Almost every Saturday morning we go to the Farmer’s Market, we are lucky here on this Agricultural Island that we do have a lot of farmers, real ones, none of the phoney farmers seen in so many urban markets. We are also lucky that many people shopping around have developed a personal relationship with various suppliers for their eggs, poultry, lamb, beef, cheese, fresh produce, etc..
Today I bought some very nice cheeses and some fresh lamb for stew and a leg of lamb to roast. The various farmers have developed their products to be natural and free of hormones or other nasty products usually found in grocery store supplies.
We buy our meat from Steerman, he is the old style farmer, you buy from his farm and he can give you which ever cut of beef you want. Same with chicken from Larkin or lamb. With every purchase comes also a bit of a chat, it is customary to do so.
So we bought lamb for a stew and found this really fun recipe and one that looks easy to make. On YouTube at KITCHEN SANCTUARY, the recipe is called Lancashire Hotpot.
I also bought a turkey pot pie from Larkin’s and we will have that for dinner tomorrow.
Of course, we are still thinking of the death of Prince Philip yesterday, it seems that many thought he would live forever. He was for me a mainstay all my life. We did have the Queen Mother but this was different, she belonged to the time of her husband, King George VI.
Philip and Elizabeth were married 73 years, next week the Lieutenant Governor of PEI is coming to the Club to re-dedicate a portrait of HM taken in 1951 some 70 years ago when the then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were on their first visit to Canada and PEI, Her Father only had about 3 months to live. What was not mentioned yesterday, it was the 16th Wedding Anniversary of Prince Charles and Camilla. The Queen’s birthday is in a few days and she will turn 95.
It was explained yesterday by the College of Arms or Heralds, that the title of the Duke of Edinburgh now passes to his son Charles, who is also Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay. When Charles becomes King, the Dukedom will be extinguished until such times as he gives it to another member of the Family. It is fully expected that the title of Duke of Edinburgh will go to his younger brother Edward the Earl of Wessex.
At the moment Prince Philip is lying at rest (not in State) in a chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. The Royal Memorial Service (not a State funeral) will be held at St-George’s Chapel at Windsor castle and not at Westminster Cathedral. Those were the wishes of the Prince who did not want any fuss as he put it. However he will have his Statue on the empty plinth at Trafalgar square in London in a few years time.
For the time being his coffin will rest in the vault of St-George’s Chapel until the Queen dies and then they will be buried together in a mausoleum on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Prince Charles now will assume even more responsibilities, he has taken over much of every day duties delegated by his mother the Queen, we have entered what seems to me as a transitory period. The video was made a few hours ago at Highgrove the Residence of Prince Charles and Camilla, about 90 minutes outside London
The first news I heard this morning in a special news bulletin on the CBC was of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, husband to Her Majesty the Queen. It really is for us Canadians the end of an era. After 70 years of distinguish public duty at the age of 99. The longest serving Prince Consort in Canadian and British history.
His childhood was one of adversity, his family was forced from Greece into exile, his parents Prince Andrew and Princess Alice separated and he spent his childhood moving from one relative to another and going to many different schools.
Born at the Palace of Mon Repos on the Isle of Corfu in Greece on June 10, 1921, Prince of Greece and Denmark, Philip’s four older sisters were Margharita, Theodora, Cecilie, and Sophie.
He was born in Greece, but his family was exiled from the country when he was eighteen months old. After being educated in France, Germany and the United Kingdom, he joined the British Royal Navy in 1939, aged 18. From July 1939, he began corresponding with the thirteen-year-old, Princess Elizabeth whom he had first met in 1934. During the Second World War he served with distinction in the Mediterranean and Pacific Fleets. After the war, Philip was granted permission by King George VI to marry Elizabeth. Before the official announcement of their engagement in July 1947, he renounced his Greek and Danish titles and styles, changed his religion from Greek Orthodox to Anglican, became a British Subject and adopted his maternal grandparents’ surname Mountbatten. He married Princess Elizabeth on 20 November 1947. Just before the wedding, he was granted the style His Royal Highness and created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King George VI. Philip left active military service when Elizabeth became queen in 1952, having reached the rank of commander of the British Navy, and was made Prince of Great Britain, on their 10th Wedding Anniversary in 1957 by his wife Queen Elizabeth.
Philip had four children with Elizabeth: HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Heir to the Throne; HRH Princess Anne, The Princess Royal; HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
A sports enthusiast, Philip helped develop the equestrian event of carriage driving. He was a patron, president, or member of over 780 organizations, and he served as chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a self-improvement program for young people aged 14 to 24. He was the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch and the longest-lived male member of the British royal family. He retired from his royal duties on 2 August 2017, aged 96, having completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952.
The Queen referred to Prince Philip in a speech on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 as her “constant strength”.
His favourite Hymn called the Sailor’s Hymn, Eternal Father, Strong to Save.
So the festivities of my Birthday have come to an end, it was great fun and the food and cakes were much appreciated by my guests. Will did a wonderful job of organizing it all.
Sunday night I went online to book my turn for the Covid Vaccine. We have a system here on PEI called SKIP THE LINE, this allows you to book a medical appointment online if your family medical doctor is not available and you need to see a doctor pronto. I think it is better than going to Emergency, no waiting and once you booked a time you go at the appointed hour. They even send you a text telling you that you should leave home and make your way to the clinic, your turn is coming up.
So I booked online by vaccination date, all I needed was to give my name, home address, DOB and my Health Card number, within a minute I was booked for 27 April.
Vaccinations are given at the hockey arena about 5 minutes from our house. Will is booked for earlier in the month. The Government here follows a system of decreasing age for vaccination. They started 2 months ago with anyone over the age of 85+ then proceeded with all front line medical staff, etc. then doctors and dentists, etc.
Recently they also offered the vaccine to anyone working in a kitchen, restaurant or bar between the ages of 18 to 29. So it is going pretty fast and by 1 July it is now estimated that 80% of the population will have been vaccinated. PEI is way ahead of the National average and we have had none of the gong show and incompetence of Ontario and Alberta where politicians are playing medical doctor.
Spring is definitely here, with lots of rain and sun and mixed in together, mild weather is very nice. Now everyone is talking about what to do this Summer.
Today 11 March is the National Day of Mourning for all the Canadian victims of the Pandemic, some 22,000 Canadians died from Covid 19 in one year. Half of those victims lived in the province of Quebec, something I still do not understand.
All flags were at half-mast and Radio-Canada had a lovely music program this evening in memory of our dead. We remain very fortunate in PEI with no hospitalizations and no deaths.
No I do not mean the duty you pay at Custom but Duty in the classic sense, a moral or legal obligation; a responsibility and a task or action that someone is required to perform. It seems that today many people have forgotten the meaning of duty and put self first.
After the infamous and controversial interview of Meghan and Prince Harry with Oprah, it brought back memories of what duty is like when you serve in the Foreign Service has I did for 34 years and what it actually meant.
I know that for many who do not know the world of service to the Crown, it is very difficult to understand and often the mistake is to think that you can ignore the rules governing your life during your period of service. There are a lot of rules and some require that you put your personal opinions or beliefs on the back seat. All that you do is governed by protocol, precedents, well established rules, duty and nothing else matters.
This is why when people talk about Harry and Meghan pursuing their personal happiness and leaving a toxic environment, I think that some really do not understand what comes first and foremost in the service of the Crown. Harry was born into the royal family and into traditions 1000 years old. That does not change overnight or because fashion dictates it, it’s a progressive process, often taking decades to change somewhat, if at all. Unfortunately Meghan, an outsider and a foreigner, who married into this institution did not appear to understand that by doing so she married into everything that is the Crown. That is what is truly tragic and unfortunate, I blame Harry for not explaining and being truthful with her about the numerous constraints. I blame her for not understanding a system where rank matters a lot, she thought she could ignore long established convention and precedent. She was going to change things, so she believed.
When I joined the Foreign Service, it was made clear to me that I would have to follow the rules and back then during the Cold War and all that it entailed, there were a lot of constraints. Then there was also rules about life on posting and how it would be, not how I wanted it to be. I was given a clear option to walk out the door, before signing legal papers and taking my Oath of Office to the Crown and start my career.
There were rules around security in general and how to handle Secret Documents. How to write and prepare them, if you did not follow the pattern established, you simply had to start over until you got it right. We had to learn how to prepare a diplomatic pouch and how to make knots and how to register them, no mistakes aloud and constantly watched by a supervisor. We had to learn how to write notes and papers and then they would go through vetting by often 6 people up the chain and anyone of them could send it back to you, with notes in red ink, to correct or change what you had done. It could take days to get it right, every word, every coma mattered.
Then the briefings would start before going on posting, on what to wear or not to wear. You were told that you were always on duty 24/7 no matter what. Informal never meant without tie or jacket, even when you travelled on long journeys, looking good was always important. Even if you travelled with small children, arrangements had to be made so to not let personal matters slip into the Official, again you are on duty 24/7 do not forget it.
Before going on posting, we had to have a full medical evaluation, then shots for all manner of foreign or exotic diseases, carry a vaccination booklet with us to show that we had been vaccinated for X, Y, Z. The nurse at Post would call you in for re-vaccination when needed, no you could not refuse a vaccine. If you did, your posting would be cancelled, it also blocked your career progress. There was no discussion possible on this topic.
You were also expected to blend into the culture of the country you served in to a certain degree. Never criticize, never say anything that might be seen as hostile or critical of the country in which you served. Always remember the Official position of the government and stick to it no matter what.
In terms of food, there was no such thing as declaring yourself vegetarian or whatever. You ate everything presented and thanked your host for the dish. Keep the conversation neutral, never criticize or comment negatively the host government or the head of State even if he is a bloody dictator. If your government wishes to send a message, the Ambassador will have a letter to deliver and present, even if it is fairly unpleasant. I remember travelling to a country and having to make a request, only to be screamed at in the most vile way by my host and having to sit there and simply keep silent, recording for my report what was being said. Making a polite exit afterwards. Do nothing, say nothing, that is what is expected by your superiors back home.
Yes Official functions are boring and some are boring to death, but you are there for a purpose and a reason, never forget that. I had to go to lots and lots of Official functions and smile and say polite words. Deliver a message from my government, etc. I did it and live to tell the tale. Sometimes you met nice people, sometimes not. The food was always the same and followed a pattern. Some time is was good other times it was so so.
There were also all manner of rules on when you could go on vacation, following ranking order from most senior to junior. You were assigned a living quarter based on your family configuration and rank at the Embassy. No one asked what you would like, you were assigned a living space and paid rent to your employer who is also your landlord.
You might have to travel during civil unrest or war condition in the country where you lived and worked. It’s your job, no one said it was going to be fun. I remember colleagues going to war zone, or countries in the grip of civil war. You hear gun fire and explosions, in the morning you pass by dead corpses on the streets, picked over by dogs or vultures. Well it comes with the territory, you do your job, trusting that someone back home is looking after your well being.
I could go on writing about all the rules and all the many things we had to do which were part of the job, we accepted. So this is why I have NO sympathies for Meghan and her complaints. I would say to her, look honey, it’s not about you. This is what you signed up for, get it. Please do not drag poor Diana into this story, she died 25 years ago and it is frankly irrelevant now and you are not her re-incarnation. The only thing that really matters in this business, is the Sovereign and service to the Crown, your duty.
Yes, there was loneliness, boredom and sometimes the colleagues with whom you were at post in a foreign country were jerks. So you simply used your imagination and invented some other ways to amuse yourself and this in an age before home computers or the internet.
Finally I would say that other members of the Royal Family had a difficult time of it. Princess Alice, the mother of Prince Philip, her life was very difficult and dangerous. Prince Philip from birth, having to meet numerous difficulties and shunted here and there and then after marrying the future Queen Elizabeth was often ignored and marginalized, he had to wait 10 years or until 1957 before he was made a Prince of Great Britain by his wife. Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, etc… all had to face challenges. Even Kate Middleton now Duchess of Cambridge and future Queen. It is not an easy life but it is a choice. So as Bertolt Brecht use to say, in life you make your bed and you lie in it.
I am currently reading the newest book by Barack Obama, A PROMISE LAND, published by Crown. I cannot recommend enough this book, highly readable, interesting and as a political biography the style draws in the reader. It helps that I always admired Obama as a highly intelligent man. He is generous in presenting also in the book Michelle as a life partner. He is honest and open which is very refreshing in a politician of any country.
This was a long weekend and an extra day is being added tomorrow, because of bad weather, snow and ice rain, it has been declared a snow day, meaning everything will be shut down, stay home. Today was also very quiet, all stores closed for Islander Day. The only action was across the street in the round house park at Founder’s Hall on the skating rink, lots of skaters and horse rides on the big coach, a good day, brilliant sunshine and a brisk wind.
I have been kept fairly busy with Club business, I am now doing the weekly newsletter and it contains many features and is ever changing from week to week.
Spring (March 21) is only 4 weeks away and the groundhog said that it will be an early Spring, better be otherwise he is going to end up on the Bar-B-Q. It has been a very mild winter, easy to take. I wonder what our Summer will be like, no cruise ships at all this year again, there probably will be few tourists, the Island is still close to all except essential services. I really don’t mind mass tourism spoils it for all.
I have seen in the weather that London, Paris, Berlin are covered in snow which is unusual for them, though they do have cold and humid Winters with no central heating. I remember Winter mornings in Rome, it was chilly with all those marble floors and no central heat.
As the song says, What difference a day make. This morning woke up to see my windows, we have 18 of them all around blanketed with snow. The streets are deserted and everything is shut down for this Snow Day. The car is buried under a metre of snow, this is going to be fun to clean up. The worst part is the high powerful wind which tosses the snow here and there.
I suppose that my campaign to promote PEI as an Island Winter Paradise is blown off course. I blame the CBC Weather guy, Jay Scotland.
In just 7 hours from NO snow to this, sidewalks are unpassable, very slippery. It is also very quiet and peaceful. It’s only -3C. Tomorrow sunshine which should be nice on the fresh snow.
This past week was busy with all manner of things. Friday night was great fun, we went to the Club to a Scotch tasting evening, had 3 Irish whiskeys and 3 single malts scotch, haggis of course, I love the stuff and some smoke salmon bagel and cream cheese ( lox, bagels with schmear as my father use to say). In the bar across the corridor they were serving pulled pork sandwiches with drinks. After the scotch tasting I had 2 flutes of prosecco to end the evening. For the Scotch tasting Will made a special dessert, it was a very big hit, a recipe he found on Glen and Friends on YouTube, Roast Bread Irish Whiskey Ice Cream, he used 12 year old Yellow Spot Irish Whiskey and it made an impression with the group.
The weather is still strange but apparently we are suppose to get a big storm on Tuesday, looks like snow and rain and winds of 68km per hour. In the five years we have been here, Winters are a mix of snow and rain and lots of wind. I will be sure to do the Island thing and get my Storm Chips, we like Miss Vickie’s chips. Some neighbours also like to get a roast chicken just in case of power outage, though that is not likely for us since we live in the centre of the Capital near government buildings. This will be our first snow storm on 2 February, late really in the Season.
Well the Prime Minister announced on Friday that Canadians cannot leave Canada, many had failed to listen to the advice not to travel outside Canada since 1 January and the rates of infections is still high in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta and the health system in those 3 provinces is collapsing with difficult decisions to be made on who will live and who will die. The Premiers of Ontario, the most incompetent Doug Ford and Francois Legault of Quebec demanded that the Prime Minister close the border. So as of Friday night all flights out of Canada especially those going South to Florida, Carribean and Mexico are stopped. People can come home but upon arrival will be tested for Covid 19 and immediately isolated in an hotel for 3 days at their own expense. Then if they are negative will be sent home and will face strict police surveillance to ensure they are respecting the 14 day quarantine. Those who test positive will be sent to a Federal facility, most probably an army base where they will stay until all clear. Draconian measures for sure but given the attitude of many who refuse to obey this has become necessary. Unfortunately in Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney who is a Trump wannabe, decided to re-open bars and restaurants because the economy. His province has the highest rate of infection in Canada per capita, total lunacy.
It is clear to me that we are going to be stuck in this pandemic for another year at least or even two, it may continue for years with variants appearing as they already have. So we will have to learn to live differently, it has been a year and life goes on.
On the funny side of life I learned at the Scotch tasting Friday that the Cookie Monster on Sesame Street has a first name. I watched Sesame street for years and I did not know that. His name is Sid. The things you learn when you drink scotch single malt.
On the 20 January the USA got a new President and 2 days later Canada saw our Acting Head of State resign under a dark cloud. Our Governor General Julie Payette had to step down after a scathing report on her creating a toxic work place that saw dozens of people quit or go on sick leave, more than 50 people testified against her and her own RCMP security detail had horror stories to tell of how badly she treated them.
Julie Payette was the candidate of our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who once again shows how his idealism and woke agenda coupled with lack of judgement and failure to follow through will always land you in big trouble. Instead of listening to the non-partisan selection committee and doing all the necessary background vetting, Trudeau charged ahead and recommended Payette to the Queen who approved her nomination. Turns out Payette was the worst person for the job, she refused to listen to advice, did not follow protocol, refuse to move into Rideau Hall the Official Residence in Ottawa, preferring to stay in her cottage North of Montreal. Would disappear without notifying anyone including her security detail, which would send alarm bells all around. Refuse patronages which had been on the books for a century, refuse to sign documents or give Royal Assent to Laws preferring to take her time in some cases 5 months. In our Canadian System no royal assent means nothing can go ahead and the government comes to a standstill. She also famously delivered Christmas messages wearing a jump suit like those shoppers at Walmart, there is a relax look but this went far beyond any minimum standard. She did not care and made a point of it.
What really did her in and her good pal and second in command Asunta was her harrassment of staff, majority women. Having screaming rages and tantrums, demanding they answer difficult math problems and name all the planets of the solar system, Payette is a former astronaut, staff were harassed and bullied by a woman who by all public accounts was a shining example of successful feminism, unfortunately no background checks were done. There were rumours about her 2 previous high profile jobs both she quit under a cloud for exactly the same reasons. There was also her tortuous family life with 2 ex-husbands, one pressed charges of battery against her and the un-ending custody battles. How could the Prime Minister be so thoughtless, I would have loved to be listening in on the conversation when he had to call Her Majesty, the big boss, to explain to her why Madame Payette was resigning. Knowing the Queen and her inquisitive mind, I am sure she was well aware of the details before the call and was waiting to see how Trudeau would explain himself for this fiasco. Not to forget that Queen Elizabeth has known him since he was 7 years old.
Incredibly enough Madame Payette in her letter of resignation does not apologize but simply said that that there were some disagreements. Trudeau in Parliament and to the Press lied by stating that the vetting process had not worked well. Everyone knows there was NO process, is he not man enough to simply admit he made a terrible mistake and a costly one at that.
Now the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will take on the duties of Governor General until a new person is named. Hopefully it will not be too long and this time there will be a complete vetting. Life will go on but my faith in Justin Trudeau is shaken, maybe it is time for him to retire, his arrogance has gotten the better of him.
Rideau Hall, Official Residence of the Governor General of Canada, Ottawa.
I had to get up early today at 07:30am which is somewhat like the middle of the night for me. Usually I am a Crack of Noon riser which is the civilized time for retired folks like me.
So at 9:30am I had to be at the Club for the Thursday morning Coffee and Conversation program, today we had an Acadian historian Georges Arsenault, O.C., O.P.E.I whose family has been living on PEI since 1700. He is also an author and has written much about Acadian life and history on the Island. He also has a voluminous collection of old photos of Acadian Life on the Island dating back to 1860. He showed us many old photos of Acadian families and explained traditions in the period 1860 to 1950. It was fascinating, he had wedding photos dating from prior to 1946. How the common people lived if compared to high society, there was a stark difference. Brides has no wedding dress, they simply wore their Sunday best and so did the groom. Only people with money did the fashionable weddings the way we think of them today. The food prepared and served at weddings was also very different from today. Essentially the wedding would take place in Church at 7:30am and then the family would return home for breakfast at 9:00am. Back then Roman Catholics, Acadians are all R.C. , were not allowed to have food before Mass. Everyone was in their Sunday best and all of it took place in the Kitchen including the square dancing. What Acadians call in French souper (Supper) took place at Noon and both meals were offered by the Bride and her parents in their home. The Dinner at night around 6pm moved to the Groom’s parents home for more square dancing and food and of course Whiskey and Island Gin at 50 proof. That’s the Gin I buy for my Island friends, they do not want the English stuff at 40 Proof. The most important element of a successful wedding meal during the day was the desserts and sweets, some families could offer over 30 different types of sweets not including the Wedding Cake which was white and baked usually in the village by a woman who was known for her cakes and hired for that day. Which reminded me of my great Aunt Marie-Ange in Charlesbourg near Quebec City who was known at Christmas for her desserts and sweets.
The family photos are also interesting, most taken outdoors for the light in an age when no flash existed. Women in Acadian fashion have their heads covered by a bonnet or large scarf, custom being that only unmarried maidens could show their hair. Families were also large on average 12 kids and many upwards of 19 kids, all living under one roof in small farm houses. One wonders how they did it. It is only again after 1946 that people start having small families of 2 or 3 children.
After the talk, I went to my barber Jared who is a very nice person and great to chat with, we talked about what had happened the previous day in Washington D.C. at the Capitol building. He was working so could not watch television and was being told by his customers what was happening, he was in disbelief like I was and many other people. Though he remarked and I agree, we could see all this coming and were bracing for it. How come the Capitol Police did not prepare, were they over confident? I watch it all and was sickened by it, how can the symbol of a democracy be attacked like that by a mob which looked like Duck Dynasty. Ignorance on parade, truly sad. I was wondering if the Ceausescu solution could not be applied to Trump and his family, worked in Romania in 1989. What I fear like a lot of people is a possible return of another Trump type in 4 years, populist but more intelligent and cunning. Is the USA sliding into authoritarianism, it could happen after all 75 million Americans voted for him, hopefully not and the world will move on.
Afterwards I went to the Service Canada Office which provides info and registration for all Federal Government Programs, one stop shopping. This was instituted some 8 years ago by the Canadian Government. I was having some problem online with an application and could not get anyone at their 1-800 number unless you are willing to wait an hour or more on hold. So I simply went down to the Office and saw an Officer in 5 minutes. She answered my questions and all appears all right, I am much relieved.
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