About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Y is for YORKSHIRE

Okay, I promised my posts to the end would be short, but I just did up a slideshow for you all about one of the most beautiful places in the world - YORKSHIRE - where our friend Denise Nesbitt lives, and I'm sorry that it's long, but it's worth it. You will not regret watching it as it just might spur you to consider visiting some day.  I know that I for one WILL be back!

Our visit began with Jill (see her blog here) meeting us at the Grosmont (silent s) train station.  We trudged up the hill with our cases, turned into "Institute Row" and arrived at our cottage.  It was amazing inside - fully fitted kitchen, laundry room, lovely sitting/dining room with TV and fireplace and upstairs the huge bathroom and two bedrooms with queen-sized beds in each!  Denise turned up with fresh eggs, which we cooked up for dinner...yummy!

The next day was cloudy and threatened rain, although it was warm.  We had been pleasantly surprised by the village with all it had to offer people, so we decided to poke around.  We passed the old schoolhouse that had recently been renovated as a cafe, the village church, the tunnel through which the steam trains chugged past a gorgeous garden, and ended up at the train museum.  Coming back, we stopped at the schoolhouse for lunch and then poked our heads inside many of the intriguing shops down the road.

The following morning, Jill phoned and offered to take us for a drive so we accepted.  What a wonderful and gracious hostess she was!  She took us all over the moors and to several neighbouring villages to show us the views, where her grandchildren go to school and church, and the famous village of Goathland where the British TV show "Heartbeat" was filmed.  That was especially exciting for me as I'm a fan of the show.  After that, we went to the North Yorkshire Visitors' Center and had lunch in the "Wooly Sheep Cafe."

We went out to visit Denise one day, too, and had a wonderful visit.  We strolled along the lanes near her home and saw lots of horses, geese and other water fowl, her church and had cuddles with Frieda, one of her German Shepherds and watched her chickens scarf down spaghetti noodles.  She served us tea and scones in her lovely and cosy kitchen and we got to see up close her new Aga!

I could tell you so much more, but I'll just let you watch the slideshow (and turn up the sound) to see for yourself that Yorkshire is a beautiful area of the world!  I'll leave you with one more thing:

!HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow


Saturday, December 22, 2012

X is for XMAS


We who post at ABC Wednesday are lovers of the alphabet, and we are sometimes fascinated by the flexibility of the letter X.  It can be used to represent the sacred, the profane (X-rated), and the unknown (X-ray).

How many of you have ever wondered why "XMAS" is used as a short form for the word ''CHRISTMAS"?  How many of you really know the reason.  Have you ever heard the saying "Jesus is the reason for the season"?

The history of the word "Xmas" is actually quite respectable and predates by centuries its use in gaudy advertisements.   X is the Greek letter "chi", the first letter in the word Χριστός.  And here's the kicker - Χριστός means "Christ."  Using the letter X to represent Christ, known as a "christogram," has been an accepted representation of Christ for hundreds of years. 

Therefore, in order to fulfill my promise of a short post this week, may I wish you all MERRY XMAS

Saturday, December 15, 2012

W is for Woodstock Terrace


I started planning my trip to England and Wales about a year ago.  My friend Cathy and I worked on our itinerary, making plans to visit old and new friends in both countries and on the Isle of Man.   In the meantime, my dear Lorne had been applying to work for the London Olympics and we were hoping that if he got the job, I'd stay on longer to be with him for a while before returning home to start the school year with my tutoring.  Well, it was all a whirlwind when everything started happening!  Within two weeks, he had everything arranged after one video interview and two long distance telephone interviews.  On May 16th, I drove him to Vancouver International Airport, kissed him good-bye and off he went!

I never said anything about it (except to personal friends) because of security clearances...everything he did in his job was on a "need-to-know" basis as he was dealing with extremely high level security for  VIPs, Heads of State, international Royalty, headline acts for the ceremonies, and more.  Read into this as you may but yes, he probably either met them or at least saw them go through his area.  Working under him were over 2000 British Army troops, 20 Met Police, 8 dog handlers, 3 Venue Managers, etc.  I was so proud of him but missed him terribly!

We had to find him a place to stay at the last minute so went online in search.  Luckily, we found a room that was located about halfway between the Canary Wharf LOCOG office and the Olympic Site in Stratford.  It was on Woodstock Terrace in a row of homes bordering on a park.  It was okay, but even though the weather from May to July was horrendously rainy and cold, the landlady wouldn't allow him to turn on the heat.  He used to huddle under his comforter fully clothed trying to stay warm during his "off" hours while he read and read and read.  There was no TV or radio and no internet access, either.  He'd go over to the library around 7pm every night and contact me at home (11am my time) and we'd "chat" online for an hour - the allotted time.  If he couldn't make it, he'd email me wonderful letters full of all the news he could give me - his emails were monitored for security!  I saved everything - printed out all the emails and the "chats" we had and now have a large binder full of our correspondence.  It'll be fun to read through it again one day.

Finally, the day came when Cathy and I were to leave on our holiday.  I could hardly wait because it was now down to counting the weeks and days instead of the months before Lorne and I saw each other again.  As you probably have been reading, we had a great holiday for 2 1/2 weeks until we got to Yorkshire.  He phoned to tell me he was in the hospital with osteomyelitis!  Several weeks prior, he'd tripped over some cables on site and banged his big toe on a stairwell.  Long story short, he had unknowingly broken it and a few weeks later, he started to feel really sick.  He was transported by ambulance to Homerton Hospital where he was admitted, put immediately on IV antibiotics to get the infection under control before undergoing a partial amputation.  The surgery was to be on the Friday so Cathy and I headed to London on Thursday and went right away to the hospital after checking in at our hotel downtown.

Two trains and a 15-minute walk later, the poor guy was quite the sorry sight all hooked up to tubes, unshaven and hair all tousled.  Once I was there though, he relaxed a bit and was ready to do whatever it took to get him better.  He insisted that Cathy and I do some fun things in London while he was in the hospital because he didn't want to ruin our holiday.  So we did.  Visiting hours were strange (from 11am to noon and then from 4pm to 8pm) so I usually ended up going around 4pm and staying until around 8 until it started getting dark earlier and earlier.

Once Cathy left to return home, I moved over to the house on Woodstock Terrace.  Although the location was great for Lorne regarding work, it was in East London - not the best place for a WASP woman to be staying alone.  Drug deals went on in the middle of the night below the window and I looked very out of place walking amongst the women wearing hijabs peeking through the slits in their masks and amongst the blackest of black Somalis.  Lorne worried a lot about me being alone there, but I reassured him that I always had my keys out sticking through my fingers as a weapon and I always walked as though I knew exactly where I was going.  I really didn't think the area was that bad because I always saw lots of families around.  It just wasn't what one usually imagines when one thinks about the city of London.

Here's a funny story about something that happened after Lorne got out of the hospital but before he was well enough to fly home.  In the slide show to follow, you'll see some security guards outside the library about a block away from where we lived.  They also roamed around inside watching for theft and any disruptions.  Anyway, as there was no internet access at the house, we had to go to the library in order to check out flights home, contact our travel agent and family, and print out boarding passes.  We're there one day trying to work when suddenly there was an eruption between two young men, both big and black!  I was rightly p***ed at all the noise they were making and their cursing, so started grumbling at Lorne to do something.  He just told me to mind my own business because these guys could be dangerous.  But I was so stressed out about everything that I suddenly erupted at them and said, "Will you guys PLEASE figure out who beats up whom somewhere else!  People are trying to work here!"  Well....dead silence....and then one of them said, "Oh, sorry Ma'am!" and they left!  No one could believe this old white lady standing up to these punks!  I started to laugh while everyone else just stared at me open-mouthed, including Lorne.

The day Lorne finally got out of the hospital he insisted on taking me out to dinner in the neighbourhood.  We went to his favourite Chinese food restaurant and I was very impressed.  After dinner, he said we had to keep going further down the street because he had a surprise for me.  We ended up at an old 50s-style diner where we ordered ice-cream sundaes!  I even had the waiter take our photo!  We were both so happy that day to be able to finally be together again, knowing he would be coming home early with me instead of staying on until the end of October. But before coming home, we went to Wales to visit my friend Jane. You might recall my post R is for Rhossili here.

Warm thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt, the wonderful creator of ABC Wednesday and to Roger, our current administrator of the site.  Without them, we would not be here sharing all our witty and whimsical posts. We welcome all newcomers and would love our "oldies" to continue in the upcoming Round 12.  As well, we welcome anyone who is interested in participating on the team by visiting about 10 posts other than the ones you already visit.  Please contact Roger at ABC Wednesday here.

Enjoy the slideshow about my experiences living on Woodstock Terrace in London - I know it's long, but the next last 3 posts of the year will be short - I promise! 

Also, since next Tuesday is Christmas Day and in Canada Wednesday is Boxing Day,
I'd like to take this moment to wish everyone, wherever you are in the world, a very

Merry Christmas!
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Sunday, December 09, 2012

V is for VAULTS GARDEN CAFE

My friend Anne and I were valiant vagabonds as we strolled towards Radcliffe Square in Oxford. Suddenly, we came upon a couple of bicycles leaning against the stone wall.  Each had a basket full of colourful vegetation and a sign indicating a cafe that welcomed one and all - the Vaults Garden Cafe.  It is named the Vaults because of its proximity to the Radcliffe and Bodleian Libraries - an apt name, I thought. Although we didn't go in (no time), I did stop and take a few shots of the bikes as they were indicative of the area, the contemporary yet historic heart of Oxford.  The cafe opened in 2003 and offers unpretentious hospitality, local organic food, a vibrant environment, and affordability.  The cafe will provide picnic blankets so you can dine on the lawns or you can sit inside the "Old Congregation House" with its vaulted ceilings, which dates from 1320. Next time I'm in Oxford on vacation, I'll definitely pop in for a bite to eat, preferably on the lawns.

I played around with my two photos of the bikes and I hope you like them.  Sometimes it's fun just to see what you can do with colour and saturation even though the photo may not look "real."  They are vibrant, though, and I feel victorious about being able to do this! First, one original -

and then my vicarious thrill of changing colours.

Then the other original -


 and my other attempt at variety.
Venerable thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt, founder and creator of ABC Wednesday and her valiant sidekick, Roger, who has taken over the administrative reins of the site.   We have been very fortunate in having voluminous posts on ABCW but without our volunteers to assist with the visitations, poor Roger and Mrs. Nesbitt would be vulnerable to virtual exhaustion.  So if you'd like to participate in visiting about 10 posts per week, please contact Roger here at ABC Wednesday.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

U is for the UNDERGROUND

I had lots of practise during this past holiday in England using their Underground system of transportation.  Along with the Underground, I rode the Overground, the Docklands Light Rail System (the DLR), a canal boat and the trains.  Because I stayed in East London for 3 weeks, I always carried a convenient map that showed the routes so that I could plan my mini-trips.  I went to places like downtown London, Canary Wharf, out to Essex, up to Oxford, to Camden and Little Venice on the Regent Canal, and to Stratford where the new uber mall is located.  It wasn't long until I was boarding and unboarding like a native.  And I also learned why everyone ran to get the next underground, overground, or train.  Most people, and I got one too, have Oyster cards that are prepaid, so the longer your trip lasts, the more it costs.  Therefore, the sooner you catch your connection the sooner you get to your destination...thus, cheaper!
My travel partner, Cathy, was with me for 4 days in London at the Carlton Hotel right across the street from King's Cross and St. Pancras stations.  When we rode the trains together, we always got a seat even if there were none available - very nice gentlemen would stand up for us.  However, after she left I hardly ever got a seat.  She says it's because of her white hair!  Maybe so.  *Sigh*  We got there just as the Paralympics started and I must say the Stratford Station was a horror to get through!  But I was still in London when it was all over and travelling to and fro was much easier.  I have to admit, though, that I got turned around a couple of times and caught the underground tube going the wrong direction!  It's weird to descend so far underground, twisting and turning directions to find your track that you lose your sense of where North, South, East and West are.

After Cathy left, I moved over to Lorne's place and every day for 3 weeks, I travelled on the DLR and then transferred at Stratford Station to the Overground to Homerton to visit my dear one in the hospital, who ended up there after an accident while working in London.  He unknowingly broke his big toe, which ended up becoming infected and then it developed into osteomyelitis (infection of the bones) which went through his entire system.  The end result was a partial amputation which left him in the hospital for 3 weeks on IV antibiotics!  Good thing I was in the country so I could stay on with him until he was well enough to come home.  But before we did, we travelled to Wales so he could meet my unbelieveably wonderful friend Jane and her beau Neil.  We took the train from Paddington Station after getting there from the DLR to the underground Bow Church station and out to Paddington on the Hammersmith & City Line underground train.

I managed to get some photos of some of the Underground stations, the DLR, and other methods of transportation so I hope you like the short slideshow today. I have to tell you though that #5, 6, and 14 are from Google but all the rest are my shots.  Enjoy the ultimate in London travel.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Finally, thanks to the upstanding Roger for his unwillingness to desert the post as our current administrator of ABC Wednesday.  He and his useful staff of probably unqualified but undeniably eager helpers urgently encourage you to consider joining the team.  All that is necessary is to utilize a few minutes of time to visit a few blogs (usually 10) along with your usual favourites.  Since Round 12's new heading with soon be unveiled and will begin at the New Year, why not make it a resolution to just try it out for this Round?  You just might find it utterly uplifting!  Contact Roger through ABCW site here.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

T is for the THAMES

The Thames River is the longest river in England.  It flows right through the city of London, one of the biggest cities in the world and with its total length of 346 kilometres (or 215 miles), it has both its beginning and end within the country.

I'm sure those who have visited London remember seeing Big Ben, the Parliament Buildings, the London Eye, London Bridge and other locations that line the banks of the city.  Also, most of the world tuned in last June to watch Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee celebration with myriads of boats parading down the Thames for hours!  Even though it was pouring rain, it did not dampen the spirits of over a million people lining the shores - or the billions watching from home! (photo courtesy Google)

Having visited England a few times, I have had the pleasure of being on the Thames when I travelled to Hampton Court Palace (by coach) and returned to the city by boat.  As soon as you're outside the boundaries of the city of London, the sights are wonderful.  Lush green lawns slope down to the shores as you pass the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and historical Richmond.  The river winds and twists its way into the bustle of crowded London.

While staying in London on my latest trip, I visited Canary Wharf, formerly known as the Isle of Dogs, that juts out into the Thames.  It is now well known as the second major financial district in London.  It also contains most of the tallest buildings in the United Kingdom, including the second-tallest - One Canada Square. (my photo)

One day, I took the train out to Essex, north-east of London.  I got off at Billercay and Chris, a blogging buddy, met me there.  We drove to her home nearby where I met the husband Mike and the darling dog Nell.  It was so nice to be out of the hustle and bustle of London and in a beautiful suburb only 20 minutes away.  After coffee and getting to know each other a bit, we all left for a divine drive out to Southend-by-Sea where the Thames River flows into the North Sea.  What a different view of the river!  Here it widens out so much that it's hard to see the other side.  It was a very windy day but we managed a lovely stroll along the waterfront where I managed to get some photos of the palm trees swaying in the wind, sea birds, and whitecaps on the water.  Across the street, I got some shots of the gorgeous gardens and some of the hotels and buildings that loomed over the cliff above.

Apparently, this little area is famous for its summer atmosphere and the longest pier in the world!  It is also the home of the original Rossi Ice Cream on the Western Esplanade.  This year is its 80th anniversary of making premium artisan ice-cream with fresh milk, butter, and double cream.  Since the day was a bit cool, we chose to sit outside on the patio with coffee but I absolutely must return on a hot summer's day to taste the ice-cream! (photo courtesy Google)

As you can see, the Thames River has lots to offer along its 364 kilometres.  From the regions of Oxford, Reading, Henley-on-Thames, through Windsor, Richmond, London and all the way to the tidal section on the North Sea, you'll encounter rolling hills, palaces and castles, a thriving capital city, and even sandy beaches!  I hope you enjoy the short slideshow of some of my photos of the river in both London and at Southend-by-Sea.  Only #1 and #16 are courtesy of Google...the rest are my shots!

Tremendous thanks go to Mrs. Nesbitt, the creator of ABC Wednesday and to our current administrator of the site, Roger!  Without the two of them, we might be in a tight spot trying to tie our posts together.  Please encourage your friends to join us, but do remember to ask them to read the rules and guidelines so that we can continue to share our tasty tidbits with each other.  And now on with the show! Tada!
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Monday, November 19, 2012

S is for SWANSEA

 
Continuing with the saga of my summer holiday, I bring you the spectacular and sprawling seaside city of SWANSEA!  The city is situated in the shadow of seven hills along the inspirational coastline of the Gower Peninsula.  The scenery is breathtaking and there's lots to do in the area - water skiing, golf, hang gliding, and pony trekking.  I didn't get enough time there but do plan on returning some day!

In the 10th century, Scandinavians built a fort here and named the place after their leader, Swein.  By the fourteenth century, the Welsh had established ship building and sea fishing traditions which would span succeeding centuries up until now.  

Two of the most famous people who have come from Swansea are the poet Dylan Thomas and the actress Catherine Zeta Jones, who named her son Dylan after the poet.  A bronze statue of Thomas faces the long, splendid and curving shore, which was the inspiration for his early work.

If you're a regular reader here, you will recall that last week I wrote about Rhossili, which is part of Swansea's charm.   All along the coast are more spectacular views of the Gower Peninsula, including the area called Mumbles. 

From the pier in Mumbles, opposite the city of Swansea, I was able to capture a few photos.  

Right above is a photo of the Swansea Yacht Club building and below is the famous Mumbles Lifeboat Station, which officially opened in 1904.  For over 170 years, the station and its crews have received 33 awards for gallantry although it has also witnessed tragedy when 18 lifeboat crew lost their lives saving others at sea.   
Finally, speaking of saving lives, I'd like to tell you about Swansea Jack, a famous black retriever that rescued 27 people from the docks and riverbanks of Swansea. His first rescue, in June 1931, when he saved a 12-year-old boy went unreported.  A few weeks later, this time in front of a crowd, Jack rescued a swimmer from the docks.  His photograh appeared in the local paper and the local council awarded him a silver collar.  In 1936, he had the prestigious "Bravest Dog of the Year" award bestowed upon him by the London Star newspaper.  He received a silver cup from the Lord Mayor of London and he is still the only dog to have been awarded two bronze medals (the canine V.C by the National Canine Defence League...The legend has it that in his lifetime he saved 27 people from the Docks/River Tawe.  swansea Jack died in October 1937 after eating rat poison.  His burial monument, paid for by public subscription, is located on the Promenade in Swansea near St. Helen's Rugy Ground.  In 2000, Swansea Jack was named "Dog of the Century" by NewFound Friends of Bristol who train domestic dogs in aquatic rescue techniques. (from Wikipedia)    
Supreme thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt, the founder and creator of ABC Wednesday and to her superb and stalwart second Roger, who is doing a slick job as he currently administers the site.  Also, thanks to my friend Liz from "Finding Life Hard" who so generously played tour guide in Swansea by showing us its staggeringly striking stretches of sublime scenery!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

R is for RHOSSILI

Since this week is brought to you by the letter R, I'd like to send out three rousing cheers (RAH! RAH! RAH!) to our regal ABCW administrator for this round - that resplendent rascal ROGER! Isn't he doing a radical job?  He is remarkably reliable and respectful to everyone who participates.  Just remember, though, he's razor-sharp in noticing posts that don't follow the rules.  So please review them carefully and be sure that your contribution relates to the weekly letter by using some words with it and refer your post to ABC Wednesday site.  We all would like to remain with the original representation created by our one and only Mrs. Nesbitt. That's only reasonable, don't you think?


Rhossili is located at the most Western part of the Gower Peninsula in south Wales. The most photographed part of Gower, The Worms Head, stretches out to sea and becomes an island when the tide comes in. The breathtaking view is completed by the long sandy beach and the towering cliffs and this makes it a popular destination throughout the year with surfers, paragliders and ramblers. However, Rhossili still manages to maintain its tranquility and unspoilt beauty. 

The village and surrounding area are steeped in history. The prominent wreck of the Helvetia, which ran aground on Rhossili Bay in November 1887 bears witness to the challenging weather conditions and the tales of our ancestors, who lured boats ashore to plunder their hold. The arch over the doorway of the church dates from the twelfth century and is believed to have been moved from the lost village (built in around 1100 and buried possibly by sand storms some time in the early part of the fourteenth century). 

Remains of stone age man were found in Paviland Cave and fourteen Bronze Age burial chambers and two Neolithic burial chambers (Sweynes Howes) have been identified on Rhossili Down.
Add to that a handful of Iron Age promontory forts and nobody can dispute that Rhossili is not only beautiful but full of history too! (Oh... and it can be very windy, so come prepared!) 

The parish of Rhossili stretches from the village itself towards Scurlage and encompasses the hamlets of Middleton, Pitton and Pitton Cross. There are plenty of establishments that offer various types of accommodation and many coves and beaches to visit and spend an afternoon. Walkers are most definitely in their element with some of the most fantastic views on offer and try not to miss one of our sunsets!   The above comes to you courtesy of http://www.the-gower.com/villages/Rhossili/rhossili.htm and if you click the link, you can see lots of great photos of the area. 

I had the wonderful privilege of seeing Rhossili courtesy of my friend Liz at "Finding Life Hard" here.  We "met" online blogging and on Facebook and then when she came to Vancouver a few years ago, we met for lunch at Granville Island's "Beaches" restaurant dining al fresco by the water.  We continued to correspond and this summer was my turn to see her on her home grounds.  She drove Cathy (my travel partner), Jane (my good friend who lives in Newport, Wales), and me to Rhossili for a distinctly pleasureable day.  My first reaction to the view was utter shock and awe!  Now, I must say I have seen some spectacular scenery during my travels, but Rhossili absolutely took my breath (and words) away! This time, we dined at Bar Helvetica on the patio overlooking resounding views! (photo below courtesy of Mr. Google)
I didn't get to see the churches or the Iron Age forts or even the hamlets that surround the area.  Because of that, I simply must return one day to spend even longer in the area.  I might even try out one of the many bed & breakfast inns or even a self-catering cottage.  Rhossili is a photographer's paradise and as such, I just have to get up on the top of the downs and try to get some sunset shots!  Finally, I want to be able to walk along the body of the "worm" and get out to the worm's head before high tide comes in.  To do that, one has to be prepared and know the right time to give it a go.  And if I can do that, I'll get to see some of the remains of the famous "Helvetia," the ship that ran aground here in 1887.  You can read more about the Gower Peninsula here.

I put together a nice little slideshow showing my photos of Rhossili and put it to the music of "Epic Journey" and "Panorama".  I hope you enjoy the scenery!  But remember, you just have to go there and see it for yourself.  In the meantime, sit back, turn up the sound and be prepared to be taken away on a cloud to the most romantic place! 
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Q is for QUEEN ELIZABETH II

Great thanks to the quirky and queenly Mrs. Nesbitt who lives in a quaint, quality cottage in North Yorkshire.  I had the honour of meeting her this past summer and she took me on a lovely walk in the countryside that surrounds her home.  It was a quiet walk only interrupted by the neighing of horses and the quacking of the geese, ducks, and other water fowl that followed us for a short time along the path. (wait for our Y week to see!)

Moving on, having just spent a long vacation in England, Q just has to be for Queen Elizabeth II.  She has been my monarch for almost as long as I've been alive and I've had the privilege of seeing her in person as a small child and as an adult.  She came to Vancouver as Princess Elizabeth when I was about 5 years old and my mother took my sisters and me down to Burrard Street to watch her go past.  What an exciting event for a little girl!  When my own daughters were young, the Queen came to Vancouver again in 1983, and we went out to the University of British Columbia (my alma mater) to watch her arrival at the Museum of Archaeology.  I remember she wore a lovely yellow outfit and a photograph of her in it was front page news that day.  My mother arranged to purchase this photograph (framed) of her to present to daughter #1 (aged 7 that year) for Christmas.  This one is from Mr. Google.
In 2010, Queen Elizabeth came once more to Canada.  This time, she unveiled a commemorative stained glass window and a bust which was installed in the Canadian Senate.  And just recently, the Queen unveiled another stained glass window in the Chapel of the Savoy in London to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee.  It is inscribed with the words: "I declare before you that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service'.  The Edinburgh-born artist, Douglas Hogg, was chosen by the Queen to design the window. He incorporated a seal that he discovered while researching the royal archives and her love of horses and dogs.  The window shows the Queen on horseback with a corgi snapping at its heels along with her personal signature.

This year, Queen Elizabeth celebrated 60 years on the throne - a Diamond Jubilee.  I watched the entire celebration on TV and was very excited for her and for our country.  Although it was a wickedly cold, rainy, and windy day in London, I think the parade on the Thames was spectacular.  You can read an account of the day and see photos of her big day here.  And here is a short video about the parade on the Thames River that day.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

P is for PADDINGTON


One of the paramount experiences I had during my holiday in England was to ride the underground trains. Once you get used to the idea of being up to 55.2 meters/181 feet (Hampstead Line) beneath the city in an unescapable tube, it's really not too painful; rather, it can be quite a pleasant journey. I travelled on the Docklands Light Railway (aka the DLR), the Overground, the Underground, and the trains that became either the OG or the UG.

In order to get to Wales, I had to go to Paddington Station, which serves the West country. It is located between Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, and in 1842, Queen Victoria arrived at this station with her husband Prince Albert. It was their first trip and the engineer put the pedal to the metal, getting the train up to an average of 44 mph! Apparently, "Prince Albert wasn’t too happy with the driver’s speed-demonic ways and, after disembarking at Paddington, he scolded the driver with the words; “Not so fast next time, Mr Conductor”!" Eventually, a royal waiting room was built at the station and it was used by the royal family right up until the start of World War II.  Now it is used as a first-class waiting lounge. During the war, railway lines (which were strategically important in carrying troops and vital supplies) were a key target for Nazi bombers. In 1941, Paddington Station was hit by a particularly powerful parachute-deployed bomb.
Upon my arrival at the station, I was very impressed with the architecture and ease of getting on the correct train.  Ticket in hand, we stood with hundreds of other travellers looking intently at the departure board, waiting until our destination was highlighted to indicate which platform we should rush!  At that instant, everyone took off at a rapid pace, passing the First Class cars and hurrying to obtain a good seat.
The first time I went to Wales with my friend Cathy, we were too slow off the mark and ended up with seats separated by the entire length of the car.  However, my second time to Wales with Lorne in hand, I was prepared to rush the line and told him to just keep me in his sight and follow as fast as he could (what with his bad foot and all).  We managed to get in the "Quiet Car" together and I let him have the window seat to see all the lovely scenery as we passed through the plush panoramas.
But I digress.  When we got back to Paddington Station after four perfect days, we noticed a kiosk that sold Paddington bears and all sorts of paraphernelia relating to him.
Also, there was a statue of Paddington Bear near the station cafe.  I wanted to have my photo taken with it, but there were too many people hanging around and sitting right beside it.  So this photo is from Mr. Google. 
When I was preparing this post, I thought I should share a bit of background about this well-known bear.  After all, even I have a Paddington Bear of my own!

According to the story, he comes from Peru, having been sent to England by his Aunt Lucy who went to live in the Home for Retired Bears in Lima.  She taught him to speak English and arranged for him to stow away in a ship's lifeboat.  Upon arrival, he met Mr. and Mrs. Brown and their two children who took him home with them to their home at 32 Windsor Gardens.  Paddington wasn't sure how old he was so the Browns decided to start at one and that he should have two birthdays - June 25 and December 25. That was just the beginning of the adventures of a little bear who has become extremely popular all over the world. The following youtube shows the very first episode of the original 1975 series.

As usual, profound thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt, the creator of ABC Wednesday, and her peppy and personable pack of assistants who keep this meme popping!  Without them, ABCW would quickly pass away into the proverbial void of outer space.

Enjoy the episode, "Please Take Care of This Bear." At less than 4 minutes, it's really quite pleasant.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

O is for OXFORD


This week, I'd like to share my visit to Oxford, England.  I'd known Anne, who lives in Oxfordshire, for several years through blogging and on Facebook but we had never met in person.  We arranged for me to come up from London by train and she'd meet me at the station.  (her photo at right) Well, it was as if we'd known each other forever!  We got along so well and she had planned a fabulous day for us.

First stop was Cafe Nero, a well-known coffee chain in England where we had lovely cappuccinos and talked and talked until we figured we should get going on our walking tour.  Long story short, she took me on the most fascinating walk all around the center of Oxford where I saw the most magnificent architecture ever!  You'll never see architecture like that here in western Canada!  We went to Christ Church Cathedral and its memorial gardens all the way down past University College to High Street.  We walked over Magdalen Bridge before cutting back and going down under the bridge to where you can rent punts at the Boathouse there.

We headed back up High Street past St. Edmund's Hall and Queen's College where we found a lovely place for lunch and then ambled into Mr. Simm's Olde Sweet Shoppe where we spent ages admiring all the shelves full of varieties of candy and cookies.  Again, you would never find a place like this where I live; my grandchildren would think they'd died and gone to Heaven!  We then cut through a narrow alley to view Radcliffe Camera, passing a quaint little cafe "Vaults Garden."  The next stop was one of my favourites because I'd seen the location many times while watching "Morse" and "Inspector Lewis" on BBC Canada and our Knowledge Network - the Bodleian Library. If you're an afficionado of these shows, you'll know that Morse loved opera and Lewis is beginning to understand it.  Hence, the music from Puccini's "La Boheme" in my slideshow.
Then it was up to Broad Street and a foray into Blackwell's Bookshop, apparently very famous in England, before passing by Trinity College on our way to St. John's College. Anne had decided that we would go and take a look inside this college because the church, in particular, was well worth a look.  However, it was closed to the public, so we chatted with the porter at the office just inside the gate and he allowed us to take a look at the courtyard and take a few photos if we wanted.  While Anne was still looking around, I continued chatting and mentioned I'd come all the way from Vancouver, Canada, and when he realized how far I'd come, he said to go along inside the church.  How obliging and kind!

It was beginning to get a bit dark by then so we decided to go to a lovely French restaurant that Anne had discovered once while in town.  We headed up St. Giles to the "Pierre Victoire" where we aced a lovely table in the attic area, even though we didn't have a reservation, it was 7pm and it closed at 8pm.

Anne had to catch her bus home and I had to catch the train back to London so we parted ways somewhere along George Street.  Anne asked me to text her when I got home, but that wasn't until after 11pm because I got lost somewhere along the way between the underground and the DLR - not a good time of night to be wandering around East London!  But I made it home safe and sound and went to sleep with visions of one of the most beautiful cities I've ever had the pleasure of visiting and of a new "real" friend that I hope, one day, will visit me so I can return the pleasure of being tour guide! Enjoy the slideshow!
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow