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

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Last Day

Last night I was taking what is seemingly becoming the norm around here now which is my hourly long bath; after I had done the usual, made a few calls, sipped my wine, paid the bills etc all the while topping myself up with hot water,I got to thinking about the year gone by, and the year yet to come.

For many of our close friends and family, it has been a wonderful year if only for the reason they have been given one of God's greatest blessings: a baby. In comparison to everything else that might be going wrong, how can a family be kept down in the doldrums when they have such a beautiful gift amongst them.
Yet for so many I realize that it hasn't been a particularly great year especially when it comes to health and losing loved ones. For myself, the past year has been one of the best yet, but in some ways one of the hardest. For Andy and I as a couple, it has probably been one of our best. Financially we have been hit in the solar plexus and it seems as if we are still trying to get our breath back, and will be for some time, however aside from our finances we've had a pretty good year.

It is when I think of those of you who have had to say good-bye to a loved one that I am able to take deep breaths and get on with life when I think of the one agonizing issue I had to confront this year. I choose for a number of reasons not to write about this issue on my blog, nor anywhere else that is accessible by the public. I realize there are many other blogs out there devoted to just this exact subject and although some might find them helpful, I try and not visit them often as it results in a number of mixed emotions and at this point in time I believe that the best thing I can do for myself is just get on with it. I don't want to go through life angry; I had resigned myself to the fact that I will probably have to go through life sad, at least deep down, but that is something I just don't want to do either.

So as the last eve of the year is upon us, the one where people often scramble to come up with resolutions that most don't even intend to keep, I have decided to promise myself one thing, and I must see it through: This year I'm going to do all I can to accept that while some dreams certainly do come true, others don't and that we can't always have what we want, no matter how the heart longs for it; that life really could be so much worse.

I hope that the end of 2009 gives you all something good to reflect back on and that 2010 brings with it all the love you need and the strength to pursue your dreams.

Because when you look at the bigger picture, life is good.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Crackers

Our champion 'ball-roller' having a hot-chocolate break after a few hours of baking.

Christmas this year seemed to have approached at an astonishing speed and the week before found me scrambling to do that bit of last minute prep that so many people had sorted out a lot sooner than me. Connor and I had done a fair bit of baking but
my Christmas shopping didn't actually get finalized until Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve is and always has been my favourite part of Christmas. This year was no exception and was actually lovely and quiet, just visiting with family and friends and of course Andy and I went out for my favourite, Pad Thai. Christmas morning found us having a lovely breakfast of Champagne and Orange Juice accompanied by omelette's before the crowd of relatives descended on our doorstep for what turned out to be a food fuelled and fun-packed afternoon and evening. We ended our Christmas night by playing Pictionary and Cranium. I didn't think it could get any louder than it did that night - until Boxing Day night, when twice the amount of booze was flowing.

I have eaten way too much, managed to fall once (hard) and not take nearly enough exercise. To top it all off I haven't had a BM in days (yes, you just heard me right - this is my blog and if I want to say that I will). So needless to say I'm not feeling very comfortable.Yesterday I thought a good-work out and lots of coffee would sort me out, but as my back and knee are giving me gyp, the work-out wasn't so successful and nothing else is working. So I assume this feeling of being a bloated cow will have to continue on for slightly longer.

The last two days have been spent very peacefully with just Andy and I hanging out with Molly, walking and trying to recover from a very crazy three days. Game-playing with the Allenby's is quite an event and can leave you reeling for hours; I thought my family were competitive and cut-throat at board games! The last few days have got me thinking that one of these days I'd love to have a showdown between the Allenby's and McDonald's at one of these games. I would have to give Molly plenty of time to take cover though.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Memories

This weekend we managed to get the tree (cut fresh from a farm about 20 minutes down the road) and I have to admit, it is the most perfect tree. EVER. Six feet tall, full and so fresh you can smell it as soon as you walk in the living room. So the house is now decked and I can't help but get nostalgic about Christmas traditions - new and old. I stumbled across this meme and in my attempt to blog more (I hope you've noticed) I thought I'd give it a go.

(My boys loading up the perfect tree)

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Ummm I'm not a lover of either - the sound of Egg Nog just puts me off but I would love to try it as its supposed to be creamy and delicious.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Children or not, the presents are wrapped - even the ones in the stockings. Its always been done at my childhood home and its a tradition I will continue with.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
As much as I love coloured lights - they look so pretty, we have white on our tree.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No, but if I had some I would

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Two weeks before Christmas. With a real tree you don't want to do it much before then.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Although its not really a dish, the tray of pickles, cheese and meat my dad always had waiting for us on Christmas Eve after we got back from church. I believe my sister still carries on this tradition in her own home.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
Oh my, where to start? I loved how in the dark of a very early Christmas morning one of my siblings would shake me awake. We always had to wait till everyone was up to start opening presents, but I loved it. I can't believe there are households where the kids just open their gifts as they wake up at different times. Of course Christmas Eve is and always has been my favourite time although it got a little harder for me after we lost Nanny - such a big part of Christmas Eve was going over to see her.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Probably the year my sister figured out the Santa in the mall was my dad, even though I was oblivious - by this time I was also starting to notice that Santa's writing strongly resembled that of my parents. However I continued to hold out hope for years after and was kind of sad the year my mom asked me if I would like to help her wrap the gifts for my siblings (there was always a ton of wrapping!)

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
White lights, sliver and crystal beads; the decorations are all silver, black or white.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it!! Wish there was more than just a 1% chance of it happening in North East England :)

12. Can you ice skate?
Of course I can! But not well.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
From my very young years: My big yellow barbie van (dad and I spent ages putting that beauty together on Christmas Day) As a grown up? Anything people have obviously put a lot of thought into.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Spending time with family - unfortunately my own family is very far away.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Anything chocolate. Sorry but I can't stand Christmas Pudding - such an English tradition and one I wish I could partake in.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Since I've moved here - going to pick out the tree with the boys. I like how Andy and I usually go out for a quiet meal on Christmas Eve. And I've carried on the family tradition of opening a present on Christmas Eve.

17. What tops your tree?
A star.

18. Which do you prefer: Giving or Receiving?
Giving, especially when I know its the perfect gift for that someone.

19. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum?
I can take or leave them - unless you are talking about Candy Cane ice-cream which I might as well forget about as you can't get it here.

20 Favorite Christmas Movie(s)?
Elf, Love Actually, The Family Stone, The Holiday. I really need to watch Miracle on 34th Street the whole way through one of these years!

21. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
O Holy Night... I can still remember the man that sang it at the Christmas Eve Mass one year. It was so haunting and beautiful. I've yet to hear anyone sing it like he did.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

If I don't feel it, I can fake it!

Last Friday the girls and I went to spend the day at the Lincoln Christmas Market. We'd made sure to book in at a hotel so we could all enjoy a glass (or two) of the mulled wine and German beer. I had no idea that champagne would be on offer and we certainly indulged; why not? Its Christmas and the four of us were together, in the bright sunshine at the Lincoln Christmas Market, within the castle grounds - how cool is that. You just don't get that option back home! I especially loved how all the stall holders were dressed in clothes that would have been worn a few hundred years ago. It was truly a magical day and I took great delight in nearly everything we encountered that day.

On Sunday our dear friends Sophia and Paul came to visit us with their daughter and I honestly could not get enough of this beautiful little girl:

I honestly have to say, its been nearly a week and I'm still thinking of our day spent with one of the most adorable, sweet natured babies I have ever known. I asked her parents if they would consider making one for me - I'd happily take her but they seem to have already grown rather fond of her.

Today we go to pick out our Christmas tree. This afternoon will be spent getting the house decked out and possibly I will do some baking. I'm going to take my best crack at finding all the Christmas Cheer that I can. And failing that, there is always a toddle of Bailey's to help me along :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Its a little stressed at our house today...


I've come across other bloggers who have participated in this 'challenge'

The purpose is to list 10 things that make you happy and then pass it on to ten people in the blogging community. I've taken it upon myself to follow suit however I won't be tagging anyone; You all know who you are and one thing that would make me happy is knowing the little things that make you happy :)

With Christmas coming and my emotions being all over the place, I thought I'd take a stab at it so I could focus that much more closely on the good aspects of life and this upcoming season.

So here goes - 10 things that make me happy:

1. Being snuggled up in bed on a lazy Sunday morning reading with Molly curled up at my feet.
2. Pad Thai (especially since I don't get it enough!)
3. Babies - any babies but especially the sweet adorable ones who like to be cuddled (even if it kind of makes me sad at the same time)
4. Travelling with my husband
5. Being with my family back home.
6. When the boys ask me to bake for them.
7. Bacon sandwiches (I know!!!)
8. Long walks with Andy, Molly and co.
9. When I've had a kick-ass work out
10. Meeting the girls for coffee

Monday, December 07, 2009

I Owe it to Myself

Well, I have to be honest with you about something. If you go to my gym, you will probably notice one thing. I haven't been there.

I haven't come down with a terrible bout of illness, I haven't been too busy to make time for it. I've just not been there.

Granted last week my insufferable back was acting up, but that doesn't excuse my not finding the time to get there on the five other days of the week.

I tried on a top yesterday that when I first bought it back in the beginning of this year, was a bit tight under the arms. I managed to have said top fitting me quite nicely by the spring. Yesterday, it felt a little bit snug again. One week away from the gym and this is what I'm faced with? Life is hard sometimes (but of course we knew that already).

So my goals for this week are:

A) Eat less
B) Drink less alcholic beverages
C) Work out at least 3 times.

That's not aiming too high at all.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Path Not Taken

I honestly really want to know (and this is not a ploy to see how much readership I have as I’m pretty certain it’s a remarkably low number) how many of you spend time thinking of the roads you’ve chosen to walk throughout your life compared to the road you could be walking right now but aren’t because you decided (maybe at the last minute) to change direction.

I tend to think of things like this sporadically and have done so all my adult life really. It could be a direct reflection of the fact that I am a procrastinator who has a tough time just deciding what shoes I want to wear in the morning and still wonders if she should have went with the little red heels despite being two hours out the door after choosing the comfortable black flats. I don’t often spend a lot of time emulating on past decisions that have brought me to the place where I am because I’m mostly fulfilled (because I don't think anyone is really living a life where they have absolutely everything they ever dreamed of). But sometimes I wonder if there really is a parallel universe out there, where I’m living a completely different life from this one and if in that life I am content, or even happy, or if in fact its all gone completely wrong.

For instance:

What if I had stayed with my first serious boyfriend, a guy who I loved in a shockingly unbalanced way. Neither one of us was what you would call temperate in the relationship which proved at times to be so tumultuous it resulted in the very best of my 20 year old self being drained of all reason. I had to make a lot of tough choices in that relationship, some which come back to haunt me even now, 16 years later. But I wonder if we would have been able to work past our issues, grow into the reasonably mature adults we are now? Probably not. We just didn’t work together and because I at least had the ability to see this, I ended it. But say we had ended up together and were still together - how would I cope with living with a man who has just been handed a death sentence? I’m sad for this man, sad that he is dying when after spending the last 15 years trying to sort out his life, of finally settling down and getting married and having two sons he has found himself knocking on death’s door. But at the same time I’m relieved that I’m not with him, relieved that I didn’t have to live a life of struggles and hardship, only to have him die on me.

I sometimes think of the life I might be living if I hadn’t decided to move to England. It’s hard to comprehend at times, it really is. Because I don’t think I could be any more content. Although I miss my family, I know its not forever and I have to take advantage of living this experience while it lasts. If I had gone down another road with the man I debated marrying prior to Andy, we might have three children by now and live in a house by the sea, but nothing could make up for the fact that his family were just a group of self-centred assholes and having children within this family wouldn’t make up for it. (When you marry someone, you marry their family – my husband learned that the hard way during his first marriage.) I’ve instead chose to live my life with a man who came with a ready-made family - a family who accepted me immediately and whom I love and respect more than anything and whom I know give me that love and respect straight back.

I know I’m not out there living in another dimension, happier than I am now. Life has lead me to where I am and it’s a path I would turn around and take again if given the chance. It’s not always been easy but I don’t believe it’s the easy road that necessarily leads you to the best places.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Non Debate (at least for me)

Working for the National Health Service gives me access to a lot of information regarding the Swine Flu Vaccination and naturally because I work in health care we are strongly being urged to get vaccinated.

I used to work in a large Nursing Home and took the Flu Vaccine on two occasions out of feelings of obligation, however I stopped doing so after the 2nd vaccination.

I'm not pregnant, I don't work directly with patients yet I am considered someone who has 'underlying health conditions'

Right from the beginning of all the outbreak and resulting mania surrounding H1N1, I didn't have to struggle with conflicting thoughts as to whether I should get the shot or not. I wasn't going to. On Friday the local Health Authority conducted an on-line discussion with a panel of professionals who naturally were recommending the vaccination and if my mind hadn't been made up before it is now as this was a resulting post:

Information from the World Health Organisation:
Can influenza vaccination cause Guillain Barre syndrome? Guillain Barre syndrome (GBS) is a rapidly developing, immune-mediated disorder of the peripheral nervous system that results in muscular weakness. Most people recover completely but some have chronic weakness. It can develop following a variety of infections, including influenza. In people who have been immunized with available vaccines, the frequency of GBS usually is the same as in unvaccinated people.

Extensive studies and data analysis of influenza vaccines have only found a well established causal association with the 1976 vaccine that contained an H1N1 swine-influenza-like virus. No other clear association has been found with either seasonal or other pandemic influenza vaccines.

During the 1976 influenza vaccination campaign, about 10 persons per million vaccinated persons developed GBS. The reason why GBS developed in association with that specific vaccine has never been firmly established. The potential for the development of a similar risk with future vaccines can never be totally excluded. However, pandemic influenza vaccines are manufactured according to established standards, and are similar to recent well-studied influenza vaccines that have shown no association with GBS. Surveillance after vaccines have been sold (post-marketing surveillance) is being conducted to look for potential developments of serious adverse events. Safety monitoring systems are an integral part of strategies for the implementation of the new pandemic influenza vaccines.

Thanks, no thanks. I'll take my chances with the flu.
(I am in no way trying to encourage/discourage anyone else from having the vaccine)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I can't help it, I love this:

Monday, November 09, 2009

Priorities People
(Warning: this post contains mostly dog and food palaver so feel free to bypass it altogether)

Lately I have been immersing myself in trying to cook new recipes. (I might have mentioned this before so I apologize if I bore the pants of some of you by blogging about cooking again.) Some of these recipes are healthy whilst others are quite the opposite but they are so sinful and delightful to eat that no one seems to really care; also, Andy and I have been going to the gym quite faithfully so it kind of cancels it out. Sort of.

This weekend was an absolute gormandize of gluttony: Friday night my manager treated the staff to a Chinese banquet at a fantastic restaurant and then I spent Saturday in the kitchen baking a Lasagna, and Apple and Toasted Walnut cake for Andy’s family. I was disappointed that the cake didn’t rise as high as it should, however drizzled with the home-made caramel sauce it went down such a treat with everyone that it didn’t really matter in the end.

Yesterday I didn’t even get out of my pj’s and spent the afternoon making a Hungarian Goulash whilst intermittently reading, chatting on line and watching tv. The only time I left the house was to take Molly for a quick walk (I didn’t even need to get dressed for the outing as I threw on Andy’s rain gear over my pj’s) however the walk wasn’t a success as I feared my little wuss was going to give herself a heart attack over the possibility that a firework just might go off. So back to the house we went, where I got out of the raingear and Molly despairingly went back to her permanent ‘safe place’ during this season of fire-works and unexpected thunder storms.

(Note: Molly’s safe place is currently squished into the side of the couch with her paws practically over her eyes. If we let her she would be in the nook under the stairs for the remainder of firework season which could quite possibly run till New Year’s Day.)

So you’d think that in the middle of all this cooking and eating I’d manage to find time to go to the gym for a desperately needed work-out, but with all the family around and in between cooking and not being able to leave the dog due to her high stress levels, only one of us was able to get to the gym this weekend and that one was Andy. And of course most of what I’ve said is just excuses because I could have got my butt out of bed yesterday morning to go to the gym but the pull of my cozy bed and a snuggle with Molly was just too irresistible. I find I have an incredible guilt complex these days in regard to leaving Molly all day while I’m out at work and I hate leaving her in the night to go out again, but I do go to the gym so long as Alex is at least home with her or Andy and I take it in turns. I just don’t think its fair on her for us to be gone all day and then out again for a few hours at night. Taking her for a quick walk in the morning and evening on work nights just doesn’t cut it.

I will be happy when her granddad gets back from his holiday and they can get back to their daily lunch time walks. (Yes I refer to my father-in-law as Molly's granddad, roll your eyes here if you please.)

I often wonder how mothers with small children can bear to go back to work and leave their babies all day when I have a hard enough time leaving my dog.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

To Detox or Not?

My mate Dawn (English Dawn not Longbottom Dawn) and I have been working out on a pretty regular basis and last night we got to chatting about various detox programs. They are promoting one at the gym and Dawn is seriously thinking of trying it out in the new year. Its a program that involves drinking a supplement and costs about £18.

For some time thoughts of doing a detox myself have been at the back of my mind but I waver from week to week. Could I really give up things like chicken and more importantly, diet coke for two-three weeks? The chicken part wouldn't be that hard, however not having a diet coke for that long would surely be a akin to stopping a baby nursing cold turkey. I just don't know if I would be a comparison to the boob or the baby.

However, on Sunday I went all day without a diet coke; it got to be around 8 pm before I really fancied one and if I could go that long, I figured why not last the night - and I did. And it got me to thinking all the more about doing a detox.

I then found a plan that seemed pretty sound with a couple of perks: 1) I wouldn't have to buy and drink any supplements, and 2) I could still eat some of my favourite foods such as natural yogurt and honey, fish and beans and brown rice.

The detox is supposed to be only for one week which is a goal that I think I could talk myself into. After a week, I could see how it goes, because if I could stretch it to two, even better. But I won't be holding my breath.

There are a couple of reasons why I waver when it comes to detoxing:

I can't help but think about the headaches that I've heard come with a detox, primarily in the first week;
It would sure be a lot easier to do this with someone *cough* like my husband;

The one week length could go a long way in my quest to convince Andy to do this with me, as well as the fact he could still eat potatoes as fish and beans aren't something he'd rush to order on a menu; it would certainly be as much of a challenge for him to give up tea/coffee as it would be for me to kick diet coke for a week.

I know a few of you have done this in the past, some more recently and I really admire your strength and stamina. So... what say you, should I give it a go? How many of you bet that I could do this, or more importantly, Andy and I could do it together?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Anniversaries and Goblins

The Friday before last, Andy and I went out for a 'delayed' celebration of our 5th Anniversary. The Beeches is a 5 star restaurant we both adore and once again, it did not disappoint.

(I think I sees me a Connor in the background)

These three photos were taken after we'd gotten back home - full of drink and stuffed to the brim. Andy crashed straight after this photo :)

Yesterday afternoon before the sun went down, I headed over to Sharon's for two reasons: firstly to see her beautiful new kitchen, and two to see the little ghouls that adorned it. The kids looked great and it buoyed me up for the (hopeful) little trick or treaters that might come knocking on our door. Last year we had a total of 6, this year, we had 20.

Its been a great few weeks in the McAllenby Household. I think next year we will have a rockin Halloween Party as its a very real possibility the lovable Fern will be in residence and together she and I could come up with some great ideas, both decoration and costume wise!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Glorious Autumn Days

On Saturday it was such a perfect fall day, we decided to take Molly and her pal Carter for a walk in the woods.

Andy likes any good opportunity to play with his camera and I was feeling quite cheerful so didn't mind being his model. We got some great shots and had a lot of fun into the bargain.

The dogs certainly enjoyed themselves and love nothing more than a good game of hide and seek.

As once previously in Bradley Woods, we found a rope hanging from a large tree and thought we would have a laugh swinging from it; we knew that Molly loves this game from the previous time we played and as this rope wasn't rigged up for sitting in we figured there was less chance of getting our arses nipped (a lesson we learned the hard way). My arms were killing me at one point, but there was no way I was letting go. It was so amusing how Molly was just so focused on that rope swing, whilst Carter could care less and just happily foraged in the bushes looking for wood or possibly a lasagna to much on!

My Handsome Englishman

It would be great if every weekend was like this however if they were I suppose we wouldn't appreciate them nearly as much.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Superman must have been a good omen

It might be a cliche, but I have to be truthful here: My wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life.

It wasn't stressful or full of pressure the way a lot of weddings can be; I mean what bride would not have a sylist booked months in advance and spend the glorious morning of her wedding walking around town with her sisters and friends laughing and chatting while trying to find a stylist to curl her hair? (I did have a back up plan called Fern, just in case).

I remember opening the door to Cat, who was grinning, two beers in each hand as she announced she was there to paint my nails; and Dawn, sitting in the bathroom window with a big ugly mask on staring down at the guys frolicking in the pool, waiting for them to look up. (Sounds like a wedding straight out the Beverly Hillbillies eh?)

I treasure the moment when mom and the girls were all with me in our room, helping me into my dress and drinking champagne.

I loved the look on my dad's face (and the tears in his eyes) when he saw me in my dress for the first time and proudly walked me past the 75 waiting people in attedance towards a beaming Andy.

I loved saying I do to the best man I have ever known: My husband.

Happy 5th Anniversary Andy.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Because I love words

Today is National Poets Day. In honour of this I will post one of my favourite poems. Feel free to share your favourites with me.

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Work House

My plan over the last few weeks has been to do a post about the fantastic holiday we took back to Nova Scotia, and I will get there by the end of this week, I swear.

In the meantime, I have this to post:

As most of you are probably aware, I'm now working full-time in one of the psychology units for the hospital. I'm based out of a centre that is near the town centre, but a couple of days a week I can be found at the hospital site, in one of the out buildings.

When I first started this job I was really impressed with the hospital site as the building was in much better repair than that of the WM Centre where I am usually based. The Consultancy is based in a very old building, with a lot of character, and has obviously been re-decorated and modernised over the years. The WMC is in a 70's style building and hasn't had a face-lift ever, from the looks of it; even the paint in the main stairwell is all chipped and peeling. However there are various perks at each place, and one of the perks at the consultancy, is the more cosy, modern offices.

Often when I'm at the consultancy I'm left to either open or close up, which includes setting the alarm, a task I don't mind doing. However there have been a few evenings when I've been here on my own that something just feels a bit creepy and I sometimes hear doors opening a closing even though I know I'm here on my own. It doesn't take me long to pack up at these times, let me tell you. The other night I was closing up and had just set the alarm to the door that leads to the consulting area when I heard someone shriek. I quickly dropped my bags and began to open the door to turn off the alarm as I thought someone was being locked in (as has previously happened once in the past), however that wasn't the case - no one was in the building. I just shrugged my shoulders, reset the code and left.

Today, whilst chatting to my colleagues about the car parking changes being made to West Arch, where we park, I was told that the building we work in used to be the old work-house, and the arch-way underneath our building that allows cars to pass through, used to be the archway that the deceased were carried through on their way to the cemetery (which is across the street). Probably explains a lot of the eeriness and weird noises that are constantly heard. How my boss manages to work till seven or eight pm on her own in the building is beyond me.

For those of you who might not know what a workhouse was, here is an excerpt I found on the Internet:

By the 1850s, the majority of those forced into the workhouse were not the work-shy, but the old, the infirm, the orphaned, unmarried mothers, and the physically or mentally ill. Entering its harsh regime and spartan conditions was considered the ultimate degradation.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Meeting the lovely Madalena

Last Sunday Andy and I took a short trip to Hull to meet Paul and Sophia's beautiful new edition to the family: Madalena

It was lovely to spend a few hours on the patio of a coffee house catching up with our friends, but better yet, cuddling with the perfectly beautiful and snuggly Madalena.

You couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

Proud Daddy

We are looking forward to spending some proper time with this little family in September, after all the holidays are past. Molly will be happy to spend time with her cousin Maebh, and I will be happy to have that babe in my arms once again :) We are also going to ensure we get some really good photos.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

3 Week Break

Funny how when you work full-time you end up appreciating the weekends much more than before. Or maybe not... I think I looked more forward to my three day weekend when I had a job that wasn't so enjoyable. But I'm running away with my point here. What I initially logged on to say was that I am now officially on vacation and if I thought working full time gives me a better appreciation for the weekend, no wonder I think I've hit the jackpot with a three week hiatus.

So - Packing.

Much less enjoyable when you are flying charter and only have one suitcase per person. Hrrmmmm. Thank god I have sisters who are happy to share and as usual I will be breaking into Fern's stash of sweatshirts/joggers and t-shirts for the Mersey River Trip; saves room for all the important stash I need to bring like Pear Cider.

It doesn't hurt either being able to pack one suitcase for two boys, however we only want to go out with three cases. The reason behind this for those of you who don't know me well: We will buy a big hold-all (much cheaper out there) from Walmart that we will then fill with Canadian goodies. (Including comfort jeans for a few of the girls ;)

Friday, August 14, 2009

I've looked at life from both sides now

I can hardly believe that it has been six years since my first post. Six years people. It basically coincides with my failed attempt to move to the UK! Good times I tell you.

Hard to say what direction this blog would have taken, if my life hadn't gone in the direction it did.

As I sit here reflecting on years gone past, on posts that I've written, some published, some not, I have to wonder - what has happened to everyone?

Is the blog going to go the direction of so many other fads? Most of my blogger buddies seem to only post very sporadically, and often I am lucky if I manage to see a video link, or photos. Now don't get me wrong, I like these types of posts, especially the ones that include photos but its sometimes nice to open a blog and actually see they've written something . I know I'm one to talk, and often my only excuse it that I don't really feel like I have anything to say. Which is bullshit really - we can all come up with something if we put just a little bit of effort into it.

I was chatting with my sister about all this the other day and she actually mentioned that she is considering giving up her blog in favour of starting another. My first thought was 'No! you can't give it up - you are the original blogger out of our crew, you can't!' then I thought about all the other blogs she has initiated and can't understand why she wouldn't just begin a new one whilst still keeping on her original blog. I understand where she is coming from but I stil protest!

Am I wrong to care this much about who is continuing to post? It's just a forum after all. But I do care. I love our little community and wish that we all spent a little more time 'maintaining it'. Especially where we are all in various parts of the world and its a great way to stay connected.

Now here I sit, six years on, with not a whole lot to say other than this:

Here's to six more years! I don't like the name of this blog, its unoriginality is quite banal, (even if reflective of my existence some days) however I'm not giving it up to begin another for the sake of a name change.

So Happy Anniversary to me and my verbal bullshit.

Friday, August 07, 2009

My friend Alex Keith and everything in between

In the wee hours of the 18th August, while the dawn is only considering showing its face, Andy and I will pack the two boys and all of our luggage into the SUV to begin the drive to Gatwick Airport (my very favourite, have I ever said?) to board a plane that will take us to Nova Scotia - to my family and friends.

We are all counting down the days and by this time next week we will be in holiday mode... (Connor has been blowing on about this trip for weeks now). Nobody is really talking about much other than the lake, the beaches, the food, the drink, the city and especially spending time with our family and friends.

However, Connor and I are in continuous conversation about somewhere that I consider to be one of the most fantastic places on God's green earth, a place where I have always felt complete peace and serenity. A place where my mind is always at ease and my heart feels like it has truly come home:

Mersey River

And it makes my heart sing that our blonde, rambunctious Con loves it so.

I only hope the old wood hottub is back in order so our stoker can fire it up for the night :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Perfect Way to Spend a Sunday...

At the Brackenborough Inn for lunch...


Double Yummy!

Andy just had lemon sponge and custard - it didn't look posh enough to take a photo of ;)

Beautiful Beryl

In the English Garden

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bargain Hunter

2 Dresses from House of Fraser - each at %70 off;
1 Pair of mushroom coloured heels at %70 off;

Steal of the week:

1 top (fall collection) from Next at a cool £2.75 (courtesy of the charity shop.)

My Birthday Boy:

Andy, the kids and I celebrated his birthday tonight with beer (none for the boys of course)and fajitas and decided to ditch the walk we had planned as the skies have opened up and its raining/hailing out there with the force of a drunk spewing 2 litres of wine and a chicken kebab...

We will celebrate with a meal out, etc on the weekend (and after pay day ;)

Andy at two months old

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Five Days a Week...

As most of you are probably aware, back in March of this year I quit my job. After two years of trying to make something work that so obviously wasn't going to (not for me anyway) I packed it in - with no other job to go to. One aspect that was going to hit me hardest was not having any of my own pin money; no extra money to go out with the ladies who lunch, or buy the little treats for myself us girls fancy every now and again, such as shoes or make-up. However I did have an understanding husband who supported my decision in every way and when money allowed (i.e. wasn't wasted on bills or putting petrol in the 4x4 ;) didn't complain when I gave in to the odd lunch or four or just had to have a certain top I saw whilst out shopping. Needless to say though, I have been very good about it all. I think the fact that I managed to have over two months off while we seemed to have the best of the sunshine balanced out the not having as much dosh as I'm used to. Also, having my mother and Aunt here was a big bonus. If I'd still been working I would have lost out on a lot more time with them.

Now I say not working, which is kind of a fib, because not long after I quit my job I got a call from my former employer asking if I could do some temp work for her, only about 8 hours a week but hey, why not? (I shouldn't have been surprised, I'm just that good) And as Tesco says 'every little helps'. And it did, however slightly.

In between all the lunching, sunning and trips to the gym, I did manage to fill in an awful lot of applications; then attend an awful lot of interviews. I guess I wasn't that good after all ;) However just when I was about to despair I interviewed for a position that I knew I wanted even though it was full-time and I was awarded said position. I was in a slight form of shock the evening I was offered the job and almost had convulsions when asked if I could start the following Monday. My first thought was 'hell yes! I got the job!!!' while my second was 'so much for having the summer off' but then my third and final, and yes very driving thought was 'think of the money honey - think of the money'. And so last Monday I got myself geared up, pulled out my 'work' clothes and got back on the horse.

Mind you, its been six years since I road that horse... and by this metaphor I mean worked full-time. SIX YEARS people. Talk about an adjustment.

On that first morning I went off like a five year old beginning school for the first time: I had a big grin on my face, my clothes were clean and I was full of optimism, with just a slight twinge of fear. I was still feeling pretty much the same when I got home that first day. And then came Tuesday, which started well but by quitting time I was ready to pack it in. And so continued the week: my emotions were skipping all over the place. I was not happy with the situation at all. One day I was positive and upbeat, the next I was dejected and thinking I was in some kind of purgatory. I tell you, I was more up and down than a hyper kid on a trampoline. What an awful feeling. And not just for me... I think Andy and Alex were afraid to come near me for fear I would eat them in between growls (maybe I can't blame it all on work though, as it was the time in my cycle where I tend to get slightly crazy.)

Then the weekend came and I breathed it in just like a prisoner would who has been released from prison after 20 long years.

And once again came Monday. I went to work and I got stuck in and had a fabulous day. Then Tuesday, a little trepidation, wondering if something would crop up to make my positive thoughts run to the negative... but nope. Another great day. And here I am at Thursday, wondering where the week has gone. I've been so busy I don't know which way to turn but I'm thriving. I've easily stayed focused at work, am rising to the daily challenges and I still have enough energy to come home, get tea ready and even squeeze in some exercise. What's even better are days like today when I come home and find that our 16 year old has cleaned the house, including his bathroom and my husband offers to treat us to supper at the Harvest Moon. I really can't complain.

I certainly won't be complaining come payday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

They came, they saw,they loved
(in more ways than one)

I can't believe that its been two weeks now since my Mom and Aunt left to go back to Canada.

What a whirlwind of a ride it was having them here. Everybody knows that I never, ever had the expectation that my Mom, Gina would make the journey to come and visit me in the UK. Mom is the best, I couldn't ask for a better mother, but travelling by air is not her most favourite way to go. Because she has such an amazing, wonderful sister, Anita who was brave enough to accompany her, they finally made the decision to come. Once they arrived, they realized that it isn't as hard as some people make it out to be, travelling overseas. Mom is now saying that I don't live as far away as all that... and better yet, she will be back. Both of them have said this :)

Looking at Tower Bridge from the Tower of London

I love to hear everything Mom has had to say, both whilst she was here, and since she has gone home. We had so many moments of laughter and yes, a few tears. But only tears of joy. I think it has made my mother feel so much better seeing what my life is like here in Britain, and meeting my friends and extended family (she had already met my in-laws and step-sons of course). But to actually see how I live, and how joyfully we do so, gives her some peace.

At the Splash

The fact that our families gel so well means the world to me, probably even more so to Andy. I could never have chosen for myself a husband who was not accepted by my parents, nor whose parents were not accepting of myself. And vice-versa. Families are so important and life is to short to be wasted on people who think they are better than others. Andy and I originally chose each other passionately, but tread very cautiously where our families were concerned and because of this we have not had to deal with belittlement within our blended family.

Mom, Wendy and Aunt Nita at the Family Garden Party - I'm framing this one

A few highlights from the Holiday:

- Waiting joyfully at (the surprisingly uncrowded) Terminal 3 Heathrow Airport for the ladies to arrive. Not being able to wait for them once they walked out of the arrivals gate before running down to embrace both Aunt Anita and Mom.

- Just seeing the awe on their faces as they took in all the strange sights of a new country... the smaller, enclosed spaces, but with so many more people, the cars with steering wheels on the opposite side, and cars being driven on the other side. Never mind the looks on their faces when confronted with Buckingham Palace and the Crown Jewels. Their eyes were a bit welled with tears, just the same as mine had originally been. I know what they were thinking: How much Mom (my beloved Nanny) would have loved to have seen all this.

- The moment when Aunt Nita and I went to pay for our pub meal in London and Aunt Nita pulled out some notes, and then a bag of lose change Uncle Gordon had sent with her. 'Will this help?' as she handed me the clear baggy. I started to count out the money when I realized something wasn't right. I looked closer: these were no £ coins I was used to... they were shillings! The old English currency that was outdated sometime in the sixties I think. Let me tell you, we roared over that one.

- Mom's joy upon seeing where I lived, here in the outskirts of Grimsby, the house, the boys (and how they'd grown in 3 years), and of course, my baby Molly. The love between Molly and her two 'Nana's' was instantaneous. Why wouldn't it be?

- The arrival of Carol-Anne on the Friday, who gelled immediately with both women, Aunt Nita especially: I think the two of them spent more time laughing and crying than all of us combined.

- The time spent in the kitchen as Mom, Aunt Nita and Carol-Anne churned out delicious food night after night, especially for the BBQ we held on Saturday Eve. Aunt Nita's Asian Slaw is a hit now not only in Canada, but in the UK. Recipes have been emailed out as per request. I don't know how many chocolate chip oatmeal cookies Mom turned out, but me and the boys were so grateful. Sorry, but they were shared with no one else. I know Aunt Nita made at least three apricot cakes made with Philly Cheese, and if it weren't for the fact I need to be eating healthily, I would be attempting to make it myself. We've already gone through what they'd frozen for 'later'.

The four of us gals spent at least a few hours sitting at the dinning room table talking, laughing, drinking endless cups of tea, coffee, wine, breezers, etc. and better yet, swapping recipes.

- And then there were the days out: Lincoln Castle and Cathedral, Chatsworth House, York, for a ride through the countryside on a steam-engined train.

Boarding the Steam Train

Molly and her Nana's ready to get going :)

The Cheeky Two

The Journey Back...

The only disappointment of the whole journey was the beautiful day we went for a train ride and and ventured to Robin's Hood Bay on the way back. The weather had turned by then: the wind was up and the tide was in - right in. So no walk on the beach.

Robin Hood's Bay

But I was so proud of the ladies for making the hike back up to the car-park, because if you know Robin Hood's Bay, you know that is some hill. Stopping in for hot chocolate and scones didn't hurt, nor the fact that Molly was happy to assist in 'pulling' both women up the hill.

Also, the small outings, but still filled with fun and excitment: Taking the ladies to church on a Sunday morning and then sunning ourselves in the garden afterwards, consuming Mango breezers, listening to Johnnie Reed and calling the Aunties back home; the usual trips to the local pubs and some further afield like The Splash; the walks on the beach and in Hubbards Hills. They truly loved it all.

- Seeing how happy everyone was when together, be it with my family or friends:

The night of the BBQ was terrific, having mom and Aunt Nita laughing and singing with Irish Paul, and mom flirting with Lord Ady Sanderson (Sarah's husband) and both of them openly giving cuddles all around.

The day of the family Garden Party at Wendy's, especially when Mom and Anita finally got to meet Claire, something they were so eager for, and then the joy on her face when she realized all that they'd brought for her; watching Connor run around with his Dad's Canon, pretending to be the paparazzi; listening to Uncle Brian tease Aunt Nita and to have Aunt Mavis tell her stories.

It's all been brilliant, the way everyone embraced each other, just like I knew they would.

I couldn't stop smiling, and still haven't.