A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

I love Scotland’s history of rebellions and peace with the English! Not that I am on a quest for rebellion chronicling per se, I am a Canadian after all, but… Irish blood does run through me, and my inner fighting soul can certainly appreciate and romance somewhat William Wallace’s and Robert the Bruce’s efforts. 🙂

In any case, we arrived in Scotland, more precisely in Edinburgh (or EDinbraaaah- how I do love the accent!), a couple of days ago by train from Paddington station. Our ride was punctuated by scenic fields of yellow and green with sheep of all sizes lazily grazing under the mid-day sun. It was beautiful and relaxing. It gave me the opportunity to start reading a much overdue book, 1984 by George Orwell. Hard to believe I never took the time to read it before, but I thought it was quite appropriate at the moment since Orwell wrote most of it while sequestered on the Scottish Island of Jura.

Reading 1984 as a 40-year-old, my view of the world is sufficiently biased to accept such notions as the resignation that a system may be more powerful than its individuals even though I am one to constantly overthrow such notions. But should I have read it while in university, I’m sure my idealism of the time would have made the book an entirely different read and may well have pushed me towards philanthropy much sooner (now looking back at a 20+ years career of bureaucracy!).

Nevertheless, Edinburgh has much to offer in terms of history and architecture. I loved strolling through the old town on the Royal Mile, from the Castle all the way to Holyroodhouse where the Queen resides when in Scotland. The neoclassical or ‘Georgian’ style of the new town, by contrast, is so well planned and executed. The axis of the main cross-streets is stunning with the National Gallery centered on one end and the tall tenements of the old town on the other.

As a side note, I find Scottish traffic engineers particularly insightful by maintaining red lights for all vehicles, leaving crosswalks completely empty for pedestrians to criss-cross without fear of collision, making this a truly safe environment for all involved.

More to come as our trail continues on.

Another one of my crazy ideas has been put into motion. This is exciting, amazing & stressful all at once, and… I wouldn’t do it any other way!!

As most of you know, this year means the beginning of The Rolling Barber, a non-profit organization that I have founded with the goal of transforming an old school bus into a portable hair salon in which we can offer free shampoo and cuts to whoever is in need of one. It’s been a crazy few weeks of setting up the organization, of making a budget, of obtaining donations (from sample shampoos to barber chairs to a school bus!), of getting hairdressers/barbers on board, and so (SO!) much more. Creating such a community project in Ottawa takes courage and perseverance, but many in my community has rallied with me to make this project a reality. I could not be more humbled by the help and positive response I have received. I feel very lucky and I hope to help many others.

Our website is looking fabulous with pictures of our new bus and the partners that we love and that are supporting this initiative with enthusiasm. We have also created a Facebook and Instagram account, so do not hesitate to follow us. I have given interviews on CBC and Rogers (in French) and I have received even more invitations!

Our first ‘dry-run’ (washing, cutting & styling in the comfort of a… room) is on April 8th at the Centre 454, a wonderful social services centre in the heart of Sandy Hill in the Anglican Church on King Edward. We will have three dry-runs (the first two at the Centre 454 and the third at the Cornerstone Housing for Women). In May, I am leaving on vacation with my husband to London and Scotland (stay tuned for more posts) and back in time to roll my sleeves to renovate our bus in June – with the help of my fabulous friend and co-founder François, my wonderful father-in-law and many other members of my family and friends (maybe my husband will even pop by to help 🙂 ).

I can’t wait to load pictures of the restoration, but before that time, lots of adventures await for me in a whole new country: Scotland!

Love you all,

Anne