Friday, December 22, 2006

Kensington Market Festival of Lights

Photo by sjgardiner
Photo by Cornelius Crab
To the 20th annual celebration in Kensington Market to mark the Winter Solstice. "The Festival of Lights was created by Ida Carnevali in 1987 when a handful of costumed troubadours with trumpets and tambourines defied the mid-winter blues; this now legendary multi-cultural celebration welcomes thousands of participants annually. "
We were amazed by the fabulous stilted dancers, massive puppets, street performances and sheer number of revellers. Marchers carrying hand made tissuepaper lanterns inspired us to pledge to participate next year. See Red Pepper Spectacle Arts for more.
We duck into the King's Cafe to warm-up, talk business and have a vegan Chinese dinner.
The "Fried Bean-Curd and Veggies" was not what we expected when it arrived - this tasty dish was comprised of strips of crisp tofu layered on seaweed and garnished with steamed bok choy. The curried vermicelli noodles were a big hit. "Lightly fried rice noodles done Singapore style with bell peppers and an assortment of vegetables in a spicy curry sauce."
192 Augusta Avenue, Toronto, ON M5T 2L6416 591-1340

City View Alternative School's Winter Feast

Carrying a vegan pasta dish, still warm from the oven, we arrive at City View Alternative School to find a team of parent volunteers busily organizing the annual Winter Feast. Every detail is well thought out and things run very smoothly. Some 280 people were expected to attend and it was "standing room only" near to showtime. A full program of entertainment from choirs singing in French and English to Break Dancing impressed the diners. Music choices ranged from Mary Poppins to Neil Young to Bach.

City View Alternative Senior School is located on the third floor of Shirley Street Public School near Dundas Street and Brock Avenue. The school has been operating for eleven years.
- The school serves over 60 grade 7 and 8 students drawn from across the city. The
majority are of English speaking backgrounds. Outreach is being done to increase the
number of students with different ethnic backgrounds.
- The school has three classrooms (one with computer lab and library), a
lunch/multipurpose room, an office/kitchen and a computer room - all on the third floor.
- The school shares the gymnasium and school yard with Shirley Street Public School
and has access to the pool, gym and ice rinks of the McCormack Centre.
- Open House for prospective Grade 7's for September 2007 is Tuesday, January 23rd,
at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Evangeline Residence Christmas Party

Kudos to Beth, Bev and others at Keele Street Christian Church for organizing the annual Christmas Party for the women of Evangeline Residence, many of whom attend services at our church. On Sunday we helped gift wrap the boxes of corporate and private donations of gloves, scarves, socks, shampoo, toothpaste and other items for each of the 72 residents. One church member kindly crocheted 72 pairs of slippers as she has done for several years.
We sang Christmas carols, chatted, gave out the gift bags and shared some goodies.
Looking around the room it struck me that many of the women fall into one of two categories; those new to this change in lifestyle who seemed bewildered and a little embarrassed; and those who have come to rely on the shelter system to keep them safe and off of the streets. It's difficult to imagine a sadder plight in either case.
I can't help thinking that although the Christmas gifts and socialization were warmly and gratefully received, there is more support that we can offer year round.

"The Evangeline Residence has served the women of Toronto for more than 100 years, in various locations. It can shelter as many as 77 women who are homeless for a variety of reasons. Abused women, refugees, post psychiatric patients, and mothers who need help reuniting and providing for their children come to the Evangeline Residence for help.
The Evangeline Residence ministers to the whole person – mind, body and soul in a way that affirms the value of each of the 1100 women who pass through its doors each year. They work to follow the example of Jesus who, “felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help.” Matthew 9:36, NLT" From the official website.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fran's Famous Rice Pudding

After the concert we opt for dinner at Fran's Diner - grilled veggie wrap for me. I order the world famous (to die for) rice pudding for desert and convert two friends to the cause.
"The Fran’s tradition started over 60 years ago with Fran Deck and his wife Ellen Jane. Starting with a modest ten-stool diner at St.Clair and Younge St in 1840, the couple’s vision was one of serving unique high quality food throughout the whole day to their customers.
Over the years Fran’s became a Toronto institution known across the city and surrounding areas for its unrivalled home style cooking and warm welcoming atmosphere. Offering fresh food 24 hours a day it quickly became a gathering place for people from all walks of life. "
"The most recent addition to the Fran’s family is located right in the heart of the downtown core at the corner of Shuter and Victoria St’s. This location was designed to mingle the old with the new and it is clearly apparent in the décor. We are walking distance from the Eaton Centre, Queen St shopping, steps from Massey Hall, and the Canon and Elgin Theatres. Able to accommodate parties from 1-40 people, open 24 hours a day every day of the year.
200 Victoria St. (Victoria & Shuter. At the Pantages Hotel)"

Sing-Along Messiah

To Massey Hall for Tafelmusik's 20th annual Sing-Along Messiah:
"Tafelmusik is delighted once again to welcome George Frideric Handel[played by Tafelmusik Choir director Ivars Taurins] as guest director of its annual Sing-Along Messiah. Tafelmusik first asked Mr. Handel to take on this role 20 years ago, undaunted by the fact that he'd been dead some 227 years...Unlike the many crates of fine vintage claret that are a significant bargaining point in his contract, Mr. Handel has not mellowed with age, and his legendary rapier wit and fiery Saxon temper are as sharp as they were over 250 years ago. "
"The sheer joy you will feel as your voice joins a mass choir of 2,500 to sing the Hallelujah chorus may be the best Christmas gift you receive. Bring your own score, or purchase one at Massey Hall. Seating is by voice part, and non-singers[That's me!] are always welcome."
Mr. Taurins and the Tafelmusik Orchestra, Choir and soloists did not disappoint. The experience was in a word - heavenly.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Nativity Story

There were 25 of us from Keele Street Christian Church and 9 other people in the audience for a showing of The Nativity Story on Wednesday evening. Pastor Grant had posed the question, "Why would I see it?", in his sermon titled Strong & Silent:Joseph last Sunday. His answer was that because we are so familiar with the story we sometimes forget the drama of the story. He encouraged us to view the film in order to reconnect with the drama of it.
Through this film, one gets a feel for what life in Nazareth and Jerusalem would have been like at that time - the constant work needed to keep life and limb together overshadowed by fear of the Roman soldiers and King Herod's oppressive regime. I found the scenes with Mary and her Cousin Elizabeth particularly moving.
I realize it is difficult to collapse the timeline of the four gospels into a two and a half hour film, however I found the Magi storyline diverged too far from the scriptures for my taste.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


To the Bluma Appel Theatre to see CanStage's production Glorious! starring Nicola Cavendish as Florence Foster Jenkins. Cavendish wowed the audience with her portrayal of the wealthy socialite who has been characterized as the, "world's worst singer".
"From her recordings, it is apparent that Jenkins had little sense of pitch and rhythm and was barely capable of sustaining a note. Her accompanist can be heard making adjustments to compensate for her tempo variations and rhythmic mistakes. Nonetheless, she became tremendously popular in her unconventional way. Her audiences apparently loved her for the amusement she provided rather than her musical ability. Critics often described her work in a backhanded way that may have served to pique public curiosity." Source:
Strong performances were also given by Jonathan Monro as pianist Cosme McMoon and Dixie Seatle as faithful friend Dorothy and the comedic performance of Maria Varatisis as Maria the Mexican maid had the audience roaring with laughter.

The game's afoot Watson!

My husband requested some micro-film from an Alberta library for his book research so we went to the Toronto Reference Library. While there I checked out this interesting exhibit:

A Case of Considerable Interest - An exhibition celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection of the Toronto Public Library

October 18, 2006 - January 7, 2007
TD Gallery - Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street (1 block north of Bloor)
TD Gallery Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 10-8; Fri.-Sat. 10-5; Sun. 1:30-5
For further information, call 416-393-7158
Check out the fun,interactive web page which will help you learn more about the collection and this exhibit.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bonfire Tour Days Twenty-six to Twenty-eight:Lewes, East Sussex

Day Twenty-six, Sunday November 12, 2006
Only place for breakfast in Lewes early on Sunday morning is Caffe Nero where we have yogurt, croissants and coffee. To Saint John's Southover for Remembrance Day service. The names of four family members are read out in the Roll of Honour. The service and the vibrant church community do them proud.
Quick grocery shop at Tesco before picking up Julian at the Trevor Arms in Glynde before a drive to Brightling - home of Mad Jack Fuller. Take photos of the obelisk, pyramid and church. Pleased to see that they now have postcards of the church, one of which shows Fuller's pyramid tomb. Pop in to the Swan Inn at Woods Corner, Dallington for beverages.
Back in Lewes I meet my sister and family at Caffe Nero for coffee before going to their place for dinner. Photo: many birds perching on St John's basking shark weather vane.
Day Twenty-Seven, Monday November 13, 2006
Our last day in Lewes and there are many loose ends to tie up. I visit the library to use the internet, return a book and make photocopies. We drive out to Hamsey to look for Willmett's Farm and the Old Rectory which is now Hamsey Manor. On to the Bluebell Railway's Sheffield Park station where get platform tickets and have coffee. Quite a crowd is gathered there as this is the final day of the Terrier Gala - A gathering of five of these popular locomotives dating back as far as 1872.
Lunch at the Chalk Pit Inn on the Offham Road, just outside of Lewes. I am surprised to read about the Shiffner connection to the chalk pit and its tramway which idocumenteded on the pub's walls.
"During the early 1800s the owner of the chalk pit decided to build a tramway to transport the lime and chalk from the quarry down to the barges on the river Ouse, as the steep slope was dangerous and costly in both horse and carts and men. In 1809 William Jessop opened the tramway which had a large wheel at the top with a brake, the weight of full trucks of lime and chalk travelling down pulled the empty ones back up the 60% sloped track. This method of transport was used until 1870 when the pit was closed."
Visited my grandmother's cousin Mabel who will be 101 year young on December 15th, 2006. She is as alert and chipper as ever. I told her that her brother Fred's name was read out on the Roll of Honour at Southover Church during the Remembrance Service and she was moved to tears.
Met up with various folk at the Brewers Arms including Kim Fuller whose branch of the family has been traced back to Waldron, Sussex and may be connected to Mad Jack's tree.
Day Twenty-Seven, Monday November 13, 2006
Sorting and packing to go home before quick breakfast. I have acquired at least 25 books on various subjects from Frida Kahlo to Michael Faraday. Many thanks to our chauffeur Michel who drove us to Gatwick airport. No problems checking in and the flight is uneventful. Landing at Pearson is the usual nightmare - no we don't have a $2 coin for a luggage trolley, how many people landing there off international flights would? We opt to take a limo and are glad to be back home after a month away.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bonfire Tour Days Eighteen to Twenty-five:Lewes, East Sussex; Caterham,Surrey; Clenchwarton, Norfolk

Day Eighteen, Saturday November 4, 2006
To the farmer's market which is held on the first Saturday of every month,9 amm-1pm in the Cliffe Pedestrian Precinct. Rupert was doing "vox pops" live on Rocket FM (getting folk to speak to Dino Bishop in the studio via mobile phone.
Lunch at my sister's with the crew, then of to the temporary Rocket studio at real estate agent Fox & Sons on the High Street which overlooks the War Memorial.
There is no possible way that words can do justice to the sheer scale and magnificence of the Lewes Bonfire Grand Procession - even pictures can't capture the intense atmosphere. Suffice it to say, they did themselves proud and we had arguably the best view in town.
On to the uptown studio after the procession as the Bonfire Societies moved on to their fire sites. The whole thing is surreal and dreamlike. Traffic is blocked off from the town. Torchlight, flares and fireworks give the medieval streets an eerie glow. Being dressed in "normal" clothing makes you feel a freak.

Day Nineteen, Sunday November 5, 2006
Excellent family church service at Saint John Southover. Chris Staynor led the congregation in a quiz which led nicely into his sermon on A Day in the Life of Solomon.
Amazing trek up Kingston Ridge with Clive, Doug and Rob. The view of Lewes from there was superb. Dinner of insalate caprese - a personal favourite- and tortellini chez Helen. Good time had by all.

Day Twenty, Monday November 6, 2006
Another lovely day for a walk on the South Downs with Clive, the McBeans and the hobbits. This time up the Cliffe to the golf course and over the hills to Glynde. Tasty lunch at the Trevor Arms
and return to Lewes by train.
Dinner at sister-in-law Ursula's where she has made my favourite cheese pie.

Day Twenty-one, Tuesday November 7, 2006

Picked up rental car, a Nissan Primera, at Chailey Motors. Drove up to Kew to visit the National Archives where Ru had requested some papers.
On to mother and father-in-law's at Caterham for dinner and the best night's sleep I'd had in about a week.

Day Twenty-two, Wednesday November 8, 2006
To Caterham town centre for grocery shopping and lunch at the Coffee Bay which is in the railway station.
Amazed that roses are still blooming in the garden. Quiet and restful time getting caught up with family and looking at postcards in Stella's collection.
Watched a TV program called Flog it! which is somewhere between Bargain Hunt and Cash in the Attic.

Day Twenty-three, Thursday November 9, 2006
Northward to Clenchwarton, which is just outside of King's Lynn, Norfolk, to stay with my mom's cousin and her husband. Stopped in Ely, Cambridgeshire to look at the Cathedral and Oliver Cromwell's house which is now a museum/tourist information office.
Lovely dinner and good chats with Auntie Jean and Uncle Ed about what it was like to live in Lewes during the war and various points of family history.

Day Twenty-four, Friday November 10, 2006
Drove into Spalding, Lincolnshire for a look around and some shopping. Coffee and browsing at the Bookmark book shop & cafe then fish and chips for lunch at Turners Fish Restaurant, 20 Red Lion Street. On to a massive, interesting garden centre called Baytree. We spot aTrabant lurking in a garage there.
Treated to Uncle Ed's long standing specialty Welsh Rarebit for dinner. I watch and take careful notes as he's cooking.

Day Twenty-five, Saturday November 11, 2006
Across East Anglia to Martham, near Great Yarmouth, to visit more of my mother's relatives and find out more about the Moore family genealogy. Weather glorious and scenery interesting.
Stop in to have tea with the in-laws at Caterham before heading home to Lewes.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Bonfire Tour Days Sixteen & Seventeen:Lewes, East Sussex

Day Seventeen, Friday November 3, 2006
To Eastbourne to meet Alan Bennett, curator of the Eastbourne Lifeboat Museum for Jack Fuller research. Lunch at Station Fish Bar a reasonably priced cafe across the road from the railway station.
Rocket fm guests include: Club Motor Sport's Pete Webber, phone interview with Blues singer Kyla Brox, Brian Hart of the Wealden Line Campaign.
The Wealden Line Campaign "is independent, non-profit-making organisation founded in 1986, whose aim is to secure the restoration of Uckfield line train services to Lewes and Tunbridge Wells, creating a new Wealden Line which would: 1) Provide new travel opportunities across East Sussex and Kent2) Stimulate the local economy3) Benefit the environment by relieving road congestion."

Day Sixteen, Thursday November 2, 2006
Met up with my cousin Doug, who's here from Canada, at the Riverside for coffee. Decided to explore the Lewes Priory Ruins, seen above. Next to Lewes Castle where we had fun taking photos - the view was supurb. Took the required picture (with timer on) of us sitting in the stocks.
Our guests at the rocket fm studio were: Roz Bedwell who talked about preparing pets for the noise of bonfire fireworks; Commercial Square Bonfire boys who were by far the rowdiest crew; Chaplin Clive Anderson (also visiting from Canada).Stopped at Efes Kebab House, 205 High Street for a veggie burger on the way home.
Met up with June Eade, Empress of the Cliffe, and watched the Cliffe bonfire banners being put up.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Fifteen: Lewes, East Sussex

Tea at the Runaway, a cafe in Lewes railway station, and chatted with owner, the ever entertaining Vic Elsie. To Eastbourne where a walk along the sea front emphasized the fact that it is now November. Gone are the holiday crowds and as I walk along the beach I have only the sea gulls for companionship.
To the Eastbourne Lifeboat Museum & Shop to do some research.
"The Eastbourne Lifeboat Museum is housed in the RNLI boathouse, King Edwards Parade. Built in 1898 to commemorate the assassination of the well known actor William Terris outside the Adelphi Theatre in 1897. A display of newspaper cuttings of the time are in the museum. The building housed an active lifeboat until 1924, when an exhibition lifeboat was put on display."
They have done an excellent job of crediting John "Mad Jack" Fuller with providing the town's first lifeboat in 1822. There are two silver medals on display which were, "presented to each of the lifeboatmen for the rescue of the crew of the Dutch East Indiaman the "Twee Cornelissen" in December 1845. These medals are very simillar to Fuller's funeral medallions.
Had lunch at a Favo'Loso 19-25 Carlisle Road, Eastbourne which was very retro. Three young guys showed up with a video camera - one in a superman suit and another dressed as spiderman. They politely asked permission to take photos inthe cafe and then went on their way.
Guests in the studio today were Bexhill Banjo musician Paul Bishop and his son Ethan who runs the Laughing Gravy website. Next up was Rick Newth, chairman of the Cliffe Bonfire Society.
Pioneer front:Vikings
Second pioneer front:Moors
Smuggler colours:Black and white jumper, red cap
Area of town represented:The Cliffe and Malling
Firesite location:Ham Lane (access via Pinwell Lane). Please note that admission is by ticket only; these are on sale every Saturday in October in the Pedestrian Precinct or during October from Cliffe Bookshop, the Dorset Arms, the Lewes Arms and the Gardeners Arms, as well as the Tourist Information Centre.
What makes us different from the others:Tradition is very important to the Cliffe. In 2003 we celebrated our 150th anniversary and, for that year only, declared our First Pioneer costume to be the ancient smugglers rather than our famous vikings.
View source.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Fourteen: Lewes, East Sussex

Intense buildup towards Bonfire Night, this year celebrated on Saturday November 4 as the 5th falls on a Sunday. The town of Lewes is positively humming.
To the butcher's shop - Frank Richards & Sons 25 Western Road, Lewes - to buy a stock of Fyers Original Sussex Blend Tea.
Today's guests for the "Get Smart" show are Rocket fm's Director General Andy Thomas (my brother-in-law) and local author and free thinker Andy Thomas who kindly autographs my copy of his book "Streets of Fire: A hymn to Lewes and the Bonfire Celebrations". The later has come to talk about changing times - "an organisation dedicated to the stimulation of new thinking, challenging accepted ‘official' beliefs or propaganda with thought-provoking presentations on a variety of topics, ranging from political debate to scientific or metaphysical investigation."
Richard Todd arrives to talk about South Street Bonfire Society's preparations for the big night.

South Street Bonfire Society
Pioneer front:English Civil War
Second pioneer front: Siamese Dancers
Smuggler colours:Brown and white jumper, red cap
Area of town represented:South Street area
Firesite location:Railway Land (off Railway Lane)
What makes us different from the others:
South Street was originally a juvenile bonfire society, and although we are now an adult society we maintain a strong junior membership.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What is Bonfire?

From the Lewes Bonfire Council's website.

What is the Lewes tradition all about? Several things are remembered, all of which were originally undeniably sectarian:
- the burning of 17 Protestant martyrs in Lewes High Street from 1555 to 1557, under the reign of Mary Tudor;
- the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when conspirators led by Robert Catesby planned to blow up King James I as he opened Parliament, the plot being foiled by the discovery of Guy Fawkes about to ignite the barrels of gunpowder in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament;
- the landing of William of Orange (William III, half of William and Mary) on 5th November 1688 to restore a Protestant monarchy.

Bonfire Tour, Day Thirteen: Lewes, East Sussex

On the whole, a quiet day. Got caught up on chores - laundry & grocery shopping.
Interesting guests in the Rocket fm studio for Rupert's show: local activist John May, Lewes Borough Bonfire Society chairman John Winter & Martin Crease who played some traditional bonfire tracks. Phone interview with Conrad Bladey who lives in Lithicum, Maryland, USA and is a bonfire fanatic. See his blog here.

Lewes Borough Bonfire Society (known as Borough)
Pioneer front:Zulu Warriors (pictured here)
Second pioneer front:Tudor Ladies and Gentlemen
Smuggler colours:Blue and white jumper, red cap
Area of town represented:"The top of town" - the western half of Lewes
Firesite location:Landport Bottom, near the race course
What makes us different from the others:One of the two oldest organised Bonfire Societies in Lewes, Borough are a traditional, friendly family Society.
Source: Lewes Bonfire Council website

Bonfire Tour, Day Twelve: Lewes, East Sussex

Painting: Vale Royal by Julian Bell
To St. John the Baptist Church in Southover for 10:30 service. Arrive early and enjoy listening to the band practicing the hymns. Excellent sermon by Ray Gaydon which could be called "A Day in the Life of David". (See 2 Samuel 12 v 1-10, Psalm 51).
Met hubby at Brewer's Arms in the High Street for lunch. He opts for the traditional English Sunday dinner - Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding and all the trimmings. Cream of vegetable soup followed by rhubarb crumble with custard for me. Another delicious meal at a reasonable price.
I return to Pelham House to catch two more Lewes Live Literature Festival events. The first is a spin on Desert Island Discs called Desert Island Paintings. Local artist Julian Bell is interviewed by the festival's artistic director Mark Hewitt. Using slides of paintings (and one sculpture) Bell talks about his life and works.
Next up is Sue Roe, author of The Private Lives of the Impressionists. Using slides, Roe recounts the lives of the nine early impressionists (Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Sisley, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt) and how they lived, socialized and worked together in Paris.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Eleven: Lewes, East Sussex

Day Eleven, Saturday October 28
Coffee at the Riverside watching all of Lewes stroll by it seems. Brief visit to the "Coffee Morning" held as a fund raiser for the South Street Bonfire Society at the British Legion. Browse around the shops and meet hubby at The Brewer's Arms, 91 High Street for lunch - very tasty Broccoli Mornay.
To Pelham House for the Lewes Live Literature Festival for which I have tickets for four events. The first is poetry reading: The Wounded Deer, Fourteen Poems After Frida Kahlo by Pascale Petit; The Terrorist at My Table, poetry and ink line drawings by Imtiaz Dharker. Both readings are compelling in their own ways and are accompanied by powerpoint slide shows.

In the evening I return to Pelham House for "Mortal Ladies Possesed" a one woman show starring Linda Marlow. Through the voices of various women the life of the widow Holly, proprietress of a New Orleans flop house emerges. In a word, Marlow's performance was spellbinding. Edinburgh Festival review by Thom Dibdin:
"LINDA MARLOW proves her brilliance as an actress in this one-hander based on the women who people Tennessee Williams' short stories. Too brilliant for her own good at times, in what is a sparkling but not quite sustained romp.
Marlow's supreme ability is to create a complete character in the briefest of moments and with the least amount of effort. As the dying Widow Holly, she remembers the women who have stayed in her New Orleans boarding house and cuts effortlessly between them, taking the story off to high society functions and bordellos with equal ease.
It's highly watchable stuff. Until she turns into a bitchy millionairess, living out her 80s on the Mediterranean, who removes her tiny swimsuit in front of a hunky young artist and parades about naked. It must be stressed that Marlow is fully clothed throughout the show, but the image she conjures up of this leathery old crone is so vivid that you can not help but see her. And shudder.
The real problem of the production, however, is that it simply does not hang together. As a patchwork of characters it is sublime, but without a sustaining plot it is no more than that: a patchwork. "

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Veggie Sausages

One of my favourite foods available in the UK but hot in Canada are fabulous Veggie Sausages. There are so many varieties and brands that it's impossible to try them all in this short visit - but I'll do my best. See my first post on the subject here.
Next up are Cauldron's Lincolnshire Veggie Sausages that have very traditional seasoning and quite a good texture. They get a rating of 8 out of 10.
My long standing favourite has been Linda McCartney's sausages , which come frozen and have the best texture by far. Rated 9 out of 10. Apparently the vegetarion foods company that bears her name has been recently bought by an American firm - Hain Celestial Group from Heinz. Read more here.

Bonfire Tour, Day Ten: Lewes, East Sussex

To Rik's Discs to buy tickets for events hosted by the Lewes Live Literature Festival at Pelham House this weekend.
Waiting for the train to Eastbourne I hear announcements preparing folk for the big event - Bonfire night, Saturday November 4th. Apparently there will be a queuing system in place and the ticket booth, toilets and parking will close early. Extended waits are expected. Similar announcement is playing at the station when I arrive in Eastbourne.
To Curves for a workout then to the Arndale Centre to look around. Discover bonmarché, a shop geared towards women over 45, where I buy two long-sleeved tops for £10 and a pair of dress pants for £12.
I grab a Subway sandwich, coffee and cookie and eat lunch on the platform before boarding the return train to Lewes.
From the RockFM fm studio to Anne of Cleves House for a talk called "Who was Anne of Cleves?" given by local historian Helen Poole. The audience is chiefly composed of "Friends of Anne of Cleves House" who have just had their Annual General Meeting. The talk is engaging and the hour passes quickly. It has been a long time since I've heard a slide carousel in operation.
"Anne of Cleves (klēvz) , 1515 - 57, fourth queen consort of Henry VIII of England. The sister of William, duke of Cleves, one of the most powerful of the German Protestant princes, she was considered a desirable match for Henry by those English councilors, most notably Thomas Cromwell, who wished to ally England with the Schmalkaldic League. The marriage was agreed upon in 1539, and although Henry tried to break the contract after seeing his bride, they were married in Jan, 1540. Henry found Anne dull and unattractive, and the marriage was never consummated. This and the fact that Anne had previously contracted to marry the duke of Lorraine's son were used as grounds for divorce[annulment] in July, 1540. Anne gave her consent and, by agreement, lived the rest of her life in England. " Source:
There is no evidence that Anne ever set foot in Sussex and so never saw this house on Southover High Street that bears her name. It was called the Porched House until 1910 and was one of many properties (the list includes nine Sussex manors) that afforded her £4000 annual income.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Days Six, Seven, Eight & Nine: Lewes, East Sussex

Day Nine: Thursday, October 26
Sun shining for the first morning we've been here so decided to visit Lewes Castle - it was closed due to the appearance of a swarm of bees. We toured the museum and town model slide show for free.
"From the high towers of Lewes Castle visitors can see both the town and the distant views of downs, river and forest. The best way to appreciate this view is to visit Barbican House Museum first and watch 'The Story of Lewes Town', a sound and light show based on a scale model of the town.
The castle was begun soon after 1066 by William de Warenne as his stronghold in Sussex but not completed until 300 years later with the building of the magnificent Barbican. A later owner of the castle was Thomas Read Kemp, local MP and the architect of Brighton's Kemptown. Barbican House Museum now houses the Sussex Archaeological Society's archaeology collections, a changing temporary exhibition gallery and a specialist bookshop providing books on all aspects of history and archaeology."
Met up with June for lunch at the Dorset Arms where we chatted about Lewes shops, the significance of Bonfire to the locals and David Arscott's upcoming book about the Sussex Dialect.

Day Eight: Wednesday, October 25
Went to Anne of Cleves House in Southover Street, Lewes as we wanted to view their temporary photograph exhibit "Lewes Shops". "Anne of Cleves House is a 16th century timber-framed Wealden hall-house that formed part of Anne's divorce settlement from Henry VIII in 1541. The house contains wide-ranging collections of Sussex interest, including Sussex pottery, and the bedroom and kitchen are furnished to reflect an earlier period." The power was out in the district so we got free admission.
Grocery shopping at Waitrose where we bought ready made sandwiches for a quick lunch.
Fabulous dinner at sister Helen's where both the food and company were delightful.

Day Seven: Tuesday, October 24
To Lewes station to catch the 8:47 to Victoria Station, London. Took the underground-Victoria Line to Green Park then transferred to the Picadilly Line to Russell Square. Short walk to the British Museum where I met Helen, Andrew and Rob. Fascinating temporary exhibit called Power and Taboo: Sacred Objects from the Pacific. Next to the Silver Vaults on Chancery Lane. Lunch at a Weatherspoons pub.
Next to Sir John Soane's Museum. Short walk to Dr. Johnson's house where we looked up the word sausage in his dictionary - and no, it wasn't there! Where's Baldric when you need him?
Dinner with Will at the Fat Cat Cafe in Mile End where he works. Fun playing Black Jack on the train back to Lewes.

Day Six:Monday,October 23:Train to Eastbourne to work out at the closest Curves gym to Lewes.The club is a well laid out, comfortable and friendly facility and it was just a few minutes walk from the train station. Chatted to owner Peter Furminger who lived at one time in Don Mills, Ontario. He and his wife Lina are in the process of opening a Curves outlet in Lewes but the planning permission is slow going in this part of the world.
Quick lunch and browse around charity shops - things are much cheaper in Eastbourne than in Lewes.
Back to Lewes and the Rocket fm studio for Rupert's 5 to 7 pm program. Dinner in the Beijing Restaurant.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Five: Lewes, East Sussex

Sunday Oct 22: To church with my sister Helen at Scaynes Hill. Excellent sermon on the topic of religion and war. St Augustine's boasts a superb tapestry seen here.
Lunch of Carrot & Orange soup at The Old Needlemaker's.
"The former needle factory, which features woodblock floors, stable doors, large beams and a well that provided water to the steam driven machines, is home to 20 arts and crafts shops selling such things as toys, fragrances, jewellery and candles. A café is also available." Enjoyed a snoop around The Box Room downstairs where I chatted with a lady who has visited Etobicoke.
Next to the Thebes Gallery for the final day of: Life Works- The Star Group exhibit which was a new selection of varied life works, drawings, paintings and prints.

Saturday evening: After tea with the McBean's, watched the Nevill Juvenille Bonfire on the Nevill Estate which is where my grandparents lived. Quite amazing to see the torchlight procession through the streets and no one took much notice of the rain. This event is geared towards children and their costumes were varied and interesting. Enjoyed the music of various marching bands too. Next on to friends' housewarming party.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Four:Lewes, East Sussex

Rupert's first radio show went very well yesterday- no major glitches. Rocket FM webmasters Howard Makin & Molly Mockford and former BBC correspondent Alex Kirby were live in the studio. Eric Eggleston was interviewed by phone from Ottawa and Ian Whitelaw from Coombe, British Columbia. Had a "take away" fish and chips from The Friar in Fisher Street (no I kid you not).
After quick coffee at the Riverside Ru, brother-in-law Julian and I took the bus to the neighbouring village of Offham. I am researching the Shiffner family, formerly of Coombe Place and so after picking up the key at the vicarage we walked out to the Church of St Peter, Hamsey to see the memorials there. We were not disappointed and took many photos and notes.
Sat on a bench outside the church for a picnic lunch and took the bus back to Lewes.

"The religious census of Sussex on 30th March 1851 states there were two well-attended services at Hamsey, with a congregation of 121 in the morning (including 34 'Sunday scholars') and 58 in the afternoon. Revd George C. Shiffner, the then Rector, wrote in the census: 'The present church is most inconveniently placed, being so remote from the habitations of the people as to be inaccessible to the old and infirm, and to render the attendance of the rest as variable as the weather. ... A new church is much needed.'" View source.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Three:Lewes, East Sussex

Dinner at Pizza Express in Lewes High Street last night with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew. Service was quirky but food of an acceptable standard - prices horrifying.
Shared a starter: Bruschetta con Funghi - Portobello and closed cup mushrooms baked with cream, béchamel sauce, red onions, parsley and a dash of balsamic vinegar, then piled onto freshly baked dough sticks - £3.95= $ 8.30.
Rocket FM on the air as of 9 this morning. Had breakfast listening to Kevin Cramer and Andrew Carroll. My husband starts his two week stint doing the drive time show called "Get Smart!" from 5 to 7 pm locally which is sponsored by the East Sussex Library where I'm currently writing this. You don't have to be in Lewes to listen in - follow the instructions on the main web page.

Bonfire Tour, Day Two: Lewes, East Sussex

Staying in South Street, across from the Snowdrop Inn which takes its name from a tragedy - the worst avalanche on record in the UK. Excerpt from Curious Sussex by Mary Delorme, (ISBN0709029705, Robert Hale Ltd - 1987) pp 39 -40:
On Christmas week in 1836 brought a heavier snowfall than even the oldest inhabitants could remember. All through he weekend it fell, and a gale swept it into great drifts, some as deep as twenty feet. Lewes was cut off, except by the river.
The owner of the yard warned those of his labourers who lived in Boulder Row to go at once to rescue their belongings, but they refused. By the next morning the overhanging snow had developed great fissures, and the cottagers were again warned and offered accommodation elsewhere, but still they refused.
Onlookers were becoming desperate; by a quarter past ten, two young men rushed into a couple of cottages and tried to drag out the women, still without success; hardly were the men clear again before the great wall of snow slid down, crushing and burying seven houses.
United in horror, everyone struggled; with spades and hands, labourers and gentlemen together – it was a mighty effort. There were six survivors, including Mary Taylor’s baby, shielded by her body. The baby was only bruised; Mary, wife of John Taylor, left ten other children motherless. Eight people died, that Christmas Eve, from an old man of eighty-five to a little girl of eleven. And the Snowdrop Inn stands, a reminder and landmark extraordinary.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bonfire Tour: Day One - Lewes, East Sussex

Stress-free train ride from Gatwick to Lewes after hellish Air Transat flight. Hubby had major claustrophobia attack as we sat in the plane for nearly and hour before take off. This cheapo charter airline could go into the sardine business.
Short nap and then out to explore the town. I've noticed many changes in shops & restaurants since I was last here in August of 2004. Stop at an ATM made me nostalgic for the years when we had to buy traveller's cheques prior to departure.
Snooping around some of my favourite book and charity shops in Lewes, and there are a great many of them. Stocked up on provisions at the new Waitrose supermarket that has replaced Morrison's/Safeway.
I'm on a quest for the best veggie sausages in captivity. Started by sampling Quorn's Sizzling Bangers which sold for £1.79 for 250 g. Very juicy and well seasoned - rating 8 out of 10.
Read more about what's happening in Lewes here.
Party at brother-in-law's last night for the Rocket Radio folk.

Of Mice and Men

At opening night, October 16, for this CanStage production of John Steinbeck's classic tragic tale of friendship and loyalty - difficult to believe that it was opening night as production was so smooth. There was not a weak performance from the cast, for most of whom this is their CanStage debut. Particular standouts were Ashley Wright (pictured here) as Lennie and Stan Lesk as Candy and his dog. Of the fifteen seasons I've been a subscriber, this play is one of the top five I've seen at the Bluma Appel Theatre.

Read more here.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Luz a Las Naciones

Attended a fundraising banquet at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 3819 Bloor Street West, Etobicoke for Luz a Las Naciones (Light to the Nations)Ministries in the Dominican Republic. A team of energetic volunteers had beautifully decorated the hall and set the tables for a delicious meal that started with a salad with strawberries and poppyseed dressing. As the evening continued there were door prizes, musical presentations, a raffle, crafts for sale, speeches and prayers.
Most impressive was the powerpoint presentation given by founder & director Canadian missionary Richard Brochu.
"Familiar with the Dominican from operating a travel agency business, Richard was well aware of the great needs of the poor in this country. He knew that although the Dominican is known as an exotic tourist destination with many beautiful resorts, that life for the poor in the barrios is full of extreme poverty and despair, sickness and oppression. So in faith, he sold his business and arrived in Puerto Plata, on the northern coast of the island, in April 1994.
With no initial support and only $300 in his pocket, he rented a small room in a boarding house in one of the barrios. His heart was for evangelism, and he began a daily walk through his new neighbourhood, telling children and their families about the love of the Lord. Four years later, the Lord impressed upon him that it was time to move from his rat-infested accommodations, and the present mission house was found available for rent. Gazing out of the bedroom window of his new home upon yet another sprawling barrio, Richard immediately felt compassion for the people living there and had a great desire to tell them about Jesus. He felt clear direction from the Lord, 'This is to be your new Jerusalem.'"
Read more here.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Guelph: life on campus

There is definitely something special about University Campuses. There is a heightened sense of consciousness - socially, environmentally & politically.
On the University of Guelph campus, there are far more vegans and vegetarians per capita than in the general Canadian populous. So Guelph, being a university town of about 125,000 people has at least three veggie restaurants.
Dinner at The Cornerstone (1 Wyndham St. N, Guelph - 519-827-0145) yesterday where we had an amazing veggie club sandwich. I must try to replicate this at home.
Earlier, I sat in on Dr George Grinnell's lecture (English 3300: Restoration to Romanticism)on Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Turkish Embassy Letters (1716-1718).
After dinner we attended a Guelph Campus for Christ meeting where Jamie Strickland's talk focused on evangelism. The C4C group is gearing up for their debate: Does God Exist?
Time: Wednesday Oct 18, 7:30-9:30 Tickets: $2 at the door Location: War Memorial Hall
Description :Are you interested in hearing the arguments both for and against the existence of God? Joe Boot (theist), the Canadian director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, will be having an informal debate with Dr. Chris diCarlo (atheist), professor at University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Both Mr. Boot and Dr. diCarlo will share their perspectives on this controversial question as well take questions from the audience.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Lecture - Colombia: Making Sense of a Protracted Armed Conflict

To the beautifully landscaped Oakville Library for the Oakville University Lecture Series, put on by the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. The speaker was Ana Maria Bejarano, (Ph.D. Columbia University, Assistant Professor University of Toronto) Who spoke on the topic "Colombia: Making Sense of a Protracted Armed Conflict" She was previously professor of Political Science at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, where she also served as Director of its Center for Social and Legal Research (CIJUS). She co-edited the book Elecciones y Democracia en Colombia, 1997-98 (Bogota, 1998).
Professor Bejarano is an excellent speaker and extremely knowledgeable about the policial sitiation in her home country. She opened by setting the geographical and historical contexts. One wonders how the conflict will ever be resolved.
Lunch at Caffe dos Libros - tasty crêpe filled with brie and apple - and a browse in adjoining Bookers.
Thanks to B-J for a great afternoon.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Art Gallery of Ontario

To the AGO via subway on Saturday afternoon. Like the ROM, the gallery is under construction and has limited exhibits but still charges full admission (a bit of a rip off I think).
First saw the :

"Andy Warhol - Supernova: Stars, Deaths and Disasters, 1962–1964
July 8 to October 22, 2006
Guest-curated exclusively for the AGO by film director David Cronenberg, Andy Warhol / Supernova: Stars, Deaths and Disasters, 1962-1964 focuses on one of the most influential periods in the artist's life. Combining both paintings and films, the exhibition features not only well-known serial images of Jackie Kennedy, Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor, but also disturbing disaster imagery that includes car crashes, criminals and electric chairs. The AGO is the only venue that combines Warhol's rarely seen underground films with his painted works."
Certainly gave you a lot to contemplate about how art is defined.
The cafe prices were too high for me ($6 soup), so we left the AGO to go across the street to the food court at The Grange.
Back to AGO to view more exhibits including "In Your Face". I would be a wonderful idea for a school project:

"Opening July 1 (last date for submissions Dec 1), In Your Face is an exhibition of portraits collected from the general public to celebrate the individuality and diversity of Canada. Submissions are now being accepted for the exhibition and the Gallery will be entering the completed project for consideration by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest collection of portraits ever assembled.
One of the AGO's initiatives as part of Toronto's Live with Culture celebration this year, In Your Face will allow everyone to become a creative part of the Gallery's future. In addition to external submissions, visitors can experiment with portrait-making in the Gallery and take part in interactive artists' demonstrations. "
Go here for details.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Toronto Zoo

There were very few visitors to the zoo, other than school groups, yesterday. I'm sure that was partly due to the rainy weather. We made the best of our time there & did a lot of walking, enjoyed the pavillions and stopped for a picnic lunch on a sheltered bench.
We were impressed with the new(ish) African Savannah exhibit that was under construction the last time we were there. We also visited some long time favourites - matamata turtles, thorny devils, gorllias, and komodo dragons.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Fresh by Juice for Life

Lunch at Fresh on Crawford -894 Queen Street West Northeast corner of Queen and Crawford. As ever, the place is buzzing with prompt, helpful service and great specials.
"At Fresh, we create a gourmet vegetarian dining experience out of wholesome ingredients & delicious, non-traditional recipes. Our cuisine is influenced by the flavors and styles of many cultures around the world, all served in an atmosphere that is warm, relaxed and welcoming. All of our juices, dishes & desserts are vegan, with dairy options throughout the menu. Fresh's extensive juice bar offers a range of mouthwatering vital fluids, energy elixirs, power shakes, super power shakes, lassis, fruit smoothies & vegetable cocktails." See their website for more.
Next to The Paper Place - 887 Queen Street West -to see what's new. From gorgeous chiyogama to handmade notebooks and quirky gift ideas, there is always something of interest.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Wasaga Beach

Wonderful weekend at Wasaga. Nice to get out of town to cycle, walk on the beach and catch up with good friends. The beach is eerily quiet after the summer crowds have gone.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Tomb of Harwa

Attended a lecture at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) given by Dr. Francesco Tiradritti, director of the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor. Supported by an excellent powerpoint presentation, Dr Tiradritti outlined the Mission's excavations in the Tomb of Harwa near Luxor, Egypt since 1995. "Harwa was an important official in 7th Century BC Egypt, during the reign of the Nubian pharaohs of the 25th dynasty. Harwa held the position of Great Steward of the Divine Adoratrice of Amun, controlling huge resources of the temple estate of god Amun-Re in Karnak. "
Dr Tiradritti explained how the tomb was a metatext for the journey through life, death and rebirth. With detailed examples, he explained how the 7th century BC can be considered the Egyptian Renaissance. He related how a biscuit wrapper and newspaper left in a robbers lair in the tomb during the Second World War helped his team recover stolen fragments of wall decoration.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Distinguished Artists Series: Colin Mochrie

To the Assembly Hall (Lakeshore Blvd at Kipling) for a live taping of an interview show where it feels like I'm the only member of the general public in the audience amongst Humber College students. Series host Lorne Frohman spent a hour and half interviewing "snack fairy" and improv giant Colin Mochrie - and the time just flew by. Mochrie was engaging, candid and very funny. Future tapings in the series: Sept 13 Mark Breslin, Sept 26 Shirley Douglas (doors open at 2pm)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Taste of the Kingsway

They could not have been disappointed with the turn out for the Taste of the Kingsway on Friday night. Met friend Jessica at Second Cup at 6 pm when the midway and vendors were still setting up. By the time we left, just after 9 pm, Bloor Street (closed to traffic from Montgomery Road to Prince Edward) was teeming - mainly with teens. Spotted the smart car promotions stand among the auto dealers present. Sampled the wares of The Green Mango. Dessert by ViBo was awesome - half a fresh Ontario peach flamed in Brandy topped with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon sugar.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Motoring Legends at Halton Hills

Drove out to Halton Hills, Ontario (near Milton) to visit Legendary Motorcar where even the parking lot (pictured above) is interesting.
Their building at 8242 Fifth Line is currently home to the the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame which operates a Museum there. Go here for more on the CMHF.
Enjoyed chatting with self-confessed motorhead Tim Miller author of NASCAR Now and Vroom! an autosports book aimed at 8 - 10 year olds.

Air Show Open House

Nearly fifty guests atttended our first party in the new condo. Folk were as interested in a tour of the appartment as they were in the Canadian International Air Show of which we had a wonderful view from the terrace.
Judging by the phone calls and emails we recieved, a great time was had by all.