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.

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.

Fun Ride | My Walktober

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope your day is going well and you have a few minutes to stay and chat with me over a cup of coffee or tea.

This past week, we had some cloudy days and periods of rain. On Friday, the day started with fog, then the sun came out with a blast of summer-like high temperature of 23C (73F). By Friday evening, a cold front passed through the city bringing strong winds, severe thunderstorms, and showers. It all cleared up and cool temperatures returned the next morning.

I went cycling and walking five days in a row during the week. More than once, when I left home for my bike ride and a long walk, it looked cloudy at first, then the sun came out, and the rest of the day was beautiful. Let me show you my wanderings in pictures.

Gorgeous trees and leaves

Heritage sites

Scadding Cabin.
Scadding Cabin: This log cabin, Toronto’s oldest known surviving house, was built for John Scadding in 1794 during the first years of British settlement.
Fort Rouillé.
Fort Rouillé, more commonly known as Fort Toronto, was the last French post built in present-day Southern Ontario in 1750. The concrete walkways in this area delineate the walls of Fort Rouillé, a fortification with four bastions and five main buildings. Fort Rouillé was destroyed by its garrison in July 1759.

Inviting trails

I’m grateful to have easy access to the Waterfront trail, which is part of the Great Trail of Canada. At 27,000 kilometres (16,777 miles) in length, the Great Trail of Canada is the longest recreational trail in the world.

Waterfront Trail.
A small section of the Waterfront trail with Lake Ontario on the left of the photo.
Exhibition Place Trail.

Reflections

Every outing reminds me that:

  • It’s a good “move” to start my day with physical activities outdoors. I always feel great by the time I return home.
  • Preparing for an enjoyable bicycle ride is similar to preparing for an enjoyable walk, with the addition of my bike helmet.
  • Warm up, cool down, and stretch exercises help maintain or increase my body’s mobility, they help prevent some injuries, and they make me feel great. They are not to be missed.
  • There are many local gems to discover. Just when I think I know my city, a wandering leads me to new experience and new learning. Both cycling and walking allow me the freedom to turn to wherever my curiosity takes me.
  • The cool air, open space, blue skies, the trail, the lake, and nature make me smile and feel happy. They’re my go-to antidote to social isolation during this COVID-19 pandemic.

I usually choose a scenic spot for a picnic before finding my way home. With cooler weather, people tend to stay inside and that leaves me with a lot of open space when I’m outside. The views, either towards the city or the lake, are amazing.

I’m thankful to have experienced so much seasonal beauty in October, and for the joy and health benefits that cycling and walking give me every time I head outdoors.

How did your week go? What outdoor activity have you enjoyed recently? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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

Fun Walk | Autumn Colours

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope your day is going well and you have a few minutes to stay for a chat with me over a cup of coffee or tea.

Today is the 10th Wellness Weekend link up. The optional prompt is Walking, which is one of my favourite activities. If you’ve recently gone for a walk, feel free to join in, meet new friends, and share your walk here.

For those who are new to my blog, I’ve been living without a car for many years. I walk to exercise and to get from A to B in all four seasons. I’m sharing one of my recent walks and some photos of autumn scenery along the way.

Preparing for an enjoyable walk

I check the weather before I head outside. Whenever I see a sunny forecast, I smile and do my happy dance. I wear comfortable clothes, sun protection, and sturdy shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles, to cushion my feet and absorb shock.

Waterfront trail

Since I walk outdoors, in cooler weather I wear layers that I can take off when I get warm. For my 5K walks, I bring water and snacks in my day pack. I also choose to walk where the path surface is fairly even, and during the day when visibility is good.

Walking a scenic route

I do many of my walks along the scenic shore of Lake Ontario and the Waterfront trail which is reserved for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists. I walk different routes for variety. I usually walk without listening to music or an audio book or a podcast because I want all my senses to focus on what’s in nature.

Yellow leaves
Yellow leaves

This month, for example, I see plenty of beautiful trees showing off their yellow, orange, red and even deep eggplant hues. There are evergreen trees as well which provide a nice backdrop for the autumn colours. Birds, butterflies, squirrels, sea gulls, and Canada geese are common sights.

Orange to red leaves
Orange to red leaves

Autumnal themes continue in gardens, parks, and planters in the neighbourhood. Examples: Light purple asters, potted mums, ornamental cabbage or kale plants, and a lot of pumpkins. I bet there will be a lot of pumpkin carvings to decorate for Halloween on October 31.

Warm up, Cool down, and Stretch

I start my walk slowly for five to ten minutes to warm up my muscles and prepare my body for exercise. Then I pick up my pace for a brisk walk to make it count. At the end of my walk, I walk slowly for five to ten minutes to help my muscles cool down. After I cool down, I pick a scenic spot for a view while gently stretch my muscles.

Stretching after a long walk with a view

Keeping track

Even though I walk year-round, I keep track of how many walks I do in a month as part of my Health maintenance routine. I don’t use an app or an electronic device, just a simple spreadsheet where I keep track of all my key activities. This helps me see where I started from, how many walks I’ve made, and serve as a source of motivation.

Knowing the benefits

I’m grateful for easy access to the lake shore and many parks and gardens. After breakfast, I usually go outside to explore nature, open space, fresh air, the lake, plants, and animals. I come home feeling good and ready for the rest of the day.

I know my regular brisk walking helps me:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Strengthen my bones and muscles
  • Boost my energy and immune function
  • Improve my balance and coordination
  • Improve my mood and keep me mentally healthy
  • Let my creative thinking flow

There is no need to complicate physical activity. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help us live a healthier life. We can really walk our way to fitness.

How did your week go? Do you do brisk walks regularly? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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

Summer Week 12: Marilyn Bell Park

Hello blog friends! How are things going? I hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space for a chat over a cup of tea or coffee.

Summer week 12, from September 6 to 12 inclusive, was half cloudy and half sunny. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 19C to 24C (66F to 76F). It certainly feels like the end of summer is near and autumn is on her way.

I took advantage of the fair weather to be outside cycling and walking as much as possible. One of my fun destinations was Marilyn Bell Park. Let me share with you a brief history and what I like about this park.

Park location and history

Marilyn Bell Park is located at 1095 Lake Shore Blvd. West at British Columbia Road. It’s west of Ontario Place, along the lake shore, and includes part of the Waterfront Trail.

Marilyn Bell Park history.

The park is named after Marilyn Bell, a local Toronto girl who was the first person to swim across Lake Ontario on September 9, 1954. She was only sixteen at the time and she made the 51.5 km (32 miles) swim in 20 hours and 59 minutes. The park was dedicated to her on the 30th anniversary of her swim in 1984.

Park features

At a glance, Marilyn Bell Park may look like a simple park until visitors take time to explore and pay attention to what it offers. Below are my favourites at this park.

Beautiful green space with lots of trees, grassy fields, picnic tables, and benches.
Beautiful green space with lots of trees, grassy fields, picnic tables, and benches.
Stunning lake view from the Lookout and along the boardwalk.
Stunning lake view from the Lookout and along the boardwalk.
Biking and walking trails with view of the breakwater wall and cormorants.
Biking and walking trails with view of the breakwater wall and cormorants.
One of the disc golf baskets at Marilyn Bell Park disc golf course.
Disc golf course: Here’s one of the baskets. Play a game with a view!
Outdoor gym using the three benches. Tennis courts on the right of the photo.
Outdoor gym using the three benches. Tennis courts on the right of the photo.

I welcome the Bench fit exercises displayed at the three benches in the park. Some of the exercises are part of my strengthening workouts at home. These benches form a triangle and are numbered from 1 to 3. All three face the lake so I do my workout, move from one bench to the next, while enjoying a great view.

Each bench has four exercises. Total 12 exercises. The information panel at each bench displays pictures and instructions for the exercises:

  • Bench 1: Step up, Incline frontal plank, Incline push up, and Lunge with front foot on bench.
  • Bench 2: Incline frontal plank, Touch squat, Bench toe tap, and V-Up abs.
  • Bench 3: Calf raise, Isometric squat, Mountain climber, and Bench dip.
Working out at Marilyn Bell Park with a great view!
Working out at Marilyn Bell Park with a great view!

If I had my yoga mat with me, I could practice yoga on the grassy field, or bring a book and sit in one of the big comfy chairs to read. I’m grateful for this open green space and clean air. My thoughts are with my relatives, friends, and everyone else, who have been affected by the devastating fires and the poor air quality on the West Coast in the USA.

I love that for a simple park, one can enjoy a number of activities here. On this excursion, I cycled to Marilyn Bell Park, locked my bike, walked the lengths of the park, did the twelve Bench Fit exercises, and had a picnic by the lake before cycling home. It was a beautiful morning and I came home smiling and feeling energized for my afternoon activities.

How did your week go? Which local park is your favourite and why? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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

Summer Week 11: August Smiles

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? Hope all is well with you. Come on in to my blog space so we can share our news over a cup of coffee or tea.

Summer Week 11

Summer week 11, from August 30 to September 5 inclusive, delivered another stretch of good weather. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 22C to 27C (72F to 82F) with mainly sunny days and some rain mid-week.

Beach Visit

I cycled to Cherry Beach early one morning to get my quiet beach time. Cherry Beach typically achieves annual Blue Flag certification where water quality is safe for swimming. It was nice to walk along the beach and listen to the sounds of water and birds.

Cherry Beach.
Cherry Beach

There are picnic sites, restroom facility, parking lots, and dogs off-leash area outside the beach entrance which make this beach popular, especially on summer weekends.

Cherry Beach picnic site.
Cherry Beach picnic site

Family Visit

My sister and nieces came to visit on Tuesday. We sat outside 2 meters apart by the lake to chat and catch up on our news. My nieces resume their university studies next week so I was glad to see them before they get busy with school.

Lake view.

Park Visit

On another beautiful day, I went for a long walk and paused at Larry Sefton Park. The United Steel Workers of America funded this park creation in 1977 to honor the memory of their director, Larry Sefton. I liked how the deep terra cotta wall provides a nice backdrop to the steel sculpture.

Larry Sefton Park

August in Numbers

August ended a few days ago so this week I completed my usual monthly review and month-end digital file back-ups. How did I do in August? Let’s see what the numbers have to say:

  • 1 family visit (and a repeat baking success: a coconut loaf).
  • 1 stand up paddling excursion.
  • 2 canoe excursions here and here.
  • 2 coffee meet-ups with friends.
  • 2 movies: Cake and The Boy Downstairs.
  • 3 digital concerts.
  • 5 blog posts.
  • 12 yoga sessions.
  • 13 strengthening workouts.
  • 20 books (see list below).
  • 21 cycling trips.
  • 24 walks.
  • 31 French and Spanish online sessions.
  • 31 meditations sessions.

Overall August was an excellent month for me. I enjoyed the good weather, had coffee chats with my siblings and friends outdoors, did a lot of cycling, paddling, walking, exercising, learning, reading, and writing.

Reading in August

By switching to e-books and not visiting the library, I gained time to read and enjoyed twenty fiction novels in August. These novels are all really good page-turners and once I start, I want to read to the end. During the day, I’m active and on my feet a lot so by evening time, I’m happy to sit down and get lost in a book.

Here’s my list in order of preference:

  1. The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes.
  2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
  4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.
  5. American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson.
  6. 99 Days by Katie Cotugno.
  7. 9 Days and 9 Nights (sequel to 99 Days) by Katie Cotugno.
  8. After You (sequel to Me Before You) by Jojo Moyes.
  9. Still Me (sequel to After You) by Jojo Moyes.
  10. One Day in December by Josie Silver.
  11. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware.
  12. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.
  13. Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker.
  14. Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker.
  15. Four Seconds To Lose by K.A. Tucker.
  16. Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker.
  17. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.
  18. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton.
  19. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory.
  20. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.

Novel #1: The Sense of An Ending blew my mind. I read this e-book in one evening as the story is engaging and it’s just 160 pages long. When I finished, my reaction was “Whoa, I didn’t see it coming“.

Novels #1 to #5: Even though love shines in all the novels I read, the deaths of bright and young people in my top five novels made me feel really sad after I finished the books. I had to do long bicycle rides and long walks to clear my head of thoughts about grief and unnatural deaths.

Novels #6 to #16: I usually don’t read sequels or multiple books from the same author in one month. Breaking my own rule, I read and enjoyed the young adult fiction sequel by Katie Cotugno, the trilogy by Jojo Moyes, and the series by K.A. Tucker. Novels #11 and 12 are good thrillers.

Novels #17 to #20: Just because I place the books last on my list, it doesn’t mean #17 to #20 are not good reads. I like all the 20 novels that I read in August. I’m glad to discover new-to-me authors and appreciate all the hard work that these authors put in to write their books. I hope my reading contributes to the overall encouragement for them to write more.

Conclusion

I’m grateful for all the good things that happened. My family and friends are safe and well. I continue to follow public health measures to stay safe and well, too. I look forward to making the most of September.

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

Linking here.

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

Summer Week 9: Spontaneous Outings

Hello blog friends! How are things going? Hope all is well with you. Come on in to my blog space and let’s chat over a cup of tea or coffee.

Summer week 9, from August 16 to 22 inclusive, delivered a beautiful stretch of good weather, sunny skies and pleasant temperatures. Daytime high ranged from 24C to 29C (75F to 84F).

I received a couple of quick messages and phone calls from my friends. My spontaneous response “Yes, let’s do this!” rounded my week with two in-person coffee chats and one Stand Up Paddling afternoon on Toronto islands.

Coffee Chat #1

Friend #1 who lives in the suburb and who has been working from home had to go into the city centre for business on Tuesday. I was flexible with my time so we met up for coffee and catch up. I walked to our meeting place and back home, got 5K done before and after our coffee chat, two birds one stone.

We sat outside on a beautiful day, 2 meters (6 feet) apart, and in a nice public square with plants and flowers. Our chat was non-stop with laughs and smiles. After our meeting was over, I got a photo of this pretty monarch butterfly. Not bad for a cell phone!

Monarch butterfly on a butterfly brush flower
Monarch butterfly on a butterfly brush flower

Coffee Chat #2

Friend #2 who lives in the west end of the city and who has been busy taking care of an elderly parent was available on Thursday. So we agreed to meet at Humber Bay Arch Bridge. I rode my bike there and back, enjoyed my ride on the scenic waterfront trail, got 20 kilometers done before and after our coffee chat, two birds one stone again.

Humber Bay Arch Bridge
Humber Bay Arch Bridge

We sat outside at Sheldon Lookout, 2 meters (6 feet) apart, on another gorgeous day, with stunning views of Humber Bay. Part of the bay, where the sun light hit the water, sparkled like a million diamonds.

The view from Sheldon Lookout
The view from Sheldon Lookout

Our chat was full of news exchange, laughs, and smiles. On this sunny day by the lake and with nice green space around us, we focused on the present and the good things in life.

A view from Sheldon Lookout
A view from Sheldon Lookout

Stand Up Paddling (SUP)

Friend #3 was asking me about my Stand Up Paddling excursion in July. So we booked to rent two SUP boards. Each rental includes a return trip on a pontoon boat to where the SUP boards are stored on the islands, a board, a paddle, a life jacket, and a flexible leash with Velcro straps to keep the board attached to our ankles. We did stand up paddling on Toronto islands for about 2.5 hours.

My cherry red SUP board...Love the starfish!
My cherry red SUP board…Love the starfish!

The lake water will be cooler in September and SUP season will be over soon so I was glad to squeeze in this SUP outing. The photos from this trip are a bit unclear because I took them while my phone was secured in a clear waterproof case!

We saw many swans and ducks during our paddling. The cherry-on-top for me was a great blue heron that stood quietly by the water as we left the islands to head home, and the fiery sunset over Toronto Harbour, signaling the end of another stunning day.

Great blue heron on Toronto Islands
Great blue heron on Toronto Islands
Sunset over Toronto Harbour
Sunset over Toronto Harbour

Spontaneity and Flexibility

These outings came together on different days with different people and minimal planning. They gave me many joyful moments. One ordinary week became extra-ordinary. I’m glad I have the flexibility in my day to say Yes, let’s do this!

After all the physical activities, I’m ready to sink into one of these big comfy Muskoka chairs and read a good book. Care to join me? I’m about half way through The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Muskoka chairs and lake view
Muskoka chairs and lake view

Once again, nature, sunshine, exercises, friendship, and good books are my not-so secrets to a healthy and enriched life. Summer week 9 was fantastic. I look forward to making the most of summer week 10.

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

Linking here.

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

Summer Week 7: Coronation Park

Hello blog friends! How are things going? Hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space, feel free to have a coffee or tea, hot or cold, and let’s catch up on our news.

Summer week 7, from August 2 to 8 inclusive, means we just passed the half point of summer here. We had heavy rainfall on Sunday, rain on Monday afternoon and Tuesday then sunny weather the rest of the week. The high temperatures ranged from 24C to 29C (75F to 85F).

Cycling

I cycled along the Waterfront trail from one to two hours most mornings this week. One of the parks that I stopped by is Coronation Park. Coronation Park was built in 1937 to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI. It’s located at Lake Shore Blvd West & Fort York Blvd, just east of Ontario Place or Trillium Park.

Coronation Park highlights

Beautiful oak and maple trees: The park design consisted of grouping trees around a central Royal Oak, symbolizing the King. An inner ring of oak trees, known as the “Empire Circle”, represents the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa and the Crown Colonies.

To the north, the Imperial Service triangle of trees represented the Royal Navy, Air Force and Army. On either side of the ring are separate groves of maple trees representing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Canadian divisions, Siberian troops, and Corp Troops to the east and west.

Royal Oak in the centre of the Empire Circle of oak trees.
Royal Oak in the centre of the Empire Circle of oak trees

Lake view: The south side of Coronation Park offers stunning views of Lake Ontario and the marina. It is a beautiful spot to sit along the shoreline of Lake Ontario and enjoy a picnic on a warm summer day. Coronation Park also has three softball diamonds on the north side and a nice-sized dog off-leash area on the east side.

Lake view from Coronation Park.
Lake view from Coronation Park

Victory-Peace Monument: It’s a permanent war memorial built in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. There are two sets of bronze walls, arranged like ship prows. Between the walls are maple leaves. One is engraved “Sacrifice” and the other “Hope”. The walls surrounding it has artwork depicting information about Canada’s involvement in World War II.

Victory-Peace Monument designed by artist John McEwan at Coronation Park.
Victory-Peace Monument designed by artist John McEwan at Coronation Park

Reading

Coronation Park is also a perfect spot for reading. There are benches, Muskoka chairs, grassy field, and picnic tables. The lake views, however, may be a distraction. I finished five books this week and really liked the funny dialogues and heart-breaking love story in Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.

Walking

I got to see so many beautiful flowers on my morning walks. Some of them attract more bees and butterflies than others. The colour choices are amazing and they brighten my day. I’m sharing two photos here even though I took many more.

Pink thistle
Pink thistle
A monarch butterfly
A monarch butterfly

Considering everything, it was a beautiful and enjoyable week.

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

Linking here.

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