Thursday, 15 August 2019


If you lived in downtown St John's, what colour would you paint your front door? 
Here are a few suggestions......

Monday, 12 August 2019

150 Pounds of Fun

These two bronzes commemorate the famous dog breeds of Newfoundland and Labrador....  the Labrador Retriever and the Newfoundland Dog. The 1.5 scale sculptures were created in cast bronze over a stainless steel frame by Luben Boykov in 2003.

These bronze dogs live in Harbourside Park, and look out towards the Narrows, watching for the fishing boats to come home. I always have to rub their noses for good luck! But of course it's even better to meet a real live Newfie dog!
This handsome fellow is Chief. I met him and his person sitting on the wall at the top of Signal Hill. Chief is 5 years old, and weighs around 150 pounds.... that's almost 68 kg! Can you imagine trying to encourage him to get off the best sofa? He was so friendly and good natured and loved all the people who stopped to pat him and take his picture.
This is Knight, only 5-1/2 months old, and full of bounce.He still has quite a bit of growing to do. He's still a baby!
There are various theories of the origin of the Newfoundland dog. One says the dog is a cross between a Tibetan Mastiff and an (extinct) American Black Wolf. Another theory says the dog's ancestors were brought to Newfoundland by the Viking explorers. And perhaps they are descended from many breeds like Pyreanean Sheep Dogs, Mastiffs, and Portugese Water Dogs that were cross bred in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Friendly, soft to touch, lovely creatures, just as long as you don't mind lots of gooey drool! Both Chief and Knight travelled with a handy drool towel ready to mop up at all times!

Friday, 9 August 2019

Fishing Stages

Although the little fishing village of Quidi Vidi is gradually becoming gentrified, there are still many of the traditional fishing buildings left around the sheltered harbour.
How did the village get it's unusual name? Nobody seems to know. The area was settled early in the 16th century. Some people think it was a French name, others think it comes from Portugese or Italian, sounding like "quey de videy" meaning "what a beautiful sight".

Another story says that the village is named after a woman who had a hotel and tavern on Quidi Vidi Lake here 200 years ago.... her name was Kitty Vitty. Did she exist? maybe....
The village name was pronounced "Quaida Vaida" about a century ago, but the most common pronounciation is Kitty Vitty or Kiddy Viddy.
In the late 19th century there was a claim that the name was associated with John Guy, the governor of the first English colony in Newfoundland. Quidi Vidi harbour marked the division between David Kirke's colony on the Southern Shore and John Guy's colony, so it was the "Guy Divide". Say it fast with a Westcountry English accent.... it could sound like Quaida Vaida.... couldn't it??
Many of the families that live in Quidi Vidi have been there for generations. It's one of the oldest fishing villages in North America.

I think I'd like to have a beer with Lenny Hanlon.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Fishing at Quidi Vidi

Quidi Vidi (pronounced Kiddy Viddy) was known as a little historic fishing village with a small harbour near St John's, but it's all part of the larger city now. When I first visited the area it was a collection of little homes and fishing stages, and lots of fishing boats, but now there are monster homes and affluent condos.
When by the Atlantic, I wanted to catch fish, so I booked a fishing trip with QV Charters. It was a calm sunny day, ideal conditions for a landlubber like me.
Heading out of the gut towards the open Atlantic. The captain knew exactly where the fish were so we didn't stay far from the shore.
I caught the biggest fish of the trip, a cod weighing around 15lb, but of course there are cod much larger than that in the ocean. In all I caught about 5 or 6 fairly large fish, I lost count. At one point we were above a school of cod 9 metres deep.
The rods were weighted with a large lead weight. Just drop the weight into the ocean and let the line go all the way to the sea bed, then jig up and down. The cod are easy to catch, no need for bait just three hooks. The fish were lucky.... we weren't fishing for food that day, all the fish got returned to the ocean to grow bigger. There's a limit to the amount of fish that can be caught for food.... the rules are here.
This is a sculpin, a bottom feeding fish, also known as bullhead or sea scorpion. It's not going to win any beauty prizes, but has a certain fishy charm. It also went back in the ocean.
It's whale watching time in the North Atlantic, and these three humpbacks passed very close to the boat. They went on their way after giving us a good look and then all dived down, showing their tails off. What a sight!
A great way to spend the afternoon out on the North Atlantic.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Back to St John's

I was away from home for a couple of weeks in July and then, when I came back, the blogging mojo seemed to get overwhelmed with other stuff. But here goes....
I was in my favourite place... the city of St. John's on the rocky island of Newfoundland on Canada's east coast, house sitting and cat sitting for vacationing relatives.
And here are the cats, Captain Bob Bartlett (the saucy white one with a tiny paper heart stuck to his nose!) and Miss Thing (the serious one). They live together but they don't really like each other.

St John's has become a favourite vacation destination in recent years, probably due to a very active and innovative Tourism Association. The place was bustling with people from "away".  There are very few flat roads in the downtown area. This city was built on steep hills surrounding a deep harbour.  I seemed to be walking uphill all the time!  Good for the legs.  The downtown houses are mostly built of wood, and are painted some wonderful colours.... have a look.

Perhaps some of my photos may persuade you to visit Newfoundland one day.... it's such a beautiful place. More pictures to come, and for previous year's visits to St John's just click on the Newfoundland link below.

Friday, 5 July 2019


Just as the setting sun drops past the edge of the opposite hillside, the orange rays illuminate the trees in OlderSon's back yard. I saw the light from the window, and dashed outside with the camera. It didn't last long.... not even half a minute before the colours returned to normal.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019


A couple of weeks ago there was a distinct smell of smoke in the air. This is the result.

Photo: Metroland Media.
Thankfully, nobody was hurt, everyone got out in time. Two families have lost their home and the landlord has lost his investment. According to the Fire Marshal, the fire started on the front porch and probably smouldered all night, a case of careless disposal of a cigarette. So be careful, all you smokers..... make certain your cigarettes are out. Better still, don't smoke!

Monday, 1 July 2019

Happy Birthday Canada!

Canada is celebrating it's 152nd birthday today!

Image result for happy canada day images
(image borrowed from the internet)

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Pot of Gold?

One rainy/sunny/rainy/sunny day last week I looked out of my back door and saw a rainbow. I grabbed the camera before it disappeared. (Not the camera, the rainbow!).

 Then I thought I'd use my "colour enhancement" button on my little point'n'shoot Canon, and see what happens.
 Oooooh that's really spectacular! So I went to the front of the house to look up into the sky before the sunset faded.
 A nice sunset highlighting the clouds, but let's try the "colour enhancement" button again.
WOW!  And they say the camera never lies.
Well.... perhaps that used to be true but no longer. The camera can't be trusted to tell the truth at all!

Monday, 24 June 2019

All You Need.

This has been attached over the Town notice at the playground at the Community Centre where we have our weekly painting meetings. I'm not sure who left it, or why, but I like it.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Playing with Fire

Raku is a type of low fire kiln process that involves taking the pottery from the kiln at bright red heat and placing it in containers with combustible materials. Once the materials ignite, the containers are closed. This produces an intense reduction atmosphere which affects the colours of the glazes and creates smoke.
Lots of photos in this post. I spent the day in a friend's back yard firing pottery. And there was a pot luck lunch.... yummy!
This mask was created made by pressing a slab of clay against a piece of tree trunk that had been cut down. All the ridges and textures of the bark were transferred into the clay and two simple eyes and a mouth were cut out. The mask was bisque fired once and was ready to be glazed.

A selection of the glazes that were available. When the glaze is painted onto the clay, there is no indication of what colour it might appear after firing. It's always a surprise.

Hard at work at the glazing table.

Some of the glazed items waiting for their turn in the kiln. My mask was glazed with a black lustre glaze.... no idea what it might look like when fired.

The back yard kiln. Fuelled by a propane tank. Some finished pieces on top warming up ready for the next firing.

This very hot piece is taken from the kiln and will be plunged into a metal container full of combustible materials, in this case crumpled newspaper, and then the container closed. This is where the magic happens to the glaze.

This process makes lots of smoke. Don't stand too near. And have tolerant neighbours!

Here comes the mask out of the kiln. The firing takes about 15 - 20 minutes.

This dish has just been taken out of the metal flame container and is cooling. It still has to be cleaned up to get the soot and burnt paper off, but much of the black smoke colour will be kept on the clay.

This piece has been fired without a glaze. While the piece is still extremely hot, straight out of the kiln, strands of horse hair have been draped over the surface. The hair burns away but leaves a decorative carbon trail. One of the other potters did the same process with large fluffy ostrich feathers.

And here's the finished mask! It still needs a good clean up to get all the soot off, but I'm happy with it. The photo doesn't do justice to all the different iridescent colours that have appeared in the glaze.