Last Saturday was our Annual Christmas Buffet. Seven of us meet up, sometime near Christmas, to have a ‘home-made’ Christmas Buffet, pull crackers (or this year, we had to make our own crackers), play silly games and mull over the past year, and many Christmases before that. The seven of us have known each other for many years, through multifarious connections, that cross-over, interlink and double-back on themselves; a bit like those children’s games where you had to trace the end of piece of string, from a bundle of pieces of string.
Last year, we all took ‘Goodie Bags’ home, prepared by Gwyn. This year, she organised a Bran Tub. I certainly got a present that was just made for me. No, not a tea towel; better than a tea towel at this point of the Blog. It was a book called ‘Lost in Translation’; you will hear a lot more about ‘Lost in Translation’ in future Blogs.
We don’t play games that challenge our imaginations, like Charades, or games that make us think, like Trivial Pursuit. Last year, we played Racing Santas, with wind-up little Santas that race against each other along the table. This year, we progressed to the more intellectual ‘Christmas Bingo’, with a chocolate coin as a prize for a ‘full house’, only awarded if you remember to shout “Christmas Bingo” AND Reindeer Hoopla where someone sits with an inflatable set of antlers on their heads while everyone throws inflatable hoops and tries to hook them on the antlers. This is a game of skill; it is difficult, however, to demonstrate that skill while you are crying with laughter.
In quieter moments, in between chomping our way through Pigs in Blankets, Liz K (of Guest Tea Towel fame in http://www.virtualteatowelmuseum.com) asked me how many tea towels I had left that I needed to blog about, as long as they didn’t increase in number. Liz K has read every single blog that I have written; I think she was getting desperate, needing to know how long this torture would last. “I don’t know, possibly 200” I said (the actual figure is about 214, give or take a few). In the past, Liz K has commented that she had learnt a lot about me through the Blog, a lot more than when I was at work; she has described the Blogs as ‘an autobiography that isn’t in order yet’. She took me by surprise by asking if there were any tea towels that were too painful to write about. Instinctively, I said “yes” although I’m glad she didn’t ask which they were, because I couldn’t bring them to mind then. But I knew there were some. I have thought about her question a lot; I have looked down the list of those tea towels yet to be blogged about. There are still some U.T.Ts (Unidentified Tea Towels) and some that will just result in very short stories but the hardest now are the remaining ones, six in all, from my holiday in Canada in 1988. It is curious; why are those so painful, after all, I have already written about tea towels that are associated with sadness and death, missing people……..
My holiday in Canada in 1988 with John, my late husband was amazing; it introduced me to slightly more adventurous holidays; it was very emotional because John was able to meet his youngest brother, Sam, who had emigrated many years previously with whom he had lost touch; it gave me the chance to see such a wonderful country that I have always longed to return to. And, Canada was the ‘Land of Tea Towels’. Wherever you went there were tea towels; and I bought a good few of them. I have already written about Niagara Falls (two tea towels in a Blog dated 11 July 2015, Butchart Gardens (two tea towels in a Blog dated 3 September 2015) and the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver (three tea towels in a Blog dated 9 April 2016). The fact is, that if I finish the Blogs about Canada 1988, it will be the end of that holiday, that experience, that story and maybe the end of blogging about John. Sure, I’ve gone on about him quite a lot, and there are other places that we went on holiday to that I have still to Blog about. But, for me, there was something special about that holiday, I like the memories, I want them to continue. Let’s face it, that holiday was 30 years ago, pull yourself together and get on with it, Barbara.
Liz K’s question gave me the inspiration to weave seven tea towels into this Blog, and probably be happy with it. It started with my first trip to my favourite Charity Shop where I discovered ‘Canadian Road Map for Travellers and Tourists’, which I admired greatly. The picture does not do it justice because it is huge, much bigger than the Italian tourist tea towels; it is in vibrant colours with the words ‘Hand printed real linen’ at the top, as part of the design. There’s loads of information on it, roads, traffic signs and it reminds me of the holiday I had, flying in to Quebec, moving on to Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto (via the Niagara Falls), moving across to Calgary, Banff, Jasper (where’s Jasper on the map), Lake Louise, Kamloops down through the Rockies to Vancouver and Victoria Island. No, I didn’t cruise up the coast to Alaska or venture south to Seattle, both places I still want to go to but I did have an amazing time. I did ride on a train that was held up by a bear on the line, I did meet a moose on the Main Street of Banff, I did take so many beautiful photographs of Lake Louise, I did go on the Athabaster Glacier in Alberta and I did go to Prince George and take the train down the Rockies to Vancouver, alongside the Fraser River.
So let me introduce you to my six remaining tea towels, starting with Montreal and Toronto:
I loved Montreal for it cosmopolitan nature, a big city, lots of French speakers, great food. We walked around Montreal, through its parks for hours on end. Looking back, I can’t remember if Nick, my friend from school, was living there at the time. If he was I was definitely guilty of not trying to visit him. Besides the excursion to Niagara Falls and the delightful small towns where I came across my first Christmas Shop, ever, and I still have two decorations that I bought there, Toronto, too, is a big city. I was offered the opportunity to go up CN Tower, which had been completed in 1976 and, at that time, was the world’s tallest free standing building and I turned it down. That sort of height would not be my idea of fun. I found no tea towels in Ottawa or Quebec!
Now on to the next two: Alberta and Vancouver.
The Wild Rose is the state flower of Alberta; I loved the simplicity of this tea towel, made of the same material, and is the same size, as that of Montreal. The one from Vancouver is very different and shows Vancouver as a big city, much more detail and in cheap cotton. I think Vancouver was my favourite city; I loved the trains and the Museums; I loved my trip to Victoria, and Stanley Park with the Totem Poles. And I did go on the SkyTrain which had only been opened three years.
My final two tea towels are (a) Stanley Park, the place that all tourists go to see the truly beautiful Totem Poles and (b) Inukstuk which is a beautifully crafted tea towel with images of Inukstuk, the Inuit name for man-made creations, supposedly representing a human form and located where there might be danger or a site of great importance.
Thank you Liz K for asking the question. I’ve had a great time, remembering all those great times and being grateful for all the tea towels I have, to bring back those memories. Not only that I have been able to knock seven off that list of 214 tea towels that need blogging about, I have got rid of that feeling that I wouldn’t be able to finish the Canada 1988 holiday. Sometimes, someone just has to ask!