Novembers, past and present…

It was Friday November 13th, when Boatwif asked the Captain if he knew the date.

“November 12th? No, November 13th…”

“Yes, November 13th – and can you remember what you were doing 50 years ago today?

50 years is a long time ago. There was an extended silence and then after some prompting the memory arrived!

An Air Commodore had awarded a lowly Flying Officer his hard earned Wings.


Time and decades have passed. It’s a bit easier to remember now, aided by the ‘Cloud’ thing that allows photographs and blogs to be stored and recalled from a computer keyboard. So here are some November memories recalled from the last nine years of Cleddau blog posts:

By 2010 trips to California to visit family had become timed to coincide with Thanksgiving – and with the week-long Thanksgiving Break from school. A habit developed to spend at least part of each Thanksgiving Day completing jigsaw puzzles of the United States.

Perhaps 2010 was the first time there was a visit to the San Diego Downtown area to the New Children’s Museum. 

The sky and the city skyline are always a treat to behold…

Looking back at 2011 that was the November trip when a toddler fell in love with a train. Cal Guy Jnr was about 20 months old and mesmerised by the steam train at Poway.

Other things mesmerised Boatwif that year: there were great tyre tracks on the beach at Oceanside,    made as the lifeguard stations were towed across the sand and parked side by side for winter maintenance     Not far away Oceanside Pier’s resident pelican was caught pouting on its perch.       One last memory from November 2011 lingers – a road trip about an hour north into Wine Country at Temecula.

There were two standout memories from 2012’s trip to California. First, on a trip to the Fleet Science Center in San Diego’s Balboa Park Cal Guy Snr peered into the Apollo XVII space capsule and saw some moon rock…

Before returning to the UK that year time was spent further inland, in the Borrego Springs Desert  How thrilling it had been to discover a totally different landscape, to walk through canyons on dry river beds, to gaze at the Badlands and to swim by moonlight…



What was memorable about November 2013? It was the first morning in California – direct flights from the UK into San Diego had been resumed and after a long journey the Captain and Boatwif had fallen into bed at an airport hotel. See this from the blog:

Sleep came quickly that night – though did not last long. The body clock dictates – and the body found itself vertical all too soon. It was nearly 6am and the city was stirring. Traffic hummed – and the sky was a blaze of deep oranges and yellows.

 Full sun came – the city was properly awake. Aircraft engines roared as movement resumed over at the airport. Then a single bugle call floated up from across the harbour: Reveille. It was start of day for the Marine Corps; a brass band played The Stars and Stripes and more bugles replied. From the lighthouse out on the Ocean’s edge came the long low blast of a foghorn, its note deep enough to rattle your ribcage.

And that same day a first visit to a California Mission was made. How good it felt to be discovering a place that felt properly historic…


Memorable from November 2014 was a trip to London to see the poppies. Whoever viewed the vast swathes of red ceramic poppies filling the moat of the Tower of London or swooping down over a parapet or from a window was inevitably moved by the simple symbolism of it all – each poppy represented one life lost in the Great War.

The exhibition called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red gained huge public support. Each evening at dusk a selection of names of servicemen who had lost their lives during World War was read out. Viewed by daylight or at dusk the poppy installation was extremely poignant and thought-provoking. (For more photos see here.)

The 2015 California trip was a busy one: a two hour boat trip in San Diego Harbor right up to and under the famous Coronado Bridge (opened to road traffic in 1969)     provided a close up of the harbor sea lions.     There were expeditions too to museums, an ice rink, a trampoline park, a ten-pin bowling alley and so on. The photo below, a streetcar, was taken during a visit to the Orange Empire Railway Museum at Perris in Riverside County.

By November 2016 a map of the 21 California Spanish missions had been found. After middle school Cal Guy Snr would be heading for Mission Hills High School, its campus built on what had been mission lands. About a 20 minute drive away is Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, the 18th Californian mission.

In suburban Oceanside the church complex shimmered in the sunlight.  Here the history of the Franciscan friars and the Native Americans can be explored in the museum and in the grounds.  A sense of great peacefulness, history and spirituality pervades the entire site, the fast pace of life in modern Southern California feeling far removed from the quiet of the cool colonnades…

In November 2017 Californian family life was dominated by Band. There’s a strong tradition in high schools of marching bands and Cal Guy Snr played an alto sax. The marching band training season had started in August and by late November routines were ready for inter- school competition. The polished displays involve not just music and musicians but choreography, flag waving and prop design…

Downtown a huge colourful figure was a reminder that things in the US are often just plain Big!

What is recalled from November 2018? Well, another Spanish mission was discovered, this one San Juan Capistrano about 45 miles up the coast from San Marcos. This wall containing bells (a bell-wall or campanario) intrigued,   as did the desert plants in the gardens around the site.   See other images of the Mission here:

At Thanksgiving time retailers create seasonal displays and householders often adorn their house fronts with charming corn dollies.


One final image from November 2018 – in child friendly museums you often see children and adults concentrating hard on creating elaborate structures from wooden blocks. Here Cal Guy Jnr (8) was intent on building a very tall tower…

The November 2019 California trip was full of visual thrills: visited before but always enjoyed was the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, just a few miles north of San Diego.    Those spikey plants,   those sparkling seas,     those wind-chiselled cliffs… 

Then there was a backstage tour at The Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park, the main stage set for ‘Dr Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas!’   The outdoor stage,     not in use in November, roused memories of ‘As You Like It’ seen on a warm summer evening in 2004. In sharp contrast was the rock extravaganza at an ice rink cum arena, a two hour drive away in Ontario, east of Los Angeles.  Sound. Light. Smoke. Performance. Whew!

November 2020 has involved no theatricals, no spectaculars, no extravaganzas… During the November lockdown leaves have changed colour – and fallen to the ground. Fields have been walked, horses met, wreaths examined at the village War Memorial.      A couple of miles east work has continued on what had been Bell Farm; the site for a fifth large warehouse has been levelled and a huge pile driver is used to reinforce the foundations… 

Every November at Thanksgiving it’s the foundation of the American Colonies that is recalled. So, the Stars and Stripes flag, usually part of Cleddau‘s flag and bunting stock, was brought home in September. Did neighbours and passers-by wonder why it was being flown on Thursday…?    Later, with kitchen activity coordinated across an eight hour time difference and via the wonders of FaceTime a Thanksgiving meal was eaten together…

In this difficult year there is much to be thankful about: vaccine research, technology, ease of communication with friends and family, education, shelter – and, as Cal Guy Jnr dryly added:  “Christmas trees!”

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. Jaqueline Biggs says:

    Lovely memories Sue. The picture of your table setting brought tears to my eyes. So many wonderful memories for me at your table. Stay safe, stay well!
    Love and heaps of hugs to you both,
    Jaq xxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.