer drop off took my breath away.
On the walk back, I marveled at the cattle grazing on such lush green grass and tried to get this picture. Being a rancher’s daughter, I’m always captivated by green grass and cattle. I reached down to focus on the grass and touched a hot wire and was electrocuted, screamed and blacked out for a second. The pain was piercing!
Lin rested his elbow on the fence that electrocuted me! He didn’t touch the hot wire like I did!
One of the cows that caused me to reach across the fence and get shocked!!
We spent a restful night at Lahinc reading and relaxing. Our hostess’ children played in the backyard which added a familial feel to our stay–this truly was a bed and breakfast in someone’s home. The next morning, we had a delicious breakfast to send us on our way!
Coming up next – a drive to Westport through the Burrens!
Our much-awaited trip started on July 12, 2017. I got up at 4:00 am to shower and be ready to leave, hopefully before 6:00 am, but it was a little afterwards. We decided to travel with a medium size suitcase and a carry-on instead of one big suitcase and that benefited us with our two rental cars.
We arrived at the airport later than I like–they were boarding the plane when we arrived at our gate. We were in the B group, so we were OK. I had to pinch myself to see if this were real! We had planned this trip for six months, and here it was!
Immediately on the plane, I took selfies of Lin and me to start a notebook journal about our trip–sad to say it only lasted a couple days, but I did buy a journal in Blarney and took notes the whole trip.
Back to our first travel day. Lin and I regularly use our Southwest credit cards, so we had free flights to New York, but we had to travel through Midway in Chicago. The flight was uneventful at first–Lin napped, but I couldn’t! I was too excited. Sometime into our flight, the pilot announced that a thunder storm had hit Chicago and both major airports were closed and they were diverting us to Kansas City. I started praying!
When I had booked our tickets, I had allowed ample time to facilitate a transfer because we were flying into La Guardia and British Airways flies out of JFK. I knew we were in trouble now. The prayers continued.
I questioned a flight attendant about what we should do. She had no idea because we weren’t the only one affected. When we landed in Kansas City, they ushered the passengers traveling to New York off the plane first. They put us on a flight leaving at 1:30 pm, but it wouldn’t arrive in New York in time for us to transfer from La Guardia to JFK. My prayers continued.
I panicked but did what I do in a crisis–act! I was on the phone with British Airways for well over an hour trying to solve our problem. I couldn’t understand either agent I talked to. He repeatedly put me on hold and said, “I will be back in a couple minutes.” This went on and on. This agent did know there would be a fee for missing our flight and booking another one at such a late time. He transferred me to a second agent, and he told me it would be over $1600 each to rebook–I was shocked! I hit high gear on praying. I knew my God was in the midst of this and would handle it for us, but I was so worried. It’s hard to let go at time like this.
I spent all my time on the flight to New York on the Internet searching for a flight that would work and a price that would work–there wasn’t one that would work because all were over $1500 each. Lin was adamant that we do nothing until we got to New York. My panic increased–were we going to miss our flight to London? We were to arrive in London at 7:10 am and had a flight to Ireland at 10:30 am. Would it all get screwed up because of a summer thunderstorm in Chicago? I had to keep trusting it would work out!
Again I talked to the Southwest flight attendants, and they helped us move up from the back of the plane to the front and helped move our carry-on bags too. We deplaned quickly, I retrieved our bags, and Lin hailed a taxi with a determined driver.
It was slow going from La Guardia to JFK because we hit rush hour traffic, but the taxi driver drove like a maniac–like they do in New York. I had to close my eyes several times because I was sure that he was going got to clip the car he passed. He also took my phone and talked to British Airways as he drove, trying to help us.
We arrived at the British Airways ticket counter a few minutes after they stopped accepting passengers for our flight–for International flights, they close the gate twenty minutes before the plane’s scheduled departure.
Determined to deal with this in a positive way and get to London on time, we talked to a British Airways agent and she sent us to a manager. Lin calmly shared our sad tale. She wasn’t interested in our lament about a thunderstorm in Chicago that delayed our Southwest flight.
She stated, “We don’t care what happens to you before you get to British Airways.”
I swallowed and shot up a barrage of prayers.
Then she softened some as she searched the computer screen, “Let me see what flight I can get you on.”
I knew the answer: I had memorized the flights from my earlier search. I interruptted her, “I know what flights are going out. . .’
“Stop,” she said as wiggled her finger at me, looked me dead in the eyes and exclaimed, “I’m trying to help you. Don’t go there.”
Lin grabbed my arm and pulled me back and agreed with her, so I stepped back, shut up and continued my litany of prayers.
We couldn’t have hoped for a better ending: she got us on a flight that left about twenty minutes after our original flight, so we had to scurry to the gate. Lin offered her a kiss and she giggled. We ended up not paying anything more. Thank you, British Airways for taking care of us–and thank you, God!
Have you ever had a travel day like this ours? Share your experience in the Comments section below!
Lin and I just got back from a cruise through the Panama Canal and one of our ports was Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. From there we drove through the country side for ninety minutes to Antigua, the old capitol of Guatemala. On the drive, we saw a volcano erupt and I got great photos of it.
At one of our stops along the way at a coffee plantation, I bought a journal with a Guatemalan textile cover. Guatemalan textiles use all the colors I love!
Antigua’s charm comes from her age; she dates back to 1524. We walked ancient cobblestone streets, and I had a blast bartering with the vendors. I speak a little Spanish so I was able to visit with them and enjoy them in a different way from the non-Spanish speaking tourist.
I collect journals and use them regularly for writing. I’ve gone through phases when I’ve bought big ones — 9 x 11 and toted them around everywhere I went to smaller, more convenient ones. I have a collection of full journals in my book shelf besides my computer, and the other day I started going through them, looking for a specific story. I didn’t find the story, but what joy I had to see all my writing over the years.
Right now, I have a small notebook in my purse and I wrote in it regularly on the cruise ship by the pool.
I have set my new gorgeous Guatemalan journal on a stand besides my computer and every time I walk by it, it calls to me to open it up and write. I will!