blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Into Vancouver, again

Here are two views of Vancouver's outskirts, the first photo taken last weekend, the second in November 2013, a year and a half ago, when we were stopping there on our way to Australia. The city's face is changing and its population becoming more and more east-Asian. The passengers who got onto the Skytrain at Marine Drive station at the end of this bridge were mostly speaking Mandarin, reminding us of the passers-by in Sydney, NSW. I'd have no trouble learning to understand and speak this language if we moved to Vancouver! Considering the stimulus and the environment of this city, that's an appealing thought. After our soothing week in Victoria, BC's capital, it's worth recording that both Chris and I felt more alert after reaching the mainland city on Saturday afternoon. I suspect that settling on genteel, unprovocative Vancouver Island could quickly become too soothing. Retirement there would be retirement in more than one sense of the word.

Still, it doesn't take long to travel between the two modes of existence and the ferry ride is a delight in both directions.

At Tsawwassen we caught the 260 bus again to Bridgeport Station, a slow ride due to roadwork and rush hour traffic, but we weren't in any hurry. This time we checked into the Holiday Inn Express round the corner from the station at the other side of a Costco store, a short walk with our luggage and therefore a very convenient lodging from the location point of view, with comfortable amenities and shuttle service to the airport, but we shan't stay there again because of the noise from the air-conditioning (?) machinery on the roof at Costco's, that penetrated our bedroom window that night, even though we kept it closed.

Taking the Canada Line train to the city centre on Friday afternoon––it goes underground beyond Marine Drive––we surfaced on Georgia Street with the Victoria Art Gallery only a block away and decided to visit this the following morning. There's an exhibition featuring paintings by Cézanne and his contemporaries as well as other showings which I'll describe in my next blogpost. For the rest of the time we simply wandered and observed, stopping for food and drink here and there, with a particularly good meal at Salam Bombay on the corner of Burrard and Alberni Streets, next door to the Fairmont Hotel. We sat at a window table, looking down at the people going by with their umbrellas at the ready. As they say, it usually rains in Vancouver.

It was still warm enough for lunch on an outdoor patio by the harbour's edge near Canada Place, the next day, where we watched the sea craft going by, rowing boats, ferries, ships, and sea planes taking off and landing on imaginary runways in the water. Westcoast Air craft have a seagull painted on their tails.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Last day in Victoria

Thursday was the warmest day of our stay, the late afternoon temperature in the garden around 20C. Chris and John took to the air again, John having an LPV approach flight-checking assignment in Penticton and Kamloops. This entailed nearly 5 hours of flying, with a stop for sandwiches at Kamloops. They climbed to 11,000ft over the snow covered mountains and used oxygen masks. Chris told us there was an awful lot of scenery on the way.

While they were away on these adventures, Jill and I walked down to Cadboro Bay, for another al fresco lunch--at Olive Olio's, popular with the locals (e.g. landscape gardeners and retired ladies groups)--and a walk on the beach. The tide was out so we could forage for oyster shells on the wet sand from which a steamy mist was rising. An old boat, that Jill guessed was being used as a house, was tied to a tree. Canoes perched in other trees, waiting for the high tide. In the bay were numerous sailing boats including a flotilla of small dinghies. The park by the beach has a playground where Caddie the long-tailed sea monster lives, children climbing in and out of its mouth and eyes and over its back.

To reach Cadboro Bay, we went through the flowery campus of UVIC and past large bungalows, their front gardens full of blooming trees and shrubs; some gardens include the rocky outcrops that are a natural feature of the landscape. Jill said she'd been warned that gardening in Victoria is a blood sport! On the way back to the house we followed a rather muddy path through a valley with a stream at its base, and tall mossy trees and ferns on its steep slopes, known as the Mystic Vale.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"This is a gentle place"

Jill tells me, "This is a gentle place" and she's right.

Yesterday, Tuesday, the men went flying to Nanaimo and back in John's Comanche. Before they arrived at the airport for takeoff they dropped Jill and me at the entrance to Butchart Gardens, probably the best known tourist attraction of the region. I had high expectations and thought I might be disappointed by it, but I wasn't. We saw it in the middle of the Spring season with all the Spring flowers in bloom, the weather neither too hot nor too cold and the sun breaking through the small clouds. Best of all, it was not too crowded there. The whole site is kept in immaculate condition and the flowerbeds and indoor plants and flowers are artistically arranged. It's a place that appeals to every generation--near the rose garden with its hooped arches children will find a carrousel with whimsically painted wooden animals to ride--and to all the senses. The hyacinths, narcissi and flowering shrubs give off a lovely fragrance and the birdsong and falling water creates peaceful background music. From the path above the Sunken Garden, we saw a rufous-sided towhee perched at the top of a weeping willow and on the hillside watched a yellow-bellied sapsucker pecking a hole in one of the totem poles. The moss on the shaded slopes and tree trunks was damp to the touch and the sunshine felt warm on our skin. There was an open fire in the coffee shop where every little table had a vase of freshly picked daffodils on it.

Back at the house afterwards I made a list of the flowers and plants I'd seen: flowering cherry, winter hazel with catkins, sequoia (giant redwoods), bamboo, forsythia, flowering currant, magnolia, camellia, tulips, forget-me-nots, beech trees, Japanese maples, mahonia, fritillaries, Pasqueflowers, Christmas roses, celandines with dark leaves, primulae, scyllas, crocuses, pansies, black grasses I couldn't identify, azaleas, quince, heather, wallflowers, trout lilies, aubrietia and two kinds of daisies. The beds were tastefully colour coordinated.

Next to the central buildings is an Italian formal garden with topiary, a climbing hydrangea and brightly coloured hyacinths lining the pond; what appealed to me more was the Japanese Garden, all winding paths, steps and pebble rivers, dotted with picturesque rocks and moss topped Japanese stone lanterns like the ones we saw at the temple in Nikko. This part of the Butchart Gardens had a scarlet gateway and a scarlet bridge, with a path of stepping stones leading to it. At the far end of the Japanese garden we came to the edge of Butchart Cove, off Saanich Inlet, with boats moored there. Jill said the trees on the far bank were arbutus.

The oldest part of the gardens is the Sunken Garden created by Mrs. Butchart with the help of ex-quarry labourers on the site of her husband's limestone quarry from 1904 onwards. Its fishpond is 40ft deep in places and a stream below a waterfall down the cliff face feeds into it. At the far end is a dancing fountain.

John and Chris returned to pick us up in the carpark and drove us home, then out again to the gym where I did four laps of the exercise trail, wood shavings underfoot, while the others used the equipment indoors. Chris is doing an unprecedented amount of exercise!

The harbour at Victoria, Empress Hotel in the distance
Today, he and I went out by ourselves, taking the No. 14 bus into the city and back (on the top deck). We also had a short, but eventful ride on a water taxi: the boatman had a misfortune with the mooring rope at one of the docks and fell into the water!  Luckily enough people were around to help fish him out and regain control of the drifting boat till he could get back in, but the poor man was extremely wet and probably very cold too. He said that hadn't happened to him for ten years. He handed the water taxi amd spare passengers to a co-worker. I hope that someone at the Empress Hotel found him something dry to wear.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday's outings

 It rained, but not very much. It was still dry when we were walking round Sidney, visiting the Military and History Bookshop there, and going for another waterfront stroll. The shore is neatly landscaped on the site of a sawmill and rubber roofing company. No sign of those former industries now although the old fish market is still in operation and favoured by visiting seals that bob their heads up to beg for fish.

We had lunch at an old RCAF canteen next to the airport, now the Bleue (sic) Moon Cafe, and afterwards visited the aviation museum that has a fine collection of aircraft, some of them restored after crashes in the forest. The Vickers Viscount was not one of these, but was Chris' favourite because it was the first 'plane he ever flew in, as a schoolboy on his way to the (then) British airbase at El Adam, Tobruk, in Libya, where his father worked for a while the 1960s. The museum had done an impressive restoration of the interior of this aeroplane.

John, Jill and Chris have gone off to the gym now. This evening we're driving up a local hill to visit Greta and Gareth who recently moved to Victoria from Ottawa and would like to show us their new house on Rainbow Ridge Lane.

Exploring Victoria

Cliffs between Clover Point and Ogden Point
Today we walked some 8 kilometres, mostly by the water. John drove to a parking spot on Dallas Road at the southern end of town and we skirted the shore through the Dog Park on the cliffs, covered with gorse in bloom, as far as Ogden Point. The weather was cloudy but dry, and once again cleared up by the afternoon. People were scrambling over the rocks on the beach and one man was in the water on a paddle board. Further out, container ships were sailing by. Ogden Point is a cruise ship terminal and heliport. We carried on round the headland into downtown Victoria, with a long pause at Fisherman's Wharf, a touristy place where genuine fishing boats were moored as well as many houseboats, painted in bright colours. A man was feeding fish to a family of seals and a sea otter--a "vicious looking thing like a ferret", said Chris, who doesn't like ferrets.

Fisherman's Wharf, Victoria

Across the road by the fish market we bought our own fish lunch from a fish 'n' chip wagon and ate at a picnic table. John and I shared smoked tuna tacos, surprisingly tasty. Then Jill led us past the posh hotels on Belleville Street, all fronted with flowering trees and colourful gardens, so lovely to see after black-and-white Ottawa (where it's still -10, apparently). I commented that flowery Victoria seemed to be gloating over the rest of Canada, and Jill said I was probably right there.

The inner harbour was crowded with boats, including tugs and little yellow water taxis, and seaplanes taxied in after landing from the mainland.

We passed the neoclassical Legislative Buildings and the renaissance Empress Hotel, the trees in front of them as impressive as the architecture, and went a few blocks up Government Street, the main drag, to an excellent bookshop called Munro's where I was tempted by several volumes of Pablo Neruda's poetry, but bought music CDs instead. I wish we had a shop like that in Ottawa. We saw numerous bookshops up the coast in Sidney yesterday, besides. 

To get back to the car, we took a direct route through Beacon Hill Park to Cook Street Village, past the cricket pitch, the bowls lawn, the Petting Zoo, the tennis courts and other such shades of Little Britain (7600 km distant). Many more wonderful blooms en route, a yellow magnolia, a fully flowering azalea, swathes of daffodils, and so on. Back at the house I had a peaceful siesta while Chris sat on the lawn in the Adirondack chair, and woke up to a view of the deer that was trespassing in the garden.

Chris and John went off for their workout at the gym, again, and tonight's supper was chilli with red wine garlic bread; we all dined with relish.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reaching Victoria

"Selfie" on the ferry
On the ferry

Flowers outside the Access Inn
The Internet connection isn't very good on board the Spirit of British Columbia, so I'll post this later. We're crossing a grey stretch of water from Tsawwassen and then we'll get among the islands, where it appears to be raining.  Never mind. This is a more restful way of travelling than yesterday's flight from Ottawa although I enjoyed that too, watching films about Stephen Hawking and Margaret Keane.

We spent the night at the Access Inn, where we've stayed before. It was tipping with rain as we climbed out of the shuttle bus, but the entrance was surrounded by spring flowers.

The "Spirit of British Columbia" at Berth 5, Tsawwassen
Having slept well, we had breakfast at the neighbouring IHOP, the healthy option for me with scrambled egg whites and fruit salad, very American. The shuttle bus drove us to Bridgeport station where we were able to catch the 260 Translink bus to the ferry terminal at Tsawwassen with a crowd of students, two of whom gave up their seats for us. Chris got talking to the Swiss girl who'd offered him her seat so that she-could sit on her boyfriend's knee. Despite the crowded conditions the busride was good value: only $1.75 (on Saturdays all transit fares are valued for 1 zone only; this was the senior's fare).

View from the ferry of the container port at Tsawwassen
We are among the islands now, very beautiful, with rain showers veiling some of the hills, and other ferries passing by on the smooth water.

Continued later ...

The 11 o'clock ferry that we took was two hours earlier than the one we should have taken. We thought we'd be able to find a place for lunch on arrival at Swartz Bay, but this turned out to be wrong. There was a restaurant, but only accessible to people in cars, the other side of the barriers. 2nd class foot passengers merely had access to snack dispensing machines. However, the sun had come out and it was warm enough to sit on a bench outside, the first time I've been able to do this since last autumn!

The view from Sidney's waterfront

A visiting deer in the garden
What a welcome! Jill and John took us to the house they're renting via a seaside town called Sidney, where the sun came out in earnest and the temperature rose to 15 degrees. The house is in an attractive part of Victoria, surrounded by Garry oaks, rhododendrons and tall firs. The men went to the local gym for a workout while Jill and Jill and I sat in the garden with a glass of wine each, listening to and watching the birds, some of which are hummingbirds. Jill put a jazz album on while she cooked us a delicious supper--pork with mushrooms.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Out and back, up and down

The Canadian use of prepositions:

We have been Down East from time to time, i.e. to the Maritime Provinces. Newfoundland and Labrador come into that category although from where we live, that seems a lot more up than down. We have also been Down South (south of the border, into the USA) on various occasions. Last Easter we went as far as Virginia. Setting off Up North is not a good idea at this time of year. Apart from Labrador, the furthest north we've been in Canada was probably either Sioux Lookout or Regina.

Tomorrow Chris and I are heading Out West. When we cross the Strait of Georgia from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, we could either go up-island or down-island. In order to reach Victoria, we'll have to go down-island.

The parent and the child

Chris and I went to his singing lesson and this week we worked on Beethoven's little song, Ich liebe dich. I like it when we do this one because the accompaniment is not too difficult to play. As with several of the songs we practise, it has memories attached. After the lesson, I told Chris what I remembered about this one.

When our children were teenagers, Emma 15 or 16, George 14 or 15, I came home one day to a surprise they'd prepared for me. George, who had only recently started playing the piano, sat down at the keyboard and Emma stood beside him ready to sing. They had found the music by themselves and taught themselves Ich liebe dich, which there-and-then they performed for me. In a welter of thoughts and emotions (which, as usual, I did my best to conceal) I remember thinking, that's it! I have succeeded. I have got my children to the point where they do not need me any more.

It had been my conscious goal from the earliest days of their lives gradually to turn them into self-sufficient human beings and let them go, in preparation for a time when I would no longer be around to support them.

My son and I have been thinking lately about the difference between Western approach to parenting and the Chinese way. Here are two quotations.

From Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (George sent me this book for Christmas):
Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything […] Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud. [...] My parents always paid for everything, but fully expect to be cared for and treated with respect and devotion when they get old. [...] Westerners believe in choice; the Chinese don’t.
From Elaine Lui’s Listen to the Squawking Chicken (lent to me by a friend after I'd told her about the Tiger Mother book):
In Chinese culture, children have to be good to their parents. For the Chinese, Filial Piety is considered the fundamental cornerstone of an enlightened civilization [and] dictates every action. It is the original building block of Confucian philosophy and therefore the defining virtue in Chinese culture: our primary objective in life is to respect our parents and our ancestors. [...] Filial Piety is a lifelong requirement. It is every child’s duty to respect the parent, to support the parent, and to bring pride and honour to the parent. Filial Piety puts the onus on the child and not the parent.
   This is the critical difference between Chinese and Western parenting philosophy. Modern Western parenting emphasizes the child over the parent. Being a parent is widely accepted as the most selfless of human acts. A mother wants only the best for her child––to provide opportunities for her child to achieve her dreams, to accomplish her goals, to live her best life possible––with no reward in return. A child is encouraged to pursue her own objectives independently. The parent is happy if the child is happy. According to the tenets of Filial Piety, however, the situation is reversed: a child can only achieve true happiness when she has successfully secured the happiness of her parents.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fresh air and exercise

I'm still swimming thrice weekly in the Chateau Laurier pool; yesterday I believe I swam 40 lengths, although I tend to lose count because the exercise sends me into a trance, a particularly pleasant trance on the quite frequent, lucky occasions when I have the pool to myself and can hear the music. That's when it feels as though I'm swimming in music as well as in water.

It must surely be doing me good, this winter. The walk to and from the Chateau adds to that and serves as a good enough warm-up and cool-down routine; the cool down is especially noticeable when the wind-chill's at –20º or so. Today's windchill, on March 18th, is still in the minus teens. Chris and I went for an hour's walk round town this morning, across the Alexandra Bridge into Gatineau and back onto Parliament Hill via the Portage Bridge. There's ice underfoot on the riverside trails, but patches of grass are beginning to show and the sky is once again very blue.

Using our muscles is a Very Good Idea, according to an article our German conversation group read from the popular magazine Focus. The article, from June 2012, was entitled Die Macht der Muskeln and claimed that German doctors who prescribe weight lifting exercises as a treatment for certain ailments are seeing remarkable results. Apparently the developing muscle fibres release a a so-called myokine which has beneficial effects on multiple parts of the body, including the blood, the liver and the brain. The older we get and the more often we spot a momento mori, the more we want to do something about keeping fit, while we can. It's either that or giving up. The other evening Chris and I were driving along behind a car that bore the license plate: NEVRGVUP. That was a worthy message!

We're having a relatively healthy week this week, because we've gone for brisk outdoor walks on the other days too. Chris has a membership card for the city-run Champagne Fitness Centre / Centre de conditionnement physique on King Edward Avenue and uses a treadmill there in the evenings while gazing up York Street from the windows. On Monday evening, for the sake of a new experience, I came along too and used the treadmill beside the one he was using. I managed to keep going for the same length of time, but much more slowly. I found it an overrated way to exercise, vastly inferior to swimming or walking in the fresh air because one is fixated on the numbers all the time (oh look, my heart rate has gone up to 135..., I have covered 1.85 kilometres and burned no more calories than half a Kitkat's worth) instead of taking in the leaves rustling in the wind, or the seagulls soaring, or the stars and moon, or the crunch of fresh snow underfoot. No, give me the real thing any day, for preference. Nor did I like the fact that one can't suddenly vary one's pace without either having to fiddle with the dials or falling off the machine. If I had to live on a space station or got sent to prison (as I might be if Bill C-51 comes into effect and the authorities find I've been signing all those pinko-liberal inspired petitions) then I'd be glad to use a treadmill, but I don't see the necessity for it yet.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A respite

Chris is having a break from work this week and next. This morning I drove him up the Autoroute 5 to Wakefield in the Gatineau Hills. We often go there when we need "a respite from the goading urgency of contingent happenings" as A N Whitehead once put it (Chris, when I first knew him, used to keep a quote book with that one in a prominent place).

The snow is starting to melt along the roadsides but not at Ski Vorlage where we watched families enjoying the slopes during our stroll around the backstreets. The skiing centre is on the edge of the village. Down by the river's edge is a restaurant called Le Hibou with an excellent view both up and down the river. It should have been called Les Hiboux because there were so many owls in there: owl cushions, paintings, drawings of oils, toys, models, tapestries, and a stuffed snowy owl.

In the General Store Chris bought four jars of Wilkin's Lime Marmelade, his favourite, and I found a new purse at Jamboree to replace my broken one.

When we go to Wakefield I always come home in a good and sleepy mood. Today was no exception.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Catholic psychology

I've been re-reading a novel by David Lodge that I bought in a shopping mall in Hangzhou, of all places, four years ago; it is wittily entitled Deaf Sentence, because its main character (and the author for that matter) is hard of hearing. Looking up David Lodge on the internet I discovered he is a Catholic and that Catholicism influenced his writing, as did the writing of Graham Greene, another Catholic. I've recently re-read Greene's The Power and the Glory too.

The leaders of the Catholic church are clever psychologists who respond (either in a positive or detrimental way, depending on your point of view) to people's fundamental needs, one of which is the undeniable need, sooner or later, to tell all. In The Power and the Glory it's the priest himself who is desperate to do this before he dies and a harrowing chapter describes his failure to find a confessor.

It is often people in their 70s who start writing their memoirs––while they still can––admittedly not always confessions, sometimes deliberate concealment.

I imagine that shy or introverted people feel the need to divulge their secrets all the more strongly, because of their repressions. Hence the vast amount of autobiographical fiction like Deaf Sentence, ultra confessional poetry like the poems by Ted Hughes, Tony Harrison and company, much of that well nigh unbearable to read. If you're a musician you might express yourself in music instead of words, as Smetana did in the string quartet he called "From my Life":

Another thing that struck me in Deaf Sentence was the reference to committing a shameful act for a virtuous cause. Towards the end of the book the main character painfully admits to his second wife (a Catholic) that he had helped his first wife, with the collusion of her doctor, to die. He is comforted by her understanding.
She invoked some abstruse Catholic casuistry about 'double effect' –– if you did something with a good reason but a bad side effect then it wasn't a sin, something like that. I wasn't sure how it fitted my case, but I was grateful for her support.
Such instances are not just fictional. I myself was once the close observer of a Catholic family who closed ranks and chose to act in a harmful way so that good might eventually come of it.

Anyway, that's what got me thinking, not for the first time, about ends and means, which led to the comment that started my previous blogpost.

Qui tacet consentit

I've just posted a comment on the Ottawa Citizen's article about yesterday's demonstration against bill C-51, saying "This is a government that seems to think the end justifies the means. It should think again." Unfortunately, many Canadians do not agree.

Chris and I were at the Ottawa protest, smaller than the equivalent events in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. The weather didn't help to pull in the crowds here––it was wet and cold (below freezing) and the sidewalks were slippery, with wet snow piled up round the edges of buildings––but those who turned up were very serious about it, more worried about the implications of the proposed legislation than the risk of terrorist attacks in Canada.

The Ottawa gathering on the corner of Elgin Street and Wellington Street was "energised" (please excuse my British-English orthography) by various speakers before making its way to Parliament Hill. Hassan Yussuff, leader of the Canadian Labour Congress, was the first to energise us, coaching us to repeat ("All together!"):
Those who demonise 
truly terrorise!
He warned us of historic precedents, of the time when it was the Ukrainians who were treated with hate and suspicion in this country, interred in Fort Henry during the First World war, or when it was the Italians, the Japanese, the communists, the Quebeckers! "There's always an enemy..."

"Shame! Shame!" shouted the well rehearsed crowd.

"They'll throw us in prison too," he warned, "...intellectuals, environmentalists, all demonised!" and encouraged us to sing a song by Pete Seeger that nobody seemed to know, especially as the words were in German: Die Gedanken sind frei! (Thoughts are free.) "But thoughts are only free if we rise up and resist."

"So- so- solidarité!" shouted some of the crowd, in response.

"We must reject fear-mongering." (Chris and I applauded that one.)

Monia Mazigh addressing the crowd
Then Maher Arar's wife Monia Mazigh took the microphone and spoke very eloquently. Sad to say, she has had plenty of practice. She said, the notion this law will protect us is just an illusion. It will not. If this bill is passed, a journalist simply interviewing a suspect may be considered to be a terrorist himself. Any action of dissent can now be interpreted as threatening. This bill is about fear, and doesn't concern only Muslims.

Last month the Globe and Mail published an editorial denouncing the bill. If at all possible, it has to be stopped; many Canadians would agree, if they gave it some thought, but too many are apathetic or prone to complain that nothing they can do will make any difference.

Qui tacet consentit, one of the placards read.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Just another Saturday

Freezing drizzle, freezing rain, ice pellets, rain, wet snow forecast. Temperature -3º. Chris went to the Flying Club in any case, as usual on a Saturday, and took to the virtual air with Kathy in the Redbird flight trainer. I stayed at home to catch up with some housework, putting a few things aside that will be of use to a young woman from Afghanistan who's spending a while in Ottawa studying here before she goes home to her husband in Kabul. She has two little sons; I found some toys for them to play with. Ann came to collect the things, and then I answered a Skype call from Emma, Peter and our grandson Thomas (same age as the Afghan children) in London.

Just as I was setting off into town Chris returned from the Club, so he came with me. We both wanted to take part in the demonstration against Bill C-51 that started at midday, leaving us little time for lunch, so I'd packed a peeled boiled egg and some other edibles in my handbag. We called in at the Boulangerie Française for a croissant on the way. I'm describing the demo in a separate blogpost.

We left before the end, stopping at Planet Coffee for the sake of Chris' freezing feet during the walk home, because we had promised to be back at the Flying Club by 2pm to meet my Czech friend Vladka with her husband and children. When they turned up, he hopped back into the Redbird with them, letting them all have a go at the controls, even the six year old (tightly supervised), simulating take-offs, tours and landings in a twin-prop 'plane. That took an hour or so, after which Chris allowed them to sit in a real plane too––PTN looking very tiny to them, although Vladka's husband was a glider pilot once. No take-off in PTN today, because of the weather.

Home via Nature's Buzz to buy some groceries where we had news of Miranda who used to work there and had since moved to Nicaragua. Her baby was doing well, it seems. We drove home with the shopping and spoke my mum "on the iPad" as she calls it: another Skype call. She'd been watching the Wales v. Ireland rugby game. Yet another Skype call after that, this one from George and Eddie at the start of their day in Australia. When we'd had some supper we sang / played Schubert and Beethoven Lieder again and a duet written in 1704 by John Eccles, a composer who was appointed Master of the King's Musick by no fewer than four British monarchs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A juxtaposition of father and son

This is our son George Hobbs in April 1979, when we lived in Apeldoorn, NL. He was aged 2 years 1 month at the time the picture was taken. I know this because of the cut-out Easter egg on the inside of our door and the pile of eggs on the grass: Easter 1979 came in mid-April.

This is our grandson Edward Hobbs who lives in Sydney, Australia. He is 1 year 10 months old. The picture was taken by his mother this week, March 2015. Eddie likes eggs too. He has them for breakfast with soy sauce and calls them 蛋 (dàn). He enjoys Peppa Pig eggs, as well, although his grandfather thinks that the concept of pig eggs will confuse him.