Tag Archives: Montreal

Moaning on Monday

“If winter comes can spring
be far behind?”
from Ode to the West Wind. Percy Byshe Shelley

Here in the antipodes we are in the middle of winter.  In fact as Christina Rosetti’s carol has it, it is the Bleak mid winter here.  The past few days have been bitterly cold.  Oh not as cold as it gets in Montreal or Glasgow but cold for us.  Most days the temperature hasn’t risen above 12 degrees Celsius (about 53 degrees Fahrenheit).  And I don’t like the cold; nor does Lotte.

Lazy Lotte

Too cold to get up

And today I spent six hours with a friend who has just discovered a large lump in her breast.  We went to the hospital for a barrage of tests and then to the specialist, who just so happens to be the surgeon who operated on my lump.  So apart from being cold it was a miserable day in all respects.

The one bright spot, another friend cooked dinner for me.

So now after this grumpy post I am going to take myself off to bed with my book and a cup of tea. And perhaps a Lemon Treat biscuit to cheer me up.

packet of biscuitsHopefully tomorrow I shall wake up in my usual Pollyanna way, looking at the world through rose coloured glasses, etc. etc.

“No matter how dark the night we know that
whatever happens the sun will rise tomorrow
and then all the shadows
will be chased away.”
Judith Baxter 1938 –


Driving Test No 3

Well, now to the third driving test.

Takapuna NZ

Takapuna, NZ

We had returned to live in Takapuna permanently and therefore, were required to obtain a valid New Zealand licence.  I applied and was given a date and time to attend the test.  The road rules are/were virtually the same as those in the UK and so I was all set.

Except that I forgot.  The children had left for school, husband had gone to the office and I was enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee when I remembered.  A hurried bath (I didn’t shower then as time was never an issue) and off to the testing station.

Fortunately, husband had taken my Mustang that day leaving me his car.  I didn’t think I could take my test in a left-hand drive car when here in New Zealand we drive on the left.

Ford Mustang

1969 Mustang Mach 1.  Photographed in Montreal via Wikipedia. Mine was exactly the same colour et al.

I was given a short oral test by a very pleasant young man and then told to wait for the driving tester to arrive.

At that time, the NZ police force was split into two distinct sections – the police and the traffic police.  So all those employed at the testing centre were employed by the Traffic Department or were traffic police.

Police motor cycle

The door opened and out hobbled a young man in uniform, with one leg and one arm in plaster.  Traffic police used motorcycles and he had been involved in an accident and crushed his left leg and left arm.

He greeted me cheerfully and we set off for the car.  No elevator in the building and we had to go down one flight of stairs.  I had quite a wait at the foot of the stairs while he made his laborious way down.  He had to stop when he reached the bottom, not only to get his breath back but also to overcome the pain.

A good start to another driving test!

We went to the car whereupon he asked me to drive around the block. His comment was that as I had been driving in three countries over a period of ten years, there was little he could ask me to do that I hadn’t already done.  So again once around the block; back to the testing centre where he signed the form and I was presented with my NZ Driver’s Licence.

And that is the final time I have to sit a driving test.  Oh, I forgot.  Here one has to reapply for a licence at age 75 and then according to the NZ Transport Agency the following applies:-

“Once you turn 75 there are a few changes to the process for renewing your driver licence:

  • your new licence will be valid for only two to five years
  • the renewal fees are lower – because you’re renewing your licence more often
  • you need to present a medical certificate each time you apply
  • if recommended by your doctor, you will have to sit a 30-minute On-road Safety Test.”

So watch this space.  Wonder what will happen when I reach 75.

“Seize the moment.
Think of all the women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”

  Erma Bombeck












Driving Test No 2

View of Montreal


During the original two years we lived in New Zealand, we were allowed to drive on our British licences.  But when we arrived in Montreal, we were told that we would have to obtain Quebec licences immediately.

So shortly after we arrived, my late husband told me that he had arranged for us to take our tests.  There were two other men transferred into the area by the company at the same time, so we all went off to the testing centre together.

Frank and Lise were from Paris, France; Alexandros and Maria were from Cuba, via Bogota and then there were us from New Zealand.

We duly arrived at the testing centre and were separated while we took a very cursory written test.  Then we were each called in turn to take our driving test.  The man who was to test me arrived and sheepishly herded me out of the door into the car.  He then looked at me with hung-over, bloodshot eyes and told me that he had very little sleep and was very tired and I added under my breath, ‘hungover’.


Cartoon from Flickr – raybreakstonewebcomic/3145700127/

We drove once around the block whereupon he asked me to pull over and promptly fell asleep in the passenger seat.  Well, what to do.  In a car in a strange land with a strange man asleep.  So I turned on the radio to some very quiet music and sat there for about 15 minutes.  I then gently woke him and he sheepishly told me to return to the testing centre.  On arriving there, he pronounced me safe to drive, took me inside the centre and signed a form whereupon I was the proud owner of a Quebec licence.

When I told the other members of the party – well out of earshot of anyone in the testing centre – about my tester they thought it a great laugh and very unfair.  They had all been put through the hoops to prove that they were competent drivers while I sailed through.

My late husband always said I was born under a lucky star and I guess in this instance he was correct.

© Carolyn Seelen | Dreamstime.com

© Carolyn Seelen | Dreamstime.com

No day is so bad it can’t be fixed by taking a nap.”
Judith Baxter












Yesterday When I Was Young ….

Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet like rain upon my tongue,
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game
The way an evening breeze would tease a candle flame,
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned

I have just been listening to the local radio and they have played Charles Aznavour singing  “Yesterday when I was young”.  Charles Aznavour has always been a favourite and I am happy to listen to him at any time, so I started thinking about when I was young.

The words of this song don’t really apply to me; in fact, I think when he wrote this song he must have been feeling his age and counting all the things he had missed.  See what you think by listening here.

As I have said before, I don’t think I have missed out on anything in my long life, and I have plenty of happy, happy memories.  So I prefer to listen to Dean Martin who sung  Memories are made of this in 1945, and it just keeps keeping on.

But Aznavour plays a large part in my memories.  I remember seeing him first at The Royal Albert Hall in London in 1967.  This was a particular birthday treat for me.  Then in the 70s, we saw him in Paris.  Lovely memories of a fantastic singer.

So –  Yesterday When I Was Young I married my handsome young Scotsman, and after a few years had my first child, a daughter

Cate with Nana

Proud Nana with the first grandchild

Two years later I had a son.  So now two children to love.

Cate and David

Big sister and her brother

The taste of life was sweet like rain upon my tongueI was a very contented young mother, loving watching them grow and learn.

Children feed goat

Spain 1967

The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned – we moved from Scotland to New Zealand and then to Montreal.  My dreams came true.  My children thrived wherever we dropped them (figuratively of course).

Yesterday the moon was blue and every crazy day brought something new to do. We decided to move back to New Zealand to live life on the beach but it didn’t last for long as we moved south to Wellington.

every crazy day brought something new to donew city, new home, new friends. Everybody settled in and we loved our life here.

Then children moved on.  They left home and made their own way in the world. They both married and subsequently had their own children.


Family dynamics changed.  And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see.  Mother died followed shortly thereafter by my dashing (now not-so) young Scotsman and life moved on.

With Mother shortly before she died

And then some years later my darling, energetic, supportive 95-year-old father died.  Didn’t see him often as we lived a world apart, but he was always there for his daughters.

Yesterday the moon was blueand I have so many lovely memories of family and friends around the world.  There are only a couple of changes I might make, but one cannot bring back those who have passed on.  So The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I plannedare being replaced by new dreams and plans as I now move into a new phase of my life alone but never lonely.

Ah, That Reminds Me

And here is the second post for today.

Nothing is more memorable than a smell.  One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town.  Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once.   A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth.    ~ Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

Smells are so evocative.  Memories just pop into my head.

Lake at Springfield Park

Springfield Park. Wikipedia

When I smell newly mown grass I think of the parks we used to inhabit growing up in London.  We had no garden living as we did in an apartment, but we were taken regularly to the local park.

The smell of warm glue immediately transports me back more than 50 years to the kitchen where my father would have a pot of hot glue sitting on top of the coal burner for his furniture making.

Mum's bread pudding

The smell of mixed spices recalls my mother’s fantastic bread pudding.  This was made with stale bread soaked overnight with a good dollop of mixed spices and currants, raisins and any other dried fruit available.  The next day the bread would be squeezed to get out the water and the whole thing put into bake for an hour or so.  During the war there was no butter to spare for this so it didn’t contain any.

When I think of Mother’s kitchen I think of bread pudding.  My sisters and I have such great memories of this bread pudding.

For more bread pudding recipes click here.

And just occasionally I get a whiff of Aramis and that takes me back so long ago to when we lived in Montreal and Bob used to wear that cologne.  Of course, it evokes many memories of our years together too.

Creosote which you don’t often smell anymore immediately takes me to the open-air swimming pool at London Fields, in London where we all grew up.

London Fields Lido

Lido at London Fields – Wikipedia

For those of you who don’t know coal tar creosote is the most widely used wood preservative in the world. It is a thick, oily liquid typically amber to black in colour and the local Council used to paint this onto the wood surrounding the pool every summer.  The smell is distinct and when added to the smells of summer, it is quite heady.

The smell of talc on a small baby – oh the memories that brings back; the smell of the newly fallen leaves when one walks through them immediately transports me to the Laurentians; the smell when the grandchildren have been to the pool revives memories of learning to swim; what about newly laid tarmac on the road; the smell of sand on a hot day brings so many memories, too many to list here and so many many other smells that immediately evoke memories.  I am sure you have plenty of your own.

This is one of our senses and we usually take our sense of smell for granted.  Life would be less colourful and exciting without it.  See my post on the five senses here.

The nights are closing in here and it is already dark at 7pm.  But soon there will be the smell of woodsmoke to revive other memories.

Until tomorrow.












It’s My Birthday and I’ll ….

Birthdays are good for you

Today is my birthday. “You’re how old? ‘” I hear you say. Well, I make no excuses for having lived so long and for enjoying the ride (for the most part).

Oh, there have been bumps along the way – the death of my mother, followed shortly thereafter by my husband and then my father a few years later.  But I have been blessed with a happy marriage, two great children, their spouses and their children.

I have been privileged to see many parts of this wonderful world and in my travels have met many who have since become my real friends.  I have also lived in other parts of this world; moving from London to Glasgow with my handsome young Scotsman;

View of Glasgow

Glasgow today – courtesy Wikipedia

Then when he was transferred we had two years living on the beach in Auckland;

Takapuna Beach

The beach at Takapuna

then to Montreal.  This wasn’t so pleasant.  It was in 1969/70 when the French Separatists were very active.  The children’s school and the local mailboxes were bombed; the police went on strike one memorable day and Bob worked far too many hours each day.

Montreal today

View of Montreal today – – courtesy Wikipedia

Then back to New Zealand to the beach and eventually to Wellington, where I live very happily now.

Lambton Harbour, Wellington

The Harbor, Wellington

So today is my day.  I am sitting at the computer blogging away; reading other people’s blogs and making no attempt to tidy the house, weed the garden or the myriad of other things that need doing.

Today I am having drinks with friends early this afternoon before going off to dinner with some others.  My only regret is that many of my friends live in other parts of the country or the world and can’t join me for a celebration.  However, the phone has been ringing off the hook and emails have been coming in.  Don’t you just love the internet?  It makes keeping in touch so easy.

Some blogs I have found or been directed to :

So I will raise a glass of whatever you drink, to my old friends and to all my new friends I have found in the blogging world.

Bottle of Champagne

And to those who share my birthday, here is a gift for you.Bouquet of rosesSo until tomorrow.  Take care and remember Alice’s words

“But I don’t want to go among mad people”, said Alice.
“Oh, you can’t help that”, said the cat. “We’re all mad here.”