All posts by canadianmamaontherock

I am a French Canadian mama of two living on a Rock. I am here with my husband and while he works all day I get to go and play on this beautiful island. Ours kids study in Canada so I also find myself visiting them as much as I can. Basically, I don't have time to get a job, I'm a Mama!

Christmas Traditions

First, let me say I LOVE CHRISTMAS!

For me, Christmas is not so much about the gifts, I just love all the traditions and history around this holiday.

Tradition #1: Christmas Tree – I love getting a real tree. When the kids were little and we lived in NH, getting a tree was a big deal. Peter had a hockey friend who owned a farm. In the summer we would go and pick strawberries, in the fall we would go pick our pumpkin for Halloween and in preparation for Christmas, we would go pick and tag our tree just before Thanksgiving and then we would go and cut it the first Saturday of December, just after I ran the ”Jingle Bell” 5 km run. One year, Thing 1 even ran it with me. She complained the entire 5 km but that’s when I knew she would one day, be a runner.

Sarah Xmas race

We still get a tree today. We get one in Bermuda and Thing 1 has already ordered one from her high school friend who’s family owns a tree farm near the cottage. Can’t wait to pick it up with Thing 2 and decorate it. What does the tree represent? Well, as Pope John Paul said back in 2004, ”the Christmas tree a symbol of Christ. This very ancient custom, he said, exalts the value of life, as in winter what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life, and it reminds Christians of the “tree of life” of Genesis 2:9, an image of Christ, the supreme gift of God to humanity.”

I don’t know if that is really true? What I used to tell Thing 1 and Thing 2 is that we needed a tree with lights for Santa to know where to put the gifts. Whatever, I love me a real Balsam Fur this time of the year.

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Our Tree in Bermuda this year.

Tradition #2: Christmas Decorations – When we moved back to Bermuda, one of my floaties, Maria, came to help on moving day. Maria is a very take charge kind of lady so when one of the trucks pulled up and they mostly had stuff for the garage, she quickly told me, ”I’m on it I will arrange the garage for you.” More than an hour later she was done and entered my kitchen by saying, ”Wow! I thought I had a lot of Christmas decorations but I think you have more than me.” Yes, we have loads. I have some here, (8 rubbermaid boxes, one small fake tree and we had to go and buy lights since we needed lights with North American plugs. So, when I take everything down, it will be more like 9 maybe 10 boxes because we also got more stuff too.) When I was at the cottage back in November, I brought up I think another 6 boxes of decorations and the kids have at least two in their condo. Let’s just say that over the years, we have accumulated lots of Christmas decorations. I sort of dread the day we move back to Canada, and look at all my stuff but I will cross that bridge when I get there.

In the meantime, my army of Nutcrackers is growing every year, as well as my collection of tree ornaments and, Christmas linens for the kitchen and bedroom.

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Outdoor lights in Bermuda.

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Daddy Cool needs his cushions….and at Xmas time, they become red and purple!

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Some of my Nutcrackers. I have more around the house and a platoon at the cottage.

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Outdoor Christmas lights at the Cottage.

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Last year I added a new tradition, the Christmas Advent wreath. I did this in remembrance of my mom who passed away. Every year, for as long as I can remember, my father bought her a Christmas wreath that the florist would deliver along with some poinsettias, just before the first Sunday of December. My mom would then start lighting the candles on the first Sunday of Advent and each Sunday after that, leading to Christmas day. She would light the one in the middle on Christmas day. It was a tradition that she cherished and since last Christmas was our first one without her, I decided to start that tradition for myself. Today, (when I return from yet another swim meet! I will light the second candle.)

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My Advent Calendar.

Tradition #3: Baking!

This is an important one for the Coopers. We all have our favorites, Daddy Cool and Thing 2 love their shortbread’s and fudge. Thing 1 loves to bake anything under the sky. She has been sending recipes ever since she received the Christmas Edition of the Food Network magazine. I like trying new recipes too but it’s funny how we all come back to the same ones all the time. Nanny’s fudge. Nanny’s shortbread. Buttertarts, chocolate and peppermint biscottis (to have with the Xmas morning coffee and baileys, another wonderful tradition, baileys in your coffee on Christmas day!) I also bake a couple tourtières, Cassava Pie (a must every year or else I think La Famiglia would go on strike) and loads of other stuff. At the moment, my grocery list for when I arrive in Canada on Dec. 17th, is pretty long.

Tradition #4: Christmas music – We have this big Christmas music playlist on Spotify and we start listening to Christmas music every where we go, starting American Thanksgiving. So, even if radio stations decide to pull some songs from their playlists (”Baby it’s cold outside), it doesn’t matter, it’s on my playlist.

Tradition #5: Christmas movies – We love to watch Christmas movies until the big day. When the kids were little, I used to love the 12 days of Christmas on ABC family channel. We used to watch the old claymation and animated movies like ”Rudolf”, ”Frosty the snowman”,  ”Charlie Brown Christmas etc…” Nowadays, we enjoy watching the adult ones such as, ”the Family Stone”, ”Nothing like the Holidays”, ”Elf” and ”This Christmas” among others. We sit together, the four of us, with some popcorn and wine and we watch our movies. We have watched these movies so much that we get into reciting the lines along. It’s good fun.

Tradition #6: Christmas Day – When the big day finally arrives, we tend to spend most of the day in our PJs. Now that the kids are older, we don’t need to wake up at the crack of dawn to see if Santa has been by. We can get up whenever we feel like it and take our time to open our presents while having copious amounts of coffee with baileys. After the presents, we usually have a big breakfast, and then we settle down for a ”Lord of the Rings” marathon while playing cards and some board games. Somewhere in there, we managed to put the turkey in the oven and around 4 pm, Thing 2 puts his bartender hat on and makes everyone a cocktail while the rest of us makes dinner.

The rest of the holidays are spent visiting with family and friends and now that we have the cottage, I am certain we will add new traditions.

There you have it, some of our traditions. Some have changed throughout the years or simply, we adapt to whatever is going on in a certain year but one thing is for sure, as long as I have Daddy Cool, Thing 1 and Thing 2 with me, it’s perfect. The rest is just extra.

What are you Christmas traditions?

 

What is on this Green Stick?

I was cleaning my desk and came upon a green memory stick. I had no idea what was on it so stuck it in my laptop only to find a collection of all the photos from the travels and the hiking of our last 5 1/2 years in the UK.

Everything is there except for our Dubai trip, a hike we took with Sarah to go see some pones, our last hiking trip to the coastal path in Cornwall and our last trip to Paris with Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Man we covered a lot of ground in 5 1/2 years.  Two ski trips in Austria, two in Italy. Several hiking getaways; Hadrian’s wall, Ben Nevis, Snowdon in Wales, Scaffell Pike, Seven Sisters, The Dover Cliffs, and Dartmoor National Park. Weekend getaways in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Iceland, San Sebastian,  Normandy, Athens, Nice, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Venice, Budapest, Bordeaux (to run Le Medoc), Dublin (twice), Avignon and  Jordan.

In England we went to Oxford, Bath, Cambridge, Liverpool, Brighton, Kent region, Cornwall and also parts of Scotland (Edinburgh and St. Andrews).

I followed Peter on business trips to Sidney, Singapore, Hong Kong, Zug (Switzerland) and New York.

We went on three beautiful and memorable trips. One to the Yukon to visit my brother. Breath taking part of Canada! The second one and my favorite one (sorry Yukon), Istanbul and the third one to St. Petersburg, also amazing.

This is why every time I go to the United States I get pulled over and the agent questions me.

Agent, “Elise, what do you do for a living?”

Me, “Stay at home mom.”

Agent, “Why do you have visa entries to Jordan, Russia and Turkey?”

Me, “I just travel for leisure with my husband.”

Weird how they never really ask Peter. Always me because I have an older passport and these visas will be with me till 2023. Peter’s passport is new and I think he got it done after the Turkey and Russia trip. He still has Jordan. Oh well, I don’t mind, I will fondly remember all these places and the visas and questions at the border are totally worth it!

I leave you with a video montage of the green stick (not in order of visit) and photos of the places that were not on the mysterious green stick.

 

 

 

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Saturday Morning

Has quickly become a trip to Windy Bank Farm market for me.

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Every Saturday I get up and after my morning coffee, I like to jump on the scooter and head over to Windy Bank farm. I go on the scooter since their parking is, shall we say, almost nonexistent and if there are loads of people, which often there are, you end up parking your car at your own risk.

That being said, going with the scooter by myself poses a challenge. There is only so much I can buy. Sometimes, Daddy Cool comes along, so two scooters are better than one, but lately he has squash on Saturday morning and if you want the good stuff, you have to go early.

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Food in the seat.

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Food in the box.

This morning I made my regular Saturday morning pilgrimage and bought some veg, fruits, soups and a loaf of Spanakopia Loaf (Spinach, Feta, Dill & Onion). I am told it goes well with the gingered chicken and coconut soup. All made at the farm and usually excellent. This is also where I buy my eggs but I did not need any this week. I like that I can take back my egg carton and they will just fill it up with fresh eggs.

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The yummy baked goods made at the farm and the eggs.

 

I realize that not all veg and fruits come from Windy Bank farm but while living on this Rock in the middle of the Atlantic, I am really making an effort to buy local and what is in season. Trying to practice the 3Rs as best as I can.

 

 

Harrington Sound

As many of you know, the body of water we overlook is named, Harrington Sound.

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Harrington sound is where our dock is and where we ”park” our kayaks and paddle boards.

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Our Dock.

But aside from overlooking this beautiful body of water, I am finding out that Harrington Sound in itself is quite interesting. At times it is calm, (like this morning when I went for a paddle) and other times, like yesterday, it is rough! Sometimes, depending on the direction of the wind, it is rough on one side and calm on the other. This was the case during this year’s Round The Sound. The kids and my floatie had it easier on the North East side of the sound. It was dodgy when I climbed into my kayak on the South West side of the sound. I almost went into the water, and paddling across was rough till I reached Trunk Island.

This is how Wikipedia describes Harrington Sound, ”Large inland body of water in the northeast of the main island of Bermuda. It is surrounded by the main island on all sides, only appearing open to the ocean via a small channel called Flatt’s Inlet in the southwest. Much of the sound’s water flows to and from the ocean via subterranean cavern systems, notably Crystal Cave and Leamington Cave. The sound was named for Lucy Harington, Countess of Bedford. Local superstition stipulates the crater is bottomless. There are numerous small islands in the sound, notably Trunk Island. Unfortunately, as Bermuda’s human population (and fishing) has increased there has been an equivalent drop in the populations of the sound’s formerly abundant shellfish, such as Bermuda Scallops.”

I was told this last detail, about the shellfish, by several locals. Apparently, you could find lots of mussels in Shark Hole. This is an aerial view of the Round The Sound Swim, just to locate you, we live around Guide 3.

RTS MAP

Daddy Cool and I try to explore the Sound by kayak and paddle board as much as possible. When the water is calm, even when it’s rough. The currents and water can change quite fast when you are kayaking or paddle boarding. Case in point, last summer, we set out on our kayaks on a nice Saturday morning, within 30 minutes, we were paddling through some rough conditions until we reached Cockroach island. Once behind the island, we were sheltered from the wind and able to rest a little before returning to our dock.

The tidal range is also different within the sound versus outside. Outside the Sound, the tidal range is about 2.5 feet. Inside the Sound, 7.5 inches, and they are about 3 hours later than coastal tides.

In any case, it is a beautiful body of water and this morning it was calm and I decided to go for a paddle to Trunk Island.

‘Trunk island is the largest island in the Sound. The island has been owned by the Tucker/Gardner family since the early 19th century and was used as a summer camp for Bermudian groups such as Sea Scouts and Girl Guides in the 1920s and 1930s. It remains privately owned by descendants of the first owners, although a share of the ownership of the mansion plot has now been donated to the Bermuda Zoological Society, which supports educational programs at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. The Bermuda Zoological Society purchased the cottage property and has created a living classroom throughout the island.”

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The cottage on Trunk Island.

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The dock that belongs to BAMZ.

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I saw a blue heron that was taking flight.

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There is a small but beautiful private beach on the other side of the island.

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It was just so calm and beautiful.

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This is Harrissi, the orange-terra cotta cottage with a guest house on the left, (a.k.a. the Love Shack) in the hill. This is what we call home. 

Well, now I am back at home, the Sound still looks calm but I can see some of the currents are changing.

 

Awesome Round The Sound and Thanksgiving Weekend!

There was plenty of eating. There was a swim practice in ferry reach on Friday morning, (Thank you Floatie!). There was pool swimming at the National Stadium. There was golfing. But mostly there was fun with family and friends all around.

This has been a great Round the Sound and Thanksgiving weekend.

Thing 2 swam the 4 km in 1:17:09

Thing 1 swam the 2 km in 44:46

Gougounes swam the 2 km in 42:50

Floatie swam the 2 km in 47:40

 

 

 

Getting Ready!

The turkey has been taking out of the freezer and put in the fridge. The brine bucket is out of the garage and getting washed in the kitchen. The house and ”Love Shack” have been cleaned, Daddy Cool and Mama are getting ready for Thanksgiving!

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This weekend is not only Canadian Thanksgiving, it is also Round The Sound and Thing 1, Thing 2 and my niece a.k.a. Gougounes, are coming to the Rock for turkey dinner AND to swim the Round The Sound on Sunday.

Round the Sound is a annual event on the Rock. You can swim either 10 Km, 8 Km, 4 Km, 2 Km and 800 meters. In Open Water Swimming Magazine, it is ranked 15 out of 100 open water swimming events in the world.

I was supposed to swim the 2 Km but my ENT has said NO! So Thing 1, Gougounes and my Floatie will have to swim the 2 Km without me. Thing 2 is swimming the 4 Km.

I hope they will have a good swim, unfortunately, tropical storm Leslie has been going around in circle to our East and she just won’t go away. This means that it has been windy on our little Rock in the middle of the Atlantic. This is what it looks like in the Sound this morning. Yes it looks bad, but let me say, it is better than yesterday.

 

We have a pretty busy weekend on the horizon. The kids ( and I will include Gougounes in this), arrive today on Westjet. Then, Thing 1 will take my bike to TCD to practice the motorcycle circuit at TCD. Thing 1 is riding the Bermuda motorcycle test tomorrow at 2 pm. If she passes, she will be able to use my bike when she comes on island and I won’t have to rent one! But before she can pass it, she needs to practice the following:

Motorcycle riding test requirements

The Motorcycle Riding Test is designed to test your ability to control the cycle under many different circumstances including: 

  • making turns;
  • traveling in a straight line;
  • acceleration and braking; and
  • slow speed maneuvers.

Large Circle

You must make one complete turn both ways and return to the stop line. Correct posture and smooth throttle control is the aim of this exercise. While on the circle, look through the turn and lean slightly.. Return to the stop line using both brakes to stop.

Serpentine Ride

While moving forward and keeping both feet on the foot rest, you must ride through the serpentine/zigzag in a controlled manner during the test.

 

She is already. A very good and confident rider but she needs to practice this on MY scooter. I just hope ”Snowy Antilope” (My Indian name and what I call my bike) survives…

Anyhoo, must go. Am super excited my troops are arriving today. Can’t wait to get this Thanksgiving weekend extravagannnzzza going!

 

 

An Ear Update

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Next morning post surgery. A highly medicated Mama takes a bad selfie! I actually don’t remember taking this one. Found it in my phone…

Just came back from my latest ENT appointment and I have good news and bad (not so bad really) news.

THE GOOD NEWS!

Let’s be positive and start with the good news shall we? I CAN GET BACK IN THE POOL!!!!!!YEAHHHHHHHHH!!!

Of course, I promised to wear my ear plug, cover it with vaseline and put my bathing cap on. In fact, I put two bathing caps on. One to make sure the plug stays in and one to make sure the other cap stays on.

Dr. Bell proclaimed that my ear was looking healthy, that it was healed properly and that I could resume all activities such as rowing, kayaking and swimming. Just to take it easy for the next two weeks but I can get back in the POOOLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!! I am SOOOOOOO Excited, you have no idea!

NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS!

Again, it is not so bad really. He doesn’t want me to swim in the ocean just yet. Wants me to wait at least another month before I go and do some open water swimming. He doesn’t want me to take any chances with ocean wave water pressure and catching any bug from the ocean. When I tried to mention the upcoming Round The sound swim, he just shook his head and said, ”I would rather you didn’t”. I asked him if he was a swimmer, (He just moved here from Belfast and looks like he could be a swimmer), he replied that actually, he was. I told him since he is new to the island, he should swim during the Round The Sound on October 7th. He replied, ”I’ll tell you what, I just moved here and I don’t think I am in any shape to swim the Round The Sound. Why don’t you get your ear under control and next year, I will swim it with you!”

Well my friends, that did not fall on a ”deaf ear”! (Just one with 50% less hearing!) I plan on making sure this ear is healthy next year and I will hold him to it!

Till then, sorry to Thing 1, Thing 2, Gougounes and Floatie. You will have to swim the RTS without me but fear not, I plan on following you on my kayak and take photos!

And Floatie, what time shall we meet at the pool tomorrow morning?