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

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

And you can bet we will be calling in at the Champagne Bar in St. Pancras...

How could I forget to mention in my previous post that Andy has booked us tickets on the Eurostar to Paris in November.   

I've wanted to return to this city alone with my husband since we visited it in spring six years ago (I can't believe it's been that long) with my extended family...

I always thought Paris in the spring would be best but something tells me that pre-Christmas Paris will be just as beautiful... imagine all the Christmas lighting and shop windows, coffee in the riverside cafe's and wine-fueled dinners in cozy bistros.  Hmmmmm oui, si'l vous plait... 

When I think of this my feelings sway towards elation.  Not that I want to think about Christmas just yet, especially in 29 degree heat, however I do like the thought of Paris at anytime...

The sunny side of life

I’m smiling today for a variety of reasons:

• The sun is shining and it’s 29 degrees out. Yes, it’s a work day and the start beginning of Autumn... we've been waiting for this type of weather all summer.  It's a few months late, buy better late than never and maybe we are appreciating it a little bit more because it's so unexpected.

• My friend and work colleague just used her daughter’s trade card to get me a bunch of bargain’s at the salon wholesaler's, including Rusk Hairspray for £1.50 marked down. I can’t wait to wash my hair tonight with my Rusk Shampoo. I seem to be off Bed Head these days.

• Andy is home on a four day weekend. We are trying to decide if we want to go to Norfolk on Saturday for the night or just take advantage of the great weather and chill at home. Either way works for me.

Content is how I'm feeling... I like it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Waterfalls and Rain

Getting away for a few days last week was exactly what was needed;  my brother was just as taken with the natural beauty that is found in nearly every direction of the Lake District as we are.  It never gets old.

I thought I'd never been to Ullswater before, however last year when my cousin was here Andy took us for a drive through the North Lakes and we stopped briefly for a walk through the woods, to a beautiful waterfall.  Because it had been raining and I hadn't been driving, I didn't realize that this was the same walk I had picked out for John and I to do.  Isn't it odd how sunshine makes something look completely different?

Last year, due to the rain our walk was only about 1/2 hour,  just to the falls and back.  Last Thursday John and I went up to the Aira Force Falls (Andy had to work) but then continued onwards for a further 3 1/4 hours. 

It was a fantastic hike, the sun was shining and Molly was in her element. 

Aira Force Falls

Above the falls...

John and our Molly

The changes in scenery were amazing:

I love this one of my girl:

Only a small section of Ullswater Lake:

On Friday we visited the town of Keswick and browsed around the quaint shops while we waited to see if the rain would cease.  After a pub lunch we decided to go for it and head out for a hike, thinking the worst of the rain was over.  It wasn't.  It only got worse.  However it wasn't cold and it was the kind of heavy rain that actually feels quite peaceful, so we hiked around the lake enjoying the solitude a rainfall like this brings. Although we cut it short, it was still a good walk.

We didn't get many pictures from this hike as I didn't want to ruin my camera...

My handsome hiking companions:

I like this one... we actually look like seasoned hikers here.  (Amazing what the right clothes can achieve eh?) 

The stones in the lake have engravings on them... beautiful.

We packed up on Saturday morning and came home as the weather didn't get any better. 

I'm already looking forward to the next trip to the Lakes.  Something tells me it won't be long.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No strikes but we've had a ball just the same

Just thought I'd give you a quick update:

There will be no strike action for the flight attendants of Air Canada.  This means my brother will be leaving on Saturday morning as regularly scheduled.  Mom rang last night to let us know and I was touched by John's response when he said 'I'm not sure if I'm disappointed or relieved'. 

My emotions are mixed because I had mentally prepared for his departure prior to finding out that he might not be going Saturday and therefore started to feel a little bit of excitement that I might actually have him with me for longer.  Greedy I know... but sometimes it's ok to feel like that right?

The next few days are going to pass by much too quickly, for certain.

Tonight John and I are going to Robert and Dawn's for homemade Thai Red Curry with shrimp, followed by the most scrumptious chocolate mousse I have ever eaten.  Seriously, Robert could market this stuff and make a ton of money.  John might not want to leave after Robert tempts him with this bit of heaven in a ramekin.  I think it's more than possible we might partake in a little wine/beer drinking as well.  One never knows... ok, who am I kidding?  I reckon I will have a slight hangover for work tomorrow.  

Tomorrow evening we are having dinner with Beryl, one last trip to the carvery so John can indulge in the British tradition of Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.  (Although he has become rather fond of the the new staple British meal - Indian curry.  I can't believe my brother is now a major fan of Fish Shashlik).

I've taken Friday off so John and I can have the day together.  We will be heading uptown in order to enjoy one last Nero's Latte before a bit of last minute shopping (I'm sending all my Christmas presents home with him, how organized am I?) before heading home to walk Molly and get ready for one last night at the Harvest Moon with friends and family. 

As mentioned, I think the next few days are going to pass in a blur before we send him back to Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Most of what I'm talking about today could go in any direction...

I have said this before and I'm saying it again:  it’s probably not a good idea for me to post when I’m on, or for that matter, post that I am even on in the first place; or better yet I should refrain from posting anything at all.   If you don’t understand my meaning when I say ‘on’ then  you are probably not a female and aren't you the lucky one.
Today I feel like I could quite happily rip someone’s head off while alternately laughing and crying into the cavern left by that space. Ugly I know. But ugly is how I am feeling today. Well… at least right now. This could change in an hour or so, or even a minute. 

Anyway I thought I'd give you a rundown on what’s been making my head spin in various directions over the last few days:

I was elated yesterday to hear that this man won the award for outstanding supporting actor, in a drama:

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Not only is this program my absolute favourite at the moment, his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister is fantastic. Check it out if you don’t believe me. I’ve loved this actor from the moment I first saw him in The Station Agent, back in 2003.

John and I wrapped up the prequel, Spartacus - God’s of the Arena last night. 6/6 shows in one evening. Terrible I know, but we wanted to watch it together as we had watched Blood and Sand prior to his European tour. I was saddened to hear Andy Whitfield, who played Spartacus, died a few weeks ago after a long battle with cancer. He was absolutely beautiful. When I first started Blood and Sand I wasn’t sure if it would be my thing, yet I was drawn in.  Despite the obscene, over the top violence, there is so much that appeals to me about the show, besides all the sex and nudity (full frontal… and not just the women.) And I’m not even sorry or ashamed to admit that I like it. I’m not sure how I will feel when the third season is launched with a new actor.

In other news, Air Canada flight attendants are likely going on strike this week. I’m not sure how I feel about this as I have been so fortunate to have my brother here with me for as long as I have. It will be hard to say goodbye on Saturday morning, if all goes to plan. And I can't help but hope for one more week.  He has been such a comfort to have around, especially in light of recent events (also as Andy is away from Monday-Friday.) It also doesn’t hurt that John takes Molly for a long walk every day, and helps with the housework. Who wouldn’t appreciate not having to rush out with the dog or pull clothes in off the line after a day at work. However if the strike does go ahead, it’s not certain when he could fly out and I know how that feels as I was in Nova Scotia during the volcano eruptions last year. As chilled as he is, and as much as I’d be happy to keep him, not knowing when you are leaving can be frustrating even when you are in the comfort of your relation’s home. Besides I know my mom and his friends want him back :)

Although my husband has never said a word and has seemed to enjoy having my brother around, I think he is looking forward to having me to himself again. I understand that feeling too, because for seven years I didn’t often get a weekend with him alone; it’s just not possible when he has three children, one of whom lived with us.
Andy and I are looking to clear out at Christmas. I know he wants a rest, and he deserves a rest.  We don’t want to be here this Christmas as something tells us it will be less than idyllic. I can't lie and say I wouldn't be thrilled to spend Christmas with my family. I haven’t done so since 2005 and Andy has never celebrated a Christmas in Nova Scotia, however the cost is high and I don’t think it’s the rest my husband is thinking of. So… this leaves us trying to figure out what to do. The Canary Islands seems to be the only option for somewhere warm within our price range and I’m frankly not keen; the islands appear to be something similar to a tropical Blackpool… not mine, or Andy’s idea of a relaxing holiday.

We don’t ski, so a chalet in France or Austria really doesn’t make a lot of sense, however tempting.

A posh hotel or cottage in the picturesque countryside would suit me fine, but again I’m not sure.... if you have any suggestions, I'm definitely open to them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Some Days...

I consume more than one diet coke. Other days, I don’t drink any.

I don’t drink wine, even though I really, really want to…

I think about running away with just Molly for company. But then I think I would miss my husband and his hugs so he would probably have to come too ;)

I go from being really mad at myself for carrying a few extra pounds and not being motivated enough to get rid of them, to thinking of the time I spend at the gym in comparison to a lot of other people which re-affirms that my physical health isn’t all that bad.

I wish I could be at Mersey River, floating in a canoe on the lake with a Ricker’s Red.

Or wish that I was hiking through the Lake District, enjoying the serenity of the hills and lakes as I look forward to a pub meal washed down with a pint of stout, while Molly sits at my feet.

But wait, that wish is going to be a reality because tomorrow I’m taking my brother away to see what all the fuss is about… and I think he might just get it.

Getting away for a few days to one of my favourite locations ever, where Andy can join us in the evenings and all day on Friday (he is lucky enough to be working in Penrith) is just what we need. The company has approved a flat in Carlisle for him to stay in during his months away so although we won’t get the cozy cottage experience, we will get to stay longer because accommodation fees are not an issue and I like that just a lot.

Andy and I are actually figuring we are likely going to be spending more weekends than not up there... but who could blame us really.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Where you invest your love, you invest your life... (Awake My Soul)

Lately I have been reading a number of blogs wherein my friends say that they wish they could be open and honest with their posts regarding current family issues, however as some subjects are of a delicate nature, they have to refrain, especially when the blog is open to a number of family readers. One friend has actually given up one blog to begin another that I don’t believe she is sharing with family.

I have always been forthright when I write my posts, perhaps too much so on the odd occasion; however there are some subjects that I have to refrain from for just this reason. When I first relocated to England, I found myself frustrated and angry and often wrote about my feelings regarding my husband’s former relationship and how difficult everything didn’t need to be. However I deleted those posts as a) I didn’t want to be that person, and b) I had no idea who was reading my blog…

Eight years on, I’m glad I did this because I know for a fact the kids know about this blog, as do their mother. For a long time I debated giving it up and starting another one that they didn’t have access to, or at least opening it to invited readers only. It’s no secret that Andy’s ex and I are not friends (that ship sailed a few years back despite my attempts to be amiable for the sake of the kids). I think most of my fellow readers would also agree that it’s not always ideal when your step-kids (or kids) have access to one’s most serious thoughts. This blog after all, has always been a form of therapy to me; so far, it’s kept me off the happy pills. Andy has asked me to not give up on this blog as it’s been a major player in my life for well over eight years, and why should I change it? I don’t write nasty paragraphs about anybody I know personally and if the kids don’t like the fact that I sometimes groan about how frustrating it can be raising another woman’s child, then guess what? They don’t have to read it. On the odd occasion when I have mentioned a particularly trying moment I’m experiencing in relation to the kids, it’s based on my perception of how it’s making me feel at any given time. I don’t share personal details because my posts are not primarily about them, they are about me and how I may or may not be handling a given situation.

This year has been one of the hardest yet in relation to dealing with familial issues. It’s had me re-evaluating my relationship with Andy’s kids and although I’m not willing to share what exactly has been going on, it’s fair enough to say that yet again another relationship has broken down, causing me to accept the fact that after putting my heart and soul into assisting Andy raise his children, I’m now taking a back seat. Please don’t think for a moment that it means I don’t love them any less. Love can’t be turned off like a faucet, however fortunate or not this may be.

Parenting is a thankless job at times, raising teenagers is hard enough but add a broken family into the mix and it becomes that much harder. I think perhaps I took the wrong road all those years ago. My heart bled for Andy’s children who had so much to contend with and I often put myself second, as so many ‘mothers’ do. I think a cool, hands-off approach would have served me better, even though it goes against the grain of my nature. However it would have saved me a lot of hassle and heart-ache. My sister-in-law probably had the right idea all along when it came to step-parenting.

Don’t get me wrong, although the past eight years have been filled with a lot of unnecessary BS, there have been a number of good times, more good times than bad and Andy and I still remain strong and united. However I have done a lot of thinking over the last week and I’ve decided that I’m finished with all the drama and that I’m going to live my life with my husband and no more looking back. What’s happened has happened and I’m not even going to bother to try and fix it… I’ve been there/done that and I’m finished with that role… the kids are all out of the house now, mostly grown. They have a mum and dad (as well as extended family members/friends) that they can turn to should they need it.

Sorry, but this well has run dry.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Temper, Temper

I was looking for some inspiration today in terms of an interesting blog post and as my sister is participating in a type of question and answer session inspired over at plinky.com, I thought I’d follow suit (at least for today). The question that I chose to answer is:

What's the best way to blow off steam when you're angry?

This question caught my attention for a variety of reasons, namely because this past weekend I found myself very, very angry. I’m not going to say who I was angry at or why, but my anger manifested itself in a way it hasn’t in a very long time… I banged the kitchen wall hard with my right fist (side on), whilst simultaneously hitting it open-palmed with my right hand. I know this because my right wrist still hurts and my hand print is still on the wall.

I’ve always thought people who punched walls were stupid and I still do. You aren’t hurting anyone but yourself and what is gained really? But then, if I really think about it, it’s probably a much lesser form of ‘self-harm’ (well depending on how hard you actually hit the wall). And most people who self harm do so to give themselves a form of ‘release’.

I hit the wall once when I was a teenager, after a fight with my dad and I haven’t ever done it since; until this weekend. I think I was trying really hard to not let my tears win out, which is usually what happens when I’m angry. No matter, the tears still won out in the end, so what was the point? No one was there to witness my crazy behaviour; thankfully my brother was upstairs working out, however Connor did arrive at the house just as I was drying my tears, whilst trying to carry on making an Oreo Cheesecake to eat after the stifado that I was preparing for a dinner party that evening. Poor Connor didn’t hang around in the kitchen for long as he knew he was already in my ‘not impressed with you’ book and besides, it’s been a tough few months due to a few issues we’ve been having to deal with in relation to his brother so I think he knew leaving me to it was the best way to proceed. Poor mite, he wasn’t even around long enough that day to enjoy a piece of the cheesecake… which was gone by the next day. It would seem as if my husband and brother enjoyed it just a bit too much.

So to answer the question, this is what I normally try to do to assuage my anger (besides cry):

Exercise (lots and lots of exercise – shame I wasn’t angrier more often eh?)

Talk it out with someone who isn’t a cause of the anger, although sometimes I just prefer to be alone for awhile to sort through issues on my own. I will often talk to the person (if my anger is directed at an actual person) I’m angry with once I’ve calmed myself down. I believe words said in a temper are often ones we want to swallow as soon as they’ve left our mouths.

Listen to loud, angry music. One of my favourites is ‘I Hope You Die’ by the Bloodhound Gang. Sad, yet true, it is so therapeutic to me when I’m riled. The fact that it has swear words really helps.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Rumpelstiltskin, Pocahontas and Me

I’m sure I heard it mentioned somewhere recently that fairy tales are going to become more modified; softer and sweeter. This made me pause for thought… hasn’t this already been done numerous times?

I adored the Grimm Brother Fairy Tales growing up. I was a child who seemed to be drawn to the dark side, I cannot lie. I much preferred the more ‘twisted’ tales told by the Brother’s Grim than those of Disney. Now don’t get me wrong, I can sing Princess Aurora’s ‘I know you’ as well as any eight year old girl who is obsessed with Disney; and although I am drawn to the caustic and woeful, I do adore a good love story. Admittedly these also tend to be of a more serious nature ie. ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ appeals much more than 'You've Got Mail’; Yet I will never seem to veto throwing in a handsome prince, it can’t hurt, however realistic they may or may not be because let’s face it, most young girls have the ability to realize, especially once grown, that Prince Charming is not likely to appear riding out of the mist on a white steed to whisk us away to never-never land. Even Kate Middleton, who did manage to snag herself a real life prince, isn’t living a fairy tale, not really. I mean, sure she has the beautiful home and pretty dresses, yet she has obligations and duties to attend to that I don’t envy. Not one bit.

The Brothers’ Grimm told a much more ‘grim’ story than more current fairy tales or other books written for children, yet despite this they often had an ending that saw stranded lovers reunited, or children freed from the horrible clutches of an old witch; but not before they had to go to hell and back before they had their ‘happy ending’, which to me is much more akin to real life than the softer versions that have been written in more recent years. (And let’s face it, as dark as these stories could sometimes get, they hold no comparison to some of the video games and movies that young children are being exposed to.) Oh, and I musn't forget one of my all time favourite fairy tales, The Princess Bride.  Not a Brother's Grimm story, but a fairy tale all the same, one I only discovered in my early 20's. 

The only aspect that I was (and still am) more drawn to regarding Disney versus the BG, were the princesses and how they were dressed. What little girl doesn’t adore Belle’s beautiful yellow dress? Come on admit it. You wanted that dress as badly as your male counterparts wanted a Luke Skywalker Life Sabre (ok… I wanted one of those too). Yet ironically enough, when I did have the chance to dress as a Disney character, I chose Pocahontas. She was much more my style in the end and much more suited to my personality.

However as much as I enjoyed the romance, accompanying music and fabulous dresses belonging to Aurora and Cinderella, I would still choose Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltskin every time.

What is your favourite fairy tale?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Into September...

I can't believe today is the first of September; that summer is packing up it's bags and getting ready to leave me behind.  Wait a moment.... summer already did that back around the first week in July. 

This summer has been worse than most other typical English summers I have experienced and I shouldn't be sorry to see of the end of August, yet I am.  For although September and October are months I often usually enjoy, I don't like leaving summer behind, no matter how crappy it was.  And boy has it been crappy.  Already there is a chill in the air first thing in the morning, and again by 4:00 pm.  Already the nights are drawing in and I think this is the main factor behind my dislike of the winter months... .the lack of daylight. 

Life always seems so much brighter when the days are longer.  I get more exercise outside, it's not dark when I leave for work, and dark when I get home, I don't have to plan road trips around daylight, because let's face it, when I'm driving I hate to be out on unfamiliar roads in the black of night.  I hate it.  I guess this might lead to an indication that I'm officially old... yet why should this come as a surprise? I hit that mark ages ago, when the hightlight of my Saturday became watching the X-Factor with a bottle of wine and a take-away.  Yet I make no apologies.  I lived it up in my 20's people.  Seriously lived it up, which means I'm ok with the fact that I don't need to be out all weekend long.  Although occasionally Andy and I do enjoy an evening at the local pub, either in the beer garden during summer, or curled up next to the fire in winter, which hopefully indicates that we aren't ready for the geriatric unit just yet. 

September is gearing up to be a good month though, as I have a few vacation days to take here and there (starting tomorrow) and will be journeying out with my brother on a few day trips, as well as to the Lake District in two weeks time.  As of today I have 23 full days left with him and I'm going to relish everyone, as will Molly I'm sure.  I should think it will be a toss up over who is going to miss his company more, me or Molly.

Tomorrow's agenda is a road trip to Nottingham with John, Connor, Dawn and Cameron. One last trip out for the boys before they start school next week.

Let's hope the sun at least pokes it's nose out at least once.