Archive for October, 2016

Bury St. Edmunds

Posted in Uncategorized on October 31, 2016 by David Palmer

Where did autumn go? Where are the frosts, the wind, the falling leaves?

True, I have collected enough to fill one bin and yes, some of the trees in the garden are changing colour, but most are still green and dandy. Daytime temperatures seem to be fixed around 15 degrees and at night I have yet to see it below 9 degrees. Will I ever get any use out of my thermals?

Since returning from Jersey I have stopped the fermentation of my wine at 1.10 sg and racked it into fresh demi-johns. It is going to be a meagre harvest this year but it tastes and looks like it may produce a decent wine. Only time will tell.

Early on the 25th Oct. Sue and I travelled down the A14 to the Dragonfly Hotel in Bury St. Edmunds. Sue has never been to this ancient town and though I have on many occasions, it was only to run around on the green turf of its rugby club then return home. We were to spend three days here immersing ourselves in the history of the place.

Our luck with ‘checking in’ held and reception gave us the key to our room straight away. After a coffee we set off to walk the 15 minutes into town along a pathway that crossed over the lovely River Lark, a tributary to the Great Ouse.

We had done some research on the place and I had printed off what turned out to be an excellent historical town walk which took us by all the main features, providing a full description of its importance. First stop was the Abbey of St. Edmunds. A truly gorgeous place to spend a few hours and many of the local inhabitants were doing just that in the warm midday sun. Finding a bench with a view, we sat and ate our packed lunch watching other picnickers give up some of their fayre to a horde of very tame squirrels and pigeons. As obvious ‘out of towners’ we were left alone by the urban wildlife and ate our sandwiches without molestation.

Our route took us out of the Abbey and to the grounds of St Mary’s church where Mary Tudor, Queen of France was buried. Many of the walls and houses we passed were built using the stones from the abbey after its dissolution.  The Charnel House was particularly interesting as it held the bones and relics of past citizens. The plaques and gravestones hinted at many fascinating stories. One of an 8-year-old girl killed by lightning in the 15C, the engraved words and poetry really touched the heart. You could sense  the anguish of the parents as they declared her soul to be pure and  God-fearing, forever at her prayers. I think they feared she had been punished from on high for something we will never know.

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A more verifiable tale is that of Martha’s Vineyard, it was named after Bartholomew Gosnold’s mother-in-law or his daughter, both of whom were named Martha. He had taken his family to settle in America.  His daughter was christened in St. James’ Church and is buried in the Great Churchyard which lies in front of the abbey between St. Mary’s Church and the Cathedral.

We came across Theatre Royal, at which we had booked to see a performance of the ‘ A Princess Undone’ starring Stephanie Beecham and across the road was the Green King Brewery Visitor Centre. Here we booked a tour of the brewery for the following morning.

The next part of our walk took us into the town proper and we  made our way along narrow alleys and cobbled streets, stopping regularly to read our little booklet and the many wall plaques that we had been steered to. On reaching the town centre itself we stopped a while in the reputed, smallest pub in the UK, the Nutshell. We had refreshments and chatted to some regulars who were keen to know all about us. A very friendly pub, all the more so, due the closeness of your fellow drinkers. Well worth a visit if you are in the locality, if not for the beer then just to see the cobwebbed and mummified cat hanging from the bar. Macabre!

Passing through the Town Square we reached Moyse’s Hall, now a museum before making our way back to the start via the Butter Market and The Angle Hotel where Dickens wrote the ‘Pickwick Paper’ in room 15. I bet that is a popular room to stay in. Outside the hotel is the country’s first illuminated road sign, in the shape of a lighthouse, very novel. It is local known as the ‘Pillar of Salt’.

We ate that night in the hotel before driving to one of the three town cinemas to see, ‘Woman on a Train’. A reasonable film, it could have been done better.

After breakfast we again walked into town and joined ten others, eager to learn all about the brewing process and perhaps sample some of the product of the Green King Brewery. The tour started at 11am and it was well past 1pm by the time Sue and I left the premises. Our female guide was extremely knowledgeable and had a lovely sense of humour, borne of her Scottish roots.  We worked our way through the processes involved, level by level, until we reached the roof, where the water from the underground aquifers is stored. We had magnificent views over the town from here.  Returning to ground level we then sampled the various brews (and there are a lot). We discovered that two our party had been voted Publicans of the year for 2016. They owned a pub in Edinburgh and had come south or a holiday. I am sorry to say that Sue sampled more beers than I, she hasn’t yet got the knack of slowly savouring the flavours to appreciate the skill that goes into each brew that makes it unique. It will come in time and a few more tours.

We next did a spot of shopping, I found a rather novel wind vane that had an owl reading a book wearing a mortar board in the Market Square. I bought it. We returned to the hotel via the Brewery to purchase a hessian bag containing 8 different beers, before having a  light lunch.

Around 5.30pm we again walked into town and had our evening meal at the Dog and Partridge, just a short step from the theatre. What a delightful auditorium the theatre has, restored and decorated in its original state.

‘A Princess Undone’ is a fanciful play based on Princess Margaret and the burning of private letters. Sue is a Royalist and knows practically everything there is to know about the Royal Family (as did most of the audience) and picked up on all the nuances in the script, most went over my head and for once Sue had to whisper to me what was going on. I saw or heard little that deflects me from the opinion that all Royals are a personal burden on my taxes and should be sent out to do a proper job and pay their own way.

Though we didn’t have to check out until 2pm the following day, we did so raround 10am  after breakfast as we were keen to visit West Stow Anglo Saxon Village.

It was only a short drive to West Stow and after paying our Concessionary entrance fee we wandered around the various outdoor structures after first working our way through the two indoor museums in site. The place has been designed to give you an insight into life during the period and it certainly does that. Lots of exhibits, logically laid out and easy to browse through. A really great place to take a school party.

After having hot chocolate in the café we set off on the Beowulf Trail, which tells you the story of Beowulf and Grendel and unfolds through sculpture and information board as you amble through the beautiful Thetford Forest. A lovely way to spend an afternoon.

We returned home, stopping for coffee with Charlotte in Rothwell on the way.

The following day we had Charlotte and the boys over for ‘Minty’ burgers. Jamie was ‘best man’ at an old school friend’s wedding in Daventry (Michael Hobbs) and couldn’t join us. His speech went well and I think he was pleased that he had learnt it off heart and didn’t have to refer to any bits of paper. I had previously read his speech and I guessed it would be received well as it had the appropriate amount of humour laced through it.

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Prior to Jersey I had emailed Joan and Phil who live in Marche, Italy. There had been an earthquake in that region and many people had been killed. Thankfully they were fine and suffered only shakes and rattles. Yesterday, Marche had another, more sever earthquake. I sent another email but so far have heard nothing in return. Fingers crossed all is fine.

Sarah had a recent drive in a rather nice car during a works function. I include the photo because of the car.

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And the rain came.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 24, 2016 by David Palmer

Another bright sunny morning, though there was a stiff breeze which added to the chill factor as we poked our noses out onto the balcony to savour the view.

After a late breakfast we packed our small suitcases, checked out at reception and  stored them away in a small room provided for the purpose. I booked a taxi for 6pm that night and we ventured out onto the beach.

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There were not many people about, not even any crazy swimmers thrashing across the now quite turbulent bay. With curiosity satisfied and no shells collected we headed for the bust stop into town. We arrived just in time to see it disappearing down the road. A check on the timetable indicated an hour wait so we decided to spend it usefully and headed back onto the beach and turned left from the hotel towards the headland.

There were a few other well wrapped  hardy souls doing likewise. The beach, though very picturesque from all angles, is just that, a sandy beach. Not much life or even seaweed to discover, just as the hotel’s name suggests a golden and sandy. It gets more interesting at its extremes as the granite rocks form into pillars and crags. We climbed onto the headland and checking the time we opted to descend down onto the next smaller beach and have a look at the Martello Tower located centrally.

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Everywhere you travel on this island you come across fortifications, often ancient from when the French and English didn’t get on with each other but primarily concrete structures from the 2nd World War. As a child I would have clambered in, on and around every one, but today I don’t. Possible through recognition that lobbing imaginary grenades and spraying fanciful machine gun bullets, shouting, “Acting, die kraut!” is just not PC anymore, but more probably that I don’t dive, roll, crawl or run nearly as well as I used to.

We returned to our stop just in time to catch the bus.

The people of Jersey and St. Helier have decided that the life, culture and ethics enjoyed by the rest of the UK in the 60’s and 70’s was ok and they are actively preserving it. They talk to each other (even strangers), they go out of their way to be helpful (they don’t walk on the other side), they wish the bus driver a lovely day and thank him for getting them safely to their destination and they close their shops on a Sunday to protect family life. This is happens on an island where 75%+ of the working population are employed by huge financial organisations, operating in a cut-throat 24 hour environment. And they close on a Sunday! Their government recognises that they are an island, have limited resources and space and enjoy a society that through legislation actively protects its cultural identity. You cannot live on this island, own any of its resources and fall foul of any of its ancient cultural laws without being penalised heavily. The people are law-abiding and crime is rare. Usually drunkenness and not surprisingly, financial fraud.

There is a much larger island not far away that could well learn from this little outpost.

After disembarking we wandered the pedestrian precinct for a while, looking in shop windows and reading the numerous historical information boards as we came across them. We climbed up via some very steep steps to the top of Fort Regent situated high above the town. It is now a very huge, smart, hi-tech sports centre, but there is lovely a historical trail that takes you around its fortifications. Well worth doing if you want to know about the history of this prominent feature of the town, exceptionally well presented.

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Heads full of facts we returned to our wandering around the town until the rain started. Hurrying back to the bus terminus we caught the bus back to St. Brelades Bay.

Settling into the comfortable hotel lounge chairs, sipping suitable refreshment we watched the gale and wind slowly obliterate the lovely scene outside. Sue passed the time reading the available newspapers and I surfed the net. At 4pm we braved the now much less fierce weather conditions and trotted to a restaurant further around the bay for fish and chips. I watched the 4:0 thrashing of Man U by Chelsea on a little TV in our booth.

We returned to our hotel in time to get our taxi to the airport.

The flight was delayed by 1.5 hours and after picking up the car at Purple Parking we were home for 2am to a verrrrrry cold house.

 

Gerald Durrell

Posted in Uncategorized on October 22, 2016 by David Palmer

Another gorgeous day. How lucky we have been with the October weather. As we stood on the balcony,  gazing out to sea before breakfast, we watched several swimmers plough what must at least be a half mile across the bay. They were a little too far out to see if they were wearing wetsuits, but our ferry captain of the previous day did mention that if we sank, the sea was presently at its warmest, 14 degrees.

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After breakfast we stood at the bus stop outside the hotel to catch the service into town. Chatting to several others while we waited I discovered that one couple used to live in Thurcroft and not only that but the wife was a teacher at Dinnington High School when I was a pupil there! She taught Domestic Science, which I took as a subject filler when I did my A levels, she must have been the young new teacher that taught me! What a small world.

Today we were going to satisfy a wish of Sue’s and visit Gerald Durrell’s Wild Life Park. She had read his book ‘My Family and Other Animals’ for her ‘O’ levels, we had visited his home in Corfu and also watched the recent series of his childhood on TV, so it was a ‘must do’ while we were here.

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We caught a bus into St. Helier and then another one out to the ‘Durrell’.

With our entrance fee paid we set off to follow the Specialist Talk timetable. We missed the first one at the bear enclosure by around 10 minutes, but we did watch them being fed.

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Next was the Gorillas. As you would expect the staff were very knowledgeable and they wove many amusing anecdotes into their talk.

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We diverted via the reptiles, aviary and charming meerkats before settling ourselves for some more information on the Orangutans. The ones on show were from Sumatra and more in danger that the ones we had seen in Borneo, but they looked the same to me and had a similar playful manner that was a prompt not to get too close.

We missed the talk on the Jersey Choughs as we spent too long admiring the Aye Ayes in their dim enclosure and the reptiles in their hot-house, but we did manage to fit in some splendid flamingoes and a multitude of other water fowl before taking our seats in the fruit bat cage. A really interesting talk, though we have seen many of these large sinister looking creatures over the years, it had always been observing them roosting at the top of trees, flying over head or hanging upside down along telegraph wires. These were just inches away on the other side of the netting, across which they crawled with their spiky little hooks,  to fight each other or look into the attached food pots, often in vain hope. They had lovely sweet faces and close up they didn’t look devilish at all, nearly cuddlesome. They pooped a lot though so I wasn’t going to risk it.

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We finished off our visit with a gander at the black macaques and some mongoose or is it mongeese? Before spending a lengthy amount of time wandering through the Gerald Durrell exhibition and discovering everything there is to know about the man. Most of which I promptly forgot as I left the building but as usual I shall rely on Sue to answer any future questions on the subject.

We caught the bus back to St. Helier and after a 15 minute wait we boarded the next one to St. Brelades Bay, then a refreshing coffee in our room by the sea.

After our evening meal and the now obligatory drink in the bar to wash down dessert, we decided on a walk along the front. It was a surprisingly mild, and starry night, but we appeared to be the only ones risking a late romantic October evening. That probably gives you more than a hint at the average age of the hotel’s clientele. We returned to our room to watch TV.

Jersey

Posted in Uncategorized on October 22, 2016 by David Palmer

We went to bed last night to the sound of the sea washing up against the sea wall some three stories below. A nice way to fall asleep.

Like Martin Luther king, Sue had a dream. It was about rabbits, Jamie had acquired another one and it was brown, apparently I had shut the garage door on it and bent its ear downwards. Unlike Mr. King’s, I don’t think her dream is going to change white rabbit attitudes to brown rabbits, but hey…… what’s up doc?  I just wonder if I was the substitute for James Earl Ray?

After a sumptuous breakfast buffet we decided to stretch our legs under a gorgeous blue sky and head off along the coastal path.

 

 

First stop was the little parish church of St. Brelade. After poking about in the delightful little fisherman’ s chapel located in the graveyard, (reputedly the oldest of its type, according to a lady we met inside) we moved on into the more impressive and certainly very old church. We passed the vicar at the entrance. He had his head buried in a laptop, I spotted straight away from the screen that he was attempting to connect a projector to it and didn’t appear to be having any success. Been there, done my time and lived to tell the tale, I left him to his thoughts and walked on  by. The fabric of the church was as it should be, but this priest and several other techy parishioners seen milling around, had obviously decided the 4th century needed to be brought up to date and had filled it with large screen TV’s and other visual paraphernalia on the walls and vestibules. Looked wrong, but I guess I am just getting too old now and it is probably the only way the church is going to get the younger generations attention away from their iPhones. I wonder what the vicar’s avatar is? Michelangelo Ninja Turtle?

We carried on with many diversions along the at times rugged pathway, stopping frequently to ogle at the splendid houses we passed, often taking photos of the cliffs and seascape when our fancy took us (Sue needed the practice on her new phone). We stopped in a small wood to collect sweet chestnuts which were peeled and scoffed as we carried on

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We reached Jersey prison situated high up on the cliffs and decided we had done enough and set off to find a road and a bus stop. After consulting one of the warders who was about to go on duty as to where the nearest stop was, we were pleased to discover it was only 50m away in the direction he was pointing. Around half a mile later we asked again at a garage to be told it was directly outside. He then pointed  to some big white words written on the road way that said ‘BUS’, we had passed dozens of them!!!! When you are searching for a bus stop, you look up, not down! Backward bloody islanders.

Some twenty minutes later we caught the bus into St. Helier.

Disembarking at the terminus, we strolled to the nearby Liberation Square, sat outside at an adjoining cafe and drank cider enjoying the warmth of an October sun.

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We took a walk to the ferry where you can be transported to Elizabeth Castle situated just off the coast. It is walkable at low tide and there was indeed a clear stretch of lovely yellow sand visible when we arrived at the ticket office. Many people seemed to be marching purposefully along the narrow ribbon of concrete between the two. We opted to take the ferry on wheels. We had done enough walking today and even from this distance it looked a big castle and would require quite a number of steps to do it justice.

We were the ‘boat on wheels’ only passengers. We didn’t feel guilty as we passed and left the other tourists behind, it was more a feeling of lordliness, a looking down on the peasants. I felt the need to cast a few coppers among them in a charitable way, but Sue would have complained that I was wasting my money, they would only spend it on gin and loose women. So I didn’t.

Later, we met our subjects as we wandered around the fortifications, but they knew their place and didn’t speak. The castle is well worth a visit, it is large, it has a lot of history and we didn’t do it justice. There are many original features from the differing decades and there are several museums within its parapets that deserved more of our attention. Perhaps another time? We shall see.

We had company on our private carriage to the mainland. Noisy, loathsome commoners, but that is what the world has come to nowadays, no respect for your betters.

We caught the bus back to the Golden Sands, quaffing a well-earned goblet of coffee back in our room before changing for dinner. Appetite satisfied we finished the rest of the evening in the bar drinking refreshments and planning with the use of information parchments, what we were going to do on the morrow.

And next….

Posted in Uncategorized on October 20, 2016 by David Palmer

Since returning from Canada, the Palmers, like the rest of the world seem to be on a wind-down for 2016. With Brmoaners and Brexiteers hogging the national news and the Trump v Clinton show monopolizing the international  scene, it seems that the year is going to be remembered for the vitriol that only our species can revel in. Yes, I have to agree that much of what we see on our TV and listen to on the radio can be entertaining and it does solve the problem of programme scheduling or column inches for the media, but eventually we will have to address the question,”When is enough, enough?” And that I think is the problem. The quiet people, the mildly conscientious, the vast majority, have had enough. It’s just that they are not sure of what, and that is concerning. 2017 will be a year of change for millions if not billions and it is going to happen. It would be good to keep in focus that WE are the lucky ones. WE have choices. WE are not the ones in immediate danger and WE are the change makers. So fingers crossed and with personal opinions stored away for personal use only, I shall continue with this blog.

Charlotte had a nasty bout of allergy that is possibly a reaction to gluten, but until she has undergone some tests  the medics are not sure. However, what is cerain that it did cause her a great deal of discomfort and worry. On the bright side things seem to have settled down now and apart from the odd bout of itchiness the swelling and rash have disappeared.

Ellis has a lump at the back of is knee that is also causing concern, but as it doesn’t appear to give him any pain and hasn’t limited him in any way with his boisterous activities. He also is waiting for medical tests.

Lucas on the other hand is in fine health. Regularly capturing ‘Man of the Match’ trophies and in his annual ‘kidney’ check-up was signed off for a full year.

Both boys got glowing school reports, so mum and dad must be congratulated for listening to all that good advice from the grandparents over the years.

My Fiesta, like Lucas passed its MOT and at my last dental check-up the dentist was amazed at the condition of my teeth, confessing I must have the bite of an alligator. Not sure what he meant by that, but I will  respond positively to that and continue eating.

I entertained Mia one Monday and as usual Peter and I took her out to lunch in Foxton. However, when I got home I found that somewhere along our return route I lost my wallet. Of course, by then the rain had started. There was nothing for it but to drive to The Black Horse and see if it was there. Annoyingly the establishment was shut. In the rain, I slowly retraced my steps (alone, as Lee had to take Mia home) checking each stile and section of path carefully. Soaked, I reached home empty pocketed. Despite many phone calls I couldn’t get any reply from the pub. At 6.30pm Sue drove me there to pick up my car and find out if my wallet had been found. It had not, but as I left, I glanced at the chair I had been sitting in and there it was smiling at me! Oh joy!! Being re-united with an old friend has nothing compared to finding your wallet.

Along with her weekly walking groups Sue managed a couple of trips out with the U3A History group, firstly to Boughton House to see where part of Les Miserables was filmed and more recently to the Charles Renee Mackintosh Museum in Northampton. We have also been to see several films together, a highlight possibly being a remake of Tarzan.

It has been a poor year for my little vineyard. Initially, way back in April I thought that it would be a bumper year as a huge number of bunches were set and initially appeared to be doing well, brought on with early heat and sun. Sue juiced the majority of the red grapes while I was away in Canada as very few of them had ripened, most just stayed small and hard. This week I picked the white grapes and it was the same story. After stripping, crushing and starting the fermentation, when I pressed them to extract the  juice before placing in demi-johns I was dismayed to  discover I had less than 10 litres. It had better be good stuff! I had in excess of 75 litres last year.

Jamie has sold his Evo. We haven’t seen much of him since our return for the Rockies. He popped around one evening for me to look at the speech he had written for his role as best man at Michael Hobbs wedding to suggest improvements. I was quite impressed with what he had written and only suggested a few changes so that the older members of the two families would understand some of the modern terminology used.

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Charlotte has burned her red-mite ridden hen-house, purchased a new one and rehoused her 11 ladies in the children’s play area in her own back garden. Over two days I helped Suraj build a new pen to keep them safe from foxes. While we were erecting the chicken wire I managed (quite deftly) to spike the wire into my left eye, causing it to fill up with blood.Charlotte took me to Kettering hospital and for the first time ever I was processed and administered eye anti-biotic within an hour. Most surprising as it was Sunday, and if you would believe the papers I should have been on a trolley for three days before dying. I returned to finish the job before dark, ensuring the hens would sleep unmolested by Reynard that night.

I now sport one demonic red-eye, an indication of my disposition and just ready for Halloween!

Sarah has started a course on ‘Management and Leadership’ which entails writing essays again. This last week I have been reading through some of the questions she (as usual) has completed well ahead of the hand in date. Is there no rest for the wicked? I had three years of hard labour doing a similar thing when she was at Uni.

On Wednesday Sue and I went with Charlotte to see Ellis’s harvest festival at Rothwell church. A lovely and sweet service spoiled only by the clueless priest who had very little idea on how to tell stories to children. None-the-less the children pulled him through.

After the service we had a slow,  rush-hour, stop-start drive down to Crawley before checking into the Ramada Hotel, also known as the George Hotel, a 15 century coaching inn. We had our evening meal in a pub on the High Street in Crawley before retiring for the night.

We woke at 3am and drive to Purple Parking before boarding our bus to Gatwick Airport. Our flight to Jersey left on time (7.05am).

It was a chilly but bright morning when our 35 minute flight landed. We were there first to grab a taxi and within 15 minutes we were at our hotel the Golden Sands Hotel, St. Brelades Bay. We were lucky as  the reception allowed us to check-in and gave us a room straight away. They also booked us two places on an island tour later that morning at 9.30am.

We had coffee in the room then unpacked before returning to reception to board our tour bus with several other guests. We changed buses in St. Helier and were again joined by more sight-seers before setting off around the island. Our route took us all over the island stopping frequently for photos, coffees, ice-creams and also lunch. It was a lovely bright day, but chilly at times, depending on the wind at the location we were currently stopped at. Jersey is as expected a very pretty island and as our guide explained full of many very wealthy people who have paid a great deal of money to live there and benefit from their 11% tax rate. As in Guernsey the previous year, we saw some very nice houses. I was very impressed by Geoffrey Boycott’s bungalow and Roger Moore’s house called ‘Moonraker’.

We returned to hotel for 4pm, a very long day! I fell asleep on the bed and Sue sat on the balcony reading her book and admiring a tremendous sea view (the best on the island, according to our tour guide and taxi driver of earlier that morning). I was awoken to accompany Sue for dinner at 6.45pm. An excellent 3 courses, washed down with a local ale called Mary Ann.

Afterwards we sat in the bar listening to a singer/guitarist with further refreshments until it was time for Sue to watch the ‘Apprentice’ on TV. You can’t do that in the Far East, or on a cruise!

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Calgary and back.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 2, 2016 by David Palmer

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It rained heavily in the night. We had two rumbles of thunder and  there may have been more, but rain on a motor home makes for a very noisy affair and little else can be heard when it comes down hard. Surprisingly we slept well, particularly Jamie who confessed he heard nothing at all. We woke to a very dismal and dank morning. The hillside above was swathed in cloud and our city view below, which sparkled clear and bright last night was now a sorry misty affair.

After we had showered in the community block we had breakfast and then packed our rucksacks. This was the first site that we had WiFi access so we checked emails etc. before driving down to the dump pit and off loaded our waste. Having done this a few times now we accomplished this rather unpleasant task without mishap. It continued to drizzle.

With the navigation app set on my mobile phone we set off for the RV Centre in the city. It was rush hour, though not to British standards. We made steady un-impeded progress through the commuter traffic and in just 30 minutes we had arrived at our destination.

Cruise America, lived up to their reputation of being one of the largest RV rental companies in North America, during our week we saw hundreds of their vehicles on the road or in sites. When parking our ‘home’ for the very last time we were astounded at the number of units they had.  A week ago, in our rush to get on the road and start our adventure we had somehow missed the hundreds of similar vehicles all parked up. Though it was late in the season there were still people waiting in reception to pick up their vehicles, I hope they have the same superb weather that we had enjoyed. After having the RV checked over we were delighted to be given refunds on the gas and waste. Emptying the tank just half an hour earlier had saved us $35 and it was a surprise to learn that the gas cylinder was still full, that was another $35 refund.

The Centre arranged for a taxi to the airport for us and we were soon being chauffeured to YYC. It was a miserable day, making a short diversion into the city for a last look around seemed pointless, we had 5 hours to waste though another hour was added due to a delayed departure. Our check-in desk wasn’t open so we had our last burger and fries in Canada watching baseball in one of the food outlets.

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After checking in and navigating security we sat in a bar and continued watching the baseball until our flight was called. This time we flew through the night making sleeping a little easier, plus the flight wasn’t full, so after another ‘basic’ meal I found a row of empty seats and grabbed a few hours of snooze. Jamie chose to watch films.

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On our return to the car we reversed our procedure of a week ago, though due to track maintenance we had to catch a bus from ‘Three Bridges’ station to Crawley. With my parking ticket validated by the hotel I drove us back to Harborough. What a difference in the volume of traffic to what we have been recently enjoying!

What a treasure! Sue had a full Sunday lunch (with Yorkshire pudding and apple pie) waiting for us when we arrived. We had our first real intake of vegetables for a while!

Rather tired, I went to bed for a nap while (believe it of not) Jamie and Sue played cards.

Epilogue: The Canadians seem to enjoy a similar life-style to that discovered in our last road-trip to Australia; gentle, laid-back, polite and social. Yes, this is another country I am sure we would have enjoyed and profited in if Sue and I had chosen to emigrate to. Of course the scenery and outdoor life-style enjoyed by the population is a big attraction, but the friendliness and openness of its inhabitants is very appealing as is the ever so slow pace of life. Such a contrast to their gun-toting neighbours to the south.

I moaned at Jamie on one occasion for his eagerness to ‘get on’ with the trail that we were following, stressing that the ‘getting there’ was just as enjoyable, if not more so than ‘being there’. On many occasions we came across crowds of tourists who had slept that night in a comfortable hotel, boarded their air-conditioned  bus, disembarked briefly for photos and then moved on or returned to their luxury. Then there were those who had hiked or cycled to one of the many superb geographical features, camped and truly experienced what it is like to ‘be there’, warts and all.  That is how to do it, but I guess that is for the young or dare I say, the Canadians? I think hiring a motor home comes somewhere in the middle of the ‘experience scale’, and that will do for me at my time of life.

Spending time one late afternoon with photographers (who knew what they were doing) above Lake Moraine  and slowly watching the colours and shadows emerge from what was already a stunning scene into one that was perfection, is a memory that will last with us both.

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Calgary -8

Posted in Uncategorized on October 1, 2016 by David Palmer

A comfortable nights sleep, punctuated only once (from what I remember) by wailing ghost trains.

Another lovely day, the sun shining down on our picture postcard surroundings. I think we are beginning to take this scene for granted, on my walk to the shower block I didn’t stop once to stare at some feature of this pristine environment!

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We drove into Banff and did a little bit of shopping. Jamie gamefully limping and hopping beside me. At least for once on our road trip I haven’t been trailing metres behind him as he marches purposefully along the trail. Though I have many times pointed out to him that it is the journey that is important not the destination, it took a ‘popped’ knee to slow him down.

Leaving the town behind us we drove first to Two Jacks Lake to have a short walk along its shore then moved onto Lake Minnewanka, a much larger body of water where it is possible to take a cruise along its length. We saw tourists lining up to board on the small dock as we passed by on the road high above. Perhaps another time.

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Next stop was at Canmore. We called into the tourist information Centre to take advantage of the WiFi and to get the location of the RV camp just outside Calgary that was to be our stop that night. Armed with the appropriate information we drove on into town, parked up and had lunch in the sunshine at a restaurant situated on the corner of Main Street. We watched the locals go about their business, ate our meal and then walked down the street and did a bit of window shopping.WP_20160930_13_38_46_Pro.jpg

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Jamie (for some reason) wanted to visit a quarry lake in the town so we drove there next. The place was popular with dog walkers and the lake turned out to be a pond that was divided in two by the sort of rope you see dividing swimming lines at your local pool. A large sign decreed that dogs should only swim on the side of the pool shaded in green on the inset map. They must have very intelligent dogs here as we saw none crossing the rope! It was noticeable that there were numerous dogs of all sizes and breeds off the leash freely mixing with each other, when a new one turned up they all seemed to greet each other with wagging tails and no snarls. Obviously, British dogs have a distrustful bulldog spirit, I guess it is the stuff empires are made of.

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Returning to the RV we headed off in the direction Calgary through a heavy rain shower. We arrived at the RV Camp situated just next to the Olympic village. We could see the Ski-jump from our pitch.

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After check-in we parked up and then went for a walk along a nature trail through the site. We could see the city of Calgary not far away. The rest of the afternoon was spent having our micro-waved dinner (sweet and sour pork) and playing cards while listening to the radio. I taught Jamie how to play Chinese Patience, it seemed to grab his interest as we played it long into the evening.