August 23, 2009

Hurricane Bill

Hurricane Bill was predicted to arrive with a vengeance earlier today, with the threat of flooding, major power cuts and destruction to buildings and trees. Luckily he just skimmed by our area, with only a heavy downpour and a fairly strong wind. We were well prepared, having kept a watchful eye on the local weather reports for a few days prior to the storm coming inland. All our garden furniture had been put safely away in the barn and Craig secured a couple of the younger fragile fruit trees. We had been especially concerned as we had a family weekend booked up at the lake and were looking forward to spending time in a little cottage, but it looked as though we were in for some stormy weather during our stay. I was able to collect the boys, Curtis and Adam and we headed up to the cottage by lunchtime on Friday and the weather was lovely all afternoon and all day Saturday too.
The children had so much fun on the water, either in the canoe, pedal boat or just swimming out to the floating deck, diving and jumping in the lake, getting along well as a group of four.
Archie hardly knew we were away as Craig stopped in on his way home from work and then I was able to pop down the road early Saturday morning to feed him and let him outdoors so he could spend the day in his current favourite spot under the shade of the Hostas.
Craig and I had the opportunity to get to know the boys a little better too.
It won't be long before the girls are back to school and university as we head towards the end of the summer holidays. I'm glad that this weekend was a special memory point for them.
Hazel x

Enjoying the sunshine

This week I am a single Mum while Craig has gone off to London for a week. Snapping up a cheap ticket, his bags were packed and he was on his way to the airport before I could say "Jack Robinson" (who is he anyway?). Nobody could accuse my hubby of not being impulsive!
The morning after he left two painters turned up on the doorstep with one 'very' long ladder awaiting my instructions! After a quick hunt in the garage, double checking codes written in the decorating notebook it was confirmed that the paint was indeed the right one for the tall end of the barn. The last section to be painted, it was looking pretty shabby but at 3 storeys tall, Craig has no intention of painting it himself. I left the eager painters to do their thing and when I returned from work it was completed and now matches up with the rest of the building. Craig took on the mammoth job of painting the side barn during our first summer here 4 years ago when we were both not allowed to work in Canada. It was a back breaking job that took hours of preparation, but regular maintenance is required to keep the buildings protected in such a harsh winter climate.
With the peonies about to burst into bloom any day now we have all been making the most of the beginning of summertime. The grass is growing at a rapid rate and I am still fighting off the blood thirsty black flies (the NO BITE ME soap kept them away for about 30 minutes I can report) The sticky residue on my skin was quite gross and I couldn't wait to wash the stuff off! I have decided to just take some non-drowsy antihistamine pills to relieve the symptoms as bite prevention seems unlikely. Tried the Listerine again, but the little flies seem to love it!
Some pics taken 'before' the dandelions got chopped:

Happy week everyone :)
Hazel x

L is for......

Lilacs, Lupins and Lobelias! In my favourite shades of blue and purple. I am particularly fond of the two lilac bushes in the garden which, although they only flower for a short time give off the most wonderful scent.The lupins are everywhere this time of year, growing like pretty weeds in all the ditches on the edges of the roads.Craig picked a bunch of them for the dining room table.Our trademark dainty blue lobelia trail delicately in baskets outside the kitchen window, flourishing as they do every summertime, much to the delight of the hummingbirds.
My hubby arrived home safe and sound, armed with a few little goodies and special treats for the ladies in his life. He couldn't resist the English sweeties, minstrels, Rowntree's fruit pastilles and wine gums :) The Twilight four book set was a huge hit with the girls, including the latest release 'Breaking Dawn' . I was thrilled with my M&S cotton T-shirts and a copy of Good Housekeeping UK magazine. Craig enjoyed his trip and was able to meet up with his niece and nephew in Buckinghamshire.
He took numerous snaps of the places we lived and visited when the girls were young, post office, school and parks. It took me on a little trip down memory lane just looking at them. Not much has changed really, except that the trees have grown to an enormous size and the roads seem ever so narrow :D
The familiar lane leading to our old home in West Clandon, Surrey. I walked down here many times while the girls rode their bicycles
Back here in the Maritimes, we were invited to a local wedding on Saturday. Friends of ours Brian and Jess tied the knot on a perfect sunny afternoon at a local hotel. The reception that followed was lovely, with so much attention to detail and foot tappin' music from a live band. It made a nice change for us to don our 'glad rags' and even get up on a dance floor! I haven't been to a wedding in years and felt a little sad that I have missed both my younger brother's weddings, my sister's and Craig's sister's too :( The downside to leaving South Africa is that we haven't been able just pop back for these special occasions, even though we would love to have done so and shared their happy day Craig and I were even colour co-ordinated in sky blue :)
A visit from our English friends Terri and James on Sunday morning made a very pleasant start to the day. Inspired to do a spot of baking I mixed up a quick apple tea bread, which we ate outside on the deck and drank cups of tea. They couldn't stay very long as they had their own tea room to open up to the public in the afternoon.
This week is a busy one for the girls, with all their end of year exams, for Jemma the end of her high school lessons forever! The Graduation Prom is on Monday and then the Graduation ceremony on Thursday - crikey, it's all so final and my baby is growing up fast.
She is off to Prince Edward Island with the International students on Friday. A wind down after exams before the summer holidays begin. She is very excited to be meeting new foreign students, some of whom will be going to the same University in September. As a 'helper' she gets to go for free, which makes it even better.
Hazel x

August 12, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Special Hubby!

I wanted to write an extra post this week to let my darling husband know that we are all thinking of him on his Birthday, today :)
It will be the first time that we have ever missed each other's birthday in the 20 years we have been together!! He is celebrating with his family in SA, his sister Tess in the morning and then his other two sisters' Cheryl and Bev in Cape Town later in the day. The Cape Town families haven't seen him for 3 years, so will no doubt spoil him a little. I do know he has enjoyed being with his Dad very much.
Before leaving here, Craig did a great job of installing a new light fitting in the kitchen He then went on to replace the old taps with a new kitchen faucet and veggie spray hose (just out of the pic) I keep admiring his handy work, which looks very professional. The sun is shining once again, August has been a great month so far, yesterday I took Amber and her 3 friends up to the lake for a couple of hours so they could get their feet wet and look rather gorgeous in their bikinis :) Bathing Beauties: Marcy, Jen, Tanisha and Amber
Jemma got a happy phone call yesterday informing her that she had been chosen for the job she applied for at St Mary's. The position is a cultural advisor in the TESL centre on campus and the hours fit in perfectly with her study schedule. Being based on site means she doesn't need to travel to work and with most weekends and holidays off, she can come home. She is so excited and will enjoy the independence of earning a few dollars.
Today Amber and I collected our very first batch of wild blackberries from the bushes up the lane, not overly sweet at this stage, but with a few more days of sunshine to ripen them, they will be delicious.We have only been to pick blueberries once so far this season, Amber's boyfriend Adam came along (they are celebrating 6 months together tomorrow!) Well, it's getting late now so I shall finish off by sending Birthday wishes across the miles to my best friend.
I hope you have had a lovely day

August 07, 2009

Craig visits his Dad in SA

Basil at his 80th Birthday party in 2006
As I write this post my wonderful hubby is on his way to South Africa to visit his dad. Basil has not been very well recently, following a heart attack. We are all very worried and encouraged Craig to get over to South Africa to spend some time with him. Basil is one of the kindest people I have ever met, always keen to help out, putting other people's needs before his own without a second thought. He has been writing long, newsy letters to Craig on a regular basis for many years, often more than one a week. Usually typed on a typewriter that has seen better days, or hand written and bundled into an envelope along with interesting newspaper clippings from Craig's hometown Pietermaritzburg. I am sure that having Craig spend some quality Father/Son time will mean a lot to both of them. Taken 3 years ago on Craig's last trip to SA.Earlier in the week I drove the girls to Halifax to finalise Jemma's paperwork before she starts University in less than a month! Fees, meal plans and book lists, as well as general familiarisation all need to be sorted out before then and I am sure there will be many more trips over the next few weeks/months.
Now, although I have driven Craig to the airport and back before and done a small bit of city driving (with Craig as a passenger giving me fierce instructions!) I have never been a great fan driving in unfamiliar surroundings, so I had a tummy full of butterflies before leaving on Wednesday morning. As Jemma quite rightly pointed out, she's the one leaving home and has reason to be nervous, not me!!
Anyway I managed to stay surprisingly calm, even though we did miss just one turn off, we ended up taking a different route than planned, luckily there was a map on hand and Jemma is a pretty nifty map reader as it turns out :)It must have been the relief of finally getting to St. Mary's campus that led to Amber and I having a mild case of the 'Giggling Gerties' while we ate our packed lunch and waited patiently for Jemma to do her stuff. Amber had brought her camera along and took a few snaps as we sat under the trees on the campus grounds. There were quite a few students milling around, much to Jemma's delight many were Japanese and Korean. She will be studying Japanese in her first year at St. Mary's. The Loyola block in the background, Jemma will be living on the 9th floor
Heading home (via the shopping centre of course) we were soon back on the motorway again. Switching back to a manual drive after my automatic car was fine and my fear of stalling at a traffic light in the middle of the City turned out to be unfounded after all :) I suppose using a stick shift, as it is referred to here, is a bit like riding a bicycle, in fact I find it stranger going back to my automatic when I have borrowed Craig's car and find myself wafting my hand around wanting to change gears!
The running around since then to soccer matches, doctors appointments and other local trips, as well as fitting in all the little extra jobs Craig does on the property has meant that my days are going by really fast. I needed to make time to catch up on my computer by taking a little down time over a cup of coffee this evening.
Hazel x