Dunedin, New Zealand – Celebrating the Haggis


Sitting in the tour bus outside the oldest church in Dunedin, New Zealand, the bus driver poses an odd question:  “Do you want to see how fast a Scotsman with a long sword and wearing a kilt can run?’  Whereupon, he lays his hand on the horn and gives it a good long blast. The Scotsman in the kilt carrying a very long sword twirls around and makes a beeline to the bus full speed.

Iain Seatter, our host for the Haggis Ceremony, Dunedin, New Zealand
Iain Seatter, our host for the Haggis Ceremony, Dunedin, New Zealand

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2015 Irish Fair of Minnesota

The 36th annual Irish Fair of Minnesota was held at Harriet Island Regional Park along the Mississippi River on the 2nd weekend in August 2015.  From the riverfront you can view the St. Paul skyline including downtown, the St. Paul Cathedral, Science Museum of Minnesota, Robert Street Bridge, Wabasha Bridge and the High Bridge.  You also get to see the Minnesota Centennial Showboat and the Covington Bed and Breakfast riverboat.  The Irish Fair takes over the park for 3 days of fun and music.  From young Irish dancers, Irish dogs, local and word renown Irish bands, food and, of course, kilts.  The wearing of the green and the kilts is for everyone this weekend.

Entry to Irish Fair of MInnesota at Harriet Island Regional Park. 2015


St. Paul, Minnesota skyline from Irish Fair of Minnesota
The St. Paul skyline visible to all who enter the Irish Fair at Harriet Island Regional Park. 2015

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Southern Fjords: Fjordland National Park

Fjordland National Park, New Zealand

It’s still dark on a cloudy morning when the Holland America Oosterdam enters the waters of the southern fjords of Fjordland National Park in New Zealand.  Because the passage is  narrow and dangerous it requires a special pilot to navigate the narrow passage.  He arrives in the dark of night . The ship does not stop to let him onboard.  He must board from his vessel while the ship is in motion.  He will stay on board  through Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound until we exit Dusky Sound into the open sea.  The ship quietly glides through the water.  Being up early to witness the tall tree-covered rock walls of the fjord as they surround the ship is an eerie sight, and creates a slight claustrophobic reaction.   They rise hundreds of feet above the deck.  As the morning begins to dawn,  a collective audible “Ooh” escapes from the people having breakfast on the Lido deck when they suddenly realize how close the walls of the fjord are to the ship.  Some grab their coffee and head out to the back deck only to return to the dining area after they discover the temperature is about 5ºC .  It is the fall season in this area of the world so early morning temperatures can be quite chilly.

Pilot boat
Pilot boat

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Strange Things You May See at Yard Sales


Earl is for sale for $6000.00.
Earl is for sale for $6000.00 USD.

Summertime is here in the United States and with that comes flea markets, yard and garage sales.  What’s the difference?  They are the same except for one thing – the venue.  A yard sale usually held in a person’s yard.  A flea market can be held in a large outdoor area or building and can have hundreds of vendors selling their items.  A garage sale is held in a garage at a person’s home.  The family car is removed to accommodate the piles of stuff on sale. If you are lucky enough to have a garage you don’t have to pack things up at the end of the sale day.  Yard sale vendors may put up tents for their sale so that they can move things into the tent in the evening or give them protection from the rain or hot sun.  A sale is a great way to get rid of the stuff you no longer use and make a little money.  There are rules for the sellers and buyers.  In most cases bring cash – no checks or credit cards.  In the case of large flea markets some vendors may take credit cards but it’s rare.  One of my rules is that anything put out for sale needs to be clean and in good working order.  If something doesn’t work but could be fixable by someone else, put it in the “free” box.  Don’t put out torn or stained clothing.  The exception to that rule is jeans as some people seem to like torn and stained jeans.  But at least wash them before you put them on your sale.

There are wonderful flea markets that go on for miles. The One Hundred Mile Garage Sale that starts in Red Wing, Minnesota, goes 50 miles down the Mississippi River to Winona, Minnesota and then crosses the river to Wisconsin and after going 50 miles north the path crosses back to Red Wing.  My family favorite each year.  The Washington County Flea Market is held at the county fairgrounds the last weekend of the month from May-October in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.   The Three Hundred Mile Yard Sale goes through the states of Kentucky and Tennessee.  The Pasadena Flea Market is in California.  In Mesa, Arizona and warmer climates such as the south, southwest and California flea markets are every weekend and sometimes during the week. There are so many all over America that it would take days to write the list.  Big ones, little ones, community, 1 or 2-day, 3-day, 4-day,  weekly, monthly, only on major holiday weekends.  They are fun and a great place to find that collectible you can’t live without.  Continue reading “Strange Things You May See at Yard Sales”

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