Sunday, March 22, 2020

Mosaic Monday #72: Whistling in the Dark

Footpath along the River Wear, Durham, UK
Well, what a difference 10 weeks can make.  On January 11, my post expressed concerns about wildfires in Australia, tension between the US and Iran, and closer to home, the sale of 630,000 acres of Montana timber land.  On January 19, I wrote about 'troubling world events', a reference to climate change. While those issues are still important, they pale in comparison to the immediate threat and impact of the pandemic.  On March 8, I reflected upon my retirement, and resolved to give up some volunteering in favor of crafting activities and spending more time with Spousal Unit.  Hmmm … how does that saying go?  "Be careful what you wish for."

So, since you don't need anyone else to remind you to "sneeze into your elbow", I thought we'd engage in some distraction.  A little escapism.  Having already used the ostrich metaphor in several posts lately, I went looking for alternatives.  Do you know how many expressions mean sticking your head in the sand?  Sweep aside.  Gloss over.  Turn a blind eye.  Overlook.  Bunker mentality.  Kick something into the long grass.  Paper over.  Play dumb.  Play possum.  Whistling in the dark.

Pick your favorite expression and then come along with me.  As faithful readers know, Spousal Unit and I were in the UK in October 2019.  (It seems a world away now.  Imagine visiting a historic home, or wandering the main street of a quaint village!  Going to a pub crammed with other people, to watch my cousin-in-law perform!  Buying an ice cream from a street vendor!  But I digress.)  I have written about the visit here, here, here, and here.  But there's more!

Let's start with some humor.  One of the many pubs that we patronized during our visit was The Beeswing Inn.  You will certainly enjoy the food and beverages, and then you have to find the restrooms.  Be ready for a belly laugh when you do!
And what about a rainbow to brighten your day?  These pictures were taken the morning we headed to Skipton.  The clouds never materialized into precipitation; for the most part our getaway to the UK was rain-free.  As the song croons "Someday, I wish upon a star   Wake up where the clouds are far behind me  Where trouble melts like lemon drops  High above the chimney top  That's where you'll find me"
No trip to Northeast England is complete without going into Durham.  After all, Spousal Unit proposed to me there!  As many times as we have strolled its cobbled streets, we can still find something new.  Durham University continues its growth; when you only visit a town once a year, it seems as though new buildings pop up overnight.
And sometimes taking a different footpath leads to a discovery, such as this ancient gate into the city.  Baileygate was created in 1778-9 to accommodate carriage traffic using the newly built Prebend's Bridge.  Fragments of carved masonry in the arch came from the Wheel window remodeled as the present Rose window in the east end of the Cathedral.
We always take a spin through Durham Cathedral.  You never know what you might see, such as the interior of the Lego cathedral model, or the beautiful flower arrangements.
The tower in the picture at left was covered in scaffolding for about five years - how wonderful to see it once again!
We ended our visit with a delicious meal at Vennels Café, our go-to lunch spot near the city center.
The following day took us to another family favorite, Hardwick Park.  When our kids were young, every trip to Nan and Granda's house included one or more outings to the Park.  Bestowed with ample bodies of water, it is inhabited by innumerable ducks, geese and swans.  Nan always brought bread for them (now signs are everywhere prohibiting this practice) and the kids reveled in bestowing crumbs everywhere they went.
This day, we were sans kids, unless you count Spousal Unit, who invested some spare change in the approved duck food.  I felt we had rewound the clock 16 years; nothing had changed as several breeds gathered around for the handout.  And then the swans got aggressive - have I blocked out that behavior from my memory banks or have they always been this intimidating?  Check out this brief video!
In most of the park, autumn leaves were the only decoration to be found.  This shrub stood out as an exception; I suspect the orange sections of the "flowers" are actually seed pods.  Can anyone identify this plant?

American Robins are ubiquitous at home, and they are also quite a large bird when compared to the European Robin.  Perhaps that is why I find the European Robin so adorable.   As we sauntered along a final section of boardwalk in the Park, one pecked away at duck food that someone had scattered along the railing.  It chirped and trilled, as if singing for its supper.  Here's a little snippet for your entertainment.

Coincidentally, our final day with my in-laws was a Sunday, which meant Sunday dinner!  My mother-in-law excels with the eminently satisfying combination of roast beef, gravy, Yorkshire puddings, roasted potatoes, mushy peas, roasted parsnips and an assortment of vegetables.  Oof!  You can’t resist a second full serving of everything!  On a full stomach, I slept like a baby.

All too soon, the UK had fallen away below us during the short hop to Amsterdam.  We strolled the long terminals of Schiphol, stretching our legs as much as possible before boarding the flight to Calgary.  I don’t remember now the movies that I watched (is my memory going or were the movies forgettable?), but the time went quickly.  Customs and immigration were a breeze in Calgary, and the shuttle arrived promptly to whisk us to our hotel.  After a refreshing shower, we went to the hotel bar for some drinks and appetizers.  Not long after, we crashed.  After all, by our body clocks, it was 2 am!!!

Our return drive to Montana, through the plains south of Calgary, and over Crowsnest Pass, was surreal.  Snow had arrived during our absence, and it fell at varying rates as we motored along.  Yes, November in Alberta!

We stopped for a late breakfast west of the Pass, and from that point on, the snow frosted only the mountain tops.  Around every curve was another breathtaking scene, a promise of the winter to come.  We were home, once again.

I pray that I have transported you to another world, if only in your mind.  At the same time, I believe it is critical to emphasize the seriousness of the pandemic.  At the time of publishing this post, the world has 316,659 confirmed cases, 13,559 deaths and 94,176 recovered (all data from John Hopkins).  The U.S. has 27,004 cases, 344 deaths and 176 recovered.  On March 3, the U.S. had 100 cases, 9 deaths and none recovered.  A 26,904% increase in cases in 18 days.  Please consider others by limiting contact as much as possible.  And if it helps you, whistle in the dark.

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.

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Click here to enter


  1. Isn’t it amazing how things we take for granted can change on a dime? It seems surreal in some ways. This current situation reveals how society depends on touching pretty much everything! But even with that gone, your photos and search for rainbows is much appreciated.

  2. ... Whistling in the Dark, what an appropriate title for these times. It seem as if this is what the White House has been doing for months, we have gone from fake news and it's a hoax to blaming everyone else, but #45.

  3. Hear you my laughing? It's good to laugh now in the Coronavirus crisis. It's a funny post added in another broad hint, to life and not to bury its head in the sand. Well done!

    Happy MosaicMonday

    Stay healthy 👏

  4. Thanks for taking us along on your trip to the UK. I'm sure it is very different right now, just like we are. While we were concerned about flying home from Arizona at the end of February, we weren't as petrified as we are now about going out. Fortunately, our condo in Bellingham is a good place to hunker down with good medical services nearby and lots of stores willing to do pickups and deliveries. Stay safe and healthy. - Margy

  5. Thank you for the beautiful post. Stay in and safe my dear. We are not leaving home except when it is absolutely necessary.
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

  6. Such wonderful photos! I'm so glad you got to have that wonderful journey before all the bad stuff hit. Stay safe, healthy and virus-free.

  7. I enjoyed your post so much, your mother in law does a wonderful Sunday roast!! It is good to have a little escape from reality, we are going into lockdown here tomorrow, only essential businesses staying open. We are hoping by staying home the virus cant transfer and travel and will soon be on its way! Head in sand?? Maybe!!

  8. Good to hear you're doing well. Such lovely photos. We took a drive down the Bitterroot to get out of the house for a bit. It was such a lovely day. Don't worry we stayed in the car. Take care, Kit

  9. I wonder, will we ever be able to fly across borders into another state or country ever again. =) Those toilet doors did cause me to giggle; how fun. Thank you for sharing your gorgeous photos of your travels on this rather grim world-news day. If I cannot hop onto a train or indeed a plane to experience the beauty of the world, then I will do it in my comfy sofa and look at the beauty of the world through your lens. Have a beautiful day, lovely Angie. Xx

  10. I never learned to whistle, but your trip memories served the same purpose and was way more fun anyway! .... I think you’re exactly right, we need to keep up with the news and we need to take precautions , but we also need distractions for our mental health. Blogging is also a great way to safely un-isolate! Thanks for hosting this totally safe gathering!

  11. the beginning of the year certainly seems like a life time ago. Certainly wasn't expecting what we are now experiencing. Thank you so much for the chance to connect and virtual travel here. Stay safe. And have a great week.

  12. Wonderful memories of a most enjoyable trip to see your in-laws and travel around to see the sights, Angie! Blogging is a wonderful distraction. I was overcome with the situation last week and needed to clear my mind this week, but next week I'll be back to doing my regular Colorado stories. Stay healthy!

  13. I enjoyed the walk down memory lane very much. Quite a change in weather on your drive back home. The snow photos so beautiful. Wishing you well.

  14. Angie..I am so happy to see that you are well and may we all stay well....Michelle

  15. Hello, love your happy memories and the trip photos. The rainbow is beautiful and the robin is adorable. LOL, love the used wine sign too. Usually I do not mind spending time at home, I can blog and read my books. Thanks for hosting MM! Take care and be well. Wishing you a happy new week!

  16. Beautiful post and lovely photos, Angie. Good to hear you are well and trying to stay healthy and sane during this crisis.

  17. Thanks for sharing your travel photos. It's nice to escape our thoughts...or whistle in the dark with dreams of far away places. We hike. That helps us handle it all. Thanks for MM...I look forward to it all week long! Hugs!

  18. I always feel hungry after visiting your blog! :-)

  19. A blessed mosaic Monday to all. Wash your hands. Stay indoors as much as possible. Stay healthy.

    much love...

  20. Angie, What a difference a week makes for sure. I could not have imagined it. 911 had world effects but this is so much bigger. Thanks for the escape. Have a great week. Sylvia D.

  21. Thank you for taking us back to your wonderful trip to the UK. It is nice to escape the pandemic with these beautiful photos of a place I love. Time will tell if our trip to the UK in September will be a reality. I do hope this pandemic's ravaging will be over by then. Am trusting God to bring us through to the other side of His time.

  22. So, if a woman drank beer, which door does she enter? Am I over thinking this?
    I met a few mean swans that got me yelling at them because I couldn't run fast enough away. hahaha
    Ok, now I'm done reading, Angie. I wrote the above as I reacted to your words. I'm easily distracted by the next cool thing you say that by the time I get to this comment box, I've forgotten what I had been thinking. Like now. :-) Thanks for the trip to your England hangout. I did feel like I was there. You're a great travel writer, Angie.
    I almost forgot to mention that the European robin reminds me of the robins illustrated in my story books and textbooks.

  23. A pleasant trip! Sorry I missed your deadline.

  24. Love the photos and thank you for the uplifting post.Stay safe.

  25. The world has changed so rapidly! I enjoyed this visit to England with you. My cousin's son attended Durham University so it was fun to see the cathedral there. Do take care!

  26. Fabulous shots. I really needed the distraction!

  27. I love the beer/wine signs, ha ha. Stay safe.

  28. As you know Angie, our UK politicians are adept at “kicking the can down the road”, ably demonstrated by their spending three and a half years in finding ways to deny a democratic and decisive referendum.
    Those loo signs are a great example of British humour aren’t they? We need the ability to laugh at ourselves at the moment, and we will come out of it stronger than ever. Just watch us go!

    Take care.

  29. Gorgeous photos of more care free times ~ hope all is well ~ ^_^

    Keep Calm and Be Well
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  30. Funny restrooms signs. Beautiful photos and a lovely post. Glad you are doing well. Take care, wash the hands, stay safe and healthy.

  31. I love the account of your trip. Durham and its cathedral was a stop for me decades ago during my two weeks in Great Britain.

    The growth of the novel coronavirus is astounding and I wonder sometimes if our leaders really understanding what they are dealting with.

  32. This was a fun post to read as I got to experience nostalgia a couple times! Unless something drastically changes, I'm missing my annual trip to England this year and am just feeling really bummed about it! I've been going almost every year since 2013---usually to attend the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, but also to tour other parts of the country. I loved seeing your photo of the city gate---they always intrigue me! I have visited the various city gates at Winchester and York. Just not a concept we're at all familiar with here in the US! And then there was your trip home... We are from the mountains of Eastern Oregon so I always love seeing photos of the northwestern parts of the nation. No snow or mountains here in Arkansas!

    Hope you're finding some new and interesting things to do during this reallllllly long time of being home!


  33. It's fun to get out and about and take so many photos! Fabulous places and wonderful memories )

    Feel free to share at My Corner of the World

  34. What a wonderful post, so nice to look back at a trip like this.
    Gorgeous photographs, lovely food and I did laugh at the toilet signs :)

    My good wishes.

    All the best Jan


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