Wednesday, 31 December 2008
This morning we headed out to check out some of the shopping places. We took the tube to Green Park and then to Oxford Circus. We walked along Regent Street, taking time to go into Liberty and Brooks Brothers and several other interesting shops. A detour down a side street took us to Carnaby Street, which we've been hearing about since the 60s. Then back to Regent street and at Picadilly Circus turned and came back on Picadilly Street. Here we stopped in at Fortnum and Mason - a very upscale department store (staff in tails) noted for Christmas hampers in British novels. Outside was a series of Christmas windows, decorated to tell the story of The Snow Queen.
We walked in front of the Ritz Hotel and ducked into The Clarence, a pub nearby (didn't even price the dining room at the Ritz). Toad in the Hole provided a delicious traditional lunch. Now it was time to head over to St. Pancras train station to meet our friends from home, Des & Dave, arriving from Paris. Their train was, as one gets to expect in Europe, right on time and we walked with them to their hotel (Hilton).
They had not seen the Tower of London or Tower Bridge so that was our first stop. After a brief stop at the Roman wall, we walked around the Tower. It was 4:15 so too late for entry - they'll have to leave that for their next trip to London. Then we walked across Tower Bridge, along the south embankment, and back across the Thames on London Bridge. We walked up past The Monument (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monument_to_the_Great_Fire_of_London) and past St. Paul's (Des and Dave were fortunate enough to attend Christmas Day Eucharist). Up Fleet Street we made our way to Ye Old Cheshire Cheese pub (http://www.pubs.com/pub_details.cfm?ID=216). Each of us had something different so now we can heartily recommend the beef, the pork, the lamb and the steak and kidney pie. After a delicious dessert (treacle - they were out of sticky toffee pudding) we headed to King's Cross station for a photo op at Platform 9 3/4.
Then it was time to bid Des and Dave goodnight, happy new year and safe trip. We caught a Picadilly Line train to Barons Court and returned home to Greyhound. Over a glass of winter Pims we mapped out a plan of action for tomorrow (New Year's Eve). The day will start with a trip to Portobello Road Market, The Borough Market and some grocery shopping - and hopefully end viewing the fireworks display near the London Eye.
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Noise was at Heathrow to meet us and had driven out in the 'StreetCar' - kind of a timeshare car rental parked in the neighbourhood that you can rent by the hour. A quick run in to the Greyhound flat where we had a bit of a 'recover-from-jet-lag' nap. We've learned that the best way to avoid jet-lag is to only power nap on that first day and stay up and active until bedtime in the new timezone. Then we drove out to Wimbledon to pick up PetDoc from work. We did the Christmas present exchange and had nibblies for supper. Then we went next door to the Queen's Arms for sticky toffee pudding.
PetDoc worked Sunday 'til 2 pm so we had a leisurely morning at the flat. Later we took the tube to Hyde Park for the Winter Wonderland - kind of an amusement park / German Christmas market. Just to make the experience authentic, we had a mug of gluhwein (mulled red wine) and made our way through the park. Treated ourselves to roasted chestnuts and candied nuts and watched the skaters (I guess you could call them that - mostly a lot of arm-flailing and splatting on the ice).
From Hyde Park we walked over to Harrods to see the store lit up for the holidays at night. From Harrods we took the tube to Leicester Square and walked from there to Trafalgar Square to see the Christmas Tree. Then we walked on to Somerset House, where another outdoor rink has been set up. People in this part of London are no better skaters than in Hyde Park.
This morning PetDoc and Noise headed back to work and we made our way over to Covent Garden. From there we walked through the Soho district of London and arrived at Trafalgar Square. We were too late for lunch in the crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields so we found a nearby pub and had lunch. Then we walked along Fleet Street and over to St. Paul's Cathedral. After a brief tour there (didn't bother with the dome this time) we caught the tube back home. Noise cooked us a delicious supper of chicken breasts with mushroom sauce and vegetables - we enjoyed a nice bottle of wine (even though Noise had to run next door to the pub and get them to open the bottle). Tomorrow we're thinking we'll go over to Oxford Street and Hamleys and maybe over to Fortnum and Mason. Then we're meeting Des and Dave on the train from Paris and we'll spend some time with them and have dinner somewhere nice.
Thursday, 25 December 2008
OK - Geordie's a little more in the Christmas spirit today. Had a lovely Christmas Day with family - lots of goodies under the tree and two scrumptious turkey dinners. Last night's Christmas Eve church service was very nice, with Maryanne W 'leaving us spitless' with her gorgeous rendition of 'O Holy Night' and finishing with the congregation singing 'Silent Night' by candlelight. Weather was crazy last night, with rain and 60 kph winds. We lost a lot of our snow - including what I had planned to shovel off the roof :-) We're supposed to have 7 degrees C and rain on Saturday and that should get rid of a bit more of the white stuff. The weather in London is supposed to be cooler than that for the next few days!
Today we had two Skype conversations with PetDoc and Noise - one early this morning as we opened stockings and then another larger family conversation after they had returned from Evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral. I was very envious!
By this time tomorrow we'll be enroute to London. It would appear that the crazy weather hold-ups over the holidays have been cleared and flights are back on schedule. We're checked in and have printed our boarding passes, so it looks like Air Canada is expecting us. Keep your fingers crossed for us. We're looking forward to meeting Gananoque friends D & D in London on the 30th, when they arrive from Paris.
btw - gas price update - .629 cents per litre and the fuel oil man filled us up this week at .779
Sunday, 21 December 2008
The choir had been preparing "For Unto Us a Child is Born" from Handel's 'Messiah' and there was some concern about a Plan B in case there weren't enough members able to make it to church in the storm. However, not a single member was absent! When you look up faithful in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Grace Church's volunteer choir. The anthem went exceptionally well and we all felt very good about it.
Although it's stopped snowing now, the red screen of death is on the weather channel. Looks like good weather on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I really don't care a lot about the weather as long as we're able to get to Ottawa airport on Boxing Day to get our flight to London to visit PetDoc and Noise. Just to make the world even smaller, Gananoque friends are going to be in London while we are there and we've already made plans to get together. Hard to believe that in five days Christmas will be over and we'll be in London.
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Sunday, 14 December 2008
The performance was quite good, for an amateur group. The orchestra chose the Mozart edition of Handel's work and I must say I really don't think Mozart enhanced the original work in any way. I found the orchestral accompaniment too busy at times, intruding on the vocal elements. I had never attended a singalong Messiah and was disappointed that the audience was not seated according to choral sections. Sitting where I was, in the middle of a group of non-singers, was not conducive to singing bass, which was largely why I had gone to this particular performance.
All in all, however, an enjoyable evening.
Monday, 8 December 2008
Monday, 1 December 2008
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child - does Foster Parents Plan count?
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in Arlington Cemetery
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car - maybe even this week!
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
Sunday, 30 November 2008
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
The last fill-up with the boat at the local marina was $1.59 per litre. Wish I could trailer Daydream Believer to the local gas-bar and fill 'er up @ .749!! I expect by the time we splash next spring gas will be back up and I'll have to pay $1.50 again.
None of this comes as a shock to us, since we paid $2.00 per litre for gas in Europe in 1995. We've sort of had a sense that North America was just catching up. In August of this year we paid $2.29 per litre for diesel in London, so $1.50 still seems like a bargain. And $ .749 is amazing!!!
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Sunday, 12 October 2008
We headed out to McDonald Island (Parks Canada) Friday after work and joined our boater friends for chili. Saturday morning they began preparing the annual boaters' Thanksgiving dinner - roasted turkey, smoked turkey, ham and vegetables galore. Topped off with pies of every description and 'special' coffee. There were (by my count) 27 of us. Singer and Mo-in-law joined us by dinghy. For many this is the last boating weekend of the season and it's a chance to get together and wish each other well for the winter. We had to come back in Saturday night and at 10:30 pm there wasn't a ripple on the river and the moon was as bright as daylight. Today we had a Skype-chat with PetDoc and Noise (and Buggy) and now we're off to the family Thanksgiving dinner.
Sunday, 28 September 2008
We spent the weekend on the west end of Beaurivage this weekend. Last week was absolutely gorgeous so, of course, it began to rain on Friday and continued until late Sunday afternoon. We are beginning to reach the point in the year when docking is somewhat determined by water levels (which are declining by the minute - down 30 inches from the mid-August). Even mooring at our own dock is becoming dicey.
We were, according to the Parks Canada staff, the only boat on Beaurivage this weekend. The wind was from the east and the north-east, so the west dock seemed the logical place to go. It was actually quite calm and pleasant there and if we were looking for solitude it was the perfect place. It drizzled and rained pretty much all weekend so we got a lot of reading done. We also watched several episodes of "Monk"; bro-in-law gave us a box set of this very clever TV show which is only occasionally seen in Canada and they have become our boating entertainment.
We came in earlier than usual on Sunday to connect with PetDoc on Skype. We had a nice chat and got a chance to see Noise playing tennis, baseball, and bowling on their new Wii. Buggy and Geordie got to say hello through the miracle of cyber-communication. Have a great time in Paris next weekend (PetDoc & Noise, that is - not Buggy and Geordie!)
The second highlight of the weekend was a concert we attended tonight at MacNeil's Landing. Maryanne Wainman (with whom I've worked many times), Len Whalen who, in his own words "has been Jesus longer than Jesus was Jesus" and Scott Davey did a dinner/concert programme of Broadway selections. We oldsters tend to do Broadway songs from "Carousel", "The Sound of Music", and the like - these 'youngsters' put together a fabulous evening of songs from "Jesus Christ, Superstar", "Phantom", "Les Mis", "Rent", "Hairspray". It was thoroughly enjoyable. Kudos to Cliff Edwards for making his restaurant venue available for this kind of entertainment.
Monday, 8 September 2008
Sunday, 7 September 2008
This weekend we spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights on Beau Rivage. Met up with some boater friends and enjoyed the weekend immensely. There's still enough water for us at the south floating dock in the main bay (though the water has dropped at least a foot from mid-summer), but it dropped another 6 inches during the three days we were there. The weatherman threatened rain most of the weekend but Friday was gorgeous, Saturday was overcast but no rain, and it only rained a tiny little bit Sunday afternoon. With three dinghy-shuttles to make, that was a relief.
Monday, 25 August 2008
Sunday, 24 August 2008
Gananoque has got quite an airport for a community of 5000 residents. There's a reason! The Link Manufacturing Company in Gananoque produced the 'Link Trainer' - a flight simulating device to train pilots. In 1943-1944 hundreds of allied pilots were brought to Gananoque airport - some to train, others to be trained. One of the trainers was an RAF pilot named John. These visiting airmen were often entertained in Gananoque - one such event was a dance at the Gananoque Golf Club. At this dance John met a young woman named Alice, one of my mother's best friends (see, this isn't just a random World War II story!!)
Well, as you can guess, the two fell in love and Alice moved abroad, to be married in a little church in John's home town of Bognor Regis, on the south coast of England. They had four children and (since Alice's family still lived in Gananoque and John was a BOAC pilot with staff privileges) made frequent trips to Canada. The children were sort of like cousins to me and the eldest, Kate, is my mother's god-child. In later years, John and Alice often holidayed with Mom & Dad and and Ted and Clare, travelling across Canada and to Florida. This continued connection with John, Alice and their family has always been special for us. One of the reasons for our trip to Clovelly when we were in Cornwall last week was Mom's fond recollection of her trip to Clovelly when she and Dad visited John and Alice in England.
Sadly, both Alice and Mom are now gone but the Bognor Regis connection lives on.
Saturday we, along with PetDoc and Noise, took the train to Bognor Regis and had a lovely day at John's cottage in Felpham, visiting with him and two of his daughters. We had a delightful lunch, walked along the seashore, watched some Olympics, and then caught the late afternoon train back to London. I doubt that this will be our last trip to Bognor Regis.
Tonight we went to a pub which specializes in Bangers and Mash - I ordered a safe choice (pork with cheese) and was startled when my dinner arrived with the announcement that they were out of that selection and had substituted Wild Boar. Delicious!!!!
It was a nice day so we decided to walk to the Library. Note to self: the number 91 bus which stops outside the Museum stops shortly thereafter at the Library! We limited our visit to the Sir John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British Library. Among these are: original musical manuscripts by Handel, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Mozart; the Magna Carta; early maps showing Ireland nearly as big as England; Shakespeare manuscripts; a Gutenburg Bible; pages from Leonarda da Vinci's notebook - well, you get the idea. One highlight for me (sounds plebian after the aforementioned list, but it's not) is the Beatles display. Here there are handwritten lyrics (some with corrections) for many familiar Beatle songs. I think my favourite (maybe it's the teacher in me) is the handwritten lyrics to "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" with the notation "3/10 - See Me"
Our daily pub visit today was to O'Neill's, near the King's Cross tube station. We went for the 'Pickers and Sharers' - a combo of 4 starters (we chose cod, prawns, potatoes (with cheese and bacon) and chicken wings). We thought we'd get a plate with a couple of each (as we had at 'The Shakespeare' near Victoria Station) and were startled to be presented with generous portions of all four choices. The atmosphere was a little more like Kelsey's than a pub, but the food was great!
We stopped at the butcher shop near the Baron's Court station to pick up lamb burgers and chicken brochettes to barbecue and then walked through the cemetery (a wonderful short-cut and well-used) to Greyhound. Took Buggy for a short walk and then relaxed until PetDoc and Noise returned home from work for supper.
Saturday we're off to Bognor Regis, but that's a separate entry. Sunday we're planning to participate (as spectators) at Trafalgar Square in the Handover Ceremonies being broadcast from Beijing. The Olympic Flag will be handed over by the mayor of Beijing to the mayor of London (2012 and all that, you know) and there's going to be a city-wide party here. We wouldn't come to London for it, but since we're here ...
Friday, 22 August 2008
Since, on our way, we were passing through King's Cross Station, we stopped for the obligatory picture at Track 9 3/4. I do believe the family set of photos here is now complete!
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
From the palace we headed back toward Victoria Station where we grabbed a very tasty sandwich in Cardinal Place at a shop simply called EAT.
From here we went over to locate the Apollo Victoria Theatre to make sure we could find it to see 'Wicked' tonight. So often we have found that when you're trying to locate a landmark in a strange city you turn a corner a WHAM! - there's the Eiffel Tower -- WHOA! - there's Stonehenge -- WOW! - isn't that St. Paul's. Well, same deal with the Apollo Victoria Theatre - around the corner from Victoria Station and BOOM! - there's the theatre.
Confident that we could find our way to the theatre this evening we contemplated what to do for the next 6 hours. We started with a trip to Harrods - what a store!! Everything from fresh vegetables to a Bosendorfer piano for £51,000. Our only purchase was a Krispy Kreme donut and a coffee. From Harrods we took the tube to the Victoria and Albert Museum. If you want to know what's at the V&A, read Rick Steves. There's really no thread or plan to these exhibits - just a vast collection of stuff that British monarchs thought ought to be in a museum.
We then headed back to the Victoria Station area and had dinner at 'The Shakespeare', a pub noted for its fish & chips (which were excellent, btw). After a leisurely dinner (another way of describing slow service), we headed to 'Wicked'. It was awesome and that's not a word I use lightly. Being familiar with (having performed) some of the music and intimately familiar with 'The Wizard of Oz', it was spell-binding.
Two little asides here regarding theatre: 1) I realize they want to sell you a souvenir programme but every patron should receive a free programme which lists the cast, production crew, orchestra, etc. 2) When did it become OK to come into a theatre at any point in a show and get up and leave and come and go like it's a rock concert? Whatever happened to 'latecomers will be seated at a suitable break in the show'? I felt especially sorry for the person who got up just as 'Defying Gravity' began at the end of Act I. I hope she was please to be first in line at the bar, because she missed one of the most spectacular events in London theatre this year. However, that said, we thoroughly enjoyed the show although when we stayed and applauded the orchestra at the end people around us looked at us like we were from another planet. Here's a little teaser, taken during a legal moment:
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Friday, 15 August 2008
Wednesday we started out in Ottawa having birthday lunch with Singer and Serdic and then headed off to the airport. As we approached the check-in counter, we saw J & S's Zoom flight land (they were returning from a 2-week visit with PetDoc) so once we were checked in we headed to Arrivals to wait with their mom for them to disembark. This sure helped shorten the wait for our own flight - once through security we only had about a 20-minute sit at the gate before our own flight was loaded.
Our flight was comfortable and actually appeared to be short. The A-V system was not working so there was no music / TV / movies - only the map showing our progress across the Atlantic. Air Canada has offered us a 5% discount on our next flight as compensation for the lack of entertainment. This is a very real possibility because we REALLY like this direct flight from Ottawa.
As we approached London the pilot gave us a wonderful banked view of the highlights of the city. We were able to see all the landmarks and even got a glimpse of PetDoc's street (the tennis courts of The Queen's Club are a dead giveaway). After passing through customs and collecting our luggage we headed to the Arrivals lobby where PetDoc was waiting for us. Then on to the tube to head home. It was strange to get off the tube at Baron's Court and know exactly where we were and where to go. The Google satellite images and maps have allowed us to become familiar with this neighbourhood even before we left home.
Noise had not left for work yet so we were able to deliver a large box of Tim-Bits in person as requested. A few were kept but the rest went to the London office of PWC for a little taste of Canada.
We went for a little walk with Buggy around the immediate Greyhound Road neighbourhood; had to check out the Vespa. We then decided that if we were going to adopt London time were were going to have to consider the breakfast we were served on the plane a midnight snack and have breakfast in London at London breakfastime.
Later in the morning we caught the tube downtown to meet Noise for lunch. We had a very nice lunch at a pub on Fleet Street and did a little sightseeing in the area. Then we took the tube to Tower Hill. We headed to St. Katharine Docks and had a coffee before we walked across Tower Bridge and along The Queen's Walk in front of City Hall. After a visit to The Borough Market (Borough Market is London’s oldest food market, established on the south bank of the Thames when the Romans built the first London Bridge) to pick up some fruit & veggies for supper we walked across London Bridge to catch the tube back to Baron's Court. It was rush-hour so fairly crowded but at least we didn't need Japanese-style pushers to get us on board.
After a great supper of stir-fry and Pims (gotta have Pims!!) we turned in fairly early. This morning (Friday) both PetDoc and Noise have to work so we'll do some sightseeing on our own. We're thinking maybe today's plans will include a visit to Greenwich. We're meeting PetDoc at her clinic after work - we saw Noise's stomping ground yesterday; today we'll see how the other half works.
Tomorrow we're picking up our rented car, dropping Buggy at a sitter's, and heading off for a couple of nights at Cornwall. We have B & Bs booked and all we need now is sunny, warm weather.
That's all for now.
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