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Take me to Church – Winchester Cathedral

As a child growing up in the Sixties, I remember hearing my dad whistling the melody of “Winchester Cathedral.” The song was a huge hit by the British group The New Vaudeville Band. They performed the song on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1966.

With that nostalgia, I visited this beautiful church in Southern England. It’s no secret I love historic churches and this one didn’t disappoint. In addition to having the longest nave of any Gothic cathedral in Europe, it is also the burial place of Jane Austen.



If all that isn’t special enough, I was in for a double blessing. On my visit, the choir sang and was accompanied by the pipe organ. This huge, but delicate instrument, was installed in the Winchester Cathedral in 1854. Although the video isn’t super, I was able to capture the sound quite well. I hope you enjoy.

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How to Describe the Sagrada Familia

Some moments in life make lasting impressions:

The day Mother Nature amazes you with her palate of colors during peak foliage season or with a spectacular sunset.

Your heart skips a beat and you realize you’ve fallen in love.

You wonder at the marvel of life when your newborn is placed in your arms.

And then there are moments that you don’t expect at all. This happened on a visit to the Sagrada Familia, an unfinished basilica in Barcelona. Designed by Antoni Gaudi, an illustrious architect from Catalonia, I shook my head at the exterior. It reminded me of a huge sand castle.

It was the interior of the Sagrada Familia that took me by complete surprise. Unlike other churches with statues, stained-glass biblical scenes, and other religious symbols, Gaudi used light as his tool. Words like magical, dreamy, and heavenly aren’t adequate to describe the effect. Gaudi brought nature inside the church and it touched my soul.

I’ve included a couple of my photos, but even those on the Sagrada Familia’s website cannot replicate how awe inspiring it truly is.

Sagrada Familia 4

Sagrada Familia 3

Sagrada Familia 2

Sagrada Familia 1

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Have you heard this term before? It’s nothing like the lyrics in the song “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls.

I saw this term for the first time as a headline in Conde Nast Traveler’s online edition (dated June 7, 2017). It read: “Madrid Bans Manspreading On Its Public Transport.”

Manspreading is when a guy sits down and spreads his legs wide enough to discourage folks from sitting in the seats on either side of him. I have included the photo used in the article.


There is even a sign/icon for it. Sorry, but it looks like a guy on a toilet to me.

manspreading sign

Closer to home, in 2014, New York City also had issues with manspreading on public transportation. Their slogan was “Dude, please stop the spreading.”

If you find this as fascinating as I do, here is a link to the entire article.

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Review of Royal Caribbean Bahamas Cruise

My nieces from New Hampshire and I took a three night Royal Caribbean Bahamas cruise. It left from Port Canaveral in Florida on a Friday and returned on a Monday. A great escape if you only have a short time to get away.

Lucky for me, I have a sister who lives in Florida, and she’s done this cruise many times. I am sharing the tips she gave me plus my own feedback.

Meals: The food in every venue was delicious. This includes the buffets and the dining rooms. The dining room portions are small, but there is no limit to what you can order. Want three appetizers, order them. If you’d like a couple of desserts, that’s not a problem. And the bread…love the pumpkin seed rolls at dinner.

Drinks: Don’t be cheap. Splurge and get the upgraded drink package. Even if you are a light drinker like me, after a couple of glasses of wine, you’ll make up the cost. Tip: buy the drink package before you get on the ship – it is cheaper.

The Island Accent: Everything sounds better with an island accent. When I complained about the dirty curtains at our table in the dining room, the manager said, “Don’t worry, my love. We will fix it for you. Anything else we can do for you, my love?” No, just keep talking!

The Announcements: Good Lord, enough with the announcements over the in-room speakers all day long. All we need to know is the safety information. Not: We are here. We are leaving. Bingo is starting. Diamonds on sale now. Time for the art raffle. Book your shore excursions. Tonight’s entertainment will be… We got the daily newsletter on our bed. We can READ!

Gratuities: Want to save money? Prepay the gratuities before you get on the ship. Note: it is sad to imagine what the salaries of the crew are because they are practically begging you to give them excellent reviews on the online survey you will get after the cruise

The Casino: Smoking is allowed…

Shopping: On the stop in Nassau, shopping is a major activity. Someone is always enticing you to their shop for the best knock off purses, or to take their tour, or to visit their crafts stall for island souvenirs. Just be polite and when you need help, there will many choices.

Unexpected Surprises: Dancing to Uptown Funk with a hip grandma and getting the spotlight turned on us. Listening to many talented karaoke singers. Entertainment by great comedians and a fabulous band. Meeting a lady who lives in my neighborhood. Drinking one chocolate martini. Enjoying the beautiful views of the Bahamas. Visiting the cool Pirate Museum in Nassau. Hearing the Islanders say, “Smile Mam.”

View of Ship from CocoCay - RC's Private Island

View of Ship from CocoCay – RC’s Private Island

Best of all: spending time with my two wonderful nieces who make me feel young, laugh at my jokes, and remind me how much fun it is to still be in your twenties.

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Word of the Day: Donnybrook

I was reading an article in the WSJ today and came across a word I’d never seen or heard spoken: donnybrook. The article was about the town of South Burlington, Vermont where citizens are upset about changing the name of their high school mascot (Rebels). To describe the situation, the reporter used the word ‘donnybrook.’

A quick search of online dictionaries came up with: brawl, public quarrel, contentious dispute. The word sounded Irish to me, so I also wanted to know the origin of donnybrook. Merriam Webster helped me out. You’ve got to love this.

“The Donnybrook Fair was an annual event held in Donnybrook-then a suburb of Dublin, Ireland-from the 13th to the 19th centuries. The fair was legendary for the vast quantities of liquor consumed there, for the number of hasty marriages performed during the week following it, and, most of all, for the frequent brawls that erupted throughout it. Eventually, the fair’s reputation for tumult was its undoing…abolished in 1855, but not before its name had become a generic term for a free-for-all.”

With all the controversy the US experienced during the election season last year, I am surprised I haven’t heard donnybrook used before.