Friday, July 10, 2009

Super Yarn Swap

I've become a little obsessed with knitting lately. The latest enabler, a swap partner from NY, sent me the most fantastic package by post!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Garden Party

In England, it's standard practice to adopt French words and mangle the pronunciation to the point the word is unrecognized and use it as if it were English in the first place.

Case in point, the traditional summer fete, pronounced "fayte."

All pronunciation and British quirkiness aside, this form of summer garden party turns out to be quite fun! Hang on to your coconuts...

Our local community garden held a party this past weekend as part of London's "secret garden" tour (featured in Time Out, no less!) and we volunteered to help out. By "we," of course, I mean that I volunteered Brian as well.

Whilst Brian mixed Pimms and sipped in the shade, I toiled away in the bright sunshine at the Slug a Slug booth. What does this entail? Stuffed slugs are dropped down a vertical pipe, and the slugger tries to hit them with a bat before they hit the ground. Harder than it looks, believe me! Most of the slugs escaped squishing, though a five year old proved to be uncannily accurate. He's now being scouted as a batsman for the English cricket squad, who could use the help. But cricket is a whole other post waiting to happen...

So, what does one do at a sunny summer fete? One, drink Pimms. Check. Two, play silly games. Check. Three, buy raffle ticket. Check. Four, throw balls at coconuts and knock them off a stand. Check. Use coconuts for further photographic opportunities, check.

Eat cake. Lots of cake. Check.

Stagger home, sunburnt and weighed down by coconuts, laughing all the way.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Long time running...

It's been a long time running, and I'm not sure it's worth the wait.

I have been working steadily these past few months, with a brief foray to Paris, another to Cornwall, and most recently to Budapest.

My father is very ill, and I haven't been writing much lately as thinking is generally a very emotional thing. I ask for your patience while everything works itself.

In the meantime, all we can do is carry on.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday fire and ice

Greetings to friends and family, near and afar. I'm writing from the kitchen table here on the Taxis River, staring out the window through the fog, watching the trees bend under their coating of ice.

It's holiday time in NB, and I've spent the last week here with my family. Brian and I flew to Toronto on the 16th and spend a week with his family in Kingston. Highlights included a Frontenacs game (I won tickets to a world junior game) and tobogganing at Fort Henry. I also got to see Chad, Stacey, and Eliana, and have a good visit with Marilyn.

The drive through to the Maritimes was largely uneventful. We managed to make the trip between two of the successive snowstorms that have been blanketing the country since we arrived. I've eaten enough food to make my arteries complain and my new jeans tight. Eyeing the plate of sweets on the counter, I'm thinking I'll have to leave soon or Brian will have to roll me out the door. He's been entertained by constantly monitoring the woodstove.

Santa was very good to me. I received a very cool new ukulele and a diamond necklace made from one of my grandmother's rings. Brian was floored when he got the Japanese kitchen knife he's been babbling about for weeks, but he has to take chopping lessons before he has permission to use it in the kitchen. My first aid kit might not stand the strain.

My father had a seizure on Christmas Eve, so we've scaled back the festivities somewhat and tried to reduce the amount of visitor traffic to a reasonable level. That means rotating visitation for all those grandkids. He goes to the oncologist tomorrow. A CAT scan after the seizure showed cancer in his brain, but we're waiting to hear the details from his doctors.

Understandably Brian and I are trying to stay here as long as possible, eyeing the weather forecasts and looking for a window that allows for a reasonably safe trip back through Quebec. We fly back to London on January fourth and arrive early on the fifth. Just enough time to drop off the suitcases and head off to work!

To all of you I haven't managed to speak with yet, I hope the past year was wonderful but that the next one is even better. Every new day has the potential to be better than the previous one, after all. I miss all of my Revelstoke family very much, and send virtual hugs your way.

Happy New Year.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Time Flies...but not with discount airlines

Hi everyone. Long time, no post.

I have lots of valid excuses for not posting about my latest monkeyshines, but you probably don't want to hear them. Since most of it has to do with said monkeyshines, you're going to get it anyway.

As of the first of November, I still didn't really have a job, so I decided to sign up with the National Write a Novel in a Month group. Yup. The objective is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month, no matter how good, bad, or awful it may be.

I started. I struggled. I searched for new apartments, found one, and toured many. I got a fantastic new job, started knitting Christmas presents, and all kinds of fun stuff. Mostly the novel distracted me from my blogging, but London itself tends to be a distraction.

So I have a backlog of posts about this and that I'll try to get up sometime soon. Meanwhile I have no internet at home, so the posting will be limited.

On the 16th, I'll be returning to Canada for several weeks of holiday fun with my much-missed family. I can't wait to see you all.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fireworks exploding in the distance...

I've stopped jumping ten feet into the air each time I hear a bang as darkness descends on London.

It all began the week preceding Halloween. I would be startled out of my knitting/guitar playing/random web surfing reverie by loud, gunshot like noises. They came from all directions. They followed no particular pattern.

Once I discerned that mass executions weren't taking place in the back alley, I relaxed a little. After I spotted the first flare of colour, I recognized the bangs as fireworks and chalked up all the hubhub to youthful enthusiasm and a British fire fetish. It would all disappear after Samhain, right?


The nightly fireworks shows have been steadily increasing in both frequency and complexity. To an outsider, you might wonder what Londoners are celebrating. I certainly did.

When questioned, I was told it was to do with Guy Fawkes Day. End of explanation.

You see, Brits assume (like Americans) that everyone knows all the minute details of their rich and bloody history. I had never heard of Guy Fawkes, so I had no clue why this particular man was associated with random fireworks and giant bonfires.

My next clue was given in the form of a rhyme: "Remember, remember the 5th of November" is how the chant goes. At least, that's how it is randomly spraypainted on the sidewalks (though there is some dispute over the date, according to the sidewalk graffiti).

Armed with a date and a name my research led me to the story of a man (not even the ringleader) who , in 1605 attempted to blow up the British Parliament with kegs of gunpowder. He was part of a Catholic group conspiring to kill James I as he opened the Parliamentary session in the House of Lords that day. Understandable, since James was in the habit of persecuting Puritans and Catholics at the time.

Unfortunately for Fawkes, his determination to light the fuse (and become an early version of a suicide bomber) went awry when he was arrested, tried, hanged, drawn and quartered.

Now every November Brits come out to light fireworks, burn huge bonfires, and effigies of Fawkes. It's a very interesting thing to watch from the outside. What are people celebrating-the punishment of a treasonous conspirator, or the efforts of an underdog?

Monday, November 3, 2008

October in London

Greetings from London, everyone.

I've spent the month of October settling in to a new routine. It goes something like this:

1. Wake up. See Brian off to work. Make coffee, and search for jobs.
2. Complete several job applications, or work on them until the computer screen makes me cross eyed.
3. Go for a walk. Note any hiring notices in the windows.
4. Make supper.
5. Read, knit, or play this horridly addictive video game called Fable.
6. Sleep. Cough, wake up, cough some more, try to go back to sleep.
7. Repeat.

Actually, I've done a lot more little things than that, but that's basically how things operate. I've had several job interviews so far, and I'm waiting to hear back as to whether I'm hired or not. I'm looking forward to having some work to occupy my brain.

Brian and I wandered down to the Borough Food Market, where I discovered delicious truffles...mounds and mounds of truffles. The food was amazing. We bought some pickled garlic that was fabulous. If I went there every day, I'd be fat by now.

We also ventured out to the Kew gardens (a former palace that is now home to the Royal Botanical Gardens) and wandered about in the wind and rain. Magnificent old trees, a specatcular holly collection, a tree top walk...I was in heaven. I wandered from bush to tree to bush (everything is tagged with its Latin name, I loved it) reading all the tags and mumbling to myself while Brian strolled along in my wake. I can't wait to go back, or to other gardens.

Joel and Anna came to the city last weekend, so we met up and had a peek at the new arrival. Natasha didn't appreciate hotels, it seems, but she didn't seem to mind sleeping on me.

I've been busy playing gigs as well...three in October. A cold has sidelined me this past week, but I'm up and running again on November 18th, when I'll be a main performer in the Clubacoustic sessions at the Queen Boadicea in Angel.

I will be home (rather, in Canada. Where exactly is home these days? I can't figure it out.) in December for several weeks, both in Ontario and in NB.

I stumbled upon a fabulous knitting store and began knitting again. I'll soon have to get a job to support my cashmere habit, I'm afraid. My current project is a scarf for Brian and Christmas presents for the kiddies. Don't tell them if you see them.

On a lark, I signed up for the National Novel Writing contest. It runs for the month of November, and the goal is to write a novel of 50,000 words or more by that time. That's an average of about 1700 words per day. As of today, November 3rd, I've written 1654. Oops. Already behind!!

More news soon!