The routine…The routine…The routine…Checking the time..Favorite time of the day…

Warthogs warfare in the garden.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.
Today’s photos are from May 14, 2015. Please click here for more details.

Finally, we got a good shot of this pair of cows, most likely a mom and baby, after waiting patiently.
Never have any of us been so trapped into a routine as we are during the lockdown in most of our lives. I can’t recall ever checking the time as often as I do now.
For me:
Is it time for another walk? 
Is it time for another meal?
Is it time to prepare the post?
Is it time to stream a few shows?
Is it the day to hand wash my clothes in the shower?
Is it time for another cup of coffee/tea?
Is it time to do research online as to when borders and international flights will reopen?
Is it the day to pay the credit card bills?
For Tom: (After 42 ½ years of checking the time while working on the railroad, he doesn’t pay much attention to the time):
Is it time to take my vitamin B6, which has prevented me from getting more kidney stones?
Is it time to order dinner?
Is it time to wash my clothes?
The island we encountered during the drive to Clifden.
Tom is less time-concentric than I am. We all have our specific routines, even before Covid-19. But, I’ve always been the type of person to become entrenched in what I should have, could have, would have done next. Benefit, now it seems more apparent when the days drag on.
Fortunately, there is a favorite time of the day, usually around 7:00 pm or shortly after that when our dinner arrives. Although we eat the same foods each meal, I’m hungry and looking forward to the food (less so for breakfast which I could take or leave) by that time.
From African wildlife to barnyard animals, we’ve found a degree of contentment, especially when they are as cute as these two cows, huddled together to stay warm on a chilly morning.
Lately, the decaf coffee with the powdered cream (yeah, I know, it’s not so healthy, but it’s what’s available right now) has turned into a delightful few minutes; the preparation and the sipping on the hot cup of goodness bring me a few minutes of pure joy.
Sheep are marked with paint as described here: “Farmers “paint” their sheep for identification.  Frequently, you’ll notice large pastures blanketed in green grass and dotted with sheep.  Typically, these pastures are enclosed by stone walls or wire fences and are shared by multiple farmers. When it comes time to claim ownership of the animals roaming around hundreds of acres, a customized painted sheep is easy to identify. Also, during the mating season, the male ram will be fitted with a bag of dye around its neck and chest. When mating, the ram mounts the ewe, and a bit of dye is deposited on the ewe’s upper back. This way, the farmer knows which ewes have been impregnated and moves them on to another field away from the ram.”
After dinner, we settled onto the bed to stream two episodes of the “show of the moment,” all of which we binge-watch.” Variety under these circumstances isn’t necessary. We just finished season eight of Game of Thrones and all episodes of Tiger King and Succession. 
We’ve seen these three burros. “The only real difference between a donkey and a burro is their domestication status. A donkey is domesticated. A donkey is wild. Other than that, there is no difference — burro is just the Spanish word for donkey. There is no physical or genetic difference between a mule or a donkey otherwise.”
Now we’re watching Australia’s Jack Irish in the late afternoon and then the last season of Poldark in the evening. During dinner, we just finished season eight of Doc Martin and began working on season two of Australia’s The Heart Guy, both of which don’t require much concentration and are delightfully simple, ideal for watching while dining.
Cows are curious. They often stopped grazing to check out who was driving by.
Yep, this is our lives right now, folks. Bland is always alert as to what’s happening throughout the world during these difficult times of Covid-19. We’ve found a few good news channels on Indian TV that we have on in the early morning. After breakfast, Tom listens to his favorite radio show, Garage Logic from Minnesota. 
The Clifden town square.
As I prepare today’s post, NatGeo Wild is on the TV with the sound turned down. Usually, Garage Logic is on in the background for a few hours while I do the post, listening simultaneously. AIt provides us both with a bit of wildlife fix while we’re in lockdown. 
St. Joseph Catholic Church is located in downtown Clifden where we shopped for groceries.
It sounds like a lot of mental stimulation during these otherwise dull days and nights, but it works for us, keeping our minds engaged. Neither of us has been interested in reading fiction books right now. It doesn’t seem easy to get out of our heads enough to get wrapped up in a novel.
Plants for sale at a local garden store. The owner came out to greet us. The Irish are very friendly.
I almost feel as if I need to stay alert, pay attention to what we’ll do next, allay boredom or negative thoughts from setting in, doing exactly what, and when it appeals to us the most.
The strips of shops made it easy to get around the downtown area.
How are you coping with staying level-headed during times of Covid-19? We’d love to hear from you! Please comment at the bottom of our page, and indeed we will reply within 24 hours.
Stay safe.

Photo from one year ago today, May 15, 2019:

A ram painted red for identification purposes with curved horns. For more on the year-ago post, please click here.

Feeling great….Last few photos of Torquay…Two days and counting..

A cute little restaurant, the Cottage Cafe.

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

“Roman soldiers are known to have visited Torquay when Britain was a part of the Roman Empire, leaving offerings at a curious rock formation in Kents Cavern, known as “The Face.” No evidence has been found of Roman settlement in the town. The first major building in Torquay was Torre Abbey, a Premonstratensian monastery founded in 1196. Torquay remained a minor settlement until the Napoleonic wars when Torbay was used as a sheltered anchorage by the Channel Fleet, and relatives of officers often visited Torquay. The mild climate (for the UK) attracted many visitors who considered the town a convalescence retreat where they could recover from illness away from the cold and cloudy winters of more northerly or easterly locations. The population of Torquay grew rapidly from 838 in 1801, to 11,474 in 1851.”
Six weeks ago, I came off the three heart medications, each of which was causing terrible side effects.  The conditions for which they were prescribed are not issues I’ve experienced except during the first few weeks after surgery while I was hospitalized.

The exhaustion, the constant need for naps, the chronic pain in my muscles and joints preventing me from walking or performing simple tasks, the erratic pulse often too low, the atrial fibrillations, the bouts of high and low blood pressure, and the frightening breathlessness, all are gone.

My pulse is comfortably in the high 60’s. My blood pressure runs in the 115/70 range. I can breathe easily and walk up and down several flights of stairs with no more difficulty than others without heart issues. I am often sleeping through the night…a first for me.
The best shot I could get of this church was when there was no nearby parking.

Keep in mind. I’ve never really noticed any difference before and after the surgery. I’d completed the stress test with seeming ease before the surgery without being out of breath. Then, I was easily able to exert myself, and now, there’s no difference.  

But it was an abnormal stress test readout attributed to the plethora of tests and surgeries that followed. Finally, it was the angiogram that provided the scary situation I was in.  I still have blockages but no angina (chest pain or otherwise). We’ll see what the future holds.

In the past month, I’ve stopped obsessing about how I am feeling at any given moment. With all the side effects I had, it’s no wonder I was in a state of worry and concern. I no longer check my pulse 20 times a day, my blood pressure ten times. All is well.
There are numerous churches in Torquay of many denominations.

Each of the three drugs had its own unique set of side effects. As I weaned off one medication after another, the changes in how I was feeling were palpable. I’m so grateful.

Sure, you may say I should have gone to a doctor before stopping these drugs. But, after considerable reading on reputable medical studies, all my side effects were expected. Normal? Yikes!
(Please do not take any of this information as advice or suggestions for your health. Please see your physician if issues arise).
A clock tower.

Once we left South Africa in May, I left behind a relationship with a cardiologist. I’d requested records from him and the surgeon, but they weren’t as comprehensive as they should have been to present to a new doctor.

IF I had gone to a cardiologist in another country, I would most likely have been required to have more tests, some invasive and some with a degree of risk. I took my own life into my hands which, in itself, wasn’t without risk.
However, if I’d had any new symptoms as I weaned off the drugs, I would have immediately sought professional help.  Now, I can stick to having my first annual checkup in February, which I plan to do.
We were surprised to see a casino in Torquay.

As we look to the future, we do so with innate optimism and passion for our continuing travels. We realize the risks, but after we’ve experienced what we have been through this past year, we know we can figure out the best possible solutions.

In two days, we head out for the last of the four holiday homes in the UK before we’re off to Southampton for a few days in a hotel and then on to the cruise back to the US. One month from today we’ll be with our families!

Enjoy your day to the max!
Photo from one year ago today, October 9, 2018:
Traffic jam on the way to the river. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Torquay, the much revered English Riviera…Living on farms…Three days and counting…

High Street in many towns and villages has banners flying indicating the main shopping area.

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

“Torquay’s name originates in its being the quay of the ancient village of Torre. In turn, Torre takes its name from the tor, the extensively quarried remains of which the town’s Lymington Road can be seen, thus giving this the original name of Torquay, then Torkay, Torkey, and Tor Quay before joining the words together to Torquay.

The area comprising modern Torquay has been inhabited since Paleolithic times. Hand axes found in Kents Cavern have been dated as 40,000 years old,[4] and a maxilla fragment, known as Kents Cavern 4, maybe the oldest example of a modern human in Europe, dating back to 37,000–40,000 years ago.

It’s going to be hard to leave this incredible farm in three days. Our only disappointment has been the amount of rain during our stay, impacting our ability to explore further this beautiful 150-acre property and more of the surrounding area.

Several beachcombers wandered the shore with the dogs, tossing balls for them to chase.

Once again, we’ve discovered that living on a farm has been a memorable experience. In the past seven years, we’ve only spent a total of four months living on farms. Although not significant time-wise,  each unto its own has left an indelible mark on the accumulated scope of our travel experiences.

The center of town has a variety of shops and restaurants.

In the future, we may search for farms as possible holiday homes based on the depth and magnitude of their effects on our level of enjoyment along with a profound sense of well-being and pleasure.

A footbridge was leading to the beach promenade.

People often ask what has been our favorite experience since we began seven years ago. For both of us, the answer is simple…being close to nature, whether it’s living in the bush surrounded by wildlife or living in the area where we can spot indigenous wildlife and birds and, of course, living on farms.

Our two experiences of late include St. Teath, Cornwall, and now in Witheridge, Devon. And, when was our third? Our first farm adventure occurred when we lived on the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

We walked on this bridge down to the beach.

As we’ve mentioned many times in the past, the three months we spent living in a newly built farmhouse with 100 alpacas surrounding us in various paddocks will be remembered as one of our favorite stays in any location.  

To begin reading a few of the alpaca farm adventures, please click here. When I just looked up the link, my heart did a flip-flop when I saw the adorable face of my favorite little alpaca (called a “cria”), Mont Blanc, who later lost his little life. Such memories.

The cliffs overlook the beach and promenade.

Then, of course, the four months we spent in Kauai, Hawaii, with almost daily interactions with the nesting, hatching, and eventual fledging of the stunning Layson albatross chicks who nested in the nearby neighborhood of several of the friends we made while there.  

Click this link for more and the beginning of our posts for this life-changing opportunity, one we’ll never forget as the chicks were about to hatch. We followed their story day after day, cherishing every moment of this peek into the life of these fantastic birds.  

This little dog made us laugh when fast chasing a ball.

And, as many of our long-time readers are well aware, the total two years we spent in Africa, our lives were filled with adventure and excitement beyond our wildest dreams. It’s hard to believe we left South Africa only five months ago, as the memories linger on.

The contemporary spire on a church in the downtown area.

It was in October 2013. We had the blissful experience of our first safari in Kenya. We still find ourselves reeling over the endless sightings we were blessed to see. Please click here where those photos began.

Well, it goes on and on. Mother Nature is our hero and will remain so for whatever time we are gifted with as we strive to continue this year-long journey.

There are many ornate office complexes in the town.

We are very grateful for life…for ours and theirs…the mission continues.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 8, 2018:
They aren’t particularly handsome animals, but they are an essential part of the animal kingdom. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Torquay, the much revered English Riviera…Wardrobe issues…

A creative sand sculpture artist was busy working on the beach in Torquay, Devon, known as the English Riviera.

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

Torquay (/tɔːrˈkiː/ tor-KEE) is a seaside town in Devon, England, part of the unitary authority area of Torbay. It lies 18 miles (29 km) south of the county town of Exeter and 28 miles (45 km) east-north-east of Plymouth, on the north of Tor Bay, adjoining the neighboring town of Paignton on the west of the bay and across from the fishing port of Brixham.The town’s economy, like Brixham’s, was initially based upon fishing and agriculture. Still, in the early 19th century, it developed into a fashionable seaside resort, originally frequented by members of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. At the same time, the Royal Navy anchored in the bay. Later, as the town’s fame spread, it was popular with Victorian society. Renowned for its mild climate (for the U.K.), the town earned the English Riviera’s nickname.

The writer Agatha Christie was born in the town and lived there during her early years, and there is an “Agatha Christie Mile,” a tour with plaques dedicated to her life and work.”

When it was sunny a few days ago, we didn’t waste a moment dropping everything to hit the road to visit the popular town of Torquay, Devon, known as the English Riviera.
It was beautiful to see the ocean once again in Torquay, Devon.
Driving was always challenging when many roads weren’t marked, and the GPS signal was seldom available. Saving the online directions helped, but only when we closely watched the odometer for turns which helped but still wasn’t perfect.
It was one of the few sunny days in weeks inspiring us to go on a road trip.
Once we got onto the highway, the M5, finding our way was easy with many signs marked for Torquay, the popular seaside resort town. It took us over an hour once we made it to the highway.
Upon arrival in the lovely town of Torquay, after we’d had lunch in a restaurant with a parking lot (yeah!) with excellent views of the sea. We had a nice lunch and were on our way to check out the attractive location.
Torquay is a busy tourist location as well as a permanent home for many British and foreigners.  Its current population is 65,245, making it the third-highest population in Devon, but not in England’s top 320 cities/towns/villages.
Perhaps, someday, we’ll stay in Torquay for a few weeks as we’d done in the equally fantastic seaside town of Falmouth, Cornwall, which we left only a month ago. It was a memorable experience along with the two farms we’ve experienced on this two-month leg in the UK.
The time in the English countryside has passed quickly, and when we realize we’re leaving Witheridge in a mere four days, for 11 nights in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales. 
As shown above, over 1,000,000 tourists visit Torquay each year. Many stay in hotels and holiday rentals in buildings.
After spending two nights in a hotel in Southampton, we’ll be boarding the ship to begin our 15-night cruise back to the US in only 17 days from today, arriving in Fort Lauderdale on November 8th. We’re both very excited to see family again and, of course, to go on yet another cruise.
On our last cruise on August 11th from Amsterdam back to Amsterdam, I could not walk freely without awful pain.  Plus, my wardrobe was seriously lacking in options to wear both during the day and in the evenings when a more dressy attire is expected.  
The beach was clean and sandy, but the cool weather only attracted walkers, runners, and those exercising their dogs.
My clothes are worn out, and although I’ve tossed every tattered item, the remaining options showed signs of wear. It was frustrating to try to figure out what to wear each day and evening.
Also, most of my tops were low-cut v-neck, none of which I was excited to wear with the huge scar on my chest. No, I don’t mind it showing during our day-to-day lives, but I don’t care to draw attention to it in evening attire.
A week ago, the box of supplies we’d ordered from the US arrived (and received in five days) included a half dozen new tops I can wear on the cruise, along with the three casual dresses I’d fit in a prior package several months ago that arrived in South Africa, after quite a hassle.
Contemporary buildings line the boulevard, with many historic properties located throughout the town.  Parking was tricky.
My pants are all in good shape, so that these new tops will work out well.  I have one black skirt I’ve been hauling around for a few years that I’ve yet to wear. The scars on my legs are still raised and red, and unless I wear my opaque black tights, I doubt I’ll ever wear them. Maybe I’ll try that this time around.
We’ll pack in the next few days, and now that I have a few new things, I can unload an equal number of worn items I’ll no longer wear. This will make packing easier when we have to fly once again when we arrive in Florida in one month.
Today, we’re staying in again. You know…the rain continues.
May your Monday be sunny and bright!
Photo from one year ago today, October 7, 2018:
Cape buffalos sure know how to cuddle. Note the bird on his head. For more details, please click here.

What’s missing?…How can we stay entertained and engaged?…

Ruins of a castle on the drive to Balleyconneely.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Ireland is home to what could be the oldest pub in the world. It was opened in
900 AD.”

It would be unrealistic to say we find a level of contentment in every country we visit. It seems the determining factor is how well we can entertain ourselves when we feel like being considered.

Unfortunately, here in Ireland, we’re stuck indoors most days with the cool, windy, and rainy weather. Each sunny day, we can’t get out the door quickly enough to explore, take photos and reach a destination we’re curiously seeking.

Seagulls on the craggy rocks in Balleyconneely.

We’ve made a list of places we’d like to visit while here, but with only 55 days remaining until we depart for Amsterdam, time is quickly closing in, and we wonder if we’ll be able to see these points of interest while here.

I’ve been nudging Tom for us to get out and research his ancestry but with the distances to the locations in which to explore, we hesitate to go. Also, as he’s continued research on, he doubts he’d be able to find anything when records weren’t diligently kept for citizens in Ireland during that era, the early 1800s, and further back.

A dad and son are looking for seashells on the beach.

Instead, he fills his days with mindless drivel while I prepare the posts, prep the meals, and do the laundry. I spend a certain part of each day dealing with the insurance issues resulting from my four surgeries between January and April. The “paperwork” never seems to end.

Don’t get me wrong…we aren’t bored. We’re rarely, if ever, bored. In the quietest of times, we can always plug in the HDMI cord to my computer and the TV and watch a movie, although we rarely do so during daylight hours.

A few years ago, we both used to read a lot of books on our phones. But, for some reason, we’ve lost interest in reading books and instead read news and general information online.  

In Ireland, many cliffs and rocky walls line the shoreline. It was great to see a few beaches, but none attracted sunbathers and swimmers in the cool weather.

Isn’t it amazing that if we so much as conceive of an idea or have a question, we can go to the Internet for an answer? Tom seems to enjoy this type of research more than I do since I try to avoid using my laptop unless I have an important reason after I’ve uploaded the day’s post.

Is something missing right now? For Tom, not much. He’s always able to entertain himself. But, for me…I have to work a little harder to find ways to entertain myself.  

With the limitations of the past almost five months since the diagnosis of heart disease at the end of January 2019 and subsequent multiple surgeries, I’ve felt a little trapped at times.

We no more tire of seeing sheep than we did warthogs and kudus.

In Marloth Park, once I was able to wander out to the veranda at the end of the bed rest period, seeing the wildlife entertained me and kept me busy most days. This was only for about a month but it made me realize how much I was dependent upon the wildlife visits to keep me engaged and excited each day.

I suppose, for me, that’s what’s missing. But, soon enough we’ll be moving along, cruising, spending shorter periods in various country locations in the UK and eventually visiting the US when our days and nights will be complete.

There are no regrets. There is no sorrow over what has transpired since the end of January. There is no grieving over the loss of seeing the animals every day and its excitement.  

Instead, there’s a powerful sense of gratefulness that supersedes all else.  Regardless of the challenges presented along the way, they are softened by taking the time to appreciate what we do have instead of what we don’t. We continue on this path.

Have a peaceful day filled with gratitude.

Photo from one year ago today, June 17, 2018:
We haven’t seen Scar Face in weeks and look forward to his return. Now, we have a particular affinity for Tusker, who’s very shy but practically swoons when I talk to him in a goofy high pitched voice…you know, the voice some of us use when talking to pets and babies. For more photos, please click here.

Whoa!…2500 posts as of today…Food photo…Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

Tom’s breakfast plate included scrambled eggs with red onion and cheese with thin slices of smoked salmon and tuna pate on the side. I had the same meal but a smaller portion, all befitting my way of eating.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“The Titanic was built in Belfast, Northern Island.”

 When recently I happened to notice the number of posts we’d uploaded since our first post on March 14, 2012 (click here to read the first post), I was stunned. It’s hard for us to believe we’ve actually done 2500 posts, including today, and how hard we’ve been striving to be consistent during this past almost seven years. We’ve made every effort to post each day, other than a few times due to travel days, illness, and power and WiFi outages.

In 2013, we began posting almost daily as indicated in our archives, showing how many posts we uploaded each month, including a total for each year. We’ve often mentioned how quickly time has flown, but it becomes all the more relevant when we see this 2500 number.

Is this comparable to 2500 chapters in a book? Not entirely, since our posts are shorter than one would find in a book. However, as posted, it’s a continuing story progressing similarly to a book.

Beautiful scenery on the way to the SmokeHouse located in The Pier, Ballyconneely, Co. Galway.

We’ve contemplated writing a book, particularly when we’ve been offered a few opportunities to do so over the years. However, as we’ve always stated, we didn’t do this blog to make money and become commercialized, going to book signings and even appearing on TV shows, none of which appeals to either of us.

We write this ongoing series for love, and we continue to do so for love; love of the world, its people, its wildlife, its places, and the many who so kindly visit us time and time again to see what’s transpiring in our daily lives.

At times our stories and photos are exciting and filled with world adventures. At other times, of which we are well aware, our posts are mundane and of little consequence.  

The SmokeHouse‘s interior was somewhat surprising when we expected glass counters contain rows of fish.  Everything is frozen for safety and lasting quality. More on this in yesterday’s post.

And yet, our readers continue to return for more, pass our web address on to others for their viewing and stand along with us in support of this highly vulnerable and revealing expose of our daily lives.  

At times, I equate it to the content of the TV show Seinfeld, when for us, it can feel like a “story about nothing.” Perhaps readers find some sense of comparison and comfort from the mundane aspects of our lives during those times when “nothing” is going on.

But, “nothing” may frequently be. Isn’t that what life is like for most of us, especially those who are retired? Some days, we’re busy and engaged in our daily activities. At other times, we find a certain level of contentment from doing very little; a load of laundry, making a meal, and watching a favorite TV show in the evening.

Visitor’s vehicles were parked around the SmokeHouse’s building on the pier.

Do those quiet days make us feel any less alive? For us, those days connect us to reality, provide us time to reflect, plan for the future and look inside ourselves for ways in which we can grow.

When I think back to our 15 months in Marloth Park, South Africa, it was the quiet times we recall the most, the wildlife coming to call, a day’s drive into Kruger National Park, an evening at Jabula with friends, not necessarily indicative of a busy, fast-paced life.

And here in quiet, remote Connemara, unable to drive on long road trips due to my legs, we’re perfectly content. As I write this now, Tom is taking a nap. I am sitting alone in the lounge, munching on a raw carrot. How much more simple can that be?
This horse was fed by passersby when she got as close as she could when we stopped for a photo.

And yet, in a mere 54 days, we’ll be in Amsterdam for two nights awaiting a cruise in the Baltic Sea, which will take us to Copenhagen and Skagen, Denmark; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden. 

Certainly, this type of trip isn’t mundane and laidback. Once the cruise ends, we’ll live in the countryside in England in four different locations, here again, hardly an everyday experience.

At this point, we’re contemplating staying shorter periods in most countries to expand our horizons vastly, but we’ll never tire of the quiet days, like today; a delicious dinner already prepped and ready; a glass of wine savored, along with a favorite cocktail for Tom, as we lounge in two stuffed comfy chairs overlooking Bertraghboy Bay in Connemara, Ireland.
For us, this is hardly mundane, but at times, in this unusual life we live, it may be routine and predictable.

Friends…thank you for sharing 2500 posts with us…thank you for staying with us during mundane and quiet times, and thank you for either writing, commenting, or quietly lurking in the background.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out! May this be a pleasing day for you, even if it’s quiet and relatively uneventful.

Photo from one year ago today, June 16, 2018:

And, here are the girls!  Not much is “girlish” about female rhinos! For more rhino photos, please click here.

On the road again…A gorgeous drive to a smoky place…What is food costing us in Ireland?…

It was thrilling to see white sandy beaches with little to no debris and few people.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“The Celtic cross and shamrock are
both associated with Ireland, but the national symbol is the harp.”

We’d come to a point where it was time to get out when finally there was an isolated sunny day. It’s tricky driving on the winding, hilly roads and the thought of driving more than three hours in a single day is daunting.

With the necessity of keeping my legs up when I am not walking in order to keep the swelling under control (swelling impeded healing), the idea of driving for more than a few hours doesn’t make sense at this juncture.

Could this be a mating pair of sheep?

The healing of my legs is going well, but visible only in tiny increments when we clean the wound, add the cream cream, add a new moistened gauze ending with bandages and clean compression socks every two days.

When we did this last night, I decided to wash and shave my legs in the tub in the upstairs bath with a sprayer. Being cautious with the open wound, I was able to shave around it.  

This has been the most extended period of my adult life when I hadn’t shaved my legs in over four months. In the past, I shaved each day. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  As soon as my legs dried, we began the usual bandaging process. This could continue for a few more months, based on how it’s looking now.

Sheep lined the road’s edges.  Tom drives extra carefully when there’s no fence protecting the animals.

Anyway, early yesterday afternoon, we decided to get out to a location that wouldn’t cause considerable swelling to my legs while sitting stationary in the car. 

The Connemara Smokehouse was the perfect selection. Not only would we enjoy a scenic drive along the open ocean, but we’d also have the opportunity to purchase smoked fish from this fine establishment, raved about by locals.

Once we entered the shop, we were surprised to see there was no official “fish case,” with a variety of freshly smoked fish on ice on display. There were several freezers filled with several types of fish, all frozen and professionally packaged.

Most roads are not tree-lined when the majority of the terrain is green rolling hills and mountains.

(Speaking of professionally, the SmokeHouse’s website is impressive, as shown here at this link).

Why was all the fish frozen? We all have a perception that the best fish is caught in the morning and sold unfrozen a few hours later. When we asked if they had any fresh, not frozen, smoked fish, their answer made all the sense in the world.

Particular with freshness and food safety, the smoking process proceeds as they’ve stated here on their site:

A short time into our drive, we encountered the open sea.

The Smoking Process Smokehouse Ireland
The raw materials used to make Connemara Smokehouse Smoked Seafoods are subjected to meticulous scrutiny, where every step is of the utmost importance in producing a perfect end result. When the fish has reached the ideal weight for smoking, it is harvested from the sea, rapidly cooled, gutted, cleaned, hand filleted and boned.

To add to this assurance of quality, Graham fillets the fish by hand, which allows him to monitor every single fish that passes through our Smokehouse. The whole process is conducted quickly, hygienically, and under strict control to retain the fish’s fine taste, freshness, and natural color.

It is smoked in aromatic smoke from a slow-burning fire of beech wood shavings. Then salt is sprinkled by hand over the fillets. After 8 to 10 hours, it is rinsed off with fresh water and placed to smoke and dry for a further 16 to 20 hours.

For the first time since we arrived on May 12, we encountered sandy beaches.  However, the cool weather in Ireland is most likely to keep beachgoers and tourists away.

This adds an exquisite taste, gives a delicate color, and results in a mouth-watering experience. The recipe used and the timing of the process vary according to the size, desired taste, and fat content of the fish. The Connemara Smokehouse obtains its wild Salmon locally. All the fish used in our products are harvested from the pure, rugged Atlantic waters.” Packing:

Storing Your Products: all products are vacuum-packed and shipped by courier. Whatever the packaging or specification, The Connemara Smokehouse always guarantees the tastiest, best quality Irish Seafood.

Smoked Salmon will be kept in your fridge for two weeks in the unopened vacuum pack and up to 8 months in your freezer, also unopened. However, we recommend consumption within seven days or freeze for up to 8 months, as this is better for the quality. See more about storing your products here.

The pristine beaches were unoccupied other than by a few bundled-up walkers with their children or dogs.

This made a lot of sense to us. Fish spoils quickly. This particular company refuses to run the risk of their carefully prepared products spoiling and possibly causing illness to less-than-careful purchasers. The smoked fish is vacuum-sealed and tastes best, as explained to us if eaten within three days of, defrosting (in the fridge) and opening the package, although it may keep as long as seven days in a very cold refrigerator.

Upon entering the shop, we were warmly greeted by the owner. There were several other shoppers in the store with us. We only waited for a minute for one of their friendly, knowledgeable staff to assist us with our order.

There were plastic laminated menus of products offered in English, French, and German. After perusing the menu and getting a few tastes from our rep, we decided on organic smoked Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and a tub of tuna pate.

Prices were comparable to smoked fish in the US, if not a little more. For all the fish, we spent Euro 76.59, US $86.07, enough fish to last us for several breakfasts when we’ll enjoy it the most.  

Also, lately we’ve been spending approximately Euro 40, US $44.95 a week for fresh-caught, unsmoked fish and seafood, plus all of our general groceries at SuperValu in Clifden.  

After arriving in Ireland one month ago, we’ve spent a total (including all fish) of Euro 1210.17, US $1359.93, which also includes wine and Tom’s Courvoisier.  Dining out, we’ve spent Euro 247.61 US $278.25.  Our grand total to eat in and dine out is Euro 1461.71, US $1628.17 averaging at Euro 48.59 US, $54.60 per day.  

Based on past records we’ve diligently maintained over this past many years, the cost to eat in and out is higher in Ireland than any other country we’ve visited. There’s no doubt that we purchase many organic vegetables and high-quality foods, but we only have a maximum of two meals a day and few, if any, snacks.

It’s the way it is.  As we all know, part of the fun of traveling is dining, whether cooking at a holiday home or dining out.  We admit we haven’t missed out on a morsel of fine food, most of which we’ve made at “home.”

In any case, we had a great time yesterday, driving for a little less than two hours with many stops along the way to take photos. Over the next several days, we’ll continue to share more new photos from our outing. Before we know it, we’ll head out on another sightseeing tour.

Be well. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, June 15, 2018:

      This is a “train” of the African Silk Worm grouping, which returned to our veranda after we moved them away. For more photos, please click here.

The realities of daily photo sharing…A reminder of the USA in Alajuela Costa Rica…

Much of the produce at the Central Market in Atenas appears to be imported when it’s perfectly shaped and mostly clean. At the feria, the Friday Atenas Farmer’s Market, the produce seems to have been “just picked” with excess leaves and insects still on them. That’s the produce we prefer to buy.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

The gnarly trunk of a tree in the yard.

In a perfect world, we ‘d have new and exciting photos for each day’s post. But, in the “real” world that’s simply not possible for us. If we only posted once a week or once a month, it would be easy. 

Our commitment and desire to post daily make this type of objective ridiculous. We’d have to be out sightseeing every day to accomplish such a feat. And like many others, we embrace a pleasant day to day life, it just happens to be in different countries every few months or more frequently during specific periods.

Produce shop in the Central Market.

When locals encourage us to see “this and that” in their country, we smile and say we look forward to seeing many of their homeland’s unique features. We often say, “We are enjoying “living” in your country and relishing its customs, culture, and way of life, although it doesn’t necessarily mean we go sightseeing all the time.

As you live in your homeland, do you go sightseeing all the time…or ever, for that matter? I can’t recall the last time we went sightseeing in Minnesota where collectively we both spent most of our lives (Tom a native; me a transplant in my early 20’s). 

Various meats are hanging in the refrigerated window. In many countries, we’ve seen meat hanging in the window without any type of refrigeration.

Sure, a Minnesotan might take out-of-state visitors to see the Mall of America or Minnehaha Falls. But, once the visitors are gone, it’s back to the usual activities of everyday life.

For us, there are specific sites we’re anxious to see while taking photos to share—some much more than others. But, more so, it’s the serendipitous situations we encounter along the way that provide us with the most excitement and intrigue; the people, the wildlife, and jaw-dropping scenery and vegetation.

 There are a few butcher shops located in the Central Market.

A few days ago, having the rental car, we’d considered driving to the beach. However, with stormy days predicted for each of the five days we had the car, it made no sense to go for four hours (round trip) to get to a beach. 

How many photos of white sand beaches have been posted here over these past five years? Most likely well into the hundreds. Spending more time living in beach towns than anywhere else in the world, one sandy beach photo is not unlike another to our readers.

Costa Rica is getting ready for Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, and we love beach scenes. But, I also love living near a beach or on an oceanfront property as we have on many occasions, comparable to our time in Bali (four months total) living on the coast in a gorgeous villa such as here in Atenas.

Although Atenas doesn’t have ocean views we’re totally content with the lush views of the Central Valley, the rapidly changing weather conditions, the birds, the sounds of barnyard animals and the easy lifestyle.

In the center of “downtown” Atenas, another farmers-type market is open during the week and Saturdays. Again, there are shops, restaurants, and plenty of produce. We walked through the entire mart but didn’t purchase a thing.

Besides living in a gorgeous home with every possible needed or desired amenity, it is exceedingly comfortable to stay in on the days we don’t have transportation nor a desire to get out. But, isn’t that like all of us? 

Of course, we all know people who are constantly on the go, planning every moment of their day and evening when they’re not working or engaged in obligatory tasks. I often wonder if those people are running from quiet time and their headspace. But I could be wrong.

A discount store in the Atenas village.

We find those quiet times enriching, refueling us for our next out-and-about adventure, sightseeing tour, or drive to the countryside. For us, it’s about balancing our lives with that which we love to do at any given time, whether it’s a lazy afternoon rest on the veranda, a conversation laden hour in the pool, a tour of a popular venue, or watching another episode of Mad Men in the evening.

It all matters.  With so much on the horizon, we’re finding the slow lazy lifestyle in Costa Rica rather appealing. Two months from today, we’ll be boarding the Celebrity Infinity for yet another 30-night cruise which will be the beginning of a year of considerable excitement and photo ops.

As we entered the PriceSmart store, it reminded us of shopping in Costco in our old lives.

Please bear with us as we present the photos we have on hand at any given moment. Many will consist of the continuation of tours we’ve done while here which we may have already presented in part, yet to be posted thus far. They may be out of any particular order and may not match the story of the day. Plus, some days the “Sightings from the Veranda” are limited.  We make every effort to find something new and different, but that’s not always possible.

Yesterday, we drove to the town of Alajuela to find the PriceSmart store (there are six in Costa Rica), surprisingly owned by Costco. We didn’t realize we’d have to purchase a membership to shop, but we didn’t hesitate to spend the US $35 (CRC 20,133.46) when we saw how many items we wanted to buy.

Wow!  Christmas decorations were already on display in PriceSmart.

Although most Spanish labels and all pricing were in Costa Rica colones, we managed pretty well.  Mostly, we were able to find cuts of meat and cheeses we hadn’t been able to find in Atenas. We spent US $395 (CRC 227,226) with enough protein to last several weeks. Luckily, the freezer is large enough to accommodate all of our purchases.

Most of all, it felt especially fun for us to be in basically what appeared to be a Costco store, here in Costa Rica.  The Kirkland marked packages of items brought back memories of our Costco store in Eden Prairie Minnesota where we often shopped. It was pretty enjoyable.

Goodness folks!  It’s still only September!

We scurried about when we returned to the villa bringing in all the items, many that didn’t fit into our yellow Costco bag or our Africa bag we carry with us throughout the world.  I put everything away while Tom hauled it in from the car. Isabel was still cleaning the house, so we hurried and put the perishables away, allowing her space to finish her work.

Tonight, we’re making one of our favorite meals, unwich (bread-less Subway-type) sandwiches, with a side of coleslaw and cooked vegetables. We haven’t had these since we made them at Richard’s home in Henderson Nevada in July. He enjoyed them as much as we always have. Also, Pricesmart had the gluten/sugar-free Boarshead meats and Provolone cheese, something we’d never find in Atenas.

Today, at noon we’ll head to the cafe at Supermercado Coopeatenas to return the car, grab a few items inside the market and return by taxi. No doubt it will be another good day.

May your day be good as well!

Photo from one year ago today, September 23, 2016:

Sunset reddened clouds are reflecting in our pool in Sumbersari Bali.  For more photos, please click here.

A visit to a local farmer’s market…Birds that come to call…The sights and sounds of travel…Walking gingerly…

We captured this bird photo from quite a distance in the trees behind our condo. It appears to be an Eyebrowed Thrush.

If we’re patient and stay quiet, many birds will stop on the lanai railing for a visit. I keep the camera ready to go on the dining table moving gingerly when a bird stops by.
Occasionally, we’ll spend idle time sitting on the chairs on the lanai looking for signs of life in the dense rainforest, hoping to spot a few of the more unusual varieties.

Prices were high at the local farmer’s market, resulting in a less than usual crowd.

Hawaii is not known for its vast array of wildlife. To date, we’ve seen birds and mongooses (only on the Big Island). Of course, in the bird family are the zillions of wild chickens everywhere we go. 

Whether it’s a trip to the gas station, supermarket, or strip mall, there are chickens. It appears there are as many roosters as there are hens busily crowing and clucking day and night. The only reprieve seems to be from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am when they seem to sleep.

This fruit is red rambutan is also known as hairy lychee.  These were priced by weight, which wasn’t posted.

By 4 am each morning, the crowing and clucking go into full force, and at times, the sound is deafening. Tom often gets up to shut the windows when it interferes with his sleep.

Somehow, the sounds don’t seem to keep me awake. It was the same for us in Morocco. The sounds of the call-to-prayer and the roosters didn’t disturb me after a few days, but, Tom struggled the entire two and a half months.

Beautiful flowers for sale at the farmer’s market.

In Italy, we had to adapt to the clock tower next door to us, which chimed every 15 minutes or so. It was off by several minutes each time it clanged. Oddly, that sound didn’t keep either of us awake after we adjusted after a few days.

Each area and each country has its own nuances, whether it’s sounds, rituals, or traditions that only add to our joy of immersing ourselves in the best life we can live wherever we may live.

These are soursop, a fruit reputed to slow the spread of cancer, but no studies have proven it to be effective. These are priced at $6 each.

Surely, in the months to come, living in Australia will present new customs and rituals and sights and sounds, that only add to the experiences that we treasure as we make our way to new continents in our ongoing travels.

This morning, awake at 5 am, I struggled to try to go back to sleep, hoping for one more hour. Alas, it was not to be the case. Finally, I ambled out of bed, trying to walk quietly with the knowledge that someone lives below us.

This is pomelo, priced at $2 each.

I’ve always been a “bull in a China shop” walking loudly, banging and clanging cabinet doors and pots and pans (as Tom always says). Quiet, I’m not.

The day we moved in, we met the kindly gentleman that lives below us. He gently reminded us to walk quietly as he can hear every move we make.

Grass-fed cows along the road to the farmer’s market in Hanalei.

Not used to having neighbors in close proximity, when in most cases we’ve rented houses, not condos or apartments, it’s been odd to have to consider the heaviness of our steps and movements about the condo.

This has been particularly difficult for me. How does one change their gait when inside, and yet, continue to walk strong and steady when outside? Each time I stand I remind myself to walk gently. If I forget to walk gently, I assure you, Tom will remind me.

These Brazilian Cardinals are common to the Hawaiian Island and frequent visitors.

So far, the neighbor hasn’t complained. But, if he does, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’d have to slither along the floor like a snake to be any quieter than I’ve been attempting to be.

Today, I’m off to the health club and if the sun stays out, Tom will join me for a time by the pool. Afterward, we’ll be off for more exploring. Our days in Kauai are simple and uncomplicated.

A Red Cardinal on the lanai railing.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with new photos. And Sunday, we’ll be back with photos from a scheduled tour at 1:30 pm in the village of Kilauea. 

Have a fabulous Friday!

                                           Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2014:

On this date, one year ago, we’d booked our flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga, South Africa to Marrakech, Morocco which required us to fly to Cairo, Egypt.  For details and costs for that booking, please click here.

The Na Pali Coast…Wet and dry caves and tunnels…The end of the road…

The colors in the tunnels at Tunnels Beach are varied.

Life is easy, living on Kauai. We’ve wandered in a pleasurable routine, leaving time for exploration, meeting new people, stopping to revel in the astounding scenery all around us.

The entrance to the tunnels at Tunnels Beach.

Honestly, we’ve never seen such beauty in one location, on one island. Who knew? I’d been to Kauai years ago, but did the usual tourist thing, staying in a resort/hotel that had everything one could want, did a little sightseeing, and tried a new restaurant every night. 

After working out and time at the pool, we had no idea we’d head to the Nap Pali Coast. As a result, both of us were still wearing our swimsuits and me, my workout pants for a peculiar outfit. Had we decided ahead of time to go exploring, we’ have gone home to change our clothes. In Hawaii, swimsuits are acceptable day wear.
Tom at the tunnels.

Under those conditions, one only notices their immediate surroundings. But, in those days BT (before Tom) I wasn’t as observant as I am now. Also, I seldom took photos. 

Note the person at a distance which provides a better perspective of the massive size of these tunnels.

Having developed an eye for possibly good shots, both Tom and I are always on the lookout for that which may appeal to our readers and also remind us in years to come how lucky we were to see what we’ve seen in our travels.

Inside the tunnel.  If we’d had a flashlight, we’d surely have continued deeper into the tunnel.

Oftentimes, Tom drives while I practically hang out the window since the narrow road on most of this island doesn’t allow for stopping. Although, we do stop at almost every designated overlook, beach, and park when possible.

Looking out to the road from inside the dry tunnel to Tunnels Beach.

Sure, we miss a few things along the road making a mental note to return someday soon. After all, we have plenty of time in these remaining three-plus months, actually 114 days until we leave for Honolulu to sail away.

Finally, we reach Napali/Na Pali.

The time will fly quickly as we now realize we’ve been here two weeks as of today. At our current rate of sightseeing, every few days or so, we’ll eventually run out of the major points of interest, especially now that we have seen the entire north coast that is reachable by road.

It was an overcast day and the beaches were still packed with tourists.

Beginning in March and April, we’ll see new blooms of many varieties of flowers we’ve yet to see when we’ve been in the islands from October through May. It will create an entirely new landscape for these exquisite rain forests and mountains.

We’d have loved to have spotted the Hawaiian Monk Seal but none were on the beach.

When we decided to drive the Na Pali Coast on Tuesday, it wasn’t planned in advance. On several occasions we’d driven part of the way stopping up to a certain point, leaving more for the next time. Finally, we drove to the end of the road at Na Pali Coast State Park as shown on the map.

Kauai Map showing points of interest and the location of Kauai vacation rentals. Kauai Map, Kauai Map, Kauai Map.
The road we took to the Na Pali Coast is not shown on this map but you can see the Na Pali Coast State Park in the upper left of this map.

It’s odd for the road to end. Surely, there are roads that travel to the more remote areas in the northwest, requiring access from further inland locations.

At this point on the beach, we were at the end of the northwest road in Kauai in Napali. Much of the 15 miles stretch of the Napali Coast is inaccessible due to steep cliffs. A boat tour would be ideal to see the entire coastline.

In the near future, we complete the remaining shoreline roads heading south past Lihue to the southwest until that road ends and then a trip to the Waimea Canyon as shown in the western interior. 

Napali, aka Na Pali, can be spelled two ways with the accent over the first “a.”

We’ll never run out of the less well-known points of interest that ultimately we end up loving the most. Those obscure, unanticipated events, such as the albatross that will continue to bring us joy over these next few months when the eggs are hatched and finally, the parents will allow the chicks a little time away from under the nest.

This is ideal for the serious hiker.

Without a doubt, we’ll cherish the change of seasons, although not as evident as in other parts of the world, when spring and summer flowers begin to bloom in Hawaii, that was tucked away over the few degree difference of the winter months.

This is the entrance to the “wet” tunnels where swimming is not allowed.
The water is most likely stagnant in this tunnel when the ocean is across the road.  Unless, of course, it’s fed by a spring or river nearby.

Today, we off to the golf club for my workout and a little sun time at the pool, a quick trip to the local grocer, and who knows what other treasures will be calling us?

Hanging vines from the steep cliffs above the caves.

Have a day that brings you many wonderful surprises!

                                           Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2015:

Organize nursing of three baby warthogs in our yard in Marloth Park. How sweet is this! For a special visitor on that particular date one year ago, please click here.