Monday, 21 May 2018

Should've Been in Italy, but...

Well, long time no post.  I'm sorry to have been out of touch. And my last post sounds like a different, wet world, doesn't it?  Thankfully that's not so any more, for this May has been amazingly hot,  bright and beautiful.


Actually, we should have been in Italy to meet up with family. I should have been telling you all about the Duomo, and icecreams, and stuff like that. But, T needed an operation, nothing very serious, and there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing about the timing.   So we didn't go. As it turned out, the weather in Turin was nasty and in England it was beautiful, so it turned out for the best that we stayed, and it was a chance to follow up on the project of exploring nature, wild places and nature reserves. (In the UK it's possible to find some fantastic places by checking out local wildlife trusts.)

We stayed for just over a week in Eastern Suffolk, and found a place called Darsham Marshes that we'd never seen before.  One of the highlights there for us was this tree in full blossom, all 30-odd feet  of it (10 metres). It's actually one fallen tree which remained alive and some of its branches transformed themselves into trees, so now it seems like a whole grove of flowering apples.  A picture doesn't do it justice, but what an experience standing in the midst of it surrounded by blossom with the birds singing their lungs out.


Not far away, near the drowned village of Dunwich, we took a footpath leading up onto low cliffs, to see what remains of Greyfriars Abbey.  



There is not a great deal, although enough to be interesting.  The abbey was sacked by King Henry VIII, who left the gatehouse you can see in the centre of the photo (someone stables horses inside the site), and the walls surrounding the site are still there, showing from the sheer size that it was a pretty important place.  There are also remains of the abbey itself within the walls, though much of the stone from these huge ruins was used by local people for building their own places, I believe - and very sensible of them too, as it turned out, since the sea would have got the abbey anyhow a couple of centuries later. ... look at this set of rather blurry old pictures.  


They show what happened to the local church, St. James, which stood right by Greyfriars.  Now, no trace of the church remains on the site. The sea also devoured the churchyard, except for just one grave which stands right by the cliff edge.    When Jacob Forster's grieving relatives buried him in 1796, they can't have imagined he'd have achieved this posthumous fame, can they? 

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In fact, while we were awaiting this op, the weather forecast was good nearly every day, so it was the perfect distraction to go out.  One evening, sitting in a field at Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire, by the river, I noticed great green and purple dragonflies flying all around.  It was clearly their mating season so I evilly violated their privacy by taking a few photos.   I don't pretend to understand exactly how it works, or how they stop their legs getting tangled up.  


A couple of days later, at Aston Rowant, Oxfordshire, these hillside woods were shaded by what I think was once a beech hedge. The hedge must have been abandoned at least a century ago as what there is now is a line of  bushy trees with long spreading branches. 


Also around this area - chalk hills called the Chilterns - we were surprised to find so many woods still full of bluebells.  I think the extremely cold early Spring held all the usual flowers back. 


By contrast, here are the trunks and branches of the tall confirous woodland near Marlston Hermitage in Berkshire. I thought they looked decorative enough to have been painted - as the backdrop of a play, perhaps.  I once saw a performance of Chekhov's "Wild Honey" which is set in a mysterious Northern forest, which could suit  these trees very well.  


Maidensgrove, nearby, has a fabulous common currently full of all kinds of wild flowers, including buttercups, and lots of wild may out on the trees.  My new blog header photo was taken there. And the village also has a  17th century pub called the Five Horseshoes, which has an idyllic location and does great food.

Back in London,  T had his operation on Saturday, so we both missed the Royal Wedding. To his great surprise (and pleasure) he felt well enough to come out for a walk across Regents Park today and as a result we saw more daisies in one place than either of us had ever seen in our lives.


And the baby ducks are growing well.


 On the other side of the park we went to a small but ingenious exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects about perspective and imaginary spaces.   He insisted on having his photo taken walking through one of the perspective installations, so he really is feeling better.....


Having been outside so much this month, I'm seriously behind with just about everything that happens at home, so I'd better start catching up now that the sun has gone in.  Everything from sorting out a malfunctioning credit card, to sorting out plants, and of course catching up on writing.  I have been looking at (though not commenting much) on blogs -   but I will, and I hope you've also been enjoying the month of May.

We are also considering trying to pop over to Northern Italy a bit later in the summer for a long weekend.  We'll see.

83 comments:

  1. worth missing the wet weather!

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  2. Sounds like you made the best of your husband's surgery. Beautiful photos.

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    1. Thanks, the weather certainly cooperated!

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  3. Indeed the land is good at the moment, green and pleasant with lots of bluebells and the like.
    Never seen so many daisies.
    I Hope T recovers quickly.

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    1. Yes, and I am glad that we had some rain last night so it doesn't start to look dry. Although quite honestly we had so much wet in the previous months that it will probably take more than a month to dry out!

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  4. Lovely post, you know I was excited to see the bluebells!
    Regents Park in London is so lovely. I have been there only once and that was in 1985! My, how time flies!
    Guess what, Richard and I just went to a party and the theme was "Alice In Wonderland". Of course, I thought of you and had to tell the hosts about your fantastic book!

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    1. I know you like bluebells, Kay! We get a lot of pleasure from walking through Regents Park. There is usually something to see there no matter what the season, as it has so many different sections. Next month the rose garden will be wonderful. Thank you so much for remembering my book at the party!

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  5. What wonderful photographs! Despite all the carry on of politics, it is a beautiful country...if you know where to look.

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    1. Getting out of the car and into the countryside on 2 legs or 2 wheels is a good start, but in fact we did drive to these places and only got out of the car when we arrived, this time!

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  6. Such beautiful places, and right at home! So often we do not discover our own back yard until last. Hope T continues to feel better!

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    1. So much we don't do in our own backyard. When we had house guests we still didn't take them to see our local museums, which actually sound quite interesting. Except we have never got to see them ourselves. There always seems like there'll be another time! :)

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  7. Sounds like a grand spring with photos to prove it. We've now moved into summer in Louisiana. I have fallen behind in my writing, too. My excuse is cataract surgeries but the recovery is quick these days but the brain needs to adjust to the new normal, so I'm sticking with that excuse.

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    1. I think I'd find it very distracting to adjust to things looking different. I guess one day I might have to, as most people seem to get cataracts sooner or later.

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  8. I know that life-has-to-slow-down-on-account-of-non-serious-operation experience well. We've had four between us in two years. There are ups and downs but the ups, in my experience, are great. It made me stand and stare more and learn to enjoy doing nothing in a good way. Your photos seem to me to suggest something similar!

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    1. Sorry to hear you've had four between you, but as you say, there's a lot to be said for standing and staring. Mind you I fear sometimes that I am getting just a bit too good at doing nothing, so I'm starting to look for good ways of doing something at the moment....

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  9. I, too, am behind visiting blogs - I think it's unavoidable! Love your posts - your writing always takes the reader on an easy, but varied, journey. This time to East Anglia, Home Counties, back to London. That tree at the start - what is it? Apple? Dunwich is one place I've wanted to visit for a long time - something about abandoned, or lost, settlements. As for your jiggy dragonflies - well, I'm lost for words... (and about time too).

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed the post, Mike - thanks!. Yes, it's an apple tree, but not sure what kind. I suspect a crabapple, it's a bit too white for most of the domesticated apples that I know!

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  10. Please, Miss, can I go to Italy?! Heehee, can you tell I am envious? Enjoyed looking at your photographs, Jenny, and I hope T is well on the road to recovery.

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    1. Thanks Valerie! He is doing fine.

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  11. What a lovely post, Jenny. Firstly, though, good wishes to T for continued good health and improvement. Bad luck on missing Italy at this point in time. It actually happened to us in 2014: Italy all planned, then health and a surgery intervened, but we got there a few months later. The fallen tree in blossom is so gorgeous, a sight I always enjoy in milder climes. The old abbey still has a bit of attractive architecture, and it is lovely that such ruins are left as they are, to be enjoyed while still possible. And of course, hi to the cute ducks :)

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    1. Thank you - T is making good progress. It's so frustrating when illness stops you going away. It happened once to me before going to Spain once and I still wonder what the trip would have been like if I'd gone. Probably not very comfortable, but still...

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  12. Hello Jenny, England seems to have been made for the purpose of taking pictures! Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio also has an eroding shoreline that has lost some buildings, mostly houses, although nothing of the importance of the church and abbey you show here. It might be nice if they moved Mr. Forster's monument before it is washed away!
    --Jim

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    1. Nr Forster's gravestone is now on such unstable land that I think if they tried to move it the workmen might fall into the sea themselves! I photographed it through a fence. It has a little notice nearby pointing it out as the last grave left.

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  13. These are absolutely beautiful photos of nature at its finest. Most people will agree with you, Jenny, that it is better to be out and about and taking in the joys of spring rather than being at home catching up on work. I hope you get to Italy this summer.

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    1. Thank you - I hope so too. And I am glad you like the photos. Nature really put on a fine show this May. Despite the op we don't feel we lost out, having seen so many wonderful things.

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  14. Oh Jenny, it sounds so lovely -- all that green and that magnificent blooming tree! I'll bet it smelled like heaven, too! The dragonflies are fascinating. I've never seen that and well done, you, for getting such a wonderful photo. The field of daisies. Sigh. I'm glad T is doing better and you two are able to get out. The exhibition looks intriguing and I love the photo!

    Our friend Giorgio (a composer and classical guitarist) is from Turin and it is he we will be going to see in Abergavenny at the tail end of our autumn Brit trip. That spot is on Rick's list too and I'll be interested to hear what you have to say when you finally get there!

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    1. I've never been to Abergavenny.... at least I don't think so. It's a while since I've been to Wales and then it's mostly to the Welsh borders/Wye Valley area, which is incredibly beautiful. I really must get there a bit more. And Scotland too.

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  15. Thanks for taking me on your wonderful walks - the photo's are beautiful. The fallen tree intrigues me - I would love to see it.
    I do hope T is well recovered and that you see Italy.
    Kind regards
    Anna :o]

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    1. Thank you Anna. The tree was one of the most memorable things we saw all month. All year, actually. The photo doesnt do it justice.

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  16. Thank you for all the good things you post about, and thanks for letting me say once more, to my brother-in-law, who works for your National Trust, "Thank's, Tony, for keeping England tidy for us."

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    1. I am always grateful to the National Trust. They have their annoying side, (as all institutions do) but it maintains not only beautiful houses but so much countryside, and gives free access whenever possible.

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  17. What a lovely post! Glad the surgery went well and he was recovering so quickly. Love it all---the daisies and duck and geese and relics...all of it. :)

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    1. Thanks, Rita! And thank you for the kind wishes for T. too. It's really nice to have ducks around. My late parents lived between a canal and a river, and there were always ducks to watch, going about their lives.

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  18. Prayers for T's good health. The photo of him walking looks like a painying, very niceone.

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    1. Yes, some of the things in that exhibition were interestingly designed.

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  19. Yes, how extraordinary that that one grave is all that remains of the church and churchyard. A claim to fame indeed. How extraordinary too the fallen tree that sprouted a whole lot of new trees. It refuses to be written off!

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    1. It looks determined to survive for the next few hundred years! LOL

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  20. Hmmm, I was thinking I made a comment. Perhaps I got interrupted or maybe it awaits approval. If so, delete one of them. I love the photos and seeing spring arrive somewhere else as we are in summer by all appearances in Louisiana. And those dragon flies, what can one say? Glad all is well with you and you're back on the road. You Europeans, so many countries. Perhaps we'll get to Texas this summer.

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    1. Yes, you made a comment before, but it's a bit different so I am enabling this one too - hope you get to Texas!

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  21. I always thoroughly enjoy your blog posts because they transport me to fascinating places and I learn new things. The photo of the fallen blossoming tree is amazing - and so is that lone ancient gravestone at Greyfriars. And the baby ducks are sweet!

    I hope you'll be able to visit Italy this summer.

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    1. Me too. Looks as if Berlin is on the cards, which I admit isn't really much like Italy.... :)

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  22. Your photos have made up for your missing in action....just! :)

    I hope T is doing fine now. No doubt you will catch up on some of the wedding that you missed. As you know, I enjoyed watching the whole event...it was great.

    Take good care...both of you. :)

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    1. Thank you Lee! Tony is coming along. I have been finding out more about the dress. And Meghan's family, I didn't know much about her.

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  23. Thanks for giving a good chance to walk in and enjoy woods in spring. Wishing satisfactory recovery.

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    1. Thank you for your good wishes, and I too am glad we have had the chance to enjoy Spring.

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  24. You certainly came across some fine photo ops on that trip.

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    1. Too many to use in the blog. Which is kind of nice.

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  25. First of all, I am very glad that T's operation went well! I hope the outcome is as good as expected and he will soon feel as good (or better) as before.
    Now, your photos... That beechy woodland looks magical, enchanted, just wonderful. And that field full of daisies - I have never seen so many in one place, either!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, and good wishes. I am glad people liked the beech wood, I don't know if it shows that it was on quite a steep slope which I think created a beautiful light. I think it must have been a good year for daisies, or else they were managing the park in a different way. There are always daisies but never anything like that before.

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  26. Like the pictures especially with the baby ducks.

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    1. They were quite charming. They were all sitting in a row by the water's edge and a moorhen came up to take a closer look. Immediately they scattered, and that's when I got the photo.

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  27. Dear Jenny - Hope that T is making good progress - you are right, surprisingly, I think that the weather has been better here than Italy, but as for the ice-creams that is a completely different matter! Hope you can reschedule Italy later - love northern Italy too.
    You have really been travelling around, and how majestic is that remaining arch from Greyfriars Abbey.
    We have just been staying in northern Oxfordshire and visited Blenheim Palace which I shall post about once I have got to grips with the computer, which is slowly stressing me out.

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    1. Thank you Rosemary! It is very hard to match Italian icecream, isn't it. But actually, in Suffolk there is a local icecream maker which would take my Palme d'Or. It is called "Alder Tree" and it seems to have a very local distribution. And it is not cheap, but oh, really, it wins over everyone who ever tries it. Every time we go there we buy a couple of tubs and I'm always expecting it to be not quite as good as remembered - but it always is.

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  28. Hello,Jenny,
    First of all, I am so glad to hear that T's operation went well. It must have been a tough time for both of you.
    Thank you for showing your walk. That tree(10meters) is amazing! You took the whole tree in one frame!
    It is sad to see the church have been crumbling through many years. The photos tell the real history.

    Take care and have a good time, Jenny and T.

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    1. Thank you Tomoko. I took most of the tree in one frame, but actually there was more of it than showed, this was the only viewpoint that was not obscured by other trees growing nearby, because it is quite wild. It was possible to stoop under the branches and stand inside, and this was an extraordinary experience. The church was not the only thing that fell in to the sea. Over a few hundred years 2/3 of the town also disappeared. Now it is quiet, and very beautiful, but I am surprised that people are still willing to live there. However, they really are.

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  29. Some glorious photos there, from the grand and glorious to the dragonfly porn.

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  30. A lovely post - as usual - and that photo of the daisies is quite remarkable.

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    1. Thank you John, and I can assure you the daisies looked jawdropping in real life!

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  31. Oh Jenny, you really made the best of it! What lovely photos and such beautiful scenery too. I loved the huge apple tree and the daisies and the ducklings. England is so very beautiful in the spring. I'm very glad to hear T is doing so well and I enjoyed his picture at the RIBA. My father was a fellow there and as I recall, was always there for one thing or another. Fond memories. I love London.

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    1. Thanks Val. It is a lovely building, and I always enjoy going there. I believe they are now doing tours of it! Did you ever accompany your dad?

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  32. Lovely pictures of a warm and sunny England. Almost makes me homesick.
    Interesting Architecture exhibition, I do believe that I would rather view that, than almost all of modern "art".

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    1. I always like architecture exhibitions. There's a great place called the Building Centre which usually has good exhibitions too not too far away from the RIBA. Good to see you back to blogging again.

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  33. Great pictures! Aren't baby ducks the cutest things ever? I'm always impressed how Mama Duck seems to have total control of her children - something humans don't seem to manage, haha.

    Glad T's surgery went well and that he recovered quickly!

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    1. Mother duck was a pretty laid back mum, but her babies all fled when a harmless moorhen came up to see what they were doing lined up in a row on the riverbank!

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  34. I'm glad T. is better now, Jenny. Maybe it has been better to stay in UK and see many interesting things after operation. I've never seen a field of daisies as well, awesome picture. I also love the forest with bluebells!
    We have warm and dry May, here that is a problem with watering the plants, but I love this weather!
    Happy Sunday!

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    1. Bluebells lasted so long this year. I think it was the unusual weather. Yes, watering the plants on our back balcony is always an issue because it faces south and gets a lot of sun and the pots dry up.

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  35. Glad you had nicer weather - always lovely when recuperating, hope by now your T is feeling on top of the world once more.
    I love those bluebell forests you find :D) xx

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    1. They have a characteristic scent too, which is not sweet but it always makes me happy because it tells me that Spring is really here!

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  36. Interesting and informative and visually attractive as always. I hope that T has a full and speedy recovery. My son is working in Italy for a year so I might manage to get out there too. There is something about Italy that draws me very much indeed.

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    1. It is really years since I went. I am always impressed by how stunningly good looking and glamorous so many of the people are, at least the young ones. Whereabouts in Italy does your son live?

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  37. So you're posting dragonfly porn now?

    Sorry about the surgery, but glad the weather cooperated. I especially love the looks of the shady woods.

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    1. They are so restful! I am afraid those dragonflies were exhibitionists :D

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  38. Dear Jenny – I’m happy for you that at last you could enjoy such a nice weather after long winter and wet weather. Nice to know T’s operation was finished well. The weather here in May has been also bright and sunny mostly, but I was shivering or sweating if said exaggeratedly. I especially like the resurrected apple tree from the remaining branches, a line of bushy trees with long spreading branches, the bluebells in the wood, and the cute ducks. Take care.

    Yoko

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    1. Thank you Yoko! I just checked and it does look as if I owe you an email this time. :) last time I answered the same one twice :) I will write soon.

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  39. Sorry to hear about T and I'm glad his operation went well. We've had so many good, lovely days recently that I feel as if I have been spoilt for choice. :-) Great photos.

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    1. It has been quite a lot nicer here than in Southern France, it seems.

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  40. Nice to see your post and catch up with you. Glad that T is doing well post-op. I liked all the beautiful photo's but would particularly like to visit Greyfriers Abby, or the bit that is left of it.

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    1. Amazing to think it was the centre of life there - it's still quite impressive.

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  41. hope that after operation your hubby is doing well dear Jenny!

    this is sad that you had to postpone your trip to Italy for while but how exciting that you will be visiting this awesome country in better weather later :)

    loved the all photos sooo much
    you are not only great writer but outstanding photographer !
    duck pic just grabbed my heart

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    1. Thank you Baili and glad you liked the photos. So many people like to sit around and watch the ducks for ages !

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