Andrew & Roy in Antigua

Last week was pure bliss. A week away from work (almost), cooking and cleaning.​

​As the wonderful Antiguan resort staff said, “the only lifting you should be doing this week is lifting your cocktail glass or your fork!”

Andrew took Roy out on a Hobie Wave little sailing boat and filmed their outing. Looks like fun, doesn’t it?​

Happiness at Christmas is…

Yesterday, I asked fellow Twitter users what Christmas happiness was to them. I got a fun range of answers, so I thought I’d post them uncensored and as-is…

  • sherrilynne: Happiness at Christmas is knowing there are no deadlines for two whole weeks!
  • matthewpennell: Happiness at Christmas is a non-sequitur. 😉
  • davidcushman: time with your family
  • pascalw: is … letting your brain switch off, kick back & enjoy whatever comes your way. Avoiding clichés about kids (but that’s what I mean!)
  • JamesPearce: Happiness at Christmas is… packing everything into boxes and *undecorating* the tree. Oh. Wait.
  • TrudyYS: Happiness at Christmas is not knowing when it ends…
  • MelKirk: Happiness at xmas is seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces
  • mrjaba: Happiness at Christmas is family, booze and food, oh and racing grannies.
  • jodrell: Happiness at Christmas is… 2 cats, 1 wife and dinner starting at 1 and finishing at midnight 🙂
  • lwarren17: Happi @ Xmas = knowing that leonelyn my sponsored little girl in philipines gets education thro
  • MartinSFP: happiness at Christmas is feeling like a kid again for a day or two; albeit a drunk kid…
  • pidpoid: …flaming buttcheeks
  • edent: Happiness at Christmas is pizza off paper plates (no washing up) pink champagne from the bottle (ditto). All spent with my new *WIFE*!
  • sookio: “Happiness at Christmas is…” giving my impossible-to-buy-for brother-in-law Two Ronnies cufflinks – my favourite gift this xmas
  • weaverluke: Happiness at Christmas is the spirit of family, blood or otherwise.
  • whatleydude – “happiness at christmas is ‘compulsory, signed: Whatleydude…” – LMAO
  • jopkins: …taking timeout to think about the past, present and future; realising what’s important and that you’re there with them 😉
  • daryldarko: i’m sorry – “Happiness at Christmas is understanding that it is just another day.”
  • danielhunt: Happiness at Christmas is having more alcohol than you can shake a stick at, along with a suitably festive house party
  • mattlambert: Happiness at Christmas is having a sword fight with my Mum using the innards of left over rolls of wrapping paper… 😀
  • lirontocker: “… celebrating Hanukkah” 🙂
  • purplekitten: …knowing you’ve tried not to make other people’s lives worse

And on this bombshell, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas, a relaxing time with family and friends. Enjoy yourselves, take it easy for a while, and then get ready to kick ass for 2009!

Christmas Giving

The weeks preceding Christmas are bloody awful. I hate going into Cambridge and finding myself attacked by people with a dozen shopping bags in each hand, looking haggard and miles from the supposed Christmas spirit we’re meant to be in.

My favourite bit about shopping centres is usually people-watching; everyone is so self-absorbed when shopping, it’s comedy to try to understand the thought process that leads to buying those god awful mustard yellow boots or that garish tie. 😉

But this year, I’m amazed how many times I’ve heard “But what do you buy for someone who’s already pretty much got everything?” There are the obvious options; a new jumper, the latest video game, a scarf… or surfing Amazon to find some stocking fillers (at the expense of some exhausted Amazon elves)

So what about the alternatives to spending on tat that will disappear into the cupboard as soon as the holidays are over?

Give them something handmade or unique

Make it yourself if you’re crafty or skilled in something they aren’t. If you aren’t feeling up to the challenge, buy something that’s been handmade.


  • Make a batch of Christmas cookies, wrap them in parchment paper and a nice ribbon
  • Make homemade liqueurs (for next year!) and bottle them nicely with a handmade label
  • Create a photo album or a book with Lulu or your own photo editing software
  • Get handmade jewellery: Unique pieces are so much more interesting! (More on this one later, but I love Ostara for handmade stuff) You’ll also be supporting small businesses rather than line the pockets of multinationals!
  • Give the gift of time: Make vouchers good for a day out together, a Sunday lunch or a night at the movies. It’ll remind you both how important it is to spend time together over the course of the year

Give to charity instead

Some may say it’s a cliché suggestion and unoriginal of me, but it’s a perfectly valid one. I asked fellow Twitterers what charities they supported and I received some very powerful answers.

  • Niall Harbison, Irish foodie, put together a charity campaign Twitter-style by donating the proceeds of the auction of a brand new Nokia E63 to Crumlin Children’s Hospital. See Niall’s post to take part by donating €5.
  • Bango, who provide mobile analytics & billing services, put together a Christmas campaign called “All I want for Xmas!” where you contribute content (jokes, images, mobile games) and any money made from the content will be doubled and donated to Save The Children.
  • @reyes supports The Multiple Sclerosis Charity and Every Child who are committed to protecting the rights of vulnerable children and are always looking for our help
  • Teemu told the story of a friend who committed suicide last week, leading me to seek more information on SupportLine who provide emotional support for people of all ages.
  • If you can’t contribute financially, give time. Speak to your local charities to find out how you can help, as Dale (@dalelane) will be doing with Crisis Open Christmas, who open their doors to the homeless over the holiday season to ensure everyone can have a warm meal and some company.

So tell me, this year, would you rather spend less and take the time to make something personal as a gift? Or prefer to treat them to a luscious gift even though it may be breaking the bank a little bit more than you’d hoped because it’s that one time of the year?

I don’t think either answer is wrong, but in my eyes, there has to be a balance: If you’ve had a nice Christmas bonus and you’re feeling generous, then it’s fun to get friends and family a few goodies they may not otherwise treat themselves to, there’s no denying that. But meaningful handmade gifts can be more heartwarming and personal than anything bought from a store shelf.

For my mommy!

Today, Monday, is my mom’s birthday. I’m a rubbish daughter and didn’t send her a card. So instead I decided to make a video, giving excuses as to why I didn’t send one. Hopefully it’ll amuse her enough to make her forget about the missing card…

I’m so going to regret posting this publicly!

For the French-impaired, read more for the summary… 😉

Read More

When you're feeling a bit under the weather…

Nothing quite like a good ol’ get together with some old friends to revive you a bit.

Unfortunately, being home alone at the moment, I’m fairly limited in terms of who to talk to. There’s that spider in the corner of the room, but it ain’t looking too chatty.

So I thought I’d make this post, which I’m sure Annabel will love! [Note: Jaded people, please turn away now. This will probably make you want to gouge your eyes out or turn your nose up. But a girl’s allowed to have a bit of fun.]

I went upstairs to pay a visit to the quiet friends with beady eyes who sit in the corner of the spare room, in particular Mishu, my first teddy. I’ve had him since the day I was born (apparently – can’t say I remember much of that day), and he was a present from my godparents Kazimier and Monique. Mishu apparently means “teddy bear”, or something along those lines, in Polish, however I must admit I’ve never checked the veracity of that statement from my godfather.

As you can see, Mishu’s wearing one awesome pink tshirt, with his own NAME on it (don’t you wish you were that cool)! There are a few reasons for that. First, it’s because he’s a cool dude. Second, it’s to do with hiding his battle scars, which are partially due to too much hugging and playing with over the years, but also due to two much-needed open-heart surgeries when Mishu was about 6 years old. He had to carefully be restuffed and resewn in the right pectoral area, and while it was a stressful time for all, he came out of it a stronger man, thanks to Maman’s love and care.

Mishu & Toutou
Probably around the same age, I was offered a substitute for Mishu, in the hope of avoiding any further open-heart surgery. But that didn’t work, he didn’t even get a name! He’s still called Toutou, which is as generic as “Teddy”. He was the evil twin, the unwanted one, the one who arrived too late. And he was inevitably the baddie in any games I played with them.

In recent years, they’ve been getting too little attention, but they’ve always travelled with me to the UK and back to Canada – even if I had to travel with only two suitcases!

So finally… Mishu and his entire posse!

Mishu & Friends
From left to right: Jeff the Monkey (a great old uni pal), Zippy the talking puppet, Piggy (a gift from high school friends), Puppy (from an old work colleague for my birthday), Mishu, Toutou, Tigger and last but not least, the funky pink Menorcan sheep!

I'm a total DINKY, deal with it!

Mr. P and I have been married for over two years now. Happily so, no looking back, shared bank accounts and wedding rings*, the usual, ya know.

The one thing that’s not in the picture and probably won’t be for many moons is babies. We’re DINKY‘s (Dual Income, No Kids Yet), and I really have no problem with that.

Steph blogs about being 35, not married, and with no kids, and getting asked The Questions – “Why aren’t you married?”, “Why don’t you have babies yet?” – constantly. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the second question, more or less jokingly from friends, family and.. complete strangers sometimes.

Let’s set the record straight. I’m 25, and because I found the man of my life and married him when I was 22, it doesn’t mean I necessarily want to skip forward on all the great stuff one gets to do during their 20’s. I enjoy the freedom we have at this point in time way too much, and I’m just not in a rush to procrate and watch mini-me’s running around, pooping and snotting everywhere.

I have a feeling of great respect, almost reverence, for every mother (and father) who manages to raise little munchkins. I really have no idea how they do it. I took care of a devastatingly charming one year old boy this weekend while others around me were doing some house renovations, and after a couple of hours, I was begging for someone to swap jobs with me so I could go back to sweeping floors and painting ceilings! So – much – energy!

It’s not that I necessarily don’t think I’ll ever be able to manage raising kids, it’s just not on the radar for the next few years. Especially with Mr. P who’s got the maturity of a 12 year old sometimes! 😉

So in the meantime, I plan on spending the next few years working my arse off on starting our own business, making the most of dinner parties with friends (the ones who can get away from their kids for an evening at least…) and owning cream coloured dining table chairs** and stuff that would never be baby-proof.

I know this post will make absolutely no difference to the frequency at which I hear The Question, since those to whom this is directed don’t read blogs, but at least I’ve had my rant, and I’ll just smile and think of this entry next time someone rattles on about how we’ve been married for over two years and should definitely have little pooping critters around by now.

Right, I feel better now.

[* Question for other married women: Do you always wear your wedding ring? Does your other half? Does it bother you if they don’t always wear it? Reason being, I occasionally take mine off (doing dishes, painting, etc) and forget to put it back on for days on end, same for Andrew, and most girls I’ve said this to were horrified at the thought, and most guys said their wives would probably kill them for doing that. Is it really that big a deal?]
[** Definitely not baby-proof and probably not Claire-proof either ;)]

Canada trip summary

Feeling jetlagged and a bit too tired to put together full sentences, I’ll just summarise it and post pictures tomorrow.

  • Saturday: Pre-travel celebrations for Andrew’s birthday at his parents’ place and at Chow’s in Westerham (highly recommended! It’s soooo nice!)
  • Sunday: Suitcases packed from the day before, mild hangover from the previous evening, flight out at 3pm, preceded by too much waiting around and some McDonalds at Gatwick (bad idea). Uneventful flight, and arrival in Montreal that evening. Relaxed evening with my family in Rockland.
  • Monday: Walk in the Ottawa Market around lunchtime, taking loads of pictures and just enjoying being in my old environment – it’s just like finding that old pair of slippers you loved, it just fits. Visit to the Museum of Civilizations in Hull to see Deep Sea (narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet) and visit the museum. Dinner in Rockland and relaxing evening by the fire outside.
  • Tuesday: Family get together at my sister’s place for my birthday in the evening. I know we did something during the day too, but it’s escaping me at the moment…
  • Wednesday: Andrew’s parents head off to Niagara Falls & Toronto for three days on their own. They don’t get lost once! Impressive! Complete blank as to what we did on Wednesday… What’s wrong with my head??
  • Thursday: Day out to Montreal with my parents and Andrew. We meet up with my friend Michelle for lunch, visit the Montreal Biodome and the Fine Arts Museum. Long drive home, gotta love Decarie at rush hour.
  • Friday: Go have a gigantic breakfast with Andrew and Louis at Chez Cora in Orleans. Get told off by my sister for going without her. Nice evening hanging out at Jo & Louis’ place, playing voice-activated Bomberman on three Nintendo DS’s… BOOM!
  • Saturday: Family party – 35ish relatives from both my mom and my dad’s sides of the family. Lots of food, drink and chatting. Got to meet Catou’s boyfriend Joe – he passes the test and gets my seal of approval (I mean, the guy’s gotta be good if he doesn’t get scared by us singing RENT from beginning to end or by family parties…)
  • Sunday: Departure is starting to loom heavily, but still one full day in town. Visit of a few art exhibitions held in my mom & grandma’s artist friends’ houses. Visit of my grandmother’s house for the last time before it’s sold off, it was tough to say goodbye but I’m glad I had the opportunity to see it again.
  • Monday: Changes of plans from hell, but we finally fly out at 7pm.
  • Tuesday: How did Tuesday get here so quickly!? We’re back in the UK, jetlagged up to our very bloodshot eyeballs and dying for some sleep.

*Scratches head* Talking about sleep, time for some right about now. Cheerios!

PS – Apologies to everyone I didn’t get the chance to see. A week’s so short for a trip back home!

Punt, punt, punt your boat…

I’m not sure I mentioned before that one of my three lovely sisters was coming to England for 3 1/2 months this summer, hoping to get a job in Cambridge and enjoy a different lifestyle for a summer.

I can proudly announce that within less than a week of arriving to the UK, she’s officially working for Scudamore’s Punting Company. She hasn’t yet fallen into the river, and only crashes minimally into other punts, so it can only get better from here!

So if you’re in Cambridge sometime soon and fancy getting the full guided tour, pick her as your guide and be sure to tip her over.

Julie's last practice punt before getting a job for Scudamore's in Cambridge

A lovely Mother's Day

Today is Mother’s Day in the UK, so we went down to see Andrew’s parents and went out to a gorgeous restaurant in Sevenoaks called Loch Fyne. Had a fantastic meal (best mussels I’ve ever had!) and a good day, if a bit rainy!