My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Well, that was weird – I got an email warning me that multiple attempted hacks had been made on my website, so the server was shutting it down. Readers wrote to ask me what was going on. But it got fixed. Somehow. The mysteries of the ‘net.

I am sick. This is my second last full day, and I have to say, wonderful as it has been to see people and do things, I am desperate to get home.

To back up a bit, this is what I would have posted yesterday if I’d been able:

Our night in the farm palace was wonderful, complete silence, vast warm rooms. We made a huge breakfast with fresh eggs, back bacon, raspberries, even croissants. Penny has already booked to return there in August.

I have almost no contacts in Britain now, with few friends left here and no known family — my mother was not good at keeping in touch even with relatives. But happily, looking at the map before the trip, I realized Shrewsbury, where my old friend John lives, is on the way from Towcester to Liverpool. So we headed there for lunch.

John was the British boyfriend of a friend of mine; we lived in the same communal house in Toronto in 1973-74, until I moved to Vancouver and he and my friend broke up. John is simply one of the good souls of the earth, generous, open, kind. He married a Canadian, had two sons, divorced, and now has a son and grandchildren in Canada and a second son with children nearby in England. I hope to host him in August, when he comes to visit.

He lives in a very small old house where he has made maximum use of every inch, all of it designed and built himself; he has a long thin garden with a pergola grape arbor and a glass summerhouse at the end, where his tomato seedlings were already inches tall. He’d baked us an apple pie. Need I say more? And on top of everything else, it was a stunning day.

He and Penny had never met but have a great deal in common; both have been teachers and in theatre and worked for various social justice projects. Penny took a literature degree, and John is taking one now. Much to talk about.

We went on to central Shrewsbury to see the art exhibition of Penny’s niece at a local gallery and to walk around the ancient town filled with Tudor mansions with their wooden facades and beams. Drowning in history, this country. I took a picture of a 13th century arblaster – a giant wooden crossbow – to show the boys.

The rest of the day in the car, making our way along the A5 – the old Roman road – to Penny’s home in Liverpool. She too lives in a very small house; how spoiled we are for space, in Canada; we have no idea how much we take for granted. Hers has a view of the Mersey, with fresh winds blowing. We watched the first hour of Mr. Bates versus the Post Office, the shocking story of computer malfunction and bureaucratic malfeasance, targeting innocent postmasters across the country. As almost always with film and TV from this country, beautifully made and acted.

Pix: We stopped here outside our farmhouse to buy fresh eggs for John. Our eggs for breakfast had deep yellow yolks, and John wrote later that his were the same.

2. John at his green front door, and 3. he and Penny in his garden.

3. A typical Tudor building in Shrewsbury – there were many

Up next: the fairytale city of Liverpool!



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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.

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