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Adventures & Learning Food Travel

Galveston Island

We decid­ed on the spur of the moment to take a trip down to Galve­ston Island, about an hour and half from Sug­ar Land.

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Adventures & Learning Articles Travel

Laurissilva Forest Trail Ride, Madeira

Por favor, volte (please, come back).
Por favor, volte (please, come back).

Look­ing for a bit of “horse heav­en”, I con­vinced Stephen he would love a group ride in the woods. After a quick check on Tri­pAd­vi­sor, we dis­cov­ered to our sur­prise that Madeira’s Num­ber One attrac­tion fea­tured hors­es! With a call to Quin­ta do Ria­cho, I com­mit­ted. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the image of Tex, an enor­mous ani­mal with a mind of his own (Stephen’s last equine “expe­ri­ence” on a rocky Ore­gon beach), popped into my head. Could we make this work? Des­per­ate to jump into the sad­dle, I man­aged to cajole him into action.

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Adventures & Learning Articles Travel

Madeira East Road Trip


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Fea­tures: beg­ging man, grow­ing crops, walk­ing mourn­ers, bear-snatch­ing tot, whirling fog.

We wait­ed for the car agent at the des­ig­nat­ed spot for an hour (due to a mix up) before we even­tu­al­ly drove off in a wee, dirt-brown Nis­san Micra. We’d asked for a mod­el with good tires, but in the end con­sid­ered our­selves lucky to get any vehi­cle, albeit with 89,000 kilo­me­ters (or 55,302 miles) on its hooves. We divid­ed the work from the start: Stephen would dri­ve as he enjoys the famil­iar British chal­lenge of nar­row, curvy roads while I simul­ta­ne­ous­ly would pho­to­graph every­thing that moved, along with every­thing that didn’t.

Once we came to a halt, all bets were off, and the best wo/man cap­tured the Nikon cam­era, while the run­ner-up used his/her iPhone. Ulti­mate­ly, on our East jour­ney we snapped rough­ly 150 pho­tos to com­pile enough raw mate­ri­als to cre­ate this post. 

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Adventures & Learning Travel

Madeira West Road Trip


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Fea­tures: beg­ging lizard, smil­ing dog, tree-hug­ging bear, park­ing tick­et, and explod­ing tyre

The alarm went off at the ungod­ly hour of 7am, and we slow­ly dragged our­selves out of bed. A lit­tle known fact: dark­ness pre­vails at 7am in Madeira. Why on earth had we orga­nized a car rental for the day, I’d rather just mooch around in my work­out shorts for the next two hours, cup of tea in hand, and take a good long look over the bal­cony at the evolv­ing sea scene below.

Nev­er mind, we got our­selves orga­nized: we packed up the swim­ming gear, the cam­era gear,  the food & water and car­ried every­thing to the local car rental office across the street.

The agency pro­vid­ed a Renault Clio, black, that had been around the block a few times, I’d say. The tyres appeared pret­ty bald and the odome­ter reg­is­tered 69,000 kilo­me­ters. Not too bad if the island were the size of Cal­i­for­nia, but it’s only about 30 miles long. So it has had a good num­ber of short trips. The agent care­ful­ly point­ed out the spare wheel loca­tion and con­firmed a tool kit and jack on board. First time a rental agent has done that in the recent past.

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Adventures & Learning Travel

Granite Way Cycle Path

On route again through last underpass
On route again through last under­pass

We ful­ly expect­ed a fun day, our first taste of bik­ing in the UK. We embarked on the Gran­ite Way, a main­ly traf­fic-free cycle route from Oke­hamp­ton to Lyd­ford, Devon and a part of the exten­sive Nation­al Cycle Net­work (NCN) in the UK-route 27 “Devon coast-to-coast”. Built along the course of the old South­ern Region rail­way line, the rel­a­tive­ly flat trail cov­ers about 15 miles.

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Articles Travel

Castle Drogo

Granite stone with impressive door at Castle Drogo
Gran­ite stone with impres­sive door

What con­tains 2355 sol­id gran­ite blocks and leaks like a sieve?

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the last cas­tle built in Eng­land claims that hon­or.

Yes, Cas­tle Dro­go leaks pro­fuse­ly and water will ruin the prop­er­ty with­out imme­di­ate action. For­tu­nate­ly, the Nation­al Trust, own­er since 1974, has come to the res­cue and the building’s inte­ri­or now faces a bone-dry future, but will wait five years for the priv­i­lege. In the mean­time, scaf­fold­ing around the struc­ture sup­ports the (hope­ful­ly) brave and patient work­men who will care­ful­ly remove and return 680 tons of stone from (and back to) the Cas­tle roof — a Grand Design Ground­hog Day, to be sure.

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Adventures & Learning Articles

Miniature Pony Centre

A good mane day, Mom!
A good mane day, Mom!

Locat­ed inside Dart­moor Nation­al Park, near More­ton­hamp­stead in Devon, the Cen­tre hous­es minia­ture and Shet­land ponies along with hors­es, minia­ture Mediter­ranean don­keys, and an array of oth­er farm ani­mals (includ­ing a hefty Kunekune pig). Start­ed by the Den­nis fam­i­ly in 1986, the farm now trades under the own­er­ship of the Hutch­ings fam­i­ly, includ­ing four daugh­ters — no sur­prise they want to car­ry on the fam­i­ly tra­di­tion.

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Adventures & Learning Articles

Eden Project

Overview of Eden Project
Overview of Eden Project

In 1998, a 35-acre chi­na clay site in Corn­wall, Eng­land stood silent and unpro­duc­tive. Today, the Eden Project demon­strates how enough vision and resources can trans­form a min­ing pit into a green, con­ser­va­tion-ori­ent­ed par­adise for all to enjoy. Record pro­duc­er Sir Tim Smit, Eden co-founder and chief exec­u­tive, pro­vid­ed a dri­ving force for the crit­i­cal change back to pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. The Project, now a reg­is­tered edu­ca­tion­al char­i­ty, exists to bring peo­ple and nature clos­er togeth­er through “gar­dens, exhi­bi­tions, events, expe­ri­ences, and projects.”

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Adventures & Learning Articles Food

Pencarrow House

My Lady, could I interest you in a cup of tea?
My Lady, could I inter­est you in a cup of tea?

Vot­ed loca­tion of Best Ani­mal Con­ver­sa­tions, this his­toric tran­quil 50-acre estate still sur­vives near Bod­min in Corn­wall. The pri­vate home remains in the pos­ses­sion of the Molesworth-St. Aubyn fam­i­ly and fea­tures a Geor­gian house – an archi­tec­tur­al style from 1720 to 1840, named for the first four British mon­archs (Georges I, II, III, and IV) – along with a 17th cen­tu­ry café, lake & ice­house, Ital­ian & Amer­i­can gar­dens, wood­land, and pas­tures. And as ref­er­enced above, the estate hosts some of the most artic­u­late domes­ti­cat­ed crea­tures in Britain.

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Adventures & Learning Travel

St. Michael’s Mount

Getting close to the castle now...
Get­ting close to the cas­tle now…

A small rocky isle on the south­west coast of Eng­land in the coun­ty of Corn­wall, this spec­tac­u­lar set­ting show­cas­es a medieval church and the cas­tle home of the St. Aubyn fam­i­ly who con­tin­ues to man­age the island as they have since the 17th cen­tu­ry. Fran­cis St. Aubyn gave the land and prop­er­ty to the Nation­al Trust in 1954 while secur­ing a 999-year lease for the fam­i­ly to con­tin­ue res­i­dence in their ances­tral home. For vis­i­tors, the fact that the cas­tle, gar­dens, and lands have live-in own­ers with a long his­to­ry of stew­ard­ship gen­er­ates a pal­pa­ble feel­ing of gen­uine care­tak­ing and gra­cious over­sight.