Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Vilonia, Arkansas – The Final Post of Our USA 2014 Trip.

Time just gets away from me.  It happens frequently.  It must be when I’m not looking because it is now over 12 months since our visit to my sister’s home in Vilonia, Arkansas and here I am only now writing the final instalment with the tag USA 2014.  We had such a great time.  We made lots of memories, covered a lot of miles taking in several states and I took a whole lot of photographs and so without further ado here are the last few!

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One late afternoon in the middle of our holiday we got to see Maureen’s eldest grandson, Luke, run at a track meet at the school the boys all attend in Vilonia.  It was an important meet leading up to state championships (I think) and Luke, in tiptop condition, performed excellently and won his heats without a problem.

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As always William was in need of sustenance, went in search of food and came back with a bowl of nachos.

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As the evening wore on the sun dropped down over the yardarm and the temperature dropped too.  The natives were used to this though and blankets had been brought.  They were certainly needed!

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One fine sunny day William and I took a walk around Maureen’s immediate neighbourhood.  The area was colonised way back by Jerry’s family.  I love these old clapboard houses.  The one in the photos above belonged to Jerry’s aunt.

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And this one is Jerry’s childhood home and where his parents lived until they had a new house built, just a cock stride away at the end of their vegetable garden, maybe 10 or more years ago.

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Same house.  Maureen’s home can be seen in the distance at the left hand side.  Posting both pics because I couldn’t decide which one I liked best.

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I took this picture on a visit in 1986.  This was Jerry’s granny and grandad’s house and was demolished quite sometime ago after they had both passed away.  There they are sitting on the porch.  Seven year old Caroline is standing between them.  That’s William standing and my nephew Damian is reclining on the porch swing.  I absolutely love this photo and had it in a frame for a good while.  It speaks to me of times long ago in the American south, roasting hot days, balmy evenings, fireflies, the sound of crickets and sitting out on the porch after supper whiling away the hours until bedtime.  (Does it show that I’ve read a lot of books set in the American south? Including Fannie Flagg’s Elmwood Springs trilogy and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.  Loved that one).  Anyway I would’ve loved to have experienced times like that, probably in the fifties, when life was slower.  Granny, by the way, is the sweet lady who made the Dutch Doll quilt I wrote about  in this post.

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Another view here looking through the trees to the highway.  At one time this view was obscured by trees and hedging but a tornado hit Vilonia three years ago and those trees were ripped out of the earth.

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Evidence of that tornado was still to be found around the neighbourhood and further afield too.

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Luke, Maureen’s eldest grandson, had talked about his eno.  We had no idea what an eno was.  We soon found out though.  Luke went and got his eno, climbed a tree out in the yard,without aid of a ladder or much of anything else I might add, strung it between two trees and..

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   .. demonstrated what using an eno was all about. 

On our last night Maureen cooked a special meal and her two grown up kids, their spouses and five grandsons all came to eat with us.  During the day and evening the weather had turned stormy.  Now, I love stormy weather.  Thunder and lightning really float my boat.  However, if I lived in Vilonia I might not love it quite so much.  That night the power went out a couple of times but that only added to the fun of the night.  We all sat around chatting, laughing and playing I Spy and the Yes/No game in the dark.  All the while the thunder roared and the lightning flashed.  Stories were told of the tornado, still fresh in the minds of those telling the tales, that had hit three years ago.  Fortunately on that, our last night, no harm or damage was done to people or property.  Tragically a week later it was a different story.  Violent storms and destructive tornadoes swept through several states, Arkansas being one of them.  Lives were lost.  Homes, schools, businesses and more were reduced to rubble. 

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My sister’s lovely, happy home of 35 years was a casualty and had to be demolished.  It was a heartbreaking time for many but now 12 months and a lot of hard work later Maureen and Jerry have a brand spanking new home and come October I will post a photograph of it.  Our tickets are booked and in October we shall be jetting off for another jolly holiday in the good ole U S of A!

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On previous visits over the years at the very last minute before we get in the car for the ride to the airport and our homeward journey I have always had a picture taken with my sister (that’s me on the left) and here’s the last one.  One of these days I’ll dig out all the others and share them here.  It’ll be a bit scary to see how we’ve changed, but heck, we’re still here and that’s all that matters!

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And finally one last photo.  This is Walker, their family dog, a great big softy.  He chooses to curl up and rest on this garden chair!  I suppose he must be comfy but he certainly doesn’t look it!  Bless him.

Until next time,

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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Sizergh Castle and Lancaster Canal

Last Saturday morning William and I drove up the motorway heading for Bay View and our first weekend stay of the 2015 season in the caravan.  It was a beautiful spring day with clear blue skies but for all that come bedtime in a tin box it we knew it was going to be a wee bit chilly.  Our plan was to leave the heating on overnight and that’s what we did thus avoiding frostbite!  

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Having done the necessary jobs of unpacking and hooking the caravan up to water and electricity a walk down by the salt marshes was in order.  It was plain for all to see that Bay View has been having more than its fair share of precipitation.  The path to Archer’s Cafe was impassable.

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It didn’t matter to us though as we had decided to take a circular walk back to base…

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… via the canal.

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There’s some very pretty scenery along the route.

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Not a hint of a breeze in the air meant still waters and lots of eye catching reflections to photograph.

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By late afternoon we had worked up a thirst.  A short drive away from Bay View is Arnside and that’s where we found a pub to sit outside with a drink and watch the sun go down. 

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Sunday a visit to Sizergh Castle was planned.  Sizergh is an impressive property parts of which date back to the14th century and is now in the hands of the National Trust and so our NT Membership came in useful again.

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The gardens are a treat to walk though. 

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This limestone rockery at the rear of the house is a little gem.  I’m looking forward to going back throughout the year and seeing the changes each season will bring.

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Our tour of the castle over brought us nicely to lunchtime.  I had packed a picnic and happily it was a perfect day for picnicking.   Perfect day all round really.

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Our last port of call was Sizergh Barn which is just down the lane from the castle.  It was just before milking time and we saw the cows jostling for places at the feeding trough.  Look how nicely they looked at the camera for me!

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Especially this young lady.  I do like cows.

Until next time,

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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Manchester Police Museum

Well, time has gotten away from me again and here I am a couple of weeks after the event with this post.

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During the recent half term holidays Victoria suggested a trip to the Police Museum which is located in Manchester’s historic Northern Quarter.

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A place we’ve known about for some time but just never visited.

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A gallery line up of unsavoury looking characters in one of the cells.  We spent a little bit of time looking for familiar names and faces.  Happily we didn’t find any.

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In the dock and guilty as charged!

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Two sweet little faces.  Definitely not guilty!

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This police office, dressed in Victorian uniform, retired from the force over forty years ago but is still doing regular volunteer shifts.  I reckon he’s seen a few changes to policing over the years.

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Here William is chatting to the retired officer about the Lest We Forget board which lists all those officer killed in the line of duty in the Manchester force.  The first name is dated 1819.  78 names in total but we noticed that there were two missing.  The names of the two young female officers, Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, horribly murdered in 2012 have not yet been added.

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Wooden beds and pillows.  Ouch!

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No visit to a police station would be complete without a sit in a police car.

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I’m not too familiar with this corner of Manchester but after a glimpse into some of the side streets I think I’d like to go back some time soon for a better look around.  It seems that many streets have been restored to their former glory.. probably a much cleaner semblance of their former glory.  No more factory chimneys belching forth their grime over the city are there?

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I loved the vibrant wall art.

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And finally back at the car park Nicholas got to put his new wellies to good use.  Walking through puddles with your wellies on.  Never gets old does it?   Notice the helmet?  He and Charlie both came away with one of those each. 

It has to be said this was one museum visit we all enjoyed.  It was definitely interesting.  If I went again I’d take a guided tour and get the inside information from those in the know.

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Friday, 13 February 2015

A Beautiful Day For a Walk at Dove Stone Reservoir

A week ago today Caroline and I took a bracing walk round the picture perfect in the snow Dove Stone Reservoir.

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There was still plenty of snow around on the hills.  Underfoot in places was sheer ice and we had to tread really carefully.

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In other places where the sun’s rays had reached the going was much easier. 

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This was not a sight we have ever seen before at Dove Stones.  A family camping!  In the snow for heaven’s sake.  Strange.  Very strange.  But true.

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The walk is probably around three miles and on such a lovely day was a real treat.  Homeward bound now we made a stop at the Lime Kiln Cafe beside the canal for another treat.  Coffee and cakes.  Let me tell you, that scone was absolutely delicious!

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Being such a gorgeous day we sat out on the balcony.  The fleece blankets provided by the establishment came in useful.  It was a gorgeous day but it was also pretty cold!

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