Wednesday, June 01, 2016

On Planning a Vacation and Flowers in the Rain

Raindrops on peonies, and roses, and clematis. Fat round droplets that chill the air and moisture the landscape. Much needed as we face another warm summer.

(As a note to my previous post, Vee's husband passed away on Saturday morning. Please continue to pray for Vee as she faces this huge loss.) 

Layers of ruffles tightly folded. Waiting to emerge. I do love peonies.

But this post was supposed to be about vacation planning. I'm wondering how you do it. 

Deciding where to go is the first step. Last summer we chose Europe. It's been 9 years since we were there together, and 7 since I went with my mom and sister. The UK, specifically England, has been on the list for awhile, so that was easy. But where else? 

Spain was in the works for a long time. However, once friends suggested a river cruise (Paris to Honfleur), and the dates worked with our already purchased airline tickets, we scrapped Spain for France. Next time, Spain.

Going on a cruise or tour simplifies planning. We've chosen our excursions and have more or less decided what to do with our day and a half in Paris. La Sainte Chapelle is top on my list, and we're planning to attend a concert of classical music there.

The cruise is taking a big chunk out of the UK portion of our trip. We've scrunched London down to two days (not nearly enough) and will be driving to the Cotswolds and then Wales to visit a cousin. 

Am I nervous about driving on the "wrong" side of the road? You bet! 

History fascinates me, and Tim is always interested in the way things work and how they are built. I like filling in blanks, chronologically speaking, so these things are on the list:

- an Iron/Bronze/Stone Age hill fort
- pre-Norman architecture 
- a motte and bailey fortification (or the remnants of such)
- a medieval castle or two
- a great estate house (think Highclere of Downton Abbey fame, although we're not going to be in that area)

We're also interested in doing lots of walking, so I've downloaded a walking tour along a canal in the Cotswolds beginning in Stroud, that takes us by old woollen mills and mining sites.

It's fun to find unexpected things along the way - wandering in Paris on our last time there, we found the location of Heloise and Abelard's dwelling and thought of their sad love story. Getting lost in the Egyptian antiquities in the Louvre was memorable, and a day at Versailles full of the echoes of history in spite of the crowds. We found a completely deserted garden there and sat for a long while, absorbing, thinking, and munching apples.

In Avignon we rented a motor scooter and drove out to the Pont du Gard. It was a hot day and we'd tucked our swimming suits into the day back, just in case. After seeing others swimming in the river, we changed behind some bushes and waded in. Refreshing and cool - and don't you think the slaves/soldiers who built that bridge likely cooled off the same way 2000 years ago?

So we've found that allowing for spontaneity as well as some planning makes for a good vacation. 

How about you? Do you plan to the hour or half day or do you have a rough plan or do things spontaneously? Inquiring minds would love to know.



  1. It rained in the Fraser Valley today, as well. I'm here for work and have been enjoying the mountain views, which are a change from our seaside views.
    I am the planner in our partnership, but I am a very loose planner. I plan the 'bones' of a trip, the flights, the cruise, the hotels in major cities. We like to fill in the blanks with spontaneity. Of course, in order to be spontaneous, one must be well-informed and that is what I attempt to be. I prefer not to pre-arrange excursions (except for places such as The Winter Palace or other terrifically popular sites) but to know enough to arrange something on the spot. We seem to achieve a balance - at least it works for us.

  2. We like to 'rough plan' so there is room for spontaneity...though that seems to work best with the RV! Your summer travel plan sounds great!

    And your beautiful!!!

  3. It is raining buckets here tonight!...
    we can lay the best of plans but they may never come to fruition...
    Holidays are fun, even when it rains!

  4. We generally have an outline plan but are generally very flexible. Your plans sound amazing, hope you enjoy.

  5. Lorrie, much to respond to...first of all, my prayers for Vee. My heart is aching for her this day. I did not know this news until you shared it, so thank you for doing so. I have not followed her blog but noticed the articulate, zesty and characterful comments she makes to others. Oh it is so sad.
    As for the peony and raindrops pics, well they are exquisite! I have no better word.
    A pink peony on its own is gorgeous but your skilled use of the camera has raised it to another level, full of that thing the Japanese have a word for (don't know it) that means sweet, fleeting, tender moment.
    Now about your vacation, well I KNOW you will love it - both the French and the UK aspects; Is Honfleur in Normandy? Yum, the food, if so. And the scenery.We went to Rouen,once. Wonderful historic city and cathedral.
    I like the sound of the Stroud valley walk; there are actually five valleys all radiating round Stroud. The one going North is 'Laurie Lee's valley' who wrote Cider with Rosie.
    You will find all the things on your list in Wales! It is so full of interest.
    we visited 3 castles in one morning on this last break, all within a few miles of each other: Grossmont, White Castle and Skenfrith...all Norman, though.
    We like to talk up a little plan/ itinerary over (leisurely) breakfast, each day on holiday. Plenty of stops for morning ciffe and afternoon tea. Oh yes.

    Sorry about the long post!!
    Good wishes, hugs to you.

  6. So very sad about Vee's husband John, I read Abby's post on Vee's blog.
    One of my friends lost her husband on the same day and we attended his funeral today.

    Your plans are working out well. My daughter took me to Sainte-Chapelle many years ago, I found it breathtaking as you will too Lorrie.
    The river cruise sounds great.
    One December we enjoyed a short trip of southern England and then travelled by ferry to Calais. We picked up our rental car, and spent 3-4 days travelling across France. We were both enchanted by Honfleur, it is charming - you will love it too!
    Our problem is, when we visit France, we're there to spend time with our daughter and her family so we usually only do one short trip away on our own.
    When will you be travelling?
    I'll look forward to hearing more of your plans and of course seeing your lovely photographs along the way!


  7. Honfleur is a fascinating little town with tiny shops full of artists' works.
    Maybe a dinner cruise in a bateau mouche? Wherever you are in Paris there will be something to see.
    Tintern Abbey is beautiful, although it is left as Henry V111 left it, but still inspiring. I'm sure you will have such a lovely holiday.
    I'm suffering Peony envy now!

  8. Your trip sounds so amazing. To me, one of the most fun parts of a trip is the planning, reading and researching before the trip. Planning what to pack and trying to minimize my load is always my challenge but I have to admit I enjoy everything about travel.

    Love your gorgeous peony!!!

  9. You have a wonderful trip planned. JoJo gives the best advice. Please take lots of photos to share. The peony is gorgeous. I am still waiting on mine. Any day now, I keep saying. No rain for a few days; it is finally beginning to warm up. Enjoy the weekend.

  10. I know you've many things on your "to do" list during your vacation but don't forget to find some time to squeeze in a visit with me!!
    Juno Beach is just under an hour from here so is easily doable, I'm planning to drive over there sometime this month just to check things out so that we can maximise the time we'll have together.
    So looking forward to seeing you soon, you're going to have a fabulous time in the Cotswolds, Wales and London and will want to hear all about it.

  11. Lorrie, can you see a faint green glow from all these miles away? It's me, positively green with envy! England, river cruise in France AND those peonies! Your photos of the peonies with raindrops are outstanding!

  12. I've never planned a holiday like yours, been with a tour group a couple of times where everything is already figured out for you.
    I think I'd be pretty nervous about driving on the opposite side of the road too, this will take some concentration. Spontaneity can be fun, I had to chuckle at the thought of you two changing behind some bushes - I've done something else behind the bushes in an emergency. lol Mother always said to have tissues in your purse. ;-)
    Have fun with your planning Lorrie.

  13. Surely you know I am a sucker for rain drops on flowers and your photos are absolutely stunning! Your vacation plans sound fascinating! Our vacas usually consist of heading to the Nashville area to visit our son and his family or to Ohio to visit my siblings. We did go on a cruise way back in 2005 that was quite fun. If I was to go out of the country, I would love to go to Ireland. More than likely, I would get some sort of a packaged deal and leave the planning to them :)

  14. We plan for spontaneity for sure. Your trip sounds wonderful. We would love a river cruise so much. The last trip I planned the whole thing and it would be nice the next time to be taken care of on a cruise. I absolutely love the Cotswolds and so happy you are going there. It is just gorgeous and a walking tour sounds like perfection. Love your raindrops on peonies. Enjoying the cool weather today, as I know it is suppose to be very hot this weekend.

  15. Yes Vee is much on my mind and in my prayers. Such a loss. Your peony photos are amazing … and your trip sounds wonderful. My husband does much of the planning for trips, which --overseas-- are usually tacked on to when he is there for business.
    I'm better at planning family reunions. I think I will step out of my comfort zone and plan a special get away for us when the book he's working on is completed this summer.

  16. For me as soon as I visit a place I seek out a tourist information centre and grab all the leaflets I can and go through them.

  17. Some things are planned like exactly where we are staying and then the days can unfold once we are settled into our spot. I like to have a good list of places at least researched a bit and then we can see what we feel like doing once we are there. Your header is so pretty.

  18. Anonymous4:49 PM

    Lorrie, your flower photographs are so vivid and beautiful. I am so sorry to hear of Vee's husband's passing. I will certainly stop by and see her.

  19. It sounds like you are planning a fabulous vacation in France and England Lorrie. Lucky you! We haven't been on that sort of vacation in years and all our holidays are spent in Alberta with our daughter and family the past 8 years so I guess they are casual and unplanned and we do things spontaneously. We did do an extended trip in 2013 to include Chilliwack for my nephew's wedding and therefore had to do some planning for day trips while there before we flew to Calgary. That was a great trip! We do like to have some ideas of what we want to do when we're away and try to settle on days for touring, say to Banff or Canmore. Our daughter and family are coming here for vacation 3 weeks from today!! They have lots they want to do but it will all revolve around the kids and meal/nap/and bedtime schedules! I hope they/we get to do some of the things on their list!

  20. We plan only to a degree and then just let things fall into place. Right now I do know if I don't do a little planning we won't find a hotel! We are leaving on July 4th. But, nothing too grand we should find room. Your trip will be wonderful and I look forward to your posts about it!

  21. I'm also looking forward to reading more about your plans and the trip itself when it happens. I may have missed when that will be.

    My daughter and I spent three weeks in England and Scotland ten years ago. We loved walking in the Cotswolds. Blenheim Palace is a wonderful old estate, where Winston Churchill was born, but we mostly toured its extensive gardens and I took notes.

    My daughter also wanted to see lots of ancient ruins, like Roman houses and forts in the south of England, Bath, and even older sites like stone circles and the White Horse of Uffington. The way we planned the trip was: I planned, because she was in the last months of vet school at the time, including all the things she really wanted to do. Then she drove for about two weeks - and she was young and did wonderfully. I was on the rental agreement as a driver but I was so relieved that I never had to do it, and when we turned in the car with not a scratch after all that time.

    Bon Voyage!


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