Doors of London II

Doors of London II

London.

I know.

I know.

It’s been a while since I’ve been back to share some scenery from my time in London.

If you’re a regular to my blog, then you know that shortly after I returned from the United Kingdom, my oldest teen graduated from high school.  Then the youngest and I traveled to Florida for three weeks. Of course, upon return, much mothering and household responsibilities consumed (and are still consuming) my time.

Here and there I’ve had a chance to catch up on a few blogs. So when I saw that Norm will be taking a two-week break from hosting Thursday Doors, I quickly rounded up one of my sets of doors from London to share.

Doors of London II.

My first set of doors was from Belgravia.

If you missed that series, you can find those here.

After grabbing a bite to eat at the Duke of York Square Food Market in Chelsea (no, I haven’t forgotten that I have a funny story to share from there), we got on the Underground at the Sloane Square station.

Notting Hill.

One of my goals during my brief time in London was to see color.

Colored buildings….colored doors.

Color, color, color!

And I had read that Notting Hill was the place to find it.

Directions.

We took the Underground to Notting Hill Gate station.

Google maps was one of my best friends while touring London. Or touring the U.K. for that matter. I put Portobello Road Market in as our ultimate destination. There are also signs around that say “you are here” and the way to Portobello Road Market, but I still like the comfort of having it on my phone.

It started lightly raining while we were still in Chelsea. We had rain coats but didn’t want to go all the back to the hotel for umbrellas. As such, I didn’t pull out the camera as often as I would have liked. Trust me when I say that Portobello Road has some amazing finds. So many, that even the few that I managed to capture can’t be shared in one post.

Where to begin?

Well, I suppose at the beginning.

 

Portobello Road.

It was a Saturday, so we knew that we wanted to check out the famous Portobello Road Market.

But first, I had to stop and admire some of the doors along the way.

 

#12 Portobello Road.

As we rounded the first corner of Portobello Road, the doors and entries were quite fabulous.

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#14 Portobello Road.

Located beside #12, #14 was quite fabulous as well.

So many people were stopping to snap a photo of #14 that I thought perhaps somebody famous lived here or that it was showcased in a movie. I didn’t find anything of the sort when I tried to search. While it is quite spectacular and I love the addition of the topiaries, of the two, I was partial to #12.

Which of these two doors do you prefer?

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#24 Portobello Road.

Moving along, we come to #24 in its vibrant shade of pink.

I tried to look up shades of pink to be able to offer a name to the color.

Fuchsia? Magenta?

What would YOU call this color?

 

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#28 Portobello Road.

To me, #28 is an interesting combination of color.

I’m partial to the building color. I love a pastel pink. It reminds me of the color that I painted Miss Sunshine’s room when I found out that I was going to have a girl. And would you believe that she has never cared for pink! As a toddler, her favorite color was red. It quickly evolved and has remained in the blue family, in shades of aqua and teal.

What do you think of the blue/pink combo of #28?

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#44 Portobello Road.

#44 is a pop of bold!

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#46 Portobello Road.

Compared to its neighbor, #46 looks almost demure. However, while the door chooses to be understated, you can see that building color does all the speaking.

 

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#58 Portobello Road.

We close out this segment of the Portobello Road series with #58.

I didn’t take the shot of door from directly in front because I wanted to be able to share the plethora of greenery found surrounding it.

Since my maiden name is Lyon, I am also drawn to the door knocker and statue.

#58 opted to have the door in the same shade of eggplant as the building and tone down the darkness by having a cream-colored trim. I think it works nicely.

What do you think?

To be continued.

I do have more photos as we near Portobello Road Market that I’ll share in the future.

Which door was your favorite in this series?

So much of who we are is where we have been. -William Langewiesche

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Doors of London

Doors of London

London.

On my most recent travels to the UK, I visited London for the first time.

We only had two days in London, but they were two full days….and, boy did we fill them!!

Doors.

I knew that I would find a plethora of beautiful architecture in London, which would also include some amazing doors.

In this department, London did not disappoint!

Looking for doors was not the only thing that I did in my jam-packed two days, yet I still managed to have enough photos of doors that I will have to share them in more than one series.

Belgravia.

Today’s series of doors is from a walk that we took in Belgravia

(According to the map. I admit to being confused by the breakdown of the quadrants on London. There was a sign that we passed on Bourne Street that said The Royal Borough of Kensington on Chelsea, so I assumed that I was in Chelsea).

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But on with the tour…

On my list of “must see” items were some pastel-colored buildings.

I stumbled upon a location to put into Google maps from this post by A Lady in London. While I would have loved to have seen every cafe that she recommended, time just didn’t allow for it.

After our trip around the London Eye, we took the underground to Sloane Square and proceeded to head toward my final destination.

#10

I can never pass up the opportunity to photograph a red door (ok, maybe sometimes…like when there are so many to choose from that you’d stop every minute).

I loved how this one had the hedge to create a framed pathway.

#91.

Not only did the door itself look elegant, but the inlay on the stairs also added an element of posh.

I also love flower boxes.

#89.

I couldn’t pass this door without snagging a shot because I loved the door knocker.

#83.

I think the intricate tile work is very pretty, but we know that I snapped this photo because a blue door is going to stand out!

71 Elizabeth Street.

Les Senteurs.

As we moved closer to my ultimate destination, the doors and displays became magnificent. I only wish that I’d had time to capture more, but rain was on the way and we still had so much to see.

53 Elizabeth Street.

Moyses Stevens.

Passing by flowers spilling into the street was just too gorgeous not to stop and capture.

However, if you are looking for a door, #51A & 51B to the left of the photo looks quite nice.

 

116 Ebury St.

Peggy Porschen Cakes.

This was my ultimate destination.

I could not pass up the opportunity to see pastel pink in all its glory.

We were late enough in the morning that capturing an empty door would have been time-consuming. And time was the one thing that I had in limited quantity.

This is a well-known Instagram location so people were having shots taken while they sipped their coffee at the lovely outdoor tables. I crossed the street to take in more of the scene, but at that point, someone had lined up in front of the door with a photographer. I have one of them as well, but I like this one of the server wearing his pink attire and entering the shop.

We considered lining up to eat, but again, time was a force working against us. It worked out rather well since we stumbled upon the Duke of York Square Food Market in Chelsea.

Stay Tuned.

I’ll share more about this surprise excursion and some hilarity with dialect in a future post. I’ll also be sharing more doors from London and some from our time in Scotland, so be sure to check back.

Meanwhile, if you have an affinity for doors, hop over to Norm’s blog, where he hosts Thursday Doors, and you’ll find many more.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr "A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions"

Let your light shine!

Amy

Snorkeling with Jolly Pirates in Aruba

Snorkeling in Aruba

Aruba.

Stunning turquoise waters!

That was reason #1 for our choice to head to Aruba.

Following closely behind were: we could get a good flight there, we had friends who had been and loved it, and another big factor is that Aruba is the most revisted Caribbean Island.

Family Travel.

This trip was taken over our teenagers’ Spring Break. If you are new to my blog or have stumbled across this post, the hubby and I have three teenagers. Currently, Big Mr. is 18, Mr. D is 16, and Miss Sunshine is 14.

Our teenagers like adventure and so we knew that we’d want to have some scheduled during our time in Aruba.

Snorkeling with Jolly Pirates in Aruba

 

Snorkeling.

Of course, we decided to begin our Caribbean Island vacation with snorkeling!

With my teens and I having been born and raised (ok…they’ve not been fully raised-we’re approaching year 5 of living in Virginia) in Florida, we aren’t strangers to snorkeling.

However, this would be our first time in waters this clear.

Jolly Pirates.

We decided to book our snorkeling trip with Jolly Pirates.

We wanted to maximize our time on the water and opted for their four-hour sail, snorkel, swim, and swing.

This trip would take us over the WWII wreck of the SS Antilla, Boca Catalina, and Malmok Beach.

Location.

We booked our trip and also filled out the waivers online prior to heading to Aruba.

This made the check-in process very quick.

The building for check-in is located right behind MooMba Beach, which you can see in the background. While I didn’t get a chance to visit MooMba Beach (something I’ll need to remedy…we aren’t so good at making food reservations when traveling with five people who are hungry at different times), it comes highly recommended as a must visit beach bar and restaurant.

I snapped the photo for my Thursday Doors friends, but I also love that they list their crew.

The Crew.

The crew was amazing!

We sailed on Easter Sunday.

Julio was the captain of our ship.

Johan and Milton were also part of our sailing adventure.

I’m pretty sure Tony was our lifeguard, but since I don’t see his name on the board, I’m questioning whether I heard (and remembered) his name correctly.

The four-hour sail included an open bar, plus lunch.

All four of the guys were kept busy and yet were still always full of smiles.

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Fins, Masks, and Snorkels.

Fins, masks, and snorkels are included in your trip.

We did contact them prior to booking our trip to be sure that they could accommodate Big Mr.’s size 16 shoe.

They could!

This was wonderful because we were traveling with carry-ons only and needing to carry a set of fins would have been a hassle.

Turquoise Waters.

Yes, the Caribbean waters are as stunning as you see in magazines!

My favorite part of snorkeling was seeing all the brightly colored fish.

There is something quite serene about gliding along under the clear waters with them.

Pirate Ship.

This was a view of another of their ships for snorkeling.

There is a palpable excitement about sailing on a pirate ship.

Or perhaps that’s just gypsy wanderer in me.

Toward the bow of the ship, you can see someone jumping from the platform. While the hubby and teens did use this approach into the water (Mr. D even did a flip from it), I preferred to climb down the ladder.

Rope Swing.

However, I did get brave enough to step from the platform and ride the rope swing into the water (albeit, not on Johan’s back. The really brave piggy-backed on Johan while he swung and then did a flip in the air.)

As I mentioned in this post, as I released from the swing, I pinched my nose to avoid the water shooting up into it. Apparently, too hard when you wear a nose ring because I came out of the water with a nosebleed.

The crew was amazing, grabbed some toilet paper, and the bleeding stopped almost as soon as it had started. They checked on me again later in the trip. It was a minor thing, but I’ve made a note to myself to remove my nose ring before future snorkeling trips.

In that same post from last Friday, I shared more of my personal experience surrounding the snorkeling and the little clip Miss Sunshine took of me snorkeling.

She also made a compilation of some of her own snorkeling, which she has said that I can share with all of you.

Memories.

I’ve mentioned one of my favorite parts of traveling with my teens is the memories that we create.

We created many memories during our brief time in Aruba.

I’ve shared a few photos from Aruba in this post and in the future I will be sharing more about our time there.

Stay tuned.

Have you been snorkeling?

Where? And did you enjoy it?

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

*please note-all opinions are my own. No compensation was given for this review.

The Lyon statue in Place de la Concorde Paris France

The Lyon Statue in Place De La Concorde Paris, France

Paris.

Paris is a city filled with history and amazing architecture.

Today is a traveling day for me, but I wanted to share a Thursday Door.

Place de la Concorde.

This door is from Place de la Concorde.

Place de la Concorde is one of the major public squares in Paris. It is located in the city’s, 8th arrondissement, at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées.

It was the site of many notable public executions during the French Revolution.

Our hotel was within a short walking distance of Place de la Concorde, which I shared in my A Corner of Paris post.

I also shared some evening views in the square in this post.

Statue.

At each of the eight angles of the octagonal Place de la Concorde is a statue representing a French city.

I chose to capture the sculpture by Pierre Petitot, representing the city of Lyon.

My choice was not because of the city, but because Lyon is my maiden name.

City of Lyon.

However, Lyon is a two-thousand-year-old city situated at the junction of the Rhône and Saône rivers.

It is the third largest city in France, after Paris and Marseilles.

Travel.

Have you ever traveled to Lyon, France?

Travel not to find yourself, but to remember who you've been all along. -unknown photo quote over the Louvre in Paris France

Let your light shine!

Amy

The Mercat Cross of Edinburgh Scotland

The Mercat Cross of Edinburgh

Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is a city filled with many treasures.

Some treasures that I stumbled upon, I didn’t even discover what they were until I returned home and searched for them.

Mercat Cross.

One such treasure was the Mercat Cross.

In case you’re wondering what in the heck is a Mercat cross (I know I was), it’s the Scots name for a market cross. They were first erected to display a burgh’s right to trade, as well as a gathering place to hear important public announcements.

Location.

Last week, I shared my photographs and the history of St. Giles’ Cathedral. You can see from the photographs that the Mercat Cross is located in Parliament Square, near the East Side of St. Giles’ Cathedral.

At the time, I just liked the architecture of the little building. I didn’t realize its historical place.

History.

While the first mention of the Mercat Cross is in a charter of 1365, this pillar was placed upon this octagonal building, at this location, in 1885.

I’ve since learned that there is an octagonal arrangement of cobblestones along High Street that mark the location of the Mercat Cross from 1617-1756. I know one thing that I’ll be looking for when I return in May.

Unicorn.

The Royal Unicorn sits atop the cross holding a shield. You can also see the Scottish Flag beside him.

Gathering.

The Mercat Cross is a popular gathering spot for tours. The people gathered in the photos were about to head out on a ghost tour.

The Door.

Of course, no tour of a building is complete without sharing a door for the fans of Thursday Doors.

The tympanum above the door is in Latin and reads “Thanks to God. This ancient monument, the Cross of Edinburgh, which of old was set apart for public ceremonies, having been utterly destroyed by a misguided hand A.D. MDCCLVI, and having been avenged as well as lamented, in song alike noble and manful, by that great man, Walter Scott, has now, by favour of the Magistrates of the City, been restored by William Ewart Gladstone, who claims through both of his parents a purely Scottish descent. 24 November 1885” (source: Wikipedia).

Travels.

What little gems have you stumbled upon when traveling?

The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. -Marcel Proust

Let your light shine!

Amy

A Visit to St. Giles' Cathedral Edinburgh Scotland

St. Giles Cathedral

Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland. It has been recognized as the capital since at least the 15th Century.

Given that traces of Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements have been found at Castle Rock and Arthur’s Seat, it should come as no surprise that Edinburgh is teeming with historical places.

A Visit to St. Giles' Cathedral Edinburgh Scotland

St. Giles’ Cathedral.

As a matter of fact, one of those historic places is St. Giles’ Cathedral. According to the Cathedral’s website, St. Giles’ was founded in about 1124, either by King Alexander I, who died that year, or King David I, who succeeded him.

If you think that King David I sounds familiar, then you may remember him from my post on Holyrood Abbey. 

King David I was the one who founded the Abbey in 1128. This was after being thrown from his horse and saved from being gored by a stag by the appearance of a holy cross.

Legend.

According to legend, St. Giles was a seventh-century Greek hermit who lived in the forest near Names, in the south of France, with a tame deer as his only companion. One day, the King of the Visigoths, shot at a deer, only to find it held in the arms of St. Giles, who had been wounded in the hand by the arrow. Then, after some visits, the King persuaded him to become the Abbott of a monastery which he founded for him. Later he was canonized, becoming the patron saint of lepers, nursing mothers, and the lame.

 

 

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Know Before You Go.

St. Giles’ Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, is located along the Royal Mile.

Entry to the church is free.

A permit, which is available for a small fee, is required to take interior photos. However, I arrived close to closing time (story of my life). I did walk around the beautiful interior and lit a candle and said a prayer on the Holy Blood Aisle. But alas, I have no interior photos.

Holy Blood Aisle.

In case you are curious, the Holy Blood Aisle is an area where you can light a candle and also write a prayer request. The stained glass window there depicts the death and funeral of James Stewart, Earl of Moray.

After Mary, Queen of Scots, forced abdication, the government of Scotland was placed under her illegitimate half-brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray. He was a friend of John Knox (founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland). After James Stewart was assassinated in Linlithgow in 1570, he was buried in St. Giles’ and John Knox preached at his funeral.

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Heart of Midlothian.

Another piece of history is located High Street, just away from the Cathedral’s West Door.

The Heart of Midlothian is a heart-shaped mosaic of colored granite built into the pavement and marks the entrance to the 15th century Old Tolbooth. This was the administrative center of the town, a prison, and one of several sites of public execution.

Prisoners were tortured here and spikes were used to display the heads of some of the more notorious who were executed.

The Tolbooth was demolished in 1817 but was featured in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Heart of Midlothian, published in 1818.

It is a tradition to spit on the heart. Some say it was for solidarity for those inside. Others say it was the prisoners themselves who spat upon it as a sign of disdain when they were released. These days spitting upon the heart is seen as done for good luck.

Cathedral Entrance.

I had to wait until the Cathedral was closed to capture the entrance doors for all the Thursday Door lovers.

 

Architecture.

The architectural style of St. Giles’ Cathedral is 14th Century Gothic, with many alterations.

The Cathedral has a collection of stained glass windows that date from the 1870s onward.

Crown Spire.

The Crown Spire is the Cathedral’s most famed piece of architecture. While you can see the Crown Spire peeking out in the above and below photos, the first photo from the side of the Cathedral gives you the best view of this feature.

The Crown Spire was erected in 1495 and rebuilt in 1648.

Parliament Square.

St. Giles Cathedral is surrounded by Parliament Square. Parliament House, which gave the square its name, was built here in 1641 and used by the Scottish Parliament until the Treaty of Union in 1707.

Duke of Buccleuch.

The statue in the foreground is of Walter Francis Montagu Douglas Scott. Otherwise known as the 5th Duke of Buccleuch, who was a politician and substantial landowner.

The bronze memorial was unveiled February 7, 1888, and it shows the Duke wearing the robes of the Order of the Garter.

The top gallery has huntsman chasing a stag.

On the lower level, there are bronze reliefs of episodes from the Scott family history.

Ancestry.

While I’m sure my genealogy diverges substantially, I still find it fascinating.

For those of you who are new to my blog, the trip to Scotland with my mother and aunt was an ancestral journey. My mother’s maiden name is Scott and her father was born in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, Canada. His father was born in Bothwell (Holytown, Pollocks Hill…it varies on documents), Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Scott Lineage.

So far, we’ve been able to trace back the Scott line to my 5th great-grandfather, John Scott (b. around 1771) in Scotland. He married Esther Palmer in Renfrewshire on September 21, 1794. He is living in Redtown, Renfrewshire on the 1841 census. Esther, who was born in Stirling, Stirlingshire, is listed as a pauper in Redtown, Renfrewshire, in the parish of Paisley Middle Church by the 1851 census. She is also listed in the same location as a Coal Miner’s widow on the 1861 census. Also, I have her death record which states that she died of old age on October 12, 1861, and that the informant was the Inspector of the Poor.

However, many first names are used, again and again, making the Scott line hard to trace. But, based on typical naming patterns, I believe John Scott’s parents to be John Scott and Euphemia ?.

Your Turn.

Have you been to Edinburgh?  If so, what did you find most fascinating? I return again in May and would love to know if you there’s anything I should add to my “can’t miss” sights

Have you studied your ancestral history? If so, from what part of the world do they hail?

Preserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell. -Louisa May Alcott

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Hotel de Ville

Paris.

Paris is a city of beauty and wonder. As I strolled about the city, I constantly found new things which caught my gaze because of their splendor.

Hôtel de Ville.

I love the architecture found in Paris and the Hôtel de Ville was quite spectacular. It is located in the 4th arrondissement on place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville. It is the City Hall and houses the city’s local administration.

History.

It has been the headquarters for the municipality since 1357.

The original building was a mansion called maison aux piliers “House of Pillars”. In 1533, King Francis I decided the city should have a city hall worthy of Paris. After that, the House of Pillars was torn down and the new building, which was completed in 1628, was erected.

During the Franco-Prussian War, the building played a key role in events. One of which was that the Paris Commune chose the Hôtel de Ville as its headquarters. As the anti-Commune approached the building, the Communards set fire to the Hôtel de Ville destroying almost all extant public records from the French Revolutionary period and leaving just the shell of the building.

Reconstruction.

The Reconstruction lasted from 1873 to 1892. The interior was rebuilt inside the shell. The architectural style is neo-renaissance.

According the the Paris Visitors Bureau, it is possible to set a reservation for a guided tour.

 

Ceremonial Doors.

Not only did the building catch my eye, but the ceremonial doors are quite spectacular. When I saw them, I knew that I needed to capture them for all the Thursday Doors fans.

I don’t read French, but I can tell that the inscription on the doors is referencing September 4, 1870, the day when the Third Republic was proclaimed.

Versailles.

This history from Versailles sheds some light on the turmoil surrounding those times. The Third Republic would be definitively established in January 1875. The establishment would come down to a single deciding vote, and three amendments later, the 1875 constitution would remain in force until 1940.

We took a day trip out to Versailles. You can find my posts from the visit to the Palace here and here. We also made sure to visit the Queen’s Hamlet.

Statues.

The statues along the building are magnificent. There were around 230 sculptors who were commissioned to produce 338 individual figures of famous Parisians, along with other sculptures.

From left to right, the best that I can read are: H. Estienne, P de Viole, F. Miron, and M. Lallier.

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Clock Tower.

While I didn’t have the best lens for the job, I did want to give you a closer view of the clock tower. You can also see some more of the many statues.

Facade.

The Hôtel de Ville is a very grand and extensive building. However, I didn’t want to leave you without a view of the facade.  In the distance, you can see the bronze sculptures which were flanking the gates where I stood to take the photos. The sculptures are titled Art by Laurent Marqueste and Science by Jules Blanchard.

Paris Square.

The square is the the oldest in Paris. This area was the principal port of Paris for centuries. From 1310 to 1832, it was Paris’s principal place of execution.

Sometimes it’s hard to fathom all of the history that took place in one location.

Today, the area is teeming with vibrant locals and tourists, all strolling along admiring the beauty of Paris.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Houseboat of Amsterdam Part Twee (Two)

Houseboats of Amsterdam Part Twee (Two)

Amsterdam.

Although my time spent in Amsterdam was very brief, I loved every minute of it. We filled our days with many adventures.

One of those adventures was a boat tour through the canals of Amsterdam.

 

Houseboats.

Amsterdam’s canals are filled with houseboats. In fact there are around 2,500 legally moored houseboats in the more than 100 km of canals found in Amsterdam. But you may have already known that fact. Especially, if you’ve read Part One of my Houseboats of Amsterdam series.

Let’s head off for part two.

It’s never too late in life to have a genuine adventure.

– Robert Kurson

To live is the rarest thing in the world.

Most people exist, that is all.

– Oscar Wilde

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.

– Susan Sontag

If you think adventure is dangerous. Try routine. It’s lethal.

– Paulo Coelho

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

– Helen Keller

I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen.

– A.A. Milne

Tour.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this houseboat tour of Amsterdam.

If you’re a fan of doors, be sure to hop over to Norm’s blog where door lovers of the world meet each Thursday.

If you’d like to see more posts from my time in Amsterdam, you can read about our visit to the Anne Frank house here. I’ve also shared about stumbling into the red light district with a set of teens.

If you are a fan of architecture you can find a tour of doors here or a stroll along the streets here.

Of course, another thing that Amsterdam is well known for is all of the bikes and I’ve share some photographs of them in this post.

Have you visited Amsterdam? What was your favorite place to visit?

Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures. -Lewis Carroll

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

American Made

Photography.

Most Thursdays I bring you photography of Doors from places I’ve visited. Today is no exception. However, in today’s series, the doors are more of a subject of viewing than the subject of my words.

Or put more simply, if you’re here for only the photographs, feel free to scroll through the photos. It won’t hurt my feelings. In fact, I won’t even know that you didn’t read my words unless you feel compelled to let me know that fact. Also be sure to pop over to Norm’s blog to see more amazing doors.

I have a lot of thoughts rolling around about topics that are practically unrelated and for some reason feel like sharing these discombobulated thoughts.

If you’re curious, the photos are from the ferry ride from Ft. Fisher, North Carolina to Southport, North Carolina. The first two photos are chosen because I’ll be talking about things that deal with “breaking the rules of conventional society” (to put it mildly). The third because I like its “uniformity”. The last is chosen because it has two of my loves…plus my jeep (which also has doors).

American Made.

In case you’re curious about my title, it’s because I watched the movie by the same name last night. One of my teens is sick. In fact, I will be taking them in to the doctor today. Likely that appointment will come prior to my finishing this post. The hubby offered to take me to dinner for Valentine’s, but I suggested we wait until the weekend. Instead we had some wine and watched American Made. I didn’t know what the movie was about, only that it starred Tom Cruise. The movie is supposed to based on the real-life story of Barry Seal, who was a drug smuggler with the Medellin Cartel.

South Florida.

While movies take many liberties with a film, it was rather strange to watch the timeline play out.  The early 80’s were a time of major drug running through Florida. If you’ve read my blog for a long time, then you know that I was born and raised in Naples, Florida. Which, in itself is a broad description. If you’ve read it for even LONGER, you know that I grew up inland. My dad converted a school bus into a home and drove it out to a piece of property in what is now considered Golden Gate Estates. There wasn’t electricity or hot water (I’ve written about how we lived in the highlighted post and others from my past).

 

Drug Runners.

However, the one thing that I haven’t talked about was the fact that it was well known that drugs were being run in this part of Florida. While I’m sure my parents have more stories since they were young adults and I was between 3 and 7, I do have vague memories. I suspect that these were large drug runs, maybe even cartels involved. It was said that if they saw you when they made their drop, then they would kill you.

Landing Strip.

One of the roads used to access other roads to our home was known as “the two mile landing strip”. I don’t know if planes landed on that road while we lived there. Perhaps my parents know. I do know that if we saw a small plane circling around at night, we shut off the lights to our home. I have a vivid memory of seeing one circling. This was probably sometime in the early 80’s.

Tales.

Once when my mother was coming home, she saw cars parked alongside the road, so she shut off her headlights to creep past them and make it home. She was certain they were drug runners. Years later, my dad would be conversing with a law enforcement officer who had been around the area a while. That tale would come up and he said it was actually law enforcement and they looked around forever for the car that had driven by with its headlights off, certain it was a drug runner.

I’m sure that I thought it was scary, but I don’t remember being overly worried. That’s not to say I wasn’t, I just don’t remember it. Looking back, I wonder how worried my parents must have been. My mother got pregnant with my brother in the middle of 1981. We lived in the middle of nowhere with the closest phone being about 10 miles away and they had little kids. It’s an adventurous story to look back on in hindsight, but I’m sure it wasn’t so thrilling at the time.

Okeechobee.

The part of the movie that made us look at each other was when they decided that he should fly the drugs into Okeechobee. After moving from Naples at the age of 30, we landed in Okeechobee. You can’t live in Okeechobee and have not heard of Frank Brady. Well, perhaps, you can…but I doubt it.

Frank Brady.

Frank Brady was a rancher who, according to this article, made the country’s most-wanted fugitive list by fleeing the United States around the time of his 1983 drug smuggling indictment. According to this article, the 13,000 acres of ranch land that the government confiscated was the biggest seizure in U.S. history at the time. Investigators linked him to the Medellin Cartel. I met a lot of wonderful people during my two years in Okeechobee. In fact, I’m still acquainted with some of them. Interestingly, I actually met Frank Brady. I had to verify that fact with the hubby.

The fact that it left no lasting impression tells me that in all likelihood, he’s just a regular person, and if you didn’t know about his past, you’d have no reason to suspect it.

Our Past.

I guess that’s a semi-segway into my next set of thoughts. Unless we share with someone about our past, they really have no way of knowing what it held.

I have been having a rough time this winter. I often do. Winter makes me miss Florida. It makes me miss all my family. It makes me miss my friendships.

Friendships.

I believe in being honest and real, which I am. However, there are also pieces reserved for those who have earned my trust.

And so lately, I have been missing a variety of friends who have traveled with me through important times in my life. Two nights ago I received a text from one of those friends. Its timing and message couldn’t have been more appropriate for what I was dealing with. Something she couldn’t have known.

Naples Tribe.

It made me also think about another set of friends who were my “tribe” when I was raising babies. Two girlfriends who were my neighbors and had littles of their own. We’d wander into each others yards while the kids played on the swings and maybe order up a pizza or have a glass of wine.

They kept me sane when I rarely had adult contact.

And then I moved away.

And then another moved away.

We met for a girl’s weekend once and then as happens drifted somewhat farther apart. I still meet the one for coffee when I return home. I love to catch up with her and we text sometimes. The other I see through Facebook, but I no longer have her phone number. I realize this is entirely my fault because friendships take effort.

Yesterday, the one still in my hometown sent me a text. She was asking if the other friend still lived in the town to which she had moved. I was sitting on the couch talking with my oldest about his school day, future plans, life in general…as we often do when he comes home. I had not seen the news that she mentioned.

A school shooting.

I said “Yes, that she lived in Parkland and that “Child” went to “X” school.” Meanwhile, I was trying to check the news to see about the school shooting. I saw that it happened in Parkland about the same time that my friend sent me that text saying that it happened in Parkland, but at a different school. The town is small. Often you know people who go to different schools. I checked her Facebook, but she hasn’t posted anything. I’m sure that she is processing the horror that happened in her town.

My heart breaks for all those affected.

This morning there was an increased police presence at Miss Sunshine’s school.

After tragedies, I wish that I could wrap my children in a cocoon and keep them there forever.

To protect them from the ills of the world.

But just as I cannot control their choices, I cannot control the choices made by others.

Where do we go from here?

I have no perfect answers.

 

Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it. -Kahlil Gibran photoquote

Let your light shine!

Amy

Photos that will make you fall in love with Roanoke, Virginia

Photo Diary of My Current City – Roanoke, Virginia

 

Tour Guide.

I have often highlighted the city in which I currently live. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, I live in Roanoke, Virginia. After living for the first 30 years of my life in Naples, Florida, and another 5-ish across the state of Florida, I moved to Roanoke in July of 2013. If you’re ticking off the numbers on your fingers, I turned 40 this past September. But most of you already know that since I’ve been actively doing 30 day challenges for my year of #thisis40. When the weekly photo challenge came up as tour guide, I knew that I would have plenty to share.

Usually, I participate in the photo challenge on Wordless Wednesday, in which (as is indicated in the title) no words are used. I did share some photos of the Hotel Roanoke, but wanted to share some more photos and talk a bit about my current city.

Photos that will make you fall in love with Roanoke, Virginia

 

Photo Diary.

Today’s photography series will be a collection of some of the photos that I’ve taken from around Roanoke. A photo diary of sorts. I will also share some links to my past posts about Roanoke, where you will find plenty more information about the area.

Roanoke is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia. With easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is the delight of many fans of the outdoors.

If your interested in the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can check out these posts (a few are outside of Roanoke, but not too far away):

Roanoke Star.

One of the things that Roanoke is quite well known for is the Roanoke Star. The Roanoke Star is also known as the Mill Mountain Star. The star is located on Mill Mountain and is the largest, free-standing, man-made, illuminated star in the world.

The star was designed and built by Roy C. Kinsey and his two sons. It was constructed in 1949 and is three stars that contain 2,000 feet of neon tubing. The star is illuminated every night. It is primarily illuminated white, but can include red, white, and blue for various occasions.

I must admit that when we return home from points north, the star upon the mountain is a welcome sight, letting us know that we are close to our final destination.

H & C Coffee Sign.

There are also two other neon signs sitting atop buildings in downtown Roanoke, which are illuminated at night and visible from I-581. One is a Dr Pepper sign. According to this article, Roanoke consumed more Dr Pepper per capita than any other place on earth from 1957-1959, and again in 1961. The other is the H & C Coffee sign. H & C Coffee was established in Roanoke in 1927 and the sign built in 1948. (cee’s which way photo challenge)

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This sign was my favorite upon moving here because the coffee appeared to be pouring into the cup. However, I’ve noticed that it just stays fully lit now. According to this article from 2014, the animator mechanism needs repaired. I don’t often drive home in the dark, but I don’t think that its been replaced as of yet.

If you’re wondering about where the photo above was taken…I’ll tell you.

It’s from inside one of my favorite places to visit when I’m in downtown Roanoke:

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Architecture.

Another of my favorite things about Roanoke is the amazing architecture. Having grown up in Florida, the architectural styles here are very different. While I have always been cognizant of architectural details, when I began to participate in Norm’s Thursday Doors, a weekly roundup of amazing doors from around the world, I began to see buildings through new eyes.

I’ve shared a close-up of one set of these doors in my post, Keys to the Past

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Municipal Building.

The Municipal Building is located at 215 Church Avenue. It is Neoclassical Revival and was erected in 1915.

Big Lick.

Prior to being named Roanoke, the city was known as Big Lick. As shown on the sign at the Municipal Building, the original name was based on a salt outcropping which drew the wildlife to the site near the Roanoke River.

City Market Building.

The City Market Building is located at 32 Market Square SE. It is considered the heart of downtown. The Farmer’s Market is the oldest continuously operating open-air market in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It began in 1882. After the original building (built in 1886) was destroyed in a fire, the current building was built in 1922.

There are wonderful views to be had from the rooftop of the Center in the Square building. In addition to this one, I’ve shared some others in a much older post: Downtown Stroll.

Events.

Quite often there is something happening in Roanoke. I haven’t been able to make it to many events since we’ve moved here. Why? Miss Sunshine has been playing travel soccer since we moved here and that ties up most weekends. Occasionally we have some down time in the winter, but most of the events are not winter events.

Last year I did make it to the Local Colors Festival and I attended a Veteran’s Day parade a few years ago, where I gathered these photos.

However, Miss Sunshine will not be traveling for soccer this spring so I plan to take full advantage of the weekends to attend events and do more hiking!

Alley.

You never know what treasure you might stumble upon when you are wandering around Roanoke. For example, there are beautiful sights to stumble upon in the alleyways found in the heart of downtown. (cee’s fun foto challenge). This is a connection in the alley behind the Center in the Square parking garage.

 

More Architecture.

Of course, no tour is complete (on my end) without showing you more architecture. The stone at the top of the building says 1926. I know that much of our United States architecture pales in age comparison to those of Europe, but a building that’s 50 years  older than me and looks this good deserves a glamour shot.

709 S. Jefferson Street.

I knew that a building with this much character had to have a history.

And it does.

Gill Memorial Hospital was founded by Dr. Elbyrne Gill in 1926 and is believed to be the Commonwealth’s first specialty hospital. It was an Eye, Ear, and Throat hospital.

It is currently home to RAMP (Regional Acceleration and Mentoring Program).

Visit.

The Roanoke Valley is a great place to come visit. There is a great mix of urban and wilderness. Many people enjoy a great portion of their time outdoors.

High Adventure.

Many high adventure enthusiasts love it here. There are plenty of trails for mountain biking and cycling. There are places to fish and kayak and rock climb. There’s even a climbing gym for those times when you can’t make it to the trails.

Not so High Adventure.

If you aren’t quite into high adventure (like me…the only one in my family of five), there’s still plenty to do. Roanoke likes its green space and preserves much. I’ve shared before some of our walks along the Greenway. I like to hike the many trails surrounding the area.

There is scientific backing to the benefit of spending time in nature and I can heartily agree with the conclusions.

Fitness.

Even though I take my Pilates and Yoga classes at my local gym, there are plenty of studios around town offering a focused workout. There is Empower Pilates & Yoga and Uttara Yoga Studio. There are also places like Pure Barre and Orange Theory Fitness. These are just a few of the places that I’ve heard of through friends.

Event Locations.

As I mentioned above, there are often events held around Roanoke. There are often a calendar of events at Elmwood Park, Dr Pepper Park, and the Berglund Center (where the hubby and I just watched Riverdance).

Food.

There are breweries and vineyards and an array of dining options.

Local Information.

There is so much more that is available to see and do in the area. Here are some great websites to check out for upcoming events and information on the area:

But you don’t just have to take my word for it.

Not only did Forbes put Roanoke on their 2017 list of 25 Great Scenic Places to Retire, but TripAdvisor recently named Roanoke as one of the best small USA cities to visit in 2018.

But you don’t just have to take their word for it.

Come visit and see for yourself.

Hope to see you soon!

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.- John Muir

Let your light shine!

Amy