Monday, August 25, 2008

Dear Mom,

Greetings from Tennessee. This is my new house early in the morning. We moved here in July of 2007 and retired. I can't believe how much life has changed since then. It is so quiet and lovely and entertaining to be living in the country. We have a pond with frogs and goldfish and lots of birds, including a set of hummingbirds. Butterflies are everywhere, on our coneflowers especially.

Dave keeps busy painting and weeding, and I have several gardens, shady mostly but some flowers do very well. We also have a nice established orchard with blueberries, 37 fruit trees, and way too many grapes.

I planted oodles of bulbs and perennials and we made lots of raised beds too.

The soil up here on the mountain is pretty poor, so we imported tons of good composted manure, mushroom compost and topsoil, which we planted with flowers and veggies. Barrels and flower pots, and built in planters are all full of stuff too.

Here's our pond, which is loaded with adorable floating froggies. We had ducks but they didn't last, since we have foxes and coyotes here too. Ducks are pretty dumb and we don't miss them.
I am including a sase so you can write us back. Hope you are feeling well.
Dear Mom,

Since communicating on the phone is tough right now, I thought I would write. I wanted to share some photos from our trip to England. Melody has agreed to be our go-between so that you can write back to me at her house, and she will make sure I can read your letters on my computer.
Of course, I want to hear all about how you're doing and what your life is like there. It must be some relief to be taken care of instead of being the one who supplies the care. I hope you are able to eat enough. Please let me know what needs adjusting and I will see if there's anything that can be done.

Terry and I took almost 3000 pictures in England, so I will only be sending the highlights.

We left Singapore for England on the 4th of July. It was a very long flight, with a short layover in Bangkok. And then when we landed at Heathrow, we had to figure out how to get to our host's home in the London suburbs. We rode the public transportation and arrived at their home around 9 pm. They fed us and put us to bed. It stayed light until 10 pm! Our hosts were some Malaysian people who know one of Terry's former students, and they were very generous to allow us to stay in their home.

The next day we went to the British Museum where we saw Cleopatra, the Rosetta Stone and bunches of old stuff. Here's a lovely ruby and diamond set we saw.

Later, we walked around downtown and saw the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. That was Saturday. On Sunday we did some more sight seeing in London, and it was so cold and rainy that Glory and I had to buy warmer clothes. You know I wasn't complaining!
Monday morning we were driven over to a car rental place where we picked up the car we rented for the week. I drove because Terry's driver license is expired.
We had a reservation at a bed and breakfast at a place called Cleeve House in the countryside southwest of London. I could live there for the rest of my life. Easily.

The next day we drove to Stonehenge and Bath. It was cold and wet at Stonehenge, but I was thrilled to see it. It's smaller than I thought. Glory did a study of the bath at Bath for school last year, so it was good to visit there.

We only spent 2 nights at Cleeve House, boohoo, so the next day we were up and drove to Oxford. That wasn't much fun as it was raining the whole time and we got soaked. But after we left, we drove to Blenheim Palace - the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

This place was loaded to the gills with antiques, tapestries, jewelry, paintings, armor, etc. etc. etc. But they don't allow photos inside, so I can't show you. Anyway, it was overwhelming. So much stuff!
That night we had reservations at another bed and breakfast, this one not nearly as grand, in the town of Uttoxeter. What a name. Not worth taking pictures of. We got up the next morning and had the very best day I've had in ages. We went to Chatsworth House, the home of the duke and duchess of Devonshire in Bakewell, Derbyshire, UK. It was a magical place. I can't do it justice in a short letter, but let me show you some of the pictures.

The gardens are extensive, and they have a farm and playground. We saw sheep, goats, horses, chickens, guinea pigs and regular pigs, cows, ducks, pheasants and 3 baby robins - these were wild and Glory and I caught one each.

And the grapes! Oh my. Lots of wonderful flowers. Of course, the interior of the house was sumptuous - even better than Blenheim Palace because everything is kept in pristine order. Get a load of the dining room.

It's all pink and gold and white. Stunning!
At one point, Glory and I were separated from Terry, sitting down out of the way of the tourists, and a nice older guy stopped to chat with us. Turned out it was the duke! Of course, I wouldn't recognize him, so one of the docents told me. What a surprise!
Well, we stayed at Chatsworth House until they closed and drove back to our bed and breakfast. The next morning we had to return the rental car, so we drove back to London, arriving just in time for dinner, which we ate out. Two days later we flew back home and after the jet lag subsided, we were all fine.

It's difficult to communicate all I want to in a letter. I hope you are doing well and think about you every day. Please write to me, even if it's just a short letter, and let me know whatever you want.


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