Sunday, 29 August 2010

Nice Nose... Good Legs... Great Body...

Before you all get too excited by the title, let me explain.
I went on a wine-tasting tour this weekend. I've never done that before. It was fun!

It was a birthday party for The Bride's mum. Thirty people started the day at Al Dente with a yummy breakfast and the first alcohol of the day.... Mimosa which is a blend of champagne and orange juice. I don't usually drink before the sun shines over the yardarm, but I had to make an exception in this case.... of course!

The bus called in at three wineries in the Niagara area. We stopped at Fielding Estate, which was modern and bright and full of gleaming stainless steel tanks, Calumus Estate, small and rustic and located in a converted barn, and Vineland Estate, one of the biggest commercial wineries in the area. All beautiful in their own way.

At each stop, we were treated to samples of two white wines, and two red wines.

But I have to admit, once I had tasted six or more wines in quick succession, my taste buds were starting to rebel, and my tummy too! But the wines at Calamus were all good, and I bought a couple of bottles of the 2007 Calamus Red Reserve, which, I was assured by the nice Calamus owner, was a very good year for red wine. Lots of summer sunshine trapped in those bottles.

Growing grapes and winemaking have been a tradition in the Niagara Region for over 200 years. The mild climate is ideal for growing grapes, and all kinds of fruit too... cherries, peaches, apples. It's gorgeous at apple blossom time.

But even though I tried to "see, swirl, sniff, sip, savour" and appreciate the subtle differences in each wine, I have never been able to detect "aromas of raspberry and green pepper" or "citrus notes with a hint of spice and honey" as enticingly described in the brochures.

I just know if I like it or not.

At the end of the tour the bus took us back to Al Dente for a four course dinner with Niagara wines paired with each course. The food was mmmmmm great! And so were the wines. By the end of the day we had tasted at least sixteen different wines.

I don't think I need to look at another glass of wine until some time next week. And maybe not even then! I think I'm all wined out for a while.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Chubby Cheeks

Cousinly love.... I think that's what it's called!

But he might be just taking the opportunity to have a quick torture session loving squeeze and not get told off.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Petty Harbour

More pictures of Newfoundland.... just because it's so pretty.
The town of Petty Harbour (and it's neighbour Maddox Cove) has been occupied since at least 1598.
We stopped at the only cafe looking for some refreshment on a hot afternoon.

OlderSon and I had stopped there a few years ago and asked if they served coffee.

" Right away, my dears, just take a seat and I'll bring two coffees over to you".

We sat at a booth by the window and enjoyed the tranquil scene of fishing boats in the harbour.

There was the sound of conversation and a kettle boiling in a back room, and then a tray arrived.

Two fancy china cups of hot water, two teaspoons, a sugar bowl and a jar of instant Nescafe!

"There you are, my dears, make it as strong as you like!"

Times have changed since my last visit to Petty Harbour. The booths have gone now, the windows have been boarded up to make room for shelves and the little cafe has turned into a tiny grocery store selling everything a Petty Harbour resident could possibly need. And there's one of those fancy coffee machines, where you choose a little container of flavoured coffee, press a button, WOOOSH! and magically, coffee dribbles into a paper cup. Such is progress.

We settled for icecream instead.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Red Sky at Night.... Sailor's Delight

Ahhh... that's better! A little cooler yesterday and today. A welcome reprieve from this summer's endless high humidity and heat.

And yesterday evening.....

.... this fiery sunset lit up the sky! The promise of another lovely day in store.

Saturday, 14 August 2010


I've noticed that the phrase "global warming" isn't bandied about any more. Instead we get "climate change" which sounds much more benign. But whatever it's called, it's here.

All those weather people on TV were right in their dire predictions that 2010 would be a recordbreaking hot summer. It's been hot hot hot throughout North America, and I'm finding it a bit much!

Up here in the Great White North, Canadians live for the summer. We endure below freezing temperatures from November to April, and at the first sign of melting snow, we joyfully throw off our scarves and gloves and winter coats, open all the windows, put on our shorts, and bask in the sun.

I look forward to summer. I love the sunshine.
I love wearing teeshirts and capris and sandals and bright summer colours.

But this summer has been just too darn hot for me. I've spent a lot of time in the shade, or seeking out air conditioned shopping malls (no a/c at my house). Or desperately begging friends to let me swim in backyard pools to stop my brain from melting.

I hate to admit it, but I'll be glad when this summer cools down a bit.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Harbour Grace

The people of the town of Harbour Grace on Conception Bay have traditionally made their living from fishing and fish processing, but in the 1920s and '30s, the town airstrip was a favourite starting point for attempts to cross the Atlantic by air.
Amelia Earhart took flight from the airstrip at Harbour Grace on May 20, 1932, to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

"The Spirit of Harbour Grace" is a restored 1943 Douglas DC-3 on display at the Riverhead since 1993, commemorating Harbour Grace's rich aviation history.
And in the bottom left corner, the "Kyle" is visible.

The SS "Kyle" was built in Newcastle, UK, in 1913, and was used as a ferry between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and later between Newfoundland and Labrador. By 1960, she became a sealing vessel, but after a losing encounter with an iceberg in 1967, SS "Kyle" returned to Harbour Grace for repairs.
That winter, she broke her moorings in a vicious storm, and instead of breaking up on the rocks, the winds drove her to the Riverhead, where she has remained ever since. Local legend says that it was not the "Kyle"'s destiny to go to an underwater grave
Instead, the SS "Kyle" was guided to it's final resting place in Riverhead by the "seaman's ghost" - where the vessel's illustrious past would never be forgotten.

The history of SS "Kyle" is here. If you have time, read it, it's fascinating. A way of life that's gone forever.

The Harbour Grace shipyard is full of fishing vessels under repair. Will this one ever challenge the high seas of the North Atlantic again?

Just across the road from the shipyard, we ate fish'n'chips at the Harbour Grace Hotel. Fresh cod, right out of the ocean.
Mmmm, their fish'n'chips are some good, b'y!

More posts about our time in Newfoundland below.... just scroll down.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Ocean Sciences Centre

The Ocean Sciences Centre at Logy Bay just outside St John's is a cold ocean research facility operated in conjunction with Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Research is conducted on North Atlantic organisms ranging from bacteria to seals. Seal behaviour has been studied here for more than 20 years, and the seals look well fed and happy.

We watched the seals until the "nippers" drove us away.... but the best of all was the Touch Tank. The tank is at child level, and is full of fascinating and colourful creatures found in the rock pools and beaches in the area. Isaac loved it. He wanted to get in there with both hands.

A beautiful orange sea anemone.

A spider crab, who didn't really appreciate being picked up, and waved his claw menacingly.

An enormous sea star. One of the biggest I have ever seen. And in a fashionable designer colour too. Most sea stars have 5 arms but there are species with as many as 40 arms, or more!

A hermit crab has made his home in an empty whelk shell.

Everything in the Touch Tank is safe to touch, and is presided over by two knowledgeable University students. A great place to spend a couple of hours on a mausy Newfoundland morning.

For more about Newfoundland, see previous posts below.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

You Missed a Bit!

Just popped in to the harbour....

.... for a quick paint touch-up!

For more Newfoundland pics, see posts below.