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  • Latvia
    Baltic It became prosperous when it was part of the Hanseatic League from 1300 right up until the mid 1800 s It stands on the broad Daugava River and has its own seaside playground at nearby Jurmala still a favourite with well heeled Russians We stayed in a village hotel a short bus ride from the city Costs of accommodation food and drink were ridiculously low We could have bought the whole hotel for the price of a house in the UK After the Gorbachov Glasnost period Latvia became increasingly independent from 1989 and a few years later established its own parliament and asked the high proportion of Russians to choose between becoming Latvian or leave The Latvian language became the main one and a museum is dedicated to the Occupation It privatised industry and the collective farms returning them to their owners or compensating them In 1994 Latvia became part of the EEC and has a strong expanding economy As crossroads between Russia and the West it is in a fortunate position The climate is pleasant during Spring Summer and Autumn but winters can be fairly extreme with the sea freezing The Latvians are great flower givers One sees

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  • Mediterranean Cruise
    a Beauty Salon Games Zone Library and Internet Lounge Two of the four restaurants had waiter service The cabins were quite spacious and comfortable and were well attended by our cabin staff First stop Cagliari Sardinia We booked a tour which took us to an interesting Roman site at a place called Nora From Sardinia we had a day at sea before reaching Naples There we booked to go to Sorrento and Pompeii The famous Pompeii site is quite vast and has many interesting relics of the disastrous Vesuvius eruption of AD 79 Unfortunately after nealy 2000 years one of the buildings suddenly collapsed See Here Next we went to Toulon in France and were impressed by the town and the harbour Lastly the ship called at Barcelona Gaudi s unfinished cathedral La Sagrada Familia We did the usual walk down the Rambla with its many shops And human statues Altogether the cruise was excellent and well organised Although the Thomson Dream is 30 years old it must have been ahead of its time when it was built with things like a sliding roof over the larger pool The food was very good with good coffee available 24 hours In the main restaurants the menu was 6 course with a good and varied selection Dress was informal If one wanted an even more relaxed atmosphere there was a self service area which was open at almost all hours Although our package was Full Board rather than All in there would be no need to spend anything while on board Drinks in the dining rooms bars and theatre were charged But the prices were comparable with pubs in the UK with nothing even cocktails costing more than 3 85 Soft drinks were 1 50 wine was 3 50 It is difficult

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  • Our Chateau Mobile
    co uk in Cambridge who did an excellent job at a reasonable price 100 at Sept 2010 The whole thing looks rather like a traditional gypsy caravan and is now regarded as a classic EVERY time we take it on holiday we have people coming over to have a look and ask us about it I designed a pennant for owners of the Chateau Mobile trailer tent and sold 19 The shop that produced them was willing to make a fresh batch of ten but I decided not to proceed with the penant making business You are welcome to my design There is a thriving Owners Club on Yahoo at http groups yahoo com group chateaumobileowners And one in Germany at http www scholz bruederchen de index2 html O ccasionally you see them for sale there or on Ebay for around 700 One of our better purchases One of the member has had a Christmas Card printed for 2010 The CM as it is affectionately know by owners was built in Oslo Norway by the Wideroe Aircraft Company From this I conclude that ours is a 1967 model so 43 years old A clean looking 1972 CM was described by one member at http www youtube com watch v nOb9odrzWEo feature mh lolz list LLq0jw0dIH DQ The Lillebror Little Brother Chateau Mobile Trailer tent story translated from a Norwegian website Patents on the prototype were taken out in 1955 by Knut Rambol Oslo Production began in 1957 and finished in 1971 although the remaining stock was sold until 1974 The factory was the Wideroe Aircraft Company Alloy Department at Fornebu Oslo Some production and assembly also took place at Bjorkelangen Altogether around 6000 were built The Chateau Mobile is about 260kg 153cm wide 280cm long Height open 185cm It came

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  • Basel Visit
    many heads bobbing up and down all going downstream many of them with inflated bags containing their clothes It was obviously considered clean enough not to suffer Thames Tummy In fact the whole city was litter free and with little sign of graffiti The tram system is popular so many people park in the suburbs and take the tram into town hence little congestion One has to be careful when crossing the roads as the trams are very frequent and quite fast and quiet I was intrigued by the small foot ferries which cross the Rhine in several places They are an old tradition in Basle and the ferrymen get well known to the locals I could not see how the ferry worked as it does not have a motor just a rudder But the secret is that they are attached by a cable to another cable which is strung from one bank to the other The ferryman merely moves the rudder over at the end of each trip and the current does the rest Why isn t this very green invention not applied to more rivers around the world It is probably not applicable to the Thames which is tidal so there would be times when the ferry could not run And the cable must be high enough not to interfere with river traffic Our hostess decided to take us first to Lake Titisee some way from Basle across the German border It reminded me of Windermere with lots of small boats to hire and a larger one which circles the lake Our second day was also about an hour s drive into Germany to a small town called St Blasien where they have annual festival of wood carving Competitors come from many countries and have to create something to a specification made by the organisers In fact they have to submit a model of what they propose to carve and if this is accepted they produce a full sized version which may be as much as six feet tall Visitors are then asked to vote for the one they like most Carvings are then often donated to the town It was a sunny day and there was a flea market and food stalls and a very busy happy atmosphere The central square is dominated by the massive domed church of St Blasien which has been recently carefully restored On the third day it poured but our hostess had fortunately planned a party for us and her friends and relatives and a good time was had by all The following day were were back in the Black Forest mountains To say that the area is beautiful is an understatement Wherever you go there are what we call an area of outstanding beauty Every turn in the road revealed gorgeous rolling fields with contented cows or trees trees and more trees Yes we have places in Britain like that The Lakes Scotland parts of Wales but in this area there

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  • My American Adventure
    registered straight away I was shocked to receive a card which said I was 1A and due for induction I went straight to the UK consulate in Chicago but was told I would probably have to serve two years I intended to appeal and if necessary dash over the border into Canada Already I am over 300 to the good and could afford my passage home If it is inevitable I am told that I could sign up in the army for three years This way I could choose the area I would serve in and would also have three years college paid for when I got out But I was hoping it wouldn t come to that New experiences Never before seen fireflies or a kingfisher or be bitten by so many eager mosquitoes They are trying to rid the town of them At night a truck comes round belching clouds of DDT 27th June Went to Reunion dinner at Big Jim s Met Homer Stirling Homer s daughters Barbara Payne and Sarah Jane The oldest there was Agnes McPherson 94 Also there were Janine McPherson Mary Agnes Kenyon Sally Patterson Phyllis Hamerick Katherine Honey Payne and Stewart P The meal was a barbeque sandwiches salads fruit jelly and lots of ice cream Very impressive for someone who had left a country which still had rationing of some items Talking to one of the old timers I learnt that the early settlers paid 1 25 an acre for the land By 1954 some sold for 525 But the early settlers didn t have it easy and had to clear the land of trees before planting anything Cholera was quite common in those early days but most of the Pattersons lived to ripe old ages They were hardy stock All of the twelve children who were born at Kirtlehead on the Borders survived 30th June At work when there was an almost total eclipse of the sun An old negro worker stood by me philosophising Id ll never go out altogedder only when God say so Some people say there ain t no God but it must ve been created sometarm mustn it Later the same guy bought a bike because I had got one to get to work but he didn t get on with it because Ma legs just wouldn go around 4th July Worked Independence Day night and earned time and a half My best pay day ever 5th July Was invited to play Scrabble with friends of Big Jim and did quite well I was pleasantly surprised when years after one of the old dears left me a silver dollar in her will Sunday 11th July Invited to Maple Park Centennial Remarkably many of the villages around were established just a hundred years ago I managed to hitch hike over there There were 20 000 people in that tiny village normally 500 and the parade took two hours to pass I got some excellent pictures on my Russian twin lens reflex camera There were classic cars a jazz band cowboys Indians an ancient Fire pump from Joliet cheer leaders and elaborate floats Elsie had arranged a double date and we all went to see Dial M for Murder in de Kalb I had to phone work and apologise that I wouldn t be in I stayed at a place in Maple Park Harold s was full and walked over to the Patterson farm in the morning much to their surprise I hadn t got much cash with me and went to the bank and asked them to transfer some over from my account in Aurora but I was greeted with great suspicion until I said I was staying with Harold Patterson and was then able to get some cash 12th July Paul Hartman took me over to a Draft Board interview in Wheaton They were pleasant but nevertheless said I would have to go in the Forces unless I returned home in which case I would lose citizenship rights and the right to return They realised that I had been misled about registering and agreed to suspend their decision until their next meeting They could not believe that I would take the option to leave Afterwards Paul invited me to accompany him on a YMCA outing This was at Indiana Dunes State Park and we took 10 boys and girls over in two cars The park is on the shores of Lake Michigan and has beautiful sandy beaches and was ideal for swimming I was surprised to find that the sea wasn t salty From the sandhills one could see Chicago in the distance Paul got a barbeque going then we went over to an open air square dance not that I knew anything about square dancing That night we slept out on the beach It got cold around 5 a m and I retired to one of the cars After another meal we returned to Wheaton via Gary a sprawling steel and oil refinery town at the lower end of Lake Michigan 22nd July Spent the day in Chicago walking along the foreshore down to the Natural History Museum Field Museum and Planetarium which are prominent features on the south side I intended to pay homage to Karl Patterson Schmidt http en wikipedia org wiki Karl Patterson Schmidt the world famous herpetologist Incidentally the foreshore is laid out to gardens and fountains and is on land reclaimed from the Lake It was made up of sand pumped in from the dunes of Indiana that I had visited earlier I walked into this imposing Museum and asked to see KPS He was out to lunch but I was able to chat to his secretary until he returned She explained that he was the greatest living authority on certain species of reptiles But when he arrived he was most welcoming and explained about his work which included writing several books especially ones for children I now have one of his books which describes his early life on a farm in Wisconsin His mother was a Patterson hence the connection He showed me around the archives long rooms full of specimens from bats and beetles to brontosauri He showed me vampires which he had studied in South America feeding off cattle And we went to a department where they were reconstructing a pre historic turtle shell which being dug out of a lump of shale I was shown a baby brontosaurus which was show facing its egg shell in the nest Next he displayed some of the books he had written one about a rare coral snake which he had been studying for 30 years After spending more time with me than I had expected he passed me on to and assistant who showed me round the taxidermy department They cleaned skeletons preserved animal skins and made plastic models of anything from a tiny frog to an Orang Utang One student had had brief fame because of eating tigerburgers and crocodile which he said tasted like crab It was a tragedy that after retiring and during a television broadcast he was bitten by a Boomslang snake Not normally fatal he did not bother with any serum and kept a diary of the effects of the bite which eventually killed him After that edifying visit it was time to visit the Selective Service and the Immigration Offices where both confirmed that I was still due for induction and even suggested that I might not be able to leave the country The following day I managed to find pleasant digs in North Street Aurora and wished more than ever that I could at least stay for the full year I had planned 29th July Paul had invited me to another YM outing this time a camp in Wisconsin by a superb lake Went swimming but the mozzies were bad We settled down by the log fire after spraying surrounding area But I was still awake at 3 30 a m and forsook my sleeping bag took my mosquito net and got in the car I was accompanied by a number of mosquitoes and by morning I had also collected about sixteen bites on my back American mozzies prefer me to the locals Our next stop was Phantom Lake where we went canoeing and fortunately there were fewer mosquitoes 5th August Had an invitation to my long time pen friend s in Milwaukee about 100 miles north of Chicago Unfortunately Delores Berger was in hospital giving birth but the family made me very welcome Arranged to go over later to see Delores who I had written to since I was at school 10th Aug Went to see the Draft Board in Wheaton and wrote out my appeal as I was still classified 1A After seeing another colour slide show I went into Chicago and bought a 35mm camera Lordox for 40 I checked the cost of a trip home around 160 but then went around Chicago taking pictures with the new camera After a few problems I got some great results Received a letter from the Chicago Draft Board that I COULD leave the country and might even be able to return 2nd Sept Cycled over to Paul s in Wheaton to his surprise Spent some time in Wheatland staying at Jim s and helping out with some straw baling Jim took me back to Aurora with the bike in the back of the car The temperature has been around 50 at night and 80 90 in the day The farmers all wear big hats and finish up with tanned faces and very white foreheads Off work from 15th to 18th Sept with a temperature and tonsillitis 23rd Sept A perfect day in Chicago Walked down to the Lake looking for a view to photograph when blonde swim suited Emmie Flake appeared and posed for me on the rocks Pity she had to go home to Nebraska Took her home then went to the Science and Industry Museum very good I kept in touch with Emmie and I later met up with her in London showed her Windsor Castle In the evening I found a Jazz Club which had a good trad band and I was even introduced to Muggsy Spannier an old jazz great who was enjoying the band with his wife and another musician Returned to Aurora in air conditioned arm chair splendour with music on the train A day to remember 7th October Took the morning Twin Cities train from Chicago to Savannah on the Mississippi Another beautiful day and viewing the countryside from the Vista dome 107 miles in 90 minutes Climbed the bluffs overlooking the mighty river which is several miles wide even 1000 miles from its mouth at New Orleans Wonderful day wonderful views Took in a movie and then got the 8 30p m train back Chicago weather forecasters can get it wrong too No rain had been forecast but it rained 11 inches between the 9th and 10th October On the way to work I had to go under a railways bridge It was flooded A car was stuck half way through I decided to take off my shoes and cycle through it Was just putting them into my bag when a car came by and the bow wave washed one of the shoes away I saw it floating but the next vehicle swamped it Arrived at work barefoot much to the amusement of the lads Fortunately I had boots as well and surprisingly I found the shoe the next day Many flood tales in the area next day Apart from that the Fall had been very pleasant But by the end of October there were 6 inch icicles hanging from the Burlington water tower Watched the Harlem Globetrotters at the local High School Very good The British Consulate in Washington is taking up my case regarding a postponement of Selective Service It is election time The parties spend all their time trying to prove the other side is dishonest Their sole policy is anti communism Surprisingly though Ike expects to get some credit from proposing an extension to Social Security and he a Republican Early November Light snow 3 foot icicles But by the 16th the daytime temperature was 70f What a contrast The Draft Board is still proceeding with my induction and I will have to attend a medical Went to a Cinerama show in Chicago an extravagant tour of the States and Europe Impressive 25th November Worked Thanksgiving at double time and half Paul is trying to pair me off with a girl called Tania and several of us went to a party in a wealthy house in Glen Ellyn There were also a couple of German girls They are dying to stay in the US and couldn t believe I am dying to leave 6th December Ice thick enough to skate on in a nearby park Eventually bought a decent pair of figure skates Another foursome set up by Paul We all went to a film and then on to the Sky Club in Aurora in what passes for a skyscraper VERY expensive Had to go to Chicago for my Service physical which I passed despite trying to fail In view of impending doom I walked back to the travel agents and booked a return trip to the UK on the Empress of France from Montreal to Liverpool on May 10th Christmas morning was in Aurora with the Ilseman family and then Dale whisked me off to his farm which was full of kids Dale s seven Stewart s four and some others Went to bed at 10 and not having had much sleep slept until noon the next day Then it was on to Stewart s then Tom s There is quite a lot of organisation between the families with the kids drawing lots as to who gives to whom Then they go from house to house to open the presents when everyone is there One of the boys had a clarinet and it seemed very easy to play compared with mine 29th December Another Draft Board scare Received a note to say my permission to leave the country had been refused The following day I went to Chicago and saw Mr Sedgewick Jell Vice consul who was very annoyed by the denial and rang the Wheaton Draft Board to verify the position He said he would get in touch with me after contacting Washington but confirmed that I could leave without fear of arrest as long as I got tax clearance By 31st I had a letter that told me I had indefinite postponement and that I should reapply for a permit to leave Good work by the Vice Consul I developed flu again and was off work for a couple of days But as soon as I was fit again I got lots of skating Temperature has been as low as 10f At that temperature the skates begin to slide sideways as they cannot cut the ice At work it has got down as low as 17f 49 degrees of frost but it doesn t seem as cold as that But one time I went out to turn an engine on the turntable and took out a damp rag Before I got back in it was as stiff as a board 29th Jan Went to Milwaukee again and sat up talking to Delores and family until 3 a m She played the piano well Claire de la Lune etc In the morning Dad Jim took us for a ride along by the Lake which was well frozen People were skating on the Milwaukee River Returned to Aurora Cycling home from work took a picture of a thermometer 42 degrees of frost 2nd Feb Beautiful sunny day Big Jim collected me and we went to hear the Plainfield High Band who were very good indeed 10th Feb Very cold and 6 inches of snow Got a letter in the local paper in response to an absurd article by an American in London whingeing that he had to give a 10c tip in one of the best hotels Had a letter from Homer and Elizabeth complimenting me on it 19th Feb I have booked a 4 day tour of New Orleans to see the Mardi Gras I only have to pay a third of the rail ticket on the foreign line Up at 4 a m Got a cab to the station and the 5 05 train to Chicago then the 7 50 City of Orleans train from Illinois Central The queue for the train was 50 coloured but I finished up in an all white carriage It was all done by tickets We are headed for the Deep South where segregation is the norm on public transport The train is not as smart as the stainless steel California Zephirs Enjoyed the best glass of freshly squeezed orange I ever had 25c with ice By mid day we had passed a field full off grape vines No snow down here Passed an area full of green coal ramshackle unpainted houses then nodding donkey oil pumps 3 p m Over the Ohio into Kentucky Then down the East side of the Mississippi Very flat and covered in small trees Flocks of birds 4 pm crossed into Tennessee 5pm Memphis Houses are hovels now surrounded by streams and wetland bayou Already warm out there like and English summer evening Neon lights showing as we reached Jackson the Capital of Mississippi I kept a note of the cost of the tour Tour 52 50 Rail ticket 26 50 Cabs 2 Food and drink 10 Kodachrome film 6 Finally arrived in New Orleans where we are to stay in Pullman City Pullman sleeping cars very basic Day 1 Walked down to famous Canal Street and along to South Rampart Street Back to Canal Street and got the 10 30a m SS President steamboat from the levee Just the tourist run up the river and back The sun was intermittent but it was still around 70f Then went to see some of the parades from the Canal Street South Rampart Street corner The floats were elaborate and they throw out cheap gifts strings of beads and candy all the time The parade went up one side then down the other Canal Street is one of the broadest streets being a covered over waterway Our tour included an evening show at the Jung Hotel with Rudee Vallee already a has been by then At least the food was good After that I wandered down Bourbon Street to the Vieux Carre in search o Louis Armstrong who was said to be playing in town There must have been 40 places of entertainment in Bourbon Street mostly strip shows and here and there the strains of a Jazz band Went into one jazz club Good group and a great interval guitarist Lots of clubs Twosy Foursy Dog Club Cat Club Pat O Brians Monday was a big day Unfortunately rather dull for photography But we had a coach tour which included the above ground cemetery too wet to dig down the banana docks St Lois Cathedral French Quarter with all those iron balustrades French Market and Coffee shop never closed up to Lake Ponchartrain very misty then down through the City Park with its Spanish Moss laden trees and big palms It is February but the azaleas were in bloom I then accompanied a couple of the girls to the races where we had something to eat and won a couple of races and lost a couple and came out even Took the bus back to town finding myself sitting in the Reserved for Colored patrons only part In the evening there was another tour which covered three night clubs with expensive drinks Tuesday 22nd was the biggest parade day I wisely stayed in bed until 10 and when I wandered down to Union Street the parade had not started Lots of people were wandering about in fancy dress from convicts to oversized rabbits and ogres The parade was based on the Life of Washington The evening parade was by far the most effective with illumination and fireworks Big crowds in Canal Street Had one last night in Pullman City and then we were off back up north seeing a lot of the Mississippi by daylight I was fascinated to see old cars being towed south along the roads obviously worth more there than in the prosperous north Often wondered how they managed to tow those cars with no driver in the rear car 25th Feb Cycled out to Wheatland and reported on the trip Stayed overnight at Dale s Visited Russell and Othelia and told him of my plans to visit the West before leaving the States He gave me a contact in Fort Collins where I could stay Not being used to advertising on radio or TV I was interested to hear the tempting offers 21 inch TV nothing down 76c a week and up to 150 trade in Sunday 6th March Went to Chicago and took a bus south through to ghetto area to the Aquarium then back up Michigan Avenue to the Blue Note Club where Jack Teagarden was performing in the afternoon In the interval the barman introduced me to Jack and I got the following autograph The room was only half full which amazed me as he was famous in jazz circles and I told him that in Europe he would be playing to packed houses He evidently took me at my word and later did a successful tour before drinking himself to death Thought of staying the night at the Y but the weather was miserable only 16f and the Windy City was at its worst so got the late train home Sunday I cycled over to Paul s He had requested some travel leaflets as he plans a trip to England and Israel I suggested a route he might take in England Cycled back against a headwind 15 miles of dead straight road on that heavy old American bike By March 11th the temperature was back in the 60s 73f in Chicago Loop 24th March The weather has deteriorated again and this makes work even more wearisome than ever Can t wait to finish this job but must carry on until I can get my last free trip out to Denver then say goodbye to nights for ever 1st April The weather has improved again so I took the Saturday night train to Minneapolis Took 8 hours and I slept part of the way The seats are very comfortable with footrests and headrests and the carriage is air conditioned The train follows the Mississippi for hundreds of miles and the countryside is very attractive The river is still frozen over for most of its length up there Drew into St Paul at 7 30 a m then on to Minneapolis about ten miles We passed a waterfall St Anthony s which I later learned was the basis for the growth of Minneapolis It was used for grain milling and now powers turbines I decided to walk back to the falls and got close to them and was impressed as great blocks of ice came over the top I chatted to someone who worked for the Burlington and he recommended I visit the Foshay Tower and drove me over It is a tapering 447 feet high office block at that time the tallest building in that area and I was able to go up it and take pictures of the town Then took a bus to the Falls of Minnehaha made famous by Longfellow s Song of Hiawatha which were covered in ice and were quite dramatic Talked to another camera enthusiast for a while then went to see Snows of Kilimanjaro at the cinema And so back to Aurora by the night train I once asked one of the old railway firemen at work about a song my father used to sing Hallelujah I m a Bum It went I like Jim Hill he s a good friend of mine that is why I am travelling on Jim Hill s Main Line To my amazement he told me that I was working on it It is a long story of capitalist ingenuity politics and hard work which resulted in Hill the great railway entrepreneur being worth 53million by the time he died in 1916 In fact the final outcome was the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway which did not come about until 1995 See http en wikipedia org wiki James Jerome Hill Hill is known as the Empire Builder Went into Chicago to get a camera repair and pay the balance of my fare home 130 16th April At long last it is time for my second vacation trip Left Chicago on the Coloradoan at 11 20a m The country is extraordinarily flat all the way to the Missouri 500 miles We reached Omaha at 9 30pm Called Emmie Flake in Nebraska City who invited me to stay or meet her for a show in Chicago It will have to be the latter In fact I met her in London after my return As there was a wait for the next train I wandered outside picked up a couple of souvenirs and posted a couple of cards Even in the evening the temperature was pleasant I popped into a bar to get a feel of the West There was a little group playing with an ample woman playing an electric accordion A singer in a pink shirt and tight jeans with a voice that twanged as much as the guitar was singing cowboy blues I trard to lurv yer now yer gorn At least I had arrived in cowboy country Back on the train chatted to some interesting folk then after Lincoln fell asleep until 5 30 a m When I awoke the scene outside had changed Still flat but very dry and sandy with brown unhealthy looking grass There was some irrigation with sprays and an occasional green field of alfalfa few fences or houses 6 20 Reached Colorado Sage brush occasional patch of irrigation then dust a dried up river a jack rabbit a steer skull 7 20 I can see grey snow capped mountains on the horizon I stood in the space between the carriages to see the famous Rocky Mountains rising straight up from the plain that we had traversed all the way from Chicago That old redundant firemen had told me what a trial of strength it was to feed the fire of a steam engine pulling a heavy train up hill for a thousand miles 17th April 1955 Denver As soon as I walked out of the station I knew I was far from Illinois I was smitten by an unrestricted sun It was dazzlingly bright though the shade was pleasantly cool I managed to catch the Fort Collins bus which travels the 60 miles north under the watchful eye of the mountains Fort Collins seemed a pleasant college town with broad streets and expensive looking houses I called my contact George Spalding Russell s friend and a few minutes later he strode down the street looking like something out of High Noon with his jeans and Stetson George had trained as a nurse in Illinois but got TB and decided to go West for the sake of his health and his family They had liked the area having spent holidays up in the mountains in a log cabin He had started a lumber business collecting it from mountain forestry camps and sawing it up ready for resale They live in a pleasant log cabin what else surrounded by cottonwood trees by an irrigation canal They have several outbuildings and a friendly cow He had two brothers Clarence and Glenn One helped with the lumber business while the other was hoping to make his fortune prospecting Not for gold he said the old timers got all that but for Uranium the new gold As soon as it was dark he was excited to show one of his recent finds He said it was Uraninite or Pitchblende which he said is the vapour of Uranium This showed up under a scintillator with brilliant blues golds and greens I had to tell him that I had noticed some of the rock he had dumped by the shed and picked it up to take back to give to a friend of my landlady who had asked me to collect any interesting minerals I might see I must have had a nose for such things However Clarence complained that his search was mad more difficult because the ground was alive with radio activity He pointed his Geiger Counter at the ground and it went off the scale It should read about It went to 60 and 30 on the next level This was due to recent dirty bombs which had been set off earlier in the Nevada Desert So we were standing down wind of that fall out I feel sure the Coloradoans were not aware of that or they would be suing the government for every cancer they got A good thing I intended to move on after a few days No doubt the cow s milk had a high radio active content Can t remember if I had it on my cereal Later George waved casually at a hill of dirt which he said was full of gold But there was no water nearby to pan it During the depression people would get some of that hill and take it to a stream to retrieve the small amounts of gold But at that time it was considered uneconomical No big nuggets On Monday morning Mrs Spalding and I started out for the mountains and were into them surprisingly quickly It was a perfect day for driving From then on it was just one long scenes of mountain grandeur with occasional glimpses of snow capped 14 252 foot Long s Peak It is an extraordinary mix of mountain canyon streams and beautiful blue skies The air was clear and cool and the sun was hot I took lots of shots on that journey We reached the town of Estes Park via Big Thomson Canyon and had a walk around in the blazing sun Then we were off again via St Vrain Canyon down to Cache la Poudre where the Indians had hidden their gun powder We had a walk around then down to the plain and back to Fort Collins by 4 15 A great day thanks to Alma Spalding Soon after we got back George and I set out in the truck to collect more lumber from the mountains The usual passes were still blocked by several feet of snow so it was necessary to make a 160 mile detour via Laramie Wyoming to the North From Laramie he took the old truck over two high passes George had already done a day s work and began to get sleepy so I drive the tuck for about 30 miles He must have been very trusting or foolhardy as the only driving I had done up to that point was a tiny little pre war Austin Ruby Saloon However I managed very well on that occasion George pointed out a road which went over a hill to a small town called Virginia Dale Virginia used to be quite a character and if you crossed her husband s path he was liable to shoot you One tavern owner used to let Mr Dale s coach drivers to drink whiskey and would arrive drunk After a warning the next time a driver came up drunk Mr Dale went to the tavern tied the owner to a chair and shot bullets all around him Then he opened a keg of maple syrup and a bag of flour and skated all over it The drivers didn t arrive drunk again After we left Laramie we climbed up into the timber area where the road turned into gravel and mud There were snow banks each side which got bigger as we gained altitude We had to get up to the camp soon after it was dark so that it was freezing and we could drive over the mud and get out in the morning before it thawed again About 10 p m we turned off this into the trees and had to put on chains The wind was howling through the tall pines It had begun to freeze George asked me to help with the chains but warned me that if I saw a bear I ought to get back in the cab Looking over your shoulder while putting chains on in the dark is NOT easy But this is the wild frontier By 10 30 we made it to the loggers camp and I staggered puffing and panting up the snowy slope because of the unaccustomed altitude to one of the rough log cabins where we lay down on a bed and covered ourselves with mound of blankets and were soon fast asleep George didn t wake me in the morning he should have but went off to the saw mill some way away I fed the wood stove to keep warm and boiled some water I say boiled but at 10 000 feet water boils without getting very hot You could put your finger in the pot And anything sealed lower down is liable to blow up Around 9 15 the truck came back swaying up the hill with a full load of timber We then started the long tedious way back George who had got up at 4 30 a m was very tired and soon we started to wander all over the road This was bad as with any sharp move could turn that top heavy load over and he even pointed out piles of timber over the edge where other trucks had met that fate Nevertheless he handed the truck over to me Again think I did well He explained that of the thirty gears I didn t have to use most of them But the idea was to charge down one side of a valley so you could get part way up the other side before you had to get into a very low gear I just had to use 3rd 4th and 5th gears All went well until the first main bend in Laramie when the load started swaying unnervingly I am proud to say that I managed to keep it on the road The one stop we made was for me to take a picture of a convertible deep in snow that would not be rescued until the summer if at all At last at 5 30 pm we made it back to his place It had taken nearly 8 hours We had come through mud a blizzard and a dust storm George kept on working but I was bushed and went to bed at 9 30 At 6 30 he woke me and asked whether I wanted to catch the train to Colorado Springs from Denver I did want to do a trip that started there so I agreed and Alma drove me to Denver There a I booked train journey to Salt Lake City via Colorado Springs and got the 9 a m train Wednesday I reached Colorado Springs at 10 50a m It is a pretty little touristy town with wide streets up which you can see the magnificent Pikes Peak a rugged mountain of over 14 000 feet I walked into a travel agent Sally took a shine to me and drove me to Trailways Tours I

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  • Sri Lanka Holiday Nov-Dec 2009
    back to the terminal a rush through security still no time for the loos and on to another plane with no old ladies in our seats this time When we eventually emerged at Colombo airport tired from the lack of a night s sleep we were met by the Mercury Direct guide Nalin who told us it was only another four hours by car to our hotel It took this long because of the horrendous traffic no traffic light no roundabouts no stop signs but Nalin was an excellent driver and though he seemed to spend most of his time on the wrong side of the road overtaking smoky buses and trucks I never felt at all uneasy But it was a relief eventually to reach the hotel in Sigiriya where we would be spending the first night of our mini tour Nalin called for us bright and early next morning and took us to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress where he accompanied Liz my wife up the many steps to the famous frescoes painted on the rock face about half way up They were accompanied by the guides young lads whose main preoccupation seemed to be to push people from behind as they climbed I had decided to stay below but they kept pestering me until I made it clear I wasn t going up and I wasn t going to give them any money And on her climb up Liz made it clear she wasn t going to be pushed The next day we visited the impressive Golden Temple at Dambulla and the cave temples around the corner all of which were occupied by statues of the Buddha in various postures Then on to the holy city of Kandy where among other things we assembled with many other tourists

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  • the cast includes Joss Ackland Lear Tony Robinson Greta Scacchi John Nettles Jack Tarlton Tony Britton Barry Rutter Vernon Dubtcheff Robert Young Shaun Dooley Joss Vantyler Honeysuckle Weeks Michael York and Clare Higgins This event has been kindly supported by JM Finn Co After Joss received a standing ovation at St James Theatre tickets are now available on Sunday 29th September at the Old Vic Website http www oldvictheatre com

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  • The New Pension Arrangements
    they can realistically draw down from their fund without exhausting the money before they die It may also recommend that savers blend an annuity with a steady drawdown of the money It says the money left in the fund is likely to be invested in a cautious managed fund or its target return fund and is confident of obtaining around 5 over Bank of England base rate That suggests 5 5 a year for now or more like 4 75 after charges For a 75 000 fund that suggests an income of around 3 500 a year which will be liable for tax at your marginal rate Wildcard do equity release Why not use your home as a pension when you reach your 70s or 80s At 75 years old a pensioner can release around 125 000 from a 300 000 home Add that to the state pension and it could cover spending until death and mean that the initial sum of money only has to cover spending until the age of 75 But it does mean little or nothing will be left to your heirs I want to play it safe What you can do Buy an annuity Everyone hates annuities right Maybe not An annuity is a contract from a life insurance company to pay you a fixed income until you die However not a penny goes into your estate when you die leaving nothing for your heirs If you kick the bucket the day after you take out the annuity bad luck the money stays with the insurance company But despite the prevailing dislike of annuities some people will prefer the security they offer If you are 65 years old and take the 25 000 tax free lump sum and then shop around for the best annuity quote you should be able to obtain an annuity of around 4 350 a year Let s assume you have a state pension worth 5 500 a year Adding the 4 350 a year in annuity payment will mean you stay within the 10 500 personal allowance for 2015 16 so you pay nothing in tax But you will have to live on just 9 850 a year which won t be enough for many if not most people The above example is for a basic level annuity The returns are worse if you choose to have an annuity that continues to pay an income to your partner after death or if you opt for some level of inflation protection You can however obtain a higher income in two ways First have you been a smoker or are you seriously overweight If so you can obtain an enhanced annuity because the insurer calculates you won t live as long as other people For a 75 000 fund an enhanced annuity will currently pay around 1 000 more a year at 5 350 Secondly you can opt for an investment linked annuity where you are paid a higher income increasing over

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