Friday, June 27, 2008

Sexy Subaru

Maybe we just have an odd sense of humour, but we think this is hilarious and great.

How My Garden Grows

In case you didn't know it, I love all growing things--except weeds, that is. One of the hardest things about being away from home for the past five weeks has been missing out on the spring growth in our yard and neighbourhood.

So I thought I would share with you the things that are flowering or otherwise flourishing in our yard, to be updated whenever there's something new to share.
I started this columbine from seed last spring. Columbines are so lovely: intricate complicated flowers, colourful and delicate yet hardy enough to be found in high alpine conditions. This is a variety of the alpine columbine.
Vibrant red dianthus that we bought at Golden Acres last spring. It's a low growing perennial, which we needed to fill out the flowerbed.
Rhubarb! This is what it looks like after I have harvested enough off it for a crisp. It's doing very well.
First thing after we got back, we headed to the greenhouse to pick up a few annuals to fill in holes in the beds, and to pick up some pumpkin and squash seedlings to try out. Here's the pumpkin, which has bounced back healthily since we transplanted it. We dug in some well-rotted compost before we planted it in the hopes that it would get the boost it needs in order to produce some fruit before the end of the summer.
Our little volunteer pansy. We had lots of these last year but Brent gets fed up with them by the middle of the summer when they can no longer handle the intense heat and dry and turn yellow and leggy. But I'll keep this little fellow around for a while; he so valiantly flowers.
This low-spreading sedum was here when we came, along with her cousin, the Autumn Joy sedum which I will show in another post. Brent was the one who noticed this one, tucked away under a stump--I would have weeded right over her. This year she's come along quite well.
We moved the yarrow and lambs ear here last fall and they are thriving. Both are native to Calgary and can withstand the dryness well.
It's peony season! Not my favourite colour of peony, and I dislike how peonies attract ants, but they are certainly colourful while they last!
This is Robinson's Red Painted Daisy. We bought two early summer last year because they work as a deterrent for aphids, which we had in abundance. It's a bit gangly right now but blooming well.
Our tiger lily, from a suckered chunk from my mom's plant. This is the third year we've had it, and the first year that it has even thought about blooming. It's a bit too dry where we have it, in the front bed.
Last but not least, our little marigold seedlings. We got these at Golden Acres too. Marigolds are tough and flower well, as well as keep bugs away, and we enjoyed them last year, so we thought we'd have them again. This is the Golden Gem variety, which has smaller blooms and more ferny leaves.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

For your amusement on this most Thursday of Thursdays

Some things I have discovered. A good song, on a great album. I have myself bought at least five copies of it to give to people. And am pondering yet another. Also: Chickens in Calgary? Shakespeare in Calgary! History in Calgary. Baby Holders, because babywearing sounds good to me! One can be quite fashionable wearing these, it would seem. Looks like a lot of them could be made at home with a good sewing machine and some tough fabric. My favourite that I've found: Mai Tei Babyhawk Looks like it puts the baby's weight too far down: ERGObaby A close second in my list of favourites: Moby Wrap Sling-style: Maya Sling More sling-style: Hotslings And more yet again: Kangaroo Korner The modern version of what my mum used: Snugli For later, not really a babywearing design: good ol' MEC

Day Fifteen: Littlebeck to (sniff) Robin Hood's Bay

Littlebeck to Robin Hood's Bay: 18.5 km

We had our usual porridge breakfast at seven thirty, watching the rain pour down outside. In addition to being a B&B, Intake Farm provides camping spots for tenters, and there was a Dutch couple on the first day of their hike out tenting in the rain. We were very glad to be cozy and dry inside.
Packing up in our room
Intake Farm house
We put all of our rain gear on right away and after saying goodbye to our friendly farmer hostess, headed out into the beautiful leafy green forest. It was absolutely pouring and the woods were squelchy wet because of all the rain on the leaf-covered ground. Water ran in streams down the paths and we had barely started before we were quite damp.
Wet again
We stopped at a beautiful cave hermitage. The date carved into the rock on the side of the small cave was 1790. In other words, it had been there a while! It was almost perfectly round inside and had a bench all the way around carved into the perimeter. On top of the cave were two seats carved out of big rocks. We spent a little while in the hermitage, enjoying the dry peacefulness of the hermit dwelling in the thick forest.
The view out the hermitage door
Sitting out of the rain

Past the cave, we came to a set of lovely waterfalls called Falling Force. We thought that was kind of funny because we aren't aware of any other kind of waterfalls except the falling kind. So perhaps not the best way to destinguish this particular set of falls from any other. The English term for waterfalls is "Force" or "Foss." Thus, Falling Force (as opposed to Rising Force?). At the waterfall there was a house and the directions in our guidebook were not very clear at this point . We wandered around a bit in the mud before setting upon a track that seemed quite illogically in the wrong direction but nonetheless matched our guidebook.
The forest through which we traveled
We padded along in the endless mud and rain through the forest and then headed out onto our last North York Moor, which was just as soggy...if not worse. You know the part in Lord of the Rings when Frodo and Sam wander through the bogs where there's dead people under the was a little like that. There were paths crossing all different directions, some people trails and other sheep trails, and we tracked our direction from post-marker to post-marker with the help of our compass. The fog was pretty thick again, so the compass came in handy. There was one section of bog that was so deep that as I stepped through it, I sank through up to almost my knees. Brent was walking a bit faster and was wearing his gaiters as well as his rain pants and so he didn't get too much wetter than he already was, whereas I had water gushing into my boots. Interestingly, the peat bogs turns the water a dark red colour, and my boots and socks are now permanently stained red.
North York Moors as they were
We weren't lost, right?
Following the marking posts
Sopping wet

We stopped in the town of Hawsker at a pub for lunch. We could have pressed on to Robin Hood's Bay before we stopped but we had lots of time and were hoping the rain would let up while we were eating. I had a ploughman's lunch--which I had seen on the menu all through the trip and at last got to try. It turned out to be a hot bagette, 3 large chunks of different kinds of local cheese, salad, a small bowl of English pickles (looks like brown relish), butter and a pickled onion. Not quite what I expected but I had to try it once. I really liked the cheeses. Brent had a ham sandwich, to which he added my English pickles (I wasn't a big fan of them). I also had a pot of hot tea and Brent had hot chocolate.
2 1/2 more miles

Anyone for a sheep shower?
It did not stop raining during lunch and we put our wet clothes back on and trudged on in the wind and rain. We reach the coastline shortly thereafter and rounded the coastline along the edge of a steep set of cliffs. We waved hello to Denmark across the sea.
The North Sea
Robin Hood's Bay in the distance
Once in the Bay town, we wandered down the street, past of B&B, looking at all the shops along the way.
Tall narrow houses
We got to the sea front and were surprised by how fearful we were of the crashing waves. Landlubbers we are indeed!
The shoreline
We threw into the ocean the rocks that we had carried across from the Irish sea and took our picture at "the End" sign by the Wainwright bar (named after Alfred Wainwright, who created the hike in the fifties).

Our B&B was a Victorian lodging house that the owner has kept very Victorian looking. The light fixtures, the furniture, everything was done up Victorian. The bed there was wonderful; long enough for Brent and with soft sheets and plump pillows.
The Villa B&B
We were the only people staying there that night, and the place was very quiet, and it felt quite lonely being the only people finishing the hike on that day; with all of our new-made friends either finished earlier or yet to come. Nevertheless, we toasted our completion with pints in the local pub that night.

And that was the end of our fifteen day trip across the island that is England. It was worth every blister, every penny and every sunburn.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Daily Dose of Calvin and Hobbes

Day Fourteen: Glaisdale to Littlebeck

Glaisdale to Littlebeck: a mere 13 km

Our bed last night, though a lovely antique, sagged in the middle really badly and neither of us slept very well. But in the morning we slept in until 7:15 and didn't have breakfast until 8:30. The hostess wouldn't make us porridge (!!?) which was a little annoying because it's our favourite. She said that she doesn't make porridge because she has a good muesli instead. But muesli is dry cereal, not hot and cooked, and I tried her muesli and it wasn't that good. So we ended up having scrambled eggs on toast and bacon, copious amounts of English tea, and lots toast with marmalade.

We dawdled packing up and took some pictures of the house before we left. The lady really did have some nice antiques, including a tall solemn grandfather clock that I liked. On the front of the house, there was a sundial over the front door. Kind of a neat idea. There was also a date over the front door from the other words the house is close to 300 years old!
You got that? No caravans
Glaisdale in the distance
Hi! Sunshine!
Oh Postman Pat (link)
Fording the ford
Beggar's Bridge (here's the story behind the bridge)
How does one buy a river?
Worn down sandstone steps
Just a suggestion
More sandstone stepping stones
Once we were on our way, we went quite slowly, taking pictures of bridges and trees and stone paths. In Egton Bridge, we stopped at an old Roman Catholic Church --an oddity because it remained Catholic even after Henry VIII's big plans. It was unlocked and we looked around inside at the paintings and architecture and in the little prayer garden. The Catholic ornamentation struck us as clearly different from the several Anglican churches we'd been in previously.
St. Hedda's church and prayer garden
Inside St. Hedda's
Take that; walkers, bikers and riders only
Egton Estate:
we wanted to explore but there were signs saying "thou shalt not"
Anyone for a hearse?
My next car
Upon reaching Grosmont, we could immediately hear the steam train and it wasn't long before we were awarded with the sight of one. Grosmont (pronounced Growmont) is one of the stops on a restored steam train line, North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It serves both tourists and people commuting from town to town. We investigated taking a trip, and decided against it, but it was quite reasonably priced, and would have been fun.
Train leaving Grosmont
Workers having a chat
Semaphore signalling
We hung around the station for quite a while, watching the trains come and go. We had lunch and tea in the train station and Brent took lots of pictures.

The walk out of Grosmont was an incredibly steep hill. We walked upwards for several kilometers on the pavement (boo). We left the farmland behind and went into the moors again. We stopped in the moors at an obelisk for an apple and some chocolate and to appreciate the moorland--this was the first day we traveled through the moors when it was not raining.
Yes, a 33% grade
Obelisk standing in the moors

Coming towards Littlebeck
Littlebeck in the distance
We reached our B&B--Intake Farm-- at about three thirty. The hostess invited us in to her kitchen for tea, and she chatted with us for quite a while. She's about the same age as my mum and has three daughters about the same ages as my brothers and I. It felt quite like home sitting at her kitchen table drinking tea and talking. The house was a huge old farmhouse that used to house two families, but has been renovated now for the family and the B&B guests. The farm is a working farm with cattle and over 500 sheep.

Our room was quite big and the bed didn't have a footboard (hurray!) so Brent could stretch his legs out. The shower had lots of pressure, and there was free internet. We had supper at the house because there was no where else to go. Supper was a simple but tasty homecooked meal of mashed potatoes, beef stew, cauliflower with cheese, and steamed cabbage, and we had pavlova for dessert. It was very good but cost us fifteen pounds each--you do the math. Nevertheless, we were extremely happy with the Intake Farm, it was clean and cozy and one of the friendliest places we stayed.

We found out that the Australians would be staying at Intake Farm the following night, which was both good news and bad news. Bad news, because we were still holding out the hope that they would catch up to us somewhere along the line and we could spend the last day hiking with them and celebrate at the end, and this was now for certain not going to happen. But good news because it meant that we could leave them a note when we left, and so that's what we did.