Thursday, 31 October 2013

Boston - Red Sox and Freedom Trail

Upon the advice of a guy in a liquor store (what better place to get this kind of advice) we went to a local sports bar to watch the 6th game of the World Series. Vito's was an excellent choice. When we got there at 6:30 people were starting to pour in and it was well and truly packed by the time the game started (8:07). It was mostly young people, all Red Sox supporters and loud. There were 6 large TV screens, all tuned to the game. In addition the beer was cheap (George was drinking Dos Equis and Heineken and a pint was $4) and the wings were half price.
Our first order; North End Style, glazed in olive oil and rosemary. We also had Buffalo,
 wow they were hot, and ginger and soy.
Needless to say when the Red Sox won the place went wild. I have a video but its just basically noise, so I'm not going to post it.
We set out this morning to walk some more. We started just north of our B and B and explored some of the river front. Some old commercial buildings converted into businesses and residences. Very upscale. We saw an advertisement for a one bedroom, renting at $9,500 a month.
Cormorants are everywhere.
After a quick coffee at Starbucks we found the red line of the Freedom Trail again and walked another section of it.
The steeple of the Old North Church. This is where the lanterns were lit prior to
Paul Revere's ride to warn of the British troops movements "One if by land,
two if by sea". At the time it was the highest point in the Boston area.

Paul Revere's house, supposedly the oldest house in Boston and the one to the left
the oldest brick house. However we saw a number of buildings claiming to be the
oldest. Either way these two are pretty old.
We walked back down to Feneuil Hall where there was a tent set up selling T-shirts announcing the Red Sox win, a group of "break dancers" entertaining  and a huge crowd of people who had just taken their American citizenship - quite a busy place. We walked through Quincy Marketplace which is a huge, amazingly diverse, food court. Then back to Mike's pastry to pick up dessert for dinner.
This box contains an absolutely delicious Boston Cream Pie slice and
a divine slice of Carrot Cake.
We drove out of Boston in the rain to the hotel that we will leave the car at and pick it up in 2 weeks. We had less than 48 hours in Boston but found it to be a very pleasant and friendly city. We only really thoroughly explored "our neighbourhood" of Little Italy and walked about half of The Freedom Trail. We found the subway to be easy to use but its also an easy city to walk in.
I love the juxtaposition of the old with the new.
There are so many examples.
Statues and sculptures all over the place, including quite a few
taking up bench space.
And just strolling around.
We will come back.
I gather the internet is expensive on a cruise so I probably wont be posting on the blog for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Boston - Fenway Park

We woke today to a dull, dreary, drizzling sky.
Entrance to La Cappella Suites, our B and B.
We planned to walk the Freedom Trail so set out for the Boston Common to start the trail. This took about 20 minutes. We are so used to Toronto, there is no frantic pace here, no rushing in and out of doors or along the sidewalks. There are a lot of young people on the streets as there are a number of Universities and Colleges within a short radius.
Boston Common is a nice green space, close to downtown. It was literally common space, when the
city was first started and farm animals were grazed there by everyone. This was banned after Beacons
Hill became an affluent area and no longer wanted cows in front of the homes.
Marked by these directional plaques and red brick or red painted lines
on the sidewalks and roads.
First place on the trail is the Massachusetts State House. Note the Red Sox banner. 
At this point we had walked quite a bit so stopped for a coffee and to dry off and rest a little. We got chatting to the young woman sitting next to us (University student studying English and Education) and she had tickets to tonight's game (World Series, Game 6, 3 to 2 for the Sox, tonight could be the final). She convinced us we had to go to Fenway Park and feel the tension in the air. Like the State House there were support posters and banners everywhere and we were getting caught up by it all. So, change of plan, we took the subway (the "T") to Fenway Park. Met more people who had tickets (from Oregon, Los Angeles, San Francisco ....) and when we got to the park found that people were lined up in the hope of buying late release, standing room, tickets.
Lined up and hoping.
We decided to take a tour. Chris and Teri had done and recommended it. We were told that the next tour might be a little longer than most because there were some sound checks going on. Well the sound checks were for the Dropkick Murphys who were doing some opening songs and the national anthem, so we got a mini concert. Hope the video below works:

The tour was excellent. I am not particularly interested in baseball but enjoyed the history of the place and also all the preparations going on and the excitement in the air.
This logo had just recently been cut into the field and was being groomed. They were drying the field
with leaf blowers as it had finally stopped raining.
Well after the walking and stair climbing we were pooped so took the T to the station closest to home and walked up Hanover to Mikes.

I had an espresso cannelloni and George had a chocolate one.
They have a crunchy outside and are stuffed with a ricotta cream
We are just resting at home now and then setting out to find a sports bar to watch the game. Should be fun.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Boston - arrival

We stayed overnight at Mum and Dads last night ( Fort Erie) and left by 7:30 this morning. The Peace Bridge was no trouble and in a short time we were on I 90 and heading East. Upper New York State was rolling farmlands glistening with the overnight frost that did not burn off until about 10am. We crossed the Erie Barge Canal a number of times and thought about how much fun it would be to traverse it in a sailboat as some of our sailing friends have done. We also crossed the Hudson River which the canal enters and boats then make their way down to New York. As we drove further east and into Massachusetts it got more wooded and higher hills. Most of the trees have lost their leaves but what is left are lovely deep copper colours and the occasional yellow of silver birch. I tried to take pictures from the car but the quality wasn't great so I am not going to post them.
We were in Boston by about 4pm and relied on our newly downloaded GPS App (on the tablet) to guide us in to our Bed and Breakfast and Alison (the voice we chose, slightly British, clipped) did a great job. We came into town on I 93 and then went underground through the tunnel that goes right under downtown Boston. Until completed it was known as "the Big Dig" and it is quite amazing how it helps the flow of traffic in what could be a very congested city with its narrow streets, laid out in no logical pattern. The highway took us under downtown and across the bridge pictured below and then we doubled back across another bridge to get back across the river to La Capella Suites.
Looks like a couple of huge sculptures but its the ends of a striking bridge
across the Charles River.
We also passed the Boston Bruins Gardens. The Bed and Breakfast that we found on the internet turned out to be lovely and in a great location. We are a block from the river in Little Italy. Although we had to walk up 4 flights of stairs we have a nice room with a balcony and a kitchen that we share with one other room.
The balcony, looking into the room
Shared kitchen
We are only here for a short time so relying heavily on the guidebooks for suggestions. We ate at Pizzeria Regina just a few blocks away and it lived up to what the books said. Small, noisy, great thin crust pizza for a reasonable price.
Ours had all the traditional toppings: sauce, cheese, green peppers, mushrooms, onions and anchovies.
They guaranteed 3lbs of toppings and I believe it!
All the guidebooks also mention Mike's Pastry shop
But we were too full so will have to indulge tomorrow.
On a final note the 6th game of the World series is being held here, at Fenway Park, tomorrow. We anticipate it will be a crazy evening and plan on going to a local sports bar to watch with the Boston fans.
Even Paul Revere is getting in the mood.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Long Point - signs of fall

After Thanksgiving, Long Point really empties out. We begin to get a taste of the isolation that winter brings down here. At night the coyotes howl as they move closer to the cottages when there are fewer people around. Turkey vultures and Canada Geese are regulars on the beach chased away when someone walks a dog. There was even a Bald Eagle surveying the lake from the beach one morning.
We do different things in the fall too. The sun sets into the lake, starting early October and, if its a nice evening, George and I drag a couple of chairs out onto the beach, to watch. Sometimes there is a glass of wine and a beer involved. Sometimes there is a blanket too as it gets quite cold as soon as the sun dips but some of the best cloud colours come after the sun has gone down.

The beach grass looks red in the setting sun

When we have visitors we tend to take them to the Bird Studies Canada banding station. I enjoy it whenever we go and am quite amazed by the confidence of the volunteers, often University students studying ornithology and birders from other countries, when they handle the birds.
I think this was a yellow throated warbler and you can see how small it was,
being held in the bander's fingers.
We, like everyone else with a garden, have a ton of fall gardening chores but its been a wonderful, warm, late fall so there's no hardship in it. The tomatoes, peppers, chard and beans all produced until the second week in October and then got ripped out and composted. I bought the Thai peppers and Jalapeno peppers inside in pots to give them some more growing time. The one big vegetable garden failure was the brussel sprouts. They grew big leaves but not a single sprout and then something started eating the leaves in October. I wont try them again.
Its lovely to see the trees that we have planted, thrive, and prepare for winter. The sumac that we planted this spring all did well and went a beautiful red colour. The High Bush Cranberry has berries ready for the cedar waxwings to eat next spring. The two oak trees, one a black oak and one a red oak, turn different colours.

Every time we take a drive off "The Point" we are struck by the huge number of pumpkins that are grown in Norfolk County. We must supply the whole of North America for Halloween.
They are rolled into rows and then a tractor pulls a wagon between the rows, workers throw
the pumpkins up to others on the wagon, who pack them into the huge boxes we see
in the supermarkets.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Pakenham (near Ottawa) - Thanksgiving

After a long and often boring (stop and go traffic through Toronto, is there ever a good time?) drive to Mark (my brother) and Emma's place, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend in Pakenham. We took the A-liner as 15 people were too many for their home, large as it is. Not to mention 3 large dogs and 3 cats. The cats stayed out of the way most of the time. The dogs were under foot, or under table anyway, most of the time.
The weather was wonderfully co-operative, only rained overnight on Sunday. This made for some lovely walks as they live in a wooded area with good spacing between their neighbours. We went for long walks both Saturday and Sunday.
Walk up the road to the 2nd pond.  On the walk back a man in an old pickup truck stopped to
tell us he had seen a bear (about 300lbs) in the woods nearby. On the next days walk we saw two
large piles of bear poop.
I asked one of the neighbours, Bill, if I could photograph his sugar shack and he took me through his
property on his ATV to get to it. This is a shot from the top of his hill, looking down the hydro line
to the Ottawa valley. He saw tracks of 3 moose made recently.
Bill's sugar shack. Part of his bush has the hose bringing the syrup down to the shack by gravity but he
also has hundreds of trees with buckets that have to be emptied. Mark has gone and helped in syrup
season and he brings Bill's syrup when he comes to the cottage.
View from the hot tub. The morning ritual was coffee (two cups if someone could be talked into the second pour)
and conversation in the hot tub. No better way to start the day.
No trip to Pakenham is complete without a visit to Scoops where even the dogs get ice cream. This
is Monty (a Codoodle) who licked his like a person, very gently. Caesar (a Burmadoodle), on the other hand,
just gobbled his up like a dog.
After the ice cream we had to walk it off with a short hike to the other end of the village and the famous
5 span stone bridge. Sorry, the fifth span is to the right, out of the picture - too much ice cream,
couldn't aim straight.

And on Sunday, the star of the show, rubbed with butter and herbs, draped in bacon and steamed
in a whole bottle of chardonnay. She was delicious!
Then, on Monday, the ridiculous drive back through Toronto (as we were giving Jason and Chris a ride). Worth it though.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Norfolk County - from our fields....

The signs for Norfolk County add "Ontario's Garden; from our fields to your table". I have been taking pictures for the last couple of months of the produce that we grow in Norfolk County. There is truly a vast array of fresh produce to be found near to where we live. The advantage to us is we can buy "at the farm gate" and then freeze for later consumption. One day I did a "dedicated photo shoot", taking my camera and driving along St John's Road which has a lovely variety of food grown and taking pictures of the produce in the fields.
Asparagus and corn.
We buy asparagus just north of Port Rowan, stepping into the barn which smells/feels of cold water and earth, and watch the cleaning and sorting process. The offerings are Grade 1, Grade 2 and Tips and we buy 5lbs of Grade 2. We bring it home to sort ourselves. We blanche and freeze the best, boil and blend the worst (for winter soup when we will love the taste even more for that spring nostalgia) and eat the in between (baked, tossed with olive oil, garlic and sea salt)

After the season, the asparagus is left to grow and go to seed. It is a pretty green with
delicate fern like fronds.

Hops. Who knew!
This field is at corner that I used to turn on when I commuted between Long Point and Brantford. I was very curious when tall posts were planted. Then strung with wires. Then something started to grow up them but I had no clue what it could be. On the day that I went "Veggie shooting" there was a man walking in that strange field. I stopped to take a picture and was able to ask him what was growing. He worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and was monitoring the progress of the Hops! We have a new local micro brewery so I suspect that is why the area is now growing Hops. I am not much of a beer drinker but I gather our local beer, Ramblin Road, is pretty good.


Unfortunately Norfolk County still grows quite a lot of tobacco. I have to admit
it is quite an impressive crop with its huge leaves and growing to about 4ft.
In Norfolk we also grow strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, saskatoon berries eggplant, lots of different kinds of peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, leeks, broccoli, garlic,sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, various varieties of melons, sweet corn, peaches, cherries, apples, pears and various varieties of squash. I will post about pumpkins later.

I found some other wonderful images while on this photo safari for produce pictures, like this old windmill. I have been planning a barn rug or perhaps some barn cushions for a while but got some shots on this trip that I may use in those rugs or may dedicate a cushion to this windmill. Not sure yet but I found myself very inspired by just driving around the countryside, taking pictures.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Port Dover - end of sailing season.

After the demise of my little Nikon "point and shoot", I bought a little Samsung "point and shoot". The best trial for a camera, for my uses, is to go out and take pictures during the sailing races. The last two nights available I have been on the committee boats. Well the Samsung failed the test; the shutter speed was too slow and by this I mean that I would press the button and there was quite a hesitation before the shot would be taken, by then the subject is gone. So the Samsung was taken back after the first night as committee boat on Caleidescope and I bought a Sony to try. The next Monday night,  on Sea Dancer, was my opportunity to give it a "field trial" and it passed. I figure if the camera takes descent pictures of moving objects, from a moving object (need the stabilization feature) in different levels of light and at different distances, then it will probably be fine for all my other photography needs.
This night we went out in very quiet waters and bobbed around until deciding that
the wind was coming up and we could actually have a race.
People, crew and owners, come from far and wide to race on Wednesdays (and spring and fall Mondays). Kitchener, Hamilton and everywhere in between. Therefor there is always an effort made to have a race otherwise they have travelled all that way for nothing (unless you count the chance to talk sailing with others with the same interest and to go out to eat and drink - actually that sounds pretty good too).
This shot, from the end of the night, was taken with the rejected Samsung. So was the one above.
 Most of the shots in between were unsuccessful.
The second night of committee boating we had great wind and lots of great photo opportunities.
Got some good "action shots" of the start.
Spinnaker shots are sometimes difficult to get because the boats are moving quite fast but
the Sony managed.

Even acceptable photos taken into the sun.

Zatarra was out for a trial run after getting her engine running, following a month long
wait for parts. Unfortunately she blew a hose and we had to tow her in.