Archive | October 2014

Through My Lens: Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans

To finish out the month, here’s a photo of the windmills at Zaanse Schans. Zaan is the name of the river that runs past the village and Schans comes from the Dutch word for “earthwork.” The Dutch are fond of moving earth, but what’s special about this one is it dates back to the Eighty Years’ War when the Dutch and the Spanish were going at it.

Zaanse Schans is a popular spot with tourists as it’s only a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam and has several working windmills. Although I once spent part of a summer in the nearby town of Zaandam on my first-ever home exchange, this photo was taken several years prior to that visit, in late autumn.

A lovely corner of Holland any time of year, to be sure.

The Chan Centre

When I was blogging about spectacular European opera houses last spring, it occurred to me that spectacular Canadian opera houses are few and far between.

No matter. We do have some spectacular concert halls.

This is a photo of the Chan Centre. Located on the Point Grey campus of the University of British Columbia, it was designed by the Vancouver-based architect Bing Thom. Its main concert hall is shaped like a cello and the acoustics are state of the art.

This time of year, the Chan looks particularly spectacular.

Chan Centre

Nelson Park

Stanley Park gets a lot of attention from Vancouver’s visitors, but it’s not the only park in Vancouver’s West End. One of my favourite parks ― so much so I try to walk through it each and every time I head downtown ― is Nelson Park.

Nelson Park is a small park, but it’s a busy park. Only one city block big, it shares that space with Lord Roberts Annex (a K–3 primary school) and its playground, which takes up about a quarter of the block. Several dozen community garden plots line the park’s walkways and the West End Farmer’s Market is held alongside the park every Saturday from May to October. Because the park is located kitty-corner to St. Paul’s Hospital and across the street from the Dr. Peter Centre (an assisted-living residence for adults living with HIV/AIDS), it’s not unusual to see patients making use of the park on warm, summer days.

But my favourite corner of Nelson Park is the fenced-in off-leash dog park, one of a handful in Vancouver’s West End. Walk past it after work any day of the week to witness Doggy Happy Hour ― complete with wagging tails.

Here is a photo of Nelson Park in all its fall glory.

Nelson Park

Highway 2

Highway 2 1

A week ago today, I hitched a ride down Highway 2 from Edmonton to Red Deer with my brother and his family. As we left the city’s outskirts, I had some fun teasing my nieces that they were doing a good job of ignoring their old aunt. (Their noses were glued to their devices.) Even my brother was planning to spend the two-hour drive alone ― with his book.

Highway 2 2

No matter. Within minutes, I was enthralled.

Eventually, my brother, too. His book lay forgotten in his lap.

Highway 2 3

Someone once told me they thought Highway 2 was the most boring stretch of road anywhere in Canada.

I beg to differ. I think it’s the most beautiful.

Through My Lens: Capri


I can’t help myself.

It’s not like I need a reason to post a photo from Italy ― give me five minutes and I can come up with the slightest excuse.

Today’s pretext? Two friends of mine are on their way to the Amalfi Coast for what I’m sure is a much-needed and well-deserved taste of la dolce vita.

I took this photo from the top of the island of Capri in October 2002. That’s the Sorrento Peninsula off in the distance.

Salt Spring Island Fall Fair


Yup. It’s another cow.

And no, this hasn’t turned into a Bovine Blog.

SSI Pig and Piglets

I took these photos a couple of weeks ago at the Salt Spring Island Fall Fair. My friend had been urging me to come over for the island’s annual fair, which, she claims, is the social event of the year for Salt Spring Island.

 SSI Rooster

“Will there be cows?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“I’m there,” I said.

SSI Quail

Salt Spring Island has a long history of farming ― the island was first known for its fruit harvests, then the dairy and poultry farmers arrived. These days, Salt Spring is famous for its lamb …

SSI Sheep

… and for its cheese made from goats’ milk.

SSI Goats

In keeping with that history, the Salt Spring Island Fall Fair has been an island institution since 1896. This year’s theme was Celebrating Family Farming to coincide with the United Nations declaring 2014 the International Year of Family Farming. (I so wish I had made it to last year’s fair: its theme was Pirates of the Carrots and Beans.)

It seems like everyone on the island has something to exhibit at the Fall Fair ― from livestock to produce to baked goods to flowers to handcrafts.

SSI Produce

Although the sheepdog demonstration was fascinating and the zucchini races were, um, unlike any race involving green vegetables I’ve ever seen, my favourite event was the sheep shearing.

Sheep Shearing 1

The shearer showed us how shearing used to be done ― with a big, shiny pair of blade shears …

Sheep Shearing 2

… and then he showed us how it’s done today ― with powered machine shears.

Sheep Shearing 3

Sheep Shearing 4

The Salt Spring Island Fall Fair takes place every September. If I’m feeling in a year that my blog needs more cow photos, I now know where to go.