Friday, May 11, 2012

Home Thoughts From Abroad

Home Thoughts from Abroad

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops - at the bent spray's edge -
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
- Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Last month, April , hence the poem we were back in the home country. Not really a holiday. Stephen's Mum has been in hospital for the last four months ( on and off for the last year. broken hips, broken arm, broken leg, poor thing) So it was time to visit. It has been 12 years since Stephen was back, so it was about time ( my last visit was in '07).

It was lovely to go back although the weather was just as I remember. Rain , rain and more rain. I think we only had a couple of dry days the whole time we were there. Some things never change.

Left to right..Kevin,Karen,Janette,Stephen,Christine and Jane.
It was nice to see family again. Stephen's sister Jane was over from South Africa so it was the first time the whole family have been together in 12 years. We had a great night out with them and it was great to catch up and do some  good  old fashioned reminiscing . Growing up as an only child it was fascinating to hear what they all got up to. Although knowing how the The Dodwell's are prone to exaggerate ( you've got to believe it) Im sure some of the childhood stuff was somewhat remembered slightly different to how it actually happened but it was good for a laugh. It made me realise how alike some of the siblings are . Stephen and Kevin ( his younger brother) have definitely got the same sense of humour and are both gadget guys...... if they could they would have a gadget for it. The girls?..........No, not going anywhere near that one, on the grounds that it may incriminate me. Regardless of what people say I DO know when to stop while I'm ahead. Just let me say I love Stephen's family dearly.......Phew I think I got out of that one.


I miss England......there !............I've said it out loud. Up until now its never really been something that I have thought about a lot. But this visit did it for me. I was a tad homesick.

I had forgotten how lovely England is. Even on rainy days the scenery can be quite breathtakingly beautiful. Water droplets (ok rain) falling on a mother duck and her chicks swimming on a village pond surrounded by stone built cottages really does stir the soul.

The cosy atmosphere of a small rural town with its local shops and village pubs still exists. Having said that I know that I have a rather rosy view of my homeland. Things are tough in England and friends have sad stories of town centre shops going out of business and lack of jobs. 

However it does seem cheaper to live there than I remember..... compared to here in Canada anyway. Cell phone charges are substantially cheaper as is wine and clothes. A good bottle of wine is only 5 pounds which is about equivalent to $5 in real spending terms. There are such a lot of places to shop, just way more choice....... Well thats the way I saw it anyway.

It was funny at first  being berated with English voices at every turn and it needed a shake of the head  to realise that no , not everyone was  imitating the British accent . They actually were British. We really have been away too long.....

Karen and Stephen
Half a bitter and a lovely open log fire on a
cold and damp day. Just what the doctor ordered.
Our first week ( apart from visiting Stephen's Mum ) was spent doing some of the things we missed and chips...Mmmm theres nothing like a  chip butty.......tick.... and a good British pint in an olde worlde British pub....tick. Although Stephen got a little excited and spilt most of it before he'd even sat down.

Toasted teacake was next on the list............tick..........oh and then there's Rowntrees fruit gums . I think we overdosed on them.......... tick........ there were quite a few other things we managed to tick off that list too.

We did manage to get to see some friends but not for as long as I would have liked. There were also  friends I would like to have met up with but just didn't get the time . Maybe next time ?...... or they could always come over and see us in Canada.... now there's a thought  you guys. 

So all in all a good trip..... Stephen's mum is doing fine. There is still some talk of another operation but we won't know more until she had her assessment in June. In the meantime she will be moving to  care home which we were lucky to see with the rest of the family while we were there. It's a beautiful place in Bourne where Karen lives so she will have family on the doorstep and close by too.

The other news is ....... wait for it..... we will be moving again......Yes, yes, yes I know what you're all saying..........

He has been wanting to get 'back into' hotels again. I think we're done with being self employed( although I never say never) he wanted a 'proper' job again as he says. the job that came up is in Alberta as general Manager of a hotel in Vegreville..... or as I am calling it Vagrantville....... and I am getting told off as I write for calling it that....... but Nova Scotia Alberta is not. I love Nova Scotia ( maybe because  it is so much like England) 

Stephen leaves tomorrow. (Saturday 12th.May) I will stay here until the house sells. Not looking forward to it. If I thought I was bored before I am certainly going to be bored now. The funny thing was that I have been trying to get a job since I have been here and just before Stephen got this job I applied for a job for what I thought was a few hours working in a dress shop. It turns out at the interview was for manager of the dress shop....... I thought the interview was a little intense for a few hours work. Anyway I got it but had to say no as it wouldn't have been fair to take a job knowing that I wasn't going to be around long.......... mind you who knows how long it will take to sell the house......Fingers crossed everyone.
My cousin ( my only family really) is coming to visit soon I hope. I want her to see Nova Scotia before I leave and of course it will relieve the boredom for me .... method in my madness you see?

So there may not be any more blogs for awhile as I write these on Stephens computer and I have an iPad and I don't know how to do the blogs my iPad. If anyone knows an easy way on the iPad  let me know please .

Just to close a few extra photos of England in case you're interested.........

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'm Back

 I was in the Doldrums for awhile. However I  have managed to sail this ship into more buoyant waters. ..............and,  as someone once said , Robert Frost the poet actually............
            'In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on"

Anyway enough of the maudlin.............

So here I am, still a ' stay at home something or other' and as you have already gathered I'm still not quite getting to grips with it. Never the less I am getting better.

I have become a bit of a nature watcher. This basically means watching what goes on at the bird table from the comfort of the kitchen . Lets not get carried away here I'm not quite at the twitching stage, well unless it involves net curtains that is and I certainly don't have those.

It all started with asking Stephen to make a bird table for me at the beginning of winter. That would be July then? only kidding. As usual I was being Mrs Skinflint and wouldn't spend much money on one. So I trailed Stephen around Home depot until I had it all figured out. Two oblong plant trays and wood from the off cut bins. Less than $20.00 Hey Presto a perfect bird table. Well perfect in my opinion anyway.

I'm becoming quite obsessed with taking photos of all my feathered friends  and have even named a few. Thats how sad I am, naming the birds. Oh , and not just the birds, I also have ....... Cyril the Squirrel and his two buddies . It started with just Cyril but then word got out. 

I'm not going to bore you( well not too much anyway) with my menagerie so I will let the photos speak for themselves.


Here are the Jay family.... I have named three so far. Jayzee, Jaylo and JayR and there are five so any suggestions?

Jayzee and Jaylo

Woodyonetonn. The acrobat.
My favourites are the woodpeckers four to date.........WoodyOnetonn, WoodyTwoshoes, WoodyThreebee and WoodyFour. They also come in four sizes. Small,medium,large and grande and believe me Woodyfour is huge.




Last but not least. The pheasant family. I was going to name then Phylis, Phrank and Phred but I though that was going just too far.

In between of course we have the usual rabble. The starling ,crows ,chickadees and ground doves . But I don't mind the rabble now and again.


One thing all of  this being at home lark has done for me (yes, I guess I have to admit, there is a  positive) is that it has given me  some time to get try and get fit. I really have no excuse for not being able to get into a fitness routine anymore. My problem always has been finding the exercise that I like and therefore can stick to it.

All the 'gurus' out there say, choose  something you enjoy. Yeah right? easier said than done.  It will probably not come as any surprise to people that know me that in the past I have tried almost every fitness 'fad' going ..... me....... get bored easily? Moi? 

Over the years I have been a jogger and even done several half marathons. I can honestly say that I never really liked jogging . Never got the buzz everyone talked about . I have done yoga,weight training and aerobics and  I'm sure there are  a few more activities that I have probably forgotten that I have tried too . In fact when I was in my thirties I had my own gym and taught both weight and aerobic classes. Figure that one out.
Oh, come on you didn't seriously
think I was going to put a picture
 of me exercising did you?

None the less  nothing really stuck but I always tried to do something on a regular basis. Be that as it may I think I can safely say that over the last five or maybe even 6 years I have really done nothing and its all catching up with me now. I hate to say this but getting old sucks...... Sorry, what I meant to say was that it's only as you get older that you realise how important your health l is. I mean when we're young we think we are indestructible don't we?No flab, no health issues no wrinkles well most of the time anyway. I sometimes think I was born worrying about this moment... the moment of truth.

Before leaving Mexico I had a cholesterol check done. Previous to Mexico I had had one done in Kelowna by default really and it came back high but I ignored it... after all I eat healthily..... well mainly. Anyhow back to Mexico. I was having a regular check done for my thyroid ( I have one every year, no big deal . Low thyroid is a fairly common problem ) and as usual Mexican doctors are very thorough and a full blood test was done and my cholesterol came back high. Wow that was a surprise . So high in fact that my doctor was seriously worried and put me on medication straight away saying that when I get to Canada I have to see a doctor straight away. The annoying thing about this whole thing is that the reason this all started was that I nagged Stephen to get his done because both his Dad and his uncle both died from heart attacks........ actually they both died in restaurants... the Dodwells love a good audience don't you know? Anyhow Stephen's count came back normal ( thank goodness ) and mine came back high.... go figure. One quick little story about my doctor who I might add is in his late 60's but is as fit as a lop ( don't ask what a lop is ) cycles, does marathons. Anyway I had an appointment the other day with him. So I described the problem and he looked at my notes and said that he knew exactly what the problem was and right on cue I asked 'what is it'....He cheekily said...... it's your date of birth. Ha , ha very comical.

Well the medication the Mexican doctor prescribed me gave me pounding headaches so I quickly stopped taking those and I went to see a local doctor here in Canada  last September.

I love my new doctor. He's a no nonsense kind of guy. None of that mamby pamby stuff ,  he gets straight to the nitty gritty.I'm sure he must have some Yorkshire blood in him somewhere. I had another blood test done and sure enough it was really high.You would think by now that I was getting the message, right? He asked all the usual questions then did some kind of calculation on a gadget and said that I have a 10% chance of a heart attack in the next 10 years. Fine, no big deal, I'll take that. By deduction he seemed to think that my high cholesterol could be hereditary . As far as he could tell the one thing I wasn't doing and needed to do was......... yes you guessed it ... exercise. He suggested 45 minutes walking at least five days a week. Then come back in March and do another check if it's not down then we'll consider medication. Suits me. The only thing was...............45 minutes five days a week.Oh please, I could feel boredom  setting in already. But I get it,  health is important  so if I want to stem the tide, I had better book my ideas up.

 One quick little story about my doctor who I might add is in his  60's but is as fit as a lop ( don't ask what a lop is ) he does stupid exercise like cycling and marathons. Anyway I had an appointment the other day with him. So I described the problem and he looked at my notes and said that he knew exactly what the problem was and right on cue I asked 'what is it'....and he cheekily replied...... it's your date of birth. Ha , ha very comical.

I began doing exactly as I was told. A daily walk at first. I was doing an hour a day from the house. This was fine for a couple of months and then   the inevitable happened.....yes, the B word reared it's ugly head and at the same time....... winter also put in an appearance  , snow covered the roads. So, what now?  I then happen to see a pilates class on tv so I recorded them thinking that on the bad weather days I would substitute walking for pilates. Well this lasted awhile but still wasn't working . So as I am now a fully fledged member of the local library ( everyone should join they have a lot more to offer than just books) I decided to see what exercise DVDs there were. Thinking I could try a few before I bought , hence not making the mistake of buying the wrong ones.......... I have a cupboard full of the ones that don't work . A bit like my make up basket actually.

I came across some DVD's called Walk at Home. So I thought I would give them a go and  to my surprise just loved them. You can start with one mile and build up to five. They were challenging but not over strenuous after all, all you needed to do was be able to walk... and..... no fancy dance moves or jogging required.Sounded good to me.

I am now hooked on walking... I have a pedometer on me all the time. 10,000 steps a day is the recommended target ( which is 5 miles) and considering we only do between 2,000 and 3,000 a day in our normal routine, it takes some commitment to fit in the 10,000.

I have now started putting together music on my iPod to create my own walk programmes that I can use indoors or out. Walking to music certainly helps to keep it interesting with the occasional dance step  thrown in ( dance steps for indoor use only) What do they say.... dance like theres's no one watching, sing like theres no one listening. Heaven forbid if their was anyone watching or listening. I still do the 5 mile dvd now and again too and occasional walks outdoors as well.  Don't think it's easy there are lot's of ways to up the anti if you feel like it. Power walking. Interval jogging but it's just not so difficult that you don't want to do it. It's my thing.... for now anyway.

Oh and if you think you couldn't  walk 5 miles a day..... My friend June in Alberta is 80 and she also has a pedometer on her where ever she goes. She does 10,000 steps a day at the local indoor track . Mind you she is quite an exceptional lady in many ways.

Sorry couldn't resist these....................


Woodyfour. Doing what woodpeckers do.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Home alone

Home alone and not really getting to grips with it............

Things have taken a strange turn.For the first time in many [ way too many] years I reluctantly find myself a ' housewife ' or as I read somewhere ' house engineer' . I guess I  could revert to what I call myself normally... Jack of all trades master of none. Yes , that sums me up. Over my, and I hate to say 'many' years ( I'm getting to that age when I really must accept at least some of those years...) I have done umpteen shall we say, jobs, pastimes , projects , hobbies and quite honestly never stuck with any for long. Looking back I do recall my mother using that phrase ( Jack of all trades...) a lot in our house. I think it started way back when she sent me to ballet classes.

Cute hey?

 That didn't last long. Then tap classes.Same there. Then finally ballroom dancing classes when I was about eight or so. Her final words as I recall were ' you stick this out or else' and when you heard the 'or else' you got a little panicky in our house. A real Yorkshire woman my mother. Had a voice on her like a fog horn they use to say. 'they' being anyone who ever heard my mother raise her voice that is. My mother could call me in for tea when I was playing in the school yard a good three blocks away and everyone would hear her including me. Didn't need a cell phone when you had a voice like my mother.

My boredom threshhold continued  through into adult hood as many of you will know but my repertoire of jobs and hobbies would take too long ................ oh, hold on a minute. I feel another blog coming on!

Anyway I really have digressed this time so, back to the plot. The plot being..... housewifey things ?

I find myself cooking again. It has been awhile. I mean I can cook but once out of the regular habit I find myself forgetting the simplist of things.... like how long does it take to cook a pork chop or roast a chicken or bake a piece of fish and how can I make vegetables more interesting. Thank goodness for Google.Oh I forgot to mention that just because I didn't cook didn't mean that we didn't eat. It's just that Stephen has always done most of the cooking, much to his Mother's chagrin might I add. Mainly because it was easier as Stephen was always the cook in the business we have had and he said it was easier to keep track. He's a real picky fridge monitor. He always says that I never get around to eating anything until its out of date .I do have a constitution of an ox which helps with the sell by dates.Unfortunately Stephen only has to read an out of date sticker and his stomach does summersaults . Agh, C'est la vie!

Small loaf rising.
So cooking ? coming along.What I really like is baking but there's a downside to that.You cant really just make an individual portion can you? it's always a 'batch' of something and of course you end up eating the lot. Not good for the figure. I mean, I may as well cut out the middle man and throw it on my hips. I am however a bread maker. Hand made, none of your fancy breadmaker stuff. I have discovered Artisan bread which I am still experimenting with but is turning into one of my favourite things, You make up a batch, no kneeding involved ( which is a little sad, I did like the kneeding process) and stick it in a plastic bag in the fridge until you need it. From one batch you can make, baguettes ,naan,pita breadsticks and even focaccia with rosemary. The focaccia was amazing.
Bacon, cheese and aubergine quiche.

Sundried tomato and herb scones and
an individual apple pie which as
it happens was enough for two.Ah well.
Our latest edition to the kitchen is a Keurig machine ( single serve brewer) it not only does coffee but tea and hot chocolate too. We first saw one in action at Raquel and Bobs in Massachusetts where we stayed on our way back.Now one thing I don't have to worry about getting in our house is gadgets. Stephen loves gadgets. Not silly useless gadgets but the good household type gadgets, So although we had not long since bought a great coffee machine ( and found two more when we unpacked) the Keurig was on the list. So if you are thinking of buying a coffee machine, we have four. No seriously get a Kuerig they make great coffee and you don't have to waste a whole pot to get just one cup and each one is fresh.

So,my life is taking on somewhat of a pattern. Albeit a little abstract at the moment but it's coming along.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This and That

So here we are 5 weeks in the house. Settled in?  Huh, where do I start. This is a little different for us this time. Most of our life ( excluding the Mexico blip ) we have had a business to run and this is what we thought we might do this time. However, we thought we would take a break and Stephen would get a job. (!) Just to ring the changes. You know what we're like? Yes, you probably spotted the emphasis on Stephen and not me in the 'getting a job' department ?

Garden view.
He's been joking for awhile now about not really being bothered about what he does. The days of striving for a career are gone he says and Stephen has never been a prestige kind of person so it looks like anything goes. Never the less job hunting again is a little daunting.It's been awhile, a long while. I think his best passing remark was that he would apply as a greeter at Walmart or maybe a job in Home depot. You might laugh? However I  do have to say that I did draw the line at the Walmart greeter. Call it the snob in me? Yes it's the snob in me. Things have certainly changed since we (The Royal We ) last looked for a job. Looking for a job is definitely on line these days. You send in your C.V. ( Resume) on line and wait. In general employers don't even send out an electronic message to say that they have even received your application.You just have to wait until the closing date and hope you hear something.It's mind boggling just tapping in to these job search places. Theres or, careerbeacon or jobpress  so many yet they make it so frustrating.Whatever happened to good old fashioned job centres? Those nice places where you had a friendly chat ,to an actual ' person ' no kidding. This is the way it is I guess.

Oh, and don't be quick to laugh at the Home Depot job either. Apparently these jobs are much sort after. We spoke to one chap the other day who as it happens was from England originally, been here 34 years. He had owned his own businesses in the past and said that it was the best thing he ever did. He says ' I walk out of here on an evening and before I'm in my car work is forgotten' and' I earn more now than when I had my own business , plus I get paid for talking to people all day'. Maybe there's more to this type of job than meets the eye.  Mmmm, 'Curiouser and Curiouser' cried Alice!

In the meantime.............

Yes we saw this snowblower advertised on Kijiji so we though we had better be prepared in plenty of time and seeing as I have seen snow falling already,none too soon methinks? It was interesting getting it home I might add.We still have the yellow banana ( not for much longer I hope) and I think that the 'banana'  is probably not much bigger than the snowblower  let alone how much this thing weighed. The whole of the car almost touched the ground when the snowblower was finally maneuvered into the back through the rear door. What a trip home that was. We couldn't even get it out of the car we had to get a neighbour to help. One way of meeting your neighbour I guess. Haven't seen him since mind or anyone else for that matter.

The 'garden' next. We have had some deliciously warm Autumnal days. Well, maybe not the last few days when it was absolutely chucking it down with rain but prior to that yes pretty nice.

Me cutting  back something.
The land here is wet and boggy.I
haven't a clue what to do with it.
 Come on English gardening gene kick in.
 Now?....... neither of us are gardeners. My friend Jonna thinks that I must have the English Gardener  gene lurking in me  somewhere and I don't like to quash her well intended thoughts about me but ..... let me put it this way I am desperately 
trying to cultivate the gene but as of yet 
it's just not kicking in. I do actually like being in the fresh air but I'm more of a dig it out, cut it down kind of gardener myself. I like a messy garden the kind that looks like nature just took over and did a grand job. I am guessing that it doesn't happen that way and it all takes time and patience.Time I have. Patience? Er not so much.

Did I say already that there isn't any 'garden' as such.There is a grass mound which we  affectionately call the burial mound because, well, that's what it looks like.It is actually where the septic field is so there isn't much we can do with it except leave it and mow it. We don't have a lawn mower at present so the grass is rather long.It will be covered in snow soon so who cares right? The rest is trees. Lots of trees. No shortage of a Christmas tree this year. We have christmas trees coming out of our Ying Yang.


We have been having great fun with the chain 
saw. Lots of dead trees close to the house that need to come down. Some a little too close. Stephen 'Youtubed 'chopping down a tree which was informative but it's a little scarey the first time you do it. Was the cut in the right place? would it actually fall in the right direction? We had our fingers crossed on more than one occasion but it was great. We loved it.

Mount Uniacke Estate.

We have also been discovering the local area. I know I keep saying this but Nova Scotia really is beautiful. Mount Uniacke Estate is on our doorstep and have been back to visit a few times now.

It is an expansive country estate once owned by Irish born  Attorney General Richard John  Uniacke  ( 1753- 1830 ) Built on the old stage coach road from Halifax to Windsor and was once a testimony to John Uniacke's wealth and personal achievement. The grounds of the estate were designed in the English landscape Garden style which was popular in the 1800s. A key feature of this style being the uninterrupted views which was unrivalled in it's day.

Martha lake
There are numerous trails on the estate and I think our aim is to cover them all ( several times no doubt) and of course the fact that there is a Tea Shop on site is a bonus. What's better than tea ( or coffee!) and pie after an energetic hike.

Pumpkin Pie.

This actually reminds me of Lynton
 in Devon,England where we used to have a B & B.

Trees fungus.

More tree fungus

Old kitchen fireplace
in the Tea Shop.
Reminds me of the painting 'The Scream'