Happy Birthday Mackenzy!

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”Mama, stop talking and pay attention to the fish.”

I think it was 10 years ago when we sent Mackenzy to his first two weeks of camp in the Eastern Townships. We were living in Bermuda at the time and a lot of people we knew sent their kids away to camp. At the time, I use to leave the island in the summer for two to four weeks to go back home and spend some time with family. I can’t remember what made me send him to camp but I did.

First it was two weeks. When I picked him up after his first summer, as soon as he got in the car he asked, ”next year can I go for a month?” Then it was 6 weeks and then the whole summer.

Since his birthday is June 27th, we haven’t been with Mackenzy on his birthday for the last 5 years (I think)…and every June 27th I feel VERY guilty that I am not there to celebrate his birthday and make him cake. Buddy, I mean, ”Mama could buy you a car guilty!” Okay maybe just a second hand car but still lots of guilt here.

That’s if Mackenzy cared about a car or such things. You see, for those who really don’t know Mackenzy, he couldn’t care less about such things. Mackenzy is happiest with a book or with his laptop playing some game or watching anime. Mackenzy is happiest with the friends that he has made at Wilvaken over the years. He doesn’t care about clothes, some days it’s hard to have him wear more than boxers, ask Sarah, she’s been living with him for the last couple months.

No, my boy is a simple man with simple needs. Wake up, Eat, Play, Repeat.

Buddy, I hope you are having a GREAT summer at the lake and just know that your Mama (am I sure Daddy too but he works and has to think about work too), will be thinking of you all day. I know you don’t like it when I post pictures of you on-line but hell, I’m your Mama, I brought you into this world, I can do whatever the FUCK I want on June 27th! So here goes…


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He has always loved it at the beach.

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He sort of played defense…always singing and laughing. 

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Tennis at the Pitch!

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Too much birthday cake at 7.

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9th Birthday in Bermuda.

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Always exploring around the house.

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His first piano playing. He used to LOVE hammering at it.

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At Tobacco Bay in Bermuda, ”Daddy did you see the BIG fish”.

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First Communion.

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Yes, this is what we liked to do during a snowstorm in NH. Sit by the fire, outside.

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Last month he let me take a picture with him. What a treat! 

Mackenzy, Je t’aime. Bonne Fête et passe une super belle journée!




Another Sign of the Times

Last week I noticed that these blocks were installed all along Exhibition Rd beside the museums and Imperial College. I did not see their use until this morning when I went to pick up my dry cleaning and I noticed the tourists all around me. And,with the latest attack on the mosque in Finsbury Park, in North London, now I understand why these blocks have been installed. It’s to protect the tourists and Londoners such as myself who go to museums from motorized attacks.

The museums in London are for the most part some of the best in the world and their entry is free. Whether it’s the National Gallery with its great collection of the Masters, the Victoria & Albert with collections of paintings, sculptures, clothing, drawings etc… from every corner of the globe, the Natural History Museum with its dinosaur bones and artifacts, the British museum with the Rosetta Stone and again more ancient Greek artifacts than Greece itself or the Science Museum with its education wing teaching about science, if you are ever in London, I invite you to visit a couple. Each museum is amazing. Just the buildings themselves are sometimes the story. Whenever I go into the Natural history museum I don’t really go to look at the dinosaurs and the mammoths. I look at the building itself. The wood carvings, the staircases are some of the best in the world. Same thing with the V&A, I walk around that building, looking to cool down and usually make my way to the tapestry room on the third floor. The room is climate control since you have to protect the ancient tapestries and it’s the ”coolest” room in the museum!


We have been living behind the V&A for the last three summers and it has become my favorite. This morning I was happy to see that the construction of the Exhibition Rd entrance is finally complete. They have reinstalled the gates that were taken down after the bombings of WWII and they have built a new courtyard and basement entry. I can’t wait to check it out this week.


When you look closely at the gates or even the side of the building itself, you can see the holes left as proof of the bombings during the second World War. They serve as reminders and signs of that time.


Having Childhood Flashbacks

We are going through a heat wave in London. We really haven’t had any rain in the last two weeks and the forecast for this week is sunny and highs of 29 to 31 degrees Celsius.

The problem with all of this is unlike North America, most households in London do NOT have AC or central air. Heck, most stores don’t either. The only way to get cool is to go to a brand new mall, a grocery store or the hospital. I hate the mall, there is only so much grocery shopping a woman can do and I’m not desperate enough to injure myself in order to get some AC…well, not yet.

Living in an old mews reminds me of when we lived in Châteauguay in the late 70s, before my dad had central air installed. The whole house is muggy, there’s no air circulation and even with all the fans I have in almost every single room, we are not getting cooled down. And like my mom back then, I wait till the sun goes down to run the dishwasher and dryer.



Our loud but effective AC.

Thank goodness four years ago we had the sound mind of buying a portable AC for our bedroom. It is loud and yes it keeps our room cool but as soon as you stop it, within about 15 minutes, the heat is back. We are sleeping okay, probably better than our neighbors across the mews, Paul and Vanessa. Their bedroom is on the third floor and they don’t have AC! Yes, it is so hot at the moment that when you meet your neighbor while watering your plants at 9:30 pm the one thing you discuss is how unusually warm it is and whether or not you are going to have a good night’s sleep. The poor people, their bedroom is on the third floor. On our third floor is Thing 1 and Thing 2’s empty bedrooms and my office where I practice the occasional yoga. At this moment, I practice Hot Flow yoga. I’m not kidding it’s so warm and muggy up there, I sweat like a pig on a roast just sitting at my desk.

Peter is so lucky, he left for Dublin this morning. First, he is sitting in AC at the airport and then the forecast in Dublin is cloudy with a high of 78 Fahrenheit. Anyways, I must leave you. Going to do some yoga before it gets too warm and then I will probably retreat to my bedroom for a big chunk of the day.


Road Trip!

Yesterday I took advantage of the beautiful sunny weather we’ve been having and went on a little road trip with a few Canadian Ladies to visit an estate named, Polesden Lacey.


Front of the house with some of my fellow Canadian Ladies.

This regency house was extensively remodeled in 1906 by Margaret Greville.

Born as Margaret Helen Anderson, she was the illegitimate daughter of Scottish brewer and multimillionaire, William McEwan. He kept Margaret and her mother living across the street from him in Edinburgh. In 1885, he was elected to parliament and needed to move to London. In order to make everything look kosher, he married Margaret’s mother. She was 21 by now. After the marriage and the move to London, Margaret needed to enter high society. She did not have a title, just a lot of money. In comes  the Honorable Ronald Henry Fulke Greville, eldest son of the 2nd Baron Greville. He had the title but the family was broke. They married in 1891 and soon after the wedding they started to look for a party house to entertain high society. They had a house in London on Charles Street, living beside Margaret’s parents, but in Edwardian times, you apparently needed a party house. In comes Polesden Lacey in the Surrey hills about an hour drive of London.

Of course, Margaret had lots of money and she had good taste. She quickly did some major renos to the house in order to entertain large parties. While she was renovating, her husband was diagnosed with throat cancer. Shortly after the removal of the tumor he had in his throat, he passed away. Poor Margaret grieved for a full year while renovations were taking place. Apparently, not long after she stopped wearing black, she had her first of many lavish parties at Polesden Lacey.

Margaret never remarried. Never had children. She took care of her father’s business and spent time with high society. She was a close friend of Queen Mary and the royal family. In fact, upon her death, she bequeathed all her jewels to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, including a diamond necklace reputedly belonging to Marie Antoinette, a pair of diamond chandelier earrings and a tiara and ruby necklace by Boucheron, all of which are in possession of the British Royal Family. Apparently, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, wears the tiara during official royal duties.  

Margaret passed away in 1942 while she was hunkered down at the Dorchester Hotel. Apparently, that’s where a lot of British High society used to hide during the bombings of the WWII.

Coming back to the actual property, the collection of paintings, porcelains, silver etc…is unbelievable. The grounds cover 1400 acres (5.6 square kilometers) in the beautiful Surrey hills. This is prime real estate folks.

She bequeathed her estate to the National Trust in 1942 and with the help of 700 or so volunteers, they have since been taking care of the house, the grounds and the many gardens.

A little claim to fame for the place is the fact that George VI and Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother), spent the first week of their honeymoon there in 1923. There sure are lots of pictures proving that!


Flowers, flowers, beautiful flowers everywhere!


Gardener’s cottage.


Flowers for sale.



Anyone up for a little croquet? 


One of the roads on the grounds. You can also find some hiking trails.




On Monday 22 May, on the first day of the RHS Chelsea Flower show, Polesden Lacey launched the Rosa ‘Margaret Greville’ in celebration of 75 years since Mrs Greville bequeathed the property to the National Trust in 1942. The Greville Rose as it’s known, was cultivated exclusively for the National Trust at Polesden Lacey by Peter Beales Roses, world leading rose horticulturalists.



Where Dame Margaret Helen Greville, Hon Mrs Greville, rests.


Back of the property.


Little café where we had tea with scones. 


It was a lovely day and I would recommend a visit to anyone who wants to go to Polesden Lacey.




A Lovely Weekend in Ireland

Last Thursday morning I drove out early, at 5 am, and set my sights on Holyhead, Northern Wales to take the ferry to Ireland. I made it there in plenty of time to go wait at the airport for the arrival of Peter. Of course, his flight was delayed! At least, since I had the car with our luggage and Peter’s golf bag, once he finally came through the arrival gate, we simply went to the car and made our way 1 hour North to what was to be our residence for the next three nights, Cabra Castle, in Cavan county. cabra-castle-hotel

In October 2010 the hotel made the #2 spot of Most Haunted in the world on Trip Advisor. Here is an excerpt of the Irish Times article discussing this fact.

”Each week Trip Advisor carries a number of top tens on its homepage and, to tie in with Halloween, it has been carrying lists of the world’s most haunted hotels and Cabra Castle Hotel in Kingscourt Co Cavan made it to the number two spot. The hotel dates back to 1760 but has been in the Crosscadden family for just 20 years. The family are “delighted” to have been included on the list. “I wasn’t even aware of it to be honest,” said Deirdre Crosscadden, “but it is lovely to see.” She said that while the ghostly legends about the hotel and its grounds have been circulating for generations, she has seen nothing untoward in her time. She said American visitors in particular get a buzz from their brushes with the netherworld, both in the hotel and near the “Hanging Tree” in the grounds. Rose Garvey Malone has worked at the hotel for 25 years and hasn’t seen any ghosts either, although she has spoken to many guests who have. Last year one told her of meeting a man in full early 20th century military uniform striding down the corridor, another heard a horse and carriage pull in to the courtyard in the dead of night before depositing a screaming infant at the steps of the hotel, while a third guest walked in on a row about the sale of the castle between an elderly man and his son. ”

I can confirm that we did not see or hear any ghosts and we couldn’t find the ”hanging tree”. We did however have a lovely room in the courtyard area and the people running the hotel and serving in the restaurant/bar are very friendly and nice. I must say, coming from the UK it is always refreshing to get ”friendly” service.

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The dog of the Castle. A large Irish Wolfhound.

Friday, Peter went to play golf with coworkers from the Dublin office at the beautiful Portmarnock Golf Links near the small seaside town of Malahide, in Dublin county.


Beautiful grounds of Portmarnock.



I am told Peter lost a few balls…

While he was playing golf, I had a fabulous walk along the beach and on the coastal path leading to the very quaint town of Malahide.




Around 2 pm, Peter and I regrouped at the Fish shack in Malahide with all kinds of seafood. We needed some food before heading to Howth and walk the ”cliff walk”. There, you can see breathtaking views of Dublin. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it.


After a full day for both of us, we drove back to the ”haunted” castle and rested a bit before going to the bar for some much deserved cider.

Saturday was ”wedding day”. I had read about a little walk nearby in the ”Dun na Ri Forest Park” and I told Peter we should check it out. It was literally 5 minutes down the road from the castle. After just a few minutes of walking, we realized we were walking in an enchanted forest. The scenery was stuff of movies with ferries and elves.


The Wedding

Now we get to the real reason why we traveled to Ireland in the first place!  One of the actuaries from the Dublin office invited Peter and I last winter. When we heard Irish wedding in Irish castle, we couldn’t pass it up. The ceremony took place in a small country Church and it was beautiful. The father of the bride runs a choir that sings for dignitaries everywhere. They sang for the Queen, a President, at the Royal Albert Hall etc… Their next big gig is the Pope at the Vatican. You can imagine the choir was FANTASTIC. It was a Catholic service and being in Ireland, we got treated with some Irish Gaelic readings during the mass and some Gaelic songs. Truly beautiful. Afterwards, the entire procession made its way back to the castle to start the celebrations. The drinks were plenty, the food was excellent and although I couldn’t understand everyone during the speeches, what I understood was funny. Around 10 pm I received a text from Irish Ferries informing me that my 14:45 ferry was cancelled due to incoming inclement weather. We had to leave the reception for a short period of time to plan our exit early in the morning, check out and pack. When we returned just before 11 pm, there was a band on stage and the party was in full dance mode. We were told that next thing to come would be the DJ at midnight and around 2 am, the music would be turned off and people would simply drink till 3 to 4 am. We had to wake up at 5:30 am so Peter and I looked at each other and after some chit chat with some of his colleagues we decided to hit the hay.

Yesterday was a longgggggg day. We left the castle just before six am. I dropped Peter off at the Dublin airport around 6:45. He was able to jump on the 7:30 flight to London. That was good, otherwise he would have had to wait till 2 pm! I got to the 8:05 ferry in plenty of time to board and get a comfy reclining chair where I could sleep. I napped, had coffee and got ready for my drive from Wales to Central London. We arrived in Wales at 11:30 and it was pouring rain and VERY windy. I wonder, does it ever NOT rain in Northern Wales? I walked through the door at 17:40 exhausted but happy. I had done this! I had been wanting to take the ferry across to Ireland for a while. I can now check this off my bucket list.




Road Trip!

Our car in the second row.
People in the theatre watching Moana.
This was this morning in Wales.

This morning I left the confines of our comfortable abode in Central London, just before 5 am. The mission was get to the ferry in Holyhead, Wales on time.

I made it on time but I think it’s a good time I left so early. Man there are lots of people on the roads in England. You would think nobody would be on the road at 5 am, well you would be wrong.

No matter, I had my Spotify account with my 1000 + songs playing on shuffle. Some songs took me back to the days when my dad woul pile the family in the car for the overnight drive to Wildwood, NJ where we would go camping every July. This is before seat belts enforcement. My sister would sit in the front middle seat. She was the DJ, making sure my dad had the correct music on. Meanwhile, my brother and I would sleep in the back seat. My dad had cut out a piece of plywood that he would put on the floor over the backseat middle part, I would lie there on a sleeping bag and my brother would sleep on the back seat. I guess my sister did not get any zzz…now that I am remembering all this, what the hell did she do? Did she not sleep? Oh well, doesn’t matter I guess, as long as she played her Billy Joel, Elton John, Styx and whatever tapes she brought along, we did not care. This morning, Neil Diamond came on and I was surprised at how I knew all the lyrics….that’s my dad’s influence. ”Far. We’ve been traveling far, without a home, But not without a star. Free…”. It took me back.

Living in London I don’t usually like to drive because I don’t like the million + people on the road but this morning it did not bother me so much. I hit a little traffic in Birmingham but that’s it. For the most part I made good time and boarded the John Swift ferry in good time.

Without knowing it I had booked the ”Club Class”. That means you get on board first and you get to go sit on the dock deck and eat a complimentary meal and enjoy free drinks. There was even wine and beer up there but I still had some driving to do and I was a little tired. After some much needed water replenishing and a small snack I took a nice nap. I woke up just in time to see land ahead and go on the outside deck to take some photos.

Getting off the ferry was easy. Again, Club Class gets off first, and I did not have to show my passport to anyone…I’m in Ireland illegally??? Who knows, if I get caught somewhere I will plead ignorance. Not my fault no one stopped me and asked for ID.

The drive to the Dublin airport was maybe 15 minutes…now I am sitting at T2 waiting for Peter to arrive. His flight has been delayed by 25 minutes!


A Quick Turn Around

We arrived back safe and sound in London this morning.

We had a great trip in Montreal to celebrate Thing 1’s graduation from McGill. Most of you saw the pictures. Aside from the pouring rain outside, it was a memorable day for us.

Monty and Sarah

Sarah thanking Monty for all his support during the last three years.

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Toasting Thing 1 at La Maison Boulud.

But it’s a quick turnaround for us. At the moment, Peter is at the office and I am doing laundry and re-packing clothes for our next trip. Our next trip is tomorrow. I will leave the house at 5 am and drive to Holyhead Port in Wales. From there I will board the ”John Swift” ferry that will take me to the Dublin port. While I am driving for 5 to 6 hours and then on the ferry for 1 hour 39 minutes, Daddy will go to work (Someone has to pay for all these trips!) and then fly to Dublin. I will pick him up at the airport and we will make our way to Cabra Castle Hotel.


The Coopers are attending a wedding in an Irish Castle this weekend. Aside from the wedding, this weekend trip will of course include a round of golf and some hiking. I am looking forward to it!

I will be sure to post something about the weekend.

Till then, laundry is calling!