Monday, May 29, 2006

Paint and ladders

Well we done did it. We finally painted the siding on our house. It took nearly 15 hours of scraping, priming, washing, nailing, and painting on the hottest weekend of 2006 (so far). We would have finished in 4 hours if I didn't have to move the ladder back and forth, up and down, left and right.

Thankfully my wife isn't afraid of walking on the roof and was able to lend a hand.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

London pubs

London: May 6-10, 2006

Having been to London once before I had already hit many of the "touristy" hotspots so this time I asked my personal tour guide, Glenn, to show me some of the historical pubs. I don't think there is a more qualified man alive today that knows historical London pubs inside and out.

The Holly Bush

Jamie Oliver's old flat across from The Holly Bush. He doesn't live there anymore. Apparently he grew tired of the drunks coming out of the Holly Bush and shouting, "Hey Jamie, make me a bacon sandwich!".

Ye Olde White Bear

On tap at the Olde White Bear.

A traditional "pub fare" lunch (White Bear).

The Spaniards Inn

Doggie wash at the Spaniards Inn. Apparently this is a very popular spot with the local dog walkers. After a stroll through nearby Hampstead Heath, dog owners bring their animals here for a quick rinse before heading into the pub for a pint. I can tell you it's well used too - there were 11 dogs in the pub by the time we left and more coming.

Ye Olde Mitre - Found this 16th century pub thanks to (GC4E4B). Very well hidden, so much so that we nearly missed it despite the fact that we were following the coordinates in my GPS. Funny thing is Glenn used to work in this area (read hit the pubs in this area) and he knew nothing about it.

We both really enjoyed it and stayed for several pints of Guinness and nibbled on Nobby's Nuts (watch the advert here).

The Red Lion This pub is midway between the House of Commons and 10 Downing Street. Back in the day you could spot the odd member of parliament tipping a glass on a late afternoon.

The Nell Gwynne Tavern...

A pint at the Cock and Bull...

The Railway - Once again my last pint in London was at this historical pub. This juke joint was once hopping with the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd just to name a few. Right next door was the old recording studio Decca Records that turned down a recording contract with the Beatles (don't feel too bad for them though, they later signed The Rolling Stones).

For an interesting read check out this link to some of the history behind the various pub names or "public house" names.

Finally a big shout out to Glenn and Donna for a great time.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

May 24... life on the farm

We hit Peterborough this Victoria Day weekend. Here are a number of pics outlining our 3 day taste of life on the farm...

Planting chestnut trees with Opa. We had gathered the seeds earlier in the year while on a hike along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

Baking apple pie (with apples we picked off the farm last fall of course).

Lazing around (here Allie is snoozing in a laptop carrying case while Paula attempted to satisfy her renewed addiction to Freecell).

Tripper enjoying the newly finished kitchen.

Watching the hummingbirds just outside the livingroom window.

And listening to the sounds of the farm animals. Well at least this horny bull who easily drowned out everything else with his bellowing. Apparently he had a cow in heat on either side of him separated by only a small wooden gate. This form of mental torture has both the infamous rack and bamboo under the fingernails beat hands down. He was so pissed about it that he decided to bellow and grumble every morning (just outside our bedroom window of course) starting around 5:30am. Can't say I blame him much though. Poor bastard.

We also got to see a cow give birth to a bouncing baby bull calf. Technically the cow didn't do a whole heck of a lot though as my brother Jason worked some magic with his calf-come-along to yank this unsuspecting calf out by his front legs. Amazing. He was walking in no time too.

Unfortunately poor Paula's boots may never be the same after that event... and she wasn't even wearing them as Katja beat her to the punch and got to lend a helping hand. I won't even tell you where this hand/arm has to go during the birthing. Yeesh, that's gotta hurt sumpin' awful.

Finally on Sunday afternoon we got a little break from all the hustle bustle and joined Aunt Christine for lunch. It was delicious...

And dessert was a huge success (I stress the word HUGE). A sundae on a Sunday how appropriate.

Sunday ended with a beautiful sunset after "the day of a hundred sunshowers".

PS: If you want to see a clearly and larger photo just click on any of the images above.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!!

It may not be the bacon and eggs you expected but it was exactly what mommy ordered. Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there!!

Then after mommy opened her presents the kids got to play too.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Ahhh, Sacré Cœur!

Friday, May 5, 2006

Note to readers: Click on photos to enlarge. Then to return to the blog use your browser's "back" button.

After a quick breakfast and a metro ride I arrived at the bottom of a very steep hill in an area called Montmartre (also known as the 18th arrondissement). The only way to the top was a series of very steep stairs. How the heck they get their cars up these stairs is beyond me.

After a long climb, I arrived at the highest point in all of Paris. Home of the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur. Sweet. It was at this same moment that I noticed a gaggle of elderly folk stepping off some kind of outdoor elevator contraption. DOH!

The two bronze (now green) equestrian statues are of French national saints Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis IX.

View looking down on the rest of Paris (with Sacré Cœur behind me).

Note that you are NOT allowed to take pictures inside the cathedral. I have no idea how this got on my camera... it must be a miracle! Praise be to God.

Inside view of the white-dome. For perspective, the angels you see in the four corners are lifesize.

The Last Supper carved on one of the front doors...

Gargoyles and angels...

The tall structure on the right is where the the nineteen-ton Savoyarde bell hangs. Cast in 1895, it is one of the heaviest bells in the world.

Click here for a very cool satellite view of Sacré Cœur.

... to be continued

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Paris, the walkable city

May 2, 2006

"Paris is the most walkable city in Europe."

I had heard it before but on this day we put it to the test. After a quick breakfast my StatCan colleague Daniel and I headed out on a tour of the city. We started by headed up to Trocadero Square. This spot is home to the most spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower by far.


From here we walked down to the Eiffel Tower itself and following the river to Pont Alexandre. This bridge crosses the river Seine with the Grand Palais on the right bank and Place Des Invalides on the other.

Rather than cross the bridge we headed south to Les Invalides and Napoleon's Tomb.

Our pass to the Tomb included entrance to the Musée de l'Armée too so we strolled through this area as well.

After a couple of hours of admiring Napoleon's glorified burial place we headed off in the direction of the Latin Quarter. My first stop in this area was Saint-Germain des Pres followed by Saint Serverin. Of the two I prefered Saint Serverin with its gothic architecture and numerous gargoyles.


From there we hit the infamous Notre Dame de Paris cathedral. Amazing. This church is massive.

And the detail in the archetecture is incredible.

Check out the flying buttresses.

Time for a quick lunch in the Latin Quarter.

Spring time in Paris

And a pit-stop at the one of the free public use toilets. These things are wild folks - a definite must see. Before entering you hit a button which is followed by the sound of water flushing and spraying inside the pod-like contraption. Then the door opens to reveal a clean but tiny little area complete with toilet, running water to wash your hands, a mirror, and of course toilet paper and paper towel. I'm gonna email the mayor, we need these things in Barrhaven.


Our bellies full we headed back to Notre Dame for the inside tour. It was equally as spectacular as the outside architecture.


Too be cont'd...