Category Archives: Friends

All Aboard the Canadian with Buddy and his Four Fantastic Furry Friends!

We started with two travelling companions – Buddy the Dachshund and Seaumus the Scottish Terrier. I know that’s not the traditional spelling for Seaumus, but there is a reason for that which I will reveal at a later date (and in another book).

While it’s not the book I planned on releasing by the end of the year, this one spoke to me on our recent trip to Vancouver and back on VIA Rail’s Canadian. Four days and four nights on the train in each direction.



Here are the boys looking out the window in the dome car on our way to Vancouver.

It wasn’t until the return trip that we added to our little “family.” The first addition was Butterscotch the moose. She’s VIA’s little travel buddy. One of the employees on the train had one with her in the Park car, and I fell in love with it. Suffice it to say; it wasn’t long until the golden-brown moose became one of us.

At our stop in Jasper, we picked up two more ‘kids.’ This time bears joined the group. Jasper (aptly named considering where we picked him up), the black bear, and Banff the brown one who is quite likely a grizzly bear, given his colour.



All five are in the window of the Park car watching the world go by.

One morning when we returned to our cabin after breakfast, as usual, the bed was put away, and the room back in its ‘daytime’ configuration, and all five of the ‘kiddies’ were arranged on the sofa.


This note from Hollie, in our Prestige Travel Journal, was on our coffee table.

It was late when we arrived in Edmonton, like about four hours late. We put the kids to bed and got off the train for a breath of fresh air long enough to take this picture of them looking out the window. I think they’re looking worried, especially Buddy.


We left them on their own again one more time when we arrived in Saskatoon.

Overall, they behaved well, although Hollie had to put Jasper and Banff on a time-out once.

A children’s picture book was never in the plan when we first booked the train trip earlier this year. Even on the way to Vancouver, it never crossed my mind. I planned to work on my novella, the second book in the ‘It Happened’ series set in the Gastown neighbourhood of Vancouver.

At some point on the way home, the light went on, and in the space of one afternoon, I had the children’s book plotted and partially written. That, in itself, was quite the feat as we were hurtling across the prairies at breakneck speed at the time. Wendy H. Jones, I salute you for being able to write on the train. I could tune out the people around me, but trying to type and keep my MacBook Air from escaping from me was easier said than done.

If all goes to plan, by the end of this year, yes 2019, I’ll have an illustrated children’s book featuring the five stuffed animals which came home from Vancouver with me on the train. I’ve contracted the gal who is going to do the artwork for me through Fiverr. Her name is Aria Jones. I’m impressed with her work.  I know the size and format I want for the print version, so it’s a matter of adding the illustrations and finding a printer. I know, sometimes that’ s easier said than done.

The plan for this year also includes having Book Two of the It Happened series published. That means, head down, bum in chair, and fingers burning up the keyboard.



#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 14 – There be Wales!


Sept 14 – There be Wales!


Not a lot of pictures taken today. Despite the map saying the driving time would be a little less than four and a half hours, it took much longer to get to the Travelodge at Pencoed in South Wales than that. At least it felt that way. Lots of roadworks, reduced speed limits.

We arrived at the hotel shortly before 3:00 pm – just before check-in time. The desk clerk suggested we walk over to the Harvester Restaurant for a drink while we waited.

Since we were bursting in need of the loo, we took him up on the offer. Best of all, the toilets were just inside the restaurant doors so we could get relief before getting a drink.

We were meeting our friend, Anne, here at the restaurant for supper at 6:00 so we got a menu so we could look it over while we drank and take it back to the room. Make it easier to decide what we wanted for supper.

Checked in to the hotel. The room was upstairs (the first floor) but we’d climbed stairs every place else so far on our trip. Unfortunately, the room didn’t have electrical outlets near the bed so we hauled out the North American extension cord we brought from home and pressed it into service. Hubby’s CPAP machine isn’t much good without electricity.

We headed back over to the restaurant shortly before 6:00 as we wanted to be there when Anne arrived.

While we waited in the bar side of the restaurant for her arrival, another patron struck up a conversation with us. I found him very hard to understand so his companion had to translate a lot for us.

Sept 14
Anne and me

We brought bottles of real maple syrup in maple leaf shaped bottles with us to give as gifts to our UK friends and family, so once settled at the table, we gave Anne’s to her. Thrilled to receive a bottle of the sticky treat, she presented us with a Welsh Lovespoon in return.

All too soon, our wonderful evening ended. We waited with Anne until her taxi arrived, said our goodbyes again, and returned to our hotel room.


Out with the old…

out with the old

Out with the old…

Another year has come and gone. Where did the time go? It doesn’t seem possible that 365 days have passed since 31st December 2014. But they have. Wow!

Any resolutions for 2016?

Does your city, town or village do anything to send off the old year? If you live in or near Edinburgh, they put on a fantastic night of entertainment/. And yes, the Scots call New Year’s Eve Hogmanay. That’s a fun word. Hogmanay.

#Scotland 2015 Day 5 – Nairn to Kennethmont

#Scotland 2015 – Sept 15, 2015

We woke to another day of sunshine. Since we were close to the sea, I thought it would be nice to drive along the coast of the Moray Firth for at least part of our journey.

Being the stinker that I can be (I know I hear you saying – “You? Never”) I really wanted to go through Cullen. Travelling from west to east, the 90 degree corner at the bottom of the hill isn’t so intimidating. When we were over in 1997, we came through Cullen from the opposite direction, my husband behind the wheel. After the sharp corner at the bottom of the hill after passing under the railway viaduct, he swore off driving in Scotland for good.

Moray Firth at Cullen and a section of the viaduct for the dismantled railway
The smallest section of the viaduct
The section of the viaduct over the main road

Can you imagine how loud the noise from the train would have been in these houses? How about the shaking every time a train went through? The little white one has a small gate separating it from the viaduct but the one across the street is attached.

Since we were so close to Ladysbridge (the site of the former asylum that I used in my novel, A Shadow in the Past) we drove by it to see if the two boarded up, almost derelict houses had been refurbished. Nothing had been done to either one of them, but two brand new houses now stood in between them. And the old school building on the opposite side of the street to the main asylum (now luxury flats) was in the process of being pulled down.

After seeing Ladysbridge, we headed off to Orbs Bookshop in Huntly. The lady who used to run the shop contacted me in Sept 2013 about getting copies of A Shadow in the Past after I’d returned home (timing is everything, eh?) so I reached out before this trip and arranged to drop copies my novel off and the possibility of a signing. Anyway, the two books the shop could definitely purchase were signed and the transaction completed. We also volunteered our friends who lived nearby to keep the remaining books and take them to Huntly as and when required.

While there, another woman came in. She was involved with the MacMillan Cancer Support organization so I signed and donated a copy to the cause.

Before we left Huntly, we went over to the castle – another Historic Scotland property. We’re members of Historic Scotland so we get in to their properties free of charge and manned properties have toilets… except they were out of order this day.

Huntly Castle

While we were at the castle at the top of the tower on the left side of the photo above, we met a couple from Belgium. She immediately noticed that she and my husband both wore the same trainers. Obviously, that brand is known world-wide. Anyway, we had a great conversation with them before going our separate ways.

the top of the tower where we met the young couple and scenery beyond

Since we couldn’t bring home our bottle of 18-year old Cardhu on our last trip, we went back to Knockando where the distillery is located. The plan was to cut across the A920. There was a diversion sign on the A96 just before the intersection but the grass was long enough that we couldn’t see exactly where it was on the road we planned on taking. We got most of the way across when the road was totally closed. Mind you we’d met a fair amount of traffic so didn’t give it much thought… until we came to the construction site and the hole in the road. A slight backtrack and across a single track road, and into familiar territory thanks to the diversion because we drove by Fernbank House B&B where we had stayed in 2013.

Our bottle of Cardhu safely in hand  and toilets used at the distillery we were ready to drive to Kennethmont. In addition to the diversion due to the closure on the A920, there was also roadworks at Dufftown. To avoid this, we took the A95 to Keith where we hooked up with the A96 which would take us to Huntly.

We made a quick stop at Tesco for supplies – champagne (to toast our friends’ 30th wedding anniversary and our 40th), wine, something for supper, and a pay as you go sim card with top-up card for my unlocked iPhone.

It must have been roadworks season because when we got the B9002 that would take us to Kennethmont, it was closed at the end where it joined the A97. Luckily, there was another road that would take us past the closure without having to go way our of our way.

We spent an enjoyable evening with our friends, drank one of the two bottles of champagne (deciding to keep the second one for our last night with them).

#Scotland 2015 Day 1 – Toronto to Glasgow

#Scotland 2015 – Sept 11, 2015

Things didn’t get off to the most auspicious of starts for our trip. First thing in the morning, we tried to do the ‘pre-board’ from home. Well, our flight wasn’t even listed! Suffice it to say, panic ensued.

A call to the airline confirmed that our flight really was scheduled – the website wasn’t refreshing properly and the flights listed on it were for the previous day. Being booked on Option Plus, gave us priority handling and boarding at the airport anyway, so not being able to pre-board from home wasn’t a huge problem.


We made it to Toronto without incident and whizzed through security and out to our departure lounge. There was a plane at the gate with the outer and inner engine cowling open and hubby found out that it was our plane. Doesn’t give you a warm fuzzy. Apparently, it had been in the hanger for about 4 weeks and almost forgotten about.

It was well after dark by the time the engine cowling was closed and the baggage went on. We were to start boarding at 9:15 but that was delayed by 15-20 minutes.

While we were waiting at the gate while the crew did the pre-flight checks, the power on the plane went off. By now, we were beginning to wonder about our decision to fly on 9-11. They always talk about the emergency lighting on the floor – well, it showed up really well. So now we know if we ever need it, we’ll be able to see it.

We were finally on the plane. Not the first row with only two seats near the back but the second. Actually, these were better seats because the tray tables were attached to the backs of our seats.

Despite being behind schedule in the beginning, we were in the air and on our way… with an anticipated landing half an hour earlier.

Option Plus doesn’t have all the perks of Club Class but it’s still worth the money. We had booked this last year when we flew to Paris but were upgraded to Club by the airline (possibly because of my gimpy leg) so we had no idea what Option Plus was like.

Once we got to cruising altitude, we each received a 200 ml bottle of Bottega Gold Prosecco. With our meals, we got a bottle of wine – our choice of red or white. I chose the red (what else is new) Whistling Thorn Shiraz and hubby the Whistling Thorn Sauvignon Blanc.  Best of all, the extra 10 kilos on our baggage allowance so we won’t have to worry (quite so much) about overweight bags when it comes time to come back to reality.