Happy Fourth of July to all our American friends and family worldwide…Hopes of freedom for all…

Happy Fourth of July to everyone who celebrates. Not our photo.

The above Fourth of July photo reminds us of our old lives, living on a lake and watching fireworks from our dock. Our two little dogs would sit on our laps and watch the fireworks with us, shuddering each time a boom permeated the air. Often, our kids and grandkids were with us, along with neighbors and other friends, and the festivities were many.

Tom lined our 500 feet of lakeshore with small flags placed 18″ apart, creating quite a spectacle. We also had a tall flagpole and an oversized flag that flew in the breeze. The occasion was exceptional, and we loved every moment.

But that was our life then, and this is our life now, and none of those special occasions have left us sorry or disappointed that we chose this life over that life. We’ve never regretted our decision to travel the world. We’ve loved, lost, and experienced sorrows and joys regardless of where we’ve been in the world at any given time.

Having had all of those special occasions, as time has passed with many adventures behind us and hopefully more to come, we have no need or desire to see fireworks or celebrate to any degree. My son Greg asked us to join him and Heather today but we decided to lay low.

We didn’t feel like battling traffic today when we’ll do that tomorrow when we head to Billy’s Bar & Grill, a 45-minute drive from here. Tonight, we’ll return to Pizza Luce, only .5 miles from here, for happy hour and a light dinner and be content to return to our hotel to stream a few shows we selected for today.

Last night, we watched a good movie on Netflix, “On the Basis of Sex,” about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Not only was it a fascinating movie, but it also provided an inside look into how the equality of the sexes in modern-day society came to pass with her inspiration and skill as an attorney. Very interesting.

I suppose it was an excellent movie to watch, given that today is Independence Day, the Fourth of July! It was about freedom and the rights of human beings in this country. As much chaos as there is in the US right now, of which people are aware worldwide, we are free, and that is not always the case in many countries.

Today, it’s not about fireworks, meat, and sweet corn on the grill; it’s about the American flag and the privilege of being a free people. In this context, nothing is more critical for citizens of any country. We are indeed grateful, and today reminds the two of us to celebrate that freedom.

In this crazy world, we have no idea how long we will continue to be free. That could change in a day. Peace and communication are the only means of maintaining our freedom and we can only hope and pray through our own communication and the keeping of peace to ensure that freedom as individuals or as a country, a continent, a world.

May peace and harmony fill our lives as we move through trying times in an uncertain world.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 4, 2014:

When we spotted this group of tourists crossing this footbridge, we noticed a tour bus. They were most likely touring from a cruise ship that had arrived in Funchal, a popular port of call. For more photos, please click here.

Bookings for England completed…Monmouthshire, Wales…Lowest rent of the four properties…

Street view of the Monmouthshire, Wales, holiday home. We’ll be staying there from October 11, 2019, to October 22, 2019, for a total of 11 nights. The total cost for this period is Euro 664.30, US $749.41, averaging at Euro 60.39, US $68.13.The tremendous cost of this fine, tiny house enabled us to book a few more expensive properties, balancing our budget. For more details on this list, please click here.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
Ireland is one of the best countries in the world for gender equality. They have had two female presidents.”

This morning, we drove to Clifden to shop. We needed to purchase wine for our guests arriving tomorrow, both red wine enthusiasts.  Whatever is left won’t be lost on me.  

When driving on the winding roads, Lisa and Barry will be staying in a nearby holiday home, no more than 10 minutes from us. We’ll spend two days and two evenings together.  
The design is pleasing to the eye with its excellent affordability.

We’d offered to have them stay with us in this three-bedroom house, but they insisted they wanted their visit to be easy for me, knowing how much fussing I could do. Instead, we’ll make lunch when they arrive.

We met them on a cruise in November 2017 and have stayed in close touch since that time. We spent most days and nights together after completing the Rendezvous Bar for the Captain’s Club complimentary cocktails between 1700 and 1900 hours, 5:00 and 7:00 pm. We had such fun together and built quite a bond.

Tom and I and Lisa and Barry, friends we look forward to seeing tomorrow at noon.  For the link from the day this photo was taken, please click here.

While in South Africa, we had the most opportunity to see old friends than anywhere else in the world. We feel so fortunate to have met such lovely people in our travels. The excitement we feel about seeing our friends again is indescribable.  

But, here in Ireland, we didn’t expect to see anyone. In this remote location, it’s not easy to make new friends, especially when we haven’t been out much due to my recovery and the recent inclement weather.  

Also, a 90 day period in a remote location doesn’t allow enough time to build relationships, although South Africa was a rare location.

We’ll only stay at this property for 11 nights, and thus, the smaller size is okay for us for this short period.

We’ve arranged with Ann, our excellent cleaner whom we ran into at the grocery store today with her husband Michael, to come tomorrow at 8:30 am instead of the usual 9:00 am. By noon she’ll be done, and the house will look spotless and ready for guests.

It will be so enjoyable to catch up with Lisa and Barry. A lot has happened for both couples in the past few years, and no doubt, we’ll have plenty of stories to tell. They, too, are avid travelers. Barry is an airline pilot, which provides them with plenty of opportunities to fly worldwide.  

They are 20 years younger than me (not so much Tom, who is five years younger than I am), which is often the case with friends we’ve made. But, those 20 years are negligible and unnoticed in conversation and interactions.

In many properties we’ve booked, the bedrooms are located upstairs.

Today’s photos of the property in Monmouthshire, Wales is the last of the four-holiday homes we booked for the 62-nights upcoming in the UK beginning on August 23, 2019, and ending on October 24, 2019, when we’ll board Celebrity Silouhette in Southhampton for a 15-night transatlantic cruise, ending in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

John, the fish guy, stopped by yesterday with his truckful of freshly caught fish. We purchased Euro $50, US $56.47 of a variety of fish, including two types of smoked fish, which need to be reheated.  

Tom’s not much of a fan of eating fish, except for lobster or fish and chips, so I’ll be eating this on my own for several meals. We had to freeze multiple portions, which I’ll have at a later date since we’ll be dining out with Lisa and Barry both Thursday and Friday evening.

That’s it for today, folks. Thank you for all of your readership and for all of the kind and caring messages we’ve received for my health and recovery. It’s meant the world to me.


Photo from one year ago today, June 5, 2018:

One of two barn owls in an outdoor cage. Deidre from Wild & free released this own into the wild last night. Here is the video from the release. For more details, please click here.

Bookings for England completed…Falmouth, on the south coast of Cornwall with fantastic views…

A gorgeous view from the front door of the house. We booked this property from August 23, 2019, to September 6, 2019.  The cost for 14 nights is Euro 2125, US $2395.96, which averages to Euro 151.75, US $171.14. This amount is higher than we’d usually pay, but we’ve balanced the budget by choosing varying prices on all four properties. For the listing on this cottage, please click here.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“The average family size in Ireland is four, two kids with two adults.”

When booking holiday rentals throughout the world, particularly in or near busy cities, it’s often difficult to find houses or cottages. Generally, the most affordable properties are apartments, condos, and townhouses.

As we perused available countryside properties in England, we found many were a part of a grouping of converted buildings, including houses, barns, and other outbuildings. We have no problem with these types of properties.

The living room/lounge in the Falmouth cottage.

Avoiding apartments prevents or reduces being subject to the sounds of loud footsteps, doors opening and closing, and cabinets being slammed shut. Also, we avoid the noise of parties, loud talking, and a general lack of privacy.
Then, you may ask…why in the world would we like cruising when it feels as if we’re staying in a floating apartment? For us, cruising is a multi-faceted experience resulting in spending little time in the cabin.  

The social life we enjoy aboard a ship is outstanding! Some passengers order room service and spend a portion of their day in their cabin. Not us. As soon as we’re up and showered, we are out the door, only returning if we require a short nap or get ready for dinner.

The kitchen appears to be modern and fully equipped.

In most cases, on cruises, we spend most of our days (when not on tours) in the barista/coffee area, comingling with other guests, working on our posts handling any business or financial matters on hand.

Why would we work on the financial details of our lives while on a cruise? Based on the fact we don’t have a home or apartment anywhere in the world, these critical “business-type” details must be handled wherever we may be.  
It’s a short walk to the town of Falmouth for shopping and restaurants.

With a great VPN (a virtual private network) such as ExpressVPN, we can avoid other Wi-Fi users having access to any of our details and information. We feel entirely safe and protected logging in to any of our financial accounts and bank.

When off the ocean or river, we always prefer to live in houses where we can enjoy privacy and our routine, unencumbered by the needs of others.  

While searching in England recently, we encountered a few properties, but that included a shared laundry. This is highly undesirable for us. With our small inventory of clothing, we often wash every second or third day.  

Fantastic view from the cottage’s veranda.  

We don’t want the hassle of waiting for an available washing machine and hanging clothing outside in a busy area. As we read details on the properties we selected, we entirely avoided these scenarios for which we paid a deposit.

We’re comfortably situated here in Ireland in a lovely private home, a distance from the owner’s home, with gorgeous green vegetation and ocean views. We’re reminded how important a secluded environment is to us.

As our regular readers know, we love having friends visit, either staying with us or dropping by for a short visit. We’re enthusiastically looking forward to Thursday this week when friends Lisa and Barry will come for a day’s visit at 1300 hours (1:00 pm) for the afternoon and evening when we’ll head out to a pub/restaurant for drinks and dinner.

Soon, we’re on our way to Carna for a few items we need for tonight’s dinner, and then tomorrow, we’ll do our extensive grocery shopping and a visit to the pharmacy for more bandages for my leg.

Have a pleasant day and evening. 

Photo from one year ago today, June 4, 2018:

Soon, there were nine until the tenth arrived. At this point, the three warthogs were on the scene; a mom, an auntie, and a tiny baby. For more photos, please click here.

Bookings for England completed…Devon property…Our cup of tea…

A glowing nighttime photo of the Devon, England property we rented. We booked this house from September 20, 2019, to October 11, 2019, for three weeks.  The total cost, including fees and taxes, is Euro 2102.55, US $2348.95, which averages Euro 101.12,  US $111.85.  We felt this property is reasonably priced, fitting well into our budget.

“F Full details may be found here. fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland.”

“Ireland has been inhabited for approximately 7,000 years.”

When we asked friends Linda and Ken for a great place to stay in England, their home country, they suggested Devon.  After searching online for several hours, we couldn’t find anything suitable for our needs and budget.

A few days later, on Saturday, we decided to try the search for Devon one more time. Whether the house suddenly became available for our dates or missed it the first time we searched was of little relevance.  

We may not use the pool due to the cool weather in England in October.

What mattered to us is that we found it and, after reading through all the details at this link, we went ahead and booked it.  Summer is short in England, with inclement weather on both ends. Based on September/October dates as listed above under the main photo, we are thrilled.

This was a tie with another property we found to be ideal is listed in yesterday’s post, as you can see from those photos.  The two properties are only 90 minutes apart but possess the opportunity to see entirely different villages and sightseeing venues in each area.

The comfortable living room/lounge.

Of course, both properties are situated on farmland, and each has several adorable animals in residence. It always was a dream of mine to stay in the English countryside and here, once again, a travel dream will be fulfilled.

With these short-term bookings, we didn’t ask for special pricing. We don’t hesitate to make offers on properties where we’ll stay for two or three months. Over the past years, we’ve been able to negotiate some excellent prices on our long-term rentals.

The kitchen looks perfect for our needs.

But, the owners of short-term rentals from one to three weeks aren’t willing to negotiate when they’ve learned that if they wait, they’ll eventually rent their property for their preferred listed prices during their busy season.

How does the cost compare when renting these four properties and the hotel near the port for the two nights in Southampton? Due to the above without discounts, we’ve been able to stay within the parameters of our monthly budget.

What an adorable Poll Dorset lamb on the property!

The total cost for the four rentals, including the two nights at the hotel (for which we used some accrued points from our account at Expedia.com), is Euro 7412.68, US $8381.40 for the 62 nights averaging Euro 121.00, US $135.18 per night.

Add in the cost of the rental cars (pricy in Europe) plus groceries, dining out, and sightseeing. We’re still within the bounds of our monthly budget. It was through careful research and planning we arrived at these numbers and conclusions. 

More Poll Dorset sheep on the farm.

The last property, booked for 11 nights, is the least expensive of the four but appears to be surprisingly lovely considering the low price. Tomorrow, we’ll share those photos and financial details.

We’re counting down the days until our friends Lisa and Barry visit on Thursday for the day and evening. 

Geese on a walk on the grounds.

Happy day!

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

While at the fence between Kruger National Park and Marloth Park, we counted 30 to 35 elephants. For more photos, please click here.

Bookings for England completed…Cornwall property…Four exciting properties over 60 days…Sharing photos over the next few days…

There are a few different cottages on the property. Of course, our favorite was the most expensive, but we couldn’t resist. It’s located in Cornwall, near Port Isaac, where Doc Martin, one of our favorite shows, was filmed! We selected this property from September 6 to September 20, 2019. Our cost for the two weeks is Euro 2498.51, US $2707.94, an average daily rate of Euro 172.72, US $193.42, which is much higher than we typically pay. We’ve selected other properties at lower prices to compensate for this higher rent to balance the budget. To see details on the listing, please click here.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Leprechauns are a huge part of Irish tradition. In Irish folklore, they are tiny men who can fit on top of your shoulder. They are completely harmless and are believed to have buried numerous pots of gold throughout Ireland.”

It’s been a busy morning, and I got a late start on today’s post. This morning we were busy with our continuing bookings for England for 62 nights on August 23, 2019.  

Also, this morning Tom made his favorite coconut banana bread recipe while I made my favorite low-carb coffee cake which I’ll wait to savor until after dinner tonight with tea. Tom’s already dug into his banana bread.

With the date coming up quickly, we knew we’d better get the show on the road. Yes, we did book four different properties, two for two weeks and one for three weeks (our favorite, of course), and another for 11 nights, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

This lounge/living room looks very comfortable with pleasant furnishing and a fireplace. It’s almost summer here in Ireland, and we’ve used the fireplace. It may be cool in England while we’re there, and we’ll use this fireplace.

In the interim, now that we knew we’d be flying into Exeter, England from Amsterdam instead of Southhampton as initially planned, we had to cancel and re-do our rental cars. There are no cancellation fees for rentalcars.com.

We booked a rental car for 30 days and then another for the additional 30 days to receive the benefit of insurance coverage provided by our credit cards, but only if rented for a maximum of 31 days.  

Thus, we’ll return to Exeter one month later and get another car, or we may be able to renew it over the phone. We’ll play that by ear. We’ll spend the last two nights of the 62 nights in a hotel in Southampton, which we’ve already booked.

Booking the four separate properties and getting the dates to be strictly sequential was tricky and time-consuming. We love the idea of moving every two to three weeks to experience new areas of Cornwall and the English countryside.  

This roomy kitchen will be ideal for our needs, especially with what appears to be a refrigerator and freezer.

However, it took way more time than we usually spend in arranging bookings. Many properties were already booked for some of our dates, so we had to figure out how each of the four would work. We did it and have paid deposits for each property.

Today, I’ll enter all the information on our spreadsheet and in our free online Cozi calendar. As soon as I enter the bookings, Tom can immediately see the bookings on his phone or laptop. This app has been beneficial for us over the past few years since we began using it.

Initially, we downloaded this app for the time we spent in Minnesota visiting our kids and grandkids for them to be able to see when we were available.  

We can already see ourselves sitting on this outdoor furniture enjoying coffee and tea in the morning and cocktails and wine in the evenings.

We gave them our user name and password, and they could enter information at their leisure. We’d then receive an email that a new entry had been made and the general information about the booking.

Alas, they seldom used the app, if at all, calling or texting to see when we were available. It was the first time in Tom’s life he used texting when he wasn’t allowed to use it while working on the railroad.

Once we left Minnesota to travel the world, we found we could only text using Facebook Messenger, which is free. Any other means was costly. I stay in touch with friends and family through Messenger, more than by Skype or phone.

We’ll have an opportunity to engage with pygmy goats and other barnyard animals on the farm.  To watch these little goats jumping around is hysterical. We can’t wait to share videos of their funny antics. 

Here we are now, “old-timers,” and we prefer to use technology instead of phones. Of course, once we arrive in the US in November, we’ll purchase US SIM cards from such providers as Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T, which will enable the kids to contact us by text. During that period, we’ll need to pay more attention to our phones than we do now.

The SIM cards will work anywhere we travel in the US since once we leave Minnesota, we’ll be on our way to Nevada and Arizona for several more weeks. We plan to purchase two new phones to have them waiting for us at our hotel in Minnesota. The next day, we’ll head to a phone store to buy the SIM cards. No contract is required when using SIM cards for calling, text, and data.

This morning, Tom booked our flight from Amsterdam to Exeter on August 23, 2019. We’ll pick up the first of the two rental cars and drive to the first of our four holiday homes.

Port Isaac, which we’ve loved seeing in the TV series Doc Martin. It’s a short drive from the holiday home.

Over the next few days, we’ll post photos of the upcoming properties in England, one per day to avoid confusion. This helps us during this inclement weather to prevent the necessity of going out sightseeing. Once the weather settles down, we’ll be heading out. We have several venues in mind we’ll be sharing here.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with another of the four-holiday homes in England, not in any particular order, including pricing as we’ve shown here today.  

Also, this morning we got some exciting news from friends Lisa and Barry, whom we met on a cruise in November 2017. We are so excited to see them once again! We’ll all be going out to dinner this coming Thursday.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 2, 2018:

What could be more fun than stopping on the way to dinner to let these magnificent beasts cross the road? Most likely, this was a mom and growing youngster. For more photos, please click here.

Rental car hell…Disconcerting rules, regulations and conditions…

Cows…they are cute.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Sports are huge in Ireland. Irish people take their sports seriously and get very into soccer, hurling, camogie, and handball.”

We’re running out of photos and need to get out to take more. With the cold and rainy days this week, continuing today and possibly into Sunday, any remaining photos are at a premium.  

Today, we’re working on the various holiday houses we’ve selected for the 62 nights in England beginning on August 23, 2019, where we’ll stay while we are awaiting a transatlantic cruise to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, ending on November 8, 2019.  

We’ll spend some time in the US visiting family and friends.  During this period, we’ll head to Nevada, where we’ll see son Richard and sister Susan, who live an hour apart and take care of some “business.”

We’ll need to renew our driver’s licenses and also our passports which will expire in 2021. It makes sense to renew our passports while already in the US, which requires us to mail in our current passports while the renewals are processed.  

Donkeys are highly regarded as rescue animals in Ireland.

We don’t want to send our passports to the US Department of State while in another country. It’s unsafe to be without our passports in hand and based on our history. We cannot depend on the mail getting to us in a timely fashion.

A few nights ago, we rented a car for our time in England.  Like those in Ireland, prices are higher than we’ve paid anywhere in the world over the past almost seven years.  

As we often do, we use tentalcars.com to book rental cars since we’ve found their prices to be the most reasonable. Also, we’re able to select a vehicle from the many providers they work with, including Hertz, Avis, Alamo, Europcar (our favorite), and others.

We recently booked the rental car from Rentalcars.com with a company with which we weren’t familiar Easirent.  In error, we failed to read the terms and conditions of their car rentals.

When we arrived in Dublin, Ireland, almost three weeks ago, we discovered a few disturbing shocks; one, the Easirent pick-up location was far from the airport, and when we called for the shuttle, they explained their shuttle was “down.” We’d have to take a taxi, paying out of our pocket.  

Shearing sheep is a popular business in Connemara.

This was ridiculous. I was determined not to let this fact slide. I spoke to a manager at Easirent and insisted they send someone to pick us up or we were going to cancel our three months rental. We waited outside for about 30 minutes for the arrival of a driver.

Once we arrived at the Easirent office, we were shocked once again. No doubt, our error wasn’t reading the terms and conditions in advance of making the booking.  Little did we know that this company charged an additional Euro 2800, US $3135.57 for the excess, a fee to cover costs in the event of an accident which were charged to our credit card, not just “held.”

After we paid all the fees (not including insurance) Euro 4826, US $5404.37 including a “fuel fee” (Euro 95, US $106.39), we were frustrated we’d had to have this entire amount charged on our credit card and…that it would take three weeks after returning the car for the excess to be returned to our card.

The actual cost for the car was Euro 1471, US $1647.29. What a ripoff! As we perused rental car options a few evenings ago, we bypassed every Easirent offering knowing full well it wouldn’t be acceptable. 

Europcar only charged a refundable security deposit Pound Sterling 250, US $316 and Pounds Sterling 1200, US $1517 for the “excess” (on a credit card hold on that portion of the credit card used) and fully released from the card a few days after returning the car.

Here again, the little horns are growing. Here’s a link on why some sheep have horns and others do not.

As a result of the differences and procedures for Easirent and Europcar (and Avis, Alamo, and Hertz), we will never book a car through Easirent again. The prices for the actual rental car itself are similar amongst all the cars, depending on the value and style selected. 

It’s all of these other charges that made a huge difference, along with the inconveniences we faced when we arrived in Dublin, exhausted from the long flights from South Africa and dealing with immigration in South Africa.

Today, as we book the multiple holiday homes in the UK, we’ll be mapping the various locations for the most convenient options. Once booked and approved by the owners, we’ll share some photos and details.

Once again, we’re reminded of the importance of reviewing the terms and conditions for all travel venues, whether rentals, cars, cruises, hotels, and flights.  

This was the first time we’d failed to review the terms and conditions, but we’ve learned our lesson and won’t avoid doing so in the future. I can only excuse us for being distracted when we booked the car only a few weeks before  Sleavingouth Africa for Ireland.

Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll have pinned down our time in England and have news to share.  

Have a fantastic weekend!

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

Frank, our resident Francolin, who’s decided to make our yard his permanent residence.  Francolins are highly territorial and extremely noisy when other francolins invade his space, except, of course, for Mrs. Frank. They’ve been building a nest. Francolins are monogamous and mate for life. They nest in grass-lined low-lying shallows. The incubation period is from 18 to 21 days carried out by the female.  Once the eggs hatch, both parents tend to the chicks until their first winter.
We’re looking forward to Frank’s and the Mrs.’ chicks.  For more photos, please click here.

Figuring out where to stay in England at the end of the summer…

A portion of the Twelve Bens mountains.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“Funerals are sad occasions in Ireland, but they are very seldom a sad event. Family members use funerals to speak about the deceased life and share memories. Funerals are held in churches and often include food and drinks. Many churches tried to ban alcohol years ago but failed in doing so, and now allow alcohol at each funeral and wedding.”
This morning we lit the fireplace using some of the plentiful supplies left for us by our thoughtful property owner, Eileen. There’s firewood, peat, and the equivalent of Duraflame logs. It was easy for Tom to start the fire.  

It’s 14C, 57F, and yet after 15 months in the heat and humidity of South Africa, we’re feeling the cold.  There’s a unique solar system for the house, which includes a range used for cooking and warming the house. Here’s a photo of the range, which we’ve seen now and then in photos of potential rental properties throughout the world.
This is a Rayburn range used for heating the house, cooking, and the water.

This is our first experience operating this type of system, and Eileen stopped by this morning to ensure it provided enough heat to keep us comfortable. She’d explained how to use it the day we arrived, but we were so exhausted after an overnight flight that we neither remembered how to use it except for the oven.

There’s a well-prepared loose-leaf binder here with instructions for literally everything in the house. But neither refer to these instruction booklets unless there’s an emergency after we’ve usually read it within days after our arrival.

Ireland is undoubtedly known for being green and aptly named “The Emerald Island” with its cool, rainy weather.

Now, with her instructions, we have heat in the house, certainly, enough to take the chill out the air and the fire burning in what appears to be an “insert” type of fireplace rather than an open hearth.

Yesterday, we continued the tedious task of finding where we’ll stay in England for 62 days, beginning on August 23rd and ending on October 24th. This hasn’t been an easy task.  

Connemara ponies as described here:  From this site:  “The Connemara’s origins are shrouded in mystery. Some believe that they are descendants of horses brought over by Vikings, and others that they are descendants of the Irish Hobby, which was once hugely popular but is now extinct. There is also a legend that Andalucian horses found their way ashore after the destruction of the Spanish Armada and bred with the local ponies. It is known that many of the ships which survived the initial attack subsequently were wrecked off the coasts of Scotland and Ireland (partly due to severe storms), and so it is at least feasible that some horses (and humans) would have made their escape to shore. This may be why Connemaras are notably finer than most native breeds, although there was also extensive cross-breeding in the 18th century, particularly with Arabs and also Thoroughbreds and Hackneys.”
Prices are high in the UK, and with our requirement of including unlimited WiFi and preferring a house, cottage, townhouse, or condo rather than an apartment, the challenges are escalating.

Yesterday, Tom had an ingenious idea (to us anyway) that rather than book one property for the entire 62 days, we should book three or four properties in different areas for sequential dates. At first, I hedged over his suggestion when thinking about packing and unpacking every two weeks or so.

But, after careful consideration, I agreed this was an exciting idea. Now the challenge is finding suitable properties in four distinct areas with dates matching accordingly.  

Gorgeous views of the countryside.

Over the next few days, we’ll continue the research, mainly using the HomeAway link on our website to take us to the thousands of listings in England. In the past few years, HomeAway purchased several vacation/holiday home websites, leaving them number two next to Airbnb as follows:  

“A major vacation rental website is HomeAway, and it is one of the main competitors to Airbnb. The company is now owned by Expedia (as are Vrbo and VacationRentals.com).”

“Which Is Bigger: HomeAway or Airbnb? HomeAway and its companies (such as VRBO and VacationRentals.com) have over one million listings in 190 countries. However, with 2.3 million listings worldwide, from 640,000 hosts across 191 countries, Airbnb is the clear winner of the size competition.”

Why don’t we use the larger company AirBnB?  We have used it a few times. But, overall, we prefer HomeAway because they have a more liberal deposit program as opposed to paying 100% of the cost for the rental at the time of the booking.

Sunset view from our house.

Occasionally, we may book a property a year or more in advance. We do not want to lay out the entire amount for a two or three-month rental so far in advance. Plus, Airbnb has a considerable amount of shared housing situations, none of which appeal to us.

So, back to the drawing board today as we continue our search. We hope that by the end of the weekend, we’ll have this wrapped up.

Tomorrow, we’ll share a frustrating car rental situation. Please check back then.

Enjoy your day, your weekend, and everything you do.

Photo from one year ago today, May 31, 2018:
Excellent nighttime viewing. Kudus seem to be intimated by zebras due to their powerful kicks and, thus, won’t join in on the snacks. For more photos, please click here.

Stars and Stripes…And, more stripes….Finding ingredients…Off to the Marloth Park Honorary Rangers Winter Fair…

This particular “dazzle” of zebras was all female except for a youngster.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A zebra attempting to climb the steps to the veranda.

We’ll be attending a US holiday 4th of July party at Kathy and Don’s home, overlooking the Crocodile River, in four days.  Twelve guests will be in attendance, with only four actual US citizens; us and Kathy, and Don.

Zebras love pellets, carrots, and apples.

The rest are native South Africans from the UK, all of whom love a reason for a party. Kathy and Don will do their usual “over the top” celebration, often including games, prizes, and unique entertainment and festivities.

As soon as Kathy mentioned this upcoming event, I chimed in, offering to make my former 4th of July US flag cake which I’d make each year in our old lives. I made the offer, which Kathy accepted, starting to “make it small” since most in this group aren’t into desserts as Americans may be. 
In our old lives, I made this US flag cake every year on the 4th of July.

 Plus, with a few of us avoiding sugar or gluten, there’d be lots of cake left even if I made the small version.  Then, Tom would end up eating the leftovers. Not necessarily a good idea.

Of course, there’s often a warthog on the scene, in this case, one of our favorites, Little Wart Face.

The offer of the cake was more for the festivities than the eating, but I was bound and determined to make it, never giving it much thought after my offer. We planned to shop the day before the party to ensure the berries as shown on the cake were fresh. I’d planned to bake the cake the morning of the party.

Three weeks ago, I saw fresh strawberries and blueberries in the market, thinking, “no problem.” But over the next few weeks, there were no strawberries. One week later and there were no blueberries. The markets in Komatipoort receive stock on Thursdays and Fridays for the weekend. They don’t keep. By Tuesday, there’d be no chance of buying fresh berries. 

Zebras don’t stay around too long unless there’s a constant stream of pellets, fruits, and vegetables.

It’s not like the US or many other countries here when there’s usually exactly what one needs regardless of the day of the week. We always shop on Thursday afternoons, but even then, many items haven’t been put on the shelves, and the more popular items are already gone, purchased by the morning shoppers. We’ve learned the drill.

Often, zebras come to visit at night, making us thrilled for a daytime visit.

This may sound disgusting to health enthusiasts out there. Still, to taste exceptional, this particular cake requires Cool Whip, a non-dairy topping heavily sweetened with real sugar that tastes exceptionally good. We’ve seen videos from the US of people eating bowls of the chemical-laden stuff as a treat.

This zebra was licking pellet dust off the veranda tiles.

I must admit that in our old lives, either of us may have at one point or another taken a taste or two with a spoon directly from a plastic container of Cool Whip in the fridge. It was perfect, then. I used to put it on my ice cream with caramel syrup. Oh, good grief! Stop! My mouth is watering!

Well, anyway, this cake requires Cool Whip, which is not available in South Africa, certainly not anywhere we checked in Komatipoort. It made no sense to drive far away, hoping to find it.

This zebra started climbing up the steps to the veranda, but they’re slippery, and she backed off.

A few days ago, I let Kathy know I wasn’t making the cake. There were no berries, no Cool Whip at the market. Since no one in the group was particularly gung-ho for sweets, Kathy said, “No worries, don’t make a cake.” I felt bad since it’s not my nature to offer to do something and then “backpedal.” In this case, I had to let it go.

These two were scrounging for any stray pellets.

Two days after the 4th of July, we’re hosting a dinner party/birthday celebration for Kathy who’s birthday is on the 6th, and Ken’s (of Ken and Linda) will have been on the 4th. Lots of fun reasons to celebrate life in the bush!

As I’m sitting here now, on yet another perfect-weather-day, nine kudus stopped by, all girls, all looking for pellets, apples, and carrots. My favorite kudu, who I can identify by a “u-shaped” notch in her right ear, walked right up to the edge of the veranda and licked my bare toes, as usual. She makes me laugh! 

A third joined them in the search.

As soon as we upload this post, we’ll be heading to Henk Van Rooyen Park for the annual Honorary Rangers Winter Fair. This is the same location where Aamazing River View restaurant is located, which we wrote about in yesterday’s post.

Tomorrow, we’ll return with our experiences and photos from the fair. No doubt we’ll run into some of the many wonderful people we’ve met in Marloth Park over this past almost five months. What a ride it’s been so far!
May your day be bright and sunny!

Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2017:

Look at all that luggage we had back in January 2013 as we prepared to board our second cruise in Fort Lauderdale. We posted this old photo one year ago today when we had purchased two new bags. We no longer have any of the pieces shown here when we’d seriously unloaded “stuff” during our first year or two. For more, please click here.

The winter solstice and holiday season begins again in the bush…Taking care in Marloth park

This male was “standing watch” so the others could relax and nod off.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Playful warthog antics always make us laugh.

Yesterday was the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. It’s hard to believe it’s winter here when the temperature is in the 30C (86F) range most days. Henceforth, the days will be getting longer.

We’ve had a handful of very cool days but overall, few requiring extra warm clothing. Mornings and nights are very cool, often requiring we bundle up. But, once the sun begins to shine almost every day, it warms up sufficiently for shorts and short sleeves.

Last night, shortly before dark, we encountered this “confusion” (yep, that’s right!) of wildebeest in front of the property along the river. 

When summer arrives on December 21st here in the southern hemisphere, it’s an entirely different story. The thoughts one conjures up about heat, humidity, and dust flying through the air will be exactly what we’ll expect.

We remember these difficult conditions when we were here over four years ago during December, January, and February. There were more insects, more dust, and more sweaty days and nights. Thank goodness for air con in the bedrooms. 

We haven’t had many wildebeest visitors at our house, making it especially enjoyable to see these last night.

We’ll do the same as we do now during the days, spending our days and nights on the veranda regardless of weather conditions. The only conditions that drive us indoors will be rain with wind. Otherwise, we’ve learned to tolerate temps in the 40Cs (104F) while being outdoors under the protection of the veranda roof from the scorching sun.

For now, we’ll enjoy the cooler days and nights as we continue to spend our days and nights observing the world around us, which never disappoints, as evidenced by our daily photos.

We always stop to observe these magnificent animals.

Now that it’s summer in the northern hemisphere, we’ll begin seeing more and more tourists in Marloth Park, particularly tourists from Europe who find this environment ideal for their summer family holidays. 

Before too long, perhaps beginning this weekend, we’ll see families with children in their rented four-wheel-drive vehicles driving through Marloth Park and Kruger National Park. 

Often, we spot one lone elephant, often a young male, off to the side away from the rest of the “parade.”

The number of vehicles on the roads definitely has an impact on the number of visiting animals.  We’ve noticed this each time it’s been holiday time. They seem to stay undercover or are preoccupied with tourists feeding them, hopefully, the healthful pellets, fruit and vegetables, and not biscuits, cookies, and potato chips.

Unfortunately, a handful of tourists aren’t respectful of the wildlife, feeding them foods they cannot digest, which may result in illness or even death. Also, Marloth Park is a highly flammable environment with a lack of rain and dry brush surrounding us. 

Elephants grazing on the bank of Crocodile River, as seen from Marloth Park. There’s always a few cattle egret nearby.

We can only pray that visitors will be mindful of the high risk of fire due to the vast amount of alien invasive plants that exacerbate fires in an incomprehensible and ultimately terrifying manner. (More on this later).

The moment I said to Tom, “We often see giraffes on this road.” Just like that, we spotted this giraffe.

Ensuring that no hot coals, embers, or fires are dumped into any areas within the park and all braai fires or bonfires are completely out before retiring for the evening is of the utmost importance for the preservation of human and animal life in this magical place.

Originally Marloth Park was intended as a holiday destination. Over the years, many holidaymakers found it irresistible to be here, deciding to build a retirement or seasonal home here. This building continues within the park, causing quite a bit of controversy as more and more wildlife habitat is lost to construction. It’s quite a debate we won’t get into here. 

A “forkl” of kudu, boys, and girls, also referred to as a harem.

After all, we’re only visitors ourselves making every effort to leave as light a “footprint” as possible in hopes that in years to come, Marloth Park will continue to thrive and welcome our return as our schedule allows.

A happy band of mongoose lapping up raw scrambled eggs we put down for them in a flat bowl.

Today, we’ll embark upon one of our usual drives before the roads become too crowded over the weekend as we continue to search, appreciate and admire the nature surrounding us.

Have a lovely weekend as your summer or winter has begun…

Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2017:

Southeast Steam Plant, aka Twin City Rapid Transit Company Steam Power Plant. For more photos along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, please click here.

Happy 4th of July to all Americans…Dinner with more friends…Three days and counting…Saying goodbye has begun…

With the bright sun behind us, this photo didn’t come out too well, plus our plates of food look twice as big as they were.

I believe I met Lisa in 1990 and her husband Brian (her then-boyfriend) a short time later. The three of us became fast friends. In 1991, I met Tom, and he too fell into the groove of this good friendship with this lovely couple.

They lived in Minnesota, but after a few years, they moved to Las Vegas. We stayed in touch. Over the years, with son Richard residing in Henderson, Nevada, it became an ordinary course of action to see them when we visited Richard and my sister Susan who moved to Las Vegas many years ago.

Maynard’s on Lake Minnetonka has remained a popular lakeside restaurant since we left. We had a reservation, but outdoor seating wasn’t available when we arrived at 5:30 pm. Instead, the four of us dined indoors in a comfortable booth.

For those living outside the US, Henderson is an upscale less-hurried, and less-gambling-orientated suburb of Las Vegas, although the two cities are next door to one another. We’ll include more about Henderson after we get settled upon our pending arrival in three days.

Our friends, Lisa and Brian, drove from Wisconsin to have dinner with us on Sunday night.  Thank you both for coming to hang out with us.

In 2009, a year before I retired, I went to Henderson to help my son Richard with his booming real estate business. The market had crashed the prior year but morphed into an outrageously active marketplace for buyers and investors to purchase everything they could get their hands on.

Tom ordered the Kung Pao Chicken, which he found to be too spicy for his taste.

That wasn’t the case in Minnesota, which was barely chugging along after the economy had crashed. I left my share of our real estate company in the trustworthy hands of my business partner Theresa, while I took off for five months to help Richard.

We piled my car with the “stuff” I’d need for such an extended stay, including my beloved Australian Terrier Willie, and drove from Minnesota to Nevada, staying at dog-friendly hotels along the way. Willie immediately learned that if he knocked on the car door, we’d stop the car so he could go “potty.” I loved that dog!

I ordered the usual salad that has seen me through dining out every night in Minnesota, a variation of a Cobb Salad; chicken, bacon, hard-boiled egg, tomatoes, onions, olives with a side of sour cream. The blue cheese was missing, but I didn’t squeal.

The plan was for me to live with Richard while we worked together during that extended period. Moms and adult sons don’t necessarily make the best “roommates,” but we did our best and stayed out of each other’s way. 

The interaction between Willie and Richard’s pug Monty (now in doggie heaven along with Willie) created many laugh-worthy experiences we both still treasure today. 

Lisa ordered the chicken lettuce wraps. This would most likely have worked for me, but I was hungry, and this wasn’t enough food after not eating for almost 12 hours.

After we arrived and unpacked the car, Tom flew back to Minnesota on Halloween 2009 in time to hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters who flocked to our neighborhood for the generous offerings from us and our friend/neighbors for their ambitious hike to our remote private road.

Upon my arrival, I had to apply for a Nevada real estate broker’s license, attending school, and taking a test. It took an entire month for the license to come through.

During these five months, I spent considerable time with Lisa and Brian, my only friends living in Las Vegas.  Tom flew back and forth on a few occasions to see me as we stayed in close touch by phone. It was a long five months being apart from one another.

Brian ordered the plain broiled chicken breasts with a baked potato.

Tom flew out for his birthday (December 23rd) and the Christmas holiday at Christmas that year. We had dinner at Lisa and Brian’s beautiful home, helping to prepare a few dishes while thoroughly enjoying spending the holiday with them and other friends.

When the five months ended, Willie and I returned to Minnesota, happy to be back with Tom, our home, and other family and friends. Being away for so long wasn’t easy.

Before leaving to travel the world in 2012, we spent some time in Nevada, again over the Christmas holiday, while establishing our Nevada residency. We got our Nevada driver’s licenses and spent quality time with family. It was during this period and we had a few opportunities to be with Lisa and Brian again.

After we’d left to travel, they moved back to the Midwest, this time in Wisconsin, to be near family. We hadn’t seen them until they joined us at the friend/readers Meet & Greet several weeks ago and then again on Sunday night. At the end of the evening, we all hugged a warm goodbye, knowing someday in the future, we’ll all be together again.

This morning son Greg, Camille, and three grandchildren came for breakfast at our hotel. We had a fabulous breakfast together with lots of delightful chatter. Later today, at 6:00 pm, we’ll meet them for dinner at our favorite restaurant, after which we’ll all say goodbye. The process has begun…

Photo from one year ago today, July 4, 2016:

As a renowned international business center, there are many high-rise office buildings in Singapore. For more photos, please click here.