the_vulture: (Man/Vulture)
Okay, granted the Canada Day fireworks I went to see on Sunday night were not worth the mosquito bites I suffered for it. I'm not sure if it was a matter of cutting back on the budget, but it was kinda lacking. However, the afternoon preceding was quite pleasant. I spent it with my folks, first going to a rather nice brunch buffet at the casino and then sitting outdoors at a pub on Main Street, enjoying a pint and watching the interesting characters gathered to celebrate Canada Day. Of course, in amongst all that was a bunch of Canada Day related spamming on AVEN and Facebook.  In particular, I shared my thoughts from this post I wrote two years ago, which still hold true for me.

Yesterday, I finally got out to a local beach and spent the afternoon embracing the Ocean and Sun (and then enjoying a chicken poutine, afterwards). It was a very restful and relaxing day, good for the spirit. Today (yes, a long weekend), I've got nothing on the agenda but doing some cooking in the kitchen and perhaps going to Kung Fu, if my shoulder is up to it (I injured it last week and it's still quite sore).

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Inspired, in part, by conversations with [info]swankivy , I've decided to put some effort into maintaining seasonal displays. I've put up displays for specific seasonal holidays such as Samhain, Yule, and Ostara before, but I've never put up anything for Midsummer. That changed not long after my Midsummer stay at the beach.

Below is my first Summer seasonal display, featuring sea shells, gathered during my Midsummer vacation, and one very cute stuffed lobster toy:


Jul. 7th, 2011 05:58 pm
the_vulture: (Default)
Guess who came to the beach with me!   :)

the_vulture: (Default)
I got back from vacation early yesterday afternoon, caught some sleep, and then did my first night of the new night shift. It went by quick, thankfully.

The week at the beach itself was amazing! There was much healing, balancing, and communing with Mother Ocean. I also enjoyed the entertaining company of a number of my relatives (with one party thrown in for good measure). There was even some poetry written!  :D   

I didn't have access to a computer the whole time so, while I was able to keep up with my flist, I'm still in need of transcribing a lot of my thoughts, uploading photos, posting poems, etc. That'll come along in the next few days.  

I hope your summer is going well, too!   :)
the_vulture: (tvinflight)

This morning I celebrated by taking a long walk out on the marsh to greet the dawning Sun with libation and the song of my didjeridoo.

A few hours bus trip later, I arrived at the cabin on the beach. After a long walk along the beach, along with a little Kung Fu, I'm already feeling MUCH more relaxed.  :)

More details to follow when I get access to a computer.

Blessed Be!

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.

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Yes, I finally got to a beach this summer! I don't recall the name of this one; it was one that my uncle led us to, but it was a reasonably pleasant beach, if a bit too warm for my taste. I even got to dunk myself in the ocean, though, sadly, I didn't stay in long as it's kinda hard to relax and float there when you realize that you have to be on the lookout for roaming jellyfish. Still, it was a pleasant and relaxing day.

In other news, I finally made it to the third (and final) temple in Zuma after many repeated attempts (made very frustrating by coming 'this close' multiple times). Yay me!

Sadly, tomorrow will be spent counting trucks. Ugh.

PS: I apologize for the crappy quality of the photo; it was shot with my phone. Shots taken with it also sometimes include my finger (which this one appears to have the tip of). I used the phone because I wanted to text the photo to a bunch of my friends in the UK, but alas, I just don't have stable enough coverage to transmit the photo. Silly phone network.

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The rest of the photos to be found at: thartesAura/Calais/?albumview=grid 

I do apologize to anyone who has been eagerly awaiting this post; recently I've been getting a lot of pits from the bowl of cherries that life is purported to be, but I'll get into that later. 

First, allow me to describe my second day of adventuring, in which I hopped a ferry from Dover, England, to Calais, France. It started off quite reasonably with stuffing myself with a tasty English fry-up, followed by a brisk morning walk to the ferry. Sadly, it was still misty and cloudy, so there were no great shots of the cliffs to be had as we sailed away. 

I have to say, after many merry memories of sunny afternoons spent on the broad, open observation decks of BC Ferries, those of Sea France rather decidedly sucked, especially given that the tiny patio area that passed for an outdoor observation deck was frequently filled with smokers desperate for a fag, killing off any opportunity to appreciate fresh sea air, not that the cold wind and mist made it any more pleasurable. From outside, only a vague idea of what was happening outside could be gleaned through the film of water deposits that crusted the windows. 

I was rather amused to discover a Space Invaders game in the video arcade, though.  

The ferry ride took much longer than anticipated though, teasing me with a view of the French beachside for about half an hour as the ferry sat in the harbour waiting for its place at the dock. Between that, and discovering that there was a one hour time difference that everyone neglected to tell me about, my day in Calais was a bit shorter than anticipated. 

My next consternation came as I left the ferry terminal building to discover that the next bus to town would be about forty minutes in arriving.  Thankfully, I'm not adverse to walking, and after taking a minute or two to get my bearing, I predicted, quite accurately, that it would take me a hell of a lot less time just to walk into town from the terminal and I promptly left behind the group of folk despondently settling in for that long wait for the bus (What's wrong with your feet, people?!?) 

Many architectual delights awaited my camera lens and I spent a great deal of time snapping and striding from one place of interest to the next. I got some delightful shots of Teddy with the Town Hall, which has a most impressive clock tower. Other nifty subjects of the shutter included a roundabout topped with topiary shaped like a peacock and many attempts to capture the little public busses that can only be described as "cute".  

Realizing that I was running out of time, I opted out of checking out the hypermarkets, which tend to hold the interest of most English visitors to Calais. I've since been told that I haven't missed much in that regard.   'Course, if I had gone, I might have actually found some souvenirs to purchase, something which was strangely lacking in the shops of this port town.  

I took in a nice meal in an actual French cafe (Le Cafe de Paris, no less!), which included a decidely French appetizer I had not had since I was a child, escargots. And, yes, I sipped une cafe at le cafe.  

My final visit in Calais was to the beach. In Dover, the beach consisted entirely of small pebbles without a grain of sand to be found. This, I discovered, is because the French stole all the sand for their own.  The beach of Calais was a broad expanse of fine, clean sand that formed dunes in the wind. When I say clean, I mean CLEAN. I imagine it might be different in the summer when this beach is likely cram packed with beachgoers from a variety of nations, but, during my visit, I saw nothing of the usual flotsam and jetsam found upon beaches, no driftwood, no seaweed, no partial remains of any critters, save a singular pretty clam shell (cardida?) that, due to its very uniqueness of presence on this beach, was an offering from it to me (as there weren't any rocks to be found, interesting or otherwise!). 

I eventually made it back to the ferry terminal where, upon attempting to enter the British Customs area, I was nearly given a heartattack along with the proclamation that my passport had expired. GLAH!!!   For some reason, I thought I still had time on it, but, apparently, as scrambled as my brain was before the holidays, I mixed up my driver's license expiry date with my passport expiry date. Fortunately, the customs officer was really good about it and, after checking out my (still valid) entry visa and asking a few questions about what I was doing in England, he waived me on with signed declaration and the emphatic advice to get my passport renewed post-haste (got the photos shot yesterday). Yep, THAT was excitement I didn't need!  

THEN (yes, there's more) there was the last second panic over not having a proper boarding pass.     Apparently, I was supposed to have gotten from the lady at the counter when I arrived at the terminal (my return ticket wasn't good enough?), but I didn't know that, as there wasn't anyone AT the counter when I had arrived some time earlier. This time, though, I wasn't alone in this bit of stupidity, as many folk had to race back to the ticket counter for their boarding passes. Yerg!  

Add to that a choppy, and subsequently nauseating, ferry ride and a couple hours of train ride, and you've got one very exhausted Vulture arriving home late and very glad to see his bed. Thus ended an otherwise lovely couple days out. Oh and hey, I've now set my feet upon THREE continents! Yay me!  

As I mentioned earlier, I would have got this post out sooner, but the last couple days at school have been utterly exhausting (wretched hellspawn!). The creative energy just to even write a decent blog response has been quite lacking, let alone something like this. I am exceedingly glad I put in my notice for the end of this term; it's going to be a test of my mental fortitude just to last THAT long. I've only been teaching two days and I already feel as physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted as I did before the break began. Ugh! Fortunately, there's going to be a lot of breaks inserted here and there, including an inset day next Monday and an Easter long weekend, to help stave off insanity during my last remaining weeks at this school.

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Lookee! Finally, photographic evidence of Teddy's existence in England! *chuckle*

As PDC has been messing something fiercely with all of my files, I won't bother going through the hassle of posting the rest of the photos here, only to have them disappear. Instead, I'll simply point you in the direction of the apppropriate photobucket page, found here: thartesAura/Dover/?albumview=grid

On Wednesday, I hopped on the train to Dover. Between the fog and travelling in depressions, there wasn't a whole heck of a lot to see during the trip. Fortunately, the town of Dover itself was reasonably visually rewarding, with building styles from a variety of eras. The avenues of the town were lively and colorful, though not overcrowded, and it was with eager eyes that I walked along.

As I had been a little too relaxed getting going that morning, I arrived in Dover with time to either tour Dover Castle, or to hike the cliffs, not both. To the disappointment of some, I imagine, I opted for the latter. Afterall, whilst I do enjoy architecture and history, I am, at heart, a child of the wild, and the hills beckoned to me.

The walk to the hiking trails carried along the beachside, again, delighting my vision. It was good to commune with Mother Ocean.

The hike itself was vigorous and carried through light bush and pastures. My eager camera sought many splendid vistas from the top and hillsides, as well as getting visually intimate with a number of odd rock formations and plant life. On a distant hill, through the haze of light fog, I could make out Dover Castle, spawling out like an iguana sunning itself on a rock.

On my return to town, I then walked out to the end of the Prince of Wales Pier, though, sadly the potentially stunning photos of the cliffs from a distance were thwarted by fog.

My meanderings carried me back into town, where, with just enough time left over before closing, I visited the Dover Museum. Of particular interest to me was the Bronze Age Boat exhibit, which featured the remains of possibly the oldest sea going vessel so far discovered. It was likely built over 3500 years ago and shows some particular ingenuity. I also learned some interesting stuff about how to smelt bronze using a fire pit furnace and bellows, how to cast bronze tools, and how to attach said tools to wooden handles. (Yes, this kind of knowledge is pretty much useless in the modern era, but, hey, along with my knowledge of pit firing ceramics and bits of survival trivia, it might come in handy in a post-apocalyptic world! ) I also learned about how there used to be five major ports that were of major strategic importance up until the fourteenth century when changes in the coast led to the complete silting up of all but Dover, which only remains a port due to extensive efforts to keep its harbors clear over the centuries. And, finally, I learned that local metal detector club has found some really neat crap over the years.

My little educational excursion over with, I bought some Subway (I was reserving finer dining for the day after) and headed to the bed and breakfast I had reserved a room at. The room itself was a little tatty at the edges, but it was warmly decorated, featured a double bed, and (JOY!) had its own toilet and shower, a somewhat infrequent occurence for such places.

I spent the remainder of the evening chuckling at Family Guy: Blue Harvest, on DVD. If you're a fan of either Family Guy or Star Wars, it's worth watching. Where else are you going to see Stewie as Darth Vader making comments such as "I sithed my pants"?

Afterwards, it was off to bed early to have a good start on the following day's adventures.

the_vulture: (Default)
 EDIT: Yeehaw! Hotel room booked! I picked up a nice little bed and breakfast in Dover for less than £40. All told, lodging and travel should cost me less than £70! It'll give me two days to kick around both Dover and Calais. Yes, I'll be sure to take many, many pictures.   

I do so enjoy Sundays like this, when there's no pressure of tomorrow to worry about. I can sleep in, stay up late, be as lazy or as active as like, and just enjoy the day.  

And I have! 

Today, my lovely other read to me from her favourite novel wherein the author spoke of her childhood passion of gathering stones. These stones, as the author claims, only tell part of a story; they serve as a mnemonic.  

Whilst this was being read to me, I could not help but smile at the little stones which adorn my altar. How true were her words! 

Other events of the day include receiving my grocery order. This, in itself, isn't exactly a thing of great importance, really, but, to me, stocking the larders full has a reassuring effect upon me. Perhaps this is an echo of times when my larder has been much, much more bare and macaroni and cheese was a luxury to break the tedium of ramen noodle soup. 

As mentioned in an earlier post, one joyous highlight was discovering a means of getting my feet upon Europe with little hassle and expense. In some ways, I look more forward to the upcoming short visit to France than I do about April's possible week long visit to Germany. It has a lot to do with knowing the language of the place I am visiting and the independence that grants. It means I can wander as I wish, something I fear I might not be able to do so readily in Germany. Hmmm... I must make sure to walk the beaches of Dover, in England, and Calais, in France; perhaps I may be able to find a few new stones to add to my stockpile of memories. 

Today also saw a decent, and thankfully uneventful, run of about 2.5 miles. Perhaps I should have done a longer distance, but I was feeling mildly under the weathe and didn't want to push it. Besides, methinks I might be better off doing more shorter runs during the week; doing six miles on the Sunday seems to take it out of me for the rest of the week. *chuckle* Yeah, I really need to work to get back to where I was. 

And now, methinks, 'twould be a good time to say "good night."


Feb. 17th, 2008 04:39 pm
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KEWL!!! My European dilemma is solved! I'll take a train to Dover and then take the ferry to Calais. And the rail tickets and ferry fare should cost me less than 50 quid! The only thing now is to see if I can book a hotel for reasonably cheap in Dover so that I can get there, spend some time on the cliffs, and then do a day trip to France. Two birds with one stone!  


the_vulture: (Man/Vulture)
 Whilst tidying recently, I came across a small bag filled with hard objects. Wondering what they were, I opened it. My heart filled with yearning to be home as I beheld a number of stones I had collected during my most recent visit to the east coast of Canada.

On my altar I have a number of odd little rocks, many of them heart shaped. They come from many parts of the world: Canada (west and, now, east coast), South Australia, England, and the US (west coast). Most arrive on my altar as the result of walks along beaches, where I often keep an eye out for shiny, pretty or unusual stones (according to a Metis friend of mine, small ones with a hole naturally worn through them are good luck).

Prize among them are the heart shaped stones. They're gifts of the lands I travel through. It is through them that the spirits of each land show me that I am welcome. Not every land welcomes me this way; I have none from the region of my birth and, frankly, I try to spend as little time as possible there anyhow. Usually, however, each place gives me one or two.

The east coast of Canada gave me four.

I like the east coast of Canada very much, too.  

It seems pretty clear to me that it would be a very good place for me to be for a while. How long? I don't know. Perhaps maybe until the next land calls me.

the_vulture: (Man/Vulture)
Well, it's been a great vacation. Many wonderful sites have been seen and much seafood has been consumed. I did actually get to see the Hopewell Rocks... twice. (Photos to come.) I even got to go swimming, finally! I couldn't on earlier visits to beaches on account of jellyfish season and didn't think I would get the opportunity before I came back to the UK. Thankfully, though, we went out to La Dune de Bouctouche, an 11km sandspit in New Brunswick. It features, among other things, a lovely little beach. It made for a great picnic and afternoon out.

I am, however, looking forward to my return to the UK on Saturaday; being in my own flat near decent public transportation and having access to a good cider is something I've greatly missed.

I hope everyone else has been enjoying their summer, too!
the_vulture: (Man/Vulture)

Yes, it seems pretty clear that I've changed quite a bit in the two or so years since I've last seen many of my relatives. They are greatly impressed with the amount I've managed to shape up since they last saw me. As such, I'm rather baffled by attempts to press huge amounts of food upon me. Maybe it's their way of expressing love; I don't know. What I do know is that I've now realized one of the reasons why I got so big in the first place *chuckle* 

Ah well; this time 'round, it seems I'm prepared with some measure of self control and *gasp* an exercise regime that seems to be keeping up with the lobster, crab, donairs (not quite like UK kebabs (and, ummm... those are my fault)), turkey, clams, lobster sandwiches, goodies, pleuys (thin buckwheat pancake thingy), drink (though exported Strongbow sucks) and travel munchies. I've actually managed to slim down a bit.

Meanwhile, I've enjoyed a relaxing vacation that has brought me in touch with family that I haven't seen in a long time, in some cases, decades. It's also brought me in touch with some long forgotten maritime roots, especially through hikes along the beach and clam digging. I've also done a few wee bits of sightseeing, including a trip to Magnetic Hill where an optical illusion allows you to believe that your car rolls uphill ($5 well spent!). I also plan to see the Hopewell Rocks and the Bay of Fundy. Speaking of natural wonders, I've also been witness to some pretty amazing lightning storms (and frequent torrential downpours). Aside from that, though, it's mostly about relaxation and time with family.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

the_vulture: (Man/Vulture)
Today saw me in London for two walking tours and a bit of a look-see through Chinatown. The first walk, starting at two, was titled "Somewhere Else" London and basically consisted of a two hour jaunt from Embankment Station, over the Thames, along the south Embankment, and, finally, into an area with what is described as truly Dickensian architecture. I didn't see a whole lot that was new to me, but I got some interesting bits of info and it was a good enough excuse for a long walk in lovely weather.

The next tour was at 7:30, so I walked from Embankment Station to Chinatown (near Leicester Square), pausing briefly at an aquatic sports outfitter to pick up a waterproof carry bag for all my miscellaneous stuff (like wallet and keys) for the next time I head to the beach. I may have to pick up a second (they're cheap), as I've just discovered that I can operate my camera for semi-reasonable shots through the bag, making shallow depth aquatic photography possible and, at the very least, allowing me to take my camera to the beach without worry of sand, salt or sea air doing it damage.

In Chinatown, I looked through a bunch of shops trying to find red lanterns for [ profile] imapunkin, who desperately wants one (she's into all things Chinese). Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the selection; most were quite tacky. I also couldn't a shop that sells sweet and sour pork buns (a favourite of mine). The greatest tragedy, though, is the confirmation that the Tuk Tuk Noodle Bar is truly gone, leaving me to despair as to where I can find a decent laksa (let alone the heavenly mango and cream pudding that I've seen nowhere else).

London Chinatown, sadly, is quite disappointing in general. Given the size of London, one might expect a really large Chinatown, but this one is maybe two to three times larger than Victoria's. It certainly pales before the sprawling scape that is Toronto's. Visually, even Victoria's wee Chinatown packs in a lot more visual impact. I would have taken pictures to compare, but the view is currently downright unappealing, courtesy of the massive road work taking place. Still, it is a serviceable Chinatown and, more to the point, the only one for quite some distance (do they exist in other parts of Europe?).

I nearly decided against the last walk as I was getting a bit tired, but I was glad I didn't! This was the quite popular Jack the Ripper Haunts tour and it was made especially entertaining by the exceptional story telling talents of the tour guide (the same one from the Ghosts of the Old City tour I did with [ profile] ekatarina a while back).

All-in-all, it was a great day out with plenty o' (semi)fresh air and exercise.
the_vulture: (Man/Vulture)
Sunday driving through beautiful countrysides and a visit to a glorious beach on a hot, summer day...
the_vulture: (Default)
It's hot! Damn hot!

It was cold and wet earlier this week, but, typical of English weather, the switch flipped to "bake" and England has suddenly turned into an oven.

Last night I had a few drinks with some of the staff from school in celebration of the end of exam season. Then I arrived late at [ profile] imapunkin's place to spend the weekend. Tomorrow, we are headed Camber Sands beach to enjoy the lovely weather. Today, we're shopping for a birthday pressie for one of [ profile] imapunkin's kids. Also, I have to try and find some way to acknowledge/celebrate Canada Day. My mother recently sent me a powerpoint slide-show that played the national anthem whilst displaying images of Canada. That tugged some serious heartstrings. It's been a long while since I've been that homesick.

Ah well, I'm stuck in the UK for a while, so I'd best get used to it.

Happy Canada Day!
the_vulture: (Default)
It's been a little less than a week that I've spent in Toronto. So far I have:

1) Taken a long walk down Queen Street West

2) Taken a even longer hike down Queen Street East, from downtown Toronto to the Eastern Beaches (a little over 7 kilometers, I figure; I went to bed with my legs mildly aching from exertion for the first time in a lonnnggg while)

3) Snapped a number of photos of landmarks and architecture (I'm so glad I have a camera this time!)

4) Scored a decent burrito, some jerk chicken, and even some crispy ginger fried beef (though it wasn't as good as Lin Heung's)

5) Discovered that the teaching job scene for Canada has gotten worse since the last time I looked

6) Wrote a bunch of lesson plans and dug up material on mythological tricksters (Raven, Anansi, and Loki) for my year 7s

7) Struggled to avoid being overfed by my host's mother

8) Found out that a little snag in the work permit process has cost a bit of time and has likely marooned me here for an extra week

9) Found out that said snag was rectified by the school taking me on to the payroll (as they have to be directly employing me for work permit purposes)

10) Had a lovely lunch with a friend I haven't seen in a long while

11) Read through Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (a great novel, though not as captivating as American Gods)

12) Started rereading Frank Herbert's Dune (which, after about twenty years and the development of a strong understanding of religious, social, political, and cultural matters, reads like a brand new novel)

13) Did an amazing amount of window shopping (including a lot of kewl curio shops and even a few "naughty" stores)

14) Caught up on a lot of rest

15) Engaged in plenty of conversation with my host and the other residents of the household (including a plethora of house-pets)

16) Picked up a pressie for a dear friend back in the UK

All in all, a week reasonably spent, methinks.

The weekend holds the promise of a trip to Ward's Island, which I've been looking forward to since my return. This time, I'll have camera in hand so I can show everyone just how amazing it is.
the_vulture: (Default)
The Sea

The water rolls cross the beach,
Foam riding the crest of the waves.
I stand, barefoot, in the wet sand,
Staring out over the sky-clad sea.
The wind blows across my face,
Bringing the scent of the salt-laden air.
The sun glints off emerald facets,
Rippling with the wind.
A sea gull flies out over the waters,
Winging its way towards eternity.
My spirit reaches out to fly with it,
Racing over the rushing waves.
I could stand, and watch, and feel the sea,



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