A Travellerspoint blog

Canada

Home Sweet Home

sunny 16 °C

Here we are safely back home on our little Pacific island and although we've travelled 42,000 kilometres since January we have felt at home the entire time. Despite New Zealand's unique flora and fauna the geography is very similar to that of British Columbia - a rocky shoreline encircling ranges of snow capped mountains surrounded by temperate rainforests and pristine lakes...
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The culture of New Zealand was also familiar to us and was reminiscent of the England of our childhood. There is far less American influence than in Canada, and British favourites like Devonshire cream teas, fish & chips, and Cornish pasties are everywhere.
Tasmania, with its tiny population, was built on the backs of transported prisoners and the architecture has a distinctly British style. This corner pub/hotel could be anywhere in England...
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And this is an original 1825 hasp on the door of Richmond Goal – the first of Tasmania’s infamous prisons for women transportees...
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We felt completely at home in Tasmania as we did throughout the rest of Australia. The main island of Australia is vast and although we drove some 7,000 kilometres in three weeks we barely scraped the southeast corner. Thanks to friends in Melbourne, Mount Victoria and Sydney, we got a solid introduction to local life, however it was the variety and quantity of wildlife that surprised us most. We loved seeing the flocks of emus in the outback. This mother had three chicks...
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We especially loved seeing the kangaroos, the koalas and, of course, Australia’s iconic black swans...
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You might think that we felt so at home in Australasia because of the similarity between our language, customs and cuisine, but, in truth, we felt just as comfortable in Japan. Maybe it is the Japanese people’s incredible politeness and honesty that we enjoy. We thought we had seen everything when the waitress chased after us with a 50 cent overpayment, until the check-out clerk at a Tokyo supermarket ran into the street because we had not taken the 1 cent change for a carton of milk. We have so many wonderful memories of this trip, but the flowering of the cherry trees at Kanazawa Castle will forever symbolize Japan in our minds...
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Despite a few showers when we arrived in Tokyo, the sun soon came out and the Sensui-ji temple at Asakusa looked amazing in the early morning light...
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However, it didn’t take long for the tourists to show up...
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With Tokyo’s population exceeding the whole of Canadas it’s not surprising that the city has vast shopping centres. The best known is the Ginza where we went looking for a birthday card. We were directed to a shop with 17 floors dedicated entirely to stationery - all manner of paper, pens and cards – and were surprised to see that the 11th floor was described as ‘The Farm”. Could that mean stationery dedicated to agricultural business? No – it is actually a farm...
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... a hydroponic farm growing vegetables for the 12th floor restaurant. Nothing surprises us in Japan and we spent our final night in the Akasasa district at the Ninja Restaurant as guests of our friend Yoshie. Ninjas were spies and assassins in 15th and 16th century Japan when it was
considered unseemly for the samurai warriors to engage in subterfuge. The ninjas were a feared underclass because of their believed ability to make themselves invisible and to kill silently. We were greeted outside the restaurant by a ninja warrior dressed entirely in black and led to our 'dungeon' through a labyrinth of dark tunnels and secret doors. We were then served a multi-course haute-Japanese meal by a 'Ninja' waiter who couldn't have squashed a rumour let alone a fly...
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So, that’s it folks, another part of the globe explored and explained. We trust that you enjoyed the experience – we certainly did. We truly appreciate your presence, and your comments, and we hope you travel with us again the next time we pack our bags and head out on another Blissfull Adventure.
Sayonara for now.

Posted by Hawkson 20:28 Archived in Canada Comments (8)

Tempus Fugit.

sunny 17 °C

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Spectacularly hued sunrises and sunsets have peppered our autumn blogs for several years but when we look back over the seven years since our blissful adventures began we are irrationally dismayed by the fact that each summer on our island has passed more quickly than the previous ones. Time is no longer the friend we had when we were young and we are reminded that seniors’ discounts and preferential line-ups are a double edged sword. But, here we are again saying farewell to the beautiful views over the Salish Sea from our island home, and saying farewell to summer... a summer of friendship, fun and a little work. James finished the Japanese style quilting studio with the addition of a traditional bridge...
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...while Sheila completed her first quilt in her new ‘home’...
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Our friend Gottfried reached a major milestone. A pod of whales turned up to join in the celebration and Chef James, with assistants Michael-Thomas, Graeme and Ute, put on a regal spread ...
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Our summer had its usual share of Shakespeare, fireworks, dinner parties and salmon fishing. (You should have seen the one that got away)...
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...although it was tinged with sadness when our friend Antony Holland passed away at the age of 95. Here is the old thespian proudly showing off his Order of Canada just last year...
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Time races on for all of us as we slip into fall. The heat may have gone, but our autumn is still full of colour and expectation. The welcome rains have brought an end to a season best summarized by a string of climactic superlatives; it was the hottest, longest and driest summer in recorded history in our corner of paradise. Global warming deniers take note! However, winter is on the horizon and, like the birds, it is time for us to fly. Please stay with us as we skip across the pond to explore some of Europe’s grandest cities and forgotten corners.

Posted by Hawkson 06:45 Archived in Canada Comments (10)

Chasing the sun

sunny 25 °C

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The Harvest moon rising over the Rocky Mountains lights a path across the Salish Sea to our front windows and signals that it is time for us to turn our back on Canada and trek westward in pursuit of the departing sun. But visitors to our island home this summer might have thought that we had already drifted westward across the blue Pacific to the shores of another island - to Japan...
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This is Sheila's Japanese inspired quilting studio. With its distinctive flared roof line and cedar siding it could easily be in the land of the rising sun, but it is firmly rooted among the giant cedar trees in our British Columbian garden...
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The sun may be slowly retreating southward as we slip into fall but what a summer it has been. Month after month of endless sunshine - perpetually blue skies melding seamlessly with calm seas, and balmy evenings ending in glorious sunsets...
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It has been a busy summer with little time for sunbathing or swimming. While James wielded his hammer and saw on the new building, Sheila was left to domestic chores and tending the parched garden. But we found time to visit friends; to see some Shakespeare in Vancouver; to watch fireworks; and to attend the annual Salmon Barbecue. The highlight came when our 94 year old friend, Antony Holland, was awarded the Order of Canada for his lifetime service to the theatre. Here he is receiving his award from Canada's Governor General in Ottawa...
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Antony was further honoured by having the stage at the island's theatre festival dedicated in his name for perpetuity. James made a speech and rewrote Shakespeare's Hamlet for the occasion and a good time was had by all.
But now winter is only just over the eastern horizon. Calgary, on the other side of the Rockies, is already knee deep in snow and our coastal mountains will soon be mantled in white. So it is time for us to go. Stay with us and we will happily take you along to the land of sumo, sushi and samurai; to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Posted by Hawkson 11:57 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Beautiful British Columbia

sunny 16 °C

Most visitors to British Columbia start in Vancouver and travel by ferry to Vancouver Island from the picturesque port of Horseshoe Bay - a cove surrounded by steep sided mountains just north of Vancouver...

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The coastline of British Columbia offers some of the most picturesque scenes in the world. This is the view of the Coastal Mountain Range across the Strait of Georgia, (also known as the Salish Sea), from our home on Gabriola Island...

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The seascapes from our windows change constantly as vessels of all kinds enter and leave the ports and harbours around Vancouver and the many islands in the Salish Sea. Giant cruise liners pass us on their way to Alaska and Seattle in the summer while ferries constantly ply back and forth across the Strait year round. Freighters, trawlers, crabbers and commercial ships of all kind sail these waters along with vast numbers of pleasure boats like this...

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Looking north from our home we see the lighthouse on Entrance Island. It is always a colourful sight with its red-roofed buildings but sometimes nature takes a hand at brightening it up...

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We are surrounded by nature's colours from the blue Pacific and the distant snow capped mountains to the evergreens of the surrounding forest. The colour of sunrises and sunsets over the ocean are often so intense that we cannot trust our eyes, while sometimes they just delicately brush the sky...

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There is nothing delicate about the colour of the starfish on our island's beaches...

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Seen in the shallows the starfish create nature's true watercolours...

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Wildlife abound on our island and in the surrounding sea and we have often written of the whales, sea lions, dolphins, raccoons, eagles and deer. The humming birds are always a delight as are the majestic blue herons...

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Life on a small island revolves around the ocean, and everywhere we look we see the ocean's hand. The rocky shores are daily washed by the tides and pile pebbles on the beaches, but when wintry storms smash the waves into the sandstone cliffs the resultant sculptures are truly amazing...

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British Columbia, Canada, is truly beautiful.

Posted by Hawkson 09:52 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The Lakes of British Columbia

sunny 18 °C

There are more than 3 million lakes in Canada - so many that there is no accurate count. There are more than 30 thousand large lakes, (and some of the largest lakes in the world), but most of the lakes are in the far north with no road access. However, there are plenty of lakes in our backyard and one of the most popular is Harrison Lake about 2 hours east of Vancouver...

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While we enjoy looking at the lake we prefer to spend our time in the hot springs at the south end of the lake.

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Lake Louise in Alberta is probably the best known Canadian Lake throughout the world due to it's beautiful turquoise waters and the fact that it is heavily marketed as a tourist destination...

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There are so many viewpoints over the lake that it never gets boring...

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Lake Louise constantly changes colour with the light

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However, with so many lakes to choose from there is no need to fight the crowds to get a good view of Lake Louise. There are lakes everywhere...

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Posted by Hawkson 14:50 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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