THE SOVEREIGN’S PARADE 9th August 2019

Rather a windy day but the dreadful rain that had been forecast, thank goodness did hold off. We were lucky enough to get two tickets in the ‘Friends of the Chapel’ raffle for the second time! Last time Prince Harry was the Sovereign’s Representative but this year it was General Sir James Everard KCB CBE, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Will he be out of a job come October 31st? Watch this space.

 

The Band of The Parachute Regiment played the music and it was almost non stop. The Academy Adjutant Commanding the Parade was Major D J Alkin GREN GDS.

 

It was fully attended and such very skimpy frocks were worn by the ladies, it almost felt like ladies day at Ascot. Not that I have ever been but I’ve seen the pictures.

 

It is an amazing spectacle of discipline and formation drilling.

 

And we felt ourselves very priviled to be able to view this amazing sight, first hand.

 

The press were there but in very small numbers and it was so good to see the lovely the Chelsea pensioners being represented.

 

Hanging onto their hats! Two of the soldiers hats blew off during the parade, such was the force of the wind. So, speech given and the horse, as always, mounts the steps into Old College; thank you ‘Friends of the Chapel’ for the tickets, a truly British occassion!

 

Great fun. Have a great bank holiday and we hope you enjoyed the read M & M 👍🎶🎵🇬🇧🥁🥁🥁💂‍♀️💂‍♀️

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Two Weeks with the Grandchildren

Having travelled so many miles; (I should have worked out how far we did go in the hire car in Alaska) we spent two lovely weeks with our grandchildren Zach and Safi, who came to stay at Treen Towers. OK so not always quiet; some squabbling but hey that’s kids and on the whole they are utterly adorable. They seem to fall out with one another over the silliest of things but thus it always was, I guess. Not ever having had any siblings myself, I have never quite understood, first hand, the brother-sister relationship and how it works or sometimes doesn’t.  Maybe one day they will fall out over Einstein’s theory of relativity until then it will always be who asked to use the hosepipe in the garden first!

Anyway these are the days and not neccessarily in the right order! (Thank you Morecambe and Wise) First I give you The Vyne:

 

We went there for a picnic and a little walk round the grounds and ice cream was taken! Mary volunteers here, every Wednesday and we met some of her Wednesday chums, which was lovely for them to meet Safi and Zach and put faces to the names she is very often talking about. One of her chums came and sat with us for a while and talked about New Zealand where she was off to early next year and had booked one of the gaffs we had stayed in because of Mary praising it SO much.

 

 

Then there was “Milestones” in Basingstoke; we had never been here before and what a discovery it turned out to be. Loads of things to see and do and even a sweet shop where the sweets were dispensed in brown paper bags and the shopkeeper asked for our ration book!

 

There is even a pub dispensing real beer!

 

Many vintage vehicles and even a chap sat reading a paper in the outside toilet. Not a real person I hasten to add!

 

We had a picnic with David and Hazel, who had not seen the children for some time, on Chipperfield Common near the Two Brewers pub. This brought back many memories as it is where we had our reception after we were married! And then a walk in the woods and a pint in the pub for old times sake; churlish not to.

 

Probably, and unknowingly, we saved the best till last which was the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium; unknowingly because this again was a first for us. What an array of things to do, buttons to push and just tons of stuff to fiddle with; just what kids like. We must go back sometime and sample the Planetarium because on this occassion we never got that far.

 

Gadgets galore and also the whole place is designed to be not only entertaining but educational with it, assuming you pause long enough to read the words surrounding the lever you are pushing.

 

And that was that, they flew home last Friday with pleasant thoughts of a happy two weeks with Mumette and Dadette. (As we are known, rather than Grandma and Grandad; Mary thought those titles had a certain French ring about them)

 

By plane not spacecraft!

 

As always, thanks for reading. And now ……………… relax! M & M 😎🥂

And Finally!

I have at last got this working on my laptop instead of the ipad, which makes typing a lot quicker and easier! Passwords long forgotten; you know me and IT by now, surely? It all made for good time wasting. There were one or two loose ends to clear up, from my point of view and a few more pictures to show you; so, here we go.

The trains seem to go through the middle of Seattle; the fish in the Seattle Pike Place Market and stuff you could buy all over the place were amazing! This was where I got my new belt, hand made in front of my very own eyes!

My ankles have almost returned to their normal size but my head is still in a diferent time zone; I was wide awake at 0500 this morning but somehow Mary is sleeping through it! Talking of which, Mary almost got stuck in the mud on our bear watching day, with those waders on! Both Zach and Ty managed to pull her out and with her waders still on; just a wellington boot might have been a different story! It was only four miles but it was a hard slog and my thighs took two days to recover; seems to have been a recovering holiday! Not as bad as the American couple who drove away from the small Homer airport straight into a ditch! The owner’s wife was in hysterics after they left; they got them out very easily by lots of people, including me, sitting on the tailboard and tilting the vehicle back up enough to get a grip if put into reverse. Why so amusing? “Oh, people are always doing that, it happens at least once a week.” Which explained why no one panicked and they got them out easily by a well used and tried method; only a slightly bent number plate and dented pride to show for the occurence.

I never really mentioned the visit to the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver. Great film and talk by a real live person about the Apollo series of flights. Who knew the Space Station is twenty years old? Took us by surprise and by golly it is HUGE.

The moon landing was described in fantastic detail, took both Mary and I back to the Wembley Studios of LWT; David Frost hosting the moon landing show and the audience sat waiting for those first signals from the spacecraft as it came back out from behind the moon. It was like 600 people were all holding their breath at once; you could have cut the atmosphere with the preverbial knife. And in the exhibition afterwards there was an episode of Quatermass, the BBC series, playing quietly in a corner in dear old black and white. Used to frighten the willies out of me.

Vancouver is a vibrant city but also terribly expensive and many apartments have been bought mostly by the Chinese, our taxi driver to the airport told us, as holiday homes. (😱) This has pushed the property prices up to almost obscene levels and then you realise those down and outs we saw wandering the streets between Gastown and ironically the Chinese district, have not a snowballs hell in chance of getting a roof over their heads. Can you believe Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she awakes she will shake the world.”

Gastown has the amazing clock powered by steam but only five minutes beyond that is poverty row, a truly depressing sight. Why don’t we all just stop all the wars and spend that money on looking after people. If only it were that simple. Man has always wanted to do battle with man? Why? And we continue to destroy the South American forests. As our lovely daughter Laura said, we just never learn, do we? Rather strangely, I watched Peter Jacksons film “They shall not grow old.” on the flight back home. It brought me back down to earth rather faster than the Boeing 787 Dreamliner did and I really think that film should be compulsory viewing in all schools. What a waste of effort, time, money and most importantly human life, that all was; indeed we never learn because we had another go with the Second World war. Stop, humour is needed.

The Wedgewood Hotel dining room is fantastic and we did laugh because the waiters are so dressed like the guys in ‘Hello Dolly’. We half expected them, especially on Wednesday night when they were much busier and rushing about, to suddenly start dancing and burst into song! The Maitre D’ we had made friends with two years ago was on duty and Scott, who had looked after us the night before had tipped Tim (for that was his name) off that we were in. Tim came over and said hello and greeted us like long standing friends. We talked about Ruby the waitress we both hoped would make it, for she was a trainee last time and we discovered that she had. But had moved on after about two years, “But she is going to be very big in this business one day,” said Tim, speaking very highly of her. And one of the other guys had said the night before, “I miss Ruby.” When we left both Tim and Scott shook us warmly by the hand and we told them that they should open a place on the East Coast to make it easier to get to possibly for a long weekend! They said they would talk to the owners. 🤣

We were served by two Irish waitresses for lunch on Granville Island; great stuff to hear those soft accents, a real change from those loud American voices that we had almost nearly got really fed up with in Alaska. And going back to those down and outs and cannabis, a chum called Stuart Wood,  who lived round the corner from us in Ash when we lived there, had never smoked and once said he could never see the sense in putting a load of leaves into paper, putting that in your mouth and setting fire to it. Go listen, if you have not heard it, to the great Amercian comedian Bob Newhart’s take on Sir Walter Raleigh bringing tobacco back home and you will see exactly what Stuart meant.

They don’t do logging anymore in Alaska, they just have huge fires. I bet you had never heard Alaska mentioned so much, until recently with their high temperatures; when we left Anchorage they were praying for rain to quell the massive fire that was raging and in the sea life centre in Seward the girl serving coffee was wearing a mask …. indoors! So, where next for our intrepid adventures?

Another visit to a laundrette by taxi; put the machine on and go watch Bald Eagles? Or simply travel and hope the sun goes down eventually.

Mary’s big one is coming along next year; so, anyone any suggestions? All gratefully received. On our current bucket list is definitely a return to Greece, maybe even this year and perhaps St.Petersburg for next year?

Take care everyone until we next meet M & M ✈️🦅🇺🇸🇨🇦🥂🥂🥂

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Please, tell the fat lady to STOP singing.🎼🎶🎵🎶 🎤 Now!

Wimbledon on the television, such a warm and comforting home coming. I am writing the beginning of this last piece at four in the morning; it’s Saturday. You do question whether jet lag is sent to tell you that man really should not travel at all but as you sit and ponder and the memories flood back, you know that a couple of sleepless nights are completely worth the stunning sights, sounds and smells you have experienced. The Teahouse, in Stanley Park, Vancouver, where we had our last lunch on Thursday, is now 4,698 miles away; crazy doesn’t cover it.

In my humble opinion, an enterprising soul, could clean up in Alaska by importing just two things; prawn crackers and duvets. Not one hotel had duvets; the nightly wrestle always took place with sheets and a myriad of blankets various; or is this just me? And prawn crackers, I guess you would have to call them chips, (American for crisps) would simply fly off the shelves.

Our final wresting place the Wedgewood Hotel was luxury personified; as indeed it had been two years ago. I have used a shot on the right, of the room from last time, as it was a dead ringer. The bed engulfed you and the pillows were like sleeping on top of a blancmange mountain.

The bath was once again, a huge corner job at the foot of the bed and the bathroom had an amazingly big walk in shower. No danger of accidentally soaking your pyjamas in here; indeed relating my toilet/shower combo mishap on the ship, to a fellow passenger, they did admit that they failed to pull the shower curtain properly and their toilet roll bought it, due to severe water damage. 🤣😆 The soundtrack to the Wilderness Discoverer, will forever be the gentle patter of rain on my anorak’s hood and the distant call of the Bald Eagle. 🦅 And we didn’t encounter rain again, at all, after those early days; just so very lucky.

Going back, as you know I am prone to do, to Kennicott where I asked for poached eggs for breakfast,  the lovely waitress we eventually had the long chat with said, “I think we can make that happen.” And the other fascinating conversation we had, in Homer with our fellow breakfast diners, was Mary saying she sang at Sandhurst, and a fellow choir ladies eyes lit up. She was an alto and had a daughter born the same year as Prince William; she had this American dream that one day they would marry. Once she discovered Mary had sung in front of William and indeed other royals including Prince Charles, she leant forward to touch Mary, so that her connection with such esteemed persons could be truly cemented.

We have seen some truly amazing sights and heard some amazing sounds; the chap above produced a haunting melody just near the Lions Gate Bridge, by playing what I can only describe as a wooden box with a bow attached. Stanley Park Hollow Tree, is very, very old; they believe around 700 years and has survived storms and suspicious fires. There were plans to knock it down and lay it on its side but a body was formed to protect the tree and keep it standing; so far they have done just that.

My soundtrack to Granville Island is a chap who played the pipes; I have his CD, tune in tomorrow to RFP and hear what he sounds like. http://www.radiofrimleypark.co.uk and click on listen now, from 5pm.

And my last piece of tittle tattle, again came from that ‘royal’ breakfast and one of the guests told us that dogs on planes are becoming more common. Why; we had seen one at Juneau and pondered. Apparently more and more Americans are saying they need their dog with them to overcome the stress of flying. They get their doctor to sign a piece of paper to that effect and they can board the plane with their four legged comfort blanket. Is it kept in a dog carrier? Do you store it in the overhead locker? As I type there are probably people fighting back, and going to their doctor to get dog allergy certificates, so that they don’t end up with a hairy mutt sitting beside them for four hours or so. 😆😂

The first class came courtesy of a free upgrade and an eagle eyed lady called Anna at Audley! It was pretty cool and our first and probably our last ever time! We have had a ball. More comedy needed? Please go to feedaread.com and look under Autobiography and you will find “Bright Lights and Bacon Rolls” by a certain Malcolm D Y Treen, which should give you a giggle for a bit longer. They dispatch world wide!

Till the next time, take care and hug someone right now but not the dude on the left above.

M & M ✈️🇬🇧🎵🎶🎼🎾🎾🎾🎾❤️

 

 

One more sleep and the fat lady sings! 😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱

Now what haven’t I mentioned? Back to Valdez, and one restaurant we went into for lunch. We were guided to a table, we ate, we paid the bill (sorry check) and as I stood waiting for Mary to finish in the washroom, the nice lady who had shown us to our seats in the first place, only some thirty minutes before, said, “Hello Sir, can I help you to a seat?” Obviously made a big impact on her Treen! But it was compensated by the waitress in the restaurant where the potions were huge for lunch the day before saying, “Oh hello, and actually, welcome back!” The young lady in the bar here at the Wedgewood, recognised Mary; she has worked here for five years.

That Blue Heron yesterday, can be seen here with a fish in its beak and then shaking the same to get this fish in the right direction before eating! Last night a fantastic birthday dinner and a wonderful surprise from the hotel, which would have done as dessert had we known!

Two more I meant to post; first from near our last dinner in Homer. Where a large Russian couple sat to one side of us; so large that Mary thought there were just the two of them, until the lady got up to use the restroom, revealing their son who had been completely obscured from view. The second one our coffee stop from Homer to Anchorage; was there a bear at the door?

Today we crossed to North Vancouver via a little ferry, had an excellent lunch and visited yet another indoor market full of goodies.

We then headed back to that steam clock, we gave it your love Paul Faraday, we had visited two years ago. And boy when the traffic lights stop here, they man/woman  the cross roads with lots of people.

These guys were taking a break from building and watching the dock and the float planes pass by.

A crazy little model in a window and at least someone did think John Wayne was important! Yay!

Back to our beautiful room;  after a sit in a Martini chair in the bar at the hotel. Having found a taxi, after passing through a bit of a dodgy area between Gastown and China Town. As I said before, it’s just so horrendous that these people and places exist, seemingly in every major city these days.

So that was it folks; a bit whistle stop and tomorrow, hello B.A. and finally Heathrow and home. We will do something in the morning because our flight is not till 8pm. and I guess like our chums Simon and Sandra (who introduced us to blogging and WordPress.com ……… thanks guys! And have just returned from the States.) our next post will probably be from the dear old UK.

We think the seagull was eating a star fish! Sorry if you are just pouring milk on yer Weetabix. And two more from today’s outing and that second one is the aforementioned ferry.

Be good, be kind, give someone a hug; there are some amazing places out there in the big wide world and we consider ourselves so very lucky to have seen some of them. Comments please, as always welcome.

I hope we gave you a laugh and a giggle as well as a bit of an insight into places various we went to. Till tomorrow night (your time), or maybe Saturday morning YOUR time, take care. M & M 🇨🇦 🦅 ✈️  ✈️🍾🍾🥂 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 🎾

Tuesday, happy birthday!

Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would be celebrating a mega landmark birthday in the surroundings of the Wedgewood Hotel in Vancouver.

We went from dinner on Sunday night, drinking out of jam jars again, in a restaurant called AJ’s, to the sophistication of the Wedgewood bar. We left at 07-30 from Homer to drive to Anchorage; the smoke was still there and now so were the roadworks! This time a pilot car did pilot us, but for the roadworks rather than the smoke.

But boy, when the roads were clear, they were clear! We arrived at the airport at about 12-40; the hire car being due back at one o’clock …….. perfect. Some happy chappy at breakfast the day before had said leave at nine, plenty of time. Do the maths! Check in all good for Air Canada and on board we went. Ah, well perhaps Moose another year, eh? Oh, look! Through the foliage! Just kidding it’s a photo. 🤣

Uneventful flight and again some stunning vistas.

.And this is two years ago and now. This was today Tuesday, on the right. Methinks they have changed their sign and it’s faded! Anyway happy birthday me!

We both slept like logs and after breakfast revisited Granville Island, which is where the picture above was taken. More did happen today, but I have only got reasonable wi-fi from connecting Mary’s phone to to my iPad which is connected to the hotel wi-fi. Don’t even think of asking.

So, more rabbit and pictures tomorrow. Thank you for to all of you for all my birthday wishes and off now for a celebratory meal in the restaurant. 🎂🥂🇨🇦

Thanks for reading M & M 🍾🎂🇨🇦🥂🥂

Sunday, farewell Alaska, it’s been emotional.

The shows not over till the fat lady sings folks, we have still got Vancouver to come. Someone at breakfast; (yes we finally ate with others this morning) had seen 20 bears on a similar walking and sighting trip as us yesterday, and at first we were a bit jealous. However, judging from their pictures, they got nowhere near as close as we did; so end result …… happy. Another couple had cut short their stay in Seward because of the smoke, so luckily the day we arrived there, we had seen it at its best.

Looking back, I still can’t quite believe we flew in such tiny planes, both here to see the bears and to Kennicott to reach the remote town.

On the subject of wildlife, if you were wondering what Chris Packam does between “Spring Watch” and  “Autumn Watch” for employment; he is over here on the National Geographical channel doing “Nature Watch Live” talking about bears and the Yellowstone National Park. On the walk to see the bears, Mary did come close to the water going over the top of her waders! See the waterline below!

So, to today. The wind was blowing, the air was clearer, the views were better. Off to the end of the spit for some wave shots. Then away to the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center (😡) which was free and very interesting and educational. And I didn’t think for one minute my sneaky pictures from in there would fool anybody but I don’t need them, because as you know, we do have shots of the real thing!

We ended up, by a bit of an accident, having lunch in a Chinese; as it was Sunday some gaffs weren’t open and we figured the spit would be humming. The Chinese was incredibly quiet but the food was very pleasant. A drive out to see sea views various, from on top of a surrounding hill and back to the B & B; time for Mary to repack, in her usual genius manner, for flying tomorrow and me to do battle, as usual, with the check in process for the flight.

A beautiful day with the temperature around the mid 60’s and as I said a fresh breeze. And helping the breeze along, we were able to listen on and off (wi-fi fits) to my chum Graham’s show on Radio Frimley Park. Chaps, the streamer is twenty minutes out by the way! We got the ten o’clock news at twenty minutes past; just saying.

We shall miss Alaska and her mighty size; her waterfalls and fast flowing rivers. Simply the scale of the place has kept our mouths open for longer than is regarded respectable in society but you just can’t help it. Her wildlife, that we have been so lucky to encounter and somehow the raw hill billyish (if there is such a word) nature of the place and indeed the people. The restaurant last night, for example, just had a painted concrete floor and that in itself was pretty shoddy. People don’t have a meal here; they just simply eat and leave, usually with half of it in a cardboard box. The sophistication of the Wedgewood hotel, where we are staying in Vancouver is going to come as a bit of a culture shock. Eating slowly and savoring the food, while a live pianist tinkles the ivories, and being asked if you would like a dessert or coffee or indeed more wine, before gently, nay subtly placing the bill by the side of you or simply charging it to your room (because it is connected,) is going to feel mighty odd. Watching jealousy as fit, slim, trim people jog past the hotel window, as you have breakfast will be in complete and utter contrast to the gasps we have often emitted as yet another unbelievably oversize person, family, or even youngster hoved into view across the linoleum (some gaffs were a bit posh.)

Goodbye Alaska it has been truly emotional, we shall miss you. Hello Vancouver; bring me your culture and sophistication, you have been missed.

A long drive tomorrow, a flight that gets us into Vancouver way past blog time, so see you all on Tuesday night. 🥂🎂🍾🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈

Thanks for reading M & M 🦅🇺🇸🚗🚗🚗✈️✈️✈️✈️🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦