Friday, April 22, 2016

Favorite photos of places we visited our second year

Although it has been a long time coming, I'm finally wrapping up my photos from our second year living abroad. You can see some of the previous posts from the links at the bottom. These are of places, not people, though a couple shots have folks in them. Also, shots of domestic and wild animals caught my fancy this year, so I've thrown in a few. (If only you knew how many photos of puffins I have . . . )

As always, I agonize over selecting my "favorites" when some of the nearly favorites woulda coulda shoulda been chosen instead. But I'm stuck now, so I need to stop whimpering and get on with it.

These photos aren't all from 2015, mind you. Rather, these are photos from June 2014 to June 2015. Yes, I'm that far behind. {shrug}

As a final word, I'll note that the places depicted aren't necessarily my favorites of the year. Instead, they're the favorite photos, not the favorite spots or buildings or vistas. That said, some of the places are pretty damn awesome.


The Kelpies statues in Falkirk, Scotland
The Kelpies are the largest equine statues in the world. (Falkirk, Scotland)
Inverary Castle in Argyll, Scotland
Inverary Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll (and a filming location for episodes of Downton Abbey). (Inverary, Scotland)
Puffin on the Isle of Lunga, in the Treshnish Isles
You'll find nowhere in the world with better access to puffins and other seabirds than the Isle of Lunga, part of the Treshnish Isles on the west coast of Scotland. (Lunga, Scotland)
Rainbow leads into Castle Train, Ireland
One of those elusive pots of gold can be found in Castle Trim, Ireland. (Castle Trim, Ireland)
The "Table," part of the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye
A fantastic hike of the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye ends with a view of the "Table." That's my bro-in-law, David, at top right. (Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland)
Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens, Greece
I love the juxtaposition of tiny Jackson with the monumental Temple of Olympian Zeus. (Athens, Greece)
Neist Point Lighthouse on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
Another great hike on Skye is to the deserted Neist Point Lighthouse. (Isle of Skye, Scotland)
Cows in the snow in Colorado, USA
In nearly three years abroad, we've only returned to the U.S. once. We love the snow in Colorado, where Grammar and one of Kate's sisters live. (Mesa, Colorado, U.S.A.)
Open sky ceiling at Jedburgh Abbey, Scotland
I try to snap a pic of the ceilings in all the churches, abbeys, and cathedrals we visit. Sometimes, the best ceiling is no ceiling at all. (Jedburgh Abbey, Scotland)
Floating heads in the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow, Scotland
This exhibit, Floating Heads, greets visitors at the U.K.'s most visited museum outside of London, the Kelvingrove Museum. (Glasgow, Scotland)
Jacobite steam train puffs across the Glenfinnan Viaduct in western Scotland
The Jacobite steam train, also known as the Hogwarts Express, huffs and puffs across the Glenfinnan Viaduct. (Glenfinnan, Scotland)
Ruins of Crossraguel Abbey in Maybole, Scotland
People aren't the only ones who enjoy the beauty of the Crossraguel Abbey ruins. (Maybole, Scotland)
Tower ruin in Trim, Ireland
What can I say? I lurv me some ruins. This tower fragment stands in a village outside Dublin. (Trim, Ireland)
View of Loch Lomond from Inchcailloch
The most scenic lake in Scotland, as viewed from the summit of one of its islands, Inchcailloch. (Loch Lomond, Scotland)

Did you enjoy those? Here are more favorite pics of our second year in Scotland:

Hampton Court Palace, London, England 

(Nearly) favorite photos of places we visited our second year in Scotland

On the beach on Inchcailloch in Loch Lomond

Favorite family photos of our second year in Scotland

(Nearly) favorite photos of our second year in Scotland

Want to see more? Here are the favorites from our first year in Scotland:

Favorite photos of places we visited in our first year

(Nearly) favorite photos of places we visited our first year

Favorite family photos of our first year in Scotland

(Nearly) favorite family photos of our first year in Scotland

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Last week, the Cotswolds; this week . . .

Snowshill village in the Cotswolds
The village of Snowshill, in the Cotswolds.
Last week we explored the quintessential English countryside of the Cotswolds. Idyllic farms, rolling hills, quaint villages, creamy stone cottages, and everywhere you look: sheep.

Black-faced sheep in Cotswolds
For centuries, wool was the lifeblood of the Cotswolds.
Great Hall of Blenheim Palace
Inside the Great Hall at Blenheim Palace.
You might think the arrival of a new baby would pause our travel itch. Heck no! When traveling with young children, the newborns and infants are much easier much more compliant than toddlers and preschoolers. You need to stop every so often to feed them and change diapers, but mostly they sleep all day. Easy peasy.

The lil' scribbler celebrated his first month anniversary in style at Blenheim Palace. But, of course, he dozed through nearly all of it in his baby carrier. Typical.

The 4¾ year olds . . . those are the ones to whom you have to cater. It's like they've actually become little people, with real wants and opinions. 

Exterior facade of Blenheim Palace
Fortunately, this 4¾ year old was happy to explore Blenheim Palace inside and out.
Rose Cottage in Lower Slaughter
Our cottage.

We rented a lovely cottage in the even more lovely village of Lower Slaughter. Quite a name for a town, don't you think? If you're like me, your first thought was about slaughtering the ubiquitous sheep. But apparently the "slaughter" part derives from an old Anglo-Saxon term ("slough" or "slothre") for mud.

Which makes sense for the village, given its position on a low-banked river that runs through it. In truth, the "River" Eye looks more like a stream, crisscrossed by bridges skimming the surface.

Lower Slaughter along the River Eye
Lower Slaughter cozies up to the low banks of the River Eye.
Biking in Stanton, Cotswolds
Jackson biking through the village of Stanton.
From our central location we crisscrossed the Cotswolds, trying to do more than merely skim the surface. We rambled through castles. Delved into ruins. Petted farm animals. Reconnoitered old villages. Chugged on steam trains. Investigated neolithic barrows. Strolled through gardens. Climbed up towers.



Drank coffee.

The Old Mill Cafe in Lower Slaughter
A mid-morning refueling.
Broadway Tower
Charging up to see Broadway Tower.
Arlington Row in Bibury
Sometimes Jackson grew bored exploring yet another village (e.g., Bibury) and the silliness overtook him. And his grandmother.
Hidcote Manor Gardens
Hidcote Manor Gardens were gorgeous even in early spring, before most of the blooming.
Holding rabbits at Adam Henson's Cotswold Farm Park
The Cotswold Farm Park provides plenty of hands-on experiences.
Parish church in Temple Guiting
We searched for hidden gems, like this ancient Templar parish church in Temple Guiting.
Model Village in Bourton-on-the-Water
Have Kate and baby Finley grown to giant size, or is this the remarkably (and painstakingly) accurate Model Village in Bourton-on-the-Water?
Steam train on the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway
Our train-mad boy steaming along the vintage Gloucester Warwickshire Railway.
'Twas a full week.

For the new baby we've had Kate's mom (i.e., Grammar) staying with us since mid-February. This week we've been joined by my parents (i.e., Nana and Grampa Bill), and the explorations continue. Over the next couple of weeks we'll ramble through Bristol, head south into Somerset for awesome places like Wells, and take a quick jaunt or two across the border to Wales.

Grammar on the steam train
Grammar on the steam train.
But I promise, no more month-long breaks in posts around here. Check back next week for more traveling and photographic goodness!

Tintern Abbey in Wales
Nana and Grampa Bill amidst the ruins of Tintern Abbey in southeastern Wales.