We’re on the move!!!…Final expenses for 89 days living in The Villages, Florida!!!…

As I walked through the gardens, the bees swarmed around me.

Note: Today”s photos are from a post on this date in 2013, while we lived in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, for three months in a 300-year-old stone house. For more, please click here.

We’re packed! All we have left to do is fold and pack the few items in the laundry when dry, the digital equipment, and the zillions of cords, adapters, and chargers. We had a lot of stuff here after this extended stay in the US, but we managed to eat almost all the food we’d purchased except for a few items left for the housekeeper.

The honey bees love the lavender, still in its full glory.

We tidied the house but didn’t clean since a final cleaning is included in our rent, which is always the case. As requested, we removed the bedding and placed it in the basket in the laundry room. We put back everything we’d moved to accommodate our needs. We didn’t break a thing, not a glass or plate, although we’d paid for the required breakage insurance policy along with the rent.

Now, between writing here and posting photos, I am making breakfast using ten eggs and one pound of bacon we had left, which we’ll eat in part soon, and save the rest for snacking later in the day. Most likely, we won’t have dinner at the airport until around 8:00 pm when we get checked in and go through immigration and security.

We always feel relaxed once we get through the check-in process and get close to our gate. Lately, we’ve seen horrific queues at airports in the US, with many cancellations and flight changes. We’re hoping this is less likely to occur with an international flight, but one never knows. Fortunately, our ship doesn’t sail until August 1, so we should make it despite delays.

The shade of the overhanging vines creates a pleasant patio area in the garden.

We just finished the huge breakfast, and finally, I can sit here and finish today’s post. In about 24 hours, we’ll be in Scotland and hope to upload at least a short post confirming we have arrived and are at our hotel. Hopefully, they will allow us an early check-in, a VIP status feature on Expedia, where we arranged the booking.

Last night, we both slept well, which is unusual for us. We usually don’t sleep well the night before we depart a location. But, magically, last night, we both slept through the night, feeling alert and awake today. I can’t say we’ll feel so good tomorrow morning after being awake most of the night on the plane, but we’ll undoubtedly be relieved the long journey is over, and we can recuperate and catch up after the next good night’s sleep.

How do we feel about leaving? No doubt, we’ve enjoyed the ease of living in The Villages with so little required of us other than to shop for and cook our meals five nights a week, do a little cleaning, take care of financial matters and future bookings, and prepare and upload a new post each day.

A good soaking rain would bring all of the vegetation back to life. It rains a few times a week but not enough during the summer heat in the 90s each of the past several days.

As our long-term readers know, quiet times like this made writing new posts challenging, but somehow we all got through it; me writing it and YOU reading it. We thank all of you for your readership and dedication! Hopefully, soon, we’ll have new photos and stories to share.

This will be our first time on an Azamara cruise. Tom has been communicating back and forth with their customer service department to ensure they provide us with credit for priority points for all the cruises we had booked with them that THEY CANCELED. It was a total of seven cruises!

After several email messages and some prodding from Tom, finally, yesterday, they confirmed they are giving us the full credit in rewards points for those canceled cruises.

We often post expenses for the time we spent in a location. For expediency, I am listing our major costs, taken directly from our spreadsheet since we arrived here three months ago:

  • Rent:              $9,072
  • Groceries:      $2,926
  • Dining Out:     $2,106
  • Fuel:               $     33
  • Total  $14,137*
  • Cost per day: (89 days) $159
  • Cost per month (average): $4,836
  • *These expenses do not include personal product purchases we made while here.

We are pleasantly surprised by how affordable it was to live here, even with us going out twice a week for dinner (Including drinks, taxes, and tips).

Well, folks, off we go. Keep an eye out for us sometime in the next 36 hours or so. If we’re too tired to write, we upload a short post, letting you know we’ve safely arrived.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 28, 2013:

With the midsummer heat, few flowers remain in the gardens. For more photos, please click here.

Two days and counting…How’s my head?…Last trip to the store…

This giraffe was having a “bad hair day!” The hair on the female giraffe’s ossicones is usually short and straight up. From this post

Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2018. Please click here for the story.

With only a few hours until my pedicure appointment, I’m debating whether to get back to packing or do as much of today’s post as possible before we head out the door. My inclination is to work on this post so that when we return, I can focus entirely on packing.

Cape buffaloes on the Sabie River in Kruger.

I’ve organized but haven’t started loading items into my single clothing suitcase. I’ve packed most of the supplies into the big yellow bag that will contain my Tempur-Pedic pillow, our shoes, hoodies, and various jackets, which we’ll undoubtedly need in the cold weather we’ll surely experience in Norway, Greenland, and Iceland and other ports of call along the way on the upcoming two cruises.

Mom and baby hippos on the bank of the Sabie River.

My primary focus this past few weeks has been doing everything possible to reduce my left forehead and face pain. Regardless of whether it is an inflamed nerve, trigeminal neuralgia, or occipital neuralgia, the home care for these conditions is very similar.

A dazzle of zebras hanging out near the road in Kruger.

My small heating pad arrived, and it’s been helpful. Four or five times a day, I focus the heat on my cheek and then on my forehead. It seems I get the most improvement with the heat on my cheek which leads me to believe it might be trigeminal neuralgia, not occipital neuralgia, or in the worst case, a combination of both conditions, precipitated by my awful bout with Omicrom in April 2022.

The pain began on the day I tested positive for Covid-19, and it never went away except for short periods when I took Prednisone or a few days here and there for no apparent reason.

A crocodile was lounging on the bank of Sunset Dam.

Sometimes, I think the pain is sinus-related, but beginning last week, I noticed improvement when I started using a prescription steroid nasal spray Doc Theo gave me months ago, which hadn’t helped at the time. I still do the sinus rinse treatment twice daily, but now I add the nasal spray after that, and I am experiencing some relief.

On top of that, I have been doing several head and neck acupressure procedures at least twice a day, never missing a day. I am better between all of these processes, the heat, the meds, and the acupressure. The trick will be to take the time on the cruises to continue all of this. I won’t have any problem doing the acupressure treatments since I do it first thing in the morning and before bed.

Yellow-billed storks and other birds are not easily identifiable due to the distance when taking this photo across the lake at Sunset Dam.

During the day, I can always return to the cabin for 15 minutes a few times daily to use the heating pad. Hopefully, it will continue on this path of improvement. I can’t tell you how much better I feel when my head and face don’t hurt for periods. I am like a new person. As I am sitting here right now, typing on my laptop, I don’t have any pain.

With a thick pillow under my laptop, I don’t have to look down or have my head in an uncomfortable position. Good posture and avoiding bending over to use my laptop or phone also help significantly.

Several giraffes were attempting to drink at the Vurhami Dam.

Soon, we’ll head out the door. Tom will drop me off at the nail salon, run errands, and pick me up when I’m done. After that, we’ll head to the Publix market for a few items since we found we need meat of some sort for one more night, or we’d have to dine out. Being preoccupied with getting ready to go, neither of us feels like going to dinner.

We surmised this elephant might have been ancient because of its size and bright white tusks. Scientists can better gauge the age of an elephant by its teeth, as described on this site.

Two more days? It’s hard to believe. The three months here passed quickly, and we’re ready to be on the move again.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 26, 2013:

Santina cleaned our house this morning, bringing this fabulous plate of “torte” she’d made. How thoughtful she is! With the pie crusts made with flour,  I won’t be able to taste them, but Tom will try all three of these. There’s no doubt they are delicious. I will savor them via my eyes, otherwise known as being a “food voyeur.” For more, please click here.

Three days and counting…Getting things done…

Locals were walking on the steep roads during the procession last night. The woman on the far left in navy blue is our own, Santina, our precious cleaning lady.

Note: Today’s photos are from this date in 2013 while living in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. For more details, please click here.

It is so busy around here. This morning we finished your order to have the suitcase shipped to the hotel in Minnesota, waiting for us when we arrive on September 9. I contacted the hotel’s general manager that the briefcase will arrive in a few days, asking him to store it for us until we arrive. I also included a photo of the bag with the message.

As we stood on the road outside our house, the procession stopped for a few minutes for prayer. There’s Santina again in navy blue. Notice the heels on her shoes!

Then, we headed to the postal station, but three items I ordered from Amazon weren’t in the mailbox, nor was anyone at the postal station, so I could inquire if they had the packages. Now, we’ll have to return later on Wednesday or Thursday. There’s a huge rainstorm occurring right now with lots of wind, thunder, and lightning. We’re not going out in the golf cart in this weather.

Tomorrow is my much-needed pedicure appointment at 11 00 am. While I’m busy with that, Tom will fill up the tank on the golf cart at Walmart and buy a dozen eggs to get us through the remainder of the week.

This patio is where we suntan a few times a week. These impatiens attract the bees, as do most flowering plants requiring us to pay special attention during our hour in the sun, quite close to the planters.

Once back at the house, I’ll finish the post, upload it, and then return to packing. We already arranged transportation through Groome from The Villages to the Orlando International Airport, which picks up for the international flight at 5:50 pm for our 10:30 pm international flight. It’s over an hour-long drive, especially with rush hour traffic at that time of day.

We’ve gone through all our remaining food, and we need one more dinner to wipe out everything we have. Thus, after my pedicure tomorrow, we’ll stop at the Mexican restaurant in Colony Plaza and order food for tomorrow night’s dinner.

The second of the two planters. As you can see, the giant leaves belong to the zucchini. We’ll see more zucchini over the remaining summer as well as the abundant herbs we’ve been using.

For Thursday evening, we have frozen burger patties for Tom with bacon, cheese, onion, and canned tuna for me, which I’ll make into tuna salad using the remaining eggs, onions, and celery, using sour cream for the salad dressing. This will be the best we’ve ever used up our remaining food. In the past, we were happy to leave food for the household staff but with no household staff here, there was no one to leave it with.

Speaking of household staff, yesterday I got a wonderful message from one of our housemen in Marloth Park, Vusi. When we left, I had reformatted my old laptop, which worked well except for one key on the keyboard. I cleaned the exterior, screen, and keyboard so it looked brand new. Vusi was thrilled, hugging me several times, saying, “Oh, thank you, Madam.”

A zucchini that grew in the garden box on the patio.

Thus, yesterday when checking my email, there was a sweet message from Vusi that warmed my heart. He wrote:

“Morning, madam, hope everything is good there, I just wanted to say we (the animal, us) miss you, have a great day🍹🙏may God bless you

And thanks for the laptop. It’s still working good. I really appreciate 🙏Vusi.”
Immediately, I wrote back to Vusi, thanking him for his thoughtful message and how much we’re looking forward to seeing him in less than 11 months from now. We have so much to look forward to.
That’s it for today, folks. We have lots to do and look forward to being on our way soon.
Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 25, 2013:

Here’s a Ziplock bag half-filled with water and a few Euros to ward off house flies. See the story for the results of using these well-placed bags over the past 48 hours. (BTW, it didn’t work). For more photos, please click here.

Four days and counting…Packing has begun…

We took this photo on Volstruis Street. The word volstruis means ostrich in Afrikaans. Sadly, in the past year, the lions killed all the ostriches in Marloth Park. For this post, please click here.

Note; Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2018. For the story, please click here.

It’s been a long and enjoyable three months living in The Villages in Florida, but we are ready to move on. We never had a chance to look at any real estate for sale when neither of the agents we contacted returned our calls. They must be so busy they didn’t have time to deal with our curiosity.

Not only do they gravitate toward the river for food but also for water, where they drink, play, and swim.

We would have liked to peruse a few houses, but we had to let that option waft away with only the golf cart and the new construction very far from here. Besides, after three months here, we’ve decided we have no interest in ever living here permanently when and if this time comes that we must settle somewhere.

The summer weather is unbearable, and with the small backyards and gardens, there’s little chance or desire to be outdoors, which we’ve missed. It’s just not for us with the lack of wildlife and nature, although the scenery is quite lovely driving through the vast retirement community.

I am not a photographer by nature, but hopefully, over time, I will improve. Photo from 2018.

We loved seeing so many of our friends here, but we can and most likely will return to Florida for a visit sometime in the future and see them all again if it works out. We like that it’s an income-tax-free state, like Nevada, our state of residency, but that would never inspire us to live here.

We weren’t here during the busy winter season when many residents told us they couldn’t get a place to park when visiting any of the town squares for dinner, let alone getting a reservation for a meal. They said the traffic on the roads and golf cart paths is indescribable during winter when tourists and property owners return from colder climates for the excellent weather.

The green grasses along the river are pleasing to the elephants.

That’s not for us. We’re happier living in remote areas, away from crowds, long queues and traffic. Looking back at our almost 11 years of world travel, most of it was spent in remote locations.

You may ask, “Why would we enjoy cruising with the crowds on the various ships?”

The answer is simple. Sailing on a large ship with 500 to 2000 passengers doesn’t feel crowded to us. We can freely wander about the ship, find places to relax and socialize in the various areas and venues and really feel like we are in a small town. Plus, socialization on a cruise ship is ten times easier than it’s been while out and about here in The Villages.

Wildebeest Willie and a friend, along with some warthogs, at night.

We thought it would be more social, but we found many residents have their own little “cliqies” and don’t easily include “newbies” in the conversation. However, I must add we did meet several wonderfully friendly and interesting people while out and about in the town squares on several occasions.

I suppose my problem is comparing everywhere we go to Marloth Park, where strangers smile and stop to chat while at the market, the pharmacy, and then again…our favorite place, Jabula, “where everyone knows your name.” (Remember that line from the TV series, “Cheers?”

Trying out a few of the camera techniques I learned from our friend Ken, I still see that I have a long way to go.

Now, I must wrap this up and get to packing my stuff for the bag we’re shipping to the hotel in Minnesota, where we’ll arrive in less than seven weeks after the two cruises, one day in Boston with my cousin and the nine-day visit to Henderson, Nevada, to see Richard and renew our driver’s license. We’re looking forward to it all.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 24, 2013:

This was one of the many photos we took on the beach in Belize. As we’ve traveled, we’ve found that each beach has its breathtaking beauty, memorable in its way. For more, please click here.

Five days and counting…A food favorite once again…What?…Ironing clothes?…

Making the layers of the bread-free subway sandwich while in Italy in 2013. More details are below in other photos

Note: Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2013. Please click here.

Yes, I know. We’ve written about these bread-free sandwiches, over and over again, which we call an “unwhich,” as they do at Jimmy John’s restaurants in the US. But here we are, bringing it up again today with preparation instructions in photos with captions. We frequently have new readers and thought they might enjoy seeing the photos. Sorry about that to our long-term readers.

Slice fresh tomatoes, purple (or yellow) onions, and washed and dried romaine lettuce as you prepare the sandwich.

It came up again when I researched the “ten-year-ago photo” at the end of today’s post. Lacking any new photos, I decided to post the details of how to make these bread-free sandwiches based on our positive feedback over the years. Most countries have bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, mayo, and deli meat of one sort or another.

This sliced Emmental cheese or sliced Provolone cheese seems to add more flavor to the sandwich. Try to avoid using overly processed American or cheddar cheese. Italy has no orange-colored cheddar cheese due to the dyes used to color it. That’s impressive!

However, during our most recent 2½ years in South Africa, we never found full-leaf romaine lettuce, only small pieces of the lettuce in ready-to-use bags. Instead, we used head lettuce, carefully removing, washing, and drying the large exterior leaves to make the sandwiches. That worked ok for us.

Place the meats on a plate in preparation for assembling the sandwich. This mayonnaise is the best mayo we’ve ever used, with no chemicals and few ingredients.

As for deli meats which may not be available in some countries, we used thinly sliced, cooked chicken breasts and sliced cooked roast beef without a bone. In some countries, the ingredients in deli meat may be less than desirable for the health conscience, so it was essential for us to read all the ingredients when buying deli meats, even in the US.

Italy has the best bacon we’ve had anywhere in the world.

Although there isn’t a nearby Costco store with excellent quality deli meat without fillers, wheat, or gluten, we could purchase quality deli meats from Kroger delivery. As a result, when we made these “unwiches” last week, we were pleased with the quality of the ingredients. But, we do not buy highly processed meats such as Oscar Meyer, etc., often sold at low prices with dozens of ingredients on the label.

Place the turkey or chicken slices atop the lettuce, and cover with tomatoes, onion, bacon, and mayo. Then add other preferred meats and cheeses.

It has been a busy day so far today. As I write here, it’s almost 2:00 pm, and I’ve been running around the house doing more laundry and ironing some of Tom’s shirts. Most of his short sleeve button-up shirts are wash and wear, but he has three Tommy Hilfiger shirts that require ironing, regardless of how I washed and dried them.

Tom set up the iron and ironing board from the laundry room, and I proceeded to iron and attempt to neatly fold the three shirts, placing each shirt in a large Ziplock bag. Hopefully, they’ll stay wrinkle-free after being packed for the cruises. As for the remainder of his shirts, which are pretty much wrinkle-free, I will neatly fold them without too much fuss, and then he’ll do the rest of his packing.

Place the cheese atop the tomatoes, adding the mayonnaise using a spatula or wide knife.

I hadn’t ironed anything in years and wasn’t as good at it as I once was. While I was at it, I ironed one of my shirts which I set aside for when we’re at the upcoming hotel in Edinburgh or on the cruise, and hopefully, they’ll have one of those little sewing kits.

One of my favorites; it has a hole in the side seam. I had one of those little sewing kits, but it didn’t have the right thread color to make the repair. I am not much of a seamstress and never have been. Occasionally, I’ve repaired a few of our clothing items. Last month, Tom lost a button on his favorite shorts. After finding it, he asked if I could sew it back on. I did, and it’s holding so far.

Ham slices in Italy are different than deli ham slices in other countries, fattier, have no nitrates, and are less flavorful than ham slices in the US. In our sandwiches, we don’t use Italian salami. It was too fatty for our taste buds and greasy on the tongue. One can add or delete any items in this sandwich. But the most important for maximum flavor is bacon, cheese, and mayonnaise. Sliced roast beef also works well when available. We would have purchased it yesterday, but it was US $42 a pound, so we were content with the ham and sliced chicken.

It sounds as if we have very distinct gender roles in our lives. But, we both decided long ago we’ll each perform tasks we find we have the most ability and experience. I cook. Tom does the dishes. Tom does all the heavy lifting, and I do the laundry. Neither of us feels the tasks aren’t divided equitably, nor do we hesitate to ask if we need help with one of our regular tasks.

Also, today, I cooked and diced a huge bag of frozen chicken breasts and diced onions and celery for tomorrow’s dinner of chicken salad, to which we’ll add a big mixed greens salad on the side. Soon the boiled eggs will be cooled enough, and Tom will peel all the eggs, which he always does to help. Tomorrow, I’ll make the dressings for both salads, tossing them right before dinner, and we’ll be good to go for the next few nights.

Cover everything with large romaine lettuce leaves and wrap tightly with parchment paper. We have been wrapping the sandwiches in heavy-duty tin foil, which seems easier to handle and stay together while eating.

Tomorrow, the packing begins, so we can ship the extra bag to Minnesota. We’ll have plenty of clothes and supplies for when we leave Minnesota and head to South America in October. All is good.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 23, 2013:

The final product is tightly wrapped, ready to chill and enjoy with a side salad and steamed vegetables. For more, please click here.

Six days and counting…Ordering food delivered by Grubhub…

Difficult to distinguish in this distant photo…two male lions were sleeping.

Note: Today’s photos are from Marloth Park on this date in 2018. Please see the link here.

Last night, after a pleasant dinner at Cody’s, we headed back home and discussed that it was our last night dining out in The Villages. Instead, we’d order takeaway Chinese food for tonight and tomorrow and then cook our remaining food in the freezer Monday through Thursday.

This morning, I perused Grubhub for options that work for us. As most of us know, delivery food can be sketchy at best, especially when ordering from restaurants we don’t know. In The Villages, our best bet has been ordering Asian food, but we’ve been frustrated with the prices through Grubhub.

When we ordered Asian food through Grubhub for two nights, the cost was around $100. Considering it’s less than what we’d pay to dine out for two nights, we went ahead and placed our orders on three or four occasions, never disappointed with the food, only the cost, which seemed high to us.

This morning, I decided to compare costs if we ordered from the  China Gourmet Asian Restaurant in Colony Plaza, which supposedly has equally good food as Sunrise Asian, which we can’t get to by golf cart. But it’s about 10 minutes to Colony Plaza by golf cart.

Tom spotted this lion napping across the Crocodile River as we peered through the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

We placed our usual order for enough food for both nights, and the total bill was $55 (after a $5 coupon offered by the restaurant) instead of the usual $100 we’ve paid in the past. Grubhub charges a service fee as shown below:

Grubhub Order Sunrise Asian (no delivery fee due to a one-year coupon we received).

Delivery fee $0.00
Service fee $8.95
Tax $6.27
Driver tip $10.00
Total $114.74
China Gourmet pickup order 
Same items ordered as Grubhub order
TOTAL $55.00

Good grief. We should have checked this out earlier and saved over $200 based on several prior delivery orders through Grubhub. The ordering process wasn’t quite as easy at China Gourmet, and Tom will go pick up the food soon, but it’s certainly worth saving $59.74 to drive the cart for about 20 minutes round trip. It will make us think twice about placing online orders through Grubhub and other such services, especially when we are in the US, where prices are higher.

When we were stuck in two hotels for two weeks, one in Southampton and another in Gatwick, England when we had Covid-19 in 2022, we had no choice but to order through Grubhub and Ubereats. The prices were high there, but the food was good, considering what we could eat while sick.

Today, I am washing all of Tom’s shirts since many have been sitting in a closet for a long time, even as far back as when we were in South Africa. He wears a favorite few repeatedly, leaving the others gathering dust in the closet. Hopefully, they’ll come out of the dryer without wrinkles, but I’ll use the wrinkle-free setting and see how that goes. I’ll only dry three shirts at a time to see how it goes, folding them neatly when done so they’ll be ready for his suitcase.

A female bushbuck was preparing to take a drink from the cement pond.

That’s it for today, dear readers. Thank you for your continued support and readership!

Be well

Photo from ten years ago today, July 22, 2013:

There was no photo posted on this date in 2013. For the story about getting stung by a potentially dangerous flying insect, please click here.

Seven days and counting…

Sports cars drove through the winding and narrow roads of Bovegio, Tuscany, Italy. This is an MG, year and model unknown.

Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2013. For more, please click here.

It’s noon on Friday. We just finished a nice breakfast of bacon and eggs and will dine out tonight at Brownwood Paddock Square. We plan to arrive after 5:00 pm when the outdoor karaoke has ended, and most likely, we’ll be able to get two seats at the bar. As usual, we’ll stay about an hour and then head to Cody’s Original Roadhouse for yet another hopefully good dinner.

A Porsche, year and model unknown.

This will be our last Friday night out in The Villages since we arrived almost three months ago. We accomplished what we came here for…renewing our ten-year passports and, in the process, seeing several of our friends who live in Florida. We didn’t have an opportunity to see all of our “snowbird” friends who come to Florida in the winter to escape the cold weather up north.

By the time we arrived at the end of April, some of our friends had already left for cooler climates during the summer months. Once we’re in Minnesota for a month in September and part of October, we’re hoping to see some of those friends, those who may not have left yet for the upcoming winter.

Another Porsche, year and model unknown.

This will be our most extended stay in Minnesota since we began our travels in 2012 which will give us lots of valuable time with our family, including our grown kids and grandkids. Plus, Tom has many family members in Minnesota, including. His sisters spend the summer and early fall in Minnesota before they head to Arizona for the winter to get away from Minnesota, the frozen tundra.

Today is easy with two loads of laundry washing and drying and with little else to do. Soon the Salvation Army will pick up my eight pounds of clothes. After sending Tom’s suits and my dresses yesterday, we’ve lightened our load by about 14 pounds, 6.35 kg.

This is a Mercedes, year and model unknown.

When we begin packing on Monday, we’ll have a better idea of our baggage weight and can make any adjustments we may need before departure. We’ve added some new items while we’ve been here, but nothing of any substantial weight. The heaviest was my white jeans for “white night” on the Azamara cruise, coming up first.

On the Azamara cruise, guests can use laundry facilities for a fee. On the next cruise, Celebrity, we have a high enough rating for their Captain’s Club to each get one complimentary bag of laundry and two dry-cleaned items, and one pressed item each.

This morning, I tried something new for my head, a freezer hot and cold pack. I’d tried cold, and it helped, but nowhere near as much as the heat helped. As a result, I ordered a neck and head heating pad from Amazon that heats using a UBS plug. Thus, I can use it on the plane and in our hotels and cabins without needing a microwave to heat the gel packet. Also, it will work plugged into my portable charger.

This must be a Triumph.

I’m continuing to do acupressure exercises and particular movements to improve the condition, which is about 50% better than weeks ago. I hope the improvements will continue over time.

That’s it for today, folks.

Be well.

..Photo from ten years ago today, July 21, 2013:

Is this an MG? Year? Notice, at a distance, the red Ferrari or Lamborghini. A car show, per se, driving through the winding roads of Boveglio. For more, please click here.

Eight days and counting…Making last minute decisions..

The interior of the “theatre” in the square, where, with mouths agape, we viewed each photo with our new friends encouraging us along, telling stories mainly in Italian, so proud to share their history with us. It was a night we’ll never forget. Yesterday, we said thank you to Michela, the owner of Not Only Pinocchio B & B; she suggested we walk down to the Bar Ferrari in the “square” around 9:00 pm when the locals mingle on Friday night (actually other nights also from what we heard). She offered to meet us to “make the presentation” of us, as she said in her easy-to-understand broken English.

Note: Today’s photos are from a post on this date, ten years ago, while living in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, for three months. See the post here.

This morning, Tom drove the golf cart to Colony Square to get a haircut while I stayed behind to work on today’s post. Also, he stopped at Publix Market for a few last-minute items. He wasn’t thrilled with his haircut since the barber left it too long on the top, but after he showers soon, he’ll know more. I suggested he return for more of a trim, but you know, most guys don’t like to return anything, let alone a haircut.

None of the photos were dated, but the clothing may indicate the early 1900s.

Last night, we had an idea to ship the suit Tom purchased for the later canceled Queen Mary 2 cruise (due to Covid-19), along with my dressy dresses, to our mailing service to be held, until sometime in the distant future when we may need them. None of our upcoming cruises have dress-up nights, so we do not need those items. It costs $25 to ship them the slowest way, but it will give us lots more room in our bags.

On Monday, we’ll pack the bag to be shipped to Minnesota, and then everything left will be packed in the bags we’re taking with us to Scotland and the following cruise, back to Boston, onward to Henderson, and then on to Minneapolis. It should all work out.

Based on the clothing, this wedding procession appears it could have been in the 1950s. This was the unpaved road leading to the church and cemetery we highlighted in the post-dated July 16, 2013.

Now, we’re finishing off all of the food in the freezer and refrigerator and are doing better than ever. If we have any unused items, we’ll leave them here for the housekeeper or the next guests that stay at this house.

This morning we received a Whatsapp message from a couple who will be sailing on our first cruise with us with their cabin on the same deck and down the corridor from us. They asked if we wanted to meet for dinner in Edinburgh. But, as it turned out, our hotel was far from the restaurants they suggested, but convenient for us to go from the airport to the port of Leith a few days later.

These are the inner workings of the clock tower that clangs four times an hour, often irregularly, located next door to us. We laughed when the locals mentioned how close we were to the sound of the clock, using the typical head and hands signal one uses to indicate sleep, as they inquired about our ability to sleep through the noise.

We’d have loved to meet with them for dinner on one of the three nights we’ll be there, but it doesn’t look like it will work out. Instead, we will get together for dinner on one of the nights on the cruise, which is always fun. One of the main reasons we enjoy cruising is the easy socialization with other passengers.

Now that Tom has returned from his outing, we’re staying in today. As is the case all over the US and other parts of the world, the high heat will keep us indoors in air-conditioned comfort. The dew point this afternoon will be 85, will temperatures around 97F, 36C; way too hot to be sitting outdoors right now.

The construction of the road to our 300-year-old stone house. It’s hard to conceive of the degree of manual labor required to build the steep roads in this area in this era.

In any case, tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be heading out to Brownwood Paddock Square for the evening, spending most of our time indoors to avoid the equally hot weather. But, surely, the ride in the open golf cart will be hot. We’re experiencing heat here in Florida, even more uncomfortable than in South Africa in the worst of summer.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more tomorrow and look forward to having more “meaty” information to post.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 20, 2013:

Blurry photo. We were invited to a party in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. Handing off the camera to a kind gentleman to take our picture, He must have accidentally changed the settings to “out of focus background,” which I overlooked until this morning. After our fabulous night, I couldn’t resist posting photos, although they were all out of focus. Daniela is in the photo with us at my left and Armenia at her left, sitting on the steps. For more, please click here.

Questions from a long time reader…

Old-fashioned community washing pool, where locals gathered to do their laundry in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. The larger pool is for washing. The smaller sink is for rinsing. Of course, they’d bring their laundry home to dry outside their windows. For more photos, please click here.

Today’s photo is from our three-month stay in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. See the post here.

Yesterday, I received the following message from a long-time reader, Pam,  as follows:

“Dear Jess & Tom,

My husband and I are 70, and I’m beginning to think that cruising may be our best travel option as our mobility is becoming more limited. The research and planning are also mostly done by me, which can be a bit exhausting. We flew to Vegas in April and rented a car for an 8-day road trip to Bryce, Zion, Monument Valley, and Grand Canyon. We saw some amazingly beautiful sights, but walking even short distances was very difficult for me, especially in the higher altitudes. We spent much time just touring from the car and the tour buses. So I think that cruising may be easier for us. We have only cruised twice. The first time was 1999 (eek!!! Really that long ago?) Western Caribbean, which we aren’t interested in doing again. The second was in 2012 (wow, time flies!) to Alaska, which was wonderful. Both on NCL. We aren’t fancy and kind of like their freestyle cruising.

I know that you have recommended Vacations To Go in the past, so just wondering if you still do. Also would welcome your thoughts on Costco Travel, United Cruises, or just booking directly with the cruise line. I also recall that Tom has a website that alerts him when prices go down, but I can’t remember which one. Could you kindly remind me? We would love to cruise the Med, but I read a comment on a YouTube video that said if you have any mobility issues, it may be difficult.

Just wondered if you would be willing to share your thoughts. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Happy sailing!


Thank you, Pam, for writing! It’s lovely to hear from you, and we’re thrilled to hear you are considering cruising again. I am relisting your questions below (for ease of reading), and we will answer them individually.

  1. I know that you have recommended Vacations To Go in the past, so just wondering if you still do. Also would welcome your thoughts on Costco Travel, United Cruises, or just booking directly with the cruise line.

Answer: We prefer using Costco to book cruises and car rentals. (Annual membership is required). Their prices and perks for cruises are the same as most other cruise booking agencies. However, through Costco, you will receive gift cards (shop cards) each time you book a cruise, which motivated us to use them. Unfortunately, reaching them by phone to book a cruise or ask questions subsequently is awful. You can wait on the phone for an hour or more; contacting them by email is sketchy at best. This fact alone prompted us to return to Vacations to Go, which we’ve used for years. Our rep is Heather. She can be reached here:

“Heather Thompson
Master Cruise Counselor, Luxury and Multi-Cabin Specialist
Vacations To Go (16 Years)
My office hours: Mon-Fri: 11 am-8 pm (US Central Time)
US and Canada: 1-800-338-4962 ext. 7317
For toll-free numbers from other countries, click here.”

With us booking cruises while out of the country with huge time zone differences at times, having easy access to our booking company is important to us. Heather is very responsive and quickly responds to emails and phone calls. Please tell her we sent you. We don’t receive any remuneration for referring you to her, but we love sharing good service with our readers.

We’ve never used United Cruises and rarely have booked directly through a cruise line. They are also hard to reach and don’t have better pricing or service.

2. I also recall that Tom has a website that alerts him when prices go down, but I can’t remember which one. Could you kindly remind me?

Answer: Mainly, Tom has used Cruisecritic.com at this link that takes you directly to their cruise roll call, where you can enter the cruise you’ll be taking and see if there have been price drops. If there is a price drop (only applicable to passengers from the US and Canada), only prior to the final payment, you can find the information there and then contact your cruise booking company and ask them to lower your price. This has saved us thousands of dollars over the years. But you must carefully analyze if the price drop is beneficial for you since you may lose some perks if you take the price drop. Your booking agent will provide you with this information

(You must sign up for a free account at Cruise Critic here to see the roll call for each cruise. It’s straightforward to do so).

3. .We would love to cruise the Med, but I read a comment on a YouTube video that said if you have any mobility issues, it may be difficult.

Answer: We sailed in the Mediterranean on three occasions. At many ports of call, walking can be long and up and down hills at times. However, many easy-access “Hop On Hop Off” buses are available at the various ports, taxis, and vans you can arrange to take you to see the highlights. It’s essential to negotiate a price for taxis before you embark on such private means of transportation. “Hop On, Hop Off” buses have a fixed price for passengers, which is usually reasonable. In these cases, you can decide if you want to get off the bus or taxi and walk around or not. You will still see plenty.

We hope these answers help you decide what may work for you. Please feel free to contact us at any time with more questions. We’re always happy to help!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 19, 2013:

The flowers of Tuscany never ceased to amaze us. The colors, the smells, and the varied designs make them appear more artistically rendered than real life itself. For more photos, please click here.

It’s all good…

When I walked to the produce truck in Boveglio, it was surrounded by no less than ten local residents, anxious to buy their weekly supply of fruits and veggies. How convenient!

Today’s photos are from this date in 2013 while living in Boveglio Tuscany, Italy, for three months. Please see this link for details.

Just think. In 11 days from now, we’ll arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland, and be able to start posting new photos. Most likely, after getting some sleep after the red-eye flight, we’ll have recovered sufficiently to do some sightseeing. We are checking out some options now since we’ll have a few days until boarding the ship.

It’s exciting to finally be traveling again. We spent so much time in Africa after we left India from being in lockdown for ten months in a hotel in Mumbai we hadn’t traveled much. During those 2½ years, while we based ourselves in South Africa, we traveled once to Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, and five times to the US (six times for Tom for his brother Jerome’s funeral).

We had several other trips booked that were canceled due to Covid-19, including 12 cruises in total that were also canceled due to Covid-19. It’s not that we didn’t try to travel; we continually ran into cancellations preventing us from moving on with our plans.

As a result of the frustrations over all the cancellations, we didn’t keep booking many future travels until the past year when Covid-19 became less of an issue. We had a fantastic time in Marloth Park and were grateful we spent our less active period in such a wonderful place.

It felt awkward taking photos, so I did so descretely. Unquestionably, I was the only tourist in the bunch as I heard the locals chatting endlessly in Italian. I did my usual head nodding, hiding my camera under my shirt.

Not surprisingly, we look forward to what’s ahead next year, including our eventual return to Marloth Park next June and any new plans we’ll make after another shorter stay in Marloth Park. At this point, if all goes well on our upcoming cruises, we’re thinking we’ll book more cruises in the future. It’s a wonderful way to see many parts of the world we may never get to since not every country is suitable for a two or three-month stay.

We’ve had a good time in The Villages and may return for a short stay in the distant future, especially since we enjoyed seeing many of our friends and making new friends. We’d hoped to see more of our readers who wrote to us, but time got away with us.

Plus, as I continued to suffer from the head and facial pain, there were times I was grateful we didn’t have more social plans. However, there was never an occasion that we canceled any plans with friends, readers, or family, nor did we stay in on Friday and Saturday nights due to my discomfort. I’d decided to continue with my life, accepting this pain as a reality until somehow it would resolve.

Today, I am pain-free, but yesterday wasn’t so good. At least now, with the acupressure self-treatment I started on July 5, many days are pain-free as opposed to none before beginning these procedures. Perhaps in time, I will be pain-free. Any drugs I had taken or could take for this only mask the symptoms.

With more fruit than vegetables, I could not restock our usual supply of cauliflower.

What I am doing now can possibly eliminate the source of the issue by releasing the painful nerve. I am hopeful as I continually do the “exercises” several times a day or at least, each morning and evening. If I have trouble during the day, I perform the process again. It was terrible last night after dinner, but I added a few more pressure point procedures and got some relief, enough to ensure a good night’s sleep. Today is a new day!

Soon, our final Kroger grocery order will be delivered as we continue to use the food we have on hand and our newly delivered items. We needed some meat and salad ingredients to get through the next several days until we departed.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for hanging in there with us during this quiet time.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 18, 2013:

Here’s what I purchased today from the vegetable truck that stopped in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, for a total of Euro $4.09, US $5.33. Prices were lower at the grocery store, but the freshness and convenience made it worth paying more. For more photos, please click here.