Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Island of Guernsey

If you were asked to go to the world map and put your finger on the Island of Guernsey would you be able to do it?   I thought I knew geography fairly well, but I would not have been able to find that island.

Back in August last year we were excited to be able to take a cruise from the town of Dover, England around through the Channel Islands and on around to Ireland and Scotland.  As with all cruises, interesting Shore Excursions are scheduled for the passengers.  We tried to sign up to visit Guernsey, but that excursion was full, so we signed up to see the Island of Sark.  We had to go to St. Peter Port, Guernsey before taking another ferry boat out to the Island of Sark.  If you would like to see that post you can click on the below link:

These islands are part of the Channel Islands in the English Channel.

Our ship anchored out a short distance from the town of St. Peter Port, Guernsey.  Everyone was transported ashore on the "tender boats" provided by the ship.  It is a very efficient and fun experience to climb into that tender boat and zip on over to shore.

Can you spot the Island of Guernsey in the map below? 
The distance from the Island of Guernsey to London is 228 miles, just to give you an idea of distance.

Below is a photo I snapped of our ship taken as we were going to shore at St. Peter Port

We had a wonderful time visiting these islands and I took a lot of memorable photos.  As I said, that trip was taken in August last year.   

Now fast forward to January of this year 2014 ...  Of all things! ...  In mid-January of this year, I received an email from a resident of the Island of Guernsey at St. Peter Port ... Yes, the very place we had visited.

He had seen a blog-post from Sweet Southern Days telling about our trip to his island.  He said: "Just read your blog about your visit to Guernsey on the 29th August last year.  You might be interested in seeing your ship from the "other" side,  from an inhabitant of the island."  He went on to say: "My blog is http://guernseyliner.blogspotcom/.  If you scroll down to the 29th of August you will see "your" ship."

I did go to his website and sure enough there it was, our ship, with the photograph taken from land on St. Peter Port.

 The below photo was taken by Nigel the local resident from St. Peter Port, Guernsey.
And it is indeed our cruise ship anchored a short distance from shore.

Nigel's blog shows photos of Cruise Ships that come into his island of Guernsey.

We corresponded and Nigel was good enough to send photos of his beautiful Island.  He also gave permission for me to use his photos on the Sweet Southern Day Blog so I could show them to you.

The below photo taken by Nigel is a lovely shot of the South Coast of Guernsey in the English Channel.  How completely beautiful his photo is.   There on the left it looks like a roadway, or possibly a walking path on the top heading toward the sea.  What an amazing view that must be!

This next photo Nigel has labeled "The Best Seat in Guernsey."
Yes, can't you imagine taking a picnic and walking out to enjoy this amazing view.

Nigel called  the below photo "Fermain."
Mr. Google tells us about Fermain Bay in Guernsey.  It is located on the east coast of the island and is a sandy, peaceful cove with beautiful views of the other Channel Islands.

Now how charming this is in the below photo ... Nigel said, "he was riding around the coast on a Monday and spotted this bucket of daffodils that someone was selling.   You are on the honor system ... You put the money in the tin behind the bucket and purchase your daffodils."  Don't you just love that!

Nigel called the below photo "living on a hill."  He tells us "Guernsey is an island with 65,000 people and 45,000 cars."  He goes on to say,  "the island is only 7 - 5 miles on the long sides."  Nigel also tells us,  "the variations of the seasons, the south coast cliffs, the hidden lanes in the country, and the history of the island make it a very special place to live and bring up children. "

Nigel tells us he uses a Nikon D300 camera with a 17-55mm lens and all of the photos he sent were taken within the last month and a half..  Nigel also said that "his hobbies include photography, travel, shipping, and aircraft which gets us out and about."

Nigel's below photo shows what he tells us are "the results of storms that had been going on for about 2 or 3 weeks."  He said that  "this shot was taken just north of the harbor."  He shared that "he was hiding behind a Land Rover taking these photos!!"

The image below shows the St. Peter Port harbor in the evening 
during what Nigel calls  "a recent Spring tide."

The Island of Guernsey is indeed a beautiful place to live and visit.  

One of the most famous residents of this island was the French poet and writer Victor Hugo who wrote the very popular Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Both of these famous books were written during his stay on the island.  If you do visit the Island of Guernsey it is possible to tour the home of the very popular Victor Hugo.
Nigel concluded the photos he sent with this peaceful view of St. Peter Port.

I was so completely surprised to initially hear from Nigel because of his visit to Sweet Southern Days and the fact that he had seen the post about his beautiful island.    How very nice of him to share his amazingly beautiful photos for all of us to appreciate and I do thank him so much!

I hope you enjoyed coming along with us as we walked around the Island of Guernsey through Nigel's beautiful photos.

Wishing you blessed days wherever you may be.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Daffodils in Bloom

My husband went to Walmart to pick up cat and bird food when he spotted a beautiful collection of Daffodils in bloom.  He is so thoughtful isn't he! ... He knows how I love these beautiful flowers.  

Daffodils are usually thought of as the "flower that means spring."  It is so nice to be reminded that Spring is not far off  if they have Daffodils available in Walmart already.

Of course whenever I see beautiful things,  it is nice to preserve them forever with my camera.

I had a little extra time and decided to try out both of my Canon camera lenses just to see what different results there would be with the two different lenses.

Most of the photos were taken using a Canon 6D camera with 24-70mm f2.8L series lens.

The next two photos below were taken with the telephoto lens just to experiment.  
The telephoto lens is a EF70-200mm f/4L series lens.

For me, not being a real photographer,  it is hard to tell very much difference, 
but overall I would say the zoom lens is the sharpest,  at least in these photos.

I am still trying to figure out how to use the focus points on the camera.  It is so much fun just snapping pictures that I have not studied how to effectively use the camera.

It was a nice surprise to turn the Daffodil bouquet container around and see these Hyacinth
flower buds sprouting on the other side.

 It will be nice to see what color they will be.

We are not through with Winter around here just yet.  It is forecast to be 31 degrees in a couple of nights and we are in the South!  I can only imagine what it must be like up North.  But, looking at these Daffodils blooming so beautifully, we all know Spring could not be that far away.

Wishing you beautiful days and many blessings wherever you may be.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Making An Easter Wreath

On the third Wednesday of each month we have a Garden Club meeting.  Sometimes the meeting is held at the Garden Club downtown,  and sometimes it is held at a member's home.  The meeting this month was held at a member's home.  There is a business part of the meeting and then there is always a program.

This time our program was a demonstration of how to make an Art Deco Mesh Wreath.  These wreaths are very popular right now.  If you look online you can see pictures of all types of adorable wreaths.  You can use your imagination and create just what you are looking for in all colors and styles.

 Mesh Ribbon
This ribbon is available at Hobby Lobby and Michael's in our area.

My sweet daughter was invited to make a presentation on how to make these mesh wreaths for our Garden Circle.  It is a fun hobby for her and she has made so many for family and friends.

In the interest of time she made her wreath in advance.  She then demonstrated the steps on how to make the wreath.  She began with a plain circular wire wreath.  She then showed the ladies how  to add the mesh to the metal wreath, first adding the pink mesh.

Then she showed how to add the green mesh.

Then she added additional blue narrow ribbon.

She then demonstrated how she added the decorative Easter eggs to the wreath.

 She said it took her about an hour to make the finished wreath.

The adorable centerpiece for the wreath came from Hobby Lobby.  The decorative eggs came from Michael's.  The eggs are very lightweight and come in all colors and designs.

The Garden Club Circle decided to use the wreath at the Garden Club District Meeting,
which is held in early March,  as an Auction item for the Club.

My sweet daughter Sharon is a very busy mom of four delightful boys.  We were so happy she still found time to come to our Garden Circle meeting for this delightful wreath making demonstration. She is shown here with one of the painted wine glasses a talented member of our club paints and gave to her as a thank-you gift.

After the charming program everyone enjoyed the many delicious dishes 
members brought for brunch.

Our Circle is called the Daffodil Circle of the Garden Club.  
Notice the quilted Daffodil tablecloth one of our members made to use at each meeting.

Oh! My goodness ... Everything was so delicious!
The sandwiches were Chicken Salad and they were so-o-o good!
Everything was good!

The muffins seen on the right in the below photo are called Breakfast Casserole Muffins.  
They are so delicious I will share the recipe with you in another post . 

Everyone enjoyed the fun program, the wonderful brunch and the fun and fellowship of the meeting.
During the meeting someone always shares an inspiration segment.  Below is the inspiration segment presented yesterday that you may enjoy seeing.

Seek to understand what draws you to the garden.  You may discover greater rewards than the blue ribbons awarded for the biggest pumpkin or the best preserves.  You may find the garden becomes a teacher and crop “failures” become lessons learned.  However big or small your garden is, if you allow nature to touch your spirit, gardening will bring returns of peace, satisfaction, and well-being for as long as you continue to wander the garden path.
                                           ~ Norman H. Hansen

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Maclay Gardens in Tallahassee, Florida

Alfred B. Maclay Gardens
3540 Thomasville Road
Tallahassee, Florida

Maclay Gardens State Park is a 1,176 acre Florida State Park, Botanical Garden and Historic Site located in Tallahassee, which is in Northwest Florida.

Even the entrance drive into the check-in gate at the park is very beautiful.

There is a lot to do in this park including touring an old historical home, and walking through the amazing gardens.  The nearby lake offers swimming, fishing, canoeing and kayaking.  There is a pavilion with grills along the lake-shore providing wonderful picnic areas.  And there are hiking trails, and horse-back-riding trails.

As you reach the parking lot of Maclay Gardens you will see these beautiful huge old Live Oaks all nicely decorated with lots and lots of old Southern Spanish Moss.

When we visit the park it is usually to walk through the beautiful gardens. And, sometimes we will meet up with family members for a picnic around the lake.

As visitors enter into the old historical house and gardens area, they pass through these old ornamental iron gates that open onto a brick path that curves along through the spectacular gardens

These beautiful old gardens were first planted in 1923 by Alfred and Louise Maclay after they purchased the property for their winter home.  Alfred Maclay was a wealthy New York financier who loved gardening.  He and his wife created this beautiful masterpiece of floral architecture all along the rolling hills overlooking Lake Hall.

The South is known for its dogwoods, azaleas, camellias and other Spring flowers. 

Dogwood blossoms.

Camellia plants at Maclay Gardens grow to huge proportions.

Continuing along the brick walk-way.

Lots and lots of Spanish Moss drapes all over the old huge Live Oak trees.

This is a very popular picturesque spot for professional family photos.

As you continue down the brick path you will reach the Maclay Gardens Historical House.

There is no additional charge to see the inside of the home.  The furnishings in the Maclay House are those that the family used when they lived here starting in the 1920's,  and are their collection of what were already antiques at the time.

View of Lake Hall from the front door of the Maclay Home.

Huge Oak tree seen from the front door of the Maclay Home.

Another view of Lake Hall from the front door of the home.

Dining room of the Maclay Home.  
All of the furniture in the home is just as it was when the Maclay's lived here.

An exhibit area in the home tells of the history of the development of Maclay Gardens.

Leaving the home we walk over to the formal garden area.

Here you will find a secret garden, a reflecting pool, and a walled garden.

Maclay Gardens has been the location of many beautiful weddings.

When the gardens are in full bloom one of the most spectacular sights is a Japanese Magnolia tree reflecting in this pond.  I have seen pictures of it, but have never gotten to the garden at just the right time to get a photo myself.

All of these photos were taken in May of last year just after the peak of the blooming season, but with some of the azaleas still in bloom you can get an idea of how pretty all the azaleas are.

This tree with it's big old roots caught my eye and reminded me of just how old this area is.

As we returned back to the entrance gate I snapped a picture of the Maclay Gardens map.  It is not a very good photo, but you may get a little idea of how the gardens are laid out.  The parking lot is in the bottom of the photo and the Maclay House is at the top of the map ... just to give you an idea.

The temperatures here in Tallahassee have warmed to an amazing 74 degrees today.  So I know it will not be long before this beautiful park is in full Springtime bloom.  Hopefully I can get some time to get there and take some pictures of the park in bloom.  If that happens I will definitely share the photos.

I hope it has warmed nicely where you are too,  and that you are having beautiful days wherever you may be.  Wishing you a wonderful weekend.