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.

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


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


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.