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Friday, April 4, 2014

My Best Vacation Ever!

By Judith Ashley
Judith Ashley

Oh my goodness! Decisions, decisions, decisions!!

Lincoln Beach, Oregon Coast
Growing up my family spent one week along the Oregon Coast. We loved beach combing and I still have jars of beach agates from those early days that I’ve added to over the years. In my backyard I’ve three huckleberry bushes in memory of my deceased parents and younger brother and those family vacations that always were in August when the huckleberries were ripening. As an adult those day, weekend, or longer trips to the coast (Central Oregon Coast is my favorite area) provided the break I needed from a hectic life in the city. I didn’t always search for huckleberries but I did always beach comb. 

Stonehenge
Leeds Castle
In my thirties I added vacation days to business trips. My involvement with The William Glasser Institute and William Glasser International created opportunities for me to see parts of the United States I’d never been to. I also traveled to Montreal and Vancouver BC in Canada; Australia where I visited the Sydney Opera House and traveled to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef and spend time in the rain forest and butterfly gardens; Italy where a taxi driver pulled over on the way to the airport and demanded more money from me and threatened to leave me by the side of the road; Slovenia and Croatia in 1995 during the Balkan War and in 1997 when it had ended. On my second visit I had the most wonderful wine in the world – made from organic potatoes with no sulfites. I’d buy a case of it today if I could remember the little town in the Croatian mountains where it was made.

Glastonbury Tor
The View From The Tor
In 2009 I took my granddaughters with me to England and then up to Scotland for a William Glasser International conference. The trip was jam-packed. With not enough time to do and see everything, we had to pick and choose. We traveled to Dover and saw the White Cliffs; Canterbury Cathedral that was never bombed during all of WWII; Stonehenge, Glastonbury and Avebury in England. In Scotland we toured castles, Loch Ness, and Roslyn Chapel. My granddaughters walked High Street in Edinburgh and toured Edinburgh Castle. A branch of my mother’s side of the family (the Rawson’s) is located in Gillingham, England (south and west of London). Edward Rawson was on the second boat from England to the colonies. He became the first Secretary for the Massachusetts Bay Colony and my cousins and I are the eleventh generation since then.

But this post is about the Best Vacation Ever!

While these trips were wonderful and the memories evoke fond smiles, chuckles, and wistful sighs, the one that had the most impact was my 1994 trip to Ireland with my friend, Judith. Because of it, the setting for the second book in The Sacred Women’s Circle series Elizabeth is authentic.

I did stay in the Ashford Castle and have a Irish Coffee in the study/lounge bar; I did see the swans on the river from my hotel window; I did go to Sligo just to see what a town with that name looked like and I did go to the Galway Crystal Factory. With a heritage that includes Irish ancestors, I did think about The Famine and The Troubles while I was there. I fell in love with the banks of wild fuchsias along the road, the fifty shades of green land divided with hedge rows and rock walls. And stopping to talk to the sheep was a common experience — including the ones grouped around a phone booth.

The food, music, people (well, not Michael and Paddy) were drawn from my memories of the people I met.

Mist-shrouded hills in Scotland
Should time, health and finances aligned I’d return to the British Isles in a heartbeat. Why? More time in Glastonbury and Avebury. A trip to Wales to look for Merlin’s Cave. Returning to Edinburgh, I’d spend an entire afternoon at Roslyn Chapel and find a bed and breakfast with a view of the mist shrouded hills.

But most of all, I’d go back to Ireland and stay at the Ashford Castle, visit Galway (including the Galway Crystal Factory) and master the roundabouts. I’d spend a weekend in Clifton; tour the Connemara Marble Factory, spend more time at Kylemore Abbey, before heading south. During my stay in Limerick, I’d walk along the Shannon River and watch the swans. One afternoon I’d pack a picnic basket in the trunk, drive out along the road to that spot along the river between Limerick and the sea where the willow trees are mirrored in the water.

To learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series and Elizabeth, please stop by www.judithashleyromance.com

© 2014 by Judith Ashley

4 comments:

Mindy Hardwick said...

Ireland and Scotland are on my must see list for travel! I love the Oregon Coast and have a new story out called Finders Keepers which is about finding glass floats in Lincoln City. It is a picture book app with MeeGenius and I have details about the book and the event Finders Keepers on my website. I enjoyed reading your post this morning with my cup of coffee!

Judith Ashley said...

Mindy, in all the years I've beach combed in and around Lincoln City and other parts of the Oregon Coast, I've never found glass floats. Is there a secret to it?

Diana McCollum said...

I love Ireland and Scotland! I've never been there, but both are on my list! You've been lots of places, Judith. You are very fortunate. Great post.

Judith Ashley said...

I am very fortunate, Diana. And if I was not on the teaching faculty of The William Glasser Institute International, I'd never have been to half of them. I see that as a side-benefit of writing - being able to travel for research and for promotion/marketing activities as well as for educational (workshops/conferences).