A Canadian gal living in Britain with 3 men and a dog. Wine helps.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

I honestly don't know what to think...

I think maybe these girls have gone past it, but what do I know about these things? I think by the time Gerri had left they were fading fast.

No matter where I am though, when I hear a certain Spice Girl song it warps me back in time in Halifax when myself and a few girlfriends found ourselves in the Officer's Mess of an English naval ship that Cat had managed to score invites to. Oh the memories.

Row your boat some more

The north of Britain has been hit in recent weeks by massive downpours that have been causing a high level of flooding (see post about the dogs almost drowning). On Monday it came down so hard and fast that it made the rain of recent weeks look like a small shower. Most of our roads have been impassible and many people had to be escorted out by boat, their front lawns/roads are so completely submerged. Some have even lost their lives. Now, when those hit hardest are still wondering what will happen (as they can't go home due to high waters), we've been told to expect a rainstorm that will make Monday's pale in comparison. Will it come to pass? I certainly hope not, but I do hope that the counties and towns batten down and prepare as best as possible. I seem to remember a small coastline back in Canada that didn't quite heed the warnings for something called Hurricane Juan.

Andy and I were were going to host our first house party/BBQ this weekend, in honour of Canada Day but decided to postpone it for a few weeks until some proper summer weather decides to come our way. If it does rain like they say it will, I'm staying put, as all the roads get closed off and I can't be assed to sit in traffic for two hours to get back home. I won't complain though because honestly, its small potatoes compared to what some people have had to endure.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's always hard to say goodbye...

Just one short hour ago we said goodbye to Val and Mike at their hotel in Liverpool. We had a great weekend with them but it's always hard to say farewell to friends you don't see very often...

On Friday I borrowed Andy's sat-nav and off I went to pick them up at their hotel near the airport. How exciting it was to see them after two years, especially now that Valentina is absolutely glowing in her 6 1/2 month of pregnancy!

We made our way to the shopping outlet where it was the plan to find Val some maternity clothes, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed their pleasure in the sales and even indulged myself, when we went into Ralph Lauren and I got myself a pair of jeans. We both ended up buying a few things from the Gap Outlet Shop as well, including the same sweater as it was both cute and warm - we were both in need of something warmer.

I loved being in the baby shops with her, looking at maternity and baby clothes although at this stage in my life I'll say that's risky business for me!

On Saturday morning, despite the weather being iffy, we decided to drive to the Lake District, one of my very favourite places. We took a little train trip on a steam engine that we thought might be more scenic but was still enjoyable. Molly sure liked it.

After our train ride we took a drive to Hawkeshead, a little village that Fern, Dawn and I had fallen in love with last year,for some lunch. After a little walk around the village we drove back around Lake Windermere and headed down to Ingleton, yet another village surrounded by gorgeous scenery and took a walk before hitting yet another pub so Mike could enjoy another bitter :)

This morning we headed out for more shopping before driving into Liverpool for some lunch by the River Mersey. It was a bit chilly but at least the rain held off and we were able to drop Val and Mike off just before the rain started. They have tonight and tomorrow to enjoy the sights of Liverpool before departing back to Italy. The next time we see them will hopefully be sometime next year to meet the baby I took such joy in shopping for!

Now I'm off to spend an hour with my husband before heading back across the country.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The most laid-back place I have ever been...

Well I don't know where to begin really. Andy and I had such a relaxing, wonderful holiday together. 10 days of easy living, where the hardest decision was figuring out what beach to go to or what taverna to eat at.

We met some of the most beautiful, kind people: A fantastic lady called Dessy (not her correct Greek name) who could speak fluid English, and her mother (who couldn't speak a word of English). They invited us to their home in the hills over-looking the sea a few days later where Dessy's mom had cooked us a marvelous meal that lasted from 2:00 until 5:30 in the evening. It was so extraordinary to be in the company of an authentic Greek family, where not everyone could speak English, but amazingly enough we all managed to communicate. The food was out of this world - we were all joking of how many mints we would have to take to the wedding due to all the garlic we had consumed.

We met a lovely German woman called Petra and her Greek husband, and two beautiful children. They ran one of the cocktail/ice-cream bars on the main road in Aegina Marina, where we were staying. Petra was so excited for me to come back to the Island after the wedding to tell her all about it and show her the photos.

And of course the there was Silva, the young Greek lad who met us so cheerfully every night at our favourite cocktail bar... he was so eager to bring us a variety of fancy drinks garnished with fruits and fancy umbrellas. He had the barman make us a fantastic, nearly all alcohol drink in a pineapple that cost £25 Euros, but then gave us the second one for nothing. The Mexicana is still my favourite though - bring on the tequila. Needless to say we walked away from the taverna on many a night more than a little lopsided.

On the Sunday we made our way into Athens, where the original plan was to then remain on the mainland, and enjoy the sights and beaches of Athens. We had to change our plans though as the city was over-whelmingly hot and smoggy and with my bronchitis and Asthma acting up, we thought it was best to head back to the Island. It was an idea we had discussed before even leaving the Island anyway, as we had fallen in love with it.

The wedding itself was one of the most amazing events I have ever witnessed. It was so rewarding to see how the Greek Orthodox tie the knot, from the arrival of the bride to the Reception. Add to the fact that the reception was a mix of Greek and Irish, well it was definitely something to behold. I honestly don't remember ever seeing a more pretty bride (I'm sure I say this everytime, lol), but seriously, Sophia was an absolute vision, and Paul cut a handsome figure in an all-white suit, which is what the groom wears according to Greek tradition.

The reception itself was so much fun, and again the food was amazing. The party was full of laughter due to the antics of my fantastically comical pal Jane. Jane, Anna and myself joined in one of the greek dances, only to go back to the table where more comedic sessions were in play. It was such a great opportunity to have some good fun with the group I used to work with.

During the times we weren't on the beach, we rented a jeep, or on two occasions, a quad bike and toured around the Island, which was a lot of fun. We found a few good beaches and scenic viewpoints. It was too hot to trek up to the temple ruins on the mountain above our village so we took the quad up mid-morning one day. It was a sight worth seeing, as well as providing a spectacular view of both sides of the Island.

Sophia and Paul came over to the island on Tuesday with most of the Irish contingent and a few friends from work. We met up with them at lunch time and caught up with what everyone had been up to since the wedding, before heading back to our little cove for some more snorkeling and sun-bathing. God, it was hard work.

The only disparaging moments on the trip were when we came across animals that have been abandoned. Once it was a group of four little kittens on the side of a mountain road, that I had a hard time leaving behind, but honestly, what could we do? The other was realizing that Athens has a big problem with stray dogs. I was told that they run in packs similar to wolves, foraging for food and protecting one another. Apparently they won't harm people, but have distanced themselves from humans. I actually caught sight of one of these packs from the tram, on the way back to the port to catch the ferry back to Aegina. They were laid on the sidewalk near a park, just sleeping.

On a more positive note, its not all like this and most animals are well looked after. We loved how there were a number of dogs and cats in Aegina Marina just lazing about while their owners worked in the various shops/tavernas. We got to know quite a few and I could even communicate with a few as I'd learned a few words in Greek. In Aegina Town there were a number of horse drawn carriages and there was one, that when taking sight-seekers through town, had a cute little lab running ahead of the carriage, showing the driver the way. Mostly everyone seems to drive with care so I hope no harm ever comes to the little fellow.

I think its going to take me a little while to get over being back, as the life-style out there is so relaxing and fulfilling. I could easily see myself living on that Island, its like taking a step back in time, where everything is less complicated. The island is far enough from the city of Athens to feel like a world away, yet you only have a short ferry ride back into the city for anything you might be missing in regard to culture and entertainment; And absolutely everyone is so friendly and warm, but most importantly, the children seem so happy.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

We're Back, We're Brown, and my dog almost drowned...

Thursday was our last day on the glorious Island of Aegina Greece. As Andy and I took one last swim in the turquoise sea, I figured it would be the last time I would be taking a dip for quite some time - at least until our holiday with the children in August.

However we touched down late Thursday night to torrential rain, a typically up-yours welcome home from this wonderful place we call England. We were told on Friday morning by Andy's parents that both Alex and Molly had been on best behaviour, however Molly had not been outside for a proper walk since Tuesday because along with the heavy rain, came massive amounts of thunder and lightening. This is something our fierce little dog just can't cope with (along with fireworks), so she made the decision to forgo her beloved walk and stayed in the relative safety of her grandma's kitchen.

Today she nearly went mad with excitement when I took her out on the field to meet up with her pals Rico and Abby. I stood around laughing with Emma and Elaine (the dog's mom's) about how silly they were being, before the conversation moved on to more serious issues i.e. my trip, Emma's husband's big win on a game show - Deal or No Deal, etc. The dogs kept going in out of the bushes and it was after a few minutes that I noticed only the Dalmatian Rico on the field. Molly and Abby were nowhere to be found. There could only be one answer - The Beck, the stream that runs down behind the field that these two bad girls can never resist - must be a retriever thing.

Now we normally don't like the dogs going in the stream as its not the cleanest, however when it rains its not too bad. We did get a bit concerned though because with all the rain the river was running very deep and very fast. After a few minutes of calling, the dogs still didn't return. This was not too worrying, as they don't often come straight back, however when an additional minute or two went by and they still didn't respond, panic started setting in. We split up to scout out various parts of the stream, without much result. Double panic time. Elaine finally discovered Abby just out of sight behind some bushes, out in the middle of the water, struggling hard against the current. At least she was ok, but it was obvious she wasn't going anywhere and was tiring fast. My heart was in triple overload by then, for as I was fearing for Abby, I still couldn't find my own dog. There was only one thing to do and it looked like it was going to be me doing it. I took off my shoes, handed my sweater to Emma and plunged into the dirty, fast flowing Beck. I couldn't think about where I was headed, I could only think of the girls. Thankfully as I neared Abby, I finally caught sight of Molly, further down and like Abby, struggling hard. The poor things. Fighting the current, hearing their mamma's calling, and not being able to help themselves. I reached Abby and struggled to get her back upstream where Elaine could grab her and then went back for Molly. It was hard work getting us both out, but we finally managed. It was with a big sigh of relief that I pushed Molly to where she could jump out and thankfully reached for Emma's hand. The dogs were fine and went back to acting like nothing ever happened, although I will say Molly was worn out and slept most of tonight. I took my soaking wet-self home to get under the shower where I tried hard not to think about that dirty water, and clean out the cut on my foot. I don't dare think of what could have happened to the silly cows if we didn't find them when we did, and I'll be keeping a close eye out to ensure they don't go anywhere near the water during the next few days.

I do realize that this isn't the post most of you were probably expecting. I do have lots to report and some great photos to post in relation to our brilliant time in Greece, which I will do tomorrow.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

If its half as good as last time...

Tonight officially begins our 10 day holiday to Greece. We travelled up from Grimsby tonight in order to stay in our company flat, as we are flying from Manchester at 6:55 tomorrow morning.

We land at Athens airport at midday and have to travel a few short hours to Aegina Island, just an hour and fifteen minutes off the Coast. For six days we will bask in island warmth and comfort before heading back to Athens for some culture and the wedding of our very good friends, Sophia and Paul.

Andy took me to a lovely Chinese restaurant for a fantastic meal (which I completely ate using chopsticks ;) It was a terrific start to our holiday. If this trip is half as wonderful as our honeymoon two years ago we will be truly blessed. We loved Greece the last time we visited (Kefalonia Island) and were trying to figure out where to spend our summer holiday when our friends announced their wedding. As the price came up right, we figured why not. So here we go. Here's to Greek tradition, sun, wine, and best of all, food. See you all when we get back.

Jods and Andy