Posted by: Valerie | December 7, 2010

Panic and parade

  Oh, crikey! Christmas is upon us. Scamper, panic, rush about. Forgot to start shopping. Forgot to gather boughs. Forgot to start decorating. Forgot to start ordering online. Trying to play catch-up with myself.

Last week we had water problems –  again. This time it was rainwater pouring in through the kitchen ceiling by the bucketful. Three days of relentless rain and a part of the roof that had given us trouble before and had supposedly been fixed, gave up trying. On the fourth day it froze. Problem over – for now. Good thing too, because no roofers are interested in sliding around on a icy roof. I guess it will be buckets and mops at every thaw and a new roof in the spring. This place is a g-d money pit. Its charm withers a little as we pay more and more trades to come and fix something or other.

 Last Saturday was cold and windy so the roof was safe and we wrapped ourselves up, grabbed our cameras and went to see the Bancroft Santa Claus parade. It was quite a big parade for the size of the town but it definitely lacked sophistication. The floats had that home-made feel. It had a wholesome down-home atmosphere which did add some charm. I felt particularly sorry for the only volunteer fireman riding around on his ATV with a stuffed Dalmatian in a fire helmet tied on the front. There were at least seven churches represented in the parade which means that four of them didn’t bother. It does amaze me that a town of 3,500 people should sport eleven churches. I know I couldn’t name them but churches are not high on my list of interesting places to visit. And there is only one pub! And nowadays I go to the pub about as often as I go to church, though those who have known me long, may find that surprising.

If you’d like to see the photos they are at

 By the time the parade was over we were frozen so we popped in to see an art exhibit nearby. The artist is a delightful, cheery Scottish woman who also owns and is the sole operator of the Blue Roof Bistro which is in my opinion the best little restaurant in town. Susan’s paintings are very interesting and if I were buying myself a Christmas present, I’d buy one of her pieces. However I am not on my list.

 Today is the 7th December. Notable in history as the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbour. Closer to home, it is notable in my family as the birthday of my twin brothers, Robin and Tom. I was 14 at the time and I was pretty well sure that civilized family life was over with the arrival of two babies. Instead of being the eldest of three I was suddenly the eldest of five. Big difference – especially as I was of an age to change nappies (diapers), feed babies and take them out in their pram on Saturday afternoons when my friends were going to the pictures, or going skating which was a good place to meet boys. I wish I could make you believe I did this willingly. Huh! I grew up, left home and eventually became very proud of them both. Happy birthdays, wee brothers.

 It was a chaotic time. I think that chaos fuelled our family in those years. My Mum was not really suited to having a heap of kids, act as receptionist and bookkeeper for Dad’s osteopathy practice which operated out of the house, and breed show dogs. The patients’ waiting-room was actually our dining-room and keeping the family separate from the patients involved “Sssh! There’s a patient in the waiting-room” “Keep the noise down – there’s a patient in the surgery.”

My young Dad in the 30s.

In his early days I think my Dad was a bit of a reprobate. Before the war he used to play the saxophone in band at the Hammersmith Palaias de Danse and was an apprentice tailor’s cutter during the day. But then came the war and that straightened him out. Father made it through the war and was demobbed with a suit paid for by the army, a wife and a baby that he never seen (me).  Along the way he had spent time under guard for having punched a senior officer but also  qualified as a physiotherapist. He needed a job.  He decided against going with the new National Health Service and opted for a private practice. I know he had hard times getting established but eventually Dad developed his practice in osteopathy and finally acupuncture. His patients came from all over Scotland, ranging from the humble to the nobility, so I guess he must have been pretty good at what he did. We, of course, were the “cobbler’s bairns who gang oft unshod”. I vividly remember a rare occasion when Dad volunteered to get rid of a wart that marred my ten-year-old paw. There was a catch though. He had only just acquired the carbon-dioxide snow kit and was trying it out on me while reading the instructions from the manual. It hurt, need I say? Generally we just went to the doctor like normal people. My father was a difficult person in many, many ways and had a wicked temper but I have to admit that he did know his business and was a talented therapist, even after he retired, unwillingly, at 75.

We are going to have a little treat at the end of the week. Snowfalls permitting, we are going to visit some friends who run a lovely bed and breakfast just by Deerhurst near Huntsville. November/December is their quiet time so they have time for visitors and they are wonderful hosts. We will laugh and swap stories while concentrating on wine tasting. Looking forward to it greatly!


  1. My god those people look nithered–I would have been in the one and only pub.
    Your archive of family photos is great–I wish I had the same. You are leaving a fascinating family history for your grandchild, even if he has to learn that his greatgrandfather had a wicked temper but he played a mean saxophone.

  2. How does one “puched” a senior officer?

    Keep a sharp weather eye out, Lass. There is a ton of snow predicted for Sunday onwards. That means it will probably arrive on Saturday. Better safe than stuck in snow in the middle of nowhere. Wait … isn’t that where youse live ?

    • Thanks for the weather warning. I can’t think of anything worse than being stuck up by Algonquin Park in a warm house with good friends and lots of good food and wine. That would be just awful! Just have to make sure that Joe has enough sleeping pills to get through or we’ll both have a bad night or so!

  3. Hey! The software edited out my “g” in the first sentence and the “vbg” in the last sentence. Grumble …

  4. Don’t think I can imagine being as cold as those people must have been on the parade, especially at the moment!

    Hope you had a good time with your friends at the B&B!

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