Day Three……

This was my third day using my arrival as my actual first day. It was fairly intense with almost 12 hours by the time we did all the work and then I took my host and his family to dinner as a thank-you for all the running around, plus they are enjoyable company. That also gave me the opportunity to see more of the lovely countryside during this too brief visit. I saw my first pheasants in natural setting as one scurried across the narrow country lane and another swooped low past the car. Dinner was at a charming lakeside (loch-side) restaurant that was a bit of a drive through more rolling hills.

Work-wise, it was jammed-packed with interesting information and the confirmation that some of what I thought was true appears very much not to be. The unfortunate aspect of writing non-fiction is that when you discover a source to have been in error, you pretty much have only two choices – perpetuate the error or change what you have. This certainly isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this and I doubt it will be the last.

This morning we will be off to Belfast for another lengthy day and what I hope to be verification of a couple of areas that I have a special interest in. On a personal note, the time difference and my hubby’s schedule means that we haven’t spoken since I left, although with connectivity, the emails are zipping back-and-forth and I did leave him a voice mail. Hopefully, we’ll connect before too long.

 

Day One Plus Two…..

Well, the “down” day I planned to get my body aligned to the time difference worked pretty well and I also discovered that the hotel was fine for that, but not set up for how I needed to work. I’ve booked into a different place for the night of my return to Heathrow and we’ll see how that goes. I seem to be having difficulty with sending photos from my phone, although at this point I’ve only taken a couple of inside bar/restaurants, so that’s not really taking away from the posts. This is a situation where photos may have to wait. Yesterday I discovered much to my chagrin that there are two airports in Belfast and despite the fact that my host in Ireland had clearly implied I was to land at Belfast International, I hadn’t picked up on that. I have apologized for the inconvenience as much as possible and hope to make it up with a nice dinner out for the family.

Ireland is indeed green and for this part of the very short trip, I am in the country with a sampling of that. There are indeed rolling hills, plenty of pasture, cows, sheep, a few goats, and the cod at dinner last night was delicious. The hotel I’m staying at is family run and appears to be a very popular place for locals to come for drinks and dining as well as for the guests to enjoy. It’s early morning here and as soon as I post, I’m going to try a brisk walk around. My ability to exercise while traveling is limited, but I did meander around Heathrow yesterday for a bit lugging my carry-on which is the one that does not have wheels.

Today will be delving into historical archives with a fascinating gentleman whom I will discuss in the upcoming book that I will be able to explain about in detail later next month, I hope. He has already revealed a couple of mistakes in some reference material that I have been using and while it’s disappointing, that’s also why I am here.

A Startling Start….

Okay, I’ve logged a lot of air miles for a non-road warrior type, but in all my years of flying, I had not been around for a medical emergency. The plane from Atlanta to Heathrow was pretty full. We had backed out from the gate and were on an active taxiway when people started shouting from a ways behind me. It turns out that a gentleman wasn’t feeling well and had passed out. Naturally, there was a rush of flight attendants and then a gentleman left his passenger seat and went back – I am assuming he was a doctor or other medical provider. We obviously returned to the gate, and EMTs came on-board. The gentleman was able to be evacuated by wheelchair instead of a stretcher so I took that as a positive sign. A woman deplaned with him and then there was the point of their luggage that had to be located and taken off. No, that isn’t as a courtesy (although that may well be a part of it). For some time now, there has been a computerized system that matches all luggage to ticketed passengers and while you can have less luggage than passengers such as when someone with a connecting flight makes it on-board, but their luggage doesn’t, you can’t have pieces of luggage on board that don’t belong to someone who is supposed to be on the plane. (“Extra” baggage catching up to someone is specifically noted as such.)

Anyway, that all meant it was 11:30 p.m. by the time we actually departed. They couldn’t really make up the time and I’m glad that I had already decided to lay over in an airport hotel today instead of continuing my flight to Belfast. I did get some sleep on the plane and I do intend to make it an early night. One of the keys to adjusting to the time difference is to stay up until around 9:00 p.m. local if possible. The hotel is not one I’ve used before and it isn’t quite as convenient as I had thought, but it’s fine for one night and the staff is friendly and helpful. Hopefully tomorrow’s flight will be without incidence.

Off On Adventure…..

My posts will be somewhat sporadic for the next two weeks. Some of you already know that I’m involved in a new non-fiction book project that is seriously cool. I can’t reveal all the details yet, but it is as a co-author and has to do with deep shipwreck exploration that requires serious technical diving, submersibles, and ROVs. I am on my way to England and will have a couple of days in Ireland to meet with various individuals who are explorers and historians. (I’ll give a full explanation of everything once we check off a few more blocks and go into promotion mode.)

The only drawback to the trip is that my hubby simply cannot take off two weeks this time of year and that means I am not only going to be driving, but I will also have to navigate around in places that I know nothing about. I do have some experience with British-style driving and I was a passenger when Hubby drove us there during our trip to Scotland quite some time ago. I have been assured by a dear friend who is British that their signage is much better than what we have here. I have also opted for GPS in the rental car, but quite frankly I’ve been known to have difficulties with those gadgets. However, I’ve also built in extra travel time to allow for errors. It will be mostly a matter of just accepting that little difficulties will arise and then dealing with them. I actually don’t pick the car up until the second half of the trip so hopefully by that time my brain will have properly absorbed the driving patterns.

I’ll write the blog each day and post as I can. I should have connectivity in most places, but I am headed to some small villages as well. Stay tuned, everyone.

Something So Cool…..

This is one of those situations where it isn’t exactly a “tease”, but I also can’t use names because it was an incredibly kind and generous gesture, but the individual does not wish to be identified for what will become apparent reasons. I heard about it not long ago and in a time when there’s a lot of bad news, a heartwarming story is nice to share.

Although Homestead has grown significantly in the past ten years, it is still a small town in many ways and unlike some of the communities to the north of us, this is not the place of many multi-million dollar homes. There is a very active youth soccer league thanks to a great number of dedicated volunteers who give of their time. A couple of years ago, one of the teams won whatever the category was they were in that would allow them to compete in a championship out in California. The kids were thrilled, but realistic. Airfare for the team of 12, plus coaches, and chaperones was simply too much to ask of their sponsors and that’s not the sort of money you can raise with car washes.

One of the volunteers had a connection with a major airline and thought – Hey, why not ask? Not surprisingly, the answer was, “We’re sorry, but with the volume of requests that we receive, we have a policy to not provide free airfare for these projects,” (or something along those lines). You can understand that position – how do you say yes to some and no to others? However, a senior individual became aware of the situation and while in total agreement with the policy, the individual said that taking care of the request as a private person was permitted. That’s right – this individual promised to cover the whole cost of airfare if the team could manage the rest of their expenses. That part was doable and no, Disney didn’t write this story so the team didn’t win the championship. They did go to California, however, and had a great experience.

A Happy Fourth To All….

In actuality, this is another of those situations where Hubby and I generally have to work all or part of the day, but we do so in the spirit of the holiday. In my case, it’s only part of the day today and at the moment, that’s the same for Hubby. That part, however, can change very quickly as it often does with someone signing up with short notice to dive. It happens often enough that we are accustomed to it. We also usually attend the City Of Homestead Fourth of July bash at the Speedway. It’s a big event that they handle well. The only drawback for me as a morning person is that means I’m out later than normal since it takes a while to get through the heavy traffic after the big fireworks display. The police flow traffic as well as they can under the circumstances, but when there are thousands of attendees, you can only do so much.

Anyway, on to the topic of appropriate Fourth of July foods. Yes, I know that everyone in Maine does lobster and I have no doubt that there are other regional specifics. For us, however, the acceptable meals are burgers, hot dogs, ribs, fried chicken, or BBQ. My husband, born and raised in Georgia, insists that only pork can be referred to as BBQ and that’s a point on which we shall always disagree. Side dishes aren’t much more expansive – potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, corn on the cob, macaroni salad, deviled eggs, and French fries if you’re dining out. Chips and dip are fine and I never am sure if watermelon is supposed to be dessert or just something to eat which then also includes displays of blueberries, strawberries/raspberries, and whipped or ice cream. And speaking of ice cream, it’s fine along with fruit pies, certain cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. What’s your Fourth of July food list?

 

Dining in Redondo Beach…..

R10 Social House in Redondo Beach, CA

R10 Social House in Redondo Beach, CA

Even on a rushed trip, we try to do our best with trying different restaurants and our hotel was within easy walking distance of several. For Saturday, I had intended for us to do kind of funky for lunch and somewhere nice for dinner, but as it turned out, we reversed that. Our hotel was located near the King Harbor Marina and the long business lunch that we had was at the Bluewater Grill. It was a lovely setting of course and the only disappointment was no Dungeness crab on the menu. I did have shrimp and it was delicious.

One of the objectives in our wandering all around the harbor later that afternoon was to decide about a restaurant for dinner and the boardwalk area was pretty much on the funky side. A little place called the R10 Social House caught our interest with their farm-to-table and artisan beer claims. How are you going to pass that up? As it turns out, they actually bill themselves as a gastro pub which is a term that the British have adopted – “a pub that specializes in serving high-quality food”. Anyone who has dined in London will understand why they had to come up with a special term. Anyway, back to the R10. Their menu was limited, but intriguing. The beer and wine were both the kind that you don’t routinely get here and since we had done seafood at lunch, we went the other way for dinner. The server highly recommended the beer-braised short ribs with special onion rings atop a cauliflower puree. Hubby ordered that and I had the hangar steak. The food was excellent and in smaller portions which was perfect with no ability for us to deal with leftovers. The other dishes that passed by us looked equally good and we decided not to try the live music in the lounge upstairs. It had been a busy day and we had an fairly early departure planned for the next morning.

Redondo Beach Day One-Plus…..

Hubby at Redondo Beach, CA

Hubby at Redondo Beach, CA

What I mean by One-Plus is that we got in very late last night and by the time we dashed over to grab dinner at what is the largest Cheesecake Factory either of us have ever seen, it was pushing midnight when we got back to the room. So, let’s begin with the very fast trip. In general, I would not fly to Los Angeles on a Friday evening and fly back to South Florida Sunday morning. This is one of the exceptions though. I’m involved in a special book project that I can’t give the details about for another two weeks, but I needed to come interview a guy who is an expert in marine forensics analysis and it is heavily technical. Since I don’t speak “engineer”, I needed hubby to accompany me so he could genuinely understand the discussion and keep me straight as I later write the narrative. We had a terrific session with the guy that extended into lunch that did indeed involve a few drinks. Hey, there are different interview techniques.

Anyway, I’ll discuss the restaurants in another post. We don’t know the area and decided to stay at the Marina which has turned out to be a good location. We’re not right on the harbor, but it’s an easy walk. The day has been overcast and not as warm as we expected, but no rain. We walked along one area and when we saw a “fin” break the water, we assumed it was a dolphin. It was actually a sea lion and several frolicked just out of camera range as different size boats maneuvered around with kayaks and paddleboats. Then we went the other direction to check out the short boardwalk. It was definitely a pleasant afternoon.

Crabs at Seafood Market, Redondo Beach

Crabs at Seafood Market, Redondo Beach

Our Limes Are Back……

Limes From Tree in Our Back Yard

Limes From Tree in Our Back Yard

Anyone who has followed the blog for a while is aware of the woes we have had with our lime tree. The foliage has always been great, but production of limes has been from nothing to almost nothing and we could never understand why. Well, actually the first year was really good, but the birds ruined all the fruit. A couple of years ago we blamed the birds again when we’d had a huge number of tiny fruit and they all disappeared. A lady told us that wasn’t birds, but rather that the ground around the tree was retaining too much moisture and the budding fruit was dropping from the tree rather than maturing. This whole situation was particularly puzzling since the lemon tree next to it didn’t seem to have any of these issues. So we essentially gave up on the idea of home grown limes and enjoyed the lemons.

A few weeks ago hubby was trimming the tree and realized there was mature fruit. Not only was there fruit, there were three limes ready and more to come. We were both startled and had no idea what might have happened or how long this growing spurt will last, but we are taking advantage of it.

Belated Happy Father’s Day……

First Father's Day With DadI managed to let yesterday slip past and truly meant to post. It was a special Father’s Day since this is Dustin’s first as a dad. Yes, I know I promised not to do a lot of “Proud Grandma” moments and I won’t.

I called my dad who will be ninety-one in October and they’re doing fine all things considered. They moved into assisted living several months ago and he voluntarily gave up driving. For anyone who has been through that struggle, you know what a “gift” that was to us.

Hubby actually worked all day yesterday, but it is prime dive season and so that’s to be expected. Here’s a word about being a stepfather. It isn’t the easiest thing in the world to step into a situation when a child is older and Dustin did a nice post on Facebook acknowledging how well our family blended. In fact, it never occurred to people who saw them together that they weren’t biological father and son. And after spending seven years as a single parent I can also relate to the poster that says something along the lines of, “It taking something extra for a mom to be a dad, too”. The reverse is probably true for a single dad filling the role of mom and I can vouch for the fact that trying to raise an opposite sexed child alone brings a few extra challenges. Dustin loved both of his grandfathers, but we didn’t live near either of them and so it was periodic visits rather than frequent involvement. Thankfully, hubby came along before the issue of shaving ever came up not to mention other subjects that I was grateful not to have to deal with. Anyway, even though I’m a day late – here’s a big thanks to all those dads out there who have been a real part of their children’s lives.