Our first stop was the famous Chelsea Flower Show, the top bucket list item for Mrs. F.G. That year all the garden designers had to include a small shelter in their garden designs. This one was totally over the top, a room that had to be lifted up by a huge crane so you could relax in the sky overlooking your garden - garden design gone mad!
Luckily the dates fell into place to enable us to leave London and join an adventure cruise around the outer islands of Scotland. One of our first stops was to visit Iona Abbey on the Isle of Iona, where Saint Columba established the first outpost of Christianity on the British Isles, now a popular pilgrimage destination. That story alone deserves an entire book!
A couple of stops later we disembarked on St. Kilda, a now uninhabited island 40 miles out in the Atlantic west of the Outer Hebrides, voluntarily evacuated in the '30s. Another fascinating story.
Later we toured the sea caves on Papa Stour, one of the Shetland Islands. The water was just a little rough. When we got back to the ship and timed our jump to avoid the 6 foot up and down swell, Mrs. F.G. grinned and said "Next time let's go to Antarctica!"
Florence was the historical highlight of that trip, where we saw both Brunelleschi's famous dome on the cathedral, and Michelangelo's 'David', this model of it in it's appropriate place making a political statement outside the local town hall.
It's hard to get an iconic picture of Venice tat doesn't feature gondolas, St. Mark's Square or canals, but we wandered the back streets and saw parts of Venice most tourists (who have to be back to their cruise ships by 4 o'clock) never see. This is at the fish market.
The second was Monet's amazing garden where he grew colourful flowers including waterlilies, which he could paint. His paintings of his waterlilies are some of the most famous paintings in the world.