Cape Spear

The coastal fog was rolling into Cape Spear late this morning. It lifted enough for me to get a shot of the lighthouse – the most easterly point in Canada/North America! From there you could see fog in St. John’s harbour (Signal Hill in the distance):

Downtown St. John’s:

MUN Botanical Garden

Memorial University has a lovely botanical garden – for research and education. A friend, who’s been following the blog wrote and suggested I visit. So this morning Andrea and I drove over.

The garden consists of some cultivated beds and woodland gardens, a couple of greenhouses and several nature trails depicting different aspects of the natural environment of Newfoundland.

The first thing you see is an herbaceous border – filled with plants happy in this damp, cool environment. Blue flag iris:


Cow parsnip (poisonous):

Leopard’s Bane (Doronucum):

Enter the garden trails and you see many varieties of Rhododendron (some still in full flower, others would have been gorgeous last week!). One whole section of a trail was lined with them:

We passed a slope covered with Cornus Canadensis in bloom:

We came across a crevice rock garden on a gentle slope (I would never have thought of using long slender rocks in that way):
There were California poppies:
A plant I didn’t know:

And several patches of lovely blue Mecanopsis:

I could go on – a lot of the plants were in bloom, making a leisurely stroll worthwhile.

Got any old, mismatched glass plates/bowls/glasses? I’m going to try making one of these when I get home!

St. John’s NL

When last I visited St. John’s, gotta be 40 years or more ago, it was a small, contained city. Today it’s surprisingly large and spread out. Not much in the way of high rise building, but the suburbs extend well into various regions of the Avalon peninsula.

Today Andrea and I drove through the western reaches of the city, through Paradise and St. Phillips/Portugal Cove. What used to be quaint coastal communities are today rapidly growing suburban areas with lots of large, expensive houses!

Downtown St. John’s, in spite of the building and modernizing going on retains a lot of its original charm.

Today was foggy:

From the fourth floor of The Rooms (Art Gallery), just outside the restaurant, downtown was barely visible.

The weather had brought a gazillion visitors to the gallery – the cafe couldn’t feed us for an hour and because we were hungry we decided to move on. But before leaving, we did a fast walk through the Christopher Pratt exhibit. Wonderful paintings.

On the first floor we came across this small billboard – volunteers knitting socks…

The Rooms – interesting architecture – worth visiting:

Coals to Newcastle…

I’m a sock knitter, right. I have a drawer full of hand-knit socks. Take ’em with me when I travel – don’t go anywhere without a pair or two. Brought four pair with me to Newfoundland!

Yesterday, however, because the forecast was for 24 C, I wore sandals without socks on our trip to Trinity. It didn’t make it much above 17 C and an hour or so into the trip my feet were right some cold!

When we got to Clarenville we stopped into Mercer’s Marine Equipment – a marine, clothing, footware, camping, housewares place. Not what you’d expect to find in a general store in a smaller community – this place was filled with medium to high end quality merchandise.

Charles bought a pair of Columbia sandals, Andrea and I looked at Columbia winter jackets on sale. In the end, I bought a pair of colourful Wigwam socks!

My feet were so cold (and I hadn’t thought to tuck in a pair of wool socks), I needed something to put on. I doubt I’ll wear them much but they sure saved the day yesterday!

Trinity, NL

Spending this week visiting a friend in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Much cooler here than in Nova Scotia.

Yesterday we made a day trip to Trinity – a costal village about three hours from St. John’s. Left early in the morning, got back home after midnight. A lovely day in between.

Trinity is a well-kept heritage site, at the same time an active community of maybe 200. On this clear, sunny day it was welcoming – lovely old churches:

People taking advantage of the weather to get a bit of outdoor work done:

Rampant wild flowers:

We took a side trip around the bay to the lighthouse and watched whales chasing caplin (which are running this week):

The place is rugged with beautiful rock spires:

We stopped for a few moments to enjoy the peaceful quiet:

Went to the theatre at the playhouse in the evening to see Kevin Major’s play: No Man’s Land:

And on our drive home we narrowly missed hitting moose twice!

A great adventure.

Travel Vest II

My original travel vest was a ScotteVest with something like 22 pockets (pockets within pockets – all for specific purposes). I loved having all the pockets, but the vest was just a tiny bit snug if I was wearing a fleece underneath and when the pockets were loaded the vest pulled forward and was uncomfortable on my neck!

So I made my own travel vest by adapting a jacket pattern. Turned out very well and I’ve worn it lots both for travelling and for out and about when I’m home. The vest lets me go without a purse since I can put the things I want with me (credit cards, some cash/change, cough candies, kleenex, iPhone…) in the pockets. However I quickly realized there were a couple of things I’d like to change on the vest – I had installed a zipper that went to the bottom of the front opening – can’t sit in it – it’s just a one-way zipper so I have to leave it open to sit comfortably. Second, only half of the pockets had zippers – I immediately installed some velcro after the fact, but it’s difficult to open those pockets – you have to really tug. And the neck (with collar) had the same problem as the ScotteVest – too high and when the vest was loaded it dragged my neck forward.

So I modified the vest – cut off the collar (couldn’t do that with the ScotteVest because of the metal zipper and I didn’t have any fabric to create a binding), and bound the neckline. I also added a couple of buttons as toggles at the neckline so I could leave the zipper open and still have the vest closed. Much better.

But I still thought I’d like to rectify the other details that bugged me when I wore the vest.

So Travel Vest II:
vest 2

The zipper starts at the waist – (still a one way zipper) – I can sit without having to unzip the vest. (Oh, I stitched in a key ring while I was constructing the outside front in the right outside pocket so my keys can’t fall out!)

The back fits really well:vest 1

And I put zippers on seven of the eight pockets – I left the deep pocket on the left side without a zipper – handy for dropping in change, or kleenex, or sales receipts! What you can’t see is I also put two hidden pockets in the facing/lining seam (as I did in the Jean Jacket). Those are the most handy of all – they’re large enough to take my passport (in an RFID shielded envelope) tucked under my arm against my body without showing). So I have ten pockets in all.

vet 3

The only thing I’m not happy about is how the fabric drapes – the twill is stiffer than the faux suede I used on the first. The vest doesn’t move quite as nicely as the original.

So, The Wheels…

OK, so I was thinking about the wheels… my fold up cart measures 25″ in length, not an option, too long.

I remembered a wheeled shopping bag/cart I bought a couple of years ago, never used it. Found it in the sewing room closet.  Too long and narrow as it was to use as a carry-on, so I took it apart, cut off three of the four sides, added a “sleeve” for a bungy cord to slide through at the bottom, a couple of rings for the cord to hook to at the top, and the velcro from the cut away front to the back so I can fold it all up and tuck it away. Here it is folded up… With the wheels opened out it works perfectly with the carry-on, and I can slip my backpack in as well – better then on my small hard-side bag! 

This is the back:

How perfect is this?

Carry-on Bag – Problem Solved!


So my problem was the piece of foamcore I put along the bottom to make it more rigid – take it out and the bag opens flat! I added some elastic to hold stuff in on one side and an organza piece on the second side (may take out the organza and replace it with elastic). Much easier to pack now.

The bag holds clothing for a week, plus my travel pillow easily, maybe even one bag of cosmetics.

So now, I’m sitting on hold with Air Canada to ask whether my folding luggage cart (which I still have from the days when luggage didn’t have its own wheels – you put it on the cart to move it along) will be accepted as carry on!

folding luggage cart

Difficult question, it seems – I’m on hold while the poor soul on the other end of the line checks with superiors about this one!

Answer: If the length of the cart is 21.5″ or less it’s OK. Now I have to go measure my cart!

Carry-on Bag

Past weekend I had a meeting in Ottawa. I arrived at the airport with my “carry-on” bag only to discover it was half an inch too deep to fit in the frame and the woman tagging acceptable carry-on baggage would not allow me to carry that bag on! It had to be checked at a cost of $30.

I had my travel pharmacy in that bag, no lock (I was going to carry this bag on, right?), as well as my iPad. So I had to unpack the stuff and put it in my small back-pack, which was relatively empty.

Monday I went online to check specifications:
Air Canada – 21.5 x 15.5 x 9
West Jet – 21 x 15 x 9
Delta / United – 22 x 14 x 9
Porter – 22 x 16 x 9
You get the picture! Buy a bag that meets Air Canada specs – won’t fit the others.

I went shopping for a suitably sized bag – one that met the minimum of all the specifications – no such bag.

I decided the way to do this was to make a bag: 21 x 14 x 8 (no wheels and fabric handles).

I’ve made lots of tote bags and even a weekend bag (too big to be a carry-on), so this would be relatively straight forward. I chose some fabric from my stash for the outside as well as the inside, cut out sides, ends, top and bottom, and strips for binding and assembled the bag complete with a zippered compartment on one side.

I made one error – I wanted the zipper across the top and down the sides – the zipper should have wrapped into the bottom! The bag, is finished, but it doesn’t open flat into two halves!

The size is good: 20.5 x 13.5 x 8 – smaller than any of the specs and it holds more than my other carry-on bags, and weighs nothing! But it’s hard to pack!

A trial packing allowed me to put in 4 turtlenecks, underwear for a week, a pair of jeans, a pair of Sketchers, a pair of sandals, 5 pairs of wool socks, 3 light wool sweaters, a night gown! More than enough for a week somewhere (with the travel pharmacy and iPad in my back-pack and I’m set).

The only problem is wheels – I still have my Air Canada wheeled trolley – the question is whether I’ll be able to take it as carry-on!