Pikes Peak with Claudia and Scott

Have you met Claudia at The Bookwright? No? Pop over to have a look, I’ll wait…

Claudia and her husband, Scott, live near Denver and very kindly offered to pick us up and take us to Pikes Peak for the day. Colorado has 54 “Fourteeners” and at 14,115 feet Pikes Peak is only the 31st highest! But don’t worry, there’s a road all the way up (or a cog railway) so no climbing was involved. Not only that, you can eat donuts at the top – it’s amazing that they cook at such high altitudes.

It was, as you might expect, a tad chilly – but as you can see below, we all look very happy to be there.

Not far from Pikes Peak is Garden of the Gods, a park with magnificent red sandstone rock formations, many of which are over 300 million years old. We stopped off there on the way back to Denver.

We must have behaved ourselves, because next day Claudia and Scott offered to take us out again! This time, we visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The gems and minerals section was particularly impressive.

As was the Sky Terrace with its views over City Park towards the Rocky Mountains.

What an amazing two days! This was the fourth time that we have met up with fellow bloggers, and all have turned out to be lovely people. Many thanks to the wonderful Claudia and Scott for giving so generously of their time to show us around.

That’s almost it for our Summer 2016 road trip – we flew home the next day. However, we didn’t have to be at the airport until early evening so there was plenty of time for one last visit – Denver Botanic Gardens. Coming up next!

Looking back on Leonard

Leonard Cohen in Dublin 2013
Leonard Cohen in Dublin 2013

I can’t definitely say that I’d never heard of Leonard Cohen until 1980. I’ve seen YouTube clips of him on TV series that I know were required family viewing in the 1960s, but if he ever made an impression I quickly forgot him. However, when a new boyfriend introduced me to Songs of Leonard Cohen and Songs of love and hate I was hooked. Thirty six years later, I can’t say John (for it was he) and I have embraced all of each other’s musical tastes. I have never reconciled myself to Captain Beefheart, and he can’t understand why I find Abba so entrancing, but we share a good solid core and Leonard was the first. And the best.

Neither of us had ever seen him perform, so you can imagine our joy when he started touring again in 2008 – and then our sorrow when we realised that his only UK dates were when we were on holiday in the US. Not to worry – he would be performing in Dublin before we left. I still class that weekend as one of the most special in my life.

My weekend in Dublin with Leonard Cohen (I wish)

While we were away, we got an excited message from a friend, another Cohen fan. Good news! New dates! Leonard was coming to Glasgow in November. We immediately ordered tickets. I remember the concert was the day after the US election in which Obama got in for the first time. There was a sense of elation from both band and audience at the line Democracy is coming to the USA. That’s quite poignant to look back on too.

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Leonard Cohen and band in Berlin 2012

In 2012, we travelled to Berlin where the stand-out line in terms of audience participation was First we take Manhattan – then we take Berlin. This left me with the ambition, sadly unfulfilled, to belt out the same line in Manhattan some day.

Berlin: Leonard Cohen at the Waldbühne 05/09/12

However, we did get one more chance at a Cohen concert towards the end of his touring days when we travelled to Dublin again in 2013.

Dublin Diary: Day 1

Leonard was still in such good shape then. He skipped and danced, bent down on his knees – and got back up again without a struggle! When his former lover and muse, Marianne Ihlen, was dying earlier this year it worried me that he told her that he wouldn’t be far behind her, then I heard that he had said in an interview that he was ready to die. He recanted this in his final interview at the launch of his last album just a few weeks ago, but he looked terribly frail and, from comments made by his son Adam, was in a lot of pain and not very mobile. I was shocked at the decline in just three years, but I suppose that’s old age and we all have to face it.

I’ll leave you, not with my favourite Leonard Cohen song which would be far too hard, but with this little gem that I discovered a few years ago via the wonderful site, Cohencentric: I love Leonard Cohen.

Leonard – you might, or might not, have been ready to die, but we certainly weren’t ready to lose you. So long, and thanks for all the memories.

On being 90

Last month, we celebrated my Mum’s 90th birthday. Here, she describes the weekend on her own blog.

It was always sunny

Chris Mitchell 90thOn the 21st October 2016 I became a nonagenarian. When I was a wee girl I was very proud to have been born on Trafalgar Day, which in these far-off times was celebrated widely. I was also exactly six months younger than Princess Elizabeth of York, which pleased me when I was old enough to know. When I began to feel I might make it to ninety I had a trawl through the internet to see who, apart from Nessie and Nancy, Paisley Methodist friends, might be sharing the occasion. There were quite a lot, most of whom I’d never heard of, but two appealed to me.

John and I were tremendous fans of the first and had a great admiration for him. He is now regarded as a National Treasure, not surprisingly. He opened our eyes to the wonderful wildlife in many places in the world which few of…

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Niagara

Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls

On the Wednesday of our week in Toronto, we caught an early bus out to St Catharine’s where we were met by fellow blogger Birgit of BB Creations and her husband Michael. This was the start of a wonderful day on which we had a pair of fabulous tour guides all to ourselves!

After a short drive from St Catharine’s, we parked by the Skylon Tower at Niagara Falls.

Perhaps remembering our fleecing at the CN Tower we didn’t go in, but walked down to the Falls which are, of course, best viewed from the Canadian side.

These guys seem to be thinking “seen it all before”.

Above the Falls, this building is the first major hydro-electric plant in the world – one of the investors being Sir Henry Pellatt of Casa Loma, subject of an earlier post. Opposite is a statue of Nikola Tesla, engineer and inventor, who was also involved.

After visiting the Falls, we drove to Niagara-on-the-Lake, making a few stops along the way. One was at Brock’s Monument, Sir Isaac Brock being a hero of the War of 1812. Some of the figures at the base were quite strange (and I don’t mean me and Birgit!)

We also stopped at the tiniest chapel I have ever seen, the Living Water Wayside Chapel.

Then we arrived at Niagara-on-the-Lake for a convivial lunch and a wander around this pretty town.

The fort seen in the gallery above is Fort Niagara, on the American side of the Niagara River. During the War of 1812 the British and the US managed to “swap” forts, with the former capturing Fort Niagara and the Americans capturing Fort George on the Canadian side. We visited Fort George – I’m not sure it was strictly open (there was a lot of work going on), but we wandered through without challenge anyway.

After that, it was time for Birgit and Michael to take us back to St Catharine’s to catch our bus. It’s also time to close my tales of Toronto – this must have been one of the most sociable breaks ever. Not only did we meet fellow bloggers Birgit and Jill, we met up with old friends from Glasgow too. So thanks Birgit and Michael, Jill, Stewart and Edith, and Amr and Anney for giving us such wonderful times.

Our next venture “abroad” was to England – coming soon, Northumberland.

Toronto: an urban walk

Monteith Street, Toronto
Monteith Street, Toronto

On our third day in Toronto, I was excited about meeting fellow blogger Jill from My Spanglish Familia. The rendezvous was a café in Little Italy – about 45 minutes walk according to Google Maps – so off we set.

Our starting point was Monteith Street in the Church-Wellesley Village. That’s our B&B above, the Downtown Home Inn, the first house in the row past the purple flag. We had the apartment at basement level which I can recommend as spacious and comfortable – it also meant we had our own kitchen which was handy on occasion. I wouldn’t book any of the other rooms because they all have shared bathrooms and ensuite facilities are one of my red lines. If that means I’m not a true traveller, too bad!

The Village itself is very gay-friendly with rainbow lines at road junctions and some fabulous murals.

Our route took us along Wellesley until we hit Queen’s Park, home of both the Ontario Legislature and the University of Toronto – some beautiful buildings here.

Cutting down onto College Street, we passed a rather splendid looking public library. I’m always interested in those!

Still, no time to go in – on we pressed to meet Jill. And it was just like talking to someone I already knew – which, of course, I did since we’ve been commenting on each other’s blogs for a year now. After a good blether over coffee, we walked to Kensington Market where we enjoyed lunch at a Mexican restaurant (very good, not at all like Mexican food at home, but – Jill being something of an expert – I know to be much more authentic).

She also introduced us to churros – fried dough stuffed, in my case, with chocolate, Mmmm – that’s what I’m clutching in the photos below. I couldn’t actually eat it straight away because I was so full from lunch!

After the churro stop, Jill headed home to collect her children. We took a further stroll round the area enjoying its quirky sights. I can’t remember now which of these are Kensington Market, which Little Italy and which Little Portugal but they’re all quite close together.

Footsore by now, we retraced our steps home. This was one evening when our kitchen came into its own – we didn’t feel like another full meal out, so we purchased pizza slices and beer from local takeaways and consumed them with our feet up.

Many thanks to Jill for making the time to meet us for a few hours – it was a lovely, sociable day.

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk – check it out for more walks around the world.

Postcard from Toronto

Toronto from Ward's Island
Toronto from Ward’s Island

Well – not exactly a postcard from Toronto, because we arrived home last night, but a holding post until I get time to write up our visit in full. We had an amazing time, not only sight-seeing but also meeting old friends from Glasgow and meeting online friends in person. It was a pleasure to spend time with Jill of My Spanglish Familia

Anabel and Jill
Anabel and Jill

– and Birgit, and her husband Michael, from BB Creations.

Birgit, Anabel and Michael
Birgit, Anabel and Michael

To be continued…..

People Make Glasgow: Mary Hill

Maryhill Burgh Halls
Maryhill Burgh Halls

Today is the day when many of my blogging friends are revealing their A to Z Challenge themes. I had a brilliant idea for a theme, based on the success of last year’s Gallus Glasgow. (Actually, what I mean is that pal Helen MacKinven had the brilliant idea for me. Check out her site if you want to see a poodle in pink shades.) People make Glasgow is the city’s current marketing slogan, and the idea was to choose some of the city’s historical figures to show how they still influence Glasgow today. The downside is that I left the research too late and had too many letters missing, so it’s going to appear as an occasional series instead. This is the first.

One way of influencing a city is to have part of it named after you – impressive! Mary Hill (1730-1809) and her husband, Robert Graham, inherited the Gairbraid Estate because Mary’s father, Hew Hill, had no male heirs. Mary and Robert ran into money troubles after speculating in coal-mining, but their big break came when parliament approved the planning of the route of the Forth & Clyde Canal in 1768, which went through the estate. They were compensated for this and once the canal was completed, around 1790, their land along the canal suddenly became much more valuable and they sold it with the condition that if a town was to develop in the area it would be named after Mary.

Maryhill became a burgh in 1856 and was incorporated into the City of Glasgow 1891. Its Burgh Halls were built in 1878, fell into disrepair in the 1960s and were rescued and reopened in 2012. A major factor in raising money for the refurbishment was the stained glass – 20 panels featuring the small industries and factories in 1870s Maryhill. Normally, stained glass is seen in churches and palaces, so I think it was visionary for the time to create windows showing ordinary people in their ordinary working clothes going about their daily tasks.

Maryhill Burgh Halls stained glass
Iron moulders and calico printers

I live very close to Maryhill, and since last autumn I’ve been volunteering as a Heritage Tour Guide at the Burgh Halls, on both the general tour and the Women of Maryhill tour which I’ve researched and developed myself. I graduated in history a very long time ago and I’m really enjoying being able to put that to use in retirement. You can see me (red stripey jumper) at the tour launch below …

… and enjoying tea and scones with some of the participants after the most recent tour on Saturday.

If you’re in and around Glasgow, keep an eye on the Maryhill Burgh Halls website for news of more tours and events.

 

Reflections Enroute: Meeting Corinne and Jim

Corinne and Jim Vail of Reflections Enroute
Corinne and Jim Vail of Reflections Enroute

Although I’ve made friends in real life with people first encountered on Twitter, until recently I had never done the same via blogging. I was delighted to learn a few weeks ago that Corinne and Jim Vail of Reflections Enroute were about to pass through Scotland, and I hoped that their itinerary would allow us to meet up. It did!

Corinne and I first chatted over last year’s A to Z Challenge where we both wrote about places we had visited (some were the same, e.g. X for Xian) and I formed the impression that we would get along. Fortunately, I was right. John and I had a lovely evening in Glasgow with Corinne and Jim, sharing some of our favourite Scottish beers and food.

What will you find on Reflections Enroute? In Corinne and Jim’s own words:

 [We are] an American couple living in Germany, and we make it our priority to travel as often as possible.  Taking advantage of living in the center of Europe, we take weekend jaunts to new cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and other historical treasures visiting as many smaller destinations as we can.

If you haven’t already done so, I recommend you pop over and take a look.

Until we meet again, Corinne and Jim, slàinte mhath!*

*Gaelic for good health, often used as a drinking toast, as in cheers!

3 Day Quote #3: Dad

John Mitchell 1929-2015
John Mitchell 1929-2015

To a father growing old, nothing is dearer than a daughter. -Euripides, playwright (c. 480-406 BCE)

I subscribe to Anu Garg’s A.Word.A.Day email – every day a new word defined with examples of usage and a (usually unrelated) quote at the end. This one jumped out at me on 15th June. Why? A couple of weeks before, on 31st May, my dear Dad died and I hoped the quote was true. I wanted to pay tribute to him on this blog somehow, and La Sabrosona‘s challenge allows me to do that.

Dad would have been 86 on July 3rd and had been a minister and a preacher for over 60 years. When he gave up preaching a few years ago I started a blog with him, and to mark his birthday I posted his obituary, as written by his friend and colleague Wes Blakey. If you want to know more, head over to John Mitchell – called and sent. But this IS a travel blog, so I thought I’d celebrate Dad’s life with some childhood photos of us having fun at the seaside and in the country. I’m the big sister. And check out our Harry Potter-style Ford Anglia! I can still remember its registration, 823 LPP.

So thank you once again to La Sabrosona for her nomination. I find that these challenges can be valuable if they make you think. They can encourage you to post something you wouldn’t normally write about, or maybe to tackle a subject from a slightly different angle. However, as before, I’m not passing the nomination on to specific bloggers although I encourage anyone who has quotes to share to take part. You are all stars!