Night scenes over the lake in Udaipur, India..Tiger photos at last and more…Culture…

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Finally, yesterday afternoon, after the delivery of the SD card reader, I was able to upload hundreds of photos from the card to my new laptop. I am having trouble sorting photos easily using Chromebook and Google photos. It’s tricky and not as easy as it was on Windows. So it goes. You trade one set of technological problems for others. 

The weather is much warmer in Udaipur, and we’re able to dine outdoors without bundling up.

Eventually, I’ll have more time to figure out a better plan for managing photos, but for now, I am making a mess in Google Drive with our busy schedule, which I’ll have to clean up down the road.

More views from the restaurant at night.

Usually, I wouldn’t have any trouble figuring this out, but getting a new operating system after using Windows for the past 20 plus years. I have no difficulty using Chromebook, just the photos storage and uploads for easy access. It could result from a poor WiFi signal since almost every task on Chromebook requires being online.

Sagar Lake at night from the hotel’s restaurant.

So this is the way it is. At the moment, I have to figure out how to store photos I’ve already used in our posts to avoid repeats. Thus, in the interim, if you see repeats, please bear with me. I’ll get through this.

Our shadows are shown in the photo, but the floor lighting was worth a shot.

Tomorrow is another long travel day with two flights with a layover in Kempegowda as we head to Chennai, where we’ll stay for three nights, checking out on March 7th, our 25th wedding anniversary.

A vulture was preparing to fly.

Today is our first “free day” where we don’t have any scheduled tours. We’re thrilled to have this day to unwind, relax, and get caught up on some tasks hanging over our heads. We walked across the road for breakfast at 8:00 am and will return for dinner at 7:00 pm when it re-opens.

These brown and white deer are called black deer.

We’ve both managed to find something suitable for dinner, but breakfast has been touchy for me with only eggs and runny plain yogurt on the menu to hold me for 11 hours. This morning I ordered a four egg vegetable omelet, which should get me through the day. There’s no bacon or chicken sausage served in this part of India.

A peacock was strutting his stuff with two peahens at a short distance.

We’ve found cultural differences in various parts of India, not unlike in parts of the USA and other countries. Grits aren’t popular in New York but are often a popular addition to meals in the South and, it goes on and on.

Two turtles, basking in the sun.

Dialects and accents are difficult to decipher in certain parts of India. Tom’s hearing problems (after years on the railroad) often leave me to translate for him, but usually, I don’t understand what I’m being told and have to ask repeatedly until I finally get it.

Once again, it was hard to see elephants performing labor, as shown in this photo, carrying a log, but it’s a part of Indian culture to domesticate elephants.

As we mentioned earlier, we’re the visitors in a foreign land, and we must adapt to their ways, not ours. And if they speak poor English, that’s our problem, not theirs.

Male and female wild dogs were spotted in Kanha National Park. Its repetitive whistles are so distinct that they can identify individual members of the pack. Habitat destruction is a significant threat to the estimated 2,500 Indian wild dogs remaining in the wild. They are found mainly in protected reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.

The customer service in most venues is on “island time,” as we’ve experienced in many other parts of the world. We have to forget our American expectations and “go with the flow” during more relaxed service.

The proud male wild dog seemed unruffled by our presence.

We prefer coffee/tea (that’s how they say it) before our meal, but it is often served after the meal in India. Again, we are patient when we may have to wait 15 to 20 minutes to get our coffee/tea before breakfast, even when there are few customers in the restaurant. 

There he was in all his striped glory, our fifth tiger sighting in India.

It’s a cultural thing centered around the Hindu philosophy and way of life consisting of low stress, going with the flow, gentleness, peace, prayer, and harmony. And even during the crazy traffic and horn honking on the roads, we’ve yet to see a single incidence of “road rage.” They are peaceful people, and we’re humbled to be among them during our 63 nights of travel in their country.

He was yawning at this point. All the safari vehicles were jockeying for position. We were in the wrong spot for better photos, but you take what you can when it comes to tigers.

We’re over halfway through our time in India, with many exciting tours upcoming on the horizon. Tomorrow’s post will be prepared in between flights and waiting times. But, we’re anxious to share some beautiful photos from yesterday’s tours as we head to yet another location.,

The Indian safari guides call these “owlets,” an actual term in nature depicting baby owls, one we’d never heard before.

Enjoy your day and evening in peace and harmony.           

Photo from one year ago today, March 4, 2019:

Tom called me outside to see the tiniest baby kudu we’ve seen to date. For more photos, please click here.

Gorgeous scenery all over the world…Fountain Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona…

From this site: “The famous fountain in Fountain Hills, Arizona: Built-in 1970 by Robert McCulloch, the fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world! The fountain sprays water for 15 minutes every hour at the top of the hour. The fountain uses 7,000 gallons per minute and at its full height, it can reach 560 feet in the air. The plume rises from a concrete water-lily sculpture in the center of a man-made lake. At its full height of 560 feet, the fountain in the center of Fountain Hills is higher than the Washington Monument. It is 10 feet taller than Notre Dame Cathedral, 110 feet higher than the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt and three times as high as Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. The white plume of the world-famous fountain is visible far beyond Fountain Hills. It can be seen from as far away as the Superstition Mountains, Carefree and even from aircraft. The fountain is the focal point for community celebrations and the pride of its residents. If you happen to visit during the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, you’ll see the fountain transform to emerald green. The Fountain is extended to its full height on special occasions. For every day viewing the Fountain reaches a height of 330 feet! The World Famous Fountain runs every hour on the hour for 15 minutes from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm every day of the week! This fountain is a celebration of life and water where it is most appreciated – in the middle of the desert.”

Although we haven’t been out sightseeing while here in the US, with little time to do so, it was delightful to drive through Fountain Hills, Arizona, a veritable paradise-like town amid saguaro cactus, desert sands, surrounded by earth-tone colored mountains and man-made bodies of water which soften the harshness which is typical in the desert.

We stopped for photos along the way, in awe of the beauty prevalent in this upscale community of newer homes, gated neighborhoods, fashionable shops, and southwest-themed restaurants.

It’s odd driving through the barren desert to stumble across a built-up area such as this. We couldn’t help but gasp over its pristine beauty. However, never for a moment did we wish we lived there. One can admire the beauty without feeling a burning desire to be a part of it.

We had little time to stop before meeting up with Vicki and Jerry and took most of today’s photos from the car.

We moved along on the highway, leaving Fountain Hills making our way toward Tonto Verde Golf Club, where we met up with Vicki and Jerry, as described in yesterday’s post here. As stated, we had a wonderful day with a perfect couple.

After yesterday’s busy morning with laundry and grocery shopping, I put together a few easy items for last night’s happy hour gathering at our place. I made a chicken salad (with buns on the side), cut up raw veggies for dipping, chips with salsa, a plate of cheese, crackers, and olives, along with store-bought chocolate-covered eclairs for dessert. 

There are many statues at Fountain Park of famous Americans.

It was a quick and easy collection of items of light snack-type foods not requiring a lot of fuss. For tonight’s gathering at the firepit at 4:00 pm, I am making the popular artichoke dip served with Club crackers.

Last night when Mary said she was making deviled eggs, which I’d planned to make, this morning I decided to make something different and headed to the nearby Safeway market, much smaller than the giant Costco-sized Fry’s, to buy what I’d need. 

After no more than two minutes in the market, I sensed a frenzy among the shoppers. When a woman approached me with a spiral-sliced ham on sale for $10 instead of $25, my ear perked up. 

Could this be Thomas Jefferson?

She explained that by signing up for their online app, which I did while I was in the produce department, anxious to pay $1 for a 10-pound bag of potatoes, I downloaded the app and all the specials of the day were available to me, many at ridiculously low prices.

I found myself entrenched in a frenzy. For example, I purchased two pounds of quality butter at $.99 a pound, four pounds of bacon at $.99 a pound, and so much more. Of course, I couldn’t resist the ham, which most likely we’ll have on New Year’s Day. It was fun. I’d hadn’t seen a sale like this in years.

Abraham Lincoln with Ben Franklin in the background.

So now, after we’ve finished lunch, our current main meal of the day, I’ll make tonight’s appetizer which we’ll bring hot to the fireside mulled wine party beginning at 4:00 pm this afternoon.

It has warmed up considerably today. Tom is busy opening the blinds and windows as we speak. With the sun shining on our unit, it can get hot indoors. Right now, the outdoor temperature is 63F (17C) and sunny, perfect for us!

What a fascinating horse statue!

Tomorrow, we’ll return with more new photos from tonight’s event. May your day be sunny and bright!

Photo from one year ago today, December 18, 2018:

Two males impalas stop by for food and a rare visit. For more photos, please click here.

Beach scenes in Falmouth and gorgeous surrounding areas…

The greenery, the cliffs, and the white sand beach create a stunning scene at Swanpool.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Falmouth

With the development of Falmouth Docks in 1858 and the introduction of railway services to the area in 1863, the town was thriving with business and tourism. Falmouth currently has three railway stations to service the town and is currently noted as one of the key resorts in the UK’s number one tourist destination, with Cornwall attracting an average of 4 million visitors a year!
Falmouth and its surrounding areas are rife with things to see and do. Whether the casual vacationer wants plenty of dining options, diverse shopping, gorgeous beaches, and over-the-top scenery, this is the place to be. 
A food stand at the beach.
We had no idea how much of a holiday town Falmouth would be, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the opportunities we’ve had to experience this special location.
Tonight, we’re walking to dinner at the popular, highly rate Boathouse Restaurant and pub, specializing in the “Sunday Roast,” which we were required to pre-order when we called for a reservation. Walk-ins cannot be guaranteed there will be anything left when they arrive.
The beautiful Falmouth Hotel.  From this site: “A unique, Victorian chateau-style hotel set in 5 acres of landscaped gardens,  a prime seafront location, award-winning dining, Caudalie spa, and leisure facilities and overlooking Falmouth Bay and Castle Beach.  On one side is Pendennis Castle, the headland, beach and sea and, on the other, views over to the famous port of Falmouth.”

Some reviewers whinged, leaving fewer stars than they would have when they arrived at 7:00 or 8:00 pm requesting a table and the “roast.” It certainly makes sense that the establishment would only prepare so much food in an effort to avoid unused portions going to waste. These small pub/restaurants can’t afford a lot of leftover meats.

Tomorrow, we’ll post photos of our Sunday Roast experience as we had when we were in South Kensington, London, in 2014, as mentioned in our post of August 28, 2019. 

There was nowhere to park to investigate this historic building.  Thus, a photo while driving.

Need I say we’re enthused to dine out. After all the food on the ship only nine days ago, we needed a break from “big food” and have cooked our meals in the tiny kitchen, mostly basic meals with some form of protein, vegetables, salad, and rice (for Tom only).  

Also, since we arrived here, we haven’t had a wine or cocktail. We’d had enough on the cruise and decided a break would be good. But, I am anticipating a glass of red wine tonight at the bar in the pub at the restaurant. After that, we’ll be back to our teetotaling ways, most likely, except when dining out.

The beach at Swanpool, a popular holiday location.   From this site:  “Swanpool Beach is a delightful swimming cove with adjoining Swanpool Lake Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Excellent watersport centre where you can try your hand at dinghy sailing, kayaking or windsurfing. Bouncy castle located on the beach during the summer months for the smaller children. “

Knowing we’re leaving Falmouth in five days, I’ve been thinking about organizing some of our bags, but these short stays in England, requiring lots of packing and unpacking and…living out of a suitcase makes it seem like no sense at all.  

On Thursday, we’ll throw it all together, pack our leftover food (mostly non-perishables) and be on our way to the next location, a 90-minute drive from Falmouth.  

Steps leading to an overlook at Falmouth Bay.

The concept of shorter-term stays is very appealing for our future travels, but there will be circumstances where longer stays are more appropriate. The only drawbacks are the extra packing and unpacking and how we get from one location to another.

Three locations of our four rentals in England are in Cornwall (with one in Wales), and all are within a two-hour drive of one another. This makes travel easy and ultra enjoyable. No possible overweight luggage, no waiting at airports, and no immigration checks and issues (as long as we comply with the terms allowed by each country).

A place to sit and savor the view. 

Gosh, I have a whole new outlook now that I’m feeling well after all these awful months. The future looks bright, and the prospect of walking without pain and exhaustion is truly a gift as we tour an area now and into the future.

Happy day for us and for YOU!

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

Every evening around dusk, before Frank and the Mrs. (to his left) go off into the bush to “make their noise,” announcing the beginning of the night, they stop by the veranda steps for birdseed which we happily provide for them. Whatever is left is eaten by either the helmeted guinea fowl or, believe it or not, the warthogs.  For more photos, please click here.

A new lease on life…

Colorful buildings create a pretty scene on the narrow roads in small towns in Cornwall.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Falmouth

Falmouth was the start
and finishing point for both Robin Knox-Johnston and Ellen Mcarthur’s voyages
around the world (Knox-Johnston in 1969 and Mcarthur in 2007) – sailing
non-stop single-handedly.

It’s foggy, rainy, and humid today but our hearts are filled with hope and optimism. I am better…so much better it’s indescribable. After 6½ months, barely functioning as a frail, shaky, unsteady pain-ridden individual, I am now a completely different person, only five days after completely stopping all three heart medications with terrible side effects.
We wandered through a tiny town after another, often finding this style of row houses on narrow roads.  Banners fly in the main part of town where the shops and restaurants are located.

I can walk. I can climb the stairs. My hands don’t shake. My legs don’t swell. I can breathe more deeply. I can bend over to pick something up off the floor when I suffered dearly in attempting to do so over this extended period. I was no longer sleepy at 10:00 am, about when the drugs kicked in, having taken them at 7:00 am.

Three drugs no longer fill my little pill case; a statin (Crestor), Amiodarone, and Bisoprolol, and the side effects of each are rapidly being released from my system.  

We love driving down these interesting roads in Cornwall.
Oh, I understand the statin enthusiasts who believe in these drugs, but I dare anyone to find a valid study (not funded by Big Pharma) that says otherwise. So far, the only report I can see is that statins may extend the patient’s life by three days. I’ll give up three days for quality of life. 

I won’t get on my Big Pharma soapbox here. Each person must do what is best for them. Please, do not stop any of these or other medications without consulting with your medical professional. In some cases, alternative medicine may be beneficial for a patient’s heart condition.

Both the Amiodarone and Bisoprolol were prescribed for me for aFib (irregular heartbeats and high pulse), which I do not have. Taking medication for a condition you do not have is dangerous and may cause serious consequences.
Suddenly, there would be an opening through which we could savor the view.

No, I am not an expert on this topic nor other medical issues. But, I decided to take my own life into my own hands, as risky as it may have been since I knew if I didn’t, the remainder of my life, albeit short, would have been as a frail, shaky, unsteady pain-ridden individual.  

Perhaps the final road to my full recovery is yet in the future. My right thigh still has a painful hematoma that requires sleeping with a pillow between my knees. The remainder of the horrific wound on my lower left leg still has a way to go to recover fully but is doing well. The incision in my chest continues to be painful to the touch and may hurt during specific movements.

Many of these attached properties are actually single-family homes.

On occasion over these past five days, I feel a little breathless, but it passes quickly. This is normal in the first year after bypass surgery. I don’t panic, and I relax to find breathing easier a few minutes later. In time, all of this will pass simply through the healing process, but at least drugs aren’t paralyzing me.

Tom and I discussed what would have happened had I not weaned off these drugs. I would have been wandering through my life in a haze of exhaustion, pain, immobility, and despair.

Boat lift in Maylor, Cornwall.

One of the most common residual effects of bypass surgery is PTSD, anxiety, and depression. The trauma to one’s psyche as well as their body is astounding.  Somehow, although I felt anxious at times, I wasn’t depressed nor had symptoms of PTSD. I was sick from drugs.

Although I didn’t have the daily face-to-face support of family and friends, I had Tom at my side.  He never wavered in his attentive care and emotional support.  He did everything for me. Now, I’m attempting to encourage him to let me do things for myself, carry a grocery bag, cook a meal or lift anything over five pounds.  

Yes, it will take time to rebuild my muscles and build strength and stamina.  Here in Falmouth, the house is too small for indoor walking, and it’s raining outdoors.  

This bike advertised the local business behind it, a bicycle repair shop.
My goal is to be able to do multiple flights at a time. But the frequent walks on the hilly road on a sunny day will serve me well.  Today, I’ve set my timer to go off every 20 minutes when I’ll walk up the stairs to the second level and then back down. Good exercise.

Thank you to all of our readers who have stood beside me during this lengthy struggle. I apologize for perpetually discussing this topic. When I didn’t, many readers would inquire, wondering how I was doing. Now, I can let this go, and if anything changes, good or not-so-good, I will share it here.

“They,” say writing down how you feel is vastly therapeutic. I’ve always had a voice. I always had YOU! Could it be that I averted depression by being able to share what I was going through with all of you?

Be well. Be happy.
Photo from one year ago today, August 31, 2018:
This was our first daytime giraffe visit at this house. For more photos, please click here.

A sunny day drive into wonderland…

Look at the number of sailboats moored in this bay!

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Falmouth

 In 2016, Falmouth was
named best coastal community at the Great British High Street Awards, and in 2018 Falmouth has been named as one of the ‘best places to live in Britain’ by The Sunday Times.
We can easily see why the above statement under “Fascinating Fact About Falmouth” refers to Falmouth as one of the “best places to live in Britain.”  This is so true.  
If a potential resident can tolerate the “no assigned parking” on the majority of the streets near High Street, the center of town, and are willing to walk up and down many steep hills when out and about, this town has it all.
“The historic parish church of St Gluvias, dedicated to Gluvias of Cornwall (or Gluviacus), serves the Church of England parish of St Gluvias with Penryn. Gluvias of Cornwall was the son of Gwynllyw, the warrior, King of Gwentlog, and a nephew of St Petroc. The church was founded in the 6th century, and the parish was in the Middle Ages, sometimes called Behethlan or Bohelland. In 1881 the church was in a dilapidated state and need of thorough repair. It was rebuilt by J. P. St Aubyn in 1883, although the medieval tower survived and was built of granite blocks. The church contains the brass of Thomas Kyllygrewe, c. 1485. There are also three wall monuments of interest: Samuel Pendarves, d. 1693, and his wife; William Pendarves, d. 1671, and his wife (both are curiously positioned with the figures which should face each other on either side of the corners of a window opening); and J. Kempe, d. 1711, bust under drapery.”
Beauty, outstanding views from almost every location, mild weather in the summer months, friendly people, a quaint ambiance, and a sense of welcoming may be instrumental in making this a perfect place for a move or retirement.

However, I can’t stress how vital it is for a new resident to be pretty fit to tackle the steep hills. Long terms residents are probably in fairly good condition if they’ve been walking these hills for years.
Since the “action” on High Street includes grocery stores, shops, restaurants, and even a movie theater and is easily accessible “distance-wise” from many streets in this neighborhood and parking in town is at a premium, walking is a great way to get around.
The graveyard at St. Gluvias Church in Penryn, Cornwall.

As a matter of fact, on Sunday night, we have a reservation for the “Sunday Roast” at the local Boathouse Pub and Restaurant, which is close enough that we can walk. It’s hilly, but we’ve already tried it a few times, and I can make it up and back.

To give up one’s parking spot for such proximity to the pub makes no sense at all. On Sunday night, everyone maybe home, and finding a new spot will be nearly impossible.

Soon, once Tom finishes watching the last Minnesota Vikings pre-season game, we’ll be off again. It’s time to grocery shop, most likely for the last time with us leaving Falmouth a week from today, and we hope to plan to purchase sufficient groceries to last through the week.  

The side entrance to St. Gluvias Church.
We also plan to dine out on our last night here, Thursday, and have already selected another highly-rated establishment on High Street. Today, we’ll head to the pharmacy, the fishmongers market, and the Tesco grocery store, some of which are too far to walk from place to place.  

Tom will drop me off at the pharmacy, and I’ll meet him at Tesco a short time later. It’s only a block or two, and now as the pain in my legs continues to improve, I’ll be able to make it.

Yesterday, we hit the road again, driving to several picturesque little towns on the opposite sides of the bay. As the crow flies, it may have been a five-minute drive to the first town of Flushing but driving on the narrow, often one-car lanes took quite a while.

Another area of the graveyard.
We drove on to little town after another, reveling in the uniqueness and beauty of each area.  Some tourists wandered about the center of each city but nothing like how many there are in Falmouth, a port of call for many cruise ships that are older and considerably smaller than we’ve experienced.
We found parking spots in and approaching the small towns on several occasions stopping to walk to take photos. It was a blissfully sunny day, and we couldn’t have been more enthused to be out.

I surprised myself how much easier it was to walk up and down the many stairs and hills we encountered along the way. At times, Tom stayed with the car when there was nowhere to park, while I took off on foot on my own to get better photos.
Last posted church bulletin.

It was the first time I’d taken on such a challenge in almost seven months, and I felt energized and refreshed being able to make it up and back to the various venues, primarily churches, mostly up and down hills, without getting out of breath with heart racing by the time I reached the car.  

I’m hopeful for the future, more now than ever then, I dared allow myself to be.  But, you know how it is, as soon as we mention something improving, the next day can prove to be tough. So I play it by ear, one day at a time, until I can freely feel confident that I’ve fully healed.

May your Friday and upcoming weekend be filled with many beautiful surprises. For those in the US, please have a safe Labor Day weekend!

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

This male ostrich appeared comfortably seated in the middle of a driveway of a bush home. For more photos, please click here.

Staggering beauty in the seaside country…

Ruins at the shoreline at an overlook.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Falmouth

It was following the development of the docks in 1858 and the introduction of railway services in 1863 that the town began to thrive as tourism and business prospered.”

Today, our photos are a bit hazy due to a cloudy overcast day which is not uncommon in England. Sunshine is a hot commodity here in the UK, even during the summer months.

Sailboats in the harbor.

The expectation of sunny days is foolhardy, and planning outdoor activities for the future is risky, often resulting in disappointment. This weather is not unlike the temperature in Ireland which we left a mere three weeks ago when we flew to Amsterdam to embark on the Baltic cruise.

As is the case in Ireland, there appear to be more cloudy days than sunny.  As a result, we do our best to take bright day photos.  However, we don’t allow the sun to dictate when we venture out or not.  As long as it’s not pouring rain, we’ll head out.
Young men were sitting on rocks overlooking the bay.

Nonetheless, we’ve had opportunities to see some beautiful areas on sunny days or not. Also, what starts as a sunny day can become overcast in minutes.

We’re enjoying our time here. The house is comfortable, and the views are beyond description. At times, we’ve found ourselves on the veranda at night in the dark, staring at the boats in the harbor and the stars in the sky  when its clear. 
Cloudy day views across the bay.

There’s always something magical about being near water, whether its overlooking a pond, a lake, a river, a stream or the vast expanse of the ocean.  Our eyes are drawn to its ethereal qualities, leaving us mesmerized and enchanted.

Yesterday afternoon I spent over an hour on a Skype call (using our Skype phone number, not Skype video chat) with my dear friend Karen in Minnesota. I took my phone upstairs to the bedroom to talk to her for a little “girl time.”  

Houses and boats across the harbor.

Like Tom, who doesn’t have an opportunity to interact with his old friends, except visa Facebook quips here and there, occasionally I long for some of the candid chatter women are so good at.  

It truly was therapeutic talking to my friend Karen when I spoke to other girlfriends I left behind. This is not intended to imply men aren’t capable of this kind of talk but many women seem to gravitate to one another for intimate conversations. It is a by-product of this lifestyle we chose almost seven years ago.

Lighthouse at a distance on a cloudy day.

Now, with eight days remaining in Falmouth, we find ourselves savoring every moment. Many times during the day as well, we run out to the veranda to gaze at a passing sailboat, a flock of birds, a special boat in the bay, and of course, the cruise ships as they come into the port. It’s truly remarkable!

We’ll be back with more photos tomorrow after we venture out for a while on this sunny day (so far).

The shoreline is rugged and uneven in many areas, but sandy beach scenes will be posted tomorrow.

Have a spectacular day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 29, 2018:
Wildebeest Willie hung around for several hours, resting and eating a few pellets from time to time. He makes good eye contact, letting us know exactly what he wants. Do I detect a morsel of love in those looks? Could be.  For more photos, please click here.


Switching from red wine to what???…

A white house on the road to Roundstone with two historic buildings on the grounds.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”  
“Ireland has been used as a location for several famous films including Star Wars, The Princess Bride, Braveheart, and Harry Potter.”

We’re back from Clifden and grocery shopping. Everything has been packed away into the two tiny refrigerators and vegetable drawers. We have to be especially careful not to purchase food that must be frozen.
Ruins of the shore of a bygone era.
The tiny freezer in the small refrigerator in the laundry room barely has room for a thing. Our ice cubes and trays occupy 40% of the total space, the remaining left for what is hopefully enough to get us through one week until we shop again.
With over 90 minutes of driving time to head to Clifden and back, the closest supermarket, we don’t care to make the trip more than once a week. We’ve already scoured the village for sightseeing opportunities and have exhausted our options. 
Once we were settled here and I was off all pain medications, once again, we put our usual “happy hour” on the agenda. My goal has been to consume no more than 177 ml, equivalent to two 3 oz. Glasses of red wine on the days we imbibe. Its been a relatively easy goal to achieve and maintain.
These dilapidated farm buildings represent a period of strife in Ireland when many left the country due to the potato famine.
We prepare dinner and don’t drink alcohol for the remainder of the evening. We spend one-hour chatting and sipping our chosen adult beverage, and afterward, I switch to Pellegrino Sparkling Springwater (no alcohol) while Tom returns to his usual iced tea. This works for us.  
We don’t imbibe so much that it impacts our health, well-being, and quality of sleep. Once we’re on the cruise, with drinks included based on our priority in the Crown & Anchor Society, I will continue this regiment while Tom may have a final drink with or after dinner.
Here in Ireland, it’s been difficult for me to find a red wine that I not only like but is also affordable at a price I’m willing to pay. To my taste, the average cost of a moderately good red wine, preferably a cabernet sauvignon or merlot, is at least Euro 12, US $13.50 plus tax.
A pair of Connemara ponies are not only white but also varying colors.
This same quality of wine in South Africa, the home of many great vineyards, was at Euro 2.67, US $3.00. Even the finest imported wines in South Africa were rarely over Euro 8.89, US $10.
Several weeks ago, there was a sale on six bottles of wines at the SuperValu market. (There isn’t an actual liquor store within a half-day drive). It was priced at Euro 30, US $33.75 for the half dozen bottles.  
I’d seen these same wines from Chile at SuperValu priced at Euro 12, US $13.50 each but hadn’t purchased any. But, for the excellent price and few other affordable options, we bought six bottles of red.  
It’s not as if I’m a wine connoisseur. I’m not. I hadn’t had any alcoholic drinks or wine for over 20 years and only started drinking wine a few years ago on cruise ships, finding my taste buds weren’t as picky or refined as they’d been in the 80s.  
Another photo of the village of Roundstone, population 214.
Still, four bottles of the red wines sit on the counter in the laundry room. I can’t get it down, and nor am I going to force myself to drink something I don’t like.  After doing a little research, I decided that I needed to find something more suitable for me while we were here in Ireland.
I prefer a lower alcohol beverage since my tolerance is relatively low. I found a couple of low alcohol options online…Ketel One Botanicals and Smirnoff Vodka Infusions, each with 25% less alcohol and infused with flavorful botanicals.
SuperValu doesn’t carry the Ketel One brand, but they easily had the Smirnoff brands and flavors. We purchased two of the smaller than usual bottles in two flavors. It is suggested that sparkling water or other clear non-sugary mixers be added with ice. 
Black and white cow.
The low alcohol content appeals to me because no sugar is added, and the carb count is zero. Each bottle was priced at Euro 13.60, US $15.30. Each serving is equivalent to a shot glass, and each bottle should last me for quite some time. Each bottle contains 750 ml, 25 ounces, the same amount in a bottle of wine.  
This beverage will last me twice as long as a bottle of wine, and if the taste is good, making the change while here will be worthwhile. Traveling the world doesn’t mean we’ll always be able to get familiar products at prices we’ve become accustomed to. But, it certainly inspires us to try something new and different.
Tonight we’ll toast to all of you!  Have a fantastic Friday!
Photo from one year ago today, July 12, 2018:
We laughed so hard when we saw this baby baboon grabbing its mom’s hair to hold on while sitting in this unlikely pose. For more details, please click here.

Cleaning…It’s a beastly thing to do!…

Beautiful horse…

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“The potato famine was exacerbated by the actions (and inactions) of the British government at the time, leading some to suggest that the famine was essentially
a form of genocide exacted on the Irish.”

We were spoiled during our 15 months in Africa. Whether we were traveling to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, or living in Marloth Park, we didn’t have much to do when it came to cleaning.  

Our entire cleaning consisted of Tom’s doing dishes while I washed the countertops and stovetop after preparing a meal. I don’t recall ever making the bed in those 15 months. Of course, during the last three months in Marloth Park, I didn’t do a thing.

We were lucky to have two of the finest and most reliable cleaners in Marloth Park, Zef and Vusi, under the management of our dear friends and property managers, Louise and Danie.  

A boggy area at low tide.

Most weeks, Zef and Vusi worked for seven days and were off only on weekends during a holiday. We still took care of the above cooking-related clean-up when they were off on a Saturday and Sunday, knowing they’d be there on Monday.  

During those days, admittedly, we didn’t bother to make the bed other than to pull up the fluffy duvet and fluff the pillows. If we made a mess or spilled something, of course, we cleaned it up. 

Tom and I are very tidy in our day-to-day lives. We neither leave clothes or bath towels on the floor, papers collecting throughout the house, or glasses and dishes sitting on tabletops.  

We don’t leave dishes in the kitchen sink. They’re either washed or, if available (as it is here), placed into the dishwasher. In Marloth, many renters left their dirty dishes for the cleaners.  

We distracted the white calf along the road to our driveway.

We didn’t leave dishes for them other than after an occasional dinner party when we needed the help.  Here in Connemara, when the lovely cleaner Ann arrives once a week, it’s about changing the bedding, dusting, vacuuming, and washing floors and cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms.

When Ann became ill a few weeks ago and could not clean, we were on our own.  She’d offered to send someone she knew, but we decided to wait until she felt well and could return. As it’s turned out, we’ll have been without her help for a total of three weeks.  

It appears she won’t be returning until July 25th, after which we’ll only have one more week we’ll need her. We leave on August 8th to head to Dublin to spend one night in a hotel before flying to Amsterdam the following day. As of today, that’s four weeks away.

As we approach the small village of Roundstone…

We won’t have her clean on Thursday, our normal cleaning day, since the property owner was responsible for the cleaning last week. We’ve been paying Euro 60, US $68 for the four hours of work each week.

Very seldom does a property owner provide a cleaning service unless the cost is low for the country, and the tradition is that holiday rentals include a cleaning staff, daily or weekly.

While in Belize; Kenya; South Africa; Morocco; Trinity Beach, Australia; Fiji;

Bali; countless hotels and cruises; cleaning staff was included. All the remaining locations required we pay for a cleaner, ranging from a low of Euro 27, US $30 to a high of Euro 60, US $68, here in Ireland.

Subsequently, today, without Ann able to clean, once again, we’re on our own.  This morning for the first time in so long, I can’t remember, I changed the linen on the beds in the master bedroom. 

Roundstone, Ireland.

We’ve slept in separate beds during our time here in Ireland to avoid any possible injury to my healing legs. This has been the only time we’ve slept in separate beds, but since they were right next to one another, it didn’t seem that odd. We wouldn’t have slept in different rooms if there weren’t the two beds in the master bedroom.

Tom had offered to make the beds, but I took on the challenge myself. Certainly, enough time has passed I wouldn’t cause myself any injury in taking on the task.

It was undoubtedly challenging, mainly since I had trouble bending over, especially with the two beds low to the floor. But, I got through it and felt a degree of satisfaction in accomplishing this otherwise simple task.

Today is laundry day which is usually every two or three days. With our limited wardrobes and wearing the same warmer clothes in the chilly weather, we can’t avoid doing laundry frequently.

Ruins are left in place with respect for ancestors and history.

After breakfast of bacon and eggs (my three doctors said I could continue with my low-carb way of eating), I cleaned the entire kitchen and dusted tables in the living room. Soon, Tom will vacuum the whole house while I clean the bathrooms. At that point, well, be good for another week except for daily tidying and cleaning.

Tomorrow, we’ll go sightseeing and grocery shopping. For now, I’ve decided only to cook easy meals; some form of protein, a few cooked vegetables, and a salad. This week I prepared a complicated and time-consuming low-carb chicken casserole requiring standing on my feet for a few hours. I’m not ready for that yet.

Now, I must get back to the laundry and hang the clothes on the indoor clothes-drying rack. As cool as it is, it may take two days for the heavier items to dry.  (There isn’t a dryer or outdoor clothesline here).  By the end of the day, everything in the house will be clean, and we can settle back into our comfortable ordinary lives.

Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, July 11, 2018:
This female kudu has a heart-shaped marking on her neck. When she became a regular, we named her “Cupid.”  For more photos, please click here.

A visit to Roundstone, Ireland…

As we drove into the small town of Roundstone, with a population of 214, we were impressed by the design of the colorful properties on the main road.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Ireland and the UK share a chequered history. In 1801, Great Britain
annexed the Kingdom of Ireland under the Act of Union; in 1921, the Anglo-Irish
Treaty established the Irish Free State, an independent dominion of the British
crown partitioned from Northern Ireland; and in 1949, the Republic of Ireland
became fully independent from the UK.”

We’ve concluded that I can’t sit in the car for long periods. There’s rarely a location where we can pull over with the narrow winding roads, enabling me to get out and walk. It was easier on an airplane when I could walk up and down the aisles every hour or so.

On days like today, misty and cloudy, when we’re staying in, I get up and walk every 30 minutes rather than remain stuck in a chair for extended periods. The walking adds to my daily goals and, without a doubt, helps me feel much better.

This bay is Roundstone, referred to as Round-stone Haven as early as 1684.

Yesterday, after spending an hour in the car, I could barely walk to and then up the few steps to the little market. And yet, hours later, I felt chipper and walked usually.  

It’s the “nature of the beast.” In only six weeks, healing from four surgical procedures has taken its toll on me, the first of which was five months ago, the last only three months ago.  It could take a year before I’m entirely myself.

An old door as an entrance to a stone storage area serving the above house.

After yesterday’s walking fiasco, we started rethinking the upcoming two-day tour, August 16 and 17, 2019, from the ship to St. Petersburg, Russia. Each night, we’ll sleep on the ship, meeting up with our group of 12 or so for the next’s day’s outing.

After considerable research, we discovered the tour will require a tremendous amount of walking, often up and down steps and steep hills, often over uneven pavement. We’re scheduled to pay the deposit by tomorrow, the balance soon after that for a total cost of Euro 472, US $530 (for two).

Roundstone Harbour, mainly used for fishing.
Visiting Russia won’t require a separate visa if we’re signed up with a certified tour company and spend the night on the ship. Otherwise, we’d have to get a complicated visa which we’d prefer not to do. Here are the rules for entering Russia from this site:
  • “72-hour visa-free for international cruise ship/ferry passengers only if traveling with an organized tour and accompanied at all times by a tour operator.
  • Registration is required after seven business days.
  • American citizens may receive multiple-entry visas valid for three years.”

With these considerations, we contemplated a private tour for just the two of us.  But the cost for one day was more than for the two-day time. There are few accommodations on tours (from what we’d read from other passengers) for any disabilities.

Thus, we decided to go ahead with the two-day tour, sleeping on the ship each night as required, and I’ll do what I can. If I have to miss a few challenging venues, Tom will take photos while I’ll leisurely walk around the area checking out the shops, providing the driver states it’s safe to do so.  

We’ll figure it out. In the interim, I’ll continue to walk thousands of steps per day and climb the steep hill in front of the house, at least five times a week, a little further each day, to build my strength and stamina.

Anyway, back to Roundstone, which we visited yesterday morning, taking today’s photos and many more, which we’ll share over the next few days.
Sailboat cruising in the Roundstone Bay on a lightly windy day.
Here is information on Roundstone from this site:

“Roundstone (Irish: Cloch na Rón, meaning “seal’s rock”) is a village on the west coast of Ireland, in the Connemara region of County Galway. The town of Clifden is nearby to the north. 

The anglicized name is usually considered an error on the part of the British colonial Ordnance Survey, which translated the village name; while Cloch certainly means “stone” or “rock,” Rón means “seal,” not “round.” Still, the names Cloch na Rón and Roundstone may be independent. The bay is referred to as Round-stone Haven as early as 1684 (Roderick O’Flaherty), and the rock after which it is named stands like a marker at the entrance and is strikingly round.

Roundstone is known as a home for creativity and the arts. Some of the most influential figures in Irish Art have been painted there, including Paul Henry, Jack B. Yeats, Gerard Dillon, and Nano Reid. The Roundstone Arts Week celebrates youth and the environment on an annual basis.

Church tower on the way to Roundstone.
The local Summerfest is held in July. Traditional Irish Nights are held weekly throughout July and August and offer music, song, and dance from the Connemara area. In 1998 Sean Gorham of Inishnee, Roundstone, County Galway, was engaged in turf-cutting in Roundstone Bog “when he noticed what appeared to be a series of flat stones laid at regular intervals. Believing them to be the remains of an ancient trackway, Mr. Gorham left the stones undisturbed. Through the good offices of Martin O’Malley, Roundstone, and Michael Gibbons, Clifden, his discovery was brought to the attention of the National Museum of Ireland.”

Gorham’s find was located in the townland of Derrycunlagh. Investigation revealed that earlier turf-cutters had removed part of the trackway, but its two extant stretches determined its route. The trackway appeared to date from the Early Bronze Age, while the field wall may have been earlier.

This handsome boy approached the fence for some attention, which we gladly provided.

In an article of 2002, it was stated that “Thanks are due to the late Sean Gorham, whose keen eye and interest save the trackway from destruction and brought it to scientific attention.”

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back again with more photos, more stories, more planning, and more considerations for the future.

Be well.
Photo from one year ago today, July 10, 2018:
A mom waterbuck and her calf.  For more photos, please click here.

The saga continues…Doctor visit…Rules for feeding wildlife…

This flower is blooming from this greyish pod on a tree in the yard.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A Vervet monkey-eating something rousted up in the trash in the neighborhood. Due to the monkeys, there are caged bins in front of each property to enclose the garbage until the garbage truck arrives.

Soon, we’re heading to the doctor to update some of the vaccinations we’d had in Minnesota six years ago. With several boosters needed, an excellent medical clinic was recommended to us by local friends.

These two zebras stop by occasionally along with Big Daddy Kudu.

We’ve been putting this off for some after failing to follow through with a plan we made to do this in January. We’d changed our minds about going to a local clinic in Buenos Aires, feeling it would make more sense to have these done in Africa, based on potential diseases one may acquire while here.

Yesterday, after the rain, we drove toward the river to find this scene. Adorable baby hippo with mom.

Today, we both have appointments with Dr. Theo, who’s located at the following phone and address: 

Telephone +27 13 793 7306
Address Rissik Medical Centre,
71 Rissik Street,
Komatipoort, 1340

A few weeks ago, I had an appointment to see Dr. Theo when it was time to have some blood tests. Today, I’ll receive the results of those tests and will schedule my vaccinations as needed. Tom will begin his vaccinations today.

As we drove along the Crocodile River, we spotted three more hippos grazing along the shore.

After the noon appointment, we’ll head to the Spar supermarket for more groceries, the Butchery for a few items, and the Obaro hardware store to purchase a few more big bags of pellets. 

Typically, males wander the bush together while females and the young stay together.

It’s been so busy with visitors in our yard that we can barely keep up. Never more than an hour passes that we don’t see any of the dozen or so species that frequently stop by.

Even the evenings are action-packed. As it’s turned out, we have more visitors now than we did four years ago at the Hornbill property, which we loved for that very reason. The house wasn’t ideal, but the flow of visitors was exceptional.

Many local women are adept at carrying heavy loads atop their heads.

Now, we love this house and the steady stream of wildlife, many often returning several times a day, topping our numbers at Hornbill. When they look into our eyes, we feel an affinity with everyone. Sure, they come for the food, not due to their “liking us,” but we can dream, can’t we?

Even the silly mongoose sit in the yard and stare right at us, wondering when we’re getting the big green pie plate ready for them with the raw scrambled eggs. Tom always makes the concoction and lays it in the dirt for them to devour, quickly running back up the veranda as they gather around the dish in the dozens. These funny-looking little creatures have come to know he’s the food source.

In Kruger, male impalas don’t seem concerned about staying close to elephants.

As soon as they see him, they begin watching his every move in anticipation of when the egg platter will be delivered. It’s hilarious. And, the same goes for various groups of animals each of us has come to know more readily.

Some homeowners and renters in Marloth Park don’t feed the wildlife. They feel it domesticates them too much. We understand this philosophy and appreciate their position. We also struggle with this concept.

Bushbabies gently share the cup of strawberry yogurt we place on the stand for them each night. They arrive every night when darkness falls.

But, knowing many of them desperately need nourishment and based on the quality of the vegetables, fruit, and pellets we provide, we feel we’re only supplementing their grazing in the bush.

As the leaves become more sparse as winter approaches, we’re particularly mindful of this dilemma. Also, there’s the concern about who will continue to feed them when we’re off to Zambia for a week next month.

It was almost dark, and these five bushbucks arrive to enjoy some pellets together. The only two we’ve seen together are the mom and baby, who visit frequently.

These animals are intelligent. If they don’t find food here, they’ll wander off to other homes where it’s available or rely upon the bush for whatever they can find. There’s no easy answer for “to feed or not to feed.”

Here is an excellent article from the Marloth Park Honorary Rangers that reviews the feeding of various grazers in the park. It clearly defines our theory of how and what to feed the wildlife. Please click here for the article.

Scar Face and Mutton Chops now stop by several times a day, most often together.

We’ve heard stories of homeowners feeding the animals their human “leftovers.” In most cases, these are not good for them, mainly when it contains foods they don’t typically consume. Kudus (and others) have died after eating corn and other human products. 

Also, it’s important to note that it’s unacceptable to feed wildlife old or rotting food. Their bodies cannot safely process the bacteria and pathogens found in rotting food. 

A warthog mom and her relatively young piglet, a kudu, and a Vervet monkey are all on the road beyond our driveway.

We will continue to feed the wildlife pellets and fresh cut-up veggies and fruit. We’ll always pay special attention to how long it’s been since we cut up apples, carrots, and vegetables to ensure freshness and safety for our visitors.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back tomorrow with more, including details of our visit to Dr. Theo in Komatipoort.

May you have a healthy and enriching day!  

           Photo from one year ago today, April 16, 2017:
Not as clear as we’d like, we took this photo from quite a distance to avoid scaring this rabbit off—happy Easter to all who celebrate. For more photos, please click here.