Alive and Kicking

Been MIB* the past week or so what with trips to Ottawa to help save Canadian culture and a few things that had to be seen to here at home. Hopefully I can back to something vaguely resembling regular posts.

Laurent was speaking with our friend Pam earlier today and she mentioned that she was heading over to Richard’s at Cove Head Harbour for her first lobster roll of the season. It is almost embarassing that in three years here we’ve never tried what some people maintain is the best lobster roll on the Island if not in the world. So being as it was sunny and warmish – actually with that damned North-Easter blowing off the Gulf almost cold at the Harbour! – we decided to head up to the North Shore to judge for ourselves.

There must have been a pound of juicy lobster with just a touch of mayo and a scattering of chopped celery stuffed into that toasted bun. The fries and coleslaw were tasty and Upstreet’s Rhuby Social was the beer that matched it all perfectly. Only thing missing to finish off the meal as a summer taste of the Island was a scoop of Cow’s Ice Cream

Some brave – or stupid! – souls decided to test the waters of the Gulf of St Lawrence despite the cold and the swift undercurrents. Good luck to them says I!

And our opinion on the lobster rolls: two thumbs up – very high up!

*MIB – Missing In Blogging

June 23rd is National Pink Day. I’m not sure if it is the American singer-songwriter or the colour. If the later than I am in lucky that bit of sun I took today on my snowy white limbs is now sending of a pinkish glow.

A Place of Peaceful Rest

The second post I wrote for the blog back on November 13, 2006 was a eulogy to one of my dearest friends in the world Ryan (Ron) Taylor. Ryan was not happy with the name Ron and those of us who met him in Ottawa at a certain time in his life knew him as Ryan; his family and earlier friends knew him as Ron. No matter what name you knew him under you knew a charming, erudite, maddening, learned, witty, irritating, gentle and loving person.

Ryan (Ron) Taylor
1950-2006

By that strange alignment of the stars that we call serendipity a post about books by Old Lurker reminded me of the last note I received from Ryan. It came in a neatly (being from him of course it was) wrapped parcel containing a book. The book was Boy’s Like Us – an anthology of short coming-out stories/essays – and the note simply said “Darling boy, I won’t need this anymore.” The next day I received a phone call telling me his body had been found in the Niagara River.

I was fortunate to be able to keep in touch with some of his family: his cousin Dayle, his niece and, again through serendipity, his brother who lived in the building we moved into when we returned from Italy in 2011.

A peaceful park in the village of Grasmere in the Lake District of England where Ryan has found his final resting place.

On May 30th, a day after reading Luker’s post, I received an email from Dayle telling me that she had taken Ryan’s ashes to England and he had found his final resting place: the small village of Grasmere in the Lake District. In the nearby church yard is the grave of William Wordsworth, a poet who’s works he treasured.

And when the stream that overflows has passed,
A consciousness remains upon the silent shore of memory;
Images and precious thoughts that shall not be
And cannot be destroyed.

William Wordsworth
The Excursion

At the time of his death I said something that is as true today as it was thirteen years ago:
If you had any faults – and like all of us you did – the greatest was that you did not love yourself enough to realize how much you were loved. You are greatly loved. “The lad” and I miss you.
Your “darling boy”

Today I can add: I am joyful that you have found a place of peaceful rest.

Strangely June 4th is Tailors Day – granted a different spelling but it will do.

Lunedi Lunacy

At a wonderful birthday party on Saturday I was chatting with one of the guests and we were talking about how to keep the brain active as you get older mature and are no longer have the stimulus of work. (I am assuming here that work was stimulating????) Crossword puzzle, word quizzes were the first thing that popped into mind. She mentioned that she played along with show like Jeopardy and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire which I recall doing back in the days when we had a TV. I was pretty good at them – including the Italian version of WWTBAM – learned some really obscure Italian phrase on that one! But the British series Mastermind was a guaranteed 50/100 and on one or two occasions maybe 65/100.

The writing and wit on that Two Ronnies’ sketch is 100/100 – a brilliant piece of comedy writing. As is Eric and Ernie’s take on it.

Officially June 2nd was Leave the Office Early Day but given that it was Sunday it has been transferred to today. Not sure how as a retiree I’m going to celebrate that one.

Lunedi Lunacy

Much of this past weekend was taken up planning a bit of a vacation in September. The original plans had included a 14 day cruise on Norwegian from Southampton to the Fjords of Norway and a little jaunt around Iceland. However a few things put me off about Norwegian Cruise Line. After I had shown a bit of interest in the cruise I received three phone calls from their rep and six – count them six – emails within four days. When I finally made a tentative booking with deposit I received an email every day reminding of when the final payment was due. That and some of the reviews had me reconsidering.

So further investigating was done and we are now on a 7 days cruise with Holland America out of Amsterdam – only to Norway but with more forays into the Fjords that dot the coast. Iceland is not on the itinerary for the cruise but plans are being made to make a stopover in Reykjavik on the way over.

Which leads me to this little bit of lunacy for a Monday morning. Cissie Braithwaite (Roy Barraclough) and Ada Shuttlebottom (Les Dawson) are planning a holiday.

One of the things that mark these two “ladies of a certain age” as Lancashire lasses is the mouthing of words (or “mee-mawing”). It was a habit of mill workers trying to communicate over the tremendous racket of the looms, and it then worked its way into daily life for delicate subjects such as discussions of the “Kama Sutra”. And what Bert wants Ada to do … well you can just imagine.

May 27th is listed as Sun Screen Day which would be all well and good if we had some bloody sun!

The City of a Thousand Pillars

We are hearing much about Iran in the news these days. The nation of 82.5 million people has been a thorn in the side of some Western “democracies” since their Revolution in 1979. Once again that thorn is being cited as a major threat to civilization as we know it. I will not begin to claim that I am knowledgeable enough on modern – or earlier – world politics to understand it all but I can say that Iran has been a country that has fascinated me for many years. And particularly the ancient site of Persepolis.

The Cyrus Cylinder which the Shah claimed was the first declaration of universal human rights was the symbol of the elaborate celebration at Persepolis.

Back in 1971 the media was awash with coverage of the celebration of 2500 anniversary of the Persian Empire. In October of that year Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – whose link to the Dynastic succession of Cyrus and Darius owed more to US and British intervention than historic fact – held what became known as the “party of the century“. And the site of that mammoth, and expensive, celebration was the ancient ruins of the City of a Thousand Pillars: Persepolis – the City of the Persians. And so an item for my bucket list was born.

The banqueting tent held 600 guests with 60 members of ruling Royal families and Heads of State dinning at a single serpentine table set with a seamless hand woven table cloth. Princess Anne was heard to remark that she hoped never to eat peacock again!

Fast forward to an airline employee contest in 1978 where your’s truly won two tickets on Gulf Air – at the time one of the most luxurious carriers in the world. They flew out of London to Shiraz, a legendary city of poets, literature, wine and gardens; and the gateway to Persepolis. My friend Gary and I had started planning but the best laid plans etc. By January 1979 the Shah had left the country and the Revolution was in full swing. It was no longer safe to travel there. Persepolis was to remain an unchecked item on the bucket list.

So why this lengthy retelling of old disappointments? Well I have had now had a chance to see the City of the Persians if only in photographs. Carole, a French photographer, has made it her mission to follow in the footsteps of the Emperor Hadrian and share her photographic experience. Almost as insatiable in her travels as the Emperor she has covered and photographed much of the world known to the Romans of the time. And this week she took me as close to Persepolis as I will probably get in my lifetime. I thought I’d share it with you.

following hadrian photography

The magnificent ruins of Persepolis, or Parsa, lie at the foot of Kuh-i-Rahmat, roughly 650 kilometres south of the capital city of Tehran, and 70 kilometres northeast of Shiraz in the Fars region of southwestern Iran. Founded around 518 BC by Darius I (the Great), the site served as the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire and was intended and designed to display the splendour and majesty of an empire that stretched from Greece to India. Sacked by Alexander the Great in 333 BC, the site lay hidden, covered in sand until rediscovered in 1620. Persepolis was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979.

Coordinates: 29° 56′ 4″ N, 52° 53′ 29″ E

Persepolis, a Greek toponym meaning “city of the Persians”, was known to the Persians as Parsa. It was a monument complex of structures built to the commands of the great Achaemenid kings between about 518 and about 450 BC. An inscription…

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