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

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Friday, November 25, 2011

The City of Love

sParis lived up to my every expectation, and more.  The trip we took in 2006 was fun for so many varying reasons;  it was a place that I unwittingly fell in love with and I've always wanted to return.  After this trip alone with my husband, I can honestly say it's one of my favourite cities ever

The Parisians are so kind, so accommodating... so helpful.  Without even being asked.  I can't give that to various other European cities. 

Despite a few hiccups such as:

Andy giving his head a very hard knock prior to even leaving the local train station;
Almost missing our connecting train out of Newark;
Not having time to stop at the champagne bar in St Pancras;
Ilhame not being in when we arrived at the bed and breakfast after travelling all day;
An elephant being in the in the room above us on the first night;
My camera lens falling apart;
A very sore blister on my little toe;
Andy nearly being pickpocketed on the underground, however that was more amusing than anything as he was well aware of the situation; we had another laugh when we saw the police questioning the female pickpockets ten minutes later. 

We had an absolutely amazing time in Paris.

The best bits? 

Well the big glass of wine we were given when Ilhame finally got home to greet us;  It was hard to stay annoyed at such a vivacious, sweet natured lady - especially when she is filling your glass with cold, crisp wine.

The room: truly authentic Parisian with a Moroccan twist. 

The breakfast:  home-made jams, croissants, pain-au-chocolate, breads and coffee. 

Walking along the Seine on a lazy Sunday morning.

 Taking in the sites from a river cruise

The Sunday Market up by Sacre Coeur

Watching the street dancers up on the Tracadero

Lunch in a cafe with a view of the Eiffel Tower

The mussels :)

The Wine

The authentic Italian Bistro we found that served a gorgeous scallop linguine

The amazing shops of Galeries Layfayette

Laughing with my husband as he drank his first glass of chardonnay with me (with me).

(alhtough I think he's drinking Leffe here... a few moments later he was drinking wine)

The coffee

The Wine (again)

The rumpy pumpy.... Sorry TMI maybe, but it was a romantic trip to Paris - would you expect any different?

The Christmas Market down the Champs Elysees

All the laughs with my husband

Seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up for Christmas

Spending four glorious days alone with my husband.

Friday, November 18, 2011

If money was no object

Sometimes I can't help but have a look at what's on offer in terms of Nova Scotia real estate.  Especially in comparison to what is on offer locally.  There is no comparison.  None at all.  The type of home that appeals to me here is so far out of reach that it's not even worth day dreaming about.  The house we live in is within our limits if we decided we wanted to buy here. However I can't help but think of what we could get in Nova Scotia for a similar price.  A few weeks ago I came across this:

I've always dreamed of a big front porch

I could so see me and Andy in our bedroom nook enjoing a cup of coffee on a wintry Sunday morning
Sea views from mostly every room in the house...

Although it's not near Queensland or Chester, it ticks all the boxes for me in terms of my 'dream home'.  You can check out the full listing for yourself here if you want. Dream is probably all I will ever be able to do in terms of owning a home like this as it is definitely out of our price range... but you never know.  If we work hard and long enough in England, some day something like this might just be possible in Canada. But most likely not.   

However, back to my regularly scheduled life;  as Paris is on the agenda I have no complaints.  My nails and fake bake are all sorted and I've been going over my wardrobe mentally for at least a week now.  I'm not packing light which I normally try and do for short breaks, as I want to be prepared for anything: afternoon strolls by the Seine, dinner and drinks with my husband and of course the concert at the Royal Albert Hall that we are going to when we arrive back in London on Tuesday.  I'm not a fanatic for designer labels and only own a select few items, and other than my boots and coats, I don't have a lot of expensive clothes.  I'm kind of middle of the road.  However since I'm going to Paris, which I believe is one of the most stylish cities in the world, I kind of wish I at least had a designer hand bag like one of these: 

Jimmy Choo


I won't tell you how much these bags retail for if you don't already know. 

I happened to express my wish out loud to one of my friends at work yesterday and when she turned up at my house last night to have her nails done, she came touting both a Jimmy Choo handbag (tan) and a Mulberry tote bag (in a burnt orangy brown).  Both very similar to those pictured above.  Ummm yeah, that's a friend for you.  I chose the Mulberry for this particular trip. I will at least be rockin an amazing bag and a big grin if nothing else. 

What more could a girl want? (I'll save that post for another day)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Three More Sleeps

I took two days off work last week to spend some time in Nottingham with my sister-in-law and niece, Daisy. I didn’t let the fact that I was coming down with a cold impinge on my time spent with them, and so far there are no signs that I left my cold with them.

My local gym has been taken over by Virgin and because of this I was able to attend Alison’s gym on Saturday morning (I managed to run over 3 k’s even though I thought my head was going to explode). Spending time at Ali’s gym only reaffirmed that the gym I’m attending could be so much better. Alison gets loads more for her monthly fee than I do. The gym is three times the size and the class schedule looks so much better. I’ve been debating giving up my membership but I know I won’t do it. The last time I quit the gym I gained weight that I still haven’t been able to shake. So no, as disgruntled as I am I will not be giving up the gym. I can continue to hope that it will improve and they will eventually hire instructors that are qualified to teach spin, rather than pulling the trainers off the floor. I’m sorry, our trainers might be good at what they do in the gym, however I don’t think they belong in front of a spin class; especially if they don’t bring any added flair or personality. Spin is challenging enough without being boring to boot. I won't even start on our TRX... Oh, and before you suggest it, I won’t change gyms as the one I go to is just so convenient in terms of location and parking. I can jog up there and do some weights. That is, whenever I decide to get my arse into a weight regime again.

So… Andy and I have been down with a bug over the last few days. I really have to give him credit though for coming to fetch me in Nottingham on Saturday morning when he was feeling dreadful. What a guy. However it was better that we were sick last weekend than this coming weekend; we have three more sleeps till we catch the Eurostar to Paris and I.can’t.wait.

To have nearly three days in one of the most romantic cities in the world with my husband will be so good. We need this break, it’s been a tough year and we haven’t had any time away on our own in too damn long.

We are even looking forward to the train journey: 

(Hard to believe the last trip on Eurostar was in 2006)
I’m really looking forward to spending an afternoon doing this:

and maybe visiting a few wine bars :)
Oh, and I'm so looking forward to the gorgeous bed and breakfast we are booked into, which you can have a look at for yourself here; Fingers crossed it stands up to it’s reputation. I’m  pleased I could get us a place in the Montmartre Quarter; we will have lots of time to explore the artsy markets and cafes.

I’m also looking forward to returning here again:

Sorry, but I still can’t comprehend why there isn’t one in the UK… even Halifax, Nova Scotia even has a shop now, yet the UK doesn’t. It makes no sense I tell you.

I will be spending the next few evenings figuring out what to pack, having my nails sorted and doing everything else a girl needs to do when preparing for a Parisian getaway with her man.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Shorter Days = Less Motivation

I try really hard not to be late for things, especially work. I’m lucky to have the kind of job where I have some flexibility and no one questions me if I’m ten minutes late. It’s just accepted that I will make it up at the end of the day or take it off my flexi-time. No big deal. Besides I’m usually in at 8:00 am, well before anyone else anyway.
All my life I had the misfortune of being habitually late. I wonder if this is something that I learned, although I don’t know from whom, my mom and dad are never late for appointments and tried to teach us all the importance of being on time. My mother said I was a late delivery, stubborn in my quest to stay snuggled inside of her. (I don’t think I can be blamed though; it was January and seriously, what time of year is that to be born?) It was only after she slipped on the ice on one of her long walks to try and coax me out that I was actually jarred into moving. During my latter school days Mom had the patience of a saint in her quest to get me out of bed. When it came to getting a lift from my dad, if I wasn’t ready when he was I could often be found running out the door as he was pulling out of the drive. If I was lucky, he would stop; I wasn’t always lucky. (I thought I’d always be mad at him for those times yet having teenagers in the house has given me a slightly different perspective and I’ve become much ‘harder’ than I ever thought I could be – it’s necessary at times, trust me.)

I married a man who is never late for anything. He is also a man who has approximately the same level of patience as my dad when it comes to being ready to leave on time (just ask my sister) and from an early stage in our relationship I managed to adapt; (Andy has also lightened up a bit over the last few years and isn’t as impatient – I guess we are good for each other after all :) I pride myself on the fact that these days I am usually always on time for appointments. I’m even prouder of the fact that when my husband and I agree on a time of departure I am ready to roll when he is. I’m not usually ready before, but I can guarantee you if we planned to leave the house at 7:00 pm I will be walking out the door at 7:00 pm. I surprise myself on days when I’m ready ten minutes early. When it comes to appointments though, I will often walk in no more than five minutes beforehand. I won’t ever change in this aspect because I abhor waiting rooms.

These days I find myself waking up about an hour before my alarm goes off. I usually have an argument with myself on whether or not I should get up to exercise (I would love to be that person), take Molly for a walk or even possibly catch up on a bit of laundry etc. I always lose this argument and although I’m almost wide awake I stay there till I fall back asleep and am rudely awakened just after 7 am feeling annoyed at myself for not getting up earlier. I really wish I could get up in time to do more than wash my face, fix my hair and put on a minimal amount of makeup prior to going. And no, I don’t shower most mornings as I have my bath or shower before bed each night. It’s rare when I have an extra few minutes to actually style my hair and make lunch (if it hasn’t been done the night before). Even when I do wake up with time to spare I usually waste it trying to figure out what to wear.

Today I had set my alarm for 6:40 and when it went off I didn’t even hit snooze. I was up early enough to take Molly for a romp on the field with her ball; the reason behind my earlier rise was that Molly’s granddad couldn’t walk her at midday so she needed a walk before work. It’s amazing how much better I feel throughout the day when I actually achieve what I plan. Since the time change nearly two weeks ago I’ve not been able to get to the gym as much or take Molly out after dark (its fireworks central around here at the moment) which has put the brakes on my jogging in the evening. So last night I hopped on my stationary bike for almost an hour and as always, a good sweat goes a long way in making me feel much brighter and better about, well everything.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Capturing the True Essance

I understand that times are changing and the world of technology can be amazing and wonderful.  I understand that today's children are being raised very differently to the way previous generations have been raised; many of these changes are great, some of them not so.  I'm not going to start ranting about how I think too many kids are wrapped up in 'cotton wool' or being spoiled to the extreme or even how materialistic the world has become.  I'm going to stop myself from making this about my thoughts on children and the varying extremes of raising them because I don't have any of my own and some of you might tell me I'm not qualified to raise such issues in the first place.  Because as we know, all childless women are clueless when it comes to child rearing (yes, I am rolling my eyes and smiling). 

However I've steered a little of track from what I originally meant to yell at talk to you about today.  I'm a little sad that the world is obsessed with appearances to the point where it's not only magazines that are doing things like this:

(What the hell was wrong with her before? When Faith Hill needs to be thinned down it's a sad state of affairs)

No wonder so many young girls (and even some boys) are obsessed with their weight and develop eating disorders.  Personally I think the before shot looks much better and I don't think I'd be on my own.

I suppose I can see the reason behind the editing of this picture:

 yet at the same time I think the first picture is more 'relatable'. But 'relatable'doesn't seem to matter when you are of celebrity status. God forbid you have a few flaws.

Photoshop is an awesome tool.  I realize that many of you take great joy in it and spend hours 'editing' photos.  Making a bride's smile whiter and brighter or erasing a small blemish; I love it when I see pictures that have been 'softened up' or when the back ground is a bit out of focus (although my husband can manage this with just his camera).  I imagine photoshop can go a long way in helping someone's self image.  But at the same time, if you have to move people from one photo and place them in another because their eyes were shut in the first photo, I struggle to understand how that is a true image. I completely get it when people/items are 'photoshopped' into a picture for design purposes i.e. the banner of your blog, invitations, etc.  What I can't  do is give credit to a photographer that has photoshopped a picture to the point where it hardly represents the original shot any longer. How can they be acknowledged as a brilliant photographer? 

Sure there are plenty of pictures that I would love to have 'slimmed down'; Why couldn't there have been an editing program available when my school photos were taken? I would have loved to have had the option at the time, yet as awful as most of them are, they remind me of the awkward teenager who couldn't keep her eyes open, smile naturally or have nice, clear skin.  They remind me of the girl I was back then, and if nothing else, they provide me with a good laugh. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Ghosts of Halloween Past

Driving home from a dinner with colleagues last evening I was delighted to see tons of trick or treaters roaming the streets and they weren’t only on the main streets in town but were also out in droves in our village. When I pulled in the drive I was thrilled to see that Andy had put up even more decorations and ensured our jackolaterns were all lit. Because we live at the back of a cul-de-sac many kids might not bother to come all the way in without the enticement of spooky lighting. However Andy said we had about 25 so we were already up by 15 from last year. Unfortunately no more came around after I got in; I’m basically ok with this though as by 7:30 it’s usually just the big kids who don’t even bother to put much of a costume on. Another bonus for the goblins out last night was that the temperature was between 10-15 degrees so it wasn’t cold out. That’s one thing I always remember about trick or treating back in Nova Scotia; the temp never failed to drop to about 2 degrees on all hallows eve.

Plinky.com asked for a favourite memory of Halloween. I don’t have any one particular favourite, however I do have a few moments that stand out from Halloween’s past:

• Dressing in mom’s wedding gown when I was about 12 or 13. I couldn’t believe she let me wear her wedding dress; the only disappointing factor was that it wouldn’t zip up over the bulky sweater I had to wear. (It was probably more the fact that I am a completely different build to my mom and at 12 was about 30 lbs heavier than she was on her wedding day; She’s much shorter and has a slight frame). I reckon my little sister Tawny wore that dress without issue on another Halloween as she was skinny and hadn’t a rack most page 3 girls would pay big money for.)

  • The last year I went out.  My friends and I each filled not one, but two pillow cases with loot.   If you are going to retire from the game, you might as well make it a good one.  (We were about 15.)
• My cousin and I dressed as 1980's prostitutes one year… I know, I know. Ridiculous. What’s even more ridiculous was that we actually caught the attention of a couple of fellows and ended up speaking to them for quite awhile before I cottoned on to the fact that they actually thought we were hookers. Great. I was not flattered. Needles to say, that was a lesson I didn’t need to learn twice. It's actually kind of sad that there were a number of young girls walking around our estate last night looking pretty much the same.

• My front window getting egged the first year I lived here. There wasn’t a knock at the door first so I know it wasn’t tricksters pulling a stunt because there were no treats to be had. It wasn’t a pleasant job to clean up and I’m glad we don’t live on a main thoroughfare anymore.

My sister posted a picture of Clara in both of her Halloween costumes yesterday. She had one for the day and a much warmer, bumblebee costume for trick or treating. I’m not quite sure where they went as Clara isn’t yet 2, however I love the Halloween spirit her parents are instilling in her. (Another blogger who adores Halloween and has two adorable girls, Jen mentioned her fear that a number of traditions seem to be dying out with today’s generation, with the exception of the materialism aspect and I sadly have to agree). Although Halloween doesn't seem to be what it was when I was young, I hope it doesn't end up only being about expensive costumes and trick or treating inside (i.e. malls).  Especially as it only seems to be getting more popular in the UK now. Oh, and how bad is it that most of the costumes young (and not so young) women are wearing have to be some type of 'sexy' theme.  Give me Marge Simpson or a gory zombie any year. 

Here’s a picture of Clara the Fairy (her daytime costume):

I think she makes the most adorable fairy ever.