Wednesday, 31 December 2008

London - Day 3

Tuesday, December 30th

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 ( 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 ( 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

London thus far ...

Flight from Ottawa to Heathrow was uneventful. Check-in and security and the trip to the gate are always so simple and short in Ottawa - we were at the gate 2 hours before the flight. We weren't sure the ginger sparklers were going to make it through security - the agent who inspected our bag looked awful hungry! We boarded on time but sat at the gate for nearly an hour. Don't know what the issue was, but the pilot made it quite clear that he was ready to go! We were, consequently, an hour late getting into London. It was very cloudy so there was no view of the city as we approached. As the jet swung around the city and back in to land, we could imagine the view below from our August trip, but there was nothing to see this time but clouds.

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

Christmas Day

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

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!!

Guess we won't barbeque tonight. We've had lots of snow and high winds since Thursday. The snowblower has had a good workout. Tomorrow it's time to get up on the roof and clear off the accumulation. This morning we woke up to a howling blizzard. The annual Christmas breakfast was being held at the church so we headed down a little earlier than usual.

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

Christmas has begun

The boxes are down from the attic, the tree is up and decoration has begun. Geordie is not a big Christmas fan, but he tolerates our foibles pretty well.

btw - gas is .649 today!!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Messiah Singalong

There was a Messiah 'singalong' in Gananoque on Friday night and it was extremely well attended. Participants were Orchestra Kingston, a community orchestra combining professional and amateur musicians, The Gananoque Choral Society, Frontenac Women's Chorus and the Queen's University Chamber Choir. The Gananoque Choral Society was actually formed about 15 years ago for the purpose of presenting Handel's Messiah so it was a return to its roots for that organization.

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

And so it begins ...

River caught over with ice this weekend and a light dusting of snow makes it quite pretty.

BTW - gas is .679 today!!

Monday, 1 December 2008

OK - We'll play

One or the other or both of us have (in black bold):

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

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