News from the Nest, May 16
Hello! Remember me?
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? In fact, it has been one month since we last chatted.
Over the past thirty days, I have been in Italy on the Amalfi Coast, in Tuscany and Florence and then to London, Yorkshire, and Scotland. And finally, and most importantly, in Charlotte, NC for the graduation of our son from college!
He is off to California where he starts a job in the tech industry in two weeks! I love this picture of our family! I think I might have to frame it.
Full disclosure, I told you I would share pics of our travels on Instagram and I failed miserably! I pretty much stepped away from the internet for three solid weeks and it was so very cathartic. I didn’t turn on the news once and it was pure bliss. I read…A LOT! But other than that, we spent every opportunity out and about, soaking in the local environment.
Here’s a quick recap of our trip to Europe:
We started our trip on the Amalfi Coast. We stayed in a small town, Praiano, down the coast from Positano. Truly this was the color of the water, the Tyrrhenian Sea, part of the Mediterranean Sea.
The homes, villages, and gardens of the Amalfi Coast are built into the side of the mountain in terraces that run to the ocean.
I’m hard-pressed to say a favorite country to visit, but Italy has to be towards the top of the list. Of course, the food! But the country is just so diverse from one area to the next and there is just SO MUCH HISTORY!
We spent a morning on the site of Pompeii. I really wasn’t expecting too much, I’ve been to the Big Island of Hawaii and I know what volcano eruptions do. I truly wasn’t prepared for Pompeii. First of all, when Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, Pompeii was a thriving, affluent city right on the ocean. At the beginning of the eruption, at least 19 feet of ash fell on the city, suffocating most of the inhabitants in about 15 minutes. But that ash also had the effect of preserving much of this vibrant city. I was truly amazed at the in-ground pipes that carried water to the homes, businesses, and spas of the city. So many gorgeous mosaic floors were left intact or have been lovingly restored.
But the frescoes and mosaics at the Villa dei Misteri, a villa on the ‘outskirts’ of Pompeii, were truly breathtaking. This was just one of several rooms with gorgeous, vibrant frescoes that were preserved by the ash.
We were so glad we spent the money to have a private guide, who is also an Archaeologist. He brought the city to life for us with his passion and knowledge. I am glad to share his contact information if you will be heading to Pompeii in the near future.
We then headed to Tuscany where we spent a few days in the farmhouse of this working Vineyard, Olive Oil, and Rapeseed Farm.
This was the view from our porch!
We visited several towns in the area, but I think Pienza was my favorite and one I would love to stay in the next time I am there. They are all walled cities with so much charm and history.
Then we went on to Florence, where unfortunately we had to cut our visit short and had lousy weather for the short time we were there. We did manage to do a quick tour of the Uffizi and I did a wee bit of shopping on the Ponte Vecchio, but we definitely want to spend more time in Florence.
We stayed in the absolute best spot in the absolutely coolest little apartment. This is the outdoor room of our apartment, jutting out on the corner, above the fountain. Let me know if you are going to Florence and I’ll share that Airbnb info! It was PERFECT!
From Florence, we went to London and had a laughter-filled weekend with our good friends who live in England. Terry then went home and I spent another week with my girlfriend.
We went to the island of Uist in the Hebrides off of the coast of Scotland. A rugged and gorgeous little island filled with sheep and Shetland ponies. The islands of the Hebrides are where much of Scotland’s Gaelic culture, literature, music, and language originated and is still actively spoken today. This was the view from my friend’s home onto the loch behind her home.
It’s an outdoorsman’s paradise, with hiking and fishing opportunities galore.
So, that was my trip! I came home a week ago, did laundry, got my body clock re-centered, started to reclaim the yard from the weeds and the home from the dust bunnies, packed again, graduated a son and now I’m back home…for another month! 😊 I had a wonderful time, but as my friend Dorothy reminded me, ‘there’s no place like home’.
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- If you will be traveling for an extended period of time, these items made packing and traveling just that much easier:
- Make sure you read and print the checklist on my Organized Travel post. Those clear zippered pouches for my electronic cords and shower toiletries make organizing and making sure nothing gets left behind a snap. I need to update that post with those vacuum bags.
- My Samsung Tablet (or a Kindle or iPad. ) I am a real book reader (in fact, can’t wait to pick up my latest at the library today). But, I read 5 books on vacation and they would’ve really added to the bulk of what I toted about for 3 weeks.
- Hydration Multiplier Staying hydrated is so important and it is too easy to become dehydrated while traveling. Terry and I put these little packets in our water on the plane and while hiking and feel they really helped us recover from jet lag quicker
- The best $12 expenditure I’ve made in a long time…these self-vacuum bags were perfect! I organized my clothes among them, making it easy to find what I needed, kept my suitcase neat and…more importantly, enabled me to bring EVERYTHING that I wanted to bring. Between Terry and I, we used all 10 for 3 weeks. Only one ripped and it actually it was still usable.
- I looked everywhere for a functional gray cotton cable knit sweater that I could wear with blue jeans, white jeans, and skirts. Finally, I checked on Amazon. This sweater was worn soooo much on the trip. It was comfortable and was easily layerable depending on the weather. I did the thing where they send you several to try on before they charge you.
- A nice throw to keep you warm and can be added to just about any outfit. I took mostly gray tops and a black travel dress, so I got a nice pink throw. I was aiming to have as few clothes as possible, but that could easily be mixed and matched.
- OK, I told you that I did a good deal of reading and it was all good, but one book was OUTSTANDING! First of all, I read Robert Harris’ Pompeii, a fictionalized account of the Vesuvius eruption on the plane to Italy…just to get me in the right frame of mind.
Then, I devoured Peter May’s trilogy which is set in the Hebrides. They were all murder mysteries, but really incorporated the character of the islands with Gaelic names and local customs. Without a doubt, the books gave me insight into the islands and the people before I went.
The OUTSTANDING book was Amor Towle’s The Lincoln Highway. It has been a long time since I have read a book that I enjoyed as much as this book. Where to start… Let me begin by saying I love a good Charles Dickens style book, filled with rich characters and vivid storytelling. You will find characters that you absolutely love (Billy) and those you are less certain of (I’m not going to tell you). It is books like this that make me wish I had the way with words that this author does. The Lincoln Highway was just that. It reminded me a bit of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and was truly just a delightful read. I had started his A Gentleman in Moscow, but wasn’t able to finish it before I had to return it to the library. Before I got home yesterday, I put it on reserve again and will pick it up today. And let me add this, if you love a good sweeping novel like A Tale of Two Cities or Great Expectations, you might also like A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry It has long been one of my favorite books.
- If you didn’t grab the knitting organizer already, make sure you do so. Here’s what Pat said:
This is just a quick note to thank you for the NEW KNIT ORGANIZER. I think it’s fabulous & you made sure every detail was included. There is no excuse for not being organized.Pat
- YAY! It’s Strawberry Season and almost Blueberry Season!
- Strawberry Crisp (not to be confused with….)
- Strawberry Crumble
- Mini Strawberry Tartlets
- Strawberry Tart
- After being absent from my home for so long, it is desperately asking for some TLC. But then again, so is the yard. I am going to just chip away at it slowly but surely, taking advantage of little snippets of time. Incorporating some of these 15-minute tasks and then more 15-minute tasks here into my day will help me slowly gain control.
- We are chomping at the bit to get out into the garden, I’m heading there shortly. Terry will start our first batch of compost tea today!
- Do you compost? Find out the why’s and how’s here.
- What about compost tea? I’ve got all the details for you!
- I came home to tomatoes! They are still green, but before I know it I will be awash in ripe red tomatoes and making bruschetta on repeat.
- This Oyster Shell Mirror remains one of my all-time favorite projects. Your local fish market will most likely let you nab the empty shells for free!
Phew…that was quite the recap! I am going to get busy in the yard, set the robot vacuum busy in the house and start some laundry. Hopefully I’ll get a post published this week too! Wish me luck.
It’s good to be back and I look forward to hearing from you!
Hi Lynn, so glad you had such a good time on your trip. Sounds wonderful. And thank you for the suggestions on different items to pack. I have added some to my shopping list.
The scenery in Italy is beautiful, so peaceful looking.
So now it is back to reality. But reality is not all that bad with fresh tomatoes on the way. We also grow tomatoes, so will be making bruschetta more this summer.
Hope you got that yard back in shape! Take care, love, Juanita
Hi friend! I sure hope you are well.
We are slowly settling back in. Well, truthfully, I’m on a mad dash to catch up on all the gardening I missed for three weeks! I’ve told Terry a couple of times that I don’t think I want to travel in April/May anymore…too much to miss!
Enjoy the rest of your spring! It’ll be gone before we know it.
My 36 year old son and I just started an informal book club and I suggested we read The Lincoln Highway after reading your review. Even though we live in Iowa, we knew little about the Lincoln Highway so it was intriguing to us. I was carried along as if the characters were my friends and delighted in the twists and turns. When the last storms rolled through Iowa I texted my son to see if he and his family were OK to which he replied, “Well, I didn’t need to hide in a casket!” Again thanks for the suggestion and now I have A Gentleman in Moscow and A Fine Balance on hold.
Oh Cathy, I am so very glad you enjoyed the book and that your son is O.K.! It is always so risky to recommend books, peoples’ tastes are so varied. But I just really do love his writing style. I recommended it to my mom who is now midway through and really enjoying it as well. Hope you enjoy the others too!