27 July 2019 | North Atlantic
26 July 2019 | Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
25 July 2019 | North Atlantic
24 July 2019 | Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada
23 July 2019 | Grand Banks
22 July 2019 | North Atlantic Ocean
21 July 2019 | North Atlantic
20 July 2019 | North Atlantic
18 July 2019 | North Atlantic
16 July 2019 | Mersey River
15 July 2019 | St George's Channel
15 July 2019 | English Channel
13 July 2019 | Forest of Arden, England
12 July 2019 | Leicestershire, England
11 July 2019 | Leicestershire, England
10 July 2019 | Waltham Abbey
Lots of Locks - 09/05/19
05 September 2019 | Jacksonville, Florida
It's hard to believe how fast these days are passing by. We are still feeling a lot of gratitude that this huge storm stayed well offshore. We did not see that much rain or wind. The water from the surge filled in our canal. We didn't hear if anyone on our street had any flooding. We were perfectly safe. Our hearts go out to the Bahamas and also North Carolina coastline, which is getting beat up by Dorian. Got up and checked the news and weather. Enjoyed a light breakfast before heading out. Stopped at Queens Harbour and checked out Scott and Avery's boat. Took down the protective wrap around their pilot station and opened up the boat. It's supposed to be dry for the next few days. Then made a stop at the lock to see David. We had a short visit and then drove to our storage unit. Took a load of the delicate items back to our house. We noticed our neighbors had their recycle bins out. So, we rushed to get ours out. Also, we stacked all the palm fronds that Mark and Jim cut off the other day. Apparently, the recycle went by at 6:30 and we missed them. So, we will need to wait two more weeks for the next pickup. Spent time cleaning and vacuuming the upstairs rooms. Still have more to do. Mark worked on changing locks. He went to Home Depot and bought some more. He then is re-keying each one. Jim came over after lunch. He helped Mark get our tv out of the car and into our house. He also helped us bring another two loads of storage items back to the house. Mark changed 13 door locks and still has 4 more to do tomorrow. Headed home after 5:30 pm. Watched some tv. Then I cooked dinner. Both of us are tired out. We watched some Below Deck episodes. This season is more about the crew and their many squabbles. The carpet installer will be out mid morning. That will be great to get done. Mark is working with another moving company to see if they are available on Saturday for our move. Otherwise, it will get delayed until Monday. It was a very hot day. Every time we were outside, we were sweating with our 96 degree heat. However, we were cool enough in the house. Everything will get done. Thanks for the emails and messages. Stay safe and enjoy your day.
Dorian Misses Jacksonville - 09/04/19
04 September 2019 | Jacksonville, Florida
Tried to sleep in but woke up early and started watching the latest on the Dorian Hurricane status. The hurricane was moving in a north westerly direction at 8 mph. It was staying off Florida and heading our way. We had breakfast. Watched the news. Showered and dressed. Then took our leftover pizza with us as we headed to our house. We stopped at Queens Harbour and found their guard house empty. There was a posted note for the mandatory evacuation. We also noticed that the gates were missing, so we drove in to check out our friends' boat. Their boat dock was empty so we gave them a call. They secured their boat in another area. We found the location and checked that their boat was in great shape. Then we drove to our house. It was raining lightly at times. All the businesses were closed for the hurricane. We spent the rest of the day doing more cleanup. Despite the frozen foods being removed yesterday, the freezer was filthy. The plastic tray at the bottom was broken on one side but I could not remove it to clean it at the sink. I put some detergent in a pail and wiped it out. I was wondering what was at the bottom on this tray. It looked like coffee grains. Mark confirmed it was dead bugs, which really made me want to throw up. Also, the fridge had an Error on the control panel. We ran our dishwasher with a cleaner because the inside looked like it had a film over the inside of the door and the inside as well. It almost looked like someone scuffed up the stainless coating. Mark worked on rekeying our door locks. He had a few issues. Then he got our central vac going and worked on vacuuming all of the baseboards, cupboards & closet shelfs. I cleaned some more windows. Our house has a huge number of windows. The water level in on our canal was rising. We took a break for lunch. Microwaved our leftover pizza. We watched the rain running down the window. The canal level kept rising. Dorian was just going by the entrance to the St Johns river, but out around 80-100 miles offshore. It was very quiet in the neighborhood. Most of them did not evacuate. We didn't see anyone around. 2 pm was high tide. Our water level continued to go higher as the water entered our channel. The dock across the canal was already under water. Our boat lift was touching the water. The gusts of wind were noisy as the wind speed reached over 25 knots, or at least that was our guess. The palm fronds on our trees at the back of our house were being whipped around with the strong gusts. I went out back to take some pictures but it was raining lightly. Put together an email with one of the pictures, just to let everyone know that we were safe during this hurricane. The outside of the back doors were also filthy. I took a bucket with soap and a scratch pad and was able to clean it too. Used the hose to wash it all down. Decided not to do any more as we wanted to wait until the storm was gone before we do anything on the outside of the house. Helped Mark move our big refrigerator away from the wall so he could unplug it. Apparently, there was a Youtube video on the error number. Our fridge only just fits between our cupboards, so it was a tight squeeze. There was something spilt on the floor under the fridge. I sprayed some Simple Green on it and was able to clean it up. We were exhausted, yet again, as we drove to Chris & Robert's beautiful condo. We decided not to visit the beach today. Not sure if we could even get to the beach with the curfews and closures. I was just happy to go back to the condo and put my feet up. We enjoyed a drink and some chips and humus as we caught up on the local news and the hurricane track. It looks like Dorian could touch land around the Carolina coast. The winds were blowing pretty steadily. I took some pictures off the balcony. The amount of water out back was incredible. We could see the IntraCoastal Waterway, clearly and the water was spilling into the area behind Mira Vista. It was pretty much a lake out back where there is normally greenery. Just finished dinner. We are watching the movie, Believe Me. Not used to watching movies with commercials. Should have taped it instead. The gusty winds have died all of a sudden. It's very peaceful here. I do believe we will both sleep well. Thanks for your emails and messages. Hope everyone continues to stay safe.
More House Work - 09/03/19
03 September 2019 | Jacksonville, Florida
Woke up with the alarm at 7. Had breakfast and headed out soon after. On the way I noticed a FB post from our neighborhood stating that the power was off thru the night. By the time we got there, the power was back on. This power failure had nothing to do with the hurricane. Mark got the hose out and tried to drain out the old hot water tank. However, he had some issues and needed some more tools. Jim was kind enough to bring the needed tools and help Mark get the old tank out. I helped them get it down the stairs. I spent my time wiping down and cleaning all the cupboards in the kitchen.
The new tank was taller than the old one despite it being the same model and company as the old one. This meant buying different connectors plus a few other pieces. We stopped for lunch at the Ale House in Regency. Stopped at Home Depot and found the pieces. Then headed back home. Our realtor sent over a cleaning lady for the afternoon. That was helpful to me. I worked all day cleaning up, including washing the floors and some windows. I still have lots more to do to get the house in shape. Hurricane Dorian was basically not moving this morning and the wind speed dropped to a Cat3. We saw several videos showing the destruction of several Bahama islands. The good news for Jacksonville was the cone moving even further off our coast line. Mark had to return to Home Depot a couple more times to get the rest of the parts needed to complete the hot water tank. Success at last. We were both exhausted when we left for the day. Mark wanted to stop at the beach. As we drove along, the local channel was talking about a beach curfew beginning at 8 pm and ending at 7 am tomorrow. We stopped at the same parking spot as yesterday and took a short walk on Atlantic Beach. There were a lot more people walking on the beach today. The sun was shining. The wind was definitely stronger and well over 20 knots. We did notice that most of the gas stations and other businesses were closed. We spotted a couple of pizza restaurants that were open and stopped at Papa Johns. We were able to order a pizza and take it back to the condo for an early dinner. Could not believe how tired out we were. Decided to run a load of laundry, but not sure how late we will stay up tonight. Our plans are to head over to the house and do some more cleaning. Dorian has reduced to a Category 2, which is good news for all. Movement is NW around 6 mph and maximum sustained winds is down to 110 mph. There should be no stops in Florida. Dorian will stay off Jacksonville by at least 100 miles. We will see the big winds and surf. Not sure if we will see any flooding on our canal. Thanks for the emails and messages. Hope everyone stays safe and out of the path of Dorian.
House Work - 09/02/19
02 September 2019 | Jacksonville, Florida
The alarm woke us up at 6 am. We had breakfast and got ready to head out early. It was eerie driving around Jacksonville as there were hardly any cars around. Mark said that was because it was so early and this was a holiday. Two zones in Jacksonville were given mandatory evacuations and our house and Chris' condo were in those zones. Apparently, they started evacuating early. We actually had 36 hours to leave, if we chose to do so. We made a stop at our storage unit. Mark was able to find some of his tools that were packed away two years ago. Jim met us at the house and brought some more tools. I took the Jeep and headed to the store to pick up some cleaning items, despite asking for some cleaning help for the house. I was just not happy with the condition of my kitchen. Stopped to say hi, to our neighbors. I drove thru a huge downpour and as I got close to the bridge leading to our street, there was a beautiful rainbow. Jim had already left by the time I returned to the house. He helped Mark trim tree branches that were hanging over the upper balcony. They also tested the drains and sprinkler system and determine that our back yard problems included some issues with the underground water sprinklers. Thanks for your help, Jim! Mark went around the house and sprayed every room for bugs. He noticed that one of our hot water tanks was leaking. I spent time cleaning the kitchen. Then we met Jim & Deb for lunch at Ruby Tuesdays. Enjoyed our lunch and the good company. Our next stop was a visit to Home Depot to pick up a new hot water tank, plus several other pieces needed to replace it. Headed back to the house. Unloaded our purchases. Then Mark started replacing two downspouts which required digging up part of the back yard around it. I was the helper. Judd paid us a visit as he was pulling his kayak out of the water, with the hurricane threatening. Then another neighbor came to help Judd. We met our new neighbors, Mark & Amanda. The water level is very high. We got to see two manatees in our canal, which came up to the surface several times. It had rained earlier, but the sun came out and we were blessed with some blue skies. Hurricane Dorian had not moved much thru the day as it was only moving at 1 mph. At least the wind speed decreased to 130, so it was no longer a category 5 storm. Also, it shifted more to the north and now all the models are predicting that it will head offshore as it goes north of Florida. That was the best news today! It was around 5 pm before we locked up and left. We stopped at Publix and picked up a few more groceries, just in case we lose power over the next couple of days. Mark wanted to check out the beach, despite knowing that the beaches were closed. We found a parking spot on 1st street in Neptune Beach. The entrance to the beach was totally blocked with a wall of sand. We both enjoyed some ice cream custard. It was the only place open as all the restaurants were boarded up and already closed. Then we walked to the other side of the Ocean One hotel. We passed a news crew bus on the way. There were Do Not Cross bands across the entrance. Took some pictures and walked back to the car. Then drove a block over and parked just off the beach. This entrance did not have any posted signs to keep us off the beach. Took lots of pictures which I later posted on Facebook. Mark walked out on the beach. We could see lots of people on the beach. The waves were sizable but not that huge. We didn't see any surfers. The weather was very pleasant. The blue sky was etched with thin white clouds. Nothing identified the fact that there was a hurricane south and east of us. The Bahama islands are definitely taking the full brunt of Hurricane Dorian. So much destruction there. We returned to Chris' condo. Put away our groceries. Then watched some tv. Put together our dinner and then did some relaxing. Watched a few episodes of Below Deck in French Polynesia. Thanks for the emails and messages. We are keeping a close eye on Dorian and so far, we are not evacuating.
Back in Jax Again - 09/01/19
01 September 2019 | Jacksonville, Florida
Woke up early on this first day of September. Showered and dressed and headed to the hotel breakfast room around 7:30. Then packed up our bags and began our drive south to Jacksonville. We decided to buy some groceries in case the local ones were lacking in fruits and veggies. We bought a bag of ice, which melted some but lasted the whole day. The hiways were pretty clear of traffic heading south. Or, maybe it was Sunday and everyone was at church. Mostly all the cars were driving a lot faster than the speed limit. We did have to slow down at least once for a stretch of construction. Mark selected Waffle House for lunch. It was not my favorite. Food was okay, just not a lot, if any, vegetables offered. We snacked along the way. That helped to keep us awake. We stopped a few times to stretch our legs, including the Georgia Welcome Center. It was after 5 pm and I didn't think they would be open, but it was. They had some interesting art work, including Forest Gump sitting on a bench. I joined him as Mark took my picture. Mark drove for most of the day. I gave Mark a break, driving for an hour or so. At least a few times, there was quite the downpour. This would not have been related to Hurricane Dorian. We arrived at the Dames Point Bridge, where we could see our house across Mill Cove, just as a huge downpour hit us. Mark slowed right down and thankfully, it didn't last very long. Decided to stop at our house to check that all the doors and windows were closed and locked. Once we were done, we headed over to Robert & Chris' condo. Watching the Weather Channel and found out that this residence and our house are in Zone A, which has a mandatory evacuation at 8 am tomorrow. We are not sure what we will do. Dorian is already a Category 5 storm with wind strength at 185 mph. The storm is not moving very fast, so it will take another three days to reach the Jacksonville area. If this hurricane turns north soon, it will stay off the Florida coast, but the outer bands would still reach land. The beaches will be hit badly too. We need to push this hurricane further offshore to keep it from hitting any of the states, including Florida. Thanks for all the emails and messages. Stay safe everyone!
On the Road Back to Florida - 08/31/19
31 August 2019 | Fredericksburg, Virginia
Slept in until 8. Got dressed and headed up to see everyone. Erin was already making pancakes. I sliced up some fresh fruit while Chantelle scrambled eggs. Rafi set the table. Robert, Chris, Raf and Evie joined us for a lovely family breakfast. Thanks to all of you for this wonderful opportunity to get together!
Erin, Raf, Rafi and Evie headed out to the Jijitsu gym. Chris, Chantelle and I took a nice long walk. Chris added Pickles, the dog, to our walk. He loves to walk. Chantelle took a much longer walk. Robert and Mark worked on some landscaping. I think they got a great work out too!
Hurricane Dorian weather updates predicted this storm will stay off the Florida coast line, which was great news. It will still bring lots of wind and rain to Jacksonville, but at least it won't touch land.
Mark and I decided that it would be best for us to head back to Jacksonville. Our back yard bulkhead is in need of attention, especially if there is a lot of raining heading our way. We will split the drive over two days.
We packed up our bags and loaded them in the car. Then, followed Robert, Chris and Chantelle, as we all met up at the Diner Restaurant for lunch. The food was very good. We said our good-byes and headed south, on our way to Florida.
We stopped a couple of times, mostly to give Mark a break. I drove for around 2 hours. I must say that the roads were full of holiday weekend traffic. Both directions were grid locked at times. I caught up on emails. Mark found us a hotel in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We are both exhausted. We snacked quite a lot, so we skipped dinner.
Arrived at our hotel at 9 pm. Creating tonight's and last night's blog. Hope everyone is have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend as we say goodbye to August!
Thanks for your emails and messages. Happy Labor Day weekend!