Shuffle Off to Buffalo

This weekend I was n Buffalo, NY for a young cousin’s Family Weekend at his University and since  I didn’t see much of Buffalo I decided to do some research. First off, most people bypass Buffalo to go up to Niagara Falls.  This is one thing you cannot miss if you’re headed north.  There are casinos, hiking, all sorts of activities and of course, the Falls.  You must take the Maid of the Mist boat tour

If you go to the Falls without getting soaking wet then you really haven’t seen the Falls.  I suggest spending at least two days there but three days would be better.  Cross over into Canada but make sure you have your passport!

There are loads of hotels right at at Falls but if you want to camp, Here are some great places  I’ve camped at Four Mile State Park and it’s right on the Lake.

Then spend a day at Old Fort Niagara.  The give a demonstration on Bayonets that is not to be missed!

There are wineries all around the area….oh…Buffalo…almost forgot.

Buffalo’s history is tied with the history of the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes .

Grain and ore from the Midwest was carried by boats to Buffalo and then to New York City either by canal or rail.

So it isn’t just about Niagara Falls, its about building a nation.

The Orkneys and St. KIlda

I’ll be taking two trips next July, ofirst to St. KIlda and the Orkneys.  I’ll discuss the other trip next week.  I have nine days between the two so I’ll have a chance to visit friends in England then.

Wilderness Scotland is arranging the first trip.  Go to their website.

I do know I’ll be flying out of Pittsburgh on WOW Air. 

There are other airlines I like but I’m so tired of changing planes in New York that I’ll be flying with WOW from now on.  I’ll fly into Gatwick and then fly to Inverness.

The reason I’m taking this trip is to visit St. Kilda so if the weather is bad I’ll try to arrange to stay a day or two longer to make sure I get there.  Anyway, short blog today because I’m off to kayak on the Shenango River in Western Pennsylvania!

Wherin I Step into the Unknown

I took walking vacations because I wanted to travel after I retired, but no one would travel with me and I didn`twant to go on a bus holiday or a package holiday.  I loved my first two, in Ireland and Wales, but then I started walking with a friend and I found that what I especially enjoyed was meeting new people. It was fun waalking with her and I saw many new places, but it is limiting-only walking with one ote person. So two years ago, when my friend started walking with her new boyfriend I wasn`tsad at all!  This meant I was free to try things other than walking, to meet new people and have different adventures.  I was thrilled!

Last year I planned a trip to Ireland with an old friend from my childhood, but that fell through so this year, instead of relying on someone I resolved to find my own way first, then meet with my friends in the UK for lunch.  I thought about all the things I could do…walk(no!)canoe the Great Glen, take a canal boat trip, take a train trough Norway, cruise to the Faeroes, find an archeological expedition….you get the point..and I settled on a trip sailing from Falmouth to Mallaig on an old wooden gaff rigged cutter. I really must think of al the ramifications of my choices from now on, but more on that later.  I signed on, I used my plane ticket from last year and I posted on FB about what I was planning.  By the way, I`m writing this on a tablet with a bluetooth keyboard so if there are typos…so be it.

I planned my lunches, bought my train pass and travel insurance and set out.  Then a friend I`d sailed with five years ago saw my post on FB and invited me to staywith her and her husband for a few days, since they live near Falmouth so I changed the date of my flight.

Did I consider what sailing on sucha boat would involve?  Um, no.  I must learn todo that.

Here is what I`ve done so far since the middle of Apri: driven 400 miles to NYC, taken the train to Newark Airport, flown through Iceland to Gatwick, taken the train to Falmouth, golfed, walked, eaten in Falmouth....sailed from Falmouth to Mallaig...and ...let's look at that last bit, shall we?

“Sailed from Falmouh to Mallaig.”  It was cold!  It was hard! It was anadventure! It was dangerous!  It was exhilirating!  It was exhausting!  Ill never forget it.  I'll never do it again.  I’m more pleased than I canever express that I did it.  It was an achievement.

There were 7 passengers and 4 crew.  There was James thee skipper, young man in is thirties(owned the Eda Frandsen), his wife Chloe the wonderful cook, Gabrielthee younger mate and Spider the 6 foot 7 inch older mate.  They are all experienced .

The passengers?  Mixed lot, all lovely  and interesting.  There was a couple frrom around Chatsworth.  He owns motorbikes and does someting in Dubai, she works at Chatsworth.  Another couple had sailed on theEda before, two retired men, one a mountaneer.

First surprise; the berths are tiny and skinny.  Second surprise; they never close he hatch on deck…wind blows down into the saloon constantly.  It was going to be cold!  Damn!

My lovlely friends dropped me off at the Eda and after safety information(how to put on your lifejacket)we raised the sails and set out!

It’s hard work raising the sails but he passengers(new crew)pulled together and we did it!  Our first sail was the 12 hours to the Scillies-overnight.  When you comeon board at nght you must wear a life jacket and you must clip on to he straps rininge fore and aft…so that if you fall overboard(yes…)you’ll still be attached to the boat.

Night sailing is sublime until it gets to be freezing, then..not so sublime…

I loved it!  I love sailing.  We spent the day in the Scillies while Chloe made pasties for us all.  Then we decided to make it to the Isle of Man-48 hours straight of day and night sailing,4 hour watches.  Um, I didn’t expect that.  See mynote abut doing a more through investigation of conditions on my trips…   My berth was right next to the engine.  I wil let yu think about that for a bit..48 hours…

The dolphins!!!!  Third night(2/4 hour shifts because it was so frikkin cold)…3 in the morning…we were surrounded by the moonlight!!!!  That made the trip for me…cold or no cold.

We spent a day in Poole, on the Isle of Man, had fresh kipper baps for lunch, sat in the sun(Ivisited the A&E for meds for my cough and set out the next day.

That next night, along the coast of Ireland(North)we saw the bonfires lit for the Queen’s birthday…which was pretty damn medieval…and we made our way to Oban.  Cockles fr lunch, rest overnight then on to Tobermory…did I menton the pubs in every port?  We sailed around the islands around Skye for a day, had a last night at a pub and disembarked in Mallaig.

I’d wrn the sameclothes for 10 days..and I mean every bit of clothing i had-night and day…becauseit was cold…I’d washed my face and showered in Poole and Oban..showerson the docks….and took a bus tomy hotel in FortWilliam.  I looked a sight!  I’d worn the same old wool hat all that time.  I reeked.  No ne sat next to meon th busfrom Malaig to Fort William!

I showered, I showered, I dug out the last clean outfit I oowned and had a lovely dinner in the dining room, then walked unsteadily up to my room bcausee I’d developed sea legs!  The floor kept moving!

I’m at my friend’s in Sheffield for a few days to rest.

No, I won’t do this kind of trip again.  OK, I might sail with me friends from Falouth, but I won’t do 9 days on the Irish Sea again.  It was so much harderand cloder and cramped than I expected, but the people I sailed with made t all fabulous…and the sailing…and the dolphins.

I stoped taking pictures after the Isle of Man because I just wanted to keep it to myslf.

So, perhaps a beach vacation next year?????  Nah…I’ll find a new adventure….there is that train in Norway  to the Arctic Circle….or exploring Iceland…and St. Kilda still calls me….



Rare Disease Day

Very important…and I am several days late for reblogging this! Sorry!


Today is Rare Disease Day <- please take a look at their site.

Its main objective is to raise awareness with policy makers and the public of rare diseases and of their impact on the lives of patients and to reinforce their importance as a public health priority.

In our family we have a range of rare diseases.  We don’t do anything by halves 😉 My dad has Sarcoidosis, my brother has Crohn’s Disease and I have Behcet’s Disease.

Rare Disease Day

I meant to post this earlier but I’ve been IT Support for my dad today!

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To sign or not to sign


The promised update about Ordering Flynn Matthews.

Gosh where to start! In November 2015 OFM was offered a publishing contract (yay!) with a US Indie, mainly ebook, publisher. They appear to have a wonderful set-up, great cover art, promotion and their authors seem very happy. I’ve signed contracts for my short stories before however this contract was more extensive. On the advice of my editor I applied to join Society of Authors and emailed the contract to them. Great piece of advice! They offer the service free although you pay to join – well worth it in my opinion. I didn’t have to wait long before I received a reply containing their valuable comments.

The SoA also queried if I’d considered self publishing as an option. The answer to that is no. In my head it was a last resort and here was a well respected organisation suggesting it…

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New Year’s in Paris

I am writing a series of guides to spending holidays in the cosmopolitan cities of Europe.  This guide is one on how to spend New Year’s in Paris.  Wouldn’t that be romantic?  And such fun!

I give you suggestions on how to get to Paris from both the US and from the United Kingdom, then go into great detail about getting from the airport to the city.  Of course, if you go by rail you’ll be in the city.

I found a lovely site about which words and phrases in French will be useful, then I found a map of the public toilets of Paris.  I always have a problem, so I thought this would be helpful.

There is an extensive list of types of accommodation in Paris, but then I go into the restaurants.  The food!  I list sites that will guide you to not only the fanciest and most well regarded restaurants in the city, but also the neighborhood bistros and historic places to eat.  You might want to have a French 75 at the bar where Hemingway spent his afternoons.

There are sites that will help you get reservations for both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and I also give some information on French customs at this time of year.

There are guides to the important landmarks, and to clubs and places for dinner and dancing.

I list ways that you can travel to other parts of Europe.


Christmas in London

I enjoy London.  It’s easy to get around by either bus or Tube, there are plenty of options for accommodation, the people are polite, the food is great and the cultural side is magnificent.  The British Museum, the British Library, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, theater, opera, ballet…and on and on…all in one of the most civilized cities in the world.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to write a guide to spending Christmas there.  And I did. Christmas in London

I started with how to get to London from the US and I included information on taking an ocean liner there.  That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time, so researching a trip on Cunard was great fun.  One day…

I take you from Southampton, Heathrow or Gatwick into London then have a set of sites for accommodation.  These range from youth hostels to luxury hotels.  I also include apartments.

Because it will be Christmas, I not only have a list of restaurants, but a way to get a reservation for Christmas Eve.  I think that is highly important.  I list pubs that will be open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and go into a shirt explanation of the English tradition of Boxing Day-the day after Christmas.

Of course I list and describe the museums, theater venues, sightseeing tours, etc.  I list sites that will help you buy tickets, but the museums are free.

At the end I discuss getting around England is you choose to wander about the countryside, and give you ideas for traveling to Europe…which is my next book.