Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Have a Great Summer!

Hello everyone, I'm going to take the summer off from blogging - too difficult with lack of wifi at the cottage. Here are a few photos from my 2018 trek up Offa's Dyke Path, from Chepstow in the south, at the Severn Estuary, 177 miles/285 Km north, with a total elevation gain of 30,000 ft/9100 meters, to Prestatyn on the Irish Sea.

These particular photos were taken at Castell Dinas Bran, the remains of a  medieval castle and, before that, an iron age fort near Llangollen in Denbighshire. I almost didn't go up there because there was a steep climb and it had already been a long day in which we had seen Chirk Castle and walked across the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Like a horse heading for the barn, I was just looking forward to getting to my B and B. The Dutch couple who befriended me urged me on and with the clearing weather and views so spectacular, it turned out to be my favourite place along the entire route. I can't look at these photos without marveling at the stunning beauty of Wales.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Have a wonderful summer. See you in September.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Canada Day 2021

Canada Day 2021 is different. A spotlight is shining on racial discrimination in a terrible way.

Recently the remains of 215 children were discovered, buried on the grounds of a Kamloops, BC former residential school for indigenous children, part of Canada's history of the subjugation of native people. The entire country has been shocked and many people are feeling uncomfortable about being Canadian. We are mourning this year and face a future in which probing into other residential schools may uncover more shocking discoveries and horrible treatment of native children. It is not a happy time.

Canadian country and folk singer-songwriter Don Amero performed this mournful version of O Canada at a recent NHL game to honour the lives of the 215 children.

Then, on Sunday, June 6, in London, Ontario, a young man with no sense and a lot of hatred, made the shocking decision to use his truck to murder a Muslim family out for their customary evening walk. Four members of the family, Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year old wife, Madiha Salman, their 15-year old daughter, Yumna Salman and 9-year old son, Fayez as well as Salman Afzaal's 74-year old mother were mowed down intentionally by this young man in his truck. Young Fayez, severely injured, is the only member of his family to survive. 

photo from The Globe and Mail

This kind of racially motivated hatred is unacceptable anywhere. How do we change these awful attitudes? 

And how can we celebrate Canada Day in the face of such sadness.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Cornelia Konrads

How inviting does this garden doorway look!

Cornelia Konrads is a German artist specializing in installations in gardens and public spaces.

I recently saw this first image on Twitter and was instantly intrigued.


Looking online for more of her pieces, I found that many of them have a delightful playful quality.


Others are determined to defy gravity.

Many more images of her work can be found on her webpage: 
Cornelia Konrads

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Vodka from Milk?

Traditionally the distilled alcoholic beverage known as vodka, as we generally know it, has been made from cereal grains or potatoes. Now farmers have found a way to make vodka using the by-product of cheese-making, whey, which is otherwise dumped at a cost to the dairy producer. 

Whey is collected and fermented, making beer, which is then distilled into vodka. While this technique of using milk in vodka-making seems revolutionary in Canada, it is well known to Mongolians who have been turning yak milk into vodka for thousand of years.

In Canada, a new distillery, Dairy Distillery, in Almonte, Ontario, just west of Ottawa, is leading the way. 

The final product, Vodkow, as they call it, is a pure colourless see-through vodka, sugar- and lactose-free as well as gluten-free. I'm not a vodka aficionado (i.e. I haven't tried it) but apparently, Vodkow has a mouthfeel that is smooth and creamy and it's tasty in a way that gives a nod to the specific yeast that is used. 

Here's a video that explains more.

A few more bits of info:
  • Dairy Distillery was one of several Canadian companies that changed over to producing hand sanitizer during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Vodkow is available at the LCBO. 
  • More info on the Vodkow website.
  • You have to be over the age of 19 to enter the website and to view any of their YouTube videos.
  • There are distillers in Dorset, England, Oregon and New York State that are also converting milk waste to vodka.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Girl From the Channel Islands

 The Girl From the Channel Islands                                                                   Jenny Lecoat

This debut novel by screenwriter, Jenny Lecoat, is set in the place of her birth, Jersey, one of the small Channel Islands just 14 miles off the coast of Brittany in France. 

The World War 2 story is a retelling of actual events. The main character, Hedy, has survived the Anschluss in her native Austria and finds herself working as a mother's helper on Jersey just before the island is invaded and annexed by the German army in 1940. In spite of being Jewish, Hedy is able to find work as a translator for the German authorities, a position that enables her to defy the Germans and aid her community. She ends up in a relationship with a German officer who is then instrumental in her survival. 

I don't know if most people realize the extent of the hardships faced by the Channel Islanders during the German occupation. Personal rights were obliterated overnight, most foodstuffs were requisitioned by the Germans, leaving the locals in a position of near-famine. Radios were seized, electricity was sporadic and fuel for cooking or keeping warm was hard to come by. People became so desperate that they would do almost anything to survive. 

Then, when the Allies attacked the French coast during the June 1944 D-day raids, Islanders' hopes of rescue died as they came to realize that they were being passed over. The actual rescue did not arrive until nearly a year later. 

Despite the riveting details of all these troubles and hardships (I had to put the book down and walk away a few times) I enjoyed reading  The Girl From the Channel Islands and recommend it to others.