Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas with blues skies and seas
Merry Christmas to all! I haven't written this fall. It seems as though months pass in my retirement life with visits with friends and family, reading and book clubs (3), church and with enjoying our young dog, Tilde.

Monsieur and I are spending two weeks in an apartment just outside Puerto Vallarta. We have a couple of small restaurants nearby but we need to take a bus or taxi to go to town.
morning view from our balcony

Each day is peaceful and sunny. I wake up early to watch the sun appear through the morning mist.
Reading, an excursion to town, great seafood and salads make up my days. 

Today, we will be joined Monsieur's sister and niece. They have not travelled much in Mexico so
we'll probably do more tourist activities.

I am thinking of family and friends at home and wish you Feliz Navidad!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Four Weeks Of Travel

Ring of Kerry, Republic of Ireland

It is almost four weeks since we have left Vancouver. Dublin seems a lifetime ago! Our first travelling companion left us after our Republic of Ireland tour and we have been joined in London by my daughter. 

This vacation has been all about touring the countries of our ancestors. During other post-retirement vacations, I have had a base (usually in Paris) where I could leave the bulk of my belongings. This year, we have used bus, train and domestic airlines to travel around The Republic, up to Belfast, north to Shetland and finally to London.  

the Burren, Republic of Ireland

We have been grateful for the assistance of strangers at every turn. Whether it be with an offer of help with a heavy bag,  of advice about directions in an unfamiliar town or of  a seat on the Tube, local 
people have come to the rescue.

The Giants' Causeway, Bushmills
Sometimes, when things are really going wrong.....we were locked out of our flat (tricky door)
or the owner has failed to appear at our booking (no mobile phone), I have knocked on stranger's doors. Certainly, not something that I would do at home!

We are spending a week in London and I appreciate the slower pace.  I have confirmed that I am a woman who enjoys reading signs on buildings, wandering through residential streets,  and gazing into windows of shops. I don't need a destination or an agenda for each day. 

These graves in St. Pancras' churchyard  were moved to make way for the railway .

Do you remember Louise Bates Ames? She was a founder of the Gesell Institute of Child Development and she chronicled child development from 2 until 9 years of age.
During the 1970's, when my daughter was young, I read each of her books and I marvelled at the
accuracy of her observations. I wonder that, at a time when so much of the population is ageing,
that there is so little written about the later years.

During this trip, I have experienced more physical discomfort in my knee and hip. Stairs, escalators
and long corridors are part of independent travel. My travelling buddy will attest to the fact that I have probably developed sleep apnea as I make a symphony of sounds and no sound at night.
I try to eat my largest meal earlier in the day and I am more aware of wine consumption. As I get older, I am less tolerant. I'm not fond of crowds and I have always been prone to falling so I don't
like to be jostled. I am becoming my grandmother and my mother. Who would have guessed

Home in Camden
Today, we will visit the Covent Garden, Soho and West End areas of London. We're attending a matinée at the Apollo Theatre and will have a light supper before returning to our Victorian house in Camden.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Belfast Days

Women's Voices Matter quilt on Shankill Road
My maternal grandmother came to Canada from County Antrim before World War One. There was only one Ireland then and this part of my family were Presbyterians of Ulster Scottish stock. I never studied much about Irish history in school but I am old enough to remember hearing about The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Last Sunday, I visited Belfast where I attended Fitzroy Presbyterian Church. I have not  attended
a Presbyterian church before but I expected the stiff and stern ways of 100 years ago when my grandma left. Not so! The service was casual and upbeat with two vocalists and a fiddle. Most of the 
2 hour (yes, 2 full hours) service was about the church's sponsorship of a village in Uganda. 

This young man is a hero to some people in the Protestant housing area.

In the afternoon, we took the Black Cab Tour of Belfast to learn about The Troubles. William, our driver and guide, has been showing visitors the murals and the Peace Wall since 1999. He was an
objective, pro-peace narrator. We were unable to discern to which group he belonged. He later confided that his background was Protestant but that, when he was a boy, his grandmother had threatened to kill him herself if he got involved with the paramilitary groups.

We started at Shankill Road where William of Orange and Oliver Cromwell were heroes for their oppression of the Catholic Irish. Even after the Peace Accord, young men still fight for old and irrelevant causes.

Then we visited Falls Road where the Catholic heroes are depicted.
Apparently, the gates between the Protestant and Catholic neighbourhoods are still closed at night at several points. On Falls Road, in the Catholic neighbourhood, we saw murals depicting those who had been imprisoned or killed for their beliefs.
outside of Belfast through the bus window

Ireland is a beautiful green country. During our 2 and a half weeks, we have met so many friendly and helpful people in both The Republic and in Northern Ireland. There is a piece of public art on Shankill Road that says: Remember, Respect, Resolve. Ironically, or not, it is behind an iron fence.
Two seats are located inside the fence but no one can sit on them. It is difficult to give up our old ways of thinking and to learn acceptance and forgiveness.