The first of May 2021 marks our five year stay in PEI, it was already 5 years ago we arrived from Ottawa, with the puppies and all our earthly belonging. We are so used to living on the Island, in Winter we never leave town, we know pretty much everyone and have truly settled here. Our days are full of activities and people to see.
Last night we invited our friends who suggested the apartment we have now and who helped us greatly to get settled in. We had a wonderful dinner with them, leg of lamb and Mezzeh.
After this pandemic and the disaster we see in our old town of Ottawa, we are so glad to be here and to have a quiet life. Little did we know then how coming to PEI was a lifesaver for us and how it made going through this pandemic so much easier.
I always wanted to live by the sea and this also is a dream come true. Going to our beach cottage in July is loads of fun. This year like last year we will miss our friends and family who cannot come to visit us. But we are hopeful that 2022 will be different and a possible adaptation to the new normal.
We really cannot see now living elsewhere, this is home.
Finally today we are having sunshine and mild temp, in the next few days it will go up to 14C, however for the Easter Weekend looks like rain and 6C.
This morning we went to Leonhard’s for breakfast, owned by a swiss german fellow, this café has a very elegant european flair to it, not only in its relaxed and elegant decor but also in the food they serve. All of it is clearly inspired by European cuisine and not the usual North American fair.
I had an omelette with vegetables, it was very fluffy and seasoned just right, something you do not encounter usually in restaurants here. Tables are set with fresh flowers, tulips at this time of the year. You could say that the atmosphere is clean, crisp and relaxed. No background music which is nice. In the summer they have ample boxes of flowers and hanging green plants on the front sidewalk.
We have another German bakery which just opened also on Great George street but on the South side of the Provincial Legislature, again offering a very different fair from all the other restaurants/café in town. More geared towards the local crowd instead of the tourist crowd.
This morning one of the blogs I follow, entitled Berlin Companion featured the National Monument to the Wars of Liberation in Kreuzberg on its 200 Anniversary.
For people who have visited the Invalides in Paris, under the dome is the Tomb of Emperor Napoleon, you will probably have noticed the 12 columns in a circle around the tomb, they represent the 12 military campaigns of Napoleon all across Europe over 12 years, basically continuous wars during his reign. The Monument on the Kreuzberg in Berlin also refers to the 12 wars which are named wars of Liberation from French oppression. There are all over Germany, other monuments were built celebrating that liberation from this constant warfare waged by Napoleon in his effort to conquer Europe and appoint himself the new Charlemagne.
This is something very rarely mentioned in history books and certainly never mentioned by French authors who prefer to present Napoleon’s action as a romantic endeavour. However if you follow the historical tread you will see that those wars sowed the seeds for further wars in the 19th century between France and German States and Prussia and after 1870 a unified Germany. It is almost a seesaw effect of trying to correct wrongs. Think 1870 Franco-Prussian War, 1914-1918 and then 1939-1945, in all those conflicts the underlying narrative is revenge, either by Germany or France.
The National Monument on Kreuzberg (Cross Hill) leads down the avenue to Belle-Alliance Platz this alliance/Treaty between Great-Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia created and maintained an army of 600,000 men until such time as Napoleon was completely defeated and overthrown. This Belle-Alliance ultimately led to Waterloo. Since 1945 Belle-Alliance Platz has been renamed Mehring Platz and sadly completely modernized.
On March 30, 1821 – the seventh anniversary of the Prussian charge of Montmartre and of the conquest of Paris, which unavoidably triggered Napoleon’s demise in 1814 – King Friedrich Wilhelm III arrived on top of the Tempelhofer Berg (also known as the Weinberg, soon to be renamed Kreuzberg). The highest natural elevation in what is now central Berlin but back in the days was still part of a district outside the city limits.
Accompanied by an illustrious guest, Russian Tsar Alexander I – Friedrich Wilhelm’s brother-in-arms in the conflict with Napoleon Bonaparte – Prussian monarch came to witness the unveiling of a monument commemorating their victories in what came to be known as the Wars of Liberation, 1802-1814.
As Prussia’s military ally in the wars against Napoleon it was Alexander who prevented the king – as well as the Austrian emperor for he was wavering, too – from making what could have been the biggest mistake in the history of the Coalition: he convinced them to take Paris instead of withdrawing their troops. Now it was time to celebrate these good choices.
National Memorial for Wars of Liberation – a 200-tonne cast-iron tapering structure installed on an octagonal stone base – was the work of Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Johann Heinrich Strack (who was responsible for the stone base).
Schinkel, supported by several renown contemporary artists with Christian Daniel Rauch as the most prominent among them, created an artwork which truly had everything a memorial of this kind should possess: it was impressive, it was elegant, it was positively oozing with symbols which everybody understood and was happy to see included and, last but not least, it had twelve extremely good-looking statues with faces the crowds back then were often able to recognise.
The memorial’s leitmotiv was a cross: it was a direct reference to a new military decoration introduced by King Friedrich Wilhelm III in 1813 after the Battle of Leipzig: the legendary Eiserne Kreuz, the Iron Cross. The foot of the memorial itself is shaped liked one, too, and you will see the shape repeated from the memorial’s bottom to its very top.
The 200-year-old memorial in Viktoriapark inspired the name of the hill and the neighbourhood.
Today my mother would be 90 years old, she died some 7 years ago after a long illness.
Always elegant, this photo was taken in my parents apartment at the Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa by their friend photographer Yusuf Karsh who also lived at the hotel for many decades.
I often think of her and how a wonderful person she was to us kids in our childhood. I have her sense of organization and looking forward. She instilled in us the importance of reading and learning. She loved the arts in all its form and she would speak to us about it. Though she is gone now, she is still with us in many ways.
Today I realized that we have been in PEI 5 years now. The weather today and yesterday has been Spring like and with the lack of ice and snow, it got me thinking that we came to this small Island province at this time in 2016. The mild weather then was a shock for us, we had left Ottawa that morning covered in ice and snow and a -35 C., a few hours later in Charlottetown getting off the plane unto the tarmac it was so mild that I thought we are in Florida.
So much has happened to us in the last few years, a real learning curve. Life on an Island you can cross from tip to tip 5 hours of driving with a small population and you get a microcosm of society in general but very inward looking. So you have to think like they do to make sense of every day. I think the big difference came one year ago when with the start of the Pandemic the Island isolated itself from the outside world and basically cut off Covid 19. It is surreal in many ways, if you look at other Provinces who are struggling with the pandemic.
Vaccination rates are going very well in PEI tonight it stands at 3.3% which is higher than all other Provinces. The only place where it is much higher is the far North where it is around 30%. Unfortunately the media has spent the last week fear mongering amongst people over a delay in shipment of vaccines, though I fail to see how a small blip will affect the population in general. In Canada vaccination is handled by the Provinces and we have seen incredible incompetence by wanna by Trumpites like Doug Ford of Ontario and Jason Kenney of Alberta.
So all in all we are happy to be here away from the madness on the mainland.
Today 6 February it was 45 F. in Charlottetown this is NOT Winter weather but it has been like this for a few days now and I am not complaining.
Also today, where were you 69 years ago on this 6 February. Princess Elizabeth was in Kenya with her husband Prince Philip on a tour of Commonwealth Countries. On this day, in the early morning, she learned that her father King George VI had died of lung cancer and she was now Queen of Canada, UK and other realms. Today is Accession Day and next year 2022 will be the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II something that has never happened before.
With November another Anniversary for us. It has been 43 years since we met and have been together all these decades. A whirlwind as the photos attest. Of course there are more photos but this would be a movie and I do not want to bore you dear readers. This year we will have a quiet celebration at home with a glass of bubbly. Probably for our 45th in 2022 we will have to do a big party, like hire Frank Sinatra to sing with Benny Goodman’s orchestra, I hope they’re available.
H.M. Queen Elizabeth and H.R.H. Prince Philip are celebrating their 70th Wedding Anniversary. Here is the Official photo taken for the occasion.
The couple married at London’s Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20, 1947, just two years after the end of World War Two, in a lavish ceremony attended by statesmen and royalty from around the world.
The portrait, taken earlier this month, showed the queen wearing the same dress which she chose for a service of thanksgiving to mark their diamond wedding anniversary held at the Abbey where they were married.
She is also wearing a “Scarab” brooch in yellow gold, carved ruby and diamond which Philip gave her in 1966.
Elizabeth has been married for far longer than any other royal, and the newly-released picture showed the couple framed by Thomas Gainsborough’s 1781 portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte, (Charlottetown PEI) who were married for 57 years – the second longest royal marriage.
On this day 150 years ago just a few months after the Dominion of Canada was proclaimed in Ottawa, Parliament opened and the House of Commons sat for the first time.
The two Mace, one for the House of Commons and one for the Senate of Canada, symbol of the authority of the Crown as exercised through the elected Parliament. They are paraded every day at the opening of the Sessions in the House and in the Senate. Only the Sergeant at Arms can carry the Mace, followed by the Gentlemen Usher of the Black Rod and the Speaker.
The original centre block of Parliament in 1867 which housed the House of Commons on the left of the photo and the Senate on the right, this building will be destroyed in 1916 by a fire started by a cigar butt left in the Reading Room.
So to mark this sesquicentennial today in the House of Commons several retired Prime Ministers were present, the Right Honourable Joe Clark (C), John Turner (L), Brian Mulroney (C) and Paul Martin (L).
Also two retired Speakers were present John Bosley and Peter Milliken and some retired Senators all sitting in the gallery of the House of Commons.
The Canadian House of Commons
Parliament today, much bigger than the original after its reconstruction in 1919.
For as long as I can remember, going back into my childhood our coffee pot was a Bialetti Moka, making essentially Espresso. But if you look up the word Espresso in an Italian dictionary you will see; Caffè (pronounced [kafˈfɛ]) is the Italian word for coffee and probably originates from “Kaffa”, the region in Ethiopia where coffee originated. Caffè may refer to the Italian way of preparing a coffee, an espresso, or occasionally used as a synonym for the European coffee bar.
My parents never used any other type of coffee machine at home and when I moved out on my own, at first for some unexplained reason, was drinking instant coffee, Maxwell House was a favourite. At work, we had absolutely awful coffee made in industrial machines provided by companies who sold bulk powdered coffee. When I joined the Foreign Service and went on posting, I rediscovered coffee made correctly and providing for aroma and good tasting cup.
In the Middle-East I learned to make Turkish coffee, which is often flavoured with cardamon, drinking it black with one sugar (Masbout).
Then a few years ago, I returned to the old Moka method. It is by far the easiest way of making coffee, always good. Of course Espresso is suppose to be served in a small cup or demi-tasse, not in a mug. So I came to realize that maybe we were drinking too much coffee simply by the size of the cup. For years now I drink my coffee with a dash of milk macchiato.
Today at lunch at one of our favourite places LOCAL 343 on Water street on the patio, Will reminded me that on Friday 7 July it is our 10 Wedding Anniversary (Tin). We were married in a friends home garden in Ottawa. I had just completed my posting to Beijing, had come home to Canada and we were on our final preparation to move to Rome. Our old long hair dachshund Reese was with us that day, he was coming with us to Italy. We had a few friends present, it was a small affair. Not to forget that 2018 will be our 40th Anniversary of being together.
Our wedding day with our minister, July 2007
Unfortunately because our little wire hair Dachshund Nora had a misadventure with some poison this past few days, we have cancelled our trip to the Iles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St-Lawrence, we were going with friends and my uncle, aunt and cousins were to be there also. Nora is doing better and that is what matters to us, we would not have felt happy being away from her not feeling completely well.
Finally this week, McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine have returned to us in a formal ceremony the ashes of my late father who died 2 years ago on 12 July. We will bury him at Sea, as was his wishes later in September. In his will my father had stipulated that his remains be given to medical science for research work.
Dad and I, at lunch at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal a few years ago.
Today on the 18 April 1881 in London the British Museum opened. What a great institution it is.
Also on the 18 April 1506, the construction on the new Saint Peter’s Basilica started, it would last 100 years and a further 30 years was required to do the interior decorations the interior was decorated by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. In 1561 Michelangelo was asked to come and work on the building, he designed part of the dome but died before it was completed. The old Saint Peter which had been built in the 4th century AD was destroyed, the building was so old and in a state of disrepair, it had become unsafe.
Here is a fresco in the Church of San Martino in Rome showing the inside of the Old Saint Peter’s basilica before it was demolished.
Some 35 years ago on 17 April 1982 the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which is enshrined in our Constitution.
Queen Elizabeth II signs the Proclamation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on Parliament Hill, sitting at the table is Prime Minister Pierre E. Trudeau.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown