Archive for October, 2011

The Lancaster Bomber from World War II


The topics around the dinner table range from the capacity of an electric motor to the natural gas deposits of the world and I gaze into the distance as I try to find some common thread with which to identify. I absorb all this material and wonder how this could be useful to me as I no longer have an attentive group of science students who would possibly utilise this information. Instead it is all to be filed in file 13 in my memory bank and I imagine myself recalling some of this data and regurgitating these facts at my next horticultural gathering or better still at the next Oakville Ladies’ Club meeting. The thought of it brings a smile to my face and I see my family of men raise their eyebrows and give me a sideward glance.


What can I say? The men in my life fascinate me, the way their brains work, what makes them tick, their interests and the things that make them ponder. This is not to say that I enjoy all their activities that they partake in but I enjoy being on the sidelines and being the eternal observer. Sometimes I join in on these activities or discussions and have found that it has increased my capabilities and general knowledge. I can expound on the virtues of greenhouse gas deposits in Africa, the world gold price, the merits of a BMX bicycle over a mountain bike and the wiring of a home theatre system.


So today I went along on an outing to the Canadian Royal Air Force Museum in Hamilton. It was to be a strictly ‘boy activity’ and I wondered as I walked in whether I was to be an observer or a participant this time. The hangar was filled with World War 2 aircraft that had been lovingly restored by a team of devoted enthusiasts. One of these relics was a Lancaster bomber, the same model as my dad had flown as a bomber pilot during the war. This plane was particularly useful as it had flown long distances over enemy territory and carried heavy loads of artillery. As I gazed upon this gigantic machine it brought back a few of the war stories that my dad had told. He did not speak much about the war as it used to upset him but occasionally could be persuaded by us to recount some of his experiences. One of these was when he was shot down over the sea and had to get his crew out of the plane. He made sure that all his men had jumped out with their parachutes and turned the plane out to sea and set the controls on autopilot. What I never realized that there was a special door in the aircraft just under his seat which was only used by the pilot during such an ejection from the cockpit. I gazed up and imagined my dad crawling down through this hatch and pulling the ripcord. What a terrifying experience it must have been for him and his crew and I felt a great sense of pride in knowing what my dad had achieved.  He flew with the same crew right through that war and brought them all back safely.  As a child I often asked him to take me up into the blue yonder but his remark was always the same: If you play around with aeroplanes long enough, they will get you in the end!


 So today made me aware of parts of the legacy that my dad has left us Creech offspring. He has certainly taught us to be determined, proud, committed and loyal.I realise that there are many ways in which ‘boy activities’ can be fulfilling and enriching. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy a cappuccino with the girls.



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The songs that were written in the northern hemisphere seem to make more sense now and I quite understand the meaning behind the words of the Mammas and the Pappas all those years ago……


We live our lives here in Canada according to the weather outside and so you make your plans as you put your nose out the door in the morning. The last of the Fall leaves have turned brown and are dropping onto the soft, lush green lawns and the fastidious homeowners rake them up as fast as they fall. Fortunately we don’t consider ourselves as part of that group and leave them a while as Josh likes to do his springbuck leap through them. He has started to hesitate in the mornings when I open the front door as wet grass is not his favourite. Oh dear, we are not the only one learning our life lessons here!


The rain has swelled the banks of our small stream at the bottom of the garden and we brave it each time we go outside. It reminds me of the days in Cape Town when as a new teacher I would make my way to school without a car. Those Cape winters were harsh and we would have weeks of continuous rain at time. You would think nothing of packing a different pair of shoes and a change of clothing in for the day. Although my mom always maintained that we, Creech children, had the ability to dodge rain drops. Well, I know for sure that my talent for evading them has somewhat subsided but am grateful for all the under cover bus shelters and underground pathways that we have here. Yesterday in Toronto I managed to get half way across the city like a mole when I used The Path. It is a 27 km underground path and shopping centre that links different parts of the city together. This subterranean lifestyle will force us to stock up on the bottles of vitamin D so that we can indulge in a bit of liquid sunshine over the next few months!


The water has changed the habits of our kleinwild (small wild life) in the garden. The squirrels are less frantic as they seem to have filled their larders and just pop out now and again to taunt Josh and to prove to him that they still reign supreme in the trees. The birds have gone south and we only hear the sad lament of the die –hards, namely the black crows, and we catch the odd glimpse of a magnificent raptor who always gazes quizzically across at Josh on the deck. I have these visions of a fish eagle gracefully picking up a stray fish from a river while it shouts out its majestic call over the plains. I shudder at this thought!


The salmon have done their frantic swim up the rivers at Bronte Creek and have deposited their precious eggs in the safety of the small pools. And so with life, there is a time for everything….A time to enjoy the sunshine and a time to make the most of the inclement weather!

 So a good read, hot homemade soup and a reconnection with forgotten hobbies are the order of the day……

The splendour of Bronte Creek

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We all dread the call that comes in the early hours of the morning when there is bad news from home and today was one of those days. It got me thinking about the things that I write about in my blog. So far I have tried to be positive and hopefully sometimes amusing, when I relate stories about the customs we have tried to absorb, the places we have seen and the new friends we have made. But today I feel like putting down on paper the reality of what it feels like to be far away from the people that you love.


Firstly there is the feeling of guilt: One feels guilty that you cannot be there for the people that still need you. I have tried to be supportive at a distance but it does not make up for my absence. I think that what people must realize that I am needed here in Canada too, I know it is primarily as cook and bottle washer for the men in my life but know that if I was not here, settling in would be much harder for them. There is a continual feeling of being torn between my commitments here with my family and those that I have left behind in South Africa.


Secondly there are feelings of loneliness and newness: There are plenty of people here, South African and locals, that have stretched out their hands in kindness towards us and for that I am grateful. We have had to have instruction on how to close up a house for winter which entails the draining of pipes, covering of external structures and the carrying in of all garden pots to name a few. Our garage looks like a tip! But it does not take away the fact that you have not walked a long road with these people and they do not know your essence yet. Where ever you go you are exposed to this whole new culture from the types of food to way you are supposed to drive. Everything is a new experience! Maybe I am showing my age but my brain goes into overload some days with this whole newness that surrounds me. I still have not mastered the driving here and have failed my first attempt at the test so I am back on my bicycle.


Thirdly there are the scared feelings: These are usually present in the early hours of the morning when you lie awake and think things through. There are the worry thoughts on: What will I do if I don’t manage to get my license? Will Philip be safe when he has to journey into Pakistan? Will David settle into the Canadian school system? Will Bryan find a job that suits him? Will I be able to fill my day with meaningful deeds?


Fourthly there are the feelings of loss: Besides the deep loss of the closeness of my loved ones, I feel a great sense of loss with the sudden termination of my career as a teacher. I miss the feeling of making a difference in children’s lives. I miss the adventure of each day being with my classes and I miss the wonder on their faces as I impart new facts or experiences to them.


So this blog has been all about me and my feelings but as any good psychologist will tell you, that you need to work through all of these feelings to get to the other side. So I apologise for making you endure this sorry tale today but I know that it takes bravery to say it like it is and it takes bravery to do what we have done as a family….. scoop ourselves up from our comfortable life in SA and to venture into the unknown. So you will still get the ‘other type’ of blog but know that there is an element of sadness and that it is not all milk and honey on the other side but hopefully these experiences will enrich our lives and ultimately make us better people.

Fall at the bottom of our garden



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Fall is upon us and the cold winds have begun to whistle across the deck. The back garden is a carpet of bronze and yellow with maple leaves and the gnarled boughs that stand out against the icy blue sky. We know that it is time to brace ourselves, these sunshine children from Africa, for the Big Freeze.


Josh braces himself for the Big Freeze.

A large group of migratory birds have been circling overhead for the last few days and regularly gather in our trees at the bottom of the garden and make a huge din as they squawk at each other. I presume this is to discuss the best route for the trip down south and have finally gathered up all their clan and the strength and set off on their long journey this weekend.


We rely on local knowledge to do all the necessary things around the house like draining the irrigation pipes, covering up outdoor furniture and carrying garden pots into the garage. We have acquired snow shovels, snow boots, thick coats and snow tyres for the car and have brought in books, puzzles and movies for those long, cold nights. The preparations are done and now we look forward to enjoying the last of the colours of Fall. There seems to be a definite time for everything here and nature gives us the clues. So if I cannot venture south then I need to just gather up my nuts and bed down!




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