This photo was taken this morning, mix of Sun and clouds with some fog over water opening unto the sea. Dramatic no? We get this sort of vista in Winter in PEI.
In Winter on the Atlantic storms can be ferocious, living in the Maritimes you learn that high winds in the 80 to 100km range are common. If you are not use to it and can be a little disconcerting. We get storm warnings about 72 hours ahead of time, which is a long time weather wise and sometimes the announced storm fails to materialize. Tomorrow Thursday 4 and Friday 5 January we are told there will be a big storm affecting the Maritime provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI. Here on the Island we will get apparently mostly icy rain, the temperature will be too warm for snow. The problem will be the high wind which can cause trees to topple and power lines to break, meaning power outages. We live in the centre of the Capital with modern infrastructure, hopefully we will be spared the worse.
Islanders are use to this type of weather and people are prepared. Today I went to the grocery store to get supplies for a party we are giving on Saturday, I did get extra candles. I did notice a big display of chips, apparently an absolute essential during a storm is storm chips made by LAY’S, you probably wonder why this would be the chip of choice.
It turns out that LAY’S buys all its potatoes here in PEI to make their chips. Well when you are in the dark, the wind is howling outside and the sea waves are crashing causing surges there is nothing like a bag of LAY’S chips to soothe the nerves, who knew!
In the store by one chip bag display a lady said to her friend, I have to get some chips and I told her it was important not to forget the chips given the storm coming, we all laughed.
A whole roast chicken is another commodity a lot of older people will buy, it is known as storm chicken, grocery stores stock up on it knowing people will come in to buy one, they have them in the deli section.
So you stay at home, everything will be closed anyway, no school, nor business will open, everyone knows better than to go out and the local radio will advise people to stay put. That is what we plan to do.
As of 3 January 2018 from Environment Canada
My Dad died 2 years ago on 12 July, it was very sudden a hot Sunday in Montreal. He did not want the usual funeral service, did not like the expense of it all, could not see the point. He had spoken with his doctor who was also affiliated with the Medical School at McGill University in Montreal. He had made all his arrangements ahead of time, so we had no involvement but to honour his commitment.
In June 2017 McGill University notified us that they were releasing his remains and according to their protocol, they had a service of thanks for all those who donated their bodies to the advancement of medical science, very nice service done in one of the grand halls of the University, the funeral parlour then took care of the cremation.
My Dad also had a wish, he wanted to be buried at sea. So I made those arrangements with music, a fiddler, French Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin and a floral tribute.
So we honoured his wish. My sister and brother-in-law were with us and Will on whom I can always count and have all these years for his support. What was uncertain was the weather, stormy and unpredictable, though today by 2pm the heavens cleared up and the sun appeared, turning the clouds into shiny silver streaks on a blue background.
It was quite beautiful, the captain took the ship out some distance and at a certain point in the open sea his ashes were released and the flowers thrown into the water while the fiddler played. My sister reminded me that today 28 September was the date of the death of our mother 4 years ago. I thought it was Fate who wanted this event to coincide with the date of her death. My parents had been together some 64 years.
The sea was calm and a cool breeze was felt while the sky smiled on us. I just looked at the vast expanse of the sea and became reflective about my parents, time and our place in the universe, there was not a sound except for the wind. The captain and his wife were very kind and thoughtful throughout this journey on the waters.
On our way home going West the sun was very bright as it was setting, the clouds where now golden with a hint of pink and violet. We were quiet in the car, tired from the day and happy it had gone so well. Our duty is done and Dad got his wish and we know, all of us, that he would have been very happy with this day.
Dad on vacation in Greece with the Aegean sea behind him.
Our brother Stephan who lives in Florida could not be with us unfortunately, but here we are Will, Sophie, Andrew and me on the boat.
For our return we decided to take an ocean liner back to North America instead of flying. The Cunard Company now owned by Carnival Cruises has the Queen Mary 2 sailing from Southampton to NYC and back. The ship carries about 3000 passengers and for us it was the biggest ship we had ever taken. The other companies we cruised with where Crystal, Azamara and Holland American, on ships holding from 800 to 1100 passengers. We love Azamara and all the trips we made with them.
To go to Southampton from London you have several options, the distance is 128 km, the travel time is about 90 minutes depending on traffic on the highway if you go by bus or car. By train the train station in Southampton is not in the docks area so you need to take a taxi for the transfer. There is also no links between Heathrow airport and Southampton.
We compared prices and options and chose a private chauffeured car to go from our Hotel Bailey’s in London to Southampton. It took under 2 hours for our trip in a very comfortable Mercedes S class.
On arrival at Southampton embarkation was very well organized and took about 30 minutes.
If you travel with Cunard be ready to be bombarded non stop with publicity telling you how absolutely fantastic they are and no one compares to them, blah, blah, blah. This was a very big red flag and we should have known that if you need to repeat endlessly how fantastic you are, there is an obvious problem.
The majority of the passengers were British 1650 of them, then Americans 620, Canadians at 450 and then Germans, Italians, French and other nationalities. Notices on board were in German and English. Why?
The staff of the ship is mostly Philippino, gone are the days when they were all Brits or Irish, I will tell you why later, then some Eastern Europeans in management and the Ship Officers are British. This being a very big ship it took several days to get familiar with the various decks and where things were located, you could get lost easily.
The ship features many vignettes of the Cunard line and of the various ships and its personnel through the ages who help make the company name. That was when Cunard was owned by Cunard and not some foreign entity, it was also a time when Cunard still abided by British Labour Laws and rates of pay and before they decided to change the Flag on the ship to one of Convenience, which changes the pay scale and work hours.
Cunard today is no longer the company it once was, the world of the Ocean Liner is run on maximum profit business plan and so we felt we were being nickel and dime to death. Breakfast in the morning if you wanted a cappuccino you had to pay $4.50 and go get it at the bar some distance away. The service is also not what it once was, it is mostly serve yourself nowadays. We were rushed though meals, there was nothing leisurely. Order quickly and make sure you put in your wine order before you order your meals because you may get your wine by dessert time. The dining room Britannia had a very unsettling constant vibration. The Maitre d’ assured us on the first night that the speed of the ship was the reason for this unsettling vibration but once we attained the regular 21 knots it would cease, nope it continued to vibrate badly. The food was bland at best, not inspired at all despite the claim of exciting menu choices. The only time we experienced anything better was the evening we went to The Verandah, which is the premium restaurant of the QM2.
The entertainment on board is of OK quality, stuck in 1960 variety model, nothing to write home about and highly forgettable, certainly not world class as claimed by Cunard. Same with their so called World famous speakers, I expected Henry Kissinger, not so. The hype surrounding the shows is a little ridiculous. The various musical groups on board performing where either playing too loudly and/or not well, false notes, etc. with the exception of the Jazz group who played in the Carinthia lounge who were of superior quality. Helen Leek was also a great pianist and a woman of talent who gave recitals.
The QM2 was refurbished in Hamburg, Germany in June 2016, at least all the public rooms and restaurants where, am not sure about the cabins. The cabins are larger than the usual cruise ship cabin and the bathroom is nice, it was very quiet on our deck.
So when Cunard says they exceed your expectations, no they don’t, I expected a nice crossing of the North Atlantic in the style of bygone era, leisurely pace, superior food and no pressure or demands to conform to the expectations of Cunard, after all who is paying for the trip. Every announcement was always on the tone of the nanny scolding, for your safety and security blah, blah, blah, I finally remarked to someone that I was starting to feel there was something wrong or dangerous about this crossing or the boat. They were truly treating us like little kids, which is grating. Even telling people what was appropriate to wear on board. I can understand requirements for a jacket at dinner or on the special night a black tie, but beyond that I found it insulting. Given that the average age on board is 65+, it is inexplicable.
Upon embarkation our luggage was to be delivered to our Stateroom, I discovered one suitcase and one garment bag missing. After one hour of looking around I went to the service desk and found the missing bags just left there, so I had to carry it myself to my cabin, so much for their legendary White Star Service.
In the Port of Halifax, N.S., Canada, statue of a true Haligonian, Samuel Cunard.
I would not recommend Cunard which is now owned and a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation. The business plan is profits first and the rest later. That is not the way to enjoy a crossing or a cruise.
The nautical maps were also incorrect, geography is not Cunard’s strong point. Canada was shown somewhere in the North Pole region, Newfoundland was described as an Island, as if it was still a British colony. We passed Halifax on our way to NYC, it did not appear on the map, despite the fact that it is the birthplace of Samuel Cunard and he still has relatives living there. A large statue to Samuel Cunard graces the docks in Halifax where the cruise terminal is located. However it was pointed out to us where the Titanic went down.
Titanic is down there, thankfully no iceberg in sight.
Now this is not to say that all was bad, no, we did have time to read great books we brought along, saw some fun movies, Zootropolis, Hail Cesar with George Cluny and While we’re young, something we rarely do. We met great people, we had charming dinner companions and met lots of truly delightful people, we slept a lot, and walked the deck which was a great easy exercise. The ship also had a truly impressive wine list, some rare finds and great years. There was also a large collection of Ports some where 170 years old. The various bars on board had just about every alcohol you can think of and a great collection of single malt scotch.
Walking daily on Deck 7 was great fun watching the ever changing sea. The light on the water from grey to dark blue to royal blue all in a few minutes, then suddenly see rainbows and the Sun shimmering on the water making it silver white.
Because we had a large contingent of British people on board, I started to notice the accents, truly some of them I could not understand, it was thick. I was told that some of them come from the region at the border with Scotland. So we just smiled and nodded a lot.
An alumni of Trinity College Dublin, notice the colour.
At the front of the ship, no not modern sculptures but emergency spare propeller blades.
On deck 7 at Sea
At 5am in the port of New York, our arrival.
The early morning arrival in New York at docking across from Governor’s Island.
From New York we went to LaGuardia which is undergoing a massive rebuilding and the whole airport is in shambles. We flew to Toronto for our connecting flight to PEI.
On our approach to Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Toronto seen from above.
We did spend quite a few Ferragosto in Pesaro in the Marche region of Italy on the Adriatic attending the Rossini Opera Festival between 2007-2011. Lovely town and much fun, sun, music, seafood and beach, not to mention the good wines.
This year it’s Charlottetown and though there is no Rossini Opera Festival, we do have the beach, sun, wines and seafood on the Atlantic.
It was some of the best summer vacations ever, driving from Rome across Italy on those wonderful highways to Ancona and then North to Fano and Pesaro.
Sculpture in the sea side park in the centre of the City.
Ferragosto is the height of the vacation season in Italy when everything in cities like Rome is closed. Here in Charlottetown it is almost the end of the summer season and already the end of summer is announced. It was Emperor Augustus who instituted this holiday to celebrate his own birthday in 18 AD. So let’s enjoy those last days, Buon Ferragosto!
A chi è al mare e a chi è in montagna, a chi va al lago o preferisce la campagna. A chi è al lavoro e a chi è in riposo, e a chi si gode questo caldo afoso. A tutti quanti, amici e parenti, auguro un buon Ferragosto, che renda tutti più felici e contenti!
People asked me why are we moving to PEI, I tell them that I do not want to die in Ottawa. Now that is a dramatic statement, people look at you and wonder maybe I am dying and they asked the wrong question. Funny how people are never prepared for the answer to their questions, a rule of thumb I learned was never ask a question if you are not ready for the answer, because once it is given that is it.
But it is true, I do not want to die in Ottawa, I came here 40 years ago, I just realized that on my birthday, that is a lifetime. I came here for University and then work, but with work this was only HQ City and not a town in which I lived. I lived abroad for 22 years in various capitals of the world. So Ottawa has no special appeal for me. Time to move on, no sentimentality about it, again maybe my past life in the Foreign Service prepared me for that, since we often moved from one Capital to another without coming back to Ottawa. Everything was temporary and transient. So my thinking is, if I have let’s say 25 years left might has well be somewhere I want to be. We will forge new attachments there and look to the future.
I always wanted to live by the Sea since I was a little kid. When I was quite young one of my first memories was of vacations by the Atlantic sea board in New England with my parents. We spent the whole day at the beach playing in the surf and building sand castles, life was very simple, usually is when you are 3-4 years old, but those were the best vacations for a kid.
In Egypt I would go every weekend to the Villa the Embassy rented in Agami on the Mediterranean coast just a few kilometres West of Alexandria, again it was a deserted beach, we cooked and had fun. In Italy we spent our vacations on the Adriatic Coast at Pesaro, crowded beach but so nice. I like islands for that fact that the sea is everywhere, Capri, Sicily, two places I really like for their natural beauty.
Now as the header of my blog indicates, you can see the Red Sandy beaches of Prince Edward Island on the Atlantic. Long stretches of beach deserted and made for walking, lots of pine trees and quiet.
The ocean is fascinating to me, ever changing, temperamental, powerful, vast, we are so small and powerless in comparison. I never tire of watching the Sea and I feel great peace.
We will in September have 7 days to admire the sea as we sail back from Europe, another first for me.
So we are moving to PEI for the Sea.
Well another interesting Spring like day here in Charlottetown, 9C and partly cloudy, snow is almost gone. We met with our real estate agent and spent about 2 hours talking about properties, the market, what to look for, what to avoid and the psyche of owners in PEI. Per example the Condo market here is a relatively new thing, about 8 years old, unknown before that time. We also visited 4 properties to see what is available on the market, I had a list of about 12 properties but in minutes it was whittled down to 4 for various reasons. One property was removed from the market by the owner who had changed his mind.
We did like one house in particular, though the colour scheme was a challenge and the property had been decorated within an inch of its life. Though all of it could be remedied easily. The agent gave us a lot of good advice and suggestions which we will act upon in the coming two months.
Tonight we had steamed mussels for dinner, in only takes 10 minutes to prepare, it was great. This Saturday at the Farmer’s Market on Belvedere street there will be, I am told, fresh Sea Scallops on offer, so we are going to the Market and will have a look around. Mr. Seafood is also one of the sellers and he has a lot of great seafood. We are also going to visit the Charlottetown Vet Clinic to see the facilities and enquire about boarding for our two dachshunds, we will need a place for them for a few days and also when we go on vacation. At the moment they are just outside Ottawa with our trainer and her big boxers and from the photo-report we get all is well.
An Island Cardinal
Jerry and I get around. In 2011, we moved from the USA to Spain. We now live near Málaga. Jerry y yo nos movemos. En 2011, nos mudamos de EEUU a España. Ahora vivimos cerca de Málaga.
Information on Toronto's history
Heritage, it's in our nature.
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To live is to battle with trolls in the vaults of heart and brain. To write; this is to sit in judgment over one's Self. Henrik Ibsen
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Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
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Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
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Landscapes and more by impressionist painter Terrill Welch
Remembering that life is a comedy and the world is a small town.
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So Many Years of Experience But Still Making Mistakes!
two guys making out & trying to make it
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Reflections on Canadian Culture From Below the Border
Procrastination is the sincerest form of optimism
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