Friday, 13 July 2018

Two weeks into Summer Holidays 2018

Well my intention was to post weekly with updates and possibly more if we did anything worth writing about.  However, in reality, now I don’t write everyday, I am completely out of the habit and just forget.  So, what have we been doing for a month?

The vegetable garden has been good so far.  We have had very hot weather (hotter than the Caribbean with temperatures into the 40’s).  We have harvested lots of smallish courgettes, three massive handfuls of green and yellow beans, several garlics, a beetroot and many many lettuces.  I have had to reseed the carrots and parsnips and lettuce so we have some yumminess when we get home from our holiday. Smallest goes out most mornings and picks raspberries and red currants for his breakfast.  We also have lots of gooseberries but no one likes them.  I suppose it feeds the birds.

Our garden is looking fabulous (though don’t look too closely as there are weeds in abundance).  The hot dry weather has meant the flowers have flourished but need care and water regularly which is a bit of a pain as our garden doesn’t normally need watering.  Huffle added a new little bit of garden and we put the dahlias and salvias in there amongst the new grasses from last year.  It’s looking lovely.  In fact, DonNoQuotey shouted across the other day and said how lovely it was looking and what was the secret.  I have to say it does look much better from his house despite us making the garden for our view from the porch!

Pottery has finished for me and last night I picked up all my pieces.  I am fairly happy with the way they turned out, just have to find a place for them all now.  Smallest was also happy with his (though we did lose a bowl).  My teacher decided to set up classes in her own home and I signed up for a four week course in August (the course is for 8 weeks but I can only fit in the last half), they started this
week and it’s already had great reviews.  I can’t wait to make more!

Small and I went to Jan’s garden a few weekends ago, to be Garden Ambassador’s for her village's Open Gardens.  It rained heavily all day but it was fun.  I like nothing more than wandering a garden and talking to people about plants.  Is there a job in there somewhere?

The boys had their Piano Recital and it went very well.  MrsPiano has so many students now that they can only play one song each which is much better.  Smiling politely while someone else’s child plays is hard when there are lots of them.

Both boys have been playing lots of football.  Tournaments, practices and games.  Smallest has been in and out of the first and second team,  second team he plays the whole game and sometimes rarely in midfield which is his favourite,  when he plays in the top team he doesn’t get so much play.  The club has arranged yet another away tournament in USA (this weekend they are in Ottawa, another 7 hour’s drive away).

Small has been refereeing which has been funny.  He refs mainly under10’s and they say the funniest things.  It’s very entertaining.   The teams are all split into different teams from the World Cup and one of the parents of Spain came to talk to me and asked me if my son was playing for Germany.  “No, my little boy is the ref” I said.  She thought that was funny seeing as my little boy is six foot tall and towers over the little ones easily.  He picked up his first cheque for $75 (not bad for blowing a whistle).

Small has also been cutting grass for a friend of mine for money and while he cuts, Smallest and I go and play Pool.  That’s lots of fun and we are quite silly, not serious at all.  He keeps beating me (because the black goes down the hole before it should mainly).  We had another game today and Small joined us when he was finished.

Both boys finished school about two weeks ago so we have the whole of July and August before they go back.  Small picked up his report which was very good.  97%  Music. 96% Gym. 90% Geography and 88% Business.  Very good.   Smallest also got his year end report and had excellents for everything and all A-, A’s and A+’s.  EXCELLENT BOYS.

Both boys did a week of swimming camp in the Hamlet where they swim everyday for a week for just half an hour.  They love it.  They have no badges left to do but were working on endurance and stroke improvement.  Small carried on this week too but Smallest went to his clubs Football Camp.  Five days (though we took him out early Wednesday for a game and didn’t take him today) of 9am -4pm drills and games and fun (ish).

Speaking of football, we have all been gripped by WorldCup fever in this house.  We had the England bunting up (which Canadians don’t understand because they think the English flag is the Union Jack.  We have been asked is it Sweden? Is it Switzerland, Ireland, Scotland?  Oh dear!). Anyway, for each England game we sat with our shirts on and had a visitor from the Hamlet to soak up our atmosphere.  He is originally from Bangladesh, moved to somewhere middle eastern and then Canada.  He was as disappointed as us when we didn’t win against Crotia (doesn’t help that OldCoach is Croatian).  Suffice to say our flags came down from the house and cars.  BOOOOO.  Good while it lasted though.

Huffle has been maintaining our pool and we have spent quite a bit of time in it.  It got to 28* one day without us heating it. 

Well, we are off to the Caribbean for holiday next week.  It is our first big holiday since we moved here and we are really looking forward to it.  We know its going to be hot but it's just as hot here.  The huge difference is we will not be cooking, working, footballing, reffing or anything much really.  Ahhhhhhhhhh.

See ya!

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Kid-free weekend

Saturday morning, around 10am, I dropped off Small and Smallest at ‘Maccas’ (cub leader) for their weekend away camping.  Two leaders, two cars, two canoes and six kids all went off to the leaders camp ground next to a river for some camping, hiking and canoeing.  Smallest was very excited as it was his first ever camping expedition.  We did get a message from Small who said they had bites a plenty and hadn’t slept much.  It WAS very hot last night.

Huffle and I packed up a lunch in the cool box and set off to Hamilton (West past Toronto for about one and a half hours).  We drove to the Royal Botanical Gardens (our map took us to the University and the wrong place but we got there in the end).

The Royal Botanical Gardens is set out in a strange manner in that there are five different gardens all separate from each other and you have to drive from one to the other.   We started in the new Rose Garden which wasn’t actually properly finished yet.  There were lots of roses but interplanted with perennials.  It was an extremely hot day and we didn’t walk around as much as we could have.  We went inside the Mediterranean House which was incredibly humid but some huge plants including bananas, cannas, cactus, figs etc.  We couldn’t stay in there too long.

I realise I posted the same picture twice.  Should be a lovely white peony instead.

Our next garden was Laking Gardens which had beds full of Iris’ and Peonies. We were disappointed that the flowers weren’t deadheaded as it made it look a little scruffy (however after speaking to Grandad we realised it was probably left to go to seed so they could be collected, which is really the whole point of a botanical garden).   We had a nice sit in the shade under a pergola and went off to the next garden which was the Rock Garden.

This was our favourite and was created in an old Gravel Pit in 1920’s.  The paths took us through some beautifully planted borders and around and up to a wonderful view of the whole garden.  We went into a strange building that housed a huge moving mini railway with village with a working storm’.  It was quite random but the man working the train was British.  The Rock Garden had a water feature meandering through it and it was coloured a really dark reddy/purple colour which made the reflections stand out really well.  It had $20m invested in it 2 years ago.  You could tell.

Our last garden The Arboretum, was the one Huffle wanted to see most but when we arrived it was really just a park filled with trees.  Slightly disappointing and yet nicely calming and quiet.  We sat under a tree, had a snack and drink and just relaxed and enjoyed the solitude (plus two old planes).

Huffle drove us to Guelph (45 minutes away through old country farmland).  Guelph is a University City with a lovely Basilica, a river which reminded us of Oxford or Stratford.  We parked and walked to the river where we indulged in a too-big ice cream and scared away the geese!

Once we were fully sugared up, we walked up the hill to the Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate.  It was reminiscent of The Nore Dame in Paris.  Huffle and I have seen many churches, basilicas and duomos around Europe and Canada.  This was a nice one but we couldn’t get inside.  There was supposed to be a service and athough we could hear music, we couldn’t get in to sing along!

Avoiding the local revellers and hobos, we drove to a restaurant where I had my first beer for 54 days (since I got back from England) and a falafel bowl and a pea And prosciutto Risotto.  Very nice.

We drove home to our air conditioned quiet child free house, watched tv with a cup of tea and went to bed.  We slept well.  Our boys did not sleep well apparently.  One of their fellow campers was not wanting to sleep and cried lots!   Both boys had lots of bites.  Huffle counted over 50 on Small’s back.

When the Leader dropped the kids at home, he said it was a pleasure wing with hem and they were lovely well behaved boys.  We know that anyway but it’s always good to hear it from others.  They had a fabulous time but were very tired.  After an ice cream, Smallest went in a hot bath and Small went in the pool with Huffle and I to cool off.

This evening we watched Bake Off with a leftover dinner.  Smallest fell asleep twice and we sent the kids off to bed early.

Watching the sprinkler on the veg garden  

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Sunday Jays

Huffle got us out of the house before 10:30am and drove us to the Train Station.  We got the 11am train which takes just over an hour and arrived in Toronto with plenty of time to walk the SkyWalk for the Rogers Centre.
On the train

SkyWalk and Roger Stadium

As it was Junior Jays Day, the outside was full of games and things to do and see.  Our boys now think they are too old for such things so once we had a quick look around, we came inside.  My knee was giving me trouble so we went up in the lift which made us very early.  Smallest played on the Plinko game and won himself a lunchbox.  Then he played Toss the Hoop and ball roll and won two water bottles.  We all had our photo taken in the ‘dug out’.   Next we signed up as designated drivers and got our two free drinks.  A coke for Huffle and a Sprite for Smallest (I’m the desnignated driver and he is the designated pop drinker).

It was a glorious day and the roof was open.  Our seats were up in the 500’s but right behind the Home Plate.  It was very hot and despite us piling on the sun cream and Small getting sprayed with someone else’s suncream, Huffle burned the top of his head and Small had red thighs.  Smallest escaped and I tried to stay in Smallest’s shadow.  Towards the end of the game we moved to the opposite end of the stadium where we were in the shade.

How many people does it take to hold a hose?

It was a great game and the Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 13-3.  We got at least four Home Runs and they got two.   Very exciting seeing six home runs as well as lots of balls in the crowd.  Only one close to us after we had moved.

We chose to eat pizza on the harbour and then came home.

Lovely day.  

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Give peas a chance*

It has been a long time since I last posted.  The idea was I would do a catch up each week but since I don’t post everyday, it goes out of my mind and I forget.

However, we have had a busy weekend so far so I’ll write about that.

Friday was Springfest at Smallest’s School.  As we do each year, we had the Jar Ping Pong Game.  You know the one at the fair where you win a goldfish which has since been taken over by Beer Pong.

So we set ourselves up in the shade, in the kindergarten playground, filled our jars and waited for the crowd.  It wasn’t long before a steady stream of kids came up and ping ponged their 3 balls for 1 ticket into the jars.  This is a hugely addictive game and certain kids came back time after time after time.  I don’t know how much money the parents gave their kids but we took over 300 tickets which equates to $300+ .   Considering we spent less than $30 on sweets, that’s a huge profit we made for the school.  It was also very entertaining watching little girls easily beating their older brothers and boys doing better than their fathers and uncles.  We started at 4:30pm and got home by 8:30pm.  Huffle was starving and popped to our newly opened local restuarant (not a spelling error, that’s what the signs all say!!) for take away.

Saturday (today) we had to get up very early (7am) for our Hamlet Garage Sale.  We had sorted all the stuff to sell so it was just a case of getting it organised.  Our first buyer was from the local daycare and arrived at 7:30am and bought a big box of Bionicles, some games and books.  We ended up selling about $90 in all and we were very happy.  Nothing went back in to the house.  Diabetes Society took all the clothes and shoes, a few things were left on the front for the tip jackals to take and the rest went in the car which we took later to the Charity Shop.  Otto came back later for Small’s scooter and DonNoQuotey came back back for the horrible light that wenall bumped our head on.  MrsChristmas sat with us for half of the time chatting and laughing and helped us clear up at the end.

My favourite photo of the day was PeterRodrigue’s car, normally plastered with his face, faceless because of a bylaw during election time.

*Huffle and I planted Runner Beans where the peas didn’t grow because the chipmunks ate them!

Tomorrow we are off to watch the Bluejays in Toronto.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Springtime Smart Smeller

Tonight was the Spring Concert at Smallest’s School.  Huffle and I have been to enough now to know that we do not wish to sit in the overheated hall filled with germ ridden parents waving at their little lovelies and the kids howling siblings.  We dropped Smallest off half an hour before the start and already the streets were full of cars (funny as they all live in the tiny Hamlet and not one of them walked).  Huffle and I then walked for half an hour enjoying the last of the sunshine before going to the school and hanging around by the door and in the foyer.

We could hear everything from where we stood and it was even hot there.  When there was something worth watching, we stepped inside the door.  I had several people ask me if I wanted a seat but I declined.

We got stopped by the Springfest crew and we agreed to do our normal game now called theCandyPong.  It means we are all there but we don’t have to do anything else as we will be there for the whole evening.  Small can also claim some community hours for school.

Smallest’s performance was TheMuppetShow on the piano.  We thought he did really well and were very proud but he was upset because he made a few mistakes.  Huffle told him it was a difficult thing to sit in front of lots of people and play.  He is so hard on himself.

These were taken at home as I knew I would get no chance of taking a photo at the concert.

The rest of the piano players were also good and there was a hula hooper that the audience liked a lot.   The kindergartens were sweet as usual and Smallest ended the concert with his class playing the ukuleles.  

We were home by 8pm.  

Monday, 14 May 2018

When I went to CanadianTire....*

Wow what a busy week.

Small went off to Vancouver for his Band Trip on Tuesday.  His alarm didn’t go off but luckily Huffle’s did.  With only 15 minutes to spare at 3am, I made his breakfast and packaged it up for him to eat on the way, Huffle put his bags in the car and we sent him on his way.

He was away for five days and I had regular texts from him (which I am grateful for as I know he is a teenager) plus various photos which he posted on Snapchat.  One of his teachers posted a daily itinerary and a couple of photos of them all.  They had a fabulous time and he got back late Saturday night.  Sunday morning we had a slideshow of his photos.  He took a lot.  Where would he get that from?

I can’t say I really missed him while he was away.  It was obvious he wasn’t here but it was nice to spend some quality time with Smallest and there was no arguing.  We could tell Smallest missed him though he wouldn’t say obviously.  Once he was back they played outside together for a while before they got on each other’s nerves!

On Sunday it was Mother’s Day here and I had pancakes made by Smallest with accompaniments, fruit and table prepared by Small and Huffle.  Afterwards I had cards and presents brought to me.  Smallest had painted me a picture using his thumb prints.  Small printed off a Vancouver photo and made it into a card.  I had a French card also from Smallest.  They bought me a Magnolia bush, a yoga mat, some lovely poppy plants (with names relating to the Royal Wedding, of course), they had made a photo cube for me, wool and a hummingbird feeder.

For this year’s performance, Huffle and Smallest had recorded my very own version of TheGreatBritishBakeOff.  It was very funny, they both ad a plastercine nose and a wig for NoelFielding.  When they were PaulHollywood, Small sounded Indian and Huffle got quite high.  I was thoroughly spoilt.

We went for a nice walk along the lake and took a picnic.  We got to sit on a rock all by ourselves until two Chinese ladies joined us.  Of course they did!

Lovely day.  Nice to have my big bear back again despite his huge pile of stinky washing.

We ate out last night at our new local restaurant.   It’s only been open a week or so and we’ve already been there three times.  It’s just too convenient.

Today I had a lovely walk in the forest and got to see the fabulous trilliums that come out this time of
year.  I have several on the garden that are flowering but nothing quite beats the forest floor full of them.

There was plenty of “when I was in Vancouver......”, so I started to say “well when I was in England....”.  Huffle and Smallest were jealous and they would say “when we were in CanadianTire.........”. It’s not quite the same.  ;)

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


This evening we all went to Small’s Spring Concert where he played in the Junior Band and Vancouver Band.  It was really good.  Small is the only Tuba player going on the Band trip to Vancouver this year.

Unfortunately his teacher (Head of Music) has decided to retire which is a shame because she is obviously very passionate about music and the kids love her.

Small played brilliantly and it was nice to see how his tuba piece (that we have heard being practiced over and over again at home) fitted in with the rest of the band.

Extremely proud and can’t quite believe that we have such a musician in our family.  (Well two really, can’t wait for Smallest to join band too).

Very enjoyable evening.