Wednesday 28 July 2010

What I did on my Summer Holidays, Part 1

Well, here it is folks! The dreaded Summer Holiday synopsis . . . the post where I drag you down every highway and byway of my trip away. Somehow I don't think you'll mind overly much! (At least I hope that you won't!)

Our trip to Canada this time was more about family than it was about anything else. We took this fabulous opportunity to see as many family members as we could. We had originally planned to drive all the way up to Quebec to see my father, but the idea of doing that became financially impossible once I lost my job, so alas . . . he was the one person that we didn't see, but he promises that he is coming over here for a visit next year, so I am holding him to that promise! I did get to talk to him on the telephone almost every day whilst we were there, so that was good!

We left here the day before our flight. I was so worried about traffic jams and missing our plane that I didn't want to take any chances. I have heard all the horror stories of people sitting in traffic queues on the M25 and watching their flight leave overhead as they sat there in their hot cars . . . I did not want to experience that nightmare!!!

We stayed at a Days Inn at the Oxford Services and let me tell you, we were sorely disappointed. We had stayed at the same one just a couple months ago when we moved up here to Chester, and the price of a room since then had virtually doubled! I kid you not!! We were on the second floor and there was no elevator, nor was there any porter to help carry our cases up (which were very heavy). It was miserably hot with no fan or air conditioning. There was no soap in the rooms etc. Only a squeeze bottle on the wall of the shower indicating that it was hair/body shampoo. The highest price quoted on their poster was in the £70 range and that was for an executive room. We were charged £99 for puny room with a double bed and a telly in it. When we queried it, we were told that when they were busy, the prices went up. Todd is going to write a letter to the Ombudsman. We thought this was quite outrageous, but what could we do. We were hot, tired and needed a rest. Shame on you Days Inn!

We arrived at the airport in good time the next morning. Traffic was pretty good and there were no hiccups at all. In fact we were the first people checked into the flight!! It was an hour and a half delayed, which meant we spent a good long time at the airport, but as I am a person that loves to people watch I didn't mind it at all. I would rather be at the airport and waiting, than to be in the car and waiting on the M25, worried that I was going to miss my plane!!

The flight went very well and we landed in Halifax at about 7:30 PM that night. We were very tired as it felt like 11:30 to us and by the time we got to my mom's in the valley it was 2 hours later so we didn't spend much time talking that night, we just fell into bed and slept, slept . . . slept!!

The first couple of days were spent getting used to the time change, getting used to driving in Canada and talking my mom's ear off!! She did a fair bit of it in exchange though, so it was all good! We walked into town a few times to see my daughter at work! This is Eileen, my Olympic Champion, at work in the local Tim Horton's! She was leaving on Sunday for a church camp, so it was nice that we had the opportunity to see her before she left.

We got up very early on the Sunday morning so that we could catch the 7 am ferry from Digby, Nova Scotia, to Saint John, New Brunswick. The ferry travels daily from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick on a 3 hour journey across the Bay of Fundy. It was a very smooth crossing this time, so nobody felt sea sick, but I have been on it when the seas were very rough and it was not a very pleasant journey! I don't mind taking the ferry though. It may take 3 hours, but it cuts out a lot of the drive that you have to do when you drive all the way around, and with my bone problem that meant a lot to me! In less than two hours off the ferry we were in Fredericton, our first port of call!

It was so nice to see my son Anthony and his lovely wife Anne, and of course my two lovely grandsons, Gabriel and Luke. I had seen Gabriel before, the last time I was home, when he was only 18 months old. He is 4 1/2 now and very much a little boy! Luke, though, was only born this past January, so he was the first *BABY* grandchild that I was able to see!! So adorable and sweet! I adored every minute of the time I spent with them. They are such a lovely little family and were so good to us. That first night Anthony had cooked a special Cassoulet for us. My son is like me, he just loves to cook! It was delicious and I was so touched by his efforts.

We spent 3 days in Fredericton. It didn't take long for Gabriel to christen Todd . . . get this . . . "GranTodd!" He just adored Todd and those 3 days were punctuated with his little voice, excitedly heralding GranTodd with his every move. Todd thoroughly enjoyed it. He has never been able to see his own grandchildren and this meant the world to him!

On the Tuesday, my brother David drove down from Ottawa, along with his wife and four daughters! It was so nice to see them all again! I had not seen my nieces and sister in law for about 7 years, it had been about five since I had seen my brother. This was Todd's first time meeting my sister in law Christine and meeting all the girls, so it was very special indeed. It was my niece Allison's birthday that day and my mother's a few days later, so we took the opportunity to share a feast of Chinese takeaway and for dessert a special Dairy Queen Ice Cream Birthday cake to celebrate everyone's birthday! Gabriel was especially taken with the cake part and both the boys really enjoyed the girls. They are the nicest children. I know they must have their bad moments, and there are probably times my brother wants to tear his hair out with having a housefull of nothing but hormonal girls and women, but for that day they were splendid. Later that evening we spent another hour back at the hotel (we were all staying at the same place) talking together. My brother was off to Quebec to stay with my dad early the next morning. I did appreciate so very much his efforts to make a detour down to Fredericton just to see us. It meant the world to each of us.

On the Wednesday we travelled from Fredericton down to Moncton to see my middle son Douglas, his wife Kayla and their two boys, Jonathan and Joshua. I had not seen Doug since his and Kayla's wedding 5 years ago, and I had not ever seen their two boys at all. Jon is 4 and Joshua is 1 1/2. They were beautiful little boys and a bit shy with us, it being the first time we met and all. I know every grandmother thinks that their grandchildren are the best, and I am no exception. Jon was so sweet and gentle and you could tell he really loves his baby brother very much, and Josh, well . . . with that red hair and those pretty blue eyes, he just captured my heart. He was very shy, but I did get a few smiles around the back of the sofa from him. Another beautiful little family . . . and it was so good to see my son. Kayla had just had a scan that day and we were told that the new baby that they are expecting the end of November is also a boy! Looks like there will be no grand-daughters just yet!! I would so have loved to have been able to spend more time with them all, but we had a ferry to catch back to Nova Scotia that evening.

Our time with them went far too quickly and we were back on the road again to catch the 11PM boat back to Nova Scotia. We landed back at my mom's about 2:30 in the morning. It was very foggy on our drive back up the valley from Digby and I could hardly see, but I did it! I was so impressed with myself! I think that's allowed!!

I won't bore you with much more today! I know how these holiday tales can be and the holiday snaps. I'll continue tomorrow with some more.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a delicious recipe for a tasty coleslaw. We had this the other night along with our burgers and it went down a real treat. I don't normally use mustard and cucumber in my coleslaw and found it to be a really tasty addition! I used low low fat mayo and it worked out very well. This was delicious!

*Creamy Coleslaw*
Serves 8 to 10
Printable Recipe

A delciously cream coleslaw that has just the right amount of crunch and flavour! There is no sogginess here!!

10 ounces of white cabbage, trimmed, cored and very thinly cut
(about 1/2 of a medium cabbage)
5 ounces of carrots, peeled, trimmed and juilienned
(1 medium carrot)
4 inches of an English Cucumber, trimmed, seeded and cut into small dice
(Do not peel)
2 - 3 large dessertspoons of good quality mayonnaise
1 TBS of Dijon mustard
2 TBS white wine vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp celery salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp onion powder

Place the vegetables into a large bowl. Whisk together the mustard, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, sugar, celery salt, black pepper and onion powder. Mix well. Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving.

Note - the amount of mayonnaise you use depends on the cabbage, some cabbages take more mayonnaise than others. It also depends on how creamy you like your coleslaw!

And over on The English Kitchen today, there is a delicious Summer Fruit Salad!


  1. Oh, I love all the pictures and fun stories! Your family sounds lovely!

  2. HOORAY--photos! Loved every moment of this visit with you back home, Marie! Can't wait for more... LOL! Love seeing all these photos of your family & hearing the stories. Happy Day, dear friend. LOVE YOU LOTS! :O) ((BIG HUGS))

  3. awww, those grandsons are beautiful marie! how wonderful you got to see them all this trip! i'm so happy for you. sounds like the trip was awesome(well except for that days inn-i'm not a fan of days inns either!) and i know exactly what you mean about people watching, i love to watch people too:) airports are the best place for that-you get to see so many different types of people.

  4. That traffic jam picture...HELL I would rather never go anywhere than be in that! Sounds like you had some not so great things happen and lots of really nice things going on too. :D

  5. I know you must have been thrilled to see your grand children. Being so far away from them is hard. I know it's been awhile since I last saw some of mine and it's so hard when they forget who you are. When they get older it's not so bad but when they are little they don't remember so well. I loved seeing all the pictures. Your coleslaw today looks and sounds wonderful. I must put a head of cabbage on my shopping list soon.

  6. Sounds like you had a great time catching up with family, i can't imagine living far away from my children, it must be very hard for you.
    Thanks for sharing your photos, not boring at all, i love to hear about peoples travels :-)
    I look forward to the next installment :-)

  7. It sounds like you had a great vacation. I'm sorry we didn't get to meet and for all my confusion with my thinking you'd already left NS. Perhaps we can meet next time. But you were pretty busy anyway! And family always comes first!

  8. Hi Marie, This is the first time posting a comment, but I have been faithfully following your blog for months now. I was surprised when you said you would be going to NS for your vacation as I just returned from a vacation in Lunenburg NS and even more surprised to see you were in Moncon - I am in Moncton! It is indeed a small world isn't it? I love your blogs, and have tried many many many of your delishious recipes (Chicken Rarebits is a new family favorite) Thank you for your uplifting blogs each day!

  9. Marie do not apologize for your travel adventures. I am loving it. The kids all look happy and well and it sounds like you had a wonderful (if too short) visit with the ones that were there. The boys are all adorable and that little redhead, Josh, is going to be a heart throb when he grows up. So precious!

    I lvoe Todd's new name...Grand-Todd...very clever and it fits! He is pretty grand after all.

    Love you...Bonnie


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