Tag Archives: Canada

Summer memories: Canada

It had been two years since we had been home yet it didn’t feel like it. Within moments I felt the warmth of home and spent the following weeks wanting never to leave.

Fresh farmer’s markets, silky cold lakes, dangled feet off the dock, sushi and lipstick shopping with girlfriends, talking late into the night, white wine and dinners in the country, tubing on the lake, too fast, too quick, and Trooper and Princess reunited with their best friends since before they can remember. Dock kisses and roots, stronger than words or tears, rooftop dinners and kitchen coffees. Godchildren, godparents, picnics and BBQs, winding roads and graffiti splattered walls. Construction everywhere and the shock of too many red lights after the anarchy of Africa. The shock of the new and the comfort of the old.  Ancient Quebec city, sunshine pouring around us, above us, within us, family, blood and love.

Until next year Canada.

 

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Filed under Great Big Shiny West, Photography

Lazy days of summer

I am back. I am not sure if I haven’t lost my faithful readers of 3limes during my summer hiatus, it was the longest break in the the 3 years I have been writing. 3 years that has seen me through Trinidad, the Uganda years and now here we are in Bahrain. 3 years, 3 moves, 3limes.

But before we say hello to Bahrain I think we need a look back at the Summer of 2011.

 

 

London Montreal San Francisco Montreal London

8 flights

15 beds

Oh Canada

Canadian lakes

canoes and docks

fishing and champagne

sisterhood

forest walks

Montreal dining

sushi and cappucino

I love America

Toe dipping in the Pacific

girls surfing

wine tasting

California driving

family reunions

God Save London

London days

theatre

cousin love

country walks

pub lunches and old friends

Art, red buses and pavement pounding

From the Pacific to the Thames, icy Quebec lakes to the warm Bahrain sea, this summer has crossed time and memory. I have slipped through the shadow of years, made a tiny chink in the wall of time, visited the past before diving into the future.

And nearly 2 months without writing, reflecting and giving pause for thought. I have missed blogging but needed that in between space, the freedom to live unconnected with no screen and no keys to tap my days.

 

 

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Filed under Great Big Shiny West, La belle ville, Photography, Travel

Thanksgiving Uganda Style

 

The leaves might not be turning and the ski is an equatorial blue rather than the crisp blue of a Canadian autumn but we still decided to honour and celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. I love this holiday; the fact that everyone celebrates it despite religion, race, creed or wherever you sit on the poverty/wealth scale.  Gathering loved ones together and giving pause to say thank you is a worthwhile tradition that is distinctly North American. With its connection to the harvest, the Canadian date is 6 weeks ahead of the US festivities since we are all so cold up there and the ground is turning to ice under our feet as we pluck the Turkeys.  It marks the fall and comes in a comfortable point between Labour Day and its celebratory sadness of the last of summer days and the roar and giggle of Halloween eve where children wrapped in coats that cover their cleverly chosen costumes chase the promise of pillow cases filled with candy.

Of course traditions being what they are a Turkey is expected on one’s Thanksgiving table. Last year there was no Thanksgiving celebration given that the shoe box was too small to accommodate our little foursome plus friends and so there were no worried glances and thoughts over where to find a Turkey in Kampala. I told Handsome Husband that this was one for his capable hands with me being a vegetarian and all.

First stop, the butcher favoured by French expats and other picky meat eaters. It turns out they do not stock Turkey until November (for the Americans) through December (for Christmas.) This is when he came up with one of his, shall we say, special ideas. With a look of boyish glee and over ripe enthusiasm he presented the idea to me one afternoon as we drove home from one of my rare hair appointments.

“So, I have a plan!”

“Really? What is it?” I have to admit I had thoughts of a great date night, maybe dinner, drinks, and a chance to show off my new coiffed hair. I had no idea what was coming.

“Since it is impossible to buy a dead turkey we are going to buy a live one, let it walk around the garden for a few days and then on Sunday morning we’ll kill it! Steve (our gardener and guard) will help!’

Silence.

“Princess is so excited. She says she is going to give it a name.”

Silence. Shocked, stunned silence.

“So what do you think?” he asked, a little nervously, this time, obviously sort of worried by my silence and the aghast look of shock on my face.

“I think that is the stupidest idea I have ever heard. So let me get this right. We are going to have PET turkey for a few days, name her, ( how does Gertrude sound?) and then come Sunday we are going to all sit down and carve and eat her? Really? Have you forgotten that you have one vegetarian wife and one vegetarian daughter?”

“Well that is the way it is done in Africa. That is real life! I thought it would be a great lesson for the girls.”

Maybe not.

Taking his beautiful idea away with him and hiding it well beneath his pride, Handsome Husband came up with plan 2. We were going to have Roast Chicken for Thanksgiving. When one of our invited Canadian guests got wind of that idea she promptly came up with a revelation. She has a Turkey guy! She offered to call him and sort us out a turkey once and for all. A turkey with no name.

The turkey was delivered in 4 bags. Heavy bags dripping with blood. How can one turkey come in 4 bags? What went wrong? Alarmed phone calls were dispatched; the Turkey Guy was called and promptly reprimanded and within two hours a new turkey in one bag was sitting in our fridge.

Handsome Husband attended to this Turkey like a new born baby, checking on it, basting it and eventually dousing it with Bourbon. Five hours later the turkey came out, crispy and golden in all its glory. Being a vegetarian I cannot attest to its succulent delights but I hear that it was very good. I am just so grateful that I never got to know her.

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Filed under Family Stuff, I love food

June Days

It does not feel one bit like June. Not at all. To me June feels like hope, the start of a long long summer and it simultaneously feels like the end, of a long long school year. June is flowers and finally really warm weather, it is school girls in tee shirts and dogs running their owners around the park. June is getting ready for tennis, Wimbledon, strawberries and cream; June is digging out the summer clothes and seeing what still fits. True, some of this happens in May but June has the real feeling of summer and the end of the school year. For the longest time my children and I have been on the American school schedule where school wraps up in June. This year we are full steam ahead until July and the glory of a last day at school will only hit us on July 9th. This is my third year of living in an all year round summer climate so I wonder why this June stands out as not feeling at all Juneish. I think it must be that school is still in full swing.

By this time, in my idea of June, exams would be over and yearbooks would be signed. Grad caps would be tossed, prom pics sorted and summer camps signed sealed and delivered. I love June in a 4 season climate when the flower boxes come out and people take to their gardens in earnest and I love June when legs start to go brown and the dresses get shorter. Children in shorts and sun hats run under sprinklers and ice cream slips down chins. Summer chalets are opened and cobwebs dusted away. Docks are laid upon the lakes and the dock days of summer begin.

The light is different in June as we approach Midsummer’s Night.  Here in Uganda sitting on the equator we have no lengthening of days, no changing of clocks or the joy of a slow evening sitting outside watching the day finally wane past 9pm. The best thing, really about June, are the long light evenings for walking, playing or eating with friends.

I have been wearing tee shirts and skirts for three years now, in fact other than the occasional hike I haven’t worn socks since 2007! I l love living summer all year long but I no longer feel the thrill of a summer’s day. I think you need to survive a long winter to truly appreciate June and maybe that is why it really doesn’t feel like June at all.

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Living in a mini United Nations with maple syrup and Masai Warriors.

Poor 3limes has seen the brunt of my negative energy recently. I cannot display roses and smiles when living here is not always so; however this week things seem a little rosier.

So this little fish tried yoga and this little fish did indeed bite. The class did not feel anything like exercise despite the fact that my body was stretched and pulled more than it has ever been. Unlike those painful minutes on the treadmill wondering how much longer I would need to endure the pain and boredom, I never once wanted the class to end. There were moments when it hurt and I sweated and felt my heart beat, something that doesn’t often happen in my day to day life between shoebox and school, but it was enjoyable and felt so so good.

Plus the class is run by a most extraordinary woman with a wise, open and gentle presence and her home was up high on a hill with a view and a lush garden. There were candles and flowers and everything was quiet and peaceful and calm. I can’t wait to go back.

This morning Primary celebrated International day with a parade of nations around the big field. I have no idea why secondary was not included in this amazing event, but if I have anything to do with it, they will be there next year.

Despite missing the parade most of my students came dressed in a spectacular array of traditional costumes or bearing the colours of their flag. Within the four walls of my classroom I have been transported to India, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon and Afghanistan. Football shirts from Ireland, England and Scotland have been displayed and one or two Masai warriors came by to say hello. International day reminds us all of the great advantage of teaching and attending an International School. My daughters and my students have friends from all over the world. Each day they live life within a mini United Nations and they are taught acceptance and tolerance at every turn. Most importantly we are all educated, constantly about what each country has to offer and how no custom, practice, costume or food is better than any other. It is an education in the very best way.

Trooper, Princess and I came to school covered in red and white from tip to toe, proud of our Canadian flag. I nearly put on a  pair of blue earrings, just to feel a little British, but then I decided I felt Canadian all the way and proud. ( Habs fan anyone?)

Handsome husband is flipping pancakes in the Canadian tent and has even donated some very precious maple syrup for the event. Everyone is smiling.

This is why we live this crazy life so far from home. It takes days like this to remind me.

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Filed under Miss Teacher

A Montreal love fest

It is a whole bunch of goodbyes again. Every time I come home to Montreal I fall in love with my friends and the city and the lakes all over again and start to wonder whose crazy idea this is to keep saying goodbye. By the time I am old I will be hard and calloused around the heart from leaving people so often.

 Montreal has been rarely sunny this summer but for two glorious and sunny days I walked around the city, camera in hand remembering why this place is home. I looked up at buildings and down at feet. I watched people ride bikes and eat bagels and I saw way more pregnant women than is normal. It started to become a little game. Who will spot the next one?

I am bewildered as to why I counted over 30 pregnant women in 3 days. And all about 7-8 months along, looking just fetching in stretchy dresses that lovingly wrap the bump and flowing glowing hair. One theory that I am supporting is that there was a power cut one night back  around February 1st. Can anyone check that for me?

Montreal has its own flavour. It is a place where people drink a beer at midnight at a famous look out spot on top of the mountain where you think you could lean over and touch the dreamy night lights of the city. And if a cop car should come by while the beer is being sipped, the kind cops mildly suggest that the beer should be popped into a bag out of view. ( So I hear.) It is a place that is famous for its bare-all strip clubs but is also a hot house of strong and fascinating women. Writers, artists and chefs have all left their mark on this city with the famous mountain. Jazz, comedy and Francophonie all bring festivals right onto the street for free.

Montrealers are laid back and generally happy liberal people. They creatively dress from a mixture of second hand shops ( called Fripperies) and high end designers. They love their food and any tourist wondering these streets would quickly remark upon the number of restaurants and boutique bakeries. The girls are pretty, the architecture is interesting, the festivals are abundant and life here is sweet. Until the winter.  Then it turns into some awful frozen horror flick, complete with people fighting with icy sidewalks, falling down stairs, shoveling mountains of snow just to get out of the house, scraping cars and looking grim.

But I have had a summer’s time here in my favorite city and as I depart yet again I leave you with these Montreal moments.

 

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This is a typical Montreal home in the Plateau neighbourhood.

 

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A great coffee scenc, pregnant woman and all.

 

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Those glorious Montreal Fairmount bagels.

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And this is how they make them.

 

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The famous Plateau Mont Royal.

 

Reserve

I think you need a PHD to figure out the parking rules in Montreal.

 

cobbled streets 2

 

Fixing the cobbled streets of Old Montreal.

 

And now off to London before we leap of the cliff and head to Africa.

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