Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘friends’ Category

I’ve been blogging for almost ten years and I love it. It’s a great way to communicate with like-minded people, and I’ve made wonderful friends all over the world through my blog. The blogging community is so supportive, sharing ideas and providing encouragement.

One friend I’ve made is Mary Smith from Dumfries, Scotland. She has written some wonderful books including a guide to her hometown. When I finally get to Scotland, I will be taking this book with me.

She has also written a couple of books based on life in Afghanistan, where she lived and worked for a number of years. This is my review of No More Mulberries.

I bought this book because I love reading stories that take place in the middle east. I was not disappointed. Mary Smith has written a wonderful story about cross-cultures, family, relationships and Afghanistan. The detailed descriptions of the land, people and culture are fascinating. The story is told through the point of view of Miriam, the main character, who is a wife, mother and medical practitioner. It is easy to identify with her as she struggles to maintain a home for her family in a culture so different from her life in Scotland. Miriam also has to deal with ghosts from the past and feelings she has suppressed for too long which are having a negative effect on her marriage. This well-written book takes place in a troubled time just before the Taliban take control. Since the reader knows what will eventually happen, but the characters don’t, it keeps you on your toes and turning the pages. I highly recommend this book.

During a book signing in British Columbia last fall, I had a most pleasant surprise. Mary’s cousin Grace hand-delivered a card from Mary to me! Grace had been in Scotland to visit Mary who knew I would be at a bookstore not too far from where Grace lived, so she sent a card along. How special is that?

What a lovely card, all the way from Scotland
And the perfect poem on the back.

I have asked Mary to be a guest on my blog and answer a few questions.

If you could choose a fictional character to be your best friend, who would you choose and why?

This one stopped me in my tracks, Darlene, and I found it difficult to pick one – so I’m afraid I cheated and chose two. I would have loved to be best friends with Jo March of Little Women. She is such a great character. She, like me, was a tomboy – I climbed trees, went fishing with boys because I didn’t know any girls who wanted to fish. I even played on building sites, climbing over the rafters of half-built houses (which makes me shudder to think about now). I think we’d have egged each other on to do ever more daring things and I think we’d have laughed a lot together. She was strong-willed, determined not to be bound by the conventions of the day. Best of all, she wanted to write. I’d never met a character – a girl at that – in a book who wanted to be a writer and was totally bowled over by this. If Jo could do it – which she did very successfully – then maybe I could, too. I was slightly less impressed with her in Jo’s Boys when she began to only write for family and stopped writing for money, saying “most of us (she was talking about literary women) write too much.” I don’t think my teenage friend Jo would have adopted such an attitude so I’ll go on believing the teenage Jo March and I are best friends.

The cheat of my second one is a bit quirky. I would love to be best friends with Flora. Flora is the main character in a wonderful novel called The Bees by Laline Paul – and Flora is a bee. She is born into the lowest class of the hive but she’s a brave wee thing and survives and thrives, breaking the rules of the hierarchy in what is a compelling thriller about the secret life of the hive. I think we could be great friends, Flora and me.

If you could personally see one natural phenomenon that you have never seen, what would it be and why that one?

I would love to see the Aurora Borealis. Growing up in Scotland I always loved the song, The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen, sung so often in school, at ceilidhs, on the radio, in which the lights are described as the “heavenly dancers”. I’ve seen amazing images of the phenomenon on the internet and would love to see it for real.

If you were to be paid to write a book about any subject you wished, what would it be about?

I want to write a biography of a remarkable woman who was a mechanical engineer in the early 1920s. She had an amazing life: supervising thousands of women (who could build anything from a bicycle to a battleship) at Barrow-in-Furness during the First World War, running a car factory, which employed mainly women, taking part in car racing trials and then establishing a hugely successful steam laundry – they laundered the uniforms of the soldiers who took part in the D-Day Landings. I have done some research but it would be lovely to be paid to do further research and writing the book.

Tell us about your next writing project.

Well, until I’m offered a nice advance to write about my woman engineer, my current project is turning the material on my blog, My Dad’s a Goldfish, into a memoir. My father had dementia, bad enough in itself, but his wife of forty years decided she wanted a peaceful life and left him, just at the time he most needed stability and continuity in his life. I moved in with him and started the blog as a way of recording events – and to keep my writing muscle working – and from feedback it seems all sorts of people would be interested in reading it as a book. It’s not in any way a ‘misery memoir’ – it has a lot of humour – but it does tell it like it is, from finding way to engage my father’s interest in life to dealing with him cheating at dominoes, from dealing with what it’s like to have to wipe your father’s bum to sharing his joy in the countryside.

Mary Smith

A brief bio

Born on the island of Islay but grew up in Dumfries & Galloway from the age of seven. After school had a miserable year working in a bank, went hitchhiking round France and Italy, came back and worked for Oxfam for ten years. Went for a holiday to Pakistan and found a job so the next ten years were spent first in Pakistan then in Afghanistan working for an aid organisation. A freelance journalist, I also write poetry, fiction and non-fiction including local history.

Social media links including Amazon.

Website: www.marysmith.co.uk

Blogs: My Dad’s a Goldfish   https://marysmith57.wordpress.com

Mary Smith’s Place    https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com

Amazon Page US: http://amzn.to/2ecvjbP

Amazon Page UK: http://amzn.to/2jGw9A9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/marysmithwriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000934032543

Thanks for answering my questions, Mary. I would love to be friends with Jo March as well. And thanks for being my blogging friend. I’m sure we will meet in person one day soon. Good luck with your writing projects.

Check out Mary’s blog where she is writing a fascinating series of posts about her experiences in Afghanistan. https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com/

Susie Lindau is featuring a Blessed Project on her blog and I’ve decided to join in since Christmas is a perfect time to count your blessings! Here is the link if you would like to join in too. https://susielindau.com/2019/11/26/join-the-blessed-project-i-will-feature-yours/

I have been blessed with an amazing family.

The best parents ever! (Yup, that’s from the 90s)
A son who is a super dad, grandfather, and musician
An amazing talented potter daughter
and great brothers
Awesome grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Grandsons to be proud of
Fabulous granddaughters
A happy son with his kids and grandkids.
Blessed to have five generations in our family
A loving husband who keeps me laughing
And the sweetest dog!

I am blessed to be part of a huge German Canadian family with many loving aunts, uncles, and cousins. Here are a few of them, but not all.

My wonderful aunts and uncle

I have also been blessed with many friends, some I have had since childhood, who support me and make me feel loved every day.

Friends since babies

So you can see that I am indeed blessed and I am grateful every day.

May you have a blessed holiday season and new year with the special people in your life!!

Thanks, Susie for this opportunity to be part of the Blessed Project

You may have read on a previous post that one of the items on my personal “bucket list” was to meet my blogging friends in person. I am excited to say that I have met three recently.

During my last trip to Canada, a blogging friend showed up at my presentation at a Calgary Library. I was delighted to meet Sue Slaght from Travel Tales of Life. She is as delightful in person as she is on her blog.  A prairie girl like I am, she enjoys travel too. Her blog provides excellent articles written with a great sense of humour and filled with interesting details and pictures. She is game to try anything and have it videoed by her patient, eye-rolling husband. Check out her blog. It’s laugh-out-loud funny and the stunning pictures will entice you to visit the many locations she writes about. I am so glad to have met Sue in person.

With blogging buddy Sue Slaght in Calgary, Alberta

Another blogging friend I met recently is Fatima Rosales Naya.  I have been following her blog, Saysell Travels, for a few years now. She writes about her travels with her husband and cute dog, Beano, around France and Spain in their motorhome. They find the coolest places to stop and explore and writes about them. They happened to be near Alicante recently so we arranged a meetup. It was like seeing a best friend at long last and we chatted nonstop for two hours. I’m sure we were sisters in another life. Check out her blog, with fabulous pictures here.

With long-time blogging friend, Fatima in Alicante, Spain

While in Liverpool I had a coffee with Alison Sandilands of Seemytravels.com who lives there. We had met once before when she spent six months in Canada five years ago and made a stop on the west coast. I wrote about it in an earlier blog here. After a coffee, snack, and catch-up, she took me to a historic church and gave me great ideas of things to do while in Liverpool.  She was the one who suggested I stop by that fabulous library. It was so wonderful to see her again, especially as now she has a sweet little girl. Her blog is a mixture of travel and lifestyle articles.

With Alison and her baby in Liverpool, UK. 

There are those who question whether blogging friends are real friends? I for one have always felt they are real friends and meeting some of them in person, makes them even more real. It is so great to have friends scattered all over the world. You can never have too many friends!

Have you had the opportunity to meet a blogging friend? 

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” -Marcel Proust

I was fortunate to see many of my awesome friends when I was in Canada. Some gave me a place to stay, some drove me around and everyone fed me so well. They have all been such huge supporters in whatever I do. Here are a few of them.

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It was great that these good friends from Trinidad were in Canada at the same time.

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A picnic with friends at English Bay before a Bard on the Beach performance

 

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A special Bard Buddy who organized the day.

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Always fun to be part of the cast with another special Bard Buddy

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A longtime Calgary friend and travel buddy who drove me around, gave me a place to stay and fed me well.

 

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A wonderful supportive Vancouver friend who gave me rides and attended events.

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A special relative/friend!

 

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A dear friend who provides me with a great place to stay and feeds me well.

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A lovely mother and daughter team who gave me a comfy room to stay during my first week in Vancouver, fed me well and gave me tons of support.

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Travel writer/photographer friend who took my profile picture and designed my bookmarks. Treated me to a lovely lunch overlooking a golf course.

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A supportive writer friend who treated me to a lovely picnic and a Monet exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

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A former coworker and her daughter who came to a book signing

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My longtime friend who provides me with a comfy place to stay in Medicine Hat, a garden to relax in and delicious meals

As you can see I was well looked after. It was so wonderful to be able to spend time with these friends and many others. I am truly blessed.

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”
― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

 

We have a winner of my bi-lingual book Pig on Trial/Cerdito a juicio. Congratulations Tess from How the Cookie Crumbles   Tess is a great supporter of other authors and does some amazing writing herself. You should see what she can do with only 100 words! Check out her blog site, you will not be disappointed. Tess, your book will be in the mail soon.

I have been nominated for a 5 day challenge by a blogging friend, Judith from I choose how I will spend the rest of my life.  Check out Judith´s blog to learn about her interesting life down under where she is growing younger each day. Thank´s Judith for the nomination

The Five Day Challenge is: Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.

Here is my first photo.

EPSON scanner image

My best year in school was grade three. That was the year I had Miss Roll as my teacher. She was wonderful and made a huge difference in my life. She made learning fun. I wrote about her before here:  https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/a-special-teacher/

At the end of the year she took a picture of the class. Behind us is the mural we painted as a group on a huge piece of brown paper. One lucky classmate got to hold the class pet, a budgie named Chico, in his cage . (Chico is Spanish for boy; we learned about Mexico that year.) As young women, we were taught to stand tall with ankles together and hands clasped in front of us for pictures. I took picture taking seriously and did what I was told.

If you are wondering which one I am, take note of the pedal pushers and matching sweater. I still dress like that. Some things never change!

I would like to nominate Marian from Plain and Fancy You will love her blog. Among other things, she shares awesome pictures and stories of growing up in a Mennonite family from Pennsylvania.

Have fun with this Marian!

 

The minute we arrived at the English Inn, we felt like we were in England, without spending 9 hours on a transatlantic flight. The splendid manor house, the spacious well kept grounds, including a replica of an Elizabethan street and the cosy, charming rooms made this place a perfect get-away.

The English Inn, Victoria, BC

The English Inn, Victoria, BC

Inviting front entrance

Inviting front entrance

Elizabethan street

The Elizabethan street takes you to another place and time

The manor house comes with an interesting history. It was built in 1906 for a Yorkshire-born realtor and developer who brought over artisans from England and Scotland to work on the project.  Walking around the building, we noticed many fine details. Imagine the amazing parties that were held here over the years. Oh the stories these walls could tell.

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The knowledgeable staff were very friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating. After a restful sleep in a most comfortable bed, we woke up to the aroma of fresh baked croissants wafting through the building. The complimentary breakfast, served in a bright room overlooking the patio and gardens, included these melt-in-your-mouth croissants. 

View from our bedroom on the third floor early in the morning

View from our 3rd floor bedroom early in the morning

bathroom door

Unique bathroom door

Stairway to our room

Stairway to our room

We enjoyed a number of walks  around the tranquil 5 acre property, discovering something new and unique at every turn. We visited in March so the gardens were just waking up from winter but were still very lovely. I can only imagine how fabulous they are in the summer.

Charming gazebo, perfect for weddiings

Charming gazebo, perfect for weddings

Quaint birdbaths are scattered around the gardens

Quaint birdbaths scattered throughout the gardens

A fountain straight from an English  novel.

A fountain straight from an English novel.

An interesting sign found in the Elizabethan street

An interesting sign found in a shop window on the Elizabethan street

There is plenty of places to wander, sit and read (or write) a book, paint a picture or just day dream in this fairytale-like environment. Should you wish to visit down town Victoria or the inner harbour, both are just minutes away. The lobby is bright and cheerful with a pleasant lounge to enjoy a drink and a fireplace where we shared a pot of tea before retiring.

I highly recommend this place, especially if you need a break from the modern, busy lifestyle many of us lead. It was perfect for a girlfriend get-away and would  be an ideal location for a wedding, family reunion or special event.

A perfect girlfriend get-away

A perfect place for a girlfriend get-away

 

Visit the website http://www.englishinn.ca/

English Inn is located at 429 Lampson Street 
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada V9A5Y9
Central Reservations: 1.866.388.4353
Direct Line or to reach a guest: 1.250.388.4353
Fax: 1.250.382.8311
Email: res@englishinn.ca


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