Blogging is a bit like thinking – sometimes it’s easy to do – and sometimes it’s a bit like wadding thru a very sticky mud puddle – and it mentally seems easier to just not do it. Which explains the quiet at this end of the blog trial I suppose. It’s not for lack of doing things – it isn’t even for lack of travel to blog – it’s fear of slogging that has kept me away from the keyboard. But enough self- pity I say – put fingers to the keyboard and get going!
I left off after the battle of Waterloo – and perhaps that’s part of my problem. We in the Napoleonic Re-enactment world have been working ourselves up for the 200th anniversary of Waterloo for years – and naturally there’s a bit of a let-down afterwards. It’s over. Done. Finished. There’ll be big re-enactments for 205, 210, etc – but I suspect that until 225 – there’s won’t be an event to so capture the imagination of so many of us. We left Waterloo with little fan fare. Took down our tents, hugged, saluted, and cried a bit with our friends from around the world and eventually turned ourselves and our car in the direction of Antwerp.
Why Antwerp? Why not Antwep I say! We’d never visited it – and we were very pleased to discover a wonderful old city, filled with nifty stores, including the largest puzzle/game/toy/miniture Train Store I’ve ever spent hours wandering thru. This store had everything. It was a modeler’s heaven, a puzzle maker’s paradise! And nice. We also took time to enjoy some of the restaurants of Antwerp, to visit some of the museums, and generally tour the town. Bottom line – great place to visit. Do include it on your next trip! We left Antwerp and headed for London. While I would have loved to have taken the Chunnel – flying was most efficient – so fly we did.
We then spent time visitng with my daughter and her new husband, checking out Crowne & Queue – my daughter’s new business venture. The highlight was an over to top fancy meal at the chef’s table at XX – way too expensive, but never-the-less a delight.
We were planning to drive to Bath for another Ball – but ran into trouble at the rental car place. We’d reserved an automatic – Victor can drive standard – but doing it on the left in London traffic seemed to be asking for trouble. Anyway – we showed up on time – to be told they had a bit of an issue. Too many reservations for automatics – not enough cars. Ok – no problem. I’d be arguing that going to Bath by train was much more logical – so train it would be!
The trip to Bath was delightful. The train clean and lovely, the British countryside quaint. Bath – as billed – is a tourist town on the too cute side! Beautiful gardens (that you pay to enter), a downtown full of shops catering to tourists – and our reason for coming – a Jane Austin style Ball. Bath has an entire week of Jane Austin festivities in September – but this was June.
Our friend Michel and Ardwena have come to this ball several times – and sold us on the idea. It so worked for timing after the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels – so why not. We check into our B&B – ok, not amazing – and not cheap – and wander up to visit with our friends. We do a lovely lunch – then discover that today and today only they are holding the Bath Area Model Building Show! The location is a huge open armory like building – but the models on display are well worth checking out. We spend our time going from booth to booth – then head back for dance practice.
A short break after that – not quite enough for dinner unfortunately, and we’re all dressed up and ready to dance.
Michel looks particularly fine in his silk ‘court’ outfit – heavily embroidered – and seriously fine. I think Victor is suffering from male suit envy! Victor has opted for a wool civilians outfit – and I think he’s re-thinking it. Wool – even light wool – is warm in the summer! And definitely hot when worn for dancing. Never-the-less – the folks at Ardwena’s and Michel’s BnB think we’re all very fine – and there’s a 45 minute photo session while neighbors gawk and snap away. Then it’s on to the Ball.
Michel even asks me for a dance – sometimes I’m glad I occasionally dress as a woman! Michel is a wonderful dancer – light on his feet, bright smile, and the occasional well needed light pressure to make sure I do the right thing. Such a pleasure to dance with.
After the Ball we go looking for a late night dinner – but Bath has rolled up the carpets. It’s drinks or nothing – and drinks just don’t seem right. We all tottle off for bed. Tomorrow we’re heading back to the City – Ardwena and Michel are spending a few more days in Bath before we all fly home to Montreal on June 30th.
Some excitement at my daughter’s – my tooth breaks! I’m paniced – but not in pain. So I call – long distance – my Canadian Dentist – who agrees to see me as soon as the plane lands in Montreal on the 30th. We finish the visit with my daughter and her new hubby – fly home – and I do the dentist thing. Note this folks – teeth were never meant to last 67 years – particularly teeth that have had filled in cavities 50 years earlier. That’s why it broke. The Dentist does the repair – and I’m all good.
2 days later – I’m traveling again – this time to Wells Beach, Maine for our annual beach holiday. It’s the 4th of July – and there are fireworks here, there, and everywhere. Sophie and I stand on the beach in stunned amazement as firework displays light up the sky up and down the coast. Most amazing – the personal fireworks! I’m used to seeing professional displays – but now they are selling almost professional level fireworks to anyone! So between the longer displays from the towns are individual displays put on by neighors to our right and left. I feel very very fetted. My kids arrive, my kids leave, the weather is wonderful – the seafood awesome, the hours spent relaxing with my feet in the sand well spent. A delightful holiday.
I spend part of it teaching Sophie to read English – and we manage to catch the library in Well’s at least 4 times. Books are your friends….
Finally it’s home. And I’m so happy to see my own bed, and my own garden I could cry. Ok – I probably did shed some tears. My pond looks wonderful – it’s been an awesome green season in Montral – too much rain for some folks – but my garden is happy, happy, happy!
Not wanting to grow any moss under my toes, I left just 2 weeks later for a quick trip to St. Croix and San Juan.
St. Croix is delightful as always – such good restaurants, such fun stuff to do and see and experience. We even spend a day on board a private sail boat – hours gliding over the waters looking for turtles – and then relaxing and snorkling a quiet reef. Fun – although my sister and my grand-daughter do get a bit of sun burn. The Captain of the boat lent me a ‘rash guard’ shirt – water friendly, long sleeves, sun proof and long in the bum. I immediately want to get one for myself – so my hubby goes out shopping the very next day and gets me a lovely blue one. Perfect.
Trip highlight – Trip to Buck Island! It’s just my grand-daughter, one of my sisters, and myself – and about 15 strangers on a huge Sailboat. But the snorkeling is outstanding. Truly outstanding. We see turtles, rays, a baracuda, and a shark (he’s sleeping in the reef – and we paddle above and around him for at least 10 minutes. I particularly loved poking my hands at the schools of small fish – watching them scatter – then re-group seconds later. Too much fun.
From St. Croix – it’s on to San Juan. We stay for 4 days in a super expensive – very la-di-da resort called El Conquistor. Highlight there – the funicular that takes you from the main part of the resort down to the marina where our rooms are located. Very cool. We take 2 tours – a walk thru the rain forest – which would be better if they’d had rain. San Juan is in the midst of a 2 year drought. That said – the swim in the waterfall – pretty much the point of the entire hike – is wonderful.
Highlight – the Kayak tour of the Bio-Lumincent Bay. My sister and her hubby are experienced Kayakers – my grand-daughter and I less experienced. But never mind – how hard can it be? Well in the dark, going thru a Mangrove Swamp – pretty hard. We’re in a line of 12 Kayaks – and the idea is to pass down warnings – Low Branch, Low Branch – Pow – found the low branch…
Between us we keep the Kayak moving forward – and eventually wend our way out to the Bay. It’s amazing. No – beyond amazing. Glorious – memorable, stunning – surprising – must do! You put your hand in the water – and it lights up! As your Kayak moves forward – you frighten the fish – who in their attempt to swim away create streaks of light in all directions. It’s perfect.
Our last dinner is at a local restuarant – and the highlight of that meal was a surprisingly good Nutella Soufflé. Oh was it yummy. We leave the El Conquistor behind and head ito San Juan Proper. My sister and her husband fly home – leaving my grand-daughter and I on our own. We’re staying in a hostel in the old city – a 6 floor walk-up that is perfect. Perfectly located, AC works a treat, and we can find food for reasonable prices nearby. What more does one need.
We relax, tour the forts and museums of Old San Juan – and do a bit of long delayed shopping. We admire the cruise boats – giant towering things that dwarf the buildings of the old city – and dodge the crowds coming off the boats. Eventually we too must head back to Montreal – my grand daughter has school – and I’ve gotten word that my dear friend Michel has suddenly died.
At first my response to this news is denial. I was just dancing with Michel – how could he have died? When he returned with us from Europe back in June – he’d told Ardwena that he was feeling very tired – but they had gone to Maine anyway, spending quality time with his son and two of his grand-sons. When they’d gotten back to Montreal – he’d continued to complain about chest pains – but not gone to the doctors.
On August 13 he went out for a jog, came home and apparently collapsed in the basement. They found him hours later when it became obviously that he wasn’t coming up for breakfast. He ws 69. I hate to end a blog on such a note – but Carpe Dium. Seize the day.
Michel and Ardwena had been doing just that – the Ball in Brussels a good example of an opportunity they didn’t want to miss. None of us will live forever – and I once read that it’s the things we didn’t do that we regret. Make a list – get the things you have always wanted to do – done!
Seize the day. Travel, visit with family, call friends, go to the theatre – just do it. There is time to count your winnings when the dealings done.
Signing off to go to find another ball to dance at in Michel’s honor …. The Soup Lady.