Posts Tagged ‘World War II’




I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.


This rendition sung by Colin Thackeray hit me hard!

As I listened and watched his delivery it evoked so many emotions. The regal red figure   stood there straight and proud, happy to display his vulnerability with honesty.  He wore his 89 years of age well and his few minutes on stage made us reflect on what is important in life! It also brought back wonderful memories of my dad who sang to us all the time. He also served proudly as a bomber pilot in the World War 2. I could imagine my dad singing this song to my mom who was the ‘wind beneath his wings.’ I miss them both and was reminded of the legacy they have left behind in their family.

Dad during World War 2


But I’ve got it all here in my heart

The last 18 months have been a test for us as some unpredictable factors affected the security of our life here in North Vancouver. We wondered if we should sell up and downsize. Forego the responsibilities of having a home with a garden……

I know this is JUST a garden but the thought of losing my forest garden filled me with utter despair. I love this piece of Canadian soil and have spent hours toiling in it and bringing it back to its former splendour. But the reality was that we might have to leave this all behind.

Was this a First World problem? I think not. When you leave your home country and move far away, your home becomes your security and your refuge as a family. My parents left the UK and settled in South Africa. We were very conscious of the fact that the move had been hard for them, especially for my dad. But he never let it get to him. This is when the GRIT kicks in. Thanks for the genes, mom and dad!


I can fly higher than an eagle.

Sh..t happens, and when it does you fight back and regroup as a family. I am so grateful for the family that we have and for the support and love they have shown us. Life just seems so worthwhile when I have ‘my tribe’ around me. Colin Thackeray showed us too how he appreciated his family. It has inspired him to keep up his enthusiasm for life. So much so that he competed and won the recent Britain’s Got Talent competition. How amazing is that? For those that watched the attached video, you will have noticed that along with family members in the audience, there were his two friends. They were also dressed up in their red regalia and were with him every inch of the way.


For you are the wings beneath my wings.

As you can see, Mr. Thackeray reminded me this morning of the people who have influenced who I am (mom and dad), those who love and support me (my family and friends) and those who form part of my tribe.

So as the sounds of music float through my kitchen I am reminded that…

You are the wind beneath my wings.

The Morkel family



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Mom will always be young and strong in our eyes.




My mom has a special birthday today. She has seen 88 summers! Her voice came through clear and strong as we spoke. She was up on her bed having her ‘hour’s compulsory’ and we were just getting out of ours on the other side of the world. The calls need to be orchestrated when you live in another time zone, so that we don’t catch her napping. “I am 58, no 78….” Her mischievous voice joked with her grandsons.

‘They don’t make them like that anymore’  has been said of the caliber of people like my mom. Is it because they lived through a World War? They learnt to make do and to appreciate the small and important things in life. Whatever it is that has made her this way, she is a star!

She has so many talents …… She can cook a tasty feast to feed the extended family of mainly ravenous boys and men. These culinary skills  appear effortless apart from all the washing up that she generates for us ‘washer uppers!’ But we have to forgive her as the food is so delicious! Her paintings grace the walls in our home and her amazing handwork is known all over Stellenbosch. She puts her hand to everything from quilting to embroidery.

In her quiet moments I know she misses our Dad, her dashing pilot. Hopefully her memories and her children comfort her. I know that her 8 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren bring her much joy too.

Mom, you have been an example to us all on how to be tenacious, loving and loyal. I can fully understand why Dad chose you as his wife! You have not only been a devoted partner but you have loved all of us so unselfishly.

Happy birthday!

Your loving daughter



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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 majestic Casa Loma suddenly appeared from behind the stone wall. We had traipsed up the long path from the station in the blazing sun and saw this grande dame nestling between the trees with her flags proudly flapping out her heritage. I had poured over the pictures in my guide book but this was her in the flesh, I had to pinch myself!

A piece of Scotland in Canada.

A piece of Scotland in Canada.

Sir Henry Pellatt began the building process in 1906 which included a team of 300 skilled artisans on the job for 3 years. What makes this whole building so amazing is some of the features and its sheer size. It has a typical castle vantage position perched on a ridge that looks out over the city of Toronto. I could see the CN Tower in the distance from the top turret window. We climbed this narrow staircase right to the top! Casa Loma lauds itself over any surrounding houses and even the condos cannot compete with its splendor! The Gothic revival style with the towers and turrets transports the observer back to a forgotten era when time was given to detail and this was reflected in the finishes which were spectacular. There was a free standing shower with 6 additional heads, overhead stained glass windows, wooden carved paneling, gleaming hard wood inlaid flooring to name but a few. A feeling of mystery had also been created with secret passages, hidden staircases and underground tunnels. I felt those chills when we ran through the narrow 800 foot slippery tunnel to get through to the stables. It was a gracious time and guests were taken between floors with an elevator and soothed with the sounds of an organ in the Great Hall.

Beautiful stained glass windows overhead.....

Beautiful stained glass windows overhead…..


Sir Henry was larger than life itself and although he had made his fortune in hydroelectric power, he lost his beloved castle after less than 10 years when the government seized it to pay for outstanding property taxes. The Great Depression left its mark on this gracious building and the years eroded away its splendor. The castle then had a chequered life for a while and was run as a hotel and then as a jazz night club. But this stately home was to redeem itself during World War 11, it served to conceal research that was being conducted on sonar. These sonar devices were built way down in the tunnels under the castle and were used to detect U-boats during World War 11. What a claim to fame that was!

But the best I have left for last, the 5 acres of garden with rolling green lawns, formal laid out terraces, sparkling fountains framed with majestic Elm trees. We ambled through the cascades of the soft blues,  purples and pinks  and enjoyed the irises, azaleas and roses. It was music to my soul!


The city of Toronto in the distance...

The city of Toronto in the distance…

The bells rang out their dreaded knell and it was time to make our way back. We looked over our shoulders and through the trees and caught a final glimpse of ‘The Hill House.’

It was a day to remember.

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