Bath, UK

The next stop on our UK adventure was Bath. We were so surprised at how tiny the area was and absolutely loved our Bed and Breakfast, Gray’s Bath. Our room was lovely and though Grays was a 20 minute walk into Bath, it sat up on a hill with a beautiful view of the city. This was our gorgeous room for a few days . . .

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We spent our first day doing cheesy, fun and touristy things and had a blast! The Hop on/Hop Off Bus is always a good starting point to get your bearings in a new city. And of course, obligatory selfies by the iconic red phone booths!

We spent our first day in Bath moseying around the city and stopping in places that looked interesting to us. First stop was the Fashion Museum of Bath for an exhibit of gowns of the Royals. Chelsea and I are real “royal geeks” so we didn’t want to miss this collection from Queen Alexandra, Victoria, Mary, Elizabeth and Princess Margaret! We dashed into a nearby, obscure restaurant and were treated to an unexpected phenomenal lunch at The Circus Restaurant. A beautiful dining room and superb lunch! We made our way to the Jane Austen Centre for a kitschy tour and a little Jane Austen history, but alas, no sightings of the elusive Mr. Darcy! Of course we couldn’t miss afternoon tea at The Pump Room Restaurant which was fun but a little touristy - we will be looking forward to more elegant venues when we reach London. After a long, hot day, we made our way up the long hill to our B&B and our cozy room.

After an amazing breakfast in the gorgeous dining room at our B&B, we made our way out for another day of touring and sightseeing in the July heat. The Roman Baths were surprising and the museum and tour was exceptional. We never could figure out just how the Roman’s ended up there and built such an elaborate “spa,” and we also never could find out why they left! Never the less, it is quite a unique find and worth a few hours to visit and photograph! Although we missed seeing the inside of the Bath Abbey, the facade was beautiful and I was able to get a few sketches done.

We ended our day with a dinner at Sally Lunn’s, the oldest house in Bath. Be sure to stop in to have a favorite meat pie served up in a “Trencher,” the famous Sally Lunn Buns used as a plate/bowl for your meal! A final walk along the River Avon at Sunset was a perfect end to our day and our time in Bath.

Western North Carolina

In my mind, I'm going to Carolina . . .

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Summer begins with a few weeks in Western North Carolina, where I rented a house to find some peace and inspiration in the Smoky Mountains.  There is no better cure than a little solitary time in a rocking chair on a porch surrounded by a continually moving landscape.  You can't help but feel alive when you breath in the fresh air and listen to the nature sounds and birdsong.

I packed my car with art supplies, books, the coziest clothes I had and a hankering to run away to a remote place.  I searched for a lovely home on top of a mountain with my only criteria being something clean, cozy, and with an unobstructed view of the mountains.  I found this home.  Lovingly referred to as , "Waynesville Gem," this cabin exceeded my expectations.  Just one thing to note for solo travelers . . . it is ISOLATED.  Which means if you get freaked out alone on top of a mountain with nothing but the stars to guide you, this might not be your type of adventure. I admit to taking a few days to get used to the night mountain sounds, but after that, I felt right at home!  I rented this larger home so family and friends could come and go, but most of the time I stayed by myself. I highly recommend this type of travel if you need some peace and solitude.

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In my never-ending search to find that one perfect spot where I want to spend the final season of my life, I thought this town might be it.  It crossed off most of my "must haves" on the list, however there is nothing like actually living in a place to see if it fits.  While Waynesville and Maggie Valley North Carolina are certainly quaint vacation spots, they just didn't have that "I could live here forever" tug for me.

Once I ruled out the fact that it wouldn't be my new home, I was able to settle in and just enjoy the vacation.  Mornings were spent with coffee on the porch, sketching and painting and listening to music.  Why don't I do these things at home? I loved that I was able to truly unplug and spend time on introspection.

For some unknown reason, I was inspired to sketch and paint seascapes, lighthouses and bathing beauties . . . go figure!  I created over 30 paintings while in North Carolina, working on direct watercolor skills - no sketching!  I was so happy to have such a large body of work to stretch my artistic muscles.

My son and his girlfriend came to stay for a few days and they got me off the porch and out and about.  We hiked some waterfall trails in the Pisgah National forest, packed picnics and explored our environment.  We went fly fishing, hit many micro-breweries and tested out the eateries.  It was great to laugh and adventure and after so much solitude, the company was so welcome!

As all good things must do, the trip came to an end but we left refreshed, rejuvenated and happy.  I'm filling up my basket of memories, keeping mental, visual, and written journals of these lazy summer days.

What are you up to this summer?

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