A Cruise to the British Isles

An affable cruise representative met us at Heathrow Airport, London, and accompanied us to the bus that drove a whole group of passengers to the ship terminal in Southampton, where we boarded the ship, our home away-from-home for the next twelve days. We didn’t visit London where we have previously spent time.

The next morning we docked in Guernsey Island (St. Peter Port), 30 miles west of Normandy,  where the French author Victor Hugo lived in exile for 25 years at Hautevile House and wrote both Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. We were welcomed with a gorgeous sunny weather and 70 oF temperature for our visit of the island, an idyllic paradise with cobbled streets and picturesque seafront marina.

Guernsey is not part of the United Kingdom but it is part of the British Islands. Residents speak English and French, and their money is similar to the English pound. Many of the houses in Guernsey’s west have an unusual strange piece of granite sticking out of them – these are “witches’ seats”. Back when they supposedly ran wild in the western parishes, residents built them onto their houses so that the witches could stop and rest, rather than causing havoc. The world-renowned Guernsey cow produces some of the most rich and delicious dairy products in the world.

St. Peter Port is the main town on the island of Guernsey. It’s full of hills, colors, and super cute shops! The top speed limit in Guernsey is 35 miles/hour. If you drive along the coastline of Guernsey you will hit military fortifications almost every 2 minutes or so. These were built during the Napoleonic wars to protect Guernsey from France.

The Little Chapel is actually the smallest chapel in the world! But the astonishing thing is that the entire chapel, interior and exterior, is covered with broken bits of pottery, glass, and china. 

We sailed to Ireland and stopped in Cork where we visited the romantic ruins of Blarney Castle. In the Blarney garden, the trees were dressed in knitted wool. Many visitors climbed the one-person narrow stairs to the Stone of Eloquence, all the way to the top of the castle (NOT me) and admired the amazing view.

In the Blarney village, we shopped for wool and Waterford crystal, and didn’t buy any, but we enjoyed watching young girls performing an Irish dance for us.

Dublin, capital of the Republic of Ireland is an old city boasting imposing castles and estates. The Druids believe the shamrock could ward off evil and the Christians believe it represent the Holy Trinity. In Dublin, we visited Trinity College and St. Patrick Cathedral.

Trinity College is huge, with several buildings. We were impressed by the crowd of young people and students. A Ford ancestor was autistic, and bullied by his friends. He was shot and fell from the window and died. They say that his ghost roams the University ground. His sibling left and went to the US. His grandson is Henry Ford.

TRINITY COLLEGE founded in 1592

At St. Patrick Cathedral we saw  the tile of Dean Jonathan Swift, who had been the dean of the Cathedral. When someone dozed during his homily, he had a chaplain drag his sermon chair to the culprit and hit him with his cane. My son-in-law’s grandmother had the same name and claimed him as an ancestor.

Our next stop was Liverpool, England, where we visited a very modern and circular church, the Catholic Metropolitan church of Christ the King and the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral that is humongous, of Gothic style in red brick, with gorgeous painted glass.

We strolled along Penny Lane and took pictures of the street where the Beatles lived.

In Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland, we visited the yard of City Hall with Queen Victoria statue and a moratorium for the people who died in the Titanic. The “unsinkable” Titanic was built in Belfast over two years and sailed from Liverpool. After it was built, the engineer said: “Not even God can sink the Titanic.”

In Scotland, we docked in Greenock and drove through Glasgow. Our guide wore a lovely yellow kilt. We passed by George Place, in front of the spectacular City Hall, big square with several statues, among which that of Walter Scott.

After a day at sea, we were still in Scotland. Our next stop was in Inverness and Loch Ness. We woke up at 5:30 am for the long ride by bus. It was rainy and cold but worth it. I stoically waited under the rain with my umbrella while my husband climbed up the old castle.

During my visit to Guernsey, I was greatly impressed by the peaceful island that boasted a tumultuous history. As our guide described the special autonomy and numerous privileges the residents enjoy under the leadership of a Lieutenant Governor, I decided that this Channel Island would become the Principality of Rensy Island, the setting of a new series of romance novels. So far, I have five books relating the stories of the princes/princesses from Rensy Island. I hope you will enjoy reading this series.

A Bride For Prince Paul: She can’t abandon her patients for his crown! A Bodyguard For The Princess: A murder at Harvard in Princess Chloe’s student building. Jingle With My Princess: The doc and the princess… He saves lives but Princess Charlene may save his heart. Prince Philip’s Cinderella: A charming jogger saves her from danger. But he’s a prince… and she comes from nothing. Should she run or risk her heart? A Dance for Prince Eric: A ballerina with a promising career on the run for her brother’s sake. A charismatic prince who saved them both. Do fairytales exist?

Amore Island…A Place For Love

I’ve never been much of a traveler as I tend to get carsick. And airsick. Any kind of sick when the ground is moving under my feet faster than I like.

But I always find it great to lose myself in my writing. That’s where Amore Island came from. A fictional island off the coast of Boston that allows me to travel whenever I want in my mind.

The Bond family has become part of my family it seems. I’ve been building them up since the first book was released over a year ago. In a few days, the sixth in the series will be live. Eli Bond and Bella Kingston.

This series is turning into one of my favorites to write and read. If you’re looking for love on a remote island, then check out Family Bonds!

The best ice cream

At a time when everyone is going on a diet, I am almost embarrassed to admit I love ice-cream. I don’t particularly like cakes or dessert, but give me an ice cream and you’ll see a happy person.

The best ice cream I ever tasted left an indelible memory in my mind. We were in Rome, in front of the Fountain of Trevis—you know the famous fountain where you throw a coin to come back one day. I was hot and thirsty. When I saw the window of a Gelateria displaying scrumptious ice creams, I bought a gelato, as they call the ice cream in Italy. Oh my God, delicious, incredibly delicious. It had strawberries, chocolate, vanilla and whipped cream, stuffed with dried fruit. I asked for the name of that heavenly ice cream. They called it cassata Siciliana or cassata Napolitana, depending on whether the vendor was from Southern Italy or from Northern Italy.

Two days later, our cruise ship stopped in Sorrento. One of the waiters recommended a gelateria on the main piazza. “If you like ice cream, you can taste their cassata Siciliana,”  he said, bringing his bunched fingers to his lips and sending a kiss. “The best ice cream in the world.”

I didn’t need more convincing and led my husband straight to the gelato store.We each ordered a cone of cassata. My husband chocked at the price, $15 per cone.

But the store owner explained in broken English that his store was the Pope’s favorite gelateria. Apparently the Pope stopped here once to have a cone of cassata. Later, the owner built a St. Peter Basilica, made of cassata and presented it to the Pope. Of course, the picture was all over Italy’s newspapers and the owner showed us a copy on the wall with the pope receiving his pious ice cream. “So you capito perque cassata expensive?” the man added.

Si, capito, I understand why this cassata is so expensive.” Not that it reconciled my husband with the offensive price.

On the ship, the maître d’ gave me a recipe. The problem is that ice cream is loaded with calories and I am doing a terrible effort to watch what I eat and stay away from ‘dangerous’ food. I modified the recipe and used non-fat ice cream, or even better, frozen yogurt.

Cassata Recipe:

1-A pint of chocolate frozen yogurt containing dark chocolate chips.

2-A pint of strawberry frozen yogurt with frozen bits of strawberries.

3- A pint of mango ice cream with frozen bits of mangoes.

4- A box of non-fat whipped cream.

5- A pack of cut dried fruits, pineapple, papaya, raisin, coconut.

***The boxes of ice cream or frozen yogurt should be allowed to soften out of the refrigerator for half an hour before using.***

1-In an easy-to-open mold, spread the softened chocolate frozen yogurt evenly. Put in the freezer for two hours to harden.

2-Now spread the softened strawberry frozen yogurt evenly on top of the chocolate layer. Put in the freezer for two hours to let it harden.

3-Empty the bag of dry fruits in the box of whipped cream and mix well, then spread on the hardened ice cream in the mold. Leave in the freezer overnight.

4-Spread the softened mango ice cream evenly on top of the frozen whipped cream in the mold. Put in the freezer for two hours to let it harden.

**You can use mint chocolate instead of chocolate frozen yogurt, and pistachio ice cream instead of mango.

Take the mold out of the freezer half an hour before serving. Hold over a warm stove to loosen your ice cream from the bottom and be able to overturn the mold on a plate. Enjoy. Delicious and low calorie.

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