Fear Conquering & Writing A Will

The topic of wills and health care directives has come up with a few of our friends and family recently so we thought we would revisit this from a few years ago.
My biggest concern was to have our affairs in order, in the event of my certain demise. It’s essential for me to be sure that the kids are not burdened when I go down in flames in a hang gliding / bungee jumping / snowboarding / street food eating episode… CONTINUE READING >>

The topic of wills and health care directives has come up with a few of our friends and family recently so we thought we would revisit this from a few years ago.

Fear Conquering

If you are an avid reader of our blog, you are most probably aware that in the union of David and I, I am the less fearless. David has always been the adventurer – I am the homebody, the helicopter mom, the worrier.

Selling the nest and heading out into the big, wide world, for me, was stepping outside the box. WAY out of the box. There were scores of box-escaping baby steps I needed to undertake before I could become a bona fide GypsyNester.

My biggest concern was to have our affairs in order, in the event of my certain demise. It was essential for me to be certain that the kids are not burdened if I go down in a hang gliding / bungee jumping / snowboarding / street food eating blaze of glory.

The Spawn will have enough on their plates explaining to their friends how Mommy was gored by a long-horned steer in rodeo clown school. They don’t need estate probate problems to boot.

So David and I hauled our butts to an estate lawyer. It was probably the most inappropriate client meeting ever for this modest, very serious lawyer. J. Biffington Goodmannerlyness, Esq. has a somber job and he is very good at it. J. Biff’s gig is like the prequel to the funeral home director – weighty, uncomfortable subjects are handled in a most serious and solemn way.

Enter the GypsyNesters.

I’m not going to lie, talking about my death – and what happens afterward – is not my favorite topic. When David and I are uncomfortable with ANYTHING, humor is always our first line of defense. Right off the bat, we started in with the tasteless death, taxes and lawyer gags. Bless his heart, poor J. Biff never knew what hit him. To his credit, he held fast to a calm demeanor and strained smile.

J. Biff did his best to keep us fairly focused on the task at hand and in the end was successful. We discovered having J. Biff’s knowledge and experience in person garnered huge advantages over the do-it-yourself-type route. We could ask stupid questions, had a mediator for the inevitable “heavy discussions” and a sounding board for the intricacies of our family dynamic.

First up, assets

Prior to our meeting, we were unaware how blissfully vague a person can be when distributing one’s possessions. We were under the impression that each item had to be separately bequeathed to an heir. Not so.

By forming a Revocable Living Trust we were able to avoid almost all of the end of life legal hurdles. Almost any holding – securities, bank accounts, real estate and even personal items like vehicles or jewelry, may be included. As long as an asset is held in the trust, it is exempt from probate hassles.

When one of us kicks the bucket, the trust continues unchanged. If we croak at the same time, the trust is split three ways between The Spawn. We added a stipulation for The Boy’s remaining college tuition and a stipend for our oldest daughter, The Piglet, for her duties as trustee/executor.

The sixteen boxes we have in storage were are properly marked “For The Boy on his 21st birthday”, “Grandma’s china for Decibel”, etc. The few unmarked knickknacks, pieces of art and photo albums are left for them to fight over. What’s a good funeral without a scuffle or two? It’ll keep their minds off of our death (am I the most considerate mother, or what?).

Next, Uhhhhh… the dreaded Living Will

Having gone through the “pull the plug” process twice in my family, once with a Living Will and once without – I am a HUGE proponent of the advance planning option. Making grave medical decisions under duress is not a burden I want to dump on my offspring.

By this time, J. Biff was catching on to us and allowing himself to crack a timid smile or two at our inelegant comments. David, when asked about life support, self-confidently said, “First time I poop my pants – pull the plug.” I’m more willing to give adult diapers a shot and J. Biff gently ran me through some end-of-life scenarios.

It was decided that middle-daughter, Decibel, be in charge of medical decisions. She is our toughest kid and would faithfully stick to the program. The Piglet would second-guess herself for the rest of her life and The Boy was too young for the weight of that kind of task. J. Biff suggested we put our Living Will in an online hospital database so Decibel wouldn’t have to jump through any more hoops than necessary. What a great invention! We enrolled with enthusiasm.

Two weeks later, J. Biff handed over a large notebook containing copies of all the necessary papers. Entitled “Estate Planning Portfolio” (aren’t WE the hoity-toity ones?), the binder also houses many other handy-dandy items such as:

–Lists of locations — so The Piglet can find the sixteen boxes, our safe deposit box, tax records and the like.

–Life insurance information

–Detailed instructions for incorporating banks accounts and insurance companies into our trust

–Forms for the donation of organs

Best among these is the “Directions for the Trustee”. This document is obviously lovingly put together and is in checklist form. #1 is “If you are alone, telephone a friend who can spend the next few hours with you. Shock and trauma can take unexpected forms.” How unlawyerly.

The remainder of the checklist will help The Piglet deal with caring for family members, funeral arrangements, important papers and all of the other matters she wants to avoid discussing with her living, breathing parents.

The most beneficial part of this process is knowing that The Piglet will have sweet, compassionate J. Biffington Goodmannerlyness at the ready.

He’ll know just how to act when she starts wisecracking away her grief.

Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Your Turn: Got any stories about writing a will? Let us know below!

Getting Back to Traveling

We’ve done it! Since we are now both fully vaccinated, we are ready to get back to something resembling our life before this contemptable mess of a pandemic began. That means we can finally hit the road again…
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We’ve done it! Since we are now both fully vaccinated, we are ready to get back to something resembling our life before this contemptable mess of a pandemic began. That means we can finally hit the road again (I can almost hear Willie Nelson singing now).

We aren’t quite ready to jump right back to where we were over a year ago, but we did start by seeing our grand daughter for the first time ever. Just in time for her first birthday. Oh, and also our kids.

For those who didn’t know yet, our first grandchild was born last May in Paris, yes, that Paris. The one in France. So needless to say, we have not been able to fly over to see her, but now her parents have managed to bring her to come see us!

Even though it wasn’t really a trip for us, it sure felt like one. We rented a big house nearby so all of our kids and their spouses could come, and we all hung out for a glorious few weeks walking on the beach, eating good food, and basking in the magnificent normalcy of being able to visit face to face.

We even managed to fly everyone to Kanas for a few days to see both great grandfathers.

It all felt so great, but pulling off the trip was not without some hoops to jump through since everything has not quite fully returned to normal. Flights were crazy full because people are flying again, but the airlines have not yet resumed many of the flights they cancelled at the height of the pandemic. Here’s hoping that changes soon.

Also, tests were still required for our overseas visitors before they could both leave and return to France. This certainly made for some tense moments waiting for the results. A positive test would have cancelled the whole thing, or meant that they could not return home.

The good news is that didn’t happen and we had perhaps our best visit ever. Everyone felt the joy of being able to be together again. So now that experience has us happily planning for more travel in the future.

Our initial ideas are also involving visiting family and friends since it has been so long since we could, but we are also starting to think about some other journeys later this year.

That got us thinking about our favorite active travel company, Backroads. We have biked and hiked across France and Cuba with them in the past, and now they are opening up some great new adventures all around the world.

Or, if we aren’t quite ready for that level of globe-trotting yet, they also have some amazing itineraries closer to home, right here in North America.

Backroads’ founder and President, Tom Hale, put it this way: “The second half of 2021 is shaping up to be a very good time to travel. Demand for our Dolce Tempo trips, national park trips and anything in North America is so high that we’ve scheduled departures into late fall to keep up with the interest. I love traveling in shoulder season because there are often fewer crowds, which gives us even more space to explore actively.”

These Dolce Tempo trips include hiking, biking, and kayaking in Alaska, Maine, California, the American Southwest, and Canada. Of course, there are more far-flung destinations as well, and it is all done at an easy-going pace that allows for getting to know each region.

Hale describes it like this: “I simply can’t imagine a better way to immerse yourself in the life of a region, to explore hidden corners and appreciate nuances while enjoying the benefits and enormous satisfaction of traveling under your own power. These are experiences you cannot have behind the wheel of a car, or on a train or a tour bus. Active travel is, at its heart, a way of connecting more authentically with the world. Sure, Backroads provides amazing leaders, superb accommodations and meals, and opportunities you could never arrange on your own. But all of our comprehensive planning and support is aimed at something far simpler: bringing you the immediate, highly personal satisfaction of discovering a new world on your own terms.”

So as the world struggles to return to normalcy, we are happily studying the possibilities of new adventures… and loving every minute of it!

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Solemnly Cycling Along Omaha Beach

There might be no better way to experience Omaha Beach in Normandy than to glide silently along the several miles of this unparalleled piece of history on two wheels….
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We are fully convinced that bicycles are the best way to see most places up close while traveling. We can cover many times more ground than on foot, and those feet don’t hurt at the end of the day.

However, if we needed some reinforcement for that point of view, there might be none better than the day we spent riding along Omaha Beach in Normandy. For us there is simply no better way to have experienced this unparalleled piece of history than to glide silently along its several miles of waterfront on two wheels.

We began at one of the surviving German bunkers, where the Fifth Engineer Special Brigade Memorial stands overlooking the landing site of the Allied troops.

The feeling here is beyond profound. Gazing out over the English Channel, the power of that historic campaign was fully overwhelming. It was not difficult to picture the armada of ships dotting the horizon, but almost impossible to imagine the chaos and turmoil of the human onslaught while the liberators came onshore.

It took several minutes before anyone in our group was even able to speak.

When we went inside of the bunker and looked through the narrow slits designed to allow for outgoing gunfire, we could only think that the positioning of the bunkers made it hard to believe any allied forces ever made it off of the beach.

Just above the bunkers, the Monument to the First Infantry Division commemorates the six hundred and twenty seven members of the Big Red One’s that died freeing France in June of 1944.

From there we made our way back up to the top of the bluff where The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France is located. Here the graves of 9,385 soldiers, almost all casualties of D-Day or soon after, spread out over one hundred and seventy acres.

If we thought that we were emotional before, this took us well beyond any feelings we had ever experienced. To gather ourselves we took a few minutes to meditate at the reflecting pool in front of the colonnade.

Along this columned walkway there are maps detailing the military operations, a bronze statue entitled Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves, and the Wall of the Missing. The wall, inscribed with over fifteen hundred names, serves as a solemn reminder of those who were lost in action.

Moving into the cemetery, we spent a while walking among and gazing across the seemingly endless rows of stark white markers, taking in as many of the names as we could, before finally deciding to move on for a look at the rest of the beach.

Mounting our bikes we rode off in silence. The pathway took us directly alongside the sand, with the sea on our right and bluffs dotted with overgrown pillboxes left from Germany’s Atlantic Wall looming above us on our left.

After a mile or so we spotted the sculpture Les Braves rising from the water’s edge. Dedicated in 2004 for the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the thirty foot center pillars called Rise, Freedom! stand majestically between The Wings of Fraternity and The Wings of Hope, all formed from gleaming stainless steel.

It is an awesome work of art, designed by Anilore Banon to move in and out of the water with the tide and her words describing it are much better than anything we could possibly say:

The Wings of Hope -So that the spirit which carried these men on 6th June 1944, continues to inspire us, reminding us that together it is always possible to change the future.

Rise Freedom! – So that the example of those who rose up against barbarity, helps us remain standing strong against all forms on inhumanity.

The Wings of Fraternity – So that the surge of brotherhood always reminds of our responsibility towards others as well as ourselves. On 6th June 1944, these men were more than soldiers, they were our brothers.” – Anilore Banon.

Slightly inland from Les Braves is another poignant piece of artwork. Yannec Tomada’s Ever Forward is a statue of a running soldier carrying a wounded comrade up from the water. The work conveys the human struggle of that fateful day with gripping realism.

Once again, the artist’s words serve to explain much better than we ever could:

“In commemoration of the determined effort by the soldiers of the 29th Division’s 116th Infantry Regimental Combat Team who landed the morning of June 6, 1944 on this section of Omaha Beach, known as Exit D-1, to open the Vierville Draw behind you to begin the liberation of Europe.”

This was another spot that held us for quite some time, unable to move away, but as we finally rode away from the sea it occurred to us that bicycles were a very good way to move about this countryside.

Later we learned that some of the Allied troops had used bicycles on D-Day.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

A big thank you to Backroads Travel  for providing this adventure, as always, all opinions are our own.

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How to Keep Yourself Entertained During a Long-Haul Flight

Are you planning your next trip to a far-flung destination? Then check out these ideas to keep you entertained during your flight…
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There is finally light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, and that means long haul travel is back on the cards. If you’re planning to hop on a flight and travel to far-flung, exotic destinations, then this article is for you. Long haul flights might be taking you to somewhere special, but there’s no denying that spending hours on a flight can be tiresome. We’re here to help you wile away the flying time with a few ideas on how to keep yourself entertained.

Play Games

Playing games is a great way to keep your mind occupied during long haul travel. We recommend downloading a few of your favorite games onto your mobile or tablet. Once you’re in the air, you can turn your device back on and start playing. If you’re up for taking a few risks, you can hit up one of the fast payout casino sites at new-casino.ca. Many of these have apps that you can download, which makes in-flight access much easier. Playing poker is a great option, because it’s a game of skill, which means that you need to focus on the game at hand. Your focus on the game will help take your mind off the fact that you’re stuck on a plane for ten hours. You’d be amazed at how easy it is to play card games for hours at a time. And when you get tired, you can turn to slot games for some easy rounds on the reels.

Engage Your Fellow Traveller

If gambling is not your jam, then there are plenty of other games that will help keep you engaged. Chess is a great game to play when you’ve got time on your hands, because the game requires concentration, patience, and strategic planning. If you’ve got a chess game loaded onto your device, you can play against an A.I. opponent. You can also find travel-sized chess boards, or backgammon boards, that you can set up on your tray table and play with your travel buddy. Having a pack of cards in your bag is also a great idea when you’re travelling. Card games are a great way to break the ice with the stranger sitting next to you, so if you’re traveling alone, you can turn to your seat neighbor and suggest a game of Gin Rummy or blackjack.

Zone Out with a Movie

The great thing about long haul flights is the in-flight entertainment center. You’ll find a surprisingly good selection of movies on the screen in front of you, so why not plug in your headphones and get lost in a good story? It’s actually possible to spend the entire flight watching back-to-back movies, but if you do that, you might end up feeling brain-drained by the time you arrive at your destination. We suggest mixing up your time between watching movies, playing games, and getting in a snooze. Be sure to take a travel pillow on board with you, and if possible, take your own eye-mask with you and sprinkle it with a few drops of lavender oil because it will help you fall asleep.

Start Knitting

Another great option for passing the time on a long-haul flight is knitting. Knitting is a relaxing pastime that many people take up for its meditative qualities. Your mind will focus on the task at hand without having to think to hard about what it is you’re doing. The repetitive nature of knitting makes it easy to get into a pleasing rhythm, and your mind will begin to relax and release any negative thoughts that might be making you feel tense. If you’re not a happy flyer, this could be a great option for helping you to stay calm during your flight. If knitting doesn’t appeal, you can get the same result from drawing, for example, or writing a journal, or even just getting stuck into a really good book.

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

Free Things to Do in Italy

There are many things to do in Italy that can be done for free or on the cheap. So why not have a look at the best options for sightseeing and other activities…
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Italy is a beautiful country with so much to offer. There are many things to do in Italy that can be done for free or on the cheap. So why not have a look at the best options for sightseeing and other activities that you can enjoy while exploring Italy without breaking your budget?

Cross the Rialto Bridge in Venice

One of the most famous landmarks of Venice, the Rialto Bridge is a must-see when visiting this amazing city. This location is among the best places to snap an Instagram-worthy photo on your tour around Venice, or simply enjoy sitting and watching people go by.  And the best part is that you can explore the oldest of the bridges arching over the Grand Canal absolutely free of charge!

Explore the Pantheon in Rome

You’ve definitely heard and have probably seen thousands of pictures of the magnificent Pantheon in Rome. Dominating Piazza della Rotonda, the building was completed in 27 BC as a temple to all of the gods of Ancient Rome. But time is ruthless and nothing stays the same, so the Pantheon has been Christianized over time (another good reason for Christians to visit!). The building quickly became one of the most important sites in Imperial Rome and today is still one of the most beloved attractions of the Eternal City. And you don’t have to pay a cent to enter this must-see. It’s a church, would be a blasphemy to take money for visiting it.

The same is true for Vatican’s treasure, St. Peter’s Basilica, you are welcome to explore it free of charge, although be prepared to spend quite a long time in line.

Visit A Museum for Free

Stunning Italy is home to some of the best museums in the world. It will never be short of visitors and it seems like there is little point in allowing a free entrance to the crème de la crème of Italy’s sights. And yet, let us introduce you to Domenica al Museo or free museums Sunday in Italy!

A few days every year (every first Sunday of the month from October to March) are dedicated to culture and education in the form of some amazing free museums! The list of the venues that participate differs annually, so it’s better to check what’s on the table before your trip, but even the museums that don’t offer a free entrance usually reduce the ticket fee significantly.

Walk Around San Lorenzo Market in Florence

Technically, walking around the market is totally free, but resisting the urge to bring a souvenir or two is rather challenging at San Lorenzo Market. There are over 70 shops and vendors in the market, selling pretty much everything: from clothing, handbags to fresh local food from the nearby farms.

And make sure to visit a very interesting shop offering amazing artisanal jewelers. A lot of the work on display is made out of recycled materials from previous projects, and what’s a better way to show your love for sustainability than a handmade necklace or earrings? Of course, we are keeping to the free things, but browsing costs nothing, right?

Admire the Statues at Monumental Cemetery in Milan

Every travel enthusiast knows that ancient cemeteries make great sights to explore. And although Milan’s Monumental Cemetery is not usually part of the pre-assembled private tours to Italy, it’s an attraction that is worth a few hours of your time.

Crowded with monuments from centuries past, this oasis of calm has been declared a national monument for its artistic value. The tombs are decorated with statues that depict allegorical scenes or real-life events intended to celebrate noblemen’s lives or commemorate their death. You can easily lose a few hours, admiring the exquisite artworks!

One more interesting thing about it: it’s possible to book a free guided tour around this beautiful place, but make sure to do it in advance.

As you can see, not all amazing things in Italy cost greatly. Actually, if you are planning smart and do lots of research, are ok with stays in 4-star hotels, and can settle for traveling by train instead of a plane (you can find all you need to know about the Italian railway on rail.ninja) – your vacation won’t cost you a small fortune. But if you don’t have much time or desire to organize everything yourself, it’s better to ask a travel specialist to help you build a holiday of your dreams.

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

Three Lessons for Our Future Selves

Many of us worry about what our lives will be like in our final years. After spending 9 months doing in-depth interviews with remarkable 80. 90- and 100-year old’s, I have come to some surprising conclusions about ‘old age’. These extraordinary folks taught me some incredible lessons about what it takes to thrive into our later years… CONTINUE READING >> 

Our ability to live longer, healthier, more productive lives is one of humankind’s greatest accomplishments. Did you know that most 65-year-olds today will live into their 90s? Some researchers believe that the first person who will ever live to 150 is alive today. Many of us worry about what our lives will be like in our final years.

After spending 9 months doing in-depth interviews with remarkable 80, 90 and 100-year old’s, I have come to some surprising conclusions about ‘old age’. These extraordinary folks taught me some incredible lessons about what it takes to thrive into our later years. In my podcast called A Life’s Story, I have interviewed some impressive folks: Folks that have done or are still doing extraordinary and courageous things.

For instance:

-A 99-year-old WW2 veteran turned transgendered widow fights discrimination from the very government for which she fought.

-A 103-year-old goes to work as she has every day for decades.

-A 94-year-old grandma gets ripped off, defrauded and gaslighted by her adult grandsons. Fights back, and wins.

-A 92-year-old model, staged the mother of all comebacks at age 70 and is more in demand now at 92, than she was at 22

– A 91-year-old retired advertising executive writes 45 books after his retirement

-An 86-year-old waves her Senior Olympic medals at the medical community who wrote her off.

These octogenarians, nonagenarians and centenarians are vibrant, they are happy, they are involved in the world and are just as contemporary as you or I. Truth be told, I fell a little bit in love with each one of them as they shared their incredible and dramatic life stories with me. Moreover, they have shared their wisdom about life, love, and loss.

Just a few of the takeaways:

1. To live long and thrive, maintain a sense of purpose in your life. Your purpose could be your work, it could be speaking on a topic you believe in, it could be improving your slice of the world. Robina Asti’ still an active pilot, founded the Cloud Dancers Foundation at age 99 with the mission of bringing joy, hope and resilience to aging members of the LGBTQ community. This mission is in alignment to her own surprising life story. Purpose gives us the reason to get up in the morning and purpose is what makes us feel that today will be better than yesterday.

2. You can always do something. 86-year-old Eleanor Pendergraft was so immobilized from MS she could barely lift her feet to inch her walker into the gym. On day one at the gym, she merely sat in a chair and tried to lift her leg off the ground. Each day she did a little, then a little more. Over a few years of ‘doing something’ 6 days a week at the gym, Eleanor beat back her MS, proving wrong her doctors who told her she would ‘never get better’. I spoke to Eleanor shortly after she had won a Silver medal for running in the National Senior Olympics. Running! Eleanor taught me that no matter what condition your body or your circumstances may be, you can always do something. And doing something, no matter how small, beats doing nothing 100% of the time.

3. Don’t let your pain outweigh your joy. 103-year-old Millie Keller has outlived all her lifelong friends and family. However, Millie maintains control of her emotions. Rather than fall into despair about the inevitable, Millie finds joy in those friends and family who are still around her, laughs easily, and engages in the world by going to her job – yes! Her job that she loves. Despite saying goodbye to so many in her life, Millie is not lonely. Her warm personality and astonishing self-sufficiency turn new acquaintances into friends almost instantly. I count myself among those.

Leslie Gold is a broadcaster, public speaker, and radio talk show host from NYC known as “The Radiochick”. For more wisdom and to hear their amazing life stories of these extraordinary folks, listen to “A Life’s Story” podcast, on Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, and most other podcast platforms.

The Life’s Story team also offers for-hire personal audio documentaries to capture forever the life story of your parents or grandparents. Info at www.alifesstory.net

Follow us on Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/ALifesStoryPodcast

Instagram: @Alifesstorypod

Twitter: @ALifesStoryPod

The UK’s Top Walking Holiday For Summer 2021

The UK’s number one slow holiday provider has put together a walking guide for the rambling enthusiasts. Inntravel has curated the best walking holidays in the UK in the hope to inspire the UK population to explore the glorious surroundings and routes on offer… CONTINUE READING >> 

When looking at the stunning countryside the UK has to offer, it is no surprise that every year over 68% of adults choose to go on walking holidays in the UK in the Summer.

Alongside eating out at a restaurant, walking is the most popular activity for people in the UK, with thousands and thousands of people travelling to the countryside every year to explore the scenic surroundings.

Walking is also a great form of exercise, with many adults in the UK stating how they choose to walk everyday for 10 minutes to get their steps in.

With this in mind, the UK’s number one slow holiday provider has put together a walking guide for the rambling enthusiasts. Inntravel has curated the best walking holidays in the UK in the hope to inspire the UK population to explore the glorious surroundings and routes on offer.

From the Seascapes of North Norfolk to the Landscapes of the Peak District, this walking holiday guide has it all.

Seascape of North Norfolk

This walking holiday is a self-guided, hotel-to-hotel walking holiday, boasting beautiful scenery of the coastline, sandy beaches, and the pristine nature reserves.

The nature reserves on this walking holiday are brimming with various wildlife, particularly birds.  From bitterns and marsh harriers, to wildfowl and waders, the Seascapes of North Norfolk are a great place to visit if you enjoy bird watching. Remember, pack your binoculars!

Norfolk is a county packed with history at every corner. On your walking holiday in Norfolk you will run in to beautiful medieval churches, royal estates and small harbours that contributed to England’s past trading efforts. So, if you’re interested in English history, Norfolk could be the place to visit.

On the Norfolk walking routes you will find many delights, including quaint villages, peaceful woodland, and protected nature reserves. The popular walking routes in Norfolk are well sign-posted, so you can set off on your adventure without the fear of getting lost!

The accommodation on this UK walking holiday is full of warmth, character, and comfort. Staying in guesthouses, inns, and hotels, this Inntravel walking holiday will showcase how friendly the Norfolk county is.

The Tweed and the Scottish Borders

This Inntravel walking holiday is a hotel-to-hotel walking holiday that allows ramblers to explore the tranquil region, the historical ruins, and the stunning villages.

The waters of the Tweed flow trough the Scottish borders, travelling through the valleys, the sheep-grazed pastures and the low, rolling hills. These surroundings are so beautiful its hard to believe that they were once home to war-torn battlegrounds. If you are interested in the turbulent history of England and Scotland and the battles that took place here, the Tweed and the Scottish borders could be the place to visit.

This UK walking holiday offers relaxed walking routes that are both long and winding, following the natural course of the Tweed as it winds it way downstream through restful countryside.

Each town placed here offers hotels that are full of warm hospitality, so you will experience a joyful stay if you choose to have your walking holiday at the Tweed and the Scottish borders.

The Northumberland Coast and Its castles

This Inntravel walking holiday is a self-guided walking holiday that features a mix of charming accommodation.

Northumberland was once the powerhouse of England, with saints, kings and Viking raiders playing central roles in shaping the future of the country. With Northumberland now at peace, it is a great place to visit to delve into history and explore the unspoiled historical ruins.

This relaxed Inntravel walking holiday will begin in Warkworth, an ancient village located on the Northumberland Coast Path. From here you will travel to medieval Alnwick and the beachfront at Beadnell. On this walking holiday you will have the opportunity to explore the beautiful surroundings, spotting wonderful wildlife along the way.

Each hand-picked accommodation on this walking holiday offers a warm welcome, making your walking trip to the Northumberland Coast a delightful one.

So, if you are a history buff or a rambling enthusiast, the three Inntravel walking holidays above would be the perfect UK getaway for you. For more information these walking holidays or for to view more UK walking holidays, please visit the Inntravel website.

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

America’s Other West Coast

Who knew America has two West Coasts? Well now we do, after discovering Florida’s hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline facing west onto the Gulf of Mexico.

Sometimes called The Sunset Coast, most of it is much less crowded than the… CONTINUE READING >>

Florida's West Coast

Who knew America has two West Coasts?

Well now we do, after discovering Florida’s hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline facing west onto the Gulf of Mexico.

Sometimes called The Sunset Coast, most of it is much less crowded than the East Coast, and retains a good bit of old Florida charm.

We made our way out of the Everglades by driving down to the southern edge of this eastern version of the West Coast, the ritzy enclave of Marco Island, and then followed the shoreline north to Naples.

Spanish Moss and Palms

While this Floridian version of Napoli is plenty picturesque, at no time did we mistake ourselves for being in Italy. This Naples is about a million times more laid back.

Continuing up the coast took us through places with great names like Pelican Bay, Barefoot Beach and Bonita Springs, places where Spanish moss and palm trees coexist.

We were psyched up at the prospect of taking to kayaks for exploring, hoping to spot some fish and wildlife, especially manatees and gators.

The possibility of kayaking with manatees landed us in Fort Myers. This was certainly something we were jazzed up about, and the next day we headed a few miles east of town to the aptly named Manatee Park.

Power plant canal where manatees come to warm themselves

The park lies on a power plant canal, just the kind of place manatees love to come to warm up in the cooler months, but unfortunately no sea cows were lounging on the summer-like day that we arrived.

It was getting a little too late in the year, and water temperatures had warmed to the point where the manatees were heading out to sea.

Kayaking on Florida's West Coast

But we were not giving up so easily. The park ranger said that there might be a chance a few of the manatees would still be hanging out in the Orange River, which connects to the canal.

So we headed over to Calusa Blueway Outfitters, they rent kayaks and canoes right at the park, and picked out a two-man kayak.

Launch Beach near Orange River

We thought this would be the perfect way to rustle up some sea cattle. Turned out that the boat we picked wasn’t so perfect, however.

Before we got a hundred yards offshore we were sinking… fast! Good thing we hadn’t made it out of the shallow water.

Kayaking the Orange River

So we abadoned ship, jumped in the muddy water, and waded back to dry land, dragging our waterlogged kayak behind us.

Our next vessel proved to be seaworthy, and we paddled out through jungle-y terrain to the Orange River to begin our scouting for manatees.

Kyaking the Orange River

We didn’t see hide nor hair of one. Possibly because they had all left, but also, the low-to- the-surface vantage point of the kayak didn’t seem to be optimal for for sea cow spotting.

It turned out to be great for watching water fowl though, and even better for an up close encounter with an alligator on his home turf.

Alligator sunning itself

When gators are warming themselves in the sun they don’t move much, so we silently glided right up on one, just trying to see how close we could get.

We were feeling quite bold, right up till he slid into the water and started swimming our way, that is.

Then we basically freaked out and attempted to set a new kayak speed record.

Ready for more of the natural wonders that Florida offers, we drove up through Port Charlotte and Venice (still didn’t feel like we were in the old country), to Sarasota where we headed inland a few miles to Myakka River State Park.

While the park has two lakes and a river, we chose to do our exploring as land lubbers.The birdwalk juts out into Upper Myakka Lake, Florida

We weren’t up for invading any more alligator’s personal space, so we broke out our trusty bicycles and set out upon the park’s many miles of trails. Our two main destinations were the birdwalk that juts out into Upper Myakka Lake, and the Canopy Walkway through the treetops.

Myakka River State Park's Canopy Walk

We hit the birdwalk first, but with the dry weather the water level of the lake was so low that instead of being a boardwalk out into the lake’s shallows, where the waterfowl frolic, it was just a walkway over a bunch of mud.

We did spot a few birds from afar, but mostly we got a really beautiful bike ride.

On the other hand, the Canopy Walkway beat any and all of our expectations. Built in 2000, this is the first of its kind in North America, and provides easy access to the oak/palm hammock canopy.

Canopy Walkway in Florida

We began by climbing stairs twenty-five feet up to the beginning of the walkway. From there a hanging trail leads one hundred feet across, directly through the canopy growth.

At the end of the walkway an observation tower rises another seventy-five feet up for an incredible view. The land is very flat so we could see for miles and miles across the top of the forest.

The Canopy Walkway near Sarasota Florida

This jungle-like area is just one of the many varied landscapes that Florida has to offer, and perhaps one of its least known. But our next destination could never claim that distinction.

It was time to head even further south to cross a time zone into island-time.

See you in The Keys!

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

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