The lamb saga on the farm continues…

 This photo op sent me swooning with delight.  Too cute for words.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Witheridge: 
From this site:

The village of Witheridge is set in a gloriously scenic area dominated by the waters of the Rivers, Little Dart, Dalch, Taw, and the lovely River Mole. It is a charmingly un-spoilt village that has clung steadfast to its rural way of life, with farming mostly at the economy’s center. The village is perhaps best known for its beautiful village church. This has a sturdy clock-face tower crowned with pinnacles and is surrounded by an attractive churchyard. There is a village store, a post office, and a newsagent. Two village inns provide good food and lively conversation – the pub is the place to be if you want to meet the locals! Witheridge is on the Two Moors Way. Thus it offers easy access to the delights of both Dartmoor and Exmoor. The townships of Crediton and South Moulton are both just a short drive away.
We’re still reeling over the entertaining experience we both had on Tuesday while assisting John and Renate in herding the 6-month old lambs from a paddock located across the road to the fenced area where the barns and outbuildings are located.
At one point, the lamb herd wandered over to the pond next door to our house, Pond Cottage. We couldn’t help but laugh.

I can’t help but tease Tom over his participation in this process as a competent shepherd. Moving this many sheep at one time always requires a third person to assist, most often a neighbor or friend.

The lambs wandered off to wherever they liked with little regard to the mission at hand.
Knowing we wanted to take photos, they asked Tom if he’d take the role of the third person while I would do what I could with both of my hands on the camera poised to take photos, and videos are shown in yesterday’s post here.
They checked out the pond.
Although we’ve always appreciated the work of farmers, we had no idea how challenging a process such as this can be, along with all the other endless chores facing a farming family.  
They stopped to graze on some fresh grass, far from where they were headed.
Living on this farm in Witheridge gave us an entirely new perspective. Not only do John and Renate handle 350 sheep (they have professionals do the steering), but they harvest tons of apples from their orchards and make their cider and apple cider vinegar. (Tomorrow, we will post photos and details for this fascinating process).
Finally, they acquiesced and entered the area to which they’d be nudged along. 
In addition, they have a good-sized garden, greenhouse, and apple orchard to maintain and harvest, wood to gather, chop, and sort for the wood-burning stoves, chickens, ducks, and geese to feed, the day-to-day management of the sheep, and the maintenance and management of their substantial 500-year-old house and of course, this separate house we’re renting. 
The chickens were curious as they watched the lambs herded into the barn.
John is on his tractor many hours each day. Renate works right along with him. The most fantastic aspect of this well-managed farm they handle without permanent staff is that they are both in their 70’s. John is 79! We can’t imagine working so hard at this point in life, but they seem to enjoy it thoroughly.  
With all of them in the fenced area, John nudged them along further.
John and Tom have spent hours chatting. They have similar views on many topics and can’t seem to get enough.  Unfortunately, they are leaving on holiday late tonight and won’t return until after we’re gone. We’ll be alone at the farm, but they have a friend coming to feed the chickens, ducks, geese and check on the sheep.
Still, a little resistance from the young ones.
They encouraged us to wander about at our leisure while they are away, and when there’s a sunny day (if there’s a sunny day), we may do just that. The grass, the rocky paths, and the walkways are slippery and muddy from the constant rain.
With all of them inside the fenced area, John and Renate locked the gate.  John is a retired doctor (no retiring for them working so hard on this 150-acre farm) and handles most sheep’s health issues with expertise and ease.
Today, when it stops raining, we’ll head out to the garden to pick a few tomatoes for dinner and see if we can roust up a few more tender morsels this late in the season.

May you have a fine day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2018:

A giraffe visiting our garden was quite a thrill. We’d seen this large male at other locations in the park.  For more photos, please click here.

Tom, the shepherd…A truly exciting farm experience…Out sightseeing, late posting…

Part 1…Tom, the shepherd…
Part 2…Tom, the shepherd…

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon: 
From this site:

Devon is home to the last castle built in England:
Not everything in Devon is really, really old. Castle Drogo dates from 1930 – and is the last castle to have been built in England. In 1910 Julius Drewe bought about 450 acres south and west of the village of Drewsteignton and asked Edwin Lutyens to build him a castle. The First World War and the economic downturn caused many delays. Exeter City Council had nothing to do with this one. The castle’s defensive characteristics are purely decorative and it had electricity and lifts from the outset, with power being supplied by two turbines on the river below.”
It’s 5:30 pm (1750 hours) and we just returned from a day of sightseeing when this morning we awoke to much-appreciated sunshine.  Based on the weather reports we may be bombarded with more rain over the next several days making today our big chance to get out.

When we noticed the sun was shining first thing this morning with the sky mostly blue with few scattered clouds, we hoped it would last throughout the day and to our delight, it did.  
Suddenly, they’ll stop and decide to go back the way they came.  It takes some coaxing to get them walking in the correct direction.  The sticks are never used to hurt them, only to guide them along the way.  It definitely is a minimum of a three-person job.  They often bring in outside help to assist when possible.  But, we were here and thrilled to assist.

Now, we see the grey clouds rolling in leaving us grateful we’d made this decision. We took many photos, but first, over the next few days, we’re thrilled to be sharing today’s photos and the heartwarming experience we both had yesterday when John and Renate asked if Tom could help with herding the sheep.

Finally, they were headed in the right direction.

Of course, my job was to take photos and assist when and if the lambs took off in the wrong direction near where I was standing. Each of the four of us had a specific spot as to where to stand. I didn’t have any sticks for guidance with my hands busy with the camera but Tom was well-equipped.

The lambs (150 of out a total herd size of 350), all born in March or April this year, began their journey down the road to be moved to the barn for worming and later returned to a different paddock.  Tom had two long sticks to help Renate and John with the shepherding while I took photos.  

He couldn’t wipe the smile off his face, nor could I. He’s not necessarily a farm-type of guy. His grandparents, mother, and father both grew up on farms. Renate said he was a “natural” sheepherder. Perhaps sheepherding is in his DNA!

Where we lived in Minnesota, we had some exposure to farms, by purchasing free-range eggs, chickens and organic produce from local farms. We always appreciated the hard work of farmers and the commitment to the lifestyle.  

After considerable guidance, they were headed to the barn.

A few times over the years we attended gatherings at various farms owned by Tom’s relatives or our friends.  We always treasured the experiences. Since we began our travels seven years ago as of October 31st, we’ve had the blissful opportunity to live on a few farms. This beautiful farm is the second in the past 30 days.

It’s always a treat to have an opportunity to interact with the farm animals and yesterday’s example will remain in our hearts and minds as one of our favorite hands-on experiences in our travels.

At one point, they turned and made an incorrect turn (herd mentality) and again, Tom guided them back in the right direction. 

For us, the “experience” has so much more meaning than seeing one more historic stone building, one more church or one more museum.We’ve already done that. And, no doubt we’ll continue to do that again for many years to come (God willing).

However, experiences such as yesterday’s sheep herding is hard to top in our realm of things. We loved every moment and we look forward to sharing more farm photos in the next few days. Please check out our videos, albeit a little jittery when I had to pitch in and assist.

This adorable boy wanted some attention which Tom and I freely offered.  So sweet!

From there we’ll share our sunny day photos of the Torquay, known as the English Riviera.Thanks for your patience in being able to see this late post. Please check back for more each day!  

Photo from one year ago today, October 2, 2018:
It’s important to always stop and wait patiently when wildlife is crossing the road.  No honking necessary!  They’ll move on.  For more photos, please click here.

Recalling four years ago today and more…

In Fiji, as we slowed down to take photos of the sea, my eyes caught something black moving at a distance. Getting out of the car where there was no fence to keep these piglets contained, we squealed with delight, as did this little white piglet who seemed happy to see us.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon: 
From this site:

Devon is home to the UK’s oldest humans:
No, not those people who constantly walk in front of you down High Street. A fragment of jaw bone was discovered in Kent’s Cavern in Torquay in 1927, and carbon dating followed by studies in 2011 say it could date from 44,200BC and is Homo Sapiens – making it the oldest modern human remains found in northwest Europe. Not all scientists agree with the dating, mainly the ones from Cornwall.
Due to a photo shortage resulting from inclement weather, today we’re reflecting on a time four years ago when we had a fantastic time in the cultural village of Savusavu, Fiji, on the island of Vanua Levu.

(To see the post with some of today’s photos, please click here.  If you search our archives from September 7, 2015, to January 4, 2016, you’ll have an opportunity to read and see photos from our memorable experiences during four months in Fiji).

Most tourists, when visiting Fiji, tend to travel to the main island of Viti Levu, the largest of 330 islands in the archipelago. Vanua Levu would typically be the next choice, as the smaller islands’ second-largest and most populated island (135,961).
It appears there were no less than five piglets. The mom was contained within this wood structure, but the piglets could easily wander about.
Overall, we spent a total of four months in Fiji, three in Vanua Levu in Savusavu, and one month in another single-family home on Viti Levu (population 600,000) in the more remote area of Pacific Harbour.

Pacific Harbour, an hour’s drive from Suva, the capital and less desirable place to stay, is a popular residential area for ex-pats, locals, and tourists. It’s also a known area for adventure seekers with its exciting canals with white water rafting, bungee jumping, scuba diving, snorkeling, and more. See this link for more details.

But, the gem of our experience was the three months we spent in a tiny house overlooking the sea in the highly cultural and fascinating village of Savusavu. So few tourists visit Savusavu, I was unable to find stats as to the number of tourists that visit the village.

This diminutive aspect and the estimated 90% of the population are native Fijians, with 45% of which are Indofijians, those with ancestors from India born in Fiji.  
The ferry that was awaiting passengers for its daily run to the main island of Viti Levu took several hours.
The accents of the Indofijians still indicate a strong influence from India, acquired through their parents and grandparents, interlaced with the typical Fijian accent.  

Our wonderful neighbor, Sewak, educated us on the influence and culture of the people of India on the Fijian culture. As for the native Fijians and Indofijeans, we had the glorious experience of learning about their culture, rituals, and lifestyles, so different from our own.

It was Sewak’s dog Badal, who visited us every night for dinner. We always made him a plate with meat and vegetables. Sewak had permitted us to feed Badal meat when he and his wife were vegetarians.  

Each night Badal appeared on our veranda, folding over his front paws and waiting patiently for his plate of food. Through this friendly dog, we had an opportunity to get our “animal fix.” See his photo below:
Badal visited us almost every day in Fiji, checking out what may be on the evening’s menu.  We never failed to give him a plate of something delicious. After his meal, he’d sit cross-legged on the veranda looking at me, hoping for second helpings. For more photos, please click here.

There are dogs, farm animals, birds, along with an endless array of sea creatures seen by scuba divers and snorkelers.  We loved every moment, particularly in Savusavu.  

Only on a few occasions did we see any tourists in the tiny village. But, we frequently engaged with the locals, the native Fijian and Indofijeans, while very little with our landlord, an ex-pat from Germany who lived nearby.

We didn’t have a TV in Savusavu and were unable to get a WiFi signal in the house, which had been stated in the listing as being available. It never worked. Subsequently, we purchased two dongles and data at the local Vodacom kiosk in the village. The SIM expires every 30 days.  

The Wifi situation was an inconvenience, and the signal was poor, but we didn’t complain. As long as we could post, we were content and managed to busy ourselves on outings with our designated driver, Rashnesh. We’d never rented a car in Savusavu.
The beach is seen on the short drive to the village.
The house was located up a long steep hill inaccessible with a regular car. We would have had to rent a four-wheeled vehicle at a prohibitive cost. Instead, Ratnesh drove us wherever we chose to go for sightseeing, dining out, and shopping.

During our last month in Fiji while living in Pacific Harbour, again, we didn’t rent a car when taxi fare was inexpensive, and we still were able to explore surrounding areas, dine out and shop. The house had a pool and a TV we watched on rainy days, mainly endless episodes of Nat Geo, which is not available in most holiday homes. 

Fiji left us with many great memories we still cherish today as we continue our long-term world journey.

Hopefully, the weather improves for the ten remaining days we’ll be in Witheridge. When it does, we plan to get out to take photos, which we’ll undoubtedly share here.

Be well. Be happy. Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, October 1, 2018:

It has become commonplace for us to see lions across the Crocodile River. However, we never will take these sightings for granted.  For more photos, please click here.

No hurricane yet…Passion…

An inviting hammock in the side yard of the garden.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon: 
From this site:

“Devon has the country’s only 16-sided house (see photo below):

If you’re ever filling in a request list on Zoopla, making it clear what your house must have – three bedrooms, parking, nearby school, must be a hexakaidecagon, (in mathematics, a hexadecagon is sometimes called a hexakaidecagon or 16-gon, which is a sixteen-sided polygon) you won’t be in much luck. The only 16-side house in the country is A La Ronde in east Devon. It was built for two spinster cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter, returning from a grand tour of Europe in the late 18th century. The interior decoration includes a feather frieze, gathered from native game birds and chickens, laboriously stuck down with isinglass and a shell-encrusted gallery, said to contain nearly 25,000 shells. It sounds like it was designed by Laurence Llewelyn Bowen after a head injury – but worth a visit.

This morning’s weather report reads as follows:
“It comes as Britain braces itself for one of Europe’s strongest-ever hurricanes to bring 80mph gales and 16ft waves from Thursday. Six hundred-mile-wide Hurricane Lorenzo is forecast to hit the Azores off Portugal with 100mph winds on Tuesday then spin close to Britain by Thursday, the Met Office said.” -13 hours ago.”

There’s even mention of the possibility of snow. To our surprise, it snows in the UK, primarily in Scotland but also in Wales, where we’ll be in 11 days. But, most of the snow (not substantial amounts) occurs in January and February and often only in the mountains, which won’t impact us since we’ll be long gone.
The paddock we can easily see from the living room window.
Sadly, most of our time here is spent indoors with the heavy rains day after day. When the sun makes an appearance, it only lasts for a few minutes. On many occasions when the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, we’d begin readying ourselves to take off on a road trip, and moments later, we were removing our shoes and rain jackets when the rain had returned.

We’ve resigned ourselves that this is the way it will be over the next 11 days. Instead of fussing over this situation, we’re exploring the farm as soon as the rain stops and the sun emerges. 
Our favorite giant duck.
Living on this farm is truly enchanting. At any hour of the day, we hear the myriad ducks, geese, and chickens making endlessly varying sounds along with the baaing of the sheep only 20 meters (65 feet) from the house. It’s all music to our ears.

It all falls in line with our passion for animals which we’ve been able to foster in many locations worldwide. No doubt, we’ve lived in many areas where wildlife was rarely spotted, nor did we encounter any barnyard animals.
This doesn’t mean we haven’t had a good experience in those areas. It’s merely a different experience.  Instead, we focus on the area’s history, architecture, and scenery, whether a quaint village or a big city.  There is always something that stands out as unique and fascinating.
Ducks are considering their next move.

Of course, there are always the people, and that above all is the passion we share regardless of where we may be. One of the main reasons we enjoy cruises (the next occurring in 24 days) is the opportunity to meet new people and, on occasion, encounter a few we’ve met on past cruises.

The primary means of enhancing the cruise experience is to dine in the main dining room for breakfast and dinner at a “sharing” table. Occasionally, we’ll have breakfast in the buffet, and there again, we may meet other passengers sitting at a table they’re happy to share.  We’ve made many friends throughout the world on cruises.

We seldom dine in specialty restaurants for two reasons: the added cost and, two, the circumstances are such whereby it’s difficult to meet others when most tables in specialty restaurants are for two people. We’re perfectly content with the food in the main dining room, which at times may be mediocre at best.

These ducks and chickens are on a mission.

However, we don’t cruise for the food. Many passengers do, finding the all-you-can-eat aspect most appealing. We can eat all we want when we’re cooking our delicious meals. We don’t need to be on a cruise to do this.  

The only limitation we place upon ourselves when preparing our meals is to avoid overeating and gaining weight. We can’t be in a position where we don’t fit into the few clothes we each have in our one suitcase.

Mondays keep coming quicker and quicker. It must be a by-product of aging. The days flying by in a blur of pleasant experiences, good conversation, accomplishing tasks, and planning for the future. It’s all good.

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 30, 2018:

A little affection between the two warthogs in the garden. For more photos, please click here.

Hurricane Lorenzo coming this way…A useful greenhouse on the farm…

Renate suggested we pick all the tomatoes and other vegetables remaining in
the greenhouse.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon: 
From this site:
“Devon was the last place in the country to execute witches:
By the late 1600s, the rest of the country had given up executing people as witches and instead started giving them columns in the Daily Mail. But the last English executions for witchcraft happened in Exeter in 1682 and 1685. Temperance Lloyd, Susannah Edwards, and Mary Trembles of Bideford died in 1682, and Alice Molland died in 1685 in Heavitree. They were accused of causing illness and death by the black arts.”

We selected a few of the larger ripe tomatoes and a variety of cherry and grape tomatoes.

We are not worried about Hurricane Lorenzo based on the fact we are not living on the coast. But instead are located inland in Devon.

This morning we spotted information from a few news sources.

From this site, Metro News, published within the past hour:

“The UK could be hit by 70mph winds and torrential rainfall when the remains of Hurricane Lorenzo arrive next week.

The UK could be hit by 70mph winds and torrential rainfall when the remains of Hurricane Lorenzo arrive next week. The country was struck by heavy rain overnight, and the bad weather is set to continue when the storm sweeps across Britain on Thursday. 

The Met Office said there was a potential for Lorenzo to bring strong winds and flooding and described the weather system as a ‘real beast.’ Hurricane Lorenzo has strengthened into a Category 5 storm in the central Atlantic Ocean, making it the strongest storm ever observed so far north and east in the Atlantic basin. 

The US National Hurricane Centre said late yesterday night the storm has maximum sustained winds of 160 mph (257 kph). Lorenzo moves north at ten mph (16 kph) and is centered about 1,410 miles (2,269 kilometers) southwest of the Azores, a Portuguese island chain.

Hurricane Lorenzo
Map of the expected course of hurricane Lorenzo from this site.

Yellow weather warnings were put in place from 6:00 pm on Saturday to 5:00 pm on Sunday, warning of persistent rain and a risk of flooding across the northwest and southwest of England and Wales. 

Lettuce next to a fallen apple with a butterfly.

Areas such as Devon and Cornwall could see coastal gales of up to 50mph, while between 30mm and 40mm of rain is expected to fall within the warning area over the weekend. Cities including Manchester, Liverpool, Bangor, Swansea, and Cardiff are also covered by the weather warning.”
Based on our location and this map, we could experience heavy winds and rain in 24 to 48 hours. We were hoping to head to Tiverton tomorrow morning to shop, but if high winds and torrential rains have commenced, we may have to head to the tiny shop in Witheridge to get what we need for a few days.  

Two ducks were sitting on the fence at Pond Cottage.

Right now, we’re considering driving to Tiverton to at least get our shopping done. With many shops closing at 4:00 pm today, we won’t have much time and need to head out shortly.  

The fall remains of what must have been a lovely flower garden during the spring and summer months.

In the interim, speaking of updates, we finally received the refund from Easirent of EU 2100, US $2297.62 (as of today’s values).  What a relief! We’ll report back with updates.

At the moment, it’s raining, but there is no wind, so that it may be best we get on our way.

A few flowers remain in the cooler weather.

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 29, 2019:
Elephant’s feet must carry a lot of weight: “Elephants are the largest living terrestrial animals. The average male African bush elephant is 3.20 m (10.5 ft) tall at the shoulder and has a body mass of 6,000 kg (13,228 lb), whereas the average female is 2.60 m (8.53 ft) tall at the shoulder and have a mass of 3,000 kg (6,614 lb).”  For more photos, please click here.

One year ago…Time flies, blah, blah, blah…A favorite year…

This lamb is half the size of the others.  Renate explained she never grew to full size due to a genetic anomaly..

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon, Cornwall: 
From this site:
Devon has Europe’s Oldest Cinema:
Torbay Picture House was opened on 16 March 1914 and is believed to be the oldest surviving purpose-built cinema in Europe. In its early days, it featured a 21-piece orchestra, with each member paying a guinea to perform. There are 375 seats: 271 in the stalls, 104 in the circle, plus three private boxes at the back seating an additional eight. A project is currently underway to bring it back into use. We can’t say for sure, but the first film shown was probably the original Police Academy.”

“They say that time flies when you’re having fun.”  We’ve found that time flies regardless of how much fun we’re having. During the past difficult last three months in South Africa flew by in a blur, from February to May 2019, waiting for me to heal enough to fly to Ireland.
One of the entrance gates to Renate and John’s 500-year-old seven-bedroom house.
Now, as we recall Ireland and the three months we spent in Connemara from May to August 2019, passed so quickly, the memories seem distant and far removed from our reality.
Now, as I’m quickly returning to my “old” self (old, indeed) we’re able to look back to our 15 months in Marloth Park, South Africa, focusing on the amazing months we spent in my favorite place in the world.
The lush green pasture.
It was about one year ago that I found myself saying to friends and perhaps even posting that I was in the midst of experiencing “the best year of my life.”  With our many friends close at hand with an outrageously busy social life and of course, the constant flow of wildlife both at “home” and in Kruger National Park, life couldn’t have been more pleasing.

Regardless of the hot weather, the mozzies, the insects and the prospect of snakes at every turn, we found ourselves entrenched in the magic that living in the bush offers.
Some have asked, “Did the cardiac by-pass surgery and its long and painful recovery tarnish any of our South African experience?”
The sheep in this particular paddock had been sick or have some disability.
No doubt, the last three months in Marloth Park were difficult, especially when I was too ill to be able to go out onto the veranda to interact with our wildlife friends, until the last few weeks before we departed in May.  
However, I’ll still stand by my statement that the first 12 months we spent in Marloth Park as being the favorite year of my life since we’d begun our travels almost seven years ago. It was a dream fulfilled.

The proverbial question is…will we return?  Our hopes remain that immigration will allow us to return and remove our status as “undesirables” for the three months we overstayed during my recovery.  
This is the biggest goose we’ve ever seen.
We’re scheduled to return on a cruise from Lisbon to Cape Town in November 2020, hoping to stay in Marloth for another three months, minus the few days we’ll spend in Cape Town.  
If we don’t receive the waiver, we’ll have to cancel that Azamara cruise and possibly lose our GBP 892, US $1100 deposit we paid long before I became ill.  We’ve decided to continue to wait to see if we’ll be approved for the waiver over the next few months.  If not, we may choose to get an immigration lawyer to assist in this process.

In the interim, we’ll continue to make plans for the future planning around the cruise as we continue to wait on the waiver.  Neither of us cares to have plans up on the air but in this case, we’ve decided to be patient and forge ahead
This dock on the pond outside our door is covered in moss due to the humidity.
This morning farm owners Renate and John stopped by to bring us fresh towels, a new down comforter and duvet with matching pillowcases, a dozen eggs from their chickens and feed for the ducks, geese, and chickens along with different feed for the sheep.

Once the rain stops we’ll wander out to the greenhouse to pick tomatoes and stop to feed the animals some “pellets.”  Ummm…farm life…we like it!

Have a delightful weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, September 28, 2019:
From a recent visit to the “hippo pool” in the Crocodile River bordering Marloth Park.  For more photos, please click here.

Living in the moment…The simple life…

A chicken in our garden, right outside the door.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon, Cornwall: From this site:
“Devon “invented” the first Jack Russell Terrier
The Jack Russell Terrier was created by the Reverend John Russell – born in Dartmouth, went to school in Plympton, rector of Black Torrington. He bought a dog with stumpy legs, huge ears and was great at digging around in filth. The white and tan dog was excellent at digging out foxes which had gone to ground.”

We often hear comments such as, “Live in the moment. Don’t dwell on the past or the future.”
Roses blooming outside our door.
A considerable part of the joy we experience day by day is wrapped around our current lifestyle, our past travels, and the anticipation of experiences yet to come.  
No, this doesn’t mean we forget about where we are at any given moment. As shown in today’s simple photos, a chicken looking in the door was an experience in itself. Even in our old lives, we would have giggled over a chicken looking into the house.
For those who raise chickens, which more and more health enthusiasts are tackling these days as interest in free-range chicken and eggs has grown, a single chicken looking into the house may not be as big a deal as it is for us.
She approached the door when she saw us inside. “You got any pellets?”  she clucked!
We found ourselves giggling over this seemingly insignificant event. A short time later, we captured more photos of the farm and its farm animals when the sun peeked out for a few minutes.

We started a walk with the sun shining, heading across the road where the Dorset sheep are located in a paddock. Alas, no more than five minutes from when we left the house, it started pouring again, and we rushed back to the house. 
She was awaiting our reaction and the possibility of food.
Are we bored hanging around the farm? Not at all. We love this simple farm life with little obligation other than keeping the house clean, gathering firewood, grocery shopping, cooking our meals, doing our laundry, making and changing the bed, all of which is not unlike what most of us do daily.

We don’t have a cleaner here for the three weeks on the farm. Sure, we have our fair share of clutter, including items on the kitchen counters where we often leave out bowls and pans we use frequently. But, we both work to stay on top of keeping the house spotless, exactly how we like it.  

In our old lives, clutter was out of the question, but now, although we don’t have newspapers, snail mail, and work-related clutter, we have lots of adapters and cords cluttering our space lying all over the living room floor, including our HDMI cord. We always have to walk carefully around these cords when there are few outlets in most holiday rentals.
Although it’s very cool, flowers are still blooming.
It’s not like the US, where there are often outlets on every wall.  In many countries, there are only one or two outlets in an entire room. We’ve never had outlets in the bathroom. We work around it.  

Tom figures all of this out upon our arrival at a new location and somehow manages to ensure we each have ample plug-ins for our digital equipment using our power strips and universal adapters.

Although we’ve assigned ourselves specific tasks, we’re always willing to help one another, regardless of the task. Tom is still babying me by not allowing me to carry heavy objects, bring in groceries or help with the firewood. I doubt this will ever change, but I do my fair share around the house, especially now that I feel well.  
Colorful flowers in the garden.
As more and more time passes, I think less and less about the problematic past seven months and spend more and more time reveling in the joys of past experiences and embracing those for the future.

We’re both very grateful for this life.

May you find gratefulness in your simple days!
Photo from one year ago today, September 27, 2018:
This was my favorite photo of impalas, taken in Kruger National Park.  Impalas have exquisite markings on their faces and bodies. For more pictures from our self-drive in Kruger, please click here.

Farmer Tom…Also, credit card rewards…

In the rain, Tom was using the wheelbarrow to bring the wood to Pond Cottage.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon, Cornwall: From this site:
Devon has the world’s country’s bakery
“I know what you’re thinking. The clue’s in the name. But like they don’t get cream teas right, our Cornish cousins didn’t invent the pasty either. The earliest recorded recipe for the pasty was discovered in 2006 and dated back 500 years. Yup, it’s in a Devon book. So, you can go to Europe all you like and get them to say Cornish Pasties have to be made in Cornwall. Doesn’t make it so. If you like, we can also prove we invented Cornish Piskies, the Cornish language, and the writer and director Joe Cornish.

With the weather in the 14C, 57F range, the past several days consisted of almost constant rain, and it became pretty cold in the Pond Cottage. It’s been so hard. Using the woodstove was our best option to warm up. We’ve been bundled up in our sparse warm clothing.  

The past two nights, I wore socks to bed. It makes us wonder how cold we’ll be when we get to Minnesota in November, with the winter season rolling in. We recall a blizzard on Halloween in 1991 as described here and below:  
The woodshed…a building on this 500-year-old farm. 

“In eastern Minnesota, the Halloween Blizzard shattered many of the previous October snowfall records. The 8.2 inches that fell in the Twin Cities on October 31 was more snow than had ever been recorded in any October in its recorded history. Over the next two days, the snow continued to fall, leading to additional snowfall of one to two feet (30 cm to 60 cm). By the time the snow ended on November 3, the storm had dropped 36.9 in (93.7 cm) on Duluth, the largest single snowstorm total in Minnesota history at that time. The Twin Cities received 28.4 in (72.1 cm), setting a single-storm record for the metropolitan area. In all, at least one foot (30 cm) of snow fell in a swath approximately 100 mi (160 km) wide from south-central Minnesota, northeastward into northwestern Wisconsin, and into the Minnesota Arrowhead. A more narrow band of 2+ ft (60+ cm) of snow fell from the Twin Cities to Duluth and northward.”

As it turns out, my son Greg and wife Camille have offered to loan us winter clothing while in Minnesota. If necessary, we’ll also buy a few items, such as warm jackets, sweatshirts, and sweaters, leaving them behind when we depart.

As mentioned in a post a few days ago (see the link), we were awaiting a credit from Easirent Car Rentals in Ireland. Over six weeks had passed, and we’d yet to receive the EU 2100, US $2308.71 they’d charged to our account. It was not a “hold” but an actual charge.
The dry woodpile from which Tom collected wood.  The kindling is to the left of the woodpile.  The owners encouraged us to use all we wanted. We’re using the wood-burning stove/fireplace to heat the house.
The credit appeared on the card last night.  We sighed with relief. We didn’t want to deal with the negativity of the threatening phone calls for one more day! Fortunately, after pressing them with the threat of reporting them to the Irish equivalent of the Better Business Bureau, they finally came through.

While I was reviewing our various credit card balances online, which we generally pay off in full on the first of each month, Tom suggested we use accumulated rewards points on our cards toward any credits we may be paying off in a few days. We hadn’t done this in a while.

When we used the points this morning, we paid off $1397.37 on the cards. We’ve recently become more mindful of only using cards that provide the most reward points.
With all the vegetation and rain, it’s not unusual to see moss growing on the trees.
When we shop, we use a card that offers the most points for groceries. When we pay for travel-related expenses, we use two other cards, one in Tom’s name and another in mine. It’s working well for us.

The sun was shining when we awoke this morning, but it was raining again when we had our coffee. We’re looking forward to getting out. Most sightseeing venues near Devon require a drive of one or two hours on the narrow winding roads, which we aren’t willing to tackle in this rainy, windy weather.  

We’ll continue to wait patiently for a sunny day or at least a day without too much rain. In the interim, we’re enjoying the cozy fire in the woodstove while continuing our research.

May your day be sunny and bright!

Photo from one year ago today, September 26, 2018:

This male lion was cuddling up to this female.  For more of our lion photos, please click here.

The narrowest street in the world…Heavy rain keeping us in…Update…

See the description below of the narrowest official street in the world. (Not our photo).

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon, Cornwall:
“Devon has the narrowest road in the world (from this site):

Parliament Street in Exeter bears a plaque claiming it to be the narrowest street in the world. At its thinnest, it is about 0.64 meters (2 ft 1 in). At its broadest, it is 1.22 meters (4 ft 0 in). It used to be called Small Lane but was renamed Parliament Street to poke fun at the Government for passing the 1832 Reform Bill Funny,? The German’s claim they have the narrowest street in the world – but that’s just a gap between two houses. Parliament Street runs from High Street to Waterbeer Street. In 1836 the residents of Waterbeer Street paid to have the street widened. The council hasn’t done that yet. Maybe after the new pool.” (See the main photo).

Before I started preparing the post, we tackled the pouring rain and made our way from the house to the car. Needing a few items from the grocery store, it made sense to only drive to nearby Witheridge rather than head back to Tiverton, a 40-minute or more drive in the rain.

With it raining as hard as it has, added to the reality we were totally out of photos, we’d hoped to take more photos in Witheridge. Doing so was tricky when both the camera and I got soaked even while wearing my rain parka. It was not a good day for taking photos and attempting more sightseeing.

Sheep grazing near Pond Cottage.  This paddock is where the older rams reside to live out their lives.

Instead, we purchased the few items we needed and headed back to Pond Cottage to build a roaring fire and hunker down for the remainder of the day. In checking out the long-range weather report, it appears it could be raining for the next ten days.

We apologize for the lack of good photos for today’s post. We did the best we could under the circumstances. On Monday, if it’s raining when we return to Tiverton to shop, we’ll visit a few museums in the area. Rain or shine, museums are always a good option.

With our taxes done, our recent “paperwork” completed, and various supplies ordered that will be shipped to us from the mailing service. We now have more free time to begin researching our upcoming trip to India in five months.  

When we didn’t feel like driving in the pelting rain, we went 10 minutes to this small market in the village of Witheridge. They had everything we needed at reasonable prices.

All we’ve booked for India to date has been the exciting train trip on the Maharajas Express departing from Mumbai on February 2, 2020, ending in Delhi on February 8, 2020, and also the fabulous cruise embarking on April 3, 2020, from Mumbai, India and arriving on May 2, 2020, in Greenwich, England, a 29-night cruise. 

We need to begin further research on staying in India from February 8th to April 3rd, almost two whole months. We haven’t decided yet if we’ll rent a series of holiday homes or stay in hotels. If you’ve visited India in the past few years and have any suggestions, that would be greatly appreciated!

Tom had suggested we wait to book anything further for India until we had a better idea of how I’d be feeling. Now, after being off the three awful medications and being able to walk for the past month, my strength is quickly returning.

St. John the Baptist church is located in Witheridge.

It is no longer painful to walk, and the breathing issue (aka dyspnea) I was experiencing has diminished each day. The wounds on my legs and the hematoma on my right thigh are almost completely healed, and my sternum continues to be less and less painful when I move specific ways. 

Overall, I feel tremendous and hopeful for plans for the future.  Barring any unforeseen setbacks, I’m good to go anywhere we’d like to go in the world. We’ll continue to purchase global insurance, which is available annually for long-term travelers at a much better rate than we’d paid in the past.

Ultimately the international insurance we had all these years proved useless when they refused to pay my medical bills, claiming I had a pre-existing heart condition, which I did not have nor was aware of.  

Row houses in the village.

We could commence a lawsuit against the insurance company, but we’ve decided we don’t want to make our lives all about a legal matter, constantly on the phone with lawyers.  

Life goes on. And, we’re grateful that “life goes on!” We’re thankful to have survived the trials of the past seven-plus months, and feel free to return to our world journey with peace of mind and contentment.

May your day present you with peace of mind and contentment!

Photo from one year ago today, September 25, 2018:
The baby tried drinking from the river on her own while mom stood nearby to watch for predators.  Giraffes are vulnerable to predators in this position. For more photos, please click here.

Reviews of rental car companies…The good and the not so good…Photos of our new home in Witheridge…

Renate and John took all the lovely photos we’re sharing today.  This is our holiday rental, Pond Cottage, at night.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon, Cornwall:
“Devon has the slowest roads in the country (from this site):

Not only do we have more roads than anyone else, but it also takes you longer to use. A survey by international travel experts Inrix, who provides live traffic information to people like the BBC, this year named Exeter the slowest city in the country during rush hour. Yes, slower than London. Traffic crawls through the city at just 4.6mph at the busiest times of the day. You can walk faster. Businesses in Exeter spend more time stuck in traffic than businesses in London.

Over the past three days, it’s been raining around the clock. Yesterday, it was cold. We started a fire in the wood-burning stove to keep us warm and kept it going all day, well into the evening.  
It’s too cool to use the beautiful pool.

It was delightful to see the roaring fire and to hear the crackling of the dry wood. It reminded us of cozy cold days in Minnesota, although it certainly isn’t as hard here as it was there.

There is heat in this house, but we don’t use it to help the owner keep costs down. The fire was an excellent alternative, especially when all the firewood comes from downed trees on the 150-acre farm.

The living room where we’re currently situated as I prepare today’s post.

On another note, over the past several weeks, we’ve been dealing with a frustrating rental car issue resulting in countless phone calls to resolve it.

On May 12, 2019, we rented a car from Easirent (a rental company in the UK) in Dublin for our three-month stay in Connemara, Ireland. We were shocked at the rental office when a deposit of EU 2100, US $2308.71, was required along with a tax of EU 712, US $826 (neither of which were mentioned when we rented the car online). This huge sum was not just a “hold” on the credit card, but they actually “took” the amount from our credit card.

There’s a freezer on the opposite side of the kitchen (not shown in the photo), which is the same size as the under-counter refrigerator shown here.

We returned the car, filled to the brim with fuel and with no damage whatsoever, on August 9, 2019. We were told when we booked the car and then again when we returned it. We’d see the substantial refund within ten business days. That was 46 days ago. No refund.

After three weeks had passed from the return date, I started calling, inquiring as to when we’d receive the refund. First, I called the location we’d rented it to ensure they’d properly processed the return. 

The master bedroom with skylights with a remote for opening and closing their shades. Each of the two almost identical bedrooms has en-suite bathrooms.

They stated, “Deposit refunds can take as much as three weeks. You should see it in a few days.”   

From the original “10 business days” to “21 business days?” This was not acceptable. However, we knew we had a backup plan if they didn’t refund the money…we could contact the credit card we’d used for the rental and request they handle it.  

We’re a little too early to see the leaves turning.  

On one other occasion, we’d gone through the credit card company when we were to receive a refund from an airline when they’d canceled the flight. It took months, contacting them over and over with no results.  

Finally, we took the issue to the credit card company, and they resolved it in days, not months, giving us a full refund. Now, we were faced with doing the same, with the same credit card company.  

An aerial view of the two houses and farm buildings on the 150-acre property. Pond Cottage is closest to the pond shown between the trees in the forefront of the photo.

We preferred not to have the credit card company handle the refund if we could help it. It’s possible they’d flag our account showing multiple requests for refunds.  

I went up the line…searching higher up at Easirent to find the appropriate management to speak to. Yesterday, I had no alternative but to threaten with the prospect of contacting an attorney and muddying their name on our site. 

A few hours ago, I was told by a “higher-up” that the credit was processed at 8:51 this morning.  No apologies.

Many ducks and geese reside on the farm. They enjoy the pond and daily feedings.

He explained it could take a few days to appear on our credit card. I don’t understand why a credit would take so long when charges appear immediately, but we’ll give it a few days and see what happens. Frustrating, to say the least, and also time-consuming.

When we rented the first and second of two cars here in England through Europcar at the Exeter Airport, we were thrilled with the cars, the customer service, the low deposit, and the ease of the entire process on both occasions.

We’d used Europcar more times than any other rental company over the years and always had a great experience. Why did we choose Easirent this only time? For some odd reason, pricing in Dublin was considerably higher at Europcar for the three-month rental than Easirent. We chose Easirent without doing enough research on the company. Our error. We’ll never do this again!

Pond Cottage during daylight hours.

So now we wait to see if the refund comes through in the next few days. If it doesn’t, we’ll ask the credit card company for assistance. We’ll report the outcome here in the next few days.

Yes, traveling can result in situations such as these, whether over the short or long term. We learn as we go and carry along with us the knowledge we’ve acquired along the way.  Even after almost seven years, we still don’t always get it right. We continue to learn from our experiences as we enthusiastically look to the future. 

May your day be filled with peace and contentment.

Photo from one year ago today, September 24, 2018:

From this site“The giraffe’s main predator is the lion, which can accelerate to almost 50 miles per hour. His second worst enemy, the hyena, can reach 35 mph. If a lion and a giraffe ran a race side by side, the lion would beat the giraffe to the finish line. However, the giraffe is not about to give a predator an even start. He uses his great height and excellent eyesight to spot a pride of lions as far as half a mile away and gets a head start. Lions can sustain their top speed for only about a hundred yards, so they run out of gas before the giraffe does. Hyenas can be more dangerous because they hunt cooperatively. They can take turns sprinting to keep the giraffe from slowing down to catch his breath.” For more photos, please click here.