You may have noticed that things have gone a bit quite over here. That’s because November was a difficult month; our Norwich Terrier, Pepper, got sick, and we had to make the difficult decision to put him to sleep on the 13th. I’m still processing my feelings on the matter, but suffice to say it was heartbreaking and he’ll be incredibly missed.
He was sick when I went to Aberdeen to visit my high school friend, Amy, and her new baby. We had a lovely visit, in between being worried; she and her husband seem to be settling into parenthood very well, and their little boy is all kinds of adorable. Her cats also did their best to convert Adam to the feline dark side. Adam got two nice hill walks, and Amy and I had a good catch up.
Otherwise, we celebrated our godson’s second birthday, and helped our local friends welcome their new baby girl; it was a little person sort of month! And I handed in my final coursework for my Introduction to Counselling skills studies. Next week is the last week for this iteration, but I’m hoping to return in January.
The final weekend, we got together with my side of the family to celebrate the four birthdays which take place in November/December. We went for a nice forest walk (with a tea and cupcake picnic after), then went back to Mum and Dad’s for raclette, presents, and a game of Settlers of Catan. It was a lovely weekend, but bittersweet; Pepper should have been there.
Lastrean Kris Kringle, as his kennel name suggests, was born on Christmas Day 2004. Dad and I drove all the way to Lincolnshire to collect him in March 2005. He lived with us in Aberdeen, Binfield Heath, and Ashford, and accompanied us on many family adventures, from walks in northern Scotland to the very southern tip of the Isle of Wight. He was such a good little dog, and the best companion that four Canadians living in the UK could ever have asked for. Also known as Mr Peps, Sausage, Piggy, Lord Pepperington, Pepperoni Pizza, Spooch, and “the dang dog”, he would have been 15 on Christmas Day 2019. He could have lived 100 years and it would never have been long enough. I hope he is snuffling in hedges, hogging beds, and running across open spaces over the Rainbow Bridge. RIP Peps.
October started off on a sad note, with a trip to the Isle of Wight to honour my late maternal grandmother. She passed away in Canada in July, and asked that there be no funeral – she never did like being the centre of attention – so we decided to have a little memorial for her here. Why the Isle of Wight? Because she had happy memories there; she visited with her schoolmates in the summer of 1939, just before the outbreak of WWII, and again with us in 2015. We went to Alum Bay, where Nanny had enjoyed making made sand ornaments, and read some poems and made speeches. Then we went for her favourite meal: fish and chips. It was a difficult day, but a nice way to honour an amazing lady.
The next weekend a work friend and I travelled to visit two ex-colleagues (now married) in Brighton. Unfortunately, much like the last time we visited this particular couple, it was horrible weather, wet and windy, so we mostly just chatted and watched TV. It was nice to catch up though, and we finally managed to watch Rogue One together, having seen all the other Star Wars films as a group. (My husband got me into them when The Last Jedi came out, and then the girls said they’d never seen any so we started at New Hope and worked our way through the main series in release order. Much nerd knowledge, we now have.)
The next Saturday was home based, with some errands around Basingstoke and a quick coffee with local friends of ours. Then we went to Wellington Country Park with other local friends and their little boy on the Sunday. It was the perfect place for an autumnal walk/ runaround; we all went home shattered.
Last weekend we went to the seaside again, this time a trip to Portsmouth Dockyards with the in-laws. It was another grey day, but that just added to the effect when standing on the deck of Victory or Warrior.
In between the weekends there is not much news to report. We’re dog sitting for my parents, and we’ve been looking at a few houses, but otherwise just carrying on. We managed to avoid the trick-or-treaters last night too… but not a 2019 election!
What I Read
My reading habits this month have been somewhat remiss, actually. Between movie nights, busy weekends, and all the good TV at the moment I haven’t had much time. I’m working my way through a few books (possibly part of the problem) but haven’t finished any.
The Big Bang series finale was kinda ‘meh’ for me, to be honest. So is this season of The Apprentice; both were/are as expected, with no stand out moments or characters. Seven Worlds is only one episode in, but pretty standard Attenborough stuff.
Meat Eater is one of Adam’s new favourite shows, and I find it an interesting perspective on a different way of life. Hosted by ‘Meat Eater’ Steven Rinella, it follows his various hunts in different parts of the world, usually places in America. He tracks, hunts, and gathers all sorts of different wild animals and ingredients, usually with a few buddies in tow, then teaches you what to do with the animal once you’ve killed it, so nothing goes to waste. Not one for your vegetarian friends, but worth a look if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to stalk a bear in the wilds of Alaska.
The Good Place continues to be both interesting from a character perspective and hilarious; I look forward to seeing how the story concludes.
Living With Yourself was one recommended by Netflix; we’re only a few episodes in, but I am fascinated by the premise. An average guy (Paul Rudd), who is mildly dissatisfied with everything in his life, goes to an experimental spa in an attempt to improve things. It transpires that this spa is actually a human cloning facility, which makes some tweaks on the clone to give it genetic advantages and a better outlook. They usually bury the originals in the woods, but in this instance he survives. So, the ‘new improved’ clone (also played by Paul Rudd) and the original have to learn to live with each other. This includes things like sharing their job, and their wife. From the look of the trailer, things are about to take a dark turn, but I’m willing to go along for the ride.
September was a busy month right off the bat, with a trip to Crete from 30 August to 6 September, and then a trip to Montreal and Toronto from the 8th to the 16th.
We went to Crete with my parents and my sister and brother-in-law. It was my first time visiting Greece and will not be my last; the scenery and the food were both so incredible. We rented a three bedroom self catering villa with a pool, and did a mix of touristy things and relaxing, so it was an ideal trip for me. My favourite day was when the four ‘youngsters’ did a walk in the Agia Irini Gorge, meeting Mum and Dad at the beach in Sougia at the end. I have never been so happy to see the sea in my life! We also visited Knossos, an archeological site, and a local vineyard, as well as the beaches of Elafonissi and Falassarna, and the old town of Chania.
After we got back, I had one day to turn my suitcase around before flying to Canada with my sister. We have family in Newmarket, Ontario, so when Claire said she had been invited to Canada for a work trip, I offered to keep her company and pay them a visit. We did two days in Montreal, which I have never been to, first, and then five in Newmarket, seeing our paternal grandparents, both sets of uncles and aunts, and the two cousins on that side. I also found time for an afternoon in Toronto with my future sister-in-law; we went on a long, hot walk to see the Kim’s Convenience external set. (PSA: It’s the best show you’re not watching; the first three seasons are on Netflix.) It was a flying visit to my native land, but a good one.
After that fortnight of adventures, I returned to work and the real world. Nothing much to report, except that on the 24th I celebrated ten years of dating the man who is now my husband, and on the 25th I started an Introduction to Counselling course at the local college.
What I Read
The Testaments and The Edible Woman, by Margaret Atwood
The Day The World Came to Town, by Jim DeFede
The Taggerung and Loamhedge, by Brian Jacques
Wasn’t overly impressed with The Testaments, I have to say, though I did read it in the space of about four days. It was incredibly interesting, in terms of expanding the world which we were introduced to in Handmaid, but rather predictable, and doesn’t actually answer the question as to what happened to Offred.
The Edible Woman I read on the beach in Crete. I’d enjoyed Alias Grace on honeymoon in April, so I figured I’d give some of Ms Atwood’s other works a try while waiting for The Testaments. The Edible Woman is actually her first published work; the former English student in me is tempted to draw comparisons between the feminist messages of the two books, published some forty years apart. I think I will be putting ‘more Margaret Atwood books’ on my Christmas list this year.
Having seen the musical Come From Away this summer (highly recommend), I was intrigued when I saw The Day The World Came to Town on sale at the airport. It’s an old book (2002), but made for good airplane reading. Adam is working his way through it now.
As for the other two, I was obsessed with the Redwall books in my teens. Brian Jaques passed away a few years ago, and I bought Kindle versions of the entire series to console myself. So, I took advantage of some poolside days to revisit a few old friends.
What I Watched
The Lego Movie 2; The Second Part
American Dad, season 14
The Good Place, season 4
The first was on the plane; it was actually funnier than expected, but not as good as the first. Maya Rudolph put in a star performance as a long-suffering mother.
American Dad, via Now TV, continues to entertain. Some hit and miss stories this season, but the writing and the humour remains consistent. Not sure about Rogu though; I hope he’s an arc rather than a new character.
We started The Ranch, on Netflix, when I got back from Canada, just as background noise in the evenings really. So far it’s…okay. I’m not sure if the central premise will hold up for much longer, but I’ll keep you posted.
The Good Place, also on Netflix, deserves a separate blog post all its own. For now, let me say that I really respect the creators for choosing to make the fourth season its last; better to make four awesome seasons than three good ones and seven mediocre ones. With new episodes being added weekly from 27 September onwards, I am really intrigued to see how they finish their story.
What I’m looking forward to in October
A trip to the Isle of Wight to honour my late maternal grandmother