Then, in the distance…finally! We ate dinner that night in a delightful dark, beam-hung pub, and had an hour’s conversation with a quintessential Irishman named John, who told us he’d given up “the drink” 20 years ago at the behest of his children. Anyway, Fermoyle Lodge was located in the middle of NOWHERE (as are most of our stops)…but was an extremely charming manor house surrounded by hydrangeas, rhododendrons and flowers of all kinds, and the manor itself was set in a grove of trees. Finally, slightly chilled and pretty damp, we ended up in our hotel’s pub, quaffing ale and Scotch, and having a nice chat with a couple at the bar who happen to be from Pennsylvania, are photographers, and had just spent two weeks on a very wet and windy Isle of Skye! And just looking at the old houses lining the road, or over hedgerows to fields that ranged far and wide was such pleasure, it was worth a little scramble or two. Sestri Levanti, the Bay of Silence and the Bay of Fables It was a memorable day, among many…Steve is a terrific guide, and he had devised a splendid itinerary. This is a village I have never heard of, and was a delightful, absolutely charming surprise. This was one of the amazing things in this land: The absolute silence of the Highlands, but for the water. The first thing I wanted to do when we got to New York was visit The Cloisters. Then dinner. The weather continued to be fabulous. We set out for a small field around the corner to eat and relax. The road from Old Orchard to Broadway was fairly narrow, often with little space to leap out of the way of cars whose drivers apparently thought they were auditioning for the Grand Prix…but we were none the worse for wear despite a few nettles getting in our way. We are up and packed by 9AM, had a quick breakfast and were into the van heading for the storied Isle of Skye. Arlene booked us in for the balloon ride, so we drove to a field in the countryside where the balloon was being “gassed up.”. Our room is nice, lacking only in towels. Again…no-one speaks English…trying to make ourselves understood with the tiny bit of Italian learned prior to the trip is not easy! so we found shade beneath some (I think) beech trees, and unpacked the feast. The castle still brooded on the hilltop. Wonderful! our first view of The Old Orchard country house took us into Jane Austen territory. The springiness of the turf was like walking on green velvet. The Fishmarket of Bergen and the Funicular. Taxis can only pick people up at designated areas now (such as street comers… not in the middle of the road.) From here, we hike to an isolated primitive villa belonging to Vittorio, a friend of Mario’s. (This was two years before The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” but every time I hear that song, I think of this hotel.) As we left Flagstaff and drove merrily along the road through the brilliant clear light, everything seemed perfect. It meanders on for miles and miles…green marshes and mountains with huge boulders all over. That’s one thing I loved about Carmel: charming with character and history. The perfect end to a perfect day. Anyway, once at Polraen, we were able to settle in! Driving on, we passed the town of Haye-on-Wye, otherwise known as “Full of Books.” The roadsides were dotted with bookshelves filled with various tomes…I loved it! Quel spread! After we eat, we walk back to our hotel, but not before standing on a street corner overlooking the sea and singing “Blue Moon” to the stars and sky at the top of our lungs. Keeping a very sharp eye out, we were lucky to spot a miniature sign saying “Stoke Farm” hidden in a hedge. Nonetheless, we beavered on…and just up ahead, saw a tiny spark in the darkness. The man who built this hut had made a thousand trips up and down the mountain with the needed supplies, according to Beate. 2 3 2. I have come to drink coffee and tell the world of all things Chrome. By 3:30 we finally dropped off, and woke up about 9AM for breakfast. Perhaps that is the lesson we need to learn from the pandemic. Over rolling countryside, Steve drove us to a beautiful bluff called Overlook Point. At 9:45 AM, a sharp-looking little red Rover rolled up to the front door. We hike back to the hotel, clean up, pack for the next morning’s move, and leave for dinner at an outdoor café. © 2021 Baptist News Global. And then on to Broadway…and a gentler, more pastoral sort of magic. Nothing further happened, and the man disembarked at the next stop. This was our first evening at Old Orchard. Just down the road was Broad Chalke itself – a few cottages, a couple of manor houses, and an old pub at the crossroads, where we had dinner. Honestly! The car was baking – we have never been so hot in our lives. We reach Sestri Levanti around noon and reconvene at the Hotel Miramare. This is not my usual post, as it’s really a hiking trip down Memory Lane… before 9/11, back in the 90’s. The sea is such an integral part of everything, we couldn’t walk more than two minutes without standing on a waterfront or beach. That night, as we were walking around Fishermen’s Wharf, the fog rolled in. We arrived at The Plaza – and a long line waiting for the elevators. Dialogue Window Bubble. Very interesting to talk with him. After showering and changing for dinner, we listened to a brief talk by Beate about the history of Norway, ate, and then it was back to our rooms to pack for Sunday’s hike – a 15-mile day to look forward to! Suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, a gigantic gothic inn loomed. I however left for a couple of hours’ walk through and over fields, meeting a nice man (Bill) and his dog (Gus) – we walked and talked back to his car, and I met and chatted with Daphne, his wife. Once again, back at the top, we decided to take a breather and a nap. We caught the ferry back to Polruan, and Leslie and I walked to the car park – another 1.5 miles uphill – to pick up the car and pick up Elisa. She: tall, extremely slender, straight shoulder length (or longer) blonde hair, a figure to die for, and a very sweet smile. Up came the train for Moreton-in-Marsh, and we had reserved seats…hurray! The musical was “The Scarlet Pimpernel” (otherwise known, in the play, as Pimpy). We began our ramble around a fairly benign landscape, through lanes in woods laced with delicate greenery, over granite and boulders, and around some of the ubiquitous shingled homes and inns that dotted the landscape. The sun was high in the sky, and the world smelled of trees. I dressed in woolly tights and sweater, with a cashmere pullover tied around my waist…and I was melting. The small outdoor bathrooms (well, outdoor in the sense of not being in the cafe) had low-lying doorframes, and apparently ignoring the sign saying “Watch your head,” I immediately bashed mine against the lintel – looking and feeling rather idiotic since there was quite an audience to my momentary lapse and crossed eyes. I texted Steve to let him know it would be between 4-5pm when ready to be picked up, and went on my merry way to find the Cotswolds Way. (Dock leaves take out the sting…). Doesn’t take much, does it? What is the trip you planned to take “someday”? Our small inn was right on the water, and was so charming, with vines and roses clambering across walls and doors. Over the long months of the pandemic, I have checked on him from time to time, ending every email, “As soon as it is safe, I am coming to London!” When people ask me where I want to travel when it is safe, I always answer, “London!”. An early morning walk behind our B&B in Perranuthnoe. And now Arlene is sleeping the sleep of the just, the recycling trucks (as I found out they were) are outside on the street loading 5 million tons of glass into various carriers, and I’ve got hand cramp. Everything is lit, and ribbons of lights move endlessly with the traffic patterns. Ya know what I do, take them to my cleaners, tell them what to do, pay ’em a few dollars- there you are: so much cheaper than here… plus, you have to pay the shipping!”, Gloria: “I’m still waiting to see the sweater.” Me: “Well, give me a minute to get it on –  the sleeves are too long.” Gloria: “Now let me tell you what you do: everyone does it we turn up the sleeves like so, there…how’s that look?” Me: “Let me think about it.”. Diane and I walked around the town drinking in the beauty of it all. The air was bell-clear, and the sky a brilliant blue, with a fresh breeze blowing through the town. On the road again… About 10:30, Steve picked me up and we drove to Broadway (how I love this Cotswolds village!) Between the U-turns and reverses in the heavy traffic, we were ready to leave the car in the middle of the road and simply walk to Covent Garden! We bicycled over two or three roads leading to more sandy roads, which in turn led to sea or woods. Lucky Gabrielle! Wonderful views – as long as the house lasted. A few cars had parked on the side of the road, and as we passed through that little black cloud, everyone at the roadside cheered. The sun continued to shine, and it was a heavenly day. (Of course, we could have bypassed eating and just applied the food to our hips…but…oh well.). After a few photo ops, we met back at the house for dinner and to make our plans for the next day. Masses of yellow gorse and wildflowers covered the cliffs, and plunged over the edges. A good night’s sleep, and we’re up. Cresca’s menu has many delightful entrees, and we ended up with feta cheese salads, shrimp and crabcakes. The view from here is – well, I can’t keep from using the word “spectacular’. but huge vats of boiling corn on the cob, tubs of melted butter, and chewy bread. But suddenly, we saw lights at a distance far off the road. On a beautifully clear day, time for (we think) a fairly brisk walk before taking a taxi to Vineyard Haven. Goodbye, dear Martha’s Vineyard! We kept ice in our mouths as much as possible to offset the drying heat, gulping juice a mile a minute as the ice melted. The air was chilly, clear and beautiful, and the sound of laughter floated over the water…. Rambling through the town to the train station, in three minutes, are back in Santa Margherita. Basically, the advice was stay put, but hard to do that when your time is limited. My first visit encompassed both a shopping trip into the city, and a hot air balloon ride over the Green Mountains –  absolutely magical. I can’t believe how much I enjoy the anchovies here…delish. Jacki (one of the proprietors) met us and showed us to our rooms. David and I made ourselves sandwiches for lunch, pottered about, and then strolled back to Broadway where we continued the search for “something lavender” for his friends back home. After the break, we took a taxi tour of the island on our way to Vineyard Haven for lunch. At first, we couldn’t get enough of the view, taking pictures from any and all angles. One hour later, somewhat frazzled, we roll into Riomaggiore. Too vast and awe-inspiring to be believed, on one hand … and unreal, just like a painting on a picture postcard, on the other. As the ferry was not available until June, we were put on standby with the airlines for a Saturday jaunt. We heard the sound of the pebbles being sucked back into the sea…”that melancholy, long-withdrawing roar.”. Susan, Linda, Jennifer and I shared the van with Brian and Tom – lots of room, and it was nice to be able to stretch out. The water is bluer than blue, deeper than emerald, azure as sapphires – clear as the sound of a bell. It is a fascinating, desolate, eerie place, so different from all we have seen so far. We managed to get to St. Ives without further incident. At the Falconry at Ashford Castle with Oliver Owl. We were really in deep country. Part of our hiking trip included the hour-long (more or less) ferry from Boothbay Harbor which deposited us on Monhegan Island on a day that was intermittently sunny, but turned misty and damp. Up at 6AM, got dressed, hugged Diane goodbye, got in the taxi, and then it was back to Houston. Miles below us gleamed the fjord, and forests stretched as far as the eye could see across mountains and more mountains. We pulled into a side road, stopped and managed to dig the belts from under the seats. Lee arrived at 10AM, and off we went to see London. “We need more towels,” I try to tell her, picking up something I think is a towel and saying”vorrei dua.” Responding in Italian, we are both nodding and shaking our heads like yoyos. We booked in at Number 31 a day early, I drove back cross country to Dublin, we got lost in Dublin itself, but finally found Hertz, turned in our rent car, and took a taxi to Number 31. Despite my fear of heights, it was an incredible experience. Benches front the house, on one of which reposed two adorable tiny black kittens – the sweetest little things – but they did not like Shera, Beate’s dog, who, however, was very patient, as always, and left them well alone after an initial bout of barking. There is something to be said for a little luxury! We went for a quick walk up a mountain with Marsha and Jerry, and then once again, had to drive an hour and a half to find an inn for our supper. Tiny birds were singing, but no other sound was heard. Then a ramble around the village, which had some of the prettiest gardens ever. Then it was on to Sausalito, a sunny little town on the edge of the water, filled with boutiques, art galleries, hippies, cafes and the sea, endlessly lapping at the town’s edge. Then it was his turn, galloping down the platform somewhat like the Ride of the Valkyries… When all that was taken care of, we stopped at a bakery for a sausage roll and a spinach and feta pie – some of the best pastries we’d tasted! The sea below thundered and crashed in foamy white rollers, and the cries of sea birds mixed with the sound of the waves. Two hours later, we piled out of the vans in Kyle of Lockalsh for our only real shopping opportunity, which was great fun…then we drove over the bridge to Skye, paying an enormous toll to do so. Lene and I have a balconied room on the third floor overlooking the Meditteranean. The day was overcast and cloudy…cool but not cold. We continue back through the rose garden and park, and so back to the hotel. We decided to move on to Tintagel. You were going 76 in a 55 zone. On the road, manicured, pristine farm country surrounded us. Hot pink bougainvillea draped itself across walls and fences. Another hearty breakfast wass consumed (both of us too nervous about Muriel to leave anything on our plates), and then we were out the door and off. So, when a group hike along the coast of Maine in the autumn of 2002 popped up, I knew I couldn’t miss it. Outdoors was even more spectacular. I was so busy talking to the owner’s father (named Ham) about which key worked where, I completely forgot to look at the door closely until I was halfway down the High. The only thing to do was continue on our way to San Francisco. The cast stayed on stage after the performance and asked the donations for the homeless HIV- and AIDS-positive. The sky was the bluest it had been since arriving in Scotland. A sanctuary is situated on the high ground of every village. A late morning: we don’t need to be downstairs until 10AM. and, further down the road, noted a girl with purple hair; chatted with Peter, an American from Seattle; and had a Ploughman’s Lunch in a teashop. 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