Thursday, November 23, 2023

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is a holiday that's most often shared with special people in our lives. At its core, the day includes a deep sense of gratitude as it marks a day to give thanks for so much, the most important being others — We should like things but love people, sadly that's not always true.

For many, today will be spent with a gathering of family and friends or both. However, some will celebrate alone, some by choice and others by circumstances or loss.

Thankfulness is the subject of this post as you have most likely deduced by now.

Thankful for all those in my life, past and present, family and friends, especially my best friend, also spouse, Patrick (Grenville). We are both thankful for no serious health issues.

Thankful that blogger friends dealing with health issues Rita (Soul Comfort's Corner) and Jon (Lonesome Wolf Concerto) have received many supportive comments from fellow bloggers. You may also know others in similar situations. The blog community has wonderful and caring folks. Often, all it takes to make someone's day is a kind word(s) whether by a comment, phone call, card or letter. We can and do impact other lives even in the simplest ways.

Thankful for all fellow bloggers who have read and commented here over 13+ years. You've become friends, even if never-met ones. Friendships can be virtual, like everything now. 

Thankful for those blogger friends we have met over the years, most recently in Scotland where we met Christina (A Colourful Life). Our meet-up will be a future post.

Thankful for the friendships of two special women (Linda and April) who passed away unexpectedly and way too soon in the past six months.

Thankful to be celebrating this holiday with a road trip to RI for a family gathering and early celebrations for the December birthdays of the oldest and youngest grandchildren

They are 10 years apart in age. Grandson will be 17 years old at the start of December and granddaughter will be 7 years old in mid-December. It seems only yesterday that we went cross-country for grandson's birth in CA; years later to PA for granddaughter's arrival. 
How did time pass so fast?
Some turkeys not being served for dinner, today
Thankful to everyone who has read and commented (or not) on posts this year and years past. Bloggers are truly "friends" we've never (yet) met.

Our Best Wishes to all — whether you are celebrating today or not.                   
Dorothy (Beatrice) & Patrick (Grenville)

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

It's a Mystery

The next few days will be a long holiday celebration for many, ourselves included.
Perfect time to catch up on some good reads or, in my case, enjoyable listens.

Currently I've listening to three different mystery series. All fall into the category of cozy mysteries — Bunburry, Cherringham and Mydworth Mysteries  all downloaded from the Nashua Public Library website. 

OK, that sounds like a lot of listening, but let me explain. None of these stories are more than 4 hours long at the most; the average listening time is 2 or 3 hours.

These kept me well entertained during airport waits and airline sitting during our recent travels. Now that we're home, they're doing the same when I'm in the gym or doing household chores.
Internet source

Why are they called cozy mysteries?
A cozy mystery (cosy mystery, in British English) is the gentlest subset of the broad genre of crime writing with a lighter tone. These are comfort reads, often with characters you come to "know" and enjoy. Cozy mysteries are lighter than traditional detective fiction.

Many readers prefer these mysteries instead of hard-core, often grisly, detective, crime or thriller reads. They've become very popular perhaps because the stories often leave readers satisfied, rather than scared to sleep with the lights out.

What's the difference between a mystery and a cozy mystery?
The easiest way to differentiate is to not look at the crime but to look at the characters. Many consider Agatha Christie as considered as the first cozy mystery author. While not all her books are in this category, many can be especially the popular Miss Marple series. 

What makes a book a cozy mystery?
No on-the-page violence, murder, sex, or swearing are the tenets of the cozy mystery genre. While protagonists can and often do encounter some kind of peril in the course of their sleuthing, that peril is never exceptionally violent or dark. A fairly loose rule about a cozy mystery series is that they often don't require any kind of strict order; however there are exceptions. 

Why do people like cozy mysteries?
The first thing to like about reading a cozy mystery is the often punny titles; many also have appealing cover art that draws readers into the story.

If anyone is interested in a cozy/cosy English mystery, here's some information on the three series I've been listening to the past several weeks. All are also available not only as audiobooks, but in print and Kindle form.

Bunburry - A Cosy Mystery Series is written under the name Helena Marchmont. These short mysteries set in the rolling hills of the English Cotswolds in the quaint village of Bunburry.

The author's actual name is Olga Wojtas, born and raised in Edinburgh. Her father was a Polish soldier who settled in the UK after WW II. A journalist for over 30 years, before she began a creative writing career, Wojtas knew her real name wasn't a good fit for the Englishness of her series, so, she used her middle name (Helena) and the street she grew up on (Marchmount Road) to create an alias.

The series main character, Alfie McAlister, is a self-made millionaire, who relocates from London to a cottage, once owned by his late aunt, Augusta, following a personal tragedy. He soon finds himself playing amateur detective with his late aunt’s best friends, Liz and Marge, who run a fudge business. Alfie doesn’t remember his Aunt Augusta, but has fond memories of his grandparents killed in a car crash when he was 12. Each novella contains an individual mystery. There's also a mystery in Alfie's family which unfolds as the series continues.  

Alfie’s best friend is the aristocratic Oscar de Linnet, who prefers London to the village, which he considers having pub grub, mud and cows. He sees himself as a reincarnation of the late Irish writer Oscar Wilde, and is always prepared with a quip from Wilde.

Murder At the Mousetrap, the first novel in the series, was released in 2018. Currently, there's 17 stories in the Bunburry series. 

The audiobook series is narrated by English actor Nathaniel Parker, a stage and screen actor well known for his lead role the BBC crime drama series The Inspector Lynley Mysteries. Parker does all the character voices, young, old, male and female, in the audiobook series.

Fans of the series have termed it a delightful English cozy mystery novel with likable and charming characters and a mystery plot that adds fun to story. The tone is light, often funny, and  keeps things moving along the entire time. Bunburry is a place where it's nice to get lost in for a while.

Cherringham - A Cosy Crime Series is
 set in what's described as a sleepy English village of the same name. The series is co-authored by a British writer and an American writer. The town is also described as a quiet town despite murders that occur there. 

This series brings together an unlikely sleuthing duo — English web designer Sarah Edwards, divorced with two children (Chloe and Daniel) and NYC ex-cop and widower Jack Brennan who lives on a boat with his dog, Riley. 

A new case for Jack and Sarah is released each month. There are over 40 books in this series.

The series began publication in 2013, when Murder on Thames was released. It is co-authored by Neil Richards (based in the UK) and Matthew Costello (based in the U.S.), who have been writing together since the mid-90s working on major projects for the BBC, Disney Channel, Sony and Nintendo and others.

The series is narrated by English actor Neil Dudgeon, who, since 2010, has played DCI John Barnaby in the ITV drama series Midsomer Murders. He replaced John Nettles in the lead role in 2011.

This audiobook series is available in English and German. Fans have termed it a good mystery with plenty of twists and turns throughout. It's been rated a top pick from fans of other cozy mysteries such as the Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton, the Hamish Macbeth series by Marion Chesney, the Miss Marple series by Agatha Christie, and Midsomer Murders series by Caroline Graham.

Mydworth Mysteries is set in Sussex, England, in 1929, in what's described as a sleepy English town about 50 miles from London. Co-authors Richards and Costello also write this series.

Things liven up in Mydworth after young and handsome aristocrat Sir Harry Mortimer returns home from a diplomatic posting in Cairo, with his beautiful and unconventional American wife, Kat, a native of Brooklyn, NY.

Soon, the couple become involved in solving crimes and/or murders. They have an edge as both have certain useful skills picked up in service of King, President and Country. And, have access to English society which often proves helpful when local police are baffled with a case.

This series started in 2019 and there are 17 books which are also narrated by English actor Nathaniel Parker. The series has received positive comments from many who have said that the characters are charming, the mystery is intriguing, and the stories are short enough to finish quickly. 

If you enjoy audiobooks and are looking for some quick listens, you might also enjoy one or more of these series. I've become addicted to them and have listened to 15 Bunburry, 14 Cherringham and 12 Mydworth Mysteries and been enjoying the narrations of both Parker and Dudgeon and plan to continue listening as long as more are available through the library.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Friday Funnies

Keeping with the previous fall post, this lone leaf was spotted on a rear window blade.

A few song titles came to mind Hitchin' a Ride (by Vanity Fair 1969) and You Keep Me Hanging On (Supremes 1967) as well as Hang on Tight (Electric Light Orchestra 1981).
As always, feel free to add any of own song titles in the comments. There's quite a lot.

Sobering thought for the day — ready or not, Christmas arrives in 38 days.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Mid 50s temps this weekend with rainy Saturday

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Waning Colors

While there will be future posts to share about our UK travels, we're glad to have returned home in time to appreciate some of autumn's beauty. It's always enjoyable to share local images.

Living in the mill apartments, we're within walking distance of Mine Falls Park, the largest city park in Nashua, NH. Join me on our November jaunt, perhaps the last this season.
Our recent travels abroad began in mid-October through the end of the month. That's about the time most of the autumn colors here in Nashua, NH, were most vibrant, at peak is the term.
We feared that most of the famed New England color this fall would have gone by the time we were back in Nashua. We went walking, the first November weekend after returning home to find that fall color was not all gone. There was a lot more color than expected in the park.
I've posted many times before about the 325-acre Mine Falls Park, which was purchased in 1969 from the Nashua, New Hampshire Foundation with city and federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) money. It is bordered on the north by the Nashua River and on the south by the millpond and canal.
The park name originates from the 18th century, when low-quality lead was reportedly mined from the islands below the park's falls. In the early 19th century, the potential of the Nashua River to drive the wheels of industrial mills was recognized.
The property was once owned by the Nashua Manufacturing Company, which harnessed the river's flow for power in its mills which
 closed in 1948. (Nashua Manufacturing Company is now Clocktower Place Apartments.) In 1992, the park trails were designated part of the New Hampshire Heritage Trail system, which extends 130 miles along the Merrimack River from Massachusetts to Canada.
Water reflects remain as one of my favorite photo subjects and, on the day of our walk, these were captured.
There was a large group of Mallard ducks in the canal that afternoon. Several males were putting on quite a display, perhaps for the females among the group?
Above is the late afternoon view of the former millyard, which is now apartments and business use. In 1987, the Nashua River Canal and the Nashua Manufacturing Company Historic District (Millyard) were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
Thanks for coming along on this walk, hope you enjoyed the local colors too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Exploring London

As anyone who has ever visited well knows is not remotely possible in a 3-day timeframe. 

Regretfully, that's all the time we had on our recent trip abroad with Collette Tours called Shades of Ireland. This was a 9-day motor coach tour that made stops at many well-known Irish cities and sights (details in future posts) and there were two add-ons.

We added these before and after Ireland. First, came the London Pre-Extension tour and, after touring Ireland, an Edinburgh Post-Extension tour; both consisted of 3 days in each major city. Out of 42 people in the Ireland travel group, seven opted for the London add-on, all from NH — ourselves, friends Randy and Judy, and new friends, Jan, Bob, and Jack. 

The weather wasn't the most cooperative as shown in the photos below. As expected, it rained part of every day. Luckily, we were prepared with brolleys (umbrellas) and/or rain jackets, some days both were required.
London sights: The Globe Theater, Westminster & Big Ben, St Paul's, London Eye
Not only is London the capital of England, but it's the largest and most populated city in the UK. Our stay included a half-day walking tour in which we saw some of the city's landmark sites —including St Paul's Cathedral, The Globe Theater, the Tate Museum, London Eye, Westminster Abbey — which we didn't have time to visit. We received entry tickets to the iconic Tower of London which was explored on our own. 
London's Borough Market is a foodie's paradise
Walking through Borough market was a food lovers delight. This London wholesale and retail market hall is one of the largest and oldest food markets in the city. It has been in continuous operation since 1014 near London Bridge. The present buildings were built in the 1850s. The market mainly sells speciality foods to the general public. Stalls, shops and restaurants are unique in the food that's sold. We met up with our UK friends, Kath and Andrew here. 
One of the most useful things inclusions in our tour package was an Oyster card, pre-loaded with £15 (about $18 USD). This credit-card sized smart card used a payment method for public transport in London. 
Map of London Underground
Traveling the London Underground was our main way of transport
Using the card was easy, just touch-in at the yellow card reader on entry and then touch-out when exiting a station. We learned how to add to it using a credit card at touch-screen ticket machines within the Underground stations. Touching the card when entering or exiting was crucial to ensure that the correct fare was paid. One phrase we fast became very familiar with was Mind the Gap, a caution repeatedly issued to warning passengers to watch when leaving the train, there's usually a distance between the train and the platform.
Our NH friends in the Blackfriar Pub
Campaign for Real Ale logo
Of course, no visit to London would be complete without dining in an English pub. One of our choices was The Blackfriar on Queen Victoria Street built in 1875 on the site of a former medieval Dominican friary and remodeled around 1905. The building was almost demolished during a 1960s redevelopment phase. It's now on the Campaign for Real Ale's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. This register lists public houses in the UK with interiors of significant historic interest and largely unchanged for at least 30 years, but usually since at least WW II. (The National Inventory was begun by, and is maintained by, the Campaign for Real Ale as part of that organization's mission to protect Britain's pub heritage as well as good beer.) Cheers to that 🍺
Fish and chips with mushy peas and a pint of Guinness and Smithwicks Ale
Of course, a staple menu item in most pubs is fish and chips served with mushy peas, a traditional accompaniment, which we really enjoyed. Mushy peas are surviving remnants of medieval and early British diets and have been called Yorkshire caviar and have been a menu item or over 60 years. This simple and colorful side dish was delicious with the fried cod and more like a condiment, similar to how tartar sauce is included in the U.S. 
Red colors in London included Grenville's jacket 
While there wasn't time to see everything London has to offer visitors. There were some iconic sights we didn't miss seeing like red post boxes, red telephone booths, double decker buses (no photo) and the Royal Guard. (Those familiar bearskin caps were introduced by the British Army following the Battle of Waterloo, June 1815, to make the soldiers appear taller and more intimidating when in combat.)
Despite the weather, crowds attended the Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace
It was an overcast, but thankfully rain-free morning when our group made an early morning trek to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guard (also called Guard Mounting) which would occur at 11 a.m on our only Friday in London. The formal ceremony in which sentries performing ceremonial guard duties are relieved by a new batch of sentries takes place on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, weather permitting. The ceremonies are elaborate and precisely choreographed.
Our London travel friends (L-R): Jan, Bob, Randy, Jack, Patrick, Dorothy, Judy
We arrived about 9:30 a.m. hoping that the ceremony would not be cancelled. The area directly across The Mall from Buckingham Palace, at the Queen Victoria Memorial, a prime viewing location was already overflowing with spectators.
Old Guards leaving (top) and New Guards arriving (bottom)
During this nearly 2-hour event, The Old Guard (soldiers currently on duty) formed up in front of the palace to be relieved by the New Guard which had arrived from nearby Wellington Barracks. The New Guard was accompanied by a band which played music entertaining the spectators who had come from around the world to watch this event. The band consists of 35 musicians, usually members of the King's Guard regiments, who perform a variety of music ranging from traditional military marches to songs from shows and even familiar pop songs.

Music played during the guard changing ceremony has always been a mixture of traditional and popular music of the day. The band occasionally will branch out with an unexpected tune. It's said that on one occasion in 1920, the band was playing a piece from a popular operetta when a footman arrived with a message from King George V, addressed to the Director of Music, who excitedly read the note to find that it said: “His Majesty does not know what the Band has just played but it is never to be played again.”
Here's a sampling of some of the differing styles of architecture seen throughout London. Most of the modernistic buildings have a nicknames assigned, more on these in a future post.  
Tower Bridge viewed from the Tower of London
This post was a brief overview of how we spent part of our 72 hours inEngland's capital city. Several of those hours were spent touring the Tower of London and Battersea Power Station, both of which will be the subject of future posts.

Fellow Bloggers, while I have not commented on many of your recent blog posts due to various reasons: catching up at home, dealing with a lingering cold and more, most have been read. Time is always at a premium as we all know.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Friday Funnies

Did you ever notice that some days everything around you seems to go round and round?
It seems that way to me, sometimes, especially when trying to catch up, more so after returning from an extended trip as Grenville and myself have this week (16 days total). We had a great time, despite rainy & chilly days, not unexpected in the UK. Certainly, touring is fun, but also very exhausting at times and tiring as well (thanks, AC). It's really good to be home, until the next getaway, that is! That one will be closer to home for Thanksgiving with family in RI. 
(The above image was taken from our mill apt window. The 3D special effects were applied in Photoscape, a photo editing program. I've been using the free version for a while.)

My namesake, Dorothy, said it most memorably in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz.
There's definitely no place like home and you're welcome for the movie look-back.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone.
Catching up & will return to commenting & posting soon