Stretching, Exercise and Relaxation While Travelling

This is part of a new series of blog posts about will be a very short post about a relaxing stretch program that can be done from a private room.

A quick note before we begin:

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Now...back to STRETCHING

After a day of travelling, or when waking up in a room away from home, it's nice to have a familiar routine for stretching. I thought it might be nice for this series of blog posts to share a program I actually use. I find it's very helpful for relaxing in a sensuous, feminine way, and for limbering up the spine for other physical activities.

Lots of people enjoy being physically active. I imagine many of my neighbors grew up in families that encouraged playing competitive sports. We have bike riders, golfers, tennis players, swimmers and who knows what else. For some people, vigorous, strenuous and continual movement is second nature.

When I was a kid, Dad provided personal lessons in how to swing a British cricket bat and the best ways to throw a punch while wearing boxing gloves. Swimming and ballet classes were supported by Mom, who was a dance instructor in her youth. My parents both encouraged competition in the arts and getting good grades in school.
When I was in college, I gravitated toward noncompetitive fitness like dance classes and weight training. After graduation, it was easy to work out in health clubs, with aerobic dance classes, weights and equipment. The ambiance of being a member of a group of exercisers is energizing, and I like the idea of being fit.

Movement is part of nature and community, and I often prefer to take a slower pace than some of the more athletic types. Whether it's walking the dogs, or enjoying a pleasant day as a sort of nature meditation.

Sometimes, too, I like to exercise in private. It's more convenient for me, and healthier for the environment than sitting in a car and driving to a fitness club. Fortunately, online video workouts and social networking groups make it easy to exercise in private while being part of a group too.

>With so many exercise programs available on the internet, sometimes it's hard to choose. Many fitness "gurus" have tons of free videos to try out before getting a paid program. I have worked with several different fitness-from-home programs, and each has its own strong points.

Earlier this year I got bored with yoga poses and repetitive motion exercise. I missed the artistry, and intellectual challenge that comes from learning new dance movements, but I don't have the kind of dedication that ballet/jazz/modern dance classes require. I decided to check out belly dance videos.

And then I found Coco Berlin. Like most contemporary fitness instructors, she has a lot of free videos available. She also has an extensive free course in belly dance, with a paid upgrade option. Social networking is available for Coco's updates, and for students to connect with ourselves.

Coco's style of teaching is friendly and patient. She favors comfortable ways to learn movement. Her voice is gently touched with a German accent, in a pleasant way that sounds almost musical to the ears. Her personal style is genuine and honest, sensual and sexy at the same time.

Despite wanting to learn belly dance quickly, it soon became clear that it would require more confidence. Although some movements are easier than they look, many are not. I wasn't sure I was ready to invest in the belly dance course right away.

Fortunately, Coco Berlin offers a sensuous dance workout, which is a less expensive option for beginners. After a few weeks of doing the exercises I felt my confidence increasing. As it turned out, Coco's sensuous dance workout was a really nice introduction the sensual aspects of exercise, and to some of the supporting muscles for belly dance.

The sensuous dance course does not require an internet connection, except for the initial download. It may be ordered as a cd set, as a set of digital downloads, or both cds and downloads. I opted for both versions, so I could share the cd with Mom, and work with the digital downloads on my laptop.

The program package includes videos, audio versions of the workout videos, and pdf handouts about anatomy specifics featured for the workout. Coco includes a five-minute workout, a longer dance workout, sensuous tips and instructions, and a helpful wake-up-and-get-out-of bed stretch routine to start my day.
Coco Berlin, an acclaimed belly dancer and instructor who travels, appears to have thought of everything I need to stretch, limber up, get ready for my day, and wind down afterwards while travelling.

Highly recommended.

To be continued...

Let's Visit Stonehenge Part V Southampton UK: Vegan and Pet Friendly

This is part of a new series of blog posts about travelling
....starting with a place I have actually visited before: STONEHENGE!

If you missed my previous posts about my dream vacation, here are the links:
Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part I Ocean Liner to the UK: Pet Friendly
Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part II Cruises: Pets and MOOCs
Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part III Cross Country: Cars and Crystals
Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part IV Port of Southampton UK: Cars and Tours

As you know if you read my previous articles, my dream vacation is to take my dogs for a walk at Stonehenge. Because I live in California, this scenario has taken quite a bit of strategy on my part to find a way to get to the destination. The strategies were covered in my previous blog posts, ending up with actually visiting Stonehenge, returning to Port of Southampton, and preparing for the return home. So now it's time to consider whether I really want to go home, or whether I might actually want to stay awhile longer, if my Visas are good for it.

Since I brought my dogs with me (no easy task, given the strict UK regulations about pets) I obviously want to us to be able to hang out together. And, if the dogs are approved to leave the ship with their pet visas, the first thing I will want is a place to stay overnight. My first idea was to drive all the way to London. It's a big city, centrally located, with lots of contemporary amenities and lots of things to do. A place like London would probably have a good selection of pet friendly hotels and, turns out, it does.

What surprises me, after all the strict pet travel regulations, is how pet friendly England appears to be when my pet is safely with me. Online search, from my location in Southern California, for pet friendly accommodations near Port of Southampton UK turned up a number of options. London is definitely not alone in the pet friendly hotel business.

After I've got my pet-friendly reservation, hopefully near a nice park where I may walk my dogs, I'll need to think about food for me and my dogs. This is more complicated than it sounds because of my nutritional choices. About ten years ago I slowly started converting to Vegan eating. This was not necessarily for my personal health or beauty, although those are both reasons some people swear by plant-based diets. It's actually because I just want to be kind to animals.

I first started to modify my diet as a pescetarian, which is a vegetarian that eats fish sometimes. I rationalized that fish probably live more of a normal life than most farm animals. They get to swim around with other fish and a fairly normal life, while they grow up to a fair size before that final, fateful last day in the water. I also switched my dogs diet over to a salmon-based dry dog food. They they really liked it.

Over the past few years, I've participated in several massive online open courses that opened my eyes to the plight of dairy cows, chickens and other farm animals (MOOCs, which are sponsored by international universities). Knowledge and facts were what helped me make strong dietary decisions.

Giving up dairy products like cheese, yogurt and ice cream, was really difficult for me. Along with eggs, dairy products are included in the recipes for practically every baked good and comfort food imaginable. Aisles and aisles of most grocery stores are filled with merchandise and foods that don't qualify as animal-friendly. Food shopping is a tough call for vegans.

These days, the only non-vegan food I keep in my kitchen are eggs from pasture-raised chickens, which I mostly get from local farmers at the farmers market who promise me that they treat their chickens good. Aside from these pasture-raised eggs, everything I buy for the kitchen is vegan these days.

My dogs moved over to a similarly vegan diet too, with a combination of dry vegan dog food and recipes from Dr. Pitcairn's book, Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, which is also my go-to guide for basic pet health care and maintenance at home.

The secret behind Dr. Pitcairn's whole food pet nutrition is a home-made supplement powder that's included in the book's recipes. The authors call the supplement a healthy powder, and it includes a variety of different nutritional supplement powders in specific proportions.

According to Compassionate Circle website, pre-measured vegan pet supplements made by their company are designed to go with Dr. Pitcairn's recipes. The website also states that some of the supplement advice has changed since the book's first printing, and that the most recent edition of the book has more vegan and vegetarian recipes than ever. (4th edition, printed in 2017, as of the writing of this blog post)

Compassionate Circle website includes Veggie Pets as their UK-based international re-seller for their vegan pet supplements. Veggie Pets delivers vegan pet food and supplements packages throughout the UK, which will be convenient for my vacation overseas. I'll probably contact the hotel where I booked my room, and see how to address a shipment sent for delivery to me when I get there. I'm pretty sure I won't be able to take dog food off the ship and through customs.

According to Veggie Pets, the UK has quite a few choices in brands for vegan pet food, including Benevo, from Havant in Hampshire. Veggie Pets will also ship V-Dog, which is made in California. I can also order Benevo dog foods through ebay's UK site, if I prefer.

It might be a good idea to let the dogs try out Benevo and V-Dog at home before our vacation. I can add it into their regular food slowly, so I can see how they adjust to the different brands and if they like them both equally.

V-Dog I can easily order from ebay, although it's quite a bit more expensive than the stuff they usually eat. I might have to order Benevo from Veggie Pet. It might have to be shipped from the UK to USA if I want to try it at home.

I might also want to order some vegan snacks ahead of time for me too, and have that sent to my room so the dogs aren't the only ones munching out in the hotel room. It might take a day or so get used to being back on steady, dry land again, after going with the flow of wave motion in the ocean liner for a week. I'm not sure I'll be up to grocery shopping that first day off the ship. If my room has access to a kitchen with a refrigerator, I will definitely want to go shopping later.

Happy Cow is one of the better known websites for free vegan searches. If I want to help support the website, I can help Happy Cow with the expenses by making purchases at their affiliate shop for books and Happy Cow swag. People are encouraged to contact the website with new vegan-friendly restaurants and stores or ones that aren't already included in their database.

According to Happy Cow, Southampton UK is home to Rice Up Wholefoods, a five-star, all-vegan grocery store. Imagine shopping for food, with only animal friendly products on every aisle. This dream vacation is getting better and better.

The Rice Up website also has a page of links, including a global, UK-based company that makes cups and cutlery from plants, and The Art House, a vegan cafe in Southampton that displays affordable artwork by local artists. Why was I thinking of going to London? Southampton seems like a pretty nice place to hang out near the beach with my dogs. Sort of like California, but a little chillier.

To be continued...


A Reviews of Cat & Dog-Friendly Hotel Booking Websites | Spot Cool Stuff: Travel
travel . spotcoolstuff . com/websites/dog-cat/pet-friendly-hotel-booking-engines

Find Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants Near Me - Happy Cow
www . happycow . net

Rice Up Wholefoods Cooperative Ltd
www . riceup . co . uk
www . veggiepets . com

Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part IV Port of Southampton UK: Cars and Tours

This is part of a new series of blog posts about travelling....starting with a place I have actually visited before: STONEHENGE!

If you missed my previous posts about my dream vacation, here are the links:
Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part I Ocean Liner to the UK: Pet Friendly
Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part II Cruises: Pets and MOOCs
Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part III Cross Country: Cars and Crystals

As you know if you read my previous articles, my dream vacation is to take my dogs for a walk at Stonehenge. Because I live in California, this scenario has taken quite a bit of strategy on my part to find a way to get to the destination. The strategies were covered in my previous blog posts, ending up with being on an ocean liner. So now it's time to really think about what it would be like arriving on an ocean liner, at a port in England with my dogs.

The last time I visited England it was summertime and I was in my teens. My dad had landed a job in Europe, and touring Europe and Britain was one of the last memories I have of family vacations from my youth. It was more than mere coincidence that we visited England in the summertime. It was strategic planning. One of my parents is from England, and my family was very much aware that harsh regional winter weather exists abundantly throughout the UK.

What I didn't expect, as a teenager who had grown accustomed to packing clothes in layers, was just how cold England can be at any time of the year. In June, while wearing a classic light tan blazer, I felt a little chilly and uncomfortable, even in broad daylight.

It's hard for me to imagine just how cold England is in winter. For this vacation, I'll probably just leave winter to some dark corner of my imagination. Instead, I'll travel during the summer months. Maybe I should pack a couple of sweaters, some boots and a pair of thick socks, just in case it's a little chilly the day I'm there. Yes, you read that correctly. I have one day. It's because, to the best of my knowledge, the ship usually only has a one day layover in Southampton.

Even though I'd prefer to be in England during the warmest months of the year, I might avoid visiting Stonehenge during the summer solstice. This solstice happens sometime in the second half of June, and what with the celebrations that happen at Stonehenge for this event, I expect that there would probably be a lot of tourist traffic at that time. Tourist traffic could slow me down. Definitely, I'll need to be super efficient with my day so my dogs and I will be back on board the ship in time for departure.

I also want to avoid taking a lot of time disembarking with my dogs at Southampton. Both the ship and the UK have very stringent regulations about pet paperwork, vaccinations, health and even pet visas. See my previous posts for more about pet regulations.

Something I'd like to have more clarification on, is exactly what happens when taking ship-approved USA-boarded pets off the ship in England. Are the pets given instant approval, based on paperwork done in advance, or are there more hurdles to clear at the port? Hopefully, the cruise line can answer this question in advance.

I'd like to imagine that that taking the dogs off the ship is relatively simple and easy. In this scenario, I would arrange to have a rental car at the port, and then drive from Southampton port to Stonehenge and back. Travelling may take a little over an hour each way. Or it may be as long as 1-1/2 hours each way. I'll estimate three hours total for driving.

I would like to have about an hour or so to walk my dogs around the area. I don't plan to actually take them inside the monument, because I'm pretty sure dogs aren't allowed on the tours. See my previous posts for more about dogs and Stonehenge. My dogs are pretty small, and we usually don't really cover a lot of ground quickly. Walking around outside, on the public grounds, without actually approaching the monument tour area is fine with us. We may discretely absorb the ambiance from a distance.

If everything goes smoothly, the entire visit can be accomplished in four hours, giving us plenty of time to get back on board the ship. My dogs will be super happy to return to their familiar kennels, after having an exciting adventure walking around the mysterious, ancient monument with me. And as for me, I'll be basking in the glow of a successful adventure.

That was the "perfect day" scene. Now I need a backup plan in case it's not that easy to take my dogs off the ship at Southampton port. What if there is more paperwork for the dogs, long lines, additional required clearances for the dogs and that sort of thing after we actually get to the port in England? What if, in fact, it's not that easy to get my dogs in a rental car and drive to Stonehenge for a walk? What if some regulation requires me to be separated from my dogs? I don't want them out of my sight in a foreign country, not even for a few moments.

Although it's not an ideal vacation, it might be better, by the time I get to England, to let my dogs hang out at the ship's kennels while I go sight seeing without them. It might be fun to be with a group of people on a tour of Stonehenge.
Without the dogs in tow, I may let a professional tour guide do the driving, someone who's experienced at getting tourists back to their ships on time. Relaxing my personal responsibilities, my friends, would be a great vacation for me.

After a week at sea, the dogs would already be used to staying in the kennels on board. No worries about separation anxiety. The kennel attendants would be already be friends with my dogs. They would have a regular day together, with all their regular meals and play time as usual. Who knows? They might not even miss me. They might not enjoy all the hassle of going to a new place, a place they may only visit once in their little lives. At least they would be safe, and well cared for. I wouldn't have to worry about them. It would probably be okay.

Of course, after coming back from that Stonehenge tour, I would probably want to check up on my dogs first thing. I would like to have a chance to do this before changing clothes, and before socializing on the return journey to USA. When my little friends smell all those wonderful, mysterious Stonehenge scents on my boots, I'm pretty sure they would both be just as excited and happy as if we'd gone on the whole Stonehenge adventure together.

Who knows what kind of dreams they might have that evening, and from what time in history? Dogs have such great sensory perceptions. They sense more than we do, and they seem to do it with far less sensory input than we people need.

At this point, after an exciting day at Stonehenge, my dream vacation comes to an end. I've visited Stonehenge and returned to the ship on time. Either I've taken my dogs with me, or I've reconnected with them later in the day at their kennel doggie cabins.

Either way, the dogs and I would be safely aboard the friendly ocean liner and ready for another enjoyable week at sea as we return to the USA. All too soon we will arrive, once again, at the port in New York City. From there we will rent another car and finally, after driving back thousands of miles across the country from this grand journey, we'll arrive back home. And from home, it will be back to regular life in California. The dream adventure of a lifetime is complete.

Or is it? What would happen if I decided to stay in England for awhile with my dogs? Maybe I could have a longer vacation, or maybe there's a overseas job in my future. If my dogs are welcome, my Visa is good, and it's affordable for me, it might be fun to stay on for a few more months. I wonder, though, where would we stay? How many friends would we make? What sort of nice, interesting, exciting and magical adventures might be in store for us?

To be continued...


Drive to Stonehenge and Southampton Review of Golden Tours, London, England - Trip Advisor
www . tripadvisor . com/ShowUserReviews-g186338-d663796-r241295287-Golden_Tours-London_England.html#REVIEWS

Michelin route planner and maps, traffic news, weather forecast, restaurants and hotel booking
 www . viamichelin . co . uk

Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part III Cross Country: Cars and Crystals

This is part of a new series of blog posts about travelling
....starting with a place I have actually visited before: STONEHENGE!

If you missed my previous posts about my dream vacation, here are the links:
Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part I Ocean Liner to the UK: Pet Friendly
Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part II Cruises: Pets and MOOCs

As you know if you read my previous articles, there is only one ship that I can take for my trip to England if I'm bringing a pet; the Queen Mary II by Cunard. What I may not have mentioned is that there is only one USA port where I can board, and it's in New York city. I live in California, which is not only on the opposite coast, it's also on a different ocean. I can't just hop onto a boat and travel across the Atlantic, because my coast is Pacific. So how do I get to the Atlantic ocean and NYC?

Since this is a dream vacation, my dream might be to sail around South America and, from there, up the east coast to New York. In this scenario, I would be travelling the oceans from California in a counter-clockwise direction (or anti-clockwise as they say in the UK). This would probably work great in a reality, though, is I'm not experienced in sailing a boat and there don't seem to be any cruises that work this route with pets on board.

I could fly, perhaps, and that would be quickest. But, as I mentioned in my first post, I don't like the idea of flying with pets. I'm not sure it's good for them, and airports are not my favorite places when I'm with pets. If I were to ask my dogs, I'm pretty sure both of them would give airport travel a less than enthusiastic response. But a road trip? Now we're talking. Most dogs love riding in cars, and mine are definitely no exception.

I've traveled across country, with a pet dog as copilot, in a past life adventure I'll always remember. This was from a time, way back in history, in the olden days before cell phones. We traveled the iconic I-10 that traverses the southern part of our beautiful country using a customized map and tour guides from the local auto club. Those were the days my friends.

Nowadays, finding and booking a pet-friendly hotel is pretty simple. In my experience with cross country travel, it can be easier and more cost effective to look for inexpensive lodging through a recognized pet-friendly chain like La Quinta, Red Roof Inn, or even Motel 6.

My historic cross country trip took about a week of full-time driving in a fairly straight line. A drive from Southern California to New York City, on a diagonal line, might take a little more time. Lets say, a week and a half, or three weeks for a round trip as an estimate.

I don't want to worry about where to park when I get on the ship, so I'm going to opt for a rental car. Besides, it's nice not to put the extra mileage on my own car.

Although most rental cars are traditionally gas fueled, if I can find a good electric car I might give it a try. Charging stations are popping up everywhere. For this little adventure, maybe I'd like to try something new, save on costs and help keep the air cleaner at the same time.

Okay, so let's take a look at how much time I'm going to need for this one-day walk with my dogs at Stonehenge. It's going to be about week and a half (each way) to drive between my location in California and New York City, so that part is three weeks, right? Seven days (each way) from NYC to Southampton, England is two more weeks. So the minimum amount of time I need to do this vacation is five weeks. Just over a month. That is one long vacation, by any measure.

Being as this is a dream vacation, I'm not going to go into the costs. A more realistic mindset would be needed for that, and why wake up from dreamland? It's becoming clear, though, I will want more than a vague dream before I finalize my plans for this vacation. I might also want a little bit of British magic.

According to various online resources, bluestones from Preseli, Wales were chosen by the ancients when they planned the monumental structure of Stonehenge. As luck would have it, I found a couple of shops I might want to choose from for my crystal of English magic.

I haven't shopped at Exquisite Crystals yet, a website which has a little bit more of a size selection for their tumbled Preseli bluestones, with a choice of small, medium or large stones, ranging from 1/4" to 1".

Exquisite Crystals has good online reviews, and specializes in crystals.

Although I don't see an option for having crystals anointed or wire-wrapped, Exquisite Crystals sells incense and smudging materials separately. I may choose to pass my own crystals through scented smoke after receiving them.

And of course there's good old ebay, one of my personal favorite shopping sites to browse. I can find just about anything at ebay, including crystals, crystal jewelry, anointing blends, incense and so much more.

A small selection of Preseli bluestones is very likely to be found listed at ebay. There's always some risk involved with shopping at ebay, of course, because there are so many amateur vendors. I feel it's a good idea to always check the vendor's reputation from their customers' reviews and star ratings before I order anything.

I also like to take a look at the other things the vendor is selling, to see if they specialize in crystals, metaphysical, and the quality of most of the items, or if they have an offsite website where I can check them out easier.
Even though it may be safer to choose a more obviously commercial vender, many amateur sellers are also very pleasant to shop with, although less predictable. Some have an interestingly eclectic variety of listings, and occasionally surprise with a personal note on a nice card or an unadvertised gift or gift bag.

Sometimes, when a great investment is planned with care, I may choose to risk a much lesser amount in the acquisition of something small that adds to the mystery and mystique of this adventure within a dream, and the dream within this adventure of a lifetime.

To be continued...


4 Tips for Traveling in ... Your Electric Car | Department of Energy
energy . gov/eere/articles/4-tips-traveling-your-electric-car

How Long Does it Take to Charge an Electric Car? | Pod Point
pod-point . com/landing-pages/how-long-does-it-take-to-charge-an-electric-car

26 Budget Hotel Chains that are Dog-Friendly
barkpost . com/26-hotel-chains-that-are-dog-friendly

Have dog, will travel: Top pet-friendly hotel chains
www . usatoday . com/story/travel/hotels/2014/09/03/pet-dog-friendly-hotel/14972079

Bluestone - Wikipedia