Places to Go

Ambleside Beach (and the end of Summer…)



Our favourite place to go this summer – the place we returned to over and over – was a quiet stretch of beach on the north shore of Vancouver.  The sea and sand and sun were just the things to soothe our city dwelling souls.  Half an hour from home we could dip our toes in the salty Pacific or squish them into the seaweed and sand.  We watched float planes, cruise ships, sail boats and shipping tankers coming and going about their business.  We built castles and sculptures, swam and fished (for smelts!) and whiled our time away…

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“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.” (John F. Kennedy)


Miss G. is always up for art – she has a knack for creating “found art” sculptures with an amazing sense of place…


I’m not sure what is more inviting – the statue, or the seagull sharing the view…


“Always keep your mind as bright and clear as the vast sky, the great ocean, and the highest peak, empty of all thoughts. Always keep your body filled with light and heat. Fill yourself with the power of wisdom and enlightenment.” (Morihei Ueshiba)

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The sound of the waves, the feeling of the wind, the smell of the salt and the sea… these are the things that I keep close as the season changes and the burdens of real life resume, layer by layer.




“It is of great use to the sailor to know the length of his line, though he cannot with it fathom all the depths of the ocean.” (John Locke)


Summer, the season of recuperation and rejuvenation, is disappearing minute by minute each day.  The days are cooler, shorter, and increasingly more demanding as the business of daily life piles up… but the summer in our soul cannot easily be replaced.  The light and loftiness of those beachside afternoons are stored away in that summer self, to be called upon when we find ourselves in need of a lift…


““Au milieu de l’hiver, j’apprenais enfin qu’il y avait en moi un été invincible.”   (Albert Camus)


Places to Go

Burnaby Village (Volume 3)…

There are some places that our family “field trips” return to over and over.  Burnaby Village is one of those amazing venues, and although I have shared about our previous visits both in summer and winter I can’t stop taking photos every time we go!  If you live nearby and haven’t visited, please go!  It really is incredible that this slice of history is just minutes away from our daily life.

On our most recent visit we had the chance to see the village with fresh eyes – we were there with family friends who had travelled half way around the world.  This made us even more aware of the culture that we are lucky to inherit…

The farmhouse and the heritage dahlias in the garden…

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The schoolhouse…


The heritage garden…


…barber shop…





The vintage kitchen…

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…the general store…

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…the music studio…

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…and of course my favourite drygoods store (where all of the hats would look amazing on me, I’m sure, but the grey one is just so lovely…)

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This is the house I thought I would live in when I grew up. (Still might happen.)  This is the house I imagined with every Nancy Drew mystery I read…

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On this visit the embroidered linens were hanging to dry in the kitchen…

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The “lady of the house” was amassing her trousseau…



Every time we visit I leave wishing I could stay.  Just past the village is Deer Lake, which offers a contemplative space …


…and a musical interlude to bridge the gap back to our here and now…


“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” (Virginia Woolf)

Places to Go

Burrard Inlet by Boat…

We are a month into fall and, while some days have been beautiful, there have been enough rainy days for me to miss the summer sunshine that already seems so far away…

Although we are fortunate enough to live close to the water, we don’t get out on it much.  Lucky for us, one of our great friends has both a boat and the patience (madness!) to take it out on the water with our crazy family in tow…

Just a few weeks ago we spent an amazing late summer day enjoying the view of sun, ocean and blue sky from the best vantage point possible – the middle of it all.

At first the seals weren’t particularly interested in us…


…but then one raised an eyebrow…


…and another woke up enough from basking in the sun to notice as we boated by…


There were endless interesting boats to photograph…


…and G. Jr. had to hold on to his hat.

(Literally.  We turned around three times to fish it out of the water after he let go and it blew off in the breeze.)

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The trip to Deep Cove (by car) usually takes us at least half an hour.  By boat it is a quick fifteen minutes of some of the most amazing watery views…

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Our reward for taking this leisurely trip was (naturally!) gelato

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…and then we headed back out on the water and north up Indian Arm.

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On our way back to the dock we could just see G. Jr’s favourite bridge – the ironworkers’ memorial – in the distance.


He didn’t stay awake much longer – all that fresh sea air knocked him right out!  Good thing Miss G. was in full form – we needed her to help us tie up the boat.


A day of sun and sea air can do a lot to bring some balance to a busy life.  Facing another week of blustery fall weather and the doldrums of the day-to-day, I am grateful to look back on the sea change and see things from another angle…


“They change their climate, not their soul, who rush across the sea…” (Horace)

Places to Go

Riverboat Cruise…

“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.” (Marcus Aurelius)

Not far from our home in the “suburbs” of Vancouver is a city with a rich history of its’ own and a personal connection too; New Westminster, the “royal city” and (sadly) the deposed provincial capital of British Columbia has the distinction of being the birthplace of two consecutive generations of our family on both sides.  This is remarkable in a country of immigrants and in a family that, on both sides, has had wanderers for many generations.  Although the family has all moved on (wanderers…) the history of the city still makes a great impression on us and we feel a great connection to it (even G.Jr. who “loves the pointy houses” for their unique character, and is always up for a visit to the park…)


This summer we had the chance to see the city from a different angle – the river front.  On a gorgeous sunny Saturday we headed out on the Fraser River via vintage paddlewheel boat and had an amazing time…

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We took some amazing photos of the many bridges that make up daily life here…

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“I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests. ” (Pablo Neruda)

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“What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt – it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.” (Hal Boyle)

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…and were reminded of many of the things that made New Westminster an important city in the first place: the Fraser River is a working river – the log booms and rail yards that take up real estate along the banks were the beginning of industry that brought the (eventually) 3 million people to use its’ bridges daily…

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“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.” (Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha)

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This tiny little red building was new to me – I have seen it from the other side but never realized its purpose.  This building housed the fuel for the New Westminster penitentiary, and served as a transit point for prisoners moving in and out.


This is the last remnant of the original prison structure… the rest of the property (the legendary haunted house of my childhood) has been overrun in true Vancouver style with townhouses and condominiums…


Purple loosestrife – wildly invasive – grows happily along the riverbanks in front of log booms waiting for a lift…


A day out on a river boat is just the thing to inspire… What farfetched stories is Miss G. dreaming up this time?


The river is as timeless and romantic today as it was to my childhood imagination all those years ago.  I love that we were born just steps away from it – its’ ribbon of industry connects us in space and imagination.


“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Places to Go

Granville Island (Volume 3)…

Another gorgeous day, another chance to get out into our city… (so grateful for the people and places that make it wonderful for us…)


We try to get to Granville Island as often as possible.  It is one of my favourite parts of my hometown, probably because I have so many happy childhood memories of wandering around the market and taking in all of the sights and sounds.  I want my children to have the same happy memories and connections to the places that keep Vancouver alive for me…


I have shared pictures from visits before (twice actually) but every time we go I love it and (of course) take endless photos.

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Boats, sunshine, saltwater, sandy beaches…


I have the best memories of declaring as a small child that I would live my grown up life right here, in False Creek…  I haven’t had a chance to follow through on that promise yet, but there might still be time…


I hope your day, wherever it takes you, has a tiny bit of sunshine and flowers to carry you through.


Places to Go

Fort Langley (Volume 3)…

One thing (of many) that I appreciate about where we live is the crazy abundance of really diverse places to visit without driving more than half an hour or so – hauling children around on “adventures” has limits!  One place we love to visit (I have written about spring and summer visits before) is Fort Langley…  Every time we go I find new things to photograph and endless things to investigate.

On our most recent trip we managed some time searching for antiques and oddities before we headed into the museum.  I  captured my personal favourites for you:

…a BC Highway sign (which I still regret not buying…)


…vintage tins…


…carousel horse…


…and some bowling pins…


Our next stop was to check out the Fraser River’s Bedford Channel…


…before heading into the fantastic museum.  Forgive me if you’ve been reading for awhile and these photos seem familiar – I always find myself enthralled with every nook and cranny and end up taking tons of photos – it’s a very photogenic place to hang out!

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We did take a break from taking pictures to pan for gold…

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…and Miss G. spent some free time playing a few tunes on the old upright.

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Of course I loved the library – they have two vintage editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the big house…

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The children always love the animals – the fort has a small replica of what would have been a functional farm.  Fresh eggs, goats milk, fruits and vegetables growing in the garden…

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        Spending a day at the fort is a little bit like travelling back in time, but mostly I love the way it makes us look at the little details – the most important things to notice are usually the smallest.    

“Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.” (Junichiro Tanizaki)

From the classroom...

The (School) Year in Review…

Today is the first official day of summer vacation. As is our tradition, we started our morning at the pool, which is helping with the melancholy mood my children are feeling after closing the door on school for the year…

It is a testament to their teachers over the last ten months that they are so sad about moving on. Even with the prospect of family field trips and free time my little people are finding it hard to let go!

In celebration of all those months of learning we have combed through the school scrapbooks many times.  These are some of our favourite moments…





“Aaah, summer – that long anticipated stretch of lazy, lingering days, free of responsibility and rife with possibility. It’s a time to hunt for insects, master handstands, practice swimming strokes, conquer trees, explore nooks and crannies, and make new friends.” (Darell Hammond)

From the desk of...

A Little Rain (and Rainbows…)

Showers for us this week. A little rain means an excuse to use our umbrellas… Our walk home from the library gathered a lot of attention as my little people jumped and twirled. (Fred Astaire would have been dazzled by the fancy foot work!)


The best part (besides stopping to talk to the snails, also out for their own walk…) was seeing how many people were thrilled to see the children and their play. City and construction workers honked and waved, other walkers stopped to visit, people at bus stops struck up conversations… The world, it seems, loves to see some colour on a rainy day.

“We live in a rainbow of chaos.” (Paul Cezanne)

Don’t we, though? And isn’t it beautiful?


Children have the simplest ways of seeing the value of colours clearly.


“Ride A Wild Horse”

Ride a wild horse
With purple wings
Striped yellow and black
Except his head
Which must be red.

Ride a wild horse
Against the sky
Hold tight to his wings…
Before you die
Whatever else you leave undone,
Once, ride a wild horse
Into the sun.

(Hannah Kahn)


(My daughter – the artist – as she sees herself in the world…)


(…and the world as my surprisingly artistic son sees it himself…)



Colours underwater…



…and colours in the air…



Our dreams are made of colour and light, woven with friendship and fun, lifted like umbrellas high on rainy days to keep us dry and full of hope. A little rain will always fall, but our rainbow of dreams can brighten the horizon for ourselves and all the people that we meet. Hold them high and share them generously… Someone else’s day may depend on seeing the colours that you bring!

“Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939). The Wind Among the Reeds. 1899.

Places to Go

Iona Beach

Living so close to the ocean is a gift. We love to visit often, especially in the summer, and although there are many beaches to choose from we each have our favourites. Iona Beach is popular with our whole family because it is almost always deserted (we usually call it “the secret beach”), it is cool on hot hot days, it is great for digging in the sand, and it is right next to the airport so you can watch the planes and helicopters flying in and out all day. So many bonuses!




Twisted, smooth, grey, weathered,
Driftwood gathered on sand and stone,
Ages my room of painted plastic;
Fills a winter’s monotone
With sparkle of wave,
Living forest,
Growth, regrowth
And endless
(Sarah Reid)


My daughter went to work on building a fort out of scavenged beach wood…




My son preferred to dig…



This is my time
Freed at last
To sing to sunlight
Wind and birds
To blush the blush of summer.

Changing my city ears
I respond to the laughter
Of grass and
Like a Viking I call
The earth this
Grain of sand
To release its secrets.

I am your son!
Weave me transform
Me as I live into summer
Stay in me for
This is my time-
I am free.
(George Forgie)



We spent those hours wisely: watching the wind blow through the grass and the far out tide in the distance…



I like the shore when the gulls are flying high
Playing roller coaster on the wind,
Up in the clean blue sky.

I like the shore when the briskly shouting breeze
Calls out the sailing boats to play
And bends the shoreline trees.

I like the shore when no one is there at all
The whispering wind stays hidden
As the white gulls join my call.
(Ruth Dickinson)



…and for extra entertainment:



Whether you are hanging around where the grass grows green or taking off to follow your dreams, I hope your summer has some lazy days like this one…


Places to Go

Fort Langley – part two…

We took a family visit to Fort Langley months ago, when the daffodils were only just beginning to bloom. Now that it is much warmer we headed out to see the actual fort, and it was really worth the wait!


(This statue shows the traditional aboriginal welcome stance. I’m going to start greeting people like this at my house.)

If you have been following along with our adventures you will know we like our history around here. Entering the fort is a mini-lesson in history (and a bit of time travel!)

(This picture was for Tia – things to do with old suitcases!)



(This amazing bench is one of several made of cut tree sections wired together and set on castors. Cowboy was busy investigating the construction and will hopefully be making us one when his barn is complete…)

After the artifacts and curios in the lobby…


… we passed through the small garden filled with shadows of the past…


…and then through the gates and 150 years (or so) back in time:





This museum is a lot like Burnaby Village as it has docents dressed in period costumes acting out the roles typical of daily fort life.



Our first stop was the blacksmith shop – children actually get to suit up and bang metal on an anvil to make functional hooks. My kids are always up for hammering.

We visited the fort toward the end of the day and therefore participated in the bell ringing and flag lowering to end the day “of trading post business”.




We finished our visit with a thorough look into the “big house” – the home of the “boss” running the fort – and I indulged my own “to the manor born” day dreams…


















(I know, I take a ton of pictures. But I was convinced I could move right in.) This is my kind of place…

Our last stop was the big house garden and animal enclosure:





(Such a cute bunny. Mimi thinks it’s time we had another bunny around here. Is it time? This one reminded me of all the houses in Switzerland with hutches, and Barbara telling me that a house with a bunny hutch means children live there… A very different story from Benvin’s Dalmatia and the “four legged chickens”…)






Another beautiful day in the neighbourhood. Glad you are along for the ride! A parting thought:



Happy Trails!