UU is text speak for sympathy. If anyone knows why please say because it’s a mystery to me! Hope none of us need any today!


Top of the google list for UU is Unitarian Universalist. This denomination is something that had never crossed my path before. That’s a great thing about bantering something new can be uncovered every day.


Of course U lends itself to a number of Universities, Utrecht, Uppsala and of course ULSTER!

The University of Ulster is the second largest in Ireland yet it was founded only in the 1960s.

Across the UK at that time action was being taken to expand access to Universities to give everyone equal opportunity to attend.

Initially in Northern Ireland a plan was made to transform the long established Magee College into a university. This plan was scuppered because of the location of Magee in a predominantly Catholic area by the predominantly Protestant government of Northern Ireland led by, wait for it, Ulster Unionists


So instead Northern Ireland got what was referred to as the NEW University of Ulster. It was set in the very beautiful area that man you may have seen if you watched the recent British Open golf tournament. It offered new degree courses like nursing and campus living that hadn’t been experienced in the province before.


The UU was at first seen as an underdog to the long established Queens University of Belfast. It went on though to prosper and grow rapidly, ironically in part through merger with Magee!

Today it has one of the highest success rates for post graduation placement of students of any university in the world and it no longer plays second fiddle in any way to any other establishment.

It has an interesting Chancellor too a very successful Hobbit called James Nesbitt who before he took up acting studied French at UU.

As the University grew with clear areas of focus and amalgamation the Ulster Unionist, who dominated Northern Ireland politics since the country’s inception, went  into a free fall of division and decline.

An epic tale of infighting, inflexibility and vociferous back stabbing that even Tolkien himself could not have dreamed up.

Blessing # 433 – Degrees of Distinction




There can be no other meaning in our household for TT than Tibetan Terrier. So here is a longer than usual banter about the boyo as befits his importance within our life and home!


When our dear Labrador Darcy followed his brother Bingley to the big playground in the sky we decided we would get a smaller dog.

The Labradors were gentle giants but as they got older it was a challenge for us  getting them in and out of the car.

We were living close to Paris and were out one Saturday at a little fete when we saw an older lady with a shaggy little black dog. We asked her if he was good with kids and she said he was indeed and explained he was a TT.

We looked for a local breeder and found one not far away called Tom. When we called him he said his last litter had all been taken but one of his stud dogs had just met his mate and some little ones were expected in May.

Tom took the placement process very seriously as any good breeder does so we were well vetted and had to submit an application to adopt.


Tom had been to Nepal in the 1970s and had brought home Dibleys great great great grandpa Djouley. He literally saw Djouley in a window and knew he had to have him. Djouley went on to sire many champions.

Tom was so kind and said after several chats with us that he’d have first pick of the litter on the way and would keep that puppy for us.

Sure enough on May 11th 2008 the bold boy was born. Tom choose him specifically for us.

All pedigrees registered in 2008 had to have a name starting with D and we thought of all sorts. Eventually Krishna hit on Dibley because our puppy had a little white collar and a black coat just like the VICAR of Dibley in a TV series we all loved.


Of course that’s not his kennel name which is Deschan Dibley Karamain de Makalu. It suits him well because he bears a very close resemblance to his ancestors the champion Karamain above!

We went to Toms beautiful kennel on July 10, 2008 to bring the rascal home. The kennel is in a very old sheep farm and all around Buddhist prayer flags blow in the breeze. Everywhere you turn there is a TT waiting to love you.

This is so in keeping with the origin of the breed. These little men of Tibet as they are known are the guardians of the temple of the Buddhist monks. They are bearers of good fortune and the protectors of little Tibetan children while they sleep. They are not as their name suggests Terriers rather they are Herding Holy Dogs.

Dibley was so tiny when we brought him home that we all managed to trod on him many times.


He chewed everything from socks to carpets and pyjama legs even when they were on our guests.

His first trip was to Switzerland in August when he managed to squeeze under the gate and took himself off to Aaron’s friend Fabrice’s farm. We were shaking with worry but he was like the proverbial pig in muck.

Many more escapes took place. The critter could squeeze though the smallest hole.

We then took him on vacation to the Isle de Rey where he proceeded to dig holes in the hedge of the house we’d rented in another escape bid.


After about six months all of a sudden he calmed down and became very regal. Unlike the Labradors he had his own opinions on most things and held his head high like a king. He is so so smart and can talk too!

He travelled widely around France through the channel tunnel to England up to Scotland over to Ireland and finally across the ocean to the USA.

He has been in many states on vacation and has always been very well behaved when he’s a hotel guest.


His favorite things in the whole wide world are his big ball and a ride in the car.

He hates getting bathed and is terrified of thunder. He is a delight with children and welcomes other dogs who visit us but he is a terror when he sees other dogs approaching him if he’s on a leash as he is determined he is going to defend his family.

He always kept a tight control on his food intake, walked long distances, loved to play and party and was generally very fit and well.


Just shy of his eleventh birthday he was struck with Cushing Syndrome a very rare condition that caused his weight to soar.

Still a great companion our hearts break for him as he is now thirsty, hungry and lethargic and not himself at all. His medicine seems to work for a while each time the dose is increased but then wears off. He is now at the maximum dose for his size so if this doesn’t sort him we will have to take a different approach. Right now all we can do is love him all the more.

Lets hope for the best and for many more happy years ahead for this little man of the mountains Who means so much to us all.

TTs are smart, sassy, great with kids, loving and absolutely adorable characters!

Truly Terrific!

Blessing # 432 – The Furball



Today is the fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock the rock festival that changed the world for at least a generation or two

Peace and love were all around us in the Swinging Sixties. Even if you were just a child at the time like me you’ll remember the long hair, the short skirts and of course the colorful clothes and the great music.


The Cold War was also in full swing so there were lots of spies and scandals and Secret Service too making everyone just a little edgy.


Exciting exploration was underway. We had Space Ships taking men to the moon yet Steam Ships were still plying the ocean. It was truly a time of polar extremes and transformation.


Today there are new Space Ships ready to launch with plans in place to take tourists into space.


If you had the $250000 to buy a ticket or your Secret Santa brought one would you go? Seems many have already signed up!

You’d really need to have an adventurous spirit to take that on. Give me flower power any day

Blessing # 431 – Being a Boomer



When we live in China between 2001 and 2004 we were entitled to two periods of RR each year in addition to our home leave.

We were living in a luxury apartment in a beautiful gated complex so you might wonder was this Rest and Recovery really necessary. The place we lived was like a resort!

Original the policy had been put in place for the first expats in the market who were the Pioneers in the 1980s out in remote areas building factories when it was a very different China than the one we experienced.


It was needed though as we left our complex each and every day. It was much appreciated though and provided a respite and recharge of the batteries from the hectic life, congestion and pollution of the metropolis.

Everything felt brighter and better when we returned and our Respiration Rate was definitely improved. That’s kinda how I feel today.


The insurance adjuster has been this morning and given us the green light to go ahead and get our car repaired.

We have a date at the body shop for August 27 and the insurance is going to cover hire car rental while the car is getting it’s facelift.


There are not enough good words to express how gracious Encompass our insurers have been. They just could not have been better.


Let’s just call them the Rolls Royce of  care and compassion!

Blessing # 430– Breathing Easier


Being a bit of a royalist the first thing QQ brought to mind was Queens Quarters. We recently saw a few of these on our tour of the UK and there is no doubt her majesty could offer a decent bed and breakfast.

Seems from what you read the Royal households are quite frugal. Think most of us could maybe manage a stay for a night or two!


Aaron tells me QQ is also hotel speak for Queen Queen. In other words a room with two double beds. QQs are gigantic yet quite common in the USA making travelling as a family very comfortable. If your alone though it can feel far from cosy having such a vast expanse of bed!

Yesterday the most relevant QQ for us was getting a Quick Quote for the repair of the car. The first one puts us on the borderline of it being written off so an assessment will now be done by the insurance company themselves.


All this is but a drop in the ocean compared to what some people are dealing with in their lives. It just underlines how rarely a problem has come my way and how very fortunate I’ve been.

Just have to apply the text speak QQ then and Quit Crying.

Blessing # 429 – Putting Perspective






PP is an abbreviation for many things one so obvious it needs no mention as most of us will have thought of it first!

Never did we dream so many PPs would be relevant to our journey back to Ohio.

Feeling triumphant with our vacation we picked up our car a good hour earlier than hoped.

The flight gave us some time to rest as well as good food and entertainment. So we were Pretty Perky when we belted in our Personal Protection and hit the road.

We didn’t get far!

Less than half an hour into our six hour journey as we were merging onto the interstate and approaching the toll booth we had an accident.


As far back as the eye could see the traffic was crawling down the Hill of Difficulty. As we approached we were confident the truck in the left lane was letting us in. We both saw it clearly. Alas we were mistaken. The driver didn’t see us so we entered into a diabolical Push & Pull situation.


There is nothing to describe the noise except perhaps Puke Promoting.

The Policeman Posted arrived really quickly. He was most kind and helpful but left no doubt that the merging party is responsible.

The officer made sure we were all OK took all the details, prepared paperwork and gave us copies of his report. He then went above and beyond the call of duty and stayed on until the AAA arrived.

Part of our damage was a flat tire so we had to have that repaired before like all Pilgrims we made any further Progress on the Kings Highway.

After driving through torrential rain in the dark and feeling somewhat shaken we reached our Present Position of home base.

It was exactly twenty four hours since we  started off! Poor Pa was so anxious and worried but had Pepperoni Pizza ready for us.

Lessons learned. Don’t get too smug about your Perfect Plans until they are complete and you’ve entered through the wicket gate!

Now after very little sleep leading to horrible headache we have all the insurance investigation to do not to mention the repairs. What a sad end to a super summer!

But as my dear mother so often said it’s bad but it could have been worse!

Blessing # 428 – Safe and Sound



There’s a shared kitchen in the place we’re staying but who wants to cook? We found a cosy little cafe and had a BIG Irish Brekkie.


The walking began at 10:30 and has only just ended. We have covered some ground! 17000 steps to be precise aka six miles so the old feet need a rest before heading out for our last supper!

All the major city center Dublin attractions were covered and some shopping too.

We hit Trinity College first but many others beat us to it and the line for the Book of Kells so we decided to do other things first.


We headed up Grafton Street to Saint Stephens Green then down to The Castle across to Temple Bar and back to Trinity where the line had shrunk to a tolerable length.

The short wait was well worth it and we were suitable impressed with the magnificence of Ireland’s greatest treasure and one of the oldest books in the world.

We loved the Long library too and all the other treasures it houses including the declaration of Irish Independence and the so called harp of the old king of Ireland Brian Boru.

All we need now is a Guinness. We won’t make the brewery tour but we couldn’t leave the home of the black magic without a sip of the original potion could we?

Blessing #426 – Thirsty Tired Toes (good name for a leprechaun 🍀)

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Phyllis dropped us bright and early at the bus for Dublin. We left Belfast on the dot of 8:35 wearing our gear for the game and were in Dublin by 10:30.

We had the pick of seats as we were among the first to arrive. We choose the very front seat on the top deck for the best view.

I banged my head getting into it and now have a duck egg of a bump right on the top of my cranium! I’ve told Aaron if I pass out he has to tell the medics I’m concussed!

There was a minor monsoon on the way and we were not optimistic about the weather for the day ahead but miraculously once again the rain stopped and the sun came out as we got off the bus!

After dropping our bags at the Aparthotel ( a fancy name for Trinity College halls of residence) we DARTed to the AVIVA stadium and got our tickets for the Ireland versus Italy rugby match.

This was our first international game and our first time at AVIVA. As we were there two hours before the kick off we saw the teams arriving and could join the green army cheering them in.

We had great seats behind the goal at the top of the stadium and enjoyed Ireland’s win very much.

The stadium holds 51000 and was about three quarters full. As we left we got separated on the stairs.

After ten minutes panic the only thing that seemed logical to me was to head back to the DART train and wait.

We have no internet coverage on our USA phones unless we are in a WiFi zone. Add to this my phone was down to 15% battery and I don’t know how low Aarons was.

It took us a good half hour to find each other. Lesson learned. Stick like glue in crowds.

Now we are taking it easy. Feet up in the shared living space as the dorm is lovely but a little compact!

A good taste of things to come for Aaron just hope his college housing will be as smart and comfortable as this! Maybe he should try for Trinity!

Blessing # 425 –  Lost is Found

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You can live for ever in a city and not see the places visitors see. There is always the excuse that we’ll do that another time.


Having grown up in Belfast and visited several times a year since leaving the province in 1984 today was the first time I’ve ever visited Stormont the seat of Northern Ireland’s government.


Phyllis our host had been several times and booked for us to take a tour today and have lunch in the Members dining room.

Built at the time of the partition of Ireland the building is in the neo classical style we’d seen it from a distance many times. Today we got up close and personal and discovered how beautiful it is inside as well as out.

There is so much to discover including a chandelier « borrowed» from the Royal Family that was gifted to them by Kaiser Willhem of Germany no less!

We went to both the upper and lower house, sat in the seats of Members of Parliament and of course dined like the Lords and Ladies.


Alas the visit to the extensive gardens had to go in the Next Time We’ll Do It  list thanks to pouring rain. Always good to have something to look forward to.

Blessing # 424 – Tourists In Your Own Town

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There are some things you wouldn’t miss for the world. The eightieth birthday of cousin Agnes was one of these occasions.

The day kicked off with an invitation to lunch with John, Norman and Yvonne before heading off for the party.

Family gathered from as far afield as New Zealand. Some of us hadn’t seen each other in 53 years! Some have never met!

Thanks to Facebook many of us are in touch so we aren’t like strangers but nothing beats a real Face to Face!


Meeting your family playmates and hearing those familiar voices that you haven’t heard for a while is such a great joy.


The setting for the party was a beautiful house set in the majestic Mountains of Mourne. The day could not have been more perfect. Blue skies and a gentle breeze.


There was enough food to feed an army and more cake than Marie Antoinette could ever have imagined the Piece de la Resistance being a birthday cake fit for a queen.


Aaron was in his element meeting so many people and has decided he wants to move back to the homeland.

We are so thankful to Anne and Joyce who organized this great day that will live in our memories for ever.


Now it’s time for bed because like sweet little Poppy who traveled all the way from England for the celebration we are pooped!

Blessing # 423 – Reunited