Christmas at The Royal Albert Hall

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Waiting for the concert to begin. Peter counted at least 160 members of the choir.

Last night Peter and I went to the Royal Albert Hall to see and sing some Christmas carols with the Royal Choral Society and the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Band of the Coldstream Guards.

Every year at the RAH they have the Christmas Classics series. Sometimes it’s a little formal other times for casual. The first year we spent Christmas in London, we took the kids to Christmas by candlelight on Christmas eve. That was quite nice. The entire orchestra and choir was dressed in 1800s costumes and we all sang Christmas carols by candlelight.

If you attend one of the matinée weekend concerts you get the Christmas jumper crowd who get to sing the Christmas carols you hear at the shopping mall.

Last night was semi-formal. Christmas carols that we all know plus some old ones from the days I attended the Anglican Church in Ottawa. “Joy to the world”, The first Nowell (although I don’t know who Nowell is?), In the Bleak midwinter, Away in a manger etc….There were two readings by Hugh Bonneville (that’s right, Lord Grantham himself). A funny rendition of Joseph writing a review to the Inn Keeper about the accommodations where he stayed and at the very end a more serious about the birth of Jesus Christ. Both we’re very nice.

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When Hugh came to do his first “funny” reading.

It was a great evening, I caught the Christmas spirit. Today I am flying to Montreal to continue spreading Christmas Cheer!

Joyeux Noël !!!!!

Motorcycling Santas

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I was walking in Chelsea, minding my own business (as you do in Chelsea. Everyone is so serious and pompous) when I came upon lots of Santas on motorcycles. They were driving into the Royal Brompton Hospital in front of St Luke’s Parish Church. I arrived in front of the parking lot just as they were all pulling in. Pretty impressive to see approximately 300 Santas on motorcycles. I asked three Santas that were already parked what the heck was going on. They explained they do this every year. There are about 300 of them and they get sponsored by “Ace Café”, collect toys from various charities and deliver them to three different hospitals for sick kids. They also said not every Santa enters each hospitals, they don’t want to scare the children before the holiday season!

It was very cool to see this. It put a huge smile on my face. I thought it was great and I took lots of pictures.

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Christmas Santas

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This lady was a Christmas tree. She had the treetop on her helmet. Very cool!

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Peter, I noticed that some of them had scooters…if only we still had ours…hummm there’s always next year.

KICK HARD!!!!! HURRY!!!!!!

Tomorrow evening my baby boy (he’s no longer a baby, 6 feet tall, 17 inch neck…),Mackenzy Cooper, is swimming his third meet of the year. I believe tomorrow he is swimming 50 back, 100 back, 100 free plus relays. I wish I was there to cheer him on. When he used to swim for Dolphin Swim Team in Bermuda I was always on deck since I used to coach the junior group and he swam in the senior group. Sadly, I haven’t seen him in action in almost three years but I know he works hard and he does his mama proud every time.

Go Mackenzy Go!!!! Remember tomorrow, kick hard, good starts, fast turns etc….

100 free

One of your last swims on the island.

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Nationals 2012. Two and half years already……

I never thought I would say this but I miss those long meets. Have fun tomorrow. Call me on Sunday, I want to hear about it.

The Christmas Lights of London

This afternoon I left the house at 4:30 with my camera and I decided to go for a walk and take pictures of the many Christmas lights around London. London may lack the snow for a white Christmas but they make it up in lights.


I started off by going into Hyde Park to look at the Christmas Winter Wonderland. This is sort of Christmas market with lots of rides. Even around 5 pm it was getting very packed with people.


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Then I came out of the park at Marble Arch and started walking along Oxford Street. The stores on Oxford street are always spending lots of money on lights and window dressing. Very impressive.


The beginning of Oxford Street.


Selfridge always has the best windows. Tonight there were several hundred people in front of the windows.


New Bond Street



House of Fraser and John Lewis


Oxford Circus

Then I walked down Regent Street. Less lights than Oxford Circus but very pretty nevertheless.


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Piccadilly Circus

After that I walked down Haymarket to Trafalgar Square. They have a big tree there but let’s just say they have nothing on the tree at Rockefeller center. First of all, its tall and skinny and the lights are only white. I think it would help to have multicolored lights but that’s just me.


I left the tree and the choir that was singing in front of it and walked to Embankment. There I decided to cross the footbridge to South bank. I had heard there was another Christmas market by the London eye. It was actually very nice.


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After all this walking I took the tube back home at Westminster station. Walking home in South Kensington I couldn’t help myself, I had to take one last picture in front of the National History Museum.


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Last Friday I flew to Montreal to attend the annual Bishops College School Christmas concert. Mackenzy plays the trumpet in senior and stage band and sings in the choir.

When I arrived in Montreal on Friday night it was snowing. I thought now that’s what Christmas is all about, the white fluffy stuff. The Christmas lights in Montreal are absolutely gorgeous this year.

I settled in the condo and did some cleaning while Sarah was at school for a tutorial. Sarah is in “finals mode” and let’s just say that cleaning is not high on her priority at the moment. That’s fine, that’s why I come once a month, to do some cleaning, some baking and cooking…my mama jobs.

Saturday morning my sister and her two daughters met me in order to run the Santa Shuffle on Mount Royal. A little 5 km on the mountain and all the proceeds go to the Salvation Army. Sarah ran it with two girlfriends from McGill. It was tons of fun. All the runners had Santa hats and there were lots of local elementary schools and families with young children. Running in the snow is hard but it was worth it. We all went to “Chez Cora” for breakfast afterwards and celebrated our tight calves.

After lunch my sister and her daughters headed home. It was time for me to get ready for the concert. My parents picked me up and we drove together to the Eastern Townships to see Mackenzy play and sing his little heart out.

The concert starts out formal with the senior band. Then you watch the dance group of the school perform some routines followed by the choir and finally the fun stage band.

Mackenzy sang very well and I was very proud of his solos. He looks like he is having a lot of fun with it.

Sunday I decorated the condo for Christmas, baked some banana bread and some biscotti for Sarah and cooked some chili for us to have before my flight back to London. I flew back this morning, I have a cold and this afternoon I passed out on my couch but it was all worth it. This was my first BCS Annual Christmas concert in the six years that the kids have been attending BCS but it won’t be my last. I am going back next year and I will bring Daddy along for date night.

Another Job I Am Great At

As a stay at home mom of two who are in another country, one of my important job skills is traveling agent. Over the years I have become quite a pro at it. I manage flights, air miles accounts, coordinate dates for holidays, concerts, end of school, start of school etc….if there is a time my kids or my husband and I have to be somewhere for something, I plan it and get it done.

Back in 2001 my husband and I bought a timeshare. Most people think, timeshare is a waste of money but in our case it’s been quite good. Our home base is the Pollard Brook Resort in Lincoln, NH but we have never been there. Instead we have transferred our week to other resorts and have skied in other places such as Lake Tahoe (twice), Banff, and Austria. We have used it to go to Disney 3 or 4 times and also Sedona, AZ. For us it’s been a good investment but I can tell you from experience it takes time and energy to look into resorts, put in a request, and call people to bug them about getting the week you want and the facility you want. Great news! Yesterday I found out that my latest harassing has paid off.


And the winner is, Turin, Italy. That’s right, the first week of March, Peter, Sarah and I will be skiing on the slopes of Sestriere in Turin and we will be sleeping in the Villagio Olimpico at the foot of the mountain.


Last night Peter and I started to look at flights and we can actually get a BA flight, in business class for the 3 of us a return ticket non-stop from Gatwick to Turin is £810. For the three of us in business class!!! I couldn’t believe it. I pay that for myself alone to go to Montreal in economy most times. I plan to phone Sarah today in order to find out exactly her March break details and I may make another booking with BA.

I am so psyched I have already sent emails requesting ski maps, resort info etc….

Next step, brush up on my Italian. Ciao!

Thing 1 and the Dishwasher

3 pm, I come out of a lovely CWC (Canadian Women Club) Christmas luncheon and my 19 year old genius sends me this picture with the caption that starts with the word “F”. And then she asks “what do I do?”


Now, we don’t have a janitor in the building. We have maintenance people who take care of the building and I am sure if there was a huge pipe that would burst somewhere they would know who to call but they don’t really do house calls. I told her to ask that person what to do.

In the meantime I called Peter and he said “it’s probably full of food. Tell her to clean the bottom, you know how she is”. I sent her a message back and asked her to check the dishwasher itself.

Thing 1 has a tendency to put the dishes in the dishwasher without rinsing or well, with food really. Every time I visit, there’s an inch of water in the bottom of the thing because it’s clogged with food and the poor suffocating appliance can’t breath…. 

I instructed her to look at the bottom and see if there was anything blocking the dishwasher. Apparently spinach may have been the cause. 

I am told the floor has been mopped up and it’s all clean. There’s still water in the bottom of the dishwasher but she will deal with it after she comes back from school. 

I have a feeling the dishes will be hand washed until I get there Friday night and I will have to fish out whatever is clogging the dishwasher. I just hope she has wine for this operation, I will need it.