ABBEYFIELD

When I started my nomadic journey, if you remember, I was looking for what I called Betty’s Mountain Top. My concept was to find a facility that as I age I may want to be a part of. It would have to have access in some way to all ages and my main want, is good conversation around the dinner table with people from around the globe. As I have travelled I have found numerous projects, and I have looked at many all over the world. I have not been impressed. It has nothing to do with the structure and how fancy, or posh it is, it has to do with the quality of care and how relaxed and happy the residents seem. I remember very many years ago looking for home for my Mother. It was very difficult and the one thing that I hate to see is wheelchairs lined up outside or inside with residents that have blank stares, that is very sad. I saw this years ago and you still see that today.

I attended a book launch in London for my friend Jenny’s book that dealt with relationships in care homes and how important they are for the wellbeing of the residents. Jenny had spent time researching a group called Abbeyfield. They own and operate about 100 facilities in the UK. I became interested in what I heard so I made contact in the south of the UK and was invited to Lochs Heath in Swanwick, which was arranged by a former Board Member for me.

Lochs Heath has 16 residents, of numerous ages, some are mentally challenged; others have dementia; some just seem to feel very comfortable there.

The staff led by Neil, was just caring in every way and it wasn’t put on, they just had patience, and compassion in every situation. I was there for over 4 hours! I spent an hour without staff just chatting with residents about their background, health and what they thought of spending rest of their life in this facility. Whenever they talked about this place, they would have a big smile on their face. THEY WERE HAPPY.

They each had their own flat in the building. The ones I saw had a sitting room, a bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom. They were a very good size with lots of windows overlooking the garden.

For me, this location wasn’t on the sea or on mountain top, but in terms of requirements, it ticked most of the boxes, involvement from the community, the community would just drop in to say hi, or bring treats for the residents, bring in new movie etc. The residents were living independent lives within this structure, good healthy food and even a glass of sherry or wine at lunch.

Lochs Heath is a very special model!

To Neil, staff and the residents thank you a most lovely visit!

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Back in Beautiful Dorset

Here I am in lovely Christ Church Dorset in the south west part of the UK. I am staying in a great home in the centre of town. My landlady Jane is a sailor and is now crewing on a ship to Portugal!

The weather is highly unusual. I haven’t seen rain in the 6 weeks I have been in the UK and it is very warm; too warm for me.

I have personal trainer, to help me get in shape. It is very difficult here to keep weight in line. Low fat items are very rare and the desserts, I have just quit eating.

I am looking very seriously at changing my residency from Canada to UK. We shall see what makes sense from a tax point of view!

Lots to visit such as Queen Victoria’s summer home and I will take some scenic train trips into Scotland. I just love the train. I can get to London direct in just under 2 hours and with my rail pass, brilliant!! I was in London last week and the heat was unbearable. In the south, we have at least the sea breezes.

I am still very busy with interviews for new book. I have competed about 20 so far. I am really enjoying the process. There is lots of excellent Information to deal with, which will be a lot of work. I have started to do research and make approaches on finding an agent.

I will be attending a Prom concert held at the Royal Albert Hall with my friend Simon in London. I am going up to Bakewell to see Jenny in the Peak district, which I am told is very beautiful. Then off to Canada in September and India in October to finish interviews, I hope.

I saw the musical Hamilton that has won all the awards in USA and UK. I always go to the box office for tickets to the theatre. This time a gentlemen in front of me was returning a ticket in the front row and I got it for an excellent price. Tina Turner is next show on my list.

My interest in politics is like watching a soap opera with President Trump as the star.

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The Old Spring-Cambridge!

The Old Spring is the local pub close to me in the center of Cambridge. I was invited to this pub by my friend Paul about 3 years ago.  It is quite up market (as they say here)

It is very nice inside with a fireplace and lovely space outside. For me the attraction are the people, regulars as they are called.

REGULARS come sometimes every night, three times a week, or just on Friday nights, which is check in night to see how everyone is doing.

They are from all walks of life, business, educators, property owners, college employees, professors, social workers, health professionals, writers, artists, skilled workers etc, from all the strands of the Cambridge Community, even the Mayor shows up once in a while! Also the older gentleman that gets on the bus every day for the company.

Some regulars have known one another since school days and others like myself are newbies.

When I was in St Neots, I found the community bus. This pub to me has the same sense of community and the people care about one another and watch one another’s back. An example of this is where I stay. The landlady has 2 children, both grownup with their own children, one has cancer and the other was in serious car accident and now has a brain injury. One of the regulars picked her every morning and took her to the train station so she could go to London to see her daughter in the hospital for weeks.

The friendships have survived through, marriages, divorces, affairs, deaths and illness.

They celebrate everything and arrange their own birthdays etc. Usually the person who has something to celebrate arranges the party for themselves, invites who they want, has some food (not elaborate), and people come buy their own drinks. I think the pub throws in a cake, I’m not sure.

As they say no fuss, no bother. The down side is food here is very expensive, even by Cambridge standards, so many regulars come to drink, but not eat.

I seem to be part of this community, which is excellent.

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Sadness and a Miracle

Two things have happened this week that have left me thinking. The first was the suicide of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain; both are very sad!

Anthony Bourdain was a large personality, not someone whose TV shows I really enjoyed. I felt he was a little over the top.  he traveled the world showing how people really lived, by sitting down around the table with food. People chatted with him in a very honest way, and he always asked if they were happy. HE MADE THE WHOLE WORLD HIS NEIGHBORHOOD!!

I believe he really cared about what he was doing. I feel the empathy he felt for people and the chaos and pain of what is happening in the world was just too much for him to handle emotionally!

I remember a few years ago when my favorite actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman died of an overdose; Jim Carey said he was just too gentle of a soul and just couldn’t deal with the noise in the world.

Now, to the miracle: Where I am staying in Cambridge with my friend Heather. Her Grandson Edward has just climbed a sea stack called The Old Man of Hoy off the coast of Orkney (Scotland). It is 450 feet straight up, at the age of EIGHT and will now be in the Guinness Book of Records as the youngest to make this rope climb.

Why this is so amazing? He did this climb for his mom who has terminal cancer and is very ill. Edward also climbed to honor his mom and has raised over 30,000 pounds toward Cancer Research. He was on all the UK networks along with President Trump.

These two events, to me, show the Ying and Yang of the world.

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Anthony Bourdain

Very special young man , with his Mother.

A very special young man, with his Mother.

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DECISION!

I am now in Cambridge UK for one month, seeing friends, sorting out luggage, and seeing movies at my favorite movie house in the world. I am still doing interviews for my book. I was interviewed for one hour today by a reporter from the travel section of one of the National Newspapers on my travels, and in particular, about the Freighter Ship I travelled on last fall.

I have made the decision to try out living in UK for a few months. I will spend time in Christ Church Dorset, between Southampton and Bournemouth in the south west of the country. It’s a lovely home for the summer, first floor of a heritage home in the middle of town.

In September I will move about 10 minutes away to an equally beautiful place, on the top floor of a home, for a few months. I will go to Toronto in September for 2 weeks and in October I hope to go to India.

I am also doing research on another Freighter Trip, possibly around the world, not sure if it is feasible?

I will also make several trips to London to see plays, attend the Prom concerts and for a friends book launch.

So, I will have a base in UK for a while; let’s see what that feels like!

 

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ROYAL WEDDING AND WINDSOR CASTLE!

I am a Royal family addict and have been since I was kid. My mother would always give me all the books on the Royal family. It was a real treat to be in the UK for the wedding.  I started to watch on TV and than ran to the local cinema where you could watch for free on the big screen. Apparently they couldn’t charge. It was a rule from the Royal family. They even handed out a glass of Posesco! The cinema was full of people in costume and people even wrapped in flags.

Watching on TV with the venue being Windsor Castle was an additional treat. 6 years ago I spent 3 days and 2 nights living at the castle. I was there as a guest of my friend Will, Minister with the Church of Scotland and head of Theology at Princeton in the USA.

I don’t remember the topic for the think tank I was attending, all I can remember is living at the castle. I was like a kid in a candy store!! From the beautiful rooms, the wonderful delivery of tea in early morning, to walking the grounds before the tourists come in. Seeing the nursery school for kids of the household staff, to watching the Queens dog walker walking the corgis; even the trash being collected outside the Queens apartment! Chatting with the Knights who live on the grounds and at night a most beautiful tour of St George’s Chapel by one of the Knights! (where the wedding was held).

It is something special that I will always remember and Oh, we had our meetings in the room with Queen Victoria’s throne in corner, highly intimidating!!

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The South of England!

Here I am in Christ Church UK, between Southhampton and Bournemouth. It is very beautiful and very friendly. There are lots of tourists.

My friend Carol has a lovely old English Cottage she has restored and has given it to me for very good price. It is located just behind the high street. The town has a quirky cinema, which shows everything. The town has good restaurants, and the sea is very close.

I am spending my time on the book and doing many interviews on Skype. As I get into this, I realize what I have taken on and the responsibility and trust that people are giving me with their information. This will be a very long term project. I am interviewing about 35 individuals around the globe, so lots of work. I feel it is a real privilege to be doing this. I will take the train to London next week for the day to see Dadi Janki, who is now 103! I first met Dadi about 30 years ago and she has been a part of my life ever since. As I have said before she speaks Hindi, which I don’t speak and is one of those things in life that I can’t explain why this relationship is so important to me.

I am interviewing about 15 Brahma Kumaris and many other people that I have met on my travels that are offering and have given much to the world.

I have also sent letter to Pope Francis, The Dalai Lama and Prime Minister Modi asking for quote (a long shot, but you never know).

I wasn’t surprised to hear on the news today about the British Tourists that have disappeared in the jungle of the Democratic republic of Congo, trying to see the Gorillas. If you remember when I was there I left early.  It was far too dangerous, but I did it and the Gorillas were spectacular! I hope the tourists are as safe as they can be and are just being held somewhere. The DRC is a very scary place and on the world stage it just seems to have been forgotten.

My Cambridge friend Paul will pick me up and take me to Cambridge for month of June, after that I don’t know, UK, Canada. Stay tuned.

 

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