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30 January 2008

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Back from the relative warmth of a Dubai winter to the reality of a European winter.

DIY to complete on 1 rental house and our own flat in Nottingham.

But most of all the opportunity to catch up with family and friends.

A flight on BMI Baby from East Midlands to an even colder Glasgow to spend a weekend with Geoff's son Nick, wife Yvonne and daughters Amy and Holly. Always such a joy to spend time with them at their cottage near Maybole in Ayrshire.

While in Scotland with Nick and family, we arranged to meet up with Barbara Keating and sons Douglas, Angus and Scott, (Jeddah and Dubai) at the Science Museum in Glasgow. Great fun trying to keep track of five youngsters on a busy winter Sunday!

A quick visit to Somerset to catch up with Geoff's sister Carol and husband Bob and for an evening at Geoff's favourite restaurant, The Carvery in Bristol.

A great evening and good curry in London, meeting up with Iza's sons, Adam and Simon. Adam just back from serving overseas and ready to travel to Ghana for a weeks surfing. He is going through the complicated process of transferring from the Royal Air Force (RAF) Regiment, to the Army Paras. More heavy training. Simon, enjoying life as a young yuppy in London's financial world.

Geoff's son Simon and the twins, Lucy and Daniel, met us for a pizza and a visit to the Science Museum in London. Lucy and Daniel are now 9 years old and are great fun to be with.

Met up with Iza's sister Anna and husband Mark in South London. Heavily into renovating their house and a rental. 


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On 25th February 2008, flew from London to Toronto. Expected Toronto to offer beautiful spring weather. Not so. The coldest, snowiest winter since 1939!

As we were ultimately on our way to the boat, with limited storage and hopefully warm weather, we had deliberately left our heavy winter clothes in UK. Huge mistake!

Two meter snow drifts frozen in place. Regular snow and ice storms.

And another property to renovate. This is an apartment in Brampton, just outside Toronto, that was owned by Iza's aunt Ala who passed away in August 2007 aged somewhere between 93 and 103. Her smiling face was missed during this final visit.

Spent three weeks in Toronto sprucing up the apartment ready for sale.

There were days when it was impossible to go outside due to the weather and driving conditions.

Made one very scary, slippery evening drive into Toronto to see the Queen musical "We Will Rock You." We were very grateful for the 4WD that evening.



Niagara Falls & Buffalo, NY


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10th March. Left Toronto with a very large car, very full. All of our accumulated stuff for the boat, plus the remaining items from the Toronto apartment to go Iza's cousin, Millie, in Buffalo.

Great consternation at the US Customs post in Niagara when we showed them the very full car. But Iza's explanation about emptying the apartment and taking stuff to cousins in Buffalo seemed to work. The clincher was the vacuum cleaner on the top of the pile.

Mind you, the weather was not conducive to a full search so they we eager to accept our honest faces.

Stopped off at the US side of the Niagara Falls to watch the incredible force of the river in winter flood, with ice flows heading over the falls.

Spent the night in Buffalo in Millie and John's beautiful house in Williamsville. Unfortunately, John was enjoying a business trip to Las Vegas at the time, so we missed him on this visit.



Driving through West Virginia

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11th March set out on the 1,300 mile journey to Brunswick, Georgia, driving through the States of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and into Georgia.

Stopped overnight in West Virginia close to Lafayette and with ever increasing temperatures decided to spend a little time seeing some more of West Virginia than the I79 Interstate Highway.

Hiked around the New River Gorge State Park, where the I79 crosses the gorge over the New River Gorge Bridge, the bridge is the longest single span bridge in US.

The weather was cool and bright and much warmer than Toronto. On the railway line that winds beside the river at the bottom of the gorge, we saw the longest train we can recall. At least 200 freight wagons. probably from the coal mines still active upstream.

We arrived in Brunswick on the 13th to clean and organise the boat for sleeping.


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