This is connected to my tumblr blog where I will be sharing news and updates on the Educate Me Project, Sashaland Productions, songs I want to sing, and general rambling thoughts as 1positivekat in this crazy world. Follow along if you want to and please share comments if inspired to. :)

@ positive kat

random thoughts from @positivekat aka the host of @greenestcitywalks  - greenestcitywalkingtours.ca  

Footie fun and fun on foot

Day 12 - Sept 19 2014

We got a slow start getting out of our room because we had packed up all the laundry into my backpack to haul to a laundromat, before heading into the city center for the days adventure. Went to the breakfast buffet (the hotel restaurant almost empty) to fill up and energize.

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Once we dropped off our laundry we hopped on the double decker bus for our ride into town. We had been informed that purple and green buses were more expensive than the blue ones, so followed the advice and hopped on the Magic Bus - perfect! :)

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The buses compete for business here, so there are different options, and the appeal for locals with the green bus is likely that they have wifi. We just wanted to watch the scenery so the cheaper option was just fine for us, and there were plenty of these buses running to the area we were staying making them a very convenient option to get around.

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Sasha captured the views along the way and included her feet in all of them.

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A short walk from where we got off the bus we stumbled upon a market,

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but kept on going, eager to reach our main destination for the day: The National Football Museum!

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A treasure trove of historical & contemporary info on players from around the world and the evolution of the international game;

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an abundance of bumf and collector items;

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interesting to learn when players first started playing for clubs they earned ‘boot money’ of a few pounds a week, now they likely earn that with each kick;

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the range of outfits and equipment over the years was fascinating;

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and they had a bunch of really interactive exhibits and things to play, like this virtual footie match. Sasha is a blur as she just scored and was somewhat enthusiastic about it.

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This was where she wanted to be the whole time. The tank was full of blue fish and red fish, and she enjoyed making the fish play against each other by jumping from side to side and gesturing wildly, which made the fish ‘play’ up and down the field.

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When we arrived in the museum this was not laid out on the floor, but as we were making our way back to the exit I happened to look down from above and saw this below. The guys standing beside me was actually the artist (below adjusting his work) so I learned that he had been commissioned to host workshops where the public selected the cards that would be used, and he compiled them all into this collage. Loved this project blending sport, art, and community involvement!

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Play time in the footie themed park outside before we wandered around town some more.

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Found another market square!

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Play time at Picadilly Park which is next to the major bus/tram loop, has a giant wheel (not quite as big as the London Eye), a unique play area, loads of pigeons, and also home to a Palestinian solidarity camp out setting up on the field.

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On the bus back to the neighbourhood we were staying in, just happened to find another Britannia reminder. Kind of a common theme in England, lol.

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We picked up our laundry and I convinced Mark it was ok that we paid £20 for 2 loads as it meant we didn’t have to do the laundry, hanging out in the laundromat for a few hours, and folding all the laundry, and instead we got to enjoy the day. ;)

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This end of our neighbourhood had lots of pubs, fried chicken places, pizza joints, charcoal pits and other good foods for absorbing late night binge drinking - oh the college days, heheh. Nice to see Canadian cuisine represented.

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When we found a sushi place Sasha was craving a taste from home (she never says no to sushi in Vancouver) but it wasn’t open yet, so we then wandered the side streets to entertain ourselves.

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After eating enough to get over the hunger, she began playing “Chopped” and making concoctions with the various things we ordered. This was before our tabletop became a chefs mess station.

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Found a British version of AFV to veg out and giggle to when we got back to the hotel, and called it a day. A very good day indeed!

Posted 173 weeks ago

Moving on to Manchester

Day 11 - Sept 18 2014

After a couple of sleeps in London, we were on our way to the train for a ride to Manchester. We would return to London for more fun with friends after traveling our way north to Scotland and back again over the next couple of weeks.

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We saw Richard Branson on the London Bridge the day before, and now we were helping his Virgin empire by riding on one of their trains. We were almost late for the train, but arrived just in time to board. First high speed train ride for me & Sasha!

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So, where do we go now? Well, we found an information desk for a map and directions, then made our way to the cab line up to catch a ride to our hotel.

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The only hotel we stayed in for the whole trip was this quaint Best Western. The best thing about this place was the service, especially the woman who worked the front desk - she was dynamo.

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This was where we’d sleep for 3 nights in Manchester. We dropped our bags and relaxed a bit before feeling the need to wander and find food. We thought we had a problem with the toilet as it kept running, and the tank was in the wall, so not one of those things you could just lift the lid and rattle the thing to make the water stop like we can at home. While we went exploring the desk clerk said she would have someone take a look at that for us.

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We went for an exploration walk of the area.  Found plenty of things to see! Stumbled upon a street market and were lured in the sounds of live music:

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found out we were near the end of the Curry Mile, a long stretch of road loaded with restaurant options and multitude of shops and markets;

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we were also within a university area, and an old working class neighbourhood, so there was a diverse range of food choices and cool things to stumble upon. We found co-operatives;

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and eco building projects;

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and wrapped up the journey with food and drink at the Friendship Inn.

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Cheers to being in Manchester and enjoying the day!

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We thought we were still having a problem with the toilet in our first room when we got back, so for one night we were transferred to another room. Then we felt cursed when we couldn’t seem to flush the toilet in this washroom either! 

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Our friendly desk clerk came up to see what the problem was and then she said we just had to crank a lot harder on the handle to make it work. Apparently Canadian toilets flush a whole lot easier, as I felt like the force required would break our toilet handles at home. How embarrassing to be the guests who don’t know how to work a toilet. lol!

I’m sure our toilet drama gave the staff a big laugh when it all was due to us not holding the first handle long enough, and not flushing hard enough with the second. They should come with instructions, or maybe we need a toilet older than Canada? Keep up the search Mark. ;)

Ready to get some sleep for a full day of Manchester adventure the next day.

Posted 174 weeks ago

Exploring the South Bank and the City

Day 10 - Sept 17 2014

Woke up to the sounds of a family getting ready for their day, and feeling happy that we were on our own time without hustle for today. We took in a lot of sights this day, and this post covers some of my fave highlights.

When I awoke I took a peek out the window and this was the view when I looked out back.

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And this was the view out front.

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Sasha got some play time with Thomas and Alice before he had to go to school.

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The girls had more play time, and we had some leisurely breakfast time while waiting for Diane to get back. (After our visit they planned to do some kitchen renos, so this is a wall that is no longer.)

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Just thought this special teddy was super cute.

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While we were waiting for the train the girls carried on with their imagination time.

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Came out of Waterloo station to see bikes. So many bikes!

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A few blocks away and then we were down by the River Thames, and ready to walk our way along the south bank.

Plenty of tourist sights along this path, starting with seeing Big Ben and the Parliament buildings across the river.

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While standing under the Eye of London. Since we didn’t feel like being trapped in a pod for a long while, even one with a view, we opted not to pay for that experience.

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One of many street performers along the bank.

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Good use for a double decker bus. ;)

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We had lunch at a great little pizza place then carried on with our wandering.

I was surprised to find a small beach, and wonder if anyone ever splashed along the rivers edge here.

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This day the beach was being used to share a message from the Beach Party.

This made me think of my co-op family - cheers!

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If I ever make it back to London this is a building I’d actually love to see inside. I love theaters, and this one has a history like none other.

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One of my fave pics from our whole trip.  :)

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I also love bridges, and how fun to see this legendary bridge up close!

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And closer.

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And officially in the middle. I found myself marveling for a moment that I was standing on the London Bridge!

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Across the bridge is the Tower of London, which I didn’t really know anything about before this moment. On the grass was a mass of volunteers installing ceramic poppies all around the building.

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They were preparing for Remembrance Day.

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Pretty impressive number of poppies, around all sides of the building. The installation marked one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War, with each of the 888,246 ceramic poppies  representing a British military fatality during the war.

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From here, Diane had to go pick up Thomas, but we wanted to carry on with seeing the sites, so we made our way up the city streets on the north side of the river. Checked out an old church, some monuments, and simply wandered the streets a while.

This building is being draped in something (meshy screen fabric of some sort?) because it has a major design flaw: the curve of the glass, and the angle at which the sun hits it during the day, have basically turned the building into a giant magnifying glass that concentrates the suns beams onto the street below, and has actually melted bike seats and other things. The things you can’t plan for, right?

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By the time we had made it as far as St. Paul’s Cathedral, the open time for the public had ended, so this is another place we’ll check out on the inside if we make it back to London.

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View from the north side of the river.

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If you haven’t noticed in the pics so far, there are a lot of cranes in this town!

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After wandering a long while, we finally found a nice old pub off a pedestrian lane in the business district. Relaxed our tired feet, had a drink and snack, and tried something new - some small kind of fish, battered and deep fried, how can you go wrong?

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Once we had rejuvenated we began our walk to find a tube station with a train that would get us back to our friends home for dinner.

Walked past many pubs with crowds just as big outside as in. Seems very popular to go for a pint after work here.

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When we finally made it onto the tube it was packed and hot. I commented on the insanity of rush hour transit and a guy sitting in front of us (standing sardines with the rest of the crowd) told us it was because of the Chelsea game that things were extra tight. Turned out we were getting off with the crowd, and we basically let the flow of people carry us out to the street. Next thing we know, we are at the Britannia gate of Chelsea stadium.

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The streets were full of people and all roads blocked to cars. Fascinating how neighbourhoods shut down for football!

We had become disoriented with no clue to to find our way from here, and when we asked these nice officers if they new the neighbourhood well enough to help us find our street, one of them recommended we use our phones to look it up. Would if we could buddy. Thankfully, the other one pulled out his smart phone and pointed us in the right direction.

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I can’t seem to get away from Britannia here at all, lol.

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Finally, we made it back to the house.

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So much to see in one day! We had a lovely time on this whirlwind around town, and I totally loved the blend of really old, and really new everywhere we looked. Glad we would have more days to explore London soon, and looking forward to seeing more with Diane as our guide. :)

The next day we depart for a while for more UK adventure time!

Posted 174 weeks ago

First Atlantic crossing!

Day 9 - Sept 16 2014

We had to wake up at 5 am to get ourselves to the airport. With only 2 hours sleep in the past 2 days I was rather sluggish, but adrenaline kicked in with our effort to get out on time. Once we were ready we called a taxi and were on our way! Always so hard to say “Bye Oma!”, but we’re ready for our European adventure to begin - so here we go!

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We had no problems with timing or any other real airport drama, and before long we were ½ way over the Atlantic! I was beyond excited to be heading somewhere outside of Canada and the US for my first time, and couldn’t wait to land!

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As we made our way through customs Mark made the agent laugh when she asked what we were doing in the UK, and he replied he was “looking for a toilet that was older than Canada.” :D

We found the Tube station and then we were on the Picadilly Line to the family home of my friends Diane & Ben.

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Then we waited for the bus.

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Found out once we were on the bus that we had come out the wrong end of the tube station, so our bus ride was a bit longer, but we just took in the sights along the way.

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Then we walked a few blocks  til we arrived safe and sound - and in London! Yay!

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Since it was late (time change flying east always makes me feel robbed of time) and we were knackered from the day of travel, we stayed up only a short while for a chat with Ben who welcomed us (as the rest of the family was already asleep), before we all settled in for a good nights rest.

Posted 174 weeks ago

Oma time!

Day 9 - Sept 15 2014

Our last full day in Toronto it was time to pack up and leave our near-the-beach house. (and farewell neighbourhood kitty that liked to hang out front)

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It was the perfect oasis space to unwind, get into vacation mode, transit around for adventure time, and experience the new vibe of an old familiar ‘hood.

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We rode the Queen St streetcar one more time, way across the city, to near the end of the line at Long Branch. (note the nice new suitcase by Mark that was our score at Honest Ed’s)

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Once we arrived we simply enjoyed a lazy day hanging out with Oma to gather our energy for our flight the next day (especially me. 2 hours of sleep and a hangover made this day feel looooong. lol. worth it Ro!). Vegging out to tv, playing games and relaxing.

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I didn’t know until we got back to Vancouver, and I downloaded all the pics & vids from our journey onto my computer at home (over 8000 pics & vids!), that Sasha had kept herself occupied for a long while playing with our tablet and creating videos in Oma’s bedroom. This was one of the series of clips she filmed. Super cute! :)

Went to sleep feeling grateful for a fantastic week in Toronto showing Sasha some fun places I enjoyed when I was her age, having a good time with Mark, my mom, and the friends I was able to see (I can never see everyone I want to when I visit Ontario!), and ready to wake up for a big travel day beginning early in the morning.

Posted 174 weeks ago

Island time & late night wine

Day 7 - Sept 14 2014

This was the day I had looked forward to the most - taking Sasha to Center Island with my mom! Thankfully it was a lovely sunny day. :)

We met at the ferry terminal, which has been renamed in honour of Jack Layton and where we enjoyed reflecting on his legacy at the “Jack’s got your back. Stronger Together: The Layton Memorial”   A great memorial statue of a leader who passed too soon.

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Sasha has grown up taking ferries: the small ones in false creek; the various sizes that service the gulf islands, and the big ferries to Vancouver island.

These were the ferries that got me excited when I was her age.

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My mom, and Sasha’s Oma. <3

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The Harbour Front.

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I have so many memories from the Toronto Islands, between childhood fun with mom & friends at Centreville and other family friendly places; spending a week with my grade 6 class living on the island during a snowy winter; party times as a young adult. Always loved this island getaway space just a short ferry ride away from the city.

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Somebody, please walk on the grass! lol

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Peaceful pond by Centerville

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And Centerville has rides to enjoy!

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Love this pic of Sasha and Oma! :D

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While visiting the small farm, Sasha enjoyed herding geese…

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…all the way to the pond.

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After walking around a bunch we checked out to the tip of the southern pier, before crossing back to the ferry and back to the city.

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Wandered the harbour front to find something for dinner, and landed in a brew pub, of course.  - “The body is 60% water, so it may as well be beer.”

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I ordered the tasty brown ale that came in the “Britannia” glass. (First of many times I would be reminded of the Britannia community where I love to work.)

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We got to ride the new Rocket streetcar up Spadina. Still so new they have staff standing by the machines inside to help people figure them out, before rolling them out all over the city in the year to come.

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We had a long wait for our Queen St car to return to our place, and by the time we got back it was almost time for Sasha to go to bed.
After healing her get ready I left to have a fun visit with my MDB Rosanna who was living close by. We were having so much fun I lost track of time, and after 3am we were still drinking wine and even dancing!

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Walking along on my way back to our place I had a big laugh when I came across this:

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Well, I arrived alive just before 5, and then managed to get a couple of hours sleep before we had to get up and pack in the morning.

A long day totally full of fabulous fun! :)

Posted 174 weeks ago

Beach Day

Day 6 - Sept 13 2014

My intention had been for us to ride the Go Train out to Burlington to visit some family for the day, but I ended up having a bad head day and needed to chill. A walk through the neighbourhood green spaces, and along the boardwalk at the beach were good for the souls that day. :)

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What you can’t see along the tree line (I didn’t manage to get any pictures where they show up clearly) are hundreds of Monarch butterflies that were migrating all along the lake shore, and they were all around us. Amazing and lucky chance to be there at that time; I would never have thought to plan seeing that!


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Some days you just need to hang out by a lake and enjoy the small details in the world around you, and today was one of those days I’ll always remember.

Posted 174 weeks ago

Castle in the City

Day 5 - Sept 12 2014

Friends since we were 13, Angela has been a bestie in my life longer than anyone, and she can make me laugh til I cry anytime, anywhere. Add bestie Allison to the mix and you have comedic gold. Love these ladies and was thrilled they could make it to the city (from ‘burbs to the east and west) to have lunch with us!

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We went to the Sunset Grill which was a regular place for my mom and I to eat way back when, and it is still the best place for good quality at fair price breakfast/brunch/lunch type food in the Beaches area.

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After good times over lunch we made our way to Casa Loma, the castle in the heart of the city, and another place I enjoyed visiting when I was a kid.

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You can explore almost the entire castle which is great, and a few ‘secret’ passages can be taken as short cuts. I remember that there were a few other secret passages we found exploring once upon a time, but I couldn’t find them this time. Still lots of ornate rooms full of fancy stuff to explore, like fancy old rain showers.

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Room with a view.

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There is a large collection of war memorabilia, which opened conversations about war we would investigate further in England and Germany over the weeks to come.

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Family selfie in the Great Room.

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Mark loves libraries

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The castle was taken over for preparation for a wedding before closing time, so we also got to watch a huge staff of people transform the space into a wonderland for the bride and groom. These photographers were not snapping pics of us, but the bride by a statue beside us.

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There is this dark, dank tunnel that leads to the stables, garage and gardening shed, and it is full of pics from the depression era in Toronto when tunnels likely came in handy for smugglers.

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We left when the castle closed and made our way to Bloor St in search of dinner on the way to our next destination.

Along the way I saw a few of my fave hangouts in the college age years:

The Madison was where I had my big farewell party before moving to BC.

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Fun times at the Brunny are all a little blurry in my memory.

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Watched a whole lot of live music at Lee’s Palace.

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Finally we arrived. Not originally on our to-do list on this trip, but Mark’s suitcase broke twice en ruote to the Beaches - one of the wheels broke somewhere between Vancouver and Toronto in baggage, and then the handle broke getting off the streetcar - so I figured it would be a good place to find a new one that would at least get us through the next 5 weeks of travel. I had heard that Honest Ed’s was closing soon, and not that I had a whole lot of love for the place (mom brought me there shopping now and then, and I always loved the cheesy signs lit up around the outside), it is old school discount shopping worth checking out when you need a cheap suitcase at the last minute.

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At one point it was a world record holder for most lights on a building, surpassing any in Las Vegas. 

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As a matter of fact, yes it was! :)

Posted 174 weeks ago

Rock ‘n Roll Science

Day 4 - Sept 11 2014

One of the best places to go when I was kid was the Ontario Science Centre. It is huge and always full of so many exhibits to explore it is hard to fit it all in one day, and I was keen to share this place with Sasha to see how she liked it. Best part was that the feature exhibit was “The Science of Rock ‘n Roll” - perfect!

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We started in the play area and for some reason, Sasha decided the place she wanted to spend a bunch of time in the fake grocery store shopping and checking things out. It was like being in a mini loblaws since all the fake foods, etc on the shelves had fake no name/blue label/presidents choice packaging. Surprise - the exhibit was courtesy of loblaws. How scientific.

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Since I do small shops almost daily (nice thing about working and living in communities that offer lots of local produce and stuff is advantage of easily finding unpackaged freshness for dinner) the last thing I wanted to be doing - in a place with sooooo much to explore - was pretend to shop.

So I took pictures of my feet in funny mirrors.

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We finally got her out of shopping mode and explored our way through the exhibits and scientific experiments that spans several floors.

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Something I love about science museums is they all have a focus on the scientific changes occurring around the world, how humans have made mistakes, and how we can change things for the better.

Like this column of garbage representing a tall core taken from a landfill, then plastered in some way. We can cover it up, but the majority of the dump waste will never go anywhere. There is no “away”. So we can reduce the waste we create all along our human supply chain, and use the methane from the landfills we already have for energy. This and more, always worth reflecting on.

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One exhibit was on our oceans with this cool glowing globe.

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I wanted to spend more time in the human body exhibit where I found this display of slices of a human quite fascinating. Hard not to feel like we’re all just deli meat when you see something like this.

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Before we knew it closing time was fast approaching; time for the feature exhibit!

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Hands on music making, recording booths, and these interactive tables that made it fun to play with melodies, and more. This exhibit really showcased how math & science can enhance creativity and musicality, as well as how music can help with math concepts. Also, just a lot of fun to faff around with instruments, and reflect on many decades of musical influence. Lessons worth sharing. :)

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Mark reliving the days he played bass in a punk band.

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This science centre was a hit for our whole family, and with over 4 hours we still didn’t see it all.

Easily reached by door-to-door transit service (pretty much) with a quick bus-subway-bus combo. Remains a must visit place for families that like hands on exploration time together. :)

Posted 175 weeks ago

On top of T.O.

Day 3 - Sept 10 2014

On our second Toronto adventure day I started off with a long beach stroll and leisurely lunch with my soul sista Sue. A little dose of quality time goes a long way with this lovely lady! :)

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Mark and Sasha had a lazy morning at home, and we reconnected for our afternoon field trip time - off to the CN Tower!

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The outings during our Toronto stay were all about sharing things I loved about growing up in Toronto with Sasha, while she was at the perfect age to experience them - 8 is great! I loved the CN Tower field trips when I was a kid, and have memories into adulthood including walking up all the stairs to raise funds (for something) and visiting here with Che when he was around the same age.
It’s one of those places that is totally worth it at least once. Even when the view is fairly limited by a grey rainy day. So up we go!

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On the outside deck near the top.

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Fun in the gale force winds.

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None of my pictures capture what it feels like to be so high, or the spans of the view even in the clouds, but here ya go anyway for a teaser.

Looking to the north.

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Looking to the south at the islands. Very keen for our adventure day with Oma visiting Center Island later in the week. The islands are packed with memories for me, and always a nice getaway with something for everyone.

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To the east.

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To the west.

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And down through the glass floor!

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So many shiny new buildings down there.

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Along with the views, the tower has exhibitions and such at the top and at the base. We watched a film they were featuring on “The Rocket” which is the fancy new streetcar being rolled out over the next year around the city. I’m a history geek so loved that the film showed the evolution of the streetcars in Toronto, and I still love the ones I was riding in the 70/80′s the best for those super cushy seats.

Once back down on the ground we wandered around town, taking in the big city scene. Of course I took pics of waste stations along the way.

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A part of the city that has changed a whole bunch since I grew up here - Dundas Square.

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I don’t think they have quite gotten the advertising big enough or high enough, right?

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Finally found a place for dinner and drinks! We had bad timing beginning our restaurant search at the peak of busy time for the crowds dining before heading to the theatre. We had to wait a while, but they had some cool historical stuff to look at (which had been excavated from under the building recently), and all the working parts of the brew house to view, so we kept ourselves occupied.

As it is a brew pub, and there was beer to sample, we were alright in the end. ;)

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The food here was really good, and we acquired a couple of sampler glasses for the home collection for tasting sessions of Mark’s brews.

We got all warm and cozy and full, then headed back out into the drizzle to catch our ride home to the Beaches on the handy dandy Queen St streetcar, still smiling. Cheers to good days all around. :)

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Posted 175 weeks ago