Sunday, June 30, 2019

Google, My Trip Planner

The Green, Guilford, CT
Usually I'm a planner, especially when I travel. When I'm in a place for a short period of time I want to make the most of it and I enjoy researching places to visit and eat. I think I spent two hours looking for the best fish and chips in Dublin during my recent trip, and yes, I found some very good places. 
But I do a lot less research when I'm visiting familiar places, and Connecticut, where I grew up, is definitely familiar. On the spur of the moment I met my friend, Lonni, for a day at the Connecticut shore. Our custom is to search out the "best" lobster rolls in Connecticut. Instead of our usual research, we were quite casual and took the recommendation of one of her friends. The fish was very good -- my pick was clams this time -- and we stayed in New Haven and avoided the Saturday beach traffic. After lunch we had an entire afternoon and no set plans, not our norm. But we decided to get ice cream and turned to Google. Best ice cream of Connecticut led us to the extraordinary Ashley's. 
  So many flavors and so little time! Nutella chip and whipped cream over a layer of
grapenut ice cream, a New England favorite
Ashley's has several location, but we opted for Guilford and the opportunity to explore an unfamiliar town. Thanks, Google, for leading us to this citadel of fabulous homemade ice cream. We splurged with waffle cones and two scoops in an early celebration of my birthday next week. I was delighted to find grapenut ice cream, a quirky New England specialty that is made with grapenut cereal. The only other place I've seen it is in Maine and we were both happy to see it here. Ashley's has been voted best ice cream in New Haven and best ice cream in Connecticut. There are at least 40 other flavors to sample, so I anticipate many return visits.  
Guilford, situated on Long Island Sound, is as lovely a New England town as one could hope to find. It was named for Guildford, England, south of London, where its first settlers came from in 1639. It includes five historic house museums, which we will explore on another visit. We walked around the green, savored the architecture and browsed the shop windows. It was laid back, leisurely and a perfectly lovely afternoon.  
  Geraniums, topiary and flags for the Fourth of July!
I also discovered the most intriguing shed. No reason for a backyard shed to be dull.
The last stop of the day was at Evergreen Fine Crafts, on the Green. If I wasn't deep in the midst of deaccessioning -- sounds better than decluttering -- I could pretty much have bought half of the contents of the store. It's another definite return before Christmas.

Lots of fun and useful goodies here!
I so enjoyed my day in one of the loveliest of New England towns. A dear friend, great weather and homemade ice cream -- it doesn't get much better. I wish I could have brought all of Buttercupland with me.
It took me over a week to get back into my routine in New York City and then in a blink June is over, and July is only a few hours away. I've got a short fun trip for the Fourth of July and then it's my birthday, which always means the summer is in full swing. I'm taking this summer, like the trip to Guilford, easy. I have my Yoga and water aerobics, but I want be laid back about scheduling. I want time for the Farmer's Market and lots of iced coffee and reading books in the park. Here's to the glories of summer!
As ever, thanks for visiting and happy July!     


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Appreciate a Teacher

History teachers of Weaver High School, Hartford, CT 1967-1968
My favorite high school teacher, Mary McDonnell, is seated at the far right. She was a wonder. She was funny, she was patient and she was so intelligent. She took the initiative to put together a curriculum for American Intellectual History and kept us engaged and questioning, which is the hallmark of a great teacher. She was one of the teachers to whom we dedicated our yearbook. Part of the dedication read "Her sense of humor cuts through the trivial and makes learning a memorable experience."
 I loved her class and I know I let her know how much I enjoyed it. I went back to see her after I graduated. I probably sent a Christmas card for a few years. And then my thoughts drifted away from high school, as they had drifted away from elementary school, and as they would later drift away from college and graduate school. There were now jobs, friends, relationships and an entire world to explore.
A few days ago one of my Hartford friends posted an obituary on Facebook. It was for Mary Heslin, another beloved history teacher. She had followed her years of teaching by becoming Deputy Mayor of Hartford, then Consumer Affairs Commissioner for the state of Connecticut. Her passing brought me back to thoughts of the many teachers that contributed so much to my life. It also brought a measure of regret for how few of them I thanked in later years.

In most cases it's too late. My beloved elementary school principal, Margaret Godfrey, and our wonderful high school gym teacher, Marilyn Strong, stand out, and in both cases the time has past. But there is at least one college teacher and one graduate school teacher I need to find -- thanks in advance, Google -- and thank. It's time to appreciate a teacher, or two, or three and let them know how much I appreciate all of the gifts they gave me. Please join me in appreciating a teacher!

In our next post we move back to vacation time and glimpses of life aboard the Black Watch. Isn't that a perfect name for a sailing trip to Scotland?  

It's fully summer in New York City, but at least today was sunny. I'm catching up on post-vacation errands and getting back into the routine of water aerobics, Yoga and grocery shopping and food prep. The big change is a new teacher for water aerobics. I loved our former teacher, who was promoted. On the theme of this post I need to thank him!

As ever, thanks for visiting. Have a wonderful Wednesday! 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Cross the Mersey

Sunset across the River Mersey

One of my favorite songs when I was in high school was Gerry and the Pacemakers, Ferry Cross the Mersey. I knew about the Mersey sound and of course, the Beatles as well as Gerry and the Pacemakers. These were Liverpool bands, but my thoughts of Beatles' sights tended more to focus on Abbey Road in London. When I made my list of places I wanted to visit in England, Liverpool never got to the top of the list. Fortunately my cruise through the Scottish Islands sailed from Liverpool and I planned a three day visit there before the cruise. One day was to insure that with any flight delays I would still get to Liverpool in time for the cruise. Another day was to see Liverpool and the third day was to spend time with my blog friends, Sheilagh and Ralph.

  It wouldn't be a vacation if it didn't include blog friends!
Ralph, Sheilagh and I in Chester, England. Two of the most gracious hosts imaginable.
Even with a year of English History in college, I had very little to no knowledge of the history of Liverpool. It was a major shipping and immigration port and the Royal Albert Dock was built in 1846 to accommodate the shipping industry. It was the first structure in England to be built without any wood, which made it non-combustible. With changes in shipping it was closed in 1972 and then reopened as a tourist site in 1984. The views are extraordinary and there are a number of museums in the Dock area, National Museums Liverpool. One of them is the International Slavery Musuem, which includes Liverpool's role in the Triangular Trade across the Atlantic.  
The Roman Wall in Chester
I spent an extraordinary day in Chester with Sheilagh and Ralph. Sadly our dear friend Marie wasn't feeling well and I missed seeing her. I wasn't familiar with Chester before planning this trip. Though it's Marie's home, it wasn't on my radar. I'm very grateful that my friends suggested it. It dates back to Roman times and has a beautiful cathedral, which we visited. The picture above was taken on the cathedral grounds and includes the original Roman Wall. The weather was as splendid as it appears in the photograph and it was a perfect day. Good food, beautiful sights and great friends!

The English part of the trip surpassed any expectations that I had. I enjoyed all of the sights, learning about the history of the area with which I was quite unfamiliar and seeing friends. I spent the  morning before boarding in Liverpool doing a few last minute errands and visiting the Liverpool Museum. I especially enjoyed seeing an exhibit about John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Next stop, Scotland!  
I've gotten a slow start back to blogging, but back I am. I will be featuring other parts of the trip throughout the rest of June and July, as well as returning to New York, coffee and book posts. 
As ever, thanks for visiting and sending wishes for a great week!


Sunday, June 16, 2019

My Bags Are (Mostly) Unpacked

One of my favorite ports, the Isle of Mull
I returned home on Tuesday afternoon and I'm still settling back to being home. Most of the jet lag is gone and most of my bags are unpacked. I've done laundry, gone to the grocery and the bank and renewed a couple of prescriptions. I've even been to Yoga twice and checked in at Weight Watchers. What I haven't done is sorted out my pictures. This picture of Tobermory, where our ship docked in Mull, is the only picture I've downloaded.
In one word, the trip was terrific and in two words, terrific and memorable. From Liverpool, through Scotland and on to Ireland, it was interesting, beautiful and fun. The only disappointment was not getting to Shetland, because of gale force winds. It's not unusual, but it was disappointing. Instead we had an extra day in Inverness and I had a wonderful day walking and exploring the city. I will start organizing my photographs in the next few days and sharing some of my favorite memories. 
 My father, back row on the left,
Remembered on Father's Day and every day
One of the high points of the trip was commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, while we were at sea. Everyone on our ship, the other three ships in the fleet and the corporate offices observed a minute of silence, which was profoundly moving. Almost all of the people on our ship were English and many remembered D-Day and World War II. I hadn't thought of the anniversary of D-Day when I booked this cruise, but it was an extraordinarily fitting place to remember it. 
The picture above is my father and his US Army buddies at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1942. In a few years he would be one of the soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy. One of my regrets is never having a conversation with my father about his experiences on D-Day. 
Next post will be a visit to Liverpool and Chester, a beautiful walled city. Please stop by!
As ever, thanks for visiting and wishes for a great week.