In Which There’s Perfume, Cocktails and Sunsets

Starring Roles:


Sheila and Patrick – our Irish landlords from whom we rented our basement

The Woolstones – the family we stayed with when we first arrived in Vancouver

Gail – the lady I worked with at CKVU TV




Dear Mum and Dad,

Hello there – hope you’re both okay – still missing you very much!


Friday 23rd March 1990

Went to work for the last day at Montreal Shipping.  It was becoming quite interesting in the end although I couldn’t have stuck that telexing job forever!  Also, I was getting to know a lot of the people there.  They told me before I left that I had done really well and that a couple of people there had sent memos saying they wanted to hire me permanently.  So, I came home feeling quite pleased with myself, as I had been very nervous about first working in Canada.

Went for dinner at a restaurant called Cockney King – it’s a fish and chip restaurant and is run by an Englishman.  Vince drove us there in his van.  The cod and chips was quite nice, but still not quite the same as English fish and chips.

Saturday 24th March 1990

Went to aerobics.  Carolynn didn’t go as she is coming to the end of term at University and she has a lot of studying to do.  Vince picked me up and we went to Denny’s for brunch, which brought back memories as it’s the place where we used to go for breakfast every morning when we came here on holiday.  Vince of course had the pancakes, egg and sausage!!

Nuns on the Run

As it was a lovely day, we drove out in the car with the roof down, to Coquitlam to look at some open houses.  They were very nice, but it just seems so far away from Vancouver and the North Shore.  I think we’re both starting to think more along the lines of buying an older, smaller property on the North Shore and slowly doing it up.  It should still be a bigger property by our standards though.  It’s just so nice in North Vancouver, convenient for the city, for the mountains, for Stanley Park etc. etc.  Still, we’ll have to wait and see.  Followed a sign that said Pitt Lake – it took us all along these quiet farm roads that were getting nearer and nearer to the base of the mountains.  It was also getting colder!  Found it after quite a drive and it was quite lovely.  A great big lake right at the foot of the mountains and it looks as though you could walk for miles, but it was now quite late in the day, so we didn’t go too far.  I drove the TR6 back along the quiet roads.  God, it’s going to take me a while to get used to it.  I was really uncoordinated!  Because I was on the other side of the road and the other side of the car, my feet wanted to do different things.  I kept pressing the brake pedal to change gear!!  I don’t know how Vince takes to it so easily.  I guess being nervous doesn’t help.  This evening went to see a funny film “Nun’s On The Run” – it’s Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane.  I didn’t think I’d enjoy it much, but I did.

Got your letter today.  Again, it was so great reading it – I get so disappointed when I get to the last page though, so I read it all over again (several times).  I’m sure the letter smells of your perfume Mum.  You know I told you, you always smell nice, well this letter definitely smells of your perfume.  Did you spray it?  Anyway, I keep smelling it because it’s comforting.

Glad to hear you’re reading up on everything Canadian and wow that Vancouver featured on Holiday ’90.  Sadly, we have not seen any of the ice-skating because we didn’t have a tele – but we do now!  It made me laugh that you’ve been cheering on the Canadians!  Glad to hear you’ve put your first super on the beehive – don’t forget I want some of your first honey when you come visit.  You sounded so disheartened in your letter at not selling the house yet.  You mustn’t give up though – it will turn out alright in the end.  And if you do happen to lose Briar Dene, it just means you’ll find something even better.  You could always move to Vancouver??!!  I’ve been told you can do very well with bed and breakfast on Vancouver Island, as it’s very English over there and property is extremely cheap.

Sunday, 25th March 1990

Vancouver Skytrain

Took the Skytrain to New Westminster Quay.  It took about half an hour.  It’s by the water, like Lonsdale Quay, but it’s not half as nice.  Had a wander round and got some lunch, then went on a coastal patrol boat that was docked there for people to have a look around.  Went to the Woolstones for dinner but left earlier because of getting up for work in the morning.


Monday 26th March 1990

My first day at CKVU.  Gail, the lady I work with is a really sweet and nice person.  She showed me around the building and introduced me to everyone, although it will be ages before I know who everybody is!  They have two studios there, one that they use every day for the news and a couple of talk programs and a larger one that’s used on occasion for game shows etc.  Did quite boring work today, but I didn’t mind, it was nice to not have so much responsibility for a change. The day went very quickly, and it seemed really strange to finish at 3 pm.  But it was a nice sunny warm day, so I felt really free!  I went into town and then to Lonsdale Quay and really enjoyed myself.  Vince picked me up as I was walking home from the bus-stop.  He had a pretty good day too.  Sheila and Patrick came down to us for a change after dinner for a cup of tea and a chat.  Patrick has got new teeth – he’s had a gap at the front for a while now, so he looks much better.  He’s a messy eater though and talks with his mouth full, so I can’t look at him!  He’s a funny little man (although very nice) – he looks like a Leprechaun.  Vince does a pretty good impression of him!

Tuesday 27th  March 1990

Had a nice day at work again.  A couple of people came by my desk and said that if I ever need any help to give them a call.  People are just so friendly.  Went into the library to write down some more refrigeration companies from the yellow pages in case Vince needs them.

Got home to find Vinny Ninny with a bad cold.  Went shopping to Save-On and had a great time, bought lots of bits and pieces like a few loose herbs, some tubs of jam and marmalade and some fill-it-yourself fizzy drink.  We got strawberry and pina colada, but there are about 20 flavours to choose from.  Spent about an hour shopping!  “Oh, what did you do this evening, Jo?” “We went to Save-On and had fun shopping!” – mad, aren’t we?

Wednesday 28th March 1990

Was a lovely day again and after work went to Lonsdale Quay to shop for your Easter presents!  When I got home, Sheila and Patrick were sitting on their garden hammock having a drink.  I went out to say hello and they talked me into having a glass of wine, so we all ended up sitting round the garden table, then Vince came home, and they gave him a beer.  It was a lovely mild evening, so a drink and chat was quite nice.  Well, they chat, and we listen – ha ha.

Went to register for a computer course and managed to get a two-day one, which is better than a few weeks and means I can go onto the next level quicker.  I’m using a word-processor at work, so it will be useful.  Vince had a good day at work, and they are talking about giving him a bit more money and hopefully doubling his salary by the end of the year.

Thursday 29th  March 1990

Had to fill in lots of forms for work today.  It’s good though, I get medical and dental benefits for myself and Vince.  Also, if you pay $3.00 a month out of your salary, it means that everyone gets a birthday cake on their birthday or they send flowers on occasions.  Also, you can join a group and they organise outings, such as picnics etc. so that’s nice.  Found out today I will be working 9.30 till 3pm now, so I’ve gained half hours pay a day already.  Stayed in this evening with a lovely fire – Vince is getting quite good at building them now.

Friday 30th  March 1990

Quite busy today at work.  I could have easily worked full-time.  One of the men who works there, Oliver, showed me the TV Studio (inside) where they shoot the news and chat programs.  It was quite interesting.

Got home to find Vince watching tele – his boss has lent it to us which is nice of him.  Went out to dinner at Café Nairobi – it’s East Indian food with a difference and it was really good.  Heather had given us a voucher from the paper, so we got $10 off.  I watched Dallas when we got home.  Hooray!!  I was a bit confused as I’ve missed a few weeks now.

Saturday 31st March 1990

Us at The Woolstone’s surprise Anniversary party – on dear – my perm!!

Carolynn wasn’t going to aerobics, and I had every intention of going, until I got up.  Then, I decided to go back to sleep.  Naughty me!  Cheryl came round, she and Carolynn are holding a surprise party for Heather and George tonight as it’s their 30th wedding anniversary.  Vince and I have the job of putting up decorations and balloons, while they are all out for dinner!  We also had to keep the cake and take it round with us.  Anyway, there we both were letting in all these guests we’d never met!  Mind you, everybody knew about us.  People kept saying to me “Oh, so how’s it going at CKVU?” and I wanted to say, “How the hell do you know?” except it’s very obvious Heather talks about us to everyone which is quite flattering really.  I wore my new outfit that you sent me, and I think almost everyone there said how lovely it was, so of course I told them very proudly that my Mum and Dad had sent it for my birthday.  Heather said, “Wow, your Mum sure knows your size and what suits you!”  Anyway, Heather and George were really surprised when we all jumped out.  It turned out to be a good party.  Wish you could have been there.  Some of the elderly couples there were so funny – they sound and look like the typical kind of couples on American TV series.  I was probably really staring at them: “Oh my dear, your outfit is just goooorgeous!” (You have to read that bit in a Canadian accent).  One of their neighbours is an estate agent, so is going to keep his eye out for us for good bargains, when we are ready to buy.  When I went to the kitchen to do something, I found Smokey Cat cosily nestled on the kitchen window-sill.  Cheeky little bugger!  He really does take liberties these days!!

Sunday 1st  April 1990

The Beautiful North Shore at Night

Was lovely to speak to you when you called, and Nan too.  You sounded very happy, so I was happy!  We had just eaten some waffles for breakfast with strawberry and apple jam (Save-On), but Vince had maple syrup.  Went to Granville Island to have a look around.  It was very busy as the weather was nice.  Vince showed me a very nice boat that he had worked on in the week – it’s lovely.  We wouldn’t mind a nice boat (when we’re rich).  Vince is quite pleased because he hasn’t done refrigeration on boats before, so it’s something new for him, plus nice scenery.  Went to look at some older houses on the North Shore.  One wasn’t too bad, and we could have done a lot with it.  It had plenty of garden, so you could extend, but at least the houses were affordable, so there’s hope to stay over in this direction yet.

I drove the car out on the highway (slowly) and I quite enjoyed it.  Vince is quite good, he keeps telling me to relax and not to worry about it, but I think my knuckles were white!!  I felt much better driving it today though.  This evening watched a film “Moses” – I’ve never seen it before; it was very good.

Monday 2nd April 1990

Quite busy at work today and it’s getting quite interesting too.  When I got home, Patrick asked me if I wanted a glass of wine in the garden.  I said ‘no thanks’ because I was tired and would probably fall asleep.  Sheila offered me a soft drink which I accepted, then she said she’d put a little wine in it anyway!  Blimey, you can’t win!  Anyway, she came out and had put in it, mango juice, wine, vodka and some angostura bitters.  It was actually delicious, but I mean REALLY!

I drove the car to Deep Cove and then we stopped at White Spot for a burger dinner.  Forgot to get anything out the freezer you see and with no microwave, what can you do but go out?!

Tuesday 3rd April 1990

Was talking to one of the audio men at work today and he said that any time I want to go into the studio to watch a program I can, so I might take him up on that.

Prospect Point in Stanley Park

After dinner, we dove to Prospect Point in Stanley Park and watched the sunset, it was just beautiful.  We never have the camera at the right times though.  Drove round a bit to Lost Lagoon then walked right round it, there are so many ducks on the water.  It’s so pretty and as we walked round one side, the sun was setting through the trees and was reflected on the water and then when you reach the other side, the City lights are reflected – it’s lovely and very romantic.  Afterwards, we drove around the park and you can see the lights of the City and the Lion’s Gate Bridge – I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of how pretty it looks.  Everything I see, I just keep saying.  “I wish Mum and Dad could see all this”.

Got your next letter today.  I must be getting a bit behind with this one.  I’ve just got back into routine after starting work.  I will post this off tomorrow.    Oh, Mum and Dad, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve lost Briar Dene.  I know how much you both wanted that cottage.  I wish I could give you both a big hug and tell you not to worry, please don’t lose heart.  To answer your question: I had 19 birthday cards, not too bad for long-distance!  The picture on the card you sent me was beautiful.  I am sorry, but I did have a really good laugh about the kid in the supermarket being sick and it splashing on your leg.  I’m sure it wasn’t really funny at all, but the way you wrote it was hilarious!!

I will finish now as I think I should get this letter off to you.  Don’t be disheartened too much, everything will turn out okay one way or another, so keep smiling.


Sign-off from Jo

In Which Mum takes a Honey Bee for a Ride

Starring roles:

Pat and Mick (Pat is Mum’s work friend and her husband, Mick)

Angie (also a work colleague and a chatterbox)

Old Face Ache (Mum’s boss at the Dentist)

Sheila and Pete (Dad’s cousin Sheila and he husband Pete aka P.J. from P.J. and Rose)

Nanny Maisie (My Dad’s Mum, who sadly died when I was 3 years old)

Great Nan (Alice) – Maisie’s Mum.  A beautiful twinkly-eyed lady who passed away when I was about 15)




Our Dear Joanne & Vince,

Sunday 18th March 1990

It’s  so hard to start a letter.  It’s the most difficult part of letter writing!  Anyway, here we go again.  Went shopping on my own on Saturday because deep down I know Dad doesn’t like coming.  It was a beautiful day and Tommy Tortoise really enjoyed having a good feed up.  I could hardly wait for Saturday night, I get so excited when it’s time to ring you and very emotional.  God, what would we do without the telephone?  We are very pleased about your car.  I can just imagine you driving about in that – Dad and James said you are both Canadian Yuppies, but I think Dad is a bit jealous!!  What colour is it?  It sounds red to me.

Went and picked Nanny up before dinner today and took her to the Chatham Crematorium to put a plant by Grandad’s plaque.  She kept saying no-one had taken her to see it yet.  We told her that we had taken her down before Christmas and said ‘don’t you remember that Joanne came with us?’ but she insisted that she had not seen it.  Poor Nan.  Anyway, I gave Grandad your love and told him you and Vince are doing very well and that you are both happy.  It was so warm, I was walking around in short sleeves.  We will probably have snow at Easter, because this weather is too good to last!!!

Monday 19th March 1990

A very Happy Belated Birthday to you.  Wish we could have been there to give you hugs and kisses, but am sure Vince did that anyway.  Hope you liked your pressies, it’s hard trying to pick something when you are not with us.  Hope you had lots and lots of cards, sorry we missed you when we rang, but was nice to hear Vince’s voice.  Hope you did well with the interview, you had to leave very early.  I was going to ring about 3 o’clock our time, but thought you would still be in bed!  Are you going to go somewhere nice for dinner?  Hope you do, we will be thinking of you.  Now that you have a car, can you drive it yet or have you got to pass your new test first?  Hope it’s nice and easy.  What I want to know is: how are you going to get us all in a two-seater car when you pick us up from the airport? Ha ha.

Tuesday 20th March 1990

Just got out of bed when the phone rang and James said ‘it’s Jo’.  What a wonderful start to the day.  Really pleased you had a lovely birthday and liked your presents.  Tried to find the restaurant you went to for your birthday, but can’t see it in the booklet.  You will have to tell me what you had to eat and what other presents you had and how many cards.  We were hoping we never had to say this, but we have had bad news.  We have lost Briar Dene, the house in Yorkshire.  Mrs. Hilary rang and said how sorry she was.  Well you can imagine how we felt, apparently this couple came to see it, liked it and bought it, just like that.  I have very mixed feelings: I feel so sad and I feel angry that there is nothing to look forward to.  I loved that cottage so much and I felt it was ours.  I think there is definitely somebody up above who does not want us to move.  Maybe it’s Grandad and he wants us to stay because of Nanny. I prayed every night for Briar Dene – now that you and Vince have gone, I don’t want to stay here.  I think if it was not for leaving Dean and Nanny here, we would be with you tomorrow.  You definitely both did the right thing by going to Canada.  Poor old Dad, it’s 10.30 pm and he has been out in the garage mending his bike since he came home.  He’s got it in bits, think he will be out there till midnight.  Think I better take him a coffee out.

Wednesday 21st March 1990

Not a very nice day today, raining on and off.  Went to pub with Pat and Mick today. You know I told you Mick’s Dad died?  Well Pat and Mick have been round to his Dad’s house sorting it all out – we had such a laugh talking about all the old photos of Mick when he was a boy.  Vince would have had a good laugh too.  Angie had a bit of a bang in her car and has now got a collar round her neck because she jarred it badly.  Hoping it might keep her quiet for a while HAHA. Not much happened on Dallas tonight, well not enough to tell you about.  Dad’s been out working on his bike again tonight, but just came in and thinks he’s mended it.  He won’t know until the morning when he uses it for work.  Hope it will be OK, otherwise I will have to get up at 5 am to take him.

Thursday 22nd March 1990

This afternoon, went up to see Nanny – it was quite hard going to make conversation with her today.  She said she’s sent you a second letter, but I don’t know whether she has or not, you’ll have to let me know.  On the way home, took the car through the car wash, it was so dirty.  It rained the other day and brought down this fine dust with it and the car looked disgusting.  Think I’ll tell Dad I cleaned it and he will think how good I am (nasty me HAHA). I have just watched Neighbours, it was so good – they have just celebrated Christmas, it was lovely and made me a bit tearful because I was thinking how wonderful this coming Christmas is going to be and it’s getting closer all the time.

Friday 23rd March 1990

Today is the end of two lovely weeks of working without Old Face Ache – wish he would retire and let us run the practice, it runs better without him and it’s a happy place to be.  When he’s there, it’s so ‘proper-like’ because he is such a pompous and boring old bugger. Went to Sainsbury’s shopping straight from work.  Some stupid kid, sitting in the trolley at the cash register and stuffing his face, was sick all over the floor and as it hit the floor, it splashed all up my legs.  Oh God, I felt sick myself!  Had to shower when I got home.  James was late home from school today, he had detention!  He would not say why (of course it was not his fault?!!).  I have just come back from posting off your Easter pressies – hope you like them.  I know Vince will. Do they have Easter eggs in the shops there?

Saturday 24th March 1990

Raining today.  Postman just delivered a nice little letter from Smokey Cat.  Did you know he sent it?  He’s got so clever since he has been living in Canada.  He has even put his paw mark on it, bless his heart.  Please give him a kiss from us.  Went shopping on my own again today.  Dad’s working till 5pm.  When I had finished shopping and went back to the car, there was one of my bees sitting on the back shelf.  She must have flown in yesterday when I was unloading my big shop.  Anyway, when I got home, I took her out and put her back near the hive.  She seemed OK – hope she doesn’t tell them all about the trip, I may have a car full next time!  Had a nice relaxing afternoon with my knitting – watched an old black and white film (Anne of Green Gables) I do love the old films.  Oh I forgot to say Nanny rang this morning, she was crying on the phone because she was so happy she’d just had a letter from you.  She said she was going to take it to Bingo with her to show everyone the photos.  I think it makes her feel proud to have letters from Canada and keeps her happy as well.  Went to Sheila and Pete’s tonight for dinner and two more friends of theirs, who used to live in Joydens Wood, but now live in Hextable, were there too.  It was a really good evening, we enjoyed ourselves very much.  Got home late and the clocks had to go on one hour, so not much sleep tonight.

Sunday 25th March 1990

Heartfelt words – it was so hard to be away from Mum on this day x

First Mother’s Day card I sent from Canada – I remember tears sliding down my face in the shop when I bought it x

Quite tired this morning after a short night and poor Dad must be very tired as he had to get up and to go work.  Opened your Mother’s Day card whilst eating my breakfast, such a beautiful card, thank you both with all my heart, the words were so lovely.  Yours was the only one I got, did not expect one from Dean and did not get one from James, he would rather spend his money on food!  I took Nanny a nice plant up in a pretty pot, she seemed pleased.  From there I went to Streatham Crematorium to take a plant for Nanny Maisie and a plant for Great Nan.  Gave them both your love, I also took some photos as thought you might like to keep one.  Will send them with next letter.  On the way home, I drove along the bit of road where you suddenly said to me “Mum, Vince and I are thinking of emigrating to Canada”.  Remember?  I’ll always remember it so well, but I never thought it would happen!  Well there was such a lot of blimin traffic.  Took me ages to get there and ages to get home – I expect everyone on the road was travelling to see their Mums and Nans.  So nice to hear your voice when you rang and am so pleased you are both set up now.  Your job should be interesting, might even see you on Canadian TV – it will be nice to tell people when they ask “What is Joanne doing now?” and I can say “Oh she’s working for a TV station in Canada”.  I bet Vince is pleased with himself now that he is working, you have both done extremely well and we are very proud of you.


We have just watched Karate Kid 3 – was not as good as the other two, he has put on quite a lot of weight, but I still like Mr. Myogi, he’s very cute.  There was one film on the trailers called “The Bear” it looked very good, but it might be a bit sad.  Don’t think we, or you, had better watch it.

Monday 26th March 1990

Old Face Ache was back today, he’s not very suntanned (“we did an awful lot of sight-seeing you know, Mrs. Figg”).  I said in answer – “Oh really Mr. Torry, how nice!”.  We were all trying to keep out of his way, he even had to make his own coffee, he probably wishes he was still on holiday.

Well, Dad’s just off to work now (nights) so I will close.  More news to follow soon.

Mum and Dad’s sign-off 26.3.90