Thursday, November 24, 2016

England 2016: The Bristol Walk

So, back to the part of England (in September) when we weren't in Cornwall but in the Bath area with our friends Lisl and Michael!  (You didn't think I was finished with England, did you?!)

The day after we arrived at the Bristol airport (and were picked up by Chris who took us to Lisl's home), we took the train back to Bristol from Bath and spent the day on our Bristol Walk #2.  In 2014 we had taken Walk #1 with Lisl and Chris (both from our Shutterchance photo blog).  There are several Bristol walks and by the time we're done, I'm guessing we'll hit them all.

This time there were 6 of us, all Shutterchancers, meeting up at the Bristol train station.
Chris, Lisl, Alan, Bill, Astrid and moi.  I bet you recognize them by now.
First order of business was a koffie break near the train station before heading out by bus.

Thanks to Chris for the overview.  A good way to start the day.

In 2014 we had gotten as far as the Clifton Suspension Bridge, where we started this walk,
with the River Avon spread out before us.

It was a totally different perspective, viewing it this time from atop the cliffs.

Lo and behold, as we walked along the fence, someone spied her:  The Matthew.
We had seen her in the Bristol harbor in 2014.  This time she was giving a local tour 
in that very moment!  If we had been there too early or too late...we would have missed her.
Coming, coming, gone.

It was our packed-lunch time...the ladies on one bench and the gents on another.
(Don't ask me how that happened...except that Lisl had packed the lunches for the gals.)

Then off we went, away from the river, to continue our walk.
What a motley crew (and, yes, I speak for myself).
It doesn't take much to make us happy, does it!

Look at these family estates in the Sneyd Park suburb on the fringe of Clifton Down.

At this point we crossed the street and continued down the Pitch and Pay Lane.
It's an interesting story about when Bristol was infested with the plague in the 17th century
and how the villagers/farmers quarantined themselves from being infected.

Did you see the church spire in that last collage?
It's the St. Mary Magdalen parish church of Stoke Bishop, from 1860, with spire added in 1872.

Sadly, it wasn't open, but we all had a good time outside, taking it all in.

Not far away was this adorable "hobbit-like" cottage.
How can you resist it?

Then it was along the Roman Way by the River Trym.
What kind of boat is that?  The Orange Submarine?

Did I mention that we walked and walked and walked?
Lots of chances to catch up on each other, in groups or two-by-two.

Over the river and through the woods!

And finally at the point when we'd see the Grand Finale of the day!

The Blaise Hamlet!

It's composed of 9 small cottages around a green...

with a sundial.
"It was built around 1811 for retired employees of Quaker Banker and Philanthropist
John Scandrett Harford who owned Blaise Castle House."

OMG!  What a way to end our long (almost 5 miles) walk.

Did I mention we picked up "conkers" along the way?
And then left them at the bus stop for the kids before heading back by bus to the train station.

Bristol Walk #2 is now under the belt!
Totally worth it, too.  THANK YOU, Lisl, for being our guide along the way.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Lest I forget,
to all my American family and friends!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

America 2016: With Bob and Peggy

As I said in my last post, this happens every year like clockwork.  We fly to Atlanta from Amsterdam, spend a few days with my kids, then a few days with Bob and Peggy south of Atlanta, 5 days with the kids at the cabin in the North Georgia mountains, and then back to the Atlanta area before flying back home.

THIS is the post with Bob and Peggy!

And with Roscoe the Dog, of course!

When we aren't out-n-about, it's all about food.
In this case, it's a low-country of our favorites.

While both Bob and Peggy share the cooking, sometimes Peggy supervises
(as in the low-country boil below).

And they love to try new recipes...every year.
Have you ever had grilled pineapple?
We are so lucky!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This year we made two excursions, the lesser of which was to nearby McDonough's Fall Festival on their market square, just 16 miles away.

Small towns all over Georgia are often built on squares, with the courthouse as the main landmark.

And because we were there on October 24th, it was all about Autumn/Halloween,
exhibited by the different companies/stores in the area.

This was also at the end of our 2016 Presidential Election campaign.
Remember, this is The South.


"Kiss my grits" has always been one of my favorite Southern expressions.

October is also Breast Cancer month, don't forget.

We topped it off with Rita's creamy frozen custard.  Yum-yum.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The longer of our two excursions was to Andersonville, where we got the education of our lives.  We had watched the 1996 Andersonville movie the night before, "the story of the most notorious Confederate prisoner of war camp in the American Civil War."

The Andersonville National Historic Site is 100 miles south of Bob and Peggy's home,
where both the National Prisioner of War Museum, Prison Site, and National Cemetery are.
We first spent time in the museum.

From the museum we walked to and drove around the prison site,
where reconstructions showed what living conditions had been like.
Anything they had/found was used for shelter within their 26.5-acre stockade, surrounded by walls.

"The Camp Sumter military prison at Andersonville was one of the largest Confederate military
prisons during the Civil War.  During the 14 months the prison existed, more than 45,000 Union
soldiers were confined here.  Of these, almost 13,000 died here."
Most died from disease or starvation.

At the North Gate we saw where the new prisoners arrived and where the "deadline" rails were.
Our word "deadline" comes from this prison, where if you crossed over/under the rail, 
you were shot on the spot, giving new meaning to the word!

What's left of the stream running through the camp is but a figment of the imagination.

Which is why soldiers dug for water whenever/wherever they could.
They quickly learned that drinking from the polluted stream could be fatal.

A stone shelter covers the Providence Spring, honoring the place where a spring 
suddenly erupted from the ground within the stockade.
"The prisoner's cry of thirst rang up to heaven.  God heard,
and with his thunder cleft the earth, and poured His sweetest waters gushing here."

The Star Fort still holds cannons kept to protect the Confederate troops
and to quell possible prisoner breaks.

Silent monuments pay tribute to the soldiers from the North:
Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee.

At this point, we were more than ready to take a break, our hearts heavy by what we had seen and imagined.

The town of Andersonville is just a hop, skip and a jump away, with a population ca. 255.
You can't miss it.

If you like Southern cooking, you've come to the right place.

As you'd assume, they thrive on the "notorious history" of this place.
In fact, they celebrate every year Captain Henry Wirz, the man responsible for the 13,000 deaths.
He remains the most famous of the officers executed for war crimes at the end of the war,
and was hanged on November 10, 1865, in Washington, DC.

After lunch we drove to the Andersonville National Cemetery, to finish our excursion of the day.

The Yankee soldiers from the North were buried shoulder-to-shoulder in their graves.
Their names were carefully documented from handwritten name-tags pinned to their clothes.
The 6 Raiders known for their criminal activity within the prison were buried separately 
from the others (middle-right), as told in the movie we watched the night before.

Only ONE Confederate soldier is buried here.  All the others are Union soldiers (damn Yankees).

But soldiers of other wars are also buried here:  WWII and Vietnam.
In fact, veterans of any war can still be buried here to this day.
The cemetery contains more than 20,000 interments, 500 of which are Unknown US Soldiers.

More silent monuments pay tribute to our Northern soldiers:
Maine, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Jersey, Connecticut, Iowa, New York, Illinois, Minnesota.

It was enough to break our hearts,
and felt like a fitting climax to a contentious "civil war" in our 2016 election season.

Astrid said:  "I have a new understanding of what's happening in America right now.
The South has never gotten over the fact that The North won the Civil War."

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

But not to leave on that note...(this is what it was and we ponder it in our hearts)...
we are thankful for friends and family who, whether they agree with us or not, still love us,
and vice versa.  As we keep saying, LOVE ALWAYS WINS.

THANK YOU, Bob and Peggy.  We LOVE these times spent with you.
Next year, Callaway Gardens.