Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wandering around beautiful St. John's Newfoundland

Image result for Canada Day images

I was 11 years old in 1967 during Canada's Centennial.  Although I was an immigrant and had lived here for 9 years, I always felt this was my home.  We were all born in Britain.  Other than the odd Italian that we used to curse at through our elementary school fences everyone we knew was British.

100 years old, who would have thought.  I belted out CA - NA - DA and ON-TAR-RI-AR-O as loud as the next person.  Multi-culturalism - had no idea what that was.  I cursed the French along with my English mother, and then slowly the country began to change.  (btw we cursed everyone especially during soccer games, hockey was still a strange sport).  I didn't even meet my first black person until I was in high school.  This was all taking place in lower Etobicoke.  Friends started to comment on how my dad had such a strong accent - "my dad!!!" - you're kidding me.  I was shocked when I met my future husband and realized he was born in Canada - and so were his parents - like WOW.  

Now I am a wee bit Older, Wiser and more Mature (well at least 1 of those is true) and here we are celebrating Canada's 150th, and I am so proud of the way this young country has grown.

4 years ago Jim and I started discovering different areas of the Maritimes.  To celebrate Canada's 150th we headed to Newfoundland, the last province to enter confederation and so far my favourite.  Our last day there was spent just wandering around St. John's, the prettiest, friendliest little/big town you will ever visit.

As I wandered around I came across the Terry Fox Memorial Garden.  In 1980, along with millions of people around the world, we watched this ordinary young man face a challenge that turned him into an extrordinary human being and inspired so many of us.  He moved so many people in so many ways and he will always for me be the meaning of the Canadian Spirit.
"I just wish people would realize that anything is possible if you try, dreams are made if people try". 
 This is the quote on his memorial and Canadians have shown time and time again, how true this is.  On a personal note, he inspired me to quit smoking and I thank him for that every day.

I love this quote too:  "His run continues always in our naton's soul".

Thank you Terry and the 1000's of volunteers who keep his spirit alive.

Here are some final pics of St John's and their amazing colourful landscape.

As July 1st approachs, I am feeling very blessed.  The world is a changing place and so far Canada has remained a peaceful oasis, I hope that never changes.  My parents brought us up to be free thinkers, religion was never forced on us, it was just there.  We happily argued politics and religion until the wee hours of the mornings.  As Canada starts to hit a few growing pains I wish the following for our fellow Canadians.  "Remember that immigrants from all over the world have helped to grow this country and build it into what it is today.  May our children, especially our daughters and grand daughters always feel safe as they grow into adulthood.  May we always be able to express an opinion without fear.  May our opinions be without prejudice.  May we respect each other."  O Canada - strong and free I thank you.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Wedding Shower for Kathleen

Little Kathleen Williams who we met around 1991 watching her brothers play hockey and soccer, just waiting for her turn.  Didn't take long by 1993 Kathleen and Rachel were fast friends and had joined the same soccer team "the Lightning".  HA HA now their brothers had to watch them.  Amazingly they had picked up a fair bit of skills from watching their brothers play and their fathers coach.  Next was dance recitals, you can imagine the boys reaction to going to these LOL.  Before we knew it they were prom dress shopping together, Spice Girl concerts continued to cement their friendship.  Kathleen was a bridesmaid at Rachel's wedding and now here we are today celebrating the upcoming wedding of Miss Kathleen Williams, less than 2 months away and we are all so excited for her and her groom Michael.

Rachel and Stephanie putting the final touches on the Champagne and Cupcake table.  Definitely my favourite table.  Stephanie made some fantastic Champagne Cupcakes.  Rachel picked the "bubbly" theme for Kathleen, so fitting, she might be the bubbliest person I know.

Included in the bubbly theme was a bottle of Piper Heidsieck Brut Champagne which everyone signed and is to be opened at their 1st annivesary LOL.  Our giveaway was little bottles of Henkell Trocken so Kathleen's guests could enjoy a wee toast to her.

We decided on a "Travel" theme to help them with their honeymoon.  Such fun for Rachel and I as everyone donated cash and we then went out and spent it on fun stuff.

The guests have started arriving and we are ready to share a glass of bubbly with Kathleen.

Kathleen is surrounded by her bridesmaids Rachel, Hailey, Kathleen and Tamara.  Missing are Celeste and Reanne.
We also needed a picture of the beautiful mother of the bride, Mary Jo, with a couple of her BFFs, Lindsey, Cathy, ME and Dale.  We are so excited for her and can't wait for August 26.

The guests have arrived, had a cocktail and lunch is ready.  A wee bit rainy today, but still warm, so we went with a cold salad theme.  

I gather I'm not allowed to take pictures of people when they are eating.  
Kathleen loves the Toronto Islands, and we are looking forward to her wedding there.  What better than to play a Picnic Themed Game.  Everytime she answered a question right she received a little gift for the picnic.  We couldn't leave Nala out, so there was even a little bowl and treats for her.  I am pretty sure she answered every question right.  LOL

Time for a little cupcake and then the present opening began.  

Couldn't have a Travel Themed gift without a piece of lingerie for the honeymoon.
The groom arrived near the end of the presents opening so was able to help with the luggage.

These 3 ladies were definitely the most excited ladies in the room.  Mother of the Bride Mary Jo, Bride Kathleen and Mother of the Groom Teri.
Cheers Kathleen, we can't wait for August 26, it is just around the corner.  xoxoxoxo


Brocolli Salad

Greek Salad

Salmon Pasta Salad with Cucumber Dressing

Chicken and Fruit Quinoa Salad

Monday, June 26, 2017

Boat Tour around Toronto Harbour and Islands - such fun

I was very spoiled this Mother's Day (as always), not sure if my kids got together to discuss the wonderful gifts I received or not, but they all went with a "Spend Time with Mom Event".

Andrew booked his first.  We have been noticing that Wednesdays have been the only consistently nice day of the week this spring/summer.  (Note:  It is Men's Night at the Golf Course, lucky Jim).  So looking at the calendar once again, Wednesday was calling for clear skies, so off we went on a boat tour of Toronto Harbour and the Toronto Islands.

It is a 1 hour trip on an Amsterdam boat, called Miss Kim Campbell, which just cut through the water without a bump.  Our guide was very knowledgeable about Toronto and I found out some new interesting facts.

The first condo was built around 1972 on reclaimed land.  It took 3 years to sell out.  There was a man who bought 10 of them for $30,000 and the Toronto Star wrote a story about him saying what a rotten investor he was.  The next condo sold out in 3 days.  After the investor sold his units for $300,000, the Toronto Star printed an apology saying what a great investor he was.  In 2017 there are still condos popping up all over the place.  It is a beautiful skyline we have and on a day like today some amazing reflections in all the glass that surrounds the harbour.

The Amsterdam Brewery is just to the left of the green buoy.  There is a bridge there that was donated to Toronto by the people of Amsterdam and the people of Toronto donated a bridge to Amsterdam too.

There are a number of different boats you can take tours on.  Next time we might take this tall ship :))))

Porter Airlines were busy taking off and landing.  Every time one came in for a landing we were all watching to make sure it landed safely, they were so close to the water.

My newest view of the CN Tower and Rogers Centre.  Rachel and Jay's 1st home was the tall building on the waterfront to the right of the tower.  Selling feature - walking distance to the Blue Jays.

 We did a tour through the islands and it is scary to see how much of them are under water.  The bbq hibachi picnic areas were under water by what looked like a foot.  Docks and piers were underwater.  Normally this boat would stop and let you disembark on the islands, but they are still closed to everyone other than city employees, or people who live there.

I told Andrew I could do this tour every time I go down there.  Groupon has great prices.  So good that Andrew also took me to Amsterdam Brewery for dinner where we met up with David and Stephanie.  Thanks Andrew for a great time.  xo

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Battery and Fort Amherst Lighthouse Newfoundland

Crazy to think that last week when we landed in St. John's it was 3 degrees with fog and blowing snow and today I am sitting on the dock in Muskoka and I'm getting ready to jump in the lake (almost :).

Our last day we decided to just stick around the town.  This year I have been to Nashville (love it), San Antonio (love it), New Oreleans (love it), but where did my heart feel most at home, yep, even with the temperatures St. John's.  The people are amazing, it felt so safe, the music was amazing and food and drink plentiful.  If I had to pick one of these 4 cities for a 4 day weekend, it would definitely be St. John's (probably not in January lol).

After our walk to the Mallard Cottage and back, Jim and I set off for Fort Amherst.  In case you didn't know I love lighthouses and I have pictures of lots of them, the peaceful blue sky on the dunes lighthouses of PEI, the stunning ones along the coast of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick where for 1/2 the day they are surrounded by water and the other half the ocean floor.  The ruggedness of Newfoundland makes for amazing outcroppings, and cliffs around their lighthouses.  They so reminded me of the lighthouses on the west coast of Scotland.  No wonder I felt so at home here.

The Fort was built on the narrows - the opening to the St. John's harbour, a great place also for their marina.  Those nets you see are for crabbing.  Doug was talking to one of the locals at the pub (of course) and he was saying the crabbers go out for 35 days and then come home for 35 days, working 6 hour shifts on, 6 hours off.  What a life.  No wonder the pub was hopping Wednesday night.

Looking back on the beautiful colourful houses and buildings of St. John's.

Fort Amherst - this is the view from Signal Hill.
The original fortifications at Fort Amherst, built in the 1770s, are no longer visible.[5] The fortifications were named for William Amherst,[6] who successfully recaptured St. John's from French forces in 1762.[ wikipedia
During WWII there were major fortifications all around the cliffs keeping St. John's safe from the German U-Boats.  
And just a wee bonus, around the corner in the next cove an iceberg.
While at Fort Amherst, I spotted a wee pathway clinging to the cliff on the battery side of the harbour.  Stairs, railings, looked amazing.  So off we head.

I don't understand how this little village has survived all the harsh winters, storms and winds.  Most of the houses looked like they could blow over.  Up a hill down a hill, 3 point turns twice and back to the road to try and find a parking spot.  Now we had to walk up and down all these hills.  Old houses and new houses intertwined to form a wonderful little community.  Next time I come I might look for an AirBnB over here.
The Newfoundland art is just as colourful and beautiful as they province.

This is the village looking back from the start of our hike.

Yum.  Still wiggling.  :)
Well at this point I am still pretty excited.  We are now 17,000 steps into what turned out to be a 20,000 step day, a wee bit tired, knee a wee bit swollen, but I am ready to go, what's another 1.7 KM.
Well after the first round of stairs the cliff path faced me.  OK.  I was still good at this point.  Hugging the wall with my left hand, camera in my right.  Well believe it or not the path got narrower.
It drops right down to the ocean.  The 1st day we were there I was asking about helicopter rides and the local told me the best way to get one was to do the cliff walk, get stuck and they would send a helicopter to rescue me.  I don't think he meant this walk, but at one point it was sounding very appealing.  We keep going, I stop looking down, and a girl goes running by me, ponytail flipping, like what the heck are you nuts.  We come to an area where I have to let go of the wall to go around this wee corner.  NOPE not happening, this lady (at least my age this time) says no worries, I talk people around here all the time.  And it's so easy after this, there is a ledge where they have a roped attached to the wall which you have to hold on to with both hands and then it's all stairs.  ARE YOU CRAZY, and then I have to come back.  NOT happening.  I hate giving in, but I knew as soon as I turned around I had made the right decision.  I also discovered something else about myself,  I list to the left, so on the way back I had to force my right hand against the wall.  LOL.  20,000 steps, definitely time for a wine.  Next time I will do this walk, up and back.  :)