Happy Christmas from Lunenburg

23 12 2011

Just to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas from Lunenburg. I put this photo onto my Facebook and have to admit it isn’t my house.

It seems that even here in Nova Scotia, people suffer from the North American ‘tacky light syndrome’.

Lunenburg has more tasteful lights, with the little sponsored trees at the bandstand.

And the decorated  fishing boats at the harbour.

They make for a very pleasant walk along the front.

It has snowed here this morning and this is the view from our window into the garden.

We should have a white Christmas.

Jeff took this photo!!! It’s a bit out of focus! – but might make a nice painting.

Have a wonderful Christmas, and I’ll see what I have to report in the New Year.

Making Christmas Wreaths

21 12 2010

Last week I joined the group from the Lunenburg Garden Club, to learn how to make a wreath for the door.

Svenja Dee arrived laden with everything one would need to make an exciting wreath.

Ribbons of reds and pinks …

greens, blues, yellows and golds.

Large rolls of net.

Walnuts, almonds, chestnuts ……


and dried orange and apple slices.


And so we arranged ourselves around the table, each with a wire ring, a roll of binding wire and a great choice of greenery in the centre.


The art seems to be in making small bunches and tying them onto the wire ring in a clockwise direction, so that the new bunch covers the stems of the previous one.

It was nice to add a bit of holly for variety.

I seemed to be the last person to finish  this project, but think that I’ll be better next year.

Everyone had their own unique wreath to take home at the end of the evening.

This one had lovely green balls and ribbons.

And these two wreaths are very different from each other.


Susan chose a bright red and gold ribbon to match the coloured balls.

These shells make a very natural finish to this very attractive wreath.

I thought I’d have to go with the nearest to a tartan ribbon and chose the cinnamon and nuts to complement the colours.

I took a walk round Lunenburg and photographed some of the wreaths on the homes.


The doorway is decorated inside and out.


These wreaths are on all the windows and doors of the pub.


And this elaborate green ribboned wreath, is at the door of Cilantro, the kitchen shop, occupying the famous green painted building in town.

And these are above the doorway of the raspberry building.

This one has a very fancy ribbon.

And this doorway and stairway have wreaths.

I finish with a photo of this large wreath in the window of Ironworks – featured in my last Blog.

And wish everyone a ‘Very Happy Christmas.’

A King’s Christmas at Lunenburg

14 12 2009

On Friday night Jeff and I attended the King’s Christmas concert at St John’s Church in Lunenburg. Last year we were at the Concert of 100 Candles. The setting of St John’s Anglican Church is just magnificent and makes any concert a delight.

The  Chapel Choir of the University of King’s College in Halifax comprises of 20 choristers selected through annual auditions.  They entered the concert from behind us and sang Angelus Ad Virginem  as they walked down the aisle.

This picture below is a library picture and does not show the inside of St John’s.

Here is a link to their site.


The carols were interspersed with readings and poems.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas is one of my favourites and Christmas is never Christmas without listening to it.

Here is a link to it on someone else’s Blog for those of you who want to enjoy  it.


Suzie LeBlanc, the renowned Canadian soprano, entertained us with a couple of solos. Here is a taste of her wonderful voice.


Another good reading was The Twelve Days of Christmas, A Correspondence, by John Julius Norwich.  A different slant on the old Twelve Days of Christmas we all know.

25th December

My dearest darling
That partridge, in that lovely little pear tree! What a
enchanting, romantic,poetic present! Bless you and thank you.
Your deeply loving Emily

26th December

Mr dearest darling Edward
The two turtle doves arrived this morning and are cooing
away in the pear tree as I write. I’m so touched and
With undying love, as always, Emily

27th December

My darling Edward

You do thinks of the most original presents: whoever
thought of sending anybody three French hens? Do they really
come all the way from France? It’s a pity that we have no
chicken coops, but I expect we’ll find some. Thank you,
anyway, they’re lovely.
Your loving Emily

28th December

Dearest Edward

What a surprise – four calling birds arrived this morning.
They are very sweet, even if they do call rather loudly –
they make telephoning impossible. Bit I expect they’ll calm
down when they get used to their new home. Anyway, I’m very
grateful – of course I am.
Love from Emily

29th December

Dearest Edward

The postman has just delivered five most beautiful gold
rings, one for each finger, and all fitting perfectly. A
really lovely present -lovelier in a way than birds, which do
take rather a lot of looking after. The four that arrived
yesterday are still making a terrible row, and I’m afraid
none of use got much sleep last night. Mummy says she wants
us to use the rings to ‘wring’ their necks – she’s only
joking, I think; though I know what she means. But I love
the rings. Bless you
Love, Emily

30th December

Dear Edward

Whatever I expected to find when I opened the front door
this morning, it certainly wasn’t six socking great geese
laying eggs all over the doorstep. Frankly, I rather hoped
you had stopped sending me birds – we have no room for them
and they have already ruined the croquet lawn. I know you
meant well, but – let’s call a halt, shall we?
Love, Emily

31st December


I thought I said no more birds; but this morning I woke up
to find no less than seven swans all trying to get into our
tiny goldfish pond. I’d rather not thinks what happened to
the goldfish. The whole house seems to be full of birds – to
say nothing of what they leave behind them. Please, please
Your Emily

1st January

Frankly, I think I prefer the birds. What am I to do with
eight milkmaids – AND their cows? Is this some kind of a
joke? If so, I’m afraid I don’t find it very amusing.

2nd January

Look here Edward, this has gone far enough. You say you’re
sending me nine ladies dancing; all I can say is that judging
from the way they dance, they’re certainly not ladies. The
village just isn’t accustomed to seeing a regiment of
shameless hussies with nothing on but their lipstick
cavorting round the green – and it’s Mummy and I who get
blamed. If you value our friendship – which I do less and
less – kindly stop this ridiculous behaviour at once.

3rd January

As I write this letter, ten disgusting old men are
prancing abour all over what used to be the garden -before
the geese and the swans and the cows got at it; and several
of them, I notice, are taking inexcusable liberties with the
milkmaids. Meanwhile the neighbours are trying to have us
evicted. I shall never speak to you again.

4th January

This is the last straw. You know I detest bagpipes. The
place has now become something between a menagerie and a
madhouse and a man from the Council has just declared it
unfit for habitation. At least Mummy has been spared this
last outrage; they took her away yesterday afternoon in an
ambulance. I hope you’re satisfied.

5th January

Our client, Miss Emily Wilbraham, instructs me to inform
you that with the arrival on her premises a half-past seven
this morning of the entire percussion section of the
Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and several of their friends
she has no course left open to her but to seek an injunction
to prevent your importuning her further. I am making
arrangements for the return of much assorted livestock.
I am, Sir, Yours faithfully,

This was another top class concert held in our little town of Lunenburg. We are so lucky to have such wonderful facilities and entertainment.

We look forward to the next concert at St John’s.

More Music from St John’s, Lunenburg

18 12 2008

Yesterday Louise and I attended a lunchtime concert at St John’s Anglican Church. This was the venue for the ‘Concert of 100 Candles’, I wrote about on 7th December. It is a beautiful setting for any concert.


It was snowing heavily but we decided to brave the storm and enjoy the music. Pamela Rogers, soprano, sang a selection of Christmas favourites whilst her father, Wayne, accompanied her on the piano. I thoroughly enjoyed the variations to some well know pieces. At the end of each song, I felt that we should show our appreciation, by applauding, but being a reticent Scot, I thought I’d wait for the others to lead – which they didn’t.

I was extremely confused when Pamela started to sing ‘Away in a Manger’ as the tune matched an old Scottish ballad. In my head I sang the words

Cauld winter was howlin’ o’er moor and o’er mountain
And wild was the surge of the dark rolling sea,
When I met about daybreak a bonnie young lassie,
Wha asked me the road and the miles to Dundee.
-Now try and sing the words of ‘Away in a Manger ‘to the tune of this.

For those who don’t know the tune then’ The Corries’ will help you.


(My friend, Kathryn and I were great followers of ‘The Corries’ at Dundee University Folk Club and even had the Aran jerseys!)

My thoughts strayed to Dundee, home of Jute, Jam, Journalism and Wallace’s pies, but were soon brought back to the concert with the next piece. All too soon Pamela was ending with ‘O Holy Night’ another song I recognised. I can’t find any link to Pamela Rogers, but you can hear

Celine Dion singing it here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Jr-2eyRtV4

or, if you prefer Celtic Woman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ-8jYpa1-o&feature=related

or Mariah Carey’s own inimitable style www.youtube.com/watch?v=g64zUxkC_pQ

There’s no shortage of online concerts with this Christmas favourite.

This was a most enjoyable concert and I hope to have the pleasure of hearing Pamela Rogers in the future.

Stuart McLean and ‘Dave Cooks the Turkey’

14 12 2008

Hi Folks,

I thought today I would like to share with you one of the most important, if not critical, aspects of my life. I have never taken anything very seriously, preferring to find an irreverent, facetious, quirky, exaggerated, or any other form of humorous take in any situation. Those who know me will have had to suffer their conversations being interrupted by some quip or seemingly funny remark. I offer no apologies for this, I cannot help it. As the Viennese trick cyclist would have us believe, it really is all the fault of my childhood.

I am sufficiently old to have grown up in the days when radio was king and the one eyed monster merely a dream of another obsessed Scotsman, John Logie Baird. The greatest magic as a child was to go to bed early, that being one of the few warm locations in those pre-central heating days, and listen in the dark to the radio. There was the thrill of Sherlock Holmes stories and the adventure of Dan Dare’s space exploits, but the greatest delight lay with; Round The Horne, Hancock’s Half Hour, The Glums, Whacko and of course, The Goon Show. It was the latter, with its anarchic take on life, and British society in particular with its snobbishly inflexible social structure, that appealed.

The onset of adult life did not result in a more adult view of it. The slow development of television gave us some comedy shows, but mainly of the crudely slapstick variety. Although living in an age of visual media I am stuck in the age of the word and for me it is that that is critical in humour. Eventually television produced some acceptable comedy with Not the Nine O’Clock News and Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, but not until the the BBC found the visual equivalent of the surreal take of the Goon Show in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, did it match its radio output. But with the passing of that series, comedy on television virtually died and radio all but abandoning the field, I am left yearning for the “good old days”, like any other sad old sod.

Happily, some ten or so years ago I discovered an hilarious series of books by an American called Garrison Keillor. It transpired that he was a radio comedian in Minnesota, and all of his books are based on his broadcasts. During the broadcast of , A Prairie Home Companion, he describes a “town that time forgot and decades cannot improve, where the women are strong, the men good looking and all the children above average.” He, like all good comedians, is an acute observer of life as many of his tales clearly indicate. One of his stories describes a very old couple, married sixty odd years and the wife has to go to the hospital. Living some forty miles away means that they have to drive themselves there. Halfway to town they stop at a diner for coffee and a piece of pie, after which the husband goes to the rest room. When he comes out of the rest room, he exits the diner and drives home, wondering why his wife isn’t in the house. In his book, ‘A Radio Romance’, a radio show is taken on a road trip of small towns, the cast traveling in a bus. The toilet is no more than a closed in space that has a seat and a hole down onto the road. When a new member of the cast uses this facility, the driver steers onto the gravel verge of the road, sending a shower of stones into the posterior of the greenhorn.

Apparently Garrison Keillor is still doing his weekly radio show and although I now live on the edge of the American continent here in Atlantic Canada, we unfortunately cannot pick up that station’s signal.


However, last year, not long after we arrived in Nova Scotia, we had driven out one cold, snowy, December day and treated ourselves to a picnic in the car at some lonely shoreside location. The radio was switched on in the hope of catching some lunchtime concert to accompany the tuna sandwiches. Instead we listened to this very funny seasonal tale. Just recently my little apple blossom has researched extensively and discovered that this story was called, Dave Cooks the Turkey, by Stuart McLean.


Stuart McLean is a Canadian version of Garrison Keillor with his roots firmly in radio. His Radio show, ‘The Vinyl Cafe’ features stories of Dave, owner of a second hand record shop and his wife and family. It is the family that is the focus of his humour, often highlighting situations that will be all too familiar to many of us. The link below is to this riotous Christmas episode and is our gift to all of those who will receive nothing else from us.

This ‘link’ does not seem to work so to open this present simply cut and paste the address below into the destination bar. And for those of you who, like me, are challenged by the cutting and pasting bit, simply copy very carefully the address into the address bar. Otherwise you will have to buy the CD from Amazon.


Please note that you will need about 20 minutes to listen to this tale, but it is well worth it.

Wishing everyone a very merry holiday season, Jeff and Jackie.

The Great Suet Hunt

14 12 2008

Since my report on 4th December, I am delighted to tell you folks back home that there will be Christmas Puddings in the Queen household after all. There is this store in Halifax owned by Pete, who started out with a market stall in the Victorian Market in Nottingham. He moved to Canada in 1979 and now owns a national award-winning specialty grocery store. Pete’s Frootique is a store within a store, specializing in deli, produce, bakery, meats and fish and more. There’s a friendly atmosphere and often a musician playing a baby grand piano.

We found this store on one of our first trips to Halifax and were delighted to be able to buy such exotic foods as Walker’s oatcakes, Frank Cooper’s vintage marmalade and Heinz baked beans!

Louise and Cameron were at Halifax last week-end and popped in to stock up on real Bisto and real HP sauce. Louise noticed these packets and bought one, not sure if it was what I wanted.

atora-lightI was looking for suet, but never dreamt I’d be lucky enough to get vegetable suet here. Pete’s Frootique turns up trumps every time.

Louise and I set to on Monday and we have now 2 very fine Christmas puddings made with Mrs. Beeton’s recipe.

Concert of 100 Candles

7 12 2008

Last night we went to our second concert at St John’s Anglican Church since coming to Lunenburg. The last one was an excellent Baroque Concert with the Symphony Nova Scotia playing Vivaldi, Albinoni, Handel and Bach. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening and thought we were truly lucky, not just to listen to such a fine performance but to sit in the spectacular setting of this very fine Church in Lunenburg.

My photo of St. John's

My photo of St. John's

In 2001 a catastrophe hit this church, when it was destroyed by fire on Halloween. A Restoration Committee was set up and amazingly the church has now been restored to its original glory. You can see the history of the church and its restoration at this site.

http://www.stjohnslunenburg.org/restoration/index.html You can even see the sad photos of the fire.

Last night’s performance was by the Sanctuary Trio, with Peter Togni on the pipe organ, Jeff Reilly playing the bass clarinet,Christoph Both on the cello and the Peter Togni Singers. They played some music that was recognizable, such as ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, but many pieces were their own compositions. Jeff Reilly’s playing was haunting in this setting, Christoph Both used the bow and his fingers to produce sounds I’ve never heard on a cello and Peter Togni is a master of the pipe organ. You can find out more about them at


I am no music student but this was an amazing experience . I see that the Sanctuary Trio have produced CD’s, so I might treat myself for Christmas.

We look forward to the next concert with Sanctuary.