Still under lockdown…..

I have not written on this blog since last November because, other than reading, cooking, baking, eating, watching tv and the occasional trip to the grocery store, I have done nothing worth writing about. Today I took a long look at the shut downs in Ontario over the past 14 months. To be quite honest, I did this because the U.S is opening up all over and I think my American friends think that it’s crazy that we still are not getting out to do things.

This is a timeline of the past 14 months in our little place in the world. 

March 17, 2020 – Premier Ford of Ontario declares state of emergency 

March 17- May 4 lockdown

May 17. Gradual reopening restaurants and stores but curb side pickup only.

June10-  Parks reopen with social distancing only

Summer 2020 Canada’s Wonderland never opens 

July 31- restaurants open with outdoor dining and some indoor dining

September 8 -Schools reopen first time since March ( elementary only)

Late September high school reopens

October 4- schools shutdown again and go to online and at home learning

October 4- we go back to Stage 2/ restaurants and stores to curb side/ retain well ventilated restaurants allowed indoor dining

November 10- no more indoor dining

November 16- Toronto in Red Zone ( no hair salons, ETC). Our area of Vaughan not in Red Zone causing millions of shoppers to flock here to buy gifts, get hair cut. The number of Covid cases shoot up in Vaughan because of this.

November 23- second wave in Ontario… 

December 25- Christmas family members in own households only

December 26- LOCKDOWN in GTA – fines in effect if caught out of area

January 12- Premier Ford declares second state of emergency 

January 16, 2021- Stay at home order province wide-Fines in effect

February 8- students return to school/ stay at home order lifted for certain areas, March Break postponed until April 12-16.

Feb 10- stage 2 continues, stores closed curb side only.

April 7- present day… Third state of emergency declared and all stores, essentials only ( pharmacies/ Costco/ Walmart have to tape off areas that are not essential). Children never returned to school after the April Break.

Since March 2019, where we live in Vaughan, we have only had 13 weeks of “freedom” where we can visit our family, see friends, go into stores. 13 weeks ( staggered) out of 61 weeks! Now we are facing a summer of no CNE, possibly no Canada’s Wonderland, no major sporting events, no festivals and “limited” visits with family. 

I have had my hair cut professionally twice in the past year, my husband has cut it twice and I spent the rest of the time with shaggy hair.

We have spent 2 birthdays each, 2 Easters, 1 Thanksgiving, 1 Christmas, 1 New Years, 2 Mother’s Day, 1 Fathers Day under lockdown. 

We were able to get away overnight in June ( Niagara Falls) and to Blue Mountain area ( to Dorothy’s sisters gorgeous cottage) for two nights in October into between lockdowns.

We both got our first vaccine shots on April 5th and will follow up on July 5th. Our daughter in law and son have had their first shots, but daughter still waiting to be eligible ( coming this Monday). With no manufacturer of the vaccine in Canada, we have had to rely on other countries, hence the delay in getting vaccinated. 

Sure, lockdown sucks, but so does sickness, ICU stays, incubation, and death. I long for the day we are all able to hug each other again, see family and friends and travel.

Staying safe and staying home,


Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

I can’t believe it’s December tomorrow! 2020 cannot end soon enough and even though the world wide pandemic rages on, with cases and deaths rampant, we are all praying for a vaccine to come out and save us in 2021. 

Hard to believe just a year ago we were all looking forward to a brand new decade, and all the fresh starts that a new year brings. Everyone was saying “this is 2020” in their best Barbara Walters voice and we were in Florida anxiously awaiting our daughter’s visit at Christmas. 

Since then, numbers have spiked, toilet paper has been hoarded, families have been separated, people have set up desks and worked from home, people have lost their jobs, people have lost their restaurants/stores/businesses and people have died. I remember watching the TODAY show in late January or February and they were reporting about a place in China where there had been several people sick and dying. Hoda and Savannah told us there was no cause for concern. A month later our children’s March Break trip to Florida to see us was cancelled and our Prime Minister told us to get home. We listened. We listened out of safety for ourselves, our families, friends and fellow citizens of the world. We quarantined ourselves, we wore masks when we finally got them, we only went out for food and necessities. We watched as people fought the world governments, and refused to wear masks and stay home. We watched as families who attended concerts, weddings and funerals, got sick and, in many cases, died. In the 1940’s our parents went to war to protect us, and we can’t even stay home to save ourselves. 

In these dark, dismal days, there are joyful things happening though. Babies are coming into the world, like our great grand niece in the fall; families are seeing each other in their bubble, people are getting married and their friends/family are joining via Zoom calls, people are reading more, starting hobbies like knitting/cross stitch, homes are being cleaned and organized like never before and I spent a blissful hour this weekend watching my 7 year old granddaughter and 4 year old grandson decorate sugar cookies we made. 

We don’t know when we can begin our nomadic lifestyle again, but we are safe, we are healthy, we have a healthy family and we all are looking forward to a New Year. 

Christmas will look a whole lot different this year. For us the snow we see falling won’t be made of soap powder, and the decorations will be less grand than the ones Disney World and SeaWorld put up, but our family and I certainly hope, you and your families will be safe and healthy. 

Safe non-travels, 
Happy Holidays, 
Lynne and John

Summer with a pandemic…

Well it’s been a long while since I have written on my blog, 5 1/2 months in fact, so I believe a post is well overdue. 

We moved into our Air BnB apartment ( May-October) and it was lovely, for the time. After it became apparent that we were definitely not going to be able to get to Florida, or anywhere else this winter, we had to decide if we were going to stay in our lovely, furnished basement apartment, or find something that will house us until we can travel again. We, in a COVID world, started to look at apartments for October to October, as we decided a one year lease was the way to go. That of course, meant we would have to start purchasing furniture and everything else needed for an apartment…. At the risk of sounding cheap, we did not want to spend a fortune on furnishings that we would basically get rid of next fall when we would, hopefully, continue to travel. We don’t want to be those people again, you know, the people with STUFF. So the rest of the summer we went to yard sales, kijiji, Facebook Marketplace and Restores looking for furniture, dishes, pots and pans, towels, sheets, etc, etc, etc…. We did buy quite a few brand new things like pillows, television, but 99% was used, much to the chagrin of our children. As we are quick to point out, we spend our lives in time shares and hotels, and other people have sat, slept and eaten on the furniture and plates there! 

So, I am pleased to say we have a beautifully decorated apartment with artwork that has been complemented on, a gorgeous living room sofa and chair that we absolutely love, a lovely bedroom with the most comfortable bed I have ever owned and a view with includes the CN Tower and the city of Toronto lights. We are happy with our choice of building, that, when they open again, have amenities to die for ( gym, pool, hot tub, sauna, movie media room and golf simulator). Sadly, we also bought winter coats, boots and snow tires, somethings that we have not needed for the last 6 years. 

So after a summer of mini trips;  two days in early June to Niagara Falls before everything was open, but the falls were “open” ; three days in July when our grandchildren visited us and we walked, biked and spent time with them doing crafts and making a Tic Tac Toe game for their parents for their 10th Anniversary; and more recently a fabulous three day trip to Blue Mountain for our friends 50th Wedding Anniversary. We stayed at our friend’s sister’s place on Georgian Bay and felt like we were in a resort. Lots of fun at Blue Mountain Village, an apple farm, a bonfire on their beach and eating way too much. 

Thank goodness, we have had no instances of COVID in our family or with any of our friends. We have both been healthy this summer and in the past couple of weeks have seen our doctor, gotten our pneumococcal pneumonia and flu shots, and are ready to hunker down for the fall and winter. We hope that you are all healthy as well and, even though travel will not be in our future for awhile, we are near our family and loved ones.

Safe “not” travels and Cheers, 
Lynne and John

Stay Home, Stay Safe…


As of today we have been under quarantine for 6 weeks, arriving back in Canada on March 16th. We are blessed to have such wonderful friends as Margaret and Brian Jones, who graciously offered their home to share for this time until we moved into our apartment.
Such wonderful people… we played games, did an endless supply of puzzles that Margaret had stored away, chatted about everything, watched our Prime Minister every morning with his new CoVid-19 updates, spent an afternoon in their garden, watched children playing in the brook behind their house, chatted with neighbours from the social distancing decks, went senior time grocery shopping, talked with friends and family via Facetime, watched the horrid happenings unfold in our home province of Nova Scotia, and prayed for all the victims and their families. We stayed home, because that is what we were directed to do….
So now we are in our new apartment, socializing distancing from everyone, watching tv, reading and doing a puzzle I have that was packed in our van too far away to look for while we were at the Jones residence…
Time is long, but all the world is asking us, as retired, non working people, is to stay home. We do not have to worry about loss of jobs, going to work as a front line worker, or looking after a child who needs to be home schooled. So we will stay here, comfortable in our new place, waiting for the sun to warm outside and then we will sit outside in the sun and wait for the world to be rid of this horrible disease that has taken so many lives.
Stay safe,
Lynne and John

Our world now…..


It seems like a lifetime ago when we were in Florida, oblivious to CoVid-19, watching the TODAY show and they mentioned what had just happened in China, but we didn’t need to be concerned …..yet.

On Wednesday, March 11th, just three weeks ago, we were looking forward to seeing our family arrive from Canada a few days later, we were still looking forward to six more weeks in sunny Florida, going to EPCOT concerts, John playing much more golf and I going to BINGO on Tuesdays with my friends. The next day, Lindsey called and she said she didn’t think she was going to come to Florida, as she did not want to risk getting sick. That evening, speaking with our son and daughter in law, we all agreed that them coming to Florida was probably not a good idea and then Disney made the announcement that they were closing until April.

Looking back, it sounds selfish, but I was so disappointed the family would not be with us and we decided to stay in Florida even though the family said come home. The problem is, with our lifestyle, we did not have a home to go to before April 28th, when we move into our AirBnB outside of Toronto. And considering anyone coming back to Canada from another country had to self isolate for a minimum of 14 days, who would offer us a place? So after a lot of soul searching, and then our Prime Minister saying get home, we packed up our belongings and headed back to Canada on Sunday the 15th, the day we thought we would be at the Magic Kingdom watching our grandchildren having fun on their Spring Break.

Before we left, John had contacted our new landlord to see if we could move in sooner, but he had tenants there until they were due to move to allow us in. We tried to get timeshare north of Barrie, Ontario at Carriagehills, where we had stayed before, but they were full until March Break ended ( and as it turned out, they sheltered their doors on March 22nd until further notice), and we couldn’t stay at our children’s homes in case we were carrying the virus; so where were we to go? Our friends, Margaret and Brian, who left FL the day before us, to head home, offered their home and we were ( are) ever so thankful!

So here we are, three weeks and several puzzles, card games, movies and meals later, the four of us isolating, with the occasional trip to the grocery store, to get food.

In early March, I do not feel we took this dreadful virus seriously, but, in our defence I don’t think the USA took it as seriously as they should have, and the state of Florida seemed more concerned with the money Spring Breakers bring when they flock to the beaches, than the health of its people. Now, with the US looking at 100,000 deaths, their president is finally clueing in to the seriousness of the situation.

At the risk of sounding like a I am going on a rant, I am glad to be a Canadian, of having a Prime Minister “SUGGEST all Canadians return home immediately”, of having such great friends take in the two of us and knowing that, by self isolating and #stayhome, we can #flattenthecurve.

As I write this, there have been 101 deaths in Canada and sadly, there will be more before this pandemic runs its course. Margaret and Brian’s son, has been quite ill and his doctor has arranged for him to be tested for CoVid-19. We are praying that he will be alright and recover soon. We continue to self isolate, as does our family. Our granddaughter started online school this past Monday and our daughter in law is going to start teaching from home to all of her high school students. Our son has been working from home for his clients since March 16, cancelling his vacation he had planned on in Florida. Our daughter, like her brother, continues to work from home doing endless video conference calls with her colleagues in Toronto and New York.

Our world has changed drastically, but we will all get through this, and one day we will be able to hug our family and friends. So stay safe, stay home, wash and sanitize your hands and God Bless.

Safe non-travels,
Lynne and John

Bucket lists…


Well we have been in Florida since November 23 and have had countless friends and family visit us and we love every moment of their stays. Our daughter, Lindsey, was with us over Christmas, new friends, Lana and George and our wonderful friends from Nova Scotia, Darlene and Donnie. We love showing our area to people, and we have been on the new Disney Skyliners several times,  “flying over the tops of Disney parks and resorts. Looking forward to our great friends, Margaret and Brian shortly and then Lindsey again, our son and daughter-in-law, Allen and Laura and our beautiful grandchildren, Carolyn and Ben. Shortly after they leave, John’s sister, Elizabeth and her friend, Debbie arrive and sadly a few weeks later, we depart Florida. But still lots of fun, fun, fun to be had! My husband says I am S-P-O-I-L-E-D, which I kindly remind him, he is doing everything I am doing…

Quite a few years ago my husband said he knocked off an item on his his bucket list when he saw the HOLLYWOOD sign. It was a childhood dream, after watching The Beverly Hillbillies on tv, that he see the sign. The other big bucket list thing was to travel across the Canadian Rockies on the Rockie Mountaineer which we did in 2015. It made me think just how many “bucket list” things we have seen and done and how many, many more we have left to do. Too many people we know wait and wait to do these things. There is always something stopping you; school, work, children growing, money, time… But one thing for sure, you will be dead a lot longer than you are alive, so get out there and live!

My bucket list as a child was:
-See the Eiffel Tower in Paris ( saw it in 1976 and again in 2015)
-Learn to speak French and Spanish…. still working on this
-Meet someone famous- with so many authors and people like Arnold Palmer and Bob Barker, I feel I have this one in the bag..
-visit Disneyland which we did in 2001 and now I visit a Disney World every winter.
– get married – nailed that August 1, 1981
– have children ( 1983 and 1986)
– and grandchildren.  I did not have much to do with that one, but we were blessed with sweet Carolyn and adorable Benjamin.
– Travel to as many places as possible. To date, we have been to 23 countries. My bucket list included New Orleans in the USA and Australia. Checked those off in 2015 and 2019. But so many still to visit……
So, we will continue to add to our BUCKET LISTS and try to cross them off while having fun traveling together!

Last few days “Down Under”…


Early in our stay in Australia we decided to visit our friends, Donna and Carolina in Newcastle, on our way back to Sydney, rather than at the end of our stay. We did, and had a fabulous evening with these two lovely ladies, so this allowed us a few extra days when we returned to Sydney. We decided we would drive to the Australian Capital Territory and go to Canberra.

We are so glad we did, because it allowed us to see so many wonderful places, enroute, and in the city area. We drove down via the Great Pacific Highway, so we could see the Sea Cliff Bridge, one of only seven off shore parallel bridges in the world. We parked and walked out on the bridge with its breathtaking views of the water crashing onto rocks below, and the cliff on the other side of the bridge. Built in 2005, it cost $52 million to build. An amazing engineering feat, that is so cool to walk on with ocean below you and cars on the other side. It became even more popular in 2010 when Instagram named it an Intragramable Location.

Then we checked out Towradgi Rock Pool just down the road from our hotel in Towradgi. The beach to the pool’s left is Corrimal Beach and to the right is Wollongong Beach, the pool divides the two beaches. Built in the 1960s, it is one of 60 ocean pools in Australia, but I remember it because it was on the cover of National Geographic magazine when I was a kid. Most excitement it has had was in 2014, when a 1.7 metre long shark washed into the pool. It made itself quite comfortable on the bottom of the pool. While officials waited for marine biologists to arrive from Sydney, the shark helped itself to a pipe that allowed water to come into and out of the pool, and he escaped. Beautiful spot the day we were there, with a few swimmers, and no sharks.

So off to Canberra, Capital of Australia and one of the prettiest capitals I have seen. A city somewhat divided, but beautifully, by Lake Burley Griffin, with museums, Parliament Buildings, Carillion, and a wonderful Information Site all surrounding the lake in Commonwealth Park. We stopped into the Info Site and found out about some of the places we wanted to visit and took photos of Captain Cook’s Globe and Memorial Fountain that shoots 152 metres into the sky. Very impressive. Our next stop was the Royal Australian Mint the for a wonderful tour by Jamie, who told us all about early money in Australian, showed us where they made the Australian coins, as well as commemorative coins, medals, etc and generally made money fun!

The next day in Canberra was a busy one, as we got on the road and drove 45 minutes out of Canberra to Tidbinbilla to the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, which is part of NASA’s Deep Space Network. It is only ONE OF THREE tracking facilities in the world responsible for providing two-way radio contact with dozens of unmanned, robotic spacecraft exploring our Solar System and beyond. We got, as close as we could, to DSS46, the 26 metre antenna which received and relayed the first historic TV images of astronaut Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon. Fascinating conversation, one in one, with Glen Nagle, the Outreach Lead for over an hour. So Glen, our new friend, found out John collected coins and he said he had something special for him and he made us wait when he went back to his office. Imagine our shock when he gifted John with a coin made to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Apollo program. The coin is made of metal from the Saturn V tower that they launched the Apollo missions from. So very special and we were thrilled to receive this special gift.

Then we went over to the Australian War Memorial, made even more special since it has only been a few days since Remembrance Day and some of the wreaths and many of the poppies were still there. As we walked around the memorial, looking at names of young men, and women, whom we will never know, voices of young children said the names of the soldiers, over a speaker, and it became very emotional. It doesn’t matter what country you visit, these young people deserve to be honoured for their sacrifices.
We drove by the Parliament Buildings, Canadian and British High Commissions, and marvelled at the way this city is laid out. The Parliament Buildings can be seen for miles, so the Australian people know where their government is located. For a place we had not first decided on visiting, we were so glad we did!
Our time is almost over, as we spent a night back in Towradgi and then back to Sydney for a night at the hotel near the airport after dropping off the car. As I write this, we are getting ready to go to the airport for our long flight homeward to Canada. It has been a fabulous adventure “down under” and one we are so glad to have experienced.
Safe journeys,
Lynne and John

Craters, Art Deco and Capitals…..



I am sure everyone is sick about hearing about the scenery here in New Zealand, but truly, there is something around every corner.

At the Aratiatia Dam, we witnessed the opening of the dam ( done 3-4 times a day) which releases 80,000 litres of water per minute into a narrow chasm. This causes such a rush, that it is like the most fierce rapids you have ever seen. We shared the Lookout with 20 other people, from France, England, Belgium, so it truly was an international gathering. Down the road we went to witness Huka Falls, which was lovely as well, but gotta say, I loved the rush of the dam being opened!

The next day we took in the splendour of the Craters of the Moon Geothermal Walk. This area is steamy and hot, but worth the whole 1-1.5 hour walk around. There are large craters, lunar landscapes, steaming vents, rolling fumaroles and lots of hot, clay soils. John ventured up the hill on the extended 20 minute walk, but I was happy to sit on a bench and just glaze at the wonderful things that nature blesses us with every day. He did get some spectacular views from up there though. I personally already felt I was in the sauna….

A walk around Taupo area was on the agenda for the afternoon. Walked around and took in the normal (restaurants, cafe, bar, Tshirt shop, etc.), but quite enjoyed the view over Lake Taupo, with Mount Tongariro in the distance, with snow on top. This is a volcano that last erupted in 1897…UNTIL on August 6, 2012 a new vent opened and it erupted, covering an area of 250 Kms with .5 inch of volcanic ash. Flights were cancelled and just as streets, and the air was cleared, it erupted yet again on November 21, blowing as high as 4000 feet in the air. Flights were cancelled yet again. Geologists keep a close eye on the volcano now… Certainly getting our share of the earth’s wonders!

The next day we headed for Napier. Napier, is the Art Deco Capital of the World ( beating Miami, I was shocked) and it is lovely. Walked around town looking at a lot of buildings built immediately followed by the earthquake they had here in February 1931. The town was rebuilt in the style of Art Deco and tourism is the name of the game here now. We stopped at the Art Deco Centre and we immediately covered in fake fur (me), hats, vest (John) and waltzed outside to have our photos taken by their sign and an original vintage car. Then we headed to the Museum next door for the Survivor Stories about the earthquake that hit the area. Armed with my notes and the trusty Art Deco map, we saw countless buildings with the true style of the 1930’s and statues, fountains, that now make this town a destination location.

Off to the capital of New Zealand, Wellington. Unfortunately our luck with the beautiful weather finally ended, and our day and a half in Wellington it rained buckets, so we toured by car. Saw the NZ Parliament Buildings, affectionately known as the Beehive, went to the top of Mount Victoria for the highest views and over to the top by Kelburn to see where the cable cars come up. This city has been compared to San Francisco, and it is easy to tell why.

Spent quite a lot of time at Weta Workshop on the Miramar Peninsular, where the movie magic is made. Founded in 1987 by Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger as RT Effects, Weta Workshop has produced creatures and makeup effects for the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess and effects for films such as Meet the Feebles and Heavenly Creatures. A digital division, Weta Digital, was formed in 1993. Then along came Peter Jackson with his ideas for The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Absolutely fascinating, and I have to say, neither John, or I have even seen any of the movies…. The WETA team has also worked on TINTIN, AVENGERS, AVATAR, KING KONG, to name a few.. We have seen AVENGER and AVATAR though!

Up the long and winding road to Whanganui, halfway stop between here and Hamilton. Pretty little city, rambling river, War Memorial and stellar views from atop Durie Hill. The weather brighten up for us in the afternoon, so we got to see the city in sunshine, unlike Wellington. The day after Whanganui, we headed up to Hamilton, but we were met with a major detour. In October, a part of State Highway 4, was hit with a huge landslide, so they reroute everyone around the mountain before rejoining #4 about an hour later. This part, although very scenic, was twisty, one lane at times and no guardrails… It made for a fun drive. We saw some gorgeous rivers, hills dotted with cattle and sheep and a few lovely, little towns. Looking at pictures taken from a drone shortly after the landslide, I can see it will be some time before that part of the highway is opened.

Hamilton, the fourth largest city in New Zealand, is a lovely city with a rambling river, beautiful gardens, the largest shopping mall in the country, but the reason I wanted to visit…. The Rocky Horror Picture Show creator/writer, Richard O’Brian is from here. To honour him, there is a RHPS Park. There are step by step instructions to do the TIME WARP dance and a huge mural with Franknfurter’s lips ( Tim Curry). A statue of Richard as Riff Raff and several quotes from the movie are all over the park.

Fun fact, in this spot previously was a theatre and the worldwide premiere of ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW was held there.
So ends our time in New Zealand. We returned the car, flew back to Sydney and began, what would be our last adventure in the country of Australia.
Safe journey,
Lynne and John

Bay of Islands and beyond.


With names like Whangarei, Tutukaka, Paihia, Kerikeri, Kawakawa, you can forget where you have been and where you are going, but one thing you do not forget is the absolute beauty of the North Island of New Zealand. Hard to wrap my head around the fact that the further North we go, the warmer it gets and that North is South to me. That Upper Hemisphere mentality, I guess!

As I write this we have visited several waterfalls, just off the main roads and very accessible to reach. Since NZ is not witnessing the drought that Australia is , their waterfalls are very robust and beautiful. As are the trees, but maybe not so robust. Stopped at the Parry Kauri Park to see the ancient kauri gum trees and walk amongst them.  Kauri are among the world’s mightiest trees, growing to over 50 m tall, with trunks up to 16 m, and living for over 2000 years. Due to the Myrtle rust disease, the kauri trees have been added to the endangered list. The trees in this park are protected. We had to sanitize our shoes when we entered.
We stopped in Waipu, a place just off the main road that I would not really have known about, except a friend mentioned it on Facebook the night before we drove up. Thank you CatherineAnn Fuller for mentioning Waipu to me. We got to learn the story of Rev. Norman McLeod and the ships he sailed, with hundreds of Cape Breton Scots, to Waipu on the coast of New Zealand in the mid 1800’s. We had a chance to visit, see the Nova Scotia flag, see the monument in this exhibition’s honour, see a bit of the museum and sign the “Nova Scotian people only guest book”. So amazing to see little St. Ann’s, Cape Breton in New Zealand. These are the special moments we encounter on our trips that bring a tear to my eye.
We arrived in Paihia, the gateway to Bay of Islands on a lovely weekend, with temperatures in the mid 20s and sunny. This area known as the Far North is also know as the Winterless North and it does not disappoint. Most people here come to go to the many boat tours to hopefully see whales and dolphins, but at the risk of sounding spoiled, can I say been there and done that. So we drove up to Haruru Falls and, I made sure I took bread with us so we could feed the roosters of Haruru. Quite the experience and the falls were lovely as well. The next day we went to Kerikeri for a Sunday morning farmers market, visit to the local chocolate factory, a visit to the Stone Store, the first and oldest store in New Zealand; and checked out the Chris Booth ( sculpture in the local park. It is called “Te Whiringa o Manoko”, meaning the interweaving of the cultures of Kerikeri, where the artist was born and raised.
Then we drove to Rotorua, 6 hours south, past Auckland and down to Geothermal activity area. Rotorua is the geothermal capital of the world with many hot pools and geysers all around. They say you smell Rotorua before you see it, and that is true. It smells like rotten eggs, but after a few minutes you get used to it. From our hotel balcony we can witness, every 45 minutes, the largest geyser in the Southern Hemisphere, the Pohutu Geyser. In 2005 it actually erupted for 258 non stop days, but only goes every 45 minutes or so, now. Fascinating! Even though we could see the geyser from our room, we decided to spend the money and visit Te Puia Cultural Centre. So glad we did, as we learned about the Maori culture, visited the National Carving School, saw them create works of art in their weaving studio, saw a live Kiwi bird, and got to witness, close up, the beauty of Pohutu Geyser.
After an afternoon relaxing in the hotel’s very hot pool, heated by Geothermal pools, we stayed another night and set off for Taupo!
Safe journeys,
Lynne and John

Auckland, City of Sails

We certainly picked a wonderful time to visit Auckland, New Zealand. We arrived on Labour Day weekend, when the museums are open to the public and the Tall Ships are in the harbour. There were performances by Polynesian people telling the stories of their ancestors, who travelled to New Zealand in canoes, told in spoken word, song and dance. We strolled along the waterfront taking in all the displays of America Cup ships, the Tall Ships, some of whom we have seen in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I’m sure and the ship building displayed at the Maritime Museum. We sat on the WAVE chairs and I laid down on one, with memories of Bruges, where I had laid down on one with John.  Had a chat and got a photo with two Kiwi cops for Darlene and Elizabeth, as we have been doing cop photos for 20 years now.

After spending most of the day at the waterfront, we made our way up to Queen Street, a street filled with Gucci, Prada, and Dior stores, and marvelled at the lineup for Gucci. John went into a New Market grocery store (their national chain with 139 stores) to get ice cream, as I started chatting with a man in his 80s, who is originally from Sudbury, Ontario but he and his wife, now deceased, had moved here in 1970. John arrived back with a box of four Drumstick ice cream and we offered him one. As he chatted with us, and ate it, he told us we had made his day. He came over from Devonport, on the North Shore, to go to the library to read the Globe and Mail, and forgot it was closed due to the holiday, so the ice cream cheered him up!

The next day we went to Devonport, as that had been the plan before we even met him. Devonport is a suburb of Auckland, dating back to the 1880’s, where Victorian buildings house unique boutique shops, cafes and restaurants. Named after Devonport, in England, it is the home to the Royal New Zealand Navy. Once an island, it is joined by a causeway, and a very busy ferry that takes the people to the mainland, Auckland everyday. We drove around, looking for the road to Mount Victoria, so we could get a view of Auckland, across the harbour. Then we found out they closed the road up the mountain, but we could hike up if we wanted…. not… Oh well, I got a lot of beautiful skyline shots of Auckland from our condo on the 37 floor at the Oaks Harbour Suites. Have I mentioned how great my husband is at getting us great places to stay, in prime locations? I was also reminded that the singer, Lorde, grew up in Devonport and, if you do not know her, please go to YouTube and check out the song “Royals”. You’ll love it!

After a few hours wandering the shops of Devonport and having lunch, we drove back to Auckland and went to the Auckland War Memorial Museum and loved its spectacular location. It is in Parnell, a suburb of Auckland in the Auckland Domain, nestled in by the Wintergarden Conservatory, the University of NZ and a couple of hospitals. The War Memorial is accompanied by a waterfall with the engraving “Lest We Forget”, and is a true reminder to the souls lost during several wars. The museum has sections for the Pacific People ( Maori), Natural History ( Volcanoes, Ancient Worlds, Art of Asia) and Scars of the Heart ( NZ at War, Later Conflicts- WWII and the Boer War).

So we leave Auckland soon, and start traveling to parts all over “the North Island” during the next couple of weeks.

Enjoy the journey,
Lynne and John