Well there I was, as I often am, lying in bed listening to a podcast, when I hear my name being called. Liesel is walking to Didsbury in fifteen minutes time and would I like to join her? Well no, not really, I want to hear the end of the show and then maybe another one… But no, I got up, got dressed, and we had a very nice walk by the river.
As always we looked out for the heron but he was hiding out somewhere. Instead, we saw a pair of shags and a swan on the river. A swan? That is very unusual.
Autumn draws on apace as witnessed by the very pretty Autumn crocuses along the river bank.
At Fletcher Moss, we had coffee, and I had my breakfast: a veggie sausage and fried egg barm. I knew it would be messy but I also knew it would be delicious. It was. And it was. I had to wash the yolk and ketchup off my fingers afterwards.
I don’t mind mushrooms in a dish, just not as the main component. But today, if I’d asked for mushrooms in my breakfast barm, I know they would have been really fresh.
You can pick your own right here. It looks like the weather recently has been highly conducive to fungi taking over the planet.
Liesel and her WI buddies were stationed outside the Co-op in Didsbury, handing out flyers telling people where they could recycle items that the local council can’t deal with. Sadly, we didn’t bring one of these very informative pamphlets home. My mission was to buy some filo pastry. Not in Didsbury, I couldn’t. Three shops don’t sell it and the other one had sold out. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was walking up and down the High Street, visiting each of the supermarkets at least once each, adding to the step count, I might have been a bit miffed.
Ford Lane is easily flooded whenever it rains, but we successfully negotiated the puddles without being splashed whenever Stirling Moss or Lewis Hamilton drove raced by on their way to their golf course.
Jenny and Liam have been married now for a few weeks. I said I’d post more of the official photos. Well here’s one.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, Helen is moving into her new home. New furniture, new carpets, new address. We can’t wait to go and make ourselves at home there, somewhere in Brookvale, NSW.
There is now of course a huge pile of packaging to be disposed of. Sorry, Helen, we didn’t keep one of those flyers for you. But I suspect your local authority does things differently anyway.
My solo walk to Didsbury was rewarded with a massage. I hadn’t realised that all my muscle were so stiff. It was a good work-out, not necessarily for me, but I did feel much better afterwards.
The Wednesday walk in the rain was wet and wonderful. Added to which, I got papped back at Boxx 2 Boxx afterwards!
One of the highlights of the week was going to the cinema. Without looking it up, I can’t remember the last time we were in a movie theatre. We saw Moonage Daydream, the first film about our favourite alien superstar sanctioned by the David Bowie estate. It’s a roller-coaster ride of Bowie music, interviews, videos, remixes, over two hours of Bowie magic. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s even only slightly interested in Bowie’s life and times and philosophy.
This was our first time at The Light in Stockport, a cinema recommended by Jenny, even though she hasn’t been there herself. Yet!
Another highlight was visiting the gym in Wythenshawe. Liesel swam for a bit. I spent some time on the treadmill and the exercise bike. But the woirst thing was, I forgot to take a pound coin for the locker. That’s the real reason I wasn’t totally motivated.
Here’s a book recommendation. I really enjoyed this one.
It’s a period of history that we don’t know much about: the Roman invasion of northern Scotland. The characters and story are all very well written. It’s one of those stories that you don’t really want to finish. You want to know what happens after the events depicted. Highly recommended. Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair.
The radio show this week was themed around Germany, in light of our recent trip. So, a few German musicians, some German music and songs that mention Germany, or a German city. If you missed it on Wythenshawe Radio, you can catch up here:
Another big breakfast gave us the energy we needed for a relatively lazy day. Apart from anything else, it felt only fair to give Andrew a day off from driving.
Our first bus was an open-top and the commentary was supplied by Count Arthur Strong, either that or CAS has a vocal doppelganger.
We spent some time in Grasmere, the village, having driven by Grasmere, the lake. I’m not saying Grasmere doesn’t welcome visitors, but I think the sign could be a little bit more prominent, maybe with a larger typeface than this embarrassment:
Grasmere Parish Church is dedicated to Oswald of Northumbria, king and champion of Christianity, who is believed to have preached on this site sometime before 642AD when he died in battle.
It is a Grade One Listed building of national historic interest. The oldest parts date from around 1300AD, but it is probably the third church to have stood on this ancient site by the side of the River Rothay.
It’s not really keeling over, but you knew that, didn’t you? Almost in the shadow ow the church is the so-called Grasmere Gingerbread® Shop. It’s a very small shop, so Pauline went in on her own to buy some gingerbread®. We have Sarah Nelson to thank for creating this cross between a biscuit and a cake and I wonder what the secret ingredients are?
We visited William Wordsworth’s grave as did some of his descendents, or so they claimed. I took a photo for them but didn’t think to take a picture of them with my own phone.
(I recently played Taylor Swift’s song The Lakes on my radio show, which includes a nod to Wordsworth. See what you’ve been missing?) The Daffodil Garden is full of daffodils, but not at this time of year. It was interesting to walk along the path that acknowledges the hundreds of people who contributed to the garden.
After a pleasant wander, we took the bus back to Ambleside. You can’t help but admire the lady who put this display together in the bookshop window.
A third bus took us to Coniston. The driver was very patient on the narrow roads, and very skilful. I think we were all glad to let someone else do the driving for us. Some of the car drivers going in the opposite direction looked terrified, I suspect a couple of steering wheels will have been crushed, they were being gripped so tightly.
As Pauline pointed out, here’s something you don’t see very often these days:
I trust they’ve been failing to sell for a number of decades because we just don’t want to be catching butterflies any more.
Coniston Water is famous for two things. It’s where Donald Campbell died in 1967 during his attempt to break the water speed record in his boat Blue Bird. And one of its islands was the inspiration for Swallows and Amazons, the first in a delightful series of books by Arthur Ransome that I enjoyed over fifty years ago. Time for a re-read?
Andrew, Pauline and I took advantage of our perfect timing and climbed aboard for a guided boat tour of the lake. The commentary wasn’t provided by Count Arthur Strong on this occasion. In fact, she didn’t even look like him.
After a quick cup of coffee, we walked back to town, consuming blackberries on the way, and took the bus back to Ambleside. As Crowded House might sing: Four buses in one day. We greeted a few locals, although some were a bit wary of strangers.
The return bus ride was less exciting, in the sense that there was far less traffic fighting the bus for space.
Our evening meal was taken sitting inside a tuk tuk in a Thai restaurant. The waiter was very apologetic about this being the only table available, but we didn’t mind at all, even if the whole edifice moved every time one of us did.
Andrew returned to driving duties and took us to the other side of the Lake District to what was our final b&b. To quell any doubts you may have, we went in the rental car, not in the tuk tuk.
Buttermere is a good place for a walk. It’s a small lake, but we didn’t walk all the way around. We did climb the hill, though Pauline and Andrew went a bit further than I did.
It was fascinating to see water flowing out of the lake into a stream. We know it happens, but we’re more used to seeing streams flow into the main body of water.
Just as we thought we were making good progress, the road was blocked.
We weren’t held up for long, the sheepdogs were doing a great job of controlling and herding their charges.
The hotel in Nether Wasdale was very easy to find, after a long and beautiful drive through the mountains. I realised that after all the time spent in Ambleside, we never did get to stop at Dove Cottage, where William Wordsworth lived for a while with his sister Dorothy. But as with all tourist attractions, it’ll still be there next time.
The three of us went for a short walk in the direction of Wastwater and returned for a drink. St Michael and All Saints is a very small church, very quick and easy to explore.
Pauline stayed in the area over fifty years ago, so our mission was (partly) to track down the cottage in which she stayed. Our drive towards Wasdale Head was curtailed because there was too much traffic coming towards us and there was nowhere to park.
We ate a late lunch (picnic food again) and quaffed our drinks on a bench over the road from the hotel, enjoyed the sunshine and the quiet. Car headlights flashed us, announcing the arrival of Liesel and Leslie. Liesel had successfully completed a couple of work projects at home. On the way to Nether Wasdale today, they’d stopped at a Bobbin Mill for a break. And it was more interesting, I think, than they’d anticipated.
The big evening meal was closely followed by a big breakfast in the morning. We were well stocked up with energy for a long hike, even if we had a lot of extra weight to lug around. On this occasion, Liesel drove us to Wasdale Head, and it was a much more pleasant ride than yesterday, much less traffic.
It was hilly, gorgeous view of the mountains and, occasionally, the lake. Becks, streams, waterfalls and sheep all competed for our attention.
In fact, at one waterfall, we met a couple who were enjoying the outdoor shower, emerging as if in an old advert for shampoo. That’s what they do. The previous day, they’d showered under four waterfalls.
The blackberries were bountiful. Some were bitter, sour, most were ok but some, on the sunny side of the bush, were sweet and juicy, the taste of childhood Autumns.
The going was tough in places, but we all kept going, with encouragement from the others. We were greeted by sheep now and then. They drew our attention to the dry stone walls which are different in style to those in Derbyshire and Yorkshire.
We tried not to worry the sheep, at least we didn’t have a dog with us. But when I mentioned in passing to one ram that Liz Truss might become our new prime minister, he looked horrified.
St Olaf’s, Wasdale Head, is England’s smallest parish church.
This one was built in about 1550 but there has been a church on the site for about 950 years. There was no need for a guided tour on this occasion.
On the way back to Nether Wasdale, we stopped on a beach by Wastwater for our lunch. We sat on rocks for a bit, but my sister and her partner went over to sit on the grass. Again, we consumed a few handfuls of blackberries. What a wonderful lifestyle. Perfect temperature, gorgeous scenery, no deadlines to meet, no work to complete.
The postprandial perambulation up the hill proved too much for me and Leslie so we waited while the others conquered the mountain. Or so they claimed…
We fell asleep to the sound of people enjoying themselves over the road, as they celebrated Holly’s Dad’s 70th birthday. Did we gatecrash? No: far too knackered! Besides, we don’t know Holly nor her Dad.
Liesel and I didn’t hear them go, but Pauline and Andrew left early to take Rob back to Manchester Airport. His short time here in the UK was over but I’m so glad he was able to come over for his cousin’s wedding and to spend a couple of days with us in Derbyshire. Afterwards, Pauline and Andrew drove to our next b&b visiting Ladybower Reservoir on the way.
Liesel and I and Leslie got up, packed, and looked out of the window. It was drizzly, we could no longer see the castle at the top of the hill. So we decided not to walk up, we wouldn’t see the views today.
We drove to Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire, in the rain, quite hard rain at times, on more narrow roads. Liesel drove, I navigated, as is out usual practice.
Call me cynical but I have a theory. The harder it’s raining, the further the car park is from whichever venue we’re visiting.
The highlight for me was seeing an original John Harrison long-case clock. I took several pictures of it from different angles so that one day I can 3D-print one of my own.
But the main collection is furniture designed by Thomas Chippendale, even if he didn’t do all the woodwork himself. He was a local lad who did very well. Some chairs looked more comfortable than others, but I wasn’t allowed to try them out. ‘This isn’t Ikea, you know’.
The tour of the house was interesting, lots of old stuff to look at and a reminder of how easy it is to acquire too much clutter!
I was introduced to a lady in a wheelchair. This is Daisy, said her guide, she’s 105 years old. I wished her a happy birthday. For safety reasons, she wasn’t allowed up to the first floor, not even in the lift. So I took more pictures upstairs than I need to, so I could show her. By the time I went back down, she’d disappeared. Fast mover.
When buying tickets, and a couple of times later on, we met a guide with a French accent. I was curious/nosey enough to tell him that his Yorkshire accent wasn’t very convincing. Where do you think I’m from, he asked. France? Maybe Switzerland? Nope. He’s from Lithuania and has been living here for 11 years.
I haven’t even mentioned the library or the doll’s house! We walked around the garden for a while so here’s the obligatory photo of a flower with raindrops.
We might return to Nostell one day, not for the house or the garden, but to take the children to enjoy its adventure playground.
We found our next b&b in Millhouse Green, near Penistone, very easily. We have an en suite bathroom. So I won’t be disturbing everyone when I find all the squeaky floorboards as I make several trips to the loo in the middle of the night.
We sat outside in the Sun and chatted, watching the mallards on the river Don at the bottom of the garden. Pauline and Andrew arrived, soon after which, Andrew and Liesel went to the local chippy to buy our evening meal. We dined outside. What a nice way to end the day.
The breakfast was very satisfying, thank you, Di and Dave. But the best news today was that I completed the Nerdle puzzle for the 200th day in a row.
The first time I visited Yorkshire Sculpture Park was in 1991. It was a campsite for the night during our cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats. I’ll Rot13 the next bit, it’s not for squeamish souls. Vg jnf cbhevat jvgu enva fb bs pbhefr, V arrqrq n jrr va gur zvqqyr bs gur avtug. V jnfa’g tbvat gb jnyx nyy gur jnl hc gur uvyy sebz zl grag gb gur gbvyrgf, abg va gung enva. Vafgrnq, V jrag oruvaq gur arneol Urael Zbber fphycgher. V guvax vg jnf guvf bar, Ynetr Gjb Sbezf. Fbeel, Urael.
Today though was bright and Sunny and we had a lovely wander around the park. There’s plenty of space between the items.
There’s something about the combination of primary colours I like, here.
“The Corby Rocker was made with a group of adults with learning disabilities, based at Oakley Grange in Corby, Northamptonshire. The rocker’s exuberance and love of life was my attempt to capture how much this group had inspired me, how I felt about them, and how they had given me a new artistic voice. Simply put – meeting them changed my life.”
And it impressed and amused several visitors today, too, Jason!
I remember seeing this little girl, and other charity collectors, outside shops when I was growing up. Damien Hirst made this larger-than-life version.
Not all artists take their work seriously of course. One piece celebrated William Harvey, who first discovered the circulatory system in the human body. This is on the back:
Well, it made me laugh anyway! (That’s William Hartnell, not William Harvey.)
There are still a few signs and indications around, marking the Tour de Yorkshire races from a few years ago. The event stopped during the pandemic, and I don’t know whether it will come back.
But one highlight was the early morning visit to the local car boot sale. I tried unsuccessfully to hide the ten CDs I bought from Liesel, but I do need them for my radio show. Andrew enjoyed a bacon buttie and I’m not sure anybody else bought anything.
We’ve been to the National Trust property, Wentworth Castle Gardens before, but it was only when we arrived this time that I recognised it. It was a good place to meet up with Jenny and Liam and Martha and William.
We had a picnic, which included cherry tomatoes, by the folly that is Stainborough Castle, which William in particular enjoyed exploring. When he wasn’t impersonating a hamster, that is.
Jenny and Liam were looking good after being married for six whole days.
There’s a fun playground here too and between them, Martha and William nearly wore out the zipline.
This was a nice, sunny day, and we enjoyed watching the sunbeams as we drove to our new place at Pateley Bridge. No, we’re not on the run, we’re just touring around staying in different b&bs for two or three days, doing some sightseeing.
There’s a car park just down the road from our new place, and we spent a lot of time walking up and down Pateley Bridge High Street, which is about the same gradient as Guildford High Street. This is the only town within the Nidderdale Area of Natural Beauty and I think the locals are very proud of this fact.
Our only regret in Pateley Bridge is that we weren’t invited to the party on our first night: it was only just over the road. One of those where the blokes have a contest to see who can impress the boss by laughing the loudest. Actually, not my sort of party at all…
Sometimes you go to bed at the end of the day and you have no recollection of anything that happened. One day this week passed in such a manner. It was a Thursday. We did some more tidying up, we started packing for the weekend ahead, and that’s about it. I took zero photographs, which is very unusual. A busy, productive day but totally unmemorable. I don’t know why I mentioned it really. I’m sorry I wasted your time on this paragraph.
Jump to Friday. Pauline and Andrew drove to the airport to pick up Robert, who’d flown in from Vancouver. Yes, Liesel and I only saw him fairly recently, but this was the first reunion with his mother, my sister Pauline, since he moved to Canada all those years ago.
Now we are six. For the first time, there are six people staying in our flat overnight, which seems to have shrunk in size. Rob drew the short straw (we drew it for him) and he slept on an inflatable bed in the office/studio, curled around the legs of the desk.
Before settling down for the night though, we had fish and chips from the local chippy. We bought far too many chips. Which is why, for breakfast the following day, we had egg and chips.
And so, after years of anticipation and planning, the Wedding Weekend began. I am pleased to announce that my daughter Jenny was marrying Liam at an event postponed for a couple of years because of the pandemic.
We woke up to a beautiful Saturday morning. After our stodgy breakfast, Pauline, Andrew, Rob and I drove to the venue, Knockerdown Cottages, near Ashbourne, on the cusp of the Peak District National Park in the Derbyshire Dales. Yes, what a beautiful part of the country. Just look at the view!
After a lovely drive, despite a couple of diversions, we arrived and parked at the venue at about 11.45. I saw Liam and walked over to say hello. I was immediately told to go to the back of the line over there, to join Jenny, as they were timing the walk up the aisle. Well, a trail of hessian mats on the grass, that led to a gazebo in front of which the ceremony would be conducted. I felt bad that the others were unloading the car without my help. (Afterwards, not at the time, I was in a whirlwind out of my control.) We had a lot of stuff. For the weekend and for a couple of weeks afterwards too. We spent much of the weekend meeting old friends. Danielle, Louise, Katie and Sarah, Jenny’s friends from school, along with the leader of the gang, Helen, were all there leading the procession, followed by Martha and William, with Jenny and myself walking slowly behind. This wasn’t really a full-blown rehearsal. Another long-time friend, Ross, took us through the ceremony, advising us who stands and sits where and when and of course all I can think of is how I can possibly will probably mess the whole thing up.
Meanwhile, back at home, Liesel and Leslie drove to the airport to pick up Michael (Sarah’s brother) and Astrid, visiting from Norway. After a quick trip to Quarry Bank Mill, they joined us at Knockerdown later in the afternoon.
I was glad our car was amongst the first to arrive in the morning, we could be useful for a bit. We moved bottles of wine and fizz from one cottage to another, we moved some furniture. As a former postie, I was given the task of delivering the Welcome letters to each of the cottages.
Most of the guests arrived soon after 3pm, as did the groceries we’d ordered. Ours came from Ocado as usual, but during the course of the afternoon, Tesco and Sainsbury were represented.
The venue includes a games room and a swimming pool. I confirmed at various times over the weekend that I am still no good at pool (it was a manky table, but I don’t think it made much difference), table tennis (the table seemed much smaller than I remember from my youth) and table football (despite spending too much time on the game while at university).
With about 75 guests in one place for the weekend, there had to be a disaster. And the first one sadly fell to Martha.
For some reason, she threw her mermaid into a tree. It took several people, several sticks, a ball, a pool cue and a broom to finally dislodge the doll from the arboreal resting place.
Pizza Pi turned up and set up his wood stove in the courtyard, right outside our cottage. Nice and convenient and we wondered, unnecessarily, would our cottage be filled with smoke? The pizzas were very tasty, and were accompanied by a variety of leaves and salad.
It was good to see Michael and Astrid again after all these years. Also here were several members from Liam’s wider family including Una’s sisters and Alan’s brother Lawrence.
In the evening, everyone sat down and ate more pizza and snacks and drank copious amounts of alcohol and non-alcohol. Matt, a very entertaining friend of Jenny and Liam, took us through a number of fun party games.
Modesty prevents me from saying that our team, number 10, won. After each task, someone had to run up to Matt and declare their team number. Our table was the closest. But that doesn’t mean we weren’t the best! Obviously.
After a busy, exciting and fun day, of course it was quite hard to get to sleep that night. Finally, after all this time, I was within hours of delivering the Father of the Bride speech. Those who know me know I am not a natural extrovert, I don’t enjoy being the centre of attention and I certainly don’t perform in front of more than four people at a time. So the butterflies were slowly gathering together in my stomach.
When I emerged from my pit on Sunday morning, the kitchen was a hive of industry. Liesel and Pauline were making sandwiches for the children’s lunchboxes, and Leslie was making use of her origami skills, folding and sealing the lunch boxes with all the other lovely components.
I ate a hearty breakfast, spent some time alone going through the speech for the hundredth time. I’d been working on it for nearly three years, on and off, so of course, by now, it made no sense, it was absolute rubbish. Fortunately my secret proofreader/editor has helped out recently, thank you, Helen!
Another disaster. Someone gave me some cash with which to pay the bar staff when they arrived. Liesel saw me put it in my pocket. Later on, I couldn’t find it. I asked around, I retraced all my steps, but no. People agreed with me that this new-fangled plastic money is so easy to lose, when you pull something out of your pocket, for instance. The bar staff were paid, so don’t worry about that.
Three days later, in a place a long way, away, I bent down to put my trainers on. There was some sort of obstruction in my left shoe. Yes, you’re ahead of me. It was the cash I now remember putting there for safe keeping. I think it’s fair to say, pre-speech nerves adversely affect the memory.
Back to Sunday. The children had a Hearts Trail to follow, a series of 18 heart-shaped wooden plaques carefully hidden by adults.
William started well but later, I witnessed one of Liam’s aunts completing his sheet on his behalf. Shh, don’t tell anyone.
Another disaster, oh no. William was stung by a wasp. He soon got over the shock but that was something else we could do without.
While chatting with Uncle Lawrence by the pool, I saw Pauline walk by with a couple of the lunch boxes. I was going to help deliver them, but alas, I’d missed my opportunity.
The weather couldn’t have been better for an outdoor event. A bit cloudy but sunny and with bright blue skies.
I wandered around the site for a while, and even though I knew Jenny and Liam wouldn’t be going anywhere soon, I wondered whether I should attach a ‘Just Married’ sign to the back of this old vehicle, for their post-ceremony departure.
My moment arrived. Time to have a shower and put my wedding attire on. I’d picked up my suit from Best Man in Stockport on Thursday: one of the tasks that I seem to have performed on autopilot.
I was pleased that my clothes all fitted well, even though they felt unusually tight.
Guests made their way to the gazebo where seats had been placed. I was pacing up and down in my cottage, waiting to be summoned.
Someone gave me a pretty little boutonniere to wear. Another potential calamity. In my nervous state, I was bound to prick my finger on the pin and get blood all over my pristine, new, white shirt. But no: this particular disaster was averted and I continued to wait.
Forlornly, I looked through the window towards the bride’s cottage while waiting for the call. Many other people were coming and going but all I could do was walk around the living room again. And again.
I obtained some new spectacles recently. Same prescription as my everyday ones, but these don’t turn dark in sunlight. I remembered to wear them. I would not be ruining photographs today by having shades in front of my eyes.
I paced up and down a bit more. This was like waiting for a baby to be born or something. Exciting, but nerve-wracking.
The bridesmaids all looked gorgeous, the guests all looked splendid, my family all looked very smart and well-turned out. I probably looked OK but as I wore out the carpet in our cottage, of course I had my doubts.
At last, I was called to meet the bride. She looked stunning. I knew she would, but even so, I had to swallow something hard and jagged.
Thanks to Ross, the celebrant, for taking this picture. I’d left my phone behind in the cottage. Mainly because I wouldn’t be able to take pictures for the next hour or two, but also because the pockets in my hired jacket had been sewn shut.
I accompanied Jenny from her cottage all the way to the gazebo without once tripping over my own feet, despite wearing brogues, which I’m not used to and which are longer than my trainers. In addition, I didn’t stand on Jenny’s dress while various girls tried to keep the train under control. Jenny and I followed William at a distance. He was behind Martha who was keeping a good distance behind the bridesmaids.
Other potential faux pas were avoided. My trousers didn’t fall down. I did not have a coughing nor a sneezing fit. And I think I was in the right place at all times.
After turning past a certain tree, Jenny and I heard the processional music, an instrumental version of Elton John’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight, from The Lion King.
After delivering Jenny safely to Liam, and shaking his hand, I went to stand next to Liesel in the front row. Ross soon told us all to sit down, and I breathed a sigh of relief: so far, I had not messed up.
The Humanist ceremony was really nice, and I look forward to reading Ross’s words at leisure later on. They were delivered beautifully at the time, but half my mind was elsewhere. Martha performed her reading really well, and so did Liam’s Mum, Una.
During the slow walk back, we each picked up a small bag of (biodegradable) confetti with which to shower the newly married couple and their children, mainly for the benefit of the photographer, Marc.
(I’ll post one or two of Marc’s photos at a later date, but as mentioned above, my phone wasn’t with me during these events.)
Between the wedding ceremony and the Breakfast, we enjoyed drinks and snacks in the courtyard again, conveniently close to our cottage. I collected my speech, printed out in a large font and glued to a set of seven cards. I checked I had this set of cards in my pocket a dozen times. I checked they were in the right order another dozen times.
Guests gathered for the Wedding Breakfast in, what felt to me at the time, the hottest room in all of England. The Sun was pouring in, I was still wearing my suit and I was trying to suppress my state of nervousness.
I looked around and reminded myself, as Chris had said, that these hundreds of people are on my side, that they’ll listen politely while looking forward to the other speeches. Writing this now, a few days later, I realise that my lack of confidence is really showing through. Hundreds of people? Well, seventy-five including about twenty-five children.
Chris’s entrance into the room was quite flamboyant. Jenny and Liam followed with a little more dignity.
I was introduced by Matt, I stood up and read from my crib cards for four of the longest and quickest minutes of my life. It went very well. I’m glad I raised a toast to Jenny’s Mum, Sarah. I was delighted when people laughed at the right time, at the jokes. Again, I’m pleased to say my worst fears were not fulfilled: I didn’t drop the cards, I didn’t read them in the wrong order, I didn’t move away from the microphone and my trousers didn’t fall down.
Modesty forbids me from mentioning how many people came up to me afterwards and the following day to say how much they’d enjoyed my speech, that I’d hit the right tone, the right mix of seriousness and humour, that my nerves hadn’t shown at all.
Helen gave a speech too, with a little help from Martha. She was followed by Liam and by Chris himself.
We guests had selected our meals some months ago, and like most other people, I’d forgotten what I’d opted for, so thank goodness for the personalised menu on the table in front of us. The food was very good, prepared and served by some friendly, helpful caterers. I enjoyed my spinach and artichoke pie and mash with a parmesan crisp served with various beans and peas. This was followed by Bakewell tart with ginger cream which I ate before I had a chance to take its picture.
Yes, I had retrieved my phone by this point. So of course, I shot Jenny and Liam too.
Between the end of the Breakfast and the evening activities, I think I just socialised, and enjoyed having successfully delivered a Father of the Bride’s speech.
Jenny threw the bouquet over her shoulder towards all the single ladies.
Martha was delighted to pick (some of) it up but I’m not sure whether she knows the significance.
The Sun was beginning to set and this was a great photo opportunity for Marc and for the rest of us.
I’d forgotten there were so many formalities at a wedding. I was quite happy to grab a slice of cake and tuck in. But there was the matter of the official Cutting of the Cake.
Martha was on the scene and very quickly announced ‘I want that bit’.
A little later, Jenny and Liam took to the floor for the first dance. The first song I remember the band, Funtime Frankies, playing was Summer of ’69. The dancefloor soon filled but my feet kept themselves to themselves, at least until a pint of beer later. The band were really good, performing old songs with great skill, and I know it’s an old-farty thing to say, but they were really quite loud.
During the evening, we made several visits to the bar for a wide range of beverages. And water.
As darkness settled on Knockerdown, I think we were all still a bit high from the emotion if not from the alcohol. More food was available and I feel sorry for those folks who mistook the jalapeños for mushrooms. Hello Andrew!
Michael and I had a nice chat about Sarah and the wider family. He and Astrid went to bed and I moseyed on over to the After Party, much to Helen’s surprise, I think. I had a bottte of beer, very rare for me at around midnight, before hitting the sack myself. I said good night to the new Mr and Mrs W.
Breakfast for me on the day after consisted of veggie sausage roll, although bacon butties were available for the carnivores. This plus a few cups of tea were very welcome. But I think one of the most memorable sights this day was seeing that Martha didn’t change out of her pyjamas all day. She and all the bridesmaids and Jenny and Helen were wearing personalised robes and I think Martha just didn’t want to take hers off.
We had fun and games in the field including a 9-hole Crazy Golf course that materialised early in the morning. I played two rounds. Once against Pauline and Andrew and once with Martha, Emily and Papa. On both occasions, I got the highest score so I think that makes me the winner.
William played tag with me and Emily for a while. There was a short race course for space hopppering around. The track itself was William’s safe ‘base’ while the island in the middle was ‘super-base’. William’s other job, which he took upon himself, was to carry a crate of bubble mix around. Bubbles were blown.
There wasn’t enough food here this weekend, thought absolutely nobody at all. So it was lovely to welcome the barbecue in the afternoon. At this point, the wind got up and blew one of the gazebos across the patio. I ran over to unload the children from the bouncy castle, just in case, and the rain followed soon after. I’m glad I had my ice cream before the rain set in, since the freezers were outside, exposed to the weather: and wet weather and electricity are not a good pairing.
Weddings are of course mainly about the people, so there will follow a few mug shots, just some of the guests. I hope they don’t put you off your next meal.
Shortly after this picture was taken, so were the subjects. Liesel and Leslie drove them back to Manchester Airport for their return flight to Bergen.
They missed some of the early evening entertainment which included children’s Pass the Parcel and a Pub Quiz. Liesel returned just as the last question was being posed, which is the only reason our team didn’t win. In fact, the winners were the team led by Liam and Jenny which seems only fair. The prize consisted of a few items of old tut previously donated by Liam and Jenny.
The end of the day meant lots of goodbyes of course and I for one was glad of a slightly earlier night in bed.
In the morning, we had to vacate the cottages by 10am. We then hung around a bit to help Jenny and Liam load up their van and Helen and a couple of others to take their stuff out. I think we finally hit the road at about 11 o’clock, having agreed to meet up with Pauline, Andrew and Robert in Bakewell. But that story’s for another day.
Several days later, I can still feel the positive vibes from this wedding weekend, and I mean no disrespect to those who organised and attended my own weddings when I say that I think this was the best, most enjoyable wedding I’ve ever been to. So well planned by Jenny and Liam. Thanks a million to them and thanks to everyone else for making it all so much fun. I can’t wait to see Marc’s professional photos and share one or two here, such as:
A message appeared in my Gmail inbox telling me that I could receive no further emails because I’d used up my free allocation of 15GB cloud storage. I would have to clear out whatever’s there, or pay for more storage. I don’t use that account much, so it’s no big deal, but <<something>> now keeps nagging me to either delete those files or pay for more storage. To be honest, I wasn’t aware that I was using any cloud space belonging to Google. But it seems that, until April this year, <<something>> had been uploading my photos to Google’s cloud storage. I probably ticked the wrong box at some point. So, my task was to delete those photos so that I could continue to enjoy whatever else Gmail has to offer.
And yes, I am aware, nobody really likes Gmail, for a variety of different reasons.
My first concern was that, if I deleted photos from the cloud, would <<something>> also delete them from my phone? In the mistaken belief that I didn’t want them at all? (It’s not such a crazy idea. I remember when Apple told me that if I wanted to add some specific music to my iTunes library, it would have to delete everything that was already there. Because, obviously, when I buy a new book, I have to burn all my old ones.)
So, I decided to download whatever was in the cloud. And this is not straightforward. I was doing this at leisure. But if I were downloading everything, my backup, because I’d lost my phone, I would be really annoyed. There should be a big red button saying ‘Download everything’ and it would do the job, even if it were to take several hours. But no. I could download one item at a time. Or I could select up to 500 at a time and it would, eventually, download a .zip file. But there were tens of thousands of pictures. I want them all in one go.
After a lot of Googling (ironic, I know), I found a tool called Google Takeout. This allows you to download everything, but if there’s too much (there was) it will break it up into smaller chunks.
It would prepare these files for downloading and then send an email with the relevant link, which would actually download those files.
But, I refer you to the first line. I can’t receive any emails right now because I’ve used up all my storage.
So that’s my silly-old-fart technophobe Luddite whinge of the week.
Other whinges here over the years include rants against fly-tipping. So I felt bad dragging the old futon downstairs and leaving it out on the pavement. It had to be done, we need the space.
But have no fear. I had arranged for it to be taken away and sure enough, a couple of hours later, a brace of strong young men arrived with a van full of other people’s dead mattresses, and they took it away. They took photos of it and our front door, so someone, somewhere, has a very interesting photo album.
I drove to the airport and collected Liesel and her Mom after their mammoth flights from Anchorage via Frankfurt. It was good to see them again after all this time (2 weeks), so to celebrate, when we got home, we went straight to bed! Well, it was nearly midnight by this point.
Two days later, I returned to the airport to collected Pauline and Andrew after their mammoth flights from Christchurch via Singapore. It was good to see them again after all this time (4 years) and to celebrate, when we got home, we all went for a walk.
These few days were very hot, so it was no real surprise to see a couple of people messing about in the river. And I don’t mean in a boat.
The gate to the local allotments was open, unusually, so we wandered in for a quick look. We got caught though, as the Committee were having an Important Meeting and we Unauthorised People were not at all welcome. So glad we didn’t pick a couple of pears from the tree near the entrance.
Blackberries are out, some very nice and some quite bitter, but the only way to tell is to eat them. Andrew and I scrumped apples from the churchyard. Mine was delicious, Andrew’s was mouldy. Luck o’ the draw.
We walked around a bit, relaxed, and reorganised the flat to now accommodate 5 people, for a short while. Phew, it was hot!
Liesel drove her Mom to Fletcher Moss Gardens for coffee with the ladies of the WI while Pauline, Andrew and I walked over, along the river, to join them. The banks of the Mersey are being mown, because it’s that time of year, and I think it helps later on with any flooding issues, should there be any.
The best thing about Fletcher Moss? The public toilet is now open again after being closed due to Covid. Proof that the pandemic is, indeed, over. If only it were, if only it were.
The five of us drove over to Bridgewater Gardens, the RHS property, that Liesel’s seen, but only once. And what a delightful place to wander around. It’s only been there for a couple of years or so
There are some unusual plants, but all very well presented. We were hoping that the fresh air and especially the sunlight might help the travellers regain their natural circadian rhythm: there’s a lot of sleep going missing somewhere!
This Green Wall was interesting. I thought maybe we could do something like this at home, grow some plants up the walls of the block, since we don’t have a garden, but two things: I would probably lose interest soon after its implementation, leaving all the work to Liesel. And the Management Company would almost certainly object.
There were plenty of bees around, which is always good to see. Wasps, not so much of course. And despite the signs advertising butterflies, I didn’t see any on this occasion. I’m sure that when some of the old farm fields have recovered, and they’ve reverted to being wild meadows, it will be a great place for insect spotting.
The location of this RHS site is Worsley. We’d been here before, but I didn’t recognise the name. Other than it bringing to mind Lucy, of that ilk. On the way home, we took a small detour to show Pauline and Andrew Worsley Delph, a local monument. Near the water was a heron, which I videoed because it looked like it was about to take flight. So of course, it didn’t.
How many attempts do you think it takes before I manage to get a picture containing my own image plus a specific object? Far too many. All for the sake of a lame pun too. Remember the sweet counter at English Woolworths all those years ago?
No, you’re right, it really wasn’t worth all that effort. But a lot of the artefacts here remind us that it once was a very intensive, industrial area.
Another place we haven’t been for a while is Chester Zoo. Time to rectify that. And in the process, take advantage of the opportunity for all our overseas visitors to meet up with some young children, but not in an enclosed space, like someone’s house.
Helen (from Australia) took Martha and William to the zoo. Liesel (from Northenden) drove there with her Mom, Leslie (from Anchorage). And I accompanied Pauline and Andrew (visiting from New Zealand) after they’d picked up their rental vehicle. It’s up to one of them to document the actual shenanigans surrounding the collection of their vehicle, but in summary: what a palaver! We’d gone to the drop-off point rather then reception at first. I can blame the GPS, or the bus parked right in front of the Reception sign, which, to be honest, wasn’t all that prominent even without buses blocking the view. For more details, contact Pauline or Andrew. But we got there in the end.
Martha and William were in good form, meeting several people new to them in one go must be a bit daunting for a young child. Crumbs, I find it hard meeting lots of new people all in one go.
I didn’t know whether we’d see any animals or not, we often don’t with Martha and William, so I was pleased to snap this bird soon after we entered the zoo.
I had to stand on tiptoes and hold the phone up high, but I captured these giant otters having a nap in the sunshine.
How strange, to see a pair of bright red ibises hiding amongst the flamingoes, we thought.
In the end, we saw plenty of animals today, we stopped for a picnic lunch, we played in the playground and, best of all, we avoided the shop and the bat cave, being indoor venues. Martha and William now have new cuddlies from Alaska, a sea otter and a mammoth respectively. Sadly, the mammoth has a fractured incisor. That’s what happens when you swing a mammoth round by its tusk!
After Helen took the children home, Liesel and Mom left too, leaving me and my sister and brother-in-law to have some fun our own. We found the aviaries and managed to get quite close to some of the birds.
I don’t know if they expected to be fed, but if so, they were disappointed by us three.
While wandering around the Islands, a part of the zoo that we seldom reach, we noticed slow boats passing by underneath. Let’s go for a boat ride, we all said in unsion, with harmonies very similar to the Bee Gees. So we did. A nice 20-minute, slow journey, along the Lazy River.
From the boat, we caught sight of the orang utans but we saw them more clearly afterwards.
But what a lovely family day that was, if a little tiring.
So, why that particular theme? Because my baby girl, Jenny, is getting married at the weekend. So it’s a very exciting time, we’re all busy preparing for a long weekend of jollity and fun and a wedding ceremony. Aha, you’re thinking, this is why people are arriving from all around the planet. Stay tuned for wedding antics and everything!
It was good fun going through photos for a couple of days, on Klaus’s computer, on Facebook and some really old, physical photos. They made for a fascinating slideshow at the party to celebrate Klaus’s life.
Here is former marathon runner Klaus, with baby Liesel and her grandmother, with a freshly caught fish and barbecuing. Here’s Klaus’s obituary.
There was far too much food for the hundred or so people who turned up, so it’s been leftovers all week. Huli-huli chicken and kalua pig are two Hawaiian dishes that Klaus was especially fond of. The family have been enjoying the leftovers for a few days now.
Klaus was famous for his sense of humour. He was always telling jokes, so with that in mind, we set up a Joke Board, inviting contributions from the guests. Well, needless to say, some of the jokes are too rude for this family-friendly blog, but here goes anyway:
Fifteen years ago, Liesel and I visited Bremen with Klaus and Leslie, a family reunion with some long-lost German relations. One of the side-trips was a tour of Beck’s brewery. Afterwards, we were given some samples to try: six, I think, small glasses of various beers and lagers. Which one did you like best, Klaus? To everyone’s surprise, he picked the non-alcoholic beverage. I imbibed some Beck’s today, it seemed the right thing to do. Prost!
Amongst the guests was Holly, our friend who flew up from Washington. Liesel and I were happy to give up our bed and sleep on the blow-up bed for a couple of nights, even if it did make farty noises every time one of us moved.
On one of our walks to Kincaid Park, Liesel picked both of the raspberries. Yes, there were only two ripe ones on the bush, but there’ll be plenty more soon. Maybe all that rain helped speed up the ripening process.
It’s nice to be out in the Sun again, of course. And we do like seeing the odd splash of colour.
At least, I think this is elderberry. But I wasn’t confident enough to pick the berries with a view to making elderberry wine. Well, I can’t help thinking about the times you were a wife of mine. You aimed to please me, cooked black-eyed peas-me, made elderberry wine. That Elton John song came to mind and was my earworm for the rest of the day.
Well, I think this is fireweed, it’s quite prolific in some places.
I have to confess: Holly took this picture: if I’d tried to take a selfie, there would have been at least half of someone’s face missing.
There is a cat who lives in the house with Leslie. Her name is Petra and she is very shy, timid, secretive. I have often seen the tip of her tail disappear around the corner as she heads towards her favourite hiding place, the back of the closet. But one day, I was at home on my own, glanced down from the den, the upper landing. I saw the cat. The cat saw me. The cat crouched, ready to move off. I slowly extracted my phone. Turned the flash on. And I now have photographic evidence that the beast exists.
As you can see, her headlights are on full-beam. And this is the face that greets Leslie when she wakes up each morning. Luminous green, scary, starey eyes and everything.
Liesel, Holly and I walked on the boardwalk at Potter Marsh. One of those borderline days when even I was taking off and putting on my coat as the wind cooled and warmed up again.
The water in one of the streams was a bit murky, but it was good to see the salmon swimming upstream
No birds to speak of, but I had some success with the dragonflies. One was on a lady’s shoe, so we helped it escape, and out of the way, we didn’t want anyone to stomp on it.
And then there was this chap.
He was very cooperative, he stayed very still, but at least he was alive. Or she, I don’t know how you can tell. I was able to get a nice close-up without him flying off.
We drove up to see Catherine and Hans. Their rhubard crumble was delicious. Holly knew Catherine from a long, long time ago. Holly and Liesel were travelling in Europe and spent some time with Catherine and Hans in the Netherlands. We had a good chat, enjoyed the view and the sunshine. George the Bernese mountain dog lives with Catherine and Hans. He wears children’s grippy socks indoors so that he can walk on the wooden floors without slipping.
When he’s out for a walk, he’ll let you know he’s had enough by lying down on his back, in the middle of the road.
Later that afternoon, Aaron, Jodi, Asa and Gideon came round with friends visiting from Germany: Fee, Jorn and Philip. It was a raucous evening, and again, there were stories about Klaus.
Jyoti, Liesel and I had a quick walk around Little Campbell Lake, also known as Beercan Lake. The ladies had a longer walk than I did, but it was nice sitting on the bench, watching the young people in their kayaks. This lake is where Liesel and I were married all those years ago. It was frozen at the time, so a very different vista today.
In Kincaid Park, near the chalet, we admired the multi-coloured bench.
It was windy here today, and a few people were flying kites. The clouds were fascinating to watch, swirling and whirling around. Someone suggested it was like a scene from Harry Potter.
Indoors, I was quite busy doing some DIY. The key lock box combination is … haha, I nearly revealed it. I tightened up the screws holding up the hanging basket bracket. I changed a lightbulb outside the garage, quite possibly the most awkward lightbulb in the world, in a brass and glass case, with a hole not quite big enough to fit a bulb and fingers at the same time. Duct tape, as is often the case in Alaska, was my saviour.
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An unexpected job was to clear out some cr I mean rubbish, old stuff, from the garage. Some was thrown away but a lot was taken to the charity shop. This provided the day’s scary moment. Do something scary every day, someone once said. Well, I don’t manage to every single day, but I made up for quite a few days on this occasion. I had to climb up the ladder several times, to take things down from high shelves and to put other items up there. My palms were sweaty, but I didn’t show my fear to Liesel and her Mom. I am very proud of my stoicism. Ladders and me have never really got along. This was after Liesel had taken me to the local supermarket, Carrs, for my second Covid booster jab. I have a slightly sore arm, but otherwise, no problem. The bonus was, the pharmacist gave me a voucher, so we got 10% off the groceries we bought. $12 saved. That’s almost as good as the chocolate I was given with my very first Covid jab, last year. Almost!
My time in Anchorage is nearly over. Before I arrived, Liesel and I had the following telephone conversation. (Remember, on my last trip, I ((very) briefly) swam in the lake at Nana’s Cabin in Talkeetna):
Liesel: When you come over, will you bring my swimsuit? Mick: Yes, of course, where is it? Liesel: Under the bed, I think. Mick: OK. Why? Liesel: We’re going to Talkeetna and I thought I might go for a swim in the lake. Mick: Oh great, I’ll bring my budgie smugglers too. Liesel: You’re not going. Mick: Uh? Liesel: I’m going with Mom and Jyoti after you’ve gone back home. (There was an evil cackle at this point, or maybe I imagined it.)
Yes I’m back in Anchorage. I described the journey earlier and a couple of people have asked for the password. I wrote the previous post more in sorrow than anger, mainly for my family, with the feeling that I’d never, ever go anywhere else. Someone pointed out that I’d have to go back home sometime. Well, yeah, s’pose so. And then the travel bug will bite again. If my recent experience is as bad as it gets, at least I now know I can cope with the situation. And in the end, of course, the mechanics of the journey aren’t as important as the fact that I’m going somewhere different. But, if you would like to catch up, the password to Wows and Woes is anchorage, obvious really, all lower case of course.
The first sight of land from the plane was Greenland.
Its stark beauty certainly helped me put all the nasty, ridiculous airport shenanigans into some sort of perspective.
And then, several hours later, was that Denali I saw way over there in the distance?
In any case, at this point, I knew we would very soon be landing at Ted Stevens Airport, Anchorage.
A groan of disappointment made its way around the cabin as we realised how hard it was raining here. But this dismay was somewhat mitigated, for me at least, when I noticed the registration number of the aeroplane we’d flown in on.
I don’t know why the word ‘bum’ always lifts my spirits. But it does. It did a few days later in a local shop as well.
Two bums for the price of one. And no, I didn’t investigate, I shall let the mystery of ‘trust the bum’ float in the air.
The house feels emptier without Klaus of course. Just Liesel and Mom and me. And, outside, the rain and a bird having a bath. Which, of course, I wasn’t quick enough to take a photo of.
The rain showed no sign of relenting, so Liesel and I walked wetly to the stadium in Kincaid Park to watch Gideon’s team play football against what seemed to be an older team. I don’t know what’s worse: walking in the rain, playing football in the rain or standing around watching people play football in the rain, in the rain. Actually, I think the last option was the least pleasant.
On the path, a couple of cyclists stopped to ask us whether we’d seen any moose. Not today, no, they’re probably all taking shelter somewhere. We did however see a million and one earthworms on the path, some very long and juicy ones. Any blackbird passing by would be spoilt for choice.
Liesel and I went to visit Jyoti for a quick cuppa. We decided against going out for a walk, we still weren’t fully wrung out from the earlier jaunt to the football game.
The shop I mentioned above? Well, we went to buy me a new, waterproof coat. I might need it but really, I’m hoping I won’t, because the rain will stop sooner rather than later.
Liesel, Leslie and I paid a visit to Costco. I’d been happy to help with the chores at home, on this occasion, shredding years and years of confidential documents, now surplus to requirements. Well, sadly, the shredder too is now surplus to requirements. It overheated, stopped shredding and never recovered. We bought a new one at Costco, and this new model completed the job beautifully within a couple of days. We bought some other stuff as well, it would have been absurd to go to a shop like Costco for just one item. In particular, we’re preparing for the party at the weekend to celebrate Klaus’s life. Another task of mine is to gather together photos of Klaus for a slide show at the party.
Mountains. We can see the mountains again, hidden until now by the rain. Look:
I was hoping the rain might ease. It did, briefly. But as far as rainfall is concerned, this is a record-breaking month in Anchorage. The average rainfall here for July is 0.06″. The record from 1981 is 0.39″. On this one day, we had 1.00″ of rain. There are flood warnings. There are floods. Aaron had left the motorhome parked up near Willow and was advised to go and move it due to the river potientially breaking its banks.
Meanwhile in the UK, they experienced record-breaking temperatures approaching 40°C, and even the long, hot Summer of ’76 was nowhere near this hot. Climate crisis? What climate crisis?
Jyoti, Liesel and I went for a walk over at Potter Marsh. The rain had stopped, but I took my new coat, just in case. We didn’t see many birds of interest, no eagles nor swifts, but we did see a baby moose and its mother. I don’t think Liesel was impresssed, they see mooses here all the time, but such a sight is still novel to me.
I want to believe this insect was just having a rest, but I fear it was an ex-dragonfly, it was defunct, demised, expired and had gone to meet its maker, it had shuffled off this mortal coil, kicked the bucket, run down the curtain and gone to join the choir invisible.
Going to bed late after a delayed flight, you think you’d go to sleep fairly quickly. Oh no, not me, not with my brain. I spent far too long counting, not just sheep, but the number of animals we’d seen in various airports: bears (polar and brown), moose and horses. Well, one horse.
This is Blackleaf, by Deborah Butterfield, 2017, taking pride of place at Seattle Airport.
The glass cage at Anchorage Airport is not the Dall sheep’s natural habitat, they’re more commonly found in the mountains of Alaska.
So if I were counting sheep as an aid to sleep, I would have reached a grand total of one. But I got there in the end.
A bit of a lie-in was followed by a reasonably lazy day. The three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. And it was a delight to go back to bed at a more reasonable hour.
Sadly, in an almost repeat performance from a few weeks ago, in the middle of the night, Klaus fell out of bed on his way to the toilet. Three of us couldn’t help him climb back in so again, we called the paramedics. I think this one incident really confirmed to us just how ill he is now. No strength at all.
After breakfast, I wrote some more before Liesel took us over to Pam and Owen’s place for a barbecue. Well, we went to see Una and she drove us over to Pams’, with Monica. On this occasion, on meeting her, I did not give Monica a bear hug exacerbating her shoulder injury.
My eyes were watering and I put this down to hay fever. But no, it’s more likely to be smoke from bush fires quite a long way off, Una was suffering as well. And, sure enough, the mountains were all but invisible through the haze.
From AP News: High winds have pushed a wildfire to within miles of an Alaska Native village in western Alaska, officials said Thursday.
No evacuation orders were issued for St. Mary’s though the East Fork Fire was within 8 miles (12.9 kilometers), the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service said in a statement. No structures have been burned.
The 78-square-mile (202-square-kilometer) fire was started May 31 by lightning…
Meanwhile, back at the barbecue, burgers were the order of the day. Liesel enjoyed her first burger for six years or something. And I enjoyed the salads on offer plus possibly my favourite comfort food: cheese and tomato sandwiches, albeit in burger buns.
Thanks Pam and Owen for a nice afternoon: I think it’s fair to say the ladies managed to solve the problems of the world while Owen and I sat quietly in the background!
While we were driving home, Monica received a call from her husband Gregg saying that a tree behind their house had been set on fire. That’s pretty scary, especially when you have lithium batteries in the garage that don’t mix with heat nor with water that might used to put the fire out.
On Monday morning, Klaus visited his family doctor. Straightaway, because he looked so jaundiced, she sent him to hospital, where he spent the next few days. While he was there, we tried to make the house more accommodating for him on his return. With this in mind, Liesel, Jodi and I went to Bailey’s Furniture shop to buy a new chair for Klaus, a powered one that would help him to stand up, that massages and reclines to nearly horizontal.
But what a fascinating shop. Never mind the wonderful range of furniture, the place is decorated in style.
And I’m sure a little girl I know would love this chair.
Liesel uses some software to be able to work from home accessing Amrit’s computer. She got a bill claiming she hadn’t paid. Which she had. Prove it. So I looked at the relevant account on my phone and tried to screenshot the payment. Oh no. For security reasons, I can’t screenshot from a banking app. If Liesel had been around at the time, I would have used her phone take a picture of my phone’s screen. But she wasn’t. Instead, I had to use an elaborate system of mirrors, a split screen with the required data in one half and the camera in the other half and take a picture using the timer, then reversing the image. I say ‘elaborate’ and it would have worked if only I could have held the phone perfectly still for a split second. Technology, eh?
Liesel and her Mom spent most of the next day in hospital with Klaus. My task at home, on Klaus’s computer, was to make sure we knew his passwords: bills need paying and he’s usually responsible. Klaus uses an Apple Mac, so that was an interesting learning curve having been using Windows for decades! Fortunately, my daughter Helen was able to provide some technical support. Thanks Helen!
Jodi brought her friend, realtor Andrea, around to look at Leslie and Klaus’s house, with a view to selling it after thirty years. It needs some work but it’s not in too bad a condition.
After they left, I started walking towards Jyoti’s house intending to go for a longer walk with her.
It was reassuring to see the mountains more clearly today. And I had the pleasure of gently pursuing a dragonfly for a minute. Last time I was here in Anchorage, I was notoriously unlucky in trying to photograph these flighty beasts. But today, I took a series of pictures, each one a little closer.
I am very pleased with this picture, although I would have preferred the background to be a leaf rather then the pavement!
I thought I was on a roll. But no, that was the extent of my success. Attempts to capture a beetle in all its glory failed abysmally.
Did we have a nice long walk? Not today. Instead, we got coffee at Kaladi and took it to Sand Lake, traipsing through the grounds of the Elementary School. Sitting in the shade by the water was so peaceful. Thanks for the time-out, Jyoti.
We collected Liesel from the hospital and went home for a short while. We spent the evening back at Catherine and Hans’ again, enjoying good food, outside, watching the Sun go down. We talked about Klaus of course and music and radio.
Jyoti and I did go for a nice long hike the next day. She took me to Kincaid Park and we followed one of the trails. Well, maybe: we might have missed a turn somewhere, but it was still a very pleasant walk.
The only wildlife we saw was Jyoti’s dog Basil who probably walked and ran twice as far as we did and on little legs too. And how green is that vegetation? So lush. It’s hard to believe that it hasn’t rained here since the snow melted a couple of months ago, but further out of the city, as we’ve seen, there is a real risk of fire.
On the way out, we saw this little chap just mooching along the pavement, minding his own bees wax.
At Fire Island, we bought some high-calorie content cupcakes for ourselves and for Liesel and Leslie who again had stayed with Klaus in hospital. And coffee again from Kaladi Brothers for us. Again, we collected Liesel and took her home.
Leslie returned a little later, after which we all went out to view an apartment that would suit Klaus and Leslie, should they decide to move.
We met Andrea and Jodi there and had a good look round. It seemed ideal, to me. If we’d seen such an apartment when we were looking four years ago, I think we would have seriously considered it. My job was to walk around with the walker to make sure it fits through all the doorways. In my head was Bill Withers: Lean on me. One selling point is that it’s quite close to Aaron and Jod’s house, as well as just over the road from New Sagaya, a supermarket and coffee shop.
We were told that Klaus was to be discharged. The house isn’t ready. So, in a rush, with the help of Asa, Gideon and their friends Addie and Alec, we moved the dresser out of the bedroom, lowered the bed and rotated it 90° to make it easier for Klaus to get up in the night.
Later, it emerged, he wasn’t coming home today, after all. Communication failure.
Still with a view to maybe selling this house, the next morning, Liesel, Jyoti and I threw away loads of food. Now, none of us like throwing away food, but this was all out of date. I don’t mean just a couple of weeks old.
Oh no. Some of it was years old. Even decades. The oldest items had no best before date, they were that old. But the record goes to Liesel who threw away something from 1992.
The plan is, eventually, to empty the pantry and move the washing machine and dryer to that space, up from the garage. This should be more attractive for any potential buyer.
Sorting through old food and disposing of it is ridiculously hard work. Luckily it was bin day, so much of it was taken away, leaving a nice empty bear-proof wheelie bin for the next few bags of old food.
I had a bit of a break by continuing with the passwords project on the Mac.
Liesel and I went to Walmart to collect some prescription drugs for Klaus, because he really was being discharged today. Good to see the pandemic’s over in the city. Very few other people were wearing masks.
Klaus came home, and sat in his new chair for a short while before going upstairs to bed.
And so, my time in Anchorage comes to an end. After saying goodbye to Klaus and Leslie, Liesel dropped me off at the airport. She was originally going to fly back with me but is staying on for a couple more weeks to help and support her Mom.
I went through security. That’s it. No trauma today. I had a middle seat so I looked around trying to predict which two fatties I’d be wedged between. But no. Both my seat-mates were skinnies. And,the young lady to my left moved to a different seat, leaving me her aisle seat.
Transit at Frankfurt was a doddle. A ten-minute walk from one gate to the next. It makes you wonder why USA has to make such a big deal out of these things. It certainly doesn’t make us feel any more secure.
As we flew past Cheadle, I took some pictures, hoping to be able to pinpoint Jenny’s house from the sky. This is still a work in progress.
I kept mine on, but just about everyone else removed their masks on disembarkation. Even when entering the overheated, windowless depths of Manchester Airport to go through security, which was a slow process.
I took a taxi home, and immediately felt very welcome. Jenny and Helen had left Fathers Day cards for me as well as a box of Maltesers and some beer. Cheers! I slumped for most of the day and went to bed really early. I never seem to get a proper sleep on an aeroplane.
And of course, I woke early, listened to a couple of podcasts and did my usual three puzzles, Wordle, Worldle and Nerdle. Horror of horrors: I lost my winning streak on the first two. I’d forgotten to play in the short ‘day’ between leaving Anchorage and landing in Manchester.
On my first full day back at home, I waited in for a grocery delivery from Ocado, ate Maltesers, wiped out the now empty fridge, after its inadvertent defrosting while we were away, and wrote for a while while listening to old, recorded radio shows. And, in an effort to convince myself I was doing something useful, I gathered together all the to-do lists.
On my second full day back at home, I ticked a few items off the to-do list. Don’t worry, I did them first. And there is still plenty to keep me occupied. I’m lucky to have the freedom to nap whenever the urge takes me.
At 4.50 in the morning, I answered the phone. It was Liesel telling me that her Dad had died. Just three days after I’d left. I really had said goodbye to him. Very sad, but not totally unexpected. We didn’t like seeing him in such distress and discomfort, and we’ll certainly miss him and his humour.
The rest of the day was taken up with mundane chores, nothing that required too much thought. In a bit of a daze, to be honest. I started putting this week’s radio show together and finished it the following day. I think this one took longer to prepare than any, since the very early days when the whole process was new to me.
BC-99 took us to Vancouver and we admired the Canadian countryside. But as a highway, it was really just an extension of the I-5, south of the border.
We were very conscious of having missed celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee at home, so to make up for this, we decided to stay in Elizabeth Street, close to Queen Elizabeth Park. And after taking a few minutes to acclimatise to this new country, we walked up the road to the park, soaking up the rays.
For lunch, we found our way to the restaurant at the top of the park, Seasons in the Park. It’s a very popular place. We could wait for a table on the patio, or we could sit at the bar. We chose the latter because we were hungry, because it provided a better view than from the patio and also because we were next to an open window letting in a nice breeze.
They are very proud of the fact that President Bill Clinton dined here once, a long time ago.
Not only does this plaque take pride of place outside the main entrance, there is a large wall display inside, including the menu.
And I have to admit, the food was very good, what a nice place.
We walked around, looking at the mountains and the clouds. It’s a hilly park though, so we sat down for a while, and we had to admire the lady in blue with her photographer.
We confirmed that a sculpture was indeed a Henry Moore.
After a quick Whatsapp exchange with my nephew Rob, Liesel and I set off in roughly the direction of Main Street, commenting on the anemones and the snowball flowers.
At the café known as Breka, I knew Rob would turn up as soon as I went inside to use the toilet. It was good to see him after all this time, quite a few years. He moved to Vancouver from Christchurch 3½ years ago. His plan then of course was to visit NZ or be visited by his Mum, but then we all got loked in and locked down during the pandemic. He has Permanent Residence status, so he won’t be moving for a while.
We agreed to meet up the next day and after a much longer walk back to our b&b than we’d expected, and being ridiculously tired, we went straight to the land of nod.
We took a subway train to Olympic Village, where The Birds in The Square are enormous.
In fact, the sculptures were made by Myfanfy Macleod in 2010 as part of the City of Vancouver Public Art Program. This was the year Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics and they hope to do so again in 2030.
We had a very nice day with Rob who showed us around his newly adopted city. The weather was perfect: sunny and warm.
The ferry, or Aquabus, that took us to Glanville Island was very small. And apparently, it’s not really an island any more.
The local hawk’s job is to deter the seagulls from settling. They can be a menace, stealing our chips and ice cream. But what a cute little market. They’re certainly creative when it comes to recycling old books.
False Creek is the name of this inlet and it seems to be well used, we saw paddle-boarders, canoeists, as well as many other small boats, from the ferry ride to Kitsilano Beach.
At Kitsilano, we found a Local Public Eatery. No, that’s not the generic term, it’s the name of the place where we had lunch. A very large lunch. The sort of lunch that makes it hard to get and walk afterwards. But somehow, we forced ourselves to move, albeit a bit more slowly and sedately.
We couldn’t decide whether this was a big fight or foreplay. We left them to it. The clashing beaks sounded like a keen knitter at her most enthusiastic.
I’m glad I wasn’t piloting this barge on the night of the storm that beached it. What an eyesore on English Bay Beach. Maybe it will be truned into a restaurant or something eventually. Attempts to shift it, even at very high tide, have failed.
Rob’s friend Priscilla was a very welcoming host at Vancouver Lookout. We rode up in a glass-sided lift and yes, I was very conscious of standing as far back as I could manage. There’s a 360° view of the city, and beyond. A cruise ship, The Grand Princess, was in town, and it felt good to literally look down on the cruisers below.
Vancouver Lookout was opened in 1977 by Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon. As he gazed out from the viewing platform, he was probably singing his dad’s song, ‘what a wonderful world’.
Many of the buildings, especially new ones, have grass growing on the roof.
It’s good that the First Nation peoples are being acknowledged. But I was totally bemused by the orthography devised for the native languages.
Time for another break and this time, we ordered a jug of sangria to share. It was still nice enough to sit outside, albeit under cover, and my left arm was cooking quite nicely before they turned off the powerful outdoor heating.
Rob and Liesel and I bade farewell and went our separate ways, knowing that we would meet again very soon under totally different circumstances. Thank you very much for a most enjoyable day out in Vancouver, BC, Rob!
I was going to write in the evening but my plans were thwarted by the grim reality that is dead batteries in the keyboard. So, in protest, I read my book instead.
It rained overnight and it hadn’t stopped by the time we left the b&b. What I forgot to say before though was that we were in fact staying in an old Roman villa. At least, you might think so when you walk over the mosaic in the hallway.
Our first destination today was Tsawwassen, the ferry port. We’d booked a ferry to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island, intending to visit some gardens and see Victoria. But it rained. And rained. I won’t mention the rain again, but remember, it rained and rained all day today.
From the ferry, we looked out for whales and dolphins, but really it was just too murky to see anything. Except grey sky and grey sky reflected in the water. We didn’t even see seals on any of the other small islands that we sailed by. On board The Spirit of British Columbia though: nice shops and eating opportunities.
Instead of visiting Butchart Gardens, which everyone has recommended, we went to the nearby Victoria Butterfly Gardens. Well, at least in was indoors. But there was much more to see than butterflies, oh yes.
Much of the entertainment here was provided, not by the wildlife, but by the school party that took great delight in pointing out butterflies that settled on their teachers’ shoulders for a second or two. Squeals of delight, yes, but some were a little bit wary.
Liesel made friends with a parrot, and I’m sure she taught it some bad words. I merely tried to get it to imitate the kookaburra’s call from my phone.
In Victoria itself, I found some batteries for the keyboard and we found a nice coffee bar.
The next ferry took us over the border to Port Angeles. Yes, back in the USA, as Chuck Berry used to sing.
The fog descended as we sailed, and yes, of course Liesel rolled her eyes when I recorded this ferry’s fog horn.
Several other ferry passengers rushed out on deck at one point, but I didn’t know what the attraction was. A double rainbow, apparently. I’m sure it was very pretty.
We stayed at an old motel tonight. Nothing special, it had a roof and running water, but just what we wanted. We didn’t really need 12 towels, but 12 were supplied. We took a pizza back for supper. But this is America. The pizza was too big to finish in one sitting, so Liesel finished it for breakfast.
Port Angeles is a cute little town. I love the artwork and sculptures that adorn it. This piece I wasn’t sure about at first:
But when I saw its title, Mother and Child, I realised how clever it is. Minimalism at its best, made by Bob Stokes.
Port Townshend is supposed to be even more interesting and lovelier, but we didn’t have enough time to visit on this occasion. Add it to the list.
The long drive along Route 101 took us through forests, including the Olympic National Forest, and small communities.
We stopped in Quilcene for lunch. Liesel pointed out the Sheriff’s car parked nearby. Well, I was on my best behaviour. We tried to take menus from the front desk but the woman told us to sit down and she’d bring menus over. OK. So we sat down and waited. And waited. People came and went. I used the toilet. We waited. We gave it five more minutes. We left. What a strange place.
We stopped at The Tides in Hoodsport for lunch. We were even more hungry by now of course. This was a nice little place, good food, bottomless coffee and I think you know a place is good if the locals use it.
We bypassed Olympia before turning north for Seattle and it was only now, back on the I-5, that it began to rain. Southcenter shopping mall was our immediate destination and somehow we ended up in The Chessecake Factory. For cheesecake, yes, and so much more. We ate too much again. There, I said it.
Cheesecake Factory don’t stint on their interior décor, I think it’s fair to say.
The car groaned under our increased weight, but don’t worry, we soon returned it to the rental facility. The shuttle delivered us safely back to Seattle-Tacoma airport.
And here we go again. Airport security. The sign said ‘Put everything in your bag to speed up the process’. Walk round the corner. Loud officer gives us a list of items to remove; iPad, e-reader, take off shoes and belt, empty your pockets. Go through this scanner. No, go to the end of that queue. Go through that scanner. It’s a mystery, oh it’s a mystery, sang Toyah in my head. We got through security, we got dressed, I think we collected all our belongings. We tried not to laugh at the man who’d paid to be fast-tracked through security when he was pulled to the side. There was some nice art at the airport, but I felt too intimidated to take any pictures.
Our flight was delayed, but the Texan lady kept us amused. Her chicken had laid a very small egg and her son was intrigued. When they cracked it open, there was no yolk!
This plane was bigger than the one that had taken us to Seattle all those weeks ago, and it was fully booked. But on arrival at Anchorage airport, for the first time ever, our one checked bag was the first to appear on the carousel. A perfect end to a long day. The taxi took us home and we made it to bed by about 2am.
And no, we didn’t really encounter any vampires in Vancouver. Not knowingly, anyway.
Jyoti picked us up, me and Liesel that is. Not physically, but in her car. We spent some time at her place and went for a short walk in the woods nearby, overlooking the bluff. We sat outside her condo for a while, admiring the tree that’s been chopped down (for some unknown reason) but is slowly trying to come back to life.
It was entertaining to watch the relationship between the dog, Basil, and the cat. Don’t ask who’s in charge, because it’s very hard to tell.
Jyoti kindly drove us to the airport and then back home so that Liesel could pick up her passport. Then back again to the airport. Did you know, Ted Stevens Airport at Anchorage is the fourth largest cargo airport in the world? At least, according to the mural inside.
We were flying to Juneau, the isolated state capital, only accessible by air and by sea.
My pedometer caused grief as we went through security: just because you never walk anywhere, doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t keep records of our daily perambulations, Sir, I thought but didn’t say out loud.
The flight was delightfully short: everywhere should be this close. As the plane started its descent, we saw Southeast Alaskan mountains for the first time. You can never have too many pictures of mountains. (Oh yes you can.)
Michael drove the shuttle bus to our hotel. Entertainment here was provided by an Indian lady berating her husband. Sadly, not in English. The ingratitude of the wife rose an octave when she saw the fairly dilapidated state of the Driftwood Hotel. It really does need some TLC. It’s supposed to be a completely smoke-free environment, but our room had the faint tinge of cigarettes from years past, which almost but not quite concealed the aroma of cleaning chemicals.
Having said that, our room was clean and comfortable and secure enough. We were on the top floor. Our friend Monica was staying here too while working in Juneau for a week. The staircase closest to her room was taped off. I don’t think it was long for this world.
It was lovely to see Monica, and she really didn’t deserve the extreme pain and grief I caused while hugging her and squeezing the shoulder injured a few weeks ago when she slipped on ice. I was mortified. There was no way I could undo the damage. If you’re reading this, Monica: once again, I am truly, truly sorry.
We drove to Auke Bay where we ate at the Forbidden Peak Brewery. At these breweries, each person is only allowed to consume 32 oz per day of alcoholic beverages. None of us reached this target. I ate salad and chips, which is my default option at these meat-heavy places. Very nice, very tasty.
On the way back to Juneau, we stopped off at Mendenhall Glacier for a few minutes.
It was too late to walk to and around the glacier on this occasion, but it’s been added to the ever-growing list of places to return to, one day.
A nearby hut displayed copious information about the glacier and the surrounding area. This hut had been invaded by a couple of families of swallows, we saw them nesting in the rafters.
We slept well and as Monica was working, we rose quite early for breakfast. Needless to say, I was the slowest to get ready, but I soon caught up with Liesel and Monica at The Rookery. Even if Google Maps took me the really long way.
The barista drew a wonderful fern on my latté. I complimented him on his artwork, he said he’d give it a C. The second cup (yes, yes, I had a second cup, so what?) he thought he decorated better. C+.
The atmosphere is enhanced by photographs displayed on the walls. We won’t see the northern lights at this time of year in Alaska, so this is a good second best. Yes, I should have made a note of the photographer’s name, sorry.
Monica went to work, leaving Liesel and me to visit the museum. Which, strangely, is where Monica was working.
It covers the whole history of Alaska, from its first settlement from across the then Bering land bridge, the Russians, the Americans. Again, we were embarrassed by the white Europeans mission seemingly to disrupt and destroy any other culture that had survived for thousands of years.
Xeitl X’een Thunderbird screen
In southeast Alaska, Tlingit clan history was preserved in precise detail between generations. Stories of their origins and early activities were passed orally over thousands of years. Elders coached young people to commit to memory these histories. Accuracy was very important. These histories are also represented in songs, personal and place names, and as symbolic crests on regalia, totemic carvings, and other decorated objects, To this day, clan history, tangible and intangible, is considered sacred property. This screen documents the history of the Thunderbird House of the Yakutat Tlingit. In the early 20th century, clan leader Frank Italio, Kuchein, commissioned the screen from artist Woochjix’oo Eesh (In Everybody’s Arms-Father), a L’uknax.ádi man. The Shangookeidi clan claims the thunderbird crest through their ancestors’ contact with the creature. At the center of the screen is the sculptural carving of the Thunderbird, and painted below this figure are two Shangookeidi ancestors. These figures may be young men, whose fatal encounter with a thunderbird’s feather is memorialized in a clan song. Four stylized raindrops fall down the sides of the screen, and two long black clouds float above the thunderbird’s wings. The faces all around represent hailstones, falling on the Thunderbird’s mountain home.
I’m glad I committed this story, from the museum, to memory: I just wish I knew what the Tlingit words all actually meant.
The focus was on south and southeastern Alaskan natives, which Liesel found particularly interesting since her previous knowlecge focused on the northern peoples.
This totem pole fragment marks the local people’s first encounter with a white man. You may think he looks familiar. The wood carver, over 100 years later, based his design on Abraham Lincoln, probably the most famous white person known at the time. The local Indians were considered a problem for the invaders. ‘The only solution of the problem of the Indian is found, it seems, in the simple theory that there are no good Indians except dead ones’. No, this isn’t from a current edition of The Daily Mail, it’s from Douglas Island News, December 1900.
Well, to cleanse our palates from the interesting, if sometimes disturbing, exhibits in the museum, we walked around Juneau, making our slow way towards the tram. There’s a map of the world marked out in studs on the boardwalk.
I wonder how many of the thousands of passengers from the cruise ships actually notice it?
This tram took us 1800 feet up Mount Roberts from where we enjoyed a terrific view of the town and the inlet. It’s a very popular destination for cruise ships, of which we saw four docked today, and a few different ones later on.
Disney Wonder: 2,400 passengers. Viking Orion: 930 passengers. Quantum of the Sea: 4,905 passengers. Zuiderdam: 1,916 passengers. That’s a substantial increase on the city’s resident population, about 32,000 people.
Up at 1800 feet, the last of the snow is melting. Liesel wasn’t interested in a snowball fight so, like a tourist, I just posed.
Many towns have a surplus of pigeons. Not Juneau. No, here, ravens rule the roost, and I think their song (if it can be called a song) might well be my next ringtone.
Back down in town, our late lunch was a shared plate of nachos, nothing special, but with a nose-eye view of one of those ocean-going liners.
Our wandering continued, upwards. Inside the Russian Orthodox Church, we weren’t allowed to light candles in remembrance of our lost loved ones. It’s very dry here right now, and people are very conscious of the risk of fire.
Cope Park marked the summit of our ascent on this occasion, nice and peaceful, with a river running through.
Given how much it snows here, I was surprised to see that most of the roofs aren’t as steep as this place.
There are stories of rooves (or is it roofs?) caving in under the weight of so much snow and ice. Yet we at home in England begin to worry when there’s more than half an inch of snow!
We found the Whale Fountain and sat there for a while. Monica set out to meet us but didn’t quite make it. Well, you wouldn’t, if you walk in exactly the wrong direction!
I calculated the best place to stand in order to see rainbow colours in the water spray. Spherical geometry, trigonometry and knowledge of the refractive index of water all played a part. Really? No, I just stood with the Sun behind me, that worked.
We were delighted to see our hotel bedecked in bunting for Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. Nope, it was for America’s Memorial Day this weekend. Monica was back from work now, and we walked over to a restaurant called Salt for dinner. Several of Monica’s colleagues joined us: Ellen, Sarah (from the UK), James and there I’m afraid my memory runs out. James’s partner is one of a set of identical triplets. By an amazing coincidence, Monica has met with another identical triplet, from a different family, all interested in the field of restoration and preservation
Thinking I might have dessert, I had a so-called starter as my main course, a salad in fact. But: American portions, no dessert for me.
It had been a busy old day, lovely to meet some new people of course, but I was glad to find myself horizontal in bed, with no desire to read nor listen to a podcast. Zzz.
Next door to our hotel is The Sandpiper, probably so-called because of the ravens that have taken up residence here. This is where we broke our fast before another day of sightseeing.
I think Liesel and I very quickly came to realise how much we liked Juneau. And how we would like to spend more time here. But the weather was gorgeous, warm and sunny on this occasion. It’s famous for its rain and occasional very strong winds, I wonder if we’d be so keen in such conditions? I commented on how nice it was not to see the the usual suspects, McDonalds and Starbucks, anywhere. Liesel said she had seen a McD, but it was much closer to the airport.
Impulse buying doesn’t only apply in supermarkets, when you grab a bar of chocolate at the check-out desk. Native gift shops are quite attractive too. There’s a lot here that we couldn’t buy, because we can’t take it out of Alaska, or into the UK, such as seal fur, walrus and mammoth ivory. But that didn’t stop Liesel buying a pair of earrings. Or me buying a tie. Yes. me, Mick, bought a new tie for the first time since I had long hair and a full beard. What on earth is going on?
Monica drove us to Jensen-Olsen Arboretum, where we enjoyed looking at and sniffing the flowers. Plus, a quick walk on the beach.
A short drive away is the Shrine of St Thérèse. For someone who only lived to the age of 24, she seems like a good sort, and is very popular. The shrine did bring back a memory that I long ago buried though. When my Mum was dying, I wondered whether, as a lapsed Catholic, she might take some comfort from being visited by a priest. When I suggested this to Dad, the look of horror, fear, defiance, even hatred, on his face, told me that that was never going to happen. So sad.
No, we didn’t walk through the labyrinth: too risky, we might get lost. Or leapt upon by a hidden wild animal.
Driving back towards Juneau. ‘Why are those people letting their dog go to the other side of the road? And why are they taking pictures of it?’ ‘That’s not a dog, it’s a bear.’
And it was, a black bear minding its own business noshing on something. Those people had stopped for the photo opp, but by the time we realised, we were too far away. Still, I can tick ‘black bear’ off the list, now!
There’s just one bridge between Juneau and neighbouring Douglas Island, and that’s where we spent the rest of the afternoon.
I’m so insecure in my cultural awareness, I had to make sure it’s still ok to call this thing a totem pole.
It is, and this bright colourful one is right by Savikko Park, which is partly a nice sandy beach. We watched some people having fun in the sea, which I assumed would be quite cold because over the other side, you can see freshly melted snow running down the mountains.
Further along, there’s a nice trail on and around the old Treadmill mine. If you want to set up a mine of your own, there is plenty of discarded old (and sometimes rusty) equipment just left lying around.
Actually, just leave it all where it is. Some of the mines are nearly half a mile deep, and I am reminded how lucky I am to be around in a time and place where I didn’t have to work in such places.
This is what’s left of the wharf where all the equipment and supplies were delivered.
For a late lunch, we had pizza at The Island Pub, as recommended by a couple of people.
Back in Juneau, we rested by the whale fountain for a while. I noticed how prickly the grass was, but maybe it’s for walking on, not lying on.
After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, people of Japanese ancestry living on America’s West Coast were forcibly removed and incarcerated in isolated government internment camps.
In May 1942, the seniors at Juneau High School left an empty chair during their graduation ceremony to underscore the absence of their Japanese-American valedictorian, John Tanaka. By extension, this empty chair honors all of the Japanese uprooted from their homes and communities.
The Empty Chair Memorial represents the void the people of Juneau felt for their missing friends and neighbors impacted by this injustice. The names of those interned are etched on the bronze floor.
A time may come when these names will be forgotten, but the symbol of the empty chair will remind future generations of the lessons learned from this compelling and poignant story.
Yes, we made the pilgrimage.
Monica literally drove us to the end of the road. This was south, along Thane Road, through a place called Thane, to the signs saying ‘This is the end of the road, turn around, go back, here be dragons’, or something. A reminder that Juneau can only be reached by sea and air.
Speaking of which, we returned to the airport where Monica dropped off the rental car, and we went through security before our flight back to Anchorage. And, in another first-time-ever scenario, my hat was searched. I was too, but my hat looks big, so, do you mind if I have a look at it?
Note to self: when smuggling contraband, the hat is no longer a safe hiding place