Thursday, March 31, 2016

It's spring right?

46 degrees.
Still wearing my heavy jacket.
A chill is in the air.
Doesn't feel like spring.

What's a girl to do? No spring break for us. So....we did the next best thing.

Took a trip to Macy's Flower Show. WOW! I know, right!   A palette of brilliant color.  
Smells overwhelmed me. Think intoxicating, but in a good way!

Daffodils are blooming...
Tulips too!
America the Beautiful is this year's theme.  Did you know the National Parks 100 year anniversary is this year? The colors at the show were pretty spectacular. Here's a cabin as
part of a prop.  Made me want to move right in...
and paddle that canoe!
Yes, I really do have bifocals! No blurred vision here! So thankful to focus on all things happy.
  My senses got kicked into overdrive. What a gift to sniff such lavishness, lay eyes on such radiance, get close to such loveliness,  and then reward my taste buds with a cookie!

It's good to be alive!

Monday, March 28, 2016

THE castle

I've been having withdrawals. I miss the theme song and the dialogue between Granny and Cousin Isobel.

When a friend asked if I wanted to borrow The Secrets of Highclere Castle, I just about pummeled her for the copy!

So many secrets I had not known. Want to learn more about this famous house? Grab a cup of tea and read on.

A real life Lord and Lady live in the house, along with a real life "Carson." Collin is his name. He maintains high standards and is quoted, "once they disappear you can't get them back." If you are lucky enough to see the castle, you may get a peek at Collin. He sometimes works the ticket office during the summer when the estate is open to visitors...all 60,000 of them!

A bit about the house...

The castle is the private home of Lord and Lady Carnarvon. The 8th Earl of Carnarvon is the Lord's official title. He acquired the keys to the castle in 2001.
The writer of Downton Abbey, Juliane Fellowes, is a friend of the family.

Some of the stories we viewed during the show came from real life history. For instance, did you know the house really did become a hospital during WWI? AND operations took place there also?  A woman name Almena made it happen. In 1819, the 5th Earl married her. She was an heiress. Daughter of a banking giant. How lucky for the Earl!  Perhaps it is by her wealth the castle still exists today?  Many majestic homes, like Downton, (okay, in real life it is Highclere but isn't it fun to stay in fiction land?) had to pay high taxes they couldn't  afford.  AND, some also lost their servants to other jobs after the war.  A few of these homes had to be demolished---GASP!

The castle sits 70 miles out of London on 5000 acres. WOW!
It takes a total of $1,000,000 (yep, one million) to run the estate on a YEARLY basis. Double WOW!
20 full time staff today.
37 historic clocks tick around the house.
Remember the stair case? Guess how long it took to carve?
A full year! Ahhhh...the memories...I miss those scenes.

There are 19 fireplaces throughout the house and 386 windows.
Four main stairwells and 356 pieces of a chandelier takes 2 days to clean. thanks! I would leave it dusty!

The estate employs a deer stalker. Yep-they have to keep the herd down and a deer stalker does the job! A gamekeeper roams the grounds too. You couldn't miss him. He's the one dressed in the tweed suit. Blends in with the landscape! A bird is held with its head up all the way to the kitchen when it is "taken." I found this fascinating. Even in its demise, the "head is held up high."

The grounds produce award winning oats for race horses, including the Queen's. That's something to brag about!

Perhaps even more famous than having been the set for Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle will forever be known because of something greater. The 5th Earl will live on  in the history books.
Highclere Castle in England is linked to Egypt!
In 1922, the 5th Earl searched the Valley of the Kings and discovered the famous steps to the tomb of King Tutankhamun! Did you know that? I sure didn't! Triple WOW! Such rich history.

Sadly, 4 months...4 short months...after he discovered the tomb, he died. UGH.
He was sitting on the Nile and got bitten by a mosquito. I knew those pesky disease carrying  gnats were trouble.
Died from septicemia. Interestingly enough, back at the castle, his dog Susie is said to have howled at the very same time and died the instant the Earl did. Is that freaky or what? YIKES!
The Earl is buried on the highest point of the castle grounds.

I love this quote near the end of the program.
"What a lot we learn from those who have gone on before us."

Isn't that the truth.

Got my little fix of "Downton."  I can Carry On for the day!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My daughter

Last night, we were supposed to celebrate her...
My baby girl! She turned 26 this week.

What did you say? I didn't hear you. Could you repeat that?

"You don't look old enough to have a 26 year old."

Ha! Just had to make myself feel good there for a second! Yep--she is my sweet, lovely, 26 year old, grown up daughter.  I will love her forever.

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."

Love you Forever by Robert Munsch

I love to think about the days when I would  snuggle her, just the two of us, rocking back and forth. I would wrap her up tight in her blanket and hold her and smell her! Those were the days when we would read together and play all day long,  just because we could.

I couldn't wait to see her last night. I was so much looking forward to hugging her and enjoy the evening.
INSTEAD, this happened...
STUPID SNOW.  It's spring for pete's sake!  Sheesh!  Everything got cancelled, including our dinner at her favorite German restaurant. RATS!
Took me an hour and a half to get home...UGH!

I had flowers and her gift all set to go...
For now, I'm just thankful she is safe.

I sure delight in her. There is much to be grateful for. She makes life so fun. She is joyful and easy to be around. She doesn't hold grudges and is not into drama.  Lucky me!  She sets goals and usually meets them. This past year she went to Germany. AND, I find out while she was there, she went BY HERSELF on a train for 6 LONG HOURS to go see her beloved Neuschwanstein Castle.  I'm so glad I didn't know that until she returned home safely! Whew!   Good thing she can read a map!

  Kayla knows how to celebrate life and brings great friends along for the ride. My dear friend Yvonne made that cake for her when she graduated from college.  That cake there...the one with the wine glass on top and the Las Vegas theme....Yep...that pretty much defines my Kayla!

She will always be my baby girl. I'm the blessed one.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Review

I found it! A near perfect magazine of anglophile joy!
The cover sucked me in, but the content kept me turning page after page.
Are you an anglophile? Yes? Well, THIS magazine is just for you. A MUST  for all anglophiles-- like me!
I bought it! I had to. It called my name!  Gail, come, buy me.... 

Okay, not exactly, but still. It's SO FUN to go to  my happy place in yet another awesome read.

I didn't get the first issue--BUMMER--there are no more paper copies.  BUT, I did get it in digital form. RUN to their site and check if there are any left!

Some things I learned in this issue:

Isle of Portland is made famous for their Portland Stone. A stone used in building St. Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.
Abbotsbury A village made famous by caring over 600 years for a flock of swans. I'd love to see that. 
 West Bay.  Famous for the filming of Broadchurch.
Taking a picture of a picture on my computer doesn't do it justice, but you get the idea!  The photography in this magazine is stellar. You really won't be sorry!

The Spanish Armada.  
 I am soon going to Spain. I can't wait! I love history. So much we can learn if we took the time to expand our minds.

Did you know there are many 'names' for London? Me either! A few examples below...
LDN-The text abbreviation for London. SIGH... JUST SPELL IT OUT-----L O N D O N!

The iconic Red Phone Booths. Did you know you can buy one? How much? Hmmmmm...I will leave you guessing, but I will say this---it's a lot!

In the back pages of the magazine are photos of  British actors, movie recommendations, books you might like to read, along with some fun British slang.
Do you know what Give you a Bell means? Or, how about Know your onions?

I love stumbling upon good reads.  I can hardly wait for the next issue.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Happy St Patrick's Day

Wearing my shamrock earrings is about as green as I go on this day. No, I don't indulge in McDonald's shamrock shakes, nor do I partake in drinking exuberant amounts of beer---its not a favorite drink no matter what day it is!    
 I was curious as to the hype of this green holiday. I did a bit of research.  Piqued your interest?  Read on...

Saint Patrick-The patron Saint of Ireland was, indeed,  a real person! A 5th century Romano-British christian missionary. (Notice the British part!)  

He died on March 17.  This day celebrates the culture and heritage of the Irish. IRISH--- NOT how much alcohol one can consume.

They say (whoever "they" are....hmmmm) Saint Patrick wrote the Declaration. According to said document, the saint was kidnapped at age 16 and taken as a slave. For 6 years, he was a shepherd and found God. He then fled to the coast and became a priest. Tradition states Patrick went to Ireland to convert many to Christianity.

St Patrick's Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. WOW!

Did you know that Lenten restrictions are lifted for the day? Guess that's why there is so much alcohol consumed ?? A fascinating fact.

What's with the Shamrock?

A shamrock is placed on the bottom of a cup before being filled with a beverage.  A toast is then given  to Saint Patrick, perhaps Ireland, or anyone present.  The shamrock is either swallowed with the drink, OR, taken out of the drink and tossed over your shoulder for good luck.

Legend says the shamrock may represent the Holy Trinity.

Hope you have an enjoyable day celebrating this green, festive holiday celebrating the IRISH heritage.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Treats with a secret history tied to King Henry VIII.

Tea desserts named Maids of Honour .

It seems the King saw Ann Boleyn and her maids eating the yummy delicacies.  He wanted in on the fun. Surprise, surprise!
Being the king he was, he swiped the recipe and hid it under lock and key in a box in Richmond Palace. Legend says he ordered the maid who came up with the recipe to make it only for him!  Such a greedy man!

The recipe remains a deep secret. I can't imagine how good they must be.  Perhaps I will be able to try one soon.

Click to learn more about their fascinating history.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

My son

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

A favorite children's book.

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."

My sweet boy turned 23 yesterday.
He's not a baby anymore. Bummer!

" night time, when that teenager was asleep, the mother opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor and looked up over the side of the bed. If he was really asleep she picked up that great big boy and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth..."

When Mark  was little, I would go and check on him while he slept in his crib. I would pick him up, cradle him in my arms and just hold him and smell him. That is just what a mother does! He just rolls his eyes when I tell him that!
  We were recently at a wedding.  My son and his buddies were there too. What a delight to laugh and dance the night away with them. Hubby and I took to the dance floor while the group watched us "try" to dance to Walk the Moon-Shut Up and Dance. So much fun. We asked Mark if we embarrassed him. His reply, "No. Actually a couple of my friends said they hoped they act like your parents when they are that age." I think that was a compliment...I think....

I delight in my son and daughter. I love being their mama. What a joy to celebrate the gift of their lives. Especially on their birthday.

Monday, March 7, 2016

"Forward into the future"'s over. Golly.

A show that has done this well most certainly has its characters to thank. Oh, no doubt, the setting in England helped,but the characters made the show.
I will miss her the most. Her one line zingers can't be beat. "If reason fails, try force."
Julian Fellows did a marvelous job bringing the show to a close. These two sure have had their spats, but in the end, they joined forces and count each other as good friends. I bet the Dowager was the maid of honor! "It's good to be in love no matter what age."--The Dowager
 Yay for Edith. "The only thing I'm not ready for is a life without you." --That Bertie. He's a real gem.

Anna gives birth in Mary's bed, Barrow becomes butler, Mosley is a teacher, and Daisy falls for Andy.
Like Carson adores Mary, so Barrow will to Master George. And so goes the circle of life.

The curtain closes on a spectacular show.  Did you know the show has been shown in over 200 countries?  That is incredible.
Now to one day see Highclere Castle.  On the bucket list.

I looked up the order of titles. I was curious where Bertie and Edith stood in line. Turns out, they are 4th. Not a bad position. No wonder Mary decided it was in her best interest to be nice to Edith!

Prince and Princess

What will you miss most?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Observations while on holiday

My throat is scratchy,  laundry is piled, my brain is on overload, and I'm in need of sleep.  I've just returned from holiday in Florida. I won't bore you with all I did, but thought you might enjoy a few glimpses.

First observation:  Have you ever wondered if those germ infested tubes ever get sanitized?
  I'm thinking not!  Like, maybe never?  This is the view out my window seat. Eeeeeewww! And, I'm thinking not a single Clorox wipe has  swiped  one of those trays in at least a week--maybe even a month. I wonder what would happen if someone hurled...okay..I'm done!

A cold isn't the only thing I caught. Look at the sunset--MAJESTIC, isn't it...

What a dump, huh?  This is where I got to spend 5 days, holed up with like-minded new friends who love to write even more than I do. A writers retreat by the ocean. Not a bad gig! The only time the TV came on was when a group of us had to watch  the latest episode of Downton Abbey!   My brain is mush from all that I learned. Mostly though, grace abounds. I am grateful for the moments I spent with such kindhearted individuals.  Joy is all around. Just sit back and observe.  It's there. Be awake to see it.
Florida has the best KEY LIME PIE. I inhaled this piece. So good!
Two red flags=NO SWIMMING. Could also be interpreted...we are so NOT in control.  Those waves touched the top of the pier! We never tired of watching as the waves slapped the shore. It was as if  each lap dared us to just try to surf inside its massive space.

It is so good to get away, but like Dorothy would say..."There's No Place Like Home."