Our arrival in Winnipeg was met by my 93year old aunt, cousin Shauna, and her husband Laurie who took us to their home in Carman about an hours drive from the airport.
We enjoyed a leisurely couple of days with visits to the zoo, ( polar bears et al ) and the human rights museum.
There were a number of exhibits relating to many international scenarios and I was surprise to note that there was no reference to Robert Burns.
I did offer to send a copy of the poem * a man’s a man * with my analysis of what I think would be Burns’ opinions through 21st century eyes but they didn’t take me up on the offer.
We had a great time with the extended members of the family talking about Burns of course, their Scottish heritage, tartan, whisky and their relations back in bonnie Scotland.
I invited Shauna and Laura to join us on our evening visit to Winnipeg Burns Club where we really enjoyed the company, seeing old friends again and meeting new ones.
My family were greatly impressed by the camaraderie, hospitality and welcome extended in the name of the poet while a number of the company were delighted that I offered them the opportunity to wear the RBWF presidents’ chain of office.
After participating in the buffet and a glass ( or two ) of wine I delivered my version of * a man’s a man * and my interpretation of it based on modern values.
A suitably impressed Rob Bruce Barron asked if I could provide a video of the performance and while I haven’t got round to the video yet, I have sent him a copy of my delivery which forms the basis of an Immortal Memory speech.
Rob is known for his generosity in creating a Burns scholarship in his home town of Christchurch NZ by donating 100,000 dollars to the college in his home town.
Sadly all good things come to an end and we made ready to complete our journey home to Scotland.
As we left Winnipeg for Toronto we didn’t realise we would be returning so quickly, as we will soon be meeting up with May and Alex Crawley to stay over with them in Niagara following the RBANA conference in Atlanta.
On our return to a wet and windy Scotland we readied ourselves for our recreational trip to the Canary Islands where we enjoyed a week in the sun with daughter Sarah, son in law Ian and granddaughter Becky.
Just the tonic for the jet lag and anticipated resumption of business on our return home.
Preparations were well under way at that time for our Xmas and New year celebrations which we enjoyed immensely with the family gatherings which have become the norm at that time of year.
A first for me was our visit to the small town of Uetze near Hanover in Germany whose * Clansmen * under the direction of Colin and Patricia Garriock have commissioned the construction of a new statue entitled * the fleein’ Tam * in commemoration of Tam O’ Shanters’ escape from the witches.
The result is a very interesting depiction of the rascally old farmer just at the crucial time when Nannie clutches Maggies tail immediately prior to faithful mare and rider reaching the * keystone o’ the brig *.
We arrived on the Friday evening minus our luggage which had not been transferred to our connecting flight at Schipol, but clad in our travelling clothes of jeans we were whisked off to a party where it was amazing to see so many of our German hosts clad in tartan and enjoying the delights of a few drams.
Given that our hosts regular Tam O’ Shanter was unable to attend on the night I felt it incumbent on the * president * to perform the poem, which was very well received.
Our Saturday was taken up by a guided tour of Colins business enterprise and a visit to the Xmas market in the small town of Cele where we enjoyed a meal later in the day.
Thankfully our luggage arrived on the Saturday evening before our journey home.
We attended the local church service on the Sunday morning where we were made very welcome, invited to return at the time of some
( hopefully ) future visit before making our way to the airport.
Many thanks tour German friends for your hospitality and welcome.
We hope to meet up in Dumfries where the group will be holidaying as part of their bi-annual tour of Scotland in 2021.