April 2020

Are you resolved to stay in shape, lose weight, keep limber or maintain strong bones and muscles? It is so much easier to break a resolution than to stick with the necessary work. You have to make it a habit.

Here is my Growing Older,Living Younger tip for the day. It's how to remember to take your nutritional supplements every day. I have a simple accountability program to help people who forget to take their twice daily supplements but it involves learning how to consolidate a habit.

The Zuidersee (translates as southern sea) was an shallow arm of the North Sea segment of the Atlantic Ocean. The Zuidersee extended inland into the Netherlands. A major dam,  the Afsluitdjik, closed it off from the NorthSea forming a fresh water lake, the IJsselmmer.

In when we took our family tour of Europe, we arrived in Zagreb,capital of Croatia, by train from Venice, an experience never to be repeated. A story for another day.

I guess it is bending my rules a little, or totally, to have Xanadu represent the letter X. But when I searched for  geographical terms starting with X they were all in China and I had never visited any of them.  And yes it is true that I have never visited the archeological site of Xanadu. But for today’s post I decided to bend my rule, conflate my love of the poems of the Romantic poets, my interest in archeological sites and genetics and my love of travel, and have fun with this post.I have been to China- several times but never to Inner Mongolia.

Long before my passion for passion for ballroom dance-cruising became an integral part of  my travel plans,  wine regions with wine tasting was high on our travel list for my husband and me. 

Dance took me to Vienna in a cold wintry winter. I joined a group in a program called Waltz Week in Vienna. We had lessons in a studio about a ten minute walk from the Hotel we were staying. We went to three of the Viennese Balls in magnificent old Palaces, toured markets and indulged in coffee and pastries, a lots of good food.

Our Black Sea cruise stopped in four places on the Crimean Peninsula. First was Feodosyia, then Yalta, then Sevastopol, and last was Odessa before we cruised on to Bulgaria. Throughout history the peninsula has been invaded, occupied and fought over, and modern times are no different.

I have visited Turkey several times both on cruises and also land tours so there were many places I could write about but one of the highlight tours was a visit to Cappadocia in central Turkey to see the strange rock formations or ‘fairy chimneys.'

Cruising on the Baltic Sea, the Queen Elizabeth entered the Gulf of Finland to reach St, Petersburg at the far eastern end. With two nights there, we took a Neva River tour, saw a Russian Folklore Performance  and also toured  the Hermitage. 




After my Amazon Jungle adventure, and a week in Buenos Aeres, we dance-cruised on Costa Fortuna from Buenos Aeres to Rio de Janeiro. We stayed in a boutique hotel just across from the beach and took a long walk on the white sand beach that we could see from the rooftop pool.

Although I could have written Q is for Quebec, most of the times I have visited Quebec City or Montreal have been for medical conferences, so I thought instead, it is a good time to pay tribute to the ships on which I have had fun, dance-cruising round the world. 



At some time or another, anyone who cruises often will take a Panama Canal cruise. I was no exception though it took  me several years before the Panama Canal rose to the top of my bucket list. To ensure that good dancing was a key part of this cruise, I booked on Cunard’s Queen Victoria, sailing out of San Francisco and returning to Fort Lauderdale. Looking back I think I would prefer to leave from Florida and return to the west coast.


Our journey round the Black Sea was organized by Alumni Societies of several universities in Canada and the US. I learned about this voyage on the MV Aegean Odyssey from the University of British Columbia Alumni Group and met several other UBC alumni also along on this trip. As we cruised along the coastline of the Crimean Peninsula we  stopped at several ports, each with very different experiences.

My dance cruise to view the Northern Llghts in the Arctic Circle, was on Cunard’s majestic Queen Mary 2.  It was a great cruise, mostly along the coast of Norway, However it took place in August. 

Although I have dance-cruised throughout the Mediterranean, I decided to take another trip down nostaglia lane and feature a family Europe trip that began in Holland, continued with a cruise up the Rhine to Basle, followed by train rides to Venice, Zagreb and Athens.

Strictly speaking my visit to Cairo and my cruise of the Nile had nothing to do with my dancing. However on a Nile dinner cruise in Cairo, we were entertained by belly dancers.  And as well this trip was not in the last decade but actually was in 1997 when I was invited to speak at a conference in Beirut, and visited an ex-student and her family, in Cairo after the conference.

Coo-roo coo-roo  Such a gentle sound but the effect on me was far from gentle. I was diligently working on tomorrow's AtoZChallenge entry, L is for ... when coo-roo coo-roo had me charging out to my patio. As I opened the screen door a flutter of wings confirmed my worst fears. Pigeons were again stealthily plotting to take up residence on my patio.

In 2002 I was invited to speak on laboratory testing in the newborn, at an International Congress in Kyoto, Japan. Driven around by a taxi driver/guide, impeccably dressed and wearing white gloves, I enjoyed the traditional ambience of the old capital city of Japan.

You’re doing whaaaat?  Was the general response when I said I was off on a Amazon Jungle riverboat cruise. Family and friends  know that I do best travelling in temperate, bug-free climates, staying in lodgings with a  comfortable bed, showers that have at least warmish water, and flush toilets. I’m not a squatter. 

I had lived in Vancouver for almost 20 years, watched cruise ships leaving from Canada Place to sail through the Inside Passage to Alaska, but had never considered making the trip. Dance changed my mind, when I saw a dance cruise advertised. It was on the Sapphire Princess and the ‘jewel” ships are my favorites of the Princess cruise line, so I signed up.

Although H could be for Hawaii, I decided to focus on Honolulu, as I have visited Honolulu on at least 5 occasions. My first visit to Honolulu was was probably forty years ago. Our family spent a week in Honolulu before going to Kona on the big island for a second week. 

In high school I was enthralled by the myths and legends of Ancient Greece.  Years later, enrolled as a mature studento in a Bachelor of Ars degree, I had the opportunity to read plays based on these legends for  my course on Greek and Roman literature.

Starting today, Tuesday 7th daily to the 30th (except Sunday's) guess the destination to which Jill will go next.


I have actually visited French Polynesia twice on dance-cruises. The first time we cruised from Hawaii to Papette on the Ocean Princess. Two years later, I celebrated my recovery from spine surgery on a new Year Dance Cruise in the reverse direction from Tahiti to Honolulu.

A dance cruise round the British Isles was the first time I sailed aboard Cunard’s Queen Victoria. After an excellent week in London, seeing plays and indulging in some  fine dining, I made my way to Southampton to board the ship.

It took consistency and discipline for me to reach my health, weight loss and fitness goals by adopting a ketogenic nutrition program coupled with caloric restriction through time-restricted fasting.  After my severe sciatic episode and spinal surgery, I had  gained 40 lbs. It took 8 years of yoyo dieting and exercising to lose 10 lbs, a year of semi-low carbohydrate eating to lose the next 10 lbs, and less than a year of  ketogenic nutrition and intermittent fasting to drop the last 20 lbs of fat. 

My dance cruise from Hong Kong to Dubai on Cunard’s QM 2 was memorable for many different reasons as you can read in my travelblogue. The first was me making a spntaneous , snap decision to join the cruise in Hong Kong, instead of  5 days later in Singapore. I‘m a cautious planner type so I was quite proud of myself for not fretting for days about the decision.


I grew in Cape Town, playing on the banks of  the Liesbeek river long before it was canalized. I remember clearly the view from my window looking across to  the shaded side of the iconic Table Mountain. I also remember the scolding of my irate mother, when we had set out to climb the mountain and descend by cable car. Unlucky for us, strong winds had closed the  tram down and so I stumbled and slid down the mountainside,  mostly on my backside, tearful and terrified… getting to our pickup point hours later than planned. That explains the irate mama. 

It reminded me of a ski trip to Lake Louise, years later, when, as a beginner skier, I inadvertently found myself at the top of a  Black Diamond run and thought I would rather freeze to death than ski down.

Cruising round the Baltic Sea had been on my bucket list for ages. The confluence of a cruise itinerary on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, that arrived back to Southampton in time for  a same-day departure of the  westbound Transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2, prompted me to go for it. 

At this singular time in history when 7.8 billion humans on this planet are facing a common enemy, too tiny for us to even see, our weapons are hand washing, and social distancing and isolation.

My 2020 AtoZ Blog was originally going to be about genes, epigenetics and healthspan. But instead I found myself thinking about how, today, our world is connected rather than distanced. Travel is a modern day gift that introduces us to different cultures, different histories, different foods and different people. But this very gift that connects us globally has made us vulnerable to this pandemic.