Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Update

I arrived in California safely and the parcel of Christmas presents got here before Christmas.  Spent the first couple of days relaxing and then got into the Christmas spirit or was that spirits. It has been very cold here at night - freezing in fact. I thought I came down to get warm but it hasn't turned out that way. 
We visited with the Gravers for an afternoon of Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve and then popped in for a few hours after lunch. Brian had arrived home around 10:00 am from a flight from New York (he was the pilot not a passenger so he was rather tired but was happy to see us. we will arrange to see them again for lunch or dinner before I leave.
We had a lovely Christmas. The kids liked the Canada T-Shirts and all the little things I brought. Gary and Chris appreciated the herbs, coffee, fudge and Canadian peameal bacon.  I had to go through special screening because of the Bacon.  I froze it so it would keep and the customs lady asked if it was a good brand and should she buy some. It was quite funny. Then I went through screening and I had brought Christine a teaball with a long handle and I had to open my suitcase as they wanted to check that it wasn't a weapon.

Gary and Christine and I are going on the Wine Train today.  I will blog about it later.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December ---- only 18 days to Christmas

I haven't blogged lately.  I have a lot to catch up on.
The wedding in Tahoe was beautiful and a lot of fun. I lost a few bucks on the slot machines in the Casino, but I'm not a big gambler so it was only a few dollars. We went up to the newlyweds resort timeshare in Nevada and spent a lot of time in the hottubs. Gary entered a video poker tournament and won a turkey, so we had turkey dinner in the mountains a week before American thanksgiving.  The funniest thing that happened all week was driving from Lake Tahoe to the resort.  We had come in separate cars but we needed to travel in one so we ended up with all the luggage in the trunk and the extra food and drink from the reception packed around us in the car. The driver was the only one who didn't end up with parcels etc on his/her knee.
Jade Graver had a cold and by the end of the trip I had caught it. We kept thinking it was allergies but by the time I got back to Toronto I knew it was a real cold.
Since I got back I have got a new toilet, a new furnace and air conditioning, and five or so inches of insulation in the attic. I am still looking for the guy who was supposed to stud the walls in the basement before I get spray-on insulation. I need to find a new contractor.
I am now working mornings in St. Thomas and afternoons in London. The job is getting busier and Christmas is coming.
I am leaving for California on Dec. 22nd and will be back  January 1st.  Just a few days without snow.  That would sound good except that we haven't had much snow in Ontario yet this year.  We had about 1/2 an inch yesterday but it melted by noon.
I have got 5 postcards in the last 5 days from Scotland, Malasia, Germany, Netherlands and Russia.
Well I'm off to bed. I will try to blog more often especially with Christmas coming.
Good night

Monday, November 7, 2011

Travelling to Tahoe for a wedding

Well after twenty-eight years of living with her boyfriend my younger sister has decided to get married.  So on Wednesday I am off to San Francisco to meet with relatives, including the lucky couple and drive up to Lake Tahoe for the Wedding on Friday. The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind for me as I coordinated with sister Peggy in Thunder Bay to get plane tickets, hotel rooms in Tahoe and Toronto a sim card for the US etc. for the trip.  Then there is always packing, and making arrangements to make sure that everything is covered at home, last minute shopping and getting set for the trip etc.

It turns out the weather is about the same during the day but at night it is below zero.  Who would have thought that you go south and get colder but it is because you are on the desert, so it doesn't hold the heat of the day. We usually travel in warm weather or go south to warm weather if it is winter. Packing is a whole new thing when you want to just have a carry-on but pack warm clothes for night and a bathing suit and sandals for the hot springs.

Yesterday I was going crazy because I couldn't find charging cords. Turned out I had put them way for safekeeping (haha) but finally found them last night. I think I am ready now - Hair appointment down, clothes picked out, everything packed. Suitcase weighs 19 pounds - 3 pounds under the limit.

Congratulations to Christine and Gary!  California/Nevada here we come!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The treasures of a Hoarder

I never realized I was a hoarder until I looked in the spare bedroom.  The closet is full from top to bottom with boxes. The bed is covered and the floor has boxes as well. I couldn't get to the cupboard or the set of storage drawers as the pile was too high.

Time to weed it out.  In the last week I have given 5 boxes and two bags to the Salvation Army, thrown out at least ten bags of garbage, sorted down to two plastic containers of pictures (23 Gallon size plastic containers), found enough wrapping paper to last a year or two, sold two boxes of books, given away another two boxes of books and a bag of toys.  Hardly seems to have made a dent.

With all this sorting I have discovered $8.50 worth of stamps (mostly 6 cent ones from the 60's and 70's) a dozen retro postcards unused, a few hundred first day of issue postage stamps with cachet envelopes, numerous computer discs that I can't even use anymore (does anyone have a 3.5 inch disc or a 5.5 inch one) and a dollar and a half worth of Canadian Tire money.

Not everything needs to go out but I do need to sort it and decide what stays and what goes. I am going to hang every framed picture I have and all the old pictures are going to be scanned so I can give dvd's to the family. I found a birth announcement for Craig Graver and postcards that Peggy and Frankie each sent mom 40 years ago. I am putting the first day stamps on a website for sale. I'm getting rid of most of the books. I'm sure that as soon as I get rid of most of this stuff I will need it again.  I am still going to get rid of it!!

Well now I have had my break for the day - so back to work I go.  If you don't hear from me check under the pile of junk in the back bedroom.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

St. Thomas Construction Site

I got sent to St. Thomas to help the on-site representative of the other Architect who is involved with the construction of the St. Thomas Mental Health Building for St. Joseph's London Hospital.

I went down before lunch to do a walk around the site.  Most people walk around the solid areas of the site and take what pictures you can see from there. David decided that he should take pictures from the top of the dirt piles around the construction excavation. I followed David partway up the hills.  That was enough! He took a large step that I couldn't match and my foot went down, down, down. I ended up with one leg sunk upto my knee in the mud. David pulled me out and I kept my boot on - though it weighed about five pounds more when it came out. Hopefully I won't end up in that deep again.  All the guys on site kept saying "Oh you found the soft spot eh"

Took my safety training today and I will be going to St. Thomas at least twice a week for the next while. Just have to keep away from the soft spots.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Battle of the Blades

Karen and I went to Battle of the Blades tonight. It is at the Mastercard Center in Etobicoke this year. New place so we went down early to find the arena and a parking space and see about dinner.  I got off at the wrong exit but the GPS found the place for us and I managed to back into the parking space without causing damage so I was happy. 
We brought some dinner with us and ate it in the area near the concession then headed in to find our seats.  We had no seats!! We found the section and the row but our tickets were #18 and 19 and there were only 16 seats. We started asking where our seats were and no one could figure out. It turns out they put an extra camera on that side of the arena and eliminated our seats.  They called for the floor manager and she thought she could solve it. She decided we should get the bleacher seats in the corner of the arena - no chairs just benches and in a bad corner.  I refused. I told her I had accepted tickets at center ice and that was where I wanted to be.  There were several celebrity seats that had no one's name on them so I said we would sit there. She was worried someone would come but I said no one's name is on them - who is going to come?  In the end she gave us two seats in a section marked Marie-France Dubreil and said she had been told that Marie-France was not using all her seats tonight.
Boy was she wrong!!! Marie had eight people show up including her husband Patrice Lauzon and daughter baby Billie-Rose.  They ended up in front of us - which was really great and we didn't have to move.  Part way through the show the baby started fussing and Patrice was trying everything to keep her from crying.  She was hanging over his shoulder and ended up grabbing for my hands and squirming toward me.  Patrice let me hold her and she jumped and danced on my knee - I was thrilled. I was good though I gave her back after a few minutes.
The show was great, Marie Frace is my favorite, Wish I lived in Toronto so I could go tomorrow night as well. I can hardly wait for next week when we go again.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Postcrossing - Fun Mail

I've been back from holidays for a week and working from home. That is a little unconventional for me but I expect to have a proper office soon.

In the meantime I have takien up a new hobby and it is so much fun I have to share.  Postcrossing.com is a site that gives you addresses so you can send postcards to people around the world and once your post card is recieved you get a random postcard from someone you don't know somewhere in the world.

These are three of my favorite so far.

So far I have recieved cards from Germany, Holland, South Africa, Indonesia, Finland, Macau, USA.  I love opening my mailbox these days because I never know if there will be a postcard inside and if there is - where will it be from. 

In turn I send out postcards to addresses I get sent by the website. So far I have sent postcards to Russia, Belarus, Finland, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Netherlands, Taiwan and USA.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Last full Day in London

Last night we had our bags 99% packed so that we would be ready for today.  We got up early, went down to breakfast, completed our packing and checked out. For a pound the hotel stored our luggage for the day as we are going out to Gatwick airport to stay the night at the Hilton so that we are there for early check-in tomorrow. In the meantime we needed a little more adventure.

We checked all of our wish lists and discovered that we hadn't seen Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament up close. It is the wrong time of the year for a tour and you have to book ahead so we just circled around and took pictures. We found a cafe to have an almond croissant at and a coffee as it is a little cool today.  We had a couple of hours before the Borough Market opened so we walked down Whitehall and took pictures of the war heroes.  I spotted Monty (Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery) but I didn't know the rest. It was nice to see that they had a war memorial for the women that served. Along the way we were going to visit the Banqueting House - included in our Historic Palaces, but it was closed for the day.

I picked London Bridge as the underground stop for us to use for the Borough Market. I thought we would have to walk along the river a bit to find it but we practically fell over it 1/2 a block from the underground station.  Markets like this are always interesting. Everything is going on at once; there are samples of food everywhere and the variety is spectacular. There was wild boar, kangaroo, ostrich, venison, sausage of all kinds; cheddar, blue, stilton, goat, and camembert cheese to name a few. We saw candy every colour of the rainbow, fish I didn't know existed, mussels, oysters, and parsnips as large as cucumbers. dozens of fruit and veg that we don't see here in the grocery store, plus organic goods and one man who claimed to be a high quality non-organic farmer.

We walked through the market several times - it is very large and then decided to walk along the river to see the reproduction of Shakespeares Globe Theater.  Had beer and sandwiches down on the wharf and headed back to the hotel to collect our bags. Got lost looking for Southwark underground but finally headed for Bloomsbury, Russell Square and the Tavistock Hotel for the last time.

I tried to find a bus route but it was not a direct route so we decided to take the tube to Victoria Station.  Most of the way we had lifts (elevators) to take us up and down so we didn't have to carry the luggage upstairs until we got to Victoria. Luckily with three flights of stairs we kept meeting nice men who carried the cases up for us.  We were tired enough as it was from dragging them around.  We thought that was the worst of the day until we got to the station.

We had prebought the ticket for the Gatwick Express train to take us out to the Hilton.  Easy-peasy put the reservation number into the ticket machine and out comes the ticket  --- NO!  The ticket machine said "Sorry but there is a problem with your ticket.  I went to one counter - the man tried but couldn't get the ticket to print.  He sent me to the Gatwick Counter and Renee tried to print it - no deal.  She passed it to a supervisor who also couldn't get it to work. They sent me to the Reception area where the lady on duty and then the team leader tried to get me a ticket. No Luck.  By now we had been in the station over an hour as we waited in line after line. I was exhausted and ready to burst into tears.  They kept saying that the number I had and the ticket didn't match it was in someone else's name and someone else's credit card. Could I go where I had bought it to get it printed. (London Ontario - I think not) In the end I had to buy two new tickets and get signatures from the people who I had dealt with as they told me to apply for a refund.

Finally we took the train and arrived out at Gatwick.  It took a while to find the hotel as Gatwick is large and under construction - like the rest of London. The hotel said we had two rooms not one - got that fixed - hope I haven't been charged for two? We had a bellman take our bags up to the room and we headed for the airport so we could check in as we had trouble on our iPods. Couldn't check in until tomorrow. Back to the hotel and asked about WiFi. We are in the only hotel in London that charges for WiFi. And a lot of money. Since peggy couldn't be sure when Mike would be home for face time she couldn't buy 15 minutes for 3 pounds as she might miss hime completely. The airport was suppose to have WiFi but it wasn't working.  That was why I didn't blog last night.

To top it off we hit the first hotel of the vacation that didn't give you two sheets on your bed.  I like to sleep with just a sheet unless it is very cold so we phoned and asked for another sheet and we ended up with 4 extra sheets. We picked up a couple of beer before we left Russell Square and 2 eclairs at Marks and Spence in the Airport so after dinner at the Sports Bar we went upstairs and ate eclairs and drank beer and watched "Red or Black" and "the Million Pound Drop".  Time for bed and an early morning.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tikki patchwork and Covent garden

Started the morning with the charger for the iPod going off like a fire alarm. Woke us and possibly the neighbors up. I pulled it from the wall and the noise stopped, so I assume it overheated. After breakfast we headed for the underground to get an extension to go to kew to a quilt shop. Ticket man said no just take the bus - it is free. Found a pattern for a Brit flag pillow and some beautiful rooster material. Charged it. On the way back we stopped at the local shopping center and browsed the shops. Found an airline pillow for a pound at Poundland.
In the afternoon we discovered Covent Garden. Shops, food stalls, market stalls etc what fun!
We roamed round and round and in between until we were tired and went back to the hotel to pack. After we packed we went back to Covent Garden to The Nags Head for dinner - bangers and mash for me and steak pie for Peggy and of course beer. Finishing the night with this blog and then a little more sightseeing tomorrow and off to gatwick. Will blog again tomorrow night.

More Palaces in London

Today was the big day. Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. We walked through Green Park to get to Buckingham Palace as this is the closest underground. Many others joined us it was like a pedestrian street. Sorry to say the Canadian monument with it's fountain and carved leaves is being renovated but the Canada Gate was bright and shiny. Asked a policeman for directions and had my picture taken with him as there was no crowd. Short lineup to show e-mail and get tickets then a wait for our time. Usher kept telling everyone to go use public toilets as none were available in palace. We got to see the state rooms and the faberge jewels. This castle appear to have had the most done to it for comfort. There are rugs on the floors and it is homier then the others, if a castle can be homey. I guess it had the air of welcome for all the ornate and regal rooms.
After the tour we stopped at the outdoor cafe. Peggy had hot chocolate but I had strawberries and whipped cream. I shared a dollop of cream with her. Since it was early we made our way towards the Tower of London stopping for a burger and beer along the way and of course some more souvenir shopping along the way. We watched a parade of Horse guards ride up the mall which is as long as the Champs Elysee. And we took pictures of the guards at Clarence house and had pictures taken with several. More later.
Off we went to Trafalgar Square. We took pictures of the lions and the fountains and the column with Nelson on top.
Next we were away to the Tower of London. We listened to some of the history told by a Beefeater, like the gin but then we wandered around checking out the exhibits. Wee saw the crown jewels and the vaults that protect them then we climbed to the top of the wall and walked along it and I tried on a medieval helmet and we checked out the exhibit describing the animals the kings kept -now kept in Regent park zoo. We saw and did just about everything then went out and walked along the bankment to take pictures of the Tower bridge.
Back to the hotel for local food and rest. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hampton Court and the members room

Slept in a little as we had a late night back from Stonehenge. I usually don't eat breakfast but watching others eat a full English while I have a continental breakie is getting to me.
After breakfast of toast and tea we headed for Waterloo station to catch a train to Hampton Court Palace. Mastered the ticket machine and found seats facing front - not too full. The palace is across the bridge and right on the main street. After doing the first set of Henry Rooms we decided to visit the members rooms as it was a perk of our Historic Castle membership. Very nice very English lady answered the door and welcomed us. The tea machine broken but she managed to get me half a cup and went out and got Peggy one at the cafe when she lost our money. Shabby rooms but nice people - volunteers.
After lunch we continued to explore, found the rest of the wives and portraits of Edward and Elizabeth.
Headed back to London and went to Piccadilly circus and walked down th Waterloo Place. Took some pics and went back up to find St James Market. Mostly antique items that I don't know the value of so we just looked. Had to buy a new umbrella as the wind and rain today destroyed mine. Picked a Union Jack. Found a couple of small figures of a Bobby and a Busby at a street vendor. Gave up siteseeing because of the rain. We will eat near the hotel tonight.
Tomorrow Buckingham Palace.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Windsor Castle, Oxford University and Stonehenge

Caught the tour bus at 10:30 at the Royal National. It then took an hour and a half for Tim the driver to stop at the other hotels and pickup the remaining passengers. We had the front seat. Tim was excellent as some of the spaces we navigated were only inches wider then the bus. Off we went to Windsor Castle - free audio which we listened to for the first five
minutes then we wandered. Went through the state apartments - a little too formal for me to live in. The castle is really a series of buildings but no pictures inside. So I will upload other pictures when we go to Internet cafe.
After Windsor we went to Oxford University. William the guide was very knowledgeable and showed us the staircase from Harry Potter and the dining room at Christchurch that Hogwarts was modeled after. Harry's scar is based on the stonemason's mark outside Convocation Hall. William also talked about Alice in wonderland and stainglass windows with the characters and other people who went to school there including Christopher Wren.
Finally we were off to Stonehenge. We missed the rain all day except when we were in the bus. It was overcast and stormy which added to the mystery. A henge is a circular wave of earth surrounded by a moat or ditch and is older then the stones. There are two kinds of stones and they are in circular and horseshoe shapes. I took a lot of pictures but ca only post on facebook for now. Tired and happy signing off for now.

Day two

Piccadilly line to Cockfosters. Everyday on the tube we hear this. Today we went to Wrens Cathedral. No charge because of Sunday but we didn't see as much. We walked across the Millenium bridge and had lunch beside the river. Crossed back over and found the tube station closed for renovation. Turned out the whole line was closed for the day but no one working for the tube seemed to know. Went to queensway station to go to KensingtonPalace but it was pouring buckets by then. Tried to go to Kensington High Street by tube but the station was closed. Rain slowed down and we caught a bus going the wrong direction. Got turned around and finally found the Palace - under renovation. Because they had to close and block off the windows because of the dust of renovation they turned it into a fairy tale find the princesses. Ok but I would rather see the real rooms. We had fun exploring and by the time we were done the rain had stopped. We had dinner at the Bloom pizza cafe in the Royal National Hotel courtyard and back to the hotel to face no Internet and head for bed. I will do another entry for today.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Arrived in England

Arrived in London via Eurostar. Nothing exciting except that we changed seat so if the Chunnel had blown up our luggage would have been tagged to the wrong people. Arrived at the Tavistock and had a room near the garbage and machinery but they changed it when we complained. When down to Victoria station and went to Westminster cathedral and Westminster Abbey outside too late to go in to the abbey. We had fish and chip dinner at Albert Pub on Victoria and came back to the hotel. We have a separate router and washroom which is good as the shower sprays the whole room. Good bye for mow.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Vimy Ridge - the Canadian Memorial

Up early so we could make the train for Arras. The websites said if you didn't rent a car a taxi was about €25 and they were right, including a tip. We are experienced travelers when talking about trains in Europe so we had mo trouble. We went to the visits center and bought postcards and pins and signed up for the tour of the tunnels and trenches. Very interesting guide from Ottawa university. After the tour we walked four kilometers to the Memorial which is on a height of land. It is very pristine and beautiful and we had it almost to ourselves, but it is very emotional and sad to see the thousands of names of the dead. I. Found a Leonard and a Warriner (my grandparents names) probably not related but same name. Our taxi came back when we had the guide call him and we bought our return ticket and had a sandwich in the bar at the station. When we arrived back in Paris we decided to go downtown (near the river) for dinner. Didn't have dinner but found great area to explore and found the Center Pompidou - really ugly from up above but very colorful. Looks like a parking garage full of blue cars from Montparnasse tower. We had a beer at what I think was a strip joint but we were sitting outside. There was a jazz club opposite it.
Decided to go home and eat in the neighborhood. Found a really nice restaurant down the street hiding behind a hotel and food market. The man offered us the house specialty and we said ok. Big mistake another CroqueMonseiur! If I see more ham and cheese I will croak! It is all Parisian restaurants serve. We are getting packed to go to London tomorrow so au revoir.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Supposedly easy day in Paris

We slept in this morning until 10 am, of course that was after I had gone out at 8 for fresh baked croissants. We finally left around eleven and explored the area around Hotel de Ville. I bought a watch and found Jacques Tower. Took lots of pics. we also found the smellier washroom in Paris. Drifted over to Notre dame to meet a student guide that would take us on a walking tour of the left bank. Ate a banana crepe. But it wasn't as good as others have been, square and dry. The tour was interesting but the guide was a little immature. It was. Hard keeping up with a 20 year old. Went to Luxembourg Gardens - ok but not gorgeous.
Headed home to do laundry and eat grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and do the laundry.
Peggy says the other customer was doing laundry for his girlfriend and him, but maybe he was a crossdresser. He helped us open the washer when it got stuck, so he was a nice guy. We are off to Vimy tomorrow. Good night. Wish I could add pictures.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Higher and higher - to the top of Paris

We began the day by sleeping in. Then up and off we went. We found a laundry down the street so tomorrow is laundry day. Today is the day we go high.
First we headed for Montparnasse Tower. Fifty-six floors by elevator and three more by stairs. The stairs even showed how many metres you were rising. You had to go up or you couldn't see 360 degrees. Lots of pictures and ate lunch up on the observation deck. Later we came down and found an open market at the foot of it. Had fun exploring it and decided to head toward the Eiffel Tower to find a beer.
After a rest we walked down to les Invalides and walked in the gardens. I didn't care to see where Napoleon was buried so we didn't pay to go in.
Checked out the weird public toilet that washes itself between uses. The seat gets wet. But at Least it is free and clean.
Walked down the length of the Champs de Mars one of the few parks where you can walk on the grass. Kids and families having fun. Had quiche for supper at a nice restaurant where they charge .50 to use the washroom and no paper towels!
Met a couple from Port Hope going to the Eiffel tower as well. We got in line early and got up before our appointment. Took lots of pics and waited for it to light up and flash then came down and took a few more pics and headed to the hotel - tired but happy. Willpost pics on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Versailles and Sacre Couer

This was the day we picked for Versailles and the weather has been beautiful. We found the right train station and figured out how to use the machine for the ticket. Didn't have enough change so it was credit card time. When we arrived at Versailles Rive Gauche the ticket lineup was huge. I found another ticket office around the corner - shorter line.
Versailles gives a person overload. There is too much of everything. I said I would only want a few hours and I was right. All those rooms and paintings and furniture and gold are too much.
After Versatile we grabbed a very late lunch at the best price place in town - McDonald's! Headed back into the city to check out a quilt shop near Notre Dame but it was still closed. We experienced the weirdest washroom in the country. Four black attendants yelling at the top of their lungs to each other while directing people to stalls.
Next we decided to try Sacre Coeur and the quilt shop near it. Of course I got us lost and it is not in the best neighborhood but we finally found the quilt shop and we bought some fabric. We took the funicular up to Sacre Coeur which saves about half the steps -just half. No photos allowed inside but we took lots outside. We stayed for Mass and then went souvenir hunting - which was more of the same as we did that all day too.
We stopped for dinner at La Chappe - spaghetti and beer. More tomorrow pictures on facebook

Monday, August 29, 2011

Second day in Paris

Beautiful day in Paris. We chose to go to the Louvre first thing in the morning. Huge lineup until I remembered there was another entrance. The guide said it might be just as busy but there was no lineup at all. We were even in the proper wing for the Mona Lisa. I recognized a Carvaggio. Surprised myself! Got lost trying to leave the Louvre but finally made it out.
Walked down by the river and explored the book stalls along the Seine. Next we had lunch and headed for Notre Dame. Took pictures of the rose windows and the flying buttresses outside. Off we went again to find a quilt shop. It was closed. Another hike -this time uphill to find the Pantheon. I deserved a beer for that climb! After checking out Foucault's pendulum (the pendulum doesn't sway the earth moves)we finally had that beer. We asked about wifi but the waiter didn't understand until I pointed to my iPod. In France it is called wee fee - not wifi.
After that we stopped for supper and more beer , took the subway home, bought more beer and headed the wrong way up the street. Turned around and found the hotel.
Along with the beer we got coffee for morning. I will go out for fresh buns in the morning.
Off to Versailles tomorrow.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Day in Paris

First day in Paris - got lost already. Got unlost and found the hotel. The problem was the stairs up, stairs down, stairs everywhere in the Metro. Had short nap and then went out. We took a long walk up the Champs Elysee - a very long walk, right to the Arc de Triumphe. Had a delicious cinnamon sugar crepe from a street vendor and headed back to the hotel. Found a grocery store to stock up on wine, bread and other necessities. Got lost again but not for long, found the most delicious bakery and headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow the Louvre, Notre Dame and a quilt shop. I bought a pair of earrings on the Champs Elysee. Lost one of my Irish ones
Goodnight will write tomorrow. Having difficulty blogging.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Three days to go and I am getting psyched!!

Thanks to the internet and facetime on my ipod, I do not have a huge telephone bill.  Peggy and I are burning up the computer lines though as we plan more and more of this trip. It is hard to believe it is getting so close.

We booked a visit to Buckingham Palace and a time for going up to the second level of the Eiffel Tower. We would have to book a month ahead to get to the top of the tower. Second level is fine for me. I have been scoping out restaurants around the area we are in and trying to match up tourist attractions so we do them in bunches. I have to find all my tour books as I packed them somewhere, but where?  I'm not sure anymore. I need a vacation from this vacation haha!

We are going into Palace overload. Buckingham Palace, Hampton Court, Kew Palace, Windsor Castle, Tower of London, Kensington Palace.  Walk past Clarence House maybe. Visit Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral. Piccadilly Circle and Trafalgar Square here we come.  Of course before that we will be enjoying Paris. The Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Louvre, Arc de Triumphe, Notre Dame, and Versaille to hit the highlights.  We are also going to Vimy Ridge.

This is a really packed vacation.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Countdown: Four more days and we are off

It is looking like a mad dash is in the works for this week. I found the umbrella in case of rain, and sleep mask for the plane. The packing is almost done but I have to pull out and repack to make sure I have it all in. Still have to decide what I'm wearing and if I will buy a hat, and what goes in my oversize purse. I decided I will drive to Toronto and park there as the shuttle connections aren't good coming home.
I have been pulling information off the internet for each of the site we want to visit in Paris and next I have to do the same for London. Mostly the way to get there, a map of the site, hours of operation etc. Peggy has helped a lot by working out who is closed which days etc.
The house needs a good cleaning. I'm always afraid that if something happens while I'm away people will see my dirty house. I'm glad I have Friday afternoon off to get everything under control. Of course in the middle of all this I am going to Stratford for Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor on Thursday night and there is a reception at the hospital on Friday at noon. I am also going down to Toronto early to meet Peggy as her flight comes in away ahead of time. Knock on wood (rap, rap) I have a good drive down with no tow trucks involved.
I have the office trailer half packed (we are moving to a new jobsite while I am away) and the job relatively under control. We will move anything we don't need on Thursday.  No I'm not too busy --- No I'm not going crazy!!  Just a little.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Countdown to Paris and London.

In one week I will be leaving with my sister for Paris.  It is coming up so close I can't believe it is happening. 

In France we are visiting Vimy Ridge and Versaille as well as all the spots in Paris that we want to see. In England we have booked a day trip that includes Windsor Castle, Oxford University and Stonehenge at sunset. One of the men at work says it is the best time to go.  We will be reporting daily on what we are doing and how much fun we are having.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I graduated!!

I haven't posted lately so I will bring you uptodate.
The first weekend in June I drove to Toronto to catch a flight to Sudbury (free - used my airmiles).  Along the way I had a traffic accident and wrecked my car.  No ticket no injuries. The towtruck driver drove me to the airport and I just caught the flight.
This is Aline Chretien - wife of the former Prime Minister and Dominic Giroux , President of Laurentian University and of course me.
Picked up my gown that night and graduation was after lunch on Saturday. I wanted Carole who we met on the trip to Spain to come but her daughter picked that day to have a baby. Luckily the baby was born early and she and her husband Gerry joined us for dinner at a very nice restaurant.
The next day we went site seeing in Sudbury and saw the Big Nickel.
When I got back from Graduation I had to deal with the car accident. After the insurance company settled, I decided to buy a truck. 2008 Chevy Colorado. Only has 20,000 kilometers on it and it was a great buy. I am now a trucker.

Now that Graduation is over I have to concentrate on the trip to Paris and London that Peggy and I are taking later this year. We want to go to Vimy Ridge in France and Stonehenge in England. We have booked an apartment near the Bois de Vincenne in Paris and an inexpensive hotel in the heart of London.
Sandwiched in between Graduation and Paris are a couple of visits to Stratford (Twelfth Night, Camelot and the Merry Wives of Windsor) and the quarterfinals of the Canadian Open Tennis championship and a Legends tennis match with Jim Courier and Micheal Chang.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day three - fashions and sightseeing

We started the day by missing the bus. Got tired of waiting and climbed the stairs to the elevated "subway". Only one stop from Bloomingdales. We walked in and all the designers had small outlets. Jimmy Choo wanted $198.00 to $243 for a keychain. We spoke to the clerk about off shore goods as the keychains were from Viet Nam. Beautiful wallets but they start at $128.00. A Coach coin purse was $56.00 - I'm not sure they are worth that much. We were given a spritz of eau de toilette by the store clerk. It was on special for $98.00. Colleen bought a Lady Gaga lipstick for an outrageous price but we are on holidays so we are supposed to spend money. Floor walkers everywhere - I didn't know they still had floor walkers. The Ladies Lounge (bathroom to the rest of the world) could be used for a reception anywhere else. We got pictures.

We headed across Lexington and Peggy said she had read something about Barney's so we went in and lo and behold Katie Holmes was there because of a new line of Holmes and Yang clothing. We had Champagne, petite fours, truffle potatoes and smoked salmon and look at all the clothes as if we would buy a sheer blouse for $236.00 or the top to go under for $148.00. I schmoozed while the others took pictures until somneone said no.  By then we had got all the pictures we needed.

We walked on to Central Park and saw the Plaza Hotel and the horse drawn carriages that take you round the park. Next it was off down 5th Avenue and check out all the famous name brands. We had lunch at the Trump Tower and then went to Tiffany's - enough bling to blind you.

Just down the street, after more window shopping, we visited St. Patricks Cathedral - beautiful Gothic architecture. Rockefeller Plaza is just across the way, so we watched people skating and went to Crabtree and Evelyn and then went up to the Top of the Rock. The Ascent from 3 to 67 is 43 seconds. They show slides on the ceiling to distract you.

Peggy had mapped out a quilt store so we went and while we were there we bought material and Colleen and I convinced her to make us pillows with taxicabs, subway maps and the Statue of Liberty on them.

We took the bus most of the day. It was easier then going up and down stairs to the subway. We went to Red Lobster for dinner. It was on Times Square. We took lots of pictures both before and after dinner and came home tired but happy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

New York City

Well I finally remembered my password so I could Blog.

On Saturday we had a great flight to New York. The line ups in Toronto were so long that they pulled me out of line 2 hours before my flight to try and get me through customs and security on time. I flunked the scan because of my money belt, but they let me into the country anyway.

Found the corner store has Smithwicks Irish beer so that is what I have been drinking. We wandered around Sunday looking for markets. Didn't find anything decent until afternoon.  The Chelsea Market was really nice and we found a flea market and I put my hand in to a bowl of jade items and pulled out a rooster.  How weird!

Visited the 911-museum Workshop - quite emotional. very small but packed with pictures and memorabilia. All day I kept looking at a small map and making Colleen and Peggy walk miles to the next place. I wore them out. We went to Filene's Basement and walked up to the Flatiron Building.

We were looking for a place to eat and found a place across from the Museum of Sex. It said it was healthy Ffod - Naturally Tasty was the name of the restaurant.  It had Healthy Hamburgers, Beer and we could have had Healthy Fries if we wanted them. I get the idea that they thought all food was healthy.

Today we went to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the 911 actual Site - which looks like any construction site now. We found the best view - not from the walkway but from the second floor of the World Financial Centre across the road. We froze on the boat going to the Statue and Peggy told off a crew making a Panasonic commercial because they made us move from the seats we picked and by then there weren't anymore seats inside. Liberty Island was not windy at all and we got some nice pictures of both the statue and the Orange County Chopper.

It was a good day!  Can't wait for tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New York City - Here we come!

My sister Peggy and her daughter Colleen and I are going to New York City for March break. The countdown has started. It is only twenty-five days until we go. The last time I was in New York was when my older sister Frankie was a stewardess stationed there and living in Jackson Heights. I think that was about forty-eight years ago. I don’t remember much about it except riding the subway and going to the United Nations building. This will be just like it’s my first time there. I hope the weather is a bit warm while we are there as we don’t want to wear boots. We are staying out in Long Island City which is just across the Queensborough Bridge from Manhattan.

This is going to be quite the adventure. We are concentrating on Manhattan; we will have to look at the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island etc. next time we go. So far we have booked the airline, the hotel, 911-workshop, The City Pass, Central Park Tour, Madame Tussaud’s and a New York Rangers hockey game. We also have on our list – Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the MOMA, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Top of the Rock and the Empire State building.

We have food discounts for three restaurants and we found the perfect take out / delivery place (approved by Guy Fieri on The Food Network) close to our hotel. Also on the list are the famous Katz Delicatessen and the Olive Garden in Times Square, so we should be enjoying food all week. I also want to try some street food if we get the chance and it is not too cold to walk and eat.

At the hotel we are going to try for a view of Manhattan and I am bringing two camera cards in case we run out of space on the first one. We are also taking GPS’s with us and my netbook. There is free Wi-Fi at the hotel and it is not as easy to find internet cafes in North America as it is in Europe. I think every day is going to be an adventure and I can hardly wait for it to start.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Graduation is a magic word

Graduation is a magic word. This June at the age of sixty-five I am finally completing my lifelong dream. I am graduating from University with a Bachelor of Arts. I graduated from Grade 12 when I was sixteen and immediately entered the working world. There were six children in the family – my parents couldn’t afford to give even one of us a higher education. Over the years I have often wanted to return to school and get a university degree. I knew that I could hold my own in most conversations, write a good report, read at a high level, answer the Jeopardy questions and win most of the time at Trivial Pursuit, but I wanted that elusive piece of paper that said I was educated.

Most people told me I was foolish, that I didn’t need it. But for almost fifty years it has niggled at the back of my mind. When I had the chance to return to school, I chose College as the less expensive and shorter alternative that could help me find a new career path. I was fifty at the time and I had a son to support so taking at least three years out of the work force and going deeply in debt seemed a huge barrier to going to University. I didn’t realize that it still was an ambition of mine until my younger sister earned her B.A. in her forties taking courses part-time. After I turned sixty I discovered that Laurentian would let me take my university degree from home while I worked and give me a reduction in tuition fee because of my age. They also gave me credits towards my degree for the college diplomas that I had earned.

Now I was in my glory. I investigated programs that intrigued me. I took courses in music, anthropology, classical studies, philosophy and psychology. I had professors tell me that I saw things from a different point of view. I finally settled on religious studies, not as a step towards the ministry but as a way to broaden my mind and learn more about people and the current pluralism in religion. I took courses in nature based religions, eastern religions, the Old and New Testament, new wave religion and the paranormal. My journey wasn’t always smooth. I switched jobs and got so far behind that I failed two courses. Old age kicked in and I went to an exam two days late and failed the course. All I could do was pick myself up and start over. I paced myself and set a plan of action to make sure I stayed on track and completed all the assignments on time. I worked on getting myself off academic probation and closer to my degree.

Now as I write this note, I know that I am only four assignments and two exams from my goal. I will succeed and I will graduate this spring. I am old enough to be the grandmother of many in my graduating class but I feel young again and I am looking forward to that day and I am so proud of myself. This will be a day I hold in my heart for the rest of my life.