Category Archives: #Canada

All Aboard the Canadian with Buddy and his Four Fantastic Furry Friends!

We started with two travelling companions – Buddy the Dachshund and Seaumus the Scottish Terrier. I know that’s not the traditional spelling for Seaumus, but there is a reason for that which I will reveal at a later date (and in another book).

While it’s not the book I planned on releasing by the end of the year, this one spoke to me on our recent trip to Vancouver and back on VIA Rail’s Canadian. Four days and four nights on the train in each direction.

 

Buddy

Here are the boys looking out the window in the dome car on our way to Vancouver.

It wasn’t until the return trip that we added to our little “family.” The first addition was Butterscotch the moose. She’s VIA’s little travel buddy. One of the employees on the train had one with her in the Park car, and I fell in love with it. Suffice it to say; it wasn’t long until the golden-brown moose became one of us.

At our stop in Jasper, we picked up two more ‘kids.’ This time bears joined the group. Jasper (aptly named considering where we picked him up), the black bear, and Banff the brown one who is quite likely a grizzly bear, given his colour.

 

Buddy

All five are in the window of the Park car watching the world go by.

One morning when we returned to our cabin after breakfast, as usual, the bed was put away, and the room back in its ‘daytime’ configuration, and all five of the ‘kiddies’ were arranged on the sofa.

Buddy

This note from Hollie, in our Prestige Travel Journal, was on our coffee table.

It was late when we arrived in Edmonton, like about four hours late. We put the kids to bed and got off the train for a breath of fresh air long enough to take this picture of them looking out the window. I think they’re looking worried, especially Buddy.

Buddy

We left them on their own again one more time when we arrived in Saskatoon.

Overall, they behaved well, although Hollie had to put Jasper and Banff on a time-out once.

A children’s picture book was never in the plan when we first booked the train trip earlier this year. Even on the way to Vancouver, it never crossed my mind. I planned to work on my novella, the second book in the ‘It Happened’ series set in the Gastown neighbourhood of Vancouver.

At some point on the way home, the light went on, and in the space of one afternoon, I had the children’s book plotted and partially written. That, in itself, was quite the feat as we were hurtling across the prairies at breakneck speed at the time. Wendy H. Jones, I salute you for being able to write on the train. I could tune out the people around me, but trying to type and keep my MacBook Air from escaping from me was easier said than done.

If all goes to plan, by the end of this year, yes 2019, I’ll have an illustrated children’s book featuring the five stuffed animals which came home from Vancouver with me on the train. I’ve contracted the gal who is going to do the artwork for me through Fiverr. Her name is Aria Jones. I’m impressed with her work.  I know the size and format I want for the print version, so it’s a matter of adding the illustrations and finding a printer. I know, sometimes that’ s easier said than done.

The plan for this year also includes having Book Two of the It Happened series published. That means, head down, bum in chair, and fingers burning up the keyboard.

 

 

Home again, home again

All good things come to an end, and so did our trip to Vieux-Québec. It will feel good to be back home again and sleeping in our bed, but the break was an excellent chance to see the beautiful city and recharge our batteries.

The plan was to have an early breakfast at the hotel then get on the road. Things didn’t turn out quite that way. Between busloads of students and the Pee Wee hockey tournament, the hotel’s restaurant was full and people were lined up down the stairs and into the lobby to get a table.

Off to Cosmos, we went. We’d eaten there before, and their breakfast was good. The bonus was the lack of line up for food. Things changed quickly though after we arrived. People who were tired of waiting at the hotel joined us.

I had my phone with me, so after we finished eating, I took on the ice slide outside the restaurant. By now there was a lot of sandy snow on its surface which made it difficult to get moving. But as you can see, I did.

I even struck a pose afterwards.

We got Buddy all settled into his place in the backseat where he can look out the window, and we were off.

The stats for today weren’t worth getting excited over. I beat my daily step goal but compared to the previous days; I couldn’t consider myself an over-achiever.

 

 

Carnaval ~ Everyone is doing it

At breakfast, we decided to get a picture of our room from outside the hotel. We knew we were behind the one bank of elevators and at the end of the corridor between them was a window. We left the curtains open unevenly so the window would be easier to spot from the ground.

Carnaval

As always, we seem to migrate directly to Dufferin Terrace. This one bench was the most exposed of all of them. Getting down was one thing. Getting back up, was something completely different. I was like my friend in Scotland said once “you’re like a buck-it yowe.” Something to do with a ewe that is unable to get up.

Carnaval

My little Wienerschnitzel, Buddy, is turning into quite a little ham.

Carnaval

We watched the folks who were brave (crazy) enough to do the toboggan run. Hubby wanted to do it. Refer to the word in brackets above. With there being three lanes and a substantial barrier between each, you have to keep your feet tucked up into the person’s in front of your lap, or be the driver and have “vos pieds” under the curved front.

This man and his dogs (Mona & Lisa) were there every day. He’s meant to be a fur trapper. As you can see, hubby is wearing a coonskin over his head. The dogs have lovely fur beds to sit or lie down on, as well as booties to keep their feet warm and the road salt off.

Carnaval

I envision the streets and sidewalks in my book, It Happened on Dufferin Terrace, looking like this. I know Serenity wasn’t in Vieux-Québec during the winter carnival, but still, it’s white and crisp and beautiful as it was in my book.

Carnaval

We worked our way back to Rue du Petit Champlain and the park where the Smurf house and other ice sculptures were located. And yes, the wee ham is at it again. This one was too slippery for him, so he needed a bit of assistance.

Carnaval

Remember the ice slide I mentioned in an earlier post? Well, here I am. Not video but it will do. Even with a long down-filled coat, it was still chilly on the butt.

Carnaval

Back uphill and we met up with the Mad Hatter again. This time with three of her friends. By the time this photo was taken, the third one had gone off to talk to someone else.

Carnaval

After another fun visit with the Mad Hatter and her friends, we carried on up the street to the Pub Saint Alexandre where we enjoyed a few drinks before returning to Simons where I bought three bottle lights. I already had a clear one so this time I got them in grey, yellow and rose. I wanted another spoon rest like the ones I bought there previously, but they didn’t have any.

Back to the hotel with these purchases (no sense carting things around if you don’t have to).

After a fuel stop at the hotel and having the other bottle of champagne we brought with us, we headed back inside the wall to the pub (we told the girls we’d be back). I looked up the manual for my camera and re-learned how to shoot video with it. This time it worked!

I have two clips of hubby on the slide in front of Cosmos, but a little girl is in the other one waiting for her turn. I opted not to use that one because of that.

I’ve really created a monster. Now the little Wienerschnitzel is taking selfies. I think he best stick to having others take his photo. His poor legs are too short to get the camera a decent distance away from himself.

Carnaval

This was our last night in Vieux-Québec so we wanted to make the most of it, despite the fact we turned into pumpkins around 9:00 (sometimes earlier) each night. But with the fresh air and all the walking, it’s no wonder we were tired.

Feb 14 (and this was a travel day)
13,167 steps
5.24 miles
22 floors

Feb 15
17,150 steps
6.82 miles
33 floors

Feb 16
20,675 steps
8.22 miles
33 floors

Feb 17
23,830 steps
9.48 miles
59 floors

 

Sunny Saturday

Well, after a few flurries early in the morning, the day turned out to be gorgeous. With sunny days in the winter, the temperatures are colder, but we were well prepared.

After breakfast at the hotel, we were off. Our first stop was the slide outside Cosmos. Hubby took Buddy down it. Too bad I didn’t remember how to shoot video (a function I might use once a year at the most with my Canon). With my murky – no completely absent memory – all I got was this shot when he stood up at the bottom. Not what I planned on at all. However; he received accolades and high-fives from folks on the sidewalk afterwards. 😄

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Despite my inept video shoot, they do look like they had fun, don’t they?

Further down the street outside the ice castle, there was a sculpture of a VIA train engine. What guy can’t resist pretending he’s driving a train?

sunny

Or a girl and her dog for that matter, even if he is a stuffed one?

sunny

There is so much snow on Dufferin Terrace that most of the benches are buried under it. Said snow crunched under our feet as we walked.

sunny

My favourite street in all of Vieux-Québec, Rue Sous-le-Cap, is once again open from one end to the other. This narrow street at the base of the cliff was closed for some time because of a rock slide.

sunny

It might be open, but it wasn’t all that easy to traverse with only tire tracks to walk in and slip and slide as one struggled for traction.

sunny

At the other end, the cars had been buried under blown snow (either by wind or mechanical means). I wonder if the one who left the bumper imprint was cleaned off entirely when it departed?

sunny

We don’t usually walk with canes, but when you’re on ice and snow, it’s nice to have a little extra support. Ice-picks affixed to the tip work well. Although we walked up the hill a few times, we took advantage of the funiculaire to ride to the top on this occasion.

By riding up the hill, we arrived in time to watch this performance. A freighter going upriver and the ferries leaving the ports of Québec and Lévis at the same time. It’s quite the water ballet.

sunny

The plan was to visit Simons after this display of navigational coordination. Who did we run into on our way there? The Mad Hatter! One can’t visit Carnaval and not take the time to speak with someone this famous (or should I say infamous). There were other people in costume in the area but they were otherwise occupied talking with other folks.

sunny

We did get to Simons and this time wasn’t out of necessity, but luxury. I love the quality of their wool socks so I stocked up.

It was later in the afternoon so we decided to have a few drinks and an early supper before returning to our room. Between the time we left the store and got to the Pub Saint Alexandre, a young man (not dressed for the weather) asked hubby if he could take a picture with him. We both think the lad thought “homeless” the way hubby carried the Simons bag on his cane over his shoulder.

The girls working behind the bar loved Buddy. I mean what’s not to love? Look at that face.

sunny

He’s welcome there anytime because he was so well behaved.

sunny

A few drinks and fish supper later, we headed back to our hotel after a stop at the Mary’s Popcorn outlet up the street. The small bag of chocolate popcorn we bought previously tasted like more.

A beautiful moon made the walk back to our accommodations even more romantic.

 

 

 

 

 

Red sky in morning …

The adage “red sky at night, sailor’s delight, red sky in morning, sailor’s warning” summed up Friday, the 15th perfectly. Look at the beautiful sunrise in the first two pictures. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
red sky

red sky

How about now? This picture is of the same view as when we arrived, but the snow was so heavy, practically the entire vista vanished. The tower on the Parliament Building is barely visible!

red sky

After breakfast, we girded our loins and headed off to the Metro supermarket on Avenue Cartier for more French’s Sweet Onion Mustard, which is no longer available in Ontario. 😒

Some of the restaurants along Grande-Allée had ice sculptures in their patio areas, but the best ones were in Lower Town. These are just a few.

red sky
Yogi Bear and Booboo
red sky
one of the smurfs

Created from ice, and it’s a slide! Okay, there’s some bare plywood showing. Remember this picture.

red sky
ice slide

Back to the sculptures.

red sky
Shaun the Sheep
redsky
Three little pigs

When we reached this spot, we were asked to take a photo of a group of people with Bonhomme. The young lady taking the picture wanted to be included, so handed me her phone and I snapped some pictures for her. In return, she captured this one of us. If you look closely, you can see Buddy’s nose sticking out of the ‘book’ bag between Bonhomme and me.

red sky
with Bonhomme

And still more sculptures.

red sky
Snoopy and Charlie Brown
red sky
Bambi

So much snow already on the ground, and now with today’s dumping, folks were removing the snow and icicles from their roofs and eaves. This wet stuff was perfect snowman making snow, and with too much weight, a roof could collapse.

red sky

After riding the funiculaire to the top of the cliff, we trundled off to Pub Saint Alexandre for a well-deserved drink and a chance to dry out. While there, we bought official Carnaval tuques. Our stuff was so wet; I didn’t think it would be dry by morning and wandering about in the cold in damp clothing does not bode well for one’s health.

This arch was outside Cosmos where we had supper. Just out of the picture on the left is another ice slide.

red sky

Tomorrow is Saturday, and they say it will be a fine day. We’ll see if they’re right.

 

 

Love is in the air … and adventures, too

It’s going to be a year of adventures for us, but for now, I’m concentrating on our recent trip to Quebec City, Vieux-Québec in particular.

What better time to arrive in this beautiful old city than Valentine’s Day?

On this trip, we stayed in a different hotel than on previous occasions. Our usual hostelry had no rooms available for the duration of our stay. However, its sister hotel around the corner fit the bill quite nicely.

I love older hotels or bed and breakfasts because of their character, but they lack some amenities – like elevators.

Hôtel Le Concorde not only provided us with a stunning room on the topmost floor (26th) with a fantastic view down the Grande Allée but underground valet parking, too.

adventures

I said the view was fantastic.

After settling in and enjoying one of the bottles of champagne we brought with us, we set out. I had to get my Simons fix, although this time it was a necessity rather than a luxury. It seems in the course of packing and rearranging; I left my tuque and scarf behind. Winter and not having those, especially when a snowstorm was in the forecast for the next day, not a good idea.

Suitably attired, we wandered down to the Lower Town where we stopped at Sapristi‘s Petit Champlain location, which we discovered on our trip in November, for our supper, followed by The Fudgerie to stock up on our chocolate, and finally the last stop before returning to our room was Mary’s Popcorn.

Suitably fortified with sweets and snacks for the rest of our time in Vieux-Québec, we headed back to our hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

CHILL WITH A BOOK READERS’ AWARD goes to…

It Happened on Dufferin Terrace!

chill readers award

Receiving the award is the protagonist, Serenity Layne.

* applause*

Thank you. I’m speechless. I’ve accepted many awards on behalf of Thacker, Price & Associates, but none have thrilled me more than the Chill with a Book Readers’ Award. *nervous laugh*

Not so long ago, this would have been routine. Not to belittle the firm, but it was me. Me, before I met Roger Scott, his delightful son, Adam, and their goofy dog, Tori.

These incredible people opened my eyes to life, love and taking chances.

Our initial meeting was unconventional. I mean, how many couples end up together because of one party getting knocked down by a dog? Roger was so remorseful, so gracious, how could a girl not be attracted to him? Did I mention he’s also attractive?

I know. I’m babbling. It’s the excitement of the moment.

Doesn’t the cover look wonderful with the award on it?

chill readers' award

Here’s what my story is about.

She’s married to her job… He’s a widowed father…

Miracle on 34th Street meets Sleepless in Seattle…

Toronto business consultant, Serenity Layne, knew the only person she could depend on was herself. Busy with her career, she has no time for other pursuits and life’s intangibles

Widowed for three years, Roger Scott, a data security specialist in Quebec City, is a single parent to his ten-year-old son, Adam.

On a day out on the Plains of Abraham with their black Labrador Retriever, Roger’s cell phone rings incessantly. Adam has played matchmaker and put his father’s profile on a number of online dating sites.

The week before Christmas, Serenity is heading up a series of meetings after a six-month study of the Canadian retail chain, jonathans. After an unpleasant encounter with one of the store managers, she escapes from the boardroom of the Château Frontenac Hotel, only to be bowled over by Roger and Adam’s dog.

Guilty over the accident, Roger invites Serenity out for a drink by way of apology. Over the course of the week, and spending time together, feelings long dormant for Roger are re-awakened. At the same time, emotions foreign to Serenity fill her with contentment and happiness.

Will the couple get their happily ever after?

It Happened on Dufferin Terrace is available at these retailers.

amazon

Books a Million

Barnes & Noble

kobo

It’s time for the November edition of Searching for Serenity!

Let’s play the November edition of

Searching for Serenity!

 

Where will we find her this time? You want to make sure you behave in here. There are at least four elves in the shelter. Two on the throne and two in the back corners.

Serenity and Roger visited this park area in It Happened on Dufferin Terrace. When they did, the throne was outdoors totally, not sheltered by three walls and a roof.

november edition

Serenity may not have visited here, but we frequently do for a bowl of their French Onion Soup. It’s to die for! If you look out the window, you see the Christmas market across the street in the square and the Simons department store in the background.

November edition

If you were to turn 90 degrees to the right from where this picture was taken, you would see the Château Frontenac Hotel.

november edition

The street at the top of the staircase is Avenue St Denis. This is a place Serenity visits in It Happened on Dufferin Terrace.

november edition

It’s quite the trek up all these stairs, especially in winter conditions. Obviously, it was something important that brought here here and up the wooden flight of steps.

november edition

So there you have it. A few more spottings of Serenity around Vieux-Québec.

Do you think you know these locations or why she’s in them?

 

Let the Vacation Begin!

After breakfast at Cosmos and gathering our various accoutrements, we started towards the wall and the old part of the city. On a good day, it would take five minutes tops. It was still snowing, and the sidewalks hadn’t been cleared yet. But, we’re on vacation so have no deadlines. We get there when we get there.

vacation

Despite the snow, the sun tried to shine. You can see it peeking through the cloud cover over the drill hall. In 2008, this grand building caught fire. You can read about it here. I’m really pleased they restored the building. Being a UNESCO world heritage site, it was a no-brainer, although if it were in the city I live in, it would be pulled down before there was a chance to even think of saving it.

When we arrived inside the walls of the old city, we walked through the Christmas Market, which wouldn’t open until the following day.

vacation

Because of the snow covering the roofs of the buildings, it didn’t look like the section behind City Hall was filled.

vacation

It was nice to be able to wander through and not be jostled by people. A few vendors were getting their huts ready, but other than that and the occasional pedestrian like us, the place was deserted.

vacation

The building in the background with the green trim at the top and around the windows is Simons. I love that store! No trip to the old city is complete without a stop there. Today was no different.

Back in the summer, I bought some slate coasters and a funky stainless steel spoon rest. Well, I wanted at least one more of the latter so when one was in the dishwasher, I had another. They only had one left, so I snagged it. I also bought a battery operated set of LED lights inside a bottle.

There was one thing lacking on this trip to the store, and it wasn’t until a bit later, it hit me. They still didn’t have their large, green wreath hung on the exterior of the building. The window displays were all done up, but not the outside. Somehow, it didn’t feel like Christmas without it there.

vacation

From there it was over to Dufferin Terrace. Between the falling snow and the overcast conditions, you could barely see across the river.

After some time spent here, we gingerly (I gingerly) worked my way down the steps behind the post office to the street below and eventually onto Rue du Petit Champlain.

vacation

It probably would have been easier to come down via the Funiculaire, but the downhill bit isn’t as difficult as the trip back up the slope. The steps from one street to the other are the killers – especially on my knees.

vacation

The arbour here in Parc Félix-Leclerc was festively decorated. This year, instead of the huge ‘Santa’ chair being out in the open, it was sheltered under a hut (see the left of the picture). On the right was a small building. I’m not sure if you could enter it or not. In front of it were the Muskoka chairs arranged in a circle around a fire.

The arrangement this year was a bit different from when Serenity and Roger passed by in It Happened on Dufferin Terrace.

vacation

Construction made it difficult to get decent photos when we were in Place Royale. To the right of the Christmas tree above were lengths of fence and an enormous hole in the ground in front of Geomania.

vacation

By now the snow had stopped. The ambient light was at the perfect level for the Christmas lights to show.

Tomorrow the Christmas market opens! I’m looking forward to that and spending more time here in lower town.

BREAKING NEWS via Able Cane

breaking news

Able Cane here with some breaking news from Vieux-Québec. World Famous Author, Melanie Robertson-King, is once again in the old city. I’m waiting outside her hotel hoping to catch her coming or going.

My cohort, Roxie Rebel, and I followed her down to Dufferin Terrace, the place where Roger and Serenity first meet in Melanie’s Christmas novella; It Happened on Dufferin Terrace.

breaking news

Roxie captured her trying to catch snowflakes here before she disappeared down the Frontenac Stairs. I tell you, she’s a brave woman tackling the steep slope of Côte de la Montagne in these snowy conditions.

breaking news

I couldn’t resist taking a moment to capture the magical street, Rue du Petit Champlain.

They don’t call these Breakneck Stairs for nothing. I almost wiped out in my haste to get ahead of Melanie so I could get a picture of her gingerly making her way down them.

breaking news

That’s all for now. Able Cane and Roxie Rebel signing off.