Catch-up and Other Stuff

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On April 24, I started this post, but never finished. The purpose was mainly to catch up and let y’all know I’d be leaving for my solo adventure on Saturday. As in LAST Saturday, April 29. But then I had the busiest work week ever, leading up to the trip, and never got around to finishing the post. So here it is…

Holy cow. How did it get to be so close to the end of April already?!? So much for me trying to get all of the 2016 vacation catalogued before my 2017 adventure begins.

It has almost been a month since my last post. On one hand, it feels uneventful. On the other hand, a lot has gone on.

Let’s see, there was the visit to my friend Tracey’s farm, which provided a chance for three friends to catch-up with each other AND an opportunity to meet, feed, and love-on four three-week-old baby goats.

That was followed by another brief trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, . where my employer’s headquarters is located. I got to enjoy some face-to-face time with existing co-workers and meet a few new ones.

There were a few weekends of yard work, each followed by five to six days of very sore and achy muscles.

We even managed to squeeze-in a motorcycle ride on Easter Sunday!

When I was blogging regularly, I could look back at a variety of posts as a reminder of what happened, when. I’ve lost that. Now, I have to rely on things like Instagram and Facebook. Of the two, I prefer Instagram. Its only downfall being that images are not dated. I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I love being able to keep up with friends and loved ones. I hate that there’s so much negativity. I’m torn between wanting to pull the plug on my Facebook account and maybe whittling down my list of “friends” to people I care about, with whom I share at least some sort of valid connection. There are many folks on that list who I rarely, if ever interact with. I suspect many of them probably have just unfollowed me (elected NOT to see any of my posts, often the last step before actually removing oneself from a friend list and/or severing the cord of friendship).

In other news, I learned a fun new word — pareidolia — after receiving an email from Ry (from Two Wheels to There) containing a link to a web page with a funny collection of images. In that case, the word refers to seeing faces in everyday objects, but it’s apparently an all-encompassing term to describe a “psychological phenomenon” wherein one perceives familiar patterns, like faces, where none exists. The image shared below is one of my favorites among a nice collection that made me laugh out loud on more than a few occasions.

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There are lots of great pics on that page. You should check it out.

Finally, I am excited to say that I’ll be leaving on Saturday for my Big 50 Adventure. I figured I deserved to celebrate making it to my fiftieth birthday, and a solo adventure seemed like a great idea.

I’ve told y’all before that Hubby and I enjoy riding together, but we have different riding styles. He likes to cover long distances in short periods of time and I like to meander, stop often, and look at stuff. Oh, and take pictures, too.

Periodic solo trips are good for the soul. I’m not planning ahead either. All I know is that my first stop will be Monterey, Virginia (there’s a new LOVEwork there). I’ll plan the route as I go.


For those who are interested, there’ll be a Spotwalla Tracker Map. That’s how Hubby can keep an eye on me.

Really Weird Stuff

I shared a photo on Instagram and Facebook recently, which featured one of the shops here in town making a face. Not really making a face, looking like a face. (Have you ever seen the Faces in Places collection on Flickr?)

A friend of left a comment saying that she thinks I look at the world differently. Maybe that’s true to a degree. But in the case of faces on things, they just kinda jump out at me. I can’t help it. And once you see it, you can’t unsee it, know what I mean?

I do like roadside oddities, some of which can be weird. And I do look for those. But sometimes, weirdness just happens around me. As was the case on that first day in Vienna. When the four of us saw the weirdest thing I think I have ever seen while traveling. Really. And I have seen some pretty unusual stuff.

Actually, I think it was Annelies who spotted it first. We’d been heading north toward the Prater park, but she and I wanted to see the Danube. Just because. We descended some steps beside a waterway, which we thought was the Danube, but was actually just the Danube Canal. Same water, just not nearly as picturesque as we’d hoped the Danube would be.

We walked for a bit then spotted an outdoor bar/restaurant that we couldn’t pass up.

American-style Restaurant in Vienna
American-style Restaurant in Vienna

While sitting there, enjoying some cool beverages, we noticed this boat on the canal.

Badeschiff Wien
Badeschiff Wien

That’s just one part of the very long Bathing Ship Vienna (Badeschiff Wien), which has apparently been on the canal since 2006. It has a restaurant, bar, and bowling alley as well as the swimming pool and soccer cage (above the pool) you can see in the picture. Soon, you’ll be able to enjoy some urban camping on the deck.

Unusual, but not terribly weird, right?

It’s what was going on inside the pool that had us all scratching our heads. And laughing.

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I’m guessing the blonde on the deck was the ringleader.

 

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The three participants.

You can click on the picture for a larger version. In case you cannot clearly see the three people in the pool wearing rubber unicorn masks on their heads.

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Yep, those are definitely unicorn heads.

Three people, dressed as unicorns, engaged in synchronized swimming practice, in a pool, on a boat, docked on a canal in Vienna.

It really was the weirdest thing any of us had ever seen

I have no idea WHY they were doing what they were doing. But I’m pretty sure there is a story behind it.

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Practice makes perfect.

They were clearly practicing for something.

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Fancy Poolwork

Even funnier, they appeared to have done it before.

It was quite entertaining trying to figure out what they were doing and why.

We never did figure it out. I could have asked them, I know. But sometimes it’s more fun leaving things to the imagination.

Day one was pretty eventful. I hope Day Two isn’t too much of a letdown for y’all.

Two Churches in Vienna

There are actually quite a few significant churches in Vienna, but we didn’t have the time or the desire to see all of them. Really, you can only see so many amazing churches in a relatively short span of days before they all start blurring together.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the one I wanted to see most because it’s a landmark of Vienna, and has been for about eight centuries. One of the most-recognized features is its mosaic roof. It has a pretty cool Gothic exterior, too.

St. Stephen’s was actually our first major target of the day. We figured we’d see St. Stephen’s, wander around a bit, and then maybe see the Votive Church, another pretty famous one. Other than that, we figured we’d just walk and gawk. You know, see the city instead of just its most-famous sights.

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There it is! Mid-renovation, unfortunately.

 

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Mosaic Tile Roof

 

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Multiple spires and statues adorn the Gothic exterior.

 

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I just love seeing the statues and ornamental exteriors of these massive structures.

 

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Some of the statues are functional (drains in gargoyle mouths).

 

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Amazing stone-work.

 

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The statues on the exterior can often be quite menacing.

 

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Intricate spires.

 

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The sculptor who created these statues had a sense of humor.

 

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This one is my favorite. She kind of looks like Miss Piggy.

 

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These guys don’t look scary at all.

There were hundreds of statues like that scattered about the church’s exterior. Impressive, right? Wait until you see the inside.

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Coolest painted roof I have seen to date.

The lighting made photography a bit difficult. These pictures won’t win any quality awards, but they will give you an idea as to the church interior’s incredible level of detail.

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Isn’t that stunning? Imagine the time and effort involved!

 

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Huge, intricate wall murals.

 

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Beautiful painted statues.

 

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The stone-work is impressive by itself, but look at all of the painted details.

 

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The main altar.

 

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Close-up of the altar’s “roof.” (The proper name probably isn’t roof.)

 

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The ceiling detail really amazed me.

 

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Even the floors were very detailed.

Seriously, I could roam around in there for hours. And then spend another couple of hours looking at all of the statues on the outside of the church. But we had more things/places to see. If you’d like the read the very interesting history of this particular church, which was built to thank God for saving Emperor Franz Joseph’s life in 1853, CLICK HERE.

Annelies is a map person like me. Between the two of us, we usually do a pretty good job finding our way around strange cities. But, try as we might, we could not figure out how to get from St. Stephen’s to the Votive Church. We found St. Stephen’s on the map, figured out where we were standing in relation to the massive building, but could NOT locate any of the streets labeled on the map. We even asked the waiter who had served us lunch before entering the church. He was confused, too.

Finally, we gave up and just ambled around for hours. That’s when I took many of the pictures shared in yesterday’s post. We walked around the city’s business and shopping district for hours, stopping occasionally to rest, and maybe buy some refreshments.

We were all pretty exhausted and ready to make our way to the next area of the city we wanted to see, getting dinner on the way, when we rounded a corner and saw this…

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St. Stephen’s Cathedral

The actual St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

THAT is the famous exterior we’d been looking for.

Earlier, we’d mistakenly found our way to the Votive Church. Which is why we were having such a hard time finding our way from St. Stephen’s to the Votive Church. We were already at the Votive Church.

Oh well. Just another funny travel story we’ll be re-telling for years.

Unfortunately, we were all so tired, we did little more than step inside for a quick minute or two. It was very crowded.

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The unusual light is due to the stained glass windows.

 

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I have no idea why Donald Trump’s picture was on the wall.

 

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It was pretty, of course. But I’d liked the Votive Church better.

 

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On the cathedral’s exterior… this building is obviously more than 160+ years old.

 

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That mosaic roof is pretty impressive.

I’m glad we stumbled upon St. Stephen’s. I really would have felt stupid if we’d missed it entirely. Even if we did like the one we thought was St. Stephen’s — the Votive Church — better.

In my next post, I’ll share the weirdest thing we saw that day. In all honesty, it’s probably the weirdest thing I have ever seen while traveling. Really. And I have seen some pretty odd stuff in my time.

More from Day One in Vienna

Vienna is a fairly big city, spread out over a large area. There was lots of interesting stuff to see. In addition to the fun/quirky stuff I shared in my previous post, we saw two really pretty churches (or cathedrals), and a bunch of other architectural interestingness, too.

I’ll save the church pics for the next post. Here are some of the other cool buildings we saw in Vienna on day one.

The first couple of pictures were taken in the neighborhood near our apartment. The closer we got to the center of the city, the more ornate the buildings became.

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Those designs are etched into the plaster.

 

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We suspect that is a TV tower.

 

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Fancy residence?

 

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A small section of the parliament building.

 

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Statue in front of the parliament building.

 

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Another small section of the parliament building.

 

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Hotel housed in a building dating back to 1900/1901.

That building isn’t very old (in the big scheme of things), but it has history. The hotel’s website says…

The Neuer Markt, also called Mehlmarkt (translated: Flour market) is one of the oldest places in Vienna. It’s first mentioned under the name of “Novum Forum” in 1234. Next to it is one of the most popular shopping miles in town, the Kärntner Straße. In its former times, the Neuer Markt was used as a grain market. Until the 19th century grain, flour and legumes have been sold here. In 1739 the beautiful Donnerbrunnen became the centre of the place and attracts many people now. The buildings around this place have the character of prestigious middle-class houses.

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Rathaus (town hall)

 

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Cool Sky

 

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Random Fountain

 

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Just some random buildings.

 

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Statue on Building Corner

 

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Pretty building.

 

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Motorbike Parking Spot

 

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Another random pretty building.

 

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Fountain

 

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Cool statue on corner of building.

 

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Side street in shopping district.

 

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Building facade in shopping district.

 

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Ornate statue.

 

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Modern building amidst the older ones.

 

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Cool Reflection

 

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Pretty Fountain

 

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Pretty building facade.

 

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Cool building.

 

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Another cool building.

It really is a pretty city. The pictures don’t do it justice. The churches or cathedrals we entered were amazing, and we only entered two. There’s so much more we didn’t see, but we thoroughly enjoyed the things we did see.  Wait ’til you see the churches. 

Those pictures are in the next post.

Day One in Vienna, Austria

The other day I realized I’d never finished sharing pics from our European road trip. A trip that was six months ago! At this rate, if I don’t catch up, my next vacation will overlap that one, and then things will REALLY get confusing.

I have lots of images to share. Vienna was a very interesting place. I’ll try to keep the explanations brief.

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Very Large Sign (Czech bottled water ad)

 

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Entering the Republic of Austria

 

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View from our apartment balcony, on the outskirts of Vienna.

 

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Happy-looking Bus

We didn’t ride the tourist bus, we made our way around via foot and public transit.

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Signage for Priority Seating on public tram/streetcar.

 

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Brazilian Embassy (captured from bus)

 

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Colorful Truck

 

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Ornate streetlamp base.

 

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Just another scooter commuter.

 

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Ducks!

 

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Creative Bread

 

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Viennese Sausage Cart

 

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Cute pair of scooters.

 

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The Pokemon game took hold in Europe, too.

 

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There is a surprising amount of graffiti in the cities.

 

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More Graffiti

 

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Very interesting ATM at the Prater.

There’s a very large public park in Vienna called the Prater. That’s where the Wurstelprater — the world’s oldest amusement park — is located. It’s kinda cool that you can ride public transport to a full-blown amusement park right at the city’s edge, no?

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Tired Feet

We did walk a lot that day. And it was hot.

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Group Selfie at Lunch

 

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Wurstelprater

 

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Fun pic of Annelies and Yves with a giant snake.

 

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A Wild Mouse rollercoaster!

 

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Happy Austrians at a beer garden.

 

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Wiener Water! Actually it’s Viennese Water.

 

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Prater

 

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Me and Annelies (I forget who the men are)

 

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Dinner at the apartment.

We were all exhausted after a very long day, so we decided to have a lite dinner at the apartment consisting of various meats, cheeses, and other goodies that we had on hand. There was a supermarket on the opposite end of the same block that housed our apartment building. Very convenient (I planned it that way).

There are a lot more pics from that day. I couldn’t put them all into this one post. We saw lots of interesting architecture and two amazing churches or cathedrals that day, too. Those pics will be included in the next two posts.

A New First

IMG_0205I think Spring weather may actually be here to stay now. It was here in February, which was just weird. Early-March was pretty mild, too. Many of the flowers and trees bloomed early, and then it got cold. Freezing cold. So now lots of the flowering plants are coated in blooms that look half-dead. That means actual Spring days like yesterday won’t appear as bright and cheerful as they should.

Oh well. Even if the days are not visually appealing, I’ll take the Spring temperatures. Yesterday, the highest reading I saw on my thermometer was 78.8 F (26 C). There were lots of clouds in the sky, but they held their moisture, so we had a dry, warm day for riding. There was no chill in the air at all. It actually felt a little weird at first, feeling warm wind through the mesh of my jacket.

Hubby planned a circuitous route for us to get a late lunch at our favorite fast-foodish burger joint in Front Royal, Spelunkers. Part of that route involved the northernmost third of Skyline Drive, from the Thornton Gap entrance on US 211 to the start/end of the road in Front Royal. So we got to twist the throttles a bit further than we should have and enjoy our favorite local twisties as we climbed Thornton Gap.

It can be a dangerous stretch of road, as evidenced by the warning signs specifically addressed to motorcyclists at the top and bottom of the mountain that say “High Crash Area.” There’s a 35 MPH speed limit, too. But that’s because of the descending radius turns that catch many riders off-guard. We’re used to the turns, though, so didn’t think twice about having some twisty fun before hitting Skyline Drive.

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Line of vehicles waiting to enter the park.

Our enjoyment didn’t go unnoticed. One man was so impressed, he decided that I deserved a performance award in recognition. In truth, he said we both should have been similarly recognized. I was the one in the rear, though. So I’m the one who got to sit on the side of the road, admiring that line of vehicles, while the man from the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Department recorded and then presented me with physical proof of my not-so-prestigious award.

He was nice, though, and used the lowest speed he’d recorded. And that’s a good thing, because Virginia has some hefty fines for speeding. Exceed the posted speed limit by 20 mph or exceed 80 mph no matter the posted limit, and that’s considered reckless driving. That’s a criminal misdemeanor. You could be sentenced to as much as a year in jail, have your driver’s license suspended for six months, get assessed up to $2500 in fines, and have a criminal record that could follow you around for the rest of your life. Also, the points stay on your driving record for 11 years, and we all know what that does to insurance premiums.

I really need to keep that law in mind. I don’t feel bad, though, because I know I was riding cautiously and well within my comfort zone. Plus, I’ve been riding for a lot of years and that was my very first “award.”

It didn’t spoil the mood even a little bit. It really was lovely. People were out in droves enjoying the many attractions Shenandoah National Park has to offer, such as the scenic views, hiking, cycling, waterfalls, bird-watching, etc. The parking lots near the most-popular trailheads were literally overflowing. There were lots of motorcyclists and bicyclists out, too.

A large portion of the northern section of the drive appears to have been recently repaved, too. Another plus.

We topped the day off with a fabulous lunch at Spelunkers in Front Royal.

Yes, it was as fabulous as it looks.
Yes, it was as fabulous as it looks.

It was a co-worker of Mike’s who clued us in on the deliciousness at Spelunkers.

The burgers are always fresh and perfectly cooked, as are the fries. They’re so good, we’ve never eaten anything else. The Philly cheesesteak is supposed to be their signature sandwich. Sadly, we’ve never have room for ice cream. That’s a “first” I can happily look forward to.

All in all, it was a lovely day.