Day 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the C.C.E.

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December 24th, Christmas Eve! It was time to go sing some Christmas carols at the Royal Albert Hall. Ever since we moved here 5 years ago, this has been a lovely tradition and once again this year, (our last), it was a lot of fun. After all the singing was out of us we went home and the Things, even though they are 22 and 19 years old, asked to open one present. I poured some Baileys for everyone and we opened one present before going to bed.

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Christmas day! After all the presents are opened and a hearty brunch, the Coopers play cards while watching Lord of the Rings. I know, not the best Christmas movie but after years of doing this, Thing 2 can now recite the lines of the actors, it is quite funny. We always have a good time.

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Around 4 pm, Sarah suggested we go for a run before eating our huge Christmas dinner. So off we went for a 5 miler around Big Ben and back.

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Trafalgar Square.

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The tree in front of Parliament.

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December 26th. After enjoying brunch at Yauatcha in Soho, we just chilled around the house and got ourselves ready for Hamilton. I had bought the tickets last January and Sarah has been rapping in my ears ever since. I had not listened to any of the music and did not know what to expect. Yes, it is worth all the hype. The cast was phenomenal. To sing and rap all this and show emotions to the point they had me shed a small tear at the end…(maybe I was tired???) It was a great show. I don’t care what the The Sunday Times critic said.

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December 27th. We got up before the sun and we were in a car on our way to St. Pancras station by 6 am.

Back in August, Thing 1 called me and said, “Mama, there is this great Dior Exhibit in Paris. It ends at the beginning of January, could we go during our Christmas break?”

Me, being me, I had to look into it and get it organized. It was one of her Xmas presents, a trip to Paris to see the exhibit and it was a Xmas gift for Thing 2 as well since he had never been to Paris.

So off we went. We arrived in Paris at 10:17 am, Daddy Cool ordered a Uber and off we went to stand in line for this exhibit. When we arrived there were 3 lines. The line with tickets with designated hour, the line with tickets (us) and the line without tickets. The last one went all the way around the building and they were told there was a 4 to 5 hour wait. After standing in our line for 20 minutes I went to ask someone who told me, “It will be almost two hours before you get in. Why don’t you go have lunch and when you get back, you will see, there will be no line.” I was skeptic but the troops needed food and I needed caffeine. So we went to Café Marly and enjoyed an early lunch and by the time we came back, there was no line for us and we just walked in under the mean eyes of the people in line with no tickets. The exhibit was AMAZING. Dior was ahead of his time and I also realized why I like Yves St-Laurent so much. I knew he had started at Dior but man o man, their dresses were/are still amazing. I just loved it. Sarah was going through the entire exhibit with me and we agreed that Dior, St-Laurent and Raf Simons were the better designers. I don’t care much for Galliano and Bohman.

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After the exhibit we checked into our hotel and just walked around before dinner.

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Dior on Avenue Montaigne.

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We started the day by walking to the Louvre. Daddy Cool was taking Thing 2 since he was the one in the family, who had never been. While they were at the Louvre, Thing 1 and I went to look for croissants, pain au chocolat, pain au raisins and chausson aux pommes.

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The Louvre.

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After they were done at the Louvre, we got together to eat all our pastries and off we went to Les Galeries Lafayette.

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Just to see this tree. It was beautiful.

After Les Galleries, it was off to the Musée D’Orsay. I was the only one who had previously been.

When we walked into the room with the Georges Seurat collection Sarah looked at the Cirque painting and said, ”I’ve seen this before. I had to reproduce this at art camp at the Currier in NH.” Boy she has a good memory and it’s also hanging on her bedroom wall.

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The original, ”Cirque” by Georges Seurat.

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The copy, ”Cirque” by Sarah Cooper, circa 2003 (she was 8 at the time, not bad).

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Some of the many treasures in the Musée D’Orsay.

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After all that art, we spent the rest of the afternoon on a Big Bus Tour looking at the many palaces and landmarks around Paris.

It wasn’t long before we had to get back on the last train out of Paris taking us back to London.

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Thing 2 being silly with Thing 1’s beret. 

Today is Day 8th of the CCE and we are doing NOTHING!!!!! Just recovering.

 

Day 2 of the Cooper Christmas Extravaganza a.k.a. the CCE

6:30 am, I am sitting at the kitchen island, drinking my coffee and minding my own business when Thing 1 comes down and says, ”Hey Mama! Want to go for a run in the park,  before I go shopping with Daddy?”

I was enjoying my coffee but off we went for a quick 5 Km in the park.

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Sarah standing in front of Kensington Palace with a sad face since Prince Harry who resides there is off the market.

After our run, Peter and Sarah went shopping at Westfield Mall. (Those two always keep it to the last minute!) While Mackenzy and I chilled by reading and watching some Christmas ”tele”.

Around 4 pm the four of us made our way to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. After some rides and walking around the fair it was time for a dinner of ”Fair Food” and cider.

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Winter Wonderland just seems to get bigger and bigger every year.

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We returned home around 8 pm, just in time to watch the movie ”Elf” and get more Christmas cheer.

My holiday grocery order that I had ordered about a month ago with Ocado, was delivered at 9:40 pm. After I put all the groceries away I was able to brine the turkey in the usual 5 gallon brining bucket and then go to bed.

Christmas Eve! we are almost there, one more ”dodo” until Santa comes to town.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Day 1 of the Cooper Xmas Extravaganza

Thing 1 and Thing 2 arrived safely from Montreal yesterday morning. Their flight was 30 minutes late and by the time they got to customs it took them an hour to get through but they are with us and all is good.

When we got back to the mews I let them chill a little but soon we were taking the tube to meet Daddy Cool for lunch.

After lunch we quickly went to visit his temporary/conference room office before his move to Bermuda. He has a nice view of Tower Bridge but better yet, a very appropriate stocking. Lucky for us it was a Bruce Banner day.

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Thing 2 was fading fast since he does not like to sleep on planes. Weirdo! Anyways, we went back home and off they both went to bed for some much needed naps. I had admin stuff to take care of. Parking suspension for the upcoming move, call British Gas, cancel golf membership etc…there is always something.

Around 4:30 pm I woke up Thing 1 and told her to get ready for our Christmas light run. No matter where we are, we always do a night time run to see all the Christmas lights. Since this is our last Christmas in London we may need to do more than one. We have a lot of territory to cover, loads of Christmas lights to see. Last night we ran across Hyde Park, onto Oxford Street, all the way and down onto Regent Street. Then at Piccadilly Circus we turned onto Piccadilly, (had a break to listen to some carolers), then we continued and turned onto Old Bond street. After admiring the Dior store (Thing 1’s favorite) we ran back down to Piccadilly and headed to Harrods and finally home. 4 miles and a bit of interval running through crowds. FUN!

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Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

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Jump on Oxford street and run through the crowds of shoppers.

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Selfridges.

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Beside Bond street tube station.

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Oxford Circus.

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The Angels are guarding Regent Street.

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Little stop on Carnaby street behind Liberty store.

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The many Arcades around Piccadilly are decorated.

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Old Bond street.

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Thing 1 dreaming of Dior jewelry. Dream on girl!

Back at the mews I started baking shortbread cookies and Peter and Sarah made some fudge. Mackenzy was in charge of setting up our first Christmas movie of the season, ”The Christmas Office Party”. We watched it in the kitchen while drinking some Pimms (I know, not really a Christmas drink but we have to empty the booze cupboard before the move, good thing we are all of age, we have some toasting and drinking to do) and baking. Great day and perfect start to our Christmas Extravaganza.

WTF Wednesday – I Am Fed Up with PC

6:00 am London time. Like most morning I am in the kitchen, drinking my coffee and watching the CBC National news off my slingbox and this report comes on;

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/swastika-trail-name-change-council-vote-in-puslinch-1.4457709

Basically, there are residents in the town of Kitchener-Waterloo fighting over the name of their street, Swastika. Half the residents want to change it and the other half don’t.

First off, is this really NATIONAL NEWS???? WTF!

Second, I am watching these people talk about how they are losing their friends of more than a decade because they are either on the side of wanting to change the name of the street or on the other side of wanted to keep it because it is over 100 years old and to them it means what Swastika truly means. I did not know this but if you look up the word Swastika it means: an ancient religious symbol used in the Indian subcontinent, East Asia and Southeast Asia, where it has been and remains a sacred symbol of spiritual principles in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It was historically a symbol of auspiciousness and good luck. 

Now, we all know what it represents today but man o man, if you live on Swastika rd which coincidentally runs off of the “Travelled Rd”, is it really cause for getting into a fight with your neighbors and friends of many years? WTF people! Don’t we have more important matters to deal with? And, this is where I get really pissed off. History is history, you can’t shove it under the rug, you can’t ignore it, you can only live with it. As far as I can tell, the people living on Swastika Rd in Kitchener-Waterloo are not Nazis and they shouldn’t care about the address on their mail. Jesus, if we start changing all the street names and buildings named after events or important people because one group or another is offended we are going to get VERY BEIGE very quickly as a society.

The city council is voting tonight as to whether or not the street name will be changed. Wow! If it does pass what are they going to name the street now? Snowflake Rd? Left Lane? Political Correctness Avenue? I would call it WTF lane!

A Bumpy Last Crossing

After a week spent celebrating Christmas with families, skiing and enjoying our cottage, the return on Sunday night was not without some drama.

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Sunday afternoon we were back in our condo in Montreal, watching episode 9 of “The Crown” when Peter received a telephone call from British Airways. The attendant informed Peter that due to technical problems, the airplane would not leave Montreal Sunday night. Peter has a busy week at work so we needed to get back to London. The attendant then informed us that if we could get on the Air Canada flight AC423 at 18:00 to Toronto, they would put us on the BA flight from Toronto to London. It arrives an hour later than the Montreal flight but Peter could still make his meetings. We said yes and pretty much ran out the door, it was 15:50.

Now, for those of you who don’t know about the traffic situation in Montreal, let’s just say that Montreal is going through its own “Big Dig” and going West to the airport is a challenge on any given day. When you are in a hurry and should be at the airport two hours before a flight and you are already late, it’s not fun.

We could not get on the 20 West. We had to take Sherbrooke to Decarie and then Decarie to Cote De Liesse and then the airport. Us and half the city seemed to be going in the same direction. While Peter was navigating (and swearing) through traffic, I decided to call BA back and see if instead of going to Toronto on an Air Canada flight and then get on the BA flight to London, could we not simply get on the AC flight from Montreal to London. There is one at 8 pm.

After a long 20 minute wait I finally got through a guy name Andrew…he sounded more like Dev Patel but okay I will go along. I explained my situation and after answering a bunch of security questions he put me on hold to ask his supervisor what he could do about our situation. We got disconnected!! WTF!!!! Peter was still maneuvering the cars and speeding on Cote De Liesse so I called again. Waiting time, 15 minutes…We got to airport and Peter said, “Stay on call, see if anyone will answer and go up to BA desk to see if anyone is there. I’ll take care of the rental car.” We had planned to fill up before leaving the car back at Avis but in this case, we just left it there with 1/4 tank full and I probably will get a bill for a fill up at double the price but hey, time was of the essence.

17:05 (Flight is at 18:00) I ran into the airport and as I was looking for the BA desk someone from BA customer service answered my call. The woman who answered said her name was Rachel, again, she sounded like a Mindy Kaling but whatever. After three more security questions I explained our situation and asked if we could not just simply get on the AC flight out of Montreal. She answered that AC was not a BA partner and they couldn’t do that. I asked why is it then that BA was able to put us on the AC flight to Toronto. She did not know. She said to go ask Air Canada. WTF!!!!

In the end we gave up. We walked over to Air Canada. Talked to a manager who confirmed we were booked all the way in business (because Peter had upgraded us with his points) and that they would just give us our tickets. We went through security and straight to the gate since the plane was boarding.

In Toronto we switched terminals from domestic to international, went to the BA lounge for a quick meal and then boarded the flight that was delayed to 22:33. The flight over the Atlantic was really bumpy. I slept a bit but it wasn’t great.

We landed at LHR at 10:30 am London time. Back home, Peter just changed and went straight to work while I unpacked and started laundry. What was suppose to be a smooth LAST CROSSING from Montreal to London turned out to be hectic but at least this was our last for a while. I just hope the kids have an easier go at it on Thursday night.

WTF Wednesday, My Christmas Tree Delivery

If you want a nice Christmas tree in Central London, you should order it on-line. I know, I know, there’s probably a tree farm somewhere where I can go cut it but honestly, by the time I get the car out of the garage and drive out of London, the anticipation and fun is gone.

You can buy one locally, they sell them around churches and tube stations, we have done it in the past but then you have to carry it home through crowds of people and as much as it can be funny, (for other people), it’s not for us. So two years ago, I found an on-line service that delivers at home. Of course there is, this is London, everything can be ordered on-line.

I just told a Canadian friend of mine that I had ordered my Christmas tree on-line and she was looking at me with a WTF look. What can I say?

My WTF moment just came to me when I read the email confirming delivery this afternoon between 1 and 6 pm. I just noticed that for £5 more I could have requested that the driver wear a kilt and for £10 more I can have them drag it up the stairs to install it in the stand. Geez, how much to have the Kilt guy decorate it? WTF!

I know my friend Lorrie would have splurged and paid the £5 for the kilt but no, I already paid £80 for this tree, I don’t need the extra costs.

I wonder if my driver Gareth (that’s his name according to my confirmation email), will have one anyways, I can’t imagine poor Gareth having to change his attire for every  household delivery.

Or maybe they bunch the ”Kilt Deliveries” and they are all done by the same guy who looks like Sam Heughan. Lorrie would have paid for that.

Sam

Christmas Reading

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Every year I look for a Christmas book to read in order to put me in the Christmas mood. This year, I found this little gem, Tolkien’s “Letters from Father Christmas” and truly enjoyed it.

It would seem that Tolkien was very devoted to his children and every year from 1920 to 1943, he would send them illustrated letters from Father Christmas. Every year the letters got longer and he would add stories of his main helper, Polar Bear. Over the years he even added characters that can be compared to characters from his books. He had the ”Snow Man”, which in real life was his gardener and ”Ilbereth” the elf, who was his secretary. There were also various other minor characters that would help him battle the goblins who rode on bats and who would also help him with Polar Bear and his many pranks.

Tolkien would write letters back as well as make drawings. He also invented this alphabet that Polar Bear found on the caves where the Goblins lived. Some say a lot of these stories were the foundation for ”The Hobbit”.

What I found truly enjoyable was that Tolkien relates to the events that happens during the years while writing to his children. 1929, he sort of mentions that Christmas will be light this year and I think he was referring to the beginning of the Great Depression. 1937, the year The Hobbit was published, he writes that Father Christmas has been VERY BUSY this year. When they move house he makes funny comments about losing their address and of course, in 1939 he writes, ”I am very busy and things are very difficult this year owing to this horrible war. Many of my messengers have never come back.” In 1940 he writes, ”We are having rather a difficult time this year. This war is reducing our stocks and in so many countries children are living far from their homes. Polar Bear has been busy correcting the address list. I am glad you are still at home!” I imagine since they already lived in Oxford and not London, the Tolkien children did not have to be displaced like so many kids who lived in London.

Even if at times some of the world history was bleak, for the most part, Tolkien kept the stories funny and upbeat for his kids. He would note as they were getting older and probably no longer believed in Father Christmas, that if they did not hang their stockings, they would not get any presents, so whether or not they believed, or even if they no longer wrote him a letter, if they wanted presents, they should hang up their stocking.

In 1943 he wrote his last letter to his daughter, Priscilla, she was 14 and I presume she no longer believed. In part of the letter he wrote,

”My messengers tell me people call it grim this year. I think they mean miserable: and so far it is, I fear, in very many places where I was specially fond of going; but I am very glad to hear that you are still not really miserable. Don’t be! I am still very much alive, and shall come back again soon, as merry as ever. There has been no damage in my country; and though my stocks are running rather low I hope soon to put that right. Give my love to the others: John, Michael and Christopher.”

This book is at times funny and sometimes a bit grim but f you are a fan of Tolkien, I highly recommend it. I am passing my copy along to a big fan in this house, Thing 2.