Jan Leeming Blog

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.

 

Archives:

2017 - November (1)
2017 - October (13)
2017 - September (4)
2017 - August (2)
2017 - July (2)
2017 - June (10)
2017 - May (4)
2017 - April (8)
2017 - March (2)
2017 - February (1)
2017 - January (9)
2016 - December (9)


All - 2017 (56)
All - 2016 (107)
All - 2015 (52)
All - 2014 (112)
All - 2013 (143)
All - 2012 (109)
All - 2011 (119)
All - 2010 (85)
All - 2009 (85)
All - 2008 (49)
All - 2007 (2)
All - 2006 (3)


RSS

Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

REMEMBRANCE DAY

Date: 13th November 2017

Through Twitter I've become friends with James Kitto who lives in Cornwall and takes some amazing photos. He is a teacher and sent me this lovely poem about Remembrance Day and has allowed me to share it with you.  I'm doing so because not only is it apposite and poignant but I am disturbed at reading that many of today's youth do not buy a Poppy because they mistakenly believe it glorifies War.  On the contrary, Remembrance Day and wearing a Poppy commemorates huge sacrifice on those who died (and the families they left bereft) in order that we enjoy the freedom we do today

The Inquisitive mind of a child"

Author Unknown

“Why are they selling poppies, mummy,
Selling poppies in town today?
“The poppies, child, are flowers of love
For the men who marched away.”
“But why have they chosen a poppy, mummy,
Why not a beautiful rose?”
“Because, my child, men fought and died
In the field where the poppy grows.”
“But why are the poppies red, mummy,
Why are the poppies so red?”
“Red is the colour of blood, my child,
The blood our soldiers shed.”
“The heart of the poppy is black, mummy,
Why does it have to be black?”
“Black my child, is the symbol of grief
For the men who never came back
“But why, mummy, are you crying so?
Your tears are giving you pain.”
“My tears are my fears for you, my child,
For the world is - FORGETTING AGAIN
 

And the photo is the one taken by James

REMEMBRANCE DAY

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


FIRST DATE - 2nd October-Channel 4

Date: 28th October 2017

When I was invited to appear on the Special edition  of #FirstDate for Stand Up To Cancer, I thought it would be the usual Reality type programme of setting us up to be 'laughed at'.  However having met the team for an intitial interview I really liked them and truly felt that they want positive results from the programme and are not out to embarrass anyone.  

At the interview I laughed and told them they'd have an impossible task with me - being the age I am, with a not too good track record of marriages, and simply being me.  However they assured me they'd find a 'match'.

Obviously I cannot disclose the outcome but have to say the whole evening was great fun.   I don't think I've ever worked with such a nice team of people - all genuinely hoping to bring some love into the lives of others.  And they have notched up a few marriages and some pattering of tiny feet.

They have a waiting list for the programme of 300,000 - imagine that!  When I visited their offices I saw the 'Call Centre' of staff who initially talk to the folk who apply to be on the programme - there must have been around 40.

I was happy to take part.  My fee - and that of the others on the programme - goes to Stand Up 2 Cancer, there was a chance I might be introduced to 'Mr. Almost Right' and more than anything it would be fun.

Have to say I wish the Maitre D were older or I was younger - he's my kind of guy and I'm an absolute pushover for the Frenchman speaking English - maybe it is my French ancestry.  He was absolutely charming - and that's what has got me into trouble most of my life - I'm a romantic and easily won over by Charm ?????? Trouble is that most charmers are 'charming' others at the same time???? In the words of Frank Bruno 'know what I mean'!

Anyway - hope you enjoy the show.  I can't wait to see what happened to the others - didn't even know who else was on the programme as we were all kept apart.

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


CANADA & New England in the Fall - Just You Singles Holidays

Date: 19th October 2017

I’ve just returned from my fourth Just You Singles Holiday and again it was superb. This time it was Canada and New England in the Fall with an add on of four days in New York. I’d never visited either Canada or New York so the experience was new and exciting.

We all met up at Heathrow Terminal 5 - very distinguishable by our green and blue labels - and the wonderful Aideen introduced herself as our Tour Manager. I don’t know whether it is Age or whether I’ve always preferred to be ‘looked after’ but there is great comfort in knowing that the Tour Manager will take care of everything from ensuring cases are delivered to your room at the many and varied hotels at which we stay to making sure there are adequate ‘loo’ stops on long journeys, and that no-one gets left behind or left out. Aideen was also a great character who had us in stitches of laughter many times.

We flew into Toronto and apart from the fact that it was ‘self service’ machines and, of course mine didn’t work, immigration was relatively painless.

I’ll devote individual blogs to every one of our ports of call. In brief we visited Toronto, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec, Stowe, and North Conway in Canada (sadly No Mounties). Then we crossed the border into the USA - Boston and New York. I was fortunate enough to have Helicopter rides over Niagara Falls and also New York City.

http://www.justyou.co.uk

Toronto from the CNN Tower

CANADA & New England in the Fall - Just You Singles Holidays

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


TORONTO - Just You Singles Holidays

Date: 18th October 2017

CANADA AND NEW ENGLAND IN THE FALL

It was a day flight to Toronto so I caught up on some great film watching and hoped I’d keep going till at least 8.00 pm - there’s a five hour time difference behind the UK.

I’ve never visited Canada and was excited to be visiting and gaining new experiences and they came by the bucket load.

Toronto is a very interesting city as were all the cities we visited on this leg of our tour. Of course we went up the CN Tower which was, until recently, the tallest free standing building in the world. I think the Saudis have topped this claim. Our city tour included the elevator ride up to the first viewing ‘platform’ quite an experience in itself. But yours truly wanted to go higher and walk on the glass floor. Photography was certainly a great deal better from the higher level as, apart from the glass, very little impedes your view. I had expected the glass platform to encircle the tower but it actually only covers about a quarter of the platform. However it was still rather exciting to be ‘standing in space’ as it were.

There was a half hour before the coach was due to depart and I’d noticed on the other side of the road a Railway Museum. There were many old engines, carriages etc. representing the golden age of steam. They had a carriage from the Canadian Pacific Railway ‘Cape Race’ and I’d always wondered what a ‘Caboose’ looked like (there’s a caboose in Starlight Express) and there was one proudly standing by a Railway Turntable. I’d not got the time to visit the Museum Building but all the trains outside were glorious and great to photograph. (I envisaged so many of the old Hollywood films which had featured railway journeys)

Our Toronto town tour also took in the Distillery which, thank goodness, was saved from Demolition and is now a World Heritage Site. The Distillery was very important in the days when it was safer to drink Beer than water. Today there are craft shops and cafés housed in the old buildings which are architecturally interesting and very attractive.

http://www.justyou.co.uk

The Old and the New - Railway Museum - Downtown Toronto

TORONTO - Just You Singles Holidays

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


NIAGARA, THE FALLS & NIAGARA ON THE LAKE- Just You Singles Holidays

Date: 17th October 2017

CANADA AND NEW ENGLAND IN THE FALL

Our next destination was Niagara, the Falls and a small town called Niagara on the Lake.

The Niagara Falls are glorious whether viewed from the Air - which I did - dry-ish land - or from the River.

I was fortunate enough to make a helicopter ride over the Falls which showed clearly the horseshoe bend in the river which gives rise to the ‘dual’ falls. Back on dry-ish land the Falls were equally spectacular with the added roar of the water. I say dry-ish because there’s one spot where the spray from the Falls is like fine rain. Some of our party chose to go on ‘Maids in the Mist’ river trip. This is an experience where the river boat approaches the Falls and all on board get soaked despite the wet weather gear which is provided. I found it highly amusing to see the river craft - on the Canadian side all the passengers wore red rainproofs and on the American they were all in blue - the river separates Canada from America and both sides ‘show the flag’ so to speak.

We had unseasonal hot weather and the spray from the Falls was very welcome. All of us had looked up the weather in advance for the whole holiday and had packed accordingly with layers of clothing. Turns out I’d have been better off with the clothes I took to Croatia. Half my clothes never left the case and I was ringing the changes with the same lighter clothes from beginning to end of the tour. Mind you I’m not complaining. We only had rain once in 2 weeks and that was overnight.

We moved on to what must be the most stunningly beautiful small town I’ve ever experienced - and I’ve seen some super ones in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Everything in the town was like walking in a paradise of immaculate flower beds, hanging baskets and iconic craft shops. Obviously it is a great tourist attraction but even the tourists couldn’t spoil the wonderful atmosphere of Niagara on the Lake.

I must write a few words about coffee in Canada. I like proper coffee which is flavourful and not bitter served in china - cup preferably but mug acceptable. Not only was most of the coffee served in cardboard cups wherever we went but it was pretty lousy. However in Niagara on the Lake we asked a storekeeper where we could get a good cup of coffee and were directed up a side street to Balzac’s - the coffee was excellent and the decor fascinating - some of the chairs and ‘sofas’ were constructed from old cabin trunks and suitcases - and it was served in a cup and saucer - Bliss.
 

http://www.justyou.co.uk

Niagara and the 'Maids in the Mist' boats

NIAGARA, THE FALLS & NIAGARA ON THE LAKE- Just You Singles Holidays

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


MONTRÉAL - Just You Singles Holidays

Date: 16th October 2017

 

CANADA AND NEW ENGLAND IN THE FALL

Our next stop was the lovely city of Montréal - pronounced by the French locals Mont - Réal. I really did feel I could have been in France from the lovely Art Nouveau French Buildings to the Basilica of Notre Dame not unlike Notre Dame in Paris.

We were taken on a walking tour of the city and some of the larger buildings put me in mind of the kind of buildings I saw years ago in Chicago - very Art Deco. However, I suppose when you think about it, most of these cities were being created around the same time late 19th - early 20th Century when Art Nouveau and Art Deco were very much the order of the day.

We saw some very beautiful and very expensive Inuit Art work - predominantly sculptures in beautiful local stone.

Although I don’t wear fur on ethical grounds, I can still appreciate fashion and I have never ever seen such stunning fur coats as in a shop in Montréal very close to the statue of Nelson! Nelson I hear you say ……… and it was a huge pillar with Nelson sitting atop it rather like the one in Trafalgar Square. Not only that but it was commemorating a defeat of the French by Nelson - odd, very odd.

The subject of Fur is an interesting one. Twenty years ago, I visited a Gulag town in Siberia arriving when the temperature was -41 degrees. Our hostess offered us some very very heavy real fur coats. I politely asked if I might ‘try’ my own very lovely Fake Fur coat and if I hadn’t found it warm enough, I would willingly borrow one of hers. My Fake was more than adequate for the week’s stay.

I didn't like seeing the stuffed Polar Bears, Bison etc. but I suppose in a predominantly cold country where the Inuit kill animals for food/survival, the use of their pelts is almost justifed.   I suppose at least the animals have a life and the Inuit have to pit their skills against rather fearsome creatures.

http://www.justyou.co.uk 

MONTRÉAL - Just You Singles Holidays

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


QUÉBEC - Just You Singles Holidays

Date: 15th October 2017

The next stop on our travels was the city of Québec - probably the most French of all the Canadian cities. Most Canadians are bi-lingual and our Guide mentioned that in Montréal you are likely to be greeted with 'Good Day - Bonjour' but in Québec it is definitely the other way around.

The small Harbour/Port in Quebec is a World Heritage Site and has been faithfully produced from documents of the 17th Century - you really do feel you are walking around an old part of France.  In the middle of the square there's a large column with a Bust of Louis X1V - Why?  Because Louis financially sponsored some 770 women who arrived in the colony of New France (Canada) between 1663 and 1673. They were single French women and orphans transported to Canada with their passage paid for by the King and in some cases with a royal gift of a dowry of 50 livres for their marriage to one of the many unmarried colonists. These gifts are reflected in some of the marriage contracts entered into by the ‘filles du roi’ at the time of their marriages.

Most of the millions of people of French Canadian descent today in Quebec, the rest of Canada and the USA are descendants of these courageous women of the 17th century.

(On line you can find a listing of the Filles due Roi and also a listing of the soldiers who married them - fascinating I think)

Québec is So…… French that one sees everywhere the Copper roofs so reminiscent of the French Chateaux. And one of the central parks has a huge statue to Joan of Arc to which our guide wickedly referred as ‘Joannie on her Pony’.

A group of us teemed up and went for a lovely leisurely French lunch with a bottle of Provençal Rosé. I’m no wine connoisseur but tend to favour the Rosés of Provence as being the most full bodied and driest- but that is only my choice.

By this time I was really 'falling in love with Canada' and wishing I had the wherewithal to have a home there.

http://www.justyou.co.uk

QUÉBEC  - Just You Singles Holidays

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


OTTAWA - Just You Singles Holidays

Date: 14th October 2017

 

CANADA AND NEW ENGLAND IN THE FALL

Next stop was Ottawa and a 1,000 island cruise. There are actually 1,600 and we certainly did not circumnavigate all of them. It was a very interesting cruise with a recorded commentary documenting the history of Ottawa, the Great Lakes, and the Hudson with good photo opportunities.

Ottawa is the capital of Ontario and has an imposing Parliament building not unlike our own. In a park to the side of the building is an area with more than life sized bronze statues of the women who fought for equal rights and very impressive they are. Nearby, and looking beautiful but oddly out of place is Chateau Laurier,  built by one of the great Railway magnates as an hotel for the Rich. I had a peak inside and it is still very impressive with marble everywhere, huge public rooms, and photos of all the famous who have stayed there.  Two sights which totally delighted me were a Groundhog munching away on the grass near Parliament House and a gorgeously shiny Black Squirrel - it was magnificent and very difficult to photograph.

One of my overriding memories of Ontario will be of the Rideau Canal - 202 kilometres in length and with over 45 locks. In winter, the water level is lowered and 7.8 kilometres of the river freezes creating the longest skating rink in the world - and locals actually skate to work.

It might surprise you to read that during it’s construction as many as one thousand of the workers died from malaria,other diseases and accidents. Most deaths were from disease, principally complications from malaria (P. vivax), which was endemic in Ontario within the range of the Anopheles mosquito. Think of it - a country with long hard winters and yet subject to malaria in days gone by. The history of the Rideau Canal is fascinating - to find out more look it up on Wikipedia.

There’s a great French feel to Ontario and some of us dined in a little square which made me feel I was back in my much loved Provence. We had a great guide in Craig and I think we all wished we could have spent more time there but that’s how you feel on a Just You adventure - you see so much you are left wanting more.

http://www.justyou.co.uk

Having visited Vimy Ridge in France, I found this very moving - commemoration of the 100 years since the first World War in which so many Canadians lost their lives


 

OTTAWA - Just You Singles Holidays

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


STOWE - Just You Singles Holidays

Date: 13th October 2017

STOWE

After Québec we journeyed on to cross the border into the USA. Crossing the border was quite a task and even though it was a tiny border crossing, it took nearly 3 hours. Thank goodness there was only one coach in front of us which had nearly completed the formalities.  In fact we were there so long the guards actually allowed us to walk the length of the building and use the Loos - something unheard of according to our Driver.

Aideen cautioned us not to talk to the Border guards, not to make any jokes and to queue in silence. However I found my chap very amiable, chatty and pleasant and he grinned when I told him how we’d been told to behave. I do think he was unusual because mostly they are pretty obnoxious and officious.

So we were now in the US of A as the Americans like to call it. We stopped at a diner - an experience in itself with absolutely whopping helpings! I thought I ought to try the renowned American pancakes and asked if I could have two instead of the three on the menu. NO - it had to be three!! But they were huge, thick and very filling and the proprietor was most upset that I’d left so much! This happened to me in Florida many years ago when I ordered a fish meal. The fish was delicious but would have fed three people. When I left a large amount the waitress was most concerned and wanted to know what was wrong with the meal - absolutely nothing but the helpings were just too big.

Next on the Agenda was a visit to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory - I kept calling it Tom and Jerry’s (after the cartoon). I’d not expected the trip to be so interesting but it was and it was also run along ethical lines and a proportion of their profits go to help people in third world countries. Part of the visit included a sample which was dished out in a little carton. It was absolutely delicious but was more than enough for me - I’d never have got through a ‘proper helping’. I’m always on the look out for interesting photo shots or other elements of surprise so while some of my fellow travellers were queuing to buy gifts or more ice cream, I followed the sign to the Graveyard!!! A Graveyard at an Ice Cream factory - yes with the graves of the flavours which had been retired (due to falling sales) or simply died of old age (longevity) The poems and salutations on the Headstones were highly amusing.

Our stopover that night was the pretty little town of Stowe - not quite as picturesque as Niagara on the Lake but lovely non-the-less.

And then we were off again ………

http://www.justyou.co.uk

STOWE - Just You Singles Holidays

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


NORTH CONWAY via MONTPELLIER - Just You Singles Holidays

Date: 12th October 2017

NORTH CONWAY via MONTPELLIER

There’s little chance for a lie-in with Just You - the itinerary is action packed. Although the main Maple Production is in Canada, we had so much to see there that our visit to a Maple Farm was designated for the USA. I think we all found the visit thoroughly fascinating. Did you know the Syrup has to be tapped (like a rubber tree) at a certain temperature and is harvested when the farmers are wearing their winter coats and snow is on the ground.

We met a couple of real old characters who related the story of the Maple gathering which was quite fascinating. There are dozens of different Maples. Maple syrup is a syrup usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, or black maple trees, although it can also be made from other maple species. In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in late winter and early spring. Maple trees are tapped by drilling holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap, which is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup.

We were served a sample in a unique way. There were gherkins on the table probably to cut the sweetness of the Syrup. We were given little cups of crushed ice and a measure of the syrup - very runny but which solidified on contact with the ice. You then scooped it up onto a biscuit or a gherkin and it was delicious. I don’t have a sweet tooth but I did purchase a small bottle shaped like a Maple Leaf - well I had to didn’t I.

Our next port of call was the smallest Capital in the USA with possibly one of the largest Capital buildings - Montpellier is the State Capital of Vermont and a truly magnificent edifice and a great place to photograph. 

It was only a whistle stop at Montpellier but we did see one of the famous bridges over the river - not covered and not like the Bridge at Madison County! but interesting nevertheless.

Our resting place for the night was North Conway - again a small and attractive town and this time with a lovely covered bridge and many interesting craft shops.


http://www.justyou.co.uk

NORTH CONWAY via MONTPELLIER - Just You Singles Holidays

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.