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

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Family Gatherings

This morning I posted the following on my facebook status:  This time in three weeks, I will be waking up in my mom's house.  

It was a busy, yet fulfilling weekend at casa McAllenby;  we babysat Daisy on Friday night so her parents could have a much needed night out as well as a good night's rest. (She was a little gem, went to bed without a peep and slept till 7:35; I woke up at 6:00 wondering why she wasn't awake at her usual time but cheerfully went back to sleep for another hour.)

She is a little whirlwind :) 

Alex and Bonnie came round for the evening as well, as Alex had to work on his car;  I can't complain about a Friday night spent like this: 

We had loads of family time this weekend; on Saturday we had Andy's whole family around (including his Aunty Mavis and Uncle Brian, and our kids) for an afternoon BBQ. I spent a pleasant few hours in the kitchen getting everything ready and we all ate around the table in the backyard, laughing and sharing stories (I couldn't help but think that in a few weeks we will be doing the same with my own family.)  As Bonnie was going out with her friends later that night, and Alex had to work early on Sunday morning, we were content to have Jayden for the night (he's never any trouble - a night feed and then not up until 7ish).  As usual I was pleased to have the house full of Andy's family, even more so because as mentioned previously, we will soon be doing something similar with my own family, especially when we are staying here: 

The Farmhouse, near Mahone Bay 

It's been confirmed that it will be the following group of us for the two nights: 

Myself, Andy and Connor
Robert, Dawn and Cameron
Tawny, Taylor and Clara
Mom and Aunt Marg
Stacy and John

There is tons to do down around the Mahone Bay area and I can't wait to be with this group of my loved ones, planning our meals and activities for the few days we are all together at this gorgeous retreat. 

I really don't know who is more excited: the folks back home or us English contingent.  Either way it's going to be a celebration in more than one way.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Trains & Bays

Last weekend we stayed in the sea-side town of Whitby to celebrate Andy's birthday. 

Robert, Dawn and I took him away for a surprise evening on the Pullman Dining Service - which to those of you who aren't English Train Geeks Fanatics, means a four course meal served on a journey through the Yorkshire countryside on a steam-engined train.  We had hoped to stay in the village of Pickering but trying to find a place to stay was like trying to find a needle in a haystack (and we booked months ago.)

We had really good weather for the drive north (although it wasn't nearly as warm as it has been the last few days) and stopped at the Black Swan Inn for lunch in the gorgeous village of Helmsley.

Andy wasn't quite sure what the plan was for the weekend;  we were thrilleld to see his face light up like that of a young boy on Christmas morning when our taxi pulled up at the quaint Grosmont Station and he saw the group of well dressed people in the platform gardens drinking wine while waiting to board the train...

Not bad for the wrong side of 45 eh? I think he looks pretty hot in his new duds :) 

Everyone cleaned up nicely for the birthday boy...

We didn't get to dine in the car I had really wanted, Car 79, because it was booked out to a group of seniors all decked out in tuxedo's and pretty dresses (something they apparently do every two years)... there was a lot of noise and laughter coming from that group and a few could barely walk when we alighted from the train back at Grosmont.  (Who says the over 50 Club don't know how to have a great time?)

Of course Dawn and I had to take advantage of the stage setting for a photo op:

Showing off my best assets :) 

Someone is dancing in the background :) 

We climbed the hillside for a look around the  ruins of the Abbey in Whitby on Saturday morning, before moving on to one of my favourite places, Robin Hood's Bay.

When we got back home Sunday afternoon Andy and I cracked open a bottle of cold, white wine (yes, my man is beginning to acquire a more distinguished palate) to enjoy in the sunshine before the kids and his parents arrived later that evening.  Needless to say, I made my man a very happy birthday boy (and for more than the reasons I shared with you here, but of course I will keep the fact that I rocked his world more than once to myself. Oops sorry, well so much for decorum).
One of our best weekends this summer.  Here's to many more

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Not long now...

32 sleeps to be precise.  32 sleeps until:

I get to wrap my arms around my mother and sisters; it's been a long 18 months.  (I can't wait to see my menfolk either but as my brother was here for nearly three months last year it's not such a desperate ache.)

I get to experience the warmth of a real summer;

I get to show our closest friends the beauty and peace of the place where I come from and introduce them to all the great people I left behind (well the ones they haven't yet met); 

I get to see Connor's joy at being back in Nova Scotia and watch him show off the place he has come to love nearly as much as I do. 

(Hard to believe how little he was during our first visit as a family in 2006)

I get to try out some new and interesting restaurants; but more importantly get to go back to this place for amazing seafood: 

I get to hug one of my oldest friends (honorary sister) and congratulate her on becoming engaged to a man that makes her happy (as well as see her new home ;) 

And after nearly two years I finally get to cuddle, play with, talk to, sing and dance with, and especially just be with, this little cherub:

(Clara was only 8 months old the first and last time I saw her)

32 Sleeps... as much as I don't want to wish the pathetic British summer away, I can't help but count down the days.  It can't come quickly enough.  

And hopefully we will get lots of opportunities for another great photo shoot like this:

(Especially now that the three of us girls have toned up, some more than another ;)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hypo-all-the-way now...

If you know me at all you will know that my dog Molly holds a place in my life that most people don't.    

For months now she has been suffering from terrible skin allergies.  She's had several doses of antibiotics which would clear everything up for a few weeks but before long the rash/itch would be back.  I changed her food to hypo-allergenic and ordered Omega 3/Starfish oils to add to her diet.  It helped with the itch, but not so much the rash. 

So Mark (Molly's vet) and I agreed that she needed a whole series of blood work.  The result?  Molly is allergic to about four different types of grass, a few trees, nettles, dust and a multitude of other things that dogs have constant access to. Basically everything.  There are no tests for food, but after discussions with myself and a vet dermatologist, Mark reckons she is allergic to a lot of different foods as well.     

Aside from finding out the results of her blood work, this was the outcome of Molly's last trip to the vet:

A month's worth of strong antibiotics 
A strict diet of only hypo-allergenic food and dog treats (no people food at all, which will be hard for her dad, and yes a bit difficult for me too)

A much lighter bank account. - the vet bill is past the £300 mark, thankfully the organic food isn't as bad as I'd thought it would be because of online savings (and at least we have pet insurance for the vet fees)

Oh, and Mark, who takes such great care of Molly, informed me that he is leaving the service.  I could just about bear this news though as he'd just checked out a lump on Molly's back that he told me was nothing to worry about.  We will miss him... well Molly might not, but I will. He's cute, he's Irish and he's a good vet.  

My girl has cost a lot of money over the years, and my heart just about stops when I worry there might be something wrong with her; but she is worth it all.  Every penny, every near heart attack...  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mutton dressed as Lamb

Looks like July has gotten off to an even worse start then the rest of the year in terms of my posting record, yet I will excuse myself as it's been a hectic one so far:

We had a great turn out for our Canada Day Party, despite the weather being tempermental;  Andy as usual pulled out all the stops and decked our yard our brilliantly with Canadian gear.  Almost everyone pitched in and brought some amazing food, the games were a lot of fun, especially the skipping (where more than one person almost lost their pants) and loads of alcohol was consumed.  Aside from someone knocking my shelf down in the bathroom, the iffy weather keeping most of us inside after 10 pm and Andy getting hit with a rough case of hayfever, it was another great party. The next morning found us discussing the possibility of downsizing it next year which is very reminiscent of a conversation we had last year... I had asked a lot less people but we still had quite a crowd.  Sometimes I shake my head at the amount of people we have made friends with over the last few years. To any of you who may struggle with not being one of the 'popular kids' at school yet wish to be, I can only say this: hang on a few years - life brings you so many surprises and you wake up one day in the not too distant future to realise you have become one of the popular crowd, just a much nicer one of your own choosing and it feels good :) 

Especially when they take the time and effort to surprise you with these:

(she's not even Canadian - I adore how much my British mates enjoy helping me celebrate Canada's b-day)

We had a fly-by visit from Roisin, Gavin and Hannah. It was short-lived but fun and so great to see my god-son and step-son hanging out and laughing.  I never would have thought Ra and I would end up with kids the same age that actually like each other. We couldn't have planned for that if we'd tried. The fact that my friend flew past her original destination (Ireland) with the kids, to come and hang out with me and my family at home has more meaning than I could convey properly.  I didn't even get tearful when we said our goodbye's at the airport because we will being seeing them in Nova Scotia very soon.  

Andy and I spent a day shopping at the Trafford Centre, Manchester.  I of course bough my third pair of shoes this spring and Andy didn't even blink an eye.  He actually made a point of walking half-way back down the huge mall to make sure I bought these beauties: 

I also bought myself a very sexy, flowing dress for our holiday in the Maldives in January.  It can't really be worn with a bra, so I will have to use some kind of tape to 'assist' my babies in staying up.  Yes, I have an impressive pair of knockers even at the age 39.5.  However they don't sit quite as high as they used to and even if they did, the only other dress that I have ever been able to wear braless was my wedding dress. So don't worry, I won't be tucking them into my waistband just yet; give me another five years or so and we might have to re-assess.  

Another worry with the dress is that it is rather low cut and shows a lot of leg (my boobs might be good, but my legs are still great... I know, I know, put your plugs in if my trumpet is hurting your ears) and I've always had a rule that only allows for the display of one or the other. The only women that can pull this off without looking like a tramp Jessica Rabbit are women with smaller breasts.  But then I thought to hell with it... I'm going to be in paradise, a couple of thousand miles away from anyone we know - if I want to dress like I'm on the red carpet this one time, then I will.  So long as my tummy is out of view, I'm good to go.  I often try to tell myself that us 'common' people are much too hard on ourselves and often think that a certain outfit, hairstyle, or even car might not be age-appropriate, yet then I look at most celebrities and see that they haven't pulled out the housecoat and grey rinse just because they are hitting middle-age, so why should we?  Middle age isn't what is used to be and I'm so relieved about that.  So long as I dress appropriate to my size and build, with a close eye on certain things that are too young for me, no matter what, I will be satisfied. And then there are even some celebrities that get it wrong and don't know when to quit dressing like a teenager:  

Or am I the only one who thinks this looks slightly sad (and no, haters, I'm not jealous because she is thin and successful and I'm not).