Outside London

I apologize for the break between posts. I unsuccessfully attempted to dedicate writing time while traveling. Instead, I took a much-needed break from everything. I spent time in the present with my spouse and friends. But as promised, the next couple of posts will be about my travel adventures. Travel is good for the soul.

When last we met, we were leaving London. I noted some differences between pre-pandemic London and post-pandemic London. We traveled from London to Maidenhead via train (as I write this post, it could be more challenging to do this with rail strikes occurring). For a visitor, travel by train in the UK is very easy and very affordable if you buy in advance and travel off peak. I recommend everyone utilize the public transportation options in the UK and Europe.

Upon arrival in Maidenhead, we were reunited with a long-time (40+ years) and very dear friend. We have not seen her or her family since January 2020. It was wonderful to reconnect.

Our friends live in the English countryside near Henley-on-Thames. Henley has an amazing history. George Orwell spent his formative years in Henly and Russell Brand reportedly calls Henley home. However, Henley is most known for its annual rowing regatta which I hope to attend someday. If you are looking for the quintessential English experience, go to Henley. Walk along the Thames, visit the rowing museum, and visit the shops.

This visit to Henley was about visiting friends. They graciously invite us into their home for a few days and show us around the area. What I most enjoy are the walks in the countryside. There are many dedicated public paths and options available. In less than an hour, you can walk along the Thames, through a forest, through a deer park, and to a pub. Since walking is one of the best things you can do for your health, we spent much of our time walking around the countryside.

When not walking around the countryside, we were walking through gardens. People take their gardens very seriously in this part of the world. The climate is very suitable to have a great garden. It doesn’t have the extremes you see in South Dakota. While we were there, the days warmed to around 70 degrees and cooled to the mid-fifties at night. There were few pesky bugs and the air quality was very good. As I wandered through the gardens, I wondered whether one could achieve similar results where I live. So many beautiful flowers and grasses in the gardens. Perhaps that will be a summer project for me.

But the best part of the visit to this area involved time spent with friends conversing about life, food, wine, politics, and business. The discussion were interesting, intellectual, and informative. I am reminded the pandemic reduced the opportunities for these kinds of discussions. It was wonderful to share them again.

After three full days, it was time to move on to new adventures. Next stop – Edinburgh.

Spring and hope

In season one of the hit series Ted Lasso, the main character gives a locker room talk about hope. My take away is hope sustains us and gives us reason to move forward. Hope gives us reason to believe that things are possible.

Yesterday, while spending too much time on social media, I found a picture of the “first bloom” of our state flower. The picture is above.

The picture triggered a flood of thoughts and emotions. Instantly, I was transported to my hometown. I was reminded of the joy that spring flowers bring. The beauty of the lavender, yellow and green tones against the brown pine needles are stunning. It has been many years since I have seen this bloom. I would love to see it again.

The picture reminded me of the hope that spring brings. Winter in South Dakota can be harsh. It often teases you by warming up for brief periods in February and March only to get cold and snowing again. There is very little color present. But slowly, The colors begin to emerge. And with the reemergence of color comes hope.

Finally, I was reminded of my mother. When I was a young child I would go outside of our house to pick several of these flowers and make a spring bouquet for my mother. She always acted like it was the best gift she had ever received. The flowers would quickly die and wither. I would pick another bouquet. (I note it is illegal to pick the state flower on public property).

So on this first day of April when many play jokes on each other, take time to be hopeful because spring is here and new opportunities occur.

Day 9 of Gratitude Challenge

Yesterday was an beautiful fall day where I live. The high temperature was 59 degrees. I did not have an opportunity to enjoy it much. Today the forecast is about 5 degrees cooler and still a very nice day for my area of the world. Yet a look forward indicates that we might get some snow on Friday – which may make the gratitude challenge fun for some!

The challenge for today is simply this. Get outside in and around nature. What do you notice? What is special? See any wildlife? What does fall smell like where you are? How about the colors? Just be grateful for the beauty of nature and how it teases your senses. Have a great day!

Day 2 Gratitude Challenge

Take time today to notice and appreciate the little things. Look around. What little things can you notice and appreciate? Maybe you will experience something in nature. Perhaps you will notice the smile or laugh of a friend. How about the smell of fresh coffee or tea? How about electricity or running water? Find the joy in these small things and be grateful.

An example from yesterday – While walking my dog, I saw a white tail doe darting across an open field nearby. While I was watching her run, I notice the reason she was running. I young buck was chasing her. My dog also noticed and wanted to join the chase! It only lasted about 10 seconds before they bounded out of sight. I am thankful to live in city where this sight is possible. I am thank gift of nature.

What will you notice today?