Looking Back to a Warm Autumn Day in Regent’s Park

….another day in London

As the temperatures dip below freezing this week I long for the warm sunny days we had in London, England. On day seven we walked to Ottolenghi’s restaurant on Upper Street and purchased a picnic lunch for the four of us. Then we hopped onto a double decker bus and made our way to Regent’s Park.

Regent’s Park is one of the Royal Parks of London. It lies within north-west London. It is home to Queen Mary’s Gardens and the London Zoo. There are numerous facilities and amenities, including gardens; a lake with a heronry, waterfowl and a boating area; sports pitches; and children’s playgrounds.

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One of the highlights for me was Queen Mary’s Gardens. I’ve posted numerous photos of the thousands of roses that have been cultivated her in previous posts. Here are some of the other lovely sites we enjoyed that day.P1070145
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The park is also home to numerous events. When we were there we had a quick glimpse of the sculpture exhibit.IMG-9018
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As you can see we were blessed with beautiful weather that day and every day up to this point of our trip. Unfortunately the next day the skies opened up and our trip to Brighton Beach was cancelled.

Two Birthdays – One Here, Another in Uruguay


….my twins are 37 years old

Last Sunday my babies turned 37. Our son travelled to Uruguay this Christmas to spend time with his wife’s family. Her uncle rented a ranch house by the ocean and while we were enduring the cold here in Canada they were basking in the sun at the beach. My son was literally burning (at least his feet were).f52b354b-6e35-4a85-bfd1-285989d8a025
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For his pre-birthday dinner he was treated to a South American BBQ with lots of meat on the grill.
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Meanwhile back here in Canada we celebrated his twin sister’s birthday in her home. We decided on a Persian themed pot luck supper. My husband picked up some meat kabobs and eggplant dip from our local Persian restaurant and he made a pot of Gormeh Sabzi (Green Herb Stew). Our son-in-law made a Fesenjan (Pomegranate Walnut Stew) and a Jewelled Rice (rice with nuts and dried fruit). Andrea made a Cauliflower Kuku (cauliflower frittata made with eggs). Everything was delicious. I think Azadeh would have approved.

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Winnie insisted that Mom needed a birthday cake so Gaelan whipped up a cheesecake with a hazelnut base. It was outstanding.

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Of course it wouldn’t be a birthday without opening gifts. It turned out that some of us also got to open some Christmas presents from our friend who was unable to come to our house on Christmas Eve.IMG-9981
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All in all it was a great day.

The Third Day of Christmas Celebrations Amidst a Plumbing Disaster

…..on Boxing Day the sewer started backing up into the basement

Soon after doing the laundry we noticed that water was coming up through the sewer drain in the basement. Luckily it was only a large puddle around the drain and it was easily soaked up with rags but soon after when someone showered it happened again. We decided to carefully ration the water until we could get a plumber to the house. We called the next morning but because it wasn’t an immediate emergency we had to wait one more day before the plumber could get to our house.

On the 28th a camera and a plumbing snake were lowered into the drain. At 41 feet the camera came across the problem. The clay pipe at the Y junction had collapsed and only a small area was letting water get through. That meant that paper and some ‘matter’ was building up at the break and water was having a hard time passing through. Plumber Joe was able to clear the blockage but it was only a temporary fix. The pipe had to be removed and replaced. There was only one problem; the broken pipe was in the middle of my neighbour’s driveway and her car was sitting on top of it.

Now that might not seem like a huge problem but the car hadn’t been moved in almost two years and no amount of pushing would move it back the three feet we needed to get to the problem. We tried calling CAA but they didn’t show up and when I called they said that our coverage didn’t cover moving the neighbour’s car. Now what?

The next morning we figured out why we couldn’t put the car into neutral. Newer cars are all controlled by the electrical system and since the battery was completely dead we needed to give the car a boost. Eureka! We got the car started and backed it up the three feet that we needed. Unfortunately by the time we called our plumber back he was already on another job and couldn’t come till Monday, Dec. 31.

Our third day of Christmas was suppose to happen on the 28th but due to a miscommunication my sister’s family was planning on arriving on the 29th. At the time I thought the plumbing was going to be fixed on that day so I wasn’t too anxious about having eight adults and a baby in the house. When they arrived I explained the situation and asked them to use the bathroom sparingly. In the end we decided to go out for dinner instead of eating at home. Before we left we opened more gifts and phoned the restaurant to make sure that they could accommodate our large group.P1070339
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In the end it turned out that the restaurant was a good option all around. There were no dishes for me to wash (couldn’t run the dishwasher), everyone was able to order according to their dietary needs and likes,  we arrived after the rush, the service was great and we were able to spend time talking to one another without worrying about our plumbing problem. My sister and her family all live out of town and my nephew had flown in from California. If we hadn’t gotten together that day it probably wouldn’t have happened. Thanks for small blessings.

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My Personal Christmas Challenge

….every year for as long as I can remember I’ve struggled to get ready for Christmas

I used to blame being a full-time teacher as the problem. December is always a busy month with interviews, concerts, parties, more assemblies and when there’s time shopping for Christmas presents.

Now that I’m retired things haven’t gotten much better but for very different reasons, especially this year. One thing that has helped somewhat is being able to do 80% of my shopping on-line. The one thing, however, that I didn’t count on was illness.

Twelve days ago my sister from Calgary came for a three day visit. Our first day started off nicely with a lunch with both sisters and my Dad that I wrote about in my last post. Dad had been under the weather with a cold and cough but he felt he was up to a short visit to our local ‘seniors’ mall where he wanted to use up his credit at one of the retail outlets. It’s not really a senior’s mall but there is a high high proportion of white haired people that sit around the mall drinking their Tim Horton’s coffee. So Cathy, Dad and I drove to the mall and tried to find Dad something from the store that would fit him. He had a credit in the first place because this particular store doesn’t give refunds, only exchanges or credit towards other merchandise. Unfortunately, Dad is a large man and the merchandise fits on the small side. I think between the two of us we exhausted our Dad by making him try on at least a half dozen sweaters or more.

In the end we weren’t able to use up his credit in this particular store but the manager assured us that in another mall there were three different stores that would honour his credit voucher. Before we left the mall we went to the drug store and bought Dad some cough syrup to tame the rattle that came from his chest. When we got home he excused himself and went down to his apartment in the house and sat in his special chair to rest.

Later that night while while watching TV we heard my father call us from his basement apartment. When we went downstair we saw he was in distress so we called 911 after consulting with TeleHealth. Very quickly a firetruck and two ambulances arrived at our door. I couldn’t believe all the people who were trying to fit into my small house with all their special equipment. To make a long story shorter it was decided that Dad should go to the hospital due to his age and low oxygen levels. The fire department left first when they were sure that Dad could walk out of the house on his own and the one paramedic team handed over the reigns to the other team at shift change.

In the end Dad stayed in Emergency in an isolated room for fours days until they were sure that he wasn’t contagious. We waited for a single room in the hospital but all the beds upstairs were full. On the fifth day a room opened up but the attending doctor felt that Dad was well enough to go home and rest there. Turns out he has RSV, a respiratory viral infection. It is very common amongst children but can be quite dangerous for people in their 90s.

So with going to the hospital every day and having my sister here, nothing much got done. Cathy did volunteer to help me put up the Christmas tree but when she left on the fourth day the tree was still outside. I didn’t even have my door wreath up.IMG-9880
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Once Dad got home I had a new set of responsibilities. Ironically while my Dad was in the hospital my neighbour next door was also admitted and she has a new cat. Now I had to feed the cat and take in her mail and go shopping for my father. A few days after he got home I took him to the bank and while he was there I treated myself to a Christmas planter to put in front of the house. Things were starting to look up.IMG-9882

I was on a roll. My husband helped me bring in the Christmas tree and we got it set up in the living room.IMG-9886

The next day I pulled the old door wreath out from under the stairs and decided it needed a bit of cheering up. I put a new ribbon on it and added some white flowers to freshen it up. Then I added some battery powered LED lights for fun.IMG-9888
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This whole time I could feel that I had a cold coming on. Not surprising with all the illness that had surrounded me in the last week but I felt well enough to go to a party Monday night and to make bread dough at the Inn the next day. I knew I would only be there for a few hours. That evening I even attempted to bake some cookies and I packaged up a small gift for the bakers that I work with.

From here things went downhill very quickly. That night I woke up with a very sore throat; something I don’t experience very often and in fact the last time I felt that bad was when I was in high school and I ended up with Strep throat. The next morning I texted my baking friends and told them I wasn’t coming in. My husband drove me to the doctor and sure enough the tests came back positive for Strep throat and a sinsus infection. I left the office with  a few prescriptions and headed straight for the pharmacy and then to bed.

Since Wednesday I’ve been taking it easy and doing things in small spurts but I was surprised how much could be accomplished with taking baby steps. I managed take all my decorations out and over the next three days I slowly started to place my treasures around the house and put lights and ornaments on the tree. Late Friday afternoon my oldest daughter arrived and helped me finish the tree and together we strung the outside lights on the Yew in front of the house.IMG-9925
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It truly feels like Christmas now. Only the stockings need to be filled and a couple of last minute gifts need to be purchased.

Three Sisters and Dad

….an unexpected visit from my sister in Calgary brought us all together

Ten days ago my sister flew in from Calgary to spend three days with me in Toronto. When my sister in Chatham heard that Cathy was staying over she made the four drive to have lunch with us. My Dad, who lives with me, joined us for a simple lunch at home and retired to his apartment after the meal to rest (he’s been suffering with a cold). We had a nice gab for a few hours and then Chris (the sister from Chatham) left to visit her daughter, son-in-law and grandson in Burlington.

Before my sister left to visit her family we all posed with our Dad for a nice group shot.IMG-1793

London – Day 6 – Palace of Westminster to Gordon’s Wine Bar

….day six continues along the River Thames

After leaving the Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey we continued walking towards the River Thames. Right behind the Abbey lies the Palace of Westminster which holds both houses of Parliament for the United Kingdom. It was originally built in the eleventh century and rebuild in the 1800s after it burned down.

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As you can see from the photos the structure was under quite a bit of construction. The one big disappointment was that Big Ben was also under construction but we knew this before we arrived in London. What I didn’t know was that the entire tower would be covered in scaffolding. The refurbishing is scheduled to take three years to complete and during the renovation the clock bells have been turned off.IMG-8945

From many parts of London one of the sites that stands out above many of the building is the giant Ferris wheel called the London Eye. It is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames in London and is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3.75 million visitors annually.IMG-6999
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As we continued along the River Thames we came across the Golden Jubilee bridge built in 2000. It is a steel truss bridge located in Lambeth borough.

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From here we headed over to Gordon’s Wine Bar but on the way we passed through the Courtauld Institute of Art. At the time we had no idea what we were looking at but we liked the sculptures and the architecture.IMG-8961
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Gordon’s Wine Bar is located on the Strand. It is thought to be the oldest wine bar in London having been established in 1890. The bar is very much a family affair, owned by Wendy Gordon who is the wife of the late much loved Luis Gordon, and now overseen by Luis’ eldest son Simon. The building itself was a warehouse built in 1790 and in 1880 it was converted to accommodations.

We entered through the cellar doors. You need to stoop to get to your rickety candlelit table – anonymity is guaranteed! If the sun is out you can also sit outside in Watergate Walk and enjoy watching the world go by. The bar is loved by many and seems to be a place where time has stood still. It serves only wine, sherries and port and simple food, ranging from homemade pies to mature cheese. If you’re in London you should definitely check this place out. You can find more information here.

A word of warning. If you do go into the cellar watch your head because the ceilings are low and it takes awhile for your eyes to adjust to the dark. I hit my head three times in the space of a minute making my way to our table.

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Happy Birthday Frances

….December 13, 2018

I can’t believe that our dog, Frances is already 12 years old. We got her as a puppy from our daughter when she got a new job that made it impossible for her to properly train a new puppy. Frances immediately became my husband’s dog. It was love at first sight.

Over the years Frances has brought us a lot of joy. She’s a strange mix and whenever people ask about her breed they’re surprised by the answer. To the best of our knowledge she’s a cross between an Australian Sheppard and a Dachshund.

Here are a few photos of her over the last 12 years.
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