Tuesday, 22 July 2014

To Big Cedar Lodge via Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway

Here I am with another instalment of our trip in March/April of this year to the USA.

Having recharged our batteries after our epic road trip (approx 2,000 miles)to South Carolina and Georgia we now embarked upon a shorter trip to Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri taking a leisurely and scenic route.  William and I were both really excited about this trip.  Big Cedar Lodge had been on our wish list for a long time.

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The route my sister, Maureen and her husband, Jerry, had planned took us along Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway and through some fantastic scenery.   Breaking our journey at Arkansas’s first official rest stop we posed for a photo with the Ozark National Forest as a backdrop. 

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Information boards in the rest stop building gave a brief history of the stop.  It was interesting to see the picture of the car and caravan combination of the 1940s , a world away from the fantastic RVs of today!

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Further along Scenic 7 another stop.  This time it was Upper Buffalo Wilderness.

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Taking the scenic route was so much more fun than driving along the Interstates.  We were able to take a detour off the main stretch and easily explore the area we found ourselves in.

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Rustic country back roads.

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Not sure what purpose the covered part of this gateway served but it made for a nice picture anyway.

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I always find the old barns appealing.  I must have taken a dozen pics of them throughout our three week trip.  It was good to see the one above obviously still in use.

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A little bit further on along our route and another stop.  This time it was the beautiful, atmospheric Boxley Valley.  This is Old Boxley Church/School House which dates back to 1877.  It was in absolute pristine condition.  I would’ve loved to hear that bell ringing in its early days and see the churchgoers in their Sunday best.  What a history there must be within those walls. 

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Picturesque Walnut Grove Cemetery at the side of the church.

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More old barns. They are so different from anything we see over here. I must say though I also love our old stone barns and farmhouses over here, they have a charm all their own too.

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In April though I was in America and soaking up the differences between our two countries.

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Like I said amazing scenery all the way.  Blue sky. Big fluffy clouds. Beautiful!

It had been a great day driving through Arkansas and we loved every minute of it. Being in good company doesn’t hurt either - we never fail to have a good time with Maureen and Jerry!

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And finally we made it to Missouri and …

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… Big Cedar Lodge! 

I’ve really enjoyed going through all my photos from this trip and reliving the memories but the photos from Big Cedar will have to wait for next time.

Until then,

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Manchester to Blackpool Bike Ride and Cleveleys

On Sunday my son-in-law, Trev and a few of his friends, cycled from Manchester to Blackpool!  At around 60 miles that’s one heck of a bike ride!  It was all for a good cause though being a fundraiser for The Christie Hospital in Manchester.  Approximately 8,000 riders took part!

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Along with my daughter, Victoria and her family, Charlie and I were there to cheer as Trev and his friends crossed the Finish Line.

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Trev (in blue) and his friends cross the line.

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As soon as Trev crossed the line we made our way round to the refreshments field where..

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.. Charlie proudly greeted his daddy.  George and Nicholas looked on.

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And one for the album.  After this greeting as we walked back to the car, Charlie holding my hand told me, “I love my daddy”.  He really could not have been happier at that moment had his daddy just crossed the finish line of the Tour de France!

Leaving Trev in Blackpool the rest of us carried on into Cleveleys. It was later by this time than we had anticipated and we all were more than ready to tuck into the picnic we had brought. 

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Gary, looked like The Pied Piper, as he led his tribe of boys..

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..to the perfect spot for some digging. 

It was an extremely windy and therefore cool day at the beach on Sunday and because of that the boys missed out on playing in the sea.  We had gone hoping for a hot sunny day intending to spend the afternoon on the beach but unfortunately it was far too cold for that.  However, school holidays are imminent so there’ll be plenty of opportunity for fun in the water over the next seven weeks. 

Roll on summer!

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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Elvis’s Birthplace, Tupelo, Mississippi

Following on from Savannah, Georgia  in my last USA 2014 post today’s post chronicles our journey home to Arkansas.  A journey which would take us back via Atlanta.

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Here you see the looming skyline of Atlanta, a great city, home to the mammoth brand of Coca Cola no less, but not a city that was on our Places to Visit List.  We experienced a hairy moment along this stretch of rush hour Interstate.  We needed to get off the next exit and were over on the outside lane.  Navigating five or six lanes of busy, seriously busy, traffic was no mean feat.  My poor brother-in-law, Jerry, who was driving had three backseat drivers plus a Sat Nav shouting instructions at him to get over there.  How he pulled it off I don’t really know but thankfully he did otherwise we might have been more familiar with downtown Atlanta than we needed to be.  It took him a while to unclench after that little episode for sure!

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Anyway we made Exit 247 and heaved a big sigh of relief!  Look at those city names.  Is that the Chattanooga as in Chattanooga Choo Choo?  Imagine that.

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We broke our journey in Douglasville, Georgia staying overnight at the lovely Holiday Inn Express.  We ate pizza in the hotel lobby.  We had been to a restaurant but we declined to eat there when they declined to serve me alcohol because I didn’t have any picture ID with me.  I had my British Driving Licence with me but it’s an old style one and doesn’t have a photo on it.  So they wouldn’t serve me.  Honestly, it’s not as if I don’t look my age which is a long way away from twenty-one I can tell you!  But no picture ID, no alcohol.  It’s the law in those parts.  So pizza in the hotel lobby it was and we really enjoyed it along with the convivial company of other hotel residents around us.  It was a fun night.

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Up and at ‘em the morning after and the tank needed filling up.  Jerry got out to do the job but he couldn’t fathom out the machine and its card using instructions.  Maureen got out to help…

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… then William got out to help, then another customer came over to help. It took a while but between them they managed it!  I hasten to add this was the only machine they had any problem with.  They had used their cards on tons of other machines – I think this one was just different.  It gave me the giggles though while I sat in the car watching the proceedings.

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We were soon back on the road again.  

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Being a tourist I tried to snap as many state signs as I could.

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This road sign grabbed our attention and heralded an unexpected pull off the Interstate.

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Woo hoo!  I couldn’t believe it! 

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That’s me - sitting on Elvis’s childhood home’s front porch swing!  Never in a million years did I think I’d ever do that!

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Several large plaques on the walls of the visitor centre recount the memories friends and neighbours have of Elvis from that time.

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It was a totally unplanned detour and a complete thrill for me to visit Tupelo.  I love Elvis’s music.  My older sister, Jean, used to like Elvis way back when we were just kids and she would take me to the pictures with her to see his films.  Magical memories of happy days.

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Another state sign.  This one my signalling that we were back on home territory and the end of this road trip was in sight.  And what a trip it had been!  To say that we all had a good time is an understatement.  We’d all had a great time and happily our USA 2014 trip was by no means over at this point.  I have plenty more photographs and memories to share.  So…

Until next time,

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Thursday, 19 June 2014

Ligularia Dentata and Sizergh Castle

“What on earth is Ligularia Dentata?”  You might well ask.

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Well, this is what Ligularia Dentata is and William and I took a fancy to it when we were at Beetham’s Garden Centre at the weekend. 

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And if it does what it says on the label we’ll be very happy, thank you!

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We also took a fancy to one of these whose name escapes me at the moment.

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Here’s a close up look at that one.  Isn’t that dramatic?  I think it’s beautiful!  I just hope both these plants like living with us and last this summer at least for us.

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We always enjoy a look round Beetham’s.  It is such a well maintained and nicely laid out nursery.  A simple pleasure for sure.

 

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Saturday afternoon we visited my sweet friend Sandra and her husband Dave in their gorgeous little cottage.  Sandra mentioned that she would be holding a stand at a local antiques fair the following day and so Sunday morning William and I found our way there.  The venue, only a short drive away, was The Heaves Hotel.

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This is Sandra’s stall.  Full of china and glassware.  The kind of stuff I’m always attracted to. 

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In fact I purchased a little Coalport figurine from Sandra and I love it.  I took these pictures with my iPhone and they don’t really do her justice.  Take my word for it though, she is very pretty!

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Naturally we wandered through the hotel and looked at all the other vendor’s wares.  There seemed to be a lot of lovely stuff for sale.

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The hotel itself seemed a trifle rundown, but attractively so.  One of the vendors described it as being “faded grandeur”.  I like that, it sounds a lot better than rundown don’t you think?

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From the antiques fair we drove just round the corner to Sizergh Castle, a National Trust property and well worth a visit.

 

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There’s a rather nice cafe and picnic area. 

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Always a bonus in my book.

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Needless to say we’ll be going back on a sunny afternoon one day soon to check out one or two of the short walks signposted from the car park.

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A sheep-at-rest-in-a-field photo for good measure.

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And our accommodation when we’re at Bay View. 

Counting my blessings,

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