Category Archives: England

Mr. Holmes- Growing Old is Not For Cowards

“Growing old is not for cowards.”   My mother-in-law said that a number of times to me in the last years of her life. It is something I thought of over and over again as I watched the beautifully filmed Mr. Holmes on Friday night. As we witness the character growth of Sherlock Holmes, who exhibits exemplary courage in the face of his imminent death, we  learn valuable lessons about growing old. 

Never stop searching for answers. 

Writing helps us  remember. 

Personal relationships are life’s greatest value. 

Sometimes we need to fictionalize our past to some degree in order to live in the present. 

Connections with nature enrich us, ground us and give us perspective. 

Teaching something to someone else is energizing and rewarding. 

Bees and bee-keeping play a prominent role in the movie Mr. Holmes and the life lessons the film teaches drip like honey from a comb into your heart- sweet and to be savoured. 

Other posts about movies and relationships……...

A Sure Fire Way To Make Your Day

The Parent Child Connection

Love in a Lunchbox

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Filed under Books, England, Movies, Reflections, Retirement

The Beginning and End of Life

ron mueck girlJaws drop, eyes widen, and voices exclaim when I take kids into the room at the Winnipeg Art Gallery where Australian born, London-based artist Ron Mueck’s enormous sculpture The Girl is on display. umbilical cord ron mueck's the girlThe little girl has just been born and her umbilical cord is still attached. Blood remains on her wrinkled and folded skin. ron mueck's the girl faceYou can see the glisten of saliva on the baby’s lips, the wet of mucus in her nose and her tiny eyelashes. ron mueck the girlYou need to walk slowly all around the figure and think about it. Mueck says that while he spends lots of time making the outer surface of his giant human beings it is really the life inside them he is trying to capture. ron mueck the girlAfter our older son was born my husband walked around the delivery room carrying him and talking to him. “I wonder what he is thinking,” he said to me. Mueck’s sculpture has that quizzical thinking look about it. mueck the girlMueck has created other life-size sculptures of babies. He made the first after the birth of his child. Mueck reflects on the strangeness and assertiveness of infants and the way a new baby tends to totally dominate our lives. old woman in bed mueckMueck’s Old Woman in Bed is on display just a few steps away from The Girl.  This art piece shows a dying, vulnerable woman in her hospital bed. She is as tiny as Mueck’s baby is big. old woman in bedOne high school girl in a group I toured through the exhibit had tears in her eyes. “My grandfather just died,” she said to me. “My mom is trying to connect with his soul.” Artist Ron Mueck made the Old Woman in Bed after visiting  his wife’s beloved grandmother in the hospital. mueck old woman in bedThe woman is curled in a fetal position, and her wrinkled skin, so like the wrinkled skin of the baby, links her clearly with the new born girl nearby.  This exhibit juxtapositions the beginning and end of a woman’s life beautifully and in such a moving and compassionate way.

The Girl and Old Woman in Bed are on loan to the Winnipeg Art Gallery from the National Gallery in Ottawa till  October 4.  They are not to be missed!

This post has been updated here

Other posts……..

Portrait or Landscape

A Quick Dip into the AGO

Landscapes for the end of time


Filed under Art, australia, England, Winnipeg, winnipeg art gallery

The Fab Four- Learning More

Visiting Abbey Road in London in 2005

Visiting Abbey Road in London in 2005

For the past couple weeks I’ve been doing classroom visits for the half dozen student teachers I mentor. Monday I got to sit in on a music appreciation class where one of my students is doing a unit on the Beatles.

My husband Dave crossing Abbey Road 2005

My husband Dave crossing Abbey Road 2005

Since I’m married to a Beatles expert I wasn’t expecting to learn lots that was new. But I did. I learned that Paul McCartney played a special kind of bass called a Höfner which was designed and built in Germany. Paul made the instrument famous. It is often referred to as the Beatles bass.

I learned that Ringo Starr was left handed and yet played on a drum kit set up for right handed players. This led to him creating a very distinctive sound.

 I found out about John Lennon’s glasses. John Lennon started wearing his signature round granny glasses when he played the role of Private Gripweed in the 1967 Richard Lester movie, How I Won the War.  Pairs of his glasses have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.

I discovered that when his band mates weren’t taking George Harrison’s new song  While My Guitar Gently Weeps seriously enough he asked his friend Eric Clapton to come into the recording studio to play guitar for the song. Clapton did and the song became a huge hit.    One of the things I love about my job mentoring university education students is all the interesting things I learn when I visit them in the classroom. 

Other posts…..

Learning Cool Things

Oh the Things You Learn

Crossing Abbey Road


Filed under England, Music

One of My Photos is in a Book of Saints

I’ve decided this blog is my hobby.  Some people knit, golf, do crossword puzzles or make pottery.  I write blog posts.  There are many rewarding things about my hobby. I learn about new things. I reflect on new experiences. I make connections with new people. 

That happened again recently when I connected with Mike McKnight. Mike is a publisher in England.  

He is working together with Leo Osborn the Chair of the Newcastle Methodist District to produce a book about some of the saints who have had an impact on Mr. Osborn’s life.  One of the people Mr. Osborn has written about is Takashi Nagai. 

When I was in Detroit last year I visited the Solanus Casey Center on a cycling tour and saw the bronze statues that are said to be the human representations of each of the eight beatitudes. The statue for blessed are the meek is of Takashi Nagai.

He was a Japanese doctor who lost his wife and was injured during the bombing of Nagasaki. He cared tirelessly for other victims and worked towards forgiveness and reconciliation. He established a prayer house, wrote a book and planted thousands of cherry trees to help reclaim the devastated landscape.

Takashi Nagai

I took a photo of the Nagai statue in Detroit and published it on my blog.  Mike McKnight wondered if they might have permission to use it as an illustration in Mr. Osborn’s book.  The book is Mr. Osborn’s retirement gift to the Newcastle District and the profits from its sale are being donated to charity.

I was more than happy to help Mr. Osborn and Mr. McKnight with their project and was honored they wanted to include my photo.

My connection with Mr. Osborn’s project is an example of how my blog has connected me with new people and allowed me to share my photos and stories with a wider audience.  Blogging is an interesting and rewarding hobby for me. 

Other posts………

The Beatitudes Come to Life

The Lady From Saskatchewan, the British Dentist and Me

What Are People Saying?


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Filed under Art, Books, England, People, Religion, Writing

The Lady From Saskatchewan, The British Dentist and Me

He took a photo of my photo in London! A woman named Edith from Watrous Saskatchewan who follows my blog, recently sent me a letter with a number of photos attached. The letter was from her British friend Stephen. Edith had read the post about my photograph appearing in the Supreme Court Building in London and had contacted Stephen to tell him about it.

Stephen’s photo of the Supreme Court Building

 Stephen who became Edith’s friend during a stint working for a government dental program in Canada, happened to be in London at a meeting of  the British Orthodontic Society and his meeting site wasn’t far from the Supreme Court Building.

Stephen’s photo of the exhibit

So on the recommendation of his Canadian friend Edith he went to see the exhibit about landmark cases decided by the British Privy Council.

Stephen’s photo of my photo- you can see my name along the side

It included a description of one case brought before the Privy Council that was  illustrated with my photo. Five Canadian women petitioned to have the women of Canada recognized as persons who could  vote and run for government office. 

Stephen’s photo of the interior of the Supreme Court Building

Stephen reported that security getting into the Supreme Court building was extremely tight – as tight as at any airport – full search and scan of all his belongings, removing his belt, jacket and shoes. 

Stephen also took this photo of the view just outside the Supreme Court Building and wrote,”This is the view opposite the Supreme Court – showing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey where Kings and Queens are crowned. It is a rather important central location! In fact it doesn’t get more important than this.”

Stephen ended his letter which Edith forwarded to me by saying “personally I am glad that the Court found that Canadian women were ‘persons’ after all and that Manitoba women were first to receive the vote, thanks to Nellie McClung.”

One of the reasons I love writing this blog is because it connects people around the world- in this case a lady from Saskatchewan, a British dentist and me. 

Other blog connection stories……

 It’s a Small World

What Are People Saying? 

The Famous Five

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Filed under Canada, England, History

To The World Peace

Westminster Abbey London

I once attended an Evensong service at London’s Westminster Abbey. People have been worshipping there for a thousand years. My chair was beside a pillar decorated with a bust of poet and painter William Blake. 

Blake claimed imagination was God’s greatest gift to humans.

I was right near the graves of  Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Dickens, Byron and Keats. What would it have been like to attend Westminster Abbey in the company of such literary greats? Dickens once said people can be at peace with themselves if they have tried to be gentle, merciful and forgiving- desiring to love both neighbour and enemy. 

The worship hour began with the choir’s soprano soloist singing My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord. As I listened to her voice soar up into the rafters I couldn’t help but remember Elton John filling Westminster Abbey with his song about England’s Rose at Lady Diana’s funeral.

The service went quickly. We rose and sat and kneeled. We said the Lord’s Prayer and the Nicene Creed. The rector read the story of Joshua from the Old Testament and then prayed for each member of the royal family. No doubt despite their wealth and notoriety, or perhaps because of it, they need God’s grace and guidance as much as any of us do.

Tombs of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth beside each other in Westminster Abbey

I walked out of the sanctuary past the graves of the first Queen Elizabeth and her sister, who was also a queen and known fondly as Bloody Mary. The siblings were archenemies in life, but they rest in peace in Westminster Abbey beside each other for all eternity.

Just before I stepped out the door I looked down and found my feet firmly planted on Charles Darwin’s tombstone.  It seems ironic that Darwin whose evolutionary ideas so many churches have railed against is buried in the world’s oldest and most famous church.

As I exited the wrought iron gates around Westminster Abbey I looked at the blessing engraved on the outer wall of the church.

To the living-grace

To the dead-rest

To the world- peace

I quietly whispered- Amen.

Other posts about churches…….

Church of the Holy Cross – Sedona

Connections at All Saints Church

A Church and A Bar on Every Corner

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Filed under Culture, England, Travel

Crossing Abbey Road

On CBC  this week radio personality Michael Enright pulled recordings out of the station’s archive to let us in on how the Canadian media had covered The Beatles first visit to Canada fifty years ago. It reminded me of the Beatles’ pilgrimage we made on our trip to London. Here’s what I wrote about it at the time.

We took a Magical Mystery Tour when we visited London. When we were planning our holiday in the British capital my husband Dave said his top priority was to tour some of the city sites related to The Beatles. Dave is the owner of all the albums the group has produced and can sing on demand almost any song John, Ringo, Paul and George every recorded.

Shortly after we arrived in London he found a brochure advertising a walking tour which would take visitors to many locations important to the careers of the Fab Four.      

Dave with our guide Richard

  At ten o’clock one morning we met our guide Richard and about two dozen other Beatles aficionados just outside the studio where the first Beatles’ movie Yellow Submarine was made. Richard had written a book about the Beatles and had a binder of photos he had taken of the famous quartet. He was a veritable walking encyclopedia of Beatles trivia. He told us Yellow Submarine is one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite films.

Dave at the gate outside the MPL Music Company building

The second stop on our tour was the music company MPL which was founded by Paul McCartney in 1971. The M stands for his last name and the P and L for his first name and that of his late wife Linda. The music company is wildly successful. It owns the rights to hundreds of popular songs as well as the scores to musicals like Annie and Grease. Much to Paul McCartney’s chagrin, however, the rights to all the songs he wrote with John Lennon were purchased by the infamous Michael Jackson.

 Next Richard led us to a Gentleman’s Washroom sign marking the location of a public toilet. Apparently, in 1966 John Lennon made a guest appearance on a British television program. In one scene John was filmed going into that particular washroom. It was on this television show John wore his signature granny glasses for the first time. Those glasses started a fashion craze which lasted for years. Richard also told us some enterprising person kept the roll of toilet paper John Lennon used in the Gentleman’s Washroom that day. It recently went on sale on E- Bay for thousands of pounds.

Our tour continued with stops at the Apple Production Studios where the group gave their final concert on the rooftop in 1969. We saw the London Library. Here original scores of many of the Beatles songs are on display.

The Palladium Theatre London

We stopped outside the Palladium Theatre where the Beatles gave their first concert and Trident Studios where Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was filmed. Our guide Richard put to rest the rumor that the song’s title stands for the drug LSD. Apparently, the real story is that John Lennon’s son Julian came home from kindergarten one day and showed his dad an imaginative drawing he had created and colored. When his Dad asked him what he called his picture he said, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” so John wrote a song about it.

The Abbey Road Recording Studio

The highlight of the tour was our visit to the Abbey Road studio where perhaps the most well known Beatles album Abbey Road was recorded. The front cover of that album shows the four singers walking across the street at a pedestrian crosswalk. The intersection is actually quite busy with traffic but I waited patiently with the camera to get a picture of Dave crossing the street barefoot at the exact spot where the Beatles had their picture taken for the Abbey Road Album cover. Later we stopped to buy Beatles T-shirts for our sons who grew up listening to Beatles music with their Dad and had no choice but to become Beatles fans as well.

My husband Dave crossing Abbey Road 2005

Our Magical Mystery Tour was over.

Other posts about music of the 60’s……

They’d Never Heard of Woodstock

Walking Into A Bob Marley Tourist Trap

Lesson From Leonard Cohen

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Filed under England, Music

My Photograph is in the Supreme Court Building in London

A photograph of mine is hanging in the Supreme Court Building in Parliament Square in London England. It’s been there for a month now and 12,500 people have already come to see it. It will remain on display till September 23.

  the famous five winnipeg legislature groundsThe photograph is one I took at the Manitoba Legislature grounds in Winnipeg. It features the statue created by Helen Grange Young to honor five Canadian women who petitioned the British Privy Judicial Council in 1927 to allow women to be recognized as persons in their own right. The Supreme Court of Canada had ruled they were not persons and therefore they were not eligible to run for public office in Canada. the famous five manitoba legislative groundSo they took their case to the British Privy Judicial Council. From 1833 to 1950 this council served as the highest court of appeal for the colonies of the British Empire, including Canada. The Privy Council ruled in favor of the women’s petition to be recognized as people.

ben-wilson-uk-supreme-courtEarlier this year I was contacted by Mr. Ben Wilson the Communications Director of the British Supreme Court who said they were planning a special exhibition in their building this summer featuring some of the landmark cases that had come before the British Privy Judicial Council during its more than a hundred years of operation. They wanted to include the women’s rights case advanced by the five Canadian suffragettes Irene Parlby, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung and Louise McKinley. These women are often referred to as The Famous Five. Mr. Wilson the court communications director said while searching for a photo to include in the display about The Famous Five he came upon a blog post I had written about the women. My post included photographs of the special artwork that has been erected at the Manitoba Legislature to honor them. He wondered if I would be willing to let the Supreme Court use my “wonderful photographs” of the sculpture. I replied that I’d be honored.

Supreme Court Building Parliament Square London

Supreme Court Building Parliament Square London

Last week Mr. Wilson kindly sent me photos of the exterior of the Supreme Court building in London’s Parliament Square where my photo is exhibited. JCPC exhibition Famous Five in contextHe also sent photos of the room where my photography work is displayed with the story of The Famous Five and a copy of the press release announcing the exhibition. The press release highlights three stories featured in the exhibition including the one about The Famous Five. Lady Hale cuts the ribbon to open JCPC exhibitionMr. Wilson also sent a photo of Lady Hale, the Deputy President of the Supreme Court opening the exhibition. 

Although together they were a formidable team for advancing women’s rights each of The Famous Five did many admirable things on their own. heinretta muir edwards manitoba legislatureHenrietta Muir Edwards was a founding member of the Victoria Order of Nurses and published the first magazine for working women in Canada. emily murphy famous five manitoba legislative groundsEmily Murphy was the first female magistrate in the British Empire and was instrumental in having the Dower Act passed which insured wives would inherit a portion of their husband’s estate when he died.irene parlby famous five manitoba legislature grounds Irene Parbly served as a cabinet minister and sponsored the Minimum Wage Act for Women. Louise McKinney the famous five manitoba legislative groundsLouise McKinney a member of the Alberta legislature introduced legislation to support people with disabilities, immigrants and widowed and single women. nellie mcclung the famous five manitoba legislative groundsThanks to Nellie McClung Manitoba became the first province in Canada to give women the right to vote in 1916. The people of Canada owe a great debt of gratitude to these five women.

   JCPC exhibition Famous Five panelAlthough I wish I could have gone to London to see my photograph of The Famous Five on display in the Supreme Court Building I am still thrilled to have played a small part in having these crusading women’s story told outside of Canada.

Other posts……

Thanks to the Winnipeg Art Gallery I’m in the Pre-Raphaelite Art Society Newsletter

I’ve Put Winnipeg On the Map

The Famous Five


Filed under Art, Canada, England, History