Category Archives: What’s The story?

What’s The Story? – Inukshuk

Yesterday I posted a picture of this Inukshuk for my Silent Sunday post and had such a range of confused comments, I thought I should take this opportunity to link up with the lovely Charly at PODcast and explain my picture.

 

This is an Inukshuk.

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Inukshuk means “in the likeness of a person” or thereabouts and is traditionally used by Inuits to mark a safe passage, a place of respect, a good hunting ground or similar.

They can be seen all over rural Canada, at the lookout point at the end of a hike, along the roads or as shown here along the shores of Georgian bay.

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I don’t suppose this one was built by an Inuit! but I still think they are a thing of beauty and I was very pleased to get a half decent shot of these ones.

 

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What’s the story? – Last year

 

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It is a year ago today that my Sister, Brother-in-law, Niece and Nephew flew over to visit us here in Canada.

 

I never expected anyone to visit us here, I hope they would of course, but transatlantic air travel is expensive so I didn’t expect it.  When we were chatting on Skype in January last year and they mentioned booking flights to come over I had to restrain myself from getting too excited incase it didn’t happen but it was only a few hours later that my Brother-In-Law text me to say the flights were booked.

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We had an amazing 2 weeks together and I am so glad they came over to see us.  I loved showing them Toronto, taking them to watch a lacrosse game and to visit one of my favourite places, Niagara Falls.

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Niagara Falls in particular was a very special time for me, I remember studying it during my geography A level at school and adding it to a mental list of places around the world I wanted to visit.  My first visit there in 2007 was such an amazing experience for me and being able to share that experience with my Sister, Brother-in-law, Niece and Nephew a few years later was incredibly special, especially as I now live so close to it.

 

So today I am reminiscing on the fantastic time we had last year, and instead of getting sad because I miss them I am going to be grateful that they came over.


20 years

L1040238This is my Hubbie and I 20 years ago.  This week is our 20th wedding anniversary, which means I have been married for half of my life.

 

That is the statistic that startles me most regardless of how many times I say it.  I have been a wife and mum for half of my life, Wow! I remember my Mum saying the same thing when she was 38 so now it seems mad that I can say the same thing.  I honestly don’t feel old enough!

The day itself was a simply one, I’ve never been one to make a fuss, a simple church service with an informal reception for our family and closest friends, it suited us perfectly.

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There are many differing views on the ‘ideal’ age to get married but I believe that every couple is different and what works for one might not work for another.  I don’t think age is the deciding factor on whether a marriage will work or not, it’s all down to your personality and your desire to work at it, whether you are inclined to give and take or if you throw in the towel at the first hurdle.

 

Hubbie and I are very alike in some things and complete opposites in others.  We have identical standards and morals and enjoy the same things yet have some personality traits that are the complete opposite.  Hubbie is a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ type person he is very vocal and speaks his mind readily, I am more cautious and a planner, and while being opinionated I keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself.

 

I would never offer advice on what makes a happy marriage but I will tell you what works for us. Teamwork.  We approach everything as a team, we rarely do things on our own, unlike many couples who have individual friends and social lives and seem to spend too much time (IMHO) thinking only of themselves.  We’ve always done things as a family and being a team is what gets us through life’s ups and downs.

 

So this week we are celebrating 20 years of being happily married.  We’ve come a long way in that time, which poses the question what, will the next 20 years bring?

 

Cold – What’s the story?

This was my Silent Sunday yesterday, It’s a pier a few miles from where I live.

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I wonder how long it will take for over a foot of solid ice to melt?

 

I decided to check it out after chatting with a couple I met down at the lake a few weeks ago, we were competing for the ideal location to photograph the ice when the man asked me if I ever went to take photos at the pier. I hadn’t been there before so on Monday morning with camera in hand glove I set out for a wander.

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I couldn’t get that close to the pier because, as well as the -18C wind-chill, the whole place was a sheet of ice.  It was blowing a hooly and keeping upright was a challenge especially for someone as clumsy as me.

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It will be a while before anyone can sit on this bench!

I have no idea if this kind of ice build up is normal or if it’s the result of the exceptionally cold winter we have been having this year.  To put things into perspective we have had 84 consecutive days of snow cover and the 14 days forecast doesn’t show any signs of a significant warm up.  The last record of 79 days was set in 1977.  The City of Toronto has declared 31 extreme cold weather alerts so far this winter, which is the most we have had since the current alert system began.

I’ve had enough of the cold now and am getting sick of posting icy photos, the first ones were an incredible 13 weeks ago, Spring cannot come quick enough!

 

Our first Camping Trip – Somerset

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When my hubbie (then Fiancé) suggested we went camping for a week back in September 1993 I was happy to embrace a new experience.  Little did I know what this week had in store for me.

I was nineteen, I took a week off work, we borrowed my dad’s car and headed off to Wookey Hole in Somerset in a two-man dome tent bought in the sales, some foam to sleep on, a singe gas ring to cook and little else.  Hubbie had camped most of his life with his Mum but I always stayed in Caravans and the closest I had gotten to canvas was a trailer tent.  Unprepared is not the word.

The first night was pretty good, we heated a tin of ravioli and after driving all day and went to sleep on our extremely uncomfortable 15mm thick foam mattresses.   The following day started OK, we went into the caves and museum at Wookey Hole  but by the time we had finished exploring it had stared to rain and didn’t stop for any significant period of time for the following 5 days! Suddenly camping didn’t seem like such a good idea.

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We didn’t take chairs so we had to sit in the car!

To be truthful we had a great week exploring Somerset.  We went adventure caving in Cheddar Gorge,

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Cheddar Gorge

explored Glastonbury Abbey which I loved as I was a little obsessed with the legend of King Arthur!

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The site of King Arthur and Guinevere’s tomb?

We got down with the Hippies on top of Glastonbury Tor, I remember hearing one say ‘Can you feel the vibes, Man?”!

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Many people believe Glastonbury Tor is the gateway to the underworld

 

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The fabulous view from the top of Glastonbury Tor and Hubbie, looking about 14 years old!

But the camping was awful, the constant rain meant the bottom 12 inches of our bed was constantly soaked and we ended up taking our camping stove into the site bathroom so we could heat up some tinned food for dinner in the dry.

 

When we packed up to go home I remember saying I would never go camping again.  As the saying goes “never say never” but it did take hubbie 9 years to convince me to try it again but the next time I was determined to be prepared and have the best equipment money could buy and learned from my experiences – having a comfortable, dry, warm bed is the key to any successful camping trip!

 

Here we are 20 years later having camped in the most amazing places across three continents and I’ve never looked back. 😀

 

Discovering Ottawa Part 3 – Skating on the Rideau Canal

 

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Have you ever done one of those quizzes on Facebook about where you have travelled or what you have done, you know the ones designed to make yourself feel superior to your friends because you have travelled further afar than them? I digress.  I was reading one a few months back and looked through all the places to visit in Canada, not to post the results I hasten to add, but to check out all the ‘must do’ things that we may not have done yet and one of them was to ice skate on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.  I was really excited about our trip to Ottawa in January but a little disappointed that the canal doesn’t usually open for skating until the end of January.   I was delighted to discover that, due to the unseasonably cold winter we have been having this year, the Canal was open a whole month early than normal and we would be able to skate on it.

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The Rideau Canal is famous for being the world’s longest skating rink at 7.8km and is used by tourists and locals alike, locals use it to skate to work and school in the winter, how cool is that!?  I admit I didn’t skate an awful lot, the ice was extremely bumpy and not exactly like the ice rinks that I am used to, but I did it.  We hired skates, instead of lugging our own all that way, which in hindsight was a mistake as the hire skates were expensive and incredibly uncomfortable.  I didn’t last on the ice very long, truth be told, well it was -30C so you can’t blame me!  But we did have time to sneak in a quick Beavertail, a freshly cooked flat doughnut like Canadian delicacy and an absolute must for après skating!

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Hubbie enjoying a hot Beavertail

What is really strange about the whole experience is this;  Growing up in England you are told never to go near frozen ponds or lakes as they are extremely unsafe, yet here we are in Ottawa skating on a frozen canal perfectly safely and the next day I took this shot of downtown Ottawa with the canal in the middle showing, not only skaters but buildings on the canal not to mention the great big truck with the snow plough clearing the snow from the ice.

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It’s hard to believe there will be boats floating on here in a few weeks isn’t it!

 


Travel Tuesday

Vodou (Voodoo) in Ottawa

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On our recent trip to Ottawa we visited the Canadian Museum of Civilization where they had a temporary exhibit of Haitian Vodou objects (also spelt Voodoo).  The idea of the exhibition was to dispel myths often portrayed by Hollywood that the religion is all about sticking pins in dolls.

Vodouists do use dolls and human remains in their practices however, they have a positive association because they represent their ancestors. They believe when ancestors are close by, the living can communicate with them and benefit from their help and experience.  Vodouists often believe they are being possessed by Lwa (Haitian spirits) or they call on Lwa to help them out of a particular imbalance caused by illness or a trauma for example.

 

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Regardless of the intention of the exhibition I found it really quite disturbing, there was an unsettling vibe in the room that made me shudder and unfortunately my shaky hand lead to some blurry photos!

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If you are in Ottawa, take a look and see what you think but whatever you do leave the little ones behind for this particular exhibit!

My Icy Photos – What’s the Story?

Question – What do you get when you cross 100kph wind, -25C and water?

Answer – A perfect photo opportunity!

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Over the last couple of weeks I have been posting a few icy shots and had several comments asking where they were taken and how cold it was so I thought I would take the opportunity during Charly’s What’s the Story link to explain.

 

The harsh winter that I wrote about the other week continues and temperatures persist well below seasonal norms.  This has been accompanied by extremely strong winds, at times gusting above 100kph and causing the already freezing temperatures to feel much, much colder.  As the waves crash on the lakeshore they freeze instantly on the plants and trees lining the lake creating scenes like this:

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Also the frigid winds, often below -25C, blowing across the relatively warm water of Lake Ontario creates this beautiful affect that makes the water look like it’s steaming.

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I took these photos about a week ago when, in my wisdom (!), I decided to stop off at a local park to take a brief walk before returning home after a quick trip out to get Youngest Son’s birthday present.  The wind chill was about -28 and despite being dressed in snow boots to my calves and a down coat to my knees, gloves and a scarf I could only bare it for a few minutes.  Soon after leaving the car my knees, through my jeans, began to tingle and I had to wrap my scarf around my face as a barrier from the wind.  I lasted about 10 minutes before retreating to the warmth of the truck.  This is the reality of this winter in Canada, time outside is brief whilst being bundled up in multiple layers with every square inch of flesh covered.

So while this extreme winter continues I shall continue to photograph it and document it and next time you see an icy shot from me spare a thought for the physical pain I went through to take it and please send some warm vibes this way, it will be much appreciated! 😀

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Morocco – The Final Chapter

For this weeks ‘What’s The Story?’ Instead of sharing the story behind one photo, I thought I would share the last of the photos from our Morocco Adventure along with the lessons we learned while we were there, like lots of little ‘what’s the stories’ if you will.

Boys love to play with sand no matter how old they are, the only difference is that their toys become more expensive!

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Humans are amazingly resilient, whether it’s living in the harshest environment or finding an unconventional mode of transport

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Tuareg Settlement

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Can you see the men riding on the hay? And how can the driver see anything?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Oasis looks just like they do in the movies and camels wander around in the desert.

 

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There is nothing like the scale of mother nature to make human lives seem small.

 

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Sometimes traveling just a few feet can be a terrifying journey.

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And sometimes, when the road ahead looks perilous, you just need to suck it up and go for it.

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There is nothing like the desperation of kids to make you feel like the most privileged person on the whole world

 

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And finally, having young kids doesn’t mean you can’t travel

 

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Morocco Safari – The last Leg

After leaving the Sahara Desert (written about here) we were on the last leg of our Morocco Safari.

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A model of our car made by kids in Zagora

We had a stop in Zagora, where historically the camel trains would leave to travel to Timbuktu.  Luckily it was a hotel stop, which gave us a very welcome time to wash the Sahara sand out of our undies! Kids hang around outside the hotel, which was a regular stop for off-roaders like us leaving the desert and they asked if we would buy a model of our car the following day before we left. This is what we bought and you can’t help but admire the ingenuity of the kids, willing to use any old rubbish and turn it into a money making scheme.

 

Todra Gorge

Todra Gorge

After a ride through the spectacular Todra Gorge and a close encounter with a sand devil we entered the cedar forest.

 

Sand Devil

Sand Devil

Cedar Forest

Cedar Forest

It was really weird after the dry, hot, dusty desert to see such huge green trees.  We were climbing in altitude which meant falling temperatures especially at night.

 

Lak Tislit

Lac Tislit

Our stop on the shores of lake Tislit, the only body of water we had seen in 12 days, saw temperatures close to zero at night that had us all shivering in our tents.

Our roof tent

Our roof tent

 

When we left there we were back into a hot, dry atmosphere that lead us back to Tangier and eventually the ferry back to Spain.

In next week’s final chapter I will share some more of the photo’s from our amazing journey.

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