Saturday, 18 November 2017

These boots are made for walkin

As I stuck out on my own to sight see again today I thought of  my mother, when I spoke to her last night she was shocked that I am wandering around strange cities on my own.  Well today she would have been truly horrified I went off to the train station and took the train to a nearby town while my DH tried to recover a bit from the jet lag he is experiencing.

What a wonderful day it was.  The train ride, advertised as 20 minutes, was about 10 minutes and then the walking began.  There were lots and lots of hills today so it was down one and up another.  I had a goal in mind and the picturesque village of Stonehaven was merely a happy by product.  I found out about an old castle and I was determined to get to the location.  I had not bargained for the cow path type hike around the shoreline, up and down valleys and occasionally so close to the edge of the cliff that I had to remind myself “don’t look down .... don’t look down”. But of course I did because the scenery was too beautiful to miss. I can safely tell you good sturdy boots were essential.

The ruins on the distance

Along the way there was a beautiful War memorial commemorating both world wars.  It sits high in the skyline and can be seen for miles. It mimics a  ruined Greek temple to symbolize the many shortened and ruined lives caused by the conflict.  As well as this monument there were lots of fields that had to be navigated around.  The path today was busy and well travelled.

The ruins of the old castle were breath taking and not only because you had to descend about two hundred steps, keeping the thought in mind that you have to go back up!  The journey was completely worthwhile with gorgeous views, beautifully built strategic fort  of Dunnottar Castle to defend the community.  It was like taking a walk back in time and certainly gave cause to pause on the people who long ago lived and worked here.

A glimpse of the stairs.  Only to discover the ruins were closed for the day!

Glimpses of Stonehaven

Once I finished exploring and roaming on the harbour of Stonehaven I made my way back to the railway station just in time for the train and headed back to Aberdeen, collected my DH and headed out once again to enjoy the evening meal together.  the night was capped off with a little taste testing of the local grog. My DH was surprised at how different our tastes ran for the scotch... the smokier the better is not what he adheres to!  Pity I missed the picture of his face when he tasted my favourite selection!

These old legs were feeling every bit their age tonight by the time I was finished. My trusty old Fitbit says it was just over 26,000 steps, 17 kilometres and 90 floors.  So in just three days that would be more than 40 kilometres that I have walked... no wonder my legs are complaining!

Friday, 17 November 2017

The day begins.... at Starbucks?

I am what my DH calls a coffee snob.  I must confess he is right!  I can be heard complaining about a particular brew or flavour of the bean.  Starbucks has never been my favourite place but desperate times call for desperate measures.  Instant coffee, which seems super popular here, will never do so I find myself at the Starbucks on Campus sipping a good strong coffee.  After the instant (shudder, shudder) I suspect I will be reminded when I complain the next time.

So what shall we do today now that the coffee is kicking in and my brain is a little less fuzzy.  Decision made. DH goes to the university and I go explore the city.  The locals tell us that they get about six sunny days a year, we’ve had two in a row now so I figured I had better visit Aberdeen beach while the sun was cooperating.  So now more than twenty thousand steps later I am sitting in another Starbucks doing some writing.  The first bit of writing was the post cards to a few young people in Canada and now it is on to the blog.

Walking along Aberdeen beach is very reminiscent of the shores of Newfoundland,  crashing waves, cool ocean breezes, ships in the harbour and a beautiful but rugged coastline.  At the end of the beach is a quaint little fishing community, Foodee.  As I walked through the village I marveled at how short the houses seemed, yes at one point I was able to touch the roof of shale rock...if I was a bit more mischievous!!!!  Ships were coming into the harbour, in fact they were lined up waiting their turn and there were lots of them.   Once I finished exploring Foodee I headed back toward the city, saw a hill that promised beautiful views and decided I should not pass up the opportunity.  Another good idea....must have been that coffee!

The view at the top was spectacular and surely showed the mistake my DH and I made yesterday evening when it seemed we might have gotten slightly lost.  We were right where we needed to be, but it was dark and there were no street lights and we weren’t exactly sure what was ahead but we knew what we had come from.  This view highlighted our uncertainty in the glaring light of day.  I laughed and laughed, we were so near and yet so far in the dark.

So here are a few pictures of today’s meandering along the beach, up hills and about the city.  And I’ve ended where I began the day sitting in Starbucks but this time enjoying a hot mint tea and resting my weary legs before heading back to the rental and planning tomorrow’s events.

 Aberdeen Beach

Foodee, Scotland walking paths

 The round house,  maritime monitoring facility

 The view of Foodee

See how short the houses are
  I wonder if they are deeper in the ground 

Here is the roof I'm talking about

 Skyline at is shortly after 3 pm

 More skyline but different direction

Ships in the bay waiting to go in the harbour

A view of the city from the hilltop

Thursday, 16 November 2017

It’s the little things

One thing that I have noticed is that it’s the little, seemingly insignificant things, that greatly amuse me.  As we begin a new journey it seems the little things know no bounds and I have started a whole new Gaelic but new meanings for old words!  After all a hump can be a speed bump, rubbish is the garbage, and I am challenged to figure o

ut the road system for a pedestrian because we apparently don’t have the right of way.  But my greatest chuckle was in the bathroom with my hands all soaped up and there was no water! Well it took a moment to figure out that it was motion sensored and there was a specific motion.  It was my chuckle of the day.

Here is my facet...see the circle in the middle...
well that is where your hand goes in front...
palm facing please

So with that experience behind me I set off on foot to explore Old Aberdeen.  I got slightly lost discovered some things not on my list, acquired a street map to help me find my way and a book on the history of Old Aberdeen as well as some great information from the local people. With the instructions and directions in my head I went off again and found, quite easily this time, the old chanonry and the Cathedral. On this lovely fall day it was a refreshing walk and the sites were beautiful.  The volunteers at the Cathedral were wonderful and full of great information that they we happy to share.

The evening finished with another lovely walk, with a couple of detours and the need to ask for directions.  We have discovered that the Scottish people gave us directions like rural Newfoundlanders,  you go down there, then go over that way, turn over there, then go a little further and you will be there!  No Problem!  After about the fourth person we found where it was we at least think we were going...the meal was delicious and the chef more than willing to share the secret of his cheesecake.  So after a long absence from writing my blog (as I have been gently reminded by a number of my readers) here is a glimpse of my first day here in Aberdeen where it is cool and damp but not minus anything!

The Gate as you enter Starbucks

The Old Townhouse

The Chanonry 

Cathedral church of St. Machar

The path going into the Cathedral

The high altar

Full view from the centre aisle

View to include the ceiling which the church is known for

View of the banner from the balcony

An old stone buildings on the 
University of Aberdeen campus 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Stick to the boat

The Lord didn't promise everyday would be good...
but there is something good in everyday.

In a discussion via messenger with my cousin recently she ended our chat with a saying that our uncle frequently quoted.  I responded back to her that that just might be the beginnings of a blog soon.  So in essence my cousin is the inspiration.  Given the struggles that my cousin and  her extended family is currently facing daily it is a good mantra to remind everyone to look for the good in each day.

Yesterday the gospel of Matthew had another beautiful passage to reflect on.  Each year as the cycle of readings come around I try to find something fresh to say about the story or to find a new perspective from which to look at the story.  Matthew tells many stories, harsh, witty, poignant. Yesterday's was the story of Peter's attempt to walk on water.  In the past I have reflected on the walking on the water, the words of Jesus "do not be afraid," but yesterday I reflected that Jesus did not ask Peter to get out of the boat and attempt to go it alone.  When he made the attempt to go it alone with out the support of his fellow disciples he began to sink.  We are called to step out in faith but not to step out of the boat!

Whether like Peter the group around us is it a motley band of searchers, a community of faith, family and friends this passage reminds us that it is this supportive group that helps keep us afloat so that we are able to weather the storms of life.  More importantly the passage also reminds us that despite the perils that we endure Jesus comes to us in the storms and helps bring about calm if we are willing to receive the hand that he extends to help.

So there will definitely be storms in life, we will sometimes find ourselves challenged, shaken to the very core of our being and yet we are reminded that we do not journey alone we have a community that helps keep us from sinking and we have Jesus who will help bring calm in the chaos.  And while we may not always have good days we will always have moments and memories from each day that are good.

It is a huge danger to pretend that awful things do not happen. But you need enough hope to keep going. I am trying to make hope.
Flowers grow out of darkness.
Corita Kent

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Enjoy the simple things


The setting sun

One of the things I have been noticing lately are the encouraging words of enjoying the simple things in life.  These are simple words but convey a wealth of meaning.  Life is often busy and as a result we often overlook the simple things, the beauty around us and the joy that we can find in the ordinary.

This evening I was pestered by my two furry beasts to go for a walk.

 It is pretty much a daily event once it cools down (28 C is too hot for these guys but the evening is much nicer). So about 8pm the runners go on and we are off.  With the reminder to enjoy the simple things  the walk was pleasant and pleasurable.  We saw bunnies zipping along, geese marching off like little soldiers, ducks paddling, lots of other people and pets walking.  We avoided water sprinklers, much to Gandalf's dismay and Copper's delight.  The setting sun was also spectacular.   The prairies never disappoint when it come to a spectacular sunset with the endless sky and flatter than flat plains. With the setting sun and a drop of  three degrees in the temperature we had a lovely walk in the area and enjoyed the scenery.

Today at church the reading was familiar, the feeding of the five thousand.  Rather than focus on the miracle of the abundance I focused on the interruption of the private time that Jesus was seeking and how in the interruptions the ministry of presence and listening is experienced as well as moments of grace, blessing and opportunity.  Busy lives mean we often do not like to be interrupted and want  to stick to the schedule and yet when we pause, allow the interruption we experience some of the best moments of ministry, of presence that we can ever hope to enjoy and that interruption sometime includes the joy of the beauty around nature and in the people we encounter.

So enjoy the simple things that life has to offer, allow the interruptions to enrich you in a multitude of ways and know that you are both a blessing and blessed because of the richness of the experience.


Duck and squawking geese at the man-made neighbourhood pond


"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own' or 'real life'. The truth is of course that what  one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day. "   C. S. Lewis

Monday, 24 July 2017

Travel close to home

This year we are not venturing far from home during the summer.  That means adventures closer so we are exploring a bit of Manitoba.  DH figures google is not a friend as once again it was asked what are the top ten things to do in Manitoba. Some suggestions are not very feasible for us, others not of great interest and others of great interest.  Today we headed out on the first of many adventures (I hope)!  The alarm sounded at 6:10 am, breakfast, lots of coffee and a stop at the gas station at 8am and we thought we were off.  While DH was in the gas bar paying I was googling driving directions and made a discovery...we were going to have to go across the border and since we were not prepared to do that we headed back home and reconsidered the day.

Walking back in the door after about 15 minutes we were greeted by enthusiastic dogs and a second look at the dreaded list!  The decision was made we would go to the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Steinbach a mere hour away.  The site was fabulous, it was like taking a step back in time as we wandered through the site, enjoyed the sunshine and local delicacies.

Our tour today took us through a pictorial history first and then we got to go out and wander the replicated village.  There were Semlin homes that provided temporary refuge for the families when they first arrived in Canada.  It was very "Little House on the Prairie" in appearance and the living space was very small.

We enjoyed a tour of the village church

As you entered the  old general store there was a price list of all the items that the local general store carried

And the shelves were still well stocked

The Blatz Carriage was an expensive item costing approximately $500.  It was not easily afforded

The printer place where local newspapers were published

The Blacksmith shop was well kitted out and owned (with approval) by  a non-Mennonite person who was given permission to operate it in the community

A re-purposed wheelbarrow, look closely and you can see the wheel under the beautiful array of flowers

Local Artisans had lovely wares for sale at the General Store, I only bought the freshly ground flour that was made right on site at the mill which was much further along and after we had stopped to enjoy a traditional lunch at the eatery.

Our meandering finally took us to the mill where fresh ground flour was being bagged

 Inside the mill the grinder was just finished for the day

Where the ground flour is stored until bagged

The view looking out over the prairies from the second deck of the mill

Looking up at the paddles of the mill

Then on for a look at the old antique cars

 Looking out from the storage for transportation this was the view of the mill, quite impressive!

This old buggy reminded us of the buggy in Murdock Mysteries

Lunch, I had dug in before remembering that I should take a picture!  Perogies filled with cheese, farmer sausage, coleslaw, homemade bread and veggie soup finished with a rhubarb dessert.  This is apparently a traditional lunch!

After eating our fill we meandered along the walk way and enjoyed this picturesque mural that stood in front of a refurbished locomotive

We meandered along to the public school (which was one room) the writing on the chalk board was not an unfamiliar sight as examples of how to form letters were are the top

Just look at the writing...I felt like it was grade three all over again!

 And I loved this poem!!

The Vegetable Garden

The Summer Kitchen

Another Mill, much smaller than the one at the end of the village

The Outdoor oven

 The bed in the "master" bedroom

The Pantry

The Kitchen

One of the many views

Thatched Roof was quite impressive

Shutters on the Mennonite Church

The church inside

This rooster was strutting his stuff!

Wagons were scattered around the grounds

The Private school offered teacher accommodations, below is the kitchen which is really a multi-purpose room for laundry and ironing etc.  This was attached directly to the school with a corridor separating the class room from the accommodations

The bedroom/Office of the teacher accommodations

The Class room, again one room boy and girls were separated  on opposite sides of the room and entered the school by separate doors

And the final piece...a piece of the Berlin Wall.

The experience of the museum was a great way to spend the day, enjoying the history, learning of the early beginnings of the settlement of the prairies and the many struggles of the early settlers.

Traditional quilting was also taking place as three local ladies worked on a quilt that dates back to the 1930's.  They had no idea where it had come from or its story as it just got dropped off without an explanation or note.

This particular quilt was called Grandmothers Flower garden

The quilters hard at work, everything on this quilt is done by hand...there are a lot of little pieces!

One of the ladies made this wall hanging, repurposing antique lace

This sampler hung on the door, another beautiful piece of work