Monthly Archives: August 2018

Canada: cannabis, climate change, cousins ……………………and Trump

John and I set off at the beginning of July for a 5 week holiday in Canada, a country I first visited in 1973 when I was 21, This would be my 7th trip there. Why so many visits? Both John and I have the enormous good fortune of having kind and generous, close family and friends who live in different parts of Canada and quite simply we want to see them!

We flew by Airtransat from Athens to Toronto, where landing was delayed due to a thunderstorm, which was a surprise. However from then on, we had good weather throughout the whole trip.

The first 10 days were spent on Palestine Island, near Parry Sound, Ontario staying with John’s brother-in-law, Herb, who has a wonderful cottage there.

His next door neighbour is his son, John, wife Caroline and their daughter and son, Sarah and Nicholas.

It was great to see them. Herb, John and Caroline cooked fantastic food, but we also went over to the  Kilbear Marina in the boat

for a meal,

Herb guided us in morning walks, round the island,

There was a little bit of drama when we saw bear poo on one of our walks.  John and I would have liked to see a bear but maybe not too close!   We loved the swimming and playing a variety of games with Nicholas.

and John made a new friend,

We learned that Caroline now has an internet business and makes YouTube videos showing people how to sew and knit. She can work at home in London, Ontario or at their cottage on the island. Her knitting and her sewing are beautiful.

And one of the talking points of the trip started in Palestine Island.  The use of cannabis will become legal in Canada on October 17, 2018.  As we made our way across Canada, the pros and the cons of this policy as well as the implementation of it were discussed by many of the people we stayed with. It is only the second nation in the world to do this.  I have always believed that it is a  positive step to make and I shall be interested to see how it works out over the next year.

But there was someone who we didn’t see but who’s presence was with us, particularly in the first 10 days of the trip. Bridget, John’s sister died three years ago from a massive stroke.  We did miss Bridget very much, as we were constantly reminded on our visit of how much she personally brought to our lives and we kept wishing she was there, just so that we could tell her.

We had a wonderful peaceful time in one of our very favourite places.

We then flew to Calgary and stayed with our good friends, Cathy and Bruce. We had just missed the Calgary Stampede but we had enjoyed that experience on a previous occasion. This time, we looked at the developments in the centre of the city

and visited Fort Calgary at the confluence of the Bow and the Elbow Rivers,

where the North West Mounted Police built a fort in 1875. The following day, we spent at Heritage Park Historical Village which is described as Canada’s largest living history museum with exhibits from the 1860’s to the 1950’s. Right from the start of our exploration, it was fascinating. There was a building specifically recognising the contribution of five feminist women who have contributed to improving the status of women in Canada.

I particularly liked the way they had volunteers specifically there to make the exhibits come to life

The next day we went south, through some very flat land

to stay for two nights at the unique Prince of Wales Hotel at Waterton Lake near the US border. This was the hotel and the view from the window of our room.

At Waterton, there had been a huge forest fire in the autumn last year which was stopped only just before it reached the village. Bruce, Cathy and I walked in a landscape which was very strange. The trees had been burnt but new flowers were emerging.

We went on a boat trip down the lake with our engaging guide.

More wonderful scenery

We got off at the other end in the US but fortunately no immigration and after a short break, we went back again to Waterton.

The next day we survived US immigration and drove into Montana to experience the amazing Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. The views were just out of this world and impossible to capture on camera although I did try!!!  But, I was amazed to read that by 2020, there would be no glaciers in the Park at all. This seemed to me a big sign of climate change! But the journey was a fantastic experience. I marvelled at the mountains, the waterfalls, the road and finally the river on the other side.

It was nature at its most supreme, combined with engineering brilliance by man to produce such a road.

Eventually we arrived at a resort in Columbia Falls which we enjoyed very much.

And we just happened to arrive at Happy Hour!

We continued to enjoy the facilities including the introduction to shuffle board which I really enjoyed (but not the golf though!)  We also visited the Hungry Horse Dam where we saw this nest of ospreys.

We had a great time with Cathy and Bruce who organised a wonderful trip

and we are hoping that they will come to Greece next year and we can visit Meteora.

Cathy and Bruce kindly drove us back into Canada to Edgewater, near Golden, British Columbia so that John and I could stay with my second cousin, Norm and his wife, Loni. I have three second cousins altogether, Norm, Carol and Gord and we saw all three in the second half of our trip.

Norm and Loni have a beautiful house with a fantastic view and grow amazing vegetables and fruit which we sampled.

The next day we went by car to Golden and went up on the gondola for a walk and a fantastic view.

We were extremely surprised to have an adventure on the way back. The weather deteriorated with thunder and lightning and the gondola was closed. Eventually after a couple of hours, we came down the mountain by truck with a driver called Nigel, who was very interesting on many topics relating to evacuating people from the tops of mountains!

Next day, we woke up to hear of the terrible tragedy of the forest fires in Attika, Greece. In BC too, there was much concern about the reality and possibility of forest fires.

We set off for a 4 day tour of the Kootenay area of British Columbia and along the way, sampled hot springs at Fairmont, Lussa and Ainsworth.

They were a real treat! We met Loni’s brother in Cranbrook and a stayed in an interesting bed and breakfast In Creston.

It doesn’t look much from the outside but we had an amazing breakfast, cooked by a retired French chef. The next day, we crossed on a ferry at Kootenay bay and were amazed at the size of some of the traffic.

And there was no charge for the ferry ride!

We travelled through Nelson which was a very attractive ‘hippy’ town

On the third day, we discovered a wonderful museum in Midway, in the heart of the Kettle Valley, close to the US border, a small place where the community have really worked hard to tell you about its history through its museum. There were some wonderful exhibits, including the train, but it was the sense of community that I liked the most, mainly through the words of the woman who provided information there.

We carried onto the Okanagan Valley, to Osoyoos, and then to Penticton where we met Norm and Loni’s daughter, Heather, their grandaughter, Aila

and her boyfriend, Dylan. We ate very good pizza

and later travelled onto Kelowna, passing a forest fire on the other side of the lake and were amazed to see flames.

Norm and Loni then took us to Kelowna bus station and we enjoyed a spectacular journey to Vancouver. Christa, Gord’s daughter, met us and drove us to the ferry to the Sunshine Coast. There we stayed with Carol and her husband Bill in their lovely house and garden in Roberts Creek. We enjoyed their company, great food and entertainment, the facilities including our clothes being washed and access to the internet!  I walked with Carol and saw more of the immediate neighbourhood.

We spent time in the family summer cottage, right beside the beach with Gord, his wife Debbie and their children and grandchildren.

The cottage is used by my 3 second cousins over the summer months. It is a wonderful place to relax, to watch any odd bit of human interest

or bird life,

or sunsets

and there were many opportunities to swim in warmish water. It is a wonderful place for children and I just love this fantastic spot.


There was even a chance for the women to escape for a little while on a shopping trip to Gibsons.

While we were at Roberts Creek, we enjoyed a 2 day visit to Hardy Island, where we stayed with Pat and Jerry. We met them in Vietnam on a tour three years ago and were amazed to learn that they lived on Hardy Island, quite close to my cousins family cottage in Roberts Creek. So we contacted them and were very pleased that they were happy to see us!!!  Carol and Bill kindly drove us to the harbour where we started our small adventure.

Pat and Jerry have a lovely house, in a fantastic spot on Hardy island.

The house is spacious

and has many places to sit and watch boats going past, the seals or whatever.

They have a lovely garden too, where they grow dahlias, amongst many other things.

One of the highlights was going out in a boat to pick up our dinner – some fantastic prawns.

We went back to Roberts Creek, told my cousins about Hardy Island and settled down to more days of fun there.

But finally, it was time to leave but only after many photos had been taken and promises made of proposed visits to us in Crete.

Gord and Debbie took us to the Accent Inn near Vancouver Airport and the next day we flew home to Kavousi. We set off at 8am on Tuesday 7th August from the hotel and arrived home at 6pm on Wednesday 8th August. Time is a strange thing and it took quite a while to sort out meal times and bedtime!

I hope I have managed to express how much John and I enjoyed our trip and our appreciation of everyone who made it such a fantastic experience.  We also learned a lot, including the fact that Canadians, whom I always used to think could be pretty critical of other Canadians, seem united in their outright dislike and outrage at Donald Trump and his comments about their Prime Minister and Canada!










The art of relaxation

Behind again on the Blog, I’m afraid! Just back from a fantastic trip to Canada and briefly, the USA but that is the subject of the next Post! My job is to deal with early Summer in Scotland and Crete.

I last left you at the beginning of May when we had returned from a trip to the Peloponnese with Gillie and Alan. We had a brief week to recover before we headed off for Scotland. However, during that week, Jane came to Crete with a friend and we had time to meet on the beach after a Greek lesson, have a swim and share a delicious lunch at Psarapoula restaurant.

We then flew to Edinburgh but went our separate ways for the first week, meeting up later for visits with various friends and family as we made our way back to Edinburgh.

At the outset, I am going to take the opportunity to thank everyone we stayed with or who fed us along the way, for their hospitality, good company and for being our good friends (and supportive family), because  otherwise I shall have to repeat myself. We had a great time and thanks to all of you!

Sheila first went to Deeside and stayed with Moira and Stewart and interrupted their Spanish homework!

She met up with Mary

and Lecky in Aberdeen

before going to Torridon for a weekend with her old walking group. Unfortunately the weather was not great so they were not able to do the fine ridge walk that was planned and had to substitute a climb up Ben Wyvis back on the east coast where the weather was better

and a low level walk the next day around Loch Torridon.

However, walking is only a small part of such a weekend and whilst leg muscles may not have been exercised quite as much as expected, no doubt those in the throat and related to the tongue more than made up for it.

In the meantime, I was down in the far south-west of Scotland at Kirkcudbright,

a trip that was planned to chivvy up the estate agents who had not up to that point had much success in selling our flat.

Lo and behold however, with my arrival only days away, two offers suddenly arrived and by the time I got there, the long awaited sale process was well under way (and at the time of writing completed!). It was a useful trip however because I was able to see the solicitor and tie up loose ends and I had a great time staying with Alasdair and Yvonne.

Then I drove up to Deeside where I stayed with Mark in his new house in Banchory.

On the Sunday, Edna had arranged a get-together of old Labour party comrades at her house, so a jolly time was had over a long and boozy lunch reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ of West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine Labour Party!

Sheila and I then met up at Linda and Gordon’s house in Lumphanan where we stayed a couple of nights

and managed to fit in lunch with Bob and Frances at Montgarrie

and coffee with Evie and Jimmy in Strachan.

We then headed south and stayed a night with cousin Felicity and Stuart at Scotlandwell,

where we also saw Alison and Gordon (coincidentally they live in the same village).

The next day, Sheila met up with Agnes, a friend of her mother’s in Linlithgow for coffee and Fiona, another family friend, for lunch, while I visited the beach at Blackness and Bo’ness Railway museum.

Then we moved on to stay with Sheila’s brother, Sandy and managed to catch up with Malcolm and Philippa and their boys, Adam and Elliot who are growing up fast.

Then it was off to Edinburgh to see Sally and Robert

where we timed our arrival to see Rosie and her friend, Elle, running in the Edinburgh Marathon. After wonderful weather for most of the time on our trip, that day was a reality check on Scottish weather – freezing haar from the North Sea brought in on a brisk and very cold wind. Good for the runners, perhaps but for the onlookers, it was pure purgatory! However, clearly the sun came out later in the day.

Back home in Crete, we had Greek homework to catch up on and friends to see, including Eva and Jurgen

but before long the next visitors arrived – Mark and Sarah from London. They come every year and just love to relax on the beach, in the tavernas or reading on the terrace, so absolutely no pressure. Great to see them and good to hear all their news.

And finally, son James came for ten days just before we headed off to Canada. He is like Mark and Sarah – just comes to relax and check us out, so we had a great time with him, just taking things easy as we got ready for our trip (see cover photo).

So whilst it might seem like a busy start to summer, we had lots of time to relax with friends and family and have a good time. And that my friends is what life should be about – at least when you are retired!