Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: A Plot of Earth: Scottish Fantasy


Daily Prompt: You’re given a plot of land and have the financial resources to do what you please. What’s the plan?

I’m going to assume this plot of land is located in Scotland, perhaps left to us in the will of a relative, for some strange reason. (My husband has relatives who live in Scotland, so you never know). Intrigued, we fly to Scotland and discover the plot of land is located in South Queensferry. To our delight, this is a town in Scotland we have visited and it is picturesque and not too far from the capital city of Edinburgh.

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We build a lovely, snug, single floor cottage on out plot of land, with a large master bedroom suite, and a comfortable guest suite, an office for Bill and a “snuggery” for me with a view of our landscaped gardens which present a seasonal change of color and delight. Flowers spill from window boxes and there is a potters shed in the backyard, where the dappled sunlight dances on the grass beneath two large shade trees. A comfortable hammock is strung between the trees, a perfect place for reading, meditating or napping on a warm summer day. The cottage is open and airy, with a flowing floor design that lets in the light, yet snug enough to be warm and cozy in winter. When cold winds blow, the double-sided fireplace brings cheery warmth to kitchen and living room. Bookshelves line the walls of the living room, and off of it, there is a glass walled conservatory with a terracotta floor, filled with plants and some comfy lounges for reading and napping.

We sell our home in the US and rent a small apartment to use when visiting friends and family, most likely during those very long, dark winter days in Scotland. Family and friends, sorry to bail out on all of you like this, but it was a fantasy too enticing to pass up!









Staying In Focus: Weekly Writing Challenge: Build Your Own: Envision


Daily Post:Weekly Writing Challenge: Build You Own:  Choose  a place:  scenic countryside

Choose a first line:  In my dreams I envision a place.


During my cruise around the British Isles last year we took bus rides out into the countryside of Ireland, Scotland and England. These photos and your prompts come together in the following poem:


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In my dreams I envision a place

A village nestled in the countryside

Far removed from the rush about pace

Of everyday life.

I sit in my garden, sipping my tea

And the villagers nod as they pass

Some stop by to chat with me

On happenings, this and that

The summer days are slow and warm

The sheep graze on the hill

And if this was the place where I was born

I know I’d be there still.

– pc 2014

A recent daily prompt was to imagine building a  magic tunnel. Where would it lead to? I didn’t finish it because  the appliances in my house, specifically the air conditioner and the freezer both bit the dust on the same day and thre us for a loop. The topic, however, meshed nicely with the  writing challenge.

Of Hedgerows and Tea

Another outcome of my cruise around the British Isles last summer is that  I know exactly where my tunnel will lead. It will lead directly to a small English village located in the pastoral countryside, but not too far from London. This quiet little village will be my refuge from the complications and stresses of everyday life. It will be where I go to rest, to write, to find my muse and refuel my imagination. Once this is achieved, having London nearby will provide for cultural and leisure activities. It’s not far from South Hampton where the magic cruise ships await to whisk us off to see the world.

I plan to have many good years there, but the inevitable will eventually happen and my cottage in the village will become my final.refuge. As I grow older my capabilities will decrease as the PD robs me of movement and other things too scary to contemplate at this point in my life.  So I will spend my remaining days in the garden, sipping tea and finding joy in just being.

However, as we have allowed for the possibility of a magic tunnel, the door  to  a cure for PD is open, we have all the money we need to live comfortably in our cottage , to take cruises whenever we are bitten by the travel bug, and we will live well past 100 healthy years. Now that is my kind of magic!







Staying in Focus: On Old World Charm

With  St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I have thought about all the wonderful architecture we enjoyed viewing on our visit to the British Isles last summer.I found a great buy on frames at AC Moore and knew just what to put in them. They are gold and speak to me of an old world style, so I decided to fill them with my favorite old world buildings. History is embedded in the very character of these buildings. When you step into them, you feel as if you are stepping out of time., the whispers and echoes of voices past , people long gone, their lives lived and completed before ours began. Somehow, I doubt as many of our buildings will survive the ages as these have. But as with all things, time passes and styles change. In a future post, I’ll show you some contemporary “Old World”  buildings.


Muckross House, Kilarney, Ireland: A landowner’s home of the 1800s


Stained glass windows of St. Patrick”s Cathedral


St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland


Provand’s Lordship, Glasgow, Scotland


St, Margaret’s Chapel, built in 1130, in Edinburgh Castle, Scotland


Stained glass window in St. Margaret’s Chapel


House in Queensferry, Scotland


Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

eiffel tower

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France


Church of St. Peter Port, Guernsey, (Channel Islands)


Big Ben, London, England


My Display

Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: All It’s Cracked Up To Be: Our Trip of a Lifetime

Daily Prompt: Tell us about a time when everything actually turned out exactly as you’d hoped.

Our cruise around Great Britain last summer was a bit complicated, but fortunately, as it was the vacation of a lifetime for us, everything went well. This was the first time we had ever used passports, but we sailed through security at RDU . We were in plenty of time to catch our ride (we even had time for chocolate ice cream). IMG_1204 We boarded our tiny plane and made it to Toronto, where we had a quick supper before boarding a larger, nicer plane for our trip to Heathrow Airport in England.

We had an almost glitch when, about halfway there, the flight attendants asked if there were any medical people on board because a passenger was having chest pains.  Fortunately there were, and when we arrived at Heathrow, a medical team was there to meet the plane.

We made it through customs and security, collected our luggage, which had the decency to take the same plane, and found our cruise line representative waiting for us, holding up a Princess Cruise Lines Card. We waited for a little while and were able to tap into the free Wi-Fi at the airport. Then we headed for a bus which whisked us off to the Southampton to board the ship.IMG_1180 IMG_1215We arrived at our cabin, and so did our well-behaved luggage, attended the requisite Titanic Scene safety drill, wearing our life jackets and assembling for a brief demonstration on how not  to drown while fumbling with our life jacket. Finally we were free to enjoy our cruise.

We didn’t get the Norovirus, or lose engine capacity or anything like that. We ate a lot of great food, enjoyed the musicals at the theatre at night, and the shore excursions by day. We even lucked out in getting the best guide for our Liverpool excursion, which was called “In the Footsteps of the Beatles.” Our guide, Marie, grew up across the street from Ringo and she was a font of information on everything to do with the Fab Four. Fantastic!IMG_1253

The weather was warm and dry for the most part, with one day of rain in Ireland. We also visited Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the beautiful town of St. Peter Port in Guernsey .IMG_1091 We spent a day in Paris and our two days at sea were spent enjoying the hysterical humor of the two cruise directors and their staff.

When our cruise was finished, we stayed for 2 more days to explore London and visit Stonehenge. We walked from our hotel to Buckingham Palace, ate some fish and chips in a pub, and rode on the upper deck of those familiar red buses of London.

Unseasoned travelers that we were, I think we did pretty well on our first foreign country experiences. I must give credit where credit is due, to my husband who did the planning and to the cruise line staff and the tour guides, who made it all, come together.  And, of course, to Air Canada, who flew us safely there and back to Toronto and then to RDU.  In Star Trek vernacular, the trip was “as smooth as an android’s bottom!”

Staying in Focus: Focus On: Favorite Shoes

Recently, one of the daily prompts was “My Favorite Shoes”.  Distracted by the flurry of visitors  we’ve had this past week, I didn’t get a chance to post this. But after helping friends to move in and shopping with family this week, I feel my favorite shoes deserve some recognition.

My favorite shoes are a pair of Keds sneakers. In fact, I am on my third pair of them. They are great for walking, never pinch my toes, and provide good support, all of which are needed by someone who loves to walk despite having Parkinson’s disease.

These sneakers have taken me for walks on the decks of two cruise ships, on a walking tour of London, along the Giant’s Causeway in Scotland, through the streets of Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan, Alaska. They have walked in the footsteps of the Beatles, toured the Louvre, ambled along the streets of the beautiful city of Victoria, Canada, and stood on the same ground as Stonehenge has for 5000 years.

Together we climbed the steep hill to the entrance of Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, strolled on the cobblestone streets of St. Peter Port, Guernsey and completed a 5k walk “on deck for the cure” aboard the Caribbean Princess, while at sea.  IMG_2116

My Keds and I have walked up and down hundreds of steps this week helping friends move into their third floor apartment. We have shopped the malls of Raleigh with my buddies, Pat and Becky, during their annual visit. We have walked over bridges and under trees, across fields and along the road.  We have tip-toed over the dew-kissed grass of morning and left shoeprints in the shifting sands of the shore.

There is nothing like a well-worn, well used, favorite pair of shoes sitting on the closet floor, waiting to take me on the next adventure.  But most of all, my favorite shoes are those that bring me home.


Staying in Focus: The Green of Ireland


I can understand now, how Ireland became to be known as “The Emerald Isle“. The countryside is covered in various colors of green. In some places,  the green groundcover shines brilliantly in the afternoon sun. There’s nothing more appealing than the sparkle of freshly washed grass, or shrubs, following an afternoon shower. Sheep and cattle graze lazily in the warm sun. The following pictures were taken in the rolling hills of Killarney, Ireland.  We visited the Muckross House and took a tour through it. They have weavers there who weave beautiful hats and scarves. And anyone who knows me knows I can’t pass up a good hat. I decided, in honor of the green  of Ireland and Scotland, to buy my hat in a green tweed. (see above).

I invite you to take a ride  through the beautiful Irish countryside.

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Staying in Focus: Return From the Sea

We just arrived home from our cruise around the British Isles and what a wonderful time we  had. I went in search of inspiration and I was not disappointed. I happened upon some revelations as well. I will not inundate you with my 2000 plus photographs but will instead try to convey the flavor of the British Isles with some photo collages and commentary. My first inspiration came from being aboard ship again. I love waking up to a sun rising over the sparkling water and wrapping myself in the more mellow tones of the sun setting at day’s end. I love waking up and peeking out behind the drapes to see where our adventures for the day will begin’. I decided, therefore, to start  with a simple concept: the sea.  Here are my favorites from the waters  around the British Isles.

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on a sea of inspiration

cruising round the British Isles

with sailboats as companions

tacking toward the setting sun…

and in coves,  ships find safe harbor

as the captains in their  cabins

dream of voyages  to come…

the sun bids clouds to gather

as rays of gold rain gently down

and  illuminate the sea;  for a

a sunset over Scotland forms

a memory not forgotten


-pc 2013