Monday, November 17, 2014


With our inclination towards anything involving the water…
it's no surprise I have quoted Rat before.
 Much to Ren Mans delight, we spent one week messing about in a boat 
on the Canal du Midi.
Many felt Pierre-Paul Riquet was crazy when his ideas began to emerge back in 1654, 
however, his brilliant work is evident…
as the canal meanders through the beautiful French countryside,
crossing aqueducts with rivers flowing underneath.

Riquets' home town of Beziers provided the perfect weekend market for provisions
 before boarding Winifred in Capestang, France.

After a few minutes of training…
we were on our way…
headed upstream…
rising a few feet…
at each of the fifty nine locks we encountered.
When boats move forward near the front closed gate,
the rear gate closes and water begins to empty into the area as the front gate is slowly opened.



Each lock has a helpful attendant who controls the closing and opening of gates
 and as the boats rise to the level of the canal, the front gate opens 
for boats to continue on their journey.
We climbed close to five hundred feet over the entire distance of our journey 
from Capestang to Port Lauragais.
Incredible engineering.
Don't tell Ren Man I noticed.

Our journey up the canal continues...






Thursday, November 13, 2014

“Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly. "I've had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended tone, "so I can't take more." "You mean you can't take less," said the Hatter: "it's very easy to take more than nothing." "Nobody asked your opinion," said Alice.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Recently, Oxford...

and its collection of independently founded colleges, 
have drawn Harry Potter fans curious to view film locations.

However, there are also those who are "curiouser and curiouser" 
about its connection to Alice in Wonderland.  

So, back in June when our teenage visitor was in town,
 we had multiple reasons for Oxford to be on our itinerary.
1)  We were a few weeks early for Alice's Day celebrated every July,
but not too early for our own Mad Tea Party.
Lewis Carroll, a Christ Church math student, 
met Alice, the daughter of a Dean, and let his imagination take Alice on an adventure.
Many items in the story are based on curiousities found on campus.


2)  College visit…

With this young lady,
Oxford would be lucky to have her.

There was evidence all over town…
of the approaching graduation ceremonies.

3)  Harry Potter…



Not being real into the whole Harry Potter thing, 
my knowledge of these exact locations in the film is lacking.
Those of you who are fans, know exactly what went on in each of these areas.

4)  Although photos are not allowed,
our tour of Bodleian Library was quite impressive.
Over 11 million printed materials.

5)  Wandering about campus…
enjoying the sunshine...

 and the view.

Oxford will be all lit up in a couple of weeks 
as they kick off their Christmas Season with the Light Festival 2014
November 21-23.

Sounds like a wonderful time to visit this charming city. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below." ~ John McRae

Hello stranger!
It seems my summer sabbatical from daily blogging 
spilled over into September...

and then October...
and…
well…
evidenced by my InstaFUN memories,
all of the sudden,
here we are hugging the middle of November.
When darkness arrives quite early to pull the shades down on daylight. 
So for those of you, like me, 
who prefer long sunny days, 
a quick peek at my Top Five Ways to Light Up Your Life might be in order.

Meanwhile, in all of our gallivanting around over the last few months, 
the one place Ren Man and I have not visited in a while is London. 
Not since we were there back in June for 
the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London.  
You too can attend, but there are steps to take well in advance.
A colleague of Ren Man's has an armed forces buddy who lives on the grounds,
 and kindly provided an invitation for us to attend the 700 year old tradition of escorting the warden 
as he locks the gates of the Tower and grounds. 
Much to my surprise, 38 retired officers, yeoman warders, or Beefeaters,
and their families live within the fortress.
Their official title is...
Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London. 

As we walked around the grounds before the ceremony,
Ren Man was busy with canon photo ops.
Ahhh…the memories of summer.
These photos were taken around 9:00 p.m. 
before the whole process began at exactly 9:52 p.m. 

After the locking of the gates,
and all was secure,
they did let us out...
and dusk had blanketed the city.
The Ceremony of the Keys is worth the effort of planning ahead for an invite.

Unfortunately, by the time we visit London again in December,
the amazing Poppy installation at the Tower of London
Photo:  Daily Mail
will be dismantled.
Hundreds of thousands of ceramic poppies, by artist Paul Cummins, and stage designer Tom Piper,
have been 'planted' in the Tower's moat over the last few months 
with the final number reaching 888,246 today
November 11th
the end of 'the war to end all wars'...
Remembrance Day in the UK.
One poppy for each British soldier 
who died during WWI is quite a visual.

Across the pond,
we mark today's importance with Veteran's Day
as we honor all who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Thank you daddy
and the millions of others who have served.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"…a thin place where only tissue paper separates the material from the spiritual." ~ George MacLeod, founder of the Iona community, describing this holy isle

A smaller passenger ferry…
map source:  www.sandymckay.com
 transports visitors to the wee island of Iona west of Mull,
unless you are one of its 177 residents 
allowed to drive their vehicles on and off the island.
During the Early Middle Ages
 a monastery is believed to have been built in 563... 


by an exiled monk from Ireland…
Columba, or Colm Cille.
Iona survived multiple Viking attacks with its Celtic crosses still in tact
and continued its spiritual history when the abbey was built in 1203, 
until its destruction during the Scottish Reformation 
when the Duke of Argyll gifted the ruins to the Church of Scotland.
Services are still held in the Abbey.
 A few years after the abbey, a convent for Benedictine nuns was built in 1208
 and its ruins still remain.
A small portion of the Bishops House, 
believed to have been built in the 1630's is located north of the abbey.
This unique community has been flourishing since 1938
when George MacLeod led a concerted effort to rebuild the abbey.
Over the years, Iona, has been and is today…
"a dispersed Christian ecumenical community working for peace and social justice, 
rebuilding of community and the renewal of worship." 
iona.org.uk 
A beautiful, peaceful island 
where people have lived and visited and worshiped for many centuries.

  
  

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