Falun Dafa Montreal

The last time I walked through Chinatown in Montreal, I couldn’t help myself but to stop and see these elderly people in a deep meditation right in the middle of all the chaos.

It was so nice to see. Like the calm within the storm. I had no idea what they were doing apart from what the signs said, calling this form of meditation ‘Falun Dafa’ which focuses on Truthfulness, compassion and Forbearance. I am sure someone reading this may know everything about it and can share some of their knowledge with me. I loved to see the focus within each of them as they held each pose and gracefully moved to the next one, staying in control each moment. I would be a lucky  woman if I have that much focus and control, and more importantly, the calmness within when I get to that age.

I took some shots of them doing their poses.

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Adonis Supermarket QC Canada

This supermarket is cool because it is a place I visit weekly to buy my Tarama (Pink greek dip) and mixed pitted olives.  It is called Adonis. It is located at 2425 Boulevard Curé-Labelle, Laval, QC H7T 1R3. Email contact is courriel.laval@groupeadonis.ca and phone number is (450) 978-2333.

There are some more stores in Montreal and other places and it is expanding all the time. I love it. The employees speak either greek or some speak either lebanese or other middle eastern languages. I love talking to the greek employees as it allows me to practice speaking it so I don’t lose what little I already know haha.

The huge warehouse supermarket has a whole fruit and veg section, deli section with all the cheeses and olives you could imagine are available. It has Meat, poultry, seafood and fresh bakery and cakes sections also. Plenty of baklava with a mixture of Greek and lebanese influenced desserts.

The middle of the store is laid out in aisles of herbs, spices and cereals etc, like most other supermarkets however it really only stocks products that you would need if you were living in a european, or middle eastern household, or if you wanted to make dishes influenced from these areas, and needed ingredients. The tarama that they sell is quite a bright pink. The price is reasonable. Not too cheap and not too expensive.

I took some photos of the place recently to share with you.

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Bota Spa Montreal Canada

I wasn’t into Spa’s back in Australia much. I think that is because I had access to the salt water pools off the beaches and the warm climate sun. Since travelling, I certainly have had more of a chance to enjoy some relaxing moments to just have some space and peace.

I recently came across a spa that is located on the water in Montreal. They have converted a boat into a day Spa called Bota Spa. The boat is black and off the boat there is a section with some running water, hammocks and grass to relax. It is located in the old port of Montreal. Number for bookings are: +1 514 284 0333.

In order to access the boat all day and enjoy the sauna, steam room, hot tubs and cold baths, as well as outdoor terraces and restaurant, you need to pay around $65 on weekends and around $55 during the week. It is cheaper for under three hours and they have promotions for couples. To get a 90 minute relaxation massage, you are looking at a price of $130. I found there were alot more guys at this particular spa, and mostly well groomed gay guys too. It seemed relaxing but if you want absolute privacy, you may be better off choosing a different spa because when you relax on the outdoor decks, the tourists on the boardwalks can definitely check you out. I think it’s a great idea and something that could be tried in the Sydney Harbour.

 

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Notre Dame Church Old Quebec City

This blog article is not about the huge Notre Dame Church that is well known. This one is about the one located near the historic spot of Le Fresque des Quebecois. A blog I did earlier. I was fascinated by this church for two reasons.

1. I love lighting candles and taking a moment out of my day to connect spiritually with my inner self and guides.

2. When I walked in and went around the side, they have this glass coffin with what looks to be a human sized Jesus Christ lying in the coffin.

It is not everyday you see something like this and I had to take a photo to share with you all. The connection I had in this church was special. It was a small church, the inside entrance was nothing stand outish at all but the front and little side prayer section was fascinating where this coffin was. I will share the photos with you and that’s it.

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Shopping in Quebec City Canada

I love shopping and I loved shopping in Old Quebec City. Not only do you get to check out different things, but you are constantly walking around streets that have so much history and old art galleries, as well as cafes etc. It’s awesome.

We went into a really great jewellery shop which had some pieces made out of Pewter and looked cool as well as sterling silver too. Awesome and fashionable. They had a good selection and I liked the diversity in the pieces they had. Right opposite that shop was an awesome Painting and leather good store called conception Cuir. Had these paintings of flowers and animals where it was textured making the flower come out shiny, giving it a more 3D look. It was great to check out that shop. My favourite was the giraffe and that was on sale for around $2000 just to give you an idea of the prices. The pieces come with the full certificate from the artist. No idea who the artist was because I can’t remember, oops.

There are heaps of shops to look at in the whole city. From the common clothing stores that you see around, to boutique stores and they are located sporadically around the old city. You basically have to walk around and just look at places.

The famous Chateau Fontenac Castle. Love it Love it Love it. I have developed this strange fascination to castles in the past 12 months. I think I have secretly loved fairytales and always wanted to be a princess although really, I never would have suited one. A queen possibly, but more like the queens that are played in the latest Snow White movies as opposed to the traditional UK Queens.  Ha Ha.

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Shop: Conception Cuir. Loved this Giraffe picture a lot.

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It stocks all natural leather good products.

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Shop: Joaillerie Langevin in Quebec City. Loved this jewellery shop below because it had heaps of pieces I could buy and enjoy wearing. I was spoilt with a ring from here. Photo below. 

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A big ring but I love it. Thank you Veronique.

The Fudgerie shop. 

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This was different types of chocolate available in the fudge shop also. 

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Historic Quebec City Canada

Love Old Quebec City. The old buildings are amazing. If you are just reading my blogs for the first time, you need to know that Quebec City is the capital of the provence Quebec. It’s around 2.5 to 3 hours North of Montreal. A really great place to drive too and visit.

I have added some wikipedia information here because It was founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, and is one of the oldest cities in Nth America. The ramparts surrounding Old Quebec (Vieux-Québec) are the only remaining fortified city walls that still exist in the Americas north of Mexico, and were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985 as the ‘Historic District of Old Québec’. In 1665, there were 550 people in 70 houses living in the city. One-quarter of the people were members of religious orders: secular priests, Jesuits, Ursulines nuns and the order running the local hospital, Hotel-Dieu.

Quebec city was the headquarters of many raids against New England during the four French and Indian Wars. In the last war, the French and Indian War (Seven Years War), Quebec City was captured by the British in 1759 and held until the end of the war in 1763. It was the site of three battles during Seven Years War – the Battle of Beauport, a French victory (July 31, 1759); the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, in which British troops under General James Wolfe defeated the French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm on September 13, 1759 and shortly thereafter took the city; and the final Battle of Sainte-Foy, a French victory (April 28, 1760). France ceded New France, including the city, to Britain in 1763.

This spot I have dedicated it’s own blog too was one of my favourite spots in Old Quebec City. It is ‘La Fresque de Quebecois’. It is this huge wall with this magnificent painting on it. When we were there we saw school excursions going on, and teachers were teaching students about the historical relevance of it. The whole town is like this. I loved it. The energy around it was fantastic too. I took heaps of photos of the same wall and shared them with you because I couldn’t decide which one to choose.

So you know, the term Quebecois is the term they use here like “Aussie” or Australian. The provence is Quebec but they call the people a “Quebecois” (Pronounced Quebecwaaaa) Drop the last letter as is the case with most French words.

 

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Cafe Du Monde – Quebec City

We recently visited the Restaurant Café du Monde. It’s at 84 Rue Dalhousie, Quebec City, QC G1K 482. You can book on +1 418 692 4455 however they don’t take bookings for the outside seated areas.

It was on the waterfront near Old Quebec City and a friend told us to check it out. I found it pretty cool inside. It had a little but of a cold feel to the set up of the place but it is located in a great spot on the water. It is a huge place inside, with a really long curved bar. The toilet is downstairs on the ground level and really big cubicles that have painted pictures on the doors. It’s cool. Very French Feel. The photos below are best to see.

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Old Quebec City

There is Quebec City and Old Quebec City. A great place to go and visit for sure. I will certainly go again. Quebec CIty is the capital of the provence Quebec and in French called Ville de Quebec. For some background information, the population is 516, 622 people and the area is 484.1km2. It is about a 2.5 hour drive from where we are. The same from Montreal give or take 20 minutes.

The vast majority of city residents are native French-speakers. The English-speaking community peaked in relative terms during the 1860s, when 40% of Quebec City’s residents were Anglophone.Today, Anglophones make up only 1.5% of the population of both the city and its metropolitan area. However, the annual Quebec Winter Carnival attracts both Francophone and Anglophone tourists alike, so the Anglophone population increases considerably during the duration of the event.

When you get there, you can’t help but notice the age of the buildings and you can see the huge historic castle hotel up the top of the mountain. It is grand. It is the Famous Chateau Frontenac Castle.

It has this little strip where you can walk along with pebble stone grounds and you walk along looking at these little cute stalls and intimate cafes. I loved it. You can walk up the mountain via steps or a lift so you can go to the Famous Chateau. We took the lift and you can get to it through the little grocery store on the walking strip. We had a great day out there taking it all in. Worth the drive up. It’s probably best to stay a night or two because there is lots to do and see.

It’s probably best to see the photos below to know what I’m talking about. I am writing separate blogs about the shopping there and one of the cafes we went too.

When we were driving to Quebec City, I saw this sign post to a town called “Yamachiche”. I kept saying it out loud because I loved the sound of this name.

 

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Le Lapin Saute Restaurant Quebec City

Did you know there is a restaurant dedicated to Rabbit meat in Quebec City. I wanted to check it out. I don’t tend to eat a lot of meat, I tend to eat a lot of Salmon as it is one of my favourite meats, however sometimes I crave some red meat, as long as it’s damn good.

This restaurant we came across in Old Quebec City was awesome. It’s located at 52 Rue du Petit Champlain, QC. The actual layout of it and set up was inviting enough and seeing I didn’t understand French at all, once I found out what the cafe title meant, I was interested. Summer time is great in Old Quebec City and you will read a few more blogs about my time in this cool city because it is the capital of Quebec. A bit like Sydney being the capital of NSW. Although, isn’t Parramatta coming close bahahaha.

The cafe is situated in a corner pocket along a strip of stores. Right next to it is a small little outdoor seating area to break up the stores. They have some live entertainment on in this little spot which is great because as you sit and eat your lunch, you are entertained as well.

The staff were really friendly and the tables were small, intimate and cute. There is an indoor section also but when it’s a summers day, the outside is best by far.

We chose to try the rabbit selections because this is what they are famous for. We selected a couple of dishes to share with a different combination of rabbit in them. The food was good. I enjoyed it and the cocktails were good too. Veronique loves white beer at times, so they had this there too.

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La Ferme Guyon Markets Canada

La Ferme Guyon is a Farmers Market that has been opened since June 2010. It is located at the junction of highway 10 and 35. It comprises a nursery, many greenhouse productions, a flower shop, an herbalists shop, an educational farm and a butterfly house, home to over 400 butterflies. They basically stock Quebec’s local producers.

I loved walking into this place. The look of it with the high wooden beams and it was really cool and ultra clean inside. They have good sized trolleys to use and you are not overwhelmed by too much of anything. It had a little bit of everything and they keep everything stocked up. I bought some great fresh organic meat and great produce. It is corn season at the moment, so we bought some corn and enjoyed eating it. They have white and yellow corn here so it’s different to what I’m used too. It’s nice though.  I loved seeing the different statues for the garden. Some were a little creepy but okay. It is better to go prepared with a cooler / esky to be able to keep the meat and produce cool, as it may be a bit of a drive heading home. It really depends how far away you live. It would be great to see some more places like this back in Oz because I am sure they would go well. Lucikly for the Australians, They have access to really fresh produce everywhere all year round so pretty lucky. Not always the case here, outside of summer due to the cold climate hitting hard. At least in Canada they have land for crops. In the USA, they have hardly anything and they import most of their produce. I know in Manhattan, some of the produce comes from Ecuador or Mexico.

I remember talking to the guy in the meat section of this market to see if he had any scotch fillet. They just don’t have it here which sucks and the lamb they get imported from New Zealand is much cheaper to buy than the lamb from actual Quebec. The word on the street is that the New Zealand lamb has too much a strong smell and taste for them here so it’s cheaper. I bet if they came to my relatives house at the next function back in Australia, and they got to try the Lamb on the spit, their opinions would definitely change. Lamb is really dependant on how you cook it also. The longer you cook it, the better it is.

 

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Canadian Tire Canada

It isn’t until you get to another country that you have to start working out what stores are what. When I first saw the huge warehouse buildings of Canadian Tire, I kept thinking it was some automotive warehouse chain. When I finally got to go inside, it reminded me of a  mixture between Bunnings, Kmart, and Big W. It has outdoor furniture available, as well as camping gear, sports gear, pool accessories, kitchenware, blah blah blah.

It really has a bit of everything.

We used it recently to stock up on some camping accessories, torches and batteries, and even dog leads. It is reasonably priced also, in other words – affordable.

I enjoy going into big shopping stores. I love seeing what they have. I always find things that I think are interesting and it’s a great way to pass time in order to have your creative mind on the look out. The last Canadian Tire I went too, I took some shops so anybody coming to Canada from out of town, will know where to go, to get things they need. They also have more specific shops like ‘Rona’ (Which is an exact equivalent of Bunnings in Australia) and they have Walmart (Equivalent of Kmart/Big W) so between all of these stores here, you eventually find what you are looking for.

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Maitre Glacier Ice Cream Saint Sauveur

‘Maitre Glacier’ is another word for a great bloody ice-cream shop. Glacier means ice. I have learnt that from all the camping trips and road trips we go on and we need to buy ice from the service station, or the “Depaneur”. I will learn french fully at some point. In the meantime, I am learning some words gradually.

This shop is the shop that allows me to have fresh dark chocolate sorbet. I can’t believe I finally found a place that has it. What is even better, is it is located in one of my favourite towns at 18 Rue De La Gare, Saint Sauveur in Quebec, Canada. It is quite reasonable in price too. For $14.50 you can have a 1 litre tub. In Coogee, Sydney, I was paying around $18, and in Bondi, a little more.

I went with my wife and Mother in law Linda (Belle Mere) to have some ice-cream and this is what we found. Linda had the Caramel with coconut gelato in a cup and Veronique had the ice-cream twirl with dipped chocolate whilst I ordered the dark chocolate 1 litre tub of sorbet. Heaven in a tub.

I tried all of them. The sorbet as you now know, fantastic. The twirl ice-cream just didn’t compare to the shop in Mascouche. The Caramel and coconut gelato were also amazing. Sometimes when I have tried Caramel gelato in other places, it is so sweet, that it isn’t enjoyable. This was perfect and I will certainly try one next time. Mixed with the coconut is great too although I think next time, they will just eat the caramel only. It was really good.

The awesome part about this shop too is the outside seating area. In Canada, they have these wooden swinging chairs that you sit on with up to four persons and the seats can swing from side to side. I think they’re great. I have seen them everywhere but haven’t actually sat on them until now. I have seen them on sale at Canadian Tire (Similar to a Big W mixed with Kmart and a little Bunnings)

I took some photos of the shop with us.

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Camp Borreal – Quebec, Canada

The last blog about camping with the dog is linked to this really. This time I will talk about the awesome camping experience when you take away dangers to dogs. I love camping. Actually, I will clarify, the type of camping I like, is the camping where you have a toilet and shower block available. I don’t really fancy camping in the thick of the mountain bush with no facilities to clean yourself. I am not saying I wouldn’t do that if I needed too however I just prefer the access to amenities but still having the experience of being on a campsite, away from civilization to just relax.

I thought I was pretty much super organized. On the day we decided to go on this particular camping trip, it was more a last minute decision. There was no electricity in Laval and Saint Sauveur (45 minutes North) also had a power cut out failure so we were without ice. We luckily managed to find a servo (depaneur) in Piedmont that had a few bags left to save the day. We stocked up and drove. Our friend Sophie had organized for us to camp in Mont Tremblant however when she got there, it was full. We settled for another place she found called Camp Borreal. It is between Saint Sauveur and Mont Tremblant. Basically, North of Montreal. At first, as you drive through the gate, you see a man made lake and some interesting people sitting around but when we drove to our camping spots, the location was great. Every spot had privacy. It was nice. It was closer to the highway so you could hear the traffic in the background at night when it was quiet but apart from that, it was a great location. It wasn’t super busy with kids swarming around screaming, it was perfect. People would go on walks following the car path around and kids would ride their bikes on the same path which was good.

There was a pool near the entrance to the site and we enjoyed swimming in it when the other kids had a break for ten minutes. They consider a spot of sand near the lake, a beach which to me did not come close to earning that title. We did lay down on the brown sand but when I was faced to decide whether or not to swim in murky man made lake water, I opted for the pool. A much better choice all round.

We enjoyed sitting around the campsite, setting up the tents and I had bought a little two burner Coleman grill so I enjoyed cooking on it with the butane gas bottles. I loved it. Around 6pm, we would start the fire, because let’s face it, I’m not in Australia now, and even though the sun is still up at 6pm, doesn’t mean it is warm in the mountain areas. The camp fire was great. So warm and after dinner, which consisted of salad and steak / salmon on the grill, it was awesome.

For dessert, we had marshmallows. I found these huge camping marshmallows at the IGA store where I went so we had those. I loved the whole experience of burning the outside of the marshmallow and then eating it in bits, heating it again and eating it. It was a slower experience this way and so good. If you cook it lower to the burning wood on the bottom, you can get a better lighter burn, instead of a charcoal burn if it’s directly on the fire. Once you get used to the technique and master it, you can sit back and relax.

The first night, we had a blanket and sheets on our blow up mattress inside the 8 man tent we pitched. Let me tell you, when they say 8 man tent, in reality, it is a good size for two. Especially if one of those people are from Greek Decent and are used to living in big spaces. I froze the first night. The climate in Canada just isn’t warm like Australia at night so the next day, we went down the road to Canadian Tire and bought a thick sleeping bag that we could open up for extra warmth. It made all the difference and the second night, we slept very comfortably.

Loved it. Unfortunately it was on the morning we were leaving, that the incident with the dog burning her eye occurred but we were at least grateful that it happened at a point where it was day time to access a vet close by.

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Dogs and campfires Canada

Recently, we learnt a very big lesson about owning a dog and deciding to take the dog camping. We love camping, in fact, I think the whole of Canada goes camping in summer and spring. It is a huge thing here. I am not complaining at all because I love it and I love eating marshmallows on the fire too.

We have a little gorgeous dog, Ananda, a small beautiful Yorkshire and while we went camping we let the dogs roam around however had them tied to a tree with an extended cord so they could enjoy their time. Bigger dogs would not be as much of a danger however the smaller dogs are lower to the ground. This particular campsite had these rusty small couldron type things that you put your wood in and light for the fire. You don’t think much of it. The dogs could feel it was hot so wouldn’t get too close. What we didn’t really take into consideration is that as dogs walk around, their eye level is at a much lower level to the ground than ours, so the ash from the fire as it bursts can be closer to a dogs eye, than a human eye. A piece of ash or burnt substance popped up and landed in her left eye. At first she whimpered a little and we thought maybe the heat just scared her but then we saw a white film over her cornea and we straight away went hunting for a vet.

The vet was close enough and she removed the white film from the eye and started her on antibiotics. The substance that they put on, turns a really bright green if there is deeper damage to the cornea. At first it was a murky green but when we left and went back to pack up, it got brighter. It was time to take her to an eye specialist. We quickly discovered that in all of Quebec there are only three dog eye specialists. If anyone out there wants to study something, great opportunity to go into this field as you will be well off in no time due to demand.

The lovely Dr Elise Perierre saw us that same afternoon and she was fantastic. A really great Dr and a great practice. They have all these thank you cards on the wall with wonderful praise because they are so compassionate and lovely with their patients. They decided to treat the eye aggressively in the next 24 hours so that we could try and recover her vision. Three different drops every two hours and pain tablets. Thank goodness for pet insurance. On that note, pet insurance costs double in Canada, than what it does in Sydney Australia. You get 80% of the benefit back. It is still worth it but I just don’t understand why it costs double.

As good dog parents, we treated her with love and care and after 24 hours she was already making great progress. Her eye was bright green, and still is at times, but getting better. The specialist is expecting a full recovery and we are all happy for getting help immediately and going to see the specialist first thing. If we waited, the outcome would not have been the same. It’s been over a week, we have decided to keep the cone around her neck on to avoid her scratching the bottom part of the eyelid which was burnt and still healing. She hates wearing the cone but she got used to it. She is a good dog, rarely complained or whimpered and she is moving around with her cone head. At first, when the vet puts on the cone head, it looks fascinating and sometimes you just can’t help but giggle a little but it’s part of the process. I would laugh if i had to wear a cone around my head. I would look like a lion with my hair.

My advice to anyone with a dog. Carefully decide whether it’s best to bring the dog camping or not, and if you decide to take your pet, make sure you tie them freely to hang around the tent and away from the campfire. It is much safer. Its always important to know wherever you go, where a vet is close by and also a human hospital for any emergency. Being prepared is always better than trying to work it out at the time, with the stress of the emergency.

This is the couldron in the back that the fire is lit in.

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Marche Jean Talon, Montreal

I found some fresh fruit and vegetable markets called Marche Jean Talon in the Little Italy District at 7070 Avenue Henri Julien in Montreal and ever since, I drive all the way to Montreal to get fresh Fruit and Vegetables. The fruit and veg on sale here comes from the farms in Quebec, Canada. It is good but you need to shop around each stall and pick the best produce. Canada is known for their strawberries so you see them in nearly every stall.

The farmers market has been around since 1933 to the public. It was a field before then. It is open all year round however in winter, there are fewer stalls and they build a big wall around the complex for the excessive cold periods of winter.

The flowers are fabulous too and I wrote more about them below with the photos. My favourite place at the market is one of the permanent stall shops across from the side entrance. It stocks the best watermelon I have tasted. I spoke with the owner of the place about the watermelon and he said that they hunt around for ages to find the best ones to sell. I like that. I have no problem driving further to eat great watermelon. When you are home in summer, and you bring it out of the fridge, nice and cool, well, it’s like eating great dark chocolate sorbet in my books. It’s just sublime. The simple things in life are often best.
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Cremerie et Cafe Mascouche Canada

Most that know me, know I love ice-cream. I am lactose intolerant so I had a few withdrawal periods when I first found out about how I was going to live life without ice-cream and more so without dairy (I used to love cheese). For years, I did without and then discovered dark chocolate sorbet which I love. I am yet to find a really great dark chocolate Sorbet here in Canada that is fresh.

However, the other day, I decided to challenge my stomach a little and try a full normal icecream twirl cone dipped in dark chocolate, like I used to have growing up from the “Mr Whippy’s” truck but without the bacteria. The shop is called ‘Cremerie et Cafe – Sainte Marie’. It’s at 2685 K Chemin de Sainte Marie in Mascouche. Number +1 450 474 7583. There is an ice-cream poster on the street front which is how I found the place to begin with.

Oh boy, I was in heaven for a moment and I think in the short time I have discovered this ice-cream shop, I have put on some excess sugar rolls. Yum, the dark chocolate topping is the perfect consistency and tastes great. The actual ice-cream itself is perfect. I have on occasion tried other ones, but they just don’t compare. I found them bland. This was delicious.

The lady that runs this little Cremerie (Ice creamery in english) is lovely but only speaks French so when I first got there, I had to go around behind the counter to show her what I wanted. I just love this type of interaction. Reminds me of the lady at the Sushi shop down the road. I find this part of Canada very intimate like that with the small town feel and you feel like you are part owner of the shop when you are in there. It’s nice.

To my surprise, the ice-cream didn’t affect my tummy as much as other dairy products have so it was bare able and to be honest, worth the cramps you can get afterwards because it tastes so bloody great.

I took some photos of the shop for you and the ice-cream itself and what I love the most, when I walk into the shop, I nod to the lady and she just knows instantly what I want. I put my hand out with French coins and she takes out what I owe and presto. Everyone is happy.

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Ski Bromont Water Park, Montreal

Living in this side of Canada gives you limited access to water fun activities. It is a colder climate here so summer is never really too long. I think I nearly fainted when I realized there was a cool water park I could go to for a whole day submersed in water all around me. Oh, the pleasure of such delights.

The Park is called Ski Bromont, Water Park (Parc Aquatique) It is at 150 Champlain St, Bromont and it is about $35 per person for the day, or you can pay around $50 for a season pass. Lucky for me, my friend Sophie made the suggestion and all three of us packed an esky and headed to the Water Park. We hit a little traffic on the way. This is a typical scenario here as the person who had a terrible vision of creating the roads here in this part of Quebec, really failed to have the vision of what would happen if more than one million people were to be using the roads.

Back to the water park. I love having the opportunity to be taken back to childhood memories of enjoying fun parks with my friends. It was no different. We found a great spot to leave our things. Within a few minutes we were heading up to the big tube rides down the water slides. It was so much fun to laugh altogether. One particular ride has all three of us on the donut tube and as it went along the sides, I felt like i was literally sitting above the other two. It was very funny.

There was another slide where I had the similar donut tube but this time we were on our own. Every time I would hit a flat spot, I had to look behind in case some strong teenage boy on his tube didn’t wipe you out.

The next slides were the individual slides with no mat or donut, just me and the slide. I let the others go first so that I knew when I hit the bottom water pit and my bikini bottoms were up to my hips and my bikini top fell off due to the pressure, at least the people watching were not strangers hahaha. I love it how as you do get to the bottom, it is a quick few seconds to try and put everything back in place, try to contain your laughter as well as manage the shock of the slide. I love it. I love adrenalin like that.

We had a great lunch, relaxing and sitting in the pool water. They had a ride which was the man made wave pool which I remember so well from the Queensland, Australia Water Park ‘Wet n Wild’. I didn’t go in it as it was packed and I am sure would have felt like a urine pool. What I thought was impressive about the Water Park was that they painted the cement ground White so that when you walk bare foot around the park, the soles of your feet don’t burn. Very smart idea and very appropriate design.

I know some of the parks in other countries have closed down as they are had to maintain funding to run it. This park was similar however they also use the park area for skiing in winter and you can also do mountain bike riding in summer down the same slopes. They take your bikes up on the chair lifts and you ride down. I saw a lot of young people on the track while we were enjoying the slides. A great concept to keep the park open all year round and funded.

Here are some photos below to share with you of the actual venue itself. I couldn’t take photos of the slides close up because I didn’t have my camera with me.
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Beauty’s Cafe Montreal Canada

Beauty’s Cafe is a popular breakfast place in Montreal. It is located at 93 Avenue Du Mont-Royal Ouest in Montreal. It’s on the corner of Saint Urbain. When you first see it, it looks like an old laundromat. The official title of the cafe is Beauty’s Luncheonette. The phone number for enquiries is +1 514 849 8883.

The place reminds me of the old New York diners I grew to know so well whilst living in New York. It’s nice enough. I met a friend there for brunch and we both had the Beauty’s special for breakfast which is eggs, a choice of meat, and toast. I ordered the sausages and they were great. My last experience with sausages at a diner was terrible so thankyou Beauty’s for turning that around. There are typical breakfast choices however like everything in a diner, it comes with diced potatoes taking up the majority of the plate. I liked it. The orange juice was fresh and it was a nice environment to talk in, with enough space between you and the next booth to talk.

I recommend going there as it’s a cool spot, hip and they don’t take bookings so if you are there on a weekend, expect to wait in line for a table. The waitress was great, smiling and probably too much service which can interrupt conversations but it wasn’t too over the top.

That’s it. Lot’s of parking on the street opposite from 9am when the restrictions stop. Go there, try it and enjoy.

Oh, before I forget, they had these cool paper place mats with pictures of smoothies on them so if you wanted to colour them in, you could. I liked that idea. Shame I didn’t look like a kid to get some pencils. Don’t they know that sometimes adults like to colour in too???

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Carlos and Pepe’s – Montreal

I recently went to have a birthday dinner at Carlo and Pepe’s. It is located at 1420 Peel St, Montreal. It is a Tex Mex Restaurant in Golden Square Mile. If you want to head there to eat, I suggest making a booking on +1 514 288 3090.

If you like spice and cheese, this is the place for you. It’s tasty food but you may end up with a little indigestion as it’s heavy. The guacamole we had to start was my favourite. Great consistency and tasty. I love avocado so it’s one of my favourite appetizers.

The great thing about this place is it has the bottom level inside and outside at the front terrace in summer. If you walk up the 30 stairs, you can stop half way at level two and you will find a cute narrow bar plus eating section where you can order the same as the menu downstairs. I find this spot a lot more intimate. The bar tender was full of smiles and he made us these huge margarita cocktails. I had the mango, and tried the strawberry. They tasted like they used real fruit which is great and they were good. I would have preferred them to have some more frozen ice but you can’t have everything. Maybe some of us are a little spoilt from New York City cocktails. I enjoyed it overall.

I don’t remember any loud music playing or no live entertainment so we could talk and it was a good night. There is plenty of parking around but you’ll need to drive around a while to find a good spot. After all, it is the city. We were lucky and found something close by. Montreal is a friendly city to walk around at night.

I ate these lamp fajitas but being Greek, I really should know better than to order lamb at a non greek restaurant. I should have eaten chicken. It was nice but nothing compares to lamb roast and lamb on the spit which is the way lamb should be eaten. I can’t wait to be in Australia at Christmas time to try some lamb on the spit, made by my uncle. Yummo. I highly recommend it.

Back to Carlos and Pepe. I got a little distracted, oops. Tends to happen when I’m talking about food. Well that’s it. A good night, a good experience. 

 

 

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Visiting Ottawa, CANADA

The Capital of Canada is Ottawa. It is a two hour drive from Montreal where I am based. I was excited to go and check it out and the Australian High Commission (Embassy) is also located there. The first thing I noticed, is it reminded me a little of Canberra because it was just so clean. Maybe it’s a trend in all British Empire countries, that the capitals are clean, as though the royal family live there.

Driving around Ottawa certainly felt like I was going to visit royalty. There were three huge looking castles that I fell in love with. The castles are their parliament office buildings. They are so beautiful and worth checking out. Don’t worry, I snapped some shots of my time in Ottawa and I really enjoyed the visit. There were some great restaurants and shops to go visit too. We ate at this cool seafood restaurant called the Fish Market, and we were very impressed with their shrimp appetizers. I will definitely be going back.

I went to a pastry shop and they were selling Obama Canada cookies in the shape of a leaf. That is the symbol on the Canadian Flag. I am really not sure of the significance of the leaf so if any Canadians are reading this, feel free to fill me in. I love the red and white colours. Funny that I’ve settled in a country with the flag being Red and White. It is a sign because I have always been drawn to those colours. Probably why, back in Australia, I was a fan of the Football St George Dragons and in AFL, the Sydney Swans team (full credit to my friend Kos for this).

There were little markets set up that had the famous Canadian Maple Syrup and other clothing and market flowers etc. Driving around the city was pretty easy and not daunting. Thanks to the GPS, I feel confident driving anywhere now.

Here are some photos below I snapped up of my visit to Ottawa.

 

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The Ferry Crossing, Ile Bizard Montreal CANADA

There are several ways to get to West Island In Montreal, Canada. One way I discovered recently was driving across the river and taking the ferry across. We wanted to get to Ile Bizard in West Island, which is a cute part of the island and very quiet, with big land size homes and a national park in the area to walk through.

Anyway, back to the ferry. It was cool to watch. As I was waiting, I was snapping some shots as I do to share with you all.

I am glad I did it, however, I wouldn’t recommend it if you are in a rush. On this particular day, they were taking four cars at a time back and forth, so do the math, if there are a dozen cars in front of you, you need to wait for three ferry trips before you get on. Apparently though, I’ve heard that on some days, they can get 6-8 cars on the boat and ship them across but I cannot confirm this. I do know, that it saves you a lot in petrol to drive there because for those that aren’t from Canada, Montreal is a big island and has other smaller islands like West Island and Nun’s Island that still form part of Montreal but are surrounded by water. The water is from a damn reservoir so there are a lot of waterfront homes along the river. The chance of flooding is minimal as there are reservoir tanks as backups available if overflow happens.

From Memory, as you drive onto the boat, you must turn your car off and the lady comes around to your window to collect the money from you. It’s approx. $3.50 – $4.50.

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Pier 66 Bar NYC

This place is bloody awesome mate. In true Aussie terminology. In summer time, you must get down here on a weekend. It is Pier 66 Maritime. Located off West St, along the Hudson River.

There is a fairly long line to get in that stretches along the fence line of the Hudson River. Don’t let that out you off though because it moves pretty fast. There is a big boat and deck out off the pier and as you enter and walk through the wooden deck walkway, you are greeted by security and id checks. Once you get through, you have a choice to go onto the red and white boat on the left to eat some food and relax, or you can find a seat and table along the bottom deck and mingle, socialize etc. The back deck section is more of a sit down and get served area. If you sit around the bar and sides of pier, or go upstairs to the upper deck area, you can find a little round table and chairs and go to the bar to order your food, drinks etc. A bucket of 6 beers is the most popular choice of beverage as they just serve it that way with ice to keep it cool. A very cool place and everyone there is in a great summer, mingling mood. I just loved the experience of being in that atmosphere. I am certainly eager to  get back there when I’m back. Next time, I will go with a group of people and let loose and enjoy the time.

The food was good too. You can order burgers and fries and typical food like that however, I ordered the blackened salmon with salad and it was fantastic and tasty. When you go to the bar and order, they give you a buzzer and when it vibrates, you go to the back bar and pick up the food. They have trays in case you are carrying too much.

I got my usual cosmopolitan cocktail and I recommend asking for the better quality vodka. It is usually only $1 extra and much better. They serve the cocktail in small plastic glasses and they don’t last long so if you drink beer and wine, I suggest that is the better option to make your drinks last more.

The place has an industrial rustic type look. Old wooden steering wheels lying on steel pipes. I took some shots of the place when I was there to show you.

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The toilets downstairs. Freaky part is, the steel walls have holes in them so the person next to you can see what your doing from your butt downwards. Not cool. Beware.

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Security checking people as they walk through the entrance.

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Wall St and Downtown NYC

If you head downtown to the financial district in New York, you will get to see some things that you have probably heard people mention throughout your life. One is Wall Street, being the stock exchange hub of the world, and the other being shopping.  When you head down there, you can go and see the grand building of Wall St Stock Exchange and the big statue of George Washington standing proudly facing the Stock Exchange. If you can get around the tourists down there, all wanting to take photos standing next to George Washington, than you can breathe.

When you have taken enough photos, you can go to the 911 Memorial at the World Trade Centre and take a look. There are always a lot of people in this area so be warned not to be in a rush. If it gets too crazy, I suggest you walk a few blocks over and head to Century 21. This is a department store that has five levels of shopping. It stocks all the designer brands like Bonds, Calvin Klein, Diesel, Guess, Armani and everything else and you get to go through the different sections and purchase what you need. They have clothing, accessories, handbags, sunglasses etc. Don’t forget, the shoe department is in the building next door and you need a few hours just to get through that.

On the bottom floor. The basement floor is homeware products, towels etc.

I noticed that when I went a few weeks ago, the whole store had changed and the renovations had been complete. They now have all the clothing a lot more spread out and more presentable. There are registers on each floor and plenty of cashiers to buy your purchases. The experience has certainly been a lot better compared to how it used to be years ago. You will no doubt walk out with heaps of bags in hand so be prepared for a wait to get a taxi. If you catch the subway, the Cortland St subway is right there at the bottom corner of the street outside the store.

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Buying my Jeep in CANADA

Jeeps are so cool. I’ve always thought of having one but I was married to my two door Rav 4 Cruiser. When I had to leave that car behind and sail to NYC and Canada, it was a sad goodbye, however, I have embraced the Jeep Sahara Wrangler and I am now a huge fan of this car. There is apparently a Jeep Club here in Quebec too which you can join and they come and take off your hard top and put the soft top on for you. Pretty Cool hey.

It is like a car that just pulls apart. Like a big lego toy. The roof comes off, the doors, and back boot area. It is pretty amazing and a very solid, beasty car. I feel tough in it, ‘Tonka Tough’, hahaha.

It is a very practical car. It is not the type of car you should get if you have a bad leg or can’t get in and out of cars easily because each time you get in, you need to climb or assist yourself in. Once you are in, you are sitting pretty high and I’ve never felt safer in a car than what I have in the Jeep.

I bought a white four door hard top. Canadian cars only have registration plates on the rear of the vehicle and the steering wheel is on the left hand side like the USA. It takes a little getting used too, but when you get the hang of it, it’s good.

One thing about driving in Quebec is the amount of stop signs in Quebec. Instead of roundabouts and traffic lights (even though they still have them, most intersections, on all the local roads have stop signs at every t – intersection. It is such a time wasting experience. It does work because there are never big lines for the person at one end, however, every 50 meters, you have to come to a complete stop, even when there is no one around. It is crazy. I think it’s the way for the mayor to make money off people. It is rare for every person to come to a complete stop every time they drive. I can compare it to the streets in Australia that have huge speed humps along the whole street.

If you are from another country and you wish to get a license in Quebec, you have six months to get it. You need to be a permanent resident to get a license and when you apply, regardless of how many years you have been driving, you still have to study for the written test and then do the driving test. I can’t believe it. I find that ridiculous. I can understand if they gave you a manual on road rules and made you read it and give you a quiz to check you’ve read it however to put you through all that is ludicrous.

Anyway, here are the photos of my new baby below.

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Saint Sauveur Church, CANADA

Ever been to a town and walked down the street, and fall in love with an entire town? This happened to me in the town of Saint Sauveur. The restaurants, outdoor cafes, park area, horse and cart rides and the beautiful Saint Sauveur Church with the big red doors in the middle of town. We went in recently to visit, light some candles, get some Holy water and look around. I love checking out everything and it was always a great experience.

On this particular day as we went in and sat to do some spiritual connecting, we walked outside the church and down the front stair path. As we got towards the bottom and wanted to take a photo, we were approached by a rather unusual couple that were quite comical and entertaining. I am still not sure what they were doing, however they requested to jump into a photo with us which we allowed. I’ll show you the photos and you can make of it what you will. Very funny day. IMG_1246 IMG_1247 IMG_1248 IMG_1249
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Out and About in Montreal CANADA

Montreal is a cool city. Some describe it as a mini NYC. Well, having been there alot recently, I guess I can see what they are trying to say, but I also believe most big cities resemble each other. More people, tall buildings, public transport, taxis etc. There is a downtown area and Mi land area which is the ‘New cool place to be at’. Old Montreal is also a part of the city with a totally different feel and I love it. I have a different blog on that altogether.

I don’t think anything could come close to NYC. The mere size of it alone and the amount of people transiting through daily, allow it to flourish and continue to thrive. Back to Montreal. When you find a good eatery in the city, it’s damn good. I’ve been to a few nice ones. There is this great one i came across recently in chinatown. It is Vietnamese and has been open for a year. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of it but its right at the entrance to chinatown on the left. It’s big inside and the waitress is a crack up. They have awesome Vermicilli with Beef and chicken. I’ll go there again soon and write more info on it because I’m suffering here and may have lost your attention by now.

They have these shopping centres in Montreal with a variety of stores. They aren’t huge shopping centres or anything but have the typical food section and a few separate levels with some jewellery shops, phone shops, clothing etc. A lot of the main brand stores are on the main strips. The arts theatre area is great to sit down on the stairs and enjoy the atmosphere in Montreal. Traffic like every other city is ridiculous. Anything after 3pm and it starts. At this time of year, there is so much construction going on because they only have summer for a short period of time and all the rest of the time, it’s snowing and how can they work on the roads when it’s snowing. We are talking major construction works. I still find the roads in Sydney are in much better condition than here and even NYC especially. They are woeful. This adds to the traffic congestion and it all becomes too much to sit in really.

I always find it interesting in a city looking at the different business names that are popular. Tim Hortons is like Starbucks to the Americans. A popular chain that is everywhere and people love it. It sells coffee and donuts too. The other main two coffee shop franchises are ‘Second Cup’ and ‘Cafe Depot’. I prefer Cafe Depot because they make awesome frappucinnos. Great in the summer. The banks are the ‘Bank of Montreal’, ‘CIBC’, ‘HSBC’, ‘Desjardins’ and ‘Banque of Scotia’, “BMO’, TD Canada Trust’, ‘Royal bank of Canada’. For international relations, CIBC or HSBC are the better choices. The others are more local and don’t deal with alot of international transfers. You would have to go to Western Union to do this. They are the main ones I’ve seen everywhere.

In most adjoining suburbs they have these huge carparks with stores set up but you really need to drive to each one separately because the shops are fairly big. I have noticed a pattern of the same big stores in most of the carparks. Walmart for everything you need, like Kmart in Oz. Winners is a store like Target. Homesense has lots of things for the home which is a mixture between Target, Kmart and Big W.

Structube is a cool shop for furniture on the more expensive side of things. Modern and great quality. ‘The Party Expert’ pops up everywhere and is fabulous for a party at a really reasonable price too.

Petrol stations are ‘Petrol Canada’ and ‘Shell’ with some other French local ones too however they are frustrating because they mostly have the system where you need to swipe first and then fill up which is fantastic when it’s working however when it doesn’t, it’s a pain in the ass. The current petrol prices I’ve seen range from 134.90 to 149.90 and so when I’m filling up my jeep, it usually costs $100 for a 75 litre tank on empty. I guess for many reasons, this is why canada reminds me alot of Australia.

To buy food at the supermarkets, you need to go to Super C, IGA, or Metro Plus. If you want that Mediterranean/Greek supermarket touch, you cannot beat Adonis. My place away from home. I love the Tarama, fetta and olives and it’s a great one stop supermarket. Spot the Aussie inside type thing.

The pharmacies are called Pharmaprix and Jean Coutu which are the main two I visit. They sell prescriptions, bathroom products, some food products, sunscreen and outdoor objects, chocolate and even lotto. Actually all of them have a huge beauty section so when you walk in, the girls say ‘bon jour’ and tend to offer you something to try, in order to get you to buy a beauty product. The one Jean Coutu I go to in Mascouche also has the small post office inside which doesn’t close until 8pm. How cool is that. No long post office lines because it is open for long periods of time.

The beauty about the pharmacy set up is that you when you put a prescription in, and it has repeats, it is on their system so you never need to bring in the old prescription form. The computers talk to each other and it’s an easy system. For some reason though, I find the service always takes so long to get the prescriptions. In Sydney, You are never waiting more than 2-5 minutes. The last antibiotics I got were $59. Expensive, so the point of getting private health insurance here is a must. Medicare does not drive the prices for medication down here. The medical system in general is great here and the public medical card that everyone gets covers people for lots of things. The beauty of it though, is it covers them when they travel too. If the private insurers don’t pay, I’ve heard that people can get the expenses back from the government medical insurance. Nice to know really.

The bike shops I’ve noticed here are called Centre Velo and have alot of race bikes and mountain bikes but it is a sport that you really only can do in the small space of summer. It is way too slippery for winter cycling here.

They have co working spaces in Montreal so if you are looking for a place to work out of, visit ‘Station C’ and you can find a good location for yourself to get in and get amongst the people of Montreal. Whenever I am in other cities, I think of all the shops back in Australia like Gelatissimo and Boost Juice, and even places like JB HiFi and I wander what they would be like in Canada. The US has Best buy which is very on par with JB Hi-fi so I guess they’re covered. Quebec is a very french speaking provence and you need to be very aware of this influence when considering business choices and even building homes or shops because some areas have very strict guidelines and laws in place to keep the feel of the area and design the same.

The one thing I really miss is seeing live entertainment and movies that are in English. I like alot of choice and being in Quebec is limited in that respect. They have movies on in both english and french but not every session so the times you have available to you are not as flexible. The shows are the same and with me being spoilt, having come from NYC and the availability of the shows there, It will never compare.

Here are some shots below of the actual city of Montreal.

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I love the strip / Street called Saint Denis. It is a really long strip that you can walk down and have a great choice of restaurants and small shops. It reminds me ofa really long version of Norton St, Leichhardt years ago, but much cooler. Saint Catherine is a huge strip for the big name shops with all the brands. Saint Denis is pictured in the three shots below. It looks like a street with French Styled terraces above but on ground level, really cool eateries and boutiques.

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The city of Vancouver CANADA

Vancouver is such a nice city to visit. It reminds me in many ways of Sydney. Well, it isn’t the same however it is the closest city I’ve travelled too that has the same feel. I’m sure I’ve even mentioned that before. If you stay in the city, you can pretty much get anywhere you want easily enough. Whether it’s on a bus, the train system, walking, or even flying around the city on little water jet planes. I stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel last time and the location was fabulous. I recommend heading to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Stanley Park, Granville Island, and catching the aquabus water taxi along the river. I heard Victoria Island is great too but that will be on the agenda on my next trip.

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Wedding Shopping in NYC

Who can beat shopping in NYC. I mean, women and men from all around the world go there to get bargains and a great selection of designers at your feet. Wedding shopping is not different. You just have to google wedding shops in NYC and a choice of many pops up. This is some of the selection I got in my last google search.

 

This is a typical card you get with info on the back of what you are getting. Hide it and take it around with you so that you can compare quality and price from other places. The diamond district in NYC specializes in jewellery for weddings but be careful because the price they give you when you walk in could mean half of that when you negotiate. If you pick a diamond around the F grade (better) or G grade, it is a better diamond. The different types of clairty determines if the diamond is clear or more yellowy looking. Can’t beat NYC Prices. Rings that are valued at $6000 are on sale for a weekend for a third of the price. 

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Make sure you have your subway map with you so you know where you are going. 
When you have enough shopping, choose a friend and go and get a drink. If you are in times square, go to Dallas BBQ for a cocktail only. Unless you like fried food, then order food, but if you want to keep slim for your wedding, I suggest just drink a cocktail.

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When you taste these cocktails, You may even get excited like Kelly did. Love my friends.

 

 

Old Terrebonne, Quebec CANADA

I love this place. I highly recommend you visit this gorgeous little town when you are heading to the province of Quebec. There is a beautiful river flowing off a reservoir and a great park beside it filled with trees, squirrels, outdoor tables and a children play park. It has a track to run on beside it. Dogs are not allowed so it is one of those ventures you can only do with your two legged friends. The pictures say it all really. When you have finished walking and taking in the beautiful natural environment, there are a variety of restaurants to choose from to dine in. It’s wonderful for a day trip.

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Aquabus Transport Vancouver CANADA

The Aquabus in Vancouver is so cool that it needed it’s own personal blog. The colours around it reminds me of the Sydney Mardi Gra and probably should be a float with dancing gay boys inside cheering about their lifestyle.

It is equivalent to a Sydney Water Taxi although the difference being that you really need to use this if you are in the city and wish to go to Granville Island or get to anywhere else you need to go. It is quick and easy and the staff were always smiling and friendly. It probably helps that the weather is generally warmer in this end of Canada although it does rain most of the time. The little aquabuses have a plastic shield around them so if it is raining, you are protected but still get to see out at the city view. From memory, it was a few dollars to use the transport.

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Edgar Muenala Musician Canada

I was recently in Vancouver and went to Granville Island. Lucky I ventured there because for five minutes, I sat there listening to this beautiful talented musician called Edgar Muenala. Here is his direct link to You tube to listen to his music. He does covers and performs them using multiple wind instruments to get an amazing sound. It is a shame I cannot post the footage I took of him playing because it is 1gb in size and I would need his permission, however I took a few snaps of him in action and i am sure you can see how beautiful and peaceful these pan flutes sound.

 

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I captured his performance really well and if you are reading this Edgar, please feel free to get in touch, because I am confident you will love what I captured.

 

Damn Cool Graffiti Montreal CANADA

Since being in Canada and venturing around the place, I have noticed that in the short time I have been in Montreal specifically, the city is a hub for graffiti. I mean most cities have graffiti but it is like this place has a place for it that adds to the beauty of the city. The artwork is really damn cool and I can’t help but wander if some of the actual work is paid for by the government of funding bodies that support street art.

There is no way that these artworks can be done by someone quickly spraying the wall secretly. Some of the images are full wall size artworks. In fact, some of the art covers entire buildings. It is fascinating so for all those graffiti lovers out there, I highly recommend you travel to Montreal and take a drive around all the streets.

I was previously using an office space to write from called Station C in Midland, Montreal and there is a really cool old train docked nearby on the tracks. The whole train is covered in it and so is the surrounding area. As a photographer and film maker, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the area creatively.

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St Basilicas Church Montreal CANADA

I love going into churches and lighting candles. I’ve done it for as long as I can remember being able to do it. It is like my own private time away from the hustle and bustle, and a way to just think. The actual part of lighting the candle, always makes me feel like i have just connected with a higher power or my angel spirit guides so to take the time in my day or week to just do this, is significant moving forward. It is also a great time to reflect on life and to just be grateful for all the things I have in life. I don’t really care which church it is, Catholic or Orthodox because the point of it, is not to support a particular religious denomination, but for me, rather a way to have a place to go where I can feel connected.

It was important when I came to Quebec in Canada, to find a place that I felt connected. I am still searching for places but lucky for me, Veronique introduced me to St Basilicas.  The church itself is a Catholic based church and it is apparently one of the most beautifulest ones in the world arena of churches. Considering I have had the pleasure of enjoying the St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, St Peters Cathedral in Rome, as well as Rome itself, and the various Greek Orthodox Churches in Sydney, Wollongong, Mangrove Mountain and the wonderful greek churches on the Greek Islands in Greece, I think I am in a position to comment on the validity of this churches ranking compared to the others. I loved it inside. I loved the displays and angel sculptures that were handcrafted. The blue in the window stain was bright and stood out. The detail was intricate and beautiful. It was grand. It felt like there had been so much effort put into each icon hand made and the ceilings and stained windows. The pictures will be the easiest to show.

My biggest concern and the part that made me feel for a moment disconnected from the actual church was the fact that you had to pay $5 per person to just look inside the church. I am someone who is honest and always donates inside. In fact, I light the candles too and always pay money for this honour. To be forced to pay a fee to enter turned it into a business experience rather than a spiritual connection to be invited inside and welcomed off the street in prayer alone. I felt deeply conflicted with this and was extremely bothered by it. I questioned the staff, to which they replied, they had to pay people to maintain the church and also have it open to the public etc etc. I understand this but so does every other church and they don’t all charge entry fees. We are not going to a theme park for goodness sake. Due to the entry fee, when you enter the church, people are really more interested in taking photos and getting their moneys worth rather than just going in there and being humble and quiet and connecting.

This is the church below. If you are in Montreal, I recommend to go and see it but make sure you have your entry fee.

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Stanley Park, Vancouver CANADA

This is such a beautiful park in Vancouver. I think the park takes up half of the city space it is that big. There is a walking and cycling track that goes all the way around the waters edge of the park and then other tracks going inside various parts of the park. There is a restaurant and big water pool inside it, plus a harbour with boats docked around it and the other ends has views of the famous lions gate bridge.

There are great mountain views around the city of Vancouver and when you walk around the park, you really get to see the great views in the distance. There are some industrial areas that you can see in the distance and tourist site seeing planes are commonly flying over head taking in the views of the city.

You can hire a bike from the bike shops directly across from the park on the city side. It was about $13 to hire for an hour. The bikes are comfortable and you can get a basket for any bags you may have.

It is certainly worth spending the day there (if it’s not raining that is). Walk through it, cycle around it. Eat at the restaurant and just simply enjoy the harbour views, the trees and flowers in bloom. I took photos around the whole park as I rode around it so you will see the shots i took. It wasn’t raining at the time but it was overcast and at times drizzling so you can never be too sure what the weather will do.

 

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Granville Island, Vancouver CANADA

Granville Island is located in North Vancouver. It is really cool and a photographers dream place. Make sure you have an appetite before you go. If you are in the city, you basically need to catch a water taxi called an Aquabus to get there from downtown Vancouver. In fact, if you go and eat breakfast at the restaurant Provence on Marina side, then you can literally walk straight across the road and at the end of the pier is the stop for the Aquabus to Granville Island.

Once you get to the island, you can walk around it and through the different sections. The place has a very industrial feel initially, but when you walk around and see the island, it is also very picturesque like the rest of Vancouver. I loved it. The fresh fruit in the farmers market was soooooo good. It looked so ripe and tasted so good.

You can actually live on the island and enter the shop area from a bridge on the other side of the wharf. I loved the entrance bridge to Granville Island from the other end of Vancouver.

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There were some really cool artists and musicians performing around the island that you could stop and listen too. A stand out for me was Edgar Maenala. I bought his album because it was so beautiful. he plays these windpipe instruments and plays mostly known songs with them. It was so relaxing.

We walked along a side road that had a cool mirror we photographed and there were sculptures around the place also.

 

As we walked around the water side, there were great city views and bridge views of the mountains in the background.

 

 

Downtown Vancouver, CANADA

Downtown Vancouver. It was certainly an experience. I generally love visiting all areas of a city. In Vancouver, Downtown consists of the lower end of the city, China town and other surrounding areas like East Hastings, Eastside Down town Vancouver.

Starting with the homeless problem. There are approx 2,700 homeless people in Vancouver that associate with either being Relative, or absolute homeless. The main cause of the rapid increase of homelessness was due to the housing market price increase and also lack of income. Talking with some locals however, I was informed that the homeless issue has increased since the year 2000. Apparently in trying to clean up some other Canadian areas, the government issued a whole stack of homeless people a one way ticket to Vancouver so that they could survive in the outside areas in a warmer environment. The west side of Canada is a lot warmer than the rest of Canada that basically freezes in Winter.

The whole homeless population has overtaken eastside downtown, specifically on East Hastings Street. I accidentally ended up on the corner innocently taking photos of what I thought was interesting human interaction shots, and groups of people lingering around an area. The next minute I am approached by some obvious mentally challenged people that were eager to volunteer to get their photo taken. I start to look around and notice hundreds of people looking at me wandering what the hell I was doing with a camera on their street. I quickly put my camera away however this did not mean their eyes stopped following my every move. I slowly played the tourist card, looking around, and looking at the fastest way to get the hell out of there before getting rolled. As I start to walk away, a man approached me asking me to hold on. Taking a deep breath, heart racing, I innocently turn and smile, welcoming his approach. He asked what I was doing and at that moment, I am glad i had a strong Aussie accent to which I replied “I’m just a tourist mate, taking photos. I can see that the people here don’t like that much right?”

Thank God he smirked and kindly informed me that most of the people on the street were alcoholics and took drugs and they wanted to make sure I wasn’t a cop, or snitch trying to catch them out. I told him I was an Aussie and he basically wished me a good trip and ‘Hasta La Vista’, I was out of there.

Curiosity killed the cat Right?? So at this stage, I wanted to now check it out more, without my camera in their face this time, so I stopped and got dumplings in the local Chinese shop called Jade Dynasty which was recommended and they were really good. Some quick pics of the shop and the shrimp dumplings I had.


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After that, I walked to the other end of the street and decided to walk along it and get amongst the homeless on the street. I stood out like a sore thumb, however I figured if I just walked quickly and just took in everything i could see and feel, that would give me a good feeling of what people were there.

The fact that these people stick together in big groups and hang out together is a good thing for themselves and company, however, most of the people I saw, were mentally ill or clearly doing drug deals, or more so, trying to ask for money to get their next hit. The concerning part was seeing a a few teenage faces in the crowd. It is sad to know how most of society can sleep peacefully at night with a roof over their head, but these people just stay continuously on the street. Even if the mentally ill people were put into housing, they would stand out and it would be a matter of time before the police were could to settle them down etc. It is always a hard solution dealing with mental illness as well as homeless and drugs etc. The crime rate in this area is also a big concern and it was only a matter of time before I saw cop cars speeding into the area.

Below are some pics of the street adjacent to East Hastings. There is a mural of some great artwork and directly opposite, some locals hanging in the laneways.

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After getting the buzz of experiencing the homeless situation, I wanted to check out China Town a little more and went to the Chinese Botanical Gardens. They were small compared to what we have set up in Sydney but the small amount of garden they do have was pretty. The guy let me in for $5 because I only had half an hour to go. That was more than enough time to see the whole thing and capture it on camera. I love how detailed the Chinese are when they build things. It makes me realize how traditional and passionate they are as a race. What was really cool about the gardens is when you walk to the back end, there is a calligraphy section where they have drawing ink set up and these special drawing boards with symbols displayed. You can take a seat and try and draw the symbol you see with various symbols varying in degree of difficulty. I loved trying this because I had never done it before. It wasn’t long before I realized how precise the Chinese are when writing. Each stroke takes a certain amount of ink, pressure and precision to create the symbol beautifully. I attempted but I think I turned Chinese symbols into a two year old garbage diagram of what they think it should look like. Terrible. I am sure I would improve in time, but really, I sucked at it.

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Capilano Suspension Bridge Vancouver

I really wanted to see as much as I could in Vancouver so I decided to take the advice of the locals and check out the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. I took a bus as that was the easiest way to get there from the Four Seasons Hotel. It was actually really good for checking out Vancouver from a higher seat in a bus.

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The bus ride takes about 20 minutes and it leaves every half hour to hour, depending on which season it is and what time you wish to get there and leave. The park is opened between 9am and 7pm. The whole park was bought by a lady called Nancy Stibbard. The actual address is 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver, BC V7R, Phone number +1 604 985 7474. Vancouver is part of Brittish Columbia.

I was on my own and most people on the bus kept to themselves with their own company. I was happy to look out the window. I couldn’t help but think how similar Vancouver was to Sydney. It had a similar feel in terms of the harbour, boats docked, the big Stanley Park, the bus rides around, the city buildings, different sections like China town etc. Although, I believe there is a china town in every city. Without being biased, I still find Sydney is on my top list of cities because of the weather factor. It rains alot in Vancouver.

Back to the bridge. It is special because it is so close to the city, however it is this pristine natural habitat park that they have literally built a bridge to join one side to the other. Looking at how long the bridge is, and how high it is suspended above a flowing rapid fall, I was gob smacked about how on earth they built it without damaging the nature around it. It apparently started back in 1988 when George Grant Mackay, a Scottish Engineer bought 6,000 acres of land and they used horses to take hemp ropes across the river so they could build a little cabin on the other side and use a small footbridge made of hemp rope and cedar planks to get across. When you start to walk along the bridge, you need to just walk steadily across and not move side to side or else you rock the bridge and others walking tend to find it hard to walk when it’s rocking. I love to push the boundaries so of course, I secretly tried to see what I could get away with rocking. The next minute I hear through this speaker mid way on the bridge “Rocking the bridge is forbidden”. Oops, I pretend of course, it isn’t me, and then look ahead to see a bridge officer at the end watching over the bridge. It is fun to experience. When you get to the other side, they have some information signs posted up about the animals in the area etc. There are more wooden bridges set up to allow you to walk around and also experience what it is like looking over the top of the treetops. The energy at the place is really beautiful and a nice day out. Keeping in mind that it mostly rains in Vancouver, they give you rain ponchos that are bright yellow, in case you get stuck in the rain. If you go to the three main attractions at the site, you get to see the bridge from another angle by walking along other bridges that give you a different look of the nature reserve. It is really peaceful. I had my Mark III and enjoyed taking photos and filming.

There is a cafe just past the entrance where you can have some lunch and coffee and just take your time. If you are by yourself and are on a mission, you can do the whole thing in 2 hours with great photos etc. There is a tourist shop next to the cafe and it stocks lots of Maple Syrup products (Which Canada is known for their Maple Syrup). It also has T-shirts, jumpers etc with ‘Vancouver’ and ‘Suspension Bridge’ on it. They actually allow you to order their products if you email retail@capbridge.com

I couldn’t help myself and checked out the Fudge section in the shop and aren’t I glad I did. I ordered the dark chocolate and caramel fudge combined with sea salt on top. It would have to be the best fudge I have eaten in my life. It was amazing. In fact, after writing this blog, I am about to ring them and see if they deliver the actual fudge interstate to Montreal. I can’t stop thinking about how good it was. I really regret only buying one piece. I broke it up into small pieces so the taste would last and I could remember how good it was.

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When you finish the tour and bridge walk, you go out through the entrance and if you managed to participate on the ‘Collect the stamps’ game they run, you hand it in, and get a certificate for making it over the bridge. The game is really set up for kids, to make sure they reach each point they need to locate and get their form stamped to verify they have been to that location. I secretly think adults have more fun doing this and it’s funny to see how committed adults are to making sure their kids get the stamps. I got a certificate too. Not because i participated in the stamp game, but because I played dumb saying I didn’t see the actual form and I really wanted a certificate because I crossed the bridge hahhaa. He gave me one with a smile. Here it is below.

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Below are all the photos I took of the trip at the actual park and some of the displays they have presented on site.

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Next time you are in Vancouver, check out the bridge, save some money for the actual fudge experience of the dark chocolate and caramel one specifically and order a whole heap of it. Enjoy!!!!

On the way back down, nicely ask the bus driver to drop you off at Stanley Park and hire a bike and ride around the park. It is a must see, very beautiful. The bus drivers are not meant to drop you off, but if you are nice enough, they may just throw you out hahaha.

 

 

Yew Restaurant Vancouver

The Yew Restaurant is located inside the Four Seasons Hotel at 791 W Georgia St, Vancouver. It is a nice restaurant. The atmosphere is really cosy, even the the place is a decent size. It is in an L shape so you get a choice to sit in an intimate dining section with low light and candles, or you can choose to sit on the lounges with low tables, or even at the long bar. They are known for their quality seafood and their cocktails. I tried their popular pear martini. It was nice but you need to be a lover of pear to enjoy it.

The manager and staff were really lovely. The manager came over and spoke with me and the waitress, being another fellow Australian, was really friendly and sociable. The waiter that served me was really knowledgable about the specials, and the cocktails and his recommendations for the food were great. I was impressed with the overall dining experience. I would eat there again. I had this amazing dish as an appetizer made like a taco but it was using crab meat and the shell was made in a mould to form it. Tasted divine.

IMG_0561 The MenuIMG_0562 IMG_0563 IMG_0564 IMG_0565 IMG_0566 IMG_0567 The popular Pear MartiniIMG_0568 This was a shell made of crab. This dish was amazing. IMG_0571 The market fish of the day is always a good choice. The fish was Halibut. It was well cooked and the vegetables were perfectly cooked. IMG_0572 IMG_0573 IMG_0574 People can sit and order at the bar.IMG_0575 IMG_0576 The manager and front staff. Very friendly. IMG_0577

Canadian International Film Festival Vancouver

Between April 4th – 8th, 2013 I went to Vancouver to attend the Canadian International Film Festival. My film ‘Bloody Henry‘ which I wrote, produced and directed was selected as the Official Selection at the festival. I find festivals a great way to network so when my films get selected at them, I try to attend most of them. It is quite an expensive thing to do but it pays off in the end because the people you meet along the way are interesting and talented. I enjoy watching the films and supporting the artists and it also feels great being able to watch my own films on the big screen with an interested audience.

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Lucky for me, I managed to win an award for “Best First Time Director”. I was stoked about this award because it was on of my first films I directed, as well as Juliana’s Story. It has motivated and encouraged me to keep doing what I love and keep making films that I love to make as I know audiences appreciate my work. I only hope to keep improving my work and making bigger and better films for audiences to enjoy.

CIFF Director I met some great people at the festival such as Venetia Evripiotou who directed Counting Happiness. A great film, made in India about a boy who lives on the streets in India and sells toy chickens. Counting Happiness took out the major prize award at the festival and well deserved. Here is a picture below of Me, Venetia (Greece) and our greek friend on the night Ellenor Argyropoulos (Australia) who also won a student royal reel award for her short film Life through a lens.

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There was a man at the festival called K.Bhavani Shanker. I recognized his face but couldn’t quite work out from where. I was told by his photographers that he was a popular actor in India, having acted in over 220 films. I laughed because the Indians are funny. His photographer kept taking a million photos of him sitting down in the same position whilst the award ceremony was going on and I couldn’t understand why he would be taking a million photos of him. It’s not as if he was going to capture a different angle. It was crazy and I found it amusing. He was at the festival because of a short film he was in called ‘Dream’. It won a Royal Reel Award but wasn’t screened. There was a huge Bollywood Award Ceremony going on the same night next door at the stadium and 6,000 Indian people were in attendance. Hence why he attended the festival as he was in Vancouver for both events. That is him on the left below.

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I also me the Japanese guy that was in the movie Kenny. His name is Morihiko Hasebe. He had a great sense of humour and invited me to come visit him in Tokyo some time. I haven’t been to Tokyo but it is definitely on the agenda. Below is a picture of me with Morihiko.

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I met one of the nicest couples on the night that did a film together about surfing in Canada in the winter but it was mixed with the fact we are destroying the earths sea mammals and the director Myriam Caron compared it to having a cancerous brain tumour and being trapped. Her partner Mathieu Crepeau stars in the film as one of the surfers followed with the cameras. It was a very touching film and her speech was very emotional having shared with the audience the fact that she is suffering from Cancer and that she hopes it will not be the last film she ever makes. Her smile is infectious and she has such a loving soul. The film was called Surf Boreal. Its a documentary. Below are the lovely couple I met, Myriam and Mathieu.

60639_10151368588769499_990326238_nThe actual festival was at Edgewater Casino on the waterfront in Vancouver. I found it weird having the festival on the second level of one of the smallest casinos I’ve ever seen but it had a big theatre room set up where the screenings took place so that was good. The actual awards ceremony was on the Saturday night and it was a full house. They apparently has a record breaking number of entries this year and the quality of the films were really good. I am still waiting for my trophy to come in the mail but at least I have the certificate to comfort me for now whilst I look at it proudly and think about how great a job the cast and crew did with the film. It was such a small last minute film but the two cast members, Tina Bursill and Kevin Healy, who have a long and honourable acting history in Australian Film and Television Industry, made the film such a joy to work on and they really were very professional. No second takes needed. It really pays to work with experienced actors when you are on tight budgets and tight time frames.

I spent a few days exploring Vancouver and you will be able to read about more posts I’ve written about my experience in Vancouver and the wonderful places I visited and photographed.

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Bloody Henry on the big screen.IMG_0438

The award ceremony.IMG_0450

Casting Director – Helen Mc Cready with the Special Jury Award for 5 hour Friends.48150_10151368587434499_288446934_n Venetia during her speech for Counting Happiness.537005_10151368587494499_937847404_n The Indian Boys from Montreal.541946_10151368588204499_1365443447_n

Myriam and I.IMG_0491 Anna and I. She won a student award for her short film. IMG_0499 IMG_0503

It was a great experience overall. Congratulations to all the award winners and all the people I met during the festival. Feel free to visit my Website www.littlescreenbigscreen.com to see trailers and links to my other work and projects.

 

Stowe Mountain Lodge Vermont

I stayed at the Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont recently. It is a skiing resort. I thought I might actually be able to get some writing done there but I couldn’t. It wasn’t because the place was no good, in fact, quite the opposite. It was busy, there were young people everywhere and very energetic and keen to get on the slopes to ski. As a skiing resort it is perfect, but to write, I couldn’t concentrate so my time there was cut short. I did however get to enjoy the surroundings and swimming in the heated pool whilst watching the skiiers glide down the slopes.

The Mountain lodge is located between New York and the Canada Border in Vermont. It is a nice drive to get there but if it is snowing, you really need to be careful. It has professional ski slopes that are really steep and I wouldn’t dare go down them. On the other side of the resort are the beginners slopes and there are lots of families skiing there. The food at the resort is good. I can’t say it’s fantastic after coming from Mohonk Mountain House for six weeks but it was still good. The room was definitely bigger and better though so it was a nice change.

This is a shot of my room at the lodge.

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Trump Soho NYC

Trump Hotel is located on Spring Street, in New York, Soho. I love this hotel. It is in a great location downtown and there are great boutiques and shopping near enough along Broadway etc. The view of the city is great. You really get to see how big New York City actually is when you take your time and take in the view. At night, the lights are magnificent. I love the view and that alone is worth the reservation. It is best to ask for the room where you can see both the city view and the Hudson River as you get the best of both sides. They have a nice private SPAA facility there. I got the Moroccan Hammam with my partner and it was absolutely a great experience.

They make you change into these tiny disposable black undies and you lie down next to each other on a solid cement round bed. They throw warm water on you both from these silver heating pots. They have towels on you and they scrub your body down and throw more water over you. The whole experience is really enjoyable and I highly recommend it.

We ordered room service in the Hotel and they bought dinner in and set it up for us. We ordered Sea Bass with a side of greens, a tuna appetiser and a side of fries with Herbs.

The whole delivery was magnificent and it always goes down nicely with some Champagne rose. The whole experience was fabulous and truly memorable.

Here are some pictures below of the room and view and us in the taxi.

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Charlie’s 3rd Bday

It is my little princess Charlie’s Birthday. I have not seen her since July 2012. It is a long time to be away from her. Her godmother Stephanie has been looking after her well and has spoilt her today with a dog treat and a doggie birthday party at home with her and ruby. She is so cute.

 

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I skype Steph about Charlie and she told me about how Charlie almost never made it to her third birthday. This is why below and it is a very true story that i am sure anyone who has owned dogs can appreciate. I love this story and I laughed. Here it is below, my last letter from Steph…..

“There are many movies that have ‘bones’ in the title’ – e.g. Winter Bones, Blood & Bone, The Bone Collector etc. There are also books and movies with ‘Charlie’ in the title. And  there is even a series – named after the main character – Charlie Bone – which contains both words:

  1. Midnight for Charlie Bone
  2. Charlie Bone and the Time Twister
  1. Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy
  2. Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors
  3. Charlie Bone and the Hidden King
  4. Charlie Bone and the Beast
  5. Charlie Bone and the Shadow
  6. Charlie Bone and the Red Knight

There is also a ‘Charlie Bone’ temporarily residing in Woollahra …. ‘temporarily’ because her days could be coming to an abrupt end!

Charlie Bone’s godmother had noticed a recent increase in creepy crawlies around the kitchen area … and blamed this on the hot weather, lack of fly screens, grotty neighbours etc. etc.

Late last week there seemed to be an odour emanating from somewhere. The godmother, being somewhat anal about such issues, decided to investigate further. She was fairly certain the kitchen area was not the suspect area – more likely it was the bathroom/laundry.  Out came artillery of cleaning products and equipment! She moved the washing machine in the bathroom and checked underneath, removed a storage cabinet, vacuumed, washed with bleach, sprayed surface spray in every nook and cranny.

Feeling somewhat relieved to find no surprises, she attacked the last corner of the bathroom where the huge hot water system resides, hidden behind a cover. As she vacuumed through the small access points, she felt the nozzle lock onto something solid. Her heart stopped beating; she turned off the vacuum and went to make a strong coffee!

After composing herself and mentally preparing herself for the worse, she dared to vacuum up the solid mass and to suction it out through the opening!! Was it something that had dropped off the vanity unit? Was it a ball that had rolled in during doggie playtime? What was it? OMG!!

‘It’ was a desiccated bone!

With more vacuum cleaning prodding and exploring, ‘it’ began to multiply …. And multiply! There was a cache of bones, now fossilized, hidden in this humanly inaccessible hiding place. As each bone was raised to the surface and deposited in the rubbish, the godmother became less of a fairy and more of a dragon! There were 7 (repeat SE7EN) large bones located! The bones must have been there for some time!

Although she considers herself to be extremely vigilant, Godmother is unable to accurately gauge when this activity took place – before or after Charlie started acting like a dog and burying bones in the very small garden and digging them up shortly afterwards and dragging them, covered with dirt, inside the house.

Charlie ‘Bone Storer’ almost didn’t live to see her 3rd BIRTHDAY today!”

Steph, if you are reading this blog, Thankyou from Charlie and I for putting up with her cheeky ways. She loves you very much and she does these things to keep you on your toes and active hahahaha. I think my dog takes after me too much hahahaa.

Bloody Henry at Canada Film Festival

I love creating films, thinking of stories and bringing them to life. I completed a film back in early January 2012 called Bloody Henry. I wanted to make a suspense film that made people laugh too. I came up with the idea of this film when there was a theme at Tropfest for lightbulb. I needed to find an older woman and a much older man to represent older men suffering from Dementia and alzheimer’s disease. I found Tina Bursill, who in the past, has won Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series called Skyways back in the 70s. I found Kevin Healy to play Henry and both of them bring so many years acting experience to the film that it was great working with them. They did a great job and I hardly needed to direct much with Tina as she was brilliant to work with. Both of them have had a long career in Australian Television.

The film is only 7 minutes in length and it was filmed in Sydney. It has recently won a place in the Official Selection of the Canada International Film Festival which means it will premiere on April 5th 2013. I am so pleased that this short film will start to be seen in the festivals.

To see the trailer of the film, check out this link.

The film was shot by Christopher McHardy and edited by George Gryllis.

The flyers for the film designed by Steve Fanale
Bloody Henry JPGThe Riding Santa
IMG_4728 Kevin Healy as HenryScreenshot Bloody HenryBROUGHT TO YOU BY:

LSBS WHITE HD LOGO for POSTER AND DVD

Mohonk Mountain House 3 NY

This is the third and last blog about Mohonk directly. It is Mohonk Mountain house and it is in New Paltz, Upstate New York. I have loved my time here and these shots below have been taken over the past few weeks and some on the weekend of my birthday. I came to Mohonk with the intention to write a book in my own time whilst enjoying the area, and I have accomplished that goal. The special factor around that book was that I wrote it at Mohonk Mountain House and I felt very inspired by the area, and the energy that the place house surrounding it. It may have something to do with the old burial ground nearby but it is a real lovely place to come visit. You can also Ice Skate too but if you are like me, and haven’t ice skated for a while, I would go slow or else you may just face plant onto the ice and feel sorry for yourself afterwards hehe.

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Mohonk Mountain House 2 NY

This is to follow on from my last blog and show you more photos about Mohonk Mountain House in upstate New York, in the town of New Paltz. The place is just stunning when you see it at different time of the day and through different weather patterns.

This is my favourite part of the whole place. The 25m indoor pool area which is part of the SPAA facilities. This section of the building was only added in the past ten years. It is just divine to swim in a pool that is so nice and warm and outside it is snowing. It’s kind of surreal but just great and I love writing from in this room too. Very inspiring.

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Mohonk Mountain House NY

I am in Mohonk Mountain House for a period of Six Weeks. Most people stay here for a few nights because it is so luxurious and it is an old Historical Castle resort originally built in 1875. There is an old Indian burial ground nearby from when the area was invaded by the Dutch years ago and the tribal people were overtaken. You know, that isn’t the accurate description so maybe it’s best to read up on the history of it. I have put a link here on the Mohonk Mountain House for anyone who wants to look it up or book to stay here.

View from my room below. This is the lakeside view room and at the moment, you can see the lake with a sheet of ice covering it.

 

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Ebony Hillbillies NYC

I love catching the subway because of all the entertainment I find whilst waiting. One day I saw all these women and men walking around in wonder woman underwear and I wanted to know what they were doing but they wouldn’t tell me. I saw a news article later that said a movement had started one day a year where all these people in LA and New York get together for fun and and dress up, walking around the city in their underwear. Americans love dressing up. It is really funny.

This one day I went down there and I saw the coolest band called the Ebony Hillbillies and seeing it is my birthday, I thought I would share them with you because they are a really call black band and their energy is so much fun. They are so active and you can’t help but be energised and smile as you listen to them. Absolutely amazing.

Here is a link to a bit of their performance. Ebony Hillbillies for web

Below are some photos of them too. I love the Cello player. He had such a nice energy about him.

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Town of New Paltz NY

Driving upstate in NY, is a place called New Paltz. It is actually the town where Mohonk Mountain House is located. Mohonk is amazing and I love staying there. It is really pretty when it snows but as you will see by a photo further down, the snow can be a little dangerous when driving and accidents happens. I am always there to capture it.

New Paltz has everything you need really. Little country town feel, a local Chase Bank, and of course a local Star bucks and Mcdonalds and Burger King. It has a good sized supermarket with everything and you can tell you are out of Manhattan because everything is so much cheaper.

When you are right in the heart of the town, there are some great little different cuisine shops. Chinese, Thai, Japanese Sushi, seafood and pizza shops. There was even a Greek shop but I haven’t eaten there yet. I think when you have a greek background and you always have grown up with good greek food, it feels like an insult to my mother, if I was to eat at another greek restaurant. Okay, well maybe not that extreme. Maybe, it is the fact that most of the time, you will get disappointed because no one makes better greek food than my mother and relatives combined. Years of mastery.

Okay, back to New Paltz. The local deli is tiny but manages to have everything in there. It is cute and there is also a little cinema near the supermarket. I noticed they are big with their Yoga as I saw two huge Yoga centres along the way.

When I parked my car to stop along the way, I was with my partner and we went to pay for parking and it cost 25 cents. They have a 25 cent coin here and I just laughed. How affordable is that? If only we could pay that price for all parking everywhere.

The Bridge at the end of New Paltz to head towards Mohonk.

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Hachi – NYC

I like Hachi. I went there for my friend Nickis Birthday. It is at 185 Orchard St, Lower East Side. It is a Japanese infused restaurant. There were ten of us and it was a great night. Actually, I felt the service was very slow but I am unsure if that was because we were in a big group or not. We had to continuously tell them to take plates away and follow up on food.

The food was well presented. I was very disappointed that they only offered Saki, wine and beer as I don’t drink those things but apart from that, I enjoyed the food I ate. I had the salmon and it was great. The birthday girl is obsessed with moustaches so she organised moustaches for everyone to be able to click on your drinking straws. I have put some photos below to show you the food presentation.

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Party City Store NYC

This store is so cool. It has everything you need for your party needs. It puts our Sydney party stores to shame. Now that it is Christmas and New Years time, they have rows of Santa Suits, a whole section of New Years Hats of all colours and some of their aisles are colour coded so that their feather boas and masks, plus everything else, are available in each colour.

When you walk in to the store, there is a whole Balloon section to the left that has every character in the US available for your themed party. To the right are lollies of all sorts in little containers and you can choose 15 for $1. It’s actually not a bad buy. Everything is such a good price. They have party cups, special occasion gear, and they even have everything party like for every football team, baseball team, soccer party sections and all the young kids favourite little character sections.

It’s awesome. I walked around taking photos for you to see what they have in there. This store makes me happy. It’s so bright and so spacious with lots of great vibrant things to choose from.

The Entrance

The Balloon Section

Santa Hats

Christmas Choices

Santa Suits to choose from

Garden Sticks, Scary

Masks

Masks are sectioned in Colors

The soccer accessories

Accessories, tiny glasses and skateboards finger size