(work in progress)
What a great year it has been! I think I have been trying to fill it up with as many extras as possible in anticipation of my 65th, and the increase in health insurance costs which will likely mean no more crossing of borders for me. I have been blessed with out-of-town visitors--from cousin Carol and Skot, cousin Brad, Elsie and Alan, Uncle Maurice and Aunt Irene, friend Candace, and cousin Wilma and Gord. And enjoyed the opportunity to visit with Karen and Terry, Candace, and Marilyn in Vancouver, and John and Elizabeth in Glasgow.
Most of my spring was busy with preparations for travelling to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, and Wales. My 30 days was divided into a ten day guided bus tour. There were 52 travellers, only four of us travelling alone, and 48 who seemed to be senior citizens on their honeymoon. This proved to be a false impression once I got to know them as several couples were not married (although some others were, some for almost 50 years.). They came from Australia, France, California, Florida, Ontario, Calgary, Richmond, Vancouver, Cultus Lake, Quesnel, and Kamloops. Our guide was Bridget who had been born in Ireland but grew up in New Zealand. This was the first time in my life I had trouble understanding a person's accent. The vowels were so different. When I heard "leek" she was saying "lake". It was a "fast and furious" tour and I got to go to three special places I have visited before and wanted to see again--Edinburgh Castle, Dublin (and, this time, the Book of Kells), and Stonehenge. And other special places I have always wanted to visit. The Lake District and Bath and London. I took the London tour bus including a ride on the river but I avoided places where I had to stand in line to get in and again when inside (Tower). I did that in Edinburgh and said "Never again! I'm Canadian! I don't stand in lines."
After London, I spent three days in Richmond doing Family History research. I visited the house my great-great-grandmother, great-grandmother, and grandmother lived in and the church they attended. I found the war memorial with my grandmother's brother's name on it, and in the local history research centre, I found out when my great-grandmother died and where she is buried. And I visited that cemetery where at least three of these females are buried. Richmond and the Thames were very beautiful. I walked all over, including down to the station when I was ready to leave.
Then I took a train to Axminster and used it as a base to visit four towns on my list. I rented a car (not recommended) and drove to Ilminster where my other grandmother went to school. I took the train twice to Exeter. The first day I spent in the cathedral. Awesome! And the second, in the museum, to see the Canadian collection of Fraser River baskets and other First Nations artifacts. They even had a pair of moccasins from Norway House on display in the World Cultures exhibit, and, behind the scenes in the storage area, Chief Crowfoot's shirt which he stripped off to don the Treaty Coat and Hat. I took the bus to Lyme Regis where many of my favourite stories and movies are set--Persuasion and The French Lieutenant's Woman to name two. And Remarkable Creatures by Winnipeg writer Joan Thomas. That last is about Mary Anning, the woman who discovered the fossils which began the towns geology tourism industry in the early eighteen hundreds. Visited her grave and the stained glass window honouring her in the Norman-era church. And I took a bus for a day with Thomas Hardy--Dorchester, his birthplace at Higher Bockhampton, and his mansion Max Gate which was not part of National Trust the last time I was there.
From Axminster I took a train to Portsmouth to visit more houses and graveyards (great-grandfather) and HMS Victory again where this g-g-f worked, and the house where my grandmother was born and lived the first ten years of her life. And Charles Dickens' birthplace.
Then I took the train to Glasgow to visit. My ex-brother-in-law was my own right private chauffeur and guide around Glasgow. We visited buildings designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh--the Glasgow School of Art and Hill House. The one disappointment is that no photos are permitted inside either.
My trip home was a bit of a horror as the train from Glasgow to London broke down so the 4.5 hour journey took me 11 hours all together, and then five in Gatwick airport and nine on the plane the next day. It took me way longer to recover than I expected.
I took a local geology field trip a week after my return. Another twelve hour day on a bus, but the sites, especially formations around Merritt and Kamloops, were spectacular. Then the wedding of a friend's son in Vancouver.
I also had to replace my old car when I got home. I bought a 2005 Chevy Cavalier from one of my Scrabble buddies. It's a stick shift which I have not driven since 1993, but I'm getting used to it. I put on 4 new tires but not snow tires as I never drive if the roads are bad. Another advantage of never having to be anywhere specific at any specific time.
I have been working on writing projects. My first article I sold from my trip has been published by Travel Thru History and I hope to place one about Portsmouth soon. I also did a presentation on Canadian Literature for Elder College in Chilliwack, and prepared slide shows of my trip. I have also been working on Family History. I completed a timeline, complete with new photos from Richmond UK and Portsmouth, of my grandmother Winifred Joan Hayne Bubar's life and presented it at a Show and Tell in Cloverdale the last Saturday in November.
I leave town only rarely, lately to visit a friend in a nursing home in Agassiz. My life still revolves around writing, walking, taking pictures, meeting for coffee at the Blue Moose, and playing Scrabble. I dread winter here although it is unpredictable and varies a great deal from one year to the next. This year I am trying to heat with free wood given to me by a neighbour, which means even inside the house, the 'weather' varies. My “boarder” (old homeless man with older dog) is still here, but expected to re-locate shortly. Looking forward to the money I will find in my birthday cake. Then, back to more serious business for 2014. Love and best wishes to all.