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