Why do towns in UK have so many names?…Knock me over with a feather…Well, not quite…How about a sheep?…

Chickens willingly wandering up the steep ladder to 
the safety of the barn at night.

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

“Tiverton enjoyed prosperity from the wool trade into the early 18th century, but then came a period of decline during the early industrial revolution. There were occasional riots and societies of Woolcombers and Weavers were formed in an effort to protect jobs and wages. However, by the end of the century due to imports of cotton and the expansion of industrialization elsewhere, the town’s woolen industry was in terminal decline. In June 1731 another major fire broke out in the town destroying 298 houses. After this, the streets were widened.”
We should clarify a fact I’ve been intending to mention during many posts but failed to do so.  In England, most cities have a few names.   The answer is described more comprehensively than I could have.  From this site:
“In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a town traditionally was a settlement which had a charter to hold a market or fair and therefore became a “market town”. In Scotland, the equivalent is known as a burgh. There are two types of burgh: royal burghs and burghs of barony. 
Note the chicken on the second ladder inside the barn.

The Local Government Act 1972 allows civil parishes in England and Wales to resolve themselves to be Town Councils, under section (245 subsection 6), which also gives the chairman of such parishes the title ‘town mayor’. Many former urban districts and municipal boroughs have such a status, along with other settlements with no prior town status. 

In more modern times it is often considered that a town becomes a city (or a village becomes a town) as soon as it reaches a certain population, although this is an informal definition and no particular numbers are agreed upon. 

A young apple tree produced its first bright red apple.
The cultural importance placed on charters remains, and it is not an unusual event for towns across the UK to celebrate their charter in an annual Charter Day (normally a fair or medieval market).”

As a result, we are located in Witheridge, Tiverton, Devon which in stating so is comparable to listing a village, a town, a city, and a county.  When we mention any of these areas they each have it’s own “downtown” or High Street as explained below at this site:
Black-eyed Susans.
“High Street (or the High Street, also High Road) is a metonym for the concept (and frequently the street name) of the primary business street of towns or cities, especially in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth of Nations. To distinguish it from “centres” of nearby places it is frequently preceded unofficially by the name of its settlement. 

In a town, it implies the focal point for business, especially shops and street stalls (if any) in town and city centres. As a generic shorthand presupposed upon linear settlements it may be used to denote more precise concepts such as the urban retail sector, town centre sectors of employment, all small shops and services outlets and even wider concepts taking in social concepts.
This may be Common Montbretia.
The number of High Streets grew from the 17th-century and reached a peak in Victorian Britain. Since the 20th-century, the prosperity of High Streets has been in decline, forcing many shop closures and prompting the UK Government to consider initiatives to reinvigorate and preserve the High Street. 

High Street is the most common street name in the UK, which according to a 2009 statistical compilation has 5,410 High Streets, 3,811 Station Roads, and 2,702 Main Streets. The smallest High Street in Britain is located in the small market town of Holsworthy in Devon. The street itself is no more than 100 yards (100 m) long and consists of only three shops.”
Zucchini, aka Courgettes in many parts of the world.
High St. is most comparable to “downtown” or “Main St.” in many towns throughout the US and a few countries throughout the world.  Each country we’ve visited seems to have its own descriptions of counties, towns, cities, and villages.  We find it’s important to be aware of how they are described to ensure we don’t sound like idiots when speaking to locals.

As for the other “mention” in today’s heading, here’s how the story goes:  Yesterday afternoon, we wandered over to the paddock closest to Pond Cottage to greet the sheep and to feed them some of the small pellets Renate had left for us, along with different smaller pellets for the ducks, geese, and chickens.
Unable to identify these purplish flowers.
No, feeding the feathered friends and the sheep is not quite as exciting and eventful as feeding 25 kudus, eight zebra and/or six warthogs and babies, standing at the edge of the veranda.  

We make the most of every possible animal interaction regardless of where we may be living at any given time and haven’t been disappointed.  But, yesterday was unique in that we were feeding animals face to face standing at our feet.

In Marloth Park, the wildlife was just that…wild, requiring a reasonable distance for safety reasons.  Many tourists had been injured over the years when approaching the wild animals which, unlike domestic animals, can quickly turn from friendly to dangerous, especially when competing for food.
The bright green vegetables appear to be butter lettuce but are overly ripe and too late for the picking.
Once inside the gate, at first, the sheep backed off, guarded and cautious with “people” they don’t know.  We proceeded with caution, speaking to them in soft voices while holding out our flat hands with pellets.  They freely gathered around.

I was busy taking photos while attempting to feed them with my other hand.  All of a sudden a sheep decided to walk from behind me between my legs to the other side.  Go figure.  My stance was a little wide while standing in the tall grass to balance myself which was uneven and extremely wet from days and days of rain.

This all happened so quickly I had no chance to further steady myself.  I’ve never had a sheep or other animal walk between my legs.  I tumbled and hit the ground.  Luckily, for a few things, one; the ground was mushy and soft and two; my sternum has completely healed (although still painful to the touch and when I move certain ways).
A goose with a knot on her head.
During the seconds it took me to hit the ground I tried to avoid falling on the many piles of sheep poop and…much to my liking, I succeeded. My pants, socks, sweatshirt, and shoes ended up dirty and wet, remedied by a wash in hot water in the kitchen’s washing machine.  

I wasn’t injured but wondered if I’d be stiff today.  I awoke this morning feeling as good as I’ve felt each day over this past blissful month…free of pain, stiffness, and discomfort.  This won’t deter us from visiting the sheep again before we depart the farm in five days.  Next time, I’ll keep my legs together and be more cautious.  Good grief!

Today’s above video was taken around 6 pm last evening when Allison, the temporary farm helper here twice a day while John and Renate are away, knocked on our door when we’d asked her to let us know when she’d be guiding the chickens into the barn.  
It was the wide sheep on the right that caused me to topple.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, our reader/friend Adele suggested we make a video of this momentous event.  Only two of the five chickens hadn’t already wandered into the barn, up the steep ladder, on their own.  Allison and I searched for the two remaining chickens.  I found them in a side paddock and they freely followed us toward the barn.
Alas, they “performed” as expected, making me laugh out loud as I took the video, barely able to keep the camera steady.  Please click on the video for a chuckle.  Chicken may be construed as having “pea brains” only motivated by food.  But entering the barn is for comfort and safety at night.  Maybe they aren’t so dumb after all.

That’s it for today, folks.  Enjoy your Sunday!
Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2018:
At first, we spotted this warthog sitting in the cement pond.  By the time I grabbed the camera, he’d already begun to climb out. For more photos, please click here.

Looking forward socializing in the near future…Keeping track of time…

This morning when the rain stopped for a few minutes, we walked in the mushy grass to the greenhouse to collect these vegetables we’ll use for dinner.  We picked more raspberries for my Greek yogurt dessert.

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

Tiverton owes its early growth and prosperity to the wool trade
which caused the town to grow rapidly in the 16th and 17th centuries. Many of
the wealthy wool merchants were philanthropists, building up the town’s
heritage. John Greenway added an impressive chapel to St Peter’s parish church
in 1517 and a small chapel and almshouses in Gold Street which still stand.
Peter Blundell who died in 1601 bequeathed funds and land to found Blundell’s
School to educate local children. It was founded in 1604 and relocated to its
present position on the outskirts of the town in 1882. However, the impressive
original building still stands in its own grounds in the town centre. Around
1600 there were two major fires in the town. The first in 1596, was believed to
have been started in a frying pan and destroyed most of the town. The second
was in 1612 and was known as the ‘dog fight fire’ because a dog fight had
distracted people who were supposed to be looking after a furnace. Again the
damage was extensive
It’s hard to believe we’ll be aboard the cruise ship sailing to the US in only 19 days.  With one more holiday home awaiting us in Monmouthshire, Wales for which we’ll depart Witheridge in a paltry six days, time is flying by quickly.
The sheep approached us when we offered some pellets, eating out of my hand.
We’re excited our friends Linda and Ken are coming to Monmouthshire to see us for four days from October 14th to 18th.  No doubt, we’ll all have a fantastic time together as always.
Sheep, doing their thing.
Then on the 19th, we’re meeting up with friends/readers, Liz, and Dave in the town of Shirenewton for dinner.  Liz had come to visit us in South Kensington in 2014, taking the train all the way from Bristol to meet us.  
While I stood there feeding them, one of the larger sheep walked between my legs and I toppled to the wet grass.  Luckily, I wasn’t hurt and, I’m grateful I didn’t fall on top of the piles of sheep dung scattered throughout the paddock.
Liz had been reading our posts since the onset and we were honored and thrilled to meet her.  We had a fantastic day and evening with her.  Since that time, we’ve stayed in touch by email.  And now, we have the opportunity to see her once again and to finally meet her husband Dave.  Here again, I’m sure we’ll have a lovely time.

I must be losing my marbles.  I thought yesterday was Saturday all day.  When I awoke this morning and Tom reminded me today is Saturday, I thought I really must be losing it.  I suppose its all part of the retired lifestyle and the immense amount of enjoyment we’re finding here at the farm which may have prevented me from paying much attention to the day of the week.
Cloudy day view of another farm at a distance.
The date is always easy to remember when I post it here each day but I don’t include the day of the week. How easy it is to lose track, especially in this lifestyle we lead, with few requirements to pay much attention to the days of the week except for departure dates.

Overall, we keep track of dates to enable us to prepare for the next move, whether it requires a flight, a cruise or as in the upcoming case, a few hours drive through the countryside to Wales. 
The orchard is filled with apples yet to be picked.
The dream of living in the English countryside is becoming totally fulfilled from the last farm in St. Teath, Bodmin and now the farm in Tiverton, Witheridge and soon the house in Shirenewton, Chepstow, South Wales.

We haven’t forgotten the amazing seafront location in Falmouth with exceptional views and walking distance to the charming village.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the end of our stay in Falmouth (from August 23 to September 6), that I became able to walk again and thus, we missed a few opportunities while there.
More apples ready for picking.
Now, as my legs gain strength over the past month, we’ve become able to get out more and more.  The constant rain has been a deterrent but we’ve loved being on this exceptional farm and all of the UK properties we’ll have visited over a two-month period.

As mentioned, we’re staying in this weekend with the non-stop rain unless by a fluke that the sun peeks out for a few hours.  That will motivate us to jump in the car and see what we can find.

Have a fantastic weekend!
Photo from one year ago today, October 5, 2018:
We were excited to see this massive “obstinacy” of cape buffalos.  For more photos, please click here.

Making apple cider and apple cider vinegar on the farm…

John was showing us the old apple press which they still use today. “An apple press makes the whole process fun and simple. The press essentially grinds up the apples into a pulp and then presses the juices out. Once you get going, the liquid gold keeps flowing. You go from press to glass in 30 seconds! There are many kinds of presses from the simple hand press to the traditional cider press with a grinder.” The process may not be as quick using this old equipment.

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

It is believed that the name is actually derived from ‘Twyfordton’ or ‘Twyverton’ as the town stands not only the Exe but also the River Lowman. Historically it was referred to as Twyford and at some point that morphed into the name, it carries today.  Clearly, it was an ideal site for occupation. Many flint tools from the Stone Age were found in the area and an Iron Age hill fort – Cranmore Castle – stands on top of Exeter Hill which looks down on today’s town and the point where the rivers Exe and Lowman merge at Collipriest. A Roman marching camp was also discovered on the hillside below Knightshayes Court near Bolham just north of the town. Henry I, chose the town for a Norman castle with a Motte and Bailey type construction built in 1106. Tiverton Castle was extensively remodeled in the 13th and 14th centuries.

John and Renate left at 2:00 am this morning to head to the airport for a one week holiday.  Last night when they invited us over to show us their 500-year-old house and to say goodbye, it was sad to see them go. 
The second-floor weight used in processing apples in the press.
Tomorrow we’ll share photos of their charming old house with accouterments one would expect to find in such an old property.  This lovely couple certainly knows how to honor the integrity of centuries past on their historical farm.
The apples are dropped through this floor funnel down to the first floor where they enter the machine as shown in the photo below.
When we walked back to our house, for the first time it dawned on us that we’ll be entirely alone during our remaining week at the 150-acre farm, along with the 350 sheep, and dozens of ducks and geese.

Of course, they stated emphatically if we run into any issues at all to feel free to contact them via email.  We don’t expect any problems but one never knows.  As mentioned in a prior post, a friend will be coming by each day to feed the animals, check on the sheep and ensure the geese, ducks, and chickens get into the barn at night.
This old machine received the apples from above which come out the chute near where Tom is standing. “The difference between the taste of homemade apple cider and that pasteurized, filtered grocery store cider is indescribable. They barely resemble each other. The taste of homemade cider just pops in your mouth—pure, fresh, flavor-packed!  Plus, you can use all those less-than-perfect apple drops from the ground, so it’s also a big saving from the price of store cider.”
Subsequently, we don’t have to do a thing but see to our own needs, gather more firewood for the woodstove, which we’re using almost all day and evening. Renate sent her cleaner Carol to clean our house yesterday.
More equipment used in making apple cider.
Carol was here for almost four hours, cleaning every inch of space.  We were thrilled not to have to clean the house.  The cost of a cleaner here is in the range of GBP 25, US $30.83 per hour.  For that cost, we would have done it ourselves.  But, John and Renate kindly offered to provide this service for us.
This is where apple cider making transpires.  From the Farmers Almanac at this site:  “In colonial days, it was common for farmers and families to own a barreled cider press (and in those days, the cider was often left to ferment and become an alcoholic “hard” cider). Today, the “old-fashioned” cider press is becoming more popular again, perhaps because more people are planting fruit trees.”
We don’t mean to imply we “won’t” clean.  We often do.  But, more often than not, cleaning service is included in the holiday home’s rental agreement.  This has become a feature we investigate upon booking most properties.

Back to apple cider making…when John and Renate took us on a tour of the apple cider making which transpires in one specific barn, we were enthralled to learn about the process.
They make apple cider vinegar as well.  The barrel to the right is aged almost 20 years.

Since they use old equipment that may have been used as far back as several centuries ago, we couldn’t help but be fascinated with the process along with their commitment to making the cider using the antiquated equipment.  They relish the authenticity of the process they use and the product they produce using a ton of apples from their own orchards.

They offered for us to try the cider but since I don’t drink juice (theirs is non-alcoholic) sadly we declined.  Tom has never been a fan of apple cider so we didn’t want to bother them with opening a new container before leaving for their one week holiday.
An algae-covered pond outside the cider making barn.
They don’t sell their cider.  With a large family that visits at different times of the year including holidays, they send their adult children and grandchildren home with plenty of cider to last throughout the year.
John and Renate showed us the original medieval door used on the 500-year-old property.  It’s been restored in part over the years.
After leaving their home, we wandered out to the greenhouse and picked some tomatoes for dinner and a handful of raspberries to add to my unsweetened Greek yogurt.  What a treat!  Berries are the only fruit, along with tomatoes that I can eat in moderation.  
The back entrance to the chicken barn.
The fact that everything from their garden is truly organic is also a treat.  They use no chemicals whatsoever and yet their garden has been richly filled with Mother Nature’s bounty each year, the remnants of which we’re enjoying now.
This ladder is used for the chickens to climb up into the upper level of the barn where they stay at night.
With ominous dark clouds having returned to the skies, we’re content to stay put for the weekend.  Soon, Tom will light the fire in the woodstove and we’ll celebrate another pleasing day on the farm.

Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, October 4, 2018:
He’s checking out the perimeter before he gets too comfortable, resting with his brother.  For more photos, please click here.

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 which has clung steadfast to its rural way of life, with farming being mostly at the centre of the economy.  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 church-yard. 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 sheering) but they harvest tons of apples from their orchard and make their own cider and apple cider vinegar. (Tomorrow, we will post photos and details for this fascinating process).
Finally, they acquiesced and enter the area to which they’d be nudged along. 
In addition, the 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 huge 500-year-old house and of course, this separate house we’re renting. 
The chickens were curious as the watched the lambs herded into the barn.
John is on his tractor many hours each day.  Renate works right along with him.  The most amazing aspect of this well-managed farm which they handle without permanent staff, 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 literally 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.  Right now 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 of the 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 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 the 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 North West Europe. Not all scientists agree with the dating, mostly the ones from Cornwall.
Due to a photo shortage as a result of inclement weather, today we’re reflecting to 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 from 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 second-largest and most populated island (135,961) of the smaller islands.
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 known as a popular residential area for expats, locals, and tourists.  It’s also a known area for adventure seekers with its exciting canals with white water rafting, bungee jumping, scuba diving, and 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.

It was this remote aspect along with the estimated 90% of the population as native Fijians with 45% of which are Indofijians, those with ancestors from India that were born in Fiji.  
The ferry that was awaiting passengers for it’s daily run to the main island of Viti Levu which 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 given us permission 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 expat 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 expired 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 as 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, Rashnesh 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 which 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 on our long-term world journey.

Hopefully, the weather improves for the 10 remaining days we’ll be in Witheridge.  When it does, we plan to get out to take photos, we’ll certainly share here.

Be well.  Be happy.  Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, October 1, 2018:
It 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, on their return 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. Sounds like it was designed by Laurence Llewelyn Bowen after a head injury – but actually 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 the months of January and February and often only in the mountains, which won’t have an impact on 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 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 is going to 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 big 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.  Its all music to our ears.

In all falls in line with our passion for animals which we’ve been able to foster in many locations throughout the world.  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 its a quaint village or big city.  There is always something that stands out as unique and fascinating.

Ducks considering their next move.

Of course, there is 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 main means of enhancing the cruise experience for us is to dine in the main dining room for both 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 the specialty restaurants for two reasons; one, the added cost and, two, the circumstances are such whereby it’s difficult to meet others when most tables in the 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 own 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 Monday! 

Photo from one year ago today, September 30, 2018:
A little affection between 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 as shown on this map below:

Image result for map devon uk
We are located north of Exeter in Section 22, as shown on this map and south of Tiverton,
in Section 29 in this map.

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 is moving north at 10 mph (16 kph) and is centered about 1,410 miles (2,269 kilometres) 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 6pm on Saturday to 5pm on Sunday, warning of persistent rain and a risk of flooding across the north-west and south-west of England and Wales. 

Lettuce next to a with 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 the next 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 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 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.

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

At the moment, it’s raining but there is no wind so 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 which had 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 huge 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 a matter of fact, 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.

With the sun shining we started a walk, heading across the road where the Dorset sheep are located in a paddock.  Alas, no more than five minutes from the time 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 are loving 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 each day.

We don’t have a cleaner here for the three weeks on the farm.  But, we both work to stay on top of keeping the house spotless, exactly how we like it.  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.  

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 theses 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’s 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 certain 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’m feeling well.  
Colorful flowers in the garden.
As more and more time passes, I think less and less about the difficult 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 photos from our self-drive in Kruger, please click here.