Nanna – Heather Woolstone’s Mum, but everyone called her Nanna. A really lovely, elegant lady.
Gail – CKVU – Assistant to the President General
Sheila and Pete – we called them Auntie and Uncle, but Sheila was my Dad’s cousin. Pete, a musician, playing the electric accordion, now performs in a jazz duo with my daughter, Emma Rose (PJ and Rose)
Sheila and Patrick – the couple whose basement we are renting currently (not to be confused with Sheila and Pete!)
To my Dearest Mum & Dad,
Hello – still missing you both enormously. I guess that won’t change, but hopefully, it will get easier to bear. I just wish that sometimes I could reach out and touch you, or call you just when I feel like it, for a long chat. Oh, I’m sorry, I’ve probably depressed you both now! I’m having a bad day today. I do love getting your letters though and I love writing them back. I think I must ramble on a bit – I just don’t want to miss anything out!!
Saturday 10th March 1990
Got up and went to aerobics. I have to be there for 9 am, so it’s quite an achievement for me on a Saturday morning! Met Vince afterwards and he, Carolynn and I went for breakfast at Cafe Boulevard in Edgemont Village. It’s a really nice little village – it’s up near the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Got back to find out that Heather’s Mum had a slight stroke, so they were all quite worried, but she’s almost okay again now. We got invited upstairs to Sheila and Patrick’s for some home-made blackberry pie and ice cream, it was quite yummy. She picked the blackberries down near one of the beaches. She does quite a lot of baking. Went to Stanley Park and saw the big bear – I feel quite sorry for her being there, but she seems quite happy. She has a cub who was so cute and the mother was laying flat on her back and wriggling around, it was so funny. I’d love to cuddle her and by the way, she has enormous paws. Went on the miniature railway and saw Bison, Wolves (all in cages of course) and lots of bunnies hopping around. The rabbits are not the normal brown kind, like in England, they are all colours and patterns, like pet rabbits. It was a lovely little ride, apart from all the noisy Canadian kids when we went through a tunnel. And to think we’ll be having Canadian kids one day too! Went out for a Chinese Meal in the evening and to see “War of the Roses” at the cinema. It started off well, but turned out rubbish.
Sunday 11th March 1990
Got the bus into Port Coquitlam to see what the area is like. It’s probably half an hour drive in good traffic. Well, when we got there, it seemed like the end of the earth. It was like a ghost town! So we got another bus and got off at Coquitlam Centre which is a great big shopping centre. Had some lunch and a look around. We planned to look at some open houses today, but without a car it was impossible. Waited nearly a hour for a bus home (Sunday service doesn’t change across the world). I HATE waiting for busses!!! I haven’t cooked a Sunday roast yet in our new place, mind you I can’t say I’ve missed cooking it, but I don’t mind eating it!
Monday 12th March 1990
Vince went to work with a man from Cool King Refrigeration. He finished just after lunch because there was no work in. He thinks this guy is stringing him along a bit. He wanted Vince to work a couple of months with him before he would tell him what his wages would be, which really isn’t on. If only the Union would pull their weight and find him something. The temp agency called me to say they have work for Thursday through to the following Friday, so that’s good. Sat in the garden in the afternoon to do some letter writing, it was really warm and sunny, and from where I was sitting I could see a mountain peak covered in snow!
Tuesday 13th March 1990
Both got up early and went into town. Vince got booked in to take a TQ refresher course at night school, ready for his next exam. I tried to to find out about a word processing course, but couldn’t find one that was suitable. In the evening, Vince wrapped up my birthday present so that it could sit it with yours! After reading your letter, we realised we had forgotten pancake day, so Vince went over to the corner shop to buy some flour and lemon, and I made some. They were yummy!
Wednesday 14th March 1990
Had a look around town today and looked at some TR6’s which were very nice but a bit tatty inside. Went to the Pacific Centre Mall which is a really lovely and all done up inside like brick houses. There are some really good shops and one in particular which sells all sorts of cottagey bits and pieces – you would love it. Met Heather on the seabus on the way home, she was pleased to see us, she says she really misses us being there. She had been for an interview at the Sinclair Centre in the Refugee Department. Met George at the other end and he told me CKVU, the local TV station, had left a message on their answerphone to say they wanted to interview me. Well, I was pleased, but Heather was ecstatic! She sure does get excited about things. By the way, she can’t wait to meet both of you. Anyway, rang the TV company from Lonsdale Quay and I have an interview on Monday. Bought a pizza, one of the ones they make up there, and then had that for dinner when we got home. Sheila invited us up for dessert, I didn’t really feel like going up, but it was worth it – she made chocolate mousse with grand marnier in it, with raspberry and loganberry sauce and ice cream. It’s her own recipe. You do have to say you’re leaving about 1/2 hour before you want to though because it takes that long to get away. They’re really sweet, but they can’t half talk and sometimes it’s irritating! I think they forget that we’re married adults – they say “are you sure you’re warm enough” and “do you know what bus you’re getting?”. Vince says it’s the Irish in them haha.
Thursday 15th March 1990
First day at work. I’m working at a shipping company, Montreal Shipping, and I’m just sending telexes and also answering the reception phone at lunch time. It’s on the 28th floor of Harbour Centre and the view is just magnificent. It looks out over the North Shore across the water, so you can see the mountains, Lion’s Gate Bridge and Stanley Park. Unfortunately, I don’t get to look at the view whilst I’m working, but it’s probably just as well as it would be a huge distraction! Today, I spent learning how to use the switchboard. The receptionist is a really nice girl called Jennifer, who is about my age. It’s quite complicated, but should be quiet in the lunch hour. Worked 8.30 – 4.30 today, which is quite nice hours except for the getting up at 6.30! But I enjoy getting the seabus to work because of the beautiful scenery on the way.
Friday 16th March 1990
Spent today on the telex with the girl I’m taking over from next week. It’s really boring, so thank goodness it’s only temporary. The telexes are easy to send, but there are four copies of everything that I have to distribute and that part is tricky. All I can say is if the wrong person gets something, they’ll have to give it to the right person! Vince met me from work and we went to see “The Hunt for Red October” at the cinema – a really good film. Went to White Spot for dinner afterwards – they do great burgers and have a special sauce called Triple O Sauce!!
Saturday 17th March 1990
Did my aerobics class but the fireman was not there, so this little Chinese girl took the class and she was a real killer! I think she was hyperactive, she just didn’t stop and she smiled the whole way through. I tried to smile, but think it was a grimace! Met Vince afterwards and we went to look at a TR6 that was advertised in the paper. It has been kept really well and has hardly a spot of rust on it. It’s a red 1969 convertible and it’s cheap. We decided to buy it – Yippee! But firstly, we have to sort out the insurance and registration document, so we will go back in the morning. Got home and on the dot of 4 pm, you called! It’s nice that you can call us on our own phone at last. As always, it was lovely to hear your voice, I just want to keep chatting though! This evening, Carolynn picked us up and we went to see a film “Driving Miss Daisy” which starred Jessica Tandy and is just a sweet and lovely film.
Sunday 18th March 1990
Went to pick up our new car!!! It was so great to eventually drive this car away, after relying on public transport for so long. We put the roof down, because it was sunny, and drove down to Deep Cove. Cor, it was brilliant and it runs so smoothly for its age. I’m not brave enough to try it yet, I want to take it somewhere quiet first, plus I need to buy a cushion as I can’t see over the steering wheel! Drove to the Woolstones who all ran out to oooh and aaah and wow at the car. They thought it was brilliant. They gave me flowers and cards and a birthday tea and even a cake with candles. The cake was just fresh cream with chocolate inside – a good few calories in there I should imagine. Got home late-ish and tried to go in quietly, but Sheila came rushing out to look at the car, so ended up having a cup of tea upstairs.
Monday 19th March 1990
MY BIRTHDAY – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Had to get up early because of my interview. Vince made my breakfast and I opened my cards. Had a little cry when I opened yours and James’s. They were lovely. Was going to ring you, but I would have been rushed and I was feeling tearful, so thought it would make me worse and my makeup would run! Well the interview at CKVU was short and sweet. The position is only part-time, 10-3, and it’s a bit more junior than I would like, but it’s a start and it should be interesting. There’s also the possibility of it becoming full-time and getting more responsibility. I have to go back tomorrow to meet another lady. Vince met me from work and we went out for a meal at 1066 Hastings Restaurant. You would have loved it. You sit in big high-backed armchairs and our table was in front of the fire. Came home and opened my presents – cried again! The clothes are so pretty and fit perfectly, they are just what I would have picked myself. Thank you so much. The clown from James was so sweet too. Vince bought me a crystal perfume bottle with a pewter lid and from Dean and Donna I got some eye shadow, some makeup brushes and a Harrods key-ring! When I rang you, I was so glad to speak to you on my birthday and to James too, but a shame Dad wasn’t there. I wish I could see you all so badly.
Tuesday 20th March 1990
Went back to CKVU for second interview and they offered it to me there and then and so I decided to take it. I’ll be working in the Administration office for the President General and his Assistant, Gail, who is a really nice person. At first I’ll just be doing boring tasks, but hopefully that won’t last long. Had a pretty busy day at Montreal Shipping, I’m so glad it’s only temporary though.
Wednesday 21st March 1990
Mandy phoned in the morning to wish me belated Happy Birthday. Had a bit of a natter, she was obviously calling from work, as wasn’t in a hurry to hang up. Vince went off to see a refrigeration company in Deep Cove, called Domcom. He has got a position as a helper, which is not really what he wanted, but at least it’s his trade and he can gain some Canadian experience till something better comes along. So we’re both working now anyway.
Thursday 22nd March 1990
Forgot to tell you that Vince has been given an enormous van for work, so we are now a two-car family again! Had a not-so-busy day at the shipping company. The people there are really nice and they all keep asking about England. Two of them were born there! They all keep commenting on my clothes or my shoes, they really seem to like what I wear for some reason and was told I’m always coordinated! Vince got home around 8 pm and had a good day, he got some overtime today anyway. It seemed funny to see him come in with a grubby face and hands – he’s been clean for so long! Ha ha. Spent the evening in front of the fire finishing this letter.
Our Darling Joanne and Dearest Vince,
Wednesday 7th March 1990
Hope you are both settling in well, you have been in your new home for a week – does go so quickly. Glad Smokey cat has taken to it well. On Tuesday night we watched Holiday ’90 – they took a train from Calgary right through the Canadian Rockies to Vancouver. We can only say one thing about it, it was breathtaking and you are both very lucky to be a part of it. Dad is on holiday again this week so he came to the pub with Pat, Mick and me today and I bought him lunch!
Thursday 8th March 1990
It’s such a beautiful day today, the bees are bringing back such a lot of pollen. Their little legs are wearing their yellow wellies. We have to do the first disease test today and send a sample off to a bee specialist, will let you know the outcome. You have to sedate the bees using tobacco smoke, 1/2 oz of St. Bruno!! Has your snow gone yet and what is the weather like now? I should imagine that Stanley Park is very pretty in the Spring, I have been reading about all the parks over there and can’t wait to see them. We have been watching the Canadian ice skating from Nova Scotia and I said to Dad, maybe we’ll see Jo and Vince (he called me a silly cow – rude, haha) – but we have been willing the Canadians to win!
Friday 9th March 1990
Heaven! Mr. Tory, old fish-face, face-ache, has his last day of work today for two weeks – I will actually look forward to going to work on Monday morning! I bet you’re enjoying not doing the long commute to London anymore, you must be feeling quite relaxed and glowing with health by now?!! When Dad and I were shopping this afternoon, Dad found a £5 note in the carpark, good job James wasn’t with us, he would have seen it first haha. Dad bought me a very pretty bone-china mug with bees on the outside and inside. Dad has just come back from the Doctors and had his ears blown out as he calls it! He feels a bit better now. Kirk Browning from Canada has just won the gold medal for skating – that’s the first time I’ve ever heard the Canadian National Anthem, it’s a nice piece of music, not boring like “God Save The Queen”!
Saturday 10th March 1990
Shopping day again – Dad came with me today, but he trots around so fast, we don’t have time to stop for tea or coffee. He says we don’t have to pay them (tight bugger) when we can have a drink at home! Rang Bee Dave and he said not to do the disease test because of the young bees, it might harm them. We’ve put on the first hive extension today, so it gives the bees plenty of room now. Went to visit Sheila and Pete tonight, had a nice chatty evening. Sheila loved the wedding video and they send you and Vince their love.
Sunday 11th March 1990
Not done much today, I have been very lazy. Watched a film this afternoon (Reach For the Sky) then you rang. Wonderful to hear your voice once a week, makes me feel so happy. When we rang and missed you last night, I had a chat to Sheila, she sounds so nice and she said it’s lovely having you both there. She also invited us to dinner when we come to see you. God, I wish it was soon. I am so pleased you got your parcel in time for your birthday – it got there so quickly, we were surprised.
Monday 12th March 1990
Beautiful day again, Tommy Tortoise came out again and ate some cucumber – I gave him a nice wash. This evening we went to The King’s Head in Bexley with the Bee Club, there were 46 of us. It was a very good night and needless to say our table was the noisiest! James had some friends round while we were out – they watched a film and drank all our coke and orangeaid!! But there was no mess, only empty glasses, thank goodness.
Tuesday 13th March 1990
Very cold and damp today. Went to have my hair cut and saw Bill and he sends his regards to you both. He said if there was one place in the world where he would like to live, it would be Vancouver. He wants to know if you’re coming back for your hair cuts?! I told him with all his money, he could open a salon in Vancouver!! Went for a talk at Bee Club on how to identify the pollen loads the bees bring back. Dad wasn’t with me because he’s on nights, so went on my own and got lost as it was in Beckenham! But I got there in the end and the talk was very interesting.
Wednesday 14th March 1990
Pay day and Pub Day again! Dad went to the doctors again about his ear and he’s been given some more antibiotics, so hope that clears it up, it has been giving him a lot of pain. We had a phone call from a man who wanted to come and view the house, so I rushed around and made it look neat and tidy and yes you’ve guessed it, he didn’t turn up. I’m getting really fed up about the whole thing. I’ve got this deep feeling that we are going to lose Briar Dene in Yorkshire. If we do, I think we’ll give up and stay here.
Thursday 15th March 1990
Another gorgeous day. When I came home from work, Dad and I went to Hall Place and walked around the gardens. There were so many flowers and so much colour, it was so pretty. We were literally walking among the daffodils. Went up to see Dean tonight and took Nan with us. DJ looked nice and cuddly, he had just had a bath and smelled baby clean. Dean kept asking about you and Vince. They now have a nice glass cabinet and have put all the glasses you gave them into it – at least we can have a drink out of a glass and not a mug now. Haha.
Friday 16th March 1990
Your letters and photos came today. James was over the moon with his. Won’t let anyone touch it. I love your letters, they are so long and interesting and gives us such a good insight to things that you do and see. The photos are absolutely beautiful, just can’t believe all that snow and your new home looks and sounds really gorgeous. The kitchen looks so big and we are very jealous of the open fire, the lounge looks very cosy. Love the pictures of Smokey Cat, bless his heart. Our bee meeting tonight was at Hurst Place, Sidcup in Room 14 – do you remember that room where you used to have dance lessons? It brought back a lot of lovely memories and I found myself staring at the floor, thinking my little Joanne’s feet had danced all over it, I could even picture Miss Mabbott sitting by the window.
Another parcel is on its way to you both – Easter prezzies! Well my Darling, we hope you have a wonderful birthday, wish we could be with you. Will close now until next letter.