Jillian here. Happy November. I’ve been having a mixed month and a half. I went to two weddings and a memorial service for a colleague. I also had four friends lose their mothers in one week. That was a bit startling, to say the least. One of them, her mother had been ill with a second bout of cancer for a while and one of the others, her mom was 95 and hadn’t been doing well for a while. It was still kind of sad to lose them both in the same day—I knew both of those ladies well as one was my college roommates’ mom and the other was a colleague in Tallahassee’s mom who I often went to dinner with when I was over there. The other two, I didn’t know their moms, but they are special friends and my heart hurt for them.
My colleague who passed away was an excellent attorney and a very gentle soul. I know those two words don’t usually go together, but he truly was a gentle man. I never, in all the years I knew him, ever heard him raise his voice or get angry. He was kind and really had a great sense of humor. He loved to debate issues even to the point of taking the opposite side of what he believed himself just for fun and to add to the conversation. He called me at the beginning of September and we had a nice chat. He’d just come out of the hospital and had been in a diabetic coma. He never said he was ill other than that incident. I was shocked to learn in mid-October when they announced his memorial service that he died about a week after that phone call—pancreatic cancer. He’d been battling it for 11 months. It just goes to show your last conversation with someone could very well be the last one. I’ll treasure the fact that he called me to chat on that day and am grateful I was there to take the call. I also wonder if he was taking the time to say goodbye to people he thought of as friends as it was a very cheery call. But that was his personality so it didn’t seem odd.
On a happier note, I attended two weddings within a few weeks of each other. Each was outdoor and next to a lake. One was warm and one was cold- weather wise. One was a writer friend in Tallahassee. She had a horrific marriage in the past and I was so happy for her when she found love again with a man who clearly is kind and will take good care of her heart.
The other wedding was a great nephew’s. The girl he married is a sweet young lady and they seem very well matched. I think I posted here before about her bridal shower where they never cut the cake. The same thing happened at the wedding. They did the cake cutting part for pictures with them, but then never served it. It was crazy. My sister-in-law, the grandmother of the groom, finally went over and got some for the people at our table. Usually there is someone there to serve it—even the caterer would have been a good plan—except I’m not sure they would if they didn’t do the cake. It was one of those trendy naked cakes. When one of my friends saw the picture of the cake, she said, “I don’t know who did that cake but they need to get a refund. The person that iced it did a terrible job.” 🙂
I’m heading down this weekend to the grandson’s second birthday party. I’m glad my son and his wife plan them for two weeks before the actual day since he was born Thanksgiving week. Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest times for Walt Disney World and, as they live in the same metro area as the parks, it’s a nightmare (traffic-wise) to go down there then.
Hope everyone has a great month. Here are a few pics of the weddings.
June has been a surprising month not at all what I had anticipated. Finally, Peter and I managed another 3 night break away after months of me suggesting places from Spain, Croatia, France, Scotland and back to Wales. On Monday 12th we sat having a “sundowner” when I mentioned an apartment I had found in Bowness-on-Windermere in The Lake District, Cumbria. “Book it” says Peter, the only available date was Friday 16th for 3 nights, yes the following Friday! It was available so I grabbed it. Well someone was guiding us as it was a beautiful, attic conversion in an old house in the woods above Bowness with a great view of Lake Windermere from the sitting room window. With stops the journey took over 5 hours (nothing to our friends in US) but to us Brits it’s a long way!! Everything is comparative, we never thought about 6 hour round trip to airport when we lived in Spain. It was well worth the effort. Friday evening we had a superb meal in a local bistro with good wine. Suitably relaxed we walked the half a mile uphill back to our retreat. It took a long time but a comfy bed awaited so a good incentive!
Saturday morning we woke to brilliant sunshine which lasted the whole weekend. Hot but fresh – perfect. After a breakfast of fresh Danish and good coffee in a local bakery we got a boat (cruise boat) across the lake (one mile across) to Lakeside. A steam train then runs alongside the lake for about 5 miles which was a real treat. We stayed on and made the return trip, full of nostalgia for me as I remember steam train journeys as a child. Boat trip back to Bowness, much busier now with tourists of many nationalites. We managed to find a wonderful deli run by a young couple with a range of meats, cheese, pickles, olives etc but we decided on pastrami sandwiches, the best I’ve had since I was in Manhattan over 10 years ago – well worth the wait! We found a secluded sheltered spot and ate our picnic over-looking the lake. We were unsure what to do next but decided on a movie, air conditioned theatre and friendly staff. Popcorn too. The movie was Churchill starring Brian Cox and Miranda Richardson which has had some bad reviews but we enjoyed it. We could have booked a three course meal at a local restaurant for afterwards (including the movie ticket) but saw the deal after we had seen movie! I was tired so maybe not best time for a big meal but I thought it was an enterprising idea for cinema and restaurant. We had an Italian instead which was just right. Up the hill again and another great night’s sleep.
Sunday back to the lake but we crossed this time on a small ferry which pulls itself over on wires, I don’t understand how it works but it was a great way to cool down! On the other side we walked up to a restored Claife Viewing Station originally built in the 1790s which had wonderful views of the lake. Next we walked 4 miles (and back!) alongside the lake through woods, families were picnicking on the “beaches” generally enjoying the rare sunshine. It all reminded Peter of Put-In-Bay on Lake Erie, Ohio, where he attended a conference. Some of you will be familiar with this place. Back to the deli and we stocked up for evening meal in the apartment after packing so much into 2 days. One treat awaited for the next morning before returning home. (Note the rare photo of the Smiths together!)
My book club read this month is Haweswater by Sarah Hall. Coincidentally, Haweswater Reservoir was 20 miles north of us so Peter was happy to divert. A valley was flooded to create a new reservoir to supply water to Manchester and a dam constructed. The work commenced in 1929 and was completed in 1940. Inspired by the building of the dam the book is a fictional story about the village of Mardale that was originally in the centre of the farming community, their lives and the impact of the dam. I was so overcome with the beauty of the place I forgot to take a photo! Peace and tranquillity with all that history under the water. It was an emotional experience, I have discovered my family originally came from this area in the 1790s so Cumbria remains in my genes. I recommend the book which is a well researched first novel by a sensitive writer. I’ve also read and enjoyed The Wolf Border Sarah Hall’s latest novel which was also set in Cumbria but begins in Idaho about the re-wilding of wolves the Lake District.
I always feel I’ve been away ages following one of these breaks and think I enjoy them more than longer breaks these days. Just to note the weather has returned to “normal” for summertime which makes the whole weekend even more special. Another June Surprise was an unexpected lunch with friends at their house. Two added guests arrived which I think will make you smile!
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness … The opening line to Ode to Autumn, a favourite poem of mine by John Keats, may be familiar to many of us from school days. The words always conjure up this time of year for me, … Continue reading →
After such a wet and soggy winter, here in the UK we’ve been enjoying some lovely bright days. It’s been getting the Joneses into a holiday mood and sent us scurrying for the brochures and checking out online deals. While it’s exciting planning trips to pastures new, recently I was reminded how easy it is to overlook the treasures to be found on our own doorstep.
Between our holiday planning we’ve had our favourite little lodger back to stay. Guide dog puppy Ushi, is a gorgeous flat coat retriever and is now just one year old. We’ve been boarding her on and off since she was six months old, which has been plenty of time to fall head over heels for she of the bewitching eyes and mischievous ways.
On Ushi’s last visit she’d just been spayed, which meant no free runs and only short lead walks. But after a few days she was raring to go, so on a particularly gorgeous day we took her out in the car to give her a change of scene. A short drive away from us is the Georgian City of Bath and its Royal Victoria Park. The Park has been around since the early nineteenth century when, in 1830, it was officially opened by the young Princess Victoria. Apparently, Bath’s Royal Victoria Park was the very first to carry her name. (As a side note, the future Queen of England wasn’t a particular admirer of Bath and used to have the curtains of her train carriage closed when passing through the city. It is said she came to dislike the city after a Bath writer insulted her.)
The Park has beautiful botanical gardens which, shame on us, we rarely visit. They were formed in 1887 and are said to contain one of the finest collections of plants on limestone in the West of England. We thought it would be a nice place for Ushi as she’d enjoy all the different scents and smells. Once inside the gate, the scenery took my breath away. Cherry blossom all over the place. I love trees and find something really fascinating in their shape and texture. Every tree in the gardens was as if someone had shaped them carefully to enhance their surroundings.
Near one of the entrances is a replica of a Roman Temple, the Temple of Minerva was constructed at Wembley in 1924 for the British Empire Exhibition, and rebuilt in the Botanic Gardens in 1926.
The local Women’s Institute have a community garden within the Park which is made entirely of edible plants and flowers, the idea being to inspire people to plant edibles that are not only useful but also beautiful. The lady in the bath is a pretty fun exhibit and is based on the Bath WI logo.
Happily, all three of us enjoyed our outing and shortly after this photo was taken (and a cream tea for us and chewy bone for Ushi, plus a lot of attention from fellow cafe patrons), we headed back home with a very contented and, sleepy, pup. Happy Days!