Linda called cheerily over Jon’s shoulder into the phone, “Mom’s itinerary is insane!” Jon just laughed. I suppose he was remembering 10 years back to our infamous “Trashcan Tour” across the Iberian Peninsula using a Eurail Pass, where Jon and I lived on bread and water (as we found it incidentally) to save time and money in order to drink in vistas of the Mediterranean Sea and feast on the beauty of sun-kissed, cobbled streets and gold-encrusted palaces and cathedrals.In truth, I have a rather tarnished reputation as a travel guide: I am notorious for trying to see too much in too little time. But, I want you to know at the beginning of this effort to share our British Isles adventure that I did cut our itinerary in half—down from about 200 possibilities to only about 100—trying to limit myself to ferreting out only “the best of the best.” This included giving up a trip to Castle Ward (interesting to me because I was a Ward until marrying Alan). I might have caught a glimpse of this castle at the southern end of Strangford Lough, but in fact, we opted to spend the afternoon meandering through Mount Stewart on the northeastern shore of the lake instead.
Mount Stewart is an 18th century estate that was the home of Lord Castlereagh and is filled with wonderful treasures, such as this extremely famous painting by George Stubbs. However, like most of the great houses and castles we visited, you could photograph practically nothing within the house. 😦
If you ever want to tour the British Isles, I highly recommend going in early May like we did! The woodlands are alive with bright bluebells dancing in the breeze. (Not just on estates, but growing wild in the woods.)Beyond the formal gardens (of which there are many), Mount Stewart includes an entrancing walk around their own private lake hedged by thousands of rare and unusual plants (as well as plenty of well known beauties)along with dozens of rare and common waterfowl! 🙂In some places, the ground was covered with pastel carpets of flowers falling from the trees.And, when we returned, we discovered there was a festival of choirs singing light classical and traditional Celtic music. Talk about “above and beyond.” What a perfect way to spend an afternoon!Sometimes our great expectations are disappointed, but on this day our delight exceeded my imaginations!
I kind of think my experience of God’s love has often been the same!
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21)