Back from Vacation

We’re back from our trip to the UK and as with any extended vacation, you always seem to need a vacation after the vacation. It’s certainly true for me. I haven’t been able to pull myself together enough to get back into the swing of writing, which is unfortunate because I have a lot of great things I want to share. We were in the UK for a month, traveled 2000 miles in the car, and walked on seashore on all sides of the country, and visited Scotland, England, and Wales. We packed a lot of things into that time so it’s really not surprising that we came home rather blank-faced and exhausted. I’ll give a quick summary and I do hope you’ll find bits of it interesting. Okay, on with the story.

My wonderful husband of five years, Gary, moved to the US from the UK when he married me, so we have a lot of friends and family all over the UK. It’s always wonderful seeing them of course, but the big reason for this trip was to meet the newest member of the family, our grandson Felix. Babies are always wonderful, but how could you not love one as cuddly and adorable as this?

Gary and Felix
Here’s my husband Gary holding Felix, our first grandchild. Isn’t he just perfect?

We spent quite a lot of time with friends and family, so I won’t bore you with stories of silly relatives and family meals and long, wonderful conversations. It was very good to catch up with everyone, though. It’s hard living apart from those you care so much about. But because we traveled with our 15-year-old daughter, Lanie, we tried very hard to both keep her amused and also teach and show her all that one must teach children when they visit the UK. So we visited the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth and toured Southsea Castle, the HMS Warrior, the HMS Victory, and the Mary Rose. We visited London and toured the Tower of London, visited the National Gallery and the Tate Modern museums, and were thrilled to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral. Did you know that you can climb the stairs (hundreds of them) to the level above the dome? Not only does it give you a great workout, you get a 360° birds-eye view of the city of London. We walked the streets of Cambridge. We sailed an old wooden boat on the Norfolk Broads. We sat on the beach of the North Sea and watched seals. We walked along the cliffs along the Irish Sea in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland and saw a porpoise (and an adder)! We drove through the Lake District in England and Snowdonia in Wales. And Lanie got to go bodyboarding in the ocean in Cornwall. We even toured the Roman Palace at Fishbourne.

Grasmere in the Lake District
We really didn’t take many “postcard” photographs this trip. But during a quick walk along Grasmere in the Lake District, Gary snapped a few pictures. You really have to love how picturesque the Lake District is.
Grasmere in the Lake District
The weather was beautiful during our entire month-long visit. Until we rented “Scarlet Lady”, a 28 foot sailboat on the Norfolk Broads. It turned cold with near gale force winds. And although Gary is an accomplished sailor, his crew was not. So we spent more time moored than sailing. But oh well. It was still fun. You can actually see a little bit about this particular boat here, including a cheesy video of the interior.
Gary and Ginger on the beach near Horsey.
We should have been sailing, but as the wind was a bit too fierce for that, we instead took a stroll to enjoy the seashore near Horsey in the Norfolk Broads. The sea here is the North Sea and the beach is a nice sandy one. We sat and enjoyed the beautiful (and very windy) day while Lanie wandered up and down the shore trying to get a better look at a seal which kept looking at her. She borrowed Gary’s camera and took this picture of us. And yes, it was as cold as it looks.
Caerverlock Castle in Dumfries, Scotland
There are castle ruins everywhere in the UK, of course. This one, called Caerlaverock, is triangular and still has a water-filled moat.
Lanie sitting on the rocks by the shore, Scotland
Moments before this we found an adder, which is the UK’s only poisonous snake. Lanie had a great time watching all the birds, including the nesting seagulls with brown fuzzy chicks. This is Balcary Bay in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland.
Lanie on rocks on the shore
Silly girl, Lanie wanted to find a way down to the rocks. We did not expect to see her there and still aren’t really sure how she did it. This is Balcary Bay in Dumfries and Galloway. Moments later we saw a porpoise in the water here.
Ginger Grouse Beer
After a long walk along the cliffs of Balcary Bay in Scotland, we stopped at a pub for a refreshing drink. You do realize why I had to get this, don’t you? And it was really, really nice.
Ginger near Snowdon in Wales
We had so much to cram into this trip that sightseeing I wanted to do “up-close” had to be done from the car. We did get out a few times for pictures. Here is Mount Snowdon in Wales. I would really rather be climbing it than standing in front of it. But we did what we could do.
Lanie and Ginger in London by the Tower Bridge
Okay, yes, I had to ask Gary to take a rather boring and unimaginative tourist picture. Lanie and I are standing in front of the Tower Bridge, which spans the Thames in London. It was a beautiful day.

But I think the highlight for Lanie was crabbing. Yes, the little American girl in her thought it would be fun to try this favored activity of English preschool children. Imagine how much we laughed when she actually caught a crab and found out how fiesty they can be!

Lanie crabbing
Lanie wanted to go crabbing. So Gary found her some bacon and a bucket. Then she bought the crabbing kit at a near by museum. I think there were very wise crabs there, it took a long time to catch one. But when she finally did, he was huge! Obviously a veteran of many such encounters, this crab wasn’t going to make his capture easy. There was much squealing and giggling as he snapped claws at her.

A major highlight of our trip, at least from MY perspective, was that I got to spend some time with polymer clay friends. Penny Vingoe, the owner of Clayaround, invited me to visit her in Wales and join with her “girls” for a special Clay Day. I wrote about it in a separate post because there is so much to share about that. The next week we made it down to Bristol to spend some time with Cara Jane Hayman. I enjoyed time in her studio, sharing ideas, stories, and exploring her artwork. I’m not sure why it is, but so many of us in polymer clay seem to be long-lost sisters. Cara Jane and I were quite surprised to find that we have a lot in common, both in our life path (we’re both former scientists) and in our feelings about our art. And, as was pointed out on my Facebook page, Cara and I even look a bit like sisters in this picture!

Cara Jane Hayman and Ginger Davis Allman, two polymer clay artists meeting to share their ideas.
It was wonderful to meet Cara Jane Hayman (L) at her studio. We had so much in common, I think we’re long-lost sisters of polymer clay!

As I’m fascinated with all the materials and supplies that we use in the art of polymer clay, I was eager to find a craft store to visit. I wanted to compare what’s available in the UK to what we have in the US. But that would have to wait until later in the visit. Or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when we went to visit our beloved friends Richard and Alma and found that they lived right next to a Hobbycraft store! I couldn’t help myself. I dragged the whole group into the store and showed them the polymer clay section! It was quite helpful, actually, to see what Hobbycraft has to offer as compared to the US. And although people complain about Hobbycraft being expensive and having poor offerings (we say the same about Michaels, you know), I did find that the offerings were surprisingly good. In many ways I like it better than Michaels. I was able to find everything that I would need to create a polymer clay studio. They even have their own brand of polymer clay (it was in the kids’ section) and I’ve brought some home and will give it a bit of a test later.

Hobbycraft store in Dorset.
How could any self-respecting polymer clay addict miss the opportunity to check out what Hobbycraft has to offer?

When lounging around at my brother-in-law’s house watching TV, I noticed a plaque that shows my niece Ashlyn and her pony Dandy. Was this a “polymer clay moment”? Was it made of clay? Ah, yes it was! My sister-in-law said that it was made by a company called Echo Crafts and she was even looking at getting a family tree picture made from all the family’s photographs and personal stories. What a great idea, eh? See…polymer clay is everywhere!

Polymer clay portrait of Dandy the pony and his owner Ashlyn. By Echo Crafts.
Polymer clay portrait of my niece Ashlyn and her pony Dandy. By Echo Crafts.

And just to show you how accurate the clay portrait is, here’s a picture from our visit three years ago. Here I am, with Ashlyn, kissing Dandy. Is that cute or what?

Ginger and Ashlyn kissing Dandy.
Here is the real Dandy getting a kiss from Ashlyn and me.

Thank you for indulging me in a bit of a travelogue. I know that other people’s vacation pictures can be dull, but I thought that my fellow Americans would be interested in seeing how things are in the UK. I’m not sure when we’ll be able to get back for another visit. But next time I will make a point of seeing more polymer clay people. That was really fun!

Stick around. I have another post planned within the week, and it will be all about polymer clay. See you back here soon!

26 thoughts on “Back from Vacation”

  1. I have trip envy! I so want to visit the UK…. *sigh* someday… 😉 Lucky you, being married to a Brit, you get your own personal tour guide! 😉 Thanks for sharing, I can see you had a lovely time!

    1. I do get my own personal tour guide! This was really the first time we did any of the touristy things, though. Normally we just hang out with family and do “normal people” stuff. I just wish I had more time and money, because I want to go back and see so much more. AND I want to visit other places, too.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing the above picture I made for Ashlyn in your post, I am absolutely delighted! I’ve been using polymer clay and making these pictures for nearly a year now and have found inspiration in lots of places so It’s wonderful to see your really personal website and links to artists’ work on your Facebook page. I’m really glad you enjoyed your time here in the UK and congratulations on the birth of Felix, he’s a cutie!

    1. Welcome, Cathy! So glad you made it over here. Just a year? Wow, you’re doing great! And it sounds like you’ve got the perfect job!

    1. Thank you Boni. The whole thing seriously cut into my clay time. But it was wonderful seeing friends and family. And meeting new friends as well.

    1. Thank you Anne. It was great fun. I can’t wait to go back. Every time we go over there we always have tons of things left over for “next time”.

  3. Welcome back! It looks like a fabulous trip. I really enjoyed reading about it. And I have to admit I am very jealous of you having a grandchild. We are still waiting….

    1. Tell those boys of yours to get busy! Actually, this one was quite a surprise for us. Of all the kids, we never thought this one would ever tie the knot and start a family. But in just a short year he did both!

    1. Ah, you got that eh? Yes, I can be a grouse. But you see, it had a touch of Famous Grouse in it, which is whisky. It was really very nice. And I brought the bottle home for my “ginger” collection.

  4. You will put Australia on your list to I guess Ginger! I know that in Malta, it was wonderful to meet others in the sister/ brotherhood of polymer and Cara Jane and Penny would have been thrilled to meet you! Felix is magnificent…our first grandbaby is weeks away! Rest up, recover and have fun allowing all that inspiration to percolate! Wendy

    1. Actually, it is next on our list. We have so many people we want to see there and in New Zealand. Congrats on your upcoming grandbaby’s birth. What a fantastic and fun time. Get plenty of cuddles…they grow so fast.

    1. You have no idea…if gas weren’t so expensive and we didn’t have to work, I’d be there with bells on. And…I always feel like camping.

    1. True that. I just wish I could have him on “instant transport”. I wish I could be watching him grow up. I’m sure he’s changed so much already!

  5. Wonderful, fun memories and your grandbaby is beautiful! Pics are so awesome……definitely a trip o a life time! Funny you would find clay friends so far away. Enjoyed the read.

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