Monday, 28 July 2008

Mini-vacation - and England

I'm back! I ran out of time last week before we left, to post and say I was taking a mini-vacation to our favourite place in Canada: Picton, Ontario, on the world's largest fresh-water island, and the Sandbanks National Park. The best beaches and water for swimming in Canada, if not much of the Northern Hemisphere. So, last Thursday we left on the train, and where we went had no computer, no telephone, a radio, and a tv with 3 channels and no working dvd player. It was heaven. It was bliss. My sister-in-law's cottage overlooks the Bay of Quinte and is on the water's edge, so every morning we could go down to the dock and be near water. I'm not sure what it is about water that calms me, but it does. The cottage we stayed at is not in Picton (town of 4,000 people) itself, but out in the countryside of the island, so we had little traffic, little noise, only a row of mixed cottages and homes in a row overlooking the water. I know I'm lucky to live by Britannia Park here in Ottawa, and can escape there as often as I can. After a while though, I have to leave the city. I need a change of scenery to refresh myself, to feel rejuvenated. Actually, I need time to read, to feel rejuvenated, and that's all the time!!! Leaving the city, traveling, also helps wake me up. I have always enjoyed going somewhere, and Picton is our destination of choice. My sister-in-law and niece live there, so luckily we have a place to stay, and great family to visit, and we have a wonderful time. This time was the same, we had a very good visit, and the children came away wanting to go back as soon as possible. They survived without tv, vcr, and X-box! And since I didn't want much noise, we wanted to hear silence and the water on the shore and the wind in the trees, we rarely had the radio on. I could, at the quietest times, get a sense of the quieter rhythms of the earth that it is so difficult to hear in the city. That sense of eternal time, of being in a more gentle pace, of hearing the space between the waves, of the motion of the earth - that is what I found this time, as I do every time I visit there. So I didn't get much reading done, but I found what I had been missing, and I think the less frequent posts in May, June and July were showing how out of tune I was getting with myself.

However, I did visit the only bookstore in Picton!! Of course I did! And luckily a thunderstorm was overhead so no one complained about the time spent there! I only found two books to come home with me: In the Electric Mist With Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke, and Sylvia Townsend Warner's In the Kingdom of Elfin. Both are books I have been looking for. I could have bought a few more, but my husband was watching books for the kids pile up - they each had chosen one and we'd found a box of stickers for the trip home - so I had to think about luggage and restrained myself.

Best of all, I heard a loon call twice on this trip. The first time I could hardly believe it, as it has been years since I last heard one in the wild. Then it came again, yesterday morning, and I saw it diving for fish out beyond the dock. I tried to get a picture, but of course, in the way of the wild, as soon as I got my camera out it vanished. For those of you who don't know, loons are only heard in the wild, on lakes, here in Canada, and they usually call before it rains. Sure enough, we had rain - and another thunderstorm - last night.

So, I'm back. And, as the header suggests.....England is next. We're going at Christmas! so all my bloggers in the UK, if you are going to be around London over the holidays, drop me a line, I'd love to meet you. I'll be on Charing Cross Road as often as I can!! (Rhinoa, Ann, Bride, Geraniumcat, Mariel, this is particularly meant for you) We're going mid-December, in time for the Christmas rush, and coming home in early January. My daughter cries once a week because we aren't there yet; her birthday is Dec 24 so she gets to have her birthday there with her grandparents and she can't wait! My mother-in-law is crossing the days off the calendar; she can't wait! All this is to say, we couldn't take a longer vacation in Picton because most of our holidays are being used for Christmas instead. So this really was a mini-vacation, to get us through to then!!

Before I go, I want to ask a question: for all of you out there who read to relax, do you find that if you don't have time to read on a vacation, that something is missing? Do you miss reading if you don't have the time, when on vacation? Do you take too many books on holiday? Or plan to buy a book wherever you are? I always take too many books, and I always buy some when on vacation. The best vacation for me includes time to read. Vacations have to, since that is the best part of my day, every day: reading. That's when I know all is right with my world, that I have time to read.

Happy reading tonight! Now, I'm going to go read while there are a few hours left on this mini-vacation.....


Chris said...

What an incredible vacation! I feel so much more relaxed just reading this. just put me at ease a little bit :) I must say that I'm jealous though after that wonderful little break and then England coming up! I hope you do get to meet some bloggers while you're over there.

Whenever I vacation I tend to take a break from reading which is odd for me, but it just happens. I always bring about 2 books for a weeks vacation but usually end up not reading at all. Of course I ALWAYS buy books because I have to scout the local bookstores :p

brideofthebookgod said...

Susan, it sounds like you had a wonderful time! I will certainly be around in December, it would be fun to meet up if we can.

My email address is brideofthebookgod at btinternet dot com if you want to get in touch offline

I don't have my holiday until October but have already started thinking about what I might read - the Book God has challenged me to read The Count of Monte Cristo, so we'll see what happens.

Rhinoa said...

Glad you had a great time. I live in South London and will be around for some of the time you are in the UK. I will be visiting my mum and gran in Liverpool at some point over christmas but haven't worked out the dates yet.

When it comes to holiday reading I always take more books than I think I will read as you never know. I always find time to read a bit a day, even if it is only a paragraph or I feel wrong somehow!

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous break. I know just what you mean about water, there is something so calming about it. And you're coming to England! This gives me a real incentive to keep working on my travelling for I can think of nothing better than meeting up with you over Christmas. The problems I've had on the blog lately have really made me recognise that the people I correspond with regularly are friends in every possible sense of the word and it would be so good to actually meet up.

Bybee said...

That sounds like a wonderful vacation and so does the one at Christmas. I've always thought Christmas in England would be just the thing.
Water relaxes me, too. My mind gets very calm, and I never get tired of watching the water, which means that reading is nearly impossible at the beach.

GeraniumCat said...

Your vacation sounds wonderful - reading what you had to say about silence made me want to turn the radio off, but then I remembered the builders next door are making lots of noise! I shall go down to the foot of the paddock with the dogs later, and sit in silence and think of you listening to the loon.

I shall try to make one of my London trips coincide with your visit to London - my office is not far from Charing Cross Road and the Persephone bookshop.

I take far too many books on holiday with me, and yes, I always buy something too.

Nymeth said...

wow, it sounds like you had a wonderful mini-vacation! And the place sounds so beautiful.

You'll have a great time in England for sure! Don't forget to buy lots of books :P I anticipate that you'll face the same problem I did: how to carry them all back.

Susan said...

chris: I know what you mean about scouting the local bookstores!! I always end up buying some books wherever I am. I'm glad I could help you relax from this far away! And some day I want to come to Louisiana, so then you and I can meet up and make everyone else jealous ! That's why I want you to post some pics of New Orleans, then I can talk my husband into it..... :-)

Bride of the book god, Table Talk, Rhinoa, Geranium cat: my email is, can you contact me and I'll give you more details - dates and most likely times I'll be in town....I'm so excited and thrilled to meet you all! Wish Chris, Bybee and Nymeth (and all the other bloggers who can't get there) could join us, we'll have to raise a cuppa to them!! :-)

bride of the book god: I'll get in touch offline. Good! and I'm very happy to get a chance to meet you. And good luck with the Count of Monte Cristo, is that a favourite of your husband's or are you making him read something too? It's one I've not read, so I'm curious to see if your eventual post will make me want to pick it up!

rhinoa: I'd love to know where in South London you are, Toby (my husband)'s family are in Grays, Essex.......and like I said in my post, if I don't read on my vacation it hasn't been a real vacation! I used to take too many books too, and now because of the kids, I limited myself to two and sadly did not run out of things to read!! I so look forward to meeting you!

table talk: I know what you mean, I missed telling everyone where I was going, and when your computer was down, it was awful being able to read your posts but not being able to comment. It's funny how blogging is working, and I think you are right - we do become friends through sharing our interests, our passion for books, our lives, our thoughts on line. I look forward very much to meeting you too!

bybee: Christmas in England is really interesting! There are pantomines galore (I had never heard of them before moving over), and everything shuts down for Christmas! Nothing is open, no trains, no taxis, nothing moves on Christmas day, and New Year's Day. so I'm glad we're staying a bit into January so we can see a quieter England - like the US and Canada, they go all out in decorating, parties, etc. It's actually lots of fun, and I've missed the tv specials (which are awful), and oh, I'm just glad we have a chance to go back again!! sure you can't talk Mr Bybee into celebrating Christmas in an English-speaking country?? And see some of merry Olde England too...

geraniumcat: oooh, lucky woman, to have an office near Charing Cross Road and Persephone Books! I'm amazed you're not down there more often! I'm afraid to go into Persephone Books, thanks to Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings I got their catalogue and every book sounds so interesting! I daren't tell my husband either! He's already dreading what I'll find at Foyle's and Forbidden Planet. Now I know why my mother-in-law is crossing off the days, only mine is for bookstores! How do you resist the Persephone books, or do you buy some every once in a while? I hope you have some lovely silence at the end of the paddock. :-) I'm very excited at meeting you.

nymeth: my in-laws are already buying things for the kids (their only grandchildren), so I have find a way to keep a bag for myself - most of which will be filled with books to come home with! :-) You're absolutely right....and have you found any books in Brazil to bring back yet? any chance you can come across the Channel on a Christmas shopping trip?

Gentle Reader said...

That sounds like a wonderful vacation! In answer to your questions, on vacation, I always take as many books as I can fit into my bags without weighing me down too much. I do feel cheated if I don't get enough time to read on vacation. And I always try to visit local bookstores and buy local books, too!

I'm so jealous you'll be in England at Christmas. How lovely!

mariel said...

Hey, I was looking over some old posts and realised I never replied to you! I should be around this Christmas (hopefully!), it'd be really nice to meet up. The bookshops in London really are some of the best!