A Day in Wales

Where is Wales? Well, I generally knew where it was but I looked it up to get a better idea of its boundaries.

We took a bus from Bristol this morning, waving goodbye to Gromit. We were off to see a new county and headed to Cardiff. Many farms and livestock dotted the hills on our journey and then we found ourselves just outside of Cardiff Castle.

We strolled along the streets until it was time. Time to see The Doctor. Doctor Who that is. The BBC has studios where they film the television series along with others to include Torchwood.

We started with a stroll through Cardiff where many locations around the town were revealed to us that were in the television shows.

Next, we were guided into the studio set where The TARDIS was located. The TARDIS is a police telephone call box that is able to travel through time and space and is an acronym for Time And Relative Dimension In Space.

Finally, there was an interactive journey that concluded with a walk through the lineage and history of making Doctor Who.

It was a lovely day in a rustic bayside town. Cardiff is a comfortable city that is easy to get around by foot, bus, or rail. It had an old town charm to it that made me feel welcome.

Make It Fun!
God Bless.

Bristol Is…

Bristol Is…

Now one of my most favorite cities! We landed two nights ago, stayed at Brooks Guesthouse which is an inexpensive, upscale, classy hostel. I highly recommend it. One of the best stays I’ve had anywhere in the world. The service from the night bellman to the chef, breakfast servers, and staff on checkout were absolutely polite, accommodating, friendly and without a doubt, professional.

I wish we could have stayed longer however the Balloonfest was upon us and the place was full-up.

After a full English breakfast with extra breakfast, we stepped out into a welcoming cool breeze that felt like fall time in the Midwest US. We followed the trail to find Gromit. Gromit is a lovable cartoon character from the series Wallace and Gromit by Nick Park. The kids were excited as we dashed from Gromit to Gromit, exploring the town, the cafes, the harbour, the university, the rail lines, business districts and neighborhoods. Many of them were in the city center and I think my wife and I were equally, if not more, excited as the kids.

Down by the harbour are new, trendy apartments and an installment of eateries that double as night clubs and pubs as the sun sets and atmosphere changes.

Older parts of town that survived the shelling and bombing by the Axis during World War II, revealed some of the history. The town was effected by German shelling and bombing due to aircraft and ship manufactoring here so there is a mix of old and new architecture. The old buildings demonstrate intense character, architecture that has eye catching shapes, and the cold gray stone contrasts while complimenting the bright vibrant new structures.

We stopped during lunch right in the heart of the city, plopped down centered before the large screen television in the plaza where episodes of Wallace and Gromit entertained hundreds in the plaza, and enjoyed oversized ice cream cones. The smiles all around the plaza suggested that the crowd enjoyed the innocence and gentle humor that is portrayed in Wallace and Gromit.

We continued on using the Detect-O-Gromit app. Purchasing the app to find Gromit around town goes to a children’s hospital. At the end of the month, they will auction off the 80 different statues to raise money for the hospital. Plus, it is awesome geocashing, a great way to see the city, tremendous exercise and good for business to get publicity. Everyone was super friendly and I even felt safe walking around at night with the kids.

Bristol enjoys a healthy nightlife

Yesterday was also the Balloonfest in which the sky was covered with hot air balloons.

Today, we slept in, had a huge breakfast at Beefeaters and I set out to do laundry. I stumbled upon a cute, quaint, nostalgic cafe/launderette/internet business named @TheWell in the Stokes Croft area. I met one of the owners and read how the three sisters set up the business. It was a great experience. A broad selection of breakfast and lunch as well as coffees and teas bring together those needing or wanting to use laundromats with those who enjoy cafes. One would typically spend time doing something while waiting for the clothes to finish so this brings people together in a social environment and provides internet and an array of foods prepared in house.

One of my kids sat on a couch @TheWell, played Minecraft and with some blocks in the store as the clothes tumbled. Books can be found neatly arranged everywhere. Once used sewing machines and typewriters had me perusing around the shop. The owner mentioned that another American had carefully planned this location as a stop in his journey prior to leaving home earlier this week. I can see why. What a great concept.

Bristol is absolutely a wonderful city. One of my favorites. If ever in UK, you must add it to you list.

Tomorrow is a new day.
Make It Fun!
God Bless.

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Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. It is a day which many Americans remember and reflect on those who served and ultimately gave their lives for their fellow mankind.  For some, it is a day off work, others a day to barbecue or to enjoy adult beverages.  Some have to work, especially if in the service industry such as fire, police, medical/nursing, corrective services, dispatchers and many others.

This past week, I had the honor and privilege of meeting James “Maggie” Magellas.  He is the highest decorated Army Officer of the 82D Airborne Division. He served with the 504 Regiment.  He was a normal American of European ancestry and grew up in Wisconsin. When called to serve his nation, he became a communication officer, later a glider pilot and ultimately served as an infantry platoon leader.

I listened to him speak about his journey to Italy via Northern Africa.  The 101st Airborne is well known in American history and has been portrayed in films such as Band of Brothers. The 101st was part of the D-Day invasion to liberate Europe penetrating the beaches of France. The 82D served in the sands of North Africa and worked their way to Italy and Germany.

He described his accounts across the Waal River and noted the leading officer to bang on the side of a tiny boat repeating “Hail Mary, full of grace. Hail Mary, full of grace”.  Bullets whizzed past and shells exploded around.  This was  a daytime river crossing, during broad daylight, in which the Germans held the high ground and had the tactical advantage.

He continued with the airborne operation into Nijmegen during Operation Market Garden. This was demonstrated in the movie “A Bridge Too Far”.  An example of an airborne insertion into enemy territory was shown.

I purchased his book All the Way to Berlin and he has a film documenting his time in the 82D in conjunction with the World War II Foundation, Tim Gray Media, and Ocean State Media.  Here is the link to the trailer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg8XA3BjgFg

You may also see the show on PBS or can order directly from him.  Per Mr. Megellas, “Lead from the front and your men will follow”.

I have been fortunate to get to know a few veterans along my journey in life. Mr. Megellas served in WWII. Tom Lyons of Minnesota served in Korea, JP Winstead served in the Pacific in WWII and his son in Viet Nam.  A gentleman I attend church with was a Green Beret in the Pacific during Viet Nam. Jim Lane served in Somalia. I have had the privilege of meeting folks who were in the military in Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm, and others who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I ask that you take a moment and say a prayer for all people around the world as we all work towards world peace.  I do not know anyone wishing for war. Some did volunteer to serve while others were called by their nation. Others found service locally in fire, law enforcement, medical, teaching or other government service.  Take a moment to thank those, pray for those who have been affected by war, violence, and loss, and enjoy this Memorial Day.

Make It Fun!

God Bless.

The New Sexy

Yesterday, I stopped into the local movie house in Raleigh, North Carolina. The film du jour…Star Trek: Into Darkness.  For those who are fans of the Star Trek films, I am sure most have already seen this in the past week.  However, I found it had a great combination  of intelligence, displays of physical fitness, and developing leaders in times of strife/controversy.

If you have not seen the film, Captain James T. Kirk and crew face one of their own when they have to work with and later battle Khan.  The name Khan is used in many parts of the world and is of royalty most notably in the Pashtun regions of western Pakistan, eastern Afghanistan, Mongolia, and India; possibly descendants of  the historical warrior Ghengis Khan. In Star Trek, Khan was a member of Star Fleet who was genetically modified to have improved intelligence, physical prowess, and healing abilities.

The character Khan is played by Benedict Cumberbach, an actor with an incredible future ahead of him unlike many other actors.  Mr. Cumberbach, until recently, was better known for his PBS role of Sherlock depicted from the original literature set in modern times.

Kirk is played by Chris Pine.  Kirk is often finding himself in physical altercations and yet has the intellectual ability to think his way through difficult and challenging situations.

I appreciate the works of director J.J. Abrams and creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat in that they celebrate intelligence.  Unlike many films of the 1970s and 80s in which the selling point was often topless women to entice film viewers or to be sickly rail thin like Twiggy, films of today are beginning to reflect a new view that is more intriguing.  Characters with a combination of physical strength and endurance with intelligence.  This combination may be the new sexy.  Intelligence has often been overlooked in history or has been exclusive from physical capabilities, though this unique combination brought together develops a more appealing leader. This may be even evident in the new James Bond films which Bond is less about jumping into bed and more about chasing the enemy in Parkour style and utilizing his intelligence to problem solve.

Spock mentioned in the film that he cannot lie.  Sadly, he mentions that he does not believe in miracles, though if you know his character you know this is an honest statement for him.

You see the story unfold realizing that one person cannot complete the task or mission alone.  It takes a team.  And in that team, members accept responsibility for the good and the bad, the accomplishments and the failures, all that the team does and does not accomplish.

As our world society continues to become more obese and vastly increase long term health effects, it greatly decreases productivity and causes staggering rises in health care costs.  We all have responsibility in ourselves, our families, our jobs, our society and our world. We have responsibility to lead healthy lives, healthy lives lead to mentally sound lives and our spiritually fulfilled lives lead to better citizens. We must accept responsibility for all we do and all we fail to do.

I appreciate the change in films and in an ever increasing awareness in our society of holistic approach to topics. I appreciate people stepping up to be leaders and understanding that in a leader, we demand accountability and reward them when the job is done honestly and correctly. I am not out to sell anything or project any particular view or body image on anyone.  I am trying to encourage people to have physically, mentally, and just as important, spiritually fit lives.

Make It Fun!

God Bless.

Spring Has Sprung! or Sprang; A Week in Review

Saturn

This past week has been a rich and full week.  We celebrated Easter with our neighbors with a grand cookout, celebrated with our parishioners at church, and with our family. Each night this week has been something after work and a workout before each workday.

Friday night, all across North Carolina, star gazing parties formed, peering into the night sky beyond the stars.  My wife, kids and I joined in looking at Jupiter and its four moons, the rings of Saturn,  Orion, and many other bits of the universe as part of the state wide North Carolina Science Festival. Star parties were held across the state.

Saturn and rings

Above is a picture of Saturn with its rings.

From April 5th -21st, there are events all over the state.  For example, Alton Brown of the Food Network is due to pop-in in Durham and Charlotte and discuss science in cooking.

Check out the calendar events on the link http://www.ncsciencefestival.org/
tulip

My tulips are blooming, purple, pink and many green sprouts about to burst open. Spring is here!  Spring has sprung, or sprang.  If you are a connoisseur of words, you may enjoy this link I found on words… http://www.nytimes.com/1995/07/16/magazine/on-language-how-shrunk-snuck-in.html?src=pm

If you have not yet checked out the latest episode of Doctor Who: Rings of Akhenaten, then I highly recommend you do!

Yesterday, I attended my friend’s wedding and today I enjoyed a nice run barefoot.  What a great week to be out!  Enjoy each moment, for this life is much too short!

Make It Fun!

God Bless.

http://www.exploreasheville.com/things-to-do/outdoor-adventures/stargazing/

http://naturalsciences.org/programs-events/family-stargazing

http://www.nytimes.com/1995/07/16/magazine/on-language-how-shrunk-snuck-in.html?src=pm

http://www.ourstate.com/stargazing/

Springtime in North Carolina, Possibilities

There is so much to do in North Carolina with mountains in the west, large cities and the Triangle in the middle, sandhills, swamps, farmland, and all the beaches. As spring finally presents itself, right and proper, I popped down to Fayetteville near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I spent the morning on a day hike with the family and some friends.  We set out at the Cape Fear River Trail.  Many runners, dog owners, and cyclists were enjoying the cool, moist morning.  Approximately five rain drops found their way to my skin then the clouds danced on.  Soccer players (footballers) were enjoying the morning batting the ball around and chasing it, cheering each other.  Small violet flowers were in bloom.

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The path wound this way and that. The kids played tag, running here and there.  Dogs met and sniffed.

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Water trickled down the hills, finding its way toward the river and eventually the ocean.

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Train tracks flitted through the underbrush and eventually displayed in great grandeur a trestle bridge.

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Foot paths and bridges connected the hills.

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I enjoyed the morning.  Kids were pretending sticks were bow and arrows and they were as tall as trees riding on my shoulders.  My wife enjoyed a run with friends. We returned home. I put on Doctor Who; Vincent and the Doctor.  The episode where the Doctor and Amy meet Vincent Van Gogh and show him how much his life of torment has made in the lives of others. What if you could really make a difference in someone’s life? What if you could show them through your eyes and your heart just how much of a difference they make in the world? What if you could see just how important your own existence truly is?  Take a moment and think on this.

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Make It Fun!

God Bless.

All the photos were borrowed from my friend at http://yerttle.wordpress.com.  I must give her the credit.  Thanks for a great day out!!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

409px-Kilbennan_St._Benin's_Church_Window_St._Patrick_Detail_2010_09_16250px-Saint_Patrick_(window)

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!  I had someone tell me today, “Erin Go Bragh”!  I have heard this saying and have read it many times however, was not really sure what it meant.  So, I googled it.   According to the all knowing wikipedia, it means “Ireland forever” or “until the end of time”.    It appears Ireland shall stand til the end of time. (stained glass pics from wikipedia)

Once upon a time, Ireland was ransacked by England, Vikings and others who wanted to control the vast beauty and resources.  The story of Ireland has been rich in struggle. Whether it pertained to famine, religion, land, or other worldly desires, Ireland and its inhabitants have been the subject of much persecution and struggle.

Thankfully, the Irish and their descendants have been a hearty, resilient group of people who overcome.

Traditional Irish dance has become even more popular, in its own right and with exposure to performing dance troupes such as Lord of The Dance and Riverdance.

Irish music is often known in a folk sense, with a tin whistle and violin, or sung in pubs and bars in a raucously joyous imbibement,  yet rock bands such as Van Morrison, U2, and Rory Gallagher have demonstrated to the world the varied tones and feelings that have transcended the millennia.

In the mid to late 1990s, Ireland began to financially prosper with travel and tourism, lower business tax brought pharmaceutical and computer/internet companies to the Island nation.  In the late 1990s, the internet began to take off as we know and use it today. Ireland helped lead that charge.

Today is known around the world as Saint Patrick’s Day.  It is often showered with people purposefully placing, at a minimum, a speck of green so as to avoid the ensuing pinch by friends. Occasionally, the color orange is added to demonstrate one’s loyalty to protestant faith and in William of Orange.  The struggle continues in differences in professing faith.

There was a time, a man roamed the Island named Patrick.  He was born in Scotland, was kidnapped and taken to Ireland. He prayed often whilst held by his captors, living among the pagans and Druids.  He became a priest then later a bishop. He spent the rest of his life spreading Christianity and demonstrated the Holy Trinity through the three leaves of a clover.

When in Cashel, I stopped at the historic landmark of The Rock of Cashel (my own photos will be added) where it was said that Patrick was sharing Christianity with the locals. The locals were fearful as they thought they had to endure the same fate as their king standing before them with Patrick. It was reported that as Patrick spoke, he inadvertently planted his staff into the foot of the king as he spoke.  Many thought to convert, they too would have to have the staff thrust into their feet.  An interesting story and tale, though I have never seen this in writing anywhere to validate it, though I like it the same.

Green or Orange? Regardless of one’s political or religious views, despite where one lives, there are plenty of things that divide all of us.  Patrick professed Christianity and demonstrated love and peace. St. Patrick can and should be shared by all.  If you feel you should wear a color to celebrate the day, choose blue.  Blue was the color of St. Patrick.  However, if you happen to see green or orange this St. Patrick’s Day, shake hands, enjoy a pint together, drown a shamrock, laugh, and maybe even pray together.

Ireland is a beautiful, colorful, vibrant country and the people are even more so.  Add it to your bucket list of places to go and to experience.

Make It Fun!

God Bless.

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http://www.cashel.ie/tourism.php?sect=Town%20Trail   (Photo of Cross borrowed from this site).

http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89

http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/south-east/rockofcashel/

http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.aspx?id=1325

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/0317/St.-Patrick-s-Day-Why-do-we-wear-green

http://prorev.com/irish.htm

http://www.wrdw.com/seasonal/misc/40129602.html

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_does_Erin_go_bragh_mean

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_of_Cashel

http://www.grandtravel.com/rock.htm

http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/03/16/2755868/raleighs-st-patricks-parade-and.html

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/hail-glorious-st-patrick-protestants-and-unionists-are-slowly-embracing-irelands-national-saint-29134340.html