A weekend in Tirana

It has been full on. This is a conference I’ve been on so I’m not sharing the many and wonderful experiences contained within a meeting up of women from around the globe all involved in simple and organic church life. But it was rich indeed. We have been cared for very well – from the breakfasts:

Through to very large and exotic lunches:

And today we wandered along the lakeside before breakfast. It was a very pretty and popular location:

After breakfast we went to the ocean, amazed at the sight of umbrellas tightly packed and a bulldozer turning sand. Overlooking the beach we lunched in a plush seafood restaurant.

Finally tonight we had a meeting with the whole church with whom we had met, and ate and sang and I have not experienced anything like it.

Hello Tirana!!

Well, we’re in Albania! Yes – a 3-hr flight over some interesting patchwork of hills and mountains and touched down at 12.30pm.

We were met by Espressa who cannot speak English but was fluent in hugs and the taxi driver drove us through a maze of streets and through some scary roundabouts to our hotel. The hotel was tucked down a back street but perfectly fine and – when our bags were dropped – we joined the other ladies for lunch. What happy reunions with some I know in both America and the Netherlands, Bournemouth and the new ones hosting us here.

I have stepped out into the back streets and seen a moody sky above which yielded these shots.

Thrilled to be here. It has been exhausting but rich already. Ours were the first New Zealand passports the customs official had seen.

Last full day in England

The last two days have been spent in company with all the very dear folk we know in Bournemouth – right up to the last minute when everyone was so tired they almost fell asleep where they sat.

Sis and I drove up from Bournemouth this morning, breaking the journey to Gatwick at Jane Austen’s house and museum in Hampshire. Always worth a visit! I benefitted from hitting my head twice on the low lintel of the door leading in to the shop – it served to awake me fully to the charms of the gardens and cornucopia of Austen items for sale:

And inside the main house we even found costumes to add some authenticity to our appearance.

Afterwards we enjoyed lunch in the tearooms across the way.

And now I’m relaxing at a hotel at Gatwick where we will stay overnight before flying to Tirana, Albania on the morrow.

The southwest of England

Yesterday we went for a drive into the New Forest for lunch, enjoying the sight of the wild ponies that wander the fields and woods there.

We set off for Wareham this morning and had a serene hour kayaking the river there.

This was followed by coffee with the Kapers who joined my sister and Anna at the Coffee Saloon.

Then we walked around purchasing lunch and viewing an artisan’s shop and H and I were dazzled by a funeral procession comprised of sleek black horses and glass hearse carriage.

From there we went to visit Thomas Hardy’s cottage and surrounding woods where we picnicked and strolled the bluebells and blossoms – bliss!

Tomorrow: Gatwick

Heathrow to Bournemouth via Shaftesbury

We woke to an utterly splendid summer’s day in Southern England – even the back of the hotel had winsome views.

Went for a couple of convoluted bus trips to get the rental car: a Citroen – small/black. Once behind the wheel we progressed via the M3 southwest to Shaftesbury and THIS delightful and breathtaking view from the cafe at the top of Gold Hill.

And the Dorset Applecake with clotted cream eaten inside was all it was cracked up to be:

Our wander around nearby revealed King Alfred as the founder of Shaftesbury and some rather nice pieces of art and craft celebrating the locale.

And then it was on to the Cerne Abbas Giant – the naked man carved into the hill – just a bit further south.

We then drove due east, looking all the while for a restroom. In this we were unsuccessful but taunted cruelly by names such as Piddlehinton, Piddledowns, The Piddle Inn, Puddlehauntan, little Puddlington (I made up the last two) – but you get the gist. Finally Helen and I found ourselves in the heart of Bournemouth and among friends. It has been nothing but conviviality since then.

And now – with some relief – bed!

We’re on the top of the world!

That is sis and I at Auckland airport 30 hours ago. Little did I know that the cash passport card with all my money on it had expired last year. Just as well. It was a 12 hour flight to LA and slept for a good number of those hours. The transit through LA nowhere near as bad as last time – we got syphoned off early – and managed a brief lull in the departure lounge. Then 9 hours to London where I discovered the foibles of my financial plan for the next five weeks. Credit card it is then.

We’ve been downstairs after a four hour snooze, and shower, to check out the balmy weather before settling over a cider and tapas. Ah, England! Remember us?

Three days before we go. . .

TravelPic

Yep, crossing from one side of this small globe to the other on Saturday. Off to a small conference in Albania to start, and then a brief sojourn in Paris, before a lengthy relaxing wander at random around the south of France. We return via Dublin, then leave from London. My sis and I will be gone 5 weeks, and enjoying every possible range of weather.

This isn’t a ‘meet up’ kind of trip – it’s a ‘follow our nose and enjoy the sights’ kind of trip – so forgive me if I’m not posting apart from these blog updates. I hope you enjoy them.

Trip

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