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Happy Early Halloween

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It’s October and that means Halloween. Now, I’m the first to admit, I’m not super fond of the holiday’s. It’s only because I don’t have children, and really they have just become another day for me. I’m glad others enjoy … Continue reading

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October! My Favorite Month

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Jillian here. Hope all is fall-ish where you are. Sadly, we’re still in the 90s and have a hurricane bearing down on the gulf coast of Florida.  The good news for me is we seem to be at the outer … Continue reading

Living on the “economy” in 1976

***WARNING*** Badly preserved pictures ahead.

This month, for some people, is devoted to Oktoberfest. I drink beer, so I get it. Especially since I’ve had the privilege of going to the original Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. I was way too young to recognize that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was 21. And I only drank wine then. So if we hadn’t of taken a bus that day, I’d have been the designated driver. We didn’t find the one little tiny wine tent until about 7pm. Lol.

I went to Kitzingen, Germany to join my then husband. It was an experience that I learned so much from and I am so grateful for my time there. He was a Spec 4 in the Army, so not high enough in the chain to get base housing. So we lived “on the economy” as it was called. We had a small apartment above a very nice German family.

I was five months pregnant when I flew there. I scared the wits out of my husband because I got there and slept for twenty hours.

What am I grateful for?

  1. That we had no car, so I walked the two miles into base two or three times a week. There was a bus that would take us grocery shopping and to do laundry, thank goodness.
  2. That it’s okay to not trust a taxi driver on the autobahn. We never got in an accident, but boy, sometimes, it was close!
  3. That we had no running hot water. I learned to stoke a boiler under the hot water tank with paper, wood, and coal. And to plan baths because it took two hours to warm up enough water for a bath. Oh, and one night, when my husband was in the field with his platoon, the pregnant me got stuck on that floor. Stoked the fire, then couldn’t get up. Sat there for about the two hours it took to heat the water. That was the best bath ever!
  4. That we couldn’t just turn a switch and have heat. I learned how to pour oil into our heater, and how to keep track of how much oil we had left. Taught me to keep my house stocked.
  5. That I met Yolanda. In 1976. And we have been best friends ever since. I was pregnant and alone a lot of the time, with my husband out in the field. She’s my age and managed to be my friend, confidant, shoulder, and mother.
  6. That one of my daughters was born there. Definitely the best part of this whole trip.
  7. That, when I got off the plane after a year with my eight-month-old daughter, the nice Captain helping me with all my stuff, after a 9 hour flight, looked down through the customs window at all the people waiting there. There were a lot. He asked me which ones were my family. I say “see those three on the right?” “Yes,” he said. “Well, everyone but those three are my family.”

You see, I had the first grandchild born in the family and they’d only seen her in pictures for eight months. So they all showed up at the airport.

Yes, Germany will always be a special place to me. My husband and I did not stay together, and I’m happy for almost 30 years now with my soul-mate. But my first husband and I had a good life while we were together and he made sure I remembered our time in Germany with happiness. I do. I treasure the memories I have from that year, and will for the rest of my life.

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Busy Doing Nothing – Not

Well, here we are in October and so far in the UK it’s been mild and colourful. The leaves began changing colour earlier than normal, but that was in part due to the hot dry summer we’ve all enjoyed. Although the past month has been hectic for us, in truth it feels like very little has been achieved.

September began with a week’s stay by my mother who always feels she’s in the way and stopping us from doing things. More so this time, as she knew we were about to embark on the major redecoration of our lounge and dining room. She wasn’t, as we had no intention of starting until the weather was cool enough for Dave to work in and we had various arrangements to put in place. On top of this was added expense of having to change our car due a particular non-mechanical fault arising every time it rained. This was annoying as it was intended to be our “car for life”. We are totally thrilled with the one we’ve purchased and hopefully will be the last we one we need to buy.

As most of you know, the work in our home has now begun. All our downstairs furniture is in storage, the wallpaper stripped, carpets and curtains disposed of, radiators removed, and the Cotswold stone fireplace that ran across one wall in the lounge has been dismantled. Dave thoroughly enjoyed himself knocking it down to reveal the old chimney breast. We are now waiting on the plasterer coming in, which won’t be until the end of the month to do both rooms.

Meanwhile, we have no central heating downstairs and are having to slum it on garden chairs and electric fires for the time being. We can’t foresee the work being finished much before Christmas, as once the plastering is done, we have to wait a week or so for it to dry out before Dave can paint the walls, and fit and paint new skirting boards before the plumber can return to install new vertical radiators and refit the removed ones in various room around the house. After that, Dave can then lay the new wooden floor.

I’ve kept pretty much out of the way during all this because of the dust created, but Dave is exceptionally good in cleaning up each day as dust causes a health issue with me. We eat off our laps, which is something he doesn’t like doing so rescued a small wine table from storage to use. A dinner plate just about fits on it. Tempers haven’t frayed, noise hasn’t been too bad and we know it will all be well worth the disruption caused in the end.

And I never thought I would say this, but “Roll on Christmas!”

Season of mists and…blah, blah, blah…

So, Autumn has arrived. Here in the UK, it’s arrived with sunny days and fairly warm temps, but I’m not ready to let summer go yet. I’m a summer baby and seem to thrive best with warmer weather and brighter skies. Put me on a beach with a pina colada and I’m a happy woman 🙂

Well, if we have to have autumn (and by extension, winter) it’s currently not all bad. The trees are looking amazing in their burnished glory, and there are some interesting little late-flowering plants popping up in the garden.

20180910_100958Walks with Vivvy are always interesting, but this autumn I’m finding them even more so. A city girl born and bred, I absolutely love living in the country. Around the village where we live there are fabulous walks, and they’re always journeys of discovery.

Recently, I discovered a new walk to the next village a few miles away which took us by acres of what I’ve named the bamboo fields, although I’m sure they’re not (Kit will probably put me right on this). I spent a fun ten minutes playing hide-and-seek with Vivvy, and now, when we go that route, she runs into the bamboo and looks out to me as if to say “come on mum, time to play”.20180910_101131

I also found plump, juicy blackberries growing wild and grabbed a couple of handfuls in an unused poo-bag (sorry) so we had a lovely apple and blackberry crumble at supper that night 🙂 There are copious amounts of sloes at the moment, reminding me that one day I’m going to attempt sloe gin (side note: I spent years thinking the sloes were blueberries – don’t laugh, city girl, right?)
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So, all in all, I can’t complain about the demise of summer. At least, not quite yet 🙂

LEJOG – Peter’s 70th Birthday Challenge

Well he did it! 12 days averaging 80 miles most days in awful weather much of the time, Land’s End to John O’Groats.  Approx 910 the route he took.  I feel in awe and so proud.  I was of course logistics back up in my little Skoda but what I had planned to be a leisurely role was anything but relaxed or stress free.  I was constantly aware of the huge effort Peter was making day after day, drawing into the depths of himself but had not considered what it would be like to wave him off each morning and wonder if I would see him again.  I am not exaggerating, he looked small and vulnerable alongside some of the huge vehicles thundering past him.

I hope you won’t mind but so much has happened I will write about the trip in instalments.  No worry then of missing any crucial bits out.  We set off on Saturday 8th September for what seemed then like a long drive to Cornwall, paled into insignificance when I set off for Scotland in 30 mile stints.  We stayed in a hotel at Lands End but it was such a rip off, I was embarrassed as so many tourists make a bee line for the place.  Despite the surroundings the views of the headland are breathtaking and the hotel staff so friendly and kind.  We had a photo taken at the temporary sign as the main sign which is up in the day is “owned” by a photographer who charges a lot of money to take photo.  Business is business I know but this is taking advantage. Enough moaning as it did not detract from our efforts.

At 9am Sunday 9th September after a hearty breakfast Peter set off on his marathon ride.  I felt very emotional waving him off, apprehensive and proud all at the same time.  I admit to a few tears so walked part of the headland before setting off myself.  We met up after 40 miles or so at Truro for a lunch break and for Peter to stretch his muscles.  I found supermarkets helpful to get supplies and hot drinks.  Another lone rider left just after Peter, I passed both of them at different stages, and we met him again lunch time.  He was cycling a much shorter distance but appreciated having someone to chat to during a break.  We coincidently met up the next day too at Okehampton. En route to Taunton. Sunday we stayed at our first Premier Inn at Liskeard, the routine was repeated 7 other times during the long journey and Premier Inns were an ideal break.  Even had bike sleeping with us!!

Monday 10th September we rode (not together!) over parts of Dartmoor to Taunton.  The scenery was stunning but once in Devon the hills were testing for Peter.  Tuesday 11th we stopped in Bristol at our eldest son’s house for a family reunion as our younger son left yesterday for a new life in Turin with his Italian wife so more emotions again.  Adam, the eldest, then cycled with Peter to Monmouth over the Seven Bridge which was great for Peter.  3 counties in 3 days and ending up in my homeland Wales.  Next day Wednesday 12th September onwards to Shrewsbury via Ludlow which was when I started to compile a list of places to revisit.  Each day my schedule was tight but a routine soon developed.  No time for sightseeing!  We stayed north of Shrewsbury in our third Premier Inn where there was an interesting welcoming committee. Yes alpacas in the middle of Shropshire!

I’ll finish here for now but more next time. Thank you for your support and encouragement in this venture.  It has been a life enhancing experience in many ways.

Anderson Island

F6900E39-AE43-4F8A-924F-480DA5FFABB1I have lived in this area all my life and never visited Anderson Island.  A few weeks ago I was reading a story set in France and the characters were traveling through small villages. This set me to bemoaning that I wasn’t traveling. Then, in a moment,  I realized that there were a lot of places, a whole lot, right here in my backyard, that I hadn’t been to.  I called Karen and we decided to make it our mission to discover our backyard in the coming months.  First stop, Anderson Island.

Anderson Island is called “The Secret Island” and is the southernmost Island in Puget Sound. It is accessible only by boat or float plane and is about a 20-minute ferry ride.  Karen commented that going there is like stepping back in time.  It has one General Store, one Gas Station, One Restaurant and no traffic lights.

The Island is just under 8 miles in size, with a population (in 2010) of 1037.  We picked a perfect day with the weather. The ferry ride was beautiful. The picture shows it a bit windy, but not cold at all. In fact, we stopped at “The Old Swimming Hole”, and watched kids swimming.

Our first stop was the General Store where we picked up a map and met a very friendly guy behind the counter. This is one of the friendliest places I have visited.  Armed with a  map we set out to explore the island.  The guy at the store told us about the restaurant that sets on one of two lakes.  So first stop Riviera Lakeshore Restaurant.  It overlooks Lake Josephine and has a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier.  And, is sooooo quiet. We both had fish and chips, good, and better with the ambiance surrounding us.

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A resident of the island stopped by our table and chatted for a bit. The pace of the day was “Island Time”.  Karen had it right when she said it was like stepping back in time.

We drove around the Island stopping at the first school on the Island and Johnson Historic Farm.  You can see more of the farm on their website.  Unfortunately, it was closed but we wandered around enjoying the grounds and wonderful weather.

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Altogether an amazing day that made me again wonder at how I could have lived here so long and never visited Anderson Island.