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Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Andy and I arrived at Heathrow on Saturday morning in good time to enjoy breakfast before anxiously awaiting Stacy's arrival. To be truthful, I was the anxious one, Andy was quite relaxed, however either way we were both looking forward to the moment when she walked through the arrivals door. It felt so good to wrap my arms around my young sister and hug her tightly. Despite not having slept the night before, she looked great and was ready to take on the city of London. The overcast day was doing nothing to deter her. As she happily stated 'isn't it supposed to be foggy in London?'
Might that be BIG BEN?
We happily spent the day sightseeing and although the skies were often threatening us with the possibility of heavy rain, it was only rarely that I had to pop open the umbrella due to drizzle. I spent a lot of the day just clicking the button on the handle that popped the closed brelly into Andy's backside. (Until he had the gumption to actually 'click' it at me and hit my funny bone - abruptly putting an end to my game. (Well, after a few attempts on my behalf to get him back)).
It was pretty great to watch Stacy's wonder and share in her excitement as she saw all the sights I had first seen myself two years ago upon my first visit to the wonderful city of London.
I think one of Stacy's favorite aspects of the day was utilizing London's Underground. Andy kept correcting our term 'subway', as it is referred to the 'tube' here in the UK... Either way Stacy loved the automated voice informing us to 'Mind The Gap' prior to exiting the tube. We saw many a t-shirt with the London Underground emblazoned across the front and even discovered one with the tube's design, but the words "Fuck the Gap" written across the front. Stacy absolutely loved that one (I admit I did too, as we all know I think Fuck is a very good word when used appropriately), however my demure little sister couldn't buy it as it's not a word she could wear! Imagine!
A nap and a pint...
We held out until just after three when we retired to our hotel rooms for a nap. We had made plans to meet up with a friend of ours who used to work out in Halifax at the same time as Andy. Neither of had seen Mo since he left Canada in March of 2002. Honestly, although Mo and I had become fairly close friends, both of us probably figured it very unlikely we would ever see each other again, especially in England. A few months ago Mo had gotten in touch with me via a mutual friend, and to make a long story short, I was thrilled to meet up with him in the city for a pint. He brought a friend along that we used to know as well, Grant, who left an old friend of mine in a bit of mess, but like I told him, what's past is past and all the girls who got left 'disappointed' in Halifax were grown up and could look after themselves, what's past is past. I know how the majority of contractors are and I'm not going to blame any of them for their behaviour, what counts is that my contractor is a stand-up guy. As is our friend Mo. I just think it amusing at times that I ended up with one when I wasn't even looking to.
It was great to see Mo and we all had an enjoyable time downing a few pints. Even Stacy had a drink. I think she is actually looking forward to having a few more while in England... after all it is part of the lifestyle and she will be here for a whole month!
We woke up Sunday morning to sunny skies and made our plan for the morning. Stacy would be introduced to an English breakfast prior to our visiting the Tower of London. It was a bit surreal for me to walk around the 'Jewel House' inside the Tower, explaining to Stacy how the Monarchy works. Believe it or not, this is something I actually knew prior to living in London, thanks to my lovely Nanny. She was a great follower of the Royal Family and both times that I have visited the Tower and viewed the Crown Jewels I ended up misty eyed at the though of my Nan. She would have loved to have seen the beautiful history on display.
Happy in the Tower of London
We didn't have much time to spend in London on Sunday, but Stacy was fine to leave just past lunch time as we had to pick up a puppy to bring back to Andy's mom. Of course my dog-loving sister had no problem being in charge of the little cutie for the drive back to New Waltham. It was so cute at one point to look back and see them both konked out and happily snoozing on the back seat.
We will be touring around London again for a day or two before Stacy leaves, but of course I don't even want to think about that yet, as we still have a full three weeks to share before heading back down South.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Andy and I attended the final hearing yesterday for the financial section of his divorce from the Ex. We didn't end up having to go into the Judge's chambers as the two of them managed to come to a settlement that only needed to be signed and witnessed in front of the judge.
The sad thing is that after two long years she finally agreed on a lesser deal than Andy had put forward in the beginning - a bit annoying as it could have been settled more in her favour a long time ago without the outrageous solicitors fees (especially as hers are likely much higher). All this so that Andy would walk away with only a quarter of what the house is worth. Either way, we are moving on, something we have been trying to do for over a year now. We no longer have to deal with her and her behavior in regard to financial and can begin saving money for a down payment on our own house.
If your up to a challenge, or May be just a bit bored, you might want to try this link. See if you can achieve what couldn't quite manage. Something tells me I will go back to it until I do succeed.
The Joy of Reading
Lately I have been polishilng off 1-2 books a week. I have always been mad about reading, ever since my mother first read to me as a baby. I'm not overly fussy about what I read, so long as the plot is captivating enough to hold my attention and its well written. Both Connor and Alex ask me on a regular basis why I read so much. Unfortunately they are not children who like to read. However because they are so used to seeing me read, they will from time to time ask me if I have something they might like to read, especially Connor. Just last night he asked me if I have always read and when I answered yes, he replied with 'why do you like to read so much?' My response was to ask him why he likes TV so much. His answer was because he can see the pictures... I told him with a smile that I too can see pictures when I read, only I get to make them up myself.
After this discussion I got to contemplating the thought of how much I actually do read, and why. Reading accomplishes a number of things for me: it takes me away from my troubles, somewhere where I can focus on the occurrences in someone else's life; reading helps me to relax just before going to sleep at night; reading takes the place of just sitting in boredom while in waiting areas or on long car journeys. But the plain truth of the matter is, I just love to read. Sometimes it is a bit worrying that I prefer to stay in and read than socialize or converse with someone, however this is a rare event, basically only when I'm engrossed in a fantastic book. I suppose I have never found my reading to be unusual or something to think about until now, as most of the people in my life were advid readers: Mom, Dad, Tawny, Dawn, my former boss Kristin, etc. Here's to all the readers out there who share in the love of a good book! Long may you continue to find solace in your books, as well as expand the grey matter!
Monday, April 18, 2005
Our Much Anticipated Honeymoon!
On Thursday morning I finalized the details of our delayed honeymoon to Greece. We have decided on one of the Ionian Islands - Kefalonia and leave on June 12th. I booked the Villa and the flights separately as we didn't want to go to an all inclusive. Now it seems that each night Andy and I go to bed dreaming about exploring the island by foot, car and boat. It is rumoured to have some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece and we are determined to find them. And how nice it will be after a fun-filled day of exploring to return to the local taverna for a drink before making our way up the mountainside back to our studio apartment in the Garbis Villas!
But before that....
STACY COMES IN FIVE DAYS!!!!! How I have been waiting for this! I don't know who is more excited - Stacy, me, or quite frankly, Alex!
She has been born!
And if Greece and Stacy coming weren't exciting enough, I got the call last Wednesday informing us that my baby had been born and would I still be interested! Would I still be interested? Of course, I have only been waiting for this for a very long time! I hadn't got my expectations too high as the breeder informed me that it was very unlikely that the mother would produce a yellow female (as the mom is black and the father is chocolate) however out of 10 pups, one was a yellow female and she is all ours if we want her, and we do! She will be ready to come live with us the week before our honeymoon, so of course I will make plans to pick her up the weekend after we get back. We will be going to see her while Stacy is here though. I want someone from the family back home to see my little 'baby' Molly!
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Hrmmm... if only there was a way for Stacy to bring a small freezer/cooler with her! I've been thinking of DQ all day, so to make up for not having a local DQ I think I might go bake some choco chip/oatmeal cookies to satisfy my urge to indulge. So much for lighter eating. Owell there is always tomorrow!
Tonight we took Connor home via a bike ride. The sun was shining and it wasn't overly windy so it was set to be a very enjoyable trip. And it was - despite the fact that Alex took a header twice and wiped out due to the chain on his bike falling off. God love him, the first wipe out was hard - he ended up scraping his neck on his handle-bars and ended up with something akin to a bloody hickey, but he picked himself up and after a few deep breaths we set off again. Its amazing to watch the boys biking, they have so much energy. Connor's little legs were just pumping to keep up and he only asked to stop once for a break. He was so impressed that we took the scenic route back to his house and ended up doing over just 6 kilometers... (Andy has a speedometer on his bike). I'm really looking forward to getting a lot more riding it this spring/summer.
yesterday we took a trip to IKEA to get a few odds and ends. We ended up getting a nice little shelving piece that sits on the wall just above our PC/Desk and it looks so much nicer than the usual old junk we had hanging there (a phone list, a few unframed pics). We are debating painting next weekend but will play it completely by ear.
This weekend was a momentous weekend in world history - Pope JP II was buried and Prince Charles was re-married. I don't have much to say about either really. However I can't let the wedding go by and not add my two-cents worth:
I'm happy for Charles. He seems happy enough and his boys seem content and well adjusted with the issue so I can't really see the problem a lot of people are having. Yes Diana was lovely, and rightly should have been Queen, but she is not here in this world anymore (and wouldn't have been Queen anyway, even if she had lived). I won't go into the ins and outs about my feelings on Di, as this blog is about Charles and his new bride.
No, Camilla might not be as lovely to look at as Di, or be as young and interesting but she is the love of Charles' life. Perhaps they should have gotten their act together 30 years ago and married then, but they didn't. Sometimes life has a cruel way of denying us the things in life we really want. I don't envy the royals at all - I would never want to be held down by the laws they are meant to live by (I suppose that is why I admired Fergie so much). Charles, for many reasons did not marry the woman of his heart while he was young and I'm sure the years in between then and now have been difficult. However had he not gone down the path he felt he had to, he would not have the two beautiful sons he has today. So, although I'm not really concerned about the Prince of Wales, or his life, I am an advocate of true love and I'm glad to see that it prevailed on Friday (barf now if you choose).
And although I abhor the head-piece she wore for the blessing, I loved the outfit (hat included) that she wore for the actual marriage service. (FYI - I did not sit glued to the TV for the actual event - I was right there in the streets of Windsor... yeah NOT. I caught the highlights on the news that evening and read about it the paper.)
Monday, April 04, 2005
This weekend Alex was successfully returned to his mother for a weekend. He went from Friday at 6 and we picked him up on Sunday at 6. He spent most of the weekend playing out with his friends, however the most important issue is that he and his mom did alright and he will be returning again in a fortnight for his bi-weekly visit. This will accomplish two things: 1) Alex and his Mom and siblings seeing each other on a regular basis and 2)Andy and I getting some much needed alone time.
So, on Saturday morning after not hearing anything from Alex, Andy and I packed our bags and headed down to the South-East Cost of Norfolk. We drove quite far and landed in a place called Holkam for a hike throughout gorgeous woodland and beach area. After a few hours of hiking we continued on by car and passed through some gorgeous stone and brick villages, most of which had names such as Wells Next-the-Sea and ended up in a town down past Great Yarmouth on the South-East Coast. To get there we even passed a place called California. I realized at this point how unoriginal the folks from the 'old country' were when naming the new settlements of North America - or maybe they were just homesick??? Anyway, after travelling down to these places, we decided to have a quick tea-time snack of sandwiches before heading back up the coast to the particularly pretty villages we'd passed earlier, and settled for the night in a coastal town called Sheringham.
We picked a bed-and-breakfast at the top of a mountainous road and happily booked ourselves in for the evening. We happily got ready to go out for some fine dining, based on the suggestion of the Guest House hostess. As we were leaving our room we noticed loud voices coming from the room two doors down and I quickly mumbled 'I hope they are not so loud late tonight!
I Don't Much Like Fish, But This Sole is Good!
We made our way to one of the most beautiful restaurants I have ever been in. It was an old converted stable, aptly named - The Stables. It had a gorgeous selection of fish, amongst other things and I happily ordered the pan-fried Sole, it was served on a bed of salad, and accompanied by creamed almond spinach, new potatoes and veg... yummy. Andy ordered the pheasant, which was really gorgeous.
Prior to the meal, we were shown up a set of stairs into the 'loft' of the restaurant and were the first ones to be seated. Another couple arrived shortly after us, and almost immediately after, the quietly romantic atmosphere was broken by a very loud voice coming up the stairs. Two very flamboyant men were seated at the table directly across from ours. I was reminded instantly of Jack from Will and Grace, only this Jack was about 10-15 years older, with a deeper, English accented voice! I quickly leaned over to Andy after and whispered 'I believe those are our fellow housemates!' His answer was a surprised, 'I think you might be right, but I hope not!'
The lady diagonally across from me meet my gaze a couple of times and cringed at 'Jack's' loudness. The other fellow, although much quieter was very eccentric. They happily began by ordering a bottle of wine (very probably not their first of the night) and quite vocally discussed their food choice for the evening (they finally both settled on the sole). As Andy and I were eating our appetizer, 'Jack' somehow noticed me and added me to their conversation. Of course as soon as I began to talk he became very smitten with my accent and proceeded to ask me a number of questions, thus sharing information about himself and his partner. Me being myself, I was nothing but polite and gracious ;) I was practically kicking Andy under the table to assist him in refraining from making a sarcastic comment.
Once the gentlmen's food had arrived they quickly delved into conversation about how divine the food was. I consciously tried to concentrate on Andy, and managed to tune out most of the conversation. I wanted to focus on my husband and was amazed at how easy it was proving. Andy on the other hand, as were many of the other patrons, having a bit of a hard time. However I must admit, during our conversation we heard Jack exclaim profusely, at least four times 'I don't much like fish, but this sole is GOOD.' After the third time Andy couldn't help himself and made the comment 'I don't much like fish, but this pheasant is GOOD' under his breath to me and I couldn't help but giggle. It was all becoming very amusing.
After they had polished off their dinners and two bottles of wine, Jack's partner Andrew (yes that was his name) got up to leave. He had decided he'd had enough and informed Jack that he would meet him back at the Guest House... As he stood up he nearly crashed head-long into our table. He made it the few steps to the top of the stairs and almost toppled straight down. How he ever managed to get down those steps without falling is beyond me. After about 10 minutes Jack finally got up and announced to the room that he'd better go find his friend and make sure he was alright. He stood, fell and knocked over a nearly full glass of wine. That didn't surprise me as much as the loud 'fuck' that came out of his mouth. He bent to wipe up his mess, stumbled and gave up, the whole time muttering (well what he probably figured was a mutter) 'fucking hell, I don't believe this!' It was all becoming a bit tortuous to tell the truth! He finally straightened up and made his way, rather precariously, down the stairs leaving us all in utter silence, only broken by the soft classical music in the background...
After we had paid our bill we stopped in at the local pub for a pint before heading back to our room. We wanted to make sure the 'boys' had been settled in before returning 'home' for the night. The next morning we discovered from the owners that 'Jack' had made it back around 9:30 the previous night, however Andrew hadn't made it back until 3 a.m. - he showed up ringing the doorbell loudly. The owner let him in and warned him about noise, to no avail - most everyone heard him coming in and then arguing with Jack afterwards. Turns out Andrew had fallen over on his way home and had lain down on the waterfront promenade until this hour. He tried telling the owners the next morning that he had been mugged (his face was bruised) however it was very obviously not true, especially the next morning when he pleaded they would not be able to pay due to his 'mugging'. Even if he had been mugged, there was nothing from stopping 'Jack' from using the credit card he'd paid for their meal with in The Stables the night before. They also tried to leave a false address, however the owner intelligently saw through that act. Up until the morning, Andy and I had found the situation more amusing than anything, however upon hearing that this couple had ruined their sheets with cigarette burns, and left without paying the nice couple running the B&B,(the first time this had ever happened to them in 30 years) we just found it to be gross. We had originally just thought they were a flamboyantly drunk, issue-ridden couple but it turns out they were just a couple of assholes.
The Journey Home
That morning we took a train ride through three villages and back on an old steam engine train. On the way back, we got off at the 2nd station and walked the mile into the village for a look around. We made it back to the station in time to catch the next train back to Sheringham where we hopped in the car and headed to Burnham Market where we lunched at the coolest pub/hotel I have been to in England. We sat in a sunny solarium with the most comfortable leather couches, ate our sandwiches and drank a pint (Andy had a shandy), while reading the papers. It was fantastic and I hated to leave. I do think we will be taking a trip back to 'The Hoste Arms' to stay the night in the near future!
Jody @ 'The Hoste Arms'