Posted in Stories for my Grandkids

Luna’s story

Luna’s story

 

Hello. My name is Luna.

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It was the name given to me by my creator. Did you know bears don’t get born? We are created. My creator was a lovely lady called Lainy. Lainy lives in England, so I am an English bear.

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Some people call us ‘Teddy’ bears, but we don’t like that, we like to be called bears. My creator told me that I was special when she created me. She told me I am the only one like me, there never has been and there never will be another bear just like me. I have a label that tells everyone how special I am. I have German glass eyes.

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I like being special.

Last week I was adopted. Bears like to be adopted. We always love our creator and we will never forget them, but we are made to be adopted. On the journey down to my new home I was very excited and very nervous. I was in a basket with my chums.

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People who see us think we are cute, especially Giraffe and Elephant. We always tease them that they are not bears, but we never break friends. We always love each other, and when one of us gets adopted, we are all very happy.

When I saw my new home I was very pleased. I could tell they liked me because they cuddled me a lot, but the lady of the house said she could not afford me and would like to pay instalments. I asked Elephant and Giraffe what instalments were, but no one knew. I was very worried.

Then after tea, a chubby  little man with a gentle face said he would adopt me as a present for Easter for the kind lady. She smiled a lot and was very happy, but she was not as happy as me.

So I was adopted – it was the best day of my life.

It was hard saying goodbye to my creator Lainy and my chums. I was sad to see them go. It was strange to be on my own for the very first time.

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My new owner said I was now a Welsh bear, as I had come to live in Wales.

 

I love being a Welsh bear.

 

When you are adopted your new owner can change your name but my name is going to stay the same. I like being called Luna. I am glad my name was not changed.

My new owner put me on the mantelpiece.

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I like being on the mantelpiece, you can see all that is going on. My new family is very excited, as there is a very new baby in the family.

I saw the new baby. She is very pretty. When she is older perhaps she will want to play with me. I would like that very much.

On my first day in my new home I met two more bears. They told me all about where I had come to live. They told me about a girl who lived in the house; she is very sweet and gentle. I will love her too. There is also a little dog called Belle. She is a good dog and doesn’t bite toys.

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I am glad Belle does not bite toys. I would not like to be bitten by a dog, even if it is a small one.

It was good to have some bear friends. They looked a bit old but they were very friendly.

 

One thing they did tell me was about another bear, a very old bear that lived in a cupboard upstairs. No one ever played with him any more. He was very old. They say he is blind and has only got one leg. His fur has all been loved off. Some of the toys in the house are afraid of him.

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At night I am put on top of a cupboard near the pictures of two very old men.They both have very kind faces. I have not seen them in the house. I think maybe they have gone away.ImageImage

If I turn my head a bit I can see some old writing in a frame. It looks like the writing is a love letter. Maybe one of the old men wrote it to someone special, like me. I know I am a special bear.

When I look at the old men in the pictures I think again about the old bear who lives in the cupboard upstairs.

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I think he sounded very nice. I expect he has many stories to tell. I wonder if one day I can meet him and hear all about his life.

Posted in Family, Newberry Tours

D.Day 70th Anniversary Celebrations June 2014 – the amazing story of a picture of a veteran and his grand daughter

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April 2014

I recently discovered, that a photograph of my dad and my daughter, taken by a freelance Australian photographer during the celebrations of 60th Anniversary of D.Day, has been chosen to publicise the 70th Anniversary celebrations on posters around Caen in Northern France.

This picture was spotted by an old friend of mine Jacques Perrone. It is outside the Abbey aux Dames in Caen, France, the first city liberated by the invasion force on D.Day 1944.

This is the e.mail I received…

Dear Roger and Family – I send toy  two photos that  I am  happy to send and you be certainly also happy to receive.  We discovered  those in  the area of ” the Abbaye aux Dames” – The photo of Jack and Bethany  celebrate the British soldiers that came in Normandy to liberate our land 70 years ago- We are happy that Jack  was selected. And the others photos  remind the important events that will succeed  in Normandy this year.
At the 6 th June there will be many celebrations on the coast and elsewhere- The Queen will come in Ouistreham with Obama and Hollande and may be Putin.
There will have many control and the access will be difficult. I will send you  later more information later;
I look  Facebook notificataions from the Master Roger N- Very interesting-
I  am not competent enough to answer with many words;  I will learn.
Cordialement.

Jacques et Rosine

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We have stayed with Jacques and his wife Rosine each time we visit France for almost twenty years.  Also, in 2004 when we attended the 60th Anniversary celebrations, Jacques and Rosine hosted my parents. They ‘adopted’ him as their very own veteran.

I was completely amazed at how much the ordinary people in France are grateful for what happened in 1944. They have never forgotten what the allied forces achieved during that remarkable time. They are as grateful today as they were then.ImageImage
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ImageImageThis picture was taken exactly the same time as the Australian photographer took his, but from a slightly different angle.

ImageI am very proud and humbled.

I tracked down the photographer and he has agreed to meet us in Caen in June.

God willing, I will be in Caen with my brother and my son, along with The Queen, William and Kate, President Obama, David Cameron and Mr Putin to remember those who liberated Europe.

We will be representing my dad.

I hope the Queen, William and Kate like the poster.

To be updated in June…

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June 2014 – what happened…..

Before he passed away in 2009, I had promised my father that I would keep returning to Pegasus Bridge every year I could. This year was to be a special one, as it was 70th Anniversary of the D-day landings. Each year fewer and fewer veterans actually attend the ceremonies in Normandy. The remembrance of 2014 was expected to be the last ‘major’ event of this kind. A soldier who was 18 in 1944 would be 88 today. Most of the survivors have now passed away.

 

We had agreed that my brother John, son Gareth and I would travel to Caen and Benouville this year to represent the family. The news about the poster brought added excitement. We had booked late and the only affordable hotel we could find was in Rouen, which was some 130 km away from Caen. That would be an hour and a half drive if traffic was good! There was also the problem of access to Pegasus Bridge. The attendance of many heads of state meant security was very tight at the main venues. We needed to get a special visitor pass, but repeated requests to the authorities in Normandy drew a blank.

Fortunately for us, our friends Jacques and Rosine Perrone were on the case and the pass was secured as we were about to leave the UK and Rosine had arranged for it to be sent by special delivery to our hotel in Rouen.

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We left the UK to travel to Rouen via Newhaven and Dieppe. It was an unpleasant, middle of the night crossing usually favoured by truck drivers, eager for a crossing which fitted in with their driving and rest times.

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We arrived in Rouen as dawn was breaking and strolled the streets in an eerie silence.

Rouen, the historic capital of Upper Normandy, was the scene of the martyrdom of Joan of Arc, convicted and then burnt at the stake in 1431 on the Place du Vieux Marché. Rouen is also the “Town with a Thousand Spires”, and over the centuries different parts of the town blossomed with jewels of religious architecture. Notre-Dame Cathedral inspired Monet to paint his Cathedral series.

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The laid out banks of the Seine are a wonderful area to take a stroll, Rouen is a young town, with a well-developed nightlife, but all we saw were deserted streets.

We found a tabac that was open and enjoyed a cup of coffee with some chefs finishing off their beers after a long night’s work. They would soon be heading home for bed! Adventure awaited us!

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We had to wait for our small hotel to open so we could collect our car sticker, before heading off to Caen.

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After several hours we arrived in Caen headed for the Abbaye aux Dames, which is situated near the centre of Caen.

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The Abbey of Sainte-Trinité, also known as Abbaye aux Dames, is a former monastery of women and is now home to Regional Council of Lower Normandy. The complex includes the Abbey Church of Sainte-Trinité.

The abbey was founded as a Benedictine monastery of nuns in the late 11th century by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders as the Abbaye aux Dames (“Women’s Abbey”), as well as the Abbaye aux Hommes (“Men’s Abbey”), formally the Abbey of Sainte Étienne. The works began in 1062, starting from the rear and finished in 1130. Matilda, who died in 1083, was buried under a slab of black marble in the Abbaye. The original spires were destroyed in The Hundred Years’ War and replaced by less striking balustrades in the early 18th century. The community of nuns was dispersed and suppressed by the French Revolution. In 1823 the local city council decided to transfer the ancient Hotel Dieu (possibly also founded by William the Conqueror, but more likely Henry II), to the former cloister for use as a hospital, and the ‘canonesses regular’ who had assumed responsibility for the hospital from the two abbeys during the 14th century, established themselves there. The canonesses continued to operate there until 1908 when the facility was given to the Hospice Saint-Louis use as a nursing home.

We parked and entered the square in front of the Abbaye.

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It was impossible to miss the poster. Standing in front of it for the first time was an incredibly moving moment.

P1010116To see our father’s image being used to promote the 70th Anniversary of D-day was most humbling. All three of us – grown men – wept openly. We tried to imagine our father’s reaction, had he been able to be with us. We guessed, a mixture of pride and embarrassment. He was a quiet, unassuming, gentle man, who hated being in the spotlight.

We could see our mother standing there, with her hands over her mouth, bursting with pride at this image of the man she adored, since the day she first saw him way back in the dark days of the war.

We realised then, that we had made a monumental mistake in not bringing my daughter Bethany with us. Her beautiful smile beamed out from that poster, radiating hope for future generations.

Dad & BesI knew straightaway that I had to return with her to show her and share this with her.

We spent some time taking photos, laughed some more and cried some more, before my brother told us he was off for a cup of coffee as he was finding the mixture of emotions ‘tough to deal with’.

What happened next was just amazing. A series of incredible coincidences paved the way for a wonderful story to unfold.

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John made his way to a nearby tabac, and as he waited to be served he thumbed through a brochure advertising things taking place in Normandy and he came across the picture of my father and Bethany, so he pointed out to the lady next him that he was the son of the gentleman in the picture. What he did not know was that this lady worked for the Regional Council and was a part of the team that chose the picture in the first place. This was so exciting for them. Suddenly this picture had a story behind it. The old veteran and the little girl suddenly had names and a family and a story to tell.

By now, we had joined John, and we were excitedly invited to the offices of The Regional Council in the Abbaye. Here we met other regional officials and the French Government minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

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The French press were also in the building and we were interviewed and my brother also recorded an interview for the local radio station. All were eager to learn about the two characters in the picture – the old veteran and the little girl.

What we were able to tell them, they found amazing. The picture had been taken in 2004, when we came to celebrate the 60th Anniversary od D-day. At that time my father had been awarded a special commemorative medal by the people of Normandy. The photograph had been taken by an Australian photographer.

Where the picture had been for ten years, I do not know, but it had been chosen, one out of many, to help publicise the events surrounding the 70th anniversary. To them, the picture was a special one, but what they did not know was that the veteran was Sapper John Newberry, who was dropped by parachute near Pegasus Bridge on D-day 1944.

IMG_0011P1010211He served with the 6th Airborne Division and was part of 224 Field Ambulance. The little girl was his grand daughter, Bethany Newberry, then aged ten. She too has strong links with Caen.

Bethany counts this great city almost as a second home. She first came to Caen in 1993, when she was just one year old. That year, we were invited by a friend, Margaret Davis, who lives in nearby Louvigny, to assist in her English lessons, by taking part in a Christmas presentation. Bethany has been coming every year since and has made many other visits to Caen as well.

Also present at that time was Emmanuelle Tirilly, the press attaché to the Regional Council. She was brilliant in organising things and sending us the resulting newspaper articles.

IMG_2571We left the offices buzzing with excitement at the way things had worked out.

We enjoyed the day at Pegasus, savouring the atmosphere, meeting up with an old friend Joe Riley now 92 years of age.

IMG_2562DSC06497 DSC06485 DSC06484We had one more meeting to look forward to; I had arranged to meet with the photographer Greg Waite at Pegasus Bridge later that day. My friend Jacques Peronne had tracked him down via the Internet and passed his e-mail address on to me.

P1010239We met Greg, as arranged in Benouville. He was truly wonderful and gave us copies of the poster to take home and we chatted about the impact the picture was making. He allowed us to use the picture as we wished. I guessed I would probably never meet him again.

We enjoyed the rest of our visit – although we found the long trek back and fore to Rouen a bit difficult!

To be at Pegasus Bridge is, for us, an almost spiritual experience. We feel our father’s presence here in some strange way. It’s where this gentle, loving man fought for freedom, it’s where his friends fell and it’s where his friends are buried. We make a point of visiting the British Cemetery at Ranville every single time we come.

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While all this was going on Bethany tweeted about the picture, in response to a request put out on the BBC. Huw Edwards re-tweeted it and before long The Wales on Sunday newspaper was on the phone to Bethany for an interview. The reporter spoke to her and me and the following Sunday a beautiful article appeared in the Wales National Sunday paper.

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When we arrived home we shared our experiences and made plans to return with the poster girl.

Bethany is now 10 years older and at 21 is preparing to marry the love of her young life, a brilliant young man called Alex.

The only free date for our visit was in early August, a date that coincided with the 100th anniversary of the start of The Great War.

The cost of crossing the channel in mid summer coupled with the fact that Bethany had just started a new job, meant that the journey had to be a short one, so there was much to pack in to such a short time. We booked a 24-hour ticket with Brittany Ferries to Ouistreham. Bethany, Alex, Jean and I set off, full of excitement and anticipation.

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I had kept in touch with Emmanuelle Tirilly and was overwhelmed with the kindness she was showing us. She insisted that we stay in her home and promised she would help us fit as much as we could into our short visit.

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We had arranged to meet her in the Pegasus Memorial Museum, straight after getting off the ferry from the UK, mid afternoon on Sunday 3rd August. We were a little late and a little nervous; I could not really remember what Emmanuelle looked like. Our worry was unnecessary. We all knew each other straight away.

We toured the museum and showed her my dad’s picture with 224 Field Ambulance.

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Afterwards we explored the area around Pegasus Bridge. It was Alex’s first visit and it was good for us to see it all through new eyes.

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We then made our way to the Abbaye aux Dames for Bethany to see the poster for herself. Jean and Alex shared her excitement and anticipation.

When we stood in front of the poster it was an extremely moving moment – one which we will never forget.

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More tears, more smiles, more reminisces. It was a beautiful moment; one we were so fortunate to share together.

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Emmanuelle had been very busy preparing for the visit and had arranged a full programme of tours, press and radio interviews. One reporter had even cut short his family holiday to be with us. Emmanuelle had also tried to arrange a TV interview but this could not be confirmed.

We reluctantly left the Abbaye after a long while and made our way to Emmanuelle’s home. The girls settled in while Alex and I drove to Louvigny to pick up Margaret. I was keen for her to be as involved as possible, as she was the main reason we have become so attached to Caen. We had great fun on the return journey with Margaret arguing vociferously with my satellite navigation system about the best route to take!!

Margaret won!

We arrived safely back at the home of our new friend. This kind French lady treated us like royalty; nothing was too much trouble. We enjoyed aperitifs and canapés in her beautiful, quiet garden before enjoying a wonderful meal in her home.

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It was a unique experience….

Arrangements for the following day had to be adjusted when the TV crew rang to confirm they were actually coming and wanted to arrange an interview. This was so exciting!

The crew arrived early the following day and proceeded to connect cameras to the inside of our car.

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We then had to drive around Caen when instructed and there were cameras waiting on street corners to catch us as we drove by. Margaret had again agreed to join us and we met her by the Abbaye.

At the Abbaye our reactions were filmed and we were so proud of Bethany as she was interviewed for the Normandy TV Station – Basse Normandie.

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This was all very exciting, but more was to come.

We walked inside the grounds of the Abbaye, where we met a smiling Greg Waite. He seemed genuinely delighted to meet Bethany at last. For ten years he had known her as the little girl in a picture. Now he saw her face to face 10 years older! He came bearing gifts! Posters, books, and even some Normandy bunting – all were bearing this precious image of the old veteran with his grand daughter.

He took Alex and Bethany off to take a photograph in the exact place he had taken the original photograph in 2004. At that time, Bethany was on the arm of her precious grandfather. Now she is on the arm of another – a young man who will soon be her husband.

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More TV interviews took place here inside the Abbaye grounds, with Greg explaining that the image had been chosen because of the beautiful way the photograph had captured the gentle dignity of the veterans, as seen in my father’s face, coupled with the hope for future generations as seen through Bethany’s smile.

While the camera crew packed up, we said our thanks and goodbyes and were taken on a tour of the Abbaye. We visited Matilda’s tomb, now more than ten centuries old. It is a stunning building, one I have never visited despite countless visits to Caen.

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After the tour, we were taken to an exquisite room where there were drinks and canapés prepared for us. Here the President of the Regional Council gave a short speech of welcome and thanks and he presented Alex and Bethany with a beautiful framed print of the Abbaye aux Dames as a gift from the people of Normandy. It will grace their new home for many years to come and will be a constant reminder of our visit to see the poster.

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There followed a series of interviews with the press and the local radio station. We interspersed interviews with visits to the food table.

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After some time, we said goodbye to Greg and will one day accept his invitation to lunch next time we are in Caen. Greg lives in a little village near Caen, on a farm with his wife and three daughters. That’s an invitation I intend to keep!

I was wondering how good his family photographs are!!

We then bade farewell to all in the Regional Council and left for lunch at Emmanuelle’s home. We took a detour into Caen city centre and while the girls did some quick shopping, Alex and enjoyed a cheeky café au lait in a pavement café. We smiled as we sat there, as on every shop around the café there was the poster with my dad and Bethany watching over us.

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Apparently the image is on all the buses and trams and is seen all over Normandy. There are even several giant copies of the poster on the railway stations and Metro subways in Paris.

Lunch, like everything else was delightful and we reluctantly said goodbye to our wonderful, generous host before starting or journey back home.

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It had been one of the most amazing twenty-four hours of our lives. We are so grateful to all who made it possible, so humbled that this image had been chosen, so thankful that millions of people will have seen my lovely dad and my precious daughter and above else we are touched that the image has become a symbol of peace. My dad’s Christian faith had brought him peace in his life and hopefully his lovely smile and the contentment on the face of his beautiful grand daughter will have brought hope and peace to others.

We must never forget the bravery and sacrifice of the veterans and all those who gave so much to give us our freedom.

IMG_2678Little did we know when we promised my father that we would return for the 70th anniversary commemorations that his presence would be with us in such a powerful but simple way.

 

Posted in Family, Newberry Tours, Travelling

Chasing the Lights – Tromso 2014

tromso_1076I have always been fascinated by The Northern Lights – The Aurora Borealis. This natural phenomenon – part of the wonder of God’s creation, has enchanted people for as long as they have been on earth. When dreaming about seeing the northern lights, you must remember that you are at the complete mercy of nature. The northern lights love to play hide and seek. Observing the aurora borealis is often a tug of war between your patience and the aurora itself. The guidebooks all say that you must ‘stay in the northern lights area at least a week, preferably two, and you will be rewarded – unless local weather suddenly decides to obstruct your view with clouds’. The truth for most of us is that we are restricted to a visit of just a few days. This uncertainty perhaps that just adds to the mystery that surrounds this enigmatic lady.

Our interest was further heightened after we watched a brilliant programme by Joanna Lumley about her interest in and visit to Norway to see the Lights. For her and her programme makers time and money was no worry and she had a great view of the lights.

index Hamsun_northernlights_194After watching the programme,  Boo and I made up our minds that we would try to see the Lights for ourselves.

What are Northern Lights?

The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as ‘Aurora borealis’ in the north and ‘Aurora australis’ in the south..
Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.

What causes the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights are actually the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere.                                                                                                                                                                  The most common auroral colour, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.

Legends of the Lights

‘Aurora borealis’, the lights of the northern hemisphere, means ‘dawn of the north’. ‘Aurora australis’ means ‘dawn of the south’. In Roman myths, Aurora was the goddess of the dawn.  Many cultural groups have legends about the lights. In medieval times, the occurrences of auroral displays were seen as harbingers of war or famine. The Maori of New Zealand shared a belief with many northern people of Europe and North America that the lights were reflections from torches or campfires.
The Menominee Indians of Wisconsin believed that the lights indicated the location of manabai’wok (giants) who were the spirits of great hunters and fishermen. The Inuit of Alaska believed that the lights were the spirits of the animals they hunted: the seals, salmon, deer and beluga whales. Other aboriginal peoples believed that the lights were the spirits of their people.

For Christmas 2012, I arranged a trip to Iceland for Boo and me to see the lights. Sadly this trip did not give us a sighting of The Temperamental Lady, as locals affectionately know her. However we loved Iceland and the people. It was a truly wonderful trip.

For Christmas 2013 my present to the good lady was a trip to Tromsø. This ticked several boxes. Boo had always wanted to visit Norway, my step great grandfather was Norwegian and the country has always fascinated me, it was the home of Roald Dahl and, of course, it gave us an another opportunity to see the Lights.

1898560_10152383875412784_1925346693_oWe flew from London, via Oslo to Tromsø. We left in heavy rain.

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33downloadMost of the journey was through very thick cloud but as we approached Tromsø  our excitement began to mount…

Tromsø city is the ninth-largest urban area in Norway by population and the seventh largest city in Norway population.It is the largest city and the largest urban area in Northern Norway and the second largest city and urban area north of the Arctic Circle.

Most of Tromsø, including the city centre, is located on the small island of Tromsøya in the county of Troms, 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The Tromsø Bridge connects Tromsøya to the mainland and the Trmosoyund Tunnel. The city is warmer than most other places located on the same latitude, due to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream.

The city centre of Tromsø contains the highest number of old wooden houses in Northern Norway the oldest house dating from 1789. The Arctic Cathedral, a modern church from 1965, is probably the most famous landmark in Tromsø. The city is a cultural centre for its region, with several festivals taking place in the summer.

6525081-Bus_to_town_TromsoeGetting from Tromsø airport was easy using the Flybussen, which took us straight to our hotel. We had chosen this hotel due to its location, offer of free tea, coffee and hot chocolate and above all else the offer of free waffles each afternoon.

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We spent much time exploring this lovely Arctic town. The people we met in the tourist office in shops or walking about were simply delightful and so proud of the place they call home.

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Tromsø_library_-_2005-09-13The library in Tromsø.

DSC05475 DSC05476Tromsø is also home to the most northernmost brewery in the world. It’s called Mack. I don’t drink beer but was interested in this unique place. Sadly there were no organised tours during our stay there.

DSC05590 We were there though really to see the lights. We had booked with a company called Green Fox Guiding. We chose these on the recommendation of a friend and some of the wonderful reviews they had on Trip Advisor.

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 27th February 2014

You know what they say… “You get what you pay for” and this chase was worth every penny. Our guide, Markus, was awesome. The weather was not good in Tromso at all. In fact, several northern lights tour companies had cancelled due to bad weather. Not Green Fox, Markus picked up our small group of 8 and took us all the way over to Finland. He just kept going till he could find the best location. He stopped a couple times to check the area for possible activity and would not give up. We had an amazing night with a fire and tea, great biscuits, baguettes, and even roasted some marshmallows on the fire. Oh yes…I forgot to mention the most important part….we saw the lights. We saw so many dancing green and purple lights, it was unbelievable. On a night, when we had not hoped to see them at all, we ended up seeing them all over the place in Finland. Thank you for one of the most unforgettable experiences of a lifetime.

The tour was arranged for our first night in Tromsø.

Everything that we had read about Green Fox was true. We met Marcus outside the Tourist Office and he took us off to search for the Lights. Marcus’s enthusiasm was infectious. He told us he was taking us to Finland, as he understood they had clear conditions. It was pouring down with rain in Tromsø, so we just had to trust him. As time passed the weather worsened, we drove through heavy blizzards and strong winds. After several hours though we came to a stop. A lorry that had skidded in a blizzard blocked the road to Finland. We were marooned on a road that had a large turning place. Marcus looked worried, but as he got out to think about what to do, we saw that they sky was beginning to break into clear patches.

After some discussion we decided to stay and hope for the best. Marcus kept us well supplied with coffee and baguettes but we had no real sightings. Neither did we have the promised camp fire. It was frustration all the way.

Just as we decided to leave there was thick cloud cover again, we were FREEZING cold and the road to Finland opened again but much too late for us. It was a subdued group of passengers in the mini bus that made the long drive back to Tromsø.

_MG_7271 _MG_7291 _MG_7296 _MG_7290We got back late, feeling frustrated.

DSC05491The next day I mailed Marcus to thank him and cheekily asked him for another try and he gave me a full refund. Cool! Maybe we could try again.

DSC05495Saturday was spent resting and exploring Tromsø and in particular the football stadium in Tromsø. Many top British teams have played here and I was determined to have my photograph taken with my Barry Town top on. It was a long climb up to the stadium and it was freezing as I posed and Boo did the honours with the camera. As we strolled around some players came out so I asked if I could look around inside. Amazingly they said yes and let us in. Boo was very unsure but in true Newberry Tours style we toured the home and away dressing rooms and got out on to the pitch, carefully, having ben warned by the players not to let the door close on us otherwise we would have frozen into the hallowed turf.

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By late afternoon the rain was coming down like stair rods and this continued throughout the evening, which meant another ‘lights chasing’ night was out of the question. We chilled in the hotel, enjoying each other’s company.

Sunday was a quiet day in Tromsø. No shops were open apart from the odd food shop. We explored the quayside where each day enormous cruise ships would pull in tie up, discharge large groups of passengers and by the next morning be gone.

DSC05533We found Tromsø Baptist Church and arranged our day to attend ‘Evensong’ at 5.00pm. However, we turned up but no one else did! WE were gutted having built our day around it. As we waited a local offered to help and rang several numbers without success.

DSC05522 DSC05523 DSC05526Monday was to be our last full day in this lovely little Norwegian town with its delightful people. We had decided to walk across the Tromsø Bridge, which connects the island to the mainland.

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DSC05597We dressed up warmly and set off on the walk of the couple of miles across and back. The walk was tiring, especially the outward side, up the slope of the bridge with the biting wind chilling our faces. I had left my hat back in the hotel – schoolboy error! Going down the other side was a bit easier and the sight of The Arctic cathedral – our destination – kept us going.

DSC05557IMG_0222DSC05538The Arctic Cathedral, formally known as Tromsdalen Church or Tromsøysund Church is a church in the city of Tromsø. The church is commonly nicknamed the Ishavskatedralen, literally “The Cathedral of the Arctic Sea or “Arctic Cathedral”. The church was built in 1965 and it is a parish church and not, in fact, a cathedral as it is commonly called.

The church was designed by Jan Inge Hovic and is built mainly of concrete. Because of the church’s distinct look and situation, it has often been called The Opera House of Norway”, likening it to the Sydney Opera House in Australia. The church is probably the most famous landmark in Tromsø, although Tromsø does have another church of interest, Tromsø Cathedral which is noted for being the only wooden cathedral in Norway.

The ground breaking of the church was 1 April 1964 and it was completed in 1965.The new church was consecrated on 19 November 1965. The church is built out of cast-in-place aluminium-coated concrete panels.

In 1972, a glass mosaic was added to the eastern side. The church acquired an organ built by Grönlunds Orgelbyggeri in 2005, with three manuals, pedal, 42 stops, and 2940 pipes.It replaced the old opus nr. 12 organ delivered by Vestlandske Orgelverksted, Hareid, which had 22 voices and 124 keys.

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On the journey back across the bridge w noticed that some people had put locks on, swearing undying love – a bit like the bridge near Notre Dame in Paris.

The journey back was easier with the strong wind at our backs.DSC05570

We had determined to make a very important stop when we returned across the bridge. Lying just the other side was Tanter Ingers Tehus – the most northerly teashop in the world. This seriously needed a visit and we were more than ready for a cup of tea. We were not disappointed.

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We were the only customers and had the pick of the seats. The old girl behind the counter invited us to choose our cup from a vast array of bone china crockery, which she said came from all over the world. Boo chose a cup from Sweden and mine came from England.

IMG_0274 IMG_0279 IMG_0283She then proceeded to brew some tea in a black cast iron tea pot, but would not let us near it till her timer permitted.

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DSC05581 IMG_0293We sat and enjoyed the most glorious cup of tea – Boo… English Breakfast and mine… Darjeeling… all the flavour without the strength… We even treated ourselves to some cake even though we had waffles waiting in the hotel. We warmed up after the cold of the bridge and had the most splendid hour in that special place.

IMG_0295In the quiet, I had chance to think about how much I love my fellow traveller.

DSC05596So we approached the final night in Tromsø. We had more or less decided to have one last shot at the lights but when we enquired none of the tours would promise to even go, the weather being so bad. We were told to check later in the afternoon.

At 5.00pm I learnt that two tours were going – one heading for Finland again and the other going North towards Rakkfjorden. Despite the weather and the tug Finland had on us, we decided to go with The Arctic Guiding Services. They were not leaving till 8.00pm and heading for a break in the clouds near. This trip was on a proper coach which made the journey much more pleasurable and we got the front seat above the driver.

We left just after eight and travelled for a couple of hours towards Rakkfjorden. We made several stops looking for clear skies, but the blizzard and driving rain just continued unabated.

Amazingly just after eleven as we reached our destination the rain stopped. We got out into the freezing cold and gazed heavenwards. Much of the sky was covered with cloud but in the breaks we did see slight patches of green.

_MG_5057_MG_5073 _MG_5055 _MG_5054 What was amazing was that on photographs it was clearly green, but to the naked eye it was just like a cloud with a tinge of green. I was beginning to think that The Northern Lights are a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes. We spent an hour or two here with some great people before the cloud closed in and stars were no longer visible. We left again somewhat frustrated. The photographs tell us we some of the Lights but our eyes and our minds thought differently.

 

They still remain elusive.

 

We got back to the hotel and about 4.00 a.m. ready for a sleep before checking out and heading home the following day.

The flight home had Wi-Fi and we were able to follow the plane’s progress with great interest.

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Iceland disappointed with The Northern Lights, Norway tempted us with just a little taste.

The chase will continue in Finland in 2015.

 

 

 

Posted in Adventures with Alfie, Adventures with Mia and Millie, Family

Rainy Days and Mondays….

Alfie stayed  the night and all through breakfast this morning was talking about Millie’s visit. He loves his Monday get togethers with his two cousins. He was standing on the box near the window when she arrived and the expression on both their faces as they saw each other spoke volumes of the love and friendship they share. It was magical.

They spent the morning playing together in their special part of our home. The latest ‘must play’ game is a game they call ‘Penguin Race ’.

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It’s a bizarre little game where a group of three penguins climb a steep staircase only to slide round and start again. I bought it cheap on Amazon; UK HOTdeals recommended it. The kids absolutely love it although the repetitive tune does grate a bit after the first two and a half hours.

DSC05400After playing they settled down to watch UP! – to my mind the best film ever made without a shadow of a doubt. Up is a 2009 American computer animated produced Pixar and released by Disney. The film centres on an elderly widower named Carl Fredricksen and an earnest young Wilderness Explorer Russell. By tying thousands of balloons to his home, 78-year-old Carl sets out to fulfil his lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America and to complete a promise made to his lifelong love. Docter. The producer began working on the story in 2004, which was based on fantasies of escaping from life when it becomes too irritating. He and eleven other Pixar artists spent three days in Venezuela gathering research and inspiration. The designs of the characters were caricatured and stylized considerably, and animators were challenged with creating realistic cloth. The floating house is attached by a varying number between 10,000 and 20,000 balloons in the film’s sequences.

Up was released on May 29, 2009 and opened the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first animated and 3D film to do so. The film became a great financial success, accumulating over $731 million in its theatrical release. Up received critical acclaim, with most reviewers commending the humour and heart of the film. Edward Asner was praised for his portrayal of Carl, and a montage of Carl and his wife Ellie aging together was widely lauded. The film received five Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture making it the second animated film in history to receive such a nomination (and Pixar’s first Best Picture nomination), following Beauty and The Beast. (1991) – this is the favourite film of the lady of the house.

Carl Fredricksen is a shy, quiet boy who idolizes explorer Charles F. Muntz. Muntz has been accused of fabricating the skeleton of a giant bird he claimed to have discovered in Paradise Falls, and vows to return there to capture one alive. One day, Carl befriends Ellie, who is also a Muntz fan. She confides to Carl her desire to move her “clubhouse” — an abandoned house in the neighbourhood — to a cliff overlooking Paradise Falls. Carl and Ellie eventually get married and grow old together in the restored house, and they planned to have children, but Ellie was diagnosed as infertile, so Carl wanted to fulfil their promise of travel to South America. They repeatedly pool their savings for a trip to Paradise Falls, but end up spending it on more pressing needs. An elderly Carl finally arranges for the trip, but Ellie suddenly becomes ill and dies.

Some time later, Carl still lives in the house when he accidentally injures a construction worker over damage to his mailbox, and a court orders him to move to a retirement home. However, Carl comes up with a scheme to keep his promise to Ellie: he turns his house into a makeshift airship, using thousands of helium balloons. Russell, a young Wilderness Explorer becomes an accidental passenger in his effort to earn his final merit badge for assisting the elderly.

After surviving a thunderstorm, the house lands near a ravine facing Paradise Falls. Carl and Russell harness themselves to the still-buoyant house and begin to walk it around the ravine, hoping to reach the falls before the balloons deflate. They later befriend a tall, colourful flightless bird (whom Russell names “Kevin”) trying to reach her chicks, and a dog named Dug, who wears a special collar that allows him to speak.

Carl and Russell encounter a pack of dogs led by Alpha, and are taken to Dug’s master, who turns out to be an elderly Charles Muntz. Muntz invites Carl and Russell aboard the “Spirit of Adventure” where he explains that he has spent the years since his disgrace searching Paradise Falls for the giant bird. When Russell notes the bird’s similarity to Kevin, Muntz then becomes hostile, prompting the pair to flee with Kevin and Dug. Muntz catches up with them and starts a fire beneath Carl’s house, forcing Carl to choose between saving it or Kevin. Carl rushes to put out the fire, allowing Muntz to take the bird. Carl and Russell eventually reach the falls, though Russell is disappointed in Carl over his decision to abandon Kevin.

Settling into his home, Carl looks through Ellie’s childhood scrapbook; finding photos of their happy marriage added into it, along with a note from Ellie thanking him for the “adventure” and encouraging him to go on a new one. Reinvigorated, he goes to find Russell, only to see him sailing off on some balloons to save Kevin. Carl empties the house of furniture and possessions, lightening it, and pursues him.

Muntz captures Russell, but Carl manages to board the dirigible in flight and free both Russell and Kevin. Dug defeats Alpha and become the dogs’ new leader. Muntz pursues them around the airship, finally cornering Dug, Kevin, and Russell inside Carl’s tethered house. Carl lures Kevin out through a window and back onto the airship with Dug and Russell clinging to her back, just as Muntz is about to close in; Muntz leaps after them, only to snag his foot on some balloon lines and fall to his death. The house then descends out of sight through the clouds.

Carl and Russell reunite Kevin with her chicks, and then fly the dirigible back to the city. Carl presents Russell with his final badge: a grape soda cap that Ellie gave to Carl when they first met and made their promise. The two then enjoy some ice cream together.

One of the best things about the film is that Carl Fredrickson is the spitting image of a friend of mine, a chap called David Chapman.

As time went on I had to collect the Princess Mia from school, something I always love to do. We strolled back and chatted about school and what she would like to do that afternoon.

One thing we had to do was visit Aunt Ciss – not a real aunt but the best friend of the mother of the lady of the house. Ciss never had children of her own and so the lady of the house has given Ciss a card and present for the past 45 years – without failing once! It’s an incredibly kind thing to do. I know how much Ciss appreciates it and thinks of my dear one as the daughter she never had.

On the way we decided to stop at Roath Park to feed wildlife. Roath Park stands in a beautiful location at the centre of Cardiff. The park still retains the classic Victorian Park atmosphere where local residents and visitors alike can enjoy their leisure time in many different pursuits.

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The land for Roath Park was donated by the Marquess of Bute to the city in 1887. Work initially focused on creating the lake from an area of marshland.

A lighthouse was constructed in the lake containing a scale model of the ‘Terra Nova’ ship as a memorial to Captain Scott who sailed to the Antarctic from Cardiff in 1910. The park’s atmosphere today still retains the Victorian elegance and its status as a Conservation Area ensures these qualities will be protected.

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There is a wide range of habitats in the park, which attracts a diverse variety of wildlife. The lake acts as an important habitat for over wintering and breeding birds, including mallard, cormorants and herons. Islands within the lake also act as safe nesting sites. There is a wildflower garden included in the park where the area is managed to encourage wildlife and native species.

The most interesting thing about the park is it stretches from The Oval, just past Cardiff High School then follows the Roath Brook, Nant Fawr from north to south; The Wild Gardens, Roath Park Lake, Botanical Gardens, Rose Gardens, Pleasure Gardens, Roath Park Recreation Ground, Roath Brook Gardens, Roath Mill Gardens and Waterloo Gardens. It’s a huge swathe of green land in the heart of our city.

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As we arrived it started raining, but we did what we could to feed the birds. They were all a little bit nervous at first – the children not the birds – but as they watched me they all became a little braver. Millie in particular was fearless and ended up chasing the geese around.

DSC05754 DSC05755 DSC05753We strolled around and then went and stood on the railings, looking at the birds. We noticed a coot, which had built a beautiful nest out in the safety of the water. The kids loved it.

DSC05764 DSC05763 DSC05759rp1After a while Alfie Millie and I strolled through the Wild Gardens while Mia and the lady of the house sheltered in the car. The Wild Gardens is the area to the north of the Lake, which was to be a second lake in the very first plans for the Park. That idea was abandoned on the grounds of expense.

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DSC05769 DSC05771In June 1894 when the Park opened, this area had not been developed. Shortly after, in September 1894, a public shelter was built, and this was followed in 1895/6 by the creation of footpaths and two bridges over the brook. Apart from these additions the Wild Gardens retained much of its original state with indigenous trees, plants and wild flowers and that is how it is to this day. The shelter has long gone but the area is still very natural and very peaceful.

From here we moved on to visit my mum’s grave; we had not been able to visit the day before, which was mothers day. We were hoping that Mia. Alfie and Millie would put the flowers on but the rain was chucking it down. We had bought a beautiful basket of spring bulbs. My mum LOVED flowers. I was thrilled that the grave looked so good. Obviously my brother had been hard at work – he is so kind and caring like that.

DSC05782 DSC05777DSC05780 DSC05781 DSC05782 DSC05783I spent a few quiet moments then realised we needed to push on to Great Aunt Cissie’s

Cissie is 93 year old and lives alone. She was delighted to see us and especially the kids. They were great with her and her friend who had come to visit.

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DSC05794 DSC05798 DSC05791 DSC05790After about an hour it was time to go home and the kids were bundled, giggling into the car and by the time we reached home all three were heavy eyed and happy. It was so good to be together and to be at home.

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Posted in Family, Travelling

Canada 2009

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I came across this old blog on a travel website I started but had not visited for several years. It was my first, not terribly good, attempt at blogging.  I have included bits of it here to ensure all my writing is in one place.

It is the account of a trip to Canada with friends Mark, Julie and Sharon, with Mark and Julie’s kids. It was an adventure that was cut short by the death of my beloved father. Because of what happened we never really spoke about this holiday. We didn’t share the photographs with our family and I didn’t keep any of the information about this adventure. It all seemed too painful.

However, it was a memorable holiday in so many ways, especially the welcome we had from our friends Lyndon and Laura. Five years down the line, I can now share with them how much we appreciated being with them.

The news of my father’s passing meant that we had to return home at short notice to be with our family. We always said we have unfinished business in Canada.

Here’s what happened…

August 13th 2009

We had for a long time talked about visiting our friends Lyndon and Laura in Canada. They had emigrated some years earlier. They were two of the youngsters in our Youth Group and as with many of the others, when they grew up they became our friends. Julie’s brother had been able to get ridiculously cheap flights to Canada and so we decided to go.

The plan was that we would fly to Vancouver, spend a few days there before driving up to Kelowna where our friends lived. After a week in Kelowna we were going to drive through The Rockies, along The Icefields Parkway to Calgary; from there we were going to fly to Toronto, visit that great city and see the Niagara Falls, before flying home.

Adventures don’t come much better.

Thursday 13th August 2009

We enjoyed a great flight from London with British Airways and landed in Vancouver.

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Screenshot 2014-04-01 02.34.58For thousands of years, the Vancouver area was home to native people who flourished on the bounty of forest and river.

In May 1792, American trader Robert Gray became the first non-native to enter the fabled “Great River of the West,” the Columbia River. Later that year, British Lt. William Broughton, serving under Capt. George Vancouver, explored 100 miles upriver. Along the way, he named a point of land along the shore in honour of his commander.

In 1806, American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark camped at what is now Capt. William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach just east of Vancouver on the return leg of their famed western expedition. Lewis characterized the area as “the only desired situation for settlement west of the Rocky Mountains.”

In 1825, Dr. John McLoughlin decided to move the northwest headquarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company from Astoria, Oregon to a more favorable setting upriver. He named the site after Point Vancouver on Broughton’s original map. Fort Vancouver was thus born.

For many years, Fort Vancouver was the centre of all fur trading in the Pacific Northwest from its vital location on the Columbia River. Vancouver was also a centre of British dominion over the Oregon Territory. In 1846, American control was extended north to the 49th parallel. The northwest became part of the United States and Captain Vancouver moved north to Canada, where a new city was born named Vancouver.

It was on Jan. 23, 1857, the City of Vancouver was born. Through the rest of the century, Vancouver steadily developed. In 1908, the first rail line east through the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge reached Vancouver. In 1910, a railroad bridge was opened south across the Columbia. In 1917, the first span of the Interstate Bridge was completed.

The city was named the Top Destination in Canada in TripAdvisor’s 2012 Travellers’ Choice awards, and was chosen as the world’s “Most Liveable City” in 2010 by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a title it has been awarded eight times since 2002.

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Vancouver offers travellers both outstanding opportunities for outdoor adventure and the sophisticated amenities of a world-class city.

While this sea-level port city is known for its temperate climate, the surrounding snow-covered slopes are perfect for winter sports and breathtaking views of the city twinkling below. Vancouver is one of the few places in the world where it’s possible to ski in the morning and sail in the afternoon.

We loved exploring the city. One day Mark and Julie went to visit some friends on Vancouver Island.

 

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I remember writing….’ Nearing the end of a fantastic stay in Vancouver. Worn out but seen all the sites! We are on the way to Kelowna a 395 Km drive tomorrow after we check out.’                                                                    Missing my family and friends back in Wales.’

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Sunday 16th August 2009 7.00 a.m. Canada Time

3.00p.m. Dinas Powys Time

I wrote in my travel blog….

‘Had a good sleep at last! My body must be getting used to this new time zone.

I was shocked the spell checker on this computer did not recognize Dinas Powys.

The others are all in bed but will be down soon for breakfast, before we depart for the long drive to Kelowna. We plan to stop in a place called Hope for a break. Hope it’s a good place. I think it probably is a nice place but who can tell.

Oh well, I have no idea if anyone will read this but me.’

 

P1030249The hire car, which took us from Vancouver to Kelowna and on to Calgary.P1030235My travel blog recorded these words…

At last we have reached the main destination of our holiday in North America as we arrived safely in Kelowna, British Columbia. The journey up to here yesterday took about 7 hours, but included a couple of stops, the main one in a place called Hope – no sign of Bob anywhere – but we did have a picnic beside a beautiful mountain lake, it was stunning and we began to appreciate the beauties of Canada after the busyness of Vancouver.

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Screenshot 2014-04-02 18.43.46The long drive took us up through the mountains and eventually we reached Kelowna and had a happy reunion with Lyndon, Laura and the kids, Charlotte, Jamieson and Jacob.

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P1030455Lyndon and Laura’s beautiful home in Kelowna

P1030381P1030385Again I recorded these words in my blog…                                                      ‘We had a BBQ in what Lyndon and Laura called their backyard – although it looked like a beautiful garden to me. After a wonderful time we began to make our way to the holiday home we are staying in for the week.’

P1030253On the way there, we had a brush with the Canadian Police! It’s something we still talk about  years later…

Just as we left Lyndon and Laura’s  and I was feeling good about driving this car which had its steering wheel on the wrong side , the police pulled me in! We had driven away from the house and at the next junction, the traffic lights turned to red so we stopped and a police car drew up behind us. On green I turned left and saw a sign 30km/hr max…

SchoolZones2So I went 30km/hour, which is very slow indeed (even for me!). Anyway, before long, on went the flashing blue lights and I was signalled to stop. I stopped and got out of the car. The police screamed at me… “Get back in the car!!!  Get back in the car!!! Get your hands on the steering wheel!! DON’T MOVE!!’                                                                                                                                   So I did..quite quickly actually! The police office  walked slowly up to the car with his hand on his gun and asked if I owned the car and where I was going. I explained the situation…

He then said “Why are you going so slow sir!!’

Why does everyone always say that to me?!

When I explained about the sign he laughed and said that was only when the kids were in the nearby school. He suddenly seemed much calmer and after checking my documents, gave us directions to our place and wished me well.
I drove off shaking, with Boo a quivering wreck beside me…and we reached our cabin at a respectable 50 km/hour.

P1030259The house where the owner of our holiday home lived.

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P1030271  P1030304My travel blog went on…                                                                                            ‘Things have certainly quietened down now after the excitement of my ‘arrest’ for slow and careful driving but we have had such fun talking and laughing about it! We spent yesterday quietly in Kelowna. We visited another mall, which they seem very proud of.                                                                                                                                                                We started with a Tim Horton’s Coffee- very famous here and very nice indeed – a great way to start any day.’

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I wasn’t fussed on the shopping bit but I managed to find Chapters Bookshop with a Starbucks so all was not wasted!!

We spent the rest of the day in our cabin and by the pool….boring for you to hear about but hugely enjoyable for us.’

P1030272The blog continued…                                                                                                        ‘In the evening we trecked over to Laura and Lyndon’s for Pizza and Corn on the cob. We had a fab time. They are looking after us so well. We are so grateful. We have so many happy memories to share.’

Kelowna  – 18th August 2009

I wrote…                                                                                                                                    A chilling day today at our cabin. Nothing much to report other than we are all well and enjoyed this much needed day doing nothing.                                                                                                                                                          I did use the time wisely to give our Canadian friends some bombing lessons. Bless them they are tough outdoor little kids used to hunting, skiing in the winter, they get involved in all kinds of sports and outdoor activities but have no clue about ‘bombing’ so I sacrificed my day off by concentrating my efforts in improving their bombing skills. It took a while but they just about got the hang of it towards the end of the day. I was pleased that even after the lessons I could see them trying to improve their skills in their own time. I even saw Ben and Nathan having a little go but of course as true Welshmen they were born good ‘bombers’.

P1030278  This is a particularly difficult version of  The Bomb”. Holding your leg at this angle is only done by experienced ‘Bombers’.Screenshot 2014-04-01 02.31.46Screenshot 2014-04-01 02.33.52Had a great BBQ in the evening and Lyndon and Laura joined us for a Thommo special around the pool.

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Screenshot 2014-04-01 02.33.10Kelowna Day – 19th August 2009

P1030311 As the largest city located on stunning Okanagan Lake, Kelowna is a recreational lakeside paradise with miles of beautiful parkland and several sandy beaches that provide wonderful opportunities for swimming, boating, water skiing, windsurfing and fishing. Even Kelowna’s main street ends at a beach!

Today, Lyndon and Laura showed us round Kelowna and took us to some incredible viewing points to see the wonder of the place where they live.

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P1030333To round off what was proving to be the perfect day, Lyndon decided to take us sailing on his boat. He looked the part in all his gear and we looked forward to some real adventures.

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It was quite a small boat so we decided to take it in turns to have a trip around the lake. Jean went first with Ben. We all had a huge giggle watching Boo trying to get her ample figure into Laura’s life jacket – called a Body Glove.

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She eventually succeeded, although there were bits of bosom sticking out of every available belt hole and armhole.

The weather was quite calm when they left but as they neared the centre of the lake a squall blew up and Lyndon quickly decided he had better take them back to land.

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This proved extremely difficult, especially when he got to shore. The wind was buffeting the small boat against the quayside and Laura was duly dispatched to summon help. It was hilarious and the incident has been recounted many, many times since that day. I am not to sure Lyndon thought it was as funny as we all did.

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It was shortly after this that this perfect day changed, in fact everything changed and my life will never be the same because of what followed. We had a call from my son telling us my father was unwell and that I needed to ring my brother.

We made our way back to the holiday home and I went out to a local phone box to ring home. I had a Canadian phone card.

I was alone.

I got through and before he could speak my brother started crying. Eventually, he told me my precious dad had passed away that day. It was sudden, unexpected.

I could do nothing to stop myself falling to my knees in that car park as the news began to sink in. I wept bitterly for a long time. I felt so alone and so desperately sad. I made my brother promise he would take care of my mum, although I didn’t need to, as I knew he and my sister would and that they would do it well.

I promised him I would come home as soon as I could.

I could not have been with better friends and Mark and Julie and Sharon along with Lyndon and Laura cared for me in the most wonderful way.

As best I could, I went back to our holiday home and shared the news with Boo and Bethany.

The following days were just a blur. On Sunday, after church, we were due to leave Kelowna and make our way down through the Rockies to Calgary. It seemed a better choice than driving back to Vancouver. Sharon was sharing our car and if we could get her to Calgary, then she could catch her onward flight to Toronto with Mark and Julie and the kids as planned and we were able to arrange emergency flights home from the same airport.

Sunday 23rd August 2009

5290_1211630815956_2802707_nJean’s birthday was today but we had met the night before to celebrate.

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We went to Church  with heavy hearts. We were cheered up when we saw an old friend , Simon McKenzie, who had driven up from Penticton to see us.

 

P1030430  P1030294P1030498The journey to Calgary was planed to take us a few days but we had to change plans in order to get to Calgary as soon as we could. We felt gutted for the others, but I think they understood. From Kelowna we headed north to stay overnight in a place called Valemount. This small town was near to the start of the Icefields Highway.

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P1030515Sleep was difficult.

Jasper – Monday 24th August 2009

We started early the next day as we had so much to fit in. We headed for Jasper.

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Jasper is a turn-of-the-century railroad town and resort area that lies along the Athabasca River within sight of four mountain ranges. Small lakes—some warm enough for a dip—dot the valley floor, and trails for walking and biking loop throughout. It was a breathtaking drive . Dotted along the highway were numerous gates which could be closed in winter if the conditions become too bad. Other sings warned of the need for snow chains to be put on car wheels. Jasper itself was wonderful. The reindeer it seems wander free!

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From here we made our way down the famous Icefields Parkway. Trying to balance the utter sadness we felt with the exhilaration of the majestic beauty of this wonderful country was confusing. I saw many breathtaking sights through tear filled eyes.

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The Icefields Parkway
A great swath of sensational country awaits south along the Icefields Parkway. Named for the Columbia Icefield and the squadron of glaciers visible along the route, the parkway bowls along for 143 miles , passing through long, forested river valleys cradled by walls of dazzling peaks. Drivers frequently spot elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, black and grizzly bears, wolf, or caribou. After about 21 miles of forest and crag, we pulled over beside Bow Lake for a good look at Crowfoot Glacier clinging to the scabrous cliffs of Crowfoot Mountain. From the lake’s north end, you can make out Bow Glacier Falls, a ferocious cascade plummeting nearly 400 feet (120 meters). A 3-mile (4.7-kilometer) trail leads to its base.

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The Icefields Parkway, one of the world’s most stunning roadways.

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The National Park stretches roughly 300 miles along the jagged crest of the Canadian Rockies, Banff and the adjoining Jasper National Park take in a vast tangle of great strapping peaks, mauled by glaciers and capped by the largest ice fields south of Alaska. Melt-waters thunder from the heights, pool in gem-like alpine lakes, and rush down the forested walls of broad U-shaped valleys into powerful rivers. It’s a staggering, heart-swelling landscape, rich in wildlife, laced with hiking trails, and traversed by the most spectacular system of roads in the Rockies.

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P1030654In the afternoon we arrived in Banff, settled the others into their hotel, left them with their dreams of Toronto and the Niagara Falls and we made our way to the airport and our flight from Calgary back to be with our loved ones.

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It was an awful flight but when we arrived in London we were overwhelmed as Kate and Jason and Gaz and Keri had come to meet us at Heathrow.

Words can never express how much that meant to Boo, Bethany and me.


 …………………………………………………………………..

AXA Assistance Chicago

122. S. Michigan Ave

Suite 1100

Chicago 60603

USA 

 

From
Ray Stahl
 
To:
Mr. Roger Newberry
Phone
+1 312 935 3550
 
Phone
02920512665
Fax
+1 312 803 2754
 
Fax
Email
liberty-usa@axa-assistance.us

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Email
roger.newberry@btinternet.com
Date
24-Aug-2009
 
Pg(s)
Our Ref
AI2988838
Mr. Roger Newberry
 
Your Ref
AI2988838

 

Mr.Newberry,                                                                                                                                              I am writing to confirm that you, your wife and daughter and have been booked on the flight we previously discussed for this evening. The flight details are as follows:

 Flight BA102 departing Calgary August 24th at 21:35, arriving into London Heathrow at 13:25 on August 25th.

 The locator for your flight is 3QJ25Y.

 Please contact our office if you have any questions.

 Sincerely,

Ray Stahl

AXA Assistance

I acknowledge the help given by our travel insurers…

……………………………………………………………………………

Footnote

We always said that we had unfinished business in Canada and we were totally delighted to be invited back to Montreal in the summer of 2014 to attend the wedding of Charlotte Thomas. She and Bethany have been friends since they were born. Both are getting married this year.

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One more promise I make is that we will visit Laura and Lyndon again and travel The Icefields Parkway without rushing and view the majestic beauty with eyes that are not misted with sadness.

You have my word.