Thursday Doors – Victoria

As promised last week, we’re back at the British Columbia Parliament Buildings taking a look at the Ceremonial Entrance

This entrance sits front and centre of the building’s front facade, and is used by only the Legislative Assembly’s most esteemed guests. By most esteemed I mean the Monarch or visiting heads of state. Which means that elected officials, including the Prime Minister, are forced to slouch up through another door like a regular peasant.

Queen Elizabeth II and other visiting monarchs (from various countries) have used this entrance throughout the building’s history, but it’s far more commonly used by the Queen’s representative to British Columbia, the Lieutenant Governor.

For non-Canadians, Canada is one of the Commonwealth of Nations. While we’re independent and run our country as we like, symbolically Queen Elizabeth II is our official head of state. The Governor General is the monarch’s head representative for the country, while the Lieutenant Governors represent Her Majesty at a provincial/territorial level.

The Lieutenant Governor visits The Legislature to perform such tasks as delivering the Speech from the Throne or to grant Royal Assent (symbolically passing laws).

Since 1998, and the signing of the Nisga’a treaty, Indigenous chiefs from across (the province heads of their respective Nations and communities) are also invited to use Ceremonial Entrance.

During our recent visit to Victoria, James and I took an informative tour of The Legislature. Which means that I was able to get a couple of photos from inside.

And there you have it, officially the most important door in British Columbia.

Let me know in the comments below if you’re interested in a post covering the tour we took.


Thursday Doors is a weekly event facilitated by Dan. If you’re interested in participating, check out Dan’s blog.

A Country Drive

It’s pouring with rain today. It has been for days and we’ve got more of the same expected for the foreseeable future. That coupled with a serious case of the #sundayscaries is making it really hard for me to get out of bed. I’m really trying to cheer myself up though. So I thought I’d share a photo I took during a recent long drive in the country.

The sky was perfectly blue with just enough wispy clouds to make me smile. Like the barn. Seriously, have you ever seen anything so adorable?

I hope you’re having a good day wherever you are. Happy Sunday!

Thursday Doors – Victoria

I’m back after a couple of weeks, part of which was spent in Victoria. Victoria, being the capital city for the province of British Columbia, is home to the British Columbia Parliament Buildings.

It’s here that the provincial Legislative Assembly meets for government matters, most of which goes right over my head.

The Parliament Buildings are located overlooking the city’s inner harbour, which is sort of like point zero for anyone visiting. You’re almost guaranteed to spend some time poking around the property enjoying the architecture.

At the back of the property is where we found this door and its impressive facade.

The wrought iron gate is the perfect mix of design and function. I love it. And the purple colour for the door is a nice choice.

Next week I’ll be back with the other entrance, the main entrance at the front of the building used for special guests.

See you then!


Thursday Doors is a weekly event facilitated by Dan. If you’re interested in participating, check out Dan’s blog.

Sendall Botanical Gardens | Metro Vancouver Walks

This isn’t the usual type of content I’d include in this series of Metro Vancouver Walks, as it’s more neighbourhood park with flowers, but i figured anyone living in the lower mainland could use a dose of colour. Because #raincouver.

Sendall Botanical Gardens are small, comprised of 3.5 acres tucked away in a residential neighbourhood in Langley. It gets its name from one of the town’s first mayors, Ernie Sendall.

Mr. Sendall and his wife, Annie, immigrated to British Columbia shortly after WWI with their children. From 1948, Mr. Sendall owned a farming machinery business on the land that would later be turned into the park.

He later became the first elected town Mayor on 30 May 1955, and remained in the position until his death. In the park you’ll find a carved statue of its namesake, pictured here with James.

The park includes several trails, one along a small creek, and a greenhouse full of tropical plants and flowers.

Surprising to find was this bee house, installed specifically for Mason bees and an attempt to protect, and encourage their pollination.

For more information about the company responsible for installation here at Sendall Botanical Gardens, and many other local parks, check out their website here.

Robbie the Robot

The night before we left for our short getaway, an article popped into my newsfeed about a restaurant in Victoria with a robot server.

Umm, what?

Obviously I made us reservations for lunch, perfectly timed with the ferry arrival and our drive into town.

With the ongoing pandemic, the owners of Mantra Restaurant were looking for a way to attract customers back to the restaurant as well as getting help with simple tasks.

Aside from knowing about the robot and the fact that a lunch buffet was available, we didn’t know what to expect.

Mantra Restaurant is modern and clean, with the necessary Covid-19 precautions in place. Our (human) hostess was warm and welcoming.

The buffet itself wasn’t extensive but it means that food doesn’t sit around for long periods of time before it’s replenished. A nice selection of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian is available.

Curiously, one of the offerings was tater tots – which I love but don’t associate with Indian cuisine. I can now confirm that curry and tater tots are a perfect combination.

The only thing missing from our meal was naan bread, and that’s where Robbie the Robot comes in.

Out of the kitchen she rolled through the restaurant towards our table. While I squealed with delight. I may have totally clapped with excitement, much to the mortification of my husband.

Once Robbie arrived, we removed the hot naan bread from the lit shelf and pressed the “done” button before she returned to the kitchen.

Not only does Robbie make a perfect employee (robots don’t call in sick or complain!), she also gives you a cute cat smile and meows when you pet her ear.

Eventually it was time to leave Mantra Restaurant, stuffed to the gills, and head for the hotel to check in. But we’ll definitely be back for another tasty lunch and (obviously) to check in on our new friend, Robbie.

Victoria’s Moss Lady

We’ve just returned from several days away in Victoria, where we celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. Near to our hotel is the popular Beacon Hill, a 75 hectare park popular with locals and visitors alike.

Short on time, we weren’t able to see much other than this impressive art piece aptly named Moss Lady.

Created by gardener Dale Doebert, and a team of Victoria city employees, Moss Lady is tucked away in a shaded area of Beacon Hill Park.

At approximately 11 metres, she’s made of a mix comprised of boulders, cement, chicken wire, metal piping, clay-based soil and locally sourced cat-tail and club moss. Her “hair” is flowering crocosmia plants.

I particularly enjoyed Moss Lady, and the dreary weather certainly added to the experience.

While we intentionally sought her out, I can’t help but laugh when imagining how startling it would be to be wandering through the park minding your own business when you turn a corner and BAM, you’re face to face with a giant coming out of the ground.

Abbotsford Murals

Commonly known for being home to the popular Abbotsford Airshow, as well as cheap gas prices, I recently discovered that Abbotsford is also home to a small collection of brightly coloured murals decorating the city’s historic centre. Naturally I dragged my husband on a walk so I could snap some photos.

Created by non-profit, I-Lead Abby, this mural is said to represent openness (henna) and the city’s Indo-Canadian community, as well as growth (lotus flowers).

From artist Tara-Lynn Kozma-Perrin: “Before colonization, two streams used to converge in the area where the mural is today. The patterns in the mural resemble fish scales and reed mats which pay homage to the history of the land and its Indigenous inhabitants.”

A timely reminder to all of us.

From lead artist Sean Karemaker: “Nature continues to humble us. As a species, humans must realize we are completely interconnected with the entire ecosystem.”
The large mural depicts how everything in the natural world is connected, from sea to sky, mountains to tiny mushrooms, furry critters to lush groves.

Strangely I wasn’t able to find any information on this large mural, so I can’t share any additional insight.

This mural was at the centre of controversy earlier this Summer. Prior to public outrage, and subsequent rework, it included the quote, “Make Abbotsford great again.”. Many found it to be an unsavory choice given its similarity to one of a “certain soggy Cheeto’s” favourite sayings.

Artist Ericka Walker worked closely with members of the Royal Canadian Legion (Abbotsford Branch #15) to create this 60′ mural. Many reasons is meant to encourage thought and dialogue about the countless factors surrounding war. For example, reasons to enlist, or not. Reasons to commemorate or be critical of war efforts.

Some businesses got into the spirit with their own murals, like this one next to the entrance of Sound of Music Sales.

Karl’s Meats is a family-run local Dutch delicatessen and butcher shop. Hence the wooden clogs in the window.

Another music themed mural, this one on the side of Temple Music Academy.

The historical centre of Abbotsford is really cute, and I’m hoping to visit again in the near future to check out some of the local businesses.

Aldergrove Regional Park | Pepin Brook Trail | Metro Vancouver Walks

My husband and I first spotted this park during an evening drive. The sun had just set, so not the right time for a walk, and we made a mental note to come back another day.

Fast forward two weeks when I was googling “walks near me”, as is one of my favourite things to do these days, and spotted it on the map. From the Metro Vancouver website ..

Rolling meadows, mixed forests and views of Mount Baker await you in this regional park. Visitors can explore trails on foot, bicycle or horseback. Picnicking is also popular in the park. The wetlands here are important habitat for a variety of wildlife including frogs, salamanders, beavers and two endangered fish species.”

With 5 trails to choose from, we settled on Pepin Brook Trail. The trail itself is 2.3 kilometers, and is rated as moderate. While there was a short steep section, I think easy is a more accurate description.

At about an hour in length, this trail is a pleasant escape into nature. We plan to return in future to check out other trails.

Godwin Farm Biodiversity Preserve | Metro Vancouver Walks

Once upon a time, this 26 acre park belonged to the Godwin family. Tom and Elaine Godwin purchased the land in the late 1960’s and began a tree farm by planting hundreds of trees throughout the property. Sequoias, Redwoods and various Firs, just to name a few.

The Godwins also created a pond, where you may spot a rainbow trout or two.

In the mid-2010s the Godwin family gifted the property to the city of Surrey through Canada’s Ecological Gift Program, ensuring that the nature reserve was preserved and won’t be used for development.

A walk at Godwin is an enjoyable way to get away from people, while enjoying fresh air and taking in beautiful scenery. I look forward to visiting again, perhaps on a cool crisp Autumn day.

TREEEEEES!

My friend, V, who many of you already know, recently demanded over text that I blog about trees. All caps and screaming, just like that.

I had been questioning whether I had any blog worthy content to share after essentially abandoning MOTM for most of the pandemic. I had lost my drive and, more importantly, my confidence dwindled to almost nothing.

Without a recent trip abroad, it was daunting to consider: would people would care about my low key (boring) life? Because aside from trips to the grocery store there hasn’t been much going on.

Mind you, my husband and I moved earlier in the pandemic. Downtown Vancouver suddenly became too people-y for someone like me living with panic disorder. Long story short, I needed to escape. So we now live in the suburbs and I absolutely love it. One thing we’ve begun to do is search out parks where we can get out into nature for an enjoyable walk each week.

That’s where trees come in.

Or, more specifically, TREEEEEES!

I’ve decided to start a new series, Metro Vancouver Walks, where I’ll share with you some of our weekly adventures.

Hopefully you like it. And hopefully I’ll start feeling like I’ve not lost my touch for blogging.

Thanks for the not-so-subtle suggestion, V!


PS. Eagle eyed readers will have picked up on the fact that my boyfriend is now my husband. A pandemic wedding!

Whytecliff Park

Our weekly Sunday drive took us to West Vancouver’s Whytecliff Park. It’s a popular spot for families although, given that Covid-19 restrictions have only started to be lifted, we managed to find a parking spot quickly.

It’s too early in the year to see them yet but sea lions are also fans of the park, and can be seen sunning themselves on the beach during the Summer months.

Whytecliff Park is also home to over 200 marine animal species, making it popular with scuba divers. The park is noteworthy for being the first designated Marine Protected Area in Canada.

It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, and spend some time in the fresh air.

How did you spend your Sunday?

Bonne journée!

Marla

How I Celebrated My Birthday – Parisian Pandemic Style

I’ll say right off the top that I’d much rather be in Paris right now. But because of the global pandemic and the resulting travel bans, one must do what they can. In my case this meant that I planned my day with special nods to my most favourite city and previous visits.

After my shower I decided to do a mask, using a product that I always purchase from my favourite pharmacy in Paris.

Now time to get dressed.

Stripes ✅

Beret ✅

I’m not a mime, I swear!

Next was breakfast. Le petit déjeuner, like so many that I’ve started my day with in Paris.

You’ll note that every photo from here on relates to food. If you can’t shove your face with food without guilt on your birthday, when can you?

I decided to watch a movie, and chose Julie & Julia. I’d seen it before but planned to make Julia Child’s Quiche Lorraine for dinner. It seemed like a good fit.

You’ll note the blurry cashews in the bottom right corner. I chose them because I remember years ago sitting on a terrace, drinking a beer and being served a small bowl cashews.

Side note: I also remember being on the open top of one of those hop-on, hop-off buses during that same trip. Some asshole on the pavement threw an handful of cashews at us when we passed (while aggressively shouting in French), and I got pelted on the side of the face with several. I’d say that he got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning but I can’t imagine there being a wrong side if you’re fortunate enough to wake up in Paris every morning..

After the movie I headed for the kitchen to prepare a few things.

Simple syrup. Because I had a cocktail I planned to drink.

And lots and lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice – for the cocktail, but also for a tarragon lemon vinaigrette for the salad we’d be eating with dinner.

I was feeling rather peckish. Time to have a baguette slathered in Boursin.

I eat this in my hotel room regularly in Paris. Sometimes after a long day I don’t feel like heading out for a proper meal. Other times I’m so jetlagged that after a long nap, I find myself wide awake in the middle of the night with nothing open. This quick snack has become a welcome tradition and regular standby.

Of course I needed something to wash it down. I planned ahead and sipped on a lemony cocktail with gin and bubbles. The French 75.

Served in one of James’ grandmother’s crystal flutes, of course.

I took a nap next. Which I don’t normally do but since I was in Paris-mode, it was like I was really there and needed a mid-afternoon nap.

When I woke up I sat on my balcony with a cup of my favourite tea..

..in one of my favourite tea cups. With a palmier on the side, of course.

Once James arrived home from work, we had chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing (breaking theme, but whatever..).

Eventually it was time to make dinner. But we procrastinated, and dinner ended up being quite late. It was worth the wait though.

I had hoped to watch my all-time favourite movie, Amelie, after dinner but it was late so we decided to watch it another time.

So there you have it. My perfect Parisian Pandemic themed birthday to celebrate another trip around the sun.

Bonne journée!

Marla

North Vancouver Street Art – Lonsdale Quay

Along an exterior wall at North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay Market you’ll find a 100 foot long mural titled Coastal Energy.

Designed by local students and painted by artist Dennis Creighton, Coastal Energy is part of a city-wide series of public art called Studio in the City.

Its purpose is to give local youth the opportunity to apprentice in the arts, while working on various canvases throughout North Vancouver.

If you’ve visited Vancouver as a tourist, chances are you’ve seen this mural. Lonsdale Quay is often a stop on visitor’s lists of local places to check out.

Bonne journée!

Marla

What is a Weekend?

Are you familiar with the scene in Downton Abbey where Dame Maggie Smith’s character asks, “What is a weekend?”? Her delivery is perfection.

While the scene touches on the ‘modern’ invention of leisure time (for the period), not to mention the obvious class distinction between floors, I can’t help but ask myself that very question this morning.

What is a weekend?

As many of you will know, I’m currently working from home. Our apartment is tiny, not unlike most in Downtown Vancouver. My makeshift desk is set up 2 metres from our bed. It’s also 2 metres from our couch. I’ve only just realised the irony in the spacing.

Because we’re in voluntary lockdown, practicing social distancing when we pop out for necessities, I’m basically stuck in the same space 7 days a week. One day blends into the next. Weekdays turn into weekends without any noticeable change.

My question to those working from home as well, what are you doing to mark your weekend? What helps you to feel like you’re not stuck on an hamster wheel 24/7? If you have any suggestions, please comment below.

I thought I’d share some photos of flowers I snapped during a lunchtime stroll earlier this week. I forced myself to get out for some fresh air and sunshine. If you’re permitted to do the same where you are, I highly recommend it.

Spring has finally sprung!

Bonne journée!

Marls

Street Art – New Westminster

It’s Friday! After another trying week, I’d like to share what I believe is the perfect spirit lifter to take us into the weekend.

It’s bright, colourful and happy – just what the doctor ordered (along with social distancing and washing our hands, of course).

I discovered this mural accidentally, but fell in love with it immediately.

Continue reading “Street Art – New Westminster”

Sea to Sky

Like many people around the globe, I’m finding myself feeling suffocated with cabin fever. I miss being able to leave the house without an action plan and spare disposable gloves shoved into my purse just in case. I miss seeing the flowers and trees come to life like they always do at this time of year. But mostly, I’m sick of staring at the same walls of our tiny apartment day in and day out. It could be much worse, I fully appreciate, but I’m really starting to struggle.

Continue reading “Sea to Sky”

Vancouver Street Art – Mount Pleasant

Here are a few more murals to, hopefully, add some fun and brightness to your day as we weather this crazy storm of uncertainty together.

This last one depicts an old hamburger stand that stood on Kingsway for decades. It has since moved, but those of us of a certain age will remember the iconic Vancouver landmark that was Wally’s Burgers.

Bonne journée!

Marla