Afternoon Tea with a Special Friend

While Angela was visiting from Canada, we celebrated her milestone birthday with Afternoon Tea at a local hotel, The Miramar.
As the wedding of Harry and Meghan was fast approaching we were given complimentary champagne to mark the occasion.  Also, in the photograph below, note the American and British flags, to mark the pending union.
Again, birthday wishes to Angela, and I hope this outing was as memorable for you as it was for me!
On a side note, a repeat patron of this lovely historical hotel was the late J.R. Tolkien.

Heather’s Little Pieces of England

Over the past few months I’ve had fun visiting charity shops that sell second hand clothing and household articles.
I wanted to collect something practical that would have sentimental value and be easy to pack.  Hence, the collection of tapas sized dishes that you see below.
They have added some colour and character to our flat here in Bournemouth, and they will be lovely momentos of our year in the UK.  So far I have used them to hold spoons, teabags, candy, olives, earrings and soap!

Windrush Immigration Scandal in the UK

We wanted to post this story from the Guardian because it highlights, in a much more serious situation, our experience with UK Immigration.  Amelia Gentleman deserves the Pulitzer prize for her work as a tireless journalist.

Like the abused person in this story, we attended that same office in Croydon.  His abuse by the UK Immigration department was on another level entirely – it wrecked his life.  His experience of the department on a much larger scale is very similar to ours.

When we paid for information on their profit making fee for service call centre we received either no information, or erroneous information.  Then when we made a claim to that department they said they had changed contractors and those calls were not available to them to corroborate our story.  Hard to imagine!

It becomes easy to predict that a department which runs on little or no accountability will see other scandals.  Something is seriously amiss in the UK government administration.

This story is particularly poignant – the man wept after they left the immigration office in Croydon – we didn’t cry when we left but we were angry:

From the story:

“In a rare insight into the workings of Lunar House immigration HQ, Hubert Howard recounts how he lost his job and was denied benefits after the Home Office said he was an illegal migrant.”

“What happened to my files? What happened to my previous applications? Every time I called they said they didn’t know anything about me,” Howard said, managing to control his dismay and incredulity at the extraordinary change in official attitude towards him.

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The South Coast – Hurst Castle & a Walk from Milford on Sea

A warm [at last] two kilometre seaside hike on a shingle peninsula from Milford on Sea to Hurst Castle.  As you can see from the photos below Hurst Castle is not the prettiest and quite utilitarian in appearance.  It was established by Henry VIII on the Hurst Spit in Hampshire between 1541 and 1544. It was at the time one of the most powerful forts on the coast to protect England from the French.
We took a small ferry ride back to Key Haven.  In keeping with our critter theme, there’s a photo of a fetching sailor dog piloting our ferry.
From Key Haven we took a meandering meadowland walk to our bus connection at Milford on Sea.
We were only three quarters of a mile from the Isle of Wight, another day day out we have planned within a couple of weeks.
A summery day with the Isle of Wight in the background


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The Ombudsman & UK Immigration

This is the body of our most recent letter to the Ombudsman:

As per our previous correspondence we had on three occasions requested a response from UKVI to our letter of review request submitted to them on September 15, 2017.  We now have a copy of their letter dated October 16, 2017 that was the subject of those requests.

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Our Extended Neighbourhood – Roadtrip with Friends

We had an enjoyable visit with our dear friends James and Angela, who visited while on their way to Scotland.

We had a great time showing them around Bournemouth, Salisbury, Stonehenge, Corfe, and Swanage.

A highlight was the 25 minute ride on a historic steam train through the Purbeck Hills past the Corfe Castle.  The observation train car we were in has a colourful history.

The car was used to transfer injured service men during the Second World War.  Then, for thirty years it resided in San Francisco as a dining car in a restaurant before being returned to Swanage and restored to the revered tourist train of today.

 James and Angela are now off to Edinburgh, Inverness and Stornoway.   We wish them a great journey!


Tea time
These guys are regulars where we had tea. Unlike Canada most restaurants welcome well behaved dogs, adding to the charm of lunch or dinner.


Train at Swanage

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Generally, clothes are more expensive in the UK than in Canada, so I have tempered my purchases here.

What is appealing is the selection here.  There are some beautiful lines available only in Britain. I could not resist the jacket below that cost me about $110 CAD.

My favorite clothing store in the UK is Primark.  Colourful, stylish garments and linens for the best prices you will find anywhere.  See the t-shirts in the second photo, chosen to go with my new jacket, for $3.60 CAD each!

It was colder here than expected, and a $20 dollar CAD Primark sweater gave me the extra layer I needed to get through the winter.

In the third photo, another fashion splurge. This is my Mulvern hat, purchased In Ireland for about $65 CAD.

UK Immigration – Correspondence

I hope to write a longer piece about the UK Immigration Department as they are embroiled in chaos, where people who have lived in the UK for decades, largely from the Caribbean received threatening letters.  For each year they were in the UK they had to furnish 3+ documents to show they were in the UK.  Can you imagine going back to, say 1965 and producing three [sic – it was four not three] documents to show you were resident in a country?  Theresa May was at the heart [or lack thereof] of this scandalous treatment by Immigration of UK residents.  Why is this not a surprise?  And it even involves Canadians:


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Earth Day in South England

The blossoms have been hiding behind the unseasonably cool weather.  But a couple of days of warm sunshine, and they have pushed away the fog and winter’s hold, emerging to display rebirth of life.

A thunderstorm last night kept us up watching the skies.  This morning some initial fog as we headed out to Barton on Sea, just down from Milton on Sea.  You can guess — nearby is the sea.

Time to haul out the book of Haiku for one of my favourite writings, from the 18th and early 19th century Japanese monk,  Issa.

issa… you have survived to feed
this year’s mosquitoes


The UK Ombudsman’s Office

The latest with our UK Immigration Complaint.

I’d have thought that they would separate the political process from the administrative process by having the MP’s office involved at the political level only when other avenues are exhausted.  In Canada MP’s offices are very busy — and I expect they are also busy here .

Also it would have made sense to me that if the ombudsman’s process starts with the MP’s office, why not direct individuals there when citizens first approach the ombudsman’s office.

So as usual, a fifteen minute job by a public servant serves the complaint back into the court of the citizen who then must spend at least three hours arranging, then meeting with an office of the Member of Parliament.

I feel for citizens who are ill served by their government.

So off I go to our MP’s office.


It is no accident the Immigration UK is again in the headlines with their incompetence.  The Prime Minister’s behaviour in relation to this story below is scandalous – both as Home Secretary and as Prime Minister.  She was the author of a significant part of the departmental mess that we find today:


April 17, 2018

Dear Mr Mitchell,

Thank you for your email.

I have since made enquiries with the UKVI; and have now received confirmation that a final response was issued to your complaint on the 16 October 2017.

As we now have confirmation that you have completed the complaints process of the UKVI, please ask an MP to make the legally required referral to our service, and we will then be able to consider your complaint further at that time.

If you have any questions, please contact us quoting your unique reference number that has been assigned to you at the top of this email. 

Kind regards


Intake Caseworker

It did not fill me with optimism when during my random search for information I came up with the following article:

The chances are that your MP will be keen to wash their hands of the matter as soon as your case has been ‘resolved’ by the Ombudsman.  They will rarely fight on your behalf if you feel that there has been an injustice, using the convenience that the Ombudsman is an independent body, so unfortunately their hands are tied.  Your MP will now bow out of the process happy that they have ticked the constituent box and not unduly concerned whether justice has been done.  The more you get involved with politicians the more you wonder how they ever came to be called ‘public servants’.  There is some interesting information here from MPs who were asked by PASC to comment on the current complaint procedure.  At lease we can take comfort in the fact that they too are ignored by Ministers and their letters are lost on a regular basis.  What a great way to run a country.