Friday, July 22, 2016

Remembering Turkey

A photo I took of a small hotel in the neighborhood where we stayed in Istanbul.

Recent events in Turkey have made me remember the five days that I spent there a few years ago. I was on my way back from Bangladesh and some fellow teachers and I decided to stop in Istanbul to see the sights.

I was sorry to hear about the recent terrorist attack on Ataturk Airport in Istanbul as well as the disruption caused by the coup attempt last week. This is not the first time I have been aware of trouble in Turkey. When we were planning our "stop over" in Istanbul, a few weeks before our date of arrival there were large demonstrations in the city that met with government forces determined to supress them. There was significant news coverage and the scenes we were seeing did not look good. However, our tickets and accommodations were booked so we decided to continue with our travel plans (hoping we wouldn't be confined to our hotel rooms!).

When we arrived things had calmed down and we felt free and save to explore the beautiful city. After living in the crowded and less developed city of Dhaka for a year, we were thrilled to be in a calm, well organized city with nice green spaces, outdoor cafes and civilized traffic with no unnecessary honking of horns! Our hotel was near the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia .... prime tourist attractions.

Kristina and I in the Blue Mosque

Liz and Kristina outside the Grand Bazaar

As we spent our days strolling the streets, exploring the Grand Bazaar and other sights, we had the opportunity to ask some of the locals what all the  recent unrest was about  and what they thought of it. The gist of the trouble was that the government was attempting to restrict some of the freedoms that the people of Turkey presently have and impose a more Islamic style culture on its citizens. Those we spoke to were opposed to having their freedom limited and all wished to have a secular form of government.

Locals outside an ice cream shop near Taksim Square

The people we met in Istanbul were friendly and kind and I hope that the situation in their country will stabilize. Turkey seemed like a place were all faiths and cultures could live together respecting each other's religion and customs. I will be watching the news very closely in the coming months!

Chatting with a local

My travel buddy Leckie makes a new friend

The guys from The Pudding Shop
The Pudding Shop (as you can see) sells more than pudding. It was a restaurant, started in the late 50's, that became a meeting place for "adventurers" traveling to Asia ..... along the "Freak Road" as they called it. They travelled in old cars and camper vans and often left messages on the bulletin board or picked up travellers at the Pudding Shop. Apparently it was quite the meeting place and information center. (You can "Google" it for more info)

You can also read more info about the situation in Turkey by reading Nahlah  Ayed's CBC article:

Saturday, July 9, 2016

On the High Seas!

The waves were choppy, and dark clouds loomed above, but three brave souls and their captain set out upon the Bay of Fundy seeking adventure!.......

Actually we booked a 2 hour kayaking tour with Red Rock Adventures in St. Martins. The weather was, in fact, "iffy" but we managed to dodge the showers and enjoyed seeing the magnificent coastline and exploring caves that are not easily accessible by land.

Diane & Nancy

Diane and Nancy in less quiet water!

Beyond the point the waves became a bit choppy so we headed for quieter waters. It's amazing how the conditions and scenery are constantly changing in the Bay of Fundy.

Midway through our adventure we stopped at an isolated beach surrounded by cliffs to enjoy a snack of smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber and cheese and crackers, prepared and served by our delightful "captain", Eric. ...... How civilized!

During our "high tea" on the beach we marveled at our undeveloped surroundings and agreed that we are very fortunate to have such easy access to these places. There was no battling of traffic to get there, ample parking and not another kayaker in sight. We discussed how tourism could be better developed and what effect the Fundy Trail project might have on the area. The consensus was that the influx of money would be great, but we might prefer to be greedy and keep these unpopulated beauties to ourselves!

"Captain Eric" and me exploring a cave

After making it back to land, safe and sound, ....... ahoy! We spy a gift shop! Always time for a little shopping ... we're women after all!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Weekend Avdentures Close to Home

When winter sets in or I'm surrounded by the bleakness of spring, I get the itch to travel far and wide! The summer, however, is a different story. While I don't wish to confine myself to my backyard, there are just so many nice places to enjoy close to home.

This weekend we enjoyed a couple of little road trips that only took a few hours out of the day and got us home in time to do a few chores and enjoy a "cool one" on the back deck.

Breakfast at the Market

A fifteen minute drive and one ferry ride away is a weekly market that features a variety of vendors displaying fresh produce, handcrafted items, ethnic foods and of course breakfast. Paul and Ross were particularly attracted to the "Redneck" vendor selling all kinds of items guaranteed to give you a chuckle!

I liked the vendor selling Indian food and spice boxes. He had
 a couple of dishes that you could try as well as "spice boxes" that included all the spices that you would need to create your own Indian treat (recipes included). I bought two ..... will let you know how it turns out!

Excursion Number Two

Our second "adventure" of the weekend was a trip to see Paul's newly acquired crown land on which he is going to build a camp. Now this is true wilderness pioneering! He's been working hard clearing the land so that he can begin to construct his woodland sanctuary. He did have a little help from an excavator (the operator was none too pleased to be doing this at the height of black fly season) to create a road into where the building will be constructed. At the moment the only structure on the cleared property is an outhouse (a lovely structure that Paul built) with all the luxuries.

The road that \Paul had built going into his property from the road.

All the comforts of home!

Paul and Nilah at the nearby lake.

Paul and Ross checking out the property.

Some of the many logs Paul cut to clear the land.

On our grand tour of the property we discovered some rarely seen Lady's Slippers (a member of the orchid family).

To complete our road trip, we made a stop for lunch on the way home to visit the "Lobster Lady" and had a delicious lobster roll which we ate overlooking the beautiful Bay of Fundy.
A trip to the deep undeveloped forest, lunch on the coast ....... no traffic, no crowds and home by 1:00 o'clock! You can't beat living in the Maritimes!

One of the "lobster ladies". They all wear pink rubber overalls in the lobster shop.

Some Maritime d├ęcor and a view of the Bay of Fundy ... the tide is out!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Cottage Life

What a great kick off to summer we had this weekend! Beautiful weather, a wonderful setting, fabulous food and excellent company ..... it don't get no better! (excuse my grammar Ray)

My friend Diane invited a group of us to her sister's cottage for the night. (Her sister and her husband are international teachers who live in Moscow but spend their summers in Canada. Since they had not yet arrived, the cottage was free.) It was a little "get together" for a group of us who were working in China a few years ago.

It was great to have a few laughs, soak up the sun and enjoy a little taste of cottage life!

You can learn a lot at a cottage ..... like observing tree foliage .... while sipping a "cool one"!

You can relax and cool off with a refreshing swim. (A little too cool for the rest of us, but Ray and Cathy are true cottagers!)

You can have intellectual discussions ...... with food and wine of course!

You can have your friend row you around the lake while you sip a glass of wine!

Paul & Nilah

You can have more wine and some great food for supper, like ribs, Greek salad and "cooler corn". Diane cooked the corn in a cooler by pouring a kettle of hot water over it and letting it sit in a cooler for a few minutes with a tight fitting lid. Too easy! (check out Pintrest!)

You can catch a fish off the dock .... not for supper though, catch and release only!

You can soak up the evening sun and listen to the bullfrogs (as well as someone's dog)

You can enjoy extra company from a few neighbors!

Diane in her new boat!
Thanks Diane for a great time!

Monday, May 30, 2016

In Our Own Back Yards

I am very lucky to live in a community where there is easy access to walking trails (almost) in my own back yard! My favorite one literally winds its way through wooded areas concealed within populated subdivisions. Much of the trail, although bordering on many backyards, seems remarkably secluded.

The trail itself gives me a good one hour walk (30 minutes up, and 30 back), if I start at the beginning which originates at the QPlex (our local recreation center). Sometimes I drive to the "Q" and start there, and sometimes I walk from my house which adds 40 minutes on to my overall hike. I know I leave a "carbon footprint" by driving there, but I really prefer spending more time on the nature trails as opposed to walking on busy roads. There are other nice trails in the area that I can easily "hook" on to if I want to increase my walking time.

The fresh scent of the woods, sound of babbling brooks and lots of "flora and fauna" to look at makes for a very pleasant walking experience. When its windy and cold, the trail is sheltered and when its blistering hot the shade is great. Even in winter it does not disappoint! ..... oh and of course you are most definitely guaranteed a deer sighting on every trip!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Homemade Ricotta

A while ago I was at a friend's house for dinner and she served an appetizer of Ricotta cheese with red pepper jelly, delicious of course. However I was surprised to learn that she had made the cheese herself! I never considered making cheese? She explained how simple it was to make and listed what was needed ..... milk, cream, salt, vinegar or lemon juice and cheese cloth. Huh! Cheesecloth? I always knew what "cheesecloth" was - I just never thought that it was actually used for making cheese!
Anyway, several months later I finally got up the gumption to try it ..... and guess what? It actually turned out!

Ricotta Cheese Recipe (from The

As you can see, the cheese is somewhat "curdy" as it is left to drain in the cheesecloth and colander. I then pressed it in a round dish with a flat bottom. The cheese is quite bland but great when paired with something with a little zip (like red pepper jelly). I found a hot dip recipe that included garlic, lemon and chives. It was very good but a bit crumbly. There are lots of recipes for ricotta cheese in dips, manicotti, lasagne, cheese cakes etc. All you have to do is check Google or You Tube!
Hmmmm .... now that I am a master cheese maker (thanks to You Tube) what new skill will I try next? bee keeping? furniture making? heart surgery?