A Travellerspoint blog

A couple of weeks in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

sunny 25 °C

For the eleventh year in a row I visited this beautiful town in the south of France both because I love it and to study French. Susan Beckman joined me again for nine days and we had a terrific time together. I had arranged for Aude Fauché to give us private lessons so Susan and I had three 3 hour sessions together and I had another three after Susan went home. These lessons, while demanding, are a pleasure with the first half in the apartment and the rest on the waterfront at Les Palmiers, one of my many favourite spots. The weather was glorious so we swam and floated on air-filled mats along with hundreds of families all enjoying the beaches. Once again we visited the Maecht Gallery in St Paul de Vence and lunched at the great Colombe d'Or. Another day with friends we ate at La Reserve de Beaulieu-sur-Mer.......it may be worth a visit but the prices are astronomical. And we climbed the Nietzsche Path from Eze-bord du Mer up to Eze Village mistakenly starting at noon on a very hot day. One lovely day followed another and I booked the same very nice apartment for a month next year.

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Shots from our apartment

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Taken on the Nietszche Path

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St Paul de Vence

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Water Park in Nice and sunset as we walked home.

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Villefranche-sur Mer and Beaulieu-sur-Mer including picture with Aude at Les Palmiers

Posted by douglasw 17:24 Archived in France Comments (0)

Celebrating a milestone

Seventy years ago I joined the Royal Bank of Canada and during all this time I have either received a salary or a pension.

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Shortly after turning seventeen my father decided I was meant for a banking career. It didn't take me long to agree(there was no choice)and on April 23, 1947 the die was cast. But before entering the branch as an employee I had to take arithmetic and spelling examinations. Since the manager who administered the tests stuttered I was worried about the spelling segment but didn't do too badly. Within a few days I was in my element. The young women who had run the branch during the war had stepped back into clerical and stenographic roles to make way for returning soldiers, sailors and airmen. At the time that was expected. And I was the beneficiary because they were terrific and very willing teachers. As a junior clerk I was in charge of the outgoing mail and the stamp box. I also changed all the pen nibs in the straight pens and washed and filled the ink wells. Remember ball point pens didn't really enter everyday use until the 1950's and fountain pens weren't accepted in the bank. Ledgers and customers' passbooks were all completed by hand and good penmanship was absolutely required in a system which balanced books to the cent. After being promoted to ledger-keeper, then teller I was transferred to Welland Ontario as Assistant Accountant where I met Effie Gifford who became my wife in 1951. To steal a phrase from Winston Churchill in his memoir about his early life I lived happily ever after. We raised three children and I had a satisfying and successful career of thirty-seven years followed by the last thirty-three years of a contented retirement in which many of the highlights are covered in this Blog.

What's this all about? Well some time ago I mentioned to the bank's Regional President that it was almost seventy years since I entered the bank. He kept track of the date and invited me to lunch in the Executive dining room to celebrate. My daughter Melinda, who is also a Royal Bank pensioner, said she would like to attend so she came from Quesnel and father and daughter were treated royally. I hadn't been on the Executive floor of Royal Centre since I retired and was thrilled.

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We stopped at Royal Fortune Restaurant on our way from the airport

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And here we are ready to head for the big celebration.

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I thought I should add the picture the bank required when I was hired.

Posted by douglasw 19:34 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

A Week in Ontario

semi-overcast -18 °C

Special days meant very little to me until I turned eighty and went to L'Institut de Français in Villefranche-sur-Mer where I knew they would make a fuss. I really have no idea why I wanted attention but I did and it was wonderful. So I repeated that experience with the same pleasant result for my eighty-fifth birthday and then did the same this year only went to my son's home in Toronto instead of France. What can I say? The day started with Doug and I going to his gym. We aren't really competitive with each other but there is a little bit of rivalry I think. And my daughter-in-law Linda outdid herself preparing a terrific feast and party for me. Five of my six Toronto grandchildren were there along with partners and two of my great-grandchildren. Two more couldn't make it. And Linda's Mom, sister and her husband completed the gathering. I'll never forget how wonderful it was.

Then we had a couple of days in Toronto during which Linda had one on one time with her Mom and Doug and I had the same. We had a pub lunch and as a highlight which we likely won't repeat visited the Royal Ontario Museum. To the best of my memory I last visited it seventy-five years ago. How time flies when you are having fun.

Next on the agenda was going to Doug and Linda's cottage in Muskoka where Linda's sister Diane joined us. We went skating.....well I had to hold on to Doug. Skating isn't the same as riding a bike so I felt like a novice but enjoyed it. And we all snow-shoed on Three Mile Lake. What a great time! Then, although I usually resist playing board games we got out the Scrabble Board.

And so a memorable and very happy birthday trip came to an end. What a lucky guy I am!

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Heading for the gym.

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IMG_2366.jpg Birthday celebration. Granddaughter Carolyn joined us on FaceTime from England. Her grandmother Margaret and I enjoyed that.

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These pictures from Muskoka are self-explanatory and I added one of Doug and me from 1956 when he needed my help skating.

Posted by douglasw 17:11 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

A Weekend in Aspen, Colorado

semi-overcast -5 °C

When my friend Susan Beckman invited me to visit her in Aspen I jumped at the chance. Her apartment, very close to the gondola and ski lifts on Aspen Mountain is about 8,200 feet above sea level so she strongly suggested I see my doctor before coming. But having hiked in the Alps many years ago I ignored her recommendation and paid the price. Here is a description of Acute Mountain Sickness (Altitude Sickness):

"Acute mountain sickness (AMS) can occur above 2,400 metres (8,000 feet), although in some people it can also present at lower elevations. Altitude sickness affects about 40% of people to some degree at a moderate altitude (about 10,000 feet). Symptoms may become evident about 6 hours after ascent, but sometimes as quickly as one hour. Headache is the most common altitude sickness symptom, which will occur in the presence of other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, increased heart rate, and insomnia. Exertion such as hiking, skiing or snowboarding aggravates the symptoms".

I arrived on Friday, didn't feel too bad Saturday but couldn't even go out Sunday. While I didn't have insomnia my heart was skipping beats and I had trouble breathing. On Monday I felt some better and flew home. Once inside the pressurized aircraft I could breathe easier and my heartrate settled down. Now five days later I am almost back to normal but had an electrocardiogram and chest exray as soon as I got home. So let this be a warning and see your doctor before travelling to a high altitude. There are medications to alleviate the condition. The former astronaut Buzz Aldrin.....who is my age.....just had to be air-lifted from the South Pole where he also had AMS.

Aspen is a former silver mining town which was settled over one hundred years ago. So while a skiing town now it has an interesting history, is a simply lovely place surrounded by mountains with the Roaring Fork River( a tributary of the Colorado) flowing through it.

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Susan's Apartment

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Town Centre about five minutes walk away from the apartment

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A park on the Roaring Fork River honouring John Denver

Posted by douglasw 19:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

European Cruise on the Norwegian Star

Visiting seven countries on one trip.

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I asked my good friend Susan Beckman if she would like to accompany me on a repositioning cruise from Copenhagen to Barcelona. Fortunately for me she agreed. The ship is now on its way to Dubai after some Mediterranean ports. First a word about the ship. Both Susan and I were very impressed with the cleanliness, service and food. Although this is an older ship it was spotless and the well trained staff were both friendly and efficient. So, while the itinerary is the most important thing to me I have no hesitation in recommending the Norwegian Star.

Our first stop after Copenhagen was Oslo. From there we stopped at the following ports: Rotterdam, Zeebrugge, Belgium from where we visited Brussels and met a friend of Susan's for a walk about and lunch, Le Havre and Le Verdon in France, then Gijon,Spain and on to Lisbon, back into Spain to the beautiful port of Cadiz. Last stop before Barcelona was in Valencia. I won't try to describe them except to say every stop was very enjoyable. The weather was cool the first half of our trip but summer-like as we headed south. And we managed to avoid rain until Barcelona where it really poured. They needed it and we didn't let it dampen our spirits. From Barcelona we took the TGV....France's high speed train for a day in Perpignan, France.

Thus endeth a lovely vacation as Susan and I each headed home.

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Oslo, Norway

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Rotterdam, Holland

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Brussels, Belgium

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Gijon, Spain

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Soulac-sur-Mer, France

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Lisbon, Portugal

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Valencia and Cadiz, Spain

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Perpignan, France

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Barcelona, Spain

A little postscript: I think our visits to the 4 Gats Restaurant and the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona were really special. Gaudi's masterpiece has been under construction for over 100 years. It should be finished in 2026. I hope to visit it again then.

Posted by douglasw 18:58 Comments (0)

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