my trip Home

Every trip to Newfoundland is special. I’m constantly discovering new things I love about it or re-discovering the things I forgot I loved. That said, this trip was a little unusual; When I first arrived, my parents were both away, travelling. My brother was too. It was just me. I spent most of my time with my Nanny at the nursing home where she lives (which is something I’m still getting used to). Until my Dad flew in, I admit I was not having the greatest time. I was a little lost in the past – I wanted my family – my parents and sisters and brother – to all be under one roof again.  I wanted my Poppy to still be alive, and my Nanny to not be sick.  I think I’ll always feel this way but it was extra potent this time around, all by myself in my childhood home.

But then…then my Dad came home. One of my best friends flew in for a visit. My brother’s boyfriend returned from Mexico, and I started spending a lot of quality time with my friends. Things improved immensely. Accepting the way things are is way easier when you’re surrounded by awesome people that you love.

Click through to check out some pics from my trip – highlights included an epic hike in Red Cliff, swimming in La Manche, taking the ferry to Bell Island, picking wild blueberries on the cliffs of Lower Island Cove and watching my bud get Screeched-In on George Street.

Home again come Christmas.

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Newfoundland by Plane

When you fly Porter Air into St. John’s, the plane takes you in through over the Narrows; if you’re on the left side of the plane, you see the city and if you’re on the right, you get Quidi Vidi and Cuckold’s Cove. My heart leaps when I see it and then settles into a comfortable warmth for the rest of my stay. I’m from the most special place, I think.

Today I lounged on spongy moss at the top of a huge cliff, hiked along the coast and snacked on wild blueberries until I was full. Lots more to share, coming soon.

Newfoundland by Cliff

one day we’ll all be ghosts

Ruins, abandoned ships, old foundations, submerged statues – nature reclaims everything we create, with the most beautiful results.

Hashima Island, Japan

Established in 1887, this island was inhabited by coal miners and their families until 1974 when the last of the residents left. Now it sits empty, the gigantic concrete buildings slowly crumbling. It was also used as the setting of Raoul Silva’s lair in Skyfall. And what a KICK ASS lair it was.

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Kolmanskop, Namibia

Another ghost town, Kolmanskop was once a diamond-mining town, built to resemble a German village, in the Namib Desert. Now the dunes have pushed their way into the houses, ballrooms, power stations and schools.

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The SS Kyle, Harbor Grace, Newfoundland

I have driven past the Kyle many times on my way to my grandparent’s place in Lower Island Cove. Constructed in 1912, the ship was run ashore in ’62 and then damaged in a storm. Since then, it has sat in Riverhead, Harbor Grace’s bay, rusting away. At one point, they painted the exterior because it was becoming kind of an eyesore but there are no plans to move the wreck any time soon. Good.

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El Museo subaquàtico de Arte

The world’s largest collection of underwater contemporary sculpture, diving the MUSA in Cancun, Mexico is definitely on my bucket list. Every one of the 400 life-sized cement statues were created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. The purpose? To distract divers from the nearby natural reefs so they can regenerate. The statues are also made from materials that promote coral growth so, one day, hopefully, this will also become a reef. AMAZING!

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La Manche Village, Newfoundland

I saved the best for last. While maybe not as incredible as the other ghost towns, I’ve camped in the ruins of La Manche Village and it’s maybe my favourite place on earth. Pitch a tent on a filled-in foundation and wake up right on the ocean. Inland, there’s a fresh water swimming hole with a waterfall that drains into the sea – it’s just so, so beautiful. The village was destroyed by a storm in 1966 that wiped out most of the buildings. Now, an extension bridge extends the East Coast Trail through La Manche. I can’t wait to visit again.

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For more abandoned places, click here.

now that’s a storm

When I tell people I’m from Newfoundland they almost always comment on how cold it is there. What most people don’t know is that our climate is pretty temperate – aside from our raging winds and buckets of rain and snow. Combine those two elements in the dead of winter and you get some pretty rad blizzards. Much like the one the province had yesterday.  As of noon, more than 47 cm of snow has fallen and (according to my parents) it’s still coming down.

I miss the east coast snow storms! Everything gets cancelled/is shut down so you stay home, light a fire and have a drink or many drinks (known as a Day Boil). Check out some photos from the blizzard

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Sources: 1 – Tumblr , 2 – Tumblr, 3 – Weather Network

December in St. John’s

(click on any photo to view in slideshow – it’s a pretty awesome feature. Thanks WordPress!)

A sick relative brought me home early this year (everything is fine now!), so I spent nearly three weeks of December with my family in St. John’s. It was a different Christmas – neither of my sisters came back and I was the only one of my “away” friends to actually make the trip home. But change is sometimes good and I spent the majority of time with my little brother, hiking and playing board games in sweat pants or sitting with my Grandparents, acutely aware that every Christmas I get to spend with them at this point in my life is a gift.

Now, back in Toronto and gearing up for NYE, it feels like I was gone and back in the blink of an eye. Time flies and I’m resolved to work on slowing it down as much as possible over the next year. Rose-smelling and all that.

I hope your NYE is fantastic and I’m excited to put together my year-in-review post tomorrow. So long 2012. I wish I took more time to enjoy you.

Tibb’s Eve

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Here in Newfoundland, December 23 is known as Tibb’s Eve, a day for visiting friends and getting tipsy. On “Christmas Eve” Eve, you start pretty early in the evening dropping in on various gatherings/kitchen parties. There’s lots of music and drink and general excitement for the coming holiday but mostly, it’s an excuse to drink and that’s exactly how the celebration of Tibb’s Eve came to be.

An excerpt from the Southern Gazette’s interview with Dr. Phil Hiscock of Memorial University’s Folklore Department on the origin of Tibb’s Eve:

Because Christmas Eve was still a part of Advent, and that observance was almost as sober as Lent, Dr. Hiscock indicated most traditional Christians would never consider taking a nip before Christmas Day prior to World War Two, which was even then perhaps a little early.

As he explained it, sometime around World War Two, people along the south coast began to associate Dec. 23 with the phrase ‘Tibb’s Eve’ and deemed it the first occasion it was acceptable to have a few Christmas tipples.

So if you feel the urge to have a few drinks tonight, just tell people you’re celebrating Tibb’s Eve and get on the go.

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ten days

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The most consumed booze on our Island – Lamb’s Amber

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Snowfall at Hey Rosetta – encore performance of Fairytale of New York (watch it here)

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St. John’s staple – The Ship

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Purity display. There is no better soup cracker than a Purity Cream, let me tell you.

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We have our own beer brands you can’t get anywhere else. NBD.

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Favourite house decoration

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This girl is growing up so fast

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Elf on the Shelf for Maeva. Awesome new family tradition.

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Favourite tree decoration

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This flying monkey was my brother’s favourite gift

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A good-bye shot of my beautiful city.

break time

Christmas starts now, right this minute. I’m about to get on a plane and fly home to my parents, brother, grandparents, best friends and the countless others I can’t wait to see. GW.

So long city, hello ocean.

tea time

 Golden gnome by Kartell, Tea cup and pot vintage finds (thanks Kristen!)

Tea is a big part of Newfoundland culture. Growing up, my Nanny would give us White Tea – essentially a warm glass a milk with a teeeny bit of black tea and lots of sugar (because caffeine is bad for kids but white sugar is soooo good for them – please!). It tasted delicious to me. I’ve been a huge tea fan ever since, specifically black tea (Tetley or Red Rose, yo) but also Rooibos, chamomile, Peppermint and (blech- tastes like turtle-tank water) Green.

I don’t need to tell you how insanely good Green tea is for you, do I? It basically guards against every ailment you could ever have. I know it tastes disgusting, but choke down a glass or two a day and your body will thank you. Just make sure you take it with a bit of citrus, as it helps the good stuff get absorbed faster.

More on tea education:

  • Dried tea contains just as much caffeine as coffee but since you use considerably less tea to produce a cup than coffee, the caffeine levels are significantly lower.
  • Adding milk to tea removes most of its beneficial properties. Try taking it with soy or almond milk (I switched and it was easy)
  • Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world, next to water
Is there a type of delicious tea I’m missing out on? Fill me in!