ms. fresh fish

Cherised memory: Christmas in Manchester
November 26, 2012, 9:29 am
Filed under: events, travel

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

One of my favourite Christmas’ ever of all time was in 2002 when I spontaneously maxed out my credit card to fly to Manchester, England to see my BFF. She was living there as a teacher and was, basically, stuck there and – it must be said – miserable.

It really is that awesome.

In addition to eating some disaster of a fake turkey (she was still vegetarian at the time) and eating dozens of boxes of Kraft Dinner (that my mom made me bring over), we managed to get new haircuts, go shopping, drink enough beer so that I gained 10 pounds in 10 days and couldn’t do my pants up on the plane home (yes, I cherish that little nugget). I got to witness the courtship between her and her now husband (have I mentioned that I TOLD YOU SO lately?!). It was so super fun. We were still young and while we felt like we had responsibilities, the way we played for 10 days has not been re-created since actual *real* responsibilities shortly thereafter came into play.

This was (half of) our soundtrack for that week. On vinyl. Merry Christmas, y’all.

Blue Christmas


The Power of the Double Decker
January 5, 2011, 9:17 pm
Filed under: ottawa, recommendations, travel

I’ve ridden double decker buses in England, and loved every moment. The novelty has clearly not worn off. Husband got hung up on with an hysterical “I gotta go! It’s a double decker!” when I saw the double decker approaching my bus stop this evening. After frantically telling the OC Transpo bus driver how excited I was to finally get to ride this bus (his response: “Really?”), I ran up the stairs to find an empty upper deck. I don’t know what was bigger – my smile or the gigantic window two feet from my face.

Before you think I’m a complete loser, think twice (or know that there are others like me). A few stops into the “flying ride” (as I will now think of it), the bus stops, I hear a furious scamper up the stairs and when I look back, I see a woman, maybe 40, with a huge smile on her face as she plops herself in the front row, across from me. We looked at each other, both with big stupid smiles, and said (I feel like it was simultaneously, but this may be morphing into a Broadway musical in my head) “(i)sn’t this so fun!??!” A few stops later some more people got on and jumped into our “isn’t this fun?” conversation (which we were still having), thereby confirming the joy these buses bring to everyone.

And so, readers, it will be the double decker bus that will serve as the foundation for my new world peace proposal (to come).

Look very closely...

Habana Libre!
December 24, 2010, 2:16 pm
Filed under: family, recommendations, travel

I received a call from my sister about a month ago: “We need to book a trip. We need to go before Christmas. Can you sort it out?” Me: “Absolutely.”

And so off we were, about two and a half weeks later, to Havana, Cuba with a sketchy hotel booked, insufficient knowledge of Spanish and no Cuban dollars to our name (because you can only get them when you get there, or so we hoped…). My sister and I have never really travelled together, aside from a weekend to Vancouver to visit Dad & Elli and see Neil Diamond. I was a little worried, I have to say. I was going to Cuba with a person who does not eat any seafood, does not drink any alcohol or caffeine and loves to shop. This did not bode well for her enjoyment. What I found out about my sister, after all these years, is that despite her home-based rules, she is a master at go-with-it-ness. No she did not eat any fish, and no she didn’t drink any alcohol (but has learned that she absolutely can have two cafe con leche at 10:30 and then proceed to sleep for ten hours), and the shopping – well, she had some people to prove wrong, and so she did.

Havana is a crazy city, and I was reminded of Naples the entire time. Here are a few observations:
Continue reading

DC Roll-up: Conclusion
August 3, 2007, 12:50 am
Filed under: travel

I wasn’t sure how to frame this entry, but was sure that the extended narrative is not appealing to the writer nor reader at this point, so I thought perhaps a top ten list would work.

Top Ten DC highlights (and things to do/remember, if you’re interested in my advice):

1. If you want a glass of wine and you’re under 75, bring your I.D. But when they ask you for it (because they will ask you for it), pretend you forgot it and try to talk them into serving you anyway. I can almost guarantee you’ll get some variation on the following story: The bartender here/next door got arrested yesterday/last week/month because he served someone without i.d. who ended up being underage (note: that means the person could have been TWENTY). The dude was arrested, put in jail for the weekend and will never work in this city again. Plus, he’s got two/three/ten kids. Note: I’m not saying that they’re lying about this, in fact I’m pretty sure they’re not. What I’m saying is: Bring your ID because they’re nuts about alcohol.

2. Dupont Circle – so peaceful, especially in the summer and just begs you to go buy some books (that you can’t fit into your luggage on the way home, but will figure something out), cancel the rest of your day’s plans and sit there to read/nap/read/nap.

3. Metros are fun. Super fun. Always.

4. Jaleo – sure, it’s just a tapas restaurant in Penn Quarter, but oh mon dieu. We went on my birthday and took the server’s recommendations (before she told us about the bartender being jailed) and oh my goddess was it ever good! We went back again two nights later. That good.

5. I’m pretty sure the reason that the Air & Space Museum in the Smithsonian complex is the “most visited museum in the world” is because it’s touted as “the most visited museum in the world.” Think about it. However, I did learn how things fly, which I’m sure will come in handy one day.

6. The Planetarium in the Air & Space Museum is worthy… 

7. Georgetown, where as my co-worker discovered and so aptly stated, the 80’s yuppy lives on. Polo Ralph Lauren: Check. Boat shoes: Check. Khakis everywhere: Check. Check the comments on davesblawg’s DC entry to get a fantastic summary.

8. The people are ridiculously nice. I was trying to recall the last time I’d been somewhere that I encountered such a high response rate to my test of smiling at people on the street to see if they smile back. The only place that rivaled it was Husband’s parents’ small village in Italy where they not only say hello (ok, “ciao”) but also try to force you into their home and make you eat pasta… at 9 a.m.

9. Hard to boycott Starbucks in DC. Yes, that’s a confession.

10. Pay attention to the signs about which sidewalks you can and can’t walk on. Should you miss a sign and be walking where you’re not supposed to, be prepared to be threatened with an arrest. This is the exception to #8 above. Also, probably best not to get your back up in response to their power trip. Then again, I take that back… why not?

DC Roll-up
August 2, 2007, 6:34 am
Filed under: travel

Alright, alright… I give in.

My recent trip to DC was great. While I was there for a course that took up about 87% of my time, luckily I’m fast like lightning and was able to get in most of the sites. It was very reminiscent of my Chicago strategy over a year ago. Not reminiscent in this trip was my blogging commitment. Last year – every day I was there, I blogged. That’s what happens when one has a) a laptop, b) free wireless in the hotel, and c) no one to ease the loneliness.

But I digress.

I accidentally did most of DC the first night I got there. I thought I’d just check out the White House, but considering it would already be 7 p.m. by the time I got there, I’d probably just head back to my Arlington hotel straight away. Of course I didn’t. Of course I figured I’d just book it over to see one more site to make the trip that much more efficient. No map, no tour book, just one podcast of a “Walk in Washington” and I was off. Turns out it’s pretty hard to miss the monuments… because they’re bloody GARGANTUAN. I had no expectations of size and grandeur. I’m a Canadian; we build stuff humbly here (ok, except for a few obvious exceptions).  

I found the Mall and started my stroll. While I was watching the dodgeball game in one of the open spaces, I felt the sudden need to turn around. Given the extent to which I go through life with blinders on, this is really something people.

And there it was. The peen. Staring back at me.


I know it’s the “Washington” monument, but given those two red lights at the top that blink like evil little eyes, watching and tracking your every movement, I can’t help but think there’s a certain VP right now who doesn’t need a little monumenting, especially since it’s so a propos in terms of overall sensation of fear and creepiness.

As I followed the path (that’s what I do, like a good little grrl), I then stumbled upon the Vietnam Memorial. I can’t even make fun of this one. It’s incredible in its seemingly politically-neutral yet painfully stark, simple message. All I can say is that pictures don’t do it justice.  

And then, to the Lincoln Memorial – but a stone’s throw from the Vietnam Memorial (alright, so you might have to be Peyton Manning to get that throw there, but you get my point). I kinda loved this one too, despite my well-formed and oft-discussed, er, issues with Americana in general. It’s size is ridiculous and that alone should have made me vomit with principled disgust. Thing is, I’m no stranger to a little drama and I definitely don’t shy away from someone else providing it to me in pure, spectacular form. So, instead of being offended by its enormity, I relished in it. I ran up those stairs to get to the spot where not only Martin Luther King, Jr had spoken of his dream, but where Reese Witherspoon had finally been accepted by the Hill staffers via the long-awaited non-harrassing snap cup. Sigh.

To the left of Lincoln is the Gettysburg Address and to the right, his second inaugural address. Lesson: The USA once had a very good reason to be patriotic. I get that now.  I also get why Ford wanted to create “the Lincoln.” Sturdy, strong, blah blah blah.

It was now getting very dark and while I’m generally not afraid of “stranger danger”, being in one of America’s most violent cities, I decided now might be a good time to remove my head from my ass (given that both were solo on this adventure) and book it to the metro at Foggy Bottom. The walk brought me past the infamous Snow Fence Monument, the State Department (barricaded, obviously) and through to the George Washington University campus, which is when I decided I need to go back to school, to GWU, at that campus.

Oh dear… so much more to write about. This is the problem with blogging… once I start, I cannot stop. I’ll work on a more concise entry encapsulating the rest of the trip for tomorrow.

Debbie and Russ got hitched!
July 9, 2007, 6:35 am
Filed under: events, travel

Ms. Debbie McCosham and Mr. Russ Washburn finally tied the knot this weekend in Petawawa, Ontario at the Officer’s Mess on the base.

I can’t lie – us “civvies” were very excited about going to a military wedding on a real base and got giddy every time we saw any vehicle in camo-green – tractors to tanks, equal excitement. We rented a party van for the two-hour drive, and a party room at the Thriftlodge, which is also attached to the bar, bus depot, depanneur, restaurant and… a laundromat in “the Pet”. So, in a word, perfect.

It was an amazing, amazing, amazing day. Debbie looked unbelievably stunning and she was true to form in every way, resulting in an infatuated dinner group to chant her name over and over again when she tried to get away with not giving a speech. Russ was downright dashing in his full dress and the couple were exuberant.

And somehow, they both came out unscathed from the massive cupcake fight at the end of the night and still looked amazing right to the end.

Thank you to you both for such an amazing party!

Reasons why I heart military weddings:

  1. Men in fancy uniforms
  2. Open bar (including pina coladas)
  3. 1+2 = Men in uniforms that inevitably get sloppy drunk 
  4. Weddings on bases entail a mandatory road trip by old friends, which is always fun
  5. Bag piperS – not just one… but FOUR
  6. DrummerS – not just one… but THREE
  7. Pipers and Drummers (in kilts, obviously) together for the mid-meal serenade
  8. Kilts
  9. When the MC says dinner starts at 7 (1900 hours), you know he’s not toying with you… you better be there at 7, at frickin’ attention (ok, so I just added that part, but still…)
  10. The Sword Party at the end of the aisle for the wedding party to walk through … SO cool

Single in the city
June 18, 2007, 1:43 am
Filed under: a & e, recommendations, Restaurants, Sports, travel

Husband was off to Toronto on Friday evening, after a lovely dinner at Siam Bistro in Westboro, leaving me single for a few days. As usual, the unexplainable mania I feel when he leaves town for a few days led me to be very, very tired by Sunday night. I don’t know why I get that hyper – it’s not as though he in any way hinders my activities when he’s home, so maybe it’s to distract myself until he returns… but that sounds way too lame. Anyway, the hysteria sets in and I’m off to the races with overlapping commitments and barely enough time to do my hair, let alone put on make-up from one activity to the next. Continue reading