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.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

America 2016: With My Kids

This happens every year, of course, almost 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 we fly back home.

THIS is the post with the kids.  Next post will be with Bob and Peggy.

The first thing after arriving on Wednesday evening was seeing Amy and Dennis' new home.
They bought this house, sold their old house, all within weeks of each other in September.

Exploring the new neighborhood was one of the first things we did
during my favorite time of the year.

Astrid had even researched the area before we went, knowing we'd want to walk to the Settles Bridge 
spanning the Chattahoochee River just a 40-minute walk away. 
And yes, we had to climb down and back up to get the full view.

But, back to the house, the side porch to the kitchen is a favorite resting spot for all.
I watched the October 19th Presidential debate out there.  HA!

Remember the goofball collage I did of Astrid and Nicholas two years ago (2014)?

We had to do it again, just for the halibut.
Man alive.  He's really growing up (11th grade this year).

And because this was a very special and long-awaited event...buying a new house...
a house-warming gift was in order from my obligatory 71-1/2-year tax cash-out (investments),
which I had also done the year before for Mark's new apartment.
It was totally educational watching the pool table being put together by these 3 competent men!
I now think of the hours of fun the entire family will have in that room.

Speaking of house-warming gifts, the basketball hoop that Astrid bought arrived while we were there,
and was put together the weekend after we left by Mark, Dennis and Bill (ex-husband).
Thanks to Amy for these pics.  Once I get a pic of Nicholas playing, I'll add it!

Mark invited us to his apartment again, like last year, for the family potato-sausage soup recipe.
It's a great tradition now and you don't have to ask us twice!  

And on Saturday, because we're all football fans, we watched MICHIGAN play:
Do you know how fun it was to watch my alma mater Michigan play and WIN a game again?!?!
They're on a roll this year, thankfully.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

At this point we went to visit Bob and Peggy from Sunday to Thursday (next post).

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

By now you know how much we LOVE our cabin time in the Blue Ridge mountains!
(panorama photo from the deck, thanks to Astrid)

The same day we returned from Bob and Peggy, Thursday, we drove up to the mountains.
THIS is why.  And besides, it's "neutral" territory for us all.

It's also the walks at this peak time of autumn....

which both Nicholas and Mark took with us this year.

It's also the cards (Spades) with Mark and moi against Amy and Dennis,
something we've done for years now...while Astrid and Nicholas do their own fun.

Like shooting pool and playing ping-pong, for instance.
It's a great cabin...already reserved for next year!

A total surprise this year was Amy conniving with Astrid to make two 750-pc. puzzles for me,
using two collages from our Malta trip last April.
We finished the seafood puzzle this year and plan to do the luzzu boats next year.
What a gift!  THANK YOU, Amy and Astrid.

We eat together, of course, for breakfast and dinner, with Amy and Dennis as cooks.
Astrid and I do the dishes, which makes for a win-win situation all around.
And, oh, yes, can't forget the bran-muffin mix Mark brings for us.

Dinners are especially homey and heart-warming.
Dennis even had a friend join us for one of the meals (bottom-right) one of the family.

And then on Monday, going back down the mountain, we continued our tradition
of stopping at Waffle House for breakfast...this time on Halloween day.  Fun.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Since it was Halloween, that evening we joined the neighbors at the bottom of the cul-de-sac
for the trick-or-treating festivities.  
What a great chance for all of us to meet each other.

And the next day, before heading off to the airport for home,
we rendezvoused for lunch with Sheila, a long-ago Sun Data/Solarcom co-worker.
It was like picking up from where we last left off.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

And now, today (Election Day), we await the news on who will be the next POTUS.
I'm going out on a limb to say:  HILLARY.
My prediction is she will win both the electoral and popular votes.
But what will the fallout be?
"Let there be Peace on earth and let it begin with me" is my new daily mantra....
We have a lot of healing to do as a country!

It's Trump.  He won the electoral vote; she won the popular vote.
And I still wonder about the fallout!