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…

IMG_7274 IMG_7275

“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)

IMG_7290 IMG_7294

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…

IMG_7184 IMG_7187 IMG_7189

The schoolhouse…


The heritage garden…


…barber shop…





The vintage kitchen…

IMG_7203 IMG_7205

…the general store…

IMG_7206 IMG_7207 IMG_7209 IMG_7210 IMG_7211

…the music studio…

IMG_7212 IMG_7214

…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…)

IMG_7216 IMG_7217 IMG_7219 IMG_7220 IMG_7221

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…

IMG_7223 IMG_7225

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

IMG_7226 IMG_7227 IMG_7229 IMG_7230 IMG_7231

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.)

IMG_7080 IMG_7090 IMG_7095

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…

IMG_7108 IMG_7110

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

IMG_7114 IMG_7115

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

IMG_7128 IMG_7130 IMG_7139 IMG_7148 IMG_7149 IMG_7151 IMG_7153 IMG_7160 IMG_7161

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…

IMG_1139 IMG_1156

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

IMG_1163 IMG_1169

“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)

IMG_1172 IMG_1173 IMG_1176 IMG_1178

“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)

IMG_1185 IMG_1189  IMG_1212

…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…

IMG_1214 IMG_1219 IMG_1229 IMG_6790 IMG_6791

“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)

IMG_6806 IMG_6810 IMG_6811

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.

IMG_6740  IMG_6743 IMG_6746

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!

IMG_6868 IMG_6869 IMG_6870 IMG_6871 IMG_6872 IMG_6873 IMG_6874 IMG_6875 IMG_6877 IMG_6878

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

IMG_6879 IMG_6880 IMG_6882 IMG_6884

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

IMG_6885 IMG_6886

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

IMG_6889 IMG_6890 IMG_6891 IMG_6892  IMG_6894

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…

IMG_6896 IMG_6897

        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)