Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Granville Island ...

The day that Tom arrived in Vancouver was grey and miserable.  But, being good travellers, we didn't let the rain stop our adventures.  After purchasing a couple of umbrellas, we headed for the water taxi terminal to take us to Granville Island, where we could spend at least some of the day inside staying dry.  After wandering through the market, shops and galleries, we bunkered down at the Granville Island Hotel for lunch and beer tasting.  Finally the rain stopped and we were able to continue our adventures.  Another water taxi took us to Yaletown where we checked out the shops (Marimekko tights for me) and looked for a restaurant for that evening.  We walked back to the hotel and promptly decided to crash - Malaysian take-away, local beer and a movie, all enjoyed on our respective beds in the hotel room.  An early night and prayers for no rain followed.

Granville Island hat shop

Purchase of the day - a trucker hat

Long lunch (to escape the rain) at the Granville Island hotel

Colourful houses on Granville Island

The same colourful houses from the water taxi

Monday, 20 February 2012

Shopping in Vancouver ...

Yes, I've been missing in action over the past week and a bit.  After leaving 'the family' in Sydney, I spent a whirlwind week in Melbourne, catching up with family and friends, beginning work on my thesis and preparing for my departure for Canada.  The more time I spend with my family, the more I love them, not just as family but as friends.  Man (how North American!), I'm going to miss them.  The week simply flew by and before I knew it, my trip to Canada had begun.  I arrived in Vancouver early this morning and spent the day walking the streets of downtown Vancouver, soaking up the crisp, fresh winter air.  Being a little tired and emotional after leaving my family, I don't have much to say right now but I thought I'd share with you the highlight of my first day in Canada (which was spent alone) ... these gorgeous Helly Hansen winter boots ... 

The picture doesn't quite do them justice.  They are black suede boots with a toasty fur lining.  They're super comfortable and are designed for the snow, so will suit me perfectly for my return to Calgary at the end of the week.  My other purchases today?   A steak flavoured rope toy and some salmon jerky puppy treats.  I'm just a little bit excited about picking up our puppy on Friday!  Oh, and seeing my brother tomorrow.  And, of course, seeing Cameron on Thursday.  But for now, a combination of jet lag and two glasses of red wine means that this jet-setter needs to go to bed. 

Friday, 10 February 2012

I'm going to miss Manly ...

Doesn't look promising

I first came to Manly when I was a uni student visiting Sydney for a mother-daughter weekend with my Mum.  We did the touristy thing - caught the ferry across, walked down the Corso to the beach, probably had an ice-cream and walked back to the ferry.  I had never dreamed that I'd one day spend three summers living in Manly, spending just over a year of my life in the cute Sydney beach-side suburb.

Stormy seas

My time in Manly is drawing (far too) quickly to a close - today is my last day here.  Last day of living here, last day of working with this family.   I will miss Manly.  I will miss the beach enormously, despite the fact that I'm not a huge beach-goer.  Particularly since I'm going to a land locked city, which for an Aussie girl, is a slightly claustrophobic prospect.

The closest to a sunrise Manly got this morning
 Other things I'll miss about Manly?  I'll miss the village-like atmosphere, the ambient coffee shops and bars, the ferry rides, the walk along the waterfront to work, the fitness classes, the dips into the ocean after a hot yoga workout and, of course I'll miss the kids.  Over the past few weeks, I've been creating a slide show of our time together and it's amazing to watch it and see how much they have grown - not just physically but emotionally and as learners too. I feel sad to be saying goodbye but also excited as so many new opportunities are opening up for me and I'm contemplating the prospect of my life taking a direction far different to anything I'd ever thought of.

(Note - the gloomy beach pictures were taken this morning on my last Manly beach run - 6 km of running, hoping the sunrise would be spectacular but, instead, getting soaked by a rain storm!)

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Breakfast and board games ...

Lemon crepes and Trivial Pursuit

It's my second last day of work and both teacher and students are starting to feel a little sad about this two-and-a-bit-year adventure coming to an end.  Official school has finished and we've got two days of fun planned to end our time together.  To kick start our fun days, we began today with breakfast and board games at B's favourite cafe, Inside Out, a creperie near the Manly Wharf.  Whilst munching on lemon crepes and ice cream, the girls thoroughly walloped the boy in Trivial Pursuit.  Next fun event - 'James and the Giant Peach' sculpture making!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Return of the running fever ...

Great Wall Marathon (well, 1/2) in 2009

 It was this time last year that my passion for running took a major dip.  I was forcing myself to go running and not enjoying it at all.  So, I decided to take a break.  I stopped running and took up other forms of exercise – body weight and gymstick workouts, walking and a little bit of yoga.  My body (and mind) felt a lot better.  Then, towards the end of my last stint in Canada, I felt the ‘need’ to run returning.  I started to run a few times a week, nothing too far or too fast, just some jogs around the river/countryside and some interval runs on the treadmill.   When I returned to Manly, I stopped again, mainly because I have been working out a lot with Vital Fit and Power Living (it’s enjoyable and hard work plus I want to get my moneys worth!).  But, the itch is back.

Crowded on the Great Wall of China
 Just over the past week or so, I’ve been feeling that itchiness in my feet and I’m ready to run!  I’ve started with a few beach jogs (I managed 6km my first run back which I was thrilled with) and hopefully by the time I get back to Calgary, I’ll be ready to hit the pavement although perhaps the treadmill is a better option at -25 degrees!

Misty running
I’ve decided that I need a goal to work towards.  Not only to keep me motivated but also to keep my mind off the enormity of the ‘permanent’ move to Canada and missing my family.  So, I’m planning on registering for the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, which I was registered for in 2010 but, as I wasn’t in the province at the time, I didn’t make it.  Before that race (which is in September), I’ll try to throw in a few 5km and 10km fun runs to get back into the competition groove, after not having participated in a competitive run for over 2 years. 

First 1/2 marathon ... done!

It's a great feeling to have - to actually want to run again and be excited about it.  Once I'm back in Calgary, I'll be ready to hit the ground running!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Breakfast and people-watching ...

View from my favourite breakfast spot

Since it's my last week in Manly, I'm trying to fit in as many of my favourite beach-side activities as possible (in between last-minute work jobs and packing).  This morning, I treated myself to breakfast at my favourite beach-side cafe, Bluewater.  As I've written about before, I do love going out for breakfast in Australia.  I have the same thing nearly every time - two poached eggs (super runny) on sourdough toast with a side of spinach washed down with a pot of green tea.  Sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly daring, I have a double order of spinach (what a radical life I lead!). 

My favourite breakfast

Mornings are my favourite time in Manly because there are so many people out and about, it makes for terrific people-watching.  Being on the beach means that there are lots of people outdoors early in the morning, all walking, surfing, working out etc.  It's also a great source of inspiration to watch people enjoying an active life.   This morning, it was such a luxury (for a week day) to sit, enjoy breakfast and indulge in a spot of beach-side people watching.  I'm going to miss that.

Manly Beach on the way to work

Monday, 6 February 2012

Last weekend in Manly ...

Manly beach in the evening

My time in Manly is drawing to a close and this past weekend was my last that I'll spend in this beautiful place.  It was unfortunate that I needed to spend much of it studying (two ethics applications and one 1200 word essay about Canadian pioneer women, thank you very much!) but I still managed to get out and enjoy some of my favourite activities in Manly.  I made it to two hot yoga classes, each followed by a cooling dip in the ocean, strolled along Manly beach, sun-baked and read the Sunday papers on the harbour-side beach and enjoyed bubbles and cake at Circular Quay, overlooking the harbour bridge.  I also indulged in a favourite treat - a glass of wine at the movies - not once, but twice.  On Saturday night, I saw 'Women on the 6th Floor' in Manly and yesterday,  I saw 'The Iron Lady' at Circular Quay.  I am feeling slightly sad about leaving and this week is going to be one of mixed emotions as I finish my time teaching seven year old R and eleven year old B and living a lovely summertime life in Manly.  

Harbour side beach

A treat at Circular Quay

Friday, 3 February 2012

Summertime reading ...

Summer time is a great time to delve into a pile of novels and even though I've been working for most of the summer, I've still had plenty of time to read.  Living by myself has opened up many more hours of reading opportunity and whilst I'm studying hard, I find is beautifully relaxing to slip into another world where study deadlines and work requirements don't matter one iota.  Here are the books that I've read in 2012 so far ...

I couldn't really get into this; the story line was just a bit odd

My first Nicholas Sparks book for the summer - I kept seeing his books being made into movies and had to find out what the fuss is about ... not great literature, but enjoyable summertime reading

By the time I got to this one, I was ready for a break from Nicholas Sparks

More lovely light summertime reading

One of my new favourite authors ... I have one of her books on Kindle to read on the plane back to Canada

Love, love, love.  I loved this book.  I love Ian McEwan's books

I saw this in the airport and immediately downloaded it onto my Kindle.  I love a good war time romance story!

I wanted to get into this but couldn't; I tried to keep going but gave up half way through, I'm going to give her other book, 'We Need To Talk About Kevin' a go

Seven year old R gave me this for Christmas; such a fun book

In preparation for the puppy!

C gave me this before he returned to Canada

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Henk Berg Leather ...

 The minute that C and I walked into Salamanca Market during our trip to Hobart, I fell in love.  Not with him (that had already happened some time ago).  But with the Henk Berg leather collection.  I'd been looking for a new handbag to travel with for some time and had quite specific criteria - it had to be a simple design (I'm not much of a bling girl), brown (all my bags are black, it was time to change things up a bit), large enough to fit lots of stuff to keep me entertained in the air (laptop, kindle, ipod, small toilet bag, newspaper etc.) and have a zip so that I can put it in an overhead locker without everything spilling all over the place.  As soon as we walked up the Henk Berg stall, I saw it ...

I knew I had to have it.  They didn't have the exact one I wanted (it was the above bag but with a big buckle) so I had to wait patiently for the bag to be altered and then shipped to me.  Well, it arrived yesterday and I absolutely love it.  The leather is soft and has that beautiful smell of real leather.  I also loved meeting the owner (Lara Berg, daughter of Henk Berg) and hearing the story behind the company (all the products are designed in Launceston, Tasmania and made by a family in Java, as part of a fair trade agreement).  If you're after a lovely new bag or wallet, I can highly recommend the Henk Berg line of products.  I know where I'll be getting all of my handbags in the future!