2012 reminiscing: Family, friends, running and one massive plane!

This final Purge Post wraps up my trip home to Winnipeg this past October. Just a reminder that by Purge Post, I’m referring to a purge of the many half-written, sometime title-only posts in my draft box that were waiting to be finished and published. There are still about three posts that have been patiently waiting for months, and I will continue to finish and publish them in the next few weeks.

My last post left off with an intense 48 hours of pure gluttony with one of my oldest best friends (and by oldest, I mean we’ve known each other since we were six years old). I said good bye to Adrienne at the new Winnipeg airport, rushed home to avoid rush hour traffic (what is that?), in time to leave with my mom to go to my Grandma and Grandpa’s condo for dinner along with my Aunt Lucille, (who is a former runner to boot! If I remember correctly, her best marathon time is sub 3:30 hours!!!!!!! Maybe I should interview her…..). 
Dinner at Grandma and Grandpa’s is always something to look forward to for me. When I was little, and as a teenager, Sunday dinners were regular occurrences on both sides of the family. My Grandma and Grandpa used to have a farm, and there would always be plenty of treats in the kitchen and fun things to do outside. I think it is partly from my Grandma that I developed an intense love of baked treats, and from my Grandpa, an intense love of Pepsi! He always had plenty in stock for his grandchildren, and even bought me a box of 12 the evening we came over for dinner! (Not good for me, but still such a beautiful gesture. And no, I wouldn’t drink 12 in one night). I credit my grandma for my culinary skills: she made so many amazing, homemade and French-Canadian dishes for us, passed those skills on to her daughters, and my mom, in turn, did the same thing with my sister and I. I have fond memories of sitting in the kitchen with my mom and Aunt Lucille, watching them make apple pies or tortiere, a French-Canadian ground/minced pork pie. I also remember my grandma not letting me have dessert and getting mad at me because I was, at the time, a picky eater (my words, not her’s) who wouldn’t eat a seafood pie she’d made. I probably would eat today.
My Grandma went all out for this meal: homemade multigrain (UK: granary) bread, homemade tortiere , filet mignon with Montreal Steak Spice (!!!!!!), mashed potatoes, salad and green beans. It was such a fantastic meal! During our feast, my Grandpa said such a touching thing to us ladies; to paraphrase him ‘I love all of my children and grandchildren, and I know there will come a day when I can’t say this, so I’ll say it now.’ This brought tears to my eyes. A photo of the wonderful meal and wonderful people:

From left: my Mom, Grandpa, Grandma and Aunt Lucille
If you’ve read my first Winnipeg post, you’ll remember that I stated I arrived in Winnipeg to 29’C temperatures, September 30th, with a suitcase full of fall/autumn clothes and one short-sleeved t-shirt amongst them. That was Saturday. By Thursday, October 5th, it was snowing. Again, I didn’t have proper clothes! Instead of borrowing my mom’s Birkenstocks and summer tshirts, I was going for an old snowboarding jacket I’d given to my sister, and a running jacket my mom uses for walking. I just couldn’t win! Luckily, I’d brought warm running clothes to run in the snow! First time ever I think.

I ran through the Forks Market, a now tourist spot in Winnipeg  full of restaurants and shops, which historically was a site for fur traders hundreds of years ago. The reason it’s called the Forks is because it sits at the fork of the Red River and Assiniboine River. This photo was taken from the tower above the Forks, the one my friends and I used to run up and down, and race the elevator. Good times.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is currently being built on the Forks site as well. I’m definitely going to go here next time I’m home!

The next evening, I met up with two very special ladies, my good friends Sheila and Emily from high school. We were really close friends in school but drifted apart, and through the magic of Facebook, have reconnected. Like me, Sheila and Emily have also married British guys. Pretty ironic considering the three of us drooled over Take That as teenagers, and proclaimed our desire to marry them!
Emily has her own salon, and cut my hair while us girls caught up, gossiped (naturally!), and had girl time with their little adorable and hilarious daughters. We then headed downtown to our favourite spot as teenagers, Earls! We had bellinis, mojitos, hot wings, chicken caesar salad and fish tacos, and shut the place down! I so loved this evening and I’m so glad we did it. As I write this post, Emily and I are chatting on Facebook. Wonderful lady friends I have.

Sheila, moi and Emily
Thanksgiving weekend was upon us! This was my first Thanksgiving at home since about 2005. What was supposed to be a weekend of traveling between one cabin at the lake to another cabin on another lake, turned into two family dinners in town due to much snow and power outages. That was okay though. The lake is always better in the summer.
My Aunt Sandy, who’s decorating rivals Martha Stewart, had my dad and I over for Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s her centrepieces before we put the food on the table.

And here are us lucky diners! We enjoyed turkey, my Grandma’s pork sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted turnips, cranberry mould (another family recipe), brussel sprouts and Japanese rice.

It was a fantastic evening of visiting family, eating and playing Scrabble. And interesting enough, my Aunt Sandy’s husband Ian (my uncle) is ALSO British! Major theme here! 
The next evening, we went back to Sandy and Ian’s for Chinese takeout and Monopoly. This meal completed my Asian food craving trifecta: whenever I’m back home, I always have Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese food because we just haven’t found great equivalents here in Scotland. Except for Chop Chop in Edinburgh.
Thanksgiving Monday, I went out for lunch for the second time with my friend Sarah, maybe you know her? 
Sarah and I met when we were both doing our Kinesiology degrees at the University of Winnipeg and have been friends ever since. Sarah also lived the expat life in New Zealand for a while, so she’s familiar what it’s like to live in another country.
Anyway, Sarah and I went for a delicious brunch at another Winnipeg establishment, Stella’s Cafe and Bakery on Osborne. I have eaten many breakfasts and lunches here, and went for an old favourite: Vegetarian Chilli.

This was my last visit in Winnipeg sadly. My trip home to see family and catch up with so many good lady friends had come to an end. It was time to pack and get ready for a 15 hour travel day home to Scotland!

And shove these newly purchased (on sale) beasts into my big backpack.

The morning of my flight, I ran about 4 miles, and then my mom and I went back to Stella’s where I had my usual breakfast smoothie and vanilla latte (my breakfast every day, even at home), on top of a pancake breakfast of two blueberry pancakes, North American bacon and egg whites, (and no I’m not cutting out yolks for health reasons, clearly my meal wasn’t at all calorie-wise. I just don’t like the taste and consistency of them). I also didn’t know when I’d eat next: my first flight to Montreal was at 2 pm, where of course we weren’t served any food, and theParis flight on which I’d actually get fed, didn’t depart Montreal until 7:30 pm, with a plane full of about 500 passengers? I needed to fill up.

My trip home had come to an end. It had been just over two years since I’d been home, and suddenly, it was all over. After a tearful good bye to my Mom, (I’d said good bye to my Dad the night before), I was queuing for security for my flight to Montreal. 
The only interesting bit of that flight was that I watched The Descendants with George Clooney and acutally liked it. We basically arrived when my flight to Paris began boarding, so with my carry-on backpack, a bag of framed pictures and my purse, I briskly walked across the Montreal aiport to catch my next flight, and in the process, got really sweaty. Absolutely excellent considering the next time I’d be able to shower was still about twenty hours away.

This next section explains how much of a geek I am when it comes to planes. I’m incredibly keen about planes and air travel in general, and some of my highlights of traveling to numerous countries in the world have been flying on the massive planes to get there. This flight to Paris was especially special because of the plane that was taking us there. If I was a bucket list-type of person, this would be something to tick off the list. This plane was also the contributing factor to buying a ticket with Air France. I would fly on an Airbus A380. In other words, the new massive, double-decker planes that about a dozen airlines in the world have in their fleets. This was the most exciting part of my trip back to Scotland, and something I’d been looking forward to since I’d booked the ticket in July. I felt, in some ways, it was an experience of a life time, (so far).
I’d also noticed, after boarding, that First Class was empty, except for one lady. Upon enquiring whether I could sit there instead, so I could lie down because my back was bothering me, the ground crew told me I had to make that request before boarding the plane. Something I will do next time.
After take off, we were given dinner menus. In coach. Seriously.
We were also served Champagne. In Coach. For free. Seriously. When I asked for a Coke and some champagne, the flight attendant, in French, asked if I wanted them mixed. No, we both laughed. My dinner of Boeuf Forestiere, or Beef with wild mushrooms.
I sat on the first floor of the plane, unfortunately I didn’t book a seat up top, and due to some restrictions, couldn’t even do online check-in. After dinner, I went to explore upstairs.

Uneventful, but still neat.
The trouble with trans-Atlantic flights to Europe, in my experience, is that they’re always overnight, which I hate because I can’t sleep. After trying to sleep for a while, I settled on watching another film instead. I also entertained myself by watching the plane fly through the sky! There are three cameras on the A380, one at the nose, (so you get to see what the pilot sees, even during taxi and takeoff/landing), one underneath pointing at the ground, and one on top of the tail, that gives you a view of your flight as it’s happening. Very cool, especially when you can see day break on the horizon.
 Upon landing in an overcast Paris (so no view of the Eiffel Tower), I got off the plane, and at the first chance I got, along with many other passengers, took a photo of the behemoth monster that got us to our destination.

A memorable experience, one that I hope to get again next time I go home.
I caught my connection to Aberdeen where my husband was eagerly waiting my arrival. And after a lunch at Nandos, we headed home so I could shower and nap in my own bed after one of the best visits home ever.
There are a few more Purge Posts to do, but next up is my first yoga experience in Scotland.
Ran 4.72 miles tonight in the snow and slush, at 0’C in 45:13 with some running club ladies. It was good.

4 thoughts on “2012 reminiscing: Family, friends, running and one massive plane!

  1. Sounds like you had a delightful trip back home! I can't imagine what it would be like to come home for the first time in two years. That is quite a fancy plane ride you got! I've always wanted to ride on a double decker.

  2. Oh my goodness, that aeroplane is enormous!! And getting a menu in economy? Really? Last time I flew Air France I had a terrible experience (delayed, lost my bags, rude staff), but maybe they've upped their game since 2005…

  3. We were delayed too, but I found staff very friendly. My colleague says it's because I spoke French to them, if I didn't, it could've been different. I have a friend that works in Madagascar and has given up flying Air France to Reunion because of how useless they are on that leg. I guess it just depends on destination city, and maybe the fact that it's a relatively new plane, hence new service that they want customers to enjoy.

  4. New York or Washington to Paris and you'll get that plane ride! Or just fly to Australia 😉

    It was amazing and surreal at the same time. In some way, nothing changed, but two years is a lot of time for a city to change itself. So many new stores, restaurants and buildings!

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