Off to England and Ireland - lighter blogging ahead

This will probably be my last post for a couple of weeks, unless I get to squeeze in time to blog on vacation. Tomorrow we jet off to the UK and Ireland - heading home for the first time in five years.

It was Dad's 70th birthday a few days ago and Mom turned 70 last year. So there's a giant family party planned for the weekend (what we used to call, as kids, a WFD - I'll let you work out for yourself what that stands for). The farflung Clarke clan and many, many friends will be descending en masse on Stowe School - near to where Mom and Dad live - for what promises to be the hooley of the century. (Of the 21st Century, that is of course. The greatest hooley of the 20th Century was day Leona and I married).

So far, the rough itinerary looks something like this, subject to tweakage:

- May 3: arrive, disgustingly early, Birmingham airport
- May 4: M&D 70th birthday party
- May 5: Thame (Mom & Dad's place). Mighty hangover followed by the after-party party (hundreds of family members and friends will still be in the neighbourhood, so it's
inevitable there will be more drink taken)
- May 6: still knocking around Oxfordshire, nothing planned, AFAIK, other than shopping for a new liver, perhaps
- May 7: to London - planning a trip to the Tower of London (Charlie's choice) + possibly the London Eye (for Lily). Opera tix and dinner booked in the evening with one of my brothers
- May 8: London - morning: Natural History Museum (Ruairi's choice - dinosaurs!). Nothing planned for the afternoon or evening yet. Hoping to catch up with Suw & Kevin, maybe Gary Turner and family too. Drink will, no doubt, be involved.
- May 9: fly to Dublin to see the other half of the family. Visiting, more drinkage, plenty food, old friends, warm family moments, wandering my favourite streets in the world...
- May 16: fly back to Toronto

It's been a long, long time since we've seen the auld sod. Expecting things to be very different at home - something I'm a little nervous about. People have been telling me that both London and Dublin have grown almost beyond recognition in the past few years; Dublin in particular, as a result of the booming economy and the first period of significant population growth in hundreds of years of history.

Hard to imagine that two such well-established cities could alter so much in five years, but then I look around at what the idiots have done to the stretch of Toronto either side of the Gardiner in the same space of time, and... well, I'm aching for home, but hoping it's not all too screwed up.

Meanwhile - also on the Dad front (and on the subject of that Dirty Auld Town), after a four year break, we've finally got the second section of Dad's work-in-progress memoirs up at the Raised on Songs and Stories site.

When I can find a chunk of spare time, I want to spruce Dad's site up a bit - split the content into chapters and work on the navigation. For now, though, at least we've got the words up there, and a few photos. Nice to contrast this shot of Dad's birthplace:

With the venue we're booked into for Mom and Dad's birthday party:

Not too shabby for a gurrier from the North side. Heh.

So - see you on the other side of the pond. Thanks in advance to our kind housesitters and their three giant, scary Rottweilers for taking care of things in our absence.