July started with a couple more days with my new grand-baby and his parents before they decamped to Scotland. As soon as they leave I am trying to work out how soon we can get back together.
I then had a flurry of shopping to do for gifts for my other grandchildren ready for our trip to Newfoundland on the 7th.
We can't get a direct flight to St John's; our choices being flying out of Dublin or London. London for me is never a choice. Distance, cost of an overnighter if needed and the sheer hassle of dealing with Heathrow or Gatwick makes it a no-go choice!
So, on the 7th, we were off to Dublin. We had to stay overnight as we couldn't get a connecting flight the same day. The St John's flight out of there leaves at 8.30 am, there was no way we could get there before that.
Flying backwards in time we arrived in St John's about 10 am. That made our first day a long one for me. It was so lovely to see my son waiting for us at the airport that I was paid back ten-fold for every mile travelled.
We picked up the hire car. It was also lovely to be back with 'American-style' cars and roads and no traffic. Over to the hotel to drop off stuff and then we picked up the girls from Day Care and hung out with them for the day. In the evening we had the best pizza I have had in a very long time at their local (new) pizza restaurant.
On Saturday we hung out with them again - which was the whole point of the visit - Chris took us on a whistle stop tour of the sights with the girls while Gayle happily built flat-pack from Ikea (Toronto) which had been delivered the day before. Newfoundland is an island so, of course, almost every little thing has to be shipped in. Not a place to live if you are impatient.
We visited Signal Hill - On 12 December 1901, the first transatlantic wireless transmission was received here by Guglielmo Marconi in an abandoned fever and diphtheria hospital, which has since been destroyed by fire. The transmission, in Morse code, originated from his Poldhu Wireless Station, Cornwall, UK.
|one of the views from the top of the tower|
|Cabot Tower, Signal Hill|
|Guess who didn't go up the tower|
We also stopped by Middle Cove Beach, a small bay, which is about ten minutes from their home and one they use a lot. The capelin were due in.
We missed them by a day. They arrived the day after we left.
Sunday arrived too fast; we all had a huge brunch at Mallards cottage down in Quid Vidi Village which pretty much lasted me all day. We went round a lovely crafts centre there and off to a bookstore. Gayle's parents and sister arrived later for dinner at the house.
|Quidi Vidi village|
Sunday was pretty much an at home day of playing games with the girls though Ken and I did take Lucy to the movies in the afternoon. (Finding Dory)
On Tuesday Ken and I left St John's for a four day road trip around the Irish Loop. We decided to stay in one place and split the loop into three parts, doing a section to and from St Mary's each day.
We stayed in the Claddagh Inn which was a very pleasant small hotel with an interesting history having first started its life as a convent.
|St Mary's Bay|
|Pretty much our view from our room over the bay|
|The Claddagh Inn|
|a new take on a church bell|
Wednesday and we set out on the first leg of our road trip
|frantically busy (!) TCH|
We decided to cross the penninsular to Plancentia. Our GPS wanted to send us miles up the road to the TCH and then down again when, on the map, we could clearly see a road running straight across from us to Placentia . This turned out to be a 31 km gravel road. An experience we didn't repeat coming home.
The next day we drove a long way up to Bay Bulls to do a whale watching trip. As the capelin were late coming in this year, the whales were not in the bay so we had to go out into the Atlantic to find them: but find them we did. We had a spectacular time closely surrounded by a dozen or more hump backs and their young. I am so glad I did it; I very nearly didn't as the weather was windy and the sea choppy. I am not especially nervous of boats and don't get sea-sick but common sense dictates you can't drown if you don't go in the first place and the sea is notoriously unpredictable. It was choppy but a great skipper and a catamaran helped hugely. Should you ever get in that neck of the woods (and for those of you there) Gatherall's would be hard to beat for a wonderful experience all round.
|no whale photos I'm afraid|
Friday and we were back in civilisation (Holiday Inn) in St John's and back with the Chris, Gayle and the girls.
Saturday Ken, Chris and I went with the girls to the Botanical Gardens
|In 1954 the Newfoundland Cabinet designated the pitcher plant as the official flower of the province.|
I will be writing a post in my garden blog showing the photos from the gardens so visit Bury Gardeners if you want to see more.
We stopped by the little bay again as the capelin rumour was circulating - there were a lot of people with nets and buckets but still no fish.
We finished with dinner downtown to end a busy day.
Sunday and we spent our last day with the family. We left them after a lovely family meal and made our way to the airport and the trip home via Dublin. This time we had an overnight flight and then an early morning second leg to Manchester.
Home by UK lunchtime and settled back in.
Some foot notes from our trip which, as my (nearly six year old) Canadian grand-daughter says...'well you don't see that every day'...
|fish n brewels with schrunchions|
|a tiny town|
|not seen on our supermarket walls|
Nine days later and we were off to another 'wilds' - this time the Brecon Beacons to visit Ken's daughter for her birthday dinner.
We stayed at the Usk Inn. We have stayed there before but I had forgotten how 'faded' it was. A very low level Fawlty Towers. Nothing very wrong but a lot of tiny things that would make it so much better. I get in Hotel Inspector mode and get very worked up by people not being able to see how the detail of something might make all the difference. I understand the struggle of running a small hotel almost single-handed - well couple-handed - and wouldn't do it for a pension, but.... individually owned British hotels do seem to be a law unto themselves.
We ended up having dinner there too as the three other places we tried couldn't feed us for a myriad of reasons, wedding reception, chef scattering mother's ashes, repairs.... you couldn't make it up.
On the way home we stopped by my favourite garden. I always struggle between my passion for Hidcote, Kiftsgate, Snowshill and Wollerton Old Hall but Wollerton usually wins.
I have blogged it in my garden blog, so go there if you want more pictures - Bury Gardeners
Writing this at the end of the month sees me getting reading for a four day visit from my daughter, husband and baby .... so we end the month as we began....