Foto Friday #49 – Return

….thanks to Rag Tag Team for hosting Foto Friday

Of all the places I’ve visited the place I’d like to return to is Venice. I loved everything about it.fullsizeoutput-6f42
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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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London – Day 6 – Westminster Cathedral vs Westminster Abbey

…..I had no idea that they were two different churches

The main difference is that the cathedral is Roman Catholic and the Abbey is part of the Church of England. Also the cathedral is much newer. It was built in 1903 and is the largest Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. One of the things that struck us as odd about the interior of the cathedral is how dark the ceiling in the main part of the church is. According to the guide at the entrance, the ceiling is almost black because the main lighting source when it was first built consisted of candles and the soot from the them has darkened the interior. I thought that was odd, considering how wealthy the Catholic Church is but according to history churches built in the early 1900s had to be debt free before they could be consecrated. The interior of the cathedral was never completed but it was consecrated none the less in 1910.

The cathedral is built in the Byzantine style.

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The Abbey on the other hand is much older. It was first constructed in 1245 and was originally Catholic. Henry VIII changed that when the Catholic Church wouldn’t grant him a divorce and he formed the Church of England. In 1560 Queen Elizabeth I re-established Westminster as a “Royal Peculiar” – a church of the Church of England responsible directly to the Sovereign, rather than to a diocesan bishop.

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We didn’t get in line to see the inside of the Abbey but my cousin in Germany has convinced me that when we go back we need to take the tour. It sounds fascinating and worth the money. It is certainly rich in history.

In the next post I will continue with day 6 and describe our walk along the Thames River.

 

London – Day 4 (Harrods, Hyde Park)

….day four was another busy day with lots of walking

Today my Andrea, Josie and I headed to Harrods and Hyde Park. We left Kevin at home to rest and agreed to meet up later in the afternoon.

Harrods is probably one of the most famous stores in London. It is not centrally located and is about a mile from Kensington in the area known as Knightsbridge. Knightsbridge is a very exclusive area, one of the wealthiest parts of London where some of London’s most expensive hotels are situated. Needless to say that we didn’t go there to shop but merely to look around. The food hall was most interesting and beautifully set up with gorgeous display cases of chocolates and pastries and the seafood was displayed on mounds of ice in the most  attractive way.

While we were there we were told about the Egyptian escalators that were built in 1998 to reflect the Edwardian style of the building. Harrods built the first ever escalator in the UK in 1898. Nervous customers using the contraption were offered brandy when they reached the top to help them recover from their “ordeal”.

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From Harrods we walked over to Hyde Park and walked along the Serpentine Lake. People actually swim in this lake along with the local ducks, geese and swans.IMG-8686
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The installation art that you see in the lake is from the world famous artist, Christo, who unveiled his work The London Mastaba (2018) earlier in June. It is a 20-metre-high floating sculpture on London’s Serpentine Lake, constructed from 7,506 oil drums.

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Stay tuned for part 2…….

On Vacation

….I’m leaving tonight for London, England

I’ve scheduled a few posts ahead of time so you’ll see some activity on my blog until Oct. 2. I’m not taking a laptop with me and I’m not sure I can post from my iPhone. I’m sure I will take a ton of photos but you might have to wait a couple of weeks before I can share them with you.

I’m very excited about this trip. It’s my first time to England and I’ll finally get to see where our son and daughter-in-law reside. My husband and I are travelling with our oldest daughter and her wife and we’ll be staying together for the first eight days. After that Andrea and Josie are taking the train to Scotland and we’ll stay in London.

The only thing that we’ve booked so far is a tour of Buckingham Palace and on the second of October we’re going out to a nice restaurant to celebrate my husband’s birthday. There are lots of places we want to see and and things we want to do in London. I expect that we’ll take some bus tours and definitely walking tours and of course we’ll check out the art galleries and museums.

We haven’t booked things ahead of time because of my husband’s condition. He never quite knows when he can leave the house safely without having to rush to a bathroom. With the time change and jet lag the first few days could be tricky. We’ve done this before and it’s not ideal but spending time with our son and his wife is more important.

The only thing I’ll miss when I’m away is being able to spend time with this sweetie:

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Share Your World – January 29, 2018

….thanks to Cee for posting more interesting questions on Share Your World

If you had an unlimited shopping spree at only one store, which one would you choose? Why?

I would choose a store where I could buy a variety of items, like clothing, household items, accessories, toys, and make-up. Even though I’d have unlimited amounts of money (I’m assuming that’s what an unlimited shopping spree means) I still think of Marshall’s first. Maybe I should be adventurous and say Nordstrom’s.

What is the worst thing you ate recently?

I tend to avoid foods that I don’t like and there aren’t too many of those. I would have to choose something that was badly prepared or didn’t meet my expectations. The only thing I can think of is the oatmeal my father made and he wanted me to try it because he had some left over. Is it possible for something to be too salty and too sweet at the same time? Well it was and I politely declined to eat the rest. My Dad doesn’t read this blog so I’m not too worried that he’ll be offended.

Name five things you like watching…

  1. Watching my granddaughter playing
  2. A game of professional soccer, rugby or lacrosse
  3. The Olympic Games, summer and winter
  4. Live theatre
  5. On TV – Coronation Street, The View, Young Sheldon, Survivor, The Crown and most British detective stories

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

This week I managed two visits to Hamilton to visit my daughter and granddaughter and my oldest daughter came over with her Frenchie, Olive on Sunday. Time with my family always makes me smile.

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Photo credit goes to my daughter-in-law who took this photo back in November.

On Sunday Olive and Frances had a great time playing together and we were able to go for a nice long walk.

I’m also happy that I finally got my art studio in working order last week. I put together the last piece of furniture and started filling up the drawers. Even though I’ve been doing art almost every day since the beginning of the month, I can now do it in a neater and more organized space. fullsizeoutput_6c5b

In conclusion I need to thank my husband for taking me on one of his business trips this week. It was only up to Collingwood but I had an opportunity to take some photographs of the town and together we enjoyed a wonderful meal before heading home. We had such a nice time that we’re thinking of doing this once a week or at least twice a month. Any suggestions where we should go next? No more than two hours from Toronto, please.

Cheers!

Reflecting on this Past Year

…..today I’m officially a senior citizen

There has to be a better designation than senior citizen when you turn 65. I know there are many perks when you reach this age but it also comes with labels such as golden oldie, old fart, grandma, oldster, senior, geezer, geriatric, old-timer and blue hair. Even though I’m a proud grandmother to Winnie I don’t feel old.

 

I look back on this past year and am proud of what I’ve done and happy to have such amazing friends and a wonderful family. I knew that this was the year to retire from teaching. I still loved the job but there were days when I was just plain tired and sometimes I didn’t feel that I fit in anymore. I didn’t want to be one of those crotchety old teachers that criticized younger teachers for doing things differently.  Sometimes I didn’t like what went on but I wanted to leave on a happy note so I kept quiet for the most part. The only people I would share my views with were people closer to my age and those who were also retiring. I have to admit that some of my favourite teachers were those much younger than me. I loved their humour and zest for life.

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Of course the students are what kept me going as a teacher. They weren’t always easy to teach and over the years the job grew increasingly more difficult but in the end the love and gratitude I received in the form of cards, art work, letters of appreciation and countless hugs made it all worthwhile.

This past year I’ve seen my own children continue to grow into responsible and amazing adults. They are all married now and our one and only grandchild is growing like a weed. She is my pride and joy.  Last night she kept saying Oma birthday, Oma birthday while rolling around in her crib. She clearly knows everyone in the family now and can say everyone’s name. She picks up at least 10 new words every day and we have to be so careful what we say in front of her.

My retirement is not quite working out the way I thought it would. I was hoping to do more travelling but it is still early days. Last May my father moved into our house. At 90 he’s still very independent but we’re a little worried about leaving him for too long. So far the longest we’ve left him alone is four days. We’re hoping to travel to London, England in November to visit with our son before he leaves to live in New York City in the coming year. Someone recently asked me if Dad was coming with us. We’ve tried to convince him to make at least one more trip to Germany to visit his brother. It looks like that won’t happen for at least another year, God willing, and I’m not sure if a trip to London would be in the cards for him as well. We’ll have to wait and see.

So as I turn 65 today I can honestly say that I’ve had a wonderful life. Now I look forward to my next adventure and hopefully I’ve inherited my father’s genes so that I can enjoy the next 30 years of my life with the same joie de vivre.

WPC – Wish

….this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is wish

I wish I could see my son and daughter-in-law in London, England.

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I wish I was feeling better so I could spend some time with my granddaughter this week.

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I wish my husband would get over his cold so we can spend some quality time together and have the family over.

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I wish for a smooth transition when my 90 year old father moves in with us in May.

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I wish to travel back to Europe, maybe even with my Dad. It would be nice for him to see his brother one more time. I would love to go back to Venice.

I wish I could stop procrastinating and do some more art. I miss it.

Finally I wish it were warmer and I was on the beach at the cottage.

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The Best of 2016

…..despite the terrible events that took place in 2016 on a personal level it was a wonderful year

Most people would agree that 2016 had to be a terrible year for natural disasters, untimely deaths of beloved celebrities, horrendous terrorist attacks around the world, the Syrian refugee crisis, Brexit and a nasty election campaign in the U.S.

Even on a personal note, 2016 hasn’t been all sunshine and roses but there were many memorable and special moments.

In January our son ended up staying with us for an extra week before heading back to London, England. The circumstances of his extended stay aren’t exactly positive but we did have him with us and for me that was special. By the way, at the end of December of last year, he slipped on the ice and broke his upper arm and he required surgery. The surgery was successful and he was released from the hospital on January 1st. IMG_7188

In February my friend M celebrated her 64th birthday and my niece, S, her 26th.

The biggest event in February was our daughter’s wedding to her first love and partner of 10 years. They met on Feb. 10th so they decided on their 10th anniversary they would make it official and tie the knot. What a special day!

In March while we experienced snow, our future daughter-in-law was sitting in an outdoor caffe in Assisi planning her wedding.

In May we celebrated Mother’s Day with the family in the backyard (a little chilly) and at school we had our Forest of Reading celebration, Jump Rope for Heart and our annual Fun Fair. Winnie also had her first swimming lesson and her Daddy started Go Cart racing. Also A and J and their brother-in-law, G, ran the Sporting Life 10k.

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In June two of my colleagues retired from teaching, my very good friend, A, celebrated her 75th birthday and our son and his love were married in London at City Hall.

Our school choir also sang at a Blue Jays game and we put on our annual outdoor extravaganza at school.

July was the highlight month of the year for our family. We took a trip of a lifetime. My sister and her family from Calgary and my two daughters and their families and my husband and I travelled to Italy to celebrate the union of our son, B, and his beautiful Iranian bride, Az. We travelled for the first 11 days visiting places like Venice, Florence, Bologna and Lucca and then we all met in Assisi where the actual wedding took place. After three days in Assisi we made one more stop in Rome before flying back home.

In August  I was able to open up the cottage and spent about 5 weeks there off and on. My husband and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary and I had another birthday.

September brought a new school year and my last first day of school. My husband had  been coaching a small group of boys from our extended family to get them ready for this year’s cross country team and they were all entered into the Railpath Community Run. In fact there were 11 of us from the family that ran that day. I was happy to do 5k without stopping in 45 minutes. At least I wasn’t the slowest person on the course. The boys did really well and some of them walked away with some prizes.

October was another busy month with a lot of milestone birthdays. My husband turned 65, my dad 90, my son-in-law 40 and Winnie celebrated her 1st birthday. I also organized and ran my last book fair school. We raised the largest sum of money ever. I now I have the fun job of buying books and supplies for the library and classrooms.

In November my oldest daughter, A, celebrated her 37th birthday. Where has the time gone? My younger daughter, Winnie and I attended the Royal Winter Fair and I, along with five other teachers took 59 students on a three day overnight winter camp in the Kawarthas.

In December my Dad moved from his apartment to the retirement home across the road. We held our annual craft night at school, held a Christmas concert and had our staff party at a local restaurant. Christmas was a three day affair; one day in Hamilton, another in Toronto and the third in Oshawa. On the 30th of the month we celebrated the birthdays of our twins who are now 35. As my principal and friend M would say ‘Carol you’re old!’

So as you can see there were lots of bright moments in 2016 for me and the Cormier family. Wishing you all a bright, happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.

Cheers!

Share Your World 2016 – Week 46

….thanks Cee for Share Your World

Are you a traveler or a homebody?

After this summer I would say that I’m a traveller. I can’t stay put for too long. Even at the cottage I need to get off the island for a few hours and visit the town or explore the countryside.

What kind of TV commercial would you like to make? Describe it.

I like ‘feel good’ commercials. The one that comes to mind is the Subaru Forester commercial with the puppies where the one puppy is left behind (but not for long). It has wonderful scenery and great music and the message is subtle.

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Describe yourself in a word that starts with the first letter of your name.

I’m creative, curious and conscientious.

List some fun things for a rainy day.

Here are a few things I like to do on a rainy day:

• read a good book

• bake cookies

• paint, draw or do some kind of art

• play board games with family and friends

• play cards

• play with my granddaughter

• do some kind of needlework (knitting, sewing, cross-stitch)

• talk on the phone to my sisters

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week I was grateful for a wonderful dinner at Mamma Martino’s with the boys that my husband coached this summer and fall. My daughter and daughter-in-law and the boys’ parents were also there.

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I was also grateful for two wonderful days spent with my granddaughter. It wasn’t planned. On Saturday my daughter asked if we could come over to babysit so that she could get some work done and on Sunday they came to the city because my daughter  had a lunch date with a close friend. At 13 months, Miss Winnie keeps us hopping. She runs everywhere and never seems to tire. I did discover that the best way to read to her is when she is sitting in her high chair. She’s more engaged when she’s strapped into her chair.

This week I’m looking forward to going out to dinner again with friends to celebrate a good friend’s 50th birthday. We’re also expecting a delegation from the Netherlands to come to our school to check the place out and observe some classes this week. The school looks pretty good and I’m curious to know what our visitors think of our education system. On Thursday night and on Friday we have parent interviews. I won’t be seeing too many parents, if any, and I’m hoping to get some work done in the library.