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

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Home for the Holidays

The past few weeks have been more than a little hectic in the run-up to coming home for the holidays.  That's right... I'm typing this post from Nova Scotia, cozy in my mom's house while the snow falls softly outside.
I kept myself busy in the weeks leading up to the day of our departure by helping out with Jayden and my niece Daisy (I had really wanted to share photos of the few days spent with these two amazing little people, however time ran away from me); getting all the Christmas shopping sorted for both of our families and of course there were a couple of Christmas parties to attend.  Then on Sunday, the day before we due to travel down to London, Andy was punched in the gut with a nasty bout of D&V.  It hit him hard and sucked every ounce of energy he had.  It not only left him feeling raw and depleted, it left me with a continuous knot in my stomach - I was almost sick with anxiety that Andy wouldn't recover in time or that I would come down with it myself.  However in his usual fashion, my man pulled it together and we managed to get to London as scheduled. He's tough like that my guy.
And here we are!
We had a quiet first day and a half with my Mom, Dad, sister and brother.  Tomorrow my other sister and niece arrive. Something we are all looking forward to.
Today Andy and I set off with Mom and Dad to get a tree (the first real tree for them!).  However we didn't have much luck and gave up. So later in the afternoon Mom and I donned our winter coats and hats and wearing our glowing Christmas badges we set out on our own to find the perfect tree.  Which we did.  It's now drying out in the basement. Tomorrow we will put it up and string the lights ready to be decorated on Friday when Tawny and Clara are here.
Andy snapped a picture of Mom and I as we went on our 2nd hunt for a tree:
I'm looking forward to doing a post following Friday's festivities.
Because I didn't have a chance to post prior to leaving England I'm also go to share a montage of photos from the various celebrations that were held before my departure:
On Friday 6th my team at work went out for Thai and many, many drinks:
We all got dressed for the occasion and had a lot of laughs. 
Myself, Naheed and Emily. 
We share office space with the Core Therapy Team and they invited our team to join their 80's style Christmas party; I was the only taker and don't regret accepting the invitation.
What a crazy, entertaining night.
You would never know that I'm not a lover of 80's fashion eh?
Video killed the radio star...
(I love this quirky photo)
 I was desperately seeking Susan Sandra
Seriously, as much as I abhor 80's fashion, I thoroughly enjoyed that party.
Of course we had to get together with Robert and Dawn the Saturday before we left.  We not only  celebrated Robert's new job with champagne, but the fact we have such amazing friends in these two.  I know Molly is in very good hands while we are away.

I know that my English family and friends will be raising a glass to us in the pub on Christmas Eve, and although we will miss them we are going to thoroughly enjoy our Canadian Christmas.  After all it is the first Christmas Andy has spent with my family and the first one in 8 years for me.
   Although there are a few differences in the way we celebrate, one thing is definitely abundant in each of our worlds... the love that we all share. 

Friday, December 06, 2013

The eerie sound of the flood siren

Yesterday everyone throughout the coastal towns and cities of the UK were being warned of a major storm surge and we were being sent messages like this:

Emergency Declared:

'Communities along the East Coast of the Humber area are warned to brace themselves ahead of what is likely to be the most serious coastal tidal surge for over 30 years in our region.
This has led to a major incident being declared as emergency services and local authorities across the Humber prepare for an ingression of water during high tide periods later this evening from around 1700hrs onwards.

The Environment Agency and Met Office are warning that gale-force winds, large waves and a tidal surge caused by low pressure will combine with high tides today and throughout Friday and to Saturday morning, bringing a risk of significant coastal flooding.

All throughout the day my colleagues and friends were receiving phone calls warning them that their homes were situated in high risk areas.  As the wind steadily increased to more than 70mph we all wondered how hard our local area would be hit.  The sound of the wind was crazy; the building we work in is relatively new but what a racket the wind caused.  Then the flood siren's starting going off to warn of the impending tidal surges.  What an eerie sound.  I've been in the UK ten years and I'm sure I've only heard it go off once. Yesterday it continued on throughout the evening. I've never heard anything that sounds quite like it.  I can only imagine what it must have been like to live in this area when the air raids were going on throughout the war. 

I knew we would be safe from the flooding as we live out in a village a few miles away from the coast, but I had a feeling our property was likely going to take a hit from the wind. 

 And it did: 

This is the fence panel that surrounds our fire pit/hot tub area and faced the front yard.  It wouldn't have been so bad if it was the partition between the firepit area and our back garden.  Now we have no choice but to get this sorted before we go to Canada.  It's an expense we really don't need right now.  

But that's just it.  It's only an inconvenient expense.  Because what we need to remember is that it's only property damage and although its only a few weeks until Christmas and money is tight, no one has been hurt.  A lot worse has happened in other areas of the world and even if homes across the country have been flooded and it sucks, we need to remember that it can all be fixed and that we are fortunate enough to live in a country where the emergency services are brilliant and most homes are insured for such disasters.    

We were lucky, the flooding in our town was minimal compared to other areas. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Tentative Friendship

Almost since the day she became aware of her, our niece Daisy has been completely besotted with Molly.  She has been following her around trying to hug her and give her love since she could crawl.  Other than the odd time I used to find Daisy sitting on Molly, she has never been anything but loving toward the dog.  (I think sitting on Molly was her way of getting as close as she possibly could... or maybe a fur seat is much more comfortable than your basic chair).  Both her parents and I think it's adorable that it's Molly she looks for the moment she enters the door.  Her calls of 'Mowie where are you' could melt the hardest of hearts.  

And then there is Jayden.  He never really seemed to notice her until about six months ago and then it was just a bit of curiosity when she was nearby.  He would reach out to touch her but would never actively crawl or chase after her.  A couple of months ago he discovered the word dog and just more recently has started saying Moll Moll. He has definitely grown much more interested in her and I would even go so far as to say he is fond of her. Because Molly has been 'broken in' by Daisy, she seems more resigned to the fact that there is sometimes a small child boisterously invading her quiet world.   Maybe it's because she sees Jayden more, but whatever the reason, lately she is usually in whatever room we are in and more times than not, right next to Jayden if he happens to be playing nicely quietly.  

I love moments like these:

Although I have to keep a very close watch when they are this close to each other.  Not only because it's dog and child but because our boy has a penchant for reaching out and giving my girl a quick swipe; as he did just moments after I snapped the photo. Often I catch him out but sometimes I don't manage and bless her, Molly will just sigh or get up and go lay on her bed.  Most times Jayden just strokes her fur or tries to hug her but I have to be careful because he's a little unpredictable at the moment.

Breakfast times are very amusing too as I don't know who wants the next bit of toast more - Molly or the baby.  Jayden shouts 'more' while Molly pleads with her eyes.  It's funny.  They are quite the team at mealtime.  

Something else that demonstrates what an amazingly good dog we have is when the little ones are walking around with a snack in hand; although Molly is right next to them keeping a close eye on the tidbit that is directly at her level, she has never yet tried to take it from them.  It must be torture for her but I love her geniality when it comes to the kids and she is well rewarded for being such a gentle girl. Besides, the kids love sharing their food with the dog; something that is probably the same in any home you might find both a dog and child in. 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

2 for 1 and not much else....

Not much has been going on round these parts so I don't feel like I have much to post about. Halloween came and went without fuss because as usual I didn't have any little goblins knock at the door (other than Jayden). The organisation I work for didn't have a client party this year so I didn't even have a reason to dress up.  We also refrained from decorating this year, which I won't let slide next year.  Besides I'm determined that next Halloween will see us throw a party instead of just thinking about it. So it was just me, Jayden and Molly for the night. It was the same again on Bonfire Night (this Tuesday past); Alex and Bonnie wanted to attend the fireworks so Jayden stayed with me and Molly. I honestly don't know who was more frightened by the loud bangs - the dog or the baby.  Jayden was super cuddly though, so while Molly hid under my desk, Jayden and I skyped Andy and then my Mom.  He fell asleep while we were talking to Mom and my heart melted when Mom put out her arms and said 'here, pass him to me'.  If only it were that easy to travel between worlds.

I haven't been exercising nearly as much as I should.  This is because I mostly exercise outdoors and have a dog who is too frightened to go for a walk even at dusk, so there goes any running after work at the moment.  (Oh, and there is no point in suggesting I go without her because I won't leave her at night, not even for half an hour as I leave her to go to work all day). I'm too lazy to get up on cold mornings before 7 am and head out.  I think about it but that's about it.  Although because I actually enjoy the feeling working out gives me, I've decided to bring our stationary bike back into the house.  Oh and buy another pair of trainers so that I have a half decent pair for outdoors, yet a clean pair for indoor workouts.  This is my main reason excuse for not shredding as much as I should - the mud all over the floor. My trainers have been getting quite muddy from jogging . Autumn in England involves a lot of rainfall.  (Any season in England involves a lot of rain so  indoor/outdoor trainers do make sense.)

I've been managing to stick with healthy eating for the most part but sometimes it takes a lot of determination.  Not to mention the food planning.  O well I don't have a lot else to do. Well besides spend half an hour each evening coaxing Molly to go out to wee. I don't bake nearly as much these days because unlike most people who enjoy baking, I actually like to eat what I bake, not just give it away; although that's normally how it plays out.  Our budding chef, aka our nephew Archie, is coming over on Saturday morning to do some baking with me though, which will be fun (and I can send it all home with him).  I'm thinking I will go with cupcakes, easy to make, fun to decorate.  I've decided I won't be doing a Christmas bake this year because as you may or may not know... we are going home for Christmas this year!  Oh wait, I think I've told you that already but I'm not sorry for being repetitive.  Because I'm EXCITED people.  Excited that for the first time in 8 years I get to spend Christmas with my dysfunctional wonderful family.  

In other news I made the decision earlier this year that once I had my eyes re-tested in September I'd buy myself some new specs and begin wearing them more.  I normally wear contacts up to six days a week and thought I should cut down on their use and give my eyes a rest.  Besides with all the trendy glasses on offer why not?  I'm still more comfortable wearing contacts (I don't like the weight of glasses or how my hair gets stuck in them) but since I've gotten two new pairs on a two for one offer, I must say I'm not doing a bad job rocking the intellectual 'secretary' look.  

Don't you think? 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Where's Our Pumpkin Patch?

All over the FB and the Internet I'm seeing gorgeous photos of not only amazing pumpkin recipes (which I'm mostly refraining from making this year), but of my friends and family taken during visits to local Pumpkin Patches.

Like this one for instance:

This is my little cousin Nolan - how cute is he?

I know that this season is huge back in Canada (and the States), not only because the month of October brings us Thanksgiving and Halloween, but a celebration of pumpkins themselves.  The south coast and valley of Nova Scotia  host an annual Pumpkin People festival which is always fun to witness if you fancy a drive. 

 When we went to Ontario to meet our Clara for the first time in the Autumn of 2010 we were thrilled to take a trip to a pumpkin patch to meet up with friends.  It was a perfect day, brilliant for taking photos:

 (Clara was so little then)

What a great way to spend an autumn day.

Apparently the town of Spalding in Lincolnshire has a pumpkin festival each year (which we've missed), however other than that there doesn't seem to be any local pumpkin places where you can go for a wander round.  I would love to be able to take Jayden to see a proper pumpkin patch;  I'm sure he'd really enjoy it.  I know his Grandy and I would love to watch him run around while we tried to capture the moment with a camera.

Halloween and supermarket pumpkin displays have become much more popular since I first moved over here which I love to see because I enjoy this time of year, even though we have once again deferred hosting a Halloween Party.

*Sigh* Oh well... maybe next year. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I spent most of the Thanksgiving weekend baking and relaxing. At Connor's request, on Saturday morning we made a cinnamon swirl cake that turned out beautifully to his complete delight. On Sunday morning I made a pumpkin tart with Bailey's Irish Cream before starting my dinner preparations. 

We always have to eat our Thanksgiving meal on the weekend as Monday isn't a holiday here in the UK.

I've always thought it's a shame that only North Americans celebrate this holiday as it's such a lovely sentiment; families getting together to eat delicious food and be thankful for each other.  Nothing else.  It's not about presents or spending money, only being together.  So I try to keep the tradition going with my English family and they don't seem to have any complaints.

(It's not the fanciest table setting, but I work with what I have access to. And you aren't seeing things - no wine glasses as the only alcoholic beverage consumed was a beer or two by Andy's dad.)

Both Alex and Bonnie unfortunately had to work this past weekend so we had the pleasure of having our baby boy with us  as well as Connor, Wendy and Dave (my in-laws).  

What I'm thankful for this year: 

That everyone is healthy.
That we have the ability to provide such good food.
That we were able to have Thanksgiving Dinner with Wendy and Dave especially because this year we are fortunate enough to be going home for Christmas with our Canadian family.
That we are happy.

I'm especially thankful for this little guy:

(and Molly of course, who is only partially pictured.)

Despite the weather being horrible this weekend, it was a great Thanksgiving.  I didn't get outside as much as I wanted for exercise so I had to forgo dessert.  I also didn't eat any Yorkshire puddings or stuffing.  While everyone else enjoyed raspberry roulade and cake (the pumpkin tart was for my work colleagues) I ate melon and was perfectly OK with that.  It's only fair that if I don't exercise, I don't get a treat.

Oh and I've found what looks to be an amazing recipe for pumpkin, chickpea and lentil stew that I can't wait to try.

(This looks delicious)

I hope those of you who celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving had a lovely time with your family and loved ones as well. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Nine Years

Yesterday Andy and I celebrated nine years as husband and wife.

Nine Years... who would have thought marriage would suit me so well.

I've posted this same picture on other anniversaries but that's OK, because it's one of my favourites. 

Our wedding day was almost perfect for us; we were surrounded by our loved ones as we said I do.  I adore that I'm wearing my cousin Jen's wedding head band and my best friend Catherine's watch.  My earrings were borrowed too. 

I was a laid back bride but then again, it was a laid back wedding.  

A lot of people came a long way to help us celebrate that day.

Looking back I could say there would only be a few things I would have changed, such as hiring a professional photographer and wearing amazing brightly coloured shoes. But that was nine years ago and my tastes have changed.  I could say I would have preferred to have had my hair done by a great stylist,but then again maybe I would have opted to do it myself.  Besides it makes a funny story regarding how I opted to find a stylist who would curl my hair on the morning of.  It was kind of fun walking around the town with my sisters and friends on a busy Saturday morning asking if anyone was free to do my hair.  The looks on faces were priceless when they realised it was my wedding day and I hadn't booked anything.  No big deal. It got done in the end and looked pretty a-OK. 

Nine years have brought a lot of changes to our lives; Like my Mom said last night when we were chatting 'who would have thought you'd be grandparents to a nearly two year old child nine years on?'

Andy and I still continue to grow as a couple and although there are some thing's I'm sure we are always going to try and struggle to comprehend about the other, the love is most definitely still strong and the tie that binds us together.   

It's a good life. 

Friday, October 04, 2013

It never gets old

I should give you fair warning that there is an overload of photos featuring the Eiffel Tower in this post.  It's such a beautiful piece of architecture and is after all, a brilliant back drop for photos. So if pictures bore you, this post probably won't hold your attention. 

We arrived in Paris around 9 pm on the Saturday night (after an annoying amusing trip on the Eurostar - there were two very odd American men sitting behind us) and as we were only staying up the hill from the Trocadero we took a walk down by the river before heading back up the hill to grab a snack before heading back to the hotel for a good night's rest.

One of the best photo's we snapped.

Two fine structures: 

I knew the moment I saw this that I would be riding one of the horses before our trip was over:

The next day we we enjoyed a gorgeous breakfast of eggs, croissants, fruit and yogurt (our hotel room was perfect by the way - complete with a jacuzzi corner tub that I would enjoy a soak or two in with a nice glass of French red ) before heading out to enjoy the sunny & warm Parisian day.

Andy thought that he might like to finally go up the Eiffel, however the queues were incredibly long so we plumbed to go up the Arch de Triumph instead.  We opted for the stairs and I was thrilled that I made it to the top easily, with barely a missed breath; Andy didn't do too badly himself.

I'm sure any of you who have been to Paris recognise this street:
(although it was way too crowded for my pleasure)

I also never noticed that the ring road around around the Arch had no lanes and its basically a free for all to try and get across (it's crazy!). We actually caught a bus from the Arch up to Montmarte and the driver drove round it. I was mega impressed that he managed to not only manoeuvre through this circus smoothly but did so while taking my money and dispensing a ticket...

We naturally stopped a few times throughout the day to enjoy a cold beverage (not always wine believe it or not) and that evening we dressed up and went to a local cafe for dinner.  The food was delicious (I had king prawn risotto and took a photo of it which I've mistakenly deleted) and I loved that Andy drank wine with me.  

(Crisp, cold and gorgeous - and definitely NOT Chardonnay as the waiter suggested!)

Of course we headed back to the Trocadero for another photo op...
(Sorry if it's getting monotonous)

Of course I had to do a similar pose to the one I did in 2011 (I'm such a camera-whore I know!)

See... similar shot from November 2011 if you remember...
(It was much warmer in September 2013)

Yup... another one of me:

I hate the barriers they have put up, especially the rubbish that gets thrown behind it. :( 

But I love this photo of me and my man

On Sunday we met up with the newlyweds, Dawn & Steve and explored this beautiful graveyard: 

And happened to find this grave as well as Oscar Wilde's which Dawn was mega impressed with.  

After more than an hour exploring all the wonderful old tombs we made our way across the road for a refreshing drink before heading up to Montmarte for a look round, some lunch and a wander round.  

One of the best parts of this trip was sitting outside eating, drinking and chatting with our friends. 

The newlyweds on the stairs leading up to Sacre Coeur:

Glad to be reunited with my pal

The market square:

And of course that evening we got dolled up and headed out for more food and drink...


And you guessed it... back up to the Trocadero for another photo op!

We look a bit shiny here..

And of course I did get to ride the carousel.

It was so fun to be spinning around with one of my dearest friends on a late September evening with the Eiffel Tower in sight, as our husbands laughed and took photos.

I honestly never thought that Paris would win my heart like it has. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Coffee Morning

Today was MacMillan's World's Biggest Coffee Day and as usual a member of the Core Therapy Team (we share office space with the CT Team) took time to organise a coffee morning in our building.  Sue not only contributes a number of baked goods herself (She makes the best brownies) but comes in and sets everything up on her own time; she also sells greeting cards and other stationary products and contributes 25% of the sales to MacMillan. Often, members of both teams pitch in as well and bring in more scrumptious treats to add to the bounty on sale. Those who don't cheerfully show their support by partaking in the delightful cakes and coffee on hand after making a donation of their choosing.  

Last year I made pumpkin spiced cupcakes for the cause, however this week has been a busy one for me so unfortunately my contribution was only monetary this time round.  

It's not hard for me to donate money to such an amazing charity, however it wasn't so easy to turn my back on the beautiful cakes and cookies that were on display this morning (especially the chocolate brownies... I'm drooling just looking at them).

But I did.  

Sue, her mum and the team did MacMillan proud and I'm looking forward to finding out what the grand total raised was when we report back to work on Monday.

For any of you who may not be aware of who MacMillan Cancer Support are, or what they do, feel free to  check out their web page here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The look on his face said it all

Once your ultra cool kid reaches the age of 16 it begins to get a little more difficult to impress them . I'm sure it will begin to get a little bit easier the older they get.  So when we asked Alex what he wanted for his 21st birthday we were touched that he wanted to go out for dinner with the Allenby Clan. He hasn't asked for anything else.  Ironically Natasha asked for a family gathering for her 21st as well.  Maybe it isn't so much the issue that they (like most young adults) are harder to impress. It would appear that our children (unlike a lot of young adults) seem to enjoy spending time with their family.  I'm not sure how that happened but we will take it. 

When I commissioned another cake from my friend I knew that she would do a fantastic job.  I had no idea that she would come up with such a 'super' creation from the few tips I gave her regarding Alex.  The fact that I chose the perfect cake designer (and that I know my boy and what he's into) was definitely proven the moment he saw his cake:  

 Alex - looking 'super' impressed

Happy 21st Alex :) 

I love this one of our three

Natasha and her lovely boyfriend Martin

We all seem to love a good get together; I especially enjoy seeing moments like these captured: 
(Thanks to a local Lincolnshire bobby)

It was a great night, full of good food and lots of laughs. 

If any of you live in the local Lincolnshire area, I strongly recommend the fabulous talents of Dee at 
Dee'licious & D'vine

(There is talk of SuperDry featuring this in one of their magazine publications which would be such an amazing bonus for Dee)

Andy and I made it to Paris last weekend so I will post about our Parisian adventure soon. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

It's Party Time

Well it's almost here: the weekend I have been looking forward to for many months now.  It's quiet and peaceful here this morning and I'm going to take advantage while I enjoy my coffee and get a bit of work done before things get a little hectic. 

I finish work at noon today and only  need to stop to have my nails done before going home and taking Molly on our last long walk this week.  Then it's time to get whatever packing I need sorted for tomorrow because Andy and I are both going to Paris on the Eurostar; ;it was touch and go in the week and I was beginning to get a bit anxious that I'd be going on my own.  I really can't imagine going to Paris without him and now I don't have to.  It won't be the quite the weekend full of 'l'amour' that we had originally hoped for (and not only because Andy isn't up to his usual level of stallion-like behaviour, but because mother nature has a bad habit of turning up for us girl's when we least want her.)  Bah...at least I don't have to bother packing uncomfortable underwear. Besides, it's wildly romantic to just be in Paris with the one you love.

However first we need to put on our glad rags to tear up the streets of Lincoln for our boy's 21st birthday tonight. We've got a huge evening of drunken antics planned to embarrass him in the way that only parents can... No, not really, we have much more class than that.  Well we don't actually but we can pretend we are a civilised family right? Honestly though, we are looking forward to a family gathering at Carluccio's for pasta, wine and cake and at least we aren't making him drive himself as he'd originally arranged with his sister.  We might not be in the running for Parents of the Year Award but we do think that a lad should be able to enjoy a few alcoholic beverages at his own party. Especially since he opted to celebrate with us.  We can't be all bad eh?

Today is also a momentous one for our Canadian Dawn (aka Longbottom) because she marries her best friend Steve in Niagara Falls, Canada later today.  She posted this photo yesterday and I only hope today is half as gorgeous for them:

Sunrise over Niagara Falls

Happy Wedding Day to one of the best girl's I've ever known.  I hope that she finds as much contentment and laughter with her husband as I do with mine.  

OK, this post is beginning to turn rather soppy so I'll wrap it up.  

I hope you enjoy your weekend wherever in the world you may be. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

September Soirees

Here we are, halfway through September already.  I just don't know where the time is going. One thing for sure, this month is one full of milestones.

My friend and colleagues, Alison and Jayne both  turn 40 this month; Alison will celebrate her actual birthday in Italy, however we had a little celebration of our own last weekend and commissioned this beauty from my friend Dee...

Beautifully made with love by Dee'licious & D'vine

We met for cake and champagne before heading for a fantastic Thai meal and a few glasses of wine.

Cheers Ali! 

 Me and Em enjoying a few cocktails :) 

The rest of the month looks something like this:

 Friday night the family are getting together at a restaurant in Lincoln to celebrate Alex's 21st (his birthday is on the 24th).   It should be a great night out but it seems like only yesterday we were celebrating his 18th...

(I can't believe he was even wearing his '18' badge)

Also on Friday our Canadian friends Dawn and Steve get married Niagara Falls.  They are honeymooning in Europe and on Saturday, Andy and I leave to take the train to Paris to meet up with the newly-weds. We can't wait to see them and spend time with them catching up and getting to know Steve a little bit better.   We connect with them on the Monday morning and will have the whole day and evening to explore the city, eat and drink wine together. I love that this time next week will we all be in Paris.

Andy had surgery a week ago today and although it hit him a lot harder physically than he thought it would, each day he is beginning to feel a little bit better. I'm sure by Saturday morning he will be fine to travel; we may not be able to walk as much as we normally do on city breaks but that just means we take more time out to sit in the cafes and parks drinking coffee (or wine) watching the world go by... 

My sister, aunt and cousin all celebrated their birthday's last week.  My dad will turn 61 on the 30th of this month.  

We would have had another milestone birthday to celebrate this month, as Andy's sister Claire would have turned 50 on the 28th if she was still with us; however are still going to gather at Andy's parent's house on the Saturday afternoon to eat and raise a glass in celebration of Claire's beautiful life. 

So it has been, and will continue to be, a jam packed month.  

Before we know it the Christmas season will be here and Andy and I will be bound for Halifax for a McDonald Family Christmas.