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

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Canon fire and car boot sales

One of the nicest aspects of living in England has been the glorious springs we are blessed with. However this year we are still waiting for the temperatures to warm up.  It's been the coldest spring on record since  1975. It wasn't particularly brilliant last year either when I actually think about it. Last year the skies opened up in April and it didn't stop raining once until September.  Well maybe once or twice but I was probably at work that day, or out of the country. This year the temperatures have been similar to those I used to experience back home in Nova Scotia in spring.  At least there we knew that we didn't have to start planning our summer wardrobe until the end of May at the earliest. Oh, and residents of Nova Scotia don't have to worry about the heat melting their igloos until well into June, July if they are lucky.

This post wasn't meant to be your weekly weather update for the North East of England.  Please accept my sincerest apologies for that. At least the sun has been shining.  Now if only the wind would calm down.

Andy and I had this past weekend to ourselves and on Saturday we took Wendy and Dave to a lovely old pub for lunch.  It's hard to find a place to eat around here that has good service, good food and a great atmosphere.  The White Hart in Grimsby ticks all the boxes. I had a beautiful piece of Salmon with crisp vegetables and Andy ordered the Ploughman's Lunch;  this is what he was served (with a side of home-cut chips):

The board was nearly as big as his side of the table - the food was beautiful and fresh.

After a lovely lunch we went home and took Molly out for a long walk:

We thoroughly enjoy this walk and I would love to be able to incorporate it into my run as a) I believe it meets the required three miles I need to be able to complete for the upcoming Race for Life and b) I much prefer a trail over pavement, however at the moment we aren't even going to be able to walk this route as Molly now hates going this way and starts to back off the moment we start to cross the road into the field.  It's such a shame because she really used to enjoy it, especially the big pond.  Her reason for this? The farmers around these parts have been putting air-canons in their fields to help keep the birds off the crops.  Those air-guns are loud and although Molly is technically a gun dog it's obvious to anyone that she so isn't.  She's terrified of loud noises and because of the air gun she starts to pant and shake the moment she hears one go off (it happened four times on Saturday).  What's worse is that she doesn't calm down until we are almost back home. She spent the latter part of the walk on Saturday quivering and shaking; I almost expected her to throw up she was in such a state.   The last thing I need is for her to have a heart attack.  So no more going that route unless the farmer removes the air canon - which I doubt is likely.  Next time she makes it clear she doesn't want to go that way, I'm going to listen. 

On Sunday Andy and I decided to take a drive out to one of the country-side markets that's constantly advertised on the radio. Unfortunately we didn't stick around very long as it was basically just a glorified car boot sale (flea-market) and that is definitely not the way Andy and I like to spend a Sunday morning.  Especially when the wind was blowing dirt and sand all over the place.   I love a bargain but I think I will stick to e-bay and the charity shops for any second-hand items I may need.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

Soon to be Undercover

Andy and I choose to live in a village just outside of our local town of Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire for a number of reasons.  The predominate one being that our village is much prettier and less crowded than the town. 

In England residents have to pay a local council tax. The fee is determined by the area you live in and how many people reside in your home.  The purpose of the council tax is to pay for various amenities such as garbage collection, road maintenance etc.  Because we live in the area we do, our council tax is higher than what we would pay if we lived in a less desirable area. When you are paying taxes at these rates it's only logical to expect that the services you pay for are carried out.  Or maybe we're just unreasonable people. 

I understand that since I moved to this country over nine years ago there has been an increase in population and therefore traffic.  We've seen an increase in bad weather each winter which is now resulting in our council having to fork out extra cash to clear the roads as well as fix the numerous potholes that result from the inclement bad weather. (When I first moved here I was astounded at how fresh and smooth the roads looked.) 

Over a year ago our council paid to have what used to be just plain dirt jumps converted into a proper set of bike ramps: 

The kids absolutely love it. 

There is a beautiful big field that leads directly off the jumps.  It's practically outside our front door and on days it's not used for a football pitch, its perfect for exercising Molly on.  

(This is only a small corner near the jumps and path)

Loads of families use it.  Every spring when the days get longer and warmer the community comes out in full force and it's great to see.  

The only trouble is, over the past few years and definitely since the instalment of the bike ramps the amount of rubbish has increased.  Sure there are two rubbish bins near the ramps but they are either full to overflowing, or people just blatantly disregard them. (I won't even touch on the amount of cars that park illegally  and block our drive- that's an entirely separate issue to bore you with.)

Around the corner from the ramps is a bike path that has a high volume of foot/cycle traffic as well.  For years Andy has been petitioning the local council to place a few bins down the pathway but has only met with refusal because it would mean the council would have to pay someone to actually go down the path to empty the bins, rather than those just those placed at each end.  I'm not sure how beneficial it would be anyway as the bins provided aren't always used. Yet it would be a start.

Because this is the lovely view we are met with every time we go out for a walk:

(This is only one small area)

It's disgusting.  I can't believe that people take no pride in their community and just fling their garbage wherever they feel like it.  It's bad enough when people won't use the allocated bins for dog waste, but what's the point of bagging it up if you are only going to fling it in the trees?

We live in a lovely area yet you would never know it from the amount of trash that is strewn all over the communal areas.  The council will send someone out to clear the rubbish that is directly on the path or field but say they can't allow anyone to venture more than a few feet off the path to do the undergrowth etc due to Healthy and Safety regulations. Last year someone actually came out to view the situation and her opinion was 'It's not that bad'.  Maybe not, if you live in a trash can with a green muppet called Oscar.   

Our only consolation is that in a few weeks the foilage will have come out in all it's splendid greenery and for the most part will hide this disgrace under it's cover like it does every year.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Our Beautiful Birthday Boy

His Grandy and I can't believe how much joy he has brought to our lives. How fast this last year has gone.  We are so looking forward to spending lots of time outside with our little man this summer. 

We love you loads, Jayden

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

26 Miles

I've known a lot of runner's throughout my life. One of my oldest and dearest friends has a father who still runs and he's well into his sixties.  Another close friend started running when we were in our early twenties and I was amazed by her transformation; she still runs despite owning her own law firm and raising four children.  My brother in-law does at least one triathlon a year. Two of my sisters have both completed 1/2 marathons and are committed to running.  They look and feel wonderful.  I'm incredibly proud of them and a little bit envious.  I've dabbled in running over the years but have never been able to run more than 3 or 4 miles non-stop.  Lately I've been thinking about trying it out again.  I strongly doubt I'd ever aim to run a full marathon because I'm not convinced it's the healthiest thing for a body - not mine anyway.  I know the type of havoc it wreaks on the knees and ankles but I was shocked when my sister wrote a post a few years back about her toenails turning black after a race, which is apparently a common occurrence in runners. Suddenly running didn't seem so appealing any more.

And then Monday happened in Boston.  (My home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia has a special bond with Boston.  If any of you are history buffs, you will get the connection.) I don't know anyone personally from Boston, nor anyone who was running that race;  But like the rest of the world I'm full of anger and disgust at the sick people who are behind the horrible atrocities that seem to be occurring more frequently. I'm mortified that some sick shit didn't think that an explosion or two would be enough, but that ball bearings and nails needed to be thrown into the mix.    

Aside from the worry of how dangerous a place this world is becoming I also have concerns that people are  becoming more self-involved as time marches on;  it seems that the more technology advances, the less time people want to spend with each other.  And then something terrible happens and everyone comes together in their shock and fear and like most of you undoubtedly feel, I too believe that there is more good in the world than bad; that there are people who care about other people, strangers or not. It's very clear from all the posts and photos circulating this week that humanity is most definitely in abundance when it comes to marathons, as is so beautifully captured here.  (I found this post by Kate via Julie, a witty and talented blogger I enjoy reading).  Unlike a lot of other sporting events where spectators yell obscenities at the players, referee's and other spectator's (never mind the fighting that goes on between the actual team members) marathons seem to attract the complete opposite.  Whereas most sports involve participants who are paid a ridiculous amount of money for personal gain, it would seem that most marathon runner's have a valid reason for putting their bodies through such torture.  It seems that for most it's about more than achieving a personal goal or proving a point to themselves (which would be reason enough) it's about raising awareness and money for charities and people who can't run for themselves.  I've always known this, but I've never really noticed how it's about so much more than just running until I read Kate's post following Monday's events. How so many people are with each other, running or not - encouraging and cheering each other on. It's a brilliant and poignant post about people and how there is so much joy surrounding these events. And it makes me think that maybe it's something I want to be a part of.

For years I've thought about signing up for the Race for Life (Run for the Cure), and nevermore so than after my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Thinking about something isn't enough so today the procrastination stops.

I've signed up for the local Race For Life and on Sunday, 19th May, at the age of 40 I will attempt to run a race for the first time ever.  I will be doing it for my mother, sisters and nieces.  I will be doing it for everyone out there who can't.  Most importantly I will be doing it for me, because it's something I can be a part of for such a good cause and I want to participate in an event that is focused on our strong spirits and the goodness that is always going to triumph over the awful things that happen to us, be it cancer or horrible acts of violence.

It won't be 26 miles, but it's something.

I want to thank all of you out there who inspire and encourage others on a daily basis - it matters more than you might ever know.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Our first hike of the year

This time last week I had been curling up on the couch and congratulating myself on the kick-ass Thai Fish Cakes I had made for our Good Friday dinner and debating opening a bottle of ice-cold wine as I toasted the first full day of my 10 day hiatus from work; but I didn't. I actually held off on the wine for a further day, finally breaking my 35 day run of wine-free veins. 

We spent the weekend conducting a vigorous spring clean and I can now say that our house looks great pretty good, especially our spartan bedroom which at the moment is taking a bit of getting used to because it's so minimalist. We moved our wardrobes to another room and I threw out a lot of stuff I'd been hanging on to.

Tonight marks what is the start of the weekend for those of you who actually had to work the last four days; for me it means I only have two days left of an at-home-holiday that ironically resulted with my coming down with a cold/flu on Tuesday. (So much for all the working out I had planned).

Speaking of Tuesday, we packed up the car and got on the road with Dawn, Rob and the dogs. A short uneventful three hours later, we arrived at one of our favourite trials to hike - Ingleton Waterfalls. It was a chilly day so we layered up and with backpacks full of water, juice and wraps we got underway. It's not a long one by any means (2.5-3 hours) but it was a good start to the hiking season, with lots of hills and steps. Oh, and tons of places for the fur kids to splash about in. 

If you aren't interested in viewing a TON of photos, you should probably change pages right about now because here they are: 

Just getting started and already a photo op

Beautiful scenery and my husband asks for me to get in the shot (not that he ever has to ask twice, I am a McDonald girl after all)

Dawn wasn't so sure Carter wasn't going to do a leap off the bridge...

Over the top;  Carter couldn't be bothered about a photo

 I like the quirkiness of this one :) 

This was high up... not that you can tell

The bridge was very flimsy 

A man, his dog and a breathtaking view

Daddy, throw the stick already

The Gallivan's - our great travelling companions

Only a few minutes up the road by car was this viaduct; my husband being the train geek fanatic that he is meant a quick stop and a short walk down to view it.  

It actually was quite spectacular, especially since it was built well over a century ago.