Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘travel

A favourite place to visit near us is the historic village of Guadalest located on a pinnacle of rock with spectacular views all around. It requires driving a twisty, narrow road that winds up into the mountains. At one time Guadalest was only accessible by donkeys. I think it is the same path. But it is so worth it when you get there! I wrote about the Museum of Torture we discovered on one visit, but there is much more to see and do.

There are many shops selling souvenirs, crafts and local produce such as honey, wine, and handbags. There are also a number of unique small museums and great restaurants offering Spanish tapas and full meals. The cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses are straight out of a storybook.

A highlight is Guadalest Castle (Castell de Guadalest), built in the 11th Century by the Moors, which is accessed by walking through a 15-foot long tunnel carved out of the rock, known as the Portal de San Jose.

Portal de San Jose

Once through the tunnel, it’s like you have entered another time. The old village houses surround a square with a statue of a famous bishop in the centre. The restored house of the Orduna family, an important family of Guadalest, is a museum that gives an idea of what it used to be like living in the village many years ago. It also houses an art gallery. From this house, a path leads to the bell tower.

Bell tower of Penon de la Alcala

The most famous attraction is the picturesque white bell tower of Penon de la Alcala, precariously perched on the mountainside and found on most postcards. If you don’t mind a bit of a hike, a well-maintained path takes you up to the bell tower. The twelve stations of the cross dot the side of the path, and near the top is an old graveyard. The hike is worth it as at the very top, you are treated to fabulous views of the valley and reservoir.

A view of the castle from the path.
An easy path leading up to the bell tower with stations of the cross along the way
The stations of the cross are painted on ceramic tiles
A lovely sign as you near the cemetery in four languages
The gate to the cemetery, with a view
The bell tower and the castle in a gorgeous setting
A fabulous view of the valley and reservoir
I love Guadalest as you can tell. (Picture taken by Donna Cluff)

© Darlene Foster

Many readers have been asking where Amanda will have her next adventure. Here are a few hints, see if you can guess.

  1. It is an archipelago in the Mediterranean.
  2. It has a long and colourful history.
  3. It has connections to St. Paul.
  4. It makes you think of Knights, Crosses and Falcons
  5. Popeye was filmed there.

Here are a couple of pictures that might give you another clue.

Did you guess where it is?

Drum roll…

I am so excited to share the fabulous cover designed by my amazing publisher, Michelle Halket of Central Avenue Publishing.

Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady

Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend, Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her aunt. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda travels to Malta with her classmate Caleb and his parents.

Amanda is intrigued by this exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, full of colourful history, sun-drenched limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But…who is killing the protected birds? Who stole a priceless artifact from the museum? And why is Leah acting so strange? She couldn’t possibly be involved in these illegal activities, or could she?

Join Amanda and her friends as they visit ancient temples, an exciting falconry and the enchanting Popeye Village, as they try to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Sleeping Lady.

Book 8 in the exciting Amanda Travels series will be released in May 2021 and is available for preorder on all Amazon and Indigo sites

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Indigo

Did you know that Amanda is a Latin female name meaning “deserving to be loved,” “worthy of love,” or “loved very much by everyone.”? (From wikipedia)

Very fitting, don’t you think?

© Copyright Darlene Foster 2020

For those of us who love to travel and meet new people, this has not been a good year. Many travel plans have been cancelled and it’s been difficult to make future plans as we don’t know what lies ahead. When an opportunity to join an English immersion program in another part of Spain came up, I jumped at the chance. And I’m so glad I did. I had volunteered for a similar program thirteen years ago, and in spite of some limitations due to the Corona19 Virus, this was just as enjoyable and rewarding.

The six-day Estacion Inglesa program consisted of 10 English speaking volunteers and 10 Spanish speaking professionals seeking to improve their English communication skills. The program was well organized, with a variety of participants and activities. Even during meals, two English speakers shared a table with two Spanish speakers to keep the conversations going.

Meal time conversation, the only time without wearing masks
Amazing food was served. I loved this roasted vegetable tower.
Desserts too beautiful to eat.

For our time and effort, English speaking volunteers are provided 4-star accommodation in a lovely setting and three fabulous meals every day. The program I took part in was held at Hospederia Parque de Monfrague, in Extramadura, a province in the southwest part of Spain, near the border of Portugal. This is a part of Spain I hadn’t been to before. The hotel, situated in a National Park, had lots of open spaces for us to keep the required two-metre distance. A perfect spot to engage in conversation with gorgeous views of oak orchards, foothills, sheep, cattle, and horses grazing, and bulls resting under a tree.

The lovely view from my room
Sheep, bulls and a horse – rural Spain.
One of many places to hold one to one conversations

It was a win-win situation. The Spanish participants improved their English speaking skills notably while they gained confidence and became much more comfortable with the language. And for us volunteers, we made some amazing friends, learned a lot about Spain, the people and culture, and had a lot of fun.

Many perfect spots for one to one conversations at the hotel
English communication wearing the obligatory masks
A chat about common idioms under a tree

Besides many one to one conversations, the various group activities included a board meeting, a debate, making phone calls, creating a photo video, quizzes, and other games. The only rule is no Spanish can be spoken as it is an English immersion program. To keep us all safe, masks were required at all times except when eating which made it a bit more difficult, but we managed OK.

Having fun creating a Zombie photovideo.
Yes, that’s me, the dead Zombie on the left.

The days were long but I loved every moment because I got to talk to interesting people and you know I love doing that. Making new friends was a bonus. This was a highlight in my otherwise lack of adventure year.

We were each presented with a certificate of program completion
All of us at the medieval village, keeping appropriate distances

One day we were taken on a field trip to a medieval village, but I’ll save that for another post.

For more information about this program https://www.estacioninglesa.es/en/

Note: All photos were taken by myself or the Program Coordinator

I am delighted to have the amazing Sally Cronin as my guest today as she tells us about her adventurous life as a child traveller.

Travels as a Child Cape Town, South Africa – 1963-1965 – Sally Cronin

My father was a Royal Naval officer, and by the time I was ten years old, I had quite a few adventures under my belt. When I was 18 months old my father was posted to Sri Lanka (Ceylon at that time) for two years to a place where my early memories were formed. In early 1959, when I was six-years-old, we moved to Malta for two years, flying via Rome airport, where my two-year-old brother escaped and was recaptured running across the tarmac under a plane.


But the biggest adventure would be in early 1963 when we left for Cape Town, South Africa, so my father could take up his shore-based post at Simon’s Town.

I was in my last year at primary school in Portsmouth, and there was some talk about leaving me behind for the two years as a boarder, with the navy paying for one return trip a year to visit my parents and brother. There was no way I was going to agree to that; I was already packed and ready to go.

Our house in Portsmouth was let out for two years to another naval family that had been posted to the area. We all underwent a medical examination and had a number of top-up vaccinations. Then we flew out of RAF Brize Norton on a charter flight with other service personnel going to Africa, and I have a vivid memory of the seats facing the rear of the plane which seemed very strange. We took off in the early hours of the morning and were woken about 5 a.m. for a greasy breakfast of egg and bacon, which we children, of course, wolfed down. It was a very long flight and there was no inflight entertainment as there would be today. I had a pile of books to wade through so I was very happy.


We arrived in Nairobi to be met by a liaison officer who drove us out of the city in the searing sunshine of the mid-afternoon. Despite living in Sri Lanka with its humid summers, it was my first experience of the dry heat of Africa. I was fascinated by the mirage effect the scorching sun produced on the long straight road ahead of us, with trucks and cars floating several feet off the ground. I just knew Africa was going to be full of wonders. That night we stayed at a safari hotel with rooms around a central courtyard; packed with souvenir sellers. I remember my mother bought a beautiful carved wooden giraffe for me that survived until only recently when a leg broke off in our last move nearly 60 years later.

The next morning we were driven back to Nairobi early for a mid-morning flight to Cape Town, only to be placed in detention as my brother and I were missing one of the necessary vaccinations. Yellow Fever requirements had been overlooked at our medical because they had not been aware that we would be staying in transit (more than 12 hours) in Kenya which was considered high risk for the disease. My parents’ earlier Yellow Fever vaccinations from their time in Sri Lanka were valid, but as I was a baby when we were posted there, I had not been vaccinated. It looked like we would be refused entry into South Africa without it. I remember my father leaving us in a small room with our luggage, to make telephone calls, and eventually, he returned with a doctor who gave us children the vaccination and stamped the paperwork. They were not happy that it had not been administered inside of the regulation time frames but allowed us to continue with agreement from the authorities in Cape Town that we would be quarantined for 10 days on arrival.

The Royal Navy put us up at a hotel in Newlands, a southern suburb of Cape Town, and my father took up his post at Simon’s Town. We had a liaison officer who took my mother around to both my brother’s new school in Rondebosch and mine, which was Newlands Public School, in preparation for starting after our quarantine was completed. In South Africa at the time, children started formal education at 7 and stayed in primary until 13, unlike the UK which was 5 to 11 years old. I was expected to learn Afrikaans as soon as possible, so I was put in the class with children of 12 years old for general studies but joined the 7-year-olds for their Afrikaans lessons. It made for a very interesting transition period, but having already been to three schools during our travels, I just got on with it.

Sally in her school uniform


After six weeks, we moved into a house rented by the navy for us in a suburb of Newlands and close to a large park. I was bought a bike to get to school, and I also used it to explore the local area at the weekends. It was customary when families left to return to the UK after their two years, that dogs and other pets were found homes with new families. It was not long before we inherited a rather battle-scarred boxer dog, called Bosun whose bark was thankfully a cover for a huge heart. For two children trying to adapt to new schools and language, it was a great comfort to get a slobbery welcome when we came through the door.

Having tea on the stoep in Newlands


We settled in to enjoy the wonderful life that living in Cape Town offered. We went to the beach most weekends, including on Christmas day. I had a body surfer and spent my time in the water, only appearing occasionally for some fresh peaches. We would join other naval families on long weekends in the Ceres Mountains in the Northern Cape, where we stayed in rondavels and swam in a huge swimming pool filled with freezing water from the mountains… All our meals were cooked on the outside BBQ including boiling a kettle for tea. In the evenings we would have dinner with the group and then us older kids would leave the adults to their demi-johns of local wine; heading for the now darkened pool with its cold water and frogs for a last swim.

After a year my sister Diana joined us from England and it was great to have her with us. She worked on the Cape Argus newspaper and featured on the front page from time to time when they needed an attractive face to front a story.

The Edinburgh Castle ship  https://commons.wikimedia.org

When it came time to return to England it very sad to leave the friends we had made during the two years, and also our much loved Bosun. Thankfully my parents found another naval family who would give him a new home and we made our tearful goodbyes. We left Cape Town in the late summer of 1965 on the Edinburgh Castle, part of the Union-Castle Line, and incidentally, the same ship my sister Diana would later re-join, but this time as part of the crew as a ship’s purser. We left the harbour and sailed straight into a violent storm, and for the next couple of days we were virtually the only passengers eating in the dining room; clearly, we had inherited our sea legs from my father. For all the passengers who had not crossed the Equator before, there was a ceremony to mark the occasion. I have vivid memories of sliding along a slippery pole without falling off, being given a certificate, and feeling very proud of myself for the achievement.

My father’s next posting was as Commanding Officer of RNAS Inskip, a wireless transmission station in the wilds of Lancashire, about 20 minutes on the bus to my school in Preston and 30 minutes to the holiday town of Blackpool. I was enrolled into the Priory grammar school for girls and again because of the age disparity, I found myself in the second year, but behind everyone in the class with regard to virtually every subject, with a great deal of catching up to do. I had developed quite a strong accent during our time in South Africa; quite useful when you are the only English child out of 100 and wish to remain under the radar. But it was not long before I had adopted a passable Lancashire accent which allowed me to blend in. I remember that first wet and cold winter vividly and wished I was back in Cape Town playing with my friends in the sunshine.


Bio for Sally Cronin
I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996. My first book Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another twelve books since then on health and also fiction, including four collections of short stories. My latest book is a collection of verse, micro fiction and speculative short stories titled Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words


I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.

As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books.. as important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog and linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.

Where to find Sally and her books:
Amazon Author Page US: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2
Amazon Author Page UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-smorgasbord-blog-magazine-and-sally-cronin/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1

Here is my review of What’s in a Name? by Sally Cronin https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2146165416?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

If you haven’t already, I would suggest you connect with Sally. Her blog is full of great posts, book reviews, jokes, food, music and much more.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-smorgasbord-blog-magazine-and-sally-cronin/

My home is decorated mostly with items I´ve brought back from my travels. Since we can’t travel right now, it’s comforting to remember past trips. We enjoy looking through our photographs or at items we have brought back to remind us of wonderful times. I don’t do a lot of shopping when I travel, but I like to bring back a piece of art or handicraft as a memento of the place we’ve visited.

One of these items is a small, rustic vase decorated with rawhide that sits on my mantel. Something I couldn’t bear to leave behind, so it came with me to Spain. I believe I purchased it in Arizona at a Native American craft shop. I remember asking the salesperson about the background of the pottery, as I always like to know about the art I purchase. She kindly wrote the name of the Native North American Indian tribe the artist belonged to on the back of the American Express receipt. I got busy and forgot to do any research when I got home.

The other day as I was dusting the mantel, I wished I had looked up some information about the creators of the pottery. I reached inside and found a piece of paper. I pulled out a yellowed and very faded receipt. The young woman’s printing on the back of it was still clear: TARAHUMARA.

My piece of Tarahumara pottery

We had just watched a show on TV about the Tarahumara Indians who live in the Copper Canyon, in the state of Chihuahua, Northern Mexico. When I tutored Korean students in English, I used a lesson plan about the Tarahumara Racers who run a 90-mile race non-stop over rough terrain, often barefoot or wearing homemade huaraches, with little difficulty.

After doing some research, I found that author Christopher McDougall has written a book called Born to Run, where he highlights these amazing people with incredible running abilities.

Here is a short video about these special people.

Tarahumara pottery is made of rough earthen clay and is usually white, orange, or brown. A decorative slip made of red ocher powder and water is often applied. The vessel is left to dry and harden in the sun, before being placed into an open, dry flame for about an hour and a half. Rather than being polished and smooth, Tarahumara Indian pottery is rustic and still made as it has been for generations. Often strips of rawhide are stretched around the piece to add to the simple design.

What a great find. Although the American Express receipt was too faded to read the name of the store, I was able to make out the date, 04/15/ 92. I’ve had this piece of pottery for twenty-eight years and only just now learned more about it! It is now even more special.

Do you have anything you have brought back from your travels that has special meaning to you?

I am pleased to be featured as a guest on Beetley Pete’s blog where I talk about how I turned my own travel experiences into books for kids.

beetleypete

I am delighted to be able to bring you a guest post from the lovely Darlene Foster, a Canadian blogger and published author.

Here is her own short bio.

Brought up on a ranch in Canada, Darlene dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. She has always loved to tell stories and was encouraged by her grade three teacher to write them down. She is the author of the exciting adventure series featuring 12-year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel. Readers of all ages enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Spain, England, Germany, Holland and her own country, Canada. When not travelling herself, Darlene divides her time between the sunny Costa Blanca of Spain and the west coast of Canada.

And this is her unedited guest post.

How Travel Memories Became Books for Kids

By…

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This is my submission to Stevie Turner’s Short Story Competition for June. Why not submit one yourself. I’m sure you have some short stories kicking around that you could dust off, polish and try your luck. You can enter here 

This one is non fiction. Let me know what you think.

If the Shoe Fits

by Darlene Foster

It is no secret that my love of shoes is almost equal to my love of travel. A few years ago, when my husband and I visited his parents in Spain for the first time, I was as fascinated by the enticing scenery as I was with the amazing selection of shoes. I purchased a pair of shoes within days of our arrival and, as we were traveling light and on a tight budget, had promised myself that one gorgeous pair of Spanish leather shoes would do.

Later on in the holiday, we rented a car and took a leisurely drive along the Costa Blanca north of Alicante. The cloudless blue sky held only the sun which glittered off the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean sea. Any worries we may have had, disappeared. We came upon the charming fishing village of Altea. White washed houses climbed up the hill. A bright blue domed cathedral sat in the centre overlooking the sea. Postcard perfect. We decided it would be a great place to stop for lunch. As we strolled along the esplanade trying to decide among the appealing restaurants, my husband suggested we stop in at one of the many shoe stores as he was looking for a new pair of sandals.

I had made up my mind not to buy any more shoes but thought it wouldn’t hurt to look. I should have known better. The moment I walked in the door, my eyes descended upon the most exquisite little pair of red, patent leather, needle-point shoes I had ever seen. Those ‘Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz’ shoes were calling my name.

Of course, I had to try them on and of course, they were a perfect fit. At least the left shoe fit. I had slipped on a cobblestone street a few days earlier and sprained my right foot. It was still quite swollen so I didn’t even attempt to try on the right shoe. To make matters worse (or better depending on how you looked at it) the shoes were reasonably priced. I forgot my resolve and convinced myself I couldn’t live without them. The sales clerk quickly put them in a bag and took my Euros. It was two o’clock and she was eager to close the store for siesta time.

We found a great restaurant overlooking the sea and had an enjoyable meal. I was so happy you would have thought I had won the lottery. My husband laughed as I kept looking in the bag to make sure my new babies were OK. I held the package on my lap for safekeeping as we wound our way along the coast back to my in-laws place, two hours away. As soon as we arrived, I ran into the house to show off my newly acquired treasures.

When I pulled them from the bag, my father-in-law noticed the stickers on the bottom and casually said, “Did you realize that one shoe is size 36 and the other is size 37?”

“What! You must be joking!” I looked at the stickers. He was not kidding.

I was horrified. My legs became weak and I felt sick. There was no way I could wear a pair of shoes two different sizes. And we were going back to Canada in a couple of days.

I broke the sad news to my husband who shrugged and simply said, “Don’t worry, we’ll go back tomorrow and exchange it. After all, they now have another pair just like it that they won’t be able to sell.”

What a sweetheart. I remembered then why I married him. He was a man who understood the importance of a fabulous pair of shoes to a girl.

We got up early the next morning, took the much faster, toll highway back to Altea where the store clerk gladly exchanged the size 37 shoe for the correct one. There was no time for sight seeing, as our rental car had to be back by noon. No matter, I had my adorable red shoes, both the same size. I wear them often, and invariably get a compliment.

Then I have to tell my story.

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The entrance to Carmen Del Campillo Moriscos

I heard of these Moroccan Tea Gardens, Carmen Del Campillo Moriscos, located about one hour from where we live and was intrigued. I finally had an opportunity to visit them recently. They are tucked away in the countryside among groves of lemons, oranges and pomegranates and not easy to find. But once there, it is worth the drive. The minute I entered the gates, a feeling of tranquillity surrounded me. The gardens seemed to go on forever with many little paths to follow and explore. Every corner I turned, another delightful scene appeared. As well as the picturesque gardens, the site comprises a number of buildings to investigate, inside and out, on many levels. A fabulous selection of tea is served in the gardens or in the tea rooms, on mats and pillows, at tables or even in a Bedouin tent! Stroll along with me as the sun sets on this incredible place.

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Where will this path take me?

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Happy to finally visit these delightful gardens

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An authentic Bedouin tent at the top

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The resident peacock

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Delicious teas and baklava type desserts

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Inside the tea rooms

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Evening sets in and creates an enchanting world

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Following a candlelit path, I found this mysterious door

This place is so charming and well displayed. I enjoyed wandering the gardens and felt like I was in Morocco. The lovely stone paths, the calming music, the pottery, the Bedouin tent, the resident peacock, everything was perfect. The selection of teas was incredible, I had a delicious Rooibos chocolate flavoured tea. I also loved the baklava type pastries. As the sun set, the gardens and tea rooms took on a romantic, exotic feel. I wandered the candlelit paths and discovered many more interesting scenes. I didn’t want to leave. I will be bringing out of town guests here to be sure!!

I found Paris to be delightful and loved every minute I was there. A special treat was a drive around the city at night. Here are a few pictures of what we saw. The quality of the photographs may not be great, but, it was nighttime and I was in a car for the most part.

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Monsieur Eiffel’s tower, amazing by day, exquisite by night.

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The Champs-Élysées going toward the Arc de Triomphe

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Arc de Triomphe

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Avenue des Champs-Élysées going the opposite direction

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Paris street scene at night

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The Opera House, is the phantom lurking behind one of those windows?

 

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Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris on top of Montmartre

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Sacré-Cœur Basilica

It was a drizzly evening so the view from Montmartre, the highest point in Paris, was not great, but it was still exciting to see this vibrant city at night.

I hope you enjoyed my night time views of this fabulous city.

Have you been to Paris at night?

I wrote about my recent visit to Winchester Cathedral here, the final resting place of Jane Austen and King Canute as well as other notables. I spent a couple of days in this enchanting part of the UK with friends who took me on drives full of pleasant surprises.
Winchester itself is an interesting city full of history and stories. It was made the capital of England during Saxon times by King Alfred The Great. Whether he let the cakes burn or not is debatable but when I read that story as a child, I was always intrigued by this man. In the center of town is a statue of one of my childhood heroes and the only monarch in England to be called Great.

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Winchester is a perfect place to wander around, with many historic buildings and interesting shops, including many bookstores.

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I love the boot above the Clark’s Shoe Shop

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At the university sits a bench dedicated to Jane Austen and Phillis Wheatly displaying the importance of literature to this city. It was at the University of Winchester that I attended a writer’s festival that weekend.

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Driving through the New Forest made me think of days of yore and those who would have traveled by horse and buggy down these same paths.

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And then we came upon a thatched-roofed village – right out of a book!

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The village of Wherwell

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Can you imagine living in a house like this?

Later, on the way to a pub for dinner, we came upon a wonderful old church with an awesome graveyard. Since I have this fascination with cemeteries, I had to take a few pictures.

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And to my delight, we passed through yet another thatched-roofed village. My friends were kind enough to stop so I could take pictures.

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The charming village of Monxton

 

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The following day we went to the seaside city of Bournemouth, a place I had not been to before. I loved the casual elegance of the place and the lovely gardens in the center of town.

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Bournemouth seafront

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A fabulous building housing a LUSH store

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Lovely gardens in the middle of the city

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A huge lilac bush with the cathedral in the background

I discovered that Mary Shelly, although she never lived there, is buried in Bournemouth.

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St. Peter’s in Bournemouth where Mary Shelly is buried, along with her parents.

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Yes, that Mary Shelly, the author of the novel, Frankenstein, and wife of Percy Shelly. Did she ever imagine there would be a pub named after her?

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We stopped for an ice cream and had a stroll along the seafront before I was dropped off at the airport. A perfect couple of days with good friends.

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Making memories with friends.


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© Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.