Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year from Toronto

Happy Christmas! I hope you've all had a great holiday.

This is Chil and I and friends at the work Christmas party at the posh restaurant at the top of the Royal Ontario Museum. As it was an event for the department from the hospital I left in July most of the people hadn't seen Chil for some time and were very surprised to see her so pregnant. This made a change as most of the time people have been saying how tiny Chil looks and how the bump can't possibly be twins. Personally, I think it's a pretty impressive bump!

We had a great Christmas, much busier than expected. We went to Vern's for Christmas Eve Eve for dinner.

This is our friend Vern and his 6 month old girl Laurel: we seem to be increasingly surrounded by small children these days and I think that it's only the start!

On Christmas Eve itself we had a party at our condo and invited all the other lonely expatriate fellows we know: British, Australian, Swiss, French and Belorussian. However, the stars of the show were definately Joshua and Nathan, the twin baby boys of Chil's friend Deborah who also lives in our building. One or other of them skillfully exposed Chil's inexperience in nappy changing by howling like a car alarm until his mother (and everyone else) came to see who was causing such a commotion. Chil had to be rescued mid-nappy change. I'm sure we'll both be experts before long, however.

On Christmas day one of my colleagues from my old job at St Mikes kindly invited us round for dinner with his parents. I actually had a week off work but after all that we were just happy to sleep.

Thanks to everyone for their Christmas cards and gifts. We were especially inefficient this year and didn't send out any cards at all. I know you can forgive Chil under the circumstances but I'm afraid I don't have much of an excuse. Especial thanks to Mum and Dad in Zambia who bought the twins these beautiful cribs, here being put together by myself...

...and to Mrs and Mr Bill Bould Snr who bought us the most amazing all terrain pram, essential for getting around in ice and snowstorms while -20c outside.

I was very impressed to see that Nandad is now fully operational with Skype, including webcam in glorious technicolor. I think there's definately no excuses now for Skypeophobia, it will be the best way to see the twins, when they come.

Happy New Year from Toronto,


Christmas in Zambia

I got these pictures from Pete's Facebook page, so for those of you who don't do Facebook, these are some pictures of Christmas in Zambia. Were you hunting for turkey, Pete?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Winter's here!

I think we've caught up with the Norfolk winter. It's the wind chill that makes it "feels like -21" that tells the true story.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ultrasound pictures of the twins

These are our latest pictures of the twins, in case you don't know, expected to be identical girls. They are probably all pictures of twin A as twin B is so active it's hard to get a clear picture: despite being identical they certainly seem to have different personalities already. Chil is 30 weeks tomorrow which means a maximum of 7 weeks left before they arrive. We are busy looking for an all terrain pram with snow wheels and a storm shield to enable mobility in the Toronto winter and getting things together to turn out solarium into a nursery. We're also anxiously waiting on information as to who's going to come and visit us, especially on visa information from Zambia!

Pictures of Chil and bump to follow.

Congratulations to Mwamba on her appointment to the Melbourne office and on Evaristus on his promotion in the New York branch of IBM.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Winter arrives in Norfolk

Warm greetings to you
all, wherever you may
be in the world. I hope
these shots will give an idea
of our weather just now.
Over the last 24 hours we
have had about six inches
of snow, but of course it
is much deeper in places.
We don't often get much snow
before Christmas, so this is unusual.
It will probably only last a day or two.

Here is our village sign;
it stands just outside our
house, which is behind me.

This is our garden pond and picnic
This is what I call rubbishy

A view of one of our
neighbours' allotments.
No ploughing today.

Hopefully we'll be able
to keep toasty warm
with these well seasoned

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Johanna visits

Things have been pretty crazy here so I haven't had time to post. Here's some pictures from Johanna's visit to Toronto this summer, even though we're well into fall.

This is the sound and light show projected onto the parliament buildings in Ottawa each night over the summer. It's so good it makes you feel patriotic even if you're not Canadian... Chil started humming "Oh, Canada" afterwards!

First Nation's art from the Museum of Civilization

This is the inside of the basilica in the old french quarter on Montreal. We were lucky enough to visit during the annual international fireworks festival. Every Saturday and Wednesday night through the summer a different country competes with a display. We saw the awesome Australia

Quebeckers are a bit different from the rest of Canada, including what they choose to fill their prams with (above).

...this was all part of the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal's latin quarter.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New Orleans

Here are some photos of our recent visit to New Orleans, Louisiana. It's a very interesting part of the world, very unique and very different from other places in theUS. Definately recommended.

There's a big graveyard thing going on. We visited the Lafayette cemetary, that was the one used in Easy Rider and Interview with Vampire. We had a random tour, guided by a very drunk cemetary worker who had a good line in graveyard jokes.

Chil refused to hold the baby alligator. It took quite a lot of convincing to get either Nisreen or Chil to the swamps in the first place but I think they were both glad they did, it was really quite beautiful. Lots of alligators too.

In the afternoon we went to an old plantation called Laura. They have a fascinating historical tour that gives you an idea of life and slavery on the sugar plantations before the civil war.

This is Chil and Niz shopping in the French Quarter of New Orleans. These old parts are all unharmed from Katrina. Some parts could reasonably be described as sleazy, and tourist traps, but there's still lots of great architecture, unique culture, jazz and blues music. We found the N'Awlins folk particularly friendly and proud of their reputation for knowing how to have a good time.
There are still some areas that are very damaged from Katrina. We saw one, the lower 9th ward where possibly half the houses were still abandoned, almost 3 years on. The crosses and writing on the walls show that they have been searched, for bodies first, then for pets. We were a bit concerned that visiting these areas was a little inappropriate, but when we chatted to people they were glad that people came to see. They feel that they've been poorly supported and want people to know.

We've got Johanna visiting with us now, she just arrived today. Were thinking of celebrating Chil's birthday next Friday with a trip to Montreal. We'll keep you posted!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nova Scotia

We've been exploring atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia borrows a lot from the old scotland, even their flag is reminiscent, although with the colours reversed. As we found, they definately have Scottish weather: the whole 'four seasons in one day', with lots of fog, high winds, rain and occasionally sunshine.

It feels strange to go on holiday from somewhere with a great summer to all that British style weather. Nova Scotians are a different breed to Torontonians. There's a different accent that even sounds a little British, with hints of a celtic lilt. The pace of life is much slower.

They are blessed with the second biggest natural harbour in the world (after Sydney) and the second busiest on the eastern seaboard of the continent (after New York). We went on a boat trip to look for Minke whales but only managed porpoises... or is that a wave... or is it that one over there...? Apparently there's more to see in Quebec so we might have more luck in September with Mum.

We are now realizing the true magnitude of Canada's geography. When we looked at Nova Scotia on the map it seemed like a very small part of Canada. We'd planned to start in Halifax and drive up to the highlands of Cape Breton in the North.

Although the province is only 300 by 100 miles we ended up having a much lazier time, went south to Lunenburg and across to Wolfville on the other coast. I think we needed the rest, it gives us an excuse to go back and have been told that the weather is even more dismal in the North!

Chil loved NS for the lobster, we both loved it for the rocky beaches and the incredibly well preserved fishing villages. Nova Scotians are ridiculously polite. This is on top of the already high level of politeness amongst other Canadians. If you jaywalk, or even stand by the side of the road looking like you might want to cross, cars will stop in both directions and the drivers will smile cheerily and wave you across.
Chil's been learning the secrets of brewing at the Keith's brewery...

We've now got Nizreen with us for a couple of weeks and we're off to New Orleans on Monday for 5 days. I hope you're all enjoying Euro 2008 as much as I am, I can't say I'm missing watching England self destruct again.