Trying to Help Mother Nature on My Rock

Living on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic is not easy on the environment. Think about it, you have 60,000 + people living, going to work by cars and scooters, eating out or in, etc… all these daily actions can take a toll on the island and the ocean around us.

When we first moved to the Rock back in 2006, I was appalled to find out there was no recycling of any kind. I remember emailing the government and receiving a reply explaining that the money and oil for tanker to bring our recycled goods to the US, was not cost effective and therefore, they chose to simply burn the trash and converted into energy for Bermuda and use the ashes to make cinder blocks. I don’t know if that last point is true but I thought it was cool and decided to drop it.

Our second time around things have changed a bit. When I moved, I received a recycling schedule in the mail. This prompted me to look on-line on http://www.gov.bm where I found this:

Where does my garbage and recycling go?

All household waste placed out for collection is taken to the Tynes Bay Waste to Energy Facility where it is incinerated to make energy for Bermuda.

Blue recycling bags are taken to the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where items are sorted and then shipped to the US to be converted into new consumer items.

Special waste items such as paints, pesticides and other potentially harmful substances are  shipped to the United States for processing or disposal in USEPA regulated landfill facilities.

Our second time around I am trying to be better for mother earth (and the island). I am recycling all my tin, aluminum and glass. Before leaving London I bought a compost bin and I am trying to compost for our vegetable garden.  Yes, I have a vegetable garden.

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My garden is growing very nicely. 

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My compost bin imported from UK. On amazon.co.uk, for 50 quid. I saw one at Gorhams for $189.00! Ouch. But I did find out on-line that if you want to compost in Bermuda, the government will sell you a bin for $80.  Backyard composters are available for purchase from Waste Management for $80.00. Call (441) 278-0563 or email recycle@gov.bm to purchase an Earth Machine brand compost bin.

Another thing I noticed this second time around, there seem to be more farmer’s market on weekends which I think is excellent. Fruits and Vegs are extremely expensive on the island and when you take the time to go to any of the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, it is worth it.

But coming back to what we are trying to do better in our house. Of course, I have 10 bags in my car at all times to go shopping with. I say no to plastic bags at the stores. If I forgot my bags I go back to the car or if I only have one of two items, I carry them out to the car on their own.

No more disposable straws. Only these silicone and plastic straws that I bought on Amazon. They come with brushes so they are easy to clean. If I serve you a smoothie or a cocktail that requires a straw, you will find one of these in your drink.

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If I feel like having a cup of coffee and I am out and about, I use this cup. No cup, no coffee. Same thing with water bottles. I bring my bottle from home. I really try to avoid using unnecessary plastic, cardboard or paper if I can. I think if we all did this, it would really help the Rock we live on.

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The Twelve Tasks of Asterix

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Last week I was walking around Hamilton with my brother, Louis and his wife, Manon,when Peter called and asked me to pick up his squash rackets at the post office. Peter had ordered himself some new rackets and since it was free delivery anywhere in the world, he just had them shipped to his office address. He knew we would have some duty to pay but only once the rackets were on the Rock.

Daddy cool had received a phone call from someone at the post office informing him of the arrival of his package and that someone could come and get it after paying the duty. So of course, he calls Mama to see if I could go to the main post office on Church Street and see if I could pick them up for him. ”Worth a try!” he said.

Off I went to the main post office on Church street with Louis and Manon in tow. As soon as I entered the building, one of the ladies behind the counter asked, ”What is the purpose your visit here?”

”My husband received a call and was told to come here and get his package. I am wondering if I could pick it up on his behalf.”

”Do you have the orange slip?” she asked. I replied that I didn’t and that Peter never mentioned an orange slip.

She informed me that I needed a slip to pick up any package. Then she asked, ”How on earth does he know he has a package if he doesn’t have an orange slip?”

I wanted to reply, I told you someone called him at work and told him his package was here but I decided to use a polite tone and repeat myself, ”My husband received a call and was told to come here and get his package. I am just wondering if I could pick it up on his behalf?”

Now, I must mention that I was trying to focus really hard on the business at hand, which was picking up Peter’s rackets, but I was being distracted with the woman’s beard. No kidding, she had enough of a beard and a mustache to make me wonder if she was going through a sex change to become a He. Or if she simply had always been like this and then my brain was asking itself, ”why doesn’t she go see someone about this?” I mean, it was bad. But I kept my cool, decided to be patient and focus.

”Well, since you don’t have the orange slip, I suggest you go downstairs and ask them. That’s where the packages are anyways.” Geez, I literally just wasted a good 7 minutes talking to this lady and now she tells me I have to go downstairs anyways!

Before I went downstairs I looked outside and could still see Louis waiting for me so I just went down to the basement of the post office. Of course when I got to the International Package line, there was a line. So I waited, another 15 minutes until it was my turn.

I explained myself once again and the young lady behind the counter looked very annoyed with me. She informed me that since I did not have the infamous orange slip, I was not getting the package. I told her that Daddy Cool got a call at work. She did not care. No slip, No package! Already then. At this point I am thinking, screw it, Peter can come when he gets this orange slip.

I go back upstairs and as I am trying to exit the building, mustache lady yells out, ”Well honey! did you get your package?” I wanted to reply, ”Does it look like I have anything in my hands?” but instead I said, ”No, it’s okay, I don’t have the orange slip so I will have to come back.”

”Hold on a minute. Let me speak to the supervisor and see.” Off she went into an office. I looked outside and no sign of Louis anywhere.

She came back out with the supervisor. ”Tell my supervisor what you told me.”

”My husband received a call at work saying his package was here ….” I hadn’t finished when she said, ”Peter Cooper?”

”Yes”

”Yes, yes, I called him. Go back downstairs and tell them Mrs. Trott sent you. Get your package.”

I replied, ”But I don’t have the orange slip.”

”Don’t worry, I will call someone down there and instruct them to give you the package.”

Before I went back down in the bowels of the Post Office building I went to look outside for Louis and Manon, Mustache lady called back and told me the stairs were the other way, to which I replied, ”I know but my brother has been waiting for me all this time.”

I saw Louis walking on Church Street, back to where we came from. He thought I had already exited the building and did not see me. He was far enough that he didn’t hear me yell out his name but he heard my whistle. As soon as he saw me , he waved and I went back into the building to get the bloody rackets.

In The Basement

When it was finally my turn again, I spoke to the same attendant as before. She had not received the phone call from Mrs. Trott. She looked around and a gentleman was coming out of his office and said, ”Mrs Cooper?” ”Yes.”

”Tahitia (could have been laticia or any of those names that ends in ”itia”) give Mrs. Cooper her husband’s package.”

She told him I had no orange slip and if she had known Mrs. Trott had phoned my husband, she would not have turned me away. She apologized and I said it was okay.

Then came the task of finding it. Another long 5 minutes of looking out back but then she finally came back with a box in the shape of rackets. She opened the package in order to get an invoice to calculate the duty I was to pay. No invoice. I told her I had it in email form on my phone. I got an annoyed look while she pointed at a bulletin in front of her counter. The bulletin clearly stated that all invoices had to be printed on paper for their records. My brain said, ”FUCKKKKKKKK!” my smile said, ”I am truly sorry, I only have it on my email.”

”Forward that email to blah, blah, blah postoffice.bm and I will go print it. Another 5 minutes went by until she resurfaced with the invoice and a calculator. She had not done the calculations, just had gotten the paperwork.

Anyways, 15 minutes and three signatures later, (I actually joked and asked if we were getting married since I had not signed so much paperwork since my wedding. I got a laugh.) she handed me the bloody rackets and I just grabbed them and climbed up the stairs to get back into the sunlight. When I met Louis and Manon outside and explained what had just happened in the last 40 minutes my brother said, ”Sounds like you just did ”Les douzes travaux d’Astérix!” Indeed, they were not Herculean tasks but at times annoying ones….but I got the rackets and that’s all that counts.

It’s as if we never left!

We’ve been back in Bermuda for just over two weeks now and it’s as if we never left.

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The move went fairly well. A couple of small hurdles with regards to cable, but I have a guy in the attic looking into it as I am writing this, and I will not let him leave until I get my HBO and Showtime channels that I am paying for!

Aside from that, we have really nice landlords. They took us out to dinner the first week we were here, in order to hand over the keys and answer any questions we may have about the property. In meeting them,we found out that our landlady is a Hollis, and that the house we are renting from her is the house she grew up in and the original homestead to the Hollis farm. Our house is named, Harrissii, after the Easter Lily that our land lady’s grandfather farmed.

Mr. Hollis specialized in a type of Bermuda Easter Lily called “The Harrissii”. The late Mr. Hollis’ theory on the origin of the Harrissii lily in Bermuda is that a convict at the Naval Dockyard wrote to a woman by the name of Mrs. Harris, who was related to the convict, to visit Bermuda from Scotland in the late 1700s.”

Here is an interesting article about Malcolm Hollis with some old photos of where our property is located. http://bernews.com/2011/04/historical-photos-hollis-easter-lily-farm/

On top of this historical connection to the island, we have amazing views of Harrington Sound, the South Shore and the use of a dock on Harrington Sound. In the process of figuring out how to lock up my paddle boards and kayak over there. Will keep you posted.

Every time I go somewhere to inquire about a service, whether it’s cable, our cell phones, TCD, our HSBC accounts, our US Mailboxes account, etc… anything that has to do with taking care of a home or a car, we are already in the system and people just reactivate our accounts. It’s been easier than anticipated and it’s as if we never left.

 

p.s. Please note I have changed my site address from canadianmamainlondon to canadianmamaontherock.

Took Almost Two Days…

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But it was worth it.

Sunday morning Thing 1 drove us to the airport through a small snow storm. No big accumulation, just some snow. Surely the flight would still take off.

We checked our 4 bags, headed through security with each a carry-on and a backpack (yes, we had lots of luggage good thing we were flying business, no charge on luggage). I was randomly picked at security and when they swiped my backpack it set off an alarm. So I got searched and padded pretty good but was cleared for U.S. Customs. No problems there and after about 30 minutes, we emerged into the duty free shop and just walked to our gate. It was about 11:15 am, two hours before our flight and it showed on time.

Well, about 30 minutes later, it was delayed 45 minutes…no problem, we have 3 hours at JFK, we’ll make our Bermuda flight.

Another 30 minutes go by and another 20 minutes was added to our departure…

Then about 45 minutes later I receive an email from AA saying departure 15:00 (we were suppose to leave at 13:15) and arrival at JFK at 17:04. Flight to Bermuda is 17:20!

I got up and went to see the agent who was already talking with another customer traveling through Kennedy and going to Bermuda. They told us we would make it but for both of us it was not our first rodeo, we knew they were lying.

Anyways, long story short, the flight eventually got cancelled. We still don’t know why because other planes were landing and the snow storm had stopped and turned into rain. Very bizarre.

AA booked us on the Monday 7 am Westjet flight connecting in Boston and we got on the 10:20 Delta flight. We were lucky to get our business class seats honored.

Yesterday morning, Thing 1 picked us up at 4:30 am and drove us to airport again. When we checked in at the Westjet counter, plane was delayed to 8 am….but we made it to Boston with 10 minutes to spare before boarding.

We landed in Bermuda and it was a balmy 71 degrees and beautiful sunshine.

One of my floaties, Maria, picked us up. We tested her car’s luggage capacity but everything went in. Turns out I bought the same car she has so it showed us our new car luggage capacity. Maria drove us to Auto Solutions where we picked up our new “Sleek Silver 2018 Hyundai Creta”. After signing some last bit of paperwork and getting instructions from the salesman (while Daddy Cool packed up the car because he just wanted to get the hell out of there), we were on our way.

I then stopped at another one of my floatie’s office (Lorrie), to pick up some summer clothes I had left with her during my last trip to Bermuda. I tried to see her but she was busy working….I’ll catch her later.

Then we drove to the company apartment near Elbow Beach (Pretty nice by the way) and we changed into our shorts and sandals.

After a quick trip to the office I took Peter to show him the house where he told me, “You did real good Mama!”

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Views of Harrington Sound from the front back porch.

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I realized that we even have vegetable garden beds.

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Front of the house.

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The new sleek silver chariot and the garage with guest house in the back.

Apparently, our stuff is on the rock and in the process of clearing customs. Looks like we will be moving in on March 1st as planned by MOI. March 1st is also when The One company is coming to install internet/cable for us.

Now, all we have to do before Thursday, is open bank accounts, get cell phones, boost the Bermuda economy by buying everything with a North American plug, confirm and organize delivery of kayak, confirm and organize delivery of my paddle boards and get my National Pool swim membership. I’m not worried. Everything will get done. (I hope?!)

Moving Day!

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Well, moving to a hotel down the road for one night so yesterday I started the task of packing. I don’t know what happened, we did not buy any new clothes but somehow, I need to go buy a new suitcase. Did some sweaters reproduce while they were sitting in the drawers? Mystery to me but here I am, I need to add to my morning “to do list”, Go buy suitcase. This will be done after I go to O2 to pay my final bill and close out our account. Therefore, just wanted to let anyone know, if you need to reach us, do it by messenger. It’s the best way. Peter is still accessible via work email since he will still have his work phone.

I will turn on my Montreal cell phone with Wi-Fi whenever I am in a Wi-Fi zone but that will be the extent of it. No roaming.

All that is left to do this morning is put back this flat to the original state when found it in. Meaning, clean all the mirrors, vacuum and dust everything and then get the leopard out of the cupboard and back onto the sofa along with all the other fur blankets…this landlord sure is special. Oh well, on to the next place.

 

WTF Wednesday, We Rented a Lemon!

Daddy Cool and I have been living in a short term rental since January 6th and it has been bumpy to say the least.

First week we moved in, a leak was coming from our bathroom (don’t know where exactly) and water pouring into the kids bedroom below us. It got fixed by the end of the first week.

Second week, boiler went on the fritz! No hot water and heat for a full day. Contractor was called and he came to fix it.

Third week, the flat above us is doing some work and hammering away. Chunk of plaster and dust come down the chimney. Didn’t think it was a working fireplace but it would seem the chimney is still opened. Didn’t have to call contractor but I had to do some major vacuuming.

In week four, five and six, finally a little rest. Just some light bulbs in chandelier that keep on going out. I changed them yesterday when I noticed I was starting to be a little in the dark.

Monday morning this week, I’m in Belfast, Peter is shaving and pouff, all four lights in the bathroom go out. WTF!!!! He emailed me as I was getting on plane at Dublin airport. I immediately emailed Dee (our property manager), and she called the contractor. He came yesterday, played with the dimmer switch for 30 minutes only to come up with, “Well it looks like you need 4 new light bulbs. Do you have any?”

“Nope”

“I will have to go to store and come back.” He did and changed the light bulbs in the bathroom. They are not the right size but I don’t care, only 3 more days to go until I move our bags to a nice hotel down the road. I want to spend our last night in London in the comforts of a hotel hoping that nothing will happen.

At this moment, I am a little disappointed in my choice of short term rental. For the amount of money I paid for 7 weeks, (£8200 including my £1100 deposit which I better get back in full!) I feel like I rented a dud. Yes, the location was right in terms of parking with our car, closeness to squash club and we knew the neighborhood but man, plumbing and electricity need updating and Wi-Fi doesn’t make it all the way to the bedroom in the back.

When the contractor left yesterday he asked me, “How much longer are you here for?” to which I replied, “We are leaving on Friday afternoon.” He then said with a chuckle, “Well Mrs. Cooper, it’s been nice meeting you but I hope we never meet again.”

I simply replied, “ME TOO!”

 

 

 

 

Two Weeks To Go!

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Daddy Cool and I are off in less than two weeks from today and most of the people that know this ask us, ”You are going to miss London, right?”

Of course I will miss London! London is a beautiful, vibrant city with lots to do but, yes there is a but, it is not perfect. There are things am I going to miss and things I am not going to miss. Here’s a short list:

Top Things I am going to miss about London:

  1. World class museums. London has some of the best museums I have seen and most are free. They do have exhibits that you have to pay for but for 10 to 15 quid these exhibits are worth it. I personally have seen some of the best exhibits in my life in the museums here.
  2. Public transportation. Between the tube, the bus and the overground (trains for suburbs), London has some of the best public transportation in the world. You can get anywhere in this city with public transport. We rarely use the car in the city. Peter uses it to get to squash and that’s it. Otherwise, we have used the ”Green Machine” (our car), for weekend trips and whenever we had to go outside of London. You don’t need a car in London, you can get anywhere with public transport and walking.
  3. Walking. Yes, I will miss walking everywhere. It is a great way to discover a city and Peter and I will miss our walks in Hyde Park. Living by the park we have grown accustom to just go for walks on weekends and sometimes at night. Just to see a different part of the park. It is a lovely park and we understand why so many enjoy it every day.
  4. Groceries. I know, Groceries? Well, according to a UN report, Bermuda has the most expensive groceries in the world. We have a saying on the island, “it’s the Price of Palm Trees!” London has an amazing variety of groceries. Between farmer’s markets, big chain stores and Ocado who will deliver to your door from 5:30 am till midnight…, yeah I think I will miss the grocery options I had in London.
  5. The West End. London is home to some of the best plays and musicals and we have enjoyed many of them in our 5 and 1/2 years here. Let’s not forget, because we lived so close to Royal Albert Hall, we used to go there a lot as well. Yes, we will miss world class entertainment.
  6. Cinemas. One thing that Bermuda does not have is GREAT cinemas. Peter and I have always enjoyed “going to the movies” and I think we will cut back on that once on the Rock. We’ll just have to do like we did when we lived there. As soon as we get off the island, go see a couple movies.
  7. Weekend Getaways. Daddy Cool and I have taken advantage of the fact that when you live here, it’s easy and not that expensive, to get on a plane and go spend a long weekend and explore a foreign land. Now we just plan on being closer to Thing 1 and Thing 2 and see them more often.
  8. My Canadian Women friends that I have met throughout the years. Every Wednesday morning we meet for walks through Regent’s park and we have coffee. These are the same ladies I have my monthly book exchange with. A lovely group of Canadian Expat who have lived all over the globe and always have funny and interesting stories to share. I will miss them.

 

Top Things I am Not Going to Miss About London- Or Rather, things I am looking forward to.

  1. Grey skies and having to take vitamin D. – Yep I can throw away that supplement, all I will have to do is get out by the pool.
  2. Unfriendly Londoners. Sorry Londoners but you have to be the most unfriendly people I have met in the world. I run in Hyde Park and as a runner, you are suppose to greet the other runners, they are part of your tribe. NOPE! Not in London, they look down or avoid all eye contact. I am convinced that if a fellow runner says hi, he or she is a tourist who brought their sneakers in other to run in the park while on Vacay. We have lived here for 5 1/2 years and the only neighbors we talked to are the French family across the mews from us and the young Italian artist who used to come and borrow garlic. Aside from that, the English folks just look down when they cross you. No eye contact….I am looking forward to the Bermuda way of saying hi to total strangers.
  3. Jet Lag! So much traveling across the pond and I swear, it is getting harder to deal with Jet Lag when I get back and also getting harder to leave Thing 1 and Thing 2 every time we come back. It will be nice to be closer and not have to deal with jet lag when we go back home.
  4. Hard water that destroys your clothes. Washer/Dryer that take 3 hours to do a small load! And here in the short term rental, we have a combi (combination washer dryer), not kidding folks, close to 5 hours for one load.
  5. Light switch outside the bathroom and no plugs in the bathrooms. I really can’t get over that one. While I am on the subject of electricity, BIG FUCKING PLUGS!!!! WTF! surely this is 2018, someone can come up with a smaller version….It will be nice to go back to hydro that I grew up with.
  6. Looking forward to one big fridge with a big freezer!
  7. Looking forward to a real microwave who will make popcorn, truly make the whole bag.
  8. Not much for public transport in Bermuda and yes we will be using our car and scooters more but yeah for scooters! They are fun and heck, the place is so tiny, getting to most places from where we live will take 15 minutes without much traffic.
  9. Looking forward to swimming in the morning at National Pool Stadium.
  10. Looking forward to kayaking the beautiful waters of Bermuda, (already ordered my kayak). Same with paddle boarding…
  11. Looking forward to spending time with my Floaties!
  12. Pretty sure Daddy Cool is looking forward to squash at the BSRA and having a TCD (no not the Transport Control Department but rather The Cooper Drink) after a match. And if you want to know what is in a TCD, you have to come to the BSRA to find out.
  13. And I’m pretty sure, Daddy Cool can’t wait to go golfing more often.

 

There you have it. London has been great but I guess I am just looking forward to a slower pace lifestyle and less people. Having lived in Bermuda before, I know it is not perfect by any means but I can’t wait to be there and start the next chapter.

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