Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Taste of London, Part One


Last year while perusing the Cunard catalog, I noticed an interesting trip that we have talked about taking "one day."  We have decided that "one day" should be soon as we are getting older ( if the good Lord is willing, older )  and take those trips while we are still able.  The Norwegian Fjords have always been on our bucket list.  We both looked at the trip and decided to book it for June of this year.  It was a perfect alignment of transportation there and back home.  As you know we have been to Great Britain a couple of times already on the Queen Mary 2.  Once you've taken her to cross the Atlantic, you never want to fly there again.  Yes, it takes time, but we are retired and have that!  


The above photo of the Queen Mary 2 was taken by Grayden on the Queen Victoria in the North Sea on our way to Norway. 



Would you like to go to Afternoon Tea?  Scones and clotted cream, tea sandwiches, and cakes are offered and of course tea or coffee if you are like Grayden.




As I've written before about our crossings, there is much to do on the Queen Mary 2. You can attend interesting lectures and visit the on board planetarium.  Evening entertainment always follows dinner in the evening. 



We love taking morning walks on the Promenade to get our two miles in.  There was a storm chasing us and one ahead of us the whole way, but the Atlantic was calm and beautiful!  As Captain Wells pointed out to us, the Queen Mary 2 is an ocean liner and built for ocean crossings.

After being spoiled for a week we arrive in Southampton, England.  We have a couple days before the Queen Victoria sails to Norway.  We decided to take a trip to visit London.  Of course, one could never see it all of London in a couple of days and we knew it!  


Our coach transfer to London drops us off at Victoria Coach Station.  We looked at maps at home and notice that our hotel in Trafalgar Square is only a mile and a half from the station.  Silly us, decided we could walk there and take in the sights and sounds of London along the way!  Remember we had our luggage trailing behind us.  Two large roller bags and one small roller was packed for our 23 day journey.  We excitedly began walking our way to Trafalgar Square.  


Grayden rolled the two large bags and I had the smaller one.  London was crowded with many folks as we began to get closer to Buckingham Palace.  The Royal Mews houses the state coaches, carriages, and horses.  Also the coachmen, chauffeurs, and groomsmen have apartments here.


Closer to Buckingham Palace the crowds around the Victoria Memorial was interesting pulling our cases. 



As you can tell by the Union flag, Queen Elizabeth II is not in residence.  If she were in residence, the Royal Standard would be flying.  


Did you know that Queen Victoria was the first monarch to live at Buckingham Palace?  The sculpture dedicated to her was designed by Sir Thomas Brock in 1901.  The statue of Victoria faces northeast toward The Mall.



We continued our walk down the Pall Mall toward Trafalgar Square. 



The Admiralty Arch commemorates the death of Queen Victoria.  Commissioned by King Edward VII, the Latin reads--In the tenth year of King Edward VII, to Queen Victoria, from most grateful citizens, 1910.  You may remember that King Edward VII was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  The arch links The Mall to Trafalgar Square.  As you can see there is construction that we encountered quite a bit of while in London.  



Walking through the Arch we see Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square.  Admiral Horatio Nelson died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.  Yes, the sky is looking quite threatening.  Rain is beginning to fall as we approach our hotel. 



After placing our bags in our room we venture out for some lunch at the local pub that was recommended to us by the hotel.



After a tasty lunch we ventured down to the Victoria Embankment to catch a ride down the Thames on the Clipper boat.



The boats on the Thames give a good overview of the city sights surrounding the river.  We had a short walk to buy our tickets and board the boat.



The tide must be high as the Thames is flowing quite swiftly.



As you can see the rain is beginning.  The skyline in London is a study in contrast with the ancient and the new mingling together.



The dome of St. Paul's Cathedral rises above the skyline.



Shakespeare's Globe is on the south bank of the Thames.

  
The Tower of London looms ahead!  I must admit to feeling the power of the spot.  So much has happened in The Tower throughout history.  A guide mentioned to us that most folks living on our planet today were directly affected by the events that happened in The Tower! 


I'm excited as we pass under Tower Bridge.  Most folks refer to this as London Bridge, but it is not!  The skyline boasts the famous Shard in the center.  The Shard is the tallest building in the UK and stands at 1,016 feet.

  
The gold topped monument above is a memorial to the Great Fire of London.  The monument was designed by Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke.


Cleopatra's Needle was a gift from the Egyptian ruler commemorating Lord Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile.

 

The London Eye has a large presence on the riverside.  It opened to celebrate the Millennium and used to be the world's tallest Ferris Wheel standing at 394 feet.  


Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament are shrouded in scaffolding.  We were told that Big Ben (Clock Tower) was leaning and I'm certainly glad its foundation is being repaired!  We also learned its official name now is The Elizabeth Tower, marking  Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.


Getting off the boat at Victoria Embankment we walked back to our hotel stopping in Whitehall Gardens along the way.   


Grayden and I both enjoyed seeing the lovely trees and shrubs in this unique garden. 



One statue caught our attention of William Tyndale.  I'm sure you are familiar with him translating the New Testament to English.


His last words are recorded on this sign.  The Lord answered his prayers as you can see what happened a year later after his execution. 



As we headed back to our hotel, we were tired and ready to go to bed.  We have a full day planned up next, so I hope you will join us as we continue to get a taste of London. 








 













Sunday, July 7, 2019

Flowers in the Garden



Since returning home it's been so much fun seeing how everything fared while we were away.  Gardening is a huge passion for me.  Our grandson took care of everything beautifully.  He made sure pots received supplemental watering if the heavens failed to produce enough moisture.  It's so nice to return home after an extended time to find everything in order.  Thank you, Samuel! 

Like a mother that takes care of her babies, one of the first things I wanted to see was our garden, but it was dark.  I did notice while pulling into the driveway that the daylilies were blooming profusely.  Such a simple flower that does so well in our hot, humid summers.  They are easy plants that seems to be happy wherever you plant them.



Nature always shows hope to me.  Do you see the heart upon the petals? 




The planter around our patio is full of annual vinca that are filling in nicely.  I usually like a softer shade of pink or white but I was unable to find them this year.  Sadly, our favorite local nursery closed its doors this spring.  I really hate seeing long time businesses close.


If you look closely on the left at the curve is a volunteer vinca that reseeded itself.  That's the shade I really prefer.


You may remember our large white oakleaf hydrangea.  As the temperatures soar the petals that were once white turn a lovely shade of pink.  


I planted this urn in the spring with a pack of pink and purple petunias.  If you look to the right you see one of the plants is red.  I started to pull it out, but decided not to remove it as it appears happy.  Everything in my garden is far from perfect---just like life...


I brought in some simple marigolds to the kitchen to brighten the counter.


I also picked this pink hydrangea that was blue last year.  The soil must be more alkaline now to turn such a pink shade.  I hope you cut the flowers from your garden to brighten your home.  If you have hydrangea blooms, it's easy to have a lovely blossom for a while.  Cut your blossom stem  on an angle early in the morning and place in a container of water.  Once inside boil some water.  Smash the bottom of the stem and plunge the stem in the boiling water for 30 to 40 seconds.  Apparently a sap forms when the stem is cut that will seal the capillaries disallowing the stem to send water to the blossom.  The boiling water will open them back up.  Place your stem in a vase of room temperature water and flower preservative if you have it.  Make sure to remove leaves.

Our temperatures have been quite hot and the very steamy weather makes it hard to enjoy the patio and the garden.  Hopefully the oppressive heat will move on.  In the meantime I have been enjoying my afternoon tea iced. 

 " What dreadful hot weather we have!  It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance."   Jane Austen


This sweet little robin looks as though he's had enough of the heat as well.  He needs to hop a little further along and go for a swim in the birdbath.  I've seen his family splashing about there and now it's his turn to cool off. 

I do hope you will join me soon as I post more about our trip to the Norwegian Fjords.  The weather was neither hot or dreadful there. 







Friday, July 5, 2019

Traveling in June



Hello friends!  Some of you guessed we were traveling during my little blog break last month.  Yes we were.  We boarded our train early in the morning and started on our journey to NYC.  The morning was full of excitement as we began our trip that was only a dream in our minds.


We boarded the train along with our luggage for the easy ride north.  A lovely morning greeted us as the train pulled into Penn Station in New York.  After visiting the bank to exchange some money for pounds we hailed a taxi for our ride to the Brooklyn Pier.  Usually there is no issue, but our taxi driver appeared to get lost.  We went through the tunnel twice and then over the Brooklyn Bridge before finally reaching the Queen Mary 2.  Yes, we are crossing the Atlantic on our way to England.  


Boarding the Queen Mary 2 is so thrilling as we gaze at Lady Liberty.  


The Queen Mary 2 is taking us to Southampton where we have a couple days to explore London.  Of our previous visits to England we have never visited there.  We are more of the country mouse style travelers.  We love the countryside of Great Britain.  This journey allowed us to take in a few sites there and then we traveled back to Southampton.


Back in Southampton we boarded the Queen Victoria to begin our reason for our journey.  We traveled to the Norwegian Fjords! 


I wanted to share a short overview/tease of our trip.  Soon I'll share our adventure through the North Sea and into the Kingdom of Norway.  I hope you will join me!






Monday, June 3, 2019

A Little Blog Break

Hello everyone!  The days are getting longer and time in the garden is busier than ever.  We've been trimming a lot of overgrown Aucuba that seems to need a haircut every couple of years.  Thank goodness my sweetheart likes to join me in gardening tasks!  The Wisteria is in the stage that I've referenced before as Love/Hate.  The Love stage is over and now we need to keep our shears sharpened to take care of its long, ever growing tendrils.  All these chores are happily done on a lovely day such as today.


This America Climbing rose is finally taking off in our garden.  Though still just a little over two years old, she has produced many lovely blooms to grace our table.


We bought this little bird to sit on the ledge overlooking our patio.  He was inexpensive, so I'm not sure he wants to sit out in the weather.


The little purple finch is wondering what in the world that little fellow is on the ledge.  He really doesn't know, but is happy to have his feeder full of safflower seed.  Did you know squirrels don't like it?  If you have a problem with squirrels raiding your feeders, buy safflower seed.


The Pulmonaria is filling in the garden nicely.  Its speckled leaves add interest to the many shades of green.


I enjoy having Hosta in our partially shady garden. 




The old Oak Leaf Hydrangea is beginning to light up the garden with its white blossoms.



This year the month of June is going to be quite busy for me.  I wanted to let you all know I won't be blogging or visiting your lovely posts during this month.   I do look forward to checking in with all of you in July.  


Thank you as always for leaving such lovely comments and sharing your time with me.