5 Themes For A Fun Week

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #12! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

The first week of Spring has been fantastic. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 12C to 20C (54F to 68F) with clear blue skies for most of the week. The mild and sunny days made all my outdoor activities enjoyable and me happy.

Here’s my 5 selected themes for a fun week:

1. Architecture

On sunny morning #1, I cycled to Queen Street West to visit several heritage-designated buildings. I’m sharing two of them with Thursday Doors photo challenge this week: Campbell House and Osgoode Hall. Click on my image gallery for more photos and history details.

Campbell House is the oldest remaining house from the original site of the Town of York, and is one of the few surviving examples of Georgian architecture left in Toronto. It was built in 1822 by Chief Justice William Campbell and his wife Hannah. It’s now a heritage house and museum owned by the City of Toronto government.

Exterior  of Campbell House.
Campbell House.

Osgoode Hall is named for William Osgoode, the first Chief Justice of Upper Canada (now the province of Ontario). The original building was constructed between 1829 and 1832. The iron fence around the property dates from 1867. The so-called “cow gates” were based on the design of cattle guards meant to keep out grazing animals.

Osgoode Hall was built over a period of 190 years, so as to accommodate the growing needs of its owners. A National Historic Site of Canada and a Heritage building of Ontario, it currently houses the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice, and the Law Society of Ontario.

Osgoode Hall.
Osgoode Hall.

Before COVID-19, I had done tours inside both Campbell House and Osgoode Hall. The impressive interior of Osgoode Hall includes the Rotunda with the original tile floor, heritage courtrooms from the late 1800’s, the Great Library with holdings of 100,000 volumes, Benchers’ Quarters, and Convocation Hall that boasts ten gorgeous stained glass windows covering 4,000 years of law. I highly recommend this tour when Osgoode Hall re-opens to the public.

2. Art

On sunny morning #2, I cycled and walked around to see outdoor public art: Two portraits at the Femme de Fleur exhibit by Apanaki Temitayo M, one Untitled display by Jun Kaneko, and Cracked Wheat by Shary Boyle.

I realized later that coincidentally, all four art items have a human body theme. The Cracked Wheat vase stands on two human legs. Click on the images to see their bigger version.

3. Beaches

On sunny morning #3, I cycled along the shoreline of Lake Ontario and checked out several beaches. It was a glorious day to be by the calm water. By lunch time, I sat down on Sunnyside beach and watched a group of mute swans. They swam, ducked their heads for food, spread their wings, etc. It was an amazing swan show!

Mute swans.

4. Disc Golf

On sunny morning #4, I cycled to the local 9-hole disc golf course and played my first disc golf game of 2021. It was a perfect day to play. Calm wind, pleasant temperature, and soft sunlight. I enjoyed playing while listening to birds, watching the squirrels, and looking at the lake.

5. Nature Trails

On sunny morning #5, I cycled to High Park, a big and beautiful park in the west end of Toronto. I explored nature trails, walked among tall trees, listened to birds, and watched the ducks in Grenadier Pond. Total bliss!

Nature trail in High Park.

Overall, it was a fun-filled week. I’m grateful that I’m able to do what makes me happy.

Linking with #LifeThisWeek, #WeeklySmile.

How did your week go? Which of the 5 themes would you choose? I’d love to hear your comments.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

Copyright © 2021 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

How I Enjoy Spring

Green chairs by the lake.

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #11! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station. Let’s sit in the big green chairs and chat while enjoying the views by the lake.

A Good Week

It’s been a good week, cool, with a mix of sun and clouds, and great for going outside. Five fun activities that make me smile this week:

  1. I cycled on a recently added bike path on University Avenue which is one of the main arteries in downtown Toronto. My trip was fast and fabulous.
  2. I visited the Bloor-Yorkville IceFest21 event. This year’s theme is A Trip Around The World. Click here to see some of the amazing ice sculptures.
  3. On one of my walks, I discovered several beautiful outdoor art displays and murals. Art where I don’t expect it is delightful.
  4. I read a good suspense novel, The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor, a new-to-me author. I enjoyed her debut novel so much that I read her second and also good book, The Hiding Place.
  5. I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share #11 and participating in the following link-ups: Leslie’s Spring Fun List, #SundayStills, #Colour2021, Cee’s FOTD, and #LifeThisWeek.
Tulips in Spring.
Soft Spring green.

Spring Fun List

As I type this, Toronto is still in lockdown. My Spring fun list includes what I can do while following public health measures:

  1. Cycle to explore parks, the lake shore, and the city centre.
  2. Take walks to enjoy nature in Spring and free outdoor public art.
  3. View Toronto’s Cherry Blossoms and the annual Canadian Tulip Festival.
  4. Meet my family and friends outside.
  5. Play 9-hole disc golf in a public park.
  6. Paddle around Toronto Islands.
  7. Plant a small herb garden.
  8. Read 1 book per week and add to my Books in 2021.
  9. Take photos and share my explorations on my blog.
  10. Try a new restaurant take-out.

The Sakura (cherry blossom) trees in Toronto’s High Park are a gift from the citizens of Tokyo. The first Japanese Somei-Yoshino cherry tree was planted here in 1959.

The Canadian Tulip Festival celebrates the historic Royal gift of tulips from the Dutch to Canadians immediately following the Second World War as a symbol of international friendship. Over 1 million tulips will be available for local or virtual viewing May 14-24, 2021.

Spring Green

Spring and green go hand in hand. Let me show you my Spring Green pictures from my photo archive.

The Emerald Isle: March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day which reminds me of my trip to Ireland. The Ring of Kerry, in the south west of Ireland, is a scenic drive that follows the coastline along the Wild Atlantic Way for about 180 km (111 miles). The stunning and green landscape has everything from the mountains to the shoreline.

The Ring of Kerry in Ireland.
The Ring of Kerry in Ireland.

The 16 emerald-coloured lakes at Plitvice Lakes National Park, the oldest and largest national park in Croatia. It was designated as a national park in 1949, and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.
Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia in March.

Spring Showers: These Lady’s Mantle fuzzy and cup-like green leaves hold onto water droplets like little gems.

Water drops on Lady's Mantle leaves.
Lady’s Mantle.

Spring Flowers: Daffodils, tulips, and many more flowers bloom in the spring. Their green leaves provide a fresh backdrop and a good colour combination with the flower colours.

Daffodils and tulips.
Daffodils and tulips.

Spring Growth: From bare to green leafy trees. Move the arrows to see.


How did your week go? What do you look forward to this season? I’d love to hear your comments.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

Copyright © 2021 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

A Year Later

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #10! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

This Week

It’s been a very good week with spring-like and mostly sunny weather here. The daytime high temperature reached 17C (63F) on Thursday. I complete my meditation, body weight workouts, and yoga at home before going outside to cycle and walk most mornings.

A beautiful day by the pier.
A beautiful day by the pier.

When I walk in the parks and along the lake shore, I see and hear red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, starlings, woodpeckers, ducks, geese, gulls, long-tailed ducks and swans . Most trees, except evergreens, are still bare with small buds on the branches.

White birch trees.
White birch trees.

Nature continues to keep me smiling and feeling positive. I also blog, chat with my family and friends by phone, learn French and Spanish online, listen to music, sort my photos, read, and write. I just finished a very good thriller, The Suspect, by Michael Robotham.

A woodpecker.
A cute woodpecker.

A Year Later

One year after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, I reflect on some of what’s been happening:

SubjectMarch 13, 2020March 12, 2021
Lockdown in TorontoFirst lockdown lasted from March 13 until June 2020.Second lockdown that started on November 23, 2020 is still on.
Food and household suppliesShortage occurred (e.g. Flour, yeast, toilet paper).Stable supplies.
Arts and entertainmentAll venues were closed. Exhibits and shows moved online or outside.All venues are closed. Exhibits and shows are available online or outside.
City-led and City-permitted outdoor major eventsOutdoor major events were cancelled (e.g. Parades, running races, festivals).Outdoor major events are cancelled through July 1 (e.g. Parades, running races, festivals).
Personal and recreational servicesLibraries offered digital services and closed branches.

Hair salons, gyms, and swimming pools are closed.

Public parks are open. Going outside is allowed for essential reasons (e.g. exercise, health care, groceries).
Libraries offer excellent digital services and limited services inside library branches.

Hair salons, gyms, and swimming pools are closed.

Public parks are open. Going outside is allowed for essential reasons (e.g. exercise, health care, groceries).
Social distancingPublic Health advised people to practice hand washing and social distancing (2m or 6 ft. apart).

Masks were introduced later and mandated in indoor public spaces and on public transport.
The 3Ws (Wash hands, wear mask and watch distance) continue. Masks are required in indoor public spaces and on public transport.

Indoor gatherings are banned, except with members in the same household. Outside gatherings limit to 10 people.

International TravelCanadians abroad were advised to return to Canada.

Airline and tour operators started cancelling flights and tours.
Canada added travel restrictions (e.g. hotel quarantine, COVID-19 test).

Non-essential travel is discouraged.
VaccinesNo vaccine available.Canada has approved four vaccines and vaccine rollout is in progress.

There was a temporary relief in Summer 2020 when the first lockdown was lifted. I got a haircut, socialized outside, and enjoyed a fun-filled summer paddling around the Toronto Islands.

This 3-geese distancing sign reminds me to do my part while keeping a sense of humour, including in difficult situations like living in a lockdown and a pandemic.

Three-geese distancing.
Three-geese distancing.

A year later, the main improvements are stable food and household supplies and vaccines. Since December 2020, Ontario has started its three-phase vaccination plan. I’m in the last phase to get the vaccine at the end of summer 2021 depending on vaccine supply.

I choose optimism. Yellow is the colour of optimism. So I updated this post with some yellow flowers from my photo archive. All florals are shared with FOTD photo challenge and Life This Week.

Daffodils.
Daffodils.
Sunflowers.
Sunflowers.

How did your week go? What improvements have you noticed 1 year after the pandemic started? I’d love to hear your comments.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

Copyright © 2021 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Lakeside Birdwatching

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #7! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

1. Link-Up News

Last weekend, we had a new high: 42 participants at Weekend Coffee Share #6 (41 in InLinkz and 1 did a ping back to my blog but didn’t enter the InLinkz party). Thank you, everyone, for your participation.

We have new participants and some returned from a blogging break at each link-up. So, a gentle reminder of my guidelines to join the Weekend Coffee Share link-up:

  1. Link one post.
  2. Read the host’s post and two posts from other Coffee Share participants and leave a comment so they know you’ve dropped by.
  3. Spread the Weekend Coffee Share word and link back. The hashtag is #WeekendCoffeeShare.

The guidelines are also posted in the InLinkz dashboard.

2. This Past Week

I had a good week, enjoyed many activities, and chatted with my family and friends more than normal. Downtown Toronto got some snow overnight on Monday and part of Tuesday, a lot less than other areas in Ontario. During the week, my brisk and long walks boosted my mood and the birds by the lake kept me entertained.

3. Birdwatching

I got into birdwatching about two years ago. When my sister and I went to Ecuador, the biodiversity there, including species of birds were amazing and noticeable. We spent time watching colourful birds and had a memorable overnight stay in the Amazon rainforest.

After that trip, I pay more attention to birds. Lucky me, Toronto is the home of the Blue Jays and over 350 other incredible species of birds. Toronto Blue Jays are a Canadian professional baseball team based in Toronto. They won the World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.

When I walk by Lake Ontario, I enjoy watching birds in the harbour. They make my walk more fun and interesting. In this post, I focus on birds by the lake even though I’ve seen many more bird species in land. Let me show you in photos.

Common Birds

Common birds that are at the lake year-round include gulls, ducks, geese, rock pigeons, and swans. The ring-billed gulls have a black band encircling the yellow bill that distinguish them from other gulls.

A ring-billed gull.
A ring-billed gull.

Canada geese have the signature white chinstrap on their black necks. There are many of them along the lake shore, both on land and in the water.

2 Canada geese.
2 Canada geese.
Winter Birds

In the winter, attractive bufflehead ducks, long-tailed ducks, and common mergansers arrive here and stay for a few months. The cormorants with aquamarine eyes show up in the Spring.

Bufflehead ducks: The male duck has a large white patch on the head, the female duck has a small white patch on the cheek.

2 Bufflehead ducks.
2 Bufflehead ducks.

Long-tailed ducks: The males have mostly white, rich brown, black and grey on the face and long, slender tail feathers. Females are smudgy brown and white without the long tail.

4 male and 1 female long-tailed ducks.
4 male and 1 female long-tailed ducks.

Common Mergansers: They are large ducks with long, slender bills. The males are striking with clean white bodies, dark green heads, and a slender, serrated red bill. The gray-bodied females have rich, cinnamon heads with a short crest.

3 female mergansers.
3 female mergansers.
Summer Birds

Last summer, I was thrilled to see many birds when I went paddling in the wetlands on Toronto Islands. My favourites were the great egrets and grey herons.

Great egret.
Great egret.
Grey heron.
Grey heron.

I refer to the Birds of Toronto guide to identify these birds.

What birds are common in your neighbourhood?

Linking with Sunday Stills, Life This Week, The Weekly Smile.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

Copyright © 2021 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Wrapping Up 2020

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

Today is the last Wellness Weekend link up in 2020. The optional prompt is Wrapping Up. I hope you join in on the fun right here.

We’ve all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020. Personally, it started in mid-March for me. Since March, I’ve lived through two waves of the pandemic and two lockdowns in Toronto: The first lockdown from March to June and the second lockdown from November 23 to January 4, 2021 at least.

To wrap up the year, I reflect on what I’ve accomplished and how I spent my days in 2020. Here’s the ten things that stand out for me.

Cycling on the Waterfront Trail.
Cycling on the Waterfront Trail.
  1. Self-care – On the Health front, I’ve done well in 2020. I practice the 3Ws (wash my hands, watch my distance, and wear my mask) to keep myself and others safe from COVID-19. I meditate daily, cycle, exercise, practice yoga, and walk most days. The physical activities and being outside close to nature keep me in good spirits.
Kayaking around Toronto Islands in summer 2020.
Kayaking around Toronto Islands in summer 2020.
  1. Trying new and healthy things – When the gym and swimming pool are closed, I find several body weight training videos on YouTube. I learn new exercises and do workouts at home. In the summer, I go canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddling. I focus my time and energy more on healthy or useful activities and less on news and social media.
Baking banana bread.
Baking banana bread.
  1. Enjoying home comforts – For the first time in many years, I stay home the entire year without traveling. I keep my home tidy and designate space for my workouts and my leisure activities. I embrace the quietude, stock up on essential items, bake new recipes, and make all meals at home.
Keeping a distance of 2m or the length of 3 geese from others.
Keeping a distance of 2m or the length of three geese from others.
  1. Socializing outside – In the summer when the first lockdown is lifted, I meet with my family and friends outdoors. We practice physical distancing, stay at least 2m (6 feet) apart, and bring our own drinks and snacks to our coffee dates.
Nice park for socializing outside.
Nice park for socializing outside.
  1. Using technology – The second lockdown requires Torontonians to limit contacts to the people we live with and the cold weather makes meeting outdoors less inviting so I rely on my phone, email, and FaceTime to stay connected with my family and friends. The important thing is we are all well.
Visiting the Our Game bronze sculpture.
Visiting the Our Game bronze sculpture.
  1. Continuing cultural fun – During the pandemic, I go almost 100% digital with my cultural activities. I learn French and Spanish on Duolingo, listen to concerts online as opposed to at indoor venues, visit outdoor public art installations as opposed to indoor art galleries, and watch virtual shows or movies at home as opposed to in the theatres.
Toronto's skyline from Toronto Islands.
Toronto’s skyline from Toronto Islands.
  1. Exploring – 2020 is the year when all my trip reservations are cancelled with full refunds. Since I’ve been to many countries, some several times, I feel fine to wait until it’s safe to travel again. The pause of travel this year is an opportunity for me to explore wonderful places in Toronto, and to prioritize my international travel in the future.
Switching from books to e-books in 2020.
Photo by Perfecto Capucine on Pexels.com
  1. Reading – I read a lot of books in 2020. My current count is 111 fiction novels and memoirs from more than 70 authors. This is my best annual reading record to date. A tough one for me to repeat. I switch from books to e-books in the summer. To my surprise, I love this change.
My first entry in the Thursday Doors photo challenge in 2020.
My first entry in the Thursday Doors photo challenge in 2020.
  1. Writing – I enjoy writing 55 blog posts and one guest post in 2020. I’m still having fun after four years of blogging. I’m thrilled when my blog readers find my story and photos interesting or inspiring. The best is when I make you smile.
Grateful for the great outdoors in 2020.
Grateful for the great outdoors in 2020.
  1. Gratitude – I feel grateful every day for many things, such as a new day, my good health, my family and friends, comfortable home, good food, amazing technology, excellent library system, well-maintained city parks, beautiful Lake Ontario, fantastic Waterfront Trail, and more.

I’d like to thank all of you who read my blog and share your thoughts. Your blogging friendships and comments are my awards. I wish everyone a healthy holiday season and a happy New Year 2021.

I’d love to hear your summary for 2020.

Linking here.

Copyright © 2021 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Bits of Joy

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you’re here. I hope you have a few minutes for a chat over a cup of coffee or tea. We had a mixed bag of weather this past week: Sun, rain, snow, and sun again. As I type this, Toronto is under lockdown to reduce the spread of COVID-19 virus so I limit my in-person contacts and continue to go outside only for exercise or groceries.

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, there are still many small pleasures and fun moments to enjoy every day. Here’s my bits of joy and photos to share with you:

Going for a Beach Walk

Sunnyside Beach

Sunday was sunny and beautiful. It was perfect for my bike ride to Sunnyside Beach and a walk along the sandy beach. I enjoyed views of Lake Ontario, blue sky, fresh air, bird life, trees, with very few people around at the time of my visit. This may be the last “warm” day of Autumn 2020. Two days after I took this beach photo, we got snow!

Baking

Monday was a rainy day. Having three ripe bananas on my kitchen counter prompted me to bake. I haven’t baked for a few months because it was too hot to think of baking in the summer. I used Jean Paré’s Banana Bread recipe and the loaf turned out really good. It was a tasty homemade snack to go with a cuppa while staying dry and warm indoor.

Loving the First Snow

Tuesday was snow day. First snow accumulation on the first day of December 2020! Just a thin layer by the lake and more snow elsewhere in Ontario. The snow flurries and snow flakes looked so pretty when I sat inside sipping my hot coffee. I love to go for a walk after the first snowfall when everything still looks pristine.

Cycling to a Park

Wednesday was sunny again so I went cycling and enjoyed a beautiful wintry day. I was glad to have my sunglasses with me as the reflections from the snow were blinding. How many Canada geese do you see in the above photo? There were many more of them by the lake than those I captured here. When we get more snow in the parks, it will be fun to go snowshoeing.

Speaking of blinding, on Wednesday around noon, while cycling, I saw a flash of blinding light then a fireball in the clear blue sky. It appeared and disappeared in seconds. The local news reported it was a falling meteor travelling an estimated 100,000 kilometers an hour. The American Meteor Society also received reports on this daylight fireball event occurred over Central New York. That was unexpected and pretty cool to see.

Hill without snow.
The thin layer of snow was gone by Thursday.

Joining a Challenge

Dan at No Facilities blog has taken over hosting the Thursday Doors photography challenge. I decided to participate for the first time. My debut Thursday Doors entry in Beaux-Arts style is here. I look forward to sharing my selection of door images and meeting other bloggers who participate in the challenge.

Reading

I enjoyed reading a few e-books this week. One of them was Jill Weatherholt’s Second Chance Romance novel. It’s an easy read and a heartwarming story with happy endings. In addition to reading Jill’s book, I also read and agreed with the Second Chance Romance book review by Annika Perry, another blogger and writer that I follow. Both Jill and Annika have my admiration for their wonderful writing.

Selecting a Tree

I browsed and found a handsome evergreen tree for the holidays. No, I don’t plan to bring one home. I like the natural look of the first snow landed on the tree and its symmetrical shape. This is my digital tree all decorated and ready to go as my e-greeting card to my family and friends.

How did your week go? Any fun plans for the coming week? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

Copyright © 2021 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

November Smiles

Hello blog friends! After a few cloudy weekdays with occasional showers, the sun returns 100% this weekend. The daytime high temperature reaches 9C (48F) which is good for this time of the year where I live. The clear blue sky and beautiful tree branches make me smile.

Today I share my monthly review for November and three outdoor sculptures in downtown Toronto. I did an art walk to visit about a dozen outdoor art installations. I include three of them in this post and hope you find them interesting.

Health

Mountains aluminum sculpture by Anish Kapoor
Mountains aluminum sculpture by Anish Kapoor

The Mountains aluminum sculpture by Anish Kapoor is located at Front and Simcoe streets. It reminds me of strength, base, mountain ranges, height, the Canadian Rockies…In yoga the Mountain pose (Tadasana) is one of the foundational poses. To me, good health is the foundation or prerequisite to enjoy life.

Throughout November, I meditate daily, cycle and walk outdoors most mornings, and alternate body weight workouts and yoga at home. I use Lunden Sousa’s videos for my targeted workouts on different muscle groups. New instructor and new exercises require focus to learn the correct forms and create new mind-muscle connections. I get to make incremental changes and do a range of motions. It’s all good.

The regular fitness activities help me feel stable and strong like the mountains. Here’s my numbers for November:

  • 30 meditation sessions
  • 21 targeted workouts
  • 19 cycling trips
  • 19 walks
  • 13 full body workouts
  • 12 yoga sessions

Home

Our Game bronze sculpture by Edie Parker
Our Game bronze sculpture by Edie Parker

The Our Game sculpture by Edie Parker shows five excited young hockey players climbing over the boards ready for action. It’s located outside the Hockey Hall of Fame building at the northwest corner of Yonge and Front streets.

The exuberant looks and smiles of the young hockey players make me think of happy times with my family and friends, and hockey reminds me of Canada where my home is. With COVID-19 still around, it will be a while before I meet my family and friends face-to-face or attend a hockey game in person.

Starting on November 23, the Ontario government prohibits indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household, for 28 days. I’m grateful for technology to stay connected and share laughs with my family and friends while being apart.

Leisure

Dream Ballet stainless steel sculpture by Harvey Valentine
Dream Ballet stainless steel sculpture by Harvey Valentine

The Dream Ballet sculpture by Harvey Valentine consists of three stainless steel statues polished to a mirrored finish. They’re installed next to Meridian Hall, a major performing art venue, at the southeast corner of Yonge and Front streets.

In November, I got to enjoy interesting public art installations, blogs, books, films, and language lessons:

  • 30 French and Spanish sessions
  • 12 outdoor public art sculptures
  • 11 books (see list below)
  • 5 blog posts
  • 1 film: Still Alice (Academy Award and Golden Globe winner)

November Reading

The e-books that I read in November range from 305 to 460 pages each. They are all very good with detailed plots and many twists and turns. The first three books are Baldacci’s detective Amos Decker series. Once I started reading book #1, I wanted to read the next two books in the series. Mission accomplished! The remaining books are well written by authors that I’ve read before and two new-to-me authors (Giffin and Miller).

  1. Memory Man by David Baldacci.
  2. The Fix by David Baldacci.
  3. The Last Mile by David Baldacci.
  4. Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of A Life Less Ordinary by Liesbet Collaert.
  5. You Say It First by Katie Cotugno.
  6. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.
  7. Paper Towns by John Green.
  8. The Sight of You by Holly Miller.
  9. Everything I Never Told You by Celest Ng.
  10. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
  11. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.

Book Review

A shout out to my blogger friend, Liesbet Collaert at Roaming About blog who just launched her debut travel memoir Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of A Life Less Ordinary. I’ve connected with Liesbet for a few years via blogging. I’ve enjoyed reading her blog and the Advance Reader Copy of her travel memoir.

Plunge book cover

Plunge – One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary is a captivating and candid book where Liesbet shares her life events and travel adventures when she was in her 30s. Her overland and sailing adventures with her husband, Mark, and their two dogs, take her readers to many exotic locations such as Central America, the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, and more.

Life at sea is not always easy. Liesbet shares the challenges they faced, not only the logistics of nomadic living but also their relationship and well-being over the years while sharing a small space and being far away from their families. Liesbet’s choice to live a life less ordinary requires her to be flexible, resilient, and resourceful. I highly recommend this memoir.

Looking forward

I’m looking forward to December when the city centre is beautifully decorated. It’s a wonderful sensory experience to walk around and take it all in. My holiday plan is simple, especially this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope to share it with you in the next couple of blog posts before the year ends.

How did November go for you? Which of the three sculptures do you like? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

Copyright © 2021 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Along Humber Bay Shores

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you are here. I hope you have a few minutes for a quick chat over a cup of coffee or tea. The weather was up and down in Toronto this past week. The first half of the week was cool and windy. The second half of the week was better with sunshine and warmer temperatures.

On one of the sunny mornings, with daytime high around 16C (60F), I went for a long bike ride and stopped at Humber Bay shores for a nature walk. Humber Bay is about 10 km (6.2 miles) west of Toronto’s city centre. A string of beautiful parks with many inviting trails and nice views of Lake Ontario await in this area. Let me show you in pictures.

The Trails

Trail at Humber Bay Park East

A network of sixteen flat and well-maintained biking and hiking trails weave through Humber Bay Park East and Humber Bay Park West. Autumn foliage provides pleasant colours and intermittent shades on a sunny day.

Stream at Humber Bay Park East

I saw and heard many small birds among the trees but they were too quick for me to take a good photo. I also passed a few small water streams when I explored the trails. They all feed into Lake Ontario.

The Views

Looking west from Humber Bay Park East
Looking west from Humber Bay Park East

For unobstructed views of Lake Ontario, I walked the outer trails at the south end of Humber Bay Parks. Rock boulders and benches along the shorelines offer excellent spots for bird watchers hoping to find interesting shorebirds and waterfowl, or for park visitors to sit down and enjoy the panoramic views.

View of the Toronto skyline at Humber Bay Park East
View of the Toronto skyline at Humber Bay Park East
The Toronto skyline and peninsula at Humber Bay Park West
The Toronto skyline and peninsula at Humber Bay Park West

Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat

Located along the Humber Bay Shores, the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat (HBBH) is an ecological restoration project that provides critical habitat for a variety of native butterfly species. It opened in 2002 and is about four acres in size.

Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat

I took a self-guided tour following informative interpretive signs located throughout the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat. The HBBH is comprised of many different plant communities, including wildflower meadow, short grass prairie, woodland, and wetland. It also has a Home Garden that incorporates butterfly-friendly plants and physical features that turn a garden into a haven for butterflies.

Sunflowers

Metal sunflowers

Upon leaving Humber Bay Parks, I saw these big and beautiful sunflowers. They are made of metal and should last all four seasons! I love the details on the flowers, the curved stems, and the veins on the leaves.

Gratitude

It was delightful to be outside cycling, walking in the sunshine, and enjoying seasonal scenery along the shores of Humber Bay. I’m thankful for these parks and all the sunny and warm days that we’ve had this autumn, especially in November when it’s typically overcast and unpredictable here.

The local weather forecast calls for rain or a mix of rain and snow on Sunday, followed by a mix of sun and clouds and normal temperatures on Monday. I’m enjoying the comforts of home on Sunday and will head outside again on Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving on November 26 to my family, friends, and blog readers who live in the USA! Stay safe and well, everyone.

How did your week go? I’d like to hear your comments.

Linking here.

Copyright © 2021 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Peace by Grenadier Pond

Hello blog friends! Over here, the good weather continued this past week. We had plenty of sunshine and warm daytime high temperatures that ranged from 18C to 24C (66F to 75F). We broke record on Tuesday and are now back to about 12C (54F) this weekend.

It was a pleasant week. I went cycling and walking every morning, except Saturday. I got all my fitness-at-home sessions done. I had long phone conversations with my friends who live abroad. My order for grocery home delivery came on time with everything in good condition. I did my daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo, read and enjoyed two fiction novels, which bring my year-to-date total of books read to ninety seven (97).

Today is the 11th Wellness Weekend link-up of 2020. The optional prompt is Peace. I think we all yearn for a more peaceful time after what’s been happening around the world this year. Feel free to join in the link up here and visit other blogs.

Grenadier Pond in Autumn
Grenadier Pond in Autumn

With Peace in mind, on one of the sunny mornings this past week, I cycled to Grenadier Pond, located in the south west end of the city. It is named after the local Town of York garrison of the 1800s and their use of the pond for fishing. Grenadier Pond is about 1 kilometre long and 0.5 kilometre wide. It’s a calm natural body of water and provides lovely vistas.

Trail along the shoreline of Grenadier Pond

A beautiful trail follows its shoreline leading to occasional lookouts and finally to a marsh at the northern end of the pond. The views are stunning especially on a sunny day.

Views of Grenadier Pond
Views of Grenadier Pond

Interpretive signs are available along the trail to provide more information about the wildlife and plants at the pond. Several notable wetland plant species are present, including sweetflag, broad-leaved cattail, common arrowhead and blue-flag iris.

Ducks in Grenadier Pond
Ducks in Grenadier Pond

Grenadier Pond and its restored shoreline provides habitat to a wide assortment of water birds, fish, turtles, dragonflies, damselflies, and other wildlife. I saw several groups of ducks that paid no attention to me even when I got close to the water’s edge.

Fishing is permitted along a designated section of the Grenadier Pond shoreline. Common fish found here include largemouth bass, Northern pike, sunfish, brown bullhead, and carp.

Views of Grenadier Pond
Views of Grenadier Pond

It was peaceful to walk along the trail while listening to the soft sounds of water and rustling leaves. I found it pleasant to have the pond pretty much to myself on a weekday morning.

Hillside trails by Grenadier Pond
Hillside trails by Grenadier Pond

On the east side of Grenadier Pond, hillside trails lead into High Park, an amazing, beautiful, and large park in Toronto, that deserves a separate blog post.

During the week and on Remembrance Day, I visited the Victory-Peace Monument at Coronation Park. The City of Toronto commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Second World War in Coronation Park as part of Remembrance Week (November 5 -11, 2020). I remembered our veterans and those who have served and continue to serve our country in the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as those who help maintain peace.

Canadian flags at Victory-Peace Monument on Remembrance Day 11.11.2020
Canadian flags at the Victory-Peace Monument on Remembrance Day 11.11.2020

Canadian flags were planted around the Victory-Peace Monument by the Mayor, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Legion and Youth to memorialize the 3,452 Torontonians who fell during the War. November 11, 2020 marks 100 years of Remembrance in Toronto.

After a lovely bicycle ride and walk, on my way home I was rewarded with a mirrored view of the clouds on Lake Ontario on a calm day. I continue to be grateful for all the pristine areas around the city that I have to choose from.

How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

Copyright © 2021 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Exploring Tommy Thompson Park

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you are here. I hope you have time for a chat over a cup of coffee or tea. This past week, the weather started off on the cool side on Monday and Tuesday, then from Wednesday to the weekend, the high temperatures reached 20C (68F) with sunny skies.

The nice weather brought a big smile to my face. I decided to cycle to Tommy Thompson Park where I know there is a lot of open space and nature trails for cycling and walking. I had visited this park a few times during the summer.

About Tommy Thompson Park

Aerial view of Tommy Thompson Park
Source: Tommy Thompson Park web site

Park Location: Tommy Thompson Park is located at 1 Leslie Street, near Unwin Avenue, on a man-made peninsula, known as the Leslie Street Spit, which extends five kilometres (3.1 miles) into Lake Ontario.

Park Name: The name “Leslie Street Spit” was coined by local residents and remains the unofficial popular name. In 1985, the Spit was officially named Tommy Thompson Park to honour Toronto’s former Parks Commissioner.

Park Special Features:

  • The land on which the park lies is completely man-made using the sand/ silt dredged from Toronto Outer and Inner Harbours and the Keating Channel.
  • Tommy Thompson Park features a trail system that spans 18 kilometres (11.1 miles) with three types of trails that were designed for various user groups: Multi-use trail (7.4 km), Nature trails (3.3 km), and Pedestrian trails (7.3 km).
  • Tommy Thompson Park is considered one of the best places for bird watching in the city with more than 300 recorded species and a good spot for fishing.
  • Tommy Thompson Park has a Nature Centre and Bird Research Station. Unfortunately they are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic so guided interpretive tours and educational programs are unavailable at this time.

Exploring Tommy Thompson Park

Multi-use trail in Tommy Thompson Park
The multi-use and main trail in Tommy Thompson Park

From the park entrance, I followed the main trail that runs through the centre of the park. This flat paved, multi-use trail accommodates leisure cyclists, joggers, pedestrians, rollerbladers, and strollers.

The main trail has intermittent speed bumps and is approximately 5 km (3.1 miles) long from the park entrance to the Lighthouse. Wildflower meadows and cottonwood forests appear on both sides of the trail. I noticed a unique Please Brake For Snakes sign, a reminder that this park is Toronto’s urban wilderness.

In previous visits to the park, I walked the nature trails to see wildlife such as birds, butterflies, toads, etc. The Nature trails are narrow trails, only half a metre wide, are not graded and may be uneven. They’re intended for walking or hiking and target user groups such as nature watchers and photographers.

Pedestrian Bridge at Tommy Thompson Park
Pedestrian Bridge at Tommy Thompson Park

About half way through the park, the main trail crosses the small Pedestrian Bridge. The views on both sides of the bridge are amazing.

View of the Toronto skyline from Pedestrian Bridge
View of the Toronto skyline from Pedestrian Bridge
Unobstructed view of Lake Ontario and some rock stackings
Unobstructed view of Lake Ontario and some rock stackings

Continue on to the end of the main trail, there are rock boulders to sit on and gaze out to beautiful Lake Ontario. The water along the cobble beaches is clear with several rock formations that may have been built by previous visitors. It’s a nice spot for a break or a picnic.

One of many Nature trails in Tommy Thompson Park
One of many Nature trails in Tommy Thompson Park

From the main trail, I followed one of the Nature trails to reach one of the coastal marshes that provide critical habitat for wildlife. There are a wide variety of turtles and fish species found in and around Tommy Thompson Park, including Northern pike, largemouth bass, yellow perch, and lake trout.

Heading home....Love a curvy trail
Heading home…Love a curvy trail

It was delightful to be outside cycling and walking in the sunshine. Exploring Tommy Thompson Park was an excellent way to spend a morning. As I headed home, I was grateful once again for the wonderful places we have around here to enjoy.

How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

Copyright © 2021 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.