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On our small Island there is always something to do in Winter. Most visitors in the Summer months have no idea want happens here once they go. Visitors are here for a few days or a week and all they will see is the beach and a restaurant/bar table. For residents it is another matter all together. You build your life around the calendar of the Seasons and follow local issues, socialize with friends, etc.

In Winter one of the things many Islanders do is to go to Auctions on Saturdays, there are 2 big auction houses, one in Bedeque and one in Kensington. They sell everything, from furniture to cars to knick knacks. Bargain can be had and sometimes it is surprising.

Yesterday I went to D&L Auctions (Dennis and Lorraine) it is run by the owners and Dennis is the auctioneer, he has 4 helpers on the floor. You can spend easily 7 hours at the auction. It starts early, around 8AM for viewing and at 10AM Dennis will start calling out items for sale. We arrived at 8AM wanting to buy 6 chairs and 4 side tables maybe that English leather couch or one of the antique sofas. However we were not prepared to counter with 4 dealers who aggressively bided on items. Often out biding everyone else. Our budget was limited so at the end we bought 2 Club Chairs and 2 table lamps. Happy with our purchases.

When you travel on the Island outside the Capital you encounter another world all together. Prices are cheaper and the atmosphere is rural, it’s a small world, not necessarily affluent more down to Earth. Next door to the auction place was a little café Baba’s Kitchen selling freshly made sandwiches and sweets, all from their kitchen, teas and coffees. The sandwiches were generous at $4 dollars and coffee was $1.75, that is cheap. In town a coffee is $5. and a sandwich $9. Though Bedeque, pop 310, is only 25 minutes from Charlottetown it is a completely different feel, something our visitors are not likely to ever see.

A lot of the furniture on sale was solid wood probably 70 to 90 years old in very good condition. I suspect most of it came from Estate sales. The Leather couch sold for $220. beautiful Club style couch, a big roll top desk sold for $450. a bargain. Chairs and lamps we bought total $276. again a bargain.


The crowd was attentive and good natured, paying close attention as the auctioneer speaks quickly and the pace can be fast, you want something jump to it or you will miss the boat.  A fun day and I want to do it again, we do have furniture to replace at the Club and looking forward to more auction days.


One of the two chairs bought at Auction

100 Seconds


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I suppose that 100 seconds is 1 minute 40 seconds, a strange way to measure time but the reason why scientists now measure in seconds instead of minutes on the Doomsday Clock is because we are so close to Midnight which is the end of the World that minutes won’t do anymore. We only have seconds left if our leaders do not act to bring us back from the brink.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said today (Thursday) that the change was due to nuclear proliferation, failure to tackle climate change and cyber-based disinformation.

The clock now stands at its closest to doomsday since it began ticking in 1947. The idea began in 1947 to warn humanity of the dangers of nuclear war. The clock was first created by US scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, which developed the world’s first nuclear weapon.

The Board who makes the decision to advance the hands on the doomsday clock is composed of 13 Nobel Laureates in science and this year they are joined in their decision by The Elders, a group of international leaders and former officials first founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007.

The World is now under threat by powerful leaders who denigrate and discard the most effective methods for addressing complex threats. DAVOS Economic Summit is taking place this year and we heard President Trump laugh at Greta Thunberg and dismiss all concerns on climate change. Today he proposed to dismantle more environmental protection in the USA and he gets applause by his base. Humanity is delusional at this point and we are all a little guilty of it.


What is sad is the fact that so many people are simply unaware of the threat to our survival. In Canada 85% of Canadians are very concerned by Climate change but next to no one wants to do anything about it. Not my problem is the most common comment you will hear from people, won’t pay for change and won’t change consumer habits. So then there is no hope and the end is closer than most people think.  If you go to the BBC News website you can see the full story, does not make for happy reading.



City changes


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This photo taken in London just recently shows how the city is changing in terms of its architecture and urban design. The photo shows a cluster of tall modern towers next to the ancient Tower of London, it is utterly strange to me and not an image shown in tourism promotion. If those modern towers had been built across the river I would have said ok there is distance and perspective but in this case, no I do not like it at all.


a little music


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This young organist from The Netherlands, Gert Van Hoef is impressive, I have watched him playing various pieces and he has great talent.

Trumpet Minuet – Alfred Hollins (1865-1942) December 27, 2019 Live recording concert St. Laurenskerk Rotterdam (the Netherlands) Marcussen-organ Organist: Gert van Hoef Assistant: Marjolein van Hoef and Jan de Rooij




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Well 20 cm is a little over 7 inches and this is what we are getting today, big fluffy white stuff. The temperature yesterday was the coldest it has been in PEI for 105 years which is highly abnormal for us. Next week we should be back to our usual -2 to -5c daytime temperature.


This being a Sunday, people have an excuse for not being open for business after noontime and the visibility is not good on the roads.


Yesterday we went to a friend for a 6 hour marathon viewing of Wolf Hall the 2015 series on the time of Henry VIII and his Minister Thomas Cromwell, a very well done historical drama. Our friend has the most beautiful mansion, I counted 5 double fireplaces in the house which is located in Keppoch with a large lawn giving unto water and the entrance to the Strait of Northumberland. Every ship entering the Hillsborough river and Charlottetown passes in front of his house. The other side is the ruins of Fort Amherst and Rocky point, what they call a million dollar view, sea, forests, rocky shores and sky.

So while we were at our friends the news came of the final arrangements between the Royal Family and now Harry and Meghan. As I suspected all along and knowing how in such matters you cannot win against the Crown, the settlement is pragmatic and no nonsense. It is not what Meghan had hoped for and Harry knew the limits of what could be achieved, after all he was born into this Familly. I had a first inkling of what would happen when the Queen issued her statement after the family meeting at Sandringham, HM spoke of Her Family and of Harry and Meghan not of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. To my reading of this statement HM was saying you are part of the Family and always will be but here for you but we part ways now. The next day it was announced quietly that Frogmore Cottage (not house) was being closed down and staff had been re-assigned to other palaces, only a caretaker living at the house will remain.

So the final settlement is giving up on Royal Titles and styling, no more HRH for either of them. No more Royal military appointments for Harry who was Captain General of the Royal Marines, no more engagements on behalf of the Crown, money is being cut off though Harry may still get some financial support from his father. They will spend most of their time in Canada, though this is a problem in terms of taxation and immigration, I presume the Government of Canada through the Minister of Immigration may extend a special residence permit to them. They cannot immigrate to Canada because they do not meet the basic criteria of University Education and French language skills, they have no employable skills for our job market, being an ex-soldier is not considered a skill in demand and being an actress is also not in demand. They will also have to repay Grandma for the 2.4 Million pounds she spent on refurbishing a few months ago Frogmore Cottage. Their security will also be downgraded to possibly one officer or no security. The Government of Canada does not want to get involved because of the backlash from Canadians on money issues. We are talking of about $3000. CDN dollars a day for both of them which is peanuts really in terms of government spending.

They will have to find a way to make money on their own and support themselves. Yes Harry has money of his own and so does Meghan but that is not going to last forever. With no Official role anymore and a downgrade in their status, how long will the magic last? Once you are a nobody who cares? Or if they take on the lifestyle of celebrities, the media will be like vultures around them. Is that what Meghan really want? There is also the question of the British citizenship Meghan was supposedly working at getting, now that is also up in the air, you have to live in the UK to get citizenship and she does not want to live there.

Who will be their support system in Canada? Meghan claims to have friends due to her stint in Toronto but can they continue to depend on the good favours of friends? Does Harry have any friends in Canada? No, no one. It is a big step down for him and he will experience difficulties in getting accustomed to mere mortal life. The Markle family has started to talk to the Media again and lots of ugliness will come out, including that ill advised lawsuit against the Media, her father wants to testify against her.

I just have a feeling that this is not going to end well. They may find they will have more difficulties than first imagine. As Harry said; this is a leap of faith. Or do they want to spend their life pushing products on, it all sounds tawdry. A sad situation to say the least. Just now the Palace has announced that in one year’s time the situation will be reviewed, it’s an open door for them, maybe they will come to their senses.  In closing this situation cannot be compared to his great uncle Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, they clung to the titles and honours desperately  and wanted to keep the lifestyle which is the opposite of what is happening now. Though the Duke and Wallis found out quickly that their lives were quite boring and lonely despite the notoriety.




Storm Chip Day in PEI


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During the night we could hear the roar of the wind outside, a very big storm is over the Atlantic, passing well South of Halifax in Nova Scotia, we avoided the snow however this storm brings with it very powerful winds. So early this morning the calls went out, all schools remain closed and the University and Holland College also closed. Funerals are postponed for a day, businesses closed early or never opened. Looking out my window I could see visibility was very poor and snow drifts made things worse. The Police advised people to stay home and not take the car anywhere unless it was an emergency. The wind chill factor brings the temperature to about -28 C or -19 F. danger of frosbites. For my dear readers who complain of 57 F as very cold try -19 F for a laugh.


Water street deserted, our street quiet and peaceful.


Prince street looking across the street from our house, the Water Prince Lobster restaurant is quiet for the Winter, re-opening on 15 April for Spring Lobster Season. Love the place this is where we had Will’s Birthday party in December with fresh oysters and lobster. 

Will made from scratch chicken soup and biscuits, who said I wanted to give him away. But things are much worse in Newfoundland across the Gulf of St-Lawrence from us. In St-John’s the capital, the Mayor has declared a state of emergency and shut the city down.  only emergency vehicles, police and fire can circulate. Everyone else is ordered inside at home, the City is getting 70cm of snow in a few hours or 2 feet of snow with winds approaching 150Km per hour which is well into hurricane strength. This is the second such storm this Winter in Newfoundland which is unusual for them and more is coming apparently.


Here on PEI there is an advisory for the Confederation bridge over the Strait to the mainland, I would not want to drive over that sea bridge in high wind, it takes 10 minutes to drive over, scary is the word. Charlottetown airport is closed, flights cancelled or delayed. The streets are deserted.

We could have gone to the Club tonight which is only 4 blocks away down Water Street but the weather is poor and it is very cold and very windy. Overnight the winds will decrease from 70km to 60Km but still more snow drifts etc. Then tomorrow we are suppose to get some snow with the high winds and Sunday might bring more of the same.

So today Will wanted some whip cream and some yogurt for a recipe, I walked over to the convenience store to get him those items but did not linger. Strangely because of the high winds today we did get some patches of blue and some sun for a few minutes.


We have our Official Storm Chips for today so all is well. Covered Bridge a company from New Brunswick makes good chips. Good booze is also de rigueur on such days. A Maritime tradition.

So today we are listening to Emmanuel Chambrier, Pièces Pittoresques composed in 1881. Of the 10 pièces, Idylle and Danse Villageoise are probably the best known. On such a storm day what else can you do. Even our little ones Nicky and Nora don’t want to go out in such awful weather. They prefer to snooze listening to French music.







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Dresden is a city in Saxony, Germany we have often visited since 1998. This city was until 1989 in East Germany after the partition of 1945.  It survived the war unscathed because it was a city known for arts and culture with no military vocation. However all that changed on the nights of February 14 and 15, 1945 just 2 and a half months before the end of the war, when the British launched massive aerial fire bombing of the city.

The old Dresden was completely destroyed and tens of thousands died. After the war under the communist dictatorship of the GDR, the old city was left pretty much as it was with its pile of rubble. Since 1990 it has been rebuilt completely and now there are no traces of the destruction. This in itself presents a problem,  if visitors are told the story of the City they will think it odd that no visible sign remain. On the other hand it all looks pretty new though built in the same style as before the destruction of 1945.


This is the old public square by  the Frauenkirche, the lutheran church of our lady. None of the buildings in this photo including the church existed prior to 2010. It was all rebuilt to look and feel exactly as it use to be. Queen Elizabeth II gave the new cross atop the Church lantern in a gesture of reconciliation.

The most impressive reconstruction in Dresden is the lutheran church of our Lady ”Frauenkirche” built by Georg Bahr between 1726-43, measuring 90 meters in height and all made of stone. We saw it being rebuilt during 3 visits to the city. The interior is beautiful in its baroque decor. The original church like the reconstructed one was built with donations from Lutherans and others. Originally it was a protest by the people against their King August the Strong who had wild ambitions. He decided that he wanted to be King of Poland and of Saxony. The problem was that he would have to convert to the Roman Catholic Faith of the Poles to achieve his goal. He did and built a Catholic cathedral next to his palace. The population was not happy with his decision.


Photo of 1920 of the Frauenkirche


Photo from 1970 the Frauenkirche a ruin, we first saw it in this state prior to the start of the reconstruction. The building itself survived the fire bombing but on 16 February 1945 in the morning the Ministers of the Church went in to see about the damage and while inspecting it the cooling stone of the Church started to crack violently and crashed on top of them. In this photo you see a vast empty field compared with the reconstructed area today.

If you have a chance to visit Dresden, it is well worth it, located halfway between Berlin and Munich.


Royal Family Troubles


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We all know now that Prince Harry and his wife Duchess Meghan have made their announcement on Instagram no less about their branching into a new role living between Canada and the UK . This announcement was made without any prior notice to the Queen, Harry’s grandmother and to his father Prince Charles. The Queen learned of Harry and Meghan’s plans watching the evening news on television. It is beyond word how disrespectful and hurtful to show such callous behaviour. Harry should know better it is after all his family, Meghan well I am not so sure coming from a very dysfunctional family.

Trouble was brewing since the marriage of this pair, Meghan comes from a very different background and culture and was obviously unprepared for a role within the Royal Family. Others like her had difficulties, think of Sophie Countess Wessex, Fergie Duchess of York and Diana, in comparison Meghan has had a easy time of it. I understand it is very difficult to understand how the institution of the Royal Family functions for a common mortal. However she was given support and her Father-in-Law Prince Charles was helpful and generous to her, the Queen also ensured that she was made welcome and allowed her to ease herself into the role of a Royal Family member.

There was plenty of trouble with staff and then with housing, moving from Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage after a 3 million pound renovation paid for by Grandmother the Queen. Meghan was dubbed difficult Meghan. Other problems surfaced when Meghan realized that her husband was not so important after all, now that Prince William and Catherine have 3 children, George, Charlotte and Louis. Harry is now 6th in line and very unlikely to ever become king. The Sussex are reduced to a role of representing the Crown, being nice, kind and helpful that is their role now. It is also obvious that Harry and Meghan do not like to be held to account. The Media noticed that they promote the environment but at the same time take private jets to their destinations. Harry is bored stiff by Official functions which are part and parcel of life at Court.

After getting their 6 weeks vacation on Vancouver Island in Canada to think and reflect based on preliminary discussions they had with Prince Charles, Prince William, the Queen and advisors on their future role and despite being told to be patient by the Queen at Christmas time while a formula was being devised to accommodate them, Harry and Meghan went ahead with their announcement. This matter is complicated because it involves funding despite their saying that they would be financially independent at this time their personal private wealth is about $45 million dollars US.  There is also the matter of their security given that they are internationally protected persons, meaning that security detail must accompany them everywhere. That is also paid for by taxpayers. If they move to Canada or if they visit the USA who would pay?

Currently they were receiving the Sovereign’s Grant which covered 5% of their expenses and the rest came from Prince Charles through the Duchy of Cornwall. Now the Grant is gone and the portion paid by Charles is in jeopardy given that the British Government, Parliament and the public will have a word to say about it. Would taxpayers agree to fund a Prince who is no longer part of the institution? Not likely it has been reported this morning that 67% of Brits are against any monies coming their way now. You cannot only perform some functions part of the year and merchandize your brand, it would lead to conflict of interest charges. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex tried it 30 years ago and it was a fiasco.

Meghan as of today is now back in Vancouver with baby Archie, which was left behind with his nanny and staff while the couple returned to London to make their announcement. There is no plans for her to return to the UK. Harry is now scheduled to meet with his father and later with the Queen who is said to be extremely upset. Many in the public are asking why is Her Majesty being put through this at her age, she will be 94 in April. Prince Philip is ill and 98, Harry refused to return to England at Christmas time to be with his grand parents. Many are asking who is advising Harry to behave in this fashion? Fingers are pointed at Meghan, there is really no one else to explain this change in him towards his family since his marriage.

Another important point that is being missed is that we are dealing here with a dynasty, lineage and succession is everything or the only thing. Many noticed on the Christmas Day message from the Queen, the pictures on her desk, her father King George VI, Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince William, Catherine and their children. In the background Prince Philip but no Harry or Meghan. The truth, the Sussexes are not that important anymore in the line of succession. Their role is very different from that of Prince William and Catherine. It is a simple reality and nothing to do with excluding anyone.

The latest photo issued by Buckingham Palace show that succession, in front of the Throne you have the Queen, Prince Charles who will succeed her, Prince William his son and heir and Prince George. That is the future, maybe this is what Meghan failed to understand, the rigidity of the system, a system that cannot be changed because it represents stability, continuity and tradition for the nation and the Commonwealth.

As for Harry and Meghan, whatever happens now, we can wish them good luck as they fade from public view. Many are predicting that it will not go well for them, you cannot divorce yourself from your family and like his great uncle the Duke of Windsor, Harry may find life to be very lonely on the outside.


An interesting site


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Well today was a stay at home day and eat your storm Chips day. Yes we got 30 cm of snow and blowing winds, so this morning around 7am it was announced that everything was shutting down for the day. There was no cars to be seen on the street and one or two people occasionally walking a dog. The City has not really cleaned anything yet so driving is difficult at best and the sidewalks have disappeared. So it is best to stay at home. Here is a photo of Queen street, a block from the water,  a veritable winter wonderland. wea_maritime_storms_20150216.jpg

Our two little ones Nicky and Nora did not want to go out at all. Though Nora loves to sample freshly fallen snow. I should ask her what it taste like.

There is a site on the Internet I have been following for some time, it is in French and comes from France, the author Marie-Christine Pénin does a lot of research on the sepulture of famous people and churches, cemeteries and catacombs which may contain the tomb of people who have made a mark in time. Her work takes her back often some 600 years or in some cases more recently in the last 90 years.

Reading her blog is fascinating, she researches all kinds of people, from Kings to actresses and even murderers. She gives background on the life of the person and how they died and were they are buried, in many cases the tombs may have disappeared because of urban renewal, demolition of churches or closing of cemeteries.

What I did not know was the amount of attacks on the dead perpetrated by the French Revolution or what Simon Schama like to call it, the French Civil War in his book Citizens.

Often Marie-Christine Pénin will write about a Paris neighbourhood and how it has changed in the last 400 years. The Paris of today has little to do with the Paris of pre-1870. She provides maps and the old former name of streets. Photos also of what the street or buildings look like today. It is fascinating to discover how the dead fared in the years after they were buried. Today she was writing about the famous church of La Madeleine in Paris, many thousand of tourist visit it each year. She started by telling us that the parish of Marie-Madeleine hence La Madeleine has existed since the year 800 AD. The current church we see is rather new and gave us a brief history of its construction and the people involved. But in that story she introduces the story of the Revolution and the guillotine and where the bodies of the victims of the summary revolutionary justice were buried.

There use to be 3 cemeteries in and around La Madeleine, during the revolution specifically 1792-1794 the years of La terreur (the terror) thousands of people from all walks of life were executed, simply being suspected of some kind of wrong doing and off with your head. The grave diggers could not keep up with the mass arrivals of dead bodies and heads to be buried, it was mayhem and the resident of the neighbourhood would complain of the terrible odour coming from the grave site, no coffins were used and bodies were quickly disposed of.

Each person who was guillotine was transported in a cart pele mele with other unfortunates. Once at the grave site, corpses would be unloaded, any personal object was taken and entered in a ledger to be given to a caretaker. Bodies were stripped naked and tossed into a common grave, heads and all. After the revolution, in 1815 at the Restoration of the Monarchy under Louis XVIII there was a search for missing members of the French Royal Family. Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette were found easily, they had been buried in a designated spot in one of the cemeteries and today you can see the Chapelle expiatoire built on the site of their original graves. However Madame Elizabeth, the sister of Louis XVI was executed in 1794 and buried in a common grave with hundreds of others, her body was never found.

Kings of France and Princes and Princesses and great Officers of the Kingdom were buried at Cathedrale of Saint-Denis. At the revolution mobs descended on the church and violated the tombs dragging the remains of the Kings and others and dumping the corpses into a common pit on the side of the Church. At the restoration in 1815 much work was done to recover the royal remains and place them back inside the church. A new mausoleum was erected for Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. They are now buried in St-Denis.  Another body that was never found was that of Philippe Duc d’Orléans known during the revolution as Philippe Egalité, he was the cousin of Louis XVI.

Philippe had a huge grudge against the King and voted at the trial for his execution, surprising Robespierre and others. However just to make sure 48 hours later a second vote was taken, the revolutionaries were not so sure they wanted to execute Louis who was not a bad fellow just a bumbler, again Philippe voted the death of his cousin. He himself was arrested later and executed buried in a common pit a few steps from his unfortunate cousin Louis and sister-in-law Marie-Antoinette.


If you are interested by French history here is the site link    The site is in French.



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I love to watch YouTube videos about historical places. There are quite a few made on French chateaux like Versailles and the numerous renovations it is going through, currently the roof of the Chapelle of the Palace is being rebuilt, it has never been done since the construction of the Palace as we know it today in 1668.

There was another Chateau called Marly, not very far by carriage or horse ride from Versailles. Louis XIV love going there, it was very small and simple if compared to Versailles. Marly was an hermitage or refuge for the King from the daily State Ceremonial of Versailles. Marly was abandoned or neglected after Louis XIV death in September 1715.  At the revolution it was sold to a merchant who dismantled it and sold off the stones and wood of the building. Today what remains is the beautiful gardens surrounding the footprint of Marly and the great water works.


Extensive archeological work has taken place on the foundation of Marly and what has been discovered gives an excellent idea of what life was like. Much details of the building exist thanks to archival material and extensive architectural drawings. Louis XIV came to Marly to relax and only 100 persons could come by INVITATION only. An even smaller number could stay overnight in the small pavilion built on either side of the palace. You can count 6 pavilion on either side. The closer the pavilion was to the main house where the King lived the closer that person was considered to be to the King.


To bring the water to Marly as shown above was a feat of engineering and a huge pumping machine had to be built so that each day the hydraulics would pump enough water to feed the pools and let the fountains play. The cost alone annually was by today’s standard in the millions of dollars.

To be invited to Marly was an honour anyone at Court was willing to fight viciously over. To suggest to the King that you wanted to be invited, if he looked at you or said a few words, you could exclaim; A Marly Sire! ( take me to Marly Sire) and maybe Louis would take the hint and then maybe not.

In the course of all the archeological investigation, even the latrines were examined. Medical pathologists were brought in to study the general health of people living at Marly at the time of Louis XIV. It turns out that it made no difference if you were the King, a great aristocrat or a minor one, or just a servant, everyone had worms. To such an extent that excrements were alive with them. Doctors of the period would examine feces and make detailed notes, even drawings of the various worms infecting a person. Some of the drawings are fanciful, like little dragons or creatures. It appears that people would live with the condition because it was a common situation in society in general, sanitation was not a concern.

Louis XIV lived to be 76 years old and died of diabetes and gangrene. Others Courtiers lived to be in their 80’s.

If Versailles with thousands of Courtiers living there had no toilets and no bathing facilities, you did your business under the great staircases or in a corner. Marly had latrines, the King used chamber pots, a special chair was designed for this purpose and he would perform this natural functions surrounded by Courtiers who were given special access to observe. The person of the King was viewed as State Property by all, so the King and Queen were on stage 24/7, what a life!

This being an age where messages from the most mundane to the very important had to be written and sent with your seal to the intended party you can imagine the message traffic. If today we have gmail and some of us get a lot of emails each day, imagine getting on average 50 letters per day or more. What to do with all those billets? Paper then was not like today and did not have the same stiffness or acidity we have in our paper. So it could be re-used and so it was as toilet paper. You only kept the most valuable or important letters or billet and the rest was put to good use. The remnants of letters were discovered by the archeologists in the latrines of Marly.

In old age Louis XIV suffered from numerous health problems, he had lost all his teeth, a common condition then for anyone over 35 years of age. His palate had been perforated by his doctors, a mishap while trying to cure something else. He had gout, he also had diabetes and the disease was so advanced that in July of 1715 his doctors suggested amputating his leg. His advisors rejected that idea, the King was brought back to Versailles, everyone knew he was condemned, he declined quickly and he died in September. Having lost all this children to various diseases, his great-grandson Louis XV became King. marly2.jpg

This photo shows a square area which is the footprint of the Chateau of Marly with the surrounding forest and gardens with statues. The last pair of statues were installed in the presence of the King only 2 months before his death.