Sunday, July 30, 2023

Sunday Sightings at Home

Today the heat and humidity was less and I for one am so thankful.  I've mentioned how I love outdoors, so you can imagine where you could find me.  

Grayden and Samuel recently put together this new metal swing.  We've had two wooden lawns swings here in the past and you know what happens to wood outdoors.  Even with yearly maintenence they just didn't last long.  This frame is original to our children's swing set.  I can hardly believe it is over 50 years old, but it is!  This Mama smiles every time I see it.

Grayden saw me on the swing and brought out tea for me and coffee for him.  We both enjoyed swinging here watching the birds in our backyard.

The Mourning Dove is wondering why I haven't filled his watering hole.  I try to change the water every other day to avoid mosquito larvae from forming. 

We often have robins in our garden.  I think of my Mama every time I see them.  She called them Robbie--everyone of them.

Robbie the robin enjoyed a nice dip in his pool.  I try to keep water in all of our bird baths for them to enjoy on the hot days of summer.  Squirrels have been seen taking a drink from time to time as well.

Yesterday I was at the sink in the kitchen and couldn't believe my eyes!  Juvenile Bluebirds!  I quickly got my camera and felt lucky to view them out the window.

I have never seen them here before.

There must have been a nest fairly close by.  

We also saw a lovely butterfly at the Buddleia.  I believe it's a Great Spangled Fritillary. 

Simple times in our garden are really the best of times for me!

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Lisbon, Portugal

After leaving Southampton, England and then two days at sea, the Queen Mary 2 approached the port of Lisbon.  We have never been to Portugal so we were eagerly awaiting the time we would spend here!  If you are reading about our trip you know we are continuing our World Voyage.  I'll be posting about each port and I do hope you will join us on this amazing journey as I recall our time spent traveling to places we have only read about.

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal.  It is the second oldest capital city in Europe with Athens being the oldest.  The port of Lisbon is very busy because of its location between Europe, Africa, and the Atlantic.

When the ship cleared customs, we boarded our tour bus to start our adventure called "Leisurely Lisbon."  We had a very informative tour guide that guided us through her beautiful city.

Right away our guide wanted us to know that Lisbon is Lisboa to her in Portuguese and wanted us to know it as well.  So from now on I'll refer to Lisbon as Lisboa!  

The first area of Lisboa we visited was Belem (Bethlehem).  This is the port from which Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama left as he journeyed around the Cape of Good Hope and then on to India finding a sea route east.  The beautiful Jeronimos Monastery was our first stop. 

Jeronimos Monastery was built in the 1500s.  The monastery was built with funds from profits of the tax of the yearly Portuguese India Armadas.  Da Gama's remains were moved into a tomb in the nave of the church in 1880.

We walked through a lovely park across from the monastery.

The Monument of Discoveries is a tribute to those that left the Tagus River on their way to India and the Orient trying to establish trade routes.  The overhead lines support the extensive tram system that runs through Lisboa.

As we continued with our tour our guide pointed out the lovely square.

People were beginning to gather at the tables to have a noon meal.  The charm of European squares lives on in Lisboa.  The  mosaic patterned tile walkways are everywhere we look.

Our guide mentioned to us that the tiles are the pride of the artisans and the locals of Lisboa.  She reminded us not to walk here in heels though!  I had on my walking shoes and I rarely wear heels.  

This Monument to the Restorers memorializes the victory of the Portuguese Restoration War from 1640-1668.  This resulted in the end of the rule of the House of the Habsburg and the rise of the House of Braganza.

Walking with our guide through the quaint streets of Lisboa we stopped to enjoy a favorite drink of the area, Cherry Brandy.

I must admit that my sweetheart enjoyed this liqueur more than I did.  It's made with the Ginjinha cherry (Ginja) and is a sour cherry and not a sweet one.

After boarding the bus again we took a little ride to Almada, Portugal.  This is a very lovely place that overlooks the Tagus River and is connected to Lisboa by the 25 de Abril Bridge.  The 25th of April was the day the Carnation Revolution overthrew the Salazar regime in 1974.  It is also known as the Tagus River Bridge.

On this foggy afternoon we were still able to take in the sights that surrounded us. Christ the King statue looks over this imposing view of Lisboa.

The Sanctuary of Christ the King was begun in 1949 and completed in 1959. It was patterned after the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

This is our photo taken when we were there in 2020. Though Christ the King statue is similar to Christ the Redeemer there are differences as one can imagine.  You can also see we had a much prettier day in Rio than in Lisboa.

This imposing statue was built in gratitude to God with funds raised by the women of the area because their sons were spared during World War II.  Portugal was a neutral country and did not participate in the war.

I found photographing this statue very difficult, but so meaningful.  

The grounds of the Sanctuary of Christ the King is really in the clouds as you can see with the bridge in the background of Grayden.

As we boarded the bus again for our ride over the bridge we saw Queen Mary 2 waiting for us in the distance.

Viewing Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora Monastery as we boarded the ship left us with a beautiful sight.

This lovely tour of Lisboa made us so happy to visit such an interesting place!  

I'll leave you with this tiled heart of Lisboa.  We will always remember the beauty we experienced.  Thank you for sharing our joy as we remember our World Voyage.



Thursday, July 20, 2023


Spending time outdoors every day plays an important part of my days.  Being a gardener there is always a reason to spend time tending to our plants and shrubs.  Whether it be pruning, weeding or just enjoying the beauty outdoors, it is my happy place.

While we were away through spring, I missed a lot of blooms that appeared this year.  Summer is hot and humid in Virginia so spending time in my garden has to be early morning.  

Grayden and I try to have Afternoon Tea on our patio.  The birds and butterflies join us.  I try to take my camera out with me to capture anything unusual.

Seeing a Monarch butterfly is so thrilling for us!  Do you see them in your garden?  If you plant a Buddleia (butterfly bush) you may find you see many butterflies.

One afternoon we spotted this Zebra Swallowtail.  He has never joined us before.

As you can see he has escaped harm somewhere in his life, but still so nice to see.

Even though I got a really late start at taking care of my garden, it brings me so much pleasure.  Do you find being outdoors for some part of your day is important?


Friday, July 14, 2023

Our World Voyage

 "A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you're fast asleep"

In 2020 my dear sweetheart surprised me with a card inviting me to take a world voyage the following year.  By surprise, I mean surprise in a BIG way!  We both had discussed this world voyage but I never dreamed we would be able to take such a trip, but Grayden assured me that we could and we should!  So we went about securing our reservation to take the Queen Mary 2 world voyage in January of 2021.  Of course, because of the pandemic that had to be cancelled and rescheduled for January of 2022 only to have that cancelled as well.  So on foggy January 3, 2023 we began our long awaited voyage around the world!  Lady Liberty sent us off to dream of the world beyond, while my own my heart could hardly wait to see what lies ahead of us.

The first leg of our voyage sent us from New York harbor across the Atlantic ocean to Southampton, England on board the beautiful Queen Mary 2.   Those of you who have read about our travels know we love this ship.  She is the only ocean liner that sails the world's oceans.  Being the pride and flagship of the Cunard fleet, we began our transatlantic crossing. 

Crossing the Atlantic in January was a little rough.  I use a product called MotionEaze that our son told me about.  It works instantly and does not have side affects such as drowsiness.  It also is all natural.  Captain Aseem Hashmi was at the helm and gave us daily navigational updates at noon.  Grayden and I walked the Promenade when the weather permitted.  Three times around the deck was 1.1 mile.  As I have mentioned before there is so much you can engage in on board.  They offer wonderful Insight programs, Afternoon Tea and an on board gym and library to visit between meals in Britannia or the Kings Court.  You can do as little or as much as you please!  Movies are offered in the evenings or entertainment in the Royal Court Theatre. 

Grayden and I enjoyed many magical moments listening to Akosh play so expertly from beautiful music from The Great American Songbook and many other great pieces in the Queens Room.

 After seven glorious days at sea we reached the shores of England.  As we contemplated what to do in each port, we decided to take a tour of Winchester when we arrived in Southampton.  Winchester is only 14 miles away so our tour bus carried us quickly to the lovely town.

The statue of Alfred the Great by Hamo Thornycroft dominates the skyline as we enter the city.  Alfred the Great was king of the West Saxons from 871 to 886 and king of the Anglo-Saxons from 886 until his death in 899.  

Winchester is a charming old city with old Tudor buildings doting the cobbled streets among quaint shops and ancient history galore.

Christmas lights were still in place during our visit on January 10, 2023.

Don't you love the name of this restaurant?  So clever and I must say original.  After checking it out, I learned it offered Thai food.  Alas, we moved on our way down toward  Winchester Cathedral.

The City Cross or Buttercross as it is known, dates back to the 15th century.  These market crosses dot many English market towns.  The name Buttercross comes from the fact that local produce and dairy products (butter) was sold here.  The Buttercross statue features 12 Virgin Mary pieces and various other saints and other historical figures.

Winchester Cathedral was a highlight of this tour for us.  To think that it has been a house of worship for 900 years or more is astonding.  We walked around the exterior as we had to wait to enter for our timed visit. 

This Gothic cathedral, with Norman transepts and tower, was built in 1079.  The official name is Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and Saint Swithun.  I'll refer to Saint Swithun later if you read on. 


The British honor their fallen like no other country I've visited.  To that we see the poppy wreaths laid in tribute.

A Garden of Rememberance

When our time came to enter this house of worship our hearts were full of awe over the beauty we saw.

For me, entering a cathedral is a spiritual experience.  The sheer magnitude of the building overwhelmes my senses.  Quieting walking about the cathedral our guide directs us to many points of interest.

The fact that this sanctuary has witnessed all the good and the horrors of history is quite evident.

The Great West Window clearly shows the pains of the past.

Most stained glass windows tell a story and this mosiac window is no different and one that is quite telling of the people that survived the 1642 Civil War in Winchester.  During this time the cathedral was partially destroyed inside.  Graves were dug up and the Great West Window was shot through with muskets and anything that could be hurled about it.  Afterwards the citizens of Winchester collected all of the pieces of glass that they could recover and saved it in their homes.  Twenty years later after the monarchy was restored, the local people wanted to restore the cathedral and especially this window.  So they collected all the shards of glass that they had saved and had the window made in place of the one destroyed.  Even though it is a different one it still has great meaning of salvation and resurrection.  Putting back together the broken pieces is certainly a good lesson for life in the gorgeous window.

As you can see above the window is quite colorful and so meaningful to the people of Winchester.

Many other beautiful stained glass windows line the walls of Winchester Cathedral. 

The above window is found right above Jane Austen's place of burial.  

Jane Austen passed away in Winchester on July 18, 1817.  Her beloved writings live on today.  At only 41 years old, she was taken to Winchester to be under the care of doctors until her death.  Modern experts believe she suffered from Addison disease.

Our many photos can't possibly be shared here, but I must share some of the majesty of this magnificent cathedral.

As I mentioned St. Swithun in the beginning of this post, I wonder if you have heard this weather proverb?

St. Swithun's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithun's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mare

Or maybe you've heard this one:

If on St Swithun's day it really pours
You're better off to stay indoors

I had never heard these sayings so it was interesting to learn more about its origins.  St. Swithun was a bishop in Winchester Cathedral in 852-863 when he passed away on July 2nd.  Swithun was given the honor of patron saint more than 100 years after his death.  He was originally buried outside of the church at his request, but was moved inside on July 15.  It is said that it rained that day and continued for 40 subsequent days.  There are many who believe it rained because St. Swihun's request to stay outside was violated.  St. Swithun's Day is celebrated every July 15 in England and in Norway (and formerly in medieval Wales) on July 2nd.


After our visit to the cathedral we walked back to our coach (as the British say) and returned to the Queen Mary 2.  In true St. Swithun style rain began to pour upon us all.  

As the ship began letting go the lines,  Southampton sent us off with beautiful fireworks to celebrate.  Yes, even as it poured!

Thank you for reading this long introduction to our trip.  Stay tuned as I hope to share more as time permits.