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 Bloody Air Canada! I suppose they are no worse than most airlines but they do piss me off sometimes. I got a call from the travel agent last night to say that Air Canada had changed the flights for our Hawaii trip, they weren't offering the return flight on the date we'd booked anymore. Or at least not that date. So the options were to shift the flight and hotel by a day later or cancel. But a day later has us on an overnight flight, arriving back in Vancouver first thing in the morning and then on another overnight flight to Toronto that same night. Nooooooo. I might have been able to do that 30 years ago but it would wreck me for a week now I think. But I asked if it couldn't be shifted back a day instead so she checked and said yes it could. I also asked if we cancelled and changed over to a Westjet package (they had a similar one with the same hotel) would we get charged anything by AC. Considering it was AC that moved the goal post, I expected the answer to be No and it was. She got back to me this morning and said it could be rescheduled for one day earlier so that's what we're doing. We'll head to Hawaii out of Vancouver on Nov. 14th instead of the 15th. We get back to Vancouver early early on the 20th instead of the 21st and head home the night of the 22nd. 

So now, I had to shift some other stuff around. I was planning that we would go to stay with my cousin for the two nights before Hawaii but this would only leave us with the one night. Not a lot of time for a good visit. I'd also have to do something about the airport hotel we'd booked for the night of the 21st. I thought maybe, if it wasn't too inconvenient for my cousin, we could go to hers when we get back from Hawaii. That would be a couple of days even if we might be a bit jet lagged from the overnighter. We might even get a day trip in somewhere, perhaps up to Whistler in the mountains. 

I messaged her and she said that would be great, she'd even pick us up and deliver us from/to the airport. I wasn't assuming, though I'd hoped she would. But we could have taken the skytrain from a station out in the burbs where they live. Anyway, with that done, I cancelled the airport hotel and rebooked it for the night before we go to Hawaii. We can take our stuff out there in the evening, have breakfast in the morning and either go into the city on the skytrain or do some shopping and get some lunch in the large mall that's close to the hotel. There's an airport shuttle from the hotel I think. THey'll hold on to our bags until we need to leave. 

Sorted. 
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 I didn't really do anything on the weekend but rest my foot and my back which has been twinging lately. My back is improving as is, I think, my heel (plantar fascitis) but it's still tender. 

I did get a bunch of hotels/motels booked over the weekend for both our Vancouver leg in November and our Cape Breton road trip in September when Malcom visits. The Vancouver one is a suite hotel and by booking on the hotel website, I could use the government discount which saved us about $150 for the four nights. I just have to remember to bring my work ID card. They didn't say local government wasn't covered so I"m prepared to insist if they give me any grief. I've used it before when I've booked a hotel without any problems. The websites usually say Provincial/Federal which might seem to indicate they don't do the rate for municipal but most times you can talk them round. The hotel site for the one I booked said "Provincial / Government" which, to me, doesn't specify only Federal and that's the argument I'm taking. Anyway, it's called Rosedale on Robson and is in the area of Vancouver near the big stadium and next to the Princess Elizabeth Theatre for any of you that know the city.  Plenty of busses handy and not a far walk to the historic centre and Chinatown.  I have mentioned a milestone birthday and belated honeymoon when booking because you can often get free upgrades. 

For our road trip, it's a lower key, motel kind of trip for the first two stops and in the small city of Sydney, NS, a Comfort Inn, again with government rates. We'll drive to Cape Breton and head around the Cabot Trail. We are hoping to go Whale Watching, weather depending. It's late in the season as far as tourists go and the last time G. and I went, we couldn't get out because there weren't enough booked when we wanted to go in the morning. I think I'll try to book for an afternoon sailing and hope for the best. If I call a few days a head, we might have a good idea of whether they've already got some bookings. Two nights in Sydney after the Trail and we'll drive down to Fortress Louisbourg which is only about an hour away.  Since I'm not sure if I'm taking the whole week off when we get back, I arranged it so we're heading back home on Sunday instead of Monday, just in case I am working on Monday and Tuesday. We may do another overnight trip down the south shore and valley if we can get booked for the night sky observatory at Yarmouth. We tried last year but it was too foggy and got cancelled. 

It will be nice to see Malcom but it will also be a bit of a challenge since he's a vegetarian. We won't mind eating vegetarian with him, that's not the challenge, the challenge is to find some nice recipes. Oh it's not that difficult I know. I just want to make sure everything is nice. He won't mind if we eat meat but I think unless we're in a restaurant, I would prefer we all have the same thing, it's easier for planning meals that way.  Veggie lasagna. Curry. maple curry pasta. I know he likes that. 

I'm planning to go to the hospital after work to see la bebe!!!!! I'll text my niece later to make sure it's still ok to come. Weather's not great with windy showers but I don't care. I really want to meet the wee one. Naturally, I forgot my camera but I have my phone. 
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 Welcome to May. Facebook is littered with those stupid Star Wars Day  memes. Every year, the same damn thing. I'm not going to repeat it so if on the off chance you don't know what that is, go look there :) 

There was supposed to be a baby shower for my niece on Saturday but she's had a bit of a crisis and is in hospital. She started losing amniotic fluid yesterday and my sister took her over to the maternity hospital pronto. They're keeping her for 72 hours and giving her stuff that might prevent her from going into labour and giving her steroids to encourage strong lungs in the baby in case she does. She's 31 weeks along and they say the baby weighs about 3.5 pounds. Her sister-in-law had a preemie even younger than that last year and the little fella made it through. They're going to put her on strict bed rest and hope to keep the baby inside as long as they can. Seems likely she won't go full term to July though. Needless to say the shower has been postponed. The cookies I'd ordered were already made but the woman said she'll feed them to her grandkids and make more later when we do go ahead with it. I thought she could just pop them in the freezer but she prefers to remake fresh which is nice of her. 

Yes we did get the Hawaii package booked and now I'm looking at hotels for Vancouver. Booked the airport one already. My cousin invited us to stay with them so I think what we'll do is stay in a hotel for the first few days in the city and go to her on the last two and maybe she can take us to the airport when we go to Hawaii. Or at least to the skytrain where we can change to the airport line in the city centre. Another friend in Victoria wants us to stay there as well. I can coordinate that with my aunt and uncle's dates, a few with them and then a night or two with my friend. That way, we aren't imposing on any individual too long and we still have some hotel time for our own privacy as well. 

Our second anniversary is next week but as it's a weekday, maybe we will do something on the weekend though I hear we're in for torrential rains so it might be prudent to wait and see. It's gorgeous out today but the forecast shows rain for the next week. Ah, spring. 

The series for The Handmaid's Tale has started. I have seen the first episode but not the second. They broadcast two on the premiere night and it will be once a week after that. So far, so good. I recently reread it and it was all pretty new because it's been decades since I've read it and quite a long time since I saw the movie that was made from it, too. I like the series so far and even G. watched it with me and thought it was ok. Not usually his sort of thing but he was interested enough. But for our mealtime tv watching last night, he was far more interested in the latest Gotham which I do enjoy as well. I saw something yesterday, though, that there was approval for a second series of Handmaid's Tale. Wtf? How they would be doing another series from the one book, unless someone's going to write  a sequel, I don't know. Having said that, I did hear rumours that Margaret Atwood may be doing just that so we'd finally get to know what happened to Offred after the end of the book/movie. 
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We finally have our Hawaii package booked and our honeymoon will finally happen. The whole vacation to Vancouver and Victoria is all part of it of course, but the Hawaii bit is the special part. Took ages to decide on which hotel and package to book, weighing all the costs, the rooms, the reviews. Packages are much cheaper than booking the hotel and flight separately and doing it from Air Canada gives us some extra Aeroplan miles for the next holiday. We're going to stay at the Hilton Gardon Inn Waikiki Beach. It's not right on the beach, it's a couple of blocks back but we aren't going to be spending all that much time laying in the sun on the beach anyway. I do plan to get my feet wet in the Pacific Ocean but we will be busy doing lots of sightseeing. The flights to Vancouver have been booked for awhile, now this is done. I booked an airport hotel for the night after we return from Hawaii and we'll be flying home after that.

The return flight from Oahu is an overnight flight arriving first thing in the morning. I hope we can get into our room early, maybe have breakfast and a nap and then see a bit more of Vancouver. Overnight, check out, get the hotel to hold the bags because our flight home is also overnight to Toronto before changing for Halifax. I'm going to be a wreck by the time I get here! At least the flight to Toronto is business class so we can stretch out and maybe even get a little sleep on the plane.

Now that's done, I need to figure out where we're staying once we hit Vancouver. We'll be staying with my aunt and uncle in Victoria when we arrive in BC for a few days, with possibly an overnight trip up island to see friends. Back to Vancouver for an extra long weekend, again hoping to see family and friends and see the sights. I've been to "Vangroovy" before but G. hasn't. I think this will be a great trip.

After we booked that, we did some shopping around the mall for some things G. wanted. Success on two of the items. By then our feet and backs were killing us, tramping around on that concrete floor. Coffee break and then down to the terminal to go to the post office and to the grocery story which was utterly chaotic. It was crazy. I've never seen it that packed and lined up, not even on Christmas Eve or a storm eve. Someone said they had had a power outage for four hours in the morning so that's what happened. All those people that had to wait to do their shopping all descended on the store at the same time the normal afternoon shoppers were there. Had one more thing to pick up but I'll get G. to do that in the week.

Waiting for a friend to come over for a cuppa tonight. She's going to a metal gig with G. on Tuesday night. I'm not going, gotta work in the morning. So does she but she doesn't mind. She'd rather go out! 

My bruised heel is really sore tonight after being on it all afternoon. I have a doctor's appt. on Monday so I may mention it to her though I don't think she can do anything about it.
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 I think we've decided on the hotel for Hawaii. Well, I've decided. He's quite content to let me do the research and make the arrangements since I really like doing it. I always show him what I'm going to book before I book it, though, to make sure he is ok with it. Haven't booked it yet because I'm trying to do the Air Canada Vacations package and the booking site doesn't appear to let you book the extra leg room seats on top of the basic package so I am going to go to a travel agent to see if they can do that. It's worth the extra money for me. The flight is run by Air Canada Rouge, a not-quite-no-frills airline from Air Canada, kind of like their charter service I think. Apparently a bit less leg room than normal and you pay for pretty much everything including seats, baggage and food. I'm tempted to book the Hawaii package with the business class which is cheaper than regular Air Canada B.C. but still twice the price.

Looking it up, 2 tickets for the basic fare return from Vancouver to Honolulu is a total of $1386. Business class for the same thing is 3432 and that's without the hotel. If we then booked the hotel on it's own, that is, without being in the whole package, 1469 for a king bed room with a bit of extra space. That's booking on the Air Canada site or on Expedia, a sale at the moment. Looking on the hotel's site, with the hotel's points program (which I have already joined) it's 1385 for the same room or maybe that was the basic room. I forget now. That plus the separate flights are 3053. 

An Expedia package, flight and  hotel for that hotel is  and an Air Canada package is 2278 and if i can get the extra legroom seats added on, it's still only 2560.  Save 500 booking AC package so that's a no brainer but it was worth doing the research just to check. 

Also been checking hotel prices for Vancouver but I don't know yet for sure how many nights we'll need. I'll be contacting my cousin and though I won't invite myself, I'll see if she does invite us to stay  for a night or two. I do want a hotel for part of the Vancouver stay but I'd like to stay with them for a couple of nights. I wouldn't impose more than 2 nights if she asks. I did assume I would be staying with my aunt and uncle in Victoria and I believe I did verify it was ok when I saw them last year when they were at my mom's visiting. Again, not more than a few nights. Would like to drive up to Parksville to see my friend Kazza overnight while on Vancouver Island and again, no assuming she'll ask us to stay with them so will ask her about a motel nearby. I hope to be able to drive around the island a bit, either on the way to Parksville or on the way back to Victoria. I've heard that the little town of Tofino is gorgeous!
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A well known UK actor has died and then we've lost Mary Tyler Moore. Both actors were aged. People are already moaning about this being a repeat of 2016 when we lost an inordinate number of famous people. Time will tell but when someone is over 75 you aren't as surprised or shocked to hear they've died. With the population getting older, so many baby boomers and more reaching 70 and over, it's inevitable that there will be more and more. It's the younger ones that shock you, that leave you reeling. Even someone in their 60s like Bowie, Fisher and Rickman is young these days. As I get close to 60, as well, these people are more or less my contemporaries. I've already lost 2 or 3 people my age over the past 10 years. My good friend and coworker Carole died nearly 10 years ago and we lost another coworker a  year or so later. He was also in his 50s like she was. My cousin Eddie died at the age of 50, a year older than me at the time. You expect you will see people your parents' age go, and indeed the parents of a lot of my friends and what remaining aunts and uncles I have are in their 70s and 80s and the health of a number of them is visibly failing. People my age, late 50s, they're having more health problems, too. It's inevitable, I guess but it's scary too.

When I was 20, i had a grandmother in her early 60s though my other grandmother was 20 years older. Both seemed a remote age but now I'm almost caught up with the younger of the two. I don't mind admitting how old I am. What bothers me is how long ago everything seemed to happen. I certainly don't "feel" this age. What's that supposed to feel like anyway? Do I act my age? I don't think I act the way my parents, aunts and uncles did at this age. They were more serious, responsible, (notwithstanding their senses of humour of course), But then they had harder lives, raised kids (often quite a few). But I"m also looking at them from the perspective of a much younger person than they were.

You know them as  your parents, but did I know them as people? They didn't confide in me as to their dreams, worries and hopes, not then. I saw one side of them but there were other sides they only showed to each other or their peers. I know that now. Maybe they felt the same way about life as I do now. I do realize that, not having raised children, I don't have that sort of responsible side to me. Raising children certainly would change you and add sides to your personality that I will never have. Nobody depended on me in that way. I didn't have someone to protect with my life in that way that you do with your children.

Anyway. I didn't mean to get all philosophical here.

Still book blogging, still enjoying it. I see topics all the time that inspire me to write. I hope people don't think I'm just copying ideas! I've been posting fairly frequently so far but I know that will ease back once the novelty wears off. I don't post as much to the travel blog lately but that's because I hadn't been traveling or planning a trip. Now we are gearing up for our visit to the west coast in November and trip to Hawaii. I booked our flights to Vancouver using Aeroplan points and I had to do it in business class. There wasn't really anything available for coach class for the dates or even close to the dates were needed. Luckily I had more points than I needed even for business class though I had hoped to be able to fit two free trips in.  Doesn't matter. Points add up and I'll get there eventually for something else. Traveling in business class for that distance is very comfortable. Even managed it for all the flights. Sometimes you get BC for the flight to Toronto and coach the rest of the way due to availability but they still charge you the whole amount of points for BC even if you only use it on some of the flights. I wouldn't waste them if that was the case. But I got lucky with the availability and we're going BC on both flights out and back, and the return from Vancouver to Toronto is an overnight flight so that will be very nice! Flying BC also allows us to use the Maple Leaf lounges in the airports, much nicer atmosphere to wait between flights nad there is enough time to take advantage.

My friend's husband offered to get the Hawaii flights through his connections so I"ve sent him the details. If he can still do it, then we will know the exact dates for Victoria and Vancouver and can go ahead and decide on hotels etc. Don't need a hotel in Victoria, We'll be staying with my aunt and uncle there at least. Might get to stay overnight with a cousin in Vancouver as well. Don't like to invite ourselves but if she offers, we'll take a night there as well. That means I can start looking at potential hotels for Vancouver and Honolulu and planning things to do! Yay!

Time to start the annual book list. I'm going to link to the reviews on the new book blog instead of Goodreads this year.
2017 books )
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To finish off our vacation, and burn more of the gas in the tank (we'd prepaid so we could bring it back empty, it was worth it because they were offering a price per liter that was 10 cents or more lower than the going rate) we decided on the spur of the moment, to drive to the town of Mahone Bay to take in the Scarecrow Festival. The town has been doing it for 20 years and it's always a lot of fun. And a lot of walking!

The residents and businesses create scarecrows, some with known faces, some without, and they're dotted all over the downtown area. They also have a few venues set up with antiques markets and they had a classic car show on yesterday only we missed it. By the time we got to where they would be, later on Sunday afternoon, there was only 2 left! Never mind. The scarecrows could be very inventive and good for a laugh. The main street through the town had a constant stream of slow moving vehicles as people were either looking from the car or searching for a place to park! We found a good spot on the outskirt of the area in a church parking lot, still only a short walk to the town centre. It seemed a lot longer to get to on the way back!

We nipped into Tim Horton's to use the toilet first and walked and walked. We did stop for a sandwich and coffee at a nice cafe that did delcious homemade sandwiches on the local LaHave Bakery bread and continued on. Didn't go into any of the very lovely shops there because they were all crowded as were the streets but it wasn't claustrophobic feeling. Everyone was just wandering, smiling, looking and photographing the scarecrows. It was a sunny day, a little tiny nippy with the breeze coming off the bay, perfect for it.

Mahone Bay is an old town, founded in the mid to late 1700s (that's old for Canada!). The community would have been a fishing village early on and probably still some of that goes on now but tourism is big there as well. They have gorgeous 100+ year old homes, some of which are now B&Bs and inns. They have lovely gift and craft shops in old buildings along the main street through the village. The curve of the bay has three picturesque churches which form the classic Mahone Bay photo. It's close enough to Halifax for a nice afternoon out, about an hour's drive.

Facebook photo album is here. I think i've got it set so anyone can see.

Flowered Welcome to our town

the moon is full The fish man
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Two weeks of vacation have zipped by and we had a great week this past week on the road. Topped it off with a belated wedding reception last night for my cousin and his new wife, married three weeks ago in a small, private ceremony. Had a great time, lots of family and old friends attending. I even danced a few times and, miracle, Graham was on the dance floor a few times though he says that's because he was tricked! A couple of people dragged him out and he's too polite to leave them standing there but he's not a person comfortable on the dance floor at all. I did insist he dance with me, though, one slow one and a faster once seeing as he'd danced with a few others. Dance with your wife! :) We had fun. These kinds of things are not easy for him as his hearing is bad and all the noise, music and people make it difficult when you have a hearing aid.

The DJ was, I would guess, in his 60s with long, grey hair. Graham: He looks like Robert Plant's granddad. Me: Have you seen Robert Plant lately? Graham: good point.

Road trip:
We had four days on the road, three of them with cloudy skies and some thick fog.  One of the days cleared up and then we had one beautiful, sunny day. That was the day that really counted. That was the day we were out on the Bay of Fundy in a boat whale watching. We saw about a half dozen of the magnificent hump back animals, several of which came right up to the boat, floated around, surfacing and diving around. A bit later, we saw two together, a mother and calf. They didn't come that close but still they were close enough to see them very well. The calf was showing off and even waved it's flippers up out of the water a few times. Really spectacular. The captain of the boat would cut the engine when he got close enough for us to see and they then let the whales do what they want. Sometimes they're not interested and swim away but we were lucky with the few, one at a time that is, that came up to check us out. I think technically they aren't really supposed to go that close to the animals but when you are sitting there on the water, no engines and they come up to you, it's out of your control. They wouldn't start up the engines with the whales that close, they always waited until the animal was further away to leave and take us to another spot to try to see more. We were out over three hours and it was a lovely day. Not even that chilly on the water like I thought it might be and it wasn't too choppy. Definitely the highlight. Photos of Brier Island and the whales here.

Backtracking, the first day we went to the historic town of Shelburne, founded in about 1783 by British Loyalists fleeing the American War of Independence. They still have quite a number of old buildings that were used in the 90s for the filming of The Scarlet Letter, starring Demi Moore. They left a lot of what they did and the buildings have been fixed up and contain shops and restaurants and museums now. We mainly just walked along the waterfront Dock Street to look in the shops and marina and have lunch. The main streets of the town are also quite nice with old homes on the fringes of the "high street" area. Photos here.

Leaving there, we drove through very thick fog around the south shore of the province to a village called Shag Harbour and before you start to snicker, a 'shag' is a type of seabird, similar to a cormorant. Shag Harbour is a fishing village but it's claim to fame is a UFO sighting in 1967. You may scoff but there was definitely something, though it's never been confirmed *or denied* by the Canadian or American governments that it was or was not extra-terrestrial. Read about it here and check out the links at the end of the Wiki. We spoke to a man who was a witness to the lights when he was a teenage boy and it was fascinating getting to talk to someone that experienced it. They have an up to date book on the findings, the technology, the "conspiracies" and the efforts to get information out of the governments. The thick, thick fog made it even more eerie. They have a little museum there that has a lot of photos of people and newspaper articles over the years. There's one photo that may or may not be the lights, it's difficult to tell.

We arrived in the town of Yarmouth near the tail end of the province to stay for the night. We were supposed to go out into the rural area to go star gazing but the fog put the boots to that and we were disappointed about it. We found a restaurant for our meal and relaxed in the hotel room and in the morning went out to the point to see the lighthouse at Cape Forchu. There's been a lighthouse here since 1840 though the current structure was built in 1962. The first "light" was a circle of 10 oil lamps and was later changed to a kerosene light. The light was not electrified until 1940. The current structure is distinctive in that the red and white stripes are vertical, which you don't see too often and it's shape is known as "apple core". It was foggy though showing signs of clearing up but our pictures are full of mist. Off along the north shore of the province, heading to a long peninsula on the north of the province called Digby Neck. That leads to Long Island which then leads to Brier Island out on the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. There are whale watching and nature tours all along this stretch, with the ones on Brier being the most well known. We stayed at a lodge and took advantage of a package that included whale watching tour tickets for the next day. By the time we got to the ferries the sun was out and it looked good for the tour.

There are a few photos from the journey to Yarmouth and through to the ferries, and including the lighthouse here on this page.

And indeed it was, as I've already said. It was a first for both of us and unforgettable. Now every where I think I want to travel to I look and see if there's whale watching available! I want to go again! In Newfoundland, there is one company located near the Viking settlement site that takes you out near the icebergs in the late spring in addition to the whales and birds you might see. That would be pretty neat I think.

We drove to a B&B at Granville Ferry which is across the river from Annapolis Royal. Graham and I tried to visit there on his first time in Canada but my father was ill and we had to drive right back so he didn't get to see much other than the old fort there. This time, we went to Port Royal Habitation, a reconstruction of the first French settlement in North America (1605). They've done a good job of it though apparently it needs a lot of work. Mom and I visited here a few years ago and Graham and I spent about an hour and a half looking through the various displays and rooms. While it's a reconstruction, there are period pieces and you can see a lot of the construction is still in the original methods where possible, including metal lightening rods on the roofs and pegs to join pieces of wood together. Now, I don't know if there's nails underneath that, probably is, but it's not apparent when you look at it. Photos (including some from the first time I visited with Mom) here.
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We're having a rainy day today but we really need it. We really haven't had very much rain this summer which has been nice on one hand but the grass is going brown and the leaves on the trees are even starting to turn to fall colours because the poor trees are so thirsty!

I've been planning our little road trip for September. I have two weeks off and wanted to go somewhere in the province since it's likely G. won't have his Residency card mailed to him by then. He can't leave the country without it. There's still quite a bit in Nova Scotia that I haven't seen so we are going to do at least one day trip and then we'll have a few days away. I grabbed some brochures at the tourist info centre when we went for that winery tour and in one of them, there was an ad for a night sky viewing. There's a new small observatory in the south western part of the province out in the countryside where there is no light from towns or cities and they have an hour and a half sky viewing session with a talk and time with the telescope and just be out under the starry, starry night! G. loves astronomy stuff like that and though it's not a big interest of mine, I think it would be very cool just the same and something different to do. You all know that's one of my yearly resolutions is to do new things or go new places. That'll be another thing ticked off for this year.

Add to that, we'll try to go whale watching as well. All being well with the weather, we've got a trip booked at Brier Island which is one of the prime whale watching areas on the Bay of Fundy. We've got a hotel booked that does a package with breakfast, a packed lunch for the whale watching and 20 $ each off the evening meal. En route to the first thing which is near the old town of Yarmouth with a very old lighthouse nearby, we'll stop off at another historic town called Shelburne and either en route to Brier, we might stop at the fort at Port Royal, near Annapolis or do that the next day. I think there should be time to do it between day 1 and 2, though, and that leaves en route coming home to be able to stop into an aviation museum at a military base in the Valley. Could also stop in a farmers' market as well as it will be a good time of the year to get fresh veg. If the weather cooperates, it should be a nice few days and when we get back from there we have a wedding reception to go to on the weekend!

I have my eye on a day trip to a pioneer village about 2.5 hours away from here up along the Eastern end of the province. I've never been there, either. Good friends of mine are coming to Nova Scotia a bit earlier in the month, just at the beginning of my vacation so I'm looking forward to spending a little time with them before they head out to tour the province.
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Plane tickets are booked. I'm flying over on a Wednesday night to take advantage of the seat sale, only good for M-T-W days of the week though the return day is a Sunday, didn't make a huge difference in price that way. Had to book the Mister a return ticket since the one way price was ridiculous. I joked that it gave him an "out", if he wasn't happy after a few weeks! He said there wouldn't be anything to go back to anyway! :)

I will get there just before Easter and we'll fly back the Sunday after Easter and will spend a few days in Ipswich where his sister-in-law and nephews live. Since I get there on his last day at work, and presuming he isn't going to get off work early, I thought I'd get into London and take the train up north. It's more messing around but i'll only have a carry on bag and it's cheaper than getting the British Airways flight up to Manchester. Since I don't know if he'll be off work early, I'd have to sit around Heathrow all day. I can't get a key from his neighbour because he works. I landed on a work day once before but his Dad was still alive so i could go into the flat and nap before he got home.

The flight lands at 9:30, by the time I get off and through customs, I suppose it will be close to 10:30 with a half hour to get into London on the Heathrow Connect Train (less than half the price of the Express train, just a few stops along the way), taxi to Euston. That should put me at the train station between 11 and 11:30 in time for lunch. If i get a train about 2 p.m. or a little later, i'll get to Picadilly station and can have a cuppa while I wait for him to get there after work. Pick up a rental car from there and we're off. There's a couple of cheap hotels near where he lives, i just have to check on if any of them have free parking. Hotel parking costs can eliminate the advantage of a cheap room!

That's the tentative plan.

We'll have the car to visit friends and to ferry the last stuff from the flat to wherever it's going, charity shop, friends, etc. Not sure yet if we will take the train to Ipswich or if his nephew will come up and get us. He did say he might but if it's mid-week he might not be able to. A night in an airport hotel before coming home, makes things easier. 
tvordlj: (Meez avatar)
Our weather has been very spotty and cool lately with the sun popping up with no warning now and then. It's hard to plan anything. Saturday is the Pride parade and I wanted to go. The forecast is 40% possibility of showers. That could mean it will clear up and be really nice. It's happened before. Meanwhile, My mother is staying overnight Saturday with her cousin and wants me to stay at her place to keep the cat company. She (the cat) would probably be just fine on her own for a day I suppose but it doesn't matter. I'll have the use of the car and on Sunday I think i'll do some errands and get some groceries in. If Saturday seems like it will be decent, Mom will pick me up in the morning and we'll drive her to her cousin's place. I can then drive back downtown and see if i can find a place to park relatively near where the parade is going to be and walk over to watch. If parking is going to be a pain, i could park further away and take a bus or just skip it altogether. I don't go every year but i do enjoy it when i do go. Pride parades are always really happy and colourful and joyful.

Plans are coming together for our road trip in September to Northumberland. We have a hotel booked and that's the main thing. We're going to stay in a small seaside village but it's close to Holy Island where the old abbey of Lindisfarne is. There's also a couple of castles very close by and we are planning to drive across and see at least one of the Roman sites along Hadrian's Wall. Other day trips may include a drive out to the Snake Pass and a trip to Blackpool. There's a possibility of a trip by train to Liverpool but it might be a bit much to squeeze that in. hanging out with friends, seeing the Jethro Tull Rock Opera, visiting the old Corrie set one last time before it closes to the public, maybe a movie, some shopping. Being together. :)

Graham has all of his paperwork back and after one more check over the list, should be posting it to me by the end of the week. That means I should get it not much later than the end of July and when I do, I'll put my last bits and pieces with it and make an appointment with the immigration consultant and see what's next. He's going to set up all the forms and send the whole application in, not sure what else I need to sign or give him, besides the next installment $$ That means, I hope, the sponsorship application should be in by early August and then we wait. I want to get average timelines for, first, the approval for the sponsorship and then for the permanent residency application. I know overall it can take 6 or 8 months or so from start to finish. It's getting exciting now that the next step is just about here. 
tvordlj: (Queen Logo)
My lovely niece is getting married on Aug. 30. I got an invite for her wedding shower the other day for Sunday the 13th of July. Ok yes, i'll go, so I sent the rsvp. Then also got a notice for the AGM for the Downeast Streeters local corrie group and I thought i'd go but yes, it's also the 13th. I might have squeezed it in, leaving the shower a little early and buzzing down to where the meeting is, providing I could borrow my mom's car. Then it occurred to me.

On Sunday July 13 at 4 p.m. I'll be on a flight to Montreal! Queen plays the Bell Centre on the monday!!!!!!!!!! Squee!!! Sorry everyone, that trumps it all ! I literally cannot be three places at once, even if i could probably have squeezed in the two back to back.  Wow, just over a month away! All of a sudden it's so close!
tvordlj: (Meez avatar)
Getting near the end of my sessions with the trainer. I'm really going to miss him. I really want to  keep going to the gym so i really will have to discipline myself now. He suggested for the last few weeks that we meet on Mondays and Fridays and I come on my own on Wednesdays. That's a good idea, and I also thought about filling out a spreadsheet or form with each time i go and what i did and emailing it to him, maybe once a month. That might keep me honest, too! It's too easy to skip a workout and then it all falls apart.

2014 books )

Graham will be here at the end of August for my niece's wedding and then we're going to drive down into New England along the Maine coast as far as Salem. Probably get a day in Boston as well and possibly a whale watching cruise if we have the time for it. I'd like to do some of the outlet shopping as well, either in Kittery or Freeport.
tvordlj: (Queen Logo)
And we've got tickets!!!!!!!!!

My coworker friend Kelly use a login from the Adam Lambert fan club and they could get tickets from today on. She got through and got floor seats! No standing outside the venue all day to get a standing place in a mosh pit like she's done for other concerts. It's all seating. I have no doubt that we'll be standing through much of it but that's ok. At least if my back does get tired, I can sit for a few minutes. I'M SO EXCITED!! I know it won't be the same as it would have with Freddie but i'll keep him in my heart and really enjoy the show!

Tickets are on sale to the public on Friday. I think the official Queen fan club probably does the same thing. It does take the best seats away from the general public, I guess, but in this case, I'll take it! What's really annoying is the scalpers that grab up as many as they can and start selling them on ebay and Kijiji minutes after they've bought them. That's what really bothers me. I remember seeing that when the Elton John tickets went on sale. He sold out in a half hour and Kijiji had scads of tickets on sale immediately and all of them going for at least double the face value. It really isn't fair. It's one thing to resell a ticket you can't use or buy a couple extra and sell them for face value to someone that couldn't get through or wants an extra. It's quite another thing to buy up all the good seats to resell at a profit and nobody seems to be able to stop this. They don't have to hang around outside the venue on the day anymore, not with so many internet places to buy.

I do have to admit, though, that i bought tickets to a hockey game through eBay so there's a bit of hypocricy on my part there. It looked as if the person had a season ticket and sold the individual game tickets for auction. I looked at his other auctions and he had the exact same seats for sale at other NHL home games (Montreal Canadiens, ironically, at the same venue as the Queen concert). I didn't pay very much over the face value, though so I don't feel too bad about that. It's a different situation, as well and I didn't feel ripped off because it wasn't an outright pay-me-double+ thing.
tvordlj: (Queen Logo)
Queen is doing a short North American tour in June-July and they're playing in Montreal and Toronto! Now, ok, Freddie's dead and nobody can really fill his shoes. The last person they took on board, Paul Rogers, did not impress me though the CD they recorded of original work with him was good. I saw some early video footage of him on stage with them and he seemed to be dressed like Freddie and trying to emulate him in style when he was singing. It really put me off and although I did get the cd, i would never have considered seeing them live.

Last year, hmmm might have been the year before actually, Queen (or at least, Brian May and Roger Taylor, because John Deacon has retired from the band) did some gigs in London with Adam Lambert who is a former winner or participant of American Idol. He's made a fairly successful career for himself and is quite popular. One of my coworkers is an uber-fan and went to two of the three concerts in London. I saw some Youtube video of it and I have to say, Adam did a very good job. He did his own thing, and though did come across as flamboyant, he's apparently like that anyway and it seemed to be his own way with a nod to Freddie as well. He seems in awe of the legends that he's standing on stage with (and well he should be!) but he seems to fit in nicely.

So anyway, turns out they're doing this tour with Adam and I'm going to do my very best to snag a ticket to the Montreal show. My friend at work will be going and possibly her husband and another person at work in another department, also possibly. She's planning to drive up to Montreal so I said I'd go as well and contribute to the costs and the driving. We can share the hotel but if her husband is going, I may just get my own room as I don't really know him all that well and I'd be more comfortable on my own or sharing with the other woman even though I don't know her at all. Then on the weekend, I was talking to one of my old friends from school who was looking for a concert buddy. She has tickets to George Thorougood in May and I said i might go. I have seen him before but it's usually a good one. Queen came up and she's very interested. I think she's going to try to get her own ticket even if we don't end up sitting together. We can share a hotel room for sure, and with my coworker or the other gal if it's all girls together. I think she'll fly up. I will still go with my coworker because I promised and that was the whole idea, a road trip. My coworker was thinking of staying on in Montreal. She thought about trying to get a ticket to see Katy Perry who's playing there the next night. I don't mind KP but i don't think I want to spend the money on a concert. I thought I'd probably just come back myself on the train or fly and if my other friend is going, we could fly back together.

Anyway, it's all up in the air. The tickets go on sale Friday though early tickets can be got today I think, if you have American Express but we'll see how the week plays out. By the weekend I should know who's got what and who's going. Other plans can be made from there. I might actually get to see Queen!!! My all time favourite band!! It's definitely a bucket list band for me and even if Freddie isn't there, I think it will be a great show.

And tick off another one of those "try something new" items. I wish I had been able to see Queen back in the day but I never could, and then it was too late once Freddie died.
tvordlj: (Bus)
Note to Ms. Bus Driver.
When it's cold outside, and you've let your passengers off/on at the stop/terminal, could you please close the doors if you're just going to sit there for more than a minute? Thanks.

I'm all for having a cheerful driver who greets me pleasantly. Even better if he/she drives the speed limit and doesn't work the brakes for all they're worth. But come on. The driver has personal heating where they sit but I think they forget about the rest of us. The heating is on and it's nice and cozy and then we get to the terminal. Even if there's only a few minutes' wait until they have to leave, once everyone is off or boarded, there's no need to chill out the rest of the bus and let the wind whistle through. You can always open the door again if someone wants on or off. Sheesh. When will winter end? This part of Canada, it won't be for weeks yet. Other parts have a proper spring with weather starting to warm up by now or by the middle of March. What do we get? A day here and there that fools you into thinking Spring might just be on the way and then whammo with the snow or the sub zero temps again. At least now, it's more likely the snow will turn to rain or rain away within a few days. That's something.

Ok, weather whinge over.

Social media sure has it's positive side as much as some of it can be a pain in the butt. Endless photo shares, banal tweets, advertising. Twitter isn't quite so bad as Facebook because you don't seem to get quite as many repeat posts with half your friends sharing and re-posting the same cartoons and photos. Twitter isn't just about following celebrities either. I have a few that i follow, mostly Corrie actors but a couple others, there are people I know either in person or through the corrie community, a couple of local news and traffic feeds, and then there are things related to my interests of history, travel and photography. One of them came up trumps on the weekend. The BBC History magazine posted a notice about an upcoming exhibition at the British Museum about Vikings. Oooooh! We both like things like that. Quick-surf to the B.M. site and sure enough it's going to be on while we're there so I scored a couple of tickets. They have timed entry for things like this with a limited number of tickets for each time, in this case, on the half hour. It keeps the exhibit from getting too crowded and keeps the flow of people reasonable.

The last time I was in London during a major exhibit was for the Terra Cotta Warriors from China. We didn't manage to get tickets online before and when we went there in person we couldn't get in either. I'm sure they do keep some tickets aside for walk-ins. Anyway, that was over an Easter weekend the same as this upcoming visit will be so I didn't want to risk missing out this time. I snapped up the tickets before even talking to Graham but I knew he'd be cool with it and he was. We're going to that in the late afternoon on the Saturday and then to The Mousetrap that evening. Sunday we're going to the Tower of London and I"m hoping to catch up with any of you Londoners free on the Sunday afternoon. I'll get that coordinated through [livejournal.com profile] naturalbornkaos closer to the date as far as finding a suitable pub and letting people know.

The weekend was very nice. My sister and I took Mom out to lunch for a belated birthday meal because last weekend the weather didn't coorperate, or we thought it wasn't going to so we cancelled. It wasn't great but it wasn't as bad as forecast so we might have been able to go but anyway, we didn't. I also went shopping and replaced all of my bras! All at once! The only thing i've noticed is that the bottom edge of the piece that the hooks are on is scratchy against my back so i've had to undo the bottom hook. I suppose that will soften over time with washings. Picked up a few tops as well that were on sale plus another 30% including a hoodie that is made from sweatshirt fleece. I am finding it really hard to get sweatshirts in that material anymore and I don't know why. It's nice and warm and soft and all cotton. Sometimes you can get it but it's got polyester in it or something, it's not quite as stretchy as cotton and thus doesn't wear and age as nicely.

Our new manager seems to be working out so far, settling in, nice guy. I think this is the first time i've had a manager that was younger than me, though. The last one was but only by a few years and all the others have been older or close to my age as well. This man is a good 10 years younger, maybe a little more and looks it. Not a gray hair on his head nor wrinkle on his face. I know he's over 40 but he looks about 30. I feel old. ;)
tvordlj: (Meez avatar)
Been a decent week at work, was working on trying to built a difficult report and i was determined it would submit to my will. It looks like i have triumped but I'm now waiting for someone else to do some data work before I can add the last bits to it and give it a thorough testing. This is different than trying to debug something or fix something that's broke or just dealing with something that's being a pain in the ass. This is more of a challenge, knowing there *has* to be a way of finessing it and getting *this* close and knowing it's going to be just some little thing that's going to click. Which it did. I felt like doing a victor lap around the work station! I probably shouldn't count my chickens just yet but I think it's doing what it should be now. It will need testing and refining and a few minor cosmetic fixes but as far as i can tell at this point, the brain busting work is done. *knock on wood*

Booked the rental car for Manchester. I didn't use Autoeurope this time, and I can't remember why. I think it wasn't giving me the options or the price i wanted and I had a coupon code from Aeroplan to book and get some extra miles and a bit of a discount, though, with the added on extra insurances, it brought it back up to what it usually costs anyway. I know i can get those insurances through my credit card but when i'm out of country, i prefer to use the rental company's insurances just to cover everything and I think if anything should ever happen, it's a lot more straight forward just contacting the rental company than trying to get hold of the credit card company  and dealing with that from overseas. Plus, an added bonus, booking directly through the rental company I didn't have to prepay like i do with Autoeurope though there was that option. It didn't make it any cheaper so why would you?

Prepaying things like cars or hotels often does give you a very good discount but the downside is there's no getting any money back if you have to cancel unless you have cancellation insurance. That will add onto the cost of the purchase or a separate policy. I've got a policy i bought with the air fare and I can probably add onto that for the rest of the stuff that I do have prepaid or the bits that are cancellation fees and things. The both hotels are free cancellation but though they say "free" it means they'll still charge you one night's stay and the travel agent's booking company also charges a small fee. For a two night's stay, that's most of the cost but for the five nights in Paris, it's better. I should add up my cancellation fees and prepaid stuff to see how much more that policy needs to cover. If i can't add on to that one, i can get another one through the travel agency. That might be just as easy. I'll see what the difference in cost is.

So all the major things are booked and most of them are prepaid aside from the car. I think we are going to stay at an airport hotel in Manchester overnight before going to Paris because the flight to Paris is really early. And while the hotel costs more than the taxi to the airport, we might not have to get up *quite* so early. There's a couple of cheap hotels right at the airport with a free shuttle to and from the terminals. We can drop the car off after checking in and getting rid of the luggage first, in fact we could check in in the afternoon, dump the bags, go find a nice pub somewhere first before dropping off the car and getting the shuttle back to the hotel.

44 Sleeps! Yes i am pathetic and have a countdown widget on my phone! :))) Oh why not!

When Graham comes over at the end of August for my niece's wedding, we are thinking we might do a road trip down to Boston though probably stay at Salem. They have a catamaran ferry that will take you into the city so you can avoid driving there. Probably just as cheap when you think of the gas and parking costs for a day.
tvordlj: (Suitcase wings)
You know what I'm like trying to pick a hotel... it's overwhelming and stressful, trying to decide on a hotel, location, what are the rooms like, reading between the lines of the reviews, will it be ok? Graham is quite happy for me to do all the booking and deciding and he's always liked where we've stayed. He knows I do like to do the organizing and I do send him links to check out and get his opinion just the same. Anyway, on Saturday after i got my hair cut I went to the travel agent.

Yes, I know the world wide web is out there and there are no end of booking websites. That's the problem. There are too many. Sometimes I get lucky and find something good, in the location we want and the budget we want without too much trouble and I'll book it myself. But travel agents can also get good or better rates than even on the lowest sites like Expedia or booking.com etc. They have their own booking agents that they deal with though the drawback is that those agents aren't going to have access to all the hotels that are out there. It doesn't hurt to check with them though. I generally do lots of web searching and make a short list of about 6 - 10 hotels then try to narrow it down. So I suggest those to the travel agent and see if there are any she can access. This time at least one was at her fingertips and she found another that I had seen but hadn't noted. She's put through for availability on those two. Both with wifi, both with breakfast included, one seems to have smaller rooms than the other though neither is a palace. We aren't too bothered but don't want a closet either if possible.

She also booked the Eurostar and found us a nice hotel in London for a lot cheaper than I would have found it because i looked after I got home. That hotel website had their cheapest rate at nearly $80 more than what we paid and the cheapest elsewhere was still about 25 or 30 dollars more. It's a Radisson Blu Edwardian and it's near Euston Station/top of Tottenham Court Road, a four star hotel and they call themselves luxury though to me Luxury is something like the Ritz or Claridges or Four Seasons. Anyway it'll be nice. It's got wifi and full breakfast as well and cancellation though still charging first night $$. I've already got cancellation for the plane tickets but I may see what else i can add on to it once everything is booked. Eurostar for sure and anything that will cost if it has to get cancelled.

Once all the hotels are booked, we can look at getting a car for a week in Manchester, and then when we figure out what we're doing for sure, see what we can book online. I think we're going to go to the Tower of London and there are 2 for 1 vouchers you can get with a rail ticket. Graham will have one of those for getting back to Manchester so we might be able to take advantage of that one. As long as you don't both need to have a ticket or we could get transport day passes at the train station and that would work. I do have two Oyster cards for London transport that we usually top up but i'll get the paper cards if necessary. We'll have half of Saturday and all Sunday so maybe we'll go on the Sunday though it's Easter weekend and both days will probably be insane at tourist attractions like that. Maybe aim to get there when it first opens. Note to self.
tvordlj: (Meez avatar)
Ok then. I emailed my new manager on Friday and got the ok to go on my vacation request.
So today I booked my ticket to the UK and our flight to Paris. Next up will be choosing hotels and booking the Eurostar back to London from Paris. Will also have to make sure we get a train ticket for Graham to get back to London. Once all the accommodations and transportation are sorted, we can decide which show we want to see in London and see what tickets for attractions we can get online ahead of time, closer to the date. I know we plan to go to the Tower of London for sure. Hoping we can meet up with some Londoners for a drink though it will be over the Easter weekend. Again... closer to the date but keep Easter weekend in mind. (Saturday or Sunday).

Yay!
tvordlj: (Daffy Weird)
I get myself into such a silly state sometimes. All that waffling about how to get to and from Paris? tsk. Ok. I wasn't "in a state" as such, i mean, I wasn't all stressed or anything. It was just a Quandary with a capital Q. I get like that when I'm planning a trip. What's the best way to go? what's a good location for a hotel? What hotel should we pick? G. leaves all that to me though I do discuss it with him and show him hotel websites and get his input. It all sounds like i organize our time to the minute but i don't really. We make a list of things we want to do and which days might be the best to do it (evening openings of museums for instance) and then when we get there, we look at the weather, we sometimes find things to do that we hadn't planned on or hadn't known about beforehand, we drop things off the list if we've just overstretched ourselves. We're flexible. The only things I prefer to have etched in stone are pre-booking the hotel.

When we were going to go to Scotland, though, G. had me persuaded that we would just get in the car and go, never mind prebooking hotels. We would just drive around and find somewhere each evening. It probably would work better that way anyway as we knew what highlights we wanted to see but you don't always know how much distance you will end up covering in a day because you find other places to stop and rest or explore along the way. It goes against my organizing gene ;) but I reckoned i could do it! As it happened, we didn't get there this year and won't next year because of the France trip. I do want to work out if it's better to get a France Rail pass or just see if they have reduced day trip tickets like they do on the British Rail system. Anyone know? I must send out an email to a travel mailing list i belong to. Someone there will definitely know. The rail pass is good if we were going to be traveling around France, staying over in different places but for day trips, it might be more expensive than day return tickets if they are relatively cheap. It certainly is cheaper to do that for day trips out of London than having a British Rail pass.

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