2006-12-25 Christmas in JA

Another Christmas in Jamaica has come and gone. Took lots of photos as usual

We managed to find some more egg shell art to expand our collection

I'm trying out a new album generator software and it's looking like it has alot of potential. Can't beat an application with alot of features and a zero price tag.

2006-12-03 First Snowfall

Winter strikes. A few photos of 776 dickens after the first official snowfall of the season

2006-11-24 Bathroom Renovation

Finally got sick of the 3 terrible styles of wallpaper in the bathroom so we did something about it. Katrina's parents were in town so while Malcom and I were attaching a humidifer to the furnace, Sandra and Katrina were hard at work stripping and sanding the walls. Once that was done they painted the walls and Malcom and I installed a new pedistal sink, a new faucet and matching fixtures. Definately a massive improvement. We also stripped off the carpet from the staircase to the basement and painted that "bear rug" brown. Beware house guests, we put you to work when you stay at 776 Dickens. Next project to tackle is adding insulation in the attic, but sadly that won't be as glamorous as the bathroom reno

2006-10-09 Thanksgiving at Cathy's

Finally put up photos of the party at Cathy's Turkey-free Thanksgiving. Lasagna was the main course and it was tres tasty.

2006-09-27 Susan's Wedding in Cape Breton

Some nice photos of the trip to Sydney for Susan and Marc's wedding. Managed to do some siteseeing on the Cabot Trail and went to the Miners Museum in Glace Bay

2006-06-21 Mich & Fab's Wedding Reception

Yet another family gathering as come and gone.  Michelle and Fabrice had a reception in Negril to celebrate their recent marriage and family from all over converged on the unsuspecting sleepy sea-side town.  If there is one word to describe my family, it has to be "entertaining".

Wednesday June 21, 2006 

Dad picks us up in Montego Bay. A few wrong turns plus a heck of a lot of traffic make for slow progress out of town.  We make it to Negril and check in to Sea Splash.


Nobody ate lunch and by the time we get back to Sea Splash it's 5pm.  I order Gregory a Hamburger and sent him back to the room to tell Dad to delay their walk till Greg eats his Hamburger.  One hour passes and Gregory does not return.  I stare at his cold Hamburger wondering if Dad insisted on taking Gregory walking and about 10 minutes later both Gregory and Dad arrive drenched in sweat.

  • Dinner arragements
  • Normas Kuyaba Cosmos at Villa-sur-Mer – bets on when it would be ready
  • Friday June 23, 2006

    As with all family gatherings there is an inevitable amount of confusion/arguing/conflicts that go on.  To avoid this Uncle Irwin charters a boat to take us fishing for the morning.  If we were serious about fishing I suppose we should have headed out before sunrise but as we were all on vacation 9am was the designated departure time.

    We pull out on the canoe sitting on hard wooden seats with no canope to protect us from the elements.  I suspect the captain of the vessel wasn't a professional fisherman.  We start trolling for tuna, and to be honest i've never trolled at that speed in my life.  Not surprisingly, no fish in the water was fast enough to catch the bait that was dangling from our lines.  After two unproductive hours we decided to do some drop-line fishing.  I get the first reel and set it at the bottom of the water and wait.  Uncle Irwin gets his reel and lets out line and lets out line and then there was no line left.  He stares at me holding his empty reel and I just shrug and smile.  I guess the fisherman didn't bother tying the end of the line to the reel.  Back to the bucket for another line.

    We wait, and wait, and wait . . . . and wait but sadly no fish wasted their time with our hooks.  So as not to totally demolish our pride, I put the bait fish on my hook and posed for photographs.  30 seconds after throwing the extra bait fish overboard, a sea-gull swooped down and ate it.  At least something productive happened on this fishing trip.

    We decide to head to Cosmos for Dinner.  Dad decides to walk because it was "a few hundred yards away" and it was a "short walk".  I decided to drive because I had my doubts about the distance and took some other people that shared my sentiment.  I drove a car-load to cosmos, dropped them off, and went back to pick up the walkers.  I'd probably say Cosmos was about 4 miles from our hotel, not quite a "short walk".    We filled 4 tables at cosmos and I was part of the last table.  For some reason our table got food and finished it before Dad's table was served.  I tried to contain my laughter because I knew dad was fuming at the terrible service.  The food was tasty and the only complaint was the slow service for Dad's table.

    Saturday June 24, 2006 

    As we are getting ready to grab the shuttle to the party, the heavens opened up and dumped on us.  While we waited patiently for the rain to subside, we were deafened by thunder a millisecond after a bright flash of lightening just outside our window.  Nobody was harmed but unfortunately James had his portable DVD player plugged in and now it's a nice paper weight.  We tried to get out of our room to get to the shuttle but the 3" of water blocking our path had other ideas.  Bored as we were we position the digital camera we use on a lamp in the room so we can take a picture of Katrina and myself but it slips.  I grab it but somehow jam the lens so it won't turn off.  Damnit why did this have to happen to the Camera we borrowed, this will cost us.  I pop the lens back and everything seems to work but it's not as reliable as it should be.  We eventually walked across wooden crates to get to the shuttle.  I decided to take a picture in the shuttle and I nearly gave Jennifer a heart-attack because of the flash (She's deathly afraid of lightening).

    We arrive at Villa-sur-Mer which was quite well decorated although there was a certain damp-ness to some of the decorations (from the torrential rainfall discussed previously).  The Mento band was packing up and heading out by the time we arrived.  I assume it was because of the 80 volts being supplied by JPS Co.  In classic Jamaican style we had low voltage for most of the party and Michelle was getting "slightly" stressed because the music wasn't happening as a result of the low voltage.

    Uncle Peter did a fine job of MC'ing the event, and we were even surprised by a second set of vows from the Bride and Groom (it should also be noted that the Bride and Groom were also surprised as the only thing the priest was supposed to do was bless the cake)

    After the food was served, and people were getting a little antsy to leave, the power came back and we were able to dance to the music for a couple hours.  The speakers certainly had some punch as Uncle Irwin whispered in my ears that the base was making his Pace-maker race.  Always excitement.

    I can't forget the suspicious orange stains on Phillip's shirt and Katrina's dress.  Martina and I were not quite sure what to make of that . . .

    Sunday June 25, 2006 

    As England was playing soccer some of the family decided to have breakfast at Margaritaville and watch the game there.  Katrina and I arrived a bit late (10:30am). ordered a fruit platter from the breakfast menu along with a Coffee and a Tea.  10 minutes later the waitress informs us that Breakfast is over and asks if we'd like to order something from the lunch menu.

    Mary heads off to Yallas Falls with Judy, Brenda, Florian and Urma.  They actually make it there but with all the rain they don't get to see the falls.

    Monday June 26, 2006

    Dad and Greg headed back to Kingston at 8am.  I was in charge of returning the alcohol and drinks and living in a first world country, I estimated it would take 20-30mins to return the drinks and be back at the house.  Almost 2 hrs later Rosalie and I return to Villa Sur Mer.  The height of efficiency I tell you.

    We pack up the tents and decorations and set out for Kingston but we stop by Carl's place in White House (Carl was part owner of Ricks Cafe in Negril for many years before he sold it).  If you were to judge a book by it's cover you'd think Carl was some crazy Biker guy but he is a great guy and I always make an effort to at least stop by his house for a chat.

    I call Dad to tell him that we're enroute and he warns us of a 12 car pile-up on the Toll highway.  Apparently a Cane fire got out of hand and black smoke engulfed the highway providing zero visibility and cars just ran into each other.  By the time I drove through there everything had been cleared up which was pleasantly surprising.  I would have expected the cars to be on the highway for days.

    We arrive in Kingston around 7pm and we take a quick trip to see Sam and Kitty.  

    Tuesday June 27, 2006 

    The only full day we have in Kingston involves running around picking up gifts, grabbing some Devon House Coconut Ice cream and grabbing a few tins of coffee. 

    Wednesday June 28, 2006

    We set off from Kingston at 8am to Montego Bay to catch our 2:30pm flight.  I suggest that we just fly from Kingston to Montego Bay but Dad insists on driving.  We were doing so well until Mount Diablo.  We come to a stand-still halfway up the hill and we don't move for half an hour.  Apparently a truck shut off at a bad spot and both ways were blocked until they figured it out.  We arrive in Montego Bay at midday and check in and reflect on the fun vacation we just had.

    • Add Katrina's incident w/ Passenger by bathroom 

    The flight leaves for Toronto 1/2 hr late and as we land we make a mad dash to Customs to try and get to our connecting flight on time.  We breeze through customs and make it to the Carousel for our luggage and we wait. . . . and wait.  15 minutes later we hear over the PA system that the Airport is under Red Alert because there is severe lightening and the Baggage handlers are not allowed to do anything outside so we wait some more.  The red alert affected both Arriving and Departing planes so we were confident that we'd catch our connection.  After 2 ½ hrs of waiting for our luggage to arrive, we dash to the Air Canada counter only to be told that all flights have been canceled.  Good times indeed.   And to top it off, because the cancellations are weather related Air Canada isn't going to put us up in a Hotel.  Joy.

    Apparently this weather has been affecting them all day so when we called up the phone number for Hotel Reservations, everything has been booked.  We have a friend in Toronto so we call around to try and get her number but we were unsuccessful.  I give the Reservations number another go and this time they give me a booking at Ambler Hotel.   I didn't recognize the hotel but at this point I didn't really care.  I just wanted a bed.  We go to the designated area for Hotel Pickup and we wait patiently for the shuttle to get to the hotel.  We see Hilton shuttles come and go, we see Holiday in Express, Ramada, and pretty much every other Hotel shuttle come and go and still no sign of the Ambler Hotel shuttle.  A  Oriental family is also waiting for the Ambler shuttle but this fellow goes into EVERY shuttle that arrives and asks if that shuttle is the Ambler shuttle.  Perhaps he doesn't know how to read the english writing on the side of all the shuttles letting you know what hotel they belong to.  At least he was comic relief.  After waiting about 50 minutes i'm getting just a little annoyed so I call the hotel.  Apparently their shuttles are once an hour and the next one was due in 10 minutes.  This information would have been very handle when I called them to make my reservation but I digress.  I feel bad for the Oriental family so I let the father know that the bus is due in 10 minutes.  The shuttle arrives and we line up to board.  I look around and I couldn't see the Chinese family but I figured they were hiding behind the 40 people queuing up to get on this bus.  Everybody loads up and we head out to the hotel finally but the Oriental family was nowhere to be seen.  I really hope they didn't miss the bus, because waiting another hour at the Airport would just not be fun for anyone.

    Thursday June 29. 2006 

    5:30am wakeup call and we head downstairs to catch the 6:15am shuttle.  We're actually getting excited that FINALLY our return trip is coming to an end.  We board the shuttle and head towards the airport when I have a nagging thought.  I ask Katrina if she has the Duty Free liquor and she stares at me with a blank face.  Shit, this can't be good.  I call the hotel and apparently in our sleepy state, we left the box of liquor at the front desk and they'd send it with the next shuttle.  We fly out at 8am and the shuttle is due to arrive at 7:35am.  It'll be close but it should be ok.  We pass through security, grab a coffee and a Tea and sit down at the gate.  At 7:20am I go back upstairs to meet the Shuttle to grab the liquor and hurry back to the Gate.  As I sit outside the airport, I think to myself, "hrm I should probably have used the bathroom BEFORE leaving the hotel".  I'm not talking about a mild case of the Number 1's but a raging #2 that's causing me some discomfort.  "Eye on the prize Alistair, eye on the prize, just get the liquor, get back to the gate and I can use the Airplane bathroom."

    7:25am . . .7:30am . . 7:35am. . . The urge to use the bathroom has not dissipated and the anxiety of perhaps not getting back to the gate in time starts creeping in.  I call the hotel to confirm that the shuttle is very close to the terminal and i'm assured that the driver should arrive within a minute or two.  

    7:40am . . .7:45 . . I think to myself, "I've checked in, so I only need to go through security. I really have to move within the next 30 seconds or Katrina will be traveling to Montreal solo".  I'm about to write off the alcohol when I see the shuttle.  I race to it, grab the alcohol and sprint through the airport to the security area.  Some of the Airline personnel are directing people that have an 8am flight to join the last two lines.  I glance over and the last two lines are the same length as the other 10 lines packed with people queuing up to go through security.  Blood pressure starts to rise ever so slightly.

    7:50am . . 7:55am . . there's still about 20 people in front of me.  "Ok this can't be good".

    8:00am . .8:05am . . 5 people in front of me. I think to myself  "Is the plane still at the gate?"

    8:10am . . One person . . . OH MY GOD ONLY ONE PERSON LEFT then it's a mad dash to the gate.  This indian gentleman who's been in the line for 20 minutes walks through the scanner . . BEEP BEEP . . my heart sinks,  "i'm really screwed now".  She scans his pockets and the wand she's using goes berzerk.  "Could this person seriously not have emptied his pockets while he was waiting in line?"  He reaches into his right pocket and pulls out a wad of paper and change.  "Oh my god, he's got change in his pocket still".  She rescans that pocket, and the wand goes berzerk again.  I guess he didn't finish emptying his pocket.

    The seconds agonizingly go by and they feel like minutes.  Pocket one finally empty and the security lady moves over to the second pocket. . . . BEEEP BEEEP.  Oh my god, could he have another pocket full of change?  He reaches in, grabs a handful of crap and pulls it out.  I felt like beating my head against the X-Ray machine.  This guy has to have some sort of mental disability.  Tick tock, Tick tock. . . more precious seconds go by.  She moves the wand to his shirt pocket. . . BEEEEEP.  

    My legs begin to feel weak.  I glance over to the other walk-through scanner and it's not being used so I ask the security lady beside me if I can walk through her scanner.  Apparently you have to stay in the same line as your luggage (like that makes sense).  I glance back to the Indian gentleman in front of me as he finally empties his shirt pocket and pulls out a couple metal pens.  I wave of laughter is starting to rise up inside me and i'm pretty sure Mom is upstairs having a good laugh at this as well.  She scans the Indian gentleman's neck, BEEEEP  . . of course, why not.  He has a large gold chain that makes the wand go crazy.  It feels like 20 minutes have gone by as I stare in disbelief at this guy in front of me.  She does a full body scan and FINALLY NO BEEPS.

    I thank the stars and I prepare to bolt through the scanner as I know it won't beep because I removed all possible metal jewelery that would disagree with the scanner.  I lift my head up right as i'm about to step into the scanner and the security lady motions to the gentleman to sit down and take his shoes off.  I chuckle to myself.  I ask the lady if I can walk through and she instructs me to wait there until she's finished with the Indian gentleman.  I wanted to explain to her that unlike this dumbass in front of me, I've taken off anything that would make the machine beep and i'd be out of her hair in 2 seconds flat.  I thought to myself that if I pushed the issue, I may find myself arrested knowing my luck so I bite my lip and wait for my turn.

    I race to my gate and fortunately the plane was still there and I boarded.  Apparently 4 other people had the same problems and they got on the plane shortly after I did.

    We finally take off and have a very uneventful flight, arriving in Montreal slightly delayed.  We get to the car, jump in and head to Ottawa.