Category Archives: Vacations

And Breathe….

Yes, 2020 is here. A Happy New Year to you all. A new year, new beginnings. I was certainly happy to see the back of 2019, as were so many people I have spoken with, all of whom equally had a bad year for one reason or another. We had my mother stay with us for Christmas week despite my not being able to stand up for long and none of us in the mood to celebrate for various reasons but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. Dave, bless him, did all the shopping, prepared all the veg, cooked Christmas lunch (with me supervising), and cleared away everything, looking after us both brilliantly. I say both, as Mum also had a bad leg, caused by being hit on the shin by a recalcitrant supermarket trolley back in October, causing a cut on her leg that went septic, the dressing having to be changed every two days. Thankfully, it had now healed.

Still, that is all history now and I am starting the year back on my feet, no crutches, only the occasional painkiller needed, and able to walk properly and drive again. Things are not quite recovered but I’m certainly well on the way, walking more each day as the weather permits as there is so much to look forward to this year. Starting with next month, when Dave and I are off on holiday again, this time to mainland Spain. And boy, am I looking forward to it as last year’s was tinged with sadness and illness.

Once we are back from our trip, we must do some work revamping our kitchen. The ceiling needs replacing, a new floor laid and we would like a new cooker. Not that there’s anything wrong with the freestanding one we’ve got but we want an eye-level oven because bending down as I get older is slowly becoming a problem. To fit one in requires a lot of rejigging of the current units which we don’t want to replace as there is nothing wrong with them.

I’m busy working on my new novel which I intend to see published this year. It’s already written but I have decided to introduce another main character into the story, so a fair amount of rewriting is necessary. I’m also programmed in to run a second art course at my painting group in March, and trying to decide what to demonstrate etc. I missed not being able to paint whilst I was laid up but finally managed to complete a painting I began back in the summer, something large and colourful to brighten up a bare wall, so I came up with “Tulips”. It is currently hanging in our lounge until such time as it sells… if it sells.

The best part of this year so far for me is, in fact, the garden. The weather here is currently very mild, though windy, but already the snowdrops are out and the crocus in the lawn up with many in bud, enough to see their colour. The daffodil bulbs are growing tall and dotted around the garden the hellebores are about to burst into flower. Seeing everything emerging is a sure sign the world has tilted and turned a corner, like me, and Spring is well on its way.

That’s all from me for the moment, folks. Next month, on my due date for posting, I will be jetting my way back from holiday thus my post may be a day or too late, so apologies in advance.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

Spring in November

C12D3BB9-7B5A-432B-8959-31DD8D13C38FSince we won’t be going to Arizona this coming January we decided to take the month of November to get a respite from winter. By leaving the end of October we felt safe in changing the route we usually take and instead traveled along the Columbia Gorge to Boise and then cut down on Hwy 93 at Twin Falls.

I’ve been on 93 as far as Wells Nevada quite a few times but it’s been a lot of years since I’ve been on it into Ely.  We saw a smattering of snow and Ely was experiencing some really cold weather. We spent the night there and it was supposed to get to -7 the next morning.  Karen and I dug out sweatshirts and winter coats, but it didn’t last and as we got closer to Vegas we were on the side of the road getting back to t-shirts.

Travel traffic was good until we got to Vegas. Oh my gosh, we deserved a couple of gold stars for that part of the drive. Their freeway design looks like a bowl of spaghetti.  The navigation was almost continually pointing us to take exit this, then a left, then exit that, we finally landed off the freeway and found ourselves in a downtown area. The navigation was still trying to direct us back into the freeway system, but about the time we were ready to give it another go we spotted ‘Las Vegas Blvd.’. Ah ha, Luxor, where we were staying,  is on this street.  We turned north, wrong, and after what seemed miles we turned around and started south. Now at least the distance on the navigation screen was reducing, but it was still trying to get us back on the freeway.  7 miles out we puttered down the Blvd watching as the distance between us and our destination decreased.  All this time the navigation kept chattering. The bright side of our driving adventure was that Karen hadn’t been to Vegas for years and was enjoying the view. Me, all I could see was cars and more cars. It was early afternoon but it looked more like it was in the middle commute time.

So Vegas, we bought a bus pass that enabled us to hop on and off all day. The route took us down the Las Vegas strip. A friend had told Karen to be sure and see the Venetian.  I agree it’s a must see. If you go take a look at the shop area’s  ceilings.

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Another must is the Bellagio. The conservatory defies description. Pictures don’t do it justice, but here’s the link for them.  They change the theme with the seasons and the tigers were there when we were.  They are one of the animated displays.  We played a little and browsed the Conservatory gift shop.  Then had a drink at the piano bar under a ceiling of Chihuly glass.  Loved our time there.

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Linda (friend since second grade) and I were in Vegas in 2016 and had happy hour at Trevi an Italian restaurant in Caesar’s Forum shop area where the ceiling looks like the sky.  Karen and I found it on this trip and it was as good as ever.  I had a salad … the picture it says it all.  We had a Trevi Bellini drink, a repeat of  2016.  Believe me if you go to Vegas you won’t want to miss at least stopping at the Trevi for a drink. 0B6595E9-44FE-432A-A0ED-88F9A3BE83AD

 

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From Vegas it would have been a short day to Glendale even with going through Oatman.  It was Halloween and we expected to get in early and stop for candy but hit construction. They closed the freeway so it turned out to be a two hour detour.  Again, a real driving experience.

We’ll be heading back after Thanksgiving but have so loved Arizona in November we may do it again.  A lot of pool time and lazy days.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Beginning 2019

Hi All,

This is my first blog of the year, I missed January’s.  I was off getting  another sunny start to the year. Much like 2018 except this time we came home to record snow.

We left Washington on the 28thof December and what a month.  First of all the family flew down to Arizona the 5ththrough the 12th getting back in time to start the Christmas festivities.  We had a really good time, but it did make for a very busy few weeks.

Three of us drove down this year. The picture is of the three of us standing in the lobby of the London Bridge Resort where we stayed the night.

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The drive down was great. I loved the new Highlander with all of its safety features. It was hard to give up the Lexus, but after a lot of going back and forth between the two, the Highlander was better, at least for me.  Coming back the weather was iffy we finally took a chance on what looked like a window and left a week earlier than we had planned.  A good thing as we got back on Wednesday the 6th of February and record-breaking snow hit on Friday.  I managed to get to the grocery and bank on Thursday so was set for a week of pretty much being snowed in. Marie posted pictures of what the snow looked like here in the Pacific NW. It was pretty, and then it wasn’t. 🙂

This year was different in that Linda and I took off from Arizona and flew to Cancun mid-January. We met up with family there. Seven in all and we had a really fun time.  We did get some rain which is a first for us on the tropical winter vacations but it was still warm.

So now settling back into “normal”.  And, planning to stay home for a while.

I’m ready for Spring!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Bavarian fun in the middle of Washington State

If you read this blog regularly, you know that my family goes away on a winter cabin adventure each year. Well, the women in my family also do a summer weekend of wine-tasting. Okay, it started as a wine-tasting event, and we really do test wines.  But it’s kind of evolved into a “sit by the pool reading and chatting” kind of weekend. Relaxing, and a great catch up time with my sisters, daughters, and nieces.

This year was our sixth, I think. For the past three years, we’ve been going to a wonderful little Bavarian village in central Washington State called Leavenworth. It’s pretty commercialized, but it’s also, well, just plain beautiful and fun.

In the 1960’s, trying to turn a failing community around, Leavenworth remodeled an entire town into a Bavarian motif to accent the alpine hills surrounding them. All businesses have to follow the Bavarian theme, even the McDonald’s. And that idea took off. Boy, did it ever. These days, it’s busy any day of the year, but that doesn’t stop us. They make it work well.

It’s easy to walk around. In fact, we park our cars and don’t get back in them until we’re ready to leave. Our hotel is about half a mile from the center of town, and easy stroll. The area is full of shops, places to get bratwursts, beer gardens,  and there’s live polka music in the park. Oh, and you can raft the river, too.

We always have fun. Sometimes, maybe a bit too much. Lol. But this year, we actually did some wine tasting again and I found some excellent wines to purchase.

It’s a fun weekend. Bonding as a family, relaxing before the end of summer. (I did not just say that phrase, did I?) And winding down from life, just for a couple days. I love my entire family, but I cherish this time with the women who carry on our mother’s rich heritage of love and family.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Sedona and Jerome Arizona

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This was my first trip to Sedona and there is simply no words or pictures that can do it justice. We came down from Glendale and stopped at Jerome first so came in from dessert like terrain.  One minute bare … Continue reading

The Allure of Snowbirding

Snowbirding is the art of moving with the climate. Heading south, to warmth, for the winter months, then north when the heat of summer hits. I’m not sure if snowbirding is a worldwide term or a West and East coast North America term, but this year, I finally understand the allure of it.

Lavada has been giving us an excellent look (here and here) at what snowbirding is all about. Being warm, when home is rainy and cold. Getting sunshine to feed the soul, while friends are mired in gray muck. And getting to know a new locale better than a few days vacation allows.

I’ve never really understood the need to fly south for the winter. I like my seasons. Rainy and cold makes me appreciate warm and sunny. And you may or may not have read one of my many posts about how I love to see snow falling.

This year, though, I got a taste of snowbirding. In early March, we went to Peoria, Arizona to catch a couple Seattle Mariners baseball spring training games. It was 40’s and cold and rainy here at home. And my sister in Philadelphia was all but buried under a Nor‘easter.

And here we sat…

Within half an hour of checking in, we were at the pool. Being lazy, soaking up sunshine, and watching balloons fly overhead.

We did make it to a game. Here’s the proof.

But only one of the two games we planned to attend. That second full day, we were right back where we started…

Then we got on a plane for cold and rainy home. We didn’t do any touring while in Arizona, so I can see how being there for a month or so would be nice. You can get the pool time out of your system the first few days, then see the sights.

Now, we were happy to be home when we got here, but the cold did seem colder and the rain did seem a bit excessive. Maybe, just maybe, there’s some snowbirding in our future.

I hope your Easter was happy and your Spring abounds with color and sunshine and warmth. 🙂

Hawaii!

We recently returned from a vacation that I call one of my top three best vacations. A year ago, we booked a fifteen day Hawaii cruise. Not fifteen  days in Hawaii. This one was round trip from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Five wonderful, relaxing days at sea getting over to the islands, four islands to visit, and five wonderful, relaxing days at sea coming home.

I found something out. I LOVE at sea days. I woke up and went walking on the Promenade deck each morning with beautiful ocean all around me.  (I may have mentioned once or twice that I LOVE the water.) I went to line dancing classes, walked again with my husband. I swam in the pool. I read FIVE books in two weeks. Five. Haven’t done that in quite a while.

My husband immersed himself in shipboard things, too. We watched fruit carving, ice carving, beer pong. We watched football. Got to watch  our Seattle Seahawks on the big screen by the pool. We proudly wore our “twelve” shirts and there were a lot of Hawk’s fans on board. In fact, that’s one of the things we love about cruising. Meeting and talking to so many people.

In the islands, we didn’t do much on Oahu. It’s a little too much like the big city and we get that at home. On Kauai, the Garden Island, we saw the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon. The pictures don’t do the rusts and verdant greens justice. It was beautiful!

On the Big Island, we went to the Kilauea caldera, the large crater and active steam vent that is huge and spectacular.

And look at the picture my husband got of the moon. Wow!

On Maui, I got to check off another bucket list item. We were in Hawaii once before, 27 years earlier, and I didn’t get out to Molokini to snorkel. We did this time. I was very worried about climbing up that swim ladder back into the boat, but I DID it! Twice! The water was warm, the fish and coral beautiful, and, just for a little while, I felt young again. It was awesome.

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Then came the homeward bound trip. I have to say that about two days from our return port, we both were feeling the tug to be back home. We’d left our Dude in good care, but knew he would miss us. Of course, the fact that, after an entire cruise of calm waters, we had two days of Gale Force winds and 10-15 foot seas might have helped us be ready to disembark.

All in all, it was amazing, restful, and beautiful. My husband and I danced, went to shows, held hands, and just enjoyed each other and the scenery. A perfect anniversary present to ourselves.

Now home, the weather’s changing. We even had a touch of snow yesterday. I’m okay with that. I like my seasons. It was nice to be tropical for a couple weeks, but even in 35 or 40 degree weather, I’m up, dressed and out the door for a walk around 8am. It feels good to be home.

Have a wonderful November, everyone! And Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it!

 

 

 

Surprise!

I love surprises; giving them, that is. And in October we pulled off a cracking one. My brother Bob lives in Spain in the Costa del Sol, and with his 70th birthday rapidly approaching, my sisters and I decided to surprise him for his birthday, after checking with my-sister-law Lesley what their arrangements were for this day. After all, we didn’t want to arrive and find they had gone away on a trip themselves to celebrate.

As the three of us hadn’t had a holiday together for two years we agreed we would make this trip a week long, instead of just a couple of days. I’ve been to Spain on many occasions – staying with my brother, Lesley normally arranging flights and Bob meeting us at the airport; and the last time booking through a travel agent ­– but this was the first time we were “going it alone” which meant I had to find a suitable apartment for the three of us; not an easy task. Then there were flights to book, and arranging a taxi from the airport. I found the whole thing very nervy and stressful and couldn’t relax until we were finally in our apartment. The apartment was disappointing in that it was shabby, not at all looking as clean and fresh as the photos showed, but the linen was clean and the beds comfy and we did have a lovely view out over Benalmadena Marina in one direction, and mountains, town, and busy main road and 24 hour bars in the other – very noisy all night. Still, it was only for one week and we were close to the beach and promenade.

Room with a view of Benalmadena Marina.

Bob’s birthday being the next day, we spent a lazy morning, grabbed a bite of lunch then made our way up to the venue. We peeked around the wall to where we knew they would be, spied Lesley who pointed that Bob was inside the bar and in the three of us walked. “Surprise!”

“Surprise!”

“Happy Birthday To You…”

Oh and how it was. The look on Bob’s face, at first disbelief, then confusion, then utter joy at us being there for him was pure magic and a treasure to behold and remember. One of the bar staff, realising who we were, grabbed Bob’s camera and began taking photos; we were too engrossed in our hugs and kisses and tears (mostly Bob’s!) to notice or even think of taking a picture. Everyone (apart from Bob) at the party along with all the local bar owners knew we were coming and made us most welcome. A good time had by all.

After a fabulous day we fell into bed exhausted but woken up a few hours later by lightning. No thunder, just a marvellous nature light show out across the sea. The flashes continued until daybreak when torrential rain came down and thunder like I’ve never heard exploded all around. One clap was so loud, the building shook. We later found out it woke the whole town. Apparently some 1,200 lightning bolts were recorded in the Malaga region that morning. (News report detailing the storm)

The rain stopped but the morning overcast so we ventured by bus into Malaga to explore the city, hoping to take the open-topped bus tour. Bob joined us. When we reached Malaga the rains came again. A quick dash into a restaurant for a coffee whilst it eased. It didn’t, so we made for a shop selling pac-a-macs and thought to explore the magnificent cathedral close by. The queues were horrendous so we decided to take a bus up into Mijas, our favourite town, and have lunch there. There was an hour wait for a bus so instead we went back to Benalmadena to enjoy a meal there. We found out later that most of Malaga had been badly flooded due to the rain, and nearby Torremolinos and Mijas without electricity for most of the day. Good job we didn’t go.

The next day, and for the remainder of our visit, the temperature was back up to 28 degrees, the sun shining gloriously and we managed to spend three days relaxing on the beach ­­– bonus! ­­– as well as partaking in our favourite things when holidaying­­, such as food and Sangria – of which we’ve now become experts.

Enjoyable lunch at Marina on our 1st day.

It was a tearful and sad farewell when it was finally time to take the taxi back to the airport and home but a week I’m sure our brother will look back and remember with love and fondness. As will we. And I will certainly miss the sunrises over the Marina!

Not a bad view to wake up to each morning

The more things change…

When AJ and I travel, we almost always carve out time to visit the local art gallery and museum. During a few days in Derbyshire, we found a small art gallery in the city of Derby virtually dedicated to a famous local 18th Century artist, Joseph Wright. We didn’t know much about him or the art of the period, but we were lucky to visit at a quiet time which meant we had what amounted to a private tour of the room housing his paintings.

Our guide was incredibly knowledgable about Joseph Wright and pointed out many things in the paintings that I’m sure we would have missed if we hadn’t had the benefit of his expertise. Here’s a link to the gallery if you’d like to see some of the paintings.

Joseph Wright was considered the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution and was famous for his use of light and dark in his paintings, especially favoring subjects portrayed by candlelight. Some absolutely stunning work.

But what caught my attention was the artist himself. An amazing creative, with absolutely incredible talent, he was prone to fits of depression and doubts about that talent. During one period of his life, after he had produced paintings such as A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery (see link above), and having received bad reviews for some of his work, he became really disillusioned with himself and his art and stopped working completely.  He wrote:

“I have heard nothing but humiliating observations on my paintings. which have tended much to the inactivity of my pencil for sometime past. What a mere machine I am become. Depressed and renedered useless by a little censure and put into motion again by a little flattery. I really believe my enemies might persuade me I have no pretentions to paint. What a thing have these weak nerves made of me.”

Food for thought for all the creatives out there, because I’m sure we can all understand these feelings. How many times has a bad review or negative response to our own work made us put down pen, pencil, brush, needle, etc? It’s comforting to know that we’re in good company, and that even the greats suffered through periods of procrastination when they felt their work just wasn’t good enough.

Some things, it seems, never change.

Tricia’s website