Go Back  British Expats > Living & Moving Abroad > Canada > The Maple Leaf
Reload this Page >

Life's Turning-Points

Life's Turning-Points

Old Mar 9th 2023, 12:08 am
  #226  
BE Forum Addict
Thread Starter
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: Cayman Islands
Posts: 4,747
Gordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Some good reminiscing there, JD! Excellent stuff! Linda and I made the mistake - and it was a huge mistake at the time - of resuming our travels with a six-weeks-old baby in our camper-van. After a couple of aborted efforts in continental Europe, we gave up and settled in Cayman in the Caribbean, for the rest of our lives. The best we could do is encourage our son (born in England in 1975) to pick up the slack. Which he did magnificently, and has done for much of his life. He does settle down from time to time, but only temporarily. He learnt Spanish in Mexico and Guatemala, and Norwegian in Norway where his three children live, and their mothers. So he keeps his options open, which is always important.
Gordon Barlow is offline  
Old Mar 9th 2023, 11:41 pm
  #227  
Account Closed
 
Joined: Oct 2021
Posts: 0
scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Gordon, like your son, in my life I've held to the principle that whatever one's marital status, it's important to be yourself - we were all people in our own right(s) before our SOs came along, and we have to maintain a degree of "our own person-ness" if we are to remain individuals and, I've always thought, of interest to another with who we share our life.

I've not had children of my own, so I've maybe missed out on some unique and wonderful experiences. I don't really know. I did take on two stepsons, from my second (Australian) partner, who are much closer to me than they are to their mother, this by her choosing. Interestingly, after university both availed themselves of an opportunity I offered them and moved to Vancouver, where they have good careers and marriages of their own. So in this way I've done my work.

My 'now' life partner is younger than I am, greatly more career minded than I've been, and a home-body, so happy to stay close to the nest while I now and then wander for several months at a. time, to places I'm fascinated by and always longed to explore. In Southeast Asia. I was born in Canada and I saw all of North America almost in its entirety, several times - in 1966 I drove myself eat to west, from New Brunswick to Victoria, British Columbia, then down the Pacific coast to Baja California down to La Paz in its southernmost point, no mean feat in a Peugeot 403 running on three cylinders, and finally across the continent, stopping at all the Civil War battlefields on the way, to Maine and home to Atlantic Canada. When I relocated myself to New Mexico in the 1970s, I did similar journeys several more times, lastly in 2012 when I retired and we took four months to retrace my steps and revisit all those Confederate versus the Union battlefields. A most unique experience, that was. I could never do it now. Two times on those battlefields were enough.

Europe attracted me more, especially after I lived in France for 10 months in 1966-7. My first visit to Britain was as a naive and life-inexperienced 17 year old, a sort of exchange visit with three other high school friends. That journey convinced me I would never again travel in a group, or even with more than one other person - ideally, on my own. I've held to this 'travel rule' since. As a lifelong photographer I thrive on putting a camera , a map, a bottle of water and a snack in my backpack and going out to just wander, to see where the day and my trek will take me. Often in Indonesia and other Asian places I've got on a bus or a train, intending to travel a short distance, and ending up visiting altogether different places for two or even three days. today the world is much more dangerous and this 'wandering' could turn into disaster, but my good luck has held and I've never had problems. A small disclaimer - now in my 70s, I'm much more careful about this than I was then, the world has greatly changed (so have I, not entirely for the best!)

As for your comment about "a huge mistake", I hold to the firm belief that unless one of our adventures leads us to an unexpected end of life, we do no such thing as make mistakes. These life experiences are sent to us as tests, or to change us and lead us to the right path, if we keep our minds open and try to learn from them. It's also important to not repeat our sillier mistakes too often. I married two times before I realized I was basically repeating my mistakes. I then 'freewheeled' for 17 years until by chance one day in Malaysia, I accepted an invite to join a table in an Indian bar for a beer or six and met my current SO. That was in 1997 and while I don't believe in old sayings, In all ways it was Third Time Lucky. We 'clicked' that day, we got together soon after, all my hitherto enjoyable bachelor ways immediately flew out the window, and I've been "a good old boy" ever since for 27 years. Yes, it happens.

In Sydney I had a friend, an irascible American who hadn't found his place in the phlegmatic Aussie temperament of that time. One night we went out to dinner at a Japanese restaurant in the city. At the next table, a group of Japanese tourists were drinking sake by the gallon and making merry. They were noisy at first and rather annoying, but eventually we thawed and accepted an invitation to join them. One of this group became my friend's SO for the rest of his life. They were together for 37 years until he died in 2017, theirs was a true love match with never a fight, a difficult moment, hardly even a cross word between them in all that time. An unexpected dinner invitation (and too much sake) changed my friend's life. It can and does happen.

I wasn't so lucky, and it took me until I was 48 to find my way - and the right person. As I've already written, such things happen, and lucky us if we are open enough in our minds to realize the moment when it comes, and go along with it.

Others I know haven't been so lucky. Mostly my American and European friends here in Australia, they don't understand the Aussie temperament and the different ways of living here, the cultural differences cause problems and their relationships end up on the rocks. Again, such things happen. Some learn from their failures and try again. Others close down on themselves and stay alone. Whatever. Importantly, if it suits, well and good. If it doesn't, well, change it!

I have a psychiatrist friend who tells me, it's amazing how important a role sheer chance can play in one's life. As she says, you could ge on a bus or a tram one day, and two seats are free, one to the left, the other to the right. Depending on where you sit, you may meet your life partner, or you may miss out and never know it. Many would call this luck, but to me this word opens up dimension of good luck or bad luck, and I've always believed there is no such thing as "bad" luck if one is aware and willing to learn. Unless of course the bus collides with a train or drives off a bridge, and yes, such things happen. Misfortune or happenstance can strike at any time. Which in a way demolishes my 'theory' about good/bad luck, but as I see it, it's not worth arguing about. Opinions and all that.

Last edited by scrubbedexpat143; Mar 9th 2023 at 11:55 pm.
scrubbedexpat143 is offline  
Old Mar 12th 2023, 1:47 pm
  #228  
BE Forum Addict
Thread Starter
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: Cayman Islands
Posts: 4,747
Gordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

JD. My son (now 47) and I pretend to believe in Loki, the ancient Norse god of luck and caprice. I see his intervention in your love-life, JD. The first episode, you rushed into without thinking, and Loki ignored you. The second time - well, I don't know the details, but you seem to have coasted along taking your luck for granted. Loki doesn't like that. It's not respectful. But the third time, you did get lucky, because you didn't "push your luck". You let him do his thing! And this is the key: you always have to meet him half-way. As a god, he's not a bad person; he's just a bit cranky and, well, capricious. We suspect he might have had a hand in the choice of the Boy Scouts' motto: "Be prepared".
Gordon Barlow is offline  
Old Mar 12th 2023, 10:54 pm
  #229  
Account Closed
 
Joined: Oct 2021
Posts: 0
scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Loki, fate, karma - it's all much the same. Mythology often has deep roots in common sense, real-world happenstance.

It took me many decades to figure out why I had to do all the things I had to do in my early life - because I "had to" as part of my own growth process.

I got married for the first time to escape my family and leave home. too much religion, too many silly rules, not enough love and affection. I sought to get away from the first two and find more of the third, and I failed. Without the life-experience to reflect on, I raced into matrimony and ended up marrying a young woman who resembled my mother. She did the same, looking for the father figure she hadn't had in her early life. I all too quickly realized the mistake I had made, but stayed on, not wanting to hurt her - until we finally managed to escape our two controlling families, to a place entirely of our own, and sat down to work out things, at which we realized we were both in the same boat, so to say.

The second time around, we both did it to "fit in" socially. In Sydney at that time (1970s), most of my Australian friends were freeing themselves from their own repressive English-style upbringings, and feeling their way to new lives without the restrictions of family, church and society. One by one, rather two by two, they were waltzing down the church aisles or lining up at the registrar's office at Town Hall for their certificates - and we felt we had to do the same "belong". We then set to making the same mistakes we had both done in our previous marriages.

Second time around I lasted longer, years and not months. She had two sons from her first marriage, in their early teens, who had been neglected during the long (and acrimonious) divorce from her first husband. I took them on, with a new and style of parenting, that of a mentor and also a friend, not a "book relation" with all the usual social rules and regulations that went with marriage in the'60s and '70s.

We lasted four years. Then her parents both died and left her a share of their estate - a large country property and land holdings) -which, once sold, gave her a newfound financial stablily for the first time. Suddenly she was saying, "I want to be free" and "I want to find myself" and she left for a new (and more exciting than domesticity) social circles. A series of short-term relationships with unsuitable men left her emotionally damaged (and much poorer) and she drifted about for some time before eventually settling with a new SO, much older and wiser. By then her sons had their university degrees and both opted for new lives in Canada, assisted by my dual nationality and sponsorship as my family "adopted by marriage" as one could do in those days.

Freed from all these cares and responsibilities, I freewheeled for 17 years until my new SO came along, entirely by chance, during a brief holiday in Malaysia. Third Time Lucky, karma, Loki, fate, happenstance or whatever it was, this time it worked.

As for "luck", well, I'm not sure I've taken it for granted. In the course of my long life I've wandered to and fro, to many interesting places int he world. My life philosophy seems to be I'll just go walking today (or hop on bus, a train or a flight) to somewhere, and see what happens. With an open mind and heart and the right attitude, things often happen. Usually they are short-term and to be enjoyed "at the time" but no more.

Here it should be noted that by this I do NOT mean sexual dalliances or encounters in bars, pubs or such hangouts).

Along with this wandering goes a deep sense of commitment to my SO and our life together in Australia. I travel for a few months at a time, with my partner's full acceptance and approval, but I know where home is, and when the time comes for me to return I do so, happily and willingly.

My two sons now want me to return to Canada, for a long stay Vancouver, maybe a rail journey across the country, and to revisit old 'hants' in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. I would like to while I still can, but in so many other ways I'm not sure. I would be doing it entirely on my own, leaving SO behind at home to look after things, which isn't really fair given how long I've now been away. So time Australia may be the way for most of the rest of 2023. Time will tell and I'll see. Rather, we'll see. Now it's time for discussion and sharing thoughts.

SO actually envies me this freedom, and often says we will be doing more of it together after we are both retired. However, given our age difference, I'm not so sure I will be doing much wandering by that time. Home, a rocking chair, the cat on my lap, a good book and YouTube movies will keep me anchored. SO can then return to the fold in Malaysia and go exploring from there, with my full blessing and my good wishes for many enjoyable moments. One has to give back what one has taken in life, after all. Is this Loki? I'm not so sure. Rather, maybe it's the true meaning of karma...

Now I think it's time to return to narratives of some of my life's wanderings. There is a lot yet to come of Canada and the USA in the 1960s and early 1970s, then Asia, then Australia. I'm writing this from Indonesia, so even today the list keeps growing. Long may it go on going on!!

Last edited by scrubbedexpat143; Mar 12th 2023 at 10:58 pm.
scrubbedexpat143 is offline  
Old Mar 19th 2023, 5:04 am
  #230  
BE Forum Addict
Thread Starter
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: Cayman Islands
Posts: 4,747
Gordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow View Post
So... back to my 1986 Turning Point... The Chamber of Comics - so called, until then - found itself a new lease of life when it opened a full-time back-office. Our (my) first job was publicly objecting to a proposed new Labour Law. We described it as "a lurch towards socialism" - at a time when socialism was a dirty word here, the equivalent of communism. The description didn't go down well at all with the politicians. I lined up all the trade associations to support our call to abandon the "lurch", but the politicians threatened to withhold the Hotel Association's annual advertising subsidy, so that was the end of the rebellion. They (the pollies) blamed me, as the Chamber's Manager, and took measures to revoke my Work Permit. They were somehow persuaded to let me stay for another 12 months - a decision they came to regret. Their next "lurch" was to propose a UK-style government-monopoly pension. This time, we didn't rely on the trade associations. What we did was recruit the Islands' employees by labelling the proposal as an income -tax. Being a true-blue offshore tax-haven, Cayman had never taxed incomes; and the prospect lit a fire under a huge majority of the Islands' voters.

This time, we won in a canter. Everybody but me, anyway. I hastily found a young native-Caymanian willing to take over as Manager (he did an excellent job), and fought to stay on the Island. They ("They!") left Linda alone, but objected to Ross's presence, as well as mine. My Directors (mostly native-Caymanians) stormed up to the politicians' offices and kicked the furniture around until "They" grudgingly allowed Ross (then 13) to stay on Linda's Permit. But the pols refused to back down on mine. Fortunately, the Immigration Officer of the time - a British Civil Servant not responsible to the local politicians in this British Colony - would not allow my expulsion, and stamped me in as a visitor - each month for the next year: not allowed to work, but allowed to stay on the Island.

In that "in limbo" status, I gave a lot of thought to how I might be able to improve my situation. I finally found a way - a pretty risky way, and it didn't please Linda at all - but it worked. At least, it has worked from then (1988) until now, which makes it my very last "Life's Turning Point". It deserves a post of its own here. Later, then...
Catching up with this old post of mine... The politicians of the day came after me with a vengeance, and have persecuted me off and on ever since. Much credit to a Jamaican newspaper who criticised my political enemies, and to an online tax-haven site that ridiculed the pols as "hill-billies". I flew an English QC over here for a consultation, and I took my case to a few selected UK politicians; the FCO sided with me for reasons of its own, presumably. I clung on by my fingertips. We sent Ross to a boarding school in England just in case.

Then the #2 newspaper on the Island - owned by a native Caymanian sympathizer - offered to publish articles from me on the basis of no pay, no censorship. I began with sensible essays helpful to local businesses. When I had enough confidence in my writing skills, I switched to political commentaries, under the same title, "Everybody's Business". Up till then, criticism of local politicians was strictly forbidden, An anonymously and irregularly published semi-literate roneo'd sheet - a samizdat - was the only exception. My columns were well written, logical, to-the-point, and actually signed in my own name. Yes! Fancy that! They became so popular so quickly, that they caught the pols flat-footed. A hero to some, and a zero to others, I was too high-profile to be thrown onto the next plane out.

In time, the newspaper went broke because government had withdrawn all its advertising. Another paper started up and gave me the same deal, until it too went broke for lack of government advertising. I guess the column was a Turning Point for them as well as for me!
Gordon Barlow is offline  
Old Mar 28th 2023, 4:17 am
  #231  
BE Forum Addict
Thread Starter
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: Cayman Islands
Posts: 4,747
Gordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

My son (visiting from Norway) has just reminded me of another Life's Turning Point, from the days when I was fighting to stay in Cayman in 1989. Linda and I had tentatively decided to leave here - to sell out and make a new life in England. The local secondary school here was a bit of shambles at the time, but a friend of ours was a Director of a school in Derbyshire, so Ross and I (he was 14) flew over to check it out. If we all approved, I would sniff around and see what jobs might be available reasonably close to the school. There'd be no boarding school for our boy, thank you very much!

But, well... "Dad, would we go back to Cayman during the school holidays?" "No. old chap. Sorry. but we couldn't afford to do that three times a year!" But he had a super job here working every weekend filling oxygen tanks at a scuba place - no wage, but all the dives he could manage. Living the dream! We couldn't take that away from him. So we stayed - Linda keeping her well-paid job in a law firm, me resisting all attempts to deport me for subversion, Ross doing his scuba thing every weekend and during school vacations.

Linda became a lawyer and Notary Public in her 60s, I a voice for oppressed migrant workers and human rights in general. Ross qualified as a scuba instructor on his 18th birthday, before lucking into a professional model's job in Mexico City, then joining the hippie community on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Turning Points all round!
Gordon Barlow is offline  
Old Apr 4th 2023, 5:36 pm
  #232  
BE Forum Addict
Thread Starter
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: Cayman Islands
Posts: 4,747
Gordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Here's another Life's Turning Point from my travelling days - driving my VW Beetle down from Germany in 1964. I picked up an old peasant woman who was trudging along a road in Yugoslavia, and it changed my life. What happened was this...

She gabbled away at me off and on for miles. I replied as civilly as I could, one hand on the wheel, the other working the dictionary, and asked her to tell me when we reached the turn off to Bulgaria. Of course neither of us understood the other, which was a bit of a handicap... Her side of the story, for her family that night, was probably along the lines of: "This young foreign man in his car (a car! My dear!) didn't know where he was or why, or what I was telling him. I had to shout at him to make him stop where I wanted to get out. At that point, he didn't know whether to go north or south!" She was relieved to be back on her feet again, I was annoyed in case I had missed the turn-off.

It was an unpaved back road that didn't even show up on my map. The only car on the road was mine, and the old woman the only pedestrian. Common decency had required that I offer her a lift; common decency probably required that she accept. Whatever language she spoke, it wasn't the Serbo-Croat of my dictionary. Wikipedia reckons it was a Macedonian dialect of Bulgarian, but I didn’t know that then. I had indeed missed the turn-off. The next signpost I came to pointed to Greece, so I shrugged and took it. Better that than wasting the whole day looking for the road to Bulgaria. The visa was good for three months. No sweat, no strain!

That night I reached the Youth Hostel in Thessaloniki, and drank coffee on the roof with fellow-hostellers after watching the movie Zorba the Greek. I posted about that earlier in this thread, and told of the trouble and strife (Cockney slang) in my life for the next 55 years. Linda was also at the movie, and hitched a ride with me next day.
Gordon Barlow is offline  
Old Apr 5th 2023, 1:27 am
  #233  
Account Closed
 
Joined: Oct 2021
Posts: 0
scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Ah yes, driving in Europe in the 1960s. Compared to today, to me it was like paradise on earth then.

I had a Citroen 2CV, acquired from a work colleague in Marseille for CDN $500 (equivalent), which was then a considerable sum to me - I was 19 and just out of my cadetship as a news reporter in eastern Canada). The formalities in France at that time, of getting insurance, re-registering the vehicle, ensuring it was roadworthy and so on, were far less complex than they are now. With the carefree insouciance of youth, I decided to not bother with ensuring it, and found ways to bypass the bureaucratic formalities - in those heady bygone days a US $10.00 "gift" to someone in the right position always worked wonders.

The Citroen was a blessing to me. I was working an odd shift arrangement with a news syndicate in Marseille, nine days on, five days off. My flat mate was also on this shift, and after our stint at the news desk we would pack up, throw our duffle bags in the car, and off we went, exploring the byways of rural southern France, driving down any country road that took our fancy, stopping at small family cafes and of course every winery we drove past. In time we expanded our explorations, driving across France to Belgium, Luxembourg (immigration and customs there didn't care for small "puddle hopper" cars and always gave us an entire going-over, but we were wise to their game and made sure we never had any so-called contraband in our bags.

On one occasion we picked up an American hitchhiker, a young Bostonian freshly out of uni (Harvard I think it was, or maybe MIT) on his first trip to Europe, so unusually unreserved for a baked-beaner, greatly given to overexcitement at every little thing he saw as we drove on. A lunch time visit to an exceptionally good winery in Belgium (yes, they do exist, or they did, a half century ago) saw him imbibe several carafes of the local vintages.

After a little (quite a little) too much rose, we set off again, along country roads as the police in those days tended to dislike small, slow cars on the freeways. Twenty minutes or so later came a loud cry from the back seat, "Stop this car! I'm going to be sick!" at which I hit the brake pedal, the 2CV skidded to a stop (that is if a Citroen can be said to "skid" to anything) and out he flew - as it happened we were on a bridge over a small creek, and down he went, into the water, fortunately not deep enough to drown but with just enough "profounder" to cushion his fall of several meters - and give him a thorough wetting.

Up he came, sputtering and cursing, promising violence to us for having "dumped" him into a river. "Let's get out of here," my French said, and threw his bag on the road. I snapped a hasty photo with my Rolleifle,x we hopped into the Citroen and off we drove, leaving him behind, shouting furiously at us.

At the Belgium-Netherlands border we expected to be stopped by the police. Nothing of the sort happened. We got to Amsterdam, settled into a two-by-two room in a three storey (maybe it was four storeys) stolidly narrow vertical guest houses alongside a canal in the city center (of the sort with at least 200 steps up to our top floor quarters, do these places still exist?), and went clubbing.

To our dismay, at the first bar we went to, there was the American, comfortably settled at a table with several other Boxer types, all students of the same age and physical dimensions. We sneaked away to another part of the bar and settled down, hoping he hadn't spotted us - but too late.

A few minutes later a bottle of good French wine and three glasses arrived, with the compliments of Monsieur l'American - who soon thereafter joined us for a celebratory drink. All had been forgiven. He was extremely contrite for his bad behavior and even offered me to pay his way for the couple of hundred kilometers we had taken him closer to his destination, Amsterdam. Of course not, I told him. We finished the bottle and ordered another (for which I paid) and made quite a night of it.

The next morning I woke up (fortunately, in my own bed at our guest house) with the most amazing hangover I'd had so far in my young life. At breakfast - which included several coffees and the usual high protein Dutch spread of cheeses, meats, croissants, bread, jam and enough butter to grease the Citroen - we talked over the matter and instead decided to drive on to Leiden as we'd planned.

I still have the negative of the one and only photo I took of this person. For the memory of a most interesting interlude in my travels.

That was in 1966, 57 years ago. A lifetime, or most of. In many ways it seems like centuries. I've traveled a lot in that time, not so much to Europe, more to Asia, the Pacific and three times by car in North America, from California to Nova Scotia.

I did The Continent when the going was truly good, at a time just before mass tourism hit its stride and almost everywhere in places like France and Italy turned into homogenized tourist attractions.

I count my lucky stars for having been there at the right time. The memories endure.



scrubbedexpat143 is offline  
Old Apr 6th 2023, 10:39 pm
  #234  
BE Forum Addict
Thread Starter
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: Cayman Islands
Posts: 4,747
Gordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Citroen 2CV, JD... Was that the car with the gear-stick poking out from the dashboard? I was too scared to ever drive one of those! What I had, was a "crash-gearbox" Beetle bought in Hamburg from the friend of a friend, It was formerly a Hamburg Police car - dark-green and white, if I recall. We did the deal (300 pounds, I think; this was 1964) and I was all set to drive off, when he said he had to paint over the green. I wasn't allowed to drive around in the Police colours!!! Of course those had been the major selling point, for me! What a disappointment!

I'd never driven a crash-gearbox before, and the first dozen or so miles I feared the gearbox would drop onto the autobahn! Did you ever drive one? Going down the gears, you had to up the revs to match the RPM of the desired gear. Every time. "Double de-clutching" it was called.

From Hamburg I drove back to England and around Britain, then via the Munich Oktoberfest to Ankara and (after a break) up behind the Iron Curtain and back to England. Where I sold it for a song, poor old thing. Over on the Rest of the World thread I've just posted an episode that will amuse you - how Linda and I bluffed our way through the Berlin Wall at an illegal crossing point.

A great, great post of yours up above here, by the way. Pulling memories out of the old brain is fun, isn't it!
Gordon Barlow is offline  
Old Apr 7th 2023, 1:17 am
  #235  
Account Closed
 
Joined: Oct 2021
Posts: 0
scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

My 2CV had an interesting history. It had been a friend's mother's second car, they were farmers and occasionally she would drive baskets of produce or a few geese (also I suspect, piglets) to the local market to sell, but not much further. When I got it my friend told me it was 15 years old (which I doubted), but it had only 15,000 kilometers on the odometer (maybe the second time around!) and it sounded and drove remarkably well.

I paid all of CDN $500.00 for it, a small in those days. Plus registration. Insurance I didn't bother with. We drove mostly along country roads with it, so there was little car traffic, only an occasional herd of cattle or sheep. Ah, the heady days of youth...

As you correctly said it had a walking-cane gear shift lever sticking out of the dashboard, so driving it meant a lot of pushing and pulling and some deft foot play with the gear pedal. There was a sun roof made of canvas which soaked up (and leaked) rain water like a sponge. The petrol consumption could be measured in thimbles. It ran like a kitchen blender run on low (which may have been the rusted state of the muffler) and top speed was just over 50 miles per hour. The police in France and Germany disliked these small puddle-hopper cars and banned them from the main tollways and autobahns as they were too slow and held up traffic. For country driving and sightseeing, they were truly wonderful.

When I returned to Canada at the end of 1966 I got a surprisingly generous last payment for vacation pay and overtime which my employer had somehow overlooked to give me in increments. This meant I could afford to splurge and ship the car back to New Brunswick, which I recall cost me just over CDN $400.00, or 80 per cent of the price of the car. To my surprise it passed the road inspection and safety test - it seems the inspector had never seen such a Citroen and he didn't know how to rate it, so he just approved and signed the papers and sent me on my way - I was able to re-register it without fuss or bother.

Canadian winters are notoriously cold and the small heater in the 2CV didn't do much to keep me from freezing to death. So I garaged it during the five coldestmonths and drove a Peugeot 404, which was suitably well insulated and had a heater able to keep fingers and toes from turning into mini-icebergs and dropping off.

Unknown to me, my younger brother took to using it (with my evil mother's full consent) to take his girlfriend out on weekends, and one Saturday night in 1969 he parked it next to a bus space. The local bus came along during a snow blizzard, and when the driver hit the brakes it skidded into my 2CV and shortened it by about one foot. That was the end of my beloved 2CV.

Even then my karma was working overtime. The bus company investigated and having found their driver to be at fault, paid me out, $750.00 and my mother gave me a further $250.00 out of guilt. I then bought a Renault 4 from a sheriff's sale, but this is entirely another story. As you can surmise from all these sad stories, as far as cars went as a youngs'un I had no lack of at times potentially self-destructive stubbornness...
scrubbedexpat143 is offline  
Old Apr 8th 2023, 6:03 pm
  #236  
BE Forum Addict
Thread Starter
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: Cayman Islands
Posts: 4,747
Gordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

My first car, at the age of 19, was a Hillman Minx. did they have those in Canada? A friend of mine had a new (small) motorbike, and I asked my Dad if he would lend me the money to buy one. He refused immediately, but said he would stake me to a used car. Then he changed his mind and said that I might not pay him back; so he would get the Bank to lend me the money and he would guarantee the bank! Fair enough!

In those days, no seatbelts in Australia - and not even annual "MOT" check-ups, as far as I can recall.

During my 19 months in Toronto, I drove a beat-up Oldsmobile, when I wasn't using Linda's Beetle. Full of rust - I could see the road through the hole next to the brake pedal. My flat-mate called it The Beast. It could wind up to 92 mph on the highway. At least that's what the Speedo said!
Gordon Barlow is offline  
Old Apr 9th 2023, 2:31 am
  #237  
Account Closed
 
Joined: Oct 2021
Posts: 0
scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Oh, yes, cars. Off we go on yet another tangent, Gordon. Which may well keep this thread going for the next 20 years...

An aunt had a Hillman Minx. Another had a Fiat,I think the 1400 model, very small, camped and quite uncomfortable to ride around in. We thought them both as madly daring, this after all being Canada in the 1950s. So I must have more or less "inherited" my love of strange cars.

My first was a 1962 Peugeot 403 which I bought for CDN $500 in 1965. It lasted two years before completely rusting out from the hard salt provincial government Public Works departments threw lavishly on the roads during the winters, to melt the ice. Then a late '50s Volvo PV544, also acquired for a pittance, which ran well enough but if it needed all but the most basic repairs, meant a delay of weeks or even months as parts for it had to come from Sweden. Both I eventually sold for scrap.

A Peugeot 404 I more or less lucked into at a sheriff's sale in 1966 stayed with me for about five years. Ditto the 2CV which followed me back to Canada and was more or less used (mostly by my brother as a sort of bedroom) until it was wiped out in an encounter with a city bus. Finally, my last car in Canada, a Renault 4, also from a bailiff's sale, which broke down with grim regularity and was all but useless on Quebec roads in winter and off it went to the crusher.

No small wonder that I had a reputation in my home town in New Brunswick as quite an eccentric...

All these cars had one thing in common, lousy heaters. With the exception of the Volvo, being Swedish-built it had a heating system strong enough to keep an auditorium warm BUT the thermostat went and it took six months to get another from Sweden. The dealer in Fredericton told me they were reluctant to put in orders as according to them Volvo invariably sent them the wrong parts and all came from Sweden anyway, which took an endless time. The PV544 had a rubber blind or curtain which could be pulled up in front of the radiator (this was done by a chain from the dash board), it worked well but you had to watch the temperature gauge or the car would boil over. All this was a fine adventure to a 19 year old. A greater danger came from the local Mountie (RCMP) patrol man who prowled the roads looking for victims to fine for the least driving offense, all in the name of revenue to the province of course. This worthy caused his own undoing one day when he ticketed the Provincial Secretary for failing to signal a turn in his own driveway, after which he was swiftly transferred to somewhere more suitable, one hopes to Moose Jaw or Whitehorse. The guy had taken a dislike to me and did me over three times for petty infractions of the road rules, each offense cost me CDN $25 but I was a rebel and fought them in court, winning two and losing one but in so doing I incurred the enmity of both the police and the magistrate. So it was high time for me to read the writing on the wall and leave town, which I did in 1967, for Montreal and a posh job as a promotions officer at Expo 67.

By the end of the '60s I had wised up and took to spending a little more money on better cars. In 1970 I was old enough to have built up credit score and I had a fairly well paying job anyway, so I got my first ever bank loan and blew about CDN $3000 (in those heady times the Canuck buck was worth slightly more than the USD) a new Saab 96, freshly minted off the assembly line in the USA. This machine worked faultlessly until I left North America in 1975. I sold it to a friend who kept it on the road til the early 2000s and then sold it to a collector, so it may still be in use at least at old car rallies or show weekends. Like my German cameras, Leicas and Rolleis, which I still use even if they are almost as old as I am.

We weren't Oldsmobile or Cadillac people, one uncle did have a DeSoto but he was related to us by marriage only anyway, so in a way he didn't count.

Yet odd cars did run in our family, notably on my mom's side, who were mostly country folk with all the usual pretensions. Hillmans and Fiats aside, another aunt owned only one car in her entire life, a 1966 Buick V6 two door coupe which she kept on the road until she passed away in 2011. When I last drove it (this was in Vancouver) it had rust holes on the floor, if I drove over a rain puddle the front tire threw a spray of water up my left leg, which did wonders to keep one's attention on the road. Another aunt lived in Connecticut and she and her husband came to New Brunswick for two weeks every July, each driving their own car. I recall she had a 1950 Buick Straight-8 (the classic Roadmaster) and she complained it used as much gas as a fully loaded road transport truck. We joked that Anita and Henry must have owned a few oil wells in their back yard to be able to keep that behemoth on the road. She had if until the mid-'50s my my cousin Ernest took it out with a load of his friends for a country spin and rolled it, which ended that. I recall it had snazzy red and white leather seats and the dash board was decorated with plastic statues of her favorite saints. That was true class!!

In time my attitude to cars underwent a big change. In '70s Australia cars cost more to buy (if less to run). I had a 1962 Ford Falcon two door sedan which gave me endless problems so I quickly wised up and bought a demo 1977 Peugeot 504 fuel injected sedan, which did me well until 1991 when it finally gave up the ghost. Being me I sold it to a Peugeot Club collector who restored it as afaik, it's still going. I was then carless for a few years until my SO moved to Melbourne from Australia in 1998 and we acquired a 1990 Audi which still serves us well.

As it was when I was a teen in Canada, cars greatly define who one is and how one operates in society in both Canada and Australia. In our country town in Victoria, I rather suspect we are known to our neighbors as "those people" but as we haven't resided in the community for 79 years anyway, so we are still aliens. So it goes.
scrubbedexpat143 is offline  
Old Apr 12th 2023, 12:53 am
  #238  
BE Forum Addict
Thread Starter
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: Cayman Islands
Posts: 4,747
Gordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

A quick word on new cars... Linda and I left Canada for Nassau (Bahamas) in April 1967. Newly married, we pooled our resources, which amounted to close on $4000. Both in good jobs down there, we spent $3200 in our first new car, a Triumph Spitfire (TR4). You would remember them, JD - and others visiting this thread too, I'm sure. The TR4 was dismissed as a "chicks' car" - and maybe it was, with a rag-top and all, but I didn't mind. That's the only new car we ever bought, if you don't count the Kombi van in England in 1975. That one, I had outfitted as a proper camping wagon, and the three of us (baby Ross was the third, aged six weeks) camped our way around Britain and down to Spain where I nearly killed us running a red light in Malaga. (I got such a fright we pulled up on the coast for the winter, and then limped on to Corfu, where we turned back.) Working in the New Hebrides - now Vanuatu - in '72 I had been given a new Company car, but of course it was never owned by me.

Moving here to Cayman in '78, we always bought used Toyotas. I drive a 1997 Windom now - a Japanese "deportee" (second-hand,out of Japan). It's costing quite a bit in maintenance, but nothing in depreciation! I'm under pressure to sell it, but at my age I won't be on the road for much longer, so I might as well hang onto it.
Gordon Barlow is offline  
Old Apr 12th 2023, 8:29 am
  #239  
Account Closed
 
Joined: Oct 2021
Posts: 0
scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143 scrubbedexpat143
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

New cars, ha ha ha. In my teen years they were such a big thing, in the North American way we all wanted a Chevy Super Impala, a Ford Mustang, a Pontiac Grand Prix or Le Mans, or that gift from the gods, the Corvette. With the "in" gear, tight Levis, dazzling white Fruit Of The Loom T-shirts, Penny Loafers with white socks, and that Brandoesque brand, the slim black leather jacket, well lubd with mink or neatsfoot oil, and of course one's hair lovingly greased to perfection - in New Brunswick in the '60s our crie de coeur was "Brylcreem"!!

All of it ancient history now. Who can afford such luxury nowadays?

Times have changed. Not for nothing do today's car manufacturers (via their car retail sellers who quite openly operate in partnerships with finance companies) offer five-year low interest loans to new car buyers, plus all the add-ons like chunky maintenance plans and of course insurance available at extra cost but easy to add on to the "never-never" as the once-popular Aussie term for loans went. When one is flinging AUD $50,000+ (or even +++) to the four wins for a new four-wheel petrolholic SUV, low interest is all important.

My last new car, in fact a demo model with 4000 kilometers under its belt, cost me AUD $6000 in 1977. I kept it on the road mostly with SupaGlu and rubber bands until 1990 when it fell apart in one heap and I then sold it to someone in the Peugeot Club for almost what I had paid for it. Luckily for me, I had scored a fuel injected model, one of a handful made in Australia so collectable rare.

In 1990 I paid AUD $10,000 for a low mileage Audi four door cabriolet, by far the best car I've ever owned. By then older and far wiser, I treated that car like a prize possession, drove it very little over the years and kept it in top condition. SO drives it a few kilometers to work and back home again, three days a week, and it also gets us around to do our shopping and other local chores with now and then a weekend jaunt to a local winery or a city trip, more to degunk the engine after all the slow-slow town driving we do. We still have it. During the Covid lockdowns (2020 and 2021) we hardly made use of it at all, preferring to walk to our shopping for the exercise. With luck and a little careful nurturing it will be the last car I will own in this lifetime. My next model will have its own wings, or as my SO jokes, it may come equipped with an optional pitch fork...

In my younger years I lusted after the Triumphs. To me the TR4 was THE perfect chick-magnet. I also lusted after a Volvo P1800 like some actor in a then popular TV series drove, in 1967 when I finally had enough money together to think about buying a better car I found the cost had gone up from CDN $3500 to $4200 which was way beyond my means. A friend had a 1950s Austin-Healey and I would have just about died to own one. Also someone rich in my home town owned a cherished MGA which got driven during the warm summer months but otherwise stayed safely garaged. This was 50+ years ago but for all I know that family may still have it.

Older cars are a rarity now in Canada, this mostly due to the requirement to "salt" the roads in winter to melt the ice, which spells death to car chassis in a few years unless (expensive) preventative treatments are applied. In the '60s three year old cars often had big rust holes in the floors. Today these would be taken off the roads as safety hazards, but back then people drove all sorts of odd antiques. Much like New Zealand in the '70s and '80s when I last visited there, I recall the main street in Napier in 1979 with enough 1930s-1940s-1950s cars parked everywhere. Hudson Terraplanes, Packards, every make of Ford imaginable, odd European models. All vanished now. I wonder who bought them. Somewhere in the world there must be one great vast parking lot of warehouse, with hundreds or even thousands of these old roadsters and sedans stored.

If I had to buy 'wheels' again I would go for an EV in a medium size. The Teslas I find too big and ostentatious for my liking, but that's just me. Alas, in Australia an electric car sets you back too much, with little change from $80,000-$100,000 for any EV worth running and holding its resale value. In Indonesia, China is already or will soon be manufacturing a small hop about model with a 200 kilometer range for less than $30,000, but will we see this in Australia? Don't hold your breath on it, the vested interests are too strong and they won't have it. So the dumb Aussies pay and pay and pay for their road hogs, the price of petrol goes up and down like the temperature, the highways deteriorate from the armies of road transporters moving goods around the country and with too little road maintenance, and very little ever changes.

Anyway, time has passed, a lot of it, things have changed. By the '80s when I had more money to play with I changed my interest from cars to cameras to quality German photo gear. Those cameras I mostly still have, but now I no longer drive due to poor eyesight, but I've completely lost my interest in being behind the wheel long ago and now I'm content to sit in the passenger seat and be chauffeured around in comfort. Like Gordon, I no longer use up what time is left to me thinking about a new car and which it would be, other than now and then a stray thought about an EV.

Amazing the memories we can conjure up from reading these posts. Hey, BE, maybe a new thread about how it all was, to be called Deja Vu? I reckon Gordon and I could easily keep it going for at least the next decade.
scrubbedexpat143 is offline  
Old Apr 13th 2023, 11:29 pm
  #240  
BE Forum Addict
Thread Starter
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: Cayman Islands
Posts: 4,747
Gordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond reputeGordon Barlow has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Originally Posted by JDWoowoo50 View Post
... Amazing the memories we can conjure up from reading these posts. Hey, BE, maybe a new thread about how it all was, to be called Deja Vu? I reckon Gordon and I could easily keep it going for at least the next decade.
Well, JD, remember there is my "Back in the Day" thread over in the Rest of the World forum, always ready for reminiscences. I don't recall how we got caught up in the "cars-of-our-youth" subject here and not there - although cars of yesteryear were always a factor in somebody's "Life's Turning Point". If we hadn't had that accident or taken that wrong road or stopped at that hot-dog stall, our lives might have been different in one way or another. I was once very keen on a girl who lived twenty miles from my home, and who knows? I might well have married her. But I fell asleep at the wheel one night while driving home, went off the road at 40 mph and missed a telephone post by two feet. I told myself "she's not worth the risk", and that was the end of that romance. A turning point? Maybe, maybe not!
Gordon Barlow is offline  

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2023 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.