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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Transatlantic Cruise 2015 Day 3

Day 3 Sunday, 9/6/2015

Today we enjoyed an absolutely wonderful buffet breakfast at the hotel. There was so much to choose from and many different styles than we would get in the US. Here's a shot of what I tried for breakfast and it was all good, especially the croissants with raspberry preserves.

Our choices included:

Waffles, pancakes, mixed fruit, sliced and peeled oranges, or sliced and peeled grapefruit, 3 types of yogurt, scrambled eggs,mushrooms, fried potatoes (like tater tots but larger and in a triangle shape), sausage, thick bacon slabs, 4 types of instant cereal including museli, croissants, 2 types of other pastries, thick white or wheat toast, slices of cheese and ham, coffee,tea, 4 types of fruit juices.

After breakfast we headed to the Sea City Museum which is divided into 3 parts: the Titanic exhibit in terms of how the tragedy affected the town of Southampton since the Titanic left from here and 500 families lost a family member in the disaster, the history of Southampton going back thousands of years, and a dinosaur exhibit. We didn't do the dinosaur exhibit but our favorite part of the museum was the Titanic part. We were surprised that there wasn't actually more from the ship itself displayed at the museum. We saw a lot of items that were from the Titanic's sister ship, "The Olympia" and saw more from the Titanic when we saw the Titanic exhibit when it was in Las Vegas. There were some items displayed that belonged to people who were on board the ship, some items belonged to people that died, but more belonged to survivors. One of the most poignant exhibits was hearing actual voices of survivors and their retelling of the events as they remembered it. Here are a few pictures from the museum.

After we were done we had tea and lemonade in a cute cafe attached to the museum while we waited for Chuck's friends George and Carol Crowe to pick us up. They actually live in Norwich, England and drove down to take us to lunch. We had a wonderful time and learned a lot about England during our lunch at a nice Italian restaurant. After they left us we came back to the hotel room and took a nap. We haven't adjusted yet to the time change.

Dinner was at McDonalds as it was also in the parking lot of the hotel. They had no salads here so I was disappointed. But the ordering process was fun. You can actually order from a screen in the lobby and pay with your credit card which speeds order along. They do things a bit differently here though and my grilled chicken wrap had a mayo and ketchup sauce on it. I missed the ranch sauce I get in the US. The fries were yummy though.

After dinner I decided to try out the small pool and get some laps in. I felt as though I was in a spa and because I was by myself, it was great. And the water was quite warm as well. Perfect way to relax before bed. Chuck used the workout room which is behind the pool windows that you can see in this picture, but he said it wasn't very good. Nothing like the workout center at Big Canoe, but we are spoiled!

It is now Sunday morning and we are getting ready to take our taxi to the ship. We are SO excited to board. Although we have been on the Royal Princess before, it is always exciting to board a ship at the beginning of a cruise and to know we have a wonderful 2 weeks ahead of us on our transatlantic cruise! More to come in a few days...

Transatlantic Cruse, Days 1 & 2 of Our Adventure

Day 1, Thursday 9/3

On Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 we left Atlanta, GA by plane to begin our journey on our long awaited transatlantic cruise. The flight left at 10:00 pm and we settled in quickly. I was originally going to get some sleep as soon as dinner was over but was too tempted by the free in-flight movies, as was Chuck. He watched The Godfather, while I preferred to watch movies I had never seen before, and knew if I didn’t watch them that night, probably wouldn’t get a chance to see them at all. The first movie I saw was Aloha, starring Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams and Emma Stone. I enjoy all of their talents and enjoyed them in this movie as well. Then I watched Far From the Madding Crowd, which was filmed in England, to prepare me for the few days we would spend in England. Since I am a hopeless romantic and this movie was about a young woman in England who tried to remain independent while being courted by three different men, I loved it. The Princess fleet of cruise ships shows wonderful movies on board and I just hope they don’t include these because I want to catch up on my movie watching on board the ship too. I don’t have a lot of free time to watch movies in my regular everyday life.

Day 2 Friday, 9/4/2015

We arrived in England at 11:45 am which was really 5:45 am GA time. Chuck only got about 1 hour of sleep while I think I squeezed in about 3 hours. Chuck got a chuckle out of my reaction when I woke up and thought we had slept through breakfast. Ha, if you know me, you know I don’t want to take a chance on missing anything FREE, and since breakfast was included in our flight, I didn’t want to miss it! They gave us a small breakfast of coffee, juice, yogurt and bagels just before landing. We took a taxi from Heathrow airport to the Novatel Hotel in Southampton.

The hotel room is small, but adequate. I was surprised at how modern the rooms are here. We have everything we need, including a small love seat, but there are only 2 drawers to keep things in, unlike in the US where the hotel rooms have actual bureaus. The bathroom situation is rather odd. As soon as you walk in the door, to the left is a very narrow room with a toilet in it. That’s it, just a toilet. There’s a tiny closet across from that, then you walk into the main from which includes a bed, desk, love seat, TV and the doorway to the rest of the bathroom which includes a tub, shower and sink. There is also a cute set up with a frig with cold water, and above it, an electric kettle with your choice of instant coffee or tea, including herbal tea. I have already had some peppermint tea. After all, when in Rome, uh, er, I mean England in this case.... What's England without a "spot of tea?"
Accessible from the lobby are the bar, restaurant, workout center, and a really wonderful yet fairly small heated pool. We settled in, took a nap, and got up for an early dinner at TGI Fridays which is adjacent to the parking lot of the hotel. We were too tired to be adventurous! Chuck ordered a lemonade and when it arrived at the table it was a lemonade by Schweppes which was really lemonade soda, which tasted surprisingly like Sprite! I had a cheeseburger and Chuck had salmon. Both were fine, but Chuck’s mashed potatoes left a bit to be desired and the vegetables were al dente. Below is the view from our room, with the TGI Friday's straight ahead, in front of the IKEA store!
Too tired for dessert, we headed back to the hotel room and after a bit of time on our computers, we went to bed around 11 pm England time, which was really 6 pm US time. We woke up wide awake at 4 am due to lots of yelling and shouting in the parking lot which had been going on intermittently throughout the night. We had read online that this hotel has no air conditioning so we had left the windows open. We weren’t used to the time change yet so got on our computers till 6:00 am and then tried to go back to sleep. Instead of voices, this time we heard very loud sea gulls outside the hotel room window. Southampton is a sea port and we are very near the cruise ship dock so there are lots of sea gulls around. We finally decided to get up and go for breakfast.

That's it for now, because we have to run, but I will add more exciting things soon, including a description of the wonderful breakfast we had, with a picture! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Another Las Vegas Conference and What I Have Learned About Marriage

The week before Valentine's Day Chuck and I went to Las Vegas again for his annual conference. Chuck attends meetings during this conference, and his company also has a booth in the convention hall that is open at various times during the three day conference. Last year, I had three days to Las Vegas all by myself and I had a ball going to the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, exploring the Las Vegas strip and shopping. I took a lot of pictures and wrote all about my experiences online. I thought I was going to be able to do the same thing again, until a few days before we got on the airplane to head for Vegas.

Before we left Georgia, we were having a conversation about our schedules in Las Vegas. I mentioned something to Chuck about wanting to go check out some thrift shops to find items to resell on eBay as I have gotten much busier with my eBay business recently. He asked me how much time I was going to be spending at the booth in the hall, as he thought I would be doing that. I hadn't expected to be manning the booth at all this year. I had done that only one year when his company was down a man at the conference. This year that was not the case. I was disappointed and it took me a day or two to adjust as I could tell he really wanted me to be around.

Had I been in my previous marriage, or married to someone else, I probably would have put up a fuss and made a real case for myself about how I really needed to be able to get out and about for my eBay business. But because it's my second marriage, I have learned a few things. I have learned to pick my battles. I have learned that there are some things more important than what I want, and that I will have a happier and more fulfilling life if I remember the fine art of compromise. And I remember who I am married to, and how much he does for me, and how much we both love and respect each other, so I adjusted my plans. I did spend some time at the booth, and felt quite helpful on the first night when I stayed at the booth by myself as Chuck and the other person covering the booth were able to go around and network with other people because the booth was covered. I was there other times too, and I think Chuck appreciated that.

But I was also able to get out and explore some on my own for a few hours each day. We stayed at the Golden Nugget and just outside the back door of the Golden Nugget is The Fremont Street Experience. If you aren't familiar with it, it's five blocks of restaurants, stores, and wait for it...casinos (surprise, surprise). This is where the picture above was taken on our second night. I have been here other years, but I love exploring it and seeing all the strange people that dress up and want you to pose with them and expect a tip. This year I was thrilled to find something new while I explored. The toy expert on the show, "Pawn Stars" has recently moved his toy store to this area and I had a ball talking to an employee about all of the toys in there and wishing I had saved my toys from the 1960s because apparently they are now worth a lot of money! I even came home and got paid to write an article for an online website about the Fremont Street Exerience.

All in all, the trip went well and I think that my decision not to push to get time to go to thrift stores and do my own thing was the best decision to make. I have learned through past experiences that having a good marriage and showing my love and being loved by Chuck is worth more to me than all the money in the world, and certainly more than I could earn on eBay in a few trips to Las Vegas thrift stores!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Holidays With His Family

One of the challenges of marrying for a second time is that you both often bring with you a ready made family. Chuck's kids were all adults when we got married, and mine were teens who are now young adults living on their own. We lived in Connecticut the first few years of our marriage and my parents and children were all nearby. Holidays were spent with my family. Chuck's children and their families lived in California and Georgia. Now that we have moved to Georgia, we are closer to two of his kids and their families. Although it is hard for me to be away from my family during the holidays,(especially Christmas) I am happy for Chuck that we finally get to be with his family. It's been a very long time since he has been able to spend any holidays with his kids and their families. We spent Thanksgiving at his son's house, and Christmas at his daughter's house. Last night, we were able to go out to dinner with his son, daughter in law and his daughter at a wonderful restaurant with good food, good music, and good company on New Year's Eve. It felt good to me to see him surrounded by his family. And I know he enjoyed being able to spend this special time with them. The sacrifices a spouse may have to make in a second marriage are so often worth it to see their husband or wife happy. I was feeling very happy and blessed last night because I think this move was great for Chuck, and good for us as a couple. We didn't take any pictures last night, but here are a few from a previous visit with his son and daughter.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I Got it Right This Time

Chuck and I have been married for a few years now and I am still astonished at this man's feelings for me. Even in spite of the hum drum routine our life together takes on sometimes, he doesn't seem bored yet. Of course our life isn't boring. We travel together, go out to eat at new restaurants, and this past year we moved so that was anything but boring. But he actually still likes me. And he even loves me. At times when he stops and looks at me and tells me he loves me, or when he says he actually loves me more now than he did on the day we got married, it really stuns me. I am so stunned by this because this is not how things went in my first marriage. I won't go into that, but I am so happy that this time, I got it right. In thinking back over the past year, we went through a lot of changes but weathered them together. I look forward to 2015 being a wonderful year of togetherness and love. And I will always be grateful to him for loving me through all the ups and downs. May all of your relationships grow in love and joy and laughter in 2015. Here are a few pictures of our year together in 2014:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Our First Christmas Tree in Our New Home!

Today is my 3 year anniversary writing this blog. So I found it fitting that I make sure to write a post on my blog today. We are settling into life here in Big Canoe, GA and having a ball here. It's been 4 months of firsts for us. The most exciting "first" for me was putting up the Christmas tree together. Chuck has always had a real Christmas tree, and I did too, until about 3 years after my divorce. Then dragging in the tree and trying to set it up with the help of my 3 kids got to be a pain. I waited till after Christmas one year and bought an artificial tree. Each year I suggested the same to Chuck, but he repeated that we needed to have a real tree. This year I was finally successful in convincing him to get an artificial tree. This was the easiest artificial tree to set up that I have ever seen. We didn't have to insert any branches into any holes on the stem of the tree. They are already attached. We just had to pull them up and out and spread the branches out. When you get married again, you as a couple have to figure out and compromise on holiday traditions. This could mean anything from what to serve for Christmas dinner to what color lights to put on the Christmas tree. Chuck likes colored lights but from my college days on, I have always had clear lights on my tree. So when it came time to decorate our first Christmas tree, I didn't want colored lights, but just went along with it. In the long run, it wasn't worth a fight. But each year I was secretly disappointed that we didn't have clear lights. Our tree this year came with pre-lit branches. And guess what: it has clear lights! After the tree was up and decorated, I asked Chuck if he minded that the lights are clear. He said that he did not and in fact thought the tree looked nice! I was shocked but very happy. So, until the lights burn out on our new Christmas tree, we will be having clear lights at Christmas. I am including a picture of our tree this year, the first Christmas tree for us in the mountains. It sits in front of the big glass doors that lead to our deck.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Finally We Have "Our" Home

One of the problems couples often encounter with a second marriage is that someone will probably have to move into a house that was previously occupied by the new spouse and their ex. That can make for a lot of tension in a new marriage, especially if the person who originally lived in the home is reluctant to change anything. The new spouse may feel as though he or she is living in a shadow of an old marriage. They may wonder about the history of certain pieces of furniture, or decorating styles, etc.

If possible, I highly recommend a new home for the newly married couple so they can start their lives together fresh with no bad memories, or aggravation about not being able to change anything to their decorating style.

Chuck and I recently moved out of a home that he shared with his previous wife. I hadn't realized how much better I would feel once we got here and made this house OUR home. Although we brought most of the furniture with us, this home is 994 miles away and is much more my style. Plus it's in the mountains which is where I have always wanted to live. Even though we brought most of the furniture with us, it feels different because this is a home we chose together and decided together where all the furniture will go. There is a lot to be said for a fresh start in a second marriage. If that's not possible, I highly recommend that the spouse who previously lived in the house allow some changes to be made that both can live with. Fresh paint and a few new pieces of furniture may not be a whole fresh start, but it can make a difference and allow the new spouse to have a say about the home they now live in too.

Here are some pictures of our before and after home, in Connecticut and Georgia. The home on the top is the original house in Connecticut and on the bottom is the new house in Georgia.

I don't actually have any pictures of the furniture in the new house but when I do I will add them.