Monthly Archives: October 2014

Travel Time

Twelve years ago, after a lot of persuading on my part, we took our first trip down to the South of France. I’d wanted to go there for ages, but hubby was not keen. He thought it would be pretentious and expensive. I finally wore him down (as you do) and we booked a trip to Nice. Since then it’s been virtually impossible to get him to go holiday else. We both loved it from the very first visit.

Until three years ago, we visited at least once a year, basing ourselves in Nice, Cannes or Monte Carlo. We’ve travelled to Antibes, Menton, St. Tropez, Villefranche, Beaulieu Sur Mer and many other places while there. Every place has its own special character, of course, but all are linked by the laid-back lifestyle, stunning azur sea, and the amazing quality of light in this part of the world. No wonder it inspired artists such as Cezanne, Picasso, Monet and Braque.

We’ve spent the last three years looking after guide dog puppies and haven’t really missed our holidays, but this year we felt the call of the Cote d’Azur and booked to take a trip earlier this month. We always take the Eurostar from London to Paris and stay overnight. Then it’s the early train down to Nice, arriving around lunchtime. The train basically travels south from Paris to the coast and turns at Marseille to chug along the fabulous coastline.

Apartment BalconyArriving in Nice, we headed for our rental apartment. It’s a beautiful place, situated right on the Promenade des Anglais. It has a gorgeous balcony, perfect for relaxing after a busy day sightseeing. While I love Nice, my favourite place is Monte Carlo. It’s so pristine there, you get the feeling that inadvertently dropping a sweet wrapper would earn you a night in jail! We’ve been lucky enough to spend a couple of Christmas holidays here, and the place is transformed into something very magical. Casino Square is a fascinating place, where we often enjoy coffee (or something sparkling) at the Cafe de Paris while watching the beautiful people, and their cars, pass by on the Square.Casino Square with Cafe de Paris on left

For AJ’s sixtieth birthday, we splashed out on a few nights at the Hotel de Paris, next to the Casino, and booked a transfer from the airport by helicopter. It was an amazing experience and a chance to get a really spectacular view of the stunning coastline. During this visit, we took a less exciting mode of transport and visited Fontveille by bus. Fontveille is the youngest of Monaco’s four districts, and was built on reclaimed land in the nineteen sixties to help ease the demand for property. As Monaco is little more than a mile from end to end, it is no wonder that property is very expensive here. In the photo below, if you look really closely you can just glimpse the edge of the Prince’s Palace through the trees in the upper left.Fontveille

The Casino Square is undergoing some renovation at the moment which has necessitated temporary removal of many of the exotic plants and trees. Some of the designer boutiques have also been relocated and housed in ‘igloo’ type buildings. It’s one of those love it or hate it things, and although the ‘igloos’ are pretty stunning, we mourn the loss of the fabulous vista the gardens provided down to the Square. AJ at Monte Carlo IgloosProgress at a price, I suppose, but it’s good to know that it’s only temporary and the gardens will be restored in 2018 and the igloos deconstructed. It’s also good to know that even somewhere as fabulous as Monte Carlo doesn’t always get it right.

It was a great holiday, and we’re really glad we went. But it’s nice to be home, and always lovely to welcome our next puppy lodger. Happy days!


winterI don’t usually copy something when I blog. In fact I don’t remember ever doing it. But this resonated with me and so wanted to share it. I received it in an email from a very special sister who is going through critical health issues.

I googled it and couldn’t find an author so if anyone knows where it originated let me know so I can give them credit.

Of course I like to think of myself as being in the autumn of life but one never knows and this really speaks to all ages.

You know. . . time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.

But, here it is… the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise…How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go? I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it is…my friends are retired and getting grey…they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me…but, I see the great change…Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant…but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be. Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t of my own free will… I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so…now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!! But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last…this I know, that when it’s over on this earth…it’s over. A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done…things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not in your winter yet…let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, what ever you would like to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life…so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember…and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!!

“Life” is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.

Remember “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”




~Your kids are becoming you……but your grandchildren are perfect!

~Going out is good.. Coming home is better!

~You forget names…. But it’s OK because other people forgot they even knew you!!!

~You realize you’re never going to be really good at anything…. especially golf.

~The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don’t care to do them anymore.

~You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It’s called “pre-sleep”.

~You miss the days when everything worked with just an “ON” and “OFF” switch.

~You tend to use more 4 letter words … “what?”…”when?”… ???

~Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it’s not safe to wear it anywhere.

~You notice everything they sell in stores is “sleeveless”?!!!

~What used to be freckles are now liver spots.

~Everybody whispers.

~You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet…. 2 of which you will never wear again.

~~~But Old is good in some things: Old Songs, Old movies, and best of all,

It’s Not What You Gather, But What You Scatter That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese was invented where?

I was making a cheese ball a while back (recipe here) and got to wondering about Philadelphia Cream Cheese. It’s been around for forever, it seems. 127 years, it turns out. I have a sister who lives in Philadelphia, so I think it’s cool that they have a cheese named after the city. Except the cheese isn’t made in Philadelphia. In fact, it wasn’t even invented in Philadelphia. It was invented in Chester, New York, by a guy who thought his cheese needed an urban name and wanted to, apparently, capitalize on Philadelphia’s renown for delivering quality dairy products. Kraft bought the “Philly” label in 1928, but as near as I can tell, this cheese has never been made IN Philadelphia. Hmph.

That got me to wondering about other products named after cities and towns, and if they were invented or made in the cities named after them:

Baked Alaska – Although there are earlier variations on this ice cream and cake dessert, this version, and it’s name, were created in New York, at Delmonico’s Restaurant, in 1876 to commemorate the Alaska Territory purchase.
Boston Cream Pie – Yep. Invented in Boston. (That’s one.)
Coney Island Hot Dog – named after Coney Island, but invented in the midwest, (say it aint’ so!) although it’s origin is a little murky.
Worcestershire Sauce – Originated in Worcester County. (Yay!)
London broil – U.S. origin, circa 1931. Maybe in Philadelphia? (I hear this is not a way of cooking beef that is well known IN London?)
Speaking of London, how about:
Yorkshire Pudding – yep, invented in Yorkshire.
And back to our beginning city:
Philadelphia Cheesesteaks were invented in Philadelphia. In fact, if you’re ever in that great city, I suggest a stop at Pat’s or Geno’s on the South side for a sandwich.

So it seems most foods are actually named for the places where they were invented. Not sure why that makes me feel better, but it does. And I think that’s enough fun for today. It was fun researching these, but now I’m hungry for cheesesteak and pie. 🙂

Happy Anniversary to Me

Yesterday, the 19th of October was thirty years since I took the oath of admission to the Florida Bar. I was twenty-three on that long-ago day and so excited to start on my journey to “Save the World” one client at a time. When I look back at the girl I was back then, I see someone who thought she was smart and savvy until the day she walked into a real courtroom for the first time to try a case and learned that people lie on the witness stand. They actually lie- actively and purposefully. I can remember how stunned I was at that revelation. It was a total blow to the solar-plexus. I quickly figured out I needed to factor that into my arsenal of skills and learn to cross-examine more aggressively and effectively.

I have been privileged to represent people from all over the spectrum of wealth, social status and mental health. Each client has etched something into my heart whether for good or for bad. I carry the scars of all those cases but amazingly, I learned in the early days of my journey that I could not bring that stuff home with me or I’d be in the mental ward myself. Some cases were harder than others not to take home- especially when I did child custody work, but leaving it at the office was important so I did my level best to do so.

One funny story from that first year of practice involved the first criminal case I handled. The accused was an 18 year old girl. She was charged with criminal mischief. In Florida, at first appearances (where the plea of not guilty and request for jury trial is taken by the court), if the case is a misdemeanor, the client does not have to appear. So, I walked in and when my client’s case was called, I came forward to the bench to face the judge. He looked down at me and said, “Little girl, where’s your lawyer?”

I replied, “I AM the little girl’s lawyer.”

He slunk down in his chair and apologized. I thought it was pretty funny myself but the man continued to apologize to me whenever he saw me until the day he retired.

By the way, I won that case- all charges were dismissed against my client when I showed there was no way the witnesses could identify the culprit since it was a dark night and the street lights were out. As well, my client was across town at a bonfire. That victory was sweet and showed me I could really do this job.

A Bit of Paradise by Valerie J. Patterson

I had a completely different topic in mind for this blog article, but here I sit with my toes deep in luxurious beach sand and out popped this article instead.

The bubbly hubby and I are on holiday at the Outer Banks where the temperatures are a wonderful 83 degrees and absolutely no humidity daily and the evenings are balmy in the 70s.  Our days are spent lazily on a private beach we’ve been sharing with less than a dozen people.  Every hour or so we run into the surf and crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean.  There are no cares here on the beach.  We sip chilled glasses of juice or ice cold bottles of water, snack, nap, search for sea shells, talk quietly, and soak up the beauty surrounding us.

But this article is not about the holiday in its entirety.  That’s coming next month complete with some photographs.  No, this blog is about what happened at the beach today.

I was studying the horizon–vast spanse of blue sky meeting vast spanse of ocean–and what should appear?  Two dolphins frolicking in the water.  Their beautiful, water-silkened bodies literally leapt out of the ocean, arcing gracefully before plunging back into the water’s depths.  Then again, they appeared as though playing a game of tag.  Over and over these two beautiful creatures danced in and out of the water to my very delight and ecstatic pleasure.

Because it’s off season, the dolphin and whale watching tours are done. Steve and I were certain we would have little chance of seeing any dolphins. Then it happened. I was right where I was supposed to be, looking exactly where I needed to be looking, and the dolphins were there right where they were supposed to be, and I had a wee bit of paradise.

Until next time, may you find paradise right where you least expect it to be.


Late Again

LATE—AGAIN!! It might be a good thing that I don’t have a paid contract to write this blog or I would have been fired a long time ago. Today though I might have a good excuse.  Granddaughter went in the … Continue reading

Evolution in the Kitchen

mag25historic1a__1256072230_4869Years ago my sister-in-law called as she was in the process of cooking dinner. We had gotten a cow, one of the times my husband went country, albeit it was short lived. Anyway we had given them some milk and she was making butter and expounding on how wonderful it would be to go back to the basics.

Umm, I could hear the mixer going, back to basics? It seemed they had gotten home from the kid’s ball game and dinner was a bit later than usual so I just had to give her an eye opener. ☺ I remember telling her that 50 years before she would have to start a fire to cook the dinner she was doing on the electric stove and there would have been a butter churn instead of an electric mixer. And of course no dish washer or hot running water. As she visualized the picture I was painting reality set in.

We have come a long ways. I don’t go as far back as churning butter or cooking on a wood stove but my grandmother did until she died. She did have an electric hot plate. I remember the smell of her kitchen and the wonderful tasting meals she made on that old stove. However I was pre-micro wave and now can’t imagine life without one now.

imagesRecently out son installed a faucet in their kitchen that turns on with a sensor. It’s amazing and something I can see in my future. And, what about the fantastic pre-cooked dinners? I remember when TV dinners tasted like cardboard and looked….well not so good. Now I get packaged dinners like Garlic Chicken/pasta and Chicken and Wild Rice. Yummy.

0x600I looked at kitchens of the future, got to love the internet, and found this one with the caption “iphones that make lattes” and guess what they are here now. But, hold your breath, at a cost of around $11,000. Guess I’ll wait for the prices to catch up with the technology. But it and more are coming. And, nostalgia with yester-year is good but I love the times we are living in and the excitement of change. Especially thinking about how they used to do the washing. Ummm a topic for a future blog. ☺


October Craziness

Usually the craziness of October doesn’t start until closer to Halloween but this year my October started off with a bang literally.  And the story does have a good ending 🙂 First off, Tuesday the smoke alarm goes off with … Continue reading

Good To Go!

Oh well, summer is well and truly over here in the UK – it’s blowing a hooly, tipping with rain and the temperature has dropped. It seems ages ago I was on holiday instead of the two weeks since my return. A last minute decision and booking saw my two sisters, my niece and me jetting off to sunny Fuerteventura, the longest and oldest of the Canary Islands, for a week of sun, sand, sea and sangria.

Waiting for take off!

Waiting for take off!

On our way by coach to our hotel in the north of island, all four of us wondered what on earth we had come to. It was bleak, desolate, many buildings empty incomplete shells covered in graffiti, and not a tree in sight. Okay, so it is a volcanic island but everyone was telling us it was a beautiful place. Were we missing something? Had we landed on the wrong island? Suddenly the black rocks gave way to sand. White sand, miles and miles of it.

Camel ride across the dunes, anyone?

Camel ride across the dunes, anyone?

We’d hit the best beach on the island ­– long, wide dunes, all 2,600 hectares of them that form the Las Dunas National Park, made up of soft, clean, white sand (even better than that in Barbados) that must have over millions of years blown across the Atlantic from North Africa, not a million miles away from the island. So, if anyone tells you the Canary Islands are nothing but black volcanic sand beaches, you can tell them they are wrong.

Oliva beach

Perfect location.

Our hotel, a multi-storey complex right on the beach, was perfect and most days were spend relaxing on the sand. We’d booked a family room so we didn’t have to part company at night, and found ourselves in a separate part of the complex, called The Village, made up of two- and three-storey apartments with its own pool area, bar and restaurants.


Most days were spend on the beach

Our apartment was on the ground floor, with a double twin room, dining area, and vast living space with two sofa beds. I have to admit these sofa beds were the most comfortable I’ve slept on. The bedroom had its own walled private terrace, and leading off the living area was an open terrace facing beautifully kept gardens and lawns, secluded and visited by birds, rabbits and a goat!

Gardens just outside our terrace

Gardens just outside our terrace

We could not fault anything – the staff, the food, the drink, the ambiance, the temperature of the sea, the cleanliness of the complex. Our only disappointment was the evening entertainment. We’re not into karaoke or bingo and the shows and cabaret put on were rather lame, mainly dancers and singers who mimed to everything. Not our thing. We are more used to strolling out of an evening, window shopping and people watching etc. The hotel was some hour-an-a-half walk from the town of Corralejo – too far. We took a taxi there one morning and had a walk around but were again disappointed as it was not the pretty harbour everyone was talking about. Pleasant, yes, with plenty of bars and restaurants, but nothing we would want to go back to. And as we were staying all inclusive, we had no need.

Even bunny enjoyed his champagne breakfast Sunday morning

Even bunny enjoyed his champagne breakfast Sunday morning

Had we’d been staying longer, we might have explored the island more, but a week was enough. We came home relaxed and refreshed and determined next year, we will look for a villa again as we did miss our own private space and pool, and research the area more before we book. I think another Greek island is on the cards, but we are glad we went. We had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, a lot of food and a lot of drink.

Oh, just one thing. Don’t be tempted to buy a swimsuit with a skirt thing attached – a swim skirt they call it. It looked good, certainly covered my horrible thighs, but was absolutely totally useless for swimming in! The skirt floated up to my neck, looked ridiculous and hampered any swimming, whether in the pool or sea. It’s now consigned to the charity bag. Another excuse to go shopping!

Book Clubs

Thought I’d talk about readers groups today. I have the privilege of belonging to Round Table Readers, which used to be called the Tacoma Reader’s Group. Now, I’m an author, as are quite a few of the bloggers in this community. But I belong to Round Table Readers as a fan of books. Because first and foremost, I love to read. I’m kind of a relaxed, I want to be entertained reader. And yes, the stories I love the most are romance. And fantasy. And paranormal. And…well, the list goes on and on…

There are lots of different types of reader’s groups and book clubs. Probably the most well known is Oprah’s Book Club. Wow, that woman has launched many an author’s career! And she’s selected some great books to launch.

There are also lots of small book clubs. People gather, select a story, and everyone reads it so they can come together to discuss the good and not so good (hopefully, no bad). 🙂

There are library book clubs. Our local library has an online club, where they showcase a different book each week.

Round Table Readers is different. First, it’s the oldest and largest book club in the US. Second, we don’t select and all read the same story. We gather to celebrate all stories, usually with 50+ women (and men). We talk about what exciting title we’ve just finished, and old favorites that sit dog-eared on our shelves. We are run by a couple of wonderful ladies, Ursula and Irene, who find authors to come and speak to us every month.

Author Karla Stover speaks at Round Table Readers

Author Karla Stover speaks at Round Table Readers

It’s a continual reminder of why I sit down at my computer and put stories on the screen. Because lots of others, like me, love to read them. And I am always, always happy to know I’m not alone in that love.

So here’s a shout out to everyone who’s ever opened a book and immersed themselves in a new world. And here’s to the new horizons we’ll crest when we open that next book…

Happy reading, everyone!