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Posts tagged ‘Travel Prep’

A Day With Agatha Christie at Greenway: Getting There

Agatha Christie's Tour Bus, Greenway

Agatha Christie’s Tour Bus, (a 1947 Leyland Tiger PS1/1 single decker with Barnaby bodywork)

Agatha Christie's Tour Bus, Greenway

Agatha Christie’s Tour Bus, Greenway

I am so excited to be visiting Greenway House, the holiday home of Agatha Christie. It is the first private residence of the famous author to be opened to the public. Greenway House is situated on a 278 acre estate on the Dart River in Devon. I will be dividing the posts into several sections since there is so much to talk about and it is all so very interesting! Now let’s get on the tour bus, so to speak!

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born September 15, 1890 into a wealthy, upper middle-class family in Ashfield, Torquay, Devon. Agatha described her childhood as “very happy”, but that her childhood was over when her father died when she was eleven. She was surrounded by strong and independent women, (her mother and her grandmother especially) believing her mother was a psychic with the ability of second sight. She described her grandmother and her cronies as “always expecting the worst of everyone and everything, and were, with almost frightening accuracy, usually proved right.” Her mother insisted that Agatha be educated at home, so her parents were responsible for teaching her to read (which she loved) and write, and basic arithmetic, which she also enjoyed. In 1905 she was sent to Paris to further her education, but returned in 1910 when her mother was ill. They decided to go to Egypt, (a popular tourist destination for wealthy Brits at that time) to spend time in a warmer climate, and stayed three months at the Gezirah Palace Hotel, attending social functions with her mother. They were on the prowl for a husband for Agatha! 

Upon return to England Agatha met Archibald Christie at a dance given by Lord and Lady Clifford at Ugbrooke, near Torquay. Archie was born in India, the son of a judge in the Indian Civil Service. By 1913 he was an army officer in the Royal Flying Corps. The couple married on Christmas Eve in 1914, while Archie was home on leave.

Agatha involved herself in the war effort, joining the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) in 1914, and assisted with wounded soldiers at a hospital in Torquay as an unpaid VAD nurse. She was responsible for aiding the doctors and maintaining morale; she performed 3,400 hours of unpaid work between October 1914 and December 1916. She qualified as an “apothecaries’ assistant” (or dispenser) in 1917 and, as a dispenser, she earned £16 a year until the end of her service in September 1918. In her spare time she wrote.

She was initially unsuccessful at getting her work published, but in 1920 The Bodley Head press published her novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring the character of Hercule Poirot. This launched her literary career.

Agatha Christie created several series’ characters during her writing career, but her best known was Hercule Poirot. Christie, was a fan of detective novels, having enjoyed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s early Sherlock Holmes stories. In her detective novel, Poirot was a former Belgian policeman noted for his twirly large magnificent moustaches and egg-shaped head. Christie’s inspiration for this stemmed from real Belgian refugees who were living in Torquay. He appeared in 33 novels, one theatrical play, and more than 50 short stories He first appeared in The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) and last appeared in Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case (1975) which famously features his death. While her fans loved Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie herself was increasingly fed up with her creation. Late in her career, she described him as “an egocentric creep.”

In 1926, Archie Christie wanted to marry his mistress, Nancy Neele, and asked Agatha for a divorce. Agatha, totally overwrought, left her home and then abandoned her car at a chalk quarry, before disappearing for ten days. There has been a lot of speculation as to what exactly went on during this time. It has been suggested that Agatha disappeared to embarrass her husband, and call him out on the divorce, (mistress and all) or that it had possibly been a publicity stunt to promote her next book. However, when she was found at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate having registered under a false name, two doctors diagnosed her as suffering from amnesia and a depressed state from literary overwork, her mother’s death earlier that year and her husband’s infidelity. Agatha never spoke of the incident again.

A quote from Agatha; “I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”

Life goes on………. and Miss (Jane) Marple was introduced in the short stories called The Thirteen Problems in 1927 and was based on Christie’s grandmother and her cronies.

In 1930 Agatha married Sir Max Mallowen, (14 years her junior) having met him during an archaeological dig. Her travels with him contributed backgrounds for several of her novels set in the Middle East.

Agatha Quote; An archaelogist is the best husband a women can have. The older she gets the more interested he is in her.

In 1938, Agatha Christie, now independently wealthy from her writing, returned to Torbay and purchased a Georgian Manor, named Greenway. Greenway would be the setting for several of her books.

She also wrote six romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best known for the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections that she wrote under her own name, most of which revolve around the investigative work of such characters as Hercule Poirot, and Jane Marple.

Agatha Quote; I specialize in murders of quiet, domestic interest.

She returned to Greenway again and again in her fiction, setting many of her classic murder mysteries at the beach, cove and island. Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple both ventured to Torbay to solve heinous crimes. While Greenway was never Agatha’s primary residence, it was for a generation the family holiday retreat—where the family gathered for Christmas and Easter, and where she spent her summers. In 1950 Christie turned the house over to her daughter Rosalind Christie Hicks and in 2000 Greenway was transferred to The National Trust. Today, Greenway is restored and furnished as Christie and Max Mallowen would have known it in the 1950s.

 

Christie Mysteries Set Locally

  • Peril at End House
  • Sleeping Murder
  • The ABC Murders
  • The Body in the Library
  • And Then There Were None
  • Evil Under the Sun
  • Dead Man’s Folly
The Ferry Stop at Greenway

The Ferry Stop at Greenway

Greenway is not easy to get to. The preferred and recommended method of arrival is by boat—passenger ferry from Torbay, Dartmouth, or across the river from Dittisham. Any way you arrive at the quay, it is a 400-yard climb up hill to the house and gardens. This is not a trip for those with limited mobility.

The Lane to Greenway, Devon, UK

The Lane to Greenway, Devon, UK

Now that we have had a little background on Agatha let’s continue to make our way to Greenway! Take a good look at that narrow country lane! It is the Green Way, aptly named!  Arriving by car and getting closer to our destination, we first meandered through a neighborhood of Galmpton and then came upon this mile or so of narrow lane to Greenway. See that little extra pavement to the right in the photo? That is how much room you have to pull over if another car or bus approaches! Add to that the idiots that do not read the details of visiting Greenway. You MUST reserve a parking space that is available in 3 hour increments at Greenway House. If you don’t have a permit, pre- arranged, you will be turning your car around and heading home! Now some think it is OK to just park your car in this tiny strip and walk on to Greenway! Now how do the cars pull over when another car approaches???? This is an adventure all in itself. Once you reach the parking lot there is another extended hike up to the house. Golf carts are available to pick you up, but you must register for assistance and the wait can be lengthy as there are over 900 visitors a day.

But, we got here, Leon (the car) was all in one piece and I had my reservation to park, so what’s another walk? The house itself is surrounded by walled gardens, orchards and woodland gardens, so the walk was pleasant.

The Walled Gardens of Greenway

The Walled Gardens of Greenway

Navelwort in Walled Garden at Greenway

Navelwort in Walled Garden at Greenway

The stables and other out buildings have been converted to a gift shop and an eatery, so you can stop and enjoy this area before going on up to the house. What a beautiful view of the river and grounds from the front of the house!

A View of the River Dart at Greenway

A View of the River Dart at Greenway

A View of the River Dart at Greenway

A View of the River Dart at Greenway

There are lawn chairs to sit and enjoy this view either before or after visiting the house.

The Lawn Chairs at Greenway

The Lawn Chairs at Greenway

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie at Greenway

Agatha Christie at Greenway

Let’s go in! See you tomorrow!

Getting from Point A to Point B; Don’t Forget the a’s, b’s and little c’s!

Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

What an Inviting Entryway and Checkout the Flowers!

What an Inviting Entryway and Check Out the Flowers!

To get from Point A to Point B is more fun if you have shorter driving times and lots of smaller a’s, b’s and c’s along the route. After all we are on vacation! When you have been up all night, or at least not sleeping well on an international flight, it is easier to have small stops to look forward to rather than a long jaunt across the countryside in unfamiliar territory! So, those were the conditions I set for my “2016 English Garden Tour” starting at Heathrow Airport and beginning the “Official” part of the tour in Cornwall. But, I made a few stops along the way and they turned out to be lovely! As you have read in previous blog posts we stopped at two National Trust properties on the journey to Cornwall, Stourhead and Tintinhull. Oh, and we drove past Stonehenge, so we can say we’ve seen that too! And then we planned to stop for the night in Yeovil, and stay at the Ash Manor House. What a delightful stay between Point A and Point B! It was easy to find, there was plenty of parking on the premises, it was spotless and there is a restaurant on site! So if you are making your way to Cornwall this also may be a good option for you! Let’s see some photos!

The Lobby Area at Ash House Manor, Yeovil, UK

The Lobby Area at Ash House Manor, Yeovil, UK

The Lady of the Manor House in Her Time! I Wouldn't Mess With Her!

The Lady of the Manor House in Her Time! I Wouldn’t Mess With Her!

Notice looking at the “now” pictures of the house and the “original” picture, that the ivy has been removed from the house. I liked the ivy look better, but that’s just me! The ivy softens the stones and gives it a romantic cottage-y look!

Up the Stairs We Go!

Up the Stairs We Go!

A Beautiful Transomed Doorway at the Top of the Landing

A Beautiful Transomed Doorway at the Top of the Landing

Aww To Drop Into Bed!

Ahh, To Drop Into Bed!

A Quick Peek at LEON

A Quick Peek at LEON and the Village

From Heathrow to Ash Manor House I was trying to adjust to a rental car called LEON. Leon is a diesel engine vehicle that turns off whenever the brake is on for any period of time to save gas.  It is like they do in Nascar to save gas when they think they will not make it until the end of the race and try to conserve fuel. The only difference is Leon does it automatically and it is sooooo scary! I was always concerned it wouldn’t start up again just as we got to the tricky round about or stuck in heavy traffic and then needed to go! Just one more thing to add to the adventure! Who would name a car LEON anyway? I learned one more thing early on in my adventure; never let them stick me wth a LEON at the car rental! Maybe I just need a relaxing drink and something to eat! So let’s go to the bar!

The Bar at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

The Bar at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

The Dining Room at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

The Dining Room at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

My Yummy Evening Meal at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

My Yummy Evening Meal at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

And Then Dessert! The Frog is a Cinnamon Dip!

And Then Dessert! The Frog is a Cinnamon Dip!

And then the next morning, a scrumptious breakfast in the Morning Room overlooking the back garden.

The Morning Room at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

The Morning Room at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

The Back Garden at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

The Back Garden at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

If you are traveling from London to Cornwall you might consider a rest stop at Ash Manor House. All my boxes for the perfect stay were ticked off!

Well, it’s a brand new day and we are off to another National Trust Property! See you next time at Greenway, home of Agatha Christie! I can hardly wait!

 

Some Things Are Never Easy!

The Dreaded Airport!

The Dreaded Airport!

I’m back from vacation!

As one gets older things are not so easy! I put this post under the Travel Tips category, but maybe it would be better under Travel Warning!

My observations:

The long term parking lot gets farther and farther away from the airport. At our airport the only solution was to walk from the new LONG TERM lot to the departure Terminal!  A good 30 minutes and pulling/carrying luggage to boot! Are you kidding me?

There is a great deal of distance to walk in the airports now to get on or get off a plane! You know you are in trouble when the signs are posted to let you know how much time is needed to get from A to B! 20 minutes? Are you kidding me?

At the Departure Gate, a good hour is spent notifying passengers to MAKE SURE their wheeled carry-on luggage fits in the bin used to measure said luggage. No one pays any attention to said notifications, but the passengers begin to eye up everyone’s carry-on luggage. When the announcement to board plane is made the boarding attendant personally asks, as she takes your boarding pass, that each passenger place their carry-on luggage in measuring bin to see that indeed your carry-on is the proper size. Most fail, and passengers get to leave their luggage, to be properly stored in the baggage section on the plane. Results: Over 1 1/2hours to board plane and plane is an hour late taking off!  Check YOUR Baggage in the first place!

The seats on airplanes are getting smaller and smaller and I sit in business class!

After arrival at destination, to get to the Car Rental Station, one does the required 20 minutes from Landing station to terminal, including 3 sets of escalators, and more walking to wait in line at Passport Control. Following Passport Control, you are off to claim baggage in another section of the terminal. From there you exit the terminal, walk over the sky bridge to another building and take a set of elevators to the ground floor and a large bus terminal. Now you wait in the proper bus line that it took you 20 minutes to figure out, because there are lots of buses going everywhere and you must wait on a particular brand of Car Rental Bus that finally picks you up and takes you to the hinterland where the said Car Rental Station is. At the Car Rental facility there is another line and although you have pre-booked everything there still is a line and finally after a thorough car examination, by the attendant, you can escape the airport. Now the fun begins because you are driving on the opposite side of the road and on the opposite side of the car than you are used to! There is always an adjustment period, and lots of driving reminders from your better half!  There, now didn’t I make that sound more civil than it actually was?  But, who cares you are out of the Airport!

Moving on…………………now to return home.

On final arrival at destination, at the end of the trip, new adventures await. There are now new computer kiosks to check your passport, take your picture, and get your fingerprints. This all has been added since you departed the same airport three weeks prior. You still get to talk to the agent, who asks if you have any food with you, or plants before he welcomes you back to the US.

Waiting at the baggage claim, you wait and wait and wait, because this time your plane arrived early and it seems every other plane has arrived at the same time too. TWO hours later you have your luggage, (this is the reason no one wants to check their bags) as you watch the Customs Line get longer and longer and six lines deep. Once in line with the throng of other people, the beagle sniffing drug dog is the only thing one finds remotely amusing! Who knew they used little beagles for this job? When you finally get to Customs (after another 1 1/2 hour wait) I am again asked about any food or plants and after 2 seconds of questioning I am allowed to pass. I want to Run out of that airport Screaming, but I don’t. There is probably another line for that!

Believe me when I say ONE NEEDS a Vacation from the Vacation upon return! My front porch may be my next vacation spot!

PS OK, My ranting is over! I did have a lovely time in England doing my annual garden tour. As always, there were some setbacks and some new unplanned adventures. Read all about it in future posts, now that I have re-couped from the air travel! Have you had similar experiences? I have traveled to Europe at least once a year for over 15 years and I have never experienced “Airport Situations” as this years! And I get to experience it again in September!

PSS…….If one is looking for gainful, steady employment I think the drivers of the small shuttles that Beep, Beep, Beep along while taking passengers from one spot to another, may be a good prospect with job security to boot! I can’t see the “Airport Situation” getting any better any time soon! There, all is off my chest!

 

Great Expectations

 

A Young Daphne du Maurier

A Young Daphne du Maurier

No this is not about the Charles Dicken’s classic novel. It’a about how I always have such “Great Expectations” before I set off on a new adventure (vacation)!

My new adventure is Cornwall in the United Kingdom and I am really looking forward to it. So I have been doing some research (as always) and this time was led to books by Daphne du Maurier, an English novelist who wrote between 1931 and 1989. She was born in Cornwall in 1907 and died in Cornwall in 1989. So I think she would know about Cornwall! Three of her books were written specifically about life in Cornwall; Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, and Frenchman’s Creek. So I ordered a book from the UK that contained all three books. It was published in 1939 and the book itself was a treasure. The binding was like new, so someone cherished this book. There was that musty smell that old books have, with the pages yellowed on the edges. I felt the book had just left the library of Miss Jane Marple’s cottage in St Mary Mead! I have a good imagination, don’t I? Agatha Christie is another author I enjoy! Imagine my surprise to find out that the sweet looking, Daphne du Maurier, who wrote these fantastic romantic novels, also wrote The Birds, which was made into an equally famous movie by Alfred Hitchcock!

I read all three novels (they were romance) and I did get a good perspective of the sea, coves, bogs, moors, smugglers and inns in Cornwall. I got a good idea of the Cornish people as well; very sturdy those folks! So now in my mind I have “Great Expectations” for Cornwall. I googled Jamaica Inn with the plan of going there, since it still is a working inn. The reviews, however, were very dismal. The location is off a very busy road (as it was in the old days) but the Inn is more like a rest stop on a toll road. Very touristy. It did not meet my expectations, so rather than ruin my dream I’ll think of Jamaica Inn as written in the book.

Another book I read before my vacation was The Lost Gardens of Heligan by Tim Smit. Wow, this garden has been in Cornwall since the 1600’s and there is quite a story here! Heligan is on my “List of Gardens” to see during my Second UK Garden Tour. I won’t spoil it for you, but I must say, I think it will be the first garden I’ve ever visited that had an exorcism by a priest in the 20th century! Now that should interest you, it did me!

One of The Lost Garden of Heligan Sculptures

One of The Lost Garden of Heligan Sculptures

I was also inspired by all the documentaries, mysteries, and great TV programs to be found on the Acorn App (all British TV) that is streamed to my TV! I hardly watch anything else now! No sex, no violence, no filthy language here! How refreshing! I especially like all the Agatha Christie, Miss Marple series, with my favorite Miss Marple being Geraldine McEwan, who was the sleuth from 2004 to 2009. What a darling old lady she was! I am glad I got to peek into her cottage at St Mary Mead (on TV) because I know I will see small villages that are very similar on my Garden Tour and I just know my book came from one of those cottages! Hopefully, I’ve offered some inspiration for your pre-travels, it’s good to know something about the place you’re visiting, so you get a feel of it before you arrive! Great Expectations To You!

Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple

Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple

 

 

 

AnyList: A Must for Planners!

Make a List

Make a List

I am a list maker! And an itinerary maker, a book reader, a blogger, a plan maker, and oh yeah, a grocery shopper! So I am always looking for a better way to keep it all together! And I want it on my IPhone, my IPad and my computer, simultaneously. And all in one place!

This week I have been experimenting with the App ANYLIST and I love it!

Here are the reasons why:

I can quickly create any Organized Custom List I want and find it on my IPhone, my IPad and my Computer in one place. I can make Folders and keep lists in each folder. For example; I have a “Travel Folder” and in it I have a “Travel To Do List”, a “Packing List,” and an “Itinerary List,” to name a few. I also have a custom “Book Folder” with lists in it, and a “Blog Folder” with lists. All kinds of Lists and each in it’s own Folder! I can mark items off the Lists one by one or create a “Favorites List” to save items for the next time I travel and I won’t have to make each List over again. I can just add new items to the custom “Favorite List.”

I can share my lists with friends or family or mark them private.

It makes a FABULOUS Grocery List! It automatically puts your items in a grocery category and you can customize the categories to the Layout of your grocery store and how you shop there! For example; if you go down the vegetable and fruit aisle first at Kroger, the fruits and vegetables would be first on your list at that store. Do you shop for different items at different stores? Do you shop for bulk items or at vegetable stands? You can customize your grocery items to different stores or locations.

If your husband is like mine and wanders a different way in the store, the list can be set up for him with his shopping pattern!

You can import recipes from the web or write your own and save the ingredients to your List. It also saves the actual recipe and instructions too, and shows which item goes with what recipe. And puts the Recipes in categories too, like,” Main Dishes, “Breads,” “Pasta,” whatever category you want them in.

You can take a picture of an item, if you want a specific brand of anything. This is good too if your husband is shopping for you, as he will most likely come home with the only product you didn’t want, or buy several different kinds of something because he had no idea what you wanted! I know this from experience ladies!  You can also add a note to the Grocery item, such as to remind yourself you have a coupon.

You can add anything to any List by Voice by using Siri! I Love this, I don’t even have to open AnyList to add something!

Location Reminders alert you when you go by your Grocery Store, etc. that you have items on a List for there. So you won’t get home and say, “I drove right by the grocery store, or CVS, or the cleaners, and forgot I needed some things!” Your Lists can be categorized to your local store, how cool is that?

So, if you are a List Maker like me or an Organizer, this is the App For YOU! Enjoy!

PS…… I needed some help with one of the instructions and a real person answered my email promptly. Another great thing. And they send out new messages periodically to review a feature of the App, so you will get full use of it! Absolutely LOVE IT!

PSS… I am posting this under my Tuesday Travel Tips even though it is not Tuesday. I have too many tips to post and not enough Tuesdays right now.

 

 

 

Before you Go on Vacation You Might Want to TEP!

Let's TEP!

Let’s TEP!

Where are my emails? What info did I have in my Itinerary? How can I send a post and a picture to my family? How do I see all the maps I downloaded? How do I call my vacation host? What’s the weather for today? I need my Wi-Fi!!!

Does this sound like you when on vacation?

It’s that time of year again when I’m off for a vacation and absolutely DREAD turning on my International Service on my phone! The roaming rates are sky high to begin with and I am at the mercy of internet service at my place of lodging! We do not EVER use the free Wi-Fi services offered at coffee shops or other places. They are not SECURE!

So this year we are using TEP, a portable Wi-Fi, for Smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Why are we going this route?

Here are the benefits:

  1. It is a small hand held device that provides internet access with your own Wi-Fi network and your own personal password. It will fit in my husband’s pocket or my small purse!
  2. It will connect up to 5 devices at the same time, in every country that I would ever think of going to! Even on a cruise ship!
  3. It has 8 hours of battery life with a 20 hour standby time. It comes with a battery charger too.
  4. There are no set up or cables required.
  5. There is no Data limits or caps.
  6. You can rent the device or buy it. (We travel a lot so we bought one, the fees are lower per day and you are only charged for the days you use it. If you rent one it is mailed to you and then you are charged a flat fee for every day it is in your possession, whether you use it or not and we didn’t want to have the hassle of sending it back every time)
  7. There are no ROAMING FEES!
  8. 24/7 customer support. Get in touch via phone, email, chat, or social media!
  9. 100% No BS money-back guarantee, guaranteed.
  10. The reviews were fabulous!

This is going to be one less headache when traveling! And with the money saved I can buy another plane ticket for a vacation! Yipee!

PS I am posting this under my Tuesday Travel Tips even though it is not Tuesday. I have too many tips to post and not enough Tuesdays right now.

 

 

JustPark: How To Find a Parking Space ANYWHERE in the UK!

My Abarth, Zoom, Zoom!

My Abarth, Zoom, Zoom!

Time for the annual Garden Trip to the UK! YEAH! For Americans there is the thrill of driving on the wrong side of the street with the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car! Now if that is not enough to say you are having fun then let’s add looking for a parking space in a village with unknown, very narrow streets where you pull in the side mirrors to keep from hitting the cars that are double parked on the only main street. And these are the villages that have only one main road!

Last year, after driving from Heathrow Airport to Tenterden, we thought we were well into the feel of the wheel so to speak. The hardest part is pulling out onto the road, we tend to forget and go back to our old ways on the wrong side. It’s good to have another person with you to remind you, “You are on the wrong side dear,” or more like, “What the hell are you doing? You’re on the wrong side!’

When we arrived in Tenterden we immediately began our quest for a parking lot. We wanted to go to the grocery store and have a look around town before we went to the B&B. We pulled into a lot and a spot after waiting for someone to pull out. It was a very busy lot to say the least, but we were so glad we had even found a parking lot! We got out of the car and noticed quite a few people were sitting in their car. Well that was good because we couldn’t figure out how to pay the meter. There was only one at the end of the lot. A very nice man came to our aid and said we had to put in the number of our license plate to correspond with the number marked on the pavement of our spot in the lot. Back to the car to get all the proper information. Then back to the parking meter and after having to get the correct change made from quite a few of the car sitters, we were making quite an impression. Then I noticed a very sick looking woman walking with crutches from across the street to the car park. As I looked up I saw the sign, “Surgery Parking.” It was what we call, the doctor’s office parking lot. OMG! So we went and moved the car. We drove down the street a little further and found the entrance to the grocery store parking lot. Imagine our amazement that you pay to park here as well! But at least we knew how to pay the meter and after again getting change from some more of our new car friends, we were able to get out and about. Now picture this scene, to some extent, in every town we visited. At least after that first day we always tried to keep a lot of change with us!

This year I found the App, JustPark, an app for parking in the UK. I tried it out to see if it would actually work in some of the places I was going. It did. Just put in location. The map pops up with the location of the lot. Then pick a lot, if there is more than one. Sometimes in really small places there is no lot, you may be parking in a private drive close to your location. It also shows how far you are from particular sights or events. Good to know! A virtual camera shows you the actual parking space. It asks you what day you want to park there and for how long, and you can extend it without returning to the lot to put more money in a meter, so no parking tickets either! The App shows you the fee to park there. Because I have put my credit card info into the app, at home on a secure computer, my spot is paid for when I get there. The map screen shows me exactly how to get to the lot! I hope this works as well as I want it to! It will make my day so much easier! Check out JustPark.com! Oh and how do I always have wi-fi everywhere abroad? Without the roaming fees that drive me crazy? See my next post on TEP!

PS I am posting this under my Tuesday Travel Tips even though it is not Tuesday. I have too many tips to post and not enough Tuesdays right now. And no I am not taking my Abarth!

 

 

Color Your World: 120 Days of Color; Scarlet

 

My Scarlet Shoes

My Scarlet Shoes

It’s Spring and time to think about new shoes!

I think every woman should own at least one pair of Scarlet shoes, don’t you? Nothing perks you up and makes you feel sexy than Scarlet shoes! Scarlet shoes can make even the plainest/dullest outfits come alive! I love my Scarlet shoes! I love all these shoes, especially, because they are good for traveling!

Multi Colored Dress Up Shoe

Multi Colored Dress Up Shoe

 

Go With Everything Casual Shoe

Go With Everything Casual Shoe

They are stylish, lightweight, versatile, and support your foot with those elastic, stretchy bands. If they get dirty (no way), but if they do, you throw them in the washing machine! Voila good as new!  Who knew they could make such a practical and stylish shoe? As you see I have different styles and colors for every adventure. There are oodles to select from! I buy them at the Charleston Shoe Company, in Charleston, South Carolina. You can order them online too, take a peek!

PS I don’t have nail fungus! It looks like I do, if you look close up at my feet in these pictures! I painted my toes a funky green for Easter! SB told me to Never use that color again! OK, OK, an experiment that did not work!

Scarlet was the name given to Torch Red in the 1998 Crayola Collection. It is also known as Shag Carpet Orange in the “Retro Colors” set. It is Chili Pepper Red, and the color for New Mexico in the “State Crayon Collection.”

This post is just one of many in the Color Your World: 120 Days of Crayola Challenge! 

Check out some of the other 150+ challenge participants, it’s amazing what we have done with the Crayola colors!

 

 

Where Do We Stay and How Do We Get There?

Bulleign Barn

Bulleign Barn

The Bulleign Barn

The Bulleign Barn

The Road to Bulleign Barn

The Road to Bulleign Barn

As I stated in my previous post I like to research my vacation before I hit the road.  I know, I know, a lot of you like to just “wing it,” but I would rather know all about places of interest, restaurants, and villages that I am am really interested in and then add to that, if something exciting turns up.  For this trip, I was glad I started early and took the time to look-up the gardens I was keenly interested in, on the National Garden Scheme, (NGS) so I could co-ordinate going from one garden to the next, (since our plan was to see several a day)  I  also needed to know how much time it would take to get from one to another, and where we would want to eat between gardens.  Although the gardens on the NGS are open on the weekends, for the most part, some had specific times they were open. We would have been quite dismayed to have arrived at a garden only to have to wait to get in. So when I had the gardens lined up I looked for a local pub close to the gardens we would be touring.  This was when I realized most pubs are open from 12pm-2pm for lunch and then re-open for dinner, usually 6pm-9pm. So I had to make sure we were at a certain place on schedule.

The first thing I learned was that there were GPS co-ordinates listed, for all the gardens in the NGS and all the historic National Trust estates, in their books. This would make the driving so much easier, in theory. But to be on safe side, I printed out maps and directions from garden to garden, to also have with me. As you can see from my work sheets, I made lots of notes. I also printed out the pub or special interest I wanted to see near every garden. I put all my notes, maps, and directions in plastic sleeves and then when I was ready for a particular day I just pulled out the necessary pages to carry along in the car. SB took a look at all my notes and quickly put together a spread sheet for me, so we knew where we WANTED to be everyday at least!

The Detailed Itinerary, Research, Research, Research

The Detailed Itinerary, Research, Research, Research

Now for reality. As Americans driving in the UK, it takes us at least three days to get used to, what is for us, a steering wheel on the wrong side of the car and driving on the wrong side of the road. We knew what to expect in that area. What we didn’t expect was   that once off the M25 we would be on a village road that got smaller and smaller as we got closer to our destination. These were roads meant for horse and buggy and then pony and trap, but were now meant for a two-car highway.  We were rear view mirror to rear view mirror! When we came to a village, the road narrowed even further in front of the stores, where the cars would be parked higgly-piggly in front of them. (I wouldn’t exactly call it parking)  Cars were just pulled up at any angle, as long as the car would fit in (or not), and the car abandoned.  Now this makes the road even smaller and one must wait your turn to go around and sometimes the car coming towards you is in a very big hurry so you have to creep past all the cars, zigging in and out at a crawl.  SB’s habit as we came to a village, was to roll down the window and pull in the rear view mirror saying, “Do you know how close you are to that car?” My reply every time, “I didn’t hit it did I?” This is not the best of ways to start a vacation meant for relaxation, but after three days I could move along with the best of them. I am a terrible navigator, even with a map, so it is best that I drive and SB keep me on the correct side of the road and upon entering a traffic circle tell me which turn-off is the one I want, because I would be just carousing that circle in total chaos.

Also, using the GPS in the car, as it was originally set up, to get from Point A to B in the fastest time, did not prove to be helpful. The GPS, in order to save a mile or two, would take us off the main road and into a tiny lane (and I mean tiny lane) to get to our destination. Now I can truly say I saw some lovely cottages and gardens, that were not on any of my maps, in extremely small clusters of village life, that I am sure the average American tourist does not get to see. I am ABSOLUTELY sure I am the only American who knows that the Swim Club in Sevenoaks is reached by going off the main road onto a 180 degree turn, after you have gone through a section of newly landscaped cottages found on the opposite side of the road to the one I was looking for, then up a steep hill into what had to be the Sherwood Forest, on a road that got narrower and narrower as we came to our supposed destination, Knole. Arriving at the back entrance, I think, where no one could get in, yes the GPS got us there, kind of. It was Knole, but not the proper entrance. But hey, like I said, I know now where the Swim Club is, the drive was nice and shady, it only added a half hour to our trip time, and I AM ON VACATION RIGHT? We did that on a lot of days to various destinations. You just have to go with the flow! We reverted to looking at my printed maps for extra guidance.

After much grumbling, and some hysteria about my driving, we arrived at our first destination near Tenterden. I have to say, also, that we had planned to stop at a local vineyard on the way, but under the circumstances that didn’t seem prudent, as I don’t think SB’s heart could have taken it, so we saved that for another day.

Main Home Section of Bulleign Barn

Main Home Section of Bulleign Barn

The Back Side of Bulleign Barn

The Back Side of Bulleign Barn

Bulleign Barn, a find on Air B&B, was perfect after our harried day. Turning off onto a narrow one-lane graveled road we poked along for a mile or so following the canal to one side and the rabbit warrens on the other. The lodging, near the hub of Tenterden, (a large village compared to others we had been through that day) was clustered in old hop fields, at one time belonging to the Boleyn family. The long black barns were used for storing the hops. Our Air B&B accommodation was one of the long barns converted into a home with several bedrooms off the main section of the home. Our room was very spacious and modern with WI-FI, located on the main floor, with a private entrance, and set in a small walled courtyard near the old stone horse pool. There was a fridge for our trips to the vineyards too.

Our Room at Bulleign Barn

Our Room at Bulleign Barn

Our Room at Bulleign Barn

Our Room at Bulleign Barn

Our Room at Bulleign Barn

Our Room at Bulleign Barn

Every morning we were served a delicious breakfast of fresh yogurts, fruits, home made jams, along with croissants and specialty breads, warm from the oven. The outdoor table was set to our time-table and it was nice to talk to the other guests, and watch the playful dogs, chickens and a duck named Jemima.

Jemima

Jemima

Breakfast Every Morning!

Breakfast Every Morning!

AirB&B, Bulleign Barn, near Tenterden

AirB&B, Bulleign Barn, near Tenterden

There was also a family of white barn owls, who nested in the eaves, and one morning we got to meet a baby owl, which had fallen from the nest overnight. Our hostess skillfully set about to replace the fallen chick.

Baby White Owl

Baby White Owl

It was so nice to have found this country accommodation and start our day in such a relaxing way before we set off on our daily adventures to the gardens. We looked over the listings for quite some time, since there were so many varied spots to choose from.  If you haven’t thought of using Air B&B you should give it a try. We had choices of garden sheds, gypsy wagons, tents, rooms in big estates homes, or entire homes in both rural and city settings.  It’s just fun to see all the offers available out there and we have never been disappointed with a listing we have stayed in. To top that off it is much less expensive and if you like true interaction with your host and other guests, Air B&B will be for you. See you in the garden tomorrow!

PS

Before leaving on our Tour of the Gardens, in the spirit of things, I decided to name my little house, The End Cottage.  Every proper cottage in England has a name, most likely used prior to streets and house numbers, so why shouldn’t our place have a name I say? The Star was placed in my yard because I was selected for the Garden of the Month by my neighbors! Thanks !!!!!!

The End Cottage

The End Cottage

An Adventure in Gardens, the Weald of Kent

A Garden in Kent UK

A Garden in Kent UK

Of all the delectable islands, the Neverland is the snuggest & most compact…… not large and sprawling, you know, with tedious distance between one adventure & another, but nicely crammed. 

J. M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan.

The Yellow Flowers

The Yellow Flowers

When it comes to gardens I like nothing better than to stroll, admire the collections of beautiful flowers, and imagine the inhabitants of the house and how they like to garden. I especially like the messy, scattered garden with vines dripping over the garden gate, and paths that invite you to explore. It’s even better if there is a flower box of riotous color haphazardly framing the window ledges of the small cottage, nestled in the garden, as if just plunked in, as an after thought. Pieces of art and sculpture placed in a specific spot draw your eye and add to the charm of the garden. I have just returned from several weeks in the United Kingdom, specifically in Kent and Sussex, traipsing through local gardens and visiting magnificent estate homes with acres and acres of gardens. Whew!  We lodged in a barn in the middle of the weald, down a mile-long gravel road, wide enough for one car at a time, passing by the field of rabbit warrens and watching for the hop of a bunny on our daily treks into the countryside.

Planning our adventure was one of the fun “bits.” I love the “planning” part! Where to go, what to see? One thing leads to another. First, I looked for places I knew would be of interest. What about the Chelsea Flower Show? No, too crowded and I wanted more rural. Hever Castle during Rose Week? Closer, but not quite right. Then I read a wonderful book, called A Fine Romance, by Susan Branch. It’s about falling in love with the English countryside and her adventures when visiting England.

A Fine Romance

A Fine Romance

I loved it and the more I read the more I was drawn to Kent  and the village of Tenterden. So, I set out to learn all about Kent and especially Tenterden. I also learned more about the National Trust.  The National Trust, since 1895, has been preserving the countryside and hundreds of historic properties in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. I first heard of it when reading all about Beatrix Potter and her home in the Lake District, which was left to the National Trust. The properties restored include huge estates to the small and quirky. Just right up my alley. So our first priority was to join the National Trust, (it’s called the “Royal Oak Society “ in the U.S ) which allowed us to receive a handbook with maps of all the places to visit with the National Trust and a pass to get in all of them for a year and a pass for parking at the different locations.

National Trust Book

National Trust Book 2015

What a must this is!  You don’t realize all the places available to visit until to see them on the maps! So that was a reference point to start with. Where could we set up our “base camp” closest to the sites we wanted to see? Well it still remained Tenterden for us. Then I heard about the National Garden Scheme. What in the world was that? Had to research it before final decisions were made!

The National Garden Scheme was founded in 1927 to open “gardens of quality, character and interest to the public for charity.”  Originally the admission fees raised money for district nurses. This was changed in 1948 with the formation of the National Health Service. The National Gardens Scheme has given more than 43 million pounds to nursing and care facilities since the time it opened. Since I am a retired RN this was near and dear to my heart.  These are “local” gardeners and their gardens. No big estates, (but some seemed to me like they were!) One woman I was chatting with on our walk through a local garden invited me to her garden, as well, which was not on the list, but exclaimed, “it’s only 12 acres, of course.”  So as you can imagine, we visited the “potager,” snuggled behind the small cottage, to large landscaped gardens with “rooms” of flowering blooms. All gardeners were proud of their gardens, more than willing to tell you about them and happy that they were able to do their “bit.”

In 2013 there were over 3700 gardens open, which were all vetted to make sure they are all of sufficient interest. Each gardener opens his garden (usually on a weekend), one or two days during the year. I was so excited! But, it takes some planning! “The National Garden Schemes, “Yellow Book”,” can be purchased each year, which lists all the gardens and when they will be open.

The Yellow Book 2015

The Yellow Book 2015

Maps, directions, type of garden, and particular interest are included. We were really in the thick of the countryside when directions would reveal, “just go down the gravel road for a mile and then when you get to the yellow mailbox turn right on that gravel road and proceed on to the canal road and windmill place. Light refreshments offered.”

The Countryside Garden

The Countryside Garden

In the Garden

Tea In the Garden

This as going to be one of our best adventures! So after months of looking up gardens and coordinating them with places on the National Trust we were ready to make our way to the “Garden of England,” Kent. We were about to set off on a gardener’s dream! See you tomorrow on our way to the garden!

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