A Walk in Gatineau Park

With all the heart breaking news reports and difficult conversations taking place at this moment, it kinda feels like a good time for a walk in the woods.  About a month ago, we were in Ottawa, with a day all to ourselves. We opted to leave the city behind and explore Gatineau Park. Come along, and I’ll show you a little of what we saw ………

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This conservation park covers 361 square peaceful kilometres of land, but is just 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa.  It is popular with locals and visitors alike, apparently attracting 2.7 million visits a year.  But on this day we were lucky…. It was a chilly, damp Monday and the place was relatively quiet, but as you can see, still very beautiful.

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After a couple of hours of exploring, we made our way to the Mackenzie King Estate, a country property of the former prime minister, bequeathed to all of Canada. It’s now part of the Park.

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It seemed like the right thing to do, so we finished off with a warming visit to the Tea Room.

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That Was A Treat!

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Two weeks ago, I was in Ottawa with my travelling husband and the trip happened to coincide with our Federal  election.  I was very curious to witness the atmostphere in the capital city during an election.  Would it be like being in the home town when an important sports games was being played?(cue the “O-K! Blue Jays” anthem)  It wasn’t!  A cold, grey, drizzly night – it was especially quiet.  Even for Ottawa.

But the next day was an entirely different story.  There was a buzz of chatter everywhere, as the reality of our newly elected majority government sank in.  The place felt a little lighter, maybe a little hopeful. Even the sun came out.

I found myself on Wellington Street in the afternoon, sharing a crosswalk with our handsome, newly minted Prime Minister.  He was surrounded by a gaggle of photographers – I was not. I did have my camera, however, and I’m pretty sure he’s looking straight at me in this shot!  What a treat for me!

In addition to the relief and happiness of the election results, which the majority of the population obviously feel is a treat for the country, I can’t help but reflect on what a treat it is to live in a country in which the Prime Minister can share a crosswalk with the likes of me.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Treat

Symmetry

IMG_1780Welcome to the Centre Block of the Canada’s Houses of Parliament, in Ottawa, Ontario.  Begun in the mid 19th Century, this Victorian High Gothic structure was was destroyed by fire and subsequently rebuilt in 1916. The finishing touch was the central tower – The Peace Tower, dedicated to those Canadian who fought in WWI – was completed in 1927.  It is an imposing structure, perched as it is high on Parliament Hill, but I think its’ beautiful symmetry creates  balance, a calm and a kind of confidence.

Photo taken with my iPhone last May.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/symmetry/

Photography 101 – Highlights

One photo, every day!  This was such an interesting exercise.  It’s one thing to point a click when I see something I like and want to record, but the challenge came in focusing on a specific theme every day.

Like “Swarm”.

When I read the assignment, the first thing that came to mind was, of course, bees…..or atleast some insects.  But this is November and all those guys are tucked away.  I certainly did not expect to find a “swarm” in an art gallery exhibit.  But, voila!  There it was.

And that is what I have taken from this workshop.  It’s all about keeping my eyes (and my mind) OPEN. 🙂

I’ve gathered a few of my favourite photos here, taken this month.  But I am very happy to report that I did manage to rise to the challenge every day….even the weekends. It was fun!

Thanks for coming along with me.

Sweet September

Adieu September! Parting is such sweet sorrow. Or something like that.

September is the traditional harvest month – a time of bounty and a time to reap the results of lots of hard work. This September has been particularly generous to me.

My kids were satisfactorily settled into university, some much-needed house maintenance was finished, the garden ripened, and the grapes grew sweet – all under a glorious September sun. And I got to travel!! My role as Side-Kick Traveller has been kicked into overdrive for the past few weeks taking me to Boston, Toronto and Ottawa.

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Three whole days in Boston!  I attended (at this ripe old age) my very first professional baseball game. In Fenway Park!! Sweet Caroline!! I was serenaded in the middle of the Back Bay Fens Victory Garden by a young man who was perched high up on a branch of an ancient willow tree. It was an amazing and unexpected moment. From there, I stumbled upon the Historic South End – an exquisite neighbourhood of stately Georgian architecture and graceful tree-lined streets framed with boutique shops and cafés. Another huge highlight was a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Mueum….a very special kind of museum. Trying to view this unique museum from Mrs Gardner’s perspective has given me a whole new way of looking things. It was profoundly moving.
Toronto, where our hotel happen to be right across the street from the home of the Canadian Opera Company. And it just so happened that I was able to wander across at lunch time to enjoy a free concert by the incredible Micheal Shand Trio. (You should check him out. Jazz, baby!!) The light filled venue, with its floor to ceiling glass walls overlooking a very alive University Avenue (just teeming with pedestrians and vehicles) so perfectly suited the music that the result was pure magic! How lucky I am to have found this!

And Ottawa! Oh lovely Ottawa! It’s a bit like revisiting an old friend – paying homage to  perennial favourite spots like the National Gallery of Canada, Parliament Hill, Ikea (!), and our favourite restaurant. But exploring new territory is the theme and that’s what we did.

Following the recreational trail which runs along the Ottawa River, we walked in the shadow of the Parliament Buildings, across the locks of the Rideau Canal, through Major’s Hill Park, across the Alexandra Bridge to Gatineau, Quebec and stopped by the Museum of Civilization to reflect on the power of the river’s current and enjoy the view of the skyline. Cue the sound of Canadian Geese.  We carried on westward along the riverbank to Victoria Island where we crossed back to Ottawa via Pont du Portage, where we made another happy discovery…the Mill Street Brewpub. Then back along the trail to where we started behind the Supreme Court of Canada building…just a hop, skip and a jump back to the hotel. The walk took a little over an hour, at a brisk pace. What a way to see this quintesential Canadian place!  I loved this walk so much, I did it each of the three days we were there.

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In addition to these working trips, we took a short holiday to Prince Edward Island where we rented bicycles and took a spin on the Confederation Trail. (See my earlier post to find out how that turned out!). We followed up by spending a weekend with a couple of friends exploring  some of our own local trails. It feels so good, so empowering, so freeing (if a little tender in spots) to be back on our bikes!! Sunshine, picnics, friends and kilometres of trails…..bliss! I see much more of this sort of thing in my future.

That’s not all! After 10 years of tending our little vineyard on the North Atlantic Coast, we welcomed a local winemaker to see if we are on the right track or not. It felt like taking a major final exam. The result? A passing grade with honours, thank you very much! And an invite to join the local wine growers association. Now if I can just keep the grapes safe from the deer, raccoons and birds for the next couple of weeks until the harvest……

What a month it has been!! Every single day has been extraordinary! On top of it all, we managed, somehow, to paint the exterior trim of our house (a huge relief – it really needed it), a little bit of teaching (September tends not to be super busy for substitutes), and we celebrated our youngest son’s 19th birthday.

So, thank you September! I know that the memories made with you will last and the opportunities given this month will make way for new adventures.

Now, into the garden to harvest and get ready for winter.