Tag Archives: Lifestyle

The World Is Going To End

The house had been sold in record time and arrangements for her to move into the retirement facility had been accomplished without any hitch.

But now, sitting in her packed up house, Elizabeth thought “The world is going to end in three days time.”  Or at least the world as she had known it up to now.

She had moved into this house as a young bride 45 years ago and now she was to leave it behind.  She would be leaving many memories both happy and sad.  Memories of days when her children were young, the accidental death of her son and the wedding of her daughter.  These memories were shared with Charles, her beloved.  But after Charles died, life did begin to be lonely.  Her daughter had her own family to take up her time.  Her friends were moving away and the house and garden were beginning to be too large for her to manage on her own.

Reluctantly she had agreed to her daughter’s suggestion that they look at what retirement villages had to offer and which if any might suit her.  There followed weeks of looking at places that if one believed their brochures, were absolutely perfect for her, but mostly they didn’t live up to her expectations. She had almost given up hope of finding the right place.

And then one day, while at the supermarket, she met an old acquaintance.  After they loaded their shopping into their cars they went off for a coffee and a catch up.

Over coffee, Rex told her that he had recently moved into a splendid retirement village.  He had his own small house; there were plenty of leisure facilities and people of his own age  with whom to spend some cheerful time.  In return Elizabeth told him of her search for a place in which to live.  He had piqued her interest and they parted agreeing to keep in touch…..

___________________________

Trifecta tricycle

This is my entry in this week’s Trifecta Challenge. It follows on Fireworks an earlier entry in the Challenge.

“For the weekend challenge, we’re playing the ambiguity card again and leaving interpretation up to you.  Give us 33-333 words with this as your inspiration:

The world will end in three days.

If you want to join in, click on the tricycle above and you will be taken to Trifecta’s blog that contains all the instructions.  Do have a go.  I promise you it is fun.

Saturday

Six word Saturday button

It’s Saturday again so here we go. If you would like to participate please either click on the picture above or click this link.

OFF TO THE GOLDEN DOOR TOMORROW!!

So today I shall be busy with last minute chores so that I can leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow.  We have to be at the airport at 4am so we shall stay at a friend’s house overnight and then he will take us out to the airport.  What a good friend 🙂

Lotte is going to stay with him for the time I am away.  He is looking forward to that and she seems to settle in wherever I leave her.  She has her coat, her brush, her rug and a couple of toys so she will be fine.

Tai Chi

6am Tai Chi at The Golden Door

When I have been to the Golden Door before I haven’t had access to the internet.  Things may have changed but I suspect I shall not be writing blogs until I return.

And in case you think this is a holiday, here is a typical day at Queensland’s Golden Door:

  • 6.15am   Welcome a new day with Tai Chi Qi Gong at sunrise.
  • 6.45am   Enjoy a guided bush walk on our pink, blue or green courses; or Get wet and wild with deep water running in the bottom pool or challenge yourself with high intensity spinning class.
  • 8.00am  Buffet breakfast of seasonal fruit, Golden Door signature muesli and specialty breakfast cuisine.
  • 9.00am  Morning stretch class held in the gymnasium, a gentle and relaxing way to start your day.
  • 9.30am-11.00am  A health & wellbeing workshop aimed at providing you with the knowledge to make positive lifestyle changes.
  • 10.45am   A healthy and nutritious morning tea served in the dining room.
  • 11.00am – 1.00pm  Take part in the various daily exercise activities and spa treatments available. Try something new or take a challenge.
  • 1.00pm   A sumptuous buffet lunch served in the dining room.
  • 2.00pm-6.00pm    Choose from a variety of activities and seminars available to enjoy. Indulge at the spa where your relaxing massage, refreshing body treatment or luxurious beauty treatment awaits.
  • 3.45pm  A healthy and nutritious afternoon tea served in the dining room.
  • 6.30pm  Be rewarded after a busy day with a mouth watering buffet dinner created by our Executive Chef David Hunter and his team.

But it is enjoyable and I always come back renewed and filled with great plans for the future.  They usually last about two weeks, but hey it’s fun.


Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
World Health Organization, 1948

That Green Thing

I received this email from a young friend (well she is one of my surrogate daughters really) and although I have seen it before I thought I would share it with you.  So if you have seen it already, please bear with me.

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman,
that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.  The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”  The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

  • Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
  • Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribbling. Then we were able to personalize our books. But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.
  • We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.
  • Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
  • Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them)?,not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.  Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.
  • We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.
  • Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we older folks
were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

Use it up, wear it out, make it do,
or do without.
New England proverb

Summer 2012

Barometer

Look where it is pointing

We know it is summer.  Our calendars tell us so but the weather is anything but summery.  But wait – we have had four good days in a row.  Sunshine, mild (not hot) temperatures, no rain and no wind.  So yes it is summer.

I read the following on www.newzealand.com:

Summer in New Zealand means sizzling barbecues and salads, sauvignon blanc, swimming at the beach, and long lazy days at the bach or crib – Kiwi for a holiday home.

Well that is certainly what we expect but unfortunately this year it hasn’t materialised.  The site goes on to say:

From December to February, New Zealand is alive with the sound of crickets, and not just the insect variety. As soon as the weather warms up, Kiwis vacate the cities and head to baches, campgrounds and holiday resorts up and down the country.

Christmas is a time for relaxed al fresco dining, and the weeks leading up to it and those following are celebrated in Kiwi style.  I wrote about this in an earlier blog.

Wine and cheese

Image Dreamstime free

So you can expect to see an influx of Kiwis/New Zealanders in the northern hemisphere during your summer,  After all we have most certainly missed out here.

And just because I liked her and love her books –

If life is a bowl of cherries what am I doing in the pits.
Erma Bombeck.

Cider House Rules

Dr Larch and Homer Wells

Dr Larch and Homer Wells

Filling in a couple of hours on a cold, spring day, I turned the television on and watched Cider House Rules.  This was shown on a channel that regularly screens older movies.

It’s a 1999 movie starring (Sir) Michael Caine and  Tobey Maguire.  Maguire plays Homer Wells an orphan who was adopted and returned twice to the orphanage that is directed by Dr Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine).

Dr Larch is a secret abortionist and is also addicted to ether which he applies to himself on a regular nightly basis. Homer Wells has no formal education but Dr Larch trains him in obstetrics and abortions and he becomes Larch’s assistant.

The story follows Homer Wells growing up in the orphanage and becoming unsettled, wanting to see the world.  The opportunity arises when an airman arrives with his lady friend who will have an abortion.  The airman agrees to take Homer with him and arranges a job on his family’s apple orchard.  The apples are picked by a team of itinerant pickers and then they are turned into cider.  Homer bunks with these pickers and as they can’t read, reads them the Cider House Rules.

I don’t want to give away any more of this movie.  But would say that if you haven’t seen it, it is well worth a trip to the movies or to get on video.

Having seen this movie I remembered seeing photos of a Cider House in a book that my father gave me years ago.

Book cover

The book is entitled Rural London and was published way back in 1951.  It contains fantastic photos of parts of London way back then.  There is a chapter on East and South-east London and I remember some of scenes as they were when I was growing up in the east end of London.

But the cider house.

At the time the book was published there were three “hostelries” in London that differed from all other pubs in that they sold only cider.

Cider house

The Goat Tavern in Stafford Street

The Goat Tavern still stands in Stafford Street, off Old Bond Street.  The building probably dates back to the end of the seventeenth century.

goat tavern

The Goat Tavern today

We are told that the Goat Tavern is ‘female friendly’ and ‘gay friendly’.  Well, that’s a relief!

Men in cider house

Men drinking in cider house

The “hostelry” pictured above was in the Harrow Road and was formerly a carpenter’s shop that held a  licence that allowed only the workmen to drink on the premises.

This book is one of three that I am delving into at present.  Reading is not the correct word because I read something in one and then remember seeing something of a similar nature in one of the others.

3 books

And I am grateful that I have these books only one of which is relatively new. The other two Rural London and Mayhew’s London are both now tattered and well worn but are great to reread and learn about my home town in years gone by.


“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink.  When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”
Frank Sinatra

Six Word Saturday

I discovered Six Word Saturday last week and so this is my first attempt.

As I understand it, one has to describe an event in just six words and then expand on it or not as one wishes.  So here goes

WEEKEND WATER-POLO COMPETITION
TIME WITH FAMILY

Water-polo match

My grandsons lives are so busy that we rarely have time to get together.  Two of them are great water-polo players and this weekend they are both in a competition.  So I was invited to go to watch.  Water-polo is quite an interesting spectator sport particularly after somebody (in this case my daughter) explains the finer points to you.

My youngest grandson plays in both the under-12 team and the under-14 team while his brother plays in the under-14.  The youngest one played four games today and will have four to play tomorrow.  But they won all four games – hoorah! hoorah!

Applause

My daughter manages the under-12 team and when I arrived she was in the midst of a confrontation with another manager about the rules covering children playing in two teams for the same club.  Fortunately, the competition convener arrived and straightened things out so that my youngest grandson and three other boys were able to compete in both teams.

It is about a year since I last sat through several water-polo matches, but it is a very social day and most enjoyable.  And so today was spent making more memories!

“The water is your friend.
You don’t have to fight with water,
just share the same spirit as the water,
and it will help you move. ”
Aleksandr Popov
1971 –
Russian Olympic gold-winning swimmer.

And I just couldn’t resist including this quote. So shoot me!

“We swim because we are too sexy for a sport
that requires clothes.”
~Author Unknown

It’s Never Too Late

Vintage Red Book

I have just finished reading the novel Vintage Red by Michael Judge.

The introductory blurb says :  “Racy, blackly comic; laced with wit, both dry and expansive; wicked ear for dialogue; cuts through to the bone, exposing venality of church and state – just a sample of the praise that greeted the arrival of this impressive first novel.” and “An original new voice and a breathtaking achievement”.

The story tells the story of a property magnate who finds after his wife’s death that she lead a disturbing life that he knew nothing about.  Throughout the book we read about this other life and also about the husband’s domestic failings, his public amorality and his personal hypocrisy.

We learn how the wife meets a shy school teacher one afternoon and her life changes dramatically.  But because of her upbringing and Catholic religion, she will not leave her husband even though she has found a man to give her the love and affection withheld from her by her husband.

In many ways this is a story that has been told so many times already and there are no great surprises in it.

I am not sure that I would recommend it.  At times it dragged and I found the long passages that concentrated on the husband’s shoddy dealings both personally and professionally rather boring.

BUT the point of this blog is to say that this first novel was published when the author was eighty-three years old.  Since then he has had two further novels published to great acclaim.

We know that it is never too late to achieve what we want, and doesn’t this prove it?  So what would you really like to do that you have said ‘Oh well, it’s too late now” or “I’m far too old for that”.

I have blogged in the past about the members of the Young at Heart choir, i have mused on Chronology vs Biology and many of my posts dwell on what we can do whatever our age.

I have spoken about drawn your attention to people in their 80s and 90s achieving great feats of physical endurance; those elders who have achieved university degrees; those who have taken off to live in a different culture away from friends and family.

What have you been putting off because you thought you were too old?  Today really is the first day of the rest of our lives.  And we don’t know how many more we will have.  This was brought home to me when my husband died suddenly.

So start that novel, write your poem, your life story or whatever; book that parachute jump or deep-sea dive, call the travel agent and go and explore that different country.

sky diving at 92

Skydiving at 92? (Source: Faded Tribune)

Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.
H Jackson Brown jr, author of
Life’s Little Instruction Book

My Week

After yesterday’s rant I thought I would move onto something less heavy.  But what?  I am having one of those moments when I sit in front of the blank screen and my mind screams “write, write” but nothing comes forth.  So I now shall go back and look at some of my frogs.  But there is a paucity of ideas there.

So what have I done this week?  It’s now Friday here and so there have been five days since Sunday.  How can one get through so many days and not have much to show for them?

  • I have had walks with Lotte each day as recorded in my blog.
  • I went to a movie on Monday evening and saw ‘The Help”.  I strongly recommend this movie.  I had read the book and this is probably a faithful rendition of the story.  In case you haven’t seen this movie, it tells the story of three women who dare to defy convention and get together to tell the stories of the way coloured women servants were treated in the 1960s in the south.  Well worth a trip to your local cinema.  An added bonus for me was that it was showing at our local bijou cinema so we took our wine in with us and had a meal afterwards.  A very pleasant unexpected evening out.
  • Yesterday I was taken out for what was described as high tea.  Being English I know that traditionally, high tea was a working class meal served on a high table at the end of the workday, shortly after five pm. It was a heavy meal of meat or fish dishes, vegetables such as potatoes and baked goods such as crumpets, vegetables  and other  foods such as baked beans and cheesy casseroles.  Afternoon tea What we had yesterday was afternoon tea at Martha’s Pantry.  Beautifully served with a great selection of teas.  I chose the blend called Paris and my partner had Pomegranate.  Mine was delicious a blend not unlike Earl Grey but with subtle undertones of various other blends.  I tried to purchase some as we left but unfortunately, they only had teabags available and being English, I drink real tea.  They did try to get some from their suppliers (they use leaf tea in their shop) but the smallest amount I could buy was apparently 500 grams (about 1lb) so it would be stale long before I used it.  Hard luck!
  • Oh I forgot.  I picked up my new i-Phone on Tuesday and have lots of fun finding my way around that.   But being blonde I have to go to the phone store to have them show me how to connect the Blue Tooth. Watch this space!  Oops, another exclamation mark.

So quite a busy week for a retiree almost retiree.  (almost  to yet another exclamation mark here but stopped just in time.  Have things to do this afternoon with and for my Real Estate friend.  and looking forward to tomorrow’s brunch with my French conversation new friends.

“If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone.  A man should keep his friendships in constant repair.”
Samuel Johnson

A Year of Firsts

‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked.
Lewis Carroll , Through the Looking Glass.

The year was 1956 – how long ago I hear you gasp.  And are there really people alive today who can remember that far back?  Well yes and I am one of them.

Several things that happened that year make the year stand out as a Year of Firsts.

I had left school the year before and celebrated my 18th birthday in 1956.  The First Birthday now freed from the confines of school and so frightfully grown up and independent  – although still living at my parents’ house as one did in those far off days.  No flatting for us!

Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole 1919 - 1965

A few days before my birthday I became Engaged to be married.  So, First Engagement.  Nat King Cole sang ‘Too Young” but 2 eighteen year olds knew better.  We had a great party inviting all our friends and relations, as I was the first one amongst the cousins to become engaged.  I sported a very large 5 diamond ring and thought I was just the happiest girl in the world.

However, we were Too Young and the engagement fizzled out quite soon and the next year I met and married my Dashing Young Scotsman.

Royal Opera House

via Wikipedia

My fiance’s mother and stepfather were classical music aficionados while my parents were more light, contemporary musicals.  So that year with his parents,  I saw my First Opera at Covent Garden aka The Royal Opera House  and my First Classical Music Concert at the Royal Albert Hall.  And I shall be forever grateful to these two people for introducing me to both opera and classical music.

Dancing class

Dancing class from my sister

I had been very keen on ballet having studied for many years.  So I  had seen a couple of ballets but they took me on my First Visit to Saddlers Wells.  At that time, Saddlers Wells was synonymous with the ballet.  Since that time the The Royal Opera House has been home to both the ballet and the opera.

Nut cutlets

My fiance’s mother and step-father were vegetarians.  This was very rare some 45 years ago and there were very few vegetarian restaurants.  Fiance’s mother was very resourceful and always managed to find a vegetarian restaurant close by the venue.  So then my First Visit to a Vegetarian Restaurant and my First taste of nut cutlets.  One must remember that nobody was experimenting with vegetarian food then and it was bland, tasteless, uninspiring and uninviting.  It certainly didn’t convert me to vegetarianism.

So in all 1956 stands out as a year of firsts and though I have moved on so far since those far off days, I still remember the visits to the opera, orchestra and ballet with those people.  Incidentally, even though I broke off the engagement my ex-fiance, my Dashing Young Scotsman and I remained friends for many years.  I wonder what happened to him.

But 1956 was not just a big year for me.  Here are some of the other things (rather more world shattering and changing) that happened that year :

  1. John Lennon (15) & Paul McCartney (13) meet for 1st time as Lennon’s rock group Quarrymen perform at a church dinner.
  2. 85th British Golf Open: Peter Thomson shoots a 286 at Hoylake England
  3. Last Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey Circus under a canvas tent
  4. Egypt seizes Suez Canal and British government  sends 3 aircraft carriers to Egypt
  5. England retain cricket Ashes, Jim Laker 46 wickets in the series
  6. Tanks are deployed against racist demonstrators in Clinton, Tennessee
  7. Great Britain performs nuclear test at Maralinga Australia
  8. Stravinsky’s “Canticum Sacrum,” premieres in Venice
  9. First transatlantic telephone cable goes into operation (Scotland/Canada)
  10. England’s first large-scale nuclear power station opens
  11. 16th modern Olympic games opens in Melbourne, Australia
  12. Nelson Mandela & 156 others arrested for political activities in South Africa
  13. Japan admitted to UN
  14. Montgomery, Ala, removed race-based seat assignments on its buses
  15. Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog,” single goes to #1 & stays #1 for a record 11 weeks (for a single)
  16. Abigail Van Buren’s “Dear Abby” column 1st appears in newspapers
  17. Britain abolishes death penalty
  18. “My Fair Lady” opens at Mark Hellinger Theater NYC for 2,715 performances
  19. Soap operas “As the World Turns” & “Edge of Night” premiere on TV
  20. Grace Kelly marries Prince Ranier III of Monaco.

Do you have a year of particular memories, firsts or whatever that makes it stand out?  I would love to hear from you.

BOROBUDUR YOGYAKARTA, INDONESIA

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  Mark Twain 

August in New Zealand is deep mid-winter.  Each year, my husband and I would take ourselves off for a few weeks or occasionally months, to get away from the dreary days of winter.  And way back in 1989 we chose to go to Bali in Indonesia.

We had been several times before and had thoroughly enjoyed the place and the charming people of that island.

Paneeda cottages

Paneeda View Hotel, Sanur

We decided on a simple Balinese hotel for one week.  The Paneeda View hotel was recommended to us by our travel agent.  It was set right on the beach and was a lovely, gentle way to start our holiday.

Sengiggi Beach Hotel

Sengiggi Beach Resort, Lombok

 This was to ne followed  by a week at a 4 star resort on Lombok Island (the only resort on the island at that time).

Putri Bali Hotel

Putri Bali Hotel, Nusa Dhua

and a final week at a fantastic hotel at Nusa Dhua.

The Peneeda View Beach Resort in Sanur was idyllic.  Very laid back and charming.  Unfortunately, several years later this area of Bali became infamous for the Bali Bombings that killed 202 people many of them overseas visitors.

However, when we were there it was a lovely, peaceful part of Indonesia in which to holiday.

We had explored the island on previous trips including Ubud the arts centre of the island.  We had seen the rice paddies set in terraces on the high slopes and watched the ducks being herded to market along the streets.

Borobudur temple

So this time we decided to venture further afield to Java.  I had heard of Borobudur the 9th Century Buddhist Temple in Jogjakarta and the biggest in the world.   I knew that it had been constructed as a ten-terraces building and rose to 42 metres.  The first seven terraces are in a square form, two upper terraces are in a circular form and the top terrace is where the huge Buddha statue sits facing west.

One has to walk clockwise from the entrance to the temple to understand the sequence of the stories that early sculptors set into the concrete.

We got up really early to cram as much into our day as possible.  We were told that one simply turns up at the airport – no pre-booking –and boards a plane.  We bought the tickets and were given 2 snack boxes.  Then the plane arrived and the locals rushed to the gate to grab a seat.  We were pushed and shoved and eventually we found two adjacent seats.  The seat back on mine was broken and I had a most uncomfortable journey.

Merpati Airline

via Wikipedia

Merpati is the domestic airline of Bali and I must say I really hoped (and still hope) the maintenance of the engine is better than the maintenance of the interiors.

The hostess passed around small packs of lukewarm ‘juice’ and then we opened the snack packs.  We were each faced with a curled up white bread sandwich and a soft biscuit.  Needless to say neither of us ate that ‘lunch’.

When we left the plane (having left behind the snack packs of course) we were accosted on all sides with noise, people and smells.  Traffic in Java is manic.  Six or seven lanes moving each way, ignoring traffic signals, other traffic and pedestrians.

Jogyakarta traffic

Jogyakarta traffic

But all was forgotten and forgiven when we got our first sight of Borobudur.

Borobudur stoopas

via Wikipedia

What a magical sight and surely this building must rank up there with the pyramids for the sheer scale of what was achieved all those years ago.

Borobudur

Image via Wikipedia

Our guide told us it was is a shrine to Buddha and was built over a period of some 75 years in the 8th and 9th centuries.  Constructed out of an estimated 1,600,000 blocks of volcanic stone, dredged from the river and assembled solely by human labour, and is famed for its 1,500 intricately carved reliefs, covering a total length of five kilometres end-to-end.

The first archaeological study of the site was initiated in 1814 by Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore. First restored in 1907, the monument suffered from neglect and war and was almost rebuilt in the 1970s under the guidance of UNESCO, who designated Borobudur as a World Heritage Site. The massive restoration process involved the removal and refurbishing of over one million blocks, rebuilding the foundation and adding drainage systems.

When we visited one could get inside the temple and also climb the hundreds of steps to the top layer.  Unfortunately, my late husband was unable to climb and so stayed down enjoying the sunshine and the views.

I still think about this magical day.  The return to our hotel was equally as frenetic, but it was all worth it to see this magnificent building.

And now some 22 years later, I still get ‘goose bumps’ when I think about Borobudur.  It ranks with my first sight of the Grand Canyon for sheer, breathtaking beauty.

“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.”
Bill Bryson, American travel author