Monday, December 21, 2009

Taking Pictures

Last year we were supposed to go on a tour of a well-known historical house, one that a famous local family occupied for many years, but the snow was so bad the buses stopped running and I couldn't get our teeny tiny car out of the driveway, so I bailed. Well, I think everyone bailed, actually. It was one of those We Might Get Over There But Do We Want To Walk Back From Town? decisions that day. The sort of decision I tend to cave almost instantly to. Because it was snowy. Really snowy. Really really snowy. And the bus system, because of all that incredible snowiness, was erratic enough for me to know that if I were to drag my charming but not very long suffering enfants out I might have to endure many hours of "Why did you think this was a good idea?" comments all the way home should we have to walk. And you know, to be perfectly honest, I'm not all that long suffering myself. Note: if you live on the prairies or somewhere further north of here, please don't remind me of how much it could snow before you'd get stuck. I realize I am a Snow Wimp. I'm okay with that.

Anyhow, this year they had the same Shockingly Affordable Homeschool Festive Season Tour, so off we went, the kids and I. It was raining this time round: a gentle misty rain that curled our hair and made FDPG's eyelashes sparkle. Lovely weather, considering, says Sheila the Snow Wimp. We whizzed over to the posh part of town, and up the posh winding hill to the top of Super Posh Hill, me keeping the heat in the car off should it melt the white chocolate snowflake lollipops we'd made for some friends, and the kids wilting with Snowflake Lollipop-Induced Hunger.

Fortunately I am a heartless mother. I might cave at snow, but I do not quail at the pleas of my children. The lollipops made it to their intended targets.

Our tour guide was a charming Brit, who may or may not have been named Christopher, in costume as a butler in 1881. I know this because FDPG told me later. I was outside getting the camera when he first introduced himself. After watching all the other parents and their cameras, click click clicking, I felt a wave of lemming-like behaviour come over me and before I knew it I was back out in the rain again digging around for my own camera. So I had to rely on FDPG and her apres-commentary, which was, in its own way, a little more amusing ("He sounded like just your friend Elizabeth! Do you think they are related? He kind of looked like her.").
Christopher kept in his role the entire time, whether he was singing The Boar's Head Carol or asking the kids if they knew what a dance card was. And he had such a fabulous English accent that the kids were all completely riveted, even the twitchy fiddly ones. He asked them if they had a boar's head for their Christmas dinner, and seemed genuinely taken aback at their groans and looks of horror, which caused the boys an awful lot of glee.

It was quite the fun time, us and Christopher. We saw glass cases with giant wreaths of twisted hair, marvelled at how small and short all the ladies were (their gowns were on mannequins in each of the rooms), giggled at his dry but goofy jokes, and trailed willingly around after him for about an hour.

Click: Leda and the swan.

He led us around the house, all 97 steps and 14 bedrooms, me dutifully click click clicking away with all the other parents, mentally filing away all the fabulously gossipy yet historical information (how young some of them were when they died! this one went mad! that basket is made out of an ARMADILLO!), but when it came to reviewing the pictures with the kids, I was a little taken aback to note that I had not one single shot of my charming offspring.

I had 2 of Christopher. I had a few Festive Christmas Display shots. And that was about it. Well, other than the 18 shots of the stained glass windows, the 11 shots of the interesting architecture, the 6 shots of the wild tiled floors, and 1 of the really amazing room where we could hear our echo if we whispered.

Click. Hmm. Where are those children?


Rebecca said...

Interesting bit of history for you, Sheila. My ex-husband's uncle sat on the steps of ye ol' Historic Mansion with a shot gun when the municipality was going to bulldoze the thing down. It had been used as government offices for several years, abused and neglected, until the infamous uncle and his historical-society friends took it in hand.

I'm glad he did it. It's a beautiful piece of architecture and has such a fabulous ambiance. A choir I used to sing in would carol there and I loved it -- such fun!

sheila said...

OMG. Was that in the Idiotic 80's, when no one liked Olde Historical Buildings? That place is INCREDIBLE. The stained glass alone is worth a visit. Gosh. I feel pleasantly scandalized just thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful building Sheila!

(p.s I wrote something witty and intelligent this morning and blogger denied me! So this is try number two and lacks the wit of the morning comment. Sigh)

Rebecca said...

Actually, I think it was in the stupid seventies... the building was a military hospital (WWI veterans), housed "Victoria College" (an affiliate of McGill, which was ditched when UBC was founded), had housed the school board, and the Conservatory of Music. "Uncle" Jim wanted the Castle turned into a museum as early as 1959 but it was 20 years before the municipality allowed the Castle Society to take charge and begin restorations. But I do know for a fact that they were going to tear it down, likely when the Conservatory were keen to move elsewhere and it's also quite true that Uncle Jim was willing to use that gun of his to keep the bulldozers at bay.

Very dramatic!