Sunday, November 14, 2010


We've just returned home from our babymoon, otherwise known as a last twosome trip before baby. Some may think this is silly as Greg and I have spent the last 15 years alone together, but I never miss a chance to reconnect with my hubby and indulge in a little romance.

Our original plan was to go on an all inclusive holiday to Morocco or similar...this was until too much flying around Canada landed me in hospital. So, flying was out. My brilliant husband then suggested a romantic Mediterranean cruise, an idea we were both really excited about until I got kicked off the boat even before I got on sailing after 6 months, no exceptions! So, what to do? I polled my European girlfriends (who are all avid travellers) and we came up with a weekend in London for shows and excitement, and a week in the Cotswolds for R&R. Plus if the baby came early I would be in an English speaking country: perfect!

So, off we went on the Eurostar train which I thought would be posh but was actually not as nice as the TGV's. However we arrived in London in just over 2 hours (just like driving to Parksville from Victoria, but way cooler!) got to our hotel then headed into town.

Now, this may not seem romantic to you, but if you have been following the crib saga you will know I have been very unhappy with my crib choices in what does a good shopper do but try looking in a different city! I spent several hours happily checking our cribs at John Lewis Dept store, while Greg (with great relief) visited some Beatles haunts that he has been keen to see. He walked the famous zebra crossing which he says for the record it looks a lot smaller than on that iconic album cover!. We hit a pub for dinner (beer! chips!) then hit the sheets.

The next day, after a run around getting our rental car (how exactly does one arrange for a pick up at a train station as huge as St. Pancras?) we headed to Cotswold country. And it did not let us down: gradually city congestion gave way to rolling hills, stone fences and lovely stone cottages, the view around each corner more charming than the last. Greg loved driving on the left again (he lived in Plymouth for 6 months in his Navy days) and the challenge of keeping up with local traffic on what amounts to little more than a one way street! He did very well and we arrived at our hotel intact.

Our hotel was exceptional: it is a converted manor house, and boasts a spa and first class restaraunt, all nestled in 100 acres of seclusion. We had a huge suite with King sized bed, and pregnant lady sized bathtub....pure bliss. Breakfast each morning was excellent, and the staff so friendly and accomadating. One of our favorite features was the free DVD's we could borrow from the front desk; since the weather was rainy and cold, and Greg was once again down with stomach flu (not the beer I swear) we spent the first few days holed up in our nest, perfectly content.

We eventually poked our noses out of our room and went to explore the local villages. Their names trip off the tongue like Harry Potter characters: Stowe-on-the Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Camden, the Slaughters. In Broadway we climbed Broadway Tower, built as a folly but since home to farmers, friends of William Morris and the military at different times in its history. The views were stupendous, and we were touched by a memorial to British and Canadian ariman who died in a training accident very near the Tower. In Bourton we feasted on cream tea, and enjoyed country walks in Lower Slaughter and around the hotel. We checked out Gloucester Cathedral, where parts of the Harry Potter films were made, and ogled the fan vaulting of the cloisters, which inspired similar architecture in the Rideau Chapel, now located in the National Art Gallery in Ottawa. Each night we picked a different little pub to try out, and enjoyed the kindness and vivacity of the local people. We treated ourselves to massages: what indulgence! We even attended the local Remembrance Day ceremonies in Stowe, complete with a piper and children's choir.

Feeling rested and restored by country living, the return to London was a bit of a shock. We found London even busier than Paris, if that's possible. For our last night we took in the stage production of Billy Elliot with Meg's Auntie Linda (who offered to drive the crib over to Paris...what a doll!) and were amazed by the talent of the young dancers.

I would definately recommend a babymoon (or a 'whatevermoon') to anyone. Any chance to focus on one another, and spend lots of cuddle time, should be taken. However, this trip was not the same as others we have taken because the baby has already changed us. The way we travel is different (I'm a lot slower, and can carry way less luggage!) as is the way we relate. We talk about the baby and what it will be like to have him so much that he is already a part of our couple: our twosome is becoming a threesome. I miss the old 'us' in some ways, but the new 'us' is so much more: fuller, richer, happier, and more scared. Trepidation and elation are both present, and there is no-one that I want to experience this with more than Greg. The real journey was not our babymoon -great as that was- but our journey towards parenthood, together.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Little Luxembourg and Tiny Trier

November 1st is a long weekend in France, and my husband is not one to 'waste' a long order to add another country to his life list (he's up to 29) he cooked up the idea of a driving weekend, to Luxembourg. But a colleague had told him that Luxembourg was actually pretty boring, and suggested we stay a mere half hour away in the German town of Trier. And so, "Ka" rented (the car was honestly called a Ford Ka) off we went.

We like driving holidays. Its nice to be your own man (woman), hit the road, go where the spirit takes you. Especially since we are no longer Ka owners (Ok I will stop) its a treat to drive. Despite drizzly weather, we were thrilled to see beautiful fall foliage to rival the Gatineaus back home. The colors of the leaves, hills and countryside were truly stupendous, and reminded us how good it is to get out of the city.

And we believe small is beautiful. Take Luxembourg, for example. We arrived quite late (I admit I spent a good part of the day shopping at Ikea...but you have to take full advantage when you've got a car!) so we simply parked and headed out for a stroll. The air was evening crisp, and the sun was just going down. Spread below us like a lovely carpert was a deep gully that had been made into a park. Stone walls rose up from this, watched over by the city itself. At night this gorge was equally stunning due to atmospheric lighting. We explored the local church (burnt, bombed and rebuilt many times) and had dinner in a more than passable Mexican restaurant (these are rare in Paris, so we took a chance...and it was very good! No translations needed on the menu!) Luxembourg has spent much of its history being occupied (by France, Germany and Belgium) and stripped of its lands (same countries) but remains a fiercly independent little duchy. Greg's buddy was partly right-there isn't much to 'see' per se- and yet Luxembourg is a lovely little place to visit for a short stint.

We went on to Trier that same night, checking into our hotel quite late. The only room left had been smoked in (despite the non smoking policy) which really doesn't work for pregnant asthmatics, so the kindly proprietor found us another a handicapped suite! This room was rather dorm like, and there was a seat in the shower (which was actually quite handy for me) as well as power lift beds (woohoo!) ...however the full on German breakfast the next morning more than made up for the oddness of the accomadations.

As the seat of the Roman Empire for several years, Trier has an amazing amount of history for such a small place. We looked at Ponto Negra, the largest Roman city gate in the world; the oldest building in Germany (oddly painted in a Moroccan style which was fashionable at the time) and Emperor Constantine's Throne Room (the only intact room in the world from Roman times, and still in use today as a church). There was lots of charming traditional architecture, and a delicious lunch spot for German sausage and spatzle for lunch. Greg went to look at Karl Marx's birthplace while Meg shopped a bit, and then we hopped in the Ka for the drive home, appreciating again how good things come in small towns.

P.S. Greg wants me to mention specifically that we drive through 4 countires in one day: France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany......this is a pretty neat thing for people from Canada, where you can barely cover one province in a day!