Monday, September 27, 2010

Just to say hello and give you some reading power!

Happy Monday! Busy times-and trying to limit my digital addictions. Let's see-there is the class moodle to keep up (where students can post assignments etc.) and I now have put our reading association, LOMCIRA on Facebook. Just wanted to give you a couple of news updates on other sites. Both our local Reading Association, LOMCIRA and our provincial association, BCLCIRA, have new updated websites so please have a look.
All you Reading Power fans will be happy to know that Adrienne has a new website as well. What a great resource! Just hit the links on the side to access all of these any time!
I am having posting pictures today!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Newfoundland-the end of my trip...

I have so many other things to write about I need to finish off the Newfoundland report-well to be exact the St. John's and surroundings report.
After going to bed at about 2:30 am, we managed to get up and on our way for more sightseeing (unfortunately missing the after wedding brunch).  We took a great walk over to The Rooms.  This is an incredible building inspired by the rooms where fisherman used to clean and dry their catch.  This building is opened  five years ago and houses the Provincial Archives, an art gallery, and a museum.  It also probably has the best view in town of the city.  I totally recommend the restaurant for the food and view!  We did quite a thorough tour of the art gallery and museum.  Having been to Cupids we really enjoyed the exhibit on its history.  This is on until January in case you are planning a visit.  Another interesting permanent exhibit was about the Irish in Newfoundland.  In the art gallery we enjoyed the permanent exhibit and there was a really great exhibit of Ed Pien's work, Haven of Delight, on loan organized by the Musee d'art of  Joliette, Quebec.  I loved walking through a giant cut out maze.

Then we were whisked away by my old friend, Daphne, who lives in St. John's and is originally from Newman's Cove.  She took us to the Johnson Geo Centre at Signal Hill.  Since I have to teach geology in Grade Seven science I thought this might inspire me.  And I have to say it did.  Too bad I can't just take my class there!  They like the idea of a Newfoundland field trip though! The main exhibit was really informative and I must admit I quite enjoyed the special exhibit on the Titantic-what a story of human hubris and error and corporate greed.  Also it was definitely interesting virtually visiting an offshore oil platform.  There wasn't too much discussion of accidents though.

Next on the agenda was a visit to a visit to Quidi Vidi Village, a small fishing village a short distance away.  This was a neat area and we had to buy samples of the local beer.  Two houses have been built that take away from the picturesque view and flavour though.  Not sure how that happened? They aren't in this picture.

Then Daphne took us on a great tour of the old historic residential area of the city (that we had walked a bit through on our way to The Rooms)  telling us some great stories.  We ended our tour with great ice cream at MooMoos.

Somewhere in there I managed a bit more souvenir shopping.  Daphne dropped Ginny and I off at the condo Diane and Bob (the groom's parents) had rented near our hotel.  So we enjoyed a bit more visiting and eating with some of the wedding guests and called it an early night.

Note that my camera was still having battery problems and batteries seemed hard to find.  Otherwise I would probably have had another 100 pictures to sort through.  (Note to self, always travel with back up lithium batteries though I usually do.)

The next day I felt  sad to have to leave especially since Ginny and Diane went puffin watching that day but I think I managed to have a wonderful time in a few days.  I totally recommend a trip to Newfoundland and Labrador.  The link is to their excellent tourism site.  I know you might not get to go to a wedding but...
P.S. Security including the non-line up took me less than three minutes and I still managed to find a few more souvenirs in the airport.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Newfoundland Report Part 3

Well I should finish this and move on to other topics!  Friday morning we were off to the Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden.  Our walk only took in a small part of this large property but we certainly enjoyed the part that we were able to see.  Sometimes one does think of Newfoundland as The Rock so that one can almost think of a botanical garden as being a bit of a contradiction in terms but there is indeed interesting plant life especially due to the unique geography of Newfoundland.  Some plants were ones we see here in coastal British Columbia and not in Central Canada for instance.  Plants that had stopped blooming here long ago were still blooming there as well.  And of course there are those blueberries.  To learn more visit the garden's very good site.

I have to note that we were thrilled to have a close up look at Newfoundland's provincial flower, the Pitcher Plant.  This plant has adapted to harsh conditions so that it doesn't need soil nutrients but can get nutrients by capturing insects.  I learned that some native orchids supplement their diet as well this way. The Pitcher  Plant  was chosen as the provincial flower because it represents natural beauty, strength, character, and resiliency very representative of Newfoundland and Labrador and the people there.

It was time to return the car as we really didn't need it any more.  Typical of the hospitality we found in St. John's, we were delivered to downtown St. John's to meander and shop our way back to the hotel along the oldest street in North America, Water Street, and later Duckworth.  I am not sure if I have mentioned how steep some of the streets are, so steep that you can use stairs at some points.  Then there are the wonderfully colorful houses that are now being renovated madly.  It's probably just as well the room in my suitcases was limited but I had a great time in The Weavery, the Heritage Shops, and the Craft Council Shop, Devon House.

Of course, as you may remember we were here for a wedding and the wedding was a about to begin so we were picked up by bus and for the next 11 hours were on a Newfoundland adventure that included the ceremony at St. Patrick's Church (a church built by fishermen), a stop at the bride's parents' beautiful home in a subdivision surrounding a lake (you can go down the backyard onto the pond for a row and to fish) and finally to the reception at the Murray's Pond Hunting and Fishing Club in Portugal Cove.  The picture is from there.

Now as you can see I am a compulsive picture taker, a bit hampered in the latter part of my trip by battery problems but I have to include a professional shot taken by the bride's brother in law, Nate Gates.  You just have to love it. 

I thought that I would finish the story today but Newfoundland Part 4 will be the end, I promise.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Newfoundland part 2

Well yesterday was the first day of school-mind you I only had my 10 former grade sixes and one student for an hour but after two days off always a bit of a shock to the system but always the excitement and anticipation of the first day...  I don't get my whole "real class" until Friday as we make sure the numbers fall in the correct directions.  I have decided to start the year with a bit of a unit on Newfoundland including beginning with the science unit on geology and social studies unit on artifacts.  My read aloud will be Charlie Wilcox by Sharon E. MacKay.  I am keeping all my last year's grade six students and they were actually wildly enthusiastic about studying about Newfoundland if it involved project work.  They love projects.  Also I am happy to say that they all seemed to read this summer as well.  I am so excited with only having to deal with one grade level curriculum and always thankful for my wonderful teacher-librarian!

Now as I unfold more of my recent journey you will hopefully see the connections.  My journey along the Marine Drive where I took some of the pictures on my last blog.  When we visited Middle Beach and saw all these rocks my mind turned to Grade Seven Science.  We returned to St. John's and went up Signal Hill which we could always see clearly out our hotel window.  Then we drove out (with a little confusion due to one way streets and two bridges) to Cape Spear, Canada's most easterly point.  We saw the most incredible sunset!  I realize we should have perhaps done sunrise but sunset was amazing!

This is just one of the views we had.  It was a really magical evening listening to the pounding surf (wondering a bit of Hurricane Earl was going to sweep over us in a couple of days).

Thursday we set off for Brigus and Cupids.  Brigus was highly recommended by Verena, and it was an amazingly beautiful place.  Once a major sealing port with a harbour filled with ships it now is a town rather lovingly restored.  The streets are narrowed and windy so I happily abandoned the car in a lot as Ginny and I explored.  We ended up in Hawthorne Cottage, home of Captain Bob Bartlett, famed Arctic explorer, I began thinking that Brigus seemed strangely familiar.  Sure enough, when I asked the helpful tour guide, it was indeed the setting for Charlie Wilcox, a boy who sneaks off to board a sealer rather than go to high school but instead  finds himself heading to Europe during World War 1.  Captain Bob also figures in Wayne Johnston's great adult novel, The Navigator of New York.
When we went up to the old church on the hill, I thought of Charlie running up there to see if his father's ship had come in.

Next we ventured off to Cupids, the oldest English language settlement in Canada.  Only the week before it celebrated it's 400th anniversary.  There is also an extensive archeological dig there and an interesting display from the National Art Gallery of reproductions of famous Canadian portraits on the street but I must say a highlight for us was a late lunch at Cupid's Haven and then a walk that included wild blueberry nibbling.  Okay, again I need to go to work.  Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Such good intentions...

Two weddings and two weeks away later and here I am blogging again.  I had good intentions of a blog while I was away.  I was all set to go in the St. John's, Newfoundland airport only to discover that my somewhat antiquated Macbook  couldn't pick up the free hot spot there.  Same thing happened to me in a Kingston, Ontario hotel etc.  So here I am the morning before my first day back at work writing.

The weddings-one in Vancouver and then one in St. John's.  Both couples live in Calgary and one member of each couple was born in Montreal-doesn't that say something about contemporary Canada.  The first I was the maid of honour at the bride's parents' wedding, and the second I have known the groom since he was a toddler and can remember him refusing to take his Star Wars boots off before I attempted to make him go to sleep.  It was great spending time with old friends and seeing these neat young people taking these big steps.  Both weddings were beautiful-the first at Cecil Green House with an ocean view on the UBC campus-the wedding ceremony was outside and much time was spent admiring the views.  The second took place in wonderfully historic St. Patrick's Church followed by a reception at Murray's Pond, another beautiful setting.

In between I flew to Montreal, a visit sandwiched with a weekend in Kingston again spending time with old friends.  I am bringing my Queen's mug to school today.  The last few days I spent in St. John's.  Another former John Grant (the special ed high school where I taught in Lachine)  and I flew off to another former colleague,  Diane's son's wedding.  Ginny has been almost everywhere but had missed Newfoundland and I hadn't been there for 34 years so we were planning some serious sightseeing as well.

I really fell in love with St.  John's.  Fortunately my friend Verena had been there a couple of days earlier and made some great recommendations from coffee shots to places to visit.  Nothing like a fresh traveller to guide you.  We rented a car for the first couple of days until the wedding festivities pulled into full gear so we took full advantage.

We stayed at the Sheraton, formerly the Fairmont and we were pleasantly surprised that we had a view right up to the top of Signal Hill and into the harbour where a cruise ship was moored.  The location was perfect.  Verena recommended the coffee shop, Coffee Matters, across the street and in the next few days we ate breakfast there everyone day as well.  A friendly local transplanted from Toronto saw us studying our maps and lead us to our first tour, Marine Drive.  Okay I have to get ready for school so I will have to continue this later.  The pictures are from our drive along Marine Drive-just wanted to begin to give you a flavour!