Archive for the ‘Travel and Tourism’ Category

I’m Back!


I have safely returned home after a wonderful two weeks in Europe. I was back in the office today, which was a bit of a shock to my vacation-slackened system but no doubt very good for me. I hope to be back to regular blogging (won’t that be a change!) in the next week or two.  Prepare yourselves for many, many vacation photos. For now, hi!

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Horseshoe Bay

Horseshoe Bay before an early ferry

I have not been a good blogger or reader this summer but I have been having a good time.  Without books.  Who knew?

Instead of reading, I have been exploring, getting reacquainted or simply introduced to some of the amazing sights in and around Vancouver. From beaches to mountains, I’ve been taking it all in and counting my blessings yet again that I live in such a stunning place.

Since I don’t have any book reviews to present to you (yet), I thought I might as well share some photos of my recent adventures.


Deep Cove


View from Grey Rock down on Indian Arm and Deep Cove


Cleveland Dam (aka the city’s very scenic water supply)


Early morning at the beach on Canada Day


View to Bowen and up Howe Sound


View from Dog Mountain


Looking down on the city from Dog Mountain

Morning Ferry

Taking the ferry across to Bowen Island

Snug Cove

The marina on Bowen


Marina-side shops and restaurants in Snug Cove (Bowen)

Ferry 2

The view from the ferry, heading back to the mainland

I’m off to spectacular Switzerland later this month but I already feel like I’ve had a bit of a holiday this summer, thanks to these weekend adventures.

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Welcome Summer!


This was my view this morning. To celebrate the beautiful weather ON A SATURDAY NO LESS (good weather seems to have an inverse relationship with non-working days, I find), the family headed off on a rather muddy two hour hike in Mount Seymour Provincial Park.  I hadn’t been up Mt Seymour since I was seven or eight and going snowshoeing with Brownies.  This experience was significantly better than that, containing a minimum of snow (but still some, I was bewildered to find) and a maximum of amazing views.  It was a great reminder of just how stunning this province is and how close and accessible the outdoors are.


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Palms to Pines


View down to Coachella Valley

My holiday is almost at an end but it has been an excellent one. It has been pretty quiet, with lots of time spent reading and enjoying the warm weather, but yesterday we went on a fun family road trip up into the San Jacinto mountains.  After almost two weeks surrounded by palm trees, it was wonderful to trade them (at least for the day) for pine trees and slightly cooler weather.  We spent several hours hiking near the mountain town of Idyllwild, enjoyed a delicious lunch in town, and then took in the amazing views on the twisting road back to the desert.  It had been years since I travelled along this road and I’d forgotten how absolutely stunning the scenery is.  It was a great way to spend the day!


Near Idyllwild


Hiking near Idyllwild


Looking down on Hemet and Diamond Valley Lake


Coming down into San Gorgonio Pass

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Home Sweet Home


Lucky thing that I am, I did not have to work on my birthday yesterday.  I managed to have a busy and rather stressful day (good stress, but still stress) nonetheless but one of the least stressful and most delightful parts of it was an afternoon walk along the beach.  It was a perfect reminder of why Vancouver is my favourite city in the world and why I would not want to live anywhere else.  Especially in February.

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By the time we arrived in London (having stopped briefly in Windsor enroute from the Lake District), my codependent relationship with my camera had evaporated.  Maybe it was because I have been to London so many times before or that I was exhausted after three and a half weeks of photographing everything I saw.  Regardless, there were not a lot of photos taken in London (and even fewer in Windsor, which is why I’ve skipped talking about it altogether) but that does not mean I did not have a wonderful and very busy time.

We were in London for four days and, though not as ambitious as on previous trips, still managed to fit a lot in.  I bought lots of books, saw one of my best friends who is the process of moving to London for work, finally visited Westminster Abbey, explored the Tate Britain, browsed along Oxford Street, wandered through beautiful parks and neighbourhoods, and saw a fabulous musical.

London1 London2 London4 London5 London6

But, let us be honest, the real highlight of my time in London was getting to meet Rachel.  After three and a half years of online friendship, we finally got to met in person.  I have only met a handful of bloggers in real life (the others being Carolyn, Simon, and Darlene) and every encounter has been wonderful.  It is so strange but delightful to be able to sit down with a person for the first time but already know them so well.  Rachel and I had a very chatty dinner and then she took me to one of her favourite bookshops on Charing Cross Road.  It was a great evening but the downside of getting on so well with someone is realising that you have to go back home and probably won’t see them again for years!  Still, it was the perfect way to end an already eventful and memorable trip.

Claire and Rachel


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A Wall of Wodehouse

A Wall of Wodehouse

I love London.  It is full of wonderful museums and galleries, a dizzying array of theatres, beautiful historic buildings and neighbourhoods, world-class shopping, and, most alluring of all, an overwhelming number of bookstores, both new and used.  And I don’t hide my priorities when I visit: I go to London to buy books, taking advantage of the amazing variety on offer and, to my Canadian eyes at least, the amazingly cheap prices.  Everything else I do there is just a bonus.

I had a wonderful time visiting various book stores.  I devoted one whole afternoon to book shopping, darting through Bloomsbury, Notting Hill and Kensington.  It was wonderful.  I only bought books from a few of the stores I visited while in others I just spent happy hours exploring.  I went into Hatchards for the first time ever while waiting to meet a friend at Fortnum and Mason and completely fell in love with it.  I did not buy anything there but was tempted by everything I saw.  Everything is so beautifully laid out there and I was particularly awed by the two whole shelves devoted to the beautiful Overlook Press editions of P.G. Wodehouse’s books.

Here are the books I brought back with me:


Mr Tibbits’s Catholic School by Ysenda Maxtone Graham – a wonderful history of St Philip’s School in London.  It is short and funny and made for the perfect airplane book on the flight home.

The Northern Fells and The Central Fells by Alfred Wainwright – bookish souvenirs from the Lake District.

The Real Mrs Miniver by Ysenda Maxtone Graham – a biography of Joyce Anstruther, aka Jan Struther, written by her granddaughter and recently reprinted as a beautiful Slightly Foxed Edition in the most amazing shade of blue.

Amberwell by D.E. Stevenson – one of my favourite D.E.S. novels, I was thrilled to find this on the shelf at the Slightly Foxed bookshop.

Rosabelle Shaw by D.E. Stevenson – another find at Slightly Foxed.  I don’t know much about it but for £4 I was willing to risk it.

The Crocodile by the Door by Selina Guinness – a relatively new release, I had been eyeing this at Waterstones and other new bookstores but resisting.  When I found it in a used bookstore on Charing Cross Road, I pounced.

Peace Breaks Out by Angela Thirkell – I was keeping my eye out for this Thirkell throughout my bookstore wanderings and was thrilled to find it at Slightly Foxed.

The Three Clerks by Anthony Trollope – more Trollope!  I am always interested in expanding my Trollope collection and was happy to find this Oxford World’s Classic edition at Skoob in Bloomsbury.


And, of course, there was a trip to the lovely Persephone shop where I picked up six new books to add to my collection.

Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski – already a favourite

The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

Journal of Katherine Mansfield

The Runaway by Elizabeth Anna Hart

The Montana Stories by Katherine Mansfield

The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes

I did well, I think, but it is probably for the best (at least for my crowded bookshelves) that I only visit London every two or three years rather than every time I go to Europe!

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