What a Week!

I am sitting here with a glass of wine and thinking back of what I have done since I left London on Sunday night…..here’s how it all went.

Sunday afternoon, (London time) I was still chilling with Peter, watching a movie when Thing 1 called in a panic. It would seem that our washing machine was overflowing and the water was going straight into the condo unit below us since her ceiling and walls were all exposed due to previous water damage from unit 406 (I’ll get back to that later).  Peter and I told her to phone oncle Ben and TATATATA! Oncle Ben came to the rescue to look at washing machine. Beside the fact that Thing 1 had overfilled the machine in order to do as much laundry as possible in a short period of time before her mother arrived from London…..all was normal. Ben checked everything out, cleaned the back of the machine and even “gigalood” the door. Sarah said at one point it was turning into “The Adventures of oncle Ben”! (Ben, she loves you man!). She told me I owed him big time….

Sunday I did some time traveling. I left London at 18:45 and arrived in Montreal at 20:50. Not bad. Sarah was anxiously waiting for me at the airport. She even brought Monty. Both were very happy to see their Mama.

Back home I unpacked, looked at washing machine, everything looked fine. That’s when Sarah mentioned the dishwasher. It’s not draining really well. There’s always a little water at the bottom. She asked Oncle Ben to look at it. He did and said it sounds like something is blocking the pump. Great! Something else to deal with in the morning.

Monday morning I was wide awake at 5 am. Still a little jet-lagged I did a little cleaning here and there, took Monty out for a walk before Sarah woke up. Sarah has been studying like a mad woman all summer for her MCATs. The lady wants close to a perfect score the first time around (gotta love my over achiever). Now that she finished working at her summer camp, she couldn’t wait for me to get home, cook, clean, and take care of the dog while she focuses on studying for the next 10 days. (She writes on September 3rd). So I drove her to McGill library and headed down 10 East to pick up Thing 2.

Picking up Thing 2 is always a catch 22. You are happy to see him, he is happy to see you but if only he could have taken the time to shower and shave before the long 90 minute journey back to Montreal. I swear, we got in the car and between the sent of his 3 bags, his pillow and him….my eyes were watery. I was still happy to see my baby boy and to catch up on summer events with him. Amazing what they miss when they spend 9 weeks in the woods with no wi-fi.

Upon arrival he was instructed to do the 3 Ss. I didn’t know if he needed to perform the first S but he had to do the last two.

While he was taking care of his Ss, I was phoning a plumber. Finally got a hold of one who could come on Wednesday between 9 and noon. Don’t have a choice do I?

After finding a plumber I started the long laundry process being very careful not to overfill my machine. You see, it would seem the tenant right below us, in 206, has had major water damage. The condo association has already been here before and have found no leaks. It would seem the leak is coming through the walls straight from unit 406 above us. That’s not my problem. Now that her walls and ceiling are exposed the smallest drop of water and her apartment fills up. Over the course of 2 days I was able to proceed with 6 normal size loads of pine scented clothes (and a few Daddy long legs), and all was fine. I also began the process of opening two months old mail. Here we go, City of Montreal Parking Permit renewal, put that on to do list. Oh and yeah, another Recall letter from Hyundai. Can’t they put a car together without making mistakes anymore? Something about engine light turning on when blah, blah, blah, seriously I lost interest after recall #. On the to do list, call dealership for recall. That night Sarah came home and we just had dinner and pretty much all collapsed afterwards.

Tuesday morning Sarah and I went for a run with Monty. I had to run early since I had to drive Mackenzy to his dentist appointment and her to McGill and then go back home and wait for the AC repair man. Oh yeah, our AC has not been working great and has had a leak all summer which has slowly resulting in floor boards popping up under it. I was told he would be here around 10:30 am. That came and gone without a phone call confirming their visit so I called the AC company. Oops, they had made a mistake and forgot about me since I had called two weeks ago for an appointment. Great! Will I be home all day? Someone will try to call you as soon as possible. Someone came just before 2 pm and unplugged the two holes that allow water to drain outside, cleaned the AC unit and put it back together. This had never been done in 10 years since the building was built. $255 later (gotta love GST and PST) he was gone and my condo unit was getting frigid. Also, while I waited for AC man I receive a phone call from the building manager. The crazy Chinese lady in 206 had complained about Sarah and her Sunday overflow and could he come in on Wednesday morning at 11 am to make sure everything was oky doky. Sure. Why not. Bring your friends. You will be there at the same time as the plumber! After the AC guy left I called Hyundai, got an appointment for next Tuesday at 7:30 am and I told Mac, “Let’s go to Costco, this house needs everything”. Everything came with a price tag of $607.20. Yes, I am making the Quebec economy work!

Wednesday morning, a new day. This is going to be good! NOT REALLY! After dropping off Thing 1 at the library I waited for the plumber. I hate this bullshit of 9 to 1 or 1 to 5…..WTF! Anyways, condo association man arrived with 4 guys with sensors. They were walking around the condo putting their gizmos all over the walls and the floors. Almost an hour later, still no damage at our end. The water has been shooting straight through the walls. Whatever, at this point Crazy Chinese lady downstairs can suffer. They left just before noon and as soon as they left the plumber was arriving. I had high hopes that finally I would not be hand washing dishes every day. Boy was I about to be very wrong. Plumber looked. Not the drain, nope nothing blocking the drain. It must be the pump in the dishwasher. Okay, “Can you fix it?”. His answer. No it’s a dishwasher issue, you have to call the manufacturer and get someone here. I literrally looked at him and said “why the heck did I phone you then? I explained this to the lady on the phone.” He replied, “it’s always a good thing because the manufacturer would have asked you to call a plumber and see if it’s the drain. This way you know it’s not the drain it’s the machine itself. It must be under warranty it was only installed in March.” I looked at him and I thought I was going to blow a gasket. He put everything back together and charged me $155. I got back upstairs called GE and filled a service request form. I was instructed someone would phone me within 48 hours for an appointment. Nothing else I could do. I told Mackenzy to get ready we were going for a swim. We met Sarah at MAA and Mac and I swam for an hour while Sarah worked out. We came out of there at 18:30 and I told the kids I was going home to make dinner and have a glass of wine. Mama needs some wine. Nevertheless, the day ended really well since we watched “Back to the Future” and laughed about 1985.

Thursday morning Sarah, Monty and I were out running a 4 miler by 7 am. The city looks great from the Lachine canal. After breakfast showers etc…I drove her to library. I came back home, parked the car and walked up the hill to my eye Dr. appointment. Aside from the fact that I am getting old and my arms too short, all is well with my eye sight. I then took the metro to Berri-UQAM to go deal with the parking permit. Wow! The efficiency at the offices of the city of Montreal never cease to amaze me. Too depressing to go into details but let’s just say, lots of people waiting and three people chatting behind. You just want to shout at them “My tax dollars at work!!!!”. But you let it go because they hold all the power. Afterwards I was on the platform at Berri-UQAM,waiting for the Metro when I received the call from GE. They could come on Tuesday anytime between 9 am and 1 pm. Sure. I surrender. I will be at the Hyundai dealership at 7:30 am but one of the kids will be home to let someone in if they come at 9 am and I am not back. Afterwards I met Mackenzy downtown and we had a quick lunch and shopped for running shoes. He went for a swim and I went to grab the car and start some furniture shopping for the new condo. After dinner we watched “Back to the Future 2”.

Today was a little more relaxing. No phone calls to repairman. No waiting around for anybody. After I dropped off Sarah at library once again, I went shopping for school supplies and other condo stuff. I met the kids for lunch. After lunch, Mackenzy went for a swim and Sarah went back to the library. I was finally able to go to our garden and do some weeding and look at the fruits of labor of Sarah and Emilie. They did really well. We have lots of carrots, onions, green beans, zucchinis, kale, rhubarb and we are still waiting for tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos. It’s been a good year at Jardin Versailles.

The week started rough but ended well. Wonder what next week has in store for me?

Throwback Thursday – Big’s Playlist


In our house Peter is the big music lover. Don’t get me wrong, I love music as much as the next person but in the music department Peter has always been the true “connaisseur”.

A couple of months ago, after one of our many road trips where radio stations were useless (we were listening to commercials more than anything), Peter took it upon himself to sit down and add to our already pretty big Itunes playlist.

We already had quite a nice list of music since we share our music with Sarah on an Itunes household account and she takes after her Daddy, she loves her music and buys a lot of it. But Peter dug deep and went back in time. Peter remembered all the records he used to own, and let me tell you, he use to own a few. Peter use to spend a big chunk of his budget on records. Ask our niece Isabelle, she is now the owner of most of them.

As I was saying he went back in time and aside from his favorite bands, U2, The Cure, The Cult, INXS, anything from the 80s really, he bought more Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Rod Stewart, Styx, Depeche Mode, Fine Young Cannibals, Level 42, Crowded House, ELO, Guns & Roses, OMD,  and more. His picks must have been pretty good since we received a phone call from Sarah saying “wow, you guys bought some good music lately. That “Stairway to Heaven” song is really good!” Duh! Young people today, don’t they know it’s the best make out song ever!?

So lately I have been running and working out to a kick ass playlist. Here are my top five:

This one really helps to run. Don’t know why it just does.

This one is just awesome.

The beat on that one helps with the running.

When I listen to this one I think of Thing 1 and Thing 2.

and of course nothing can help you get up a hill like this one.

Ahhhhhh, all these take me back to Crescent street in 1986…good times!

What is on your playlist? Your top five?

A Hike Up The Ben


A rare view of the summit of Ben Nevis from the water. 

After our hike of Snowdon last year we started to think of the tallest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis. Peter found out from colleagues at work that you can take this train called the Caledonian Sleeper out of Euston station on Friday night. Sleep overnight on the train. Arrive in Fort William Saturday morning just before 10 am, hike the Ben, sleep at a hotel on Saturday night and come back into London overnight Sunday in time for work Monday morning…hummmm this had been in the back of my head for almost a year.

Last May Peter and I sat down, picked a weekend we could do this hike and booked our ticket on the Caledonian. You see, driving to Scotland and getting to the big cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow is easy enough (about 7 hours) but driving up to the Highlands is another thing and takes another 5 hours. The train is the way to go! The train ride itself was 12 hours and 47 minutes.

Caledonian sleeper

Friday night we boarded the train just before its departure at 9:15 pm. We grabbed a drink, settled in our “berth” and slowly drifted off to sleep and towards the Highlands. Saturday morning we woke up around 7 am and our attendant brought us our coffee and green tea. He also informed us there was still room in the first class lounge if we wanted to sit on a sofa and have our breakfast. Sweet! We got dressed and headed for the sofas and watched the magnificent Scottish countryside while having our breakfast.





When we finally reached Fort William Peter and I walked to our Hotel, dropped off our bags, packed some sandwiches for our hike and grabbed a taxi to drive us to Ben Nevis visitor center in order to start our ascension.


Hotel where we stayed.

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We started the hike by crossing the river by the visitor center and taking the path to the right of this sheep. There’s always sheep when hiking in England. They seem to follow us halfway up the mountain then stop when the weather changes. I sometimes think us human should follow their lead but no, the silly human has to climb and see what is on top!

The first third of The Ben (that’s how the local call the mountain) is somewhat steep with large rocks to walk around.

After climbing some big rocky stairs the trail sort of plateaus near a lake at the Red Burn. From this moment on, the mountain track just goes up steadily till you reach the five-finger gully.

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When we reached the five-finger gully I had to put down the camera and pay attention to where I stepped. Lots of rock, gravel and visibility got dodgy in some areas. It was raining and temperature was dropping fast and the rain was turning into wet snow. We saw a couple of snow patches along the way (Peter has the photos on his Iphone) but didn’t linger. The goal was to reach the summit, look around a little and come back down.


This is the shelter where my crazy Canadian husband went behind to change his shirt. A cold wet snow was coming down and I can guarantee you we exchanged dry and wet shirt very quickly. Apparently Peter felt like a new man once he had a drier shirt on! Okay, can we get down now? My hands (I finally put gloves on) are freezing! I took a couple of pictures of crazy people standing there and then we started our descent.





I can confirm that once we got down the mountain, had HOT showers, changed and got to our restaurant, these went down Nicely!


Ben Nevis whiskey, elderflower water with a dash of sour apple liquor. (Peter had two, I switched to wine after mine).

Sunday morning we slept in. Had breakfast. Did some shopping and after lunch and more Ben Nevis whiskey sours we took a cruise on Loch Linnhe.


Little side note here: Peter’s maternal grand-mother is half Macleod. Everywhere we went I tried to get some Macleod memorobilia. The Macleod name was always empty. No mug, no shot glass, no whiskey glass, no coaster etc…..I finally asked a shop attendant, “Why is it I can never get any Macleod merchandise in any of the shops?” her answer “I won’t say anything wrong about that name….(pause), let’s just say they are a popular bunch!” She hinted they like to have fun. Humm food for thought next time I meet the Smiths and other Coopers, sure explains a lot.


Aboard the Souter Lass on Loch Linnhe


It was a great afternoon. Calm waters and some sun. Just beautiful.



Salmon farm on the Linnhe. In Scotland, fish farms account for 7000 jobs and £650 million of revenues. 



A mussel farm.


At the moment you can find approximately 30 seals who have taken residence in the Linnhe. Here some are sunbathing.




At the end of the day we had to get back to Fort William. Pick up our bags that had been left for safekeeping at the hotel. And grab a quick bite to eat at the pub before making our way to the train station to board the Caledonian.

The train left promptly at 7 pm and we arrived at London Euston station at 7:45 am. Peter and I took the tube home. We arrived around 8:10 am, he showered and got ready for work and I started to unpack the bags. Peter was leaving for work at 9:30 am. Later than usual but still not bad. All in all, a good way to spend a lovely weekend in the Highlands.

Throwback Thursday – Hiking on Peter’s birthday.

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Last year we were hiking Mount Snowdon on Peter’s birthday.

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Walking in the fog/rain at the top.

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Halfway up the mountain we took a break for a lovely picture.

Last year we went hiking on Peter’s birthday. We climbed Snowdon in Wales. Snowdon is one of the three peaks in the “3 peaks challenge”.  The Three Peaks Challenge involves climbing the three highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland, often within 24 hours. In England the highest peak is Scafell. Snowdon is in Wales and Ben Nevis is in Scotland.

We are not doing the challenge per say. We are simply trying to hike the 3 peaks whenever we feel like it. We have one down and two to go. This weekend we are climbing Ben Nevis in Scotland.

As it happens, it’s also Peter’s birthday. Another birthday, another hike. Stay tune for a post on Ben Nevis on Monday.