Tuesday, April 26, 2016

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #42

FreeFoto.com - Holy Island and Lindisfarne
Picture by: Ian Britton - FreeFoto.com

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

I first came across Lindisfarne when I was posting what must have been one of my early If this is Tuesday entries about Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.  Acccording to their website

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne:
In 635AD St. Aidan came from Iona and chose to found his monastery on Lindisfarne. The Christian message flourished here and spread throughout the world.  However Holy Island is not only a centre of pilgrimage. Its tranquility, spirituality and scenic beauty attracts a multitude of visitors to its shores every year. Undoubtedly, it is the jewel in the crown of Northumbria.

A causeway connects the island to the mainland of Northumberland and is flooded twice a day by tides - by staying on the island while it is cut off by the tide tourists can experience the island in a much quieter state, as most day trippers leave before the tide rises. At low tide it is possible to walk across the sands following an ancient route known as Pilgrims' Way.

The English Heritage site has information on visiting Lindisfarne Priory here and the National Trust's page on Lindisfarne Castle can be found here.

It looks amazing and it's definitely going on my list of places to visit.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Life Last Week #2016-16

What a royal week, what a royal month it has been!  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in India and Bhutan, loved every single outfit, then the Queen's 90th birthday celebration, and a new royal baby in Sweden...I'm in royal heaven...and did you see Prince George and President Obama, priceless!

Here in reality, it's been a pretty standard week.  Work, work, work, home sick, and work and a meeting of the Family Readiness Group.  Vic sailed into Singapore and sailed out again and we're moving closer to halfway every day - lots of celebrating coming up!  I've leave you with a few photos for the week which is far more interesting than anything else I would have to say!

My favorite from the Royal Tour - love this shade of blue - loved the way she incorporated local designs and fabrics into so many of her outfits - photo courtesy of http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/SBEFOLe0wM8/Duke+Duchess+Cambridge+Visit+India+Bhutan
Speaking of Bhutan, I think I just want to move there and dress like this all the time!
The man-made waterfall in Cloud Forest, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Happy 90th Birthday

Happy 90th Birthday, Your Majesty
I am just loving all of the photos and previews of television specials.  I hope I can find a commemorative copy of Hello magazine at my local bookstore - they always have great coverage of historic royal events.  Here are a few delightful pictures to celebrate this special occasion.

Four generations with the Queen wearing a brooch from her mother so you could call it five
Commemorative stamps that will be released using the photo - raced right over to Royal Mail and bought my copy
Her Majesty with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Photos courtesy of Daily Mail

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #41

Queen Elizabeth II on her 87th birthday - April 2013
How I would love to be in England this week when Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 90th birthday on Thursday (and again in June, when her official birthday events take place).

Heir to the throne the Prince of Wales will stage a private family dinner for the royal matriarch, but Elizabeth II will also be out and about greeting the public on her big day.  She will step out of her Windsor Castle home, where she has been staying during Easter Court, and go on a walkabout in the town centre, meeting the crowds who are expected to gather and are likely to sing her Happy Birthday.  The head of state - with the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, and the Duchess of Cornwall at her side - will also light the first in a chain of more than 1,000 beacons across Britain and the world to mark her personal anniversary.

The day before her birthday - Wednesday April 20 - the monarch will meet postmen and women on a visit to the Royal Mail Windsor delivery office to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the postal service and open a new bandstand in Alexandra Gardens, close to the castle.

In June, thousands of well-wishers are also expected to attend celebrations planned to mark her official birthday.  A series of events will be staged, from a St Paul's Cathedral service of thanksgiving to the traditional Trooping the Colour ceremony, also known as the Queen's Birthday Parade.  The Queen is said to be excited by the prospect of 10,000 guests joining herself, Philip, the Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry in The Mall for a sit-down celebration called the Patron's Lunch.  It will honour her lifetime dedication to service and will be the culmination of the festivities, with communities around the country encouraged to hold local street parties.

When the Queen became the nation's longest-reigning monarch last autumn - passing Queen Victoria's record - she was matter of fact about the achievement, remarking that living to a ripe old age can bring many anniversaries.  "Inevitably a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception," she said.  During her 64-year reign the Queen has been served by 12 prime ministers from Sir Winston Churchill to David Cameron, while Barack Obama is the 12th US president to hold office over the same period.  Over the decades Britain has undergone major transformations from technological advances like computers and supersonic flight to developments in society and the political landscape.

Her personal life has brought her happiness, with the monarch, who acceded to the throne at the age of 25, now surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She has been married to Philip for more than 68 years.  But she endured her ''annus horribilis'' in 1992 - the year Charles separated from the Princess of Wales, the Duke of York split from the Duchess of York, the Princess Royal divorced Captain Mark Phillips, and Windsor Castle went up in flames.

The woman who is seen by many as a stabilising force in national life was never expected to be Queen when she was born on April 21 1926 in a town house in London's Mayfair and named Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York - the first child of the Duke of York, later King George VI.  Her destiny was changed with the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, for the woman he loved - American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

Famously Princess Elizabeth dedicated her life to her future role as monarch on her 21st birthday - vowing to serve the Commonwealth: ''I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.''
Courtesy of http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/prince-of-wales-to-host-private-family-dinner-for-queens-90th-birthday-11364052477953#.VxOaVbjY1rc.facebook

Monday, April 18, 2016

Life over the Last Two Weeks #2016-15

In celebration of all of the royal events going on this month, we have a new banner! I've got some catching up to do - it's been two weeks since a Life Last Week post was up.

When I left you last, I was headed up to a new work assignment for a few days, Sophia was starting school, and Vic had a board appointment.  My work assignment went well, Sophia is enjoying her new classes, and Vic's board appointment was rescheduled and by the time you read this, it will be over.  The week before last was mostly routine Monday through Friday with work and errands and miscellaneous chores around the house, however, the weekend brought the Navy Wives Regional Convention and I'm still recovering from that!  I took off early on Friday, packed up, picked up the two ladies who were riding with me, and headed to the ferry.  We hit a lot of traffic north of Seattle and arrived just in time to check in and change our clothes for the opening dinner.  The venue was a little disappointing, a classroom in the Fleet and Family Support Center, and the dinner of spiral-sliced ham, fruit salad, pasta salad, bean salad, and rolls was palatable but that's about it.  There wasn't much on the agenda for the evening other than to declare the Convention open and greet everyone.  I would have liked some sort of socializing somewhere else, maybe a hospitality room at the hotel as it would have been nice to chat in an environment more conducive to having a relaxed conversation.  I got up early the next morning and scoped out the continental breakfast included with our rooms - ugh, packaged Danish, not appealing at all.  I knew there was a Starbucks just a few minutes away so off I went and Caramel Macchiato and croissant in hand, I enjoyed a very non-Whole 30 breakfast (remember the disastrous few days I talked about two weeks ago, it was still going on!).  Back to the Convention for the days events and what do you suppose was waiting for those who did not partake of the hotel breakfast?  More ham, more rolls, more fruit salad.  The morning was consumed with club business and Bylaws Revisions and when we broke for lunch, there it was again, more ham!  The afternoon wrapped up early and we headed back to the hotel to change for the Closing Banquet, praying that ham would not be on the menu again!  We were in luck, dinner was catered by the Olive Garden although by the time it got to us, it was pretty cold.  A few miscellaneous activities and we were done.  Back to the hotel and home in the morning.  Unfortunately, my morning came much sooner than I planned, 2:00am to be exact, when the smoke alarm in my room and started beeping incessantly.  The front desk clerk was barely able to reach it and totally unable to unscrew it so that was the end of my sleep.  I read for a little while, took a shower, packed, and headed back to Starbucks.  We left about 9:00am and were home a little after noon.  Time to unpack and head out again to grocery shop.  I had planned to roast vegetables and prep meals for the week ahead but that was a miserable fail so another few days of disastrous eating followed.

Looks like it's out turn to host the Convention next year so our conversation on the way home was full of suggestions and I'm sure you can guess the first one -- no ham!

It's been a busy week this week - work, a meeting with a photographer to take pictures at homecoming, bangs trim, more grocery shopping, and then working two hours on Saturday afternoon raising funds for Wreaths Across America.  An afternoon manicure, a quick stop to pick up a salad for dinner, and that was it for that day.  Sunday was roast vegetables day, relax, and catch up on blog reading and posting.

Here's hoping this week is a little less busy - have a great week everyone!  I'll leave you with a new photo.  As much as I hate having my photo taken, this one isn't too bad.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #40 and Throwback Thursday in One!

 Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/machighlander/4012282958/

One of my favorite childhood memories was a visit to Blackpool for the Illuminations.  I've got to hand it to Wikipedia for summing them up so concisely:
lso known locally as The Lights or The Illuminations, they run each year for sixty-six days, from late August until early November, at a time when most other English seaside resorts' seasons are coming to an end. Dubbed as "the greatest free light show on earth", they are 6 miles (10 km) long and use over one million bulbs. The display stretches along the Promenade from Starr Gate at the south end of the town to Bispham in the north.

You can view the Illuminations by walking, driving by car (aka crawling through bumper to bumper traffic), or, our favorite way, by taking a ride on one of the trams that are themselves covered in lights.

I was a bit miffed, well ok I was really offended, by Bill Bryson's description of the Illuminations on page 240 of his book, Notes from a Small Island.  He describes them in this way, "...all I can say is that Blackpool's Illuminations are nothing if not splendid, and they are not splendid." and "It all just seemed tacky and inadequate on rather a grand scale, like Blackpool itself."  I suppose I should just say that his opinion, but he's a New York Times bestselling author (A Walk in the Woods) and can influence people by his comments.  I will admit that Blackpool and the Blackpool Illuminations are not what they were in the days when families headed to Blackpool for their holidays.  Things changed when the availability of cheap airfares and package deals made places like Ibiza, Majorca and the like available to the everyday family.  Today, families are reaching even farther afield to places like the Greek Islands, India or Thailand.  If you were to tell your children they were going to Butlin's in Blackpool for their holidays, I can just imagine the looks on their faces! (And yes, I know Butlin's in Blackpool is closed.)

Blackpool, however, still has sentimental meaning to those of us who grew up with knowing it in our childhood and early youth.  Call me tacky, but I loved everything about Blackpool, and I can't wait to visit again.  Yes, I am going to find it changed, but memories live forever and that's what I'll be remembering.

Dad and I in Blackpool, 1965

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #39

In honor of the premiere of Season 2 of Outlander, we're going up to the border this week.

Photo courtesy of British and Irish Walking Holidays, see link below

Hadrian's Wall

Once again, I have to borrow from Wikipedia, they really do word things just right:

Hadrian's Wall was a defensive fortification in Roman Britain. Begun in AD 122, during the rule of emperor Hadrian, it was the first of two fortifications built across Great Britain, the second being the Antonine Wall, lesser known of the two because its physical remains are less evident today.
The wall was the most heavily fortified border in the Empire. In addition to its role as a military fortification, it is thought that many of the gates through the wall would have served as customs posts to allow trade and levy taxation.
A significant portion of the wall still exists, particularly the mid-section, and for much of its length the wall can be followed on foot by Hadrian's Wall Path or by cycle on National Cycle Route 72. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern England. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. English Heritage, a government organisation in charge of managing the historic environment of England, describes it as "the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain".

As I searched for a photograph and more information, I was again amazed by the wealth of information available to us on the Internet.  A simple search turned up numerous sites on walking or cycling along Hadrian's Wall.  Hadrian's Wall Path, an 84 mile National Trail, was an intriguing site, as was the National Cycle Route 72, both referenced above in the Wikipedia details.  I also found Discover Adventure's Hadrian's Wall Trekathon, and the blog Love Thy Bike (The plan to battle Hadrian's Wall), which tells the tale of a cyclist's tour.  No doubt there are hundreds of other similar sites.  BBC's History site has a wonderful gallery of many of the key points along the wall, and the National Trust's page on Hadrian's Wall and Housesteads Fort has visitor information on traveling to the site and a delightful place to stay, Housesteads Farm Cottage.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't pay much attention on those few trips I've made from England into Scotland.  No doubt pieces of Hadrian's Wall were evident somewhere but I was, no doubt since I was a teenager at the time the first few times and then sick with a terrible case of Traveler's Tummy the last time I crossed the border, completely oblivious.  I shall remedy that on my next trip (the oblivion, and hopefully any tummy upset as well).

Monday, April 4, 2016

Life Last Week #2016-14

Another busy week that flew by. Had a few splurges over the weekend after the end of my second Whole 30 which railroaded into a rather disastrous run of splurging. As delicious as some of the things were, I feel awful and will get right back on track this coming week.

Work was busy; I'll be filling in for one of the Department Head Administrative Assistants on Monday and Tuesday so I am looking forward to a change but also a bit apprehensive since it's only one level down from the Executive Floor Secretaries. My Mentor said it will be good for me to get out there since if an opportunity like this ever comes up, I won't be an unknown. Not really sure if I would consider applying if there was a chance; I really love my current team and can't imagine considering a move away from them. We have a lot of work coming our way so I'm hoping that there might be a promotion opportunity closer to home.

Communication with Vic has been sparse as I know he is busy working on a new qualification. I hope there is an e-mail this morning to tell me the results of his appearance before the review board. Hopefully he remembered all that he studied and got a passing score. I received the proofs of Vic's portrait for the cruise book (sort of like a yearbook/annual of the deployment for my non-Navy friends). (Insert whistle here) My goodness, he does look handsome!  Makes me miss him even more. Can't wait to order a package.

The new seasons of Mr. Selfridge and Grantchester premiered last Sunday but since we don't have cable any longer, I caught up with them online later in the week. Last Monday, we had a Navy Wives Meet & Greet event, a presentation by one of our members who has a business, Clutter Controllers. While she's handled everything from people wanting to organize various rooms in their homes to those not sure what to do when they inherit a large number of items from a family member to out and out hoarders, her emphasis is on helping seniors downsize when they move from large family homes to a much smaller retirement residence or a nursing home. It was a very enjoyable evening.

Sophia started school on Tuesday. She had been planning to change her major to Art History but when she didn't make it into one class (she was sixth on the waitlist last week and moved up to third by the first day of school), she had to make a decision about declaring a major in order to continue to receive her education benefits so, on the advice of her counselor, she chose Multidisciplinary Studies (it's really Liberal Arts, don't know why they don't just call it that) and when she met later in the week with the Program Director, she found that it really was a good choice for her. I'm not sure what she'll do with a degree in Multidisciplinary Studies but it seems that she can go in a number of different directions so we'll see where it takes her.

Something new to plan - A group of my Navy spouse friends from our Florida days are planning a reunion! There are nine of us, we haven't all been together since the late 1990's when we were all in Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) together at the base chapel and our children were in the chapel nursery. A cruise, an overseas trip, and a cabin on a lake or at the coast are among the suggestions with the cabin idea getting the most thumbs ups so far. It will be awesome to see everyone again - I hope they are all able to make it. We're coming from the Washington, California, Minnesota, Michigan, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Florida so finding somewhere central will be key, somewhere picturesque but close enough to a city or attraction for a field trip. Next summer is the target date so it will be fun to chat between now and then about our plans. It's called the Sisterchicks Reunion, an idea from the books by Robin Jones Gunn.

Have you ever been a part of a Sisterchicks Reunion? I'd love to hear your ideas.