Sunday 16 July 2017

Under Wraps

I mentioned that we were in a hiatus of calm when I returned from my blogging break, but that it would not last.  The reason for this is because we are preparing to move again - yes, I know that it is only a little over a year since our last move, but we haven't been happy here and an opportunity presented itself for a fresh start in a new place.  Not the place that I would really like to be (back in the UK), but a place offering new adventures.
Packing is starting slowly as we transform our current living space into something resembling a warehouse full of boxes.  We are trying to be low-key and not get stressed about this process.  We thought that we had given ourselves plenty of time before moving day, but that day is now only two weeks away.  
At the moment, I'm keeping our destination 'under wraps', though I know that a few of you already know.  I'm giving you a bit of a clue with this picture - and it will involve another road trip in this vast country - watch this space!

Friday 14 July 2017

Niagara Falls

No visit to the Niagara Region would be complete without a trip to Niagara Falls, which is a place that we have often visited in the past.  We were last there when I attended a conference in 2014, so it had been a while.  On this occasion, our first view of the mighty Niagara River was from high above where we parked our car.

We used the Falls' Incline Railway to save our legs, as it was an extremely hot and humid afternoon.  This glides down and drops visitors close to the observation points. 
The first view of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls is at street level.  I remember many years ago when I had my first sighting of them and I was slightly underwhelmed because there is no sense of perspective when viewed from this level.
 Below is a photo of the American Falls.  Niagara Falls form part of the Canada-US Border.
A view looking downstream towards the Rainbow Bridge, which connects the cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario on the Canadian side to Niagara Falls, New York on the United States' side.
 I photo-bombed this picture, as Mr Candytuft seemed more interested in the view!
 Down in the rapids at the base of the Falls was one of the newer tourist boats.  Now that is the best way to get a perspective of the mighty Niagara River!
 The boats approach the foot of the Falls.  At this point, Mr Candytuft suggested that we should go for a boat ride.  We have done this a few times in the past, but it was some years since our last trip.
A long walk took us to the boats and we lined up with hundreds of tourists with our red raincoats.  The problem with these is that they are similar to wearing a plastic bag, so you end up feeling as wet on the inside as you do on the outside.  We both waited until we got closer to the action before donning our raingear!
Looking across to the American Falls (above) and to the tourist boats from the US side.  The old, world-famous Maid-of-the-Mist tour boat is the white one in the background, which no longer sails from the Canadian side. 
Sailing up-river, we get a commentary informing us about the history of the Falls, which used to be 11 kilometres further downstream.  The Falls are 53.6 Metres (176 feet) high and carry 150,000 gallons of water per second.  
Approaching the action, it is necessary to don our raincoats, as the spray starts to come over the boat.  The wind picks up and the only way that I can show my face for a photo is by holding my hair back.
We pass the American Falls, which are actually two waterfalls.  Our boat is the Hornblower, which has a tiered top deck to maximise viewing for the passengers.
And onto the Horseshoe Falls, so named for their world-famous shape.  It is impossible to get a shot of them directly, as there is just too much water coming down on the boat.  Now we have a true perspective of the force and noise of the water, as well as a thorough soaking with cold water, which was very refreshing after the heat and humidity of the day.  It is possible to be a tourist and walk near the Falls, but nothing compares with the thrill and the experience of that boat trip.  The perfect ending to our visit.

Saturday 8 July 2017

Cobourg Ecology Garden

A visit to Cobourg would not be complete without a visit to the Ecology Garden.  

A walk through the Heritage District takes us to the waterfront boardwalk.

A sailboat on the horizon is just about visible through the mist, like a ghost ship.

Following the boardwalk, we arrive at the Cobourg Ecology Garden.  

A sunhat was essential on this afternoon of Canada Day, as the sun was high in the sky and there was a lot of glare (also, high UV).

Pretty open flowers are a favourite of bees - these are some sort of daisy - smaller than a Marguerite - they could have been chamomile (I'm not sure).  Anyway, these are in the bee garden.

The scent of a rose is the smell of summer.

A fence with a welcome sign marks the entrance.

Lots of pink spirea which seemed to attract hoverflies and bees.

A sign details the history of the garden which was laid out in the spring of 1996 as a natural garden and a haven for wildlife.

This friendly American Robin had his eye on the birdbath and I had the camera on him.  My patience was rewarded.

The Water Garden.

My Robin on the edge of the birdbath.

Ah, that's better...a quick paddle and then lots of splashing as he cools off.

A shady spot in the centre of the garden.

We took advantage of this and had a seat in the shade for a few minutes.  The temperature difference between the garden and the boardwalk was huge.  Plants and trees make such a huge difference to our environment, not only providing shade, but also improving the quality of our air.


Of all the places that I've visited in Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake is my absolute favourite.  Given the choice of destination for a day trip, this was the obvious option, even more so since it is three years since our last visit.  

We set off early yesterday morning to make the most of the day, which we certainly did, as we ended up being out for eleven hours! Located in southern Ontario, the town is situated at the point where Lake Ontario meets the mighty Niagara River.  On the opposite side of the river is Youngstown, New York, United States.

Settled around 1781, the town was first known as Butlersburg and later renamed West Niagara.  It was a British military base and a haven for United Empire Loyalists fleeing the United States in the aftermath of the American Revolution.  It was razed to the ground by American soldiers in the War of 1812, then rebuilt by its citizens after the war, with the residential quarter of Queen Street as we see it today.  The town's present name was adopted in 1880.

Everywhere you look in Niagara-on-the-Lake, you see stunning gardens and containers.

There is a strong link in this town to George Bernard Shaw through the annual Shaw Festival, which started in the 1960s to stimulate interest in his work and to advance the arts in Canada.  His statue stands adjacent to Queen Street and each spring/summer, his plays are performed at the Royal George Theatre.

There are many interesting places to browse around including my favourite, Just Christmas.  The pavement was busy with tourists and I was trying to get a photo to share when this couple (and their dog!) decided to photo-bomb my picture.  They did offer to give us their name and address so that we could send the photo to them...

Carriage-rides are offered to the tourists.  The horse seems to have some sort of ear protectors, which I imagine, are to prevent sunburn.

The Prince of Wales Hotel stands at the far end of Queen Street.  150 signs are everywhere at the moment, marking Canada's sesquicentennial, which I wrote about in my last post.

This was not the end of our adventure, but I'm going to write about the rest of the day in a separate post.  I've also noticed that I didn't finish posting about Cobourg's Ecology Garden, so I will do that soon too.

Saturday 1 July 2017

Canada Day ~ 150

Today is Canada Day, a time of national celebration, but this year the celebrations are even bigger as it marks Canada's sesquicentennial ~ it is one hundred and fifty years since four provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) became the new Dominion of Canada on 1st July 1867.

We decided to mark the occasion with a trip out and chose Cobourg as our destination.  Cobourg is located 95 kilometres east of Toronto, in Northumberland County.  We arrived late morning to find a cold, misty day, but everywhere we looked we saw a sea of red and white - the colours of the Canadian flag.  Crowds of people lined the main street where a parade was to take place and by the time we had walked along its length, stopping for refreshment along the way, the sky was clearing and the sun came out as we reached the harbour.  (I didn't take photos of the crowds because there was nothing happening at that stage and the sun wasn't out!)

 It is a few years since our last visit and today, the place was absolutely packed.  We saw many of the boats in the marina flying the Maple Leaf (officially the national flag, but often referred to as this).

Over on the beach there was this strange fog in the air, caused by the temperature difference between the hotter air temperature and the colder water - this is known as inversion fog.

The lighthouse marks the harbour entrance.  I have vivid memories of entering this harbour a few years ago by boat - we were out on the lake in thick fog and only found the harbour entrance because I heard the gulls roosting on the wall.  It looked a lot different today.

Closer to the beach and we saw the fog drifting inland.  The lifeguard station is on the right of the photo.

Over on the pier there was the midway (fair) which we did walk through, but didn't linger as it was extremely noisy!

On the opposite side of the harbour, a boat at anchor.

We spotted a family of ducklings - there were nine in total, but they moved so fast that I had difficulty capturing a photo of them - their proud mother was keeping a close eye on them as they dabbled in the shallows.

It was definitely more peaceful on this side of the habour and we enjoyed a seat on a bench in some shade before heading back.  Our visit included the Ecology Garden, which I will write about in a separate post.