Posted by: Valerie | August 13, 2010

Serendipity – more or less

If I wrote about what’s being going on around here this last week you would probably go and stick your head in a bucket, just like me. Mainly stupid computer things that have required hours and hours on the phone with techies in the Philippines. No sooner was one thing fixed than something else went wrong requiring the services of yet another techie in some other far-flung place. One call I made to LinkSys cost me $30US!  I capped it all today though when I lost a data file of at least 300 names and email addresses that I need to send out a mass mailing for my client. Enuff said! I needed a drink – a real one. We don’t keep the hard stuff in the house and we are out of wine so I snuck down to the basement where Joe’s old collection of liquor miniatures is stored (that man will collect anything) and snaffled a miniature of Glenfiddich. I reckon I definitely deserve it and it has indeed taken the edge off my troubles. And my creativity it would seem!

I wrote the preceding paragraphs two days ago and am only now getting back to it. Things are getting better. In fact, something very good happened today, completely out of the blue. Last year we had a visit from a young woman from the office responsible for the Management of Abandoned Aggregate Properties (who knew that such an outfit existed?) who explained she was was collecting information on properties that were once quarries. Ours was once a really large quarry in bygone days but it’s not so noticeable until you think to look, as Joe and Pam, his wife, planted some 3,000 trees several years ago and they are now magnificent lofty jack pines. The woman turned up again today saying that yes, we qualify for the “rehabilitation” of the property at their expense! Joe’s property is very diverse. There is the landscaped part around the house which no doubt they will leave alone, but at the back there is a big flat sandy area bordered by trees with a more obvious sand quarry at one side of it. This is the part that we assume they will “rehabilitate” which will make the stroll to the lake more pleasant. They are suggesting that they may start in October. Roll in the earth movers, guys! They will consult with us of course as we don’t know what they propose to do. But if it’s free that good enough for us! I am not expecting Butchart Gardens. For those who haven’t been lucky enough to visit, BG is a magnificent exhibition garden created by a dotty, rich English couple in the early  1900s  out of an abandoned quarry near Victoria, BC.  Do take a minute and view these photos – can’t upload them because of copyright.

Every year we mutter about it really being time to leave here and it is ironic that the restoration work should come just as we are slowly getting ready to put the place on the market. We will likely wait until next spring as there are still various jobs that need to done, including a new roof and some basement work. I’m sure this will be our last winter here. Joe is about to celebrate his 77th birthday and although he is extremely fit, he does find managing the snow a real trial. The main drive is ploughed by a contractor but there are lots of pathways that have to be cleared by snow blower or by shovel.

When we started to speak about moving, it occurred to me that I have now lived here with Joe for just over seven years. That is my record. I have never, ever, lived in one house as much as eight years. Not even as a child, as my parents used to move house very frequently, albeit within the same city. I wonder how many of these places I can remember – a good exercise for a night when I am having difficulty getting to sleep. The seven-year house that I loved the most was the one we left when we immigrated to Canada. It was a 200-year-old row house on a traditional village green in the north-east of England. I loved the house and I loved the place. My kids still remember it affectionately too – the older two anyway. (My Dad and aunt in the photo.)

My house in Hurworth-on-Tees

I do really love this place too. I love the view that greets me from the bedroom as I pull the curtains – even when it’s covered with snow. At this time of year I walk out onto the rear deck in the morning sun to be greeted by our black cat who has spent the night on the tiles and is vocally demanding his breakfast. I love the fact that absolutely no-one can overlook us. I love the fact that we can stroll up the hill path at the edge of the property and be in beautiful mixed hardwood forest.

Morris dancers on the village green - my house visible.

Last night I had planned to pop out into the darkest of dark and watch the Perseid meteor shower and indeed I did step out at around midnight but nothing was going on so I told myself I would get up around three in the morning to try again. Naturally, next thing I knew it was breaking dawn. Ah well, I will try again tonight. Richard reported that in Charlottetown PEI they were fairly zipping across the sky to the extent that even his cats took notice!

Right this minute Roger Federer is getting his pants beaten off by the charming young Czech, Tomas Berdych but it ain’t over until it’s over… Deuce in the third set! Well, that was a couple of minutes ago. Federer is Federer and of course he recovered to win the match. We do like our tennis, we do. However when anyone threatens to fire a ball in my direction, I duck!


  1. I found your latest post serendipitous too! We have been to Butchart Gardens a couple of times (lived in B.C. one year), watched the Pearly kings dance on the village green in Shoreham-by-Sea, have seen the Perseids or shooting stars from the darkness of our home on Shaw Road, which was almost 200 years old. We could not see another house from that property and there was an old growth woods across the road where we walked with our dog.

    We too have moved several times since we were married never living anywhere longer than ten years and it is eight years that we have been here. I still want to build from scratch a small house of my own design. I say English country style, but my dil tells me it should be French country style. Is there a difference?

    Joe is 77? Still a kid!

  2. I am trying to imagine you as a Morris dancer. Not this morning but back in the day when you were a young filly kicking up her heels.

    • Don’t stretch your imaginings, Jean. I always thought Morris dancing was “right daft” and the dancers looked like a bunch of jessies. Only men do morris dancing and as far as I know the tradition never extended to the north-east. Don’t know what that lot were doing there. And BTW as a young filly (? I never was horse) the kind of dancing I was into didn’t involve bells and sticks – or Maypoles either!

  3. You could use this link also:
    I imagine designing a house too. Maybe, one day.

    I went out this morning at 4 am to see the Perseids and only saw one and then I saw a satellite and called it a morning. The morning before, I got up at 5 am and it was already too light in the east. The viewing might be better at midnight, if you ask me.

    • Where in the sky am I supposed to look? I tried again last night at 3 ish but all I got was a crick in the neck.

    • I looked at that but decided the photo flow at Flickr was better.

  4. Would love to see a photo of the 3,000 trees and the quarry before and sfter. Fancy living in an economy where they are still giving away money for beautification!!

  5. They are in the northeast sky, near the constellation Cassiopeia (the large “W”). But they may be gone by now.

  6. I got up to see what was doing in the night sky last night and to get some stretching from being in bed so long! Out front, The Big Dipper was so bright, I think I could have taken a picture of it. I should try. It is just at tree top level.

    Yes, they were Pearly kings and queens and were covered with mother of pearl buttons. It went on for a long while and we went into a nearby pub and just watched them out the window while we had a bit of warm beer.

    Are they also called Morris dancers? I have forgotten. There were a lot of them, possibly from London which is not too far from Shoreham-by-Sea.
    That is where the airport is that is Art Deco style and still there from WW1. I was doing research for Major Desbrisay Carter. I think the story of Annie and Des is quite special. Would make a movie, it would.

  7. Val, I should scan some of the photos I took when I visited in 1986 and you could take some now to show me how much the trees have grown. The house sounds so different now too. I think Joe and Pam had only been there a couple of years when I visited. Joe’s Stephen (as opposed to my brother Stephen) used to hoon around in an old car in the sand pit and had a trail bike to hoon around in the forest! What a wonderful opportunity to be rehabilitated!! :o)

    I think the longest Paul and I have been in one house is about six years. Although, my family lived in the same house in Hamilton for 18 years. It was a great house to be a kid in. Was at the end of a no exit road with a farm next door. The farm has since been made into a park so at least it hasn’t been built on.

    Love to you both and Happy Birthday to Joe for Tuesday. (Mum’s birthday is the day before Joe’s)

    • I’d love to see some of your old photos. Indeed much has changed – even in the time since I got here – 2003. The trees of course are now lofty pines and divide the yard into the civilised, landscaped part and the wilder “back-forty”. I will find some photos for you. Also we have almost completely renovated the house. We gutted the kitchen and bathroom, removed all the panelling and drywalled and carpeted the entire house and a few years ago we added on a new master suite at the side of the house with sliders to a new deck. Needless to say all this pretty successfully drained the coffers! It really is a very comfortable home and we both love it but I think Joe is dreading the winter and all that that brings. And of course we are isolated so have little or no social life.

      Happy Birthday to your Mum!

      love, Val

    • I forgot to mention that Joe’s Stephen has not grown up much in the intervening years! Love him dearly though – he makes me laugh. He’s a great Dad too and his daughters are drop-dead gorgeous. 15 and about 6′ tall. Modelling material though I’m not sure that’s a career their parents would want for them.

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