Croatia and the Splintering of Yugoslavia

Usually we look for connections when we travel, to people or places, such as Heather’s birthplace in France, or the church where my great great grandparents were married in Ireland.  Croatia had a different kind of connection.

In the early 1990s Yugoslavia was breaking up after the demise of Tito.  As nationalism took hold, Serbs went after Croats and Bosnians in a brutal ethnic conflict that pitted neighbour against neighbour.

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Not what you would expect for a first picture of Pula, but we saw this ‘unusual’ parade of caterpillars wending it’s way down the street in Pula.

Thaumetopoea pityocampa

It is known as the ‘pine processionary’.

“Lengthy processions are formed when fully-grown caterpillars abandon their host tree in search of pupation sites, when as many as three hundred caterpillars may travel long distances from the natal tree looking for soft soil in which to bury themselves and form cocoons. During processions, stimuli from setae on the tip of the abdomen of the caterpillar in front serve to hold processions together, taking priority over the trail pheromone or silk. A caterpillar can readily be induced to follow a model made of a wooden dowel covered with the integument of the abdomen of a killed caterpillar.”


Unfortunately they are a significant pest and damaging to pine trees.  They also secrete a substance on their hairs that are toxic to humans.  Had we known, this group would have never made it ‘to the other side’.

Interesting nonetheless.




Reflections on Travel

One of the biggest joys of our travel has been to wake up in the morning knowing I am headed somewhere I have never been.

Today, after a wonderful time in Venice, Garry and I are headed to Pula, Croatia.  We are really looking forward to experiencing a new country and culture over the next six days.

Another joy of travel is to have a nice temporary home to come back to after a tiring day of exploring.  This was particularly important to us during our stay in Venice.  We were both suffering from colds when we arrived, and a comfortable home away from home allowed us a quick recovery.  In the past year we have had very good experiences with all of our Airbnb bookings.

I would be remiss not to mention another joy of our travels, which has been shopping in local supermarkets, trying new products and cooking healthy meals with lots of fresh produce.

Someone told me once that new sights and sounds are very nurturing to our souls.  I must say, I feel blessed that my soul is indeed very well nurtured at this wonderful juncture in my life, my first year of retirement.

Just over two months left of our one year adventure and we plan to savour every moment!

Roman Amphitheatre, Pula, Croatia


UK Immigration and the Ombudsman – Again

After complete exasperation with UK Immigration we filed a complaint with the ombudsman.

There is a process – i.e. ask UK Immigration for a review, get a negative decision, then you can file with the ombudsman.

In our case the final UK Immigration letter to us about the review was ambiguous.  They said if you are entitled to an answer you will hear from us, if not you won’t….leaving the question of what is their definition of ‘entitled’.

After our filing with the UK Ombudsman, that office came back rather quickly.  They asked us to once again contact UK Immigration, and request a specific decision, citing that we had raised it with the Ombudsman’s office.

I then e-mailed UK Immigration requesting a specific clear response.  I gave them ten business days to reply.  To not provide a timeframe would risk getting lost in the neverland of vague grey [shades of grey?]  where there is no precise answer and everything is pending.

They have until this Friday.

We have found the UK to be very much oriented toward treating citizens as cattle.  That applies to both business and government.  We see it in the transportation system, buses/trains/planes and we see it in the work place with zero hour contracts stingy legal requirements around breaks and a general bias against individuals in favour of the powers that be.  In the end it will likely lead to the defeat of the Conservative minority government, although this is a very long term problem not to be solved by a political party in power for four years.

We are fortunate to have the time and patience to follow this one through to the end [There are many situations where we swallow hard and move on.]    It is unfortunate citizens have so little power, while a low ranking employee can find some way to put it back on the plate of the citizen with the government spending x amount of time with the return volley costing the citizen x³ or an exponential amount of time.  I wonder if Meghan and Harry run into any of these problems in planning their wedding —- probably not.  The class system in action.


And now the n’ewes

A short hike near Bournemouth.  While walking the path, we encountered a farmer moving the ewes and newborn lambs to a nearby field.  From the barn the ewes were placed in the front of the trailer, with the lambs at the back.  Each lamb wore a plastic coat to protect the newborns from the cool breezes.

Marville France – Heather’s Birthplace

We traveled first to Brussels on the Eurostar, then rented a car and stayed in a pleasant little village in Belgium near the French border.  The more we travel, the more we like quieter places, less frequented by tourists.

For this portion of our journey, our destination was Marville, France.  Marville was a bustling centre when Heather was born, with over 1,100 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force stationed there with their families.   It was closed in 1967, after the French government insisted that any nuclear capability stationed in France would be controlled by France.

The town of Marville when we visited had seen better days.  However that was very much part of the charm of the place as it was neither overrun by tourists nor had it’s original architecture been bulldozed.  It was a charming place to visit — albeit the streets were a tad deserted.  The picture below is of an RCAF fighter jet, overflying the Marville base.  Note the proud Canadian Red Ensign on the plane — we did not yet have the current Canadian flag.


Marville – Today

A statue of Heather holding a sign, erected by the town to welcomes visitors.


No post would be complete without a cat picture.
Marville Cat

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A Snow Day

Bournemouth rarely receives snow.  To date we’ve had none other than a few flakes falling.  But not today.  Garry’s work at Oxfam is cancelled, and the Met office has issued an amber warning for wind and snow here, with a red warning for north west of here.  Intrepid Canadians, we will go for a walk tonight and Heather was out today capturing the white.  It is expected to snow for the next 1.5 days.

High Street is nearly empty.
From the library
Horseshoe Common near our home.