Category Archives: Travel

A Brighter Light

The weather in England is a fickle thing. Two days ago, here in the West County we were shivering at minus 5 deg, the central heating turned up high, and outside in the garden the plants were blackened, laying prone and looking decidedly deceased. Then overnight, it all changed as we basked in temperatures over 12 degs, warm enough (almost) to sit outside and have our coffee. Today, although it started raining heavily at 5:30am, it is currently 13 degs, if overcast, and I’ve just turned the heating off for the day. The garden has recovered too. My hellebores are once again upright and looking fit, the pansies and other plants making a comeback. It feels that Spring has sprung.

All this is in sharp contrast to this day last year. It was the day Dave and I returned from our winter sun holiday. We’d enjoyed Spanish sun in temperatures over 25 degs, some days, hitting 30! But on Feb 16th 2020, our flight was delayed because of fog in Malaga, and in the UK the hatches were battened down as Storm Dennis battered the country with 70 mph winds and lashing rain. Let us hope it’s the last of the cold and frosts and snow this winter, and any further storms are gone but somehow I have a feeling some may return before Easter.

But let’s look on the bright side. Evenings are getting lighter each day, at the moment I’m not closing the blinds or putting the lights on until 5:45pm. A week ago, it was at 5:00pm. Dawn is arriving earlier and earlier. It’s light now long before 7:00am. This time of year is always one of optimism, new starts, new hope, new life. Perhaps more so this year as the Covid jabs are rolling out apace here, cases are falling, and the Government talking of how and when to ease us out of lockdown.

Now, I don’t know about you, but since Dave and I had our first jab, we are feeling a lot more cheerful, if that could be possible. Whilst we are always happy and comfortable in our surroundings, enjoying life and the current situation as best we can, it feels as if a lot of the pressure has been lifted, pressure we hardly realised was there. More noticeable is the fact that we are both sleeping better, more soundly and since the jab, I haven’t had one peculiar or weird dream, nor am I waking up several times during the night. Of course, a good night’s sleep does lead to a less stressful day. Now I’m woken up by the dawn chorus of robins and blackbirds, not by the urgent need to use the bathroom countless times; although Dave does put that down to my age. Cheeky man!

I’m now in the mood to venture out on a daily walk, something I’ve avoided due to the bad weather and you-know-what. I’ve missed ambling around our local park and woods and need to get out there and watch springtime wake up. Before long the bluebells will be out in the woods, and I don’t want to miss them this year. I’m in need of their inspiration.

Yes, folks, there is a light that is getting brighter at the end of the tunnel we’ve all been crawling through this past year. We’re getting there. Things are getting better and I am determined to make it a good one. If we’ve got through all this together, we can get through anything.

Keep on shining, light, we need you.

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Ode to Zack

Cars… I’m notorious for keeping mine until it gives up the ghost and the truck comes to tow it away. I purchased my little Toyota in 2005 and named him Zack. He has been the best car. Okay, he grumbles on occasions, his brakes are not the quietest, and my passengers are basically horizontal thanks to the dodgy mechanism on the passenger seat. And he has more knocks and scratches than I can count. But never once has he let me down, and we’ve travelled some miles together over the years, I can tell you.

Zack has suffered my rants, my woeful singing as I joined in with Bruce Springsteen’s anthems, he’s learned some pretty colourful language during those times when I encountered less than mindful drivers, and he’s listened to me rabbiting on about plot points and characters who refuse to do what I want them to do. He’s heard all about my worries, and my hopes and dreams.

Sadly it’s now time to say goodbye to my trusty four-wheeled friend. I’m needing to do quite a lot of long-distance travel and AJ was worried about the toll on old Zack. Oh my, it was hard letting him go, but I know it’s for the best and I already LOVE my new four-wheeled baby. Not that I didn’t initially put up a fight and voice all kind of objections: he’s easy to park, he’s SO reliable, he nips in and out of traffic like a little mechanical ninja. But eventually, my head won out over my heart.

So it was with a heavy, but grateful heart that I bid farewell to my trusty steed. All that’s left for me to do is thank him for all those incredible years of safe and reliable driving, wish him well, and bid Godspeed to those who are lucky enough to travel with him in the future.

How about you? Do you get attached to your cars? Do you find it hard to let them go? I’d love to hear that I’m not alone in this. It would help to know there are other crazy car lovers out there.

Busy Doing… Lots

Whooo…sh! Where has the past month gone? After last month taking time to smell the roses, this month I can’t keep up with everything. Having switched on my “do something” button, I’ve found my lost mojo and am now in a spin with so much going on and am well and truly back on the novel writing track. But that’s not all! I’ve been inspired enough to delve into the paintbox once more, with a new piece in progress which is coming along well and am pleased with it so far. But not ready yet for the great reveal.  Hopefully, that will be soon. If I’m still happy with it…

I have also been getting to grips with a new writing tool on the computer whilst I write. You would think that was enough to contend with, but oh no. All my working career I found the more pressure I was under, the more I could achieve. The busier I am, the more gets done. And to prove the point, last week saw me revamping my website/blog, streaming off the gardening section into a new separate site (Kit’s Garden). Now all I have to do is keep up with it all as well as find time to sit back, enjoy the garden, and remember where and what day it is!

Ah, September, month of mellow fruitfulness and birthdays. Lots of birthdays including our daughter’s 50th. As a special card, I made one using several photos of her over the years. She adored it, as did the two grandchildren, whose birthdays are also this month, along with a dear friend’s, my twin sisters’, my sister-in-law’s. Am sure I’ve forgotten someone. Need to check. Back in a moment … Yep! My other sis-in-law’s. Boy, am I glad this month I also finally got round to setting up an online calendar and networking it across the three computers I use or I would have forgotten her. That would not have gone down well.

On top of all this, these last few weeks I’ve been figuring out and setting up a new laptop my nearest and dearest treated me to. Poor man, he was getting so annoyed at my constant grouching how slow my old lappy was. Well over 7 years old with an ailing battery, it had been a good workhorse. Lately fit only for doing online jigsaws, not that I’ve had time to do any this month.

There have been some pauses in the pace though. We’ve had lovely weather here in the UK the past few days. Enough for Dave and I to spend mornings in the garden. Taking time to read the newspapers or a book as we enjoy a coffee in the warmth of the sun. Relax a little. Do a little weeding, a bit of idea throwing for next year’s displays. Much needed respite from sitting at the desk too much.

I shan’t be at the desk for a few days next week either, as I am finally trundling off to Reading to spend time with my mother and sisters. Hurrah! It will be the first time since February I have been further than our local supermarket and I am looking forward to the drive cross country. But not as much as seeing my siblings and mother again. It’s been too long.

The four of us intend celebrating being together for the first time since last Christmas; to belatedly celebrate my mother’s 94th birthday back in March; raise a glass to mine back in April; and as I mentioned above, to celebrate my sisters’ birthdays next Monday. On Friday I am making them a birthday cake but, shhh… don’t tell them, it’s a surprise, and knowing my baking skills, it might not turn out so well. I might have to resort to buying one!

Must dash. There’s things still to do, such a shopping. The larder and fridge are bare and the freezers both half-empty as we’ve been without a car for nearly two weeks as repairs were needed. Thankfully it is now back sitting on our drive. So places to go and family to see before lockdown swings in any tighter.

Enjoy your month, whatever it brings.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

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Late, Tired, Frustrated and Needing a Nap

Jillian here – late yet again. It’s becoming a habit for me, it seems. I’ve had a great couple of months but it’s wearing me out. I made the trip to Birmingham, Alabama which is about 4 hours from me. … Continue reading

2020 at Myrtle Beach

3962D433-4865-4888-A91B-006E38732FB5Last month we made our second trip to Myrtle Beach. The first one since purchasing the condo. I love it there. Everything moves in a slower pace than here in the Pacific NW. The interstate highways looked like ours did in maybe the 1960’s. The picture above is the sunset from our balcony. We get both sunsets and sunrises while looking over the Atlantic Ocean. It didn’t make sense until we accessed to compass on our phones and saw how the coastline ran. Here’s another one of the sunset and then a sunrise.

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We have piers on both sides of us so nice for walking.

We knew we had a lot of work to do when we went back but it turned out to be even more.

Like: New mattress’s for all 3 bedrooms, Dining room table, Counter stools, Living room –  sofa’s, coffee table, area rug, and TV stand with electric fireplace insert.

Then all the little things like new coffee maker, dishes, flatware, bedspreads. You name it and we pretty much replaced it. It didn’t leave much time for touristy stuff but we enjoyed eating out. No one can flavor food like the South. We ran around so much I didn’t even gain any weight lol.

When we got down there the weather had turned warm. T-shirts and of course we hadn’t brought many. We did put a new washer and dryer in when we first got the condo (August) so it wasn’t a big problem. Then it turned cold, like artic cold. I’m sure the wind had something to do with it. I love the ocean in the winter so no real problem except we had brought sort of in between type clothes so it was cold going outside. I still managed quite a few nights with the bedroom patio door open and slept to sound of the surf.

We still have the cabinets and living room blinds to go. They said about 4 weeks for the installs. The property manager put the upgrades on their listing at

https://www.northbeachvacations.com/booking/sunrise-pointe-10f-oceanfront-cherry-grove-section/1347-142742

Can’t wait to go back and enjoy the area. We are about 2 hours from Charleston and they have a lot to see. We’ve already started a list of things to see and do.

 

 

 

February Fun and a Bit of Sadness

Jillian here.  I was going to get this post done on the 6th and set it to go off on the 9th like I am supposed to but since I wanted to write about what I had going on the weekend of the 7-9, I figured I’d wait until I got home and share what happened. When I got home, I posted a picture on FaceBook and then was hurt and sad and lost all motivation to post about what had been a wonderful weekend.  Back to that in a second.

Friday night, I was happy to serve as a judge for the Regional session of the National Moot Court competition. It’s hosted by my law school and since I’d already committed to a book signing on Saturday with some friends in Alabama, it made sense to volunteer to do this as well as I’d be in the area (about a 3.5 hour drive from home).

It was a great competition and seeing these law students be so passionate and competent about the fact scenario they were assigned was wonderful. The law schools are doing an excellent job teaching advocacy. When I was in law school (In the dark ages) we didn’t do moot court until our last semester. Some of these students were second year and very well-versed in how to try a case. Makes me proud of the changes in legal education.

The next day was the book signing. It was the last event I’ll be part of in RWA. My membership expires in March and I won’t be renewing. I’d have resigned but I had this event with ladies I love and treasure so I stayed for it. I hate to leave the Birmingham, Ala chapter but I can’t countenance what is going on in the national organization.

I sold some books, met some new readers, someone who used to work for me here in Pensacola who moved up there, and also some old friends. My sister-in-law and her daughter live up that way and they came to see me as well. It was lovely for them to be there and supportive and buy a copy of each book I had.

Here comes the sad part:

One of the other authors took a photo of my sis-in-law, my niece and me.  I usually don’t allow pictures of myself as I am embarrassed about my weight. I never had an issue until my second child was born and no matter what I do, I can’t seem to lose. It’s even worse since I had my hysterectomy. I beat myself up every day about it. I am hungry a lot of the time- I don’t snack- I eat my three meals – even my son says he can’t figure out the issue since I don’t eat a lot.

Against my better judgment, I posted that picture on FaceBook. A woman I’ve known since I was a little kid commented with a rose emoji at first.  Then she must’ve thought about it a minute and came back with “You’re still pretty even though you’re fluffy.”

I can’t even imagine saying that to someone. Believe me, I know I’m fat. I see myself in the mirror every day- I am always beating myself up about it. I sure don’t need her pointing it out. I was so hurt, I couldn’t even think the rest of the day. I cried off and on- silently – and even almost didn’t eat dinner- which was just grilled pork and a cob of corn. I am still sad today. I’m embarrassed enough without someone calling me out on it. I want to hide. All the time.

I’ve always been a happy person with a love of laughter. I hate that she stole my joy. I can’t get her words out of my head.  All I keep hearing is, “You’re fat but still pretty.”

Guess what? I don’t feel very pretty.

 

SURPRISE!

Surprise! Well, what can I say? Where has this year gone? More to the point, where did I go?

Cutting a long story short, the past year has not been good, with all three of my siblings having major health problems, my brother seriously so. With him living in Spain, it proved doubly hard for all of us, especially my mother who is no longer able to travel abroad. After the worry of one sister going through breast cancer treatment, I’ve never been one to suffer from depression but I certainly felt it this time and when, after learning about my brother’s illness, then my other sister’s condition and poor prognosis, I couldn’t stop crying, which is one of the reasons I kept my head below the backyard fence these past 9 months. It’s been a matter of coping and keeping going. It hasn’t been easy and I couldn’t have managed without the help of my husband, close family, and good friends. And thankfully, Lydia’s condition isn’t as bad as the specialist first diagnosed. With care, she can control her problem and hopefully it will not worsen.

You may recall, January saw me teaching acrylic art to a beginners class at my painting group over a 4-week period. I was nervous, spent ages working up my notes and worrying about what I would actually paint. But the course went well. Very well, in fact, and the majority of my 18 pupils are now fully-fledged members of the art group. May saw the art club’s Annual Exhibition, where many of my beginners exhibited, several of their works selling. As did two of mine, so I was well chuffed.

June saw the release of my latest novel White Stones. With so much work involved in its promotion, there’s been no time to write anything else, my head still spinning. But that’s the price we authors pay, isn’t it? Now that baby’s strings have been cut, I can finally concentrate on something new and push myself back into writing mode.

Good news came in July with little George, who’s far from little now, acquiring a baby sister. Unable to have another child, his parents turned to adoption and she arrived into the family in May 2018. The legal side proved an exceedingly complicated affair, taking over a year. We were all invited to Exeter Crown Court to the witness signing of the full adoption papers in a little ceremony, followed by a celebratory lunch. She is adorable and looks so much like her adoptive mother it’s quite amazing. Unfortunately, due to a legal caveat, we cannot post photos of her face on the internet. Dave and I made a full weekend of the event, and a lovely opportunity to catch up with various members of the family. George is doing brilliantly. Can you believe he’s just had his 11th birthday! A recent visit to the hospital showed his hips are now perfectly healed and no further surgery is required. He’ll always have problems walking but that doesn’t stop him doing things. His favourite pastime is surfing, Living on the West Devon coast, famous for its waves, he can thus indulge often.

Early summer’s good weather meant we spent a lot of time in the garden, except for during August, when we had plenty of rain – just in time for the long school summer break. Instead, Dave and I did a lot of – believe it or not – holiday hunting. He was given a holiday voucher as a retirement gift two years ago by his firm. As the voucher runs out Feb 2020, we decided we’d best make use of it. The voucher covered enough for us to book two holidays: the first to Ibiza during October, the second to mainland Spain in February.

September. A month of birthdays including my twin sisters’ 70th. The grand plan was that we would celebrate this occasion by being in Spain as it’s was also our sis-in-law’s 70th. That plan was scrapped due to my brother’s illness and Lydia’s poor health and treatment making her unable to venture abroad. Instead, my brother, wanting to surprise them, booked a flight to the UK, his doctor giving him the okay to come. At the last minute, he felt all the travelling would be too much for him. Sadly, a few weeks after their birthdays, his health deteriorated rapidly and he lost his battle with lung cancer a few days before we were due to fly out to Ibiza.

After all that entailed, we certainly needed to get away from everything and managed to enjoy a lovely, if heavy-hearted, break in the sun. Dave loved it, his first holiday for 21 years. The hotel, staff, location, food, room were perfect. It is definitely a place we intend to go back to if only for the incredible sunsets! Enjoying plenty of long walks around the large bay at San Antonio, a warm sea and the beach virtually to ourselves, we really didn’t want to come home.

Life is now returning slowly to normal. In many ways the year has gone by too quickly, winter here already ­­– yesterday we woke to snow! ­­– and Christmas will soon be upon us again; however, I will be glad when it’s 2020. A new decade, a new year, a new beginning, and new journey, one I hope you will allow me to share with you. I have missed you all. x

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

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Myrtle Beach South Carolina

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In May we decided to look into purchasing a condo. We really wanted to be on the beach. However, living in the Pacific Northwest, it is wet and cold so we looked south and came across Myrtle Beach.  It was … Continue reading

July in August

Warning…county music fan geeking out…

This past month, over the U.S. Fourth of July, eleven people from my family met up for what felt like the vacation of a lifetime. I think it was the first time all five of us siblings have gone on a trip together. We were celebrating a banner birthday, some resolved health issues, and each other.

We went to Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.

And it was awesome.

It started last Christmas when my brother said they were going to Nashville at our annual brunch. We all fell like dominoes and within two days, hotel reservations were set. I’ll say it was a little scary that nine out of eleven of us were on the same plane, but we made it there delayed, but without issue.

On the Fourth, the downtown corridor in Nashville was cordoned off and we all filtered through metal detectors to get in. It was crazy busy, but Florida Georgia Line’s restaurant, FGL House, got us in for the most amazing dinner. Everyone there was so nice and the food was yummy, especially the No Joke Mac n Cheese (bacon, chicken, and calories, but melt in your mouth.)

Because we’re older, and because the crush of what turned out to be 348,000 people for the fourth of July was rather daunting, we bought rooftop reservations at Blake Shelton’s bar, Ole Red. That was the best choice ever! We got to sit, visit, and watch the crush of people below without being jostled. And…here’s where the fan geeking comes in…our waiter was also waiting on Blake Shelton’s manager (Kelly Clarkson’s husband.) Okay, so we didn’t meet him, but I’m still saying that us (and 300 other people) partied with him. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The fireworks were the best we’ve ever seen. Getting home wasn’t much fun that night, even though we sat and waited for another hour after the show ended. It still took us two hours to get back to the hotel seven miles away.

Totally worth it.

The next night, with a LOT less people, we went back downtown to enjoy some music. From place to place, you could hear so much variety, from country, to Hard Rock Café style, to dueling pianos, to some amazing blues.

We ended up listening to a great singer, Becki McLeod, and her rocking band. Loved her voice, her cover choices, and her fiddle player even did The Devil Went Down to Georgia, a fast, difficult piece. Okay, the whole band was involved in that, but the fiddle player, in particular, was outstanding.

Again, it was the best ever!

We all broke away for our own tours, too. Some went to the Jack Daniels distillery tour and said it was one of the best tours they’d ever done.

Hubby and I went to the Grand Ole Opry. Fan geeking again here…it was pretty amazing to stand where people whose music I love have stood. The Opry is music royalty and we loved seeing it.

We also got some pool time at the hotel, ate what the south calls Wicked Chicken (spicy), and did a lot of visiting. A LOT of visiting.

I’d have to call it one of our top five favorite trips ever, ranking up there with the cruise that took us to Iceland and Greenland, the overland tour to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska (Northern Lights!), the motorcycle trip to Banff, Canada (snow in July, Brrrr!), and our road trip to Mt. Rushmore (majestic.)

I know I’ve been truly blessed with our travels and I have so many great memories. I hope you’ve been blessed with memories that make you smile when life is handing you lemons.

Have a great rest of your summer, everyone!

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Montesano Washington

220px-Grays_Harbor_County_Courthouse_03Last week Karen and I resumed out trips to small towns. It was a beautiful day to visit the Montesano courthouse and walk along the residential streets.

The courthouse was damaged in the 1999 earthquake and I didn’t know if it was open. It was, in fact, the work to repair the quake damage led it to be restored to its former glory. The courthouse today is considered one of Washington finest and is an important part of the state’s architectural history.

The entrance is through the side making the building look like it is closed. Karen and I took a self-tour of the building. The murals in the rotunda B6B29826-E0D5-448B-B6FB-2925752DC32Aare some of many throughout the courthouse.

Just seeing the courthouse is worth the trip but the town itself is an experience. The 1987 survey made by the state referred to the county’s collection of homes as “the richest in the state”.

It was a beautiful day so when we left the courthouse we wandered down some streets. Many of the homes looked to be in the process of renovation but the Hubble House was in perfect condition and is for sale.  The listing reads 5 bedrooms – 5.25 bathrooms and 5352 square feet.  It was built in 1903.Grays-Harbor-Historic-Homes-Hubble-House-Montesano-Historic-Homes

Of course, we finished off with lunch stopping at a Mexican restaurant recommended from people we met at the courthouse.

Visiting small towns are one of my favorite out and about days.