Saturday Afternoon in a Paris Park

Nothing is more Parisian than this!
Nothing is more Parisian than this!

When the temperatures hit 33 or 34 degrees in Paris it is nice to pretend like you really belong here and head to one of the many amazing parks for some down time. One of my personal favorites is the Tuileries.

There is the main huge fountain in the center where you can see and be seen and simply just hang out with the ducks!

Hanging out with the ducks
Hanging out with the ducks

Or you can choose to slip off to either of the sides of the park and sit by one of the smaller fountains which have a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower in the background.


And this weekend, I even got to enjoy the quintessential French yacht race!

Who are you cheering for?
Who are you cheering for?

Simply a lovely way to spend an hour or two, wouldn’t you say?

Reason #2 – Paris Bus Drivers

While Paris is certainly one of the most walkable cities in the world, it also has one of the best bus systems as well. And I love to take the bus as it gives you ample opportunity for adventuresome exploring of new routes and neighborhoods. Why go underground on the metro when you can visually see where you are going and find exciting new places to discover.

The added bonus of the Paris bus system for me is that Parisian bus drivers are definitely giving the Pompiers (The Paris Fire and Rescue Crew) a run for their money in the cute and sexy department. And I can personally verify that they love to flirt! What more could a woman ask for!

While I can count the number of times as less than 10 that I have been on the Paris metro system, I am on and off of probably two to four different buses most days so I can count myself an authority. And for you men out there wondering about the sexist nature of this blog post, I can also tell you that there is a rapidly growing number of  young and attractive female bus drivers as well.

Sure there can be an occasional grumpy bus driver, but I am averaging at least one flirtatious encounter a day if not more. For the small price of a transit ticket you get so much more! My only frustration is that while I am trying to practice and increase my French language skills, many of these utterly adorable men are eager to show off their English language skills.

And not to be forgotten, are their incredible driving skills on top of their flirting and enjoying being a knight in shining armour. These bus drivers maneuver huge buses down tiny narrow streets with less than an inch to spare on either side.    They have nerves of steel and cute smiles to match!

I would highly recommend that if you are visiting Paris, you hop on a bus and see just where it takes you – if you are like me it will always end in fun!

Reasons why I love Paris – #1- Vive la Revolution!

Paris is one of those cities that divides people. You either love it or hate it! It is a very personal choice. I personally love it, although even I have eye rolling moments where the love affair swings perilously close to the other emotion. To celebrate why I love it so much I am launching my own personal list of reasons why I truly love Paris. Please keep in mind that there is no specific order to this list other than my own stream of consciousness and random events.

This personal blog moment was brought to you as a result of my sojourn Monday night at a Cafe on rue de Rennes. It was a cool and rainy evening as we sat outside on the Cafe terrace under the cover of an awning  enjoying the best Camembert cheese and baguette I think that I ever have had the pleasure of eating. Now this scenario in and of itself is a reason to love Paris. Sitting in the company of friends, eating and drinking and watching the movie of Paris life stroll by.

Ah, but it gets so much better. As those of us learning the language struggle to frame coherent french sentences intermixed with English words or those from other languages (as we are a multicultural gathering) the discussion turns to one of the most gloriously unique of French topics: Manifestations!

For those who are unfamiliar with French ways, there is no more frequent or celebrated activity than to strike, which enviably means marching through the streets of Paris descending upon either the National Assembly or some other significant French institution.


These strikes or manifestations as they are referred to here in country, often at times have a rather parade like quality to them. This is because the French believe in the right to protest!!!! Hallelujah!!! There is no belief in just quietly taking what comes and conforming to the will of the political or economic powers that be. No, it is the right of citizen of the Republic to express their opinion. If only Canadians could get the hang of this concept……

strike image

It is no wonder I love it here, the non-conformist that I am. And what better addition to the philosophy of manifestation and revolution than the fact that you can actually sit in a Cafe and discuss the whole concept whilst dreaming up possible reasons for which you would lead a revolution. Let me tell you that I came up with a few of my very own while a very nice French gentleman sitting next to me could not resist fist pumping and joyous expressing “Vive la Revolution!” in support of me.

Oh, I do so love Paris and a good revolutionary discussion!

Where in the World is Cheryl?

I know, it has been awhile but once again I am on the move finding adventure, new friends and living life to the fullest. A friend recently told me that she is always waiting for an email or new blog posting from me as she is never certain but always eager to know where on earth I will exactly turn up.

Well this time around I have made Paris the destination of choice. The city of classic architecture, grand and petite parks, pain chocolate and pompiers (those oh so good looking men eager to provide first aid that you are almost tempted to have a heart palpation just by looking at them).

While my heart still belongs firmly with Africa, Paris also feels like home to me. I lived here 27 years ago while completing my Masters in International Relations. And in a typical Cheryl fashion when I received an invitation for a Champagne launch of an International Relations Academic Journal in June it seemed like the universe’s serendipitous lure me back into the world. A month later I had officially ended my career as a Canadian federal public servant (thank god!!!!) and on my way to a Paris studio apartment located in the Latin quarter five minutes away from the banks of the Seine.

My Paris apartment
My Paris apartment

I have contemplated changing my blog’s name but knowing that eventually I will make my way home to one of the glorious 55 African countries is seems right to keep it. What makes it all the better is how, when and where I will go before I do. So I hope that you enjoy following my adventures where ever they take me!


Oh Christmas Tree

Well, the weather outside might be frightful…it is yet another winter storm and it isn’t even officially winter yet until December 21st. Yet I am home warm and cozy in my new apartment making use of some much needed time to prepare for the fast approaching holiday. As the snow falls outside it is hard to believe that only a year ago I was eagerly preparing to spend Christmas in Tanzania and exotic island of Zanzibar. What a difference a year makes. 

Let’s just say that the Christmas trees that I experienced last year weren’t quite what I am use to 

Santa and the tree at the Maru Maru Hotel, Stonetown, Zanzibar
Santa and the tree at the Maru Maru Hotel, Stonetown, Zanzibar


Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!
Tropical Christmas tree
Tropical Christmas tree


Thanks to the freezing cold (wind chill temperature have been hovering between minus 15 to minus 26 degrees) all week and the snow on the ground it is easy to embrace a traditional Christmas unlike my exotic adventure last year. Earlier this week I made a visit to the Christmas tree lot to pick up the traditional evergreen tree that I had purchased a few weeks ago. There is nothing like the gorgeous smell of a true evergreen tree standing tall adorned with tinkling lights to put you in the mood. 

So off I set to bring my tree home. In doing so I was reminded that bringing home the Christmas often is an adventure for me. When I was younger my family would hike back to the woodlot on our farm property, sometimes through deep snow to cut down our own tree. One Christmas while my parents were temporarily living in Goose Bay, Labrador the land of snow and polar bears we hiked through massive snow drifts to chop down a rather scrawny tree only to have a beautiful one blow off the back of a truck at our feet when we returned to the side of ride hauling our Charlie Brown tree. Needless to say we grabbed the beautiful tree stuffed into our car and quickly made our get away.


Just an example of my Christmas tree adventures. This year was certainly no different. In case you had any doubt bringing home a Christmas tree is now small feat and certainly a job for two people. But this independent Miss decided to tackle the feat alone! Where are Buche and Lawrence when I need them? 

Actually I had a plan….don’t I always? 

I was simply going to bring the tree home and unload it in the heated parking garage of my apartment building. From there I could get the able assistance of the resident property manager to wrestle it to my third floor apartment. The pick up of the tree went with out a hitch except that I didn’t have any cord to tie down my car trunk lid as I drove making my less than 3 km drive the slowest of my life to prevent the tree from flying out of the back of my car unto a poor unsuspecting victim. Luckily the numerous potholes and rounding corners didn’t dislodge my precious cargo and we arrived safe and sound in my underground parking garage. 

A trunkful of tree
A trunkful of tree

 Like all good ideas, once I executing it I always seem to come up with another one. 

As I had to take the tree out of my trunk before I could back into my parking spot, I thought why don’t I try to get the tree up to my apartment without waiting for someone else to do. Yes, I know, a brilliant thought. In my defense, there were accessories to the crime. One of the great things about my building is it comes complete with lots of extras that make your life so much easier including moving dollies and shopping carts for transporting heavy loads from the parking garage to the elevator and into your apartment. 

So a brilliant idea was formed when my eye spied a large shopping cart just waiting for a load…..

Just as I was beginning to haul the tree out of my car trunk my neighbors entered the parking garage on their way out. Let me first say how wonderful my neighbors are here. They are warm, welcoming and it seems indulgent of crazy independent women who think that they can tackle anything. And thanks to their able assistance between the three of us soon the seven foot tree was balanced on top of the said shopping cart just waiting for it’s ride. 

The next hurdle was navigating the said seven foot tree balanced on a shopping cart through two sets of heavy doors into the very tiny space where the elevator waited. Once again thanks to additional assistance from another set of upstairs neighbors I made it through that hurdle. A third set of helping hands held the elevator door open long enough for me to roll my rather cumbersome load onto the elevator for the trip to the third floor. 

Exiting the elevator was a piece a cake and easily executed all by myself

Proof of my tree's journey
Proof of my tree’s journey


Almost home!
Almost home!

Victory was in sight as home was only a very short distance away down the hall and through one more heavy door into my apartment. Putting my back into it , the tree and I were soon home at last. With an even more cunning plan. 

Once we were safely ensconced in the apartment and I had removed my winter coat and boots it was time to stand the tree up. Thinking on my feet I grabbed the tree stand and positioned it on the base of the tree screwing the tree stand to the trunk. When I was sure that the tree stand was not only tightly secured to the base of the trunk but that it was reasonably straight the next challenge was getting the seven foot tree now on a cumbersome tree stand off the shopping cart and upright in my living room. 

Ha, you doubt my abilities I am sure! I may only be just over 5 feet tall but I pack the determination of a 6 foot tall person into my body. So with some careful consideration of physics (never one of my best subjects in school) and I was ready to leverage the tree off of the shopping cart and upright. Okay, I will be honest, it took two tries to get the blasted tree off the cart. That sucker was a little heavier than I realized. However, by holding the shopping cart still with one of my feet while simultaneously tipping the end of the cart while also simultaneously tilting the tree into an upright position…this is definitely where an extra pair of hands would have been useful…I defied the odds. 


 Other than a few branches that didn’t survive the arm wrestle with my determination I had a beautiful Christmas tree stand tall and strong. And the best part was the intoxicating smell of evergreen wafting over me. It is truly one of my favorite scents in the world. 

With a few twinkling lights I now have a head start on the Christmas spirit

Oh Christmas Tree
Oh Christmas Tree

And yet another adventure under my belt just proving that my adventures didn’t end in Africa :) 


Baby it is snowy outside!

The first of many winter storms yet to come!
The view from my balcony of the first of many winter storms yet to come!

The day started with the continuation of a major rain and wind storm that has been sweeping through our area. My walk to work this morning was in wind and rain, but my walk home today was in the middle of our first official winter storm in PEI.

While the very cute hat that I wore to work adequately protected my hair from being dripping wet this morning, it wasn’t up to the job of providing any warmth at all during my trudge home through snow covered streets with winds gusting to 100 km per hour and the icy cold snow blowing in my ears and eyes. Luckily there was zero traffic so I wasn’t in danger of being run over by a vehicle as the police have asked everyone to stay off of the roads as driving is too dangerous.

It is only the 4th of December and already this is the third snowfall that we have experienced so far this winter. I can only imagine what is in store for the coming months. All I can say is that Jetske has been reporting to me that temperatures have been soaring in Gaborone into the 40s while we have been experiencing windchill levels of -15 to -18 degrees on a regular basis. And now the snow storms have started in earnest knocking out power and closing offices, schools and other essential services.

I would happily take the 40 degree African heat (even with the five days without water) that Botswana offers over a winter storm Maritime style. Jetske, do you want to trade homes?

A Cheryl Moment

First of all I have to acknowledge that I am truly back in the land of snow and ice. This week I have been walking to work in fluttering snow flurries, bone chilling winds (-6 degrees) and icy sidewalks. Oh how I long for the warmth and sunshine of Africa. Let’s just say that neither my body or psyche are adjusting well to cold Canadian weather.

Now on to my Cheryl moment of the day….while I may be back at work with the federal government of Canada taking on serious policy work that will make a difference in lives, I remain the typical Cheryl disaster just waiting to happen.

Today, I took a couple of hours out of my incredibly busy work schedule to accompany my dad to a medical appointment. My adventure in the doctor’s office proved that you might be able to dress me up but you can’t take me anywhere and I seriously don’t know if my dad will let me accompany him to any more medical appointments.

While I looked the part of a serious professional caring daughter, I am really nothing but a complete doofus :)

After patiently waiting in the outer waiting room we were escorted into the inner exam rooms and I quietly waited while the very professional healthcare worker did her thing and properly recorded all of dad’s very important vitals. Once she exited and we were waiting for the doctor I grew a little tired of remaining standing. Dad was in the only chair in the exam room so my options were to either hop up on the examination table (thank heavens it was minus stirrups) or the little round stool that the doctor sits on.

Well, like a good policy analyst, I seriously weighed my options and chose to avail myself of the doctor’s stool until he entered the room and required it. Did I happen to mention that this stool was on very well oiled wheels? Yes, you can only imagine as I backed up to sit down on it, the stool decided to do its own thing and rolled half way across the room without me.

Picture this me with my professionally dressed bum more than half down to the ground hovering in a position that could only resemble break dancing….I guess with my departure from Africa and no longer being able to participate in weekly dancing a girl has to do what she can. While the stool rolled, I gyrated and somehow managed to prevent my tailbone from making a sudden and painful connection to the very hard floor.

Fortunately both the stool and me were restored to respectful positions before the doctor entered the room saving me from having to seek my own medical attention for what would have been an incredibly sore tailbone had I made impact.

Thankfully it provided a moment of levity for my dad which fortunately wasn’t witnessed by anyone else and I returned to work with no one any wiser to my rolling debacle in the doctor’s office.

Happy Halloween!

It is my favorite day of the year and let me tell you that so far I have enjoyed it to the max!

A beautiful Miss Piggy
A beautiful Miss Piggy


Yes, I went to work dress as Miss Piggy and spent the entire day in costume through meetings, frantic typing and even lunch. I was also joined by Big Bird and the Cookie Monster

The Muppets visit the Assistant Deputy Minister's office
The Muppets visit the Assistant Deputy Minister’s office

Although I put in a full day’s work in costume we just had to find some time to go visiting….which included brief stops in our Department’s Senior Managers’ office. My Director couldn’t keep a straight face when she had to sit next to me in her office and at meetings. And Big Bird and I took our show on the road heading out on the streets and into the Downtown Mall in Charlottetown. I just wish that I had a dollar for every picture that we stopped to pose for. All in all it was a wonderful day including an annual  potluck luncheon at work that brought out all kinds but which was rather tricky for me to eat due to my nose job.

Halloween Spirit
Halloween Spirit

While I was off having some fun or at meetings, my man Herman continued to work on my highly secret and time sensitive file

Herman at work
Herman at work

He even had to assist me with unlocking my secret file cabinet this morning…my nose and eyelashes made it extremely difficult to get the combination right. Good job that I have such a handy man to assist me



I love a man that can work a lock
I love a man that can work a lock

I am sure that my African friends could not understand my love of Halloween or how much I was missing it last year in Botswana. Perhaps these pictures will give them just a little taste of how bizarre I really am! Today I was in piggy heaven…Kermie, where are you????

Happy Halloween everyone!


Happy Halloween

Although my job is certainly dominating my time these days…welcome to working for a living. I can still find time to prepare for my favorite holiday of the entire year, Halloween.

Last year I didn’t get to celebrate it in Botswana as it is not a culturally acknowledged holiday, so this year I need to make it count. Within my immediate work area I have some friends and colleagues who are equally enamored of this special holiday. For about the past three weeks we have been planning our costumes for the day which includes wearing them to work for the entire day.

I had settled on the idea of Miss Piggy from the Muppets as my alter-ego this year. In support of my costume choice my colleagues are all adopting a Muppet theme. My friend Trevor has agreed to be my Kermie (Kermet the Frog) and rumblings have it that Big Bird and some of the aliens are also making an appearance for the day.

My only hope is that on Thursday while I am wearing my Miss Piggy attire that I am not called upon to brief the Deputy Minister or Minister’s staff of my government department on my current file ;) It would certainly seem rather strange to presenting such a serious briefing wearing a blond wig, pig nose and ears. Actually it might be rather fun. I will post pictures of Miss Piggy and her colleagues so you can see just how seriously we take Halloween.

In the meantime, you can enjoy some of the decorating that I have done in my new apartment


Our work space is even more decorated but my favorite Halloween accessory is Herman, my longest relationship ever. Unfortunately Herman is getting a little older and like most middle aged men is now experiencing a slow leak. However he is still my constant Halloween companion and is currently sitting guard in my work station protecting my secret file cabinet.


Yes, I know he is a little skeletal…next year I promise to bring him out of the closet earlier and put some meat on his bones.



Cheryl’s not in Africa anymore!

This morning was a very rude reminder that I am no longer living the good life in the desert of Botswana.

I woke up to an outside temperature of -5 degrees. Brrrr is all that I can say.

So as I was getting dressed for the walk to work (it is only two blocks) and the day, instead of reaching for my usual wardrobe of dresses or skirts, only dress pants would do thanks to the below freezing temperatures. My short walk to work was brisk but lovely and I arrived with frozen hands as I forgot to grab a pair of gloves to wear.

Oh the joys of Canadian weather. While fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year with it’s sunny days, brightly colored leaves, crisp mornings, the smell of wood fires in the air and who can forget my favorite holiday, Halloween, this year my body and soul are not quite so enthusiastic. I guess you could say that I am truly missing not only my friends and family in Botswana but the sunshine and heat as well. But I am Canadian through and through and unlike my good friend, Buche I don’t need to bundle up too much against the colder temperatures. I just need to adjust my perspective….Jetske, can I meet you in the pool????