Where did Scotland go?

 

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Hello family & friends! My intentions have been to divi up our trip to Scotland in a few categorical posts, you know by order of activity and adventures. Until I realised that somehow many of the photos I had taken during the first few days of our trip have disappeared. This most likely happened while trying to upload them onto my lap top. A macbook air with as much disk space as a shoe box in which I’ve metaphorically stuffed with one too many pairs of shoes. Any ways, whilst transferring what few files I could onto my iPhotos and most likely not knowing exactly what I was doing when those pesky error messages popped up on the screen , I had removed the cameras memory card and wiped away many of our digital memories… Ah Poo! The gorgeous pictures of Queensferry Bridge and the seaside village of Fife where I ate the most amazing fish&chips will forever remain stored in my memories.

Alas! I have these other memorable photos to share. My trips through the Northern Highlands, along Inverness, past Glencoe and on the Loch Ness. As a nature girl at heart, I was in awe by Scotlands’ beauty and whisked away by its landscape. Below I’ll share my nature photo favourites with a few key notes here and there.

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Great Aunt Lizzie’s in the Princess Gardens.

I was told that Princess Gardens was once a disgusting, mucky and wet swampy, narrow valley with a darker side… Not only was this now beautifully landscaped park  a common dumping ground for the village waste and the disposals of bodies, its also where accusers determined whether woman were witches or not.

The accused were thrown into the water. Those that didn’t drown were proven guilty,  fished out and burned at the stake. For the woman who drowned, they  were considered innocent and that their death would be their salvation. I’d prefer the later demise, wouldn’t you?  Remembering this as I’m sitting on the lush lawn enjoying my picnic. Hah!

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Monument to Royal Scots Greys.

 

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I’ve titled this one, Loch Favourite!

 

img_3477 Dryer and desolately inhabited areas as you reach the norther tip of the Highlands.

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3 Sisters Mountains pictured above and below. Glencoe is one of the most magnificent areas of natural wilderness considered in the whole of Britain. I can see why! The rugged beauty of the area and the often arctic weather make the area a hotspot for climbers and skiers today. I spotted many back backers preparing to hit the trials that day.

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Sailing on Loch Ness.

I took an hour long boat ride on Loch Ness in which I found to be quite boring. Sure the fresh air and pleasantly surprising weather welcoming but there were only low and bare mountains surrounding this lake thus making for a lack lustre sail and empty space on my cameras memory card.

I did quite enjoy the locally brewed Nessie Monster Mash Ale beer!  YUM!

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I lucked out with fantastic weather during my tours!

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West Sands Beach, St. Andrews.

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On the St. Andrews golf course overlooking hole 2.

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On the roof of the club house

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Beer O’clock!

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Village of Falkland

Johnny Cash fans? During one his flights, Johnny Cash sat next to the owner of a music shop here in Falkland. The two had got to talking and it turned out Johnny had family from this area in Scotland. As their plane landed and before parting ways, Johnny asked for the shop owners address. A few months later the shop owner received a signed guitar gifted by Mr. Cash. I spotted this shop next to the cafe where I sat down for a iced coffee, not realising the musical treasure next door until I returned to our bus and heard about this story from our guide.

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Falkland Parish Church

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Our stay in Stockbridge

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Finishing off with some macro love.

All in all my trip was awesome. I finally got to explore other parts of Scotland, crossed off an item from my bucket list (visit St Andrews golf course) made new friends, tried haggis and got to sample at least 10 different varieties of gins and beers. Also, I’ve learned a valuable lesson about not loosely carrying around an Hermes scarf and never booking with Highland Experience ever!!!!!

Cliffhanger? Sorry.

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Bouledogues Français…

Ah! The French Bulldog! Just because this breed reveals the word “French” doesn’t mean this breeds ancestral bloodline originated from France. Confused? I was. The French Bulldogs history originally began in England. Making them, well English right? Well not entirely.  Here’s a little background  we can all remember easily…

English miniature bulldogs were introduced in Northern France when English textile workers migrated from Britain’s fallout during the Industrial Revolution around 1850-1860. It was during this time that miniature bulldogs popularity among the French soared! It was the French however who later developed this type of dog to have a more compact body, straighter legs and erect “bat ears.’’ Voila! The Bouledogues Français. Near the turn of the century American tourists discovered the French Bulldog and brought them over at the turn of the century where they achieved immense popularity in the United States. In fact this breed owes its existence to England, France, Germany and the United States.

Meet the French Bulldog

Meet the French Bulldog.

Don’t let their glum faces fool you. This breed is highly comical, intelligent and frisky. Just like another favorite of mine, the Pug! The French Bulldogs gentil demeanour makes them calmer and thus easier to socialize than most other breeds. No mean-spirited genes here despite their muscular bodies and somewhat combative stance. This breed is dependably amiable! I find them quite loveable and adorable. In fact, this is what this breed craves the most, your love and adoration.

Although French Bulldogs are most content lounging around the home, some exercise will keep their stocky frames strong and they’ll be less susceptible to weight gain or prone to developing problems with their hips from too much inactivity. Of course with any breed, there will always be pros and cons towards the breeds character and health. The best you can do is inform yourself of all the particularities towards that breed in order for you to make a well-informed decision when you are ready for a French Bulldog. For myself, I’ve always been fond of the snub-nosed dog breeds and despite their lists of common health problems, I end up taking the risk and doing my best in caring for my animal no matter what health issues arise.

French Bulldog Miniature

French Bulldog Miniature I picked up in Germany.

Raising dogs aren’t always easy, especially when their still puppies. But when taking the time for learning training techniques, you’ll learn how to deal with certain behavioural traits that will help you care for your dog as they develop.

Having raised a pup before, I’ve carried with me some basic know-hows on what I need to do to successfully keep my puppy happy, safe and potty-trianed so that he’ll grow into a satisfied, content and well-behaved fur child. I’ve listed a few of my personal tips below that may help anyone whose considering adopting a French bulldog.

TIP #1 The Doggy Space

Designate a little area for your pup where he/she can sleep and eat. As you know dogs don’t like to soil where they eat or sleep, and this way you reinforce the importance of maintaining this habit for when they gradually get the free reign to the rest of your home. Puppies explore, get into things they shouldn’t, and chew things that can harm them. By designating a place just for them you can keep them safe when your unable to watch their every move. I’ve partitioned out a corner of our bedroom and equipped our little guy with one large pillow for his bed and two smaller cushions to surround him.  On one side I’ve placed a few toys and at the other I’ve left space for a small water bowl. I feel its important to remove all access to water around 7pm. This will help eliminate the need to relieve themselves during the night.

Never use this space as punishment when your pet misbehaves. They won’t associate this space with their tranquil, safe, sleep and eating den area. When needing to place them in this area, I suggest placing a small treat and/or reassuring them with a “good doggy.” If they have misbehaved, a reinforced “NO” will work and then distracting them with a toy. When it’s time for bed, say “bedtime” or when it’s time to eat say, “eat  time.” Whatever time it is, use your words to describe the type of activity. This breed is highly intelligent and so it won’t be long before they come to understand you. Their propensity for stubbornness? Well as the saying goes… “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”

Comfy pillows will keep his body warm and feeling secure.

Comfy pillows will keep his body warm and feeling secure.

Tip #2 Potty Training

Keep in mind that usually every time after playing, about 1/2 hour after eating, when waking up from a nap and in the middle of the night, you can expect the little pup to feel the need to relieve themselves. Take them to their designated spot every time and say a word associated with going to the bathroom. I like using the word “make.” Now that we are living in France I expect our dog to be bilingual and so I also include the french word, “faire” which also means “to make.” Because our puppy doesn’t know how to walk on a leash yet, I’ve laid puppy pads on one corner of our terrace and blocked off the area. I think it’s a good idea to pad train your French bulldogs for when he experiences an emergency or when the weathers bad and he’s unable to relieve himself outdoors. Remember, this breed doesn’t do well in hot weather or on long durations of walks. Thus pad training is a must! Most importantly, if your pup happens to have an accident indoors, and only if you catch him in the middle of the act, say, “no,” while picking him up immediately and taking him to his designated spot. From there, you’ll reinforce the potty training word.

French bulldog miniature.

My red Letts planner helps keep track of puppy needs.

Tip #3 Play Time

Toys are always a good idea for a young pup. I like plush squeaky toys that offer different textures such as twisted rope that doubles as a dental cleaning tool or hard jelly material surfaces that help massage gums. Because French Bulldogs’ teeth are very strong, the tougher the toy the better. I’ve learned to stay away from rawhide bones because these can be chewed through easily and can become a choke hazard for them. I like eco-friendly and toxic free bones or flavoured bio-safe toys. These are all sure to keep your pup busy. Try the Beco Bone from Beco Pets and hide special treats inside! I also recommend Biosafe toys from Rosewood Pet Products. Ours loves his scented and bouncy Rasberry toy

(click on the red for more information about these products)

Another important rule of thumb for me when training my pet is when playing fetch. Never play tug of war with your puppy if it doesn’t willingly release the toy from their mouth. By not promoting this tug-of-war action, this may help discourage aggressiveness or dominance issues later into adult hood. Instead, teach your pup to release the toy before you’ll partake in another game of fetch. I like saying “drop it.” Remember repetition is imperative. You’re caring for a puppy who doesn’t know any better.

This comfort monkey has a hidden squeaker and helps clean teeth.

This comforting jungle monkey from Rosewood has a hidden squeaker, a hidden chew bar and the twisted legs helps clean teeth.

When training a French Bulldog, take into account that although they are intelligent and usually eager to please their owners, French Bulldogs also have a reputation for being free thinkers. That means they can be very stubborn.Trying different training techniques are successful with this breed, so don’t give up if a certain method doesn’t work. Just remember consistency is key! I’ve provided just a few basic examples. Do your due diligence and research, research, research or consult a professional.

Thanks for reading and meeting the newest addition in our life…Lafayette!

Bisous,

Jeni

Hola & Adios Madrid

Jeni Madrid

Wandering Hotel Miguel Angel

Hello everyone! I’ve just returned from a 4 day trip to Madrid, Spain. My first visit ever. One of the best things about living in Europe is that traveling to other countries are convenient and often times tickets are booked at a bargain. I feel so lucky living in Europe again and very happy to have had the opportunity to visit Madrid. Barcelona? Maybe next year!

Before leaving, I brushed up on my “Espanol” and even wrote down key phrases on a piece of paper to carry with me. My advice? Make an effort to learn some phrases of communication for every country that you visit. This demonstrates respect and openness in learning a new language and I believe that the effort that you put in are appreciated by the people you meet.

I had a great experience staying at the Hotel Miguel Angel. Our 7th story bedroom was comfortable and offered a great view of the lounge garden you see pictured above and below. The staff was helpful and friendly and the breakfast buffet met our needs. Oh! Even if you decide against the hotel accommodations, I’d like to suggest dining in their outdoor restaurant. It was sooo fabulously adorable, offers a fine dining experience and literally served the best prepared calamari I have ever tasted. Period.

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I stumbled upon another one of my favourite paintings, the “Figura en una finestra,” by Salvador Dali. One of his most realistic and finest paintings created during his lifetime. It’s such an amazing piece! I was so surprised when I saw it at the Reina Sofia Museum. These little joys in life make me so happy!

Salvador Dali; Figure at the Window, 1925

Salvador Dali; Girl at the Window, 1925

 Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza de Cibeles

Must haves for keeping cool in this 100 degree weather. Hat & Water!

Must haves for keeping cool in this 100 degree weather. Hat & Water!

I haven’t felt this much heat since living in Sacramento, California! Our first night in town, Justin ran into a work colleague who reconfirmed Madrid’s typically hot summers. Muy Caliente indeed! I slathered on so much sun screen that I barely tanned. It made sense that on Sunday, we’d spend most of the day at the “Parque Del Buen Retiro.”

There were plenty of shaded areas in this expansive and beautifully landscaped park, yet the boiling sun was barely tolerable. So maybe the cocktails here and there weren’t such a great idea, but those sangrias? Hello! I’m in Spain! Anyways, there’s more juice than wine in those right? Oh well, water was plentiful and my second best alternative substitute while on vacation. Heat or no heat. We enjoyed every minute of our park adventure.

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Justin and I braving the heat like lions!

Entering Plaza Mayor

Entering Plaza Mayor

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Our stroll back to the hotel.

There’s always plenty to do and see and never enough time to do it all…

I had my 1st true tapas and sangrias experience, strolled down Paseo de Recoletos during the gay pride parade with thousands of others. Opened up a bottle of un-imported Spanish wine. Laid on the grass taking selfie after selfie with the one I love. Wandered through the opera area and unsuccessfully found a movie theatre (relief from the heat) filming the documentary, “Amy” about Amy Whinehouse. I practiced the action button on our camera while a guy practiced his air jumping in front of the Plaza de la Armeria. Went to the same taco place twice and ordered the same thing because it was just too good not have again. Explored the area of Sol by walking in and out of shops and where I decided to buy a winter coat. The irony right?

This is what I love about traveling…you get to experience many of the authenticities of the culture you’ve probably experienced second-hand in your own country. It’s hard to explain in words, but it’s different because the experience seems more pure or credible. But also, it’s comforting to know that you can be in a completely different country and still experience similar comforts  from home. For example, some of the things I mentioned above like watching an american flick or eating Mexican styled tacos. Just because I’m in a new country doesn’t mean I need to constrict myself to experiences solely belonging to that country, but that I absolutely include experiences that are novelty to the country I’m visiting.

You know?

Happy Woman!

Happy Woman!

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