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Penny’s Magical Tour

MWAA HA HA – it’s snowing in Vancouver this morning, and mild here! How often does that happen? Take that, you crocus/tulip/daffodil-admiring, early-spring-getting, pseudo-Canadians. 

Beth, where does this hostility come from? When so many of your loved ones live on the west coast of this fine nation? 
It’s just, doctor, that always, always, I am receiving missives from them about the glorious weather, the flowers, the birdies, their walks through the pine-scented pristine parks and along the sparkling water’s edge admiring the otters. And I, here in the grubby inner city with piles of filthy melting snow, bus fumes and one almost-invisible lake, cleaning up garbage strewn by the raccoons. They live in one of the most stunning places on earth and they can’t help but point that out. 
Well today, for once, they’re shivering, and we in Toronto are … well, we are also shivering, but not as much. And we don’t have to wear boots today and they do.  Yay.
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Those of you who’ve followed this blog for some time know about my grand upcoming adventure in England – that I will be visiting Penny, the sister of my childhood pen-pal Barbara who died in 1966 at the age of sixteen.  Last year, I reconnected with Penny by Google and email, and we’ve become great friends over the Internet, forty-five years after our first and only five minute meeting in 1964.  Well, I’m going to England at the end of May, partly to visit Penny, and she has just sent me an itinerary of our week together. 
We will be touring Sheffield, the city where she lives, and on Sunday May 24 she has scheduled “a walk in the hills (if fine.)” If not fine, I imagine “a sit in the pub” will be a good substitute.  She wrote recently to ask if I’d like to see a ballet in Manchester – “my favourite ballet,” she wrote, “Prokofiev’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.'” 
“Hard to believe,” I wrote back, “but it’s my favourite ballet too.” So on Wednesday May 27th, we are seeing the Northern Ballet in Manchester in “Romeo and Juliet,” swelling along to that magnificent music.  Then on to Liverpool, to stay with her daughter Rosy, meet her son Tom, and embark on “The Liverpool Mystery Tour: Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and the No. 82 bus.” A mad Beatlemaniac, I don’t even know what the No. 82 bus refers to, but I’ll be on it. Or beside it, or whatever. 
Then she has booked “As You Like It,” one of my favourite Shakespeare plays – I always wanted to play Rosalind, but only ever performed one scene – in Stratford-on-Avon, then on to her sister Elizabeth in Hertfordshire and then back to London.  On the way, we will stop in Wimbledon, to see the house where she and Barbara grew up, which I visited in 1964 and where Penny and I first met. I have no memory of this meeting, and we are both hoping that standing in front of the house will bring it all back for me. 
I usually travel alone and make up my own plans and itineraries, so having this tour all planned, arranged and booked is heaven. I’ve spent 25 years exploring my Jewish/Russian/American half for the book about my great-grandfather. But there’s the other half, the English half, my mother of British yeoman stock, and on the tour I will also be visiting Potterspury, the village where in 1923 my mother was born in a thatched cottage. 
I told a friend recently about this trip, and she said, “But it’s all about the past.” Well, yes, it is, I am in many ways going backwards to re-discover what was. But it’s also about what is – about right now, me with my new friend Penny, the only woman I know who is as organised as I. 
I can’t wait. Stay tuned, because you’ll hear all about it.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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