July 28, 2008

Happy 17th Birthday Jemma

Seventeen years ago in the maternity ward at Frimley Park Hospital in Camberley Surrey my eldest daughter Jemma made her appearance. After a 15 hour labour (pretty average I suppose) The Doctor finally studied my x-rays and realised that It was highly unlikely that I would be able to have the 'natural' birth I had hoped for. All those National Childbirth Trust classes I had so diligently attended turned out to be not so useful after all. They only skimmed over the C-section option, focusing instead on how we 'must' avoid pain relief at all costs!! It was just assumed that everyone in the class would manage to have a straightforward natural birth. Jemma did arrive safely and was the sweetest child I had ever laid my eyes on. Little Jem, just a few hours old
As for recovering from my operation! Craig and I had been renovating our first home, a small semi detached house close to town. My labour had started quite abruptly after stripping wallpaper all day, with my waters breaking just as I was about to go to bed at the end of a long day. We moved into our half renovated house when Jemma was only 3 weeks old! Oh the faded but fun memories that go with that good old 'nesting instinct' :D
Now I have a beautiful young lady in her final year at high school who makes me so proud. Her special day today has been a simple 'family' event with Craig finishing work early and bringing home a 'Subway' lunch (a birthday treat request). Desert was her favourite New York style cheesecake, served with all 17 candles perched on top in a little sponge cake in the middle, they get ever so messy plonked in the cheesecake itself! We took a few photos and Amber has since compiled a little movie on facebook which she is going to put on her site this afternoon. Jem chose a new release DVD called 21, to watch this evening in the cool lounge. I never thought I would be so grateful for this chilly home of ours, it has been quite humid lately with temperatures hovering around the mid to upper 20's so the best places to be are indoors, under a tree or in the lake between the hours of 11am and 4pm.
A little family outing we enjoy at this time of year is a 20 minute drive to the pebble beach at
Harbourville where we make a fire and toast marshmallows on long sticks or forks. Saturday was another very hot day, so we headed for the bay of Fundi where we found an almost eerie atmosphere, the sun was so diffused by the mist that Amber was convinced it was the moon. Craig threw a few flat stones, skimming them across the water. The girls had fun taking photos and exploring, while I hunted for white pebbles to take home and put on our garden path. Mmmmm, is that one for me?
Hazel xx

July 21, 2008

Three years in Canada!

Yesterday was exactly 3 years since we landed in Canada. After a couple of nights in a B&B back in 2005 we moved into our 'empty' nest, the girls and I saw it for the first time! It took another four weeks for our furniture to arrive from England which is funny when we remember it now, a bit like camping indoors! Craig viewed 40 or so properties up and down the valley prior to our arrival and was lucky to find the house that has become our home that we all love and have enjoyed over the past months.

Last Friday we all felt a little 'empty' after saying goodbye to our family visitors. The lake cottage was vacant until Sunday so we decided to make the most of it all day Saturday, rather than let it stand empty. After swimming and boating we watched a late afternoon video called 'Fried Green Tomatoes'. I hadn't seen it for ages and had forgotten how sad it was - oops! Such an enchanting and emotional movie though, now I want to watch Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which I haven't seen before. Finishing the day with a final BBQ, before heading home to put Archie to bed. He is such a funny creature of habit and starts to get fidgety at around 10pm, wanting to go to bed! We leave him purring contently in the mud room with his little bedtime biscuit treats until 6am the next morning!
Funny little Archie

Craig was back to work on Monday, it was a beautiful day so I took the girls on a drive with a picnic lunch which we ate alongside a field of wheat! Amber had her camera with her and we took a few impulsive snaps. The rest of the week was fun too with temperatures still soaring to 30 degrees, we headed for the beach up at the lake a few times and both girls had friends over to visit them. I busied myself building up stock for my shop which is in a virtual comatose state at the moment, normal for this time of year.
Two of my good friends, Kathy and Keriann have recently taken this 'personality test', it seems to be doing the rounds on several blogs at the moment. My friend's personality summaries were pretty accurate so I decided to have a go myself just for fun.
This is what it says about me:
Hazel's personality type:
Quiet, kind and conscientious. Can be depended on to follow through. Usually puts the needs of others above their own needs. Stable and practical, they value security and traditions. Well-developed sense of space and function. Rich inner world of observations about people. Extremely perceptive of other's feelings. Interested in serving others.

Careers that could fit Hazel include:Interior decorators, designers, nurses, administrators, managers, secretaries, child care/early childhood development, social work, counselors, paralegals, clergy, office managers, shopkeepers, bookkeepers, homemakers, gardeners, clerical supervisors, curators, family practice physicians, health service workers, librarians, medical technologists, typists.Encouraging to see that I have delved into a few of my suitable career options at least! Have a go by clicking the link and see what it comes up with for you. Jemma and Amber had very interesting results I must say.
In the garden this week the white Hydrangeas are in full bloom as are the lilac and white Hosta flowers, with the heavy rain fall yesterday they are looking quite refreshed after a long dry spell over the past 3 weeks. This however is my favourite flower of the moment. A single beautiful blue Delphinium given to me by Tony, my next door neighbour. I am going to keep the seeds when it wilts and plant them in our garden for next Spring.
On the fruit and veggie front, the strawberries have been polished off, hand picked cherries have been eaten in abundance and we have been harvesting our home grown spinach, cucumbers, lettuce, Swiss chard, beet greens and spring onions on a daily basis for several weeks now. The 3 different varieties of tomatoes are looking promising and with a few more days of sunshine should be ripe for the picking in the not too distant future - yummy and ever so healthy too
Harvesting the last of the baby spinach
Poor Amber got stung by a bee on the instep of her foot on Friday - OUCH!! It was day before we were due to visit Halifax for Jemma's pre-birthday 'look and see' trip. Amber was adamant that we should all go, even though her foot was blown up like a balloon. Amber is allergic to bee stings, which is not dangerous as long as she doesn't get stung near her mouth, nose or throat. I managed to organise a wheelchair at the mall for her to sit in, as she really could only hop along, but she opted to 'hop' instead. Hence a somewhat disastrous venture for both girls (we live and learn as they say) Jemma has decided that she doesn't really need a cell phone after all and would rather wait until she goes to University next year. Her final AP Biology mark came in the mail a few days ago, she was expecting a 3, hoping for a 4 and ended up getting the highest possible score of 5!! Such a clever bean.
I had a 'tiny' windfall recently, winning a $50 Amazon book voucher for 'house of the week' on a photo website. It will come in very handy for Jems next lot of AP text books for Chemistry and Calculus plus a couple of other books, yet to be chosen.
My oh my I am rabbiting on this morning!!
If you're still awake I hope you have a good week :)
Hazel xx

July 13, 2008


Taken on the last day (Amber behind the camera)
It's not often that I go for two whole weeks without writing a new post, especially at this time of year. With family and friends visiting from overseas I decided to hold off for a while.
The first guest to arrive at the very end of June was our friend Dave. An English man who moved to New Zealand around the same time we did back in 2002. He lives in the village of Havelock North where he has a beautiful home and garden bursting with indigenous trees and even has a lemon grove! A retired British Airways engineer means that he gets to travel the world for free, usually in first class!! Something we can only dream of, having only ever flown in economy seating. Dave did a little sightseeing whilst here and spent plenty of time with Craig driving around the local area. He was so sweet, helping with the mowing as well as treating us to a couple of meals out.
Lunch at 'The Port' with Dave
The same day of Dave's departure was the arrival of Craig's sister Tess with her family; hubby Mike and children Leah, Jono and Rachel. All the way from South Africa, they had already visited relatives in England for a few days prior to landing in Canada. Jem and Amber were a little nervous after over 8 years apart and hardly knowing their cousins. They needn't have worried because within a few minutes everyone was relaxed and the bonding grew from there. They spent the night with us and we had breakfast on the deck in the morning sunshine. As there were five of them they decided to rent a place up at the lake for the rest of the week, just 6 minutes drive away and very handy. A sweet little hexagonal shaped cottage right on the waters edge.
With the weather being pretty much 'perfect' the whole week there were plenty of things to do; swimming, canoeing, pedal boating and even indoor games when it got too hot or during the only rain shower one morning. Five of them playing 'Twister' was particularly entertaining!Craig took Tessa and Mike out a couple of times to see some of the touristy places; Lunenberg, Chester and Mahone Bay. They also stopped off in the city of Halifax on the last day to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which featured a comprehensive Titanic exhibit. A last request was to view a 'big' shopping Mall in the city. Couldn't have them leaving thinking our kids were deprived of retail therapy :D
We all enjoyed a day out in New Minas meeting up for lunch and then going on to do some strawberry picking at Dempseys farm.
All 9 of us having lunch in Boston Pizza
Most evenings were spent around the BBQ at the cottage, relaxing with a glass of wine and a cold beer or on our deck with the children eating under the trees on a picnic blanket.
Under the variegated Maple tree as the sun went down
I could go on and on, with so many funny and heartwarming things I noticed and heard when they were together. This has been a holiday full of precious memories as they all slip into adulthood. A blast of uninhibited fun, the way it should be for children, especially cousins so close in age.

'The Famous Five!'
Jono (13) Amber (14) Jemma (16) Rachel (13) Leah (15)
Their visit exceeded our expectations and I really hope that they enjoyed the holiday as much as we did. My only sadness is that Durban is so very far away and I now have a couple of teens who are going to miss the cousins they only knew through facebook until this week.
You never know though, maybe we will win the lottery and get to see them all again one day in the not too distant future.
Hazel xx