The sky here has been filled with smoke since Saturday when the High Park Fire to the west of Fort Collins started. It makes for spectacular sunsets.
Beautiful as it is in the light of the setting sun, that's an ominous plume of smoke traversing the landscape. My soon to be foster daughter-in-law's grandparents live a scant 2 1/2 miles outside of the fire area, so we are all hoping and praying for this fire to come under control quickly!
Taking care of my Mom's estate has taken up nearly all of my time in the past two months, but there has been some time to plan a trip that I have only dreamed of until now! This dream trip was first fueled when I was still a school girl, listening eagerly to the stories told by my adopted Grandma, Jessie Nevills. She had taken a round the world cruise on the SS Rotterdam. In her back yard, she kept a little house, which she called her "Jim Thompson" house filled with things collected on her trip. Those stories whetted my dream of someday taking a cruise across the ocean myself, though not necessarily taking a trip around the world!
Most of my favorite authors and illustrators are from England and Scotland, and so from the time I was in High School, I've wanted to travel there and see the places that I've read about for so long. I think it was through the pages of Victoria Magazine, that my dream trip started to come together and I started clipping magazine articles of trips on the QE II across the Atlantic and flying the Concord between London or Paris and the U.S. And in between, I dreamed and dreamed of spending time walking the hills of the Lake District where Beatrix Potter walked, seeing the places that William Wordsworth wrote so movingly of or walking the Highlands of Scotland written about by my favorite author George MacDonald, or seeing the Yorkshire moors of the Secret Garden. Then there was the lovely illustrated nature journal by Edith Holden that I loved and paintings by J. W. Waterhouse and J.M Turner that I also loved. My sister and I read and studied the Arthurian legends in depth and later I came to love Jane Austen. Oh how I longed to travel to England and Scotland! So much that at times it hurt to think that I might never get there.
Then, just recently, Susan Branch started writing about her then upcoming trip to England and it refreshed my own dreams! And suddenly, there was the realization that a golden opportunity had been placed before me to make my own dream trip come true! So ~ before I find a job here or buy a home and get bogged down by the details of day to day living again ~ I decided to grab hold of my dream!
In early July, I will fly to New York City, and embark on a trans-Atlantic voyage to Southampton, England on the Queen Mary 2!
Oh My Goodness!!! Pinch me!
7 nights aboard the QM2. Three formal dinners! 3!!!
I had to go buy an evening dress! My first. EVER! (I made all my prom dresses or wore vintage ones ~ but never got to go purchase one, so this is huge for me!) My daughter and I had a seriously fun day shopping and found a lovely one!
And guess what? They serve Afternoon Tea every afternoon! Who needs dinner? I'll be happy with tea and scones and clotted cream!
So many exciting new things to think about and experience! A whole week on board to rest, relax and recover from all that has gone on during the past few months. And then, a whole new adventure begins!
The part I'm most excited about is that there will be a full week in the Lake District! There will of course be visits to; Hilltop, Beatrix Potter's first home and studio purchased from the proceeds of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit"; to Dove Cottage, home to William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy; walks on the hills; boating trips on the lakes... and hopefully, lots and lots of time to sketch and do watercolors along the way!
In all, I'll be in England and Scotland for a total of 6 weeks! I'll have a week in Cornwall and the southwest where I hope to visit many of the Arthurian sites, then a week traveling up through the center of the country (and a little Jane Austen along the way) up to the Yorkshire Dales and Moors before heading to the Lake District. Then two weeks on a tour of Scotland with a tour arranged by Scottish Folk Singer Alex Beaton, which will be led by Donnie MacDonald of the Scottish Folk Group, "Men of Worth"! My last week in England will be spent getting from Edinburgh back to London, where I'll have several days to visit museums and see the sights before flying back to Denver!
So here I am, in my new hat ready and getting SO excited about this trip!
But first, we finish packing, close on the sale of my Mom's house this coming week and move to temporary Summer quarters with my son Jonathan! And of course, this coming weekend, we celebrate the wedding of my foster son Gary to his lovely Marcy!