Crimes against coffee and tea

International Coffee Day (October 1) is upon us – and I am marking it by occasionally looking longingly at pictures of frothy cappuccinos in exotic locations. The photogenic drinks are transporting me back to a time when I sat down and enjoyed a cup at the right temperature at my own pace.

But sadly, I probably won’t consume any coffee on its special day. Continue reading


A lullaby for Vancouver babies

I didn’t know very many children’s songs before Bea came along so when the wee one showed signs of liking the sound of my singing voice (she’ll grow out of that quickly), I often found myself struggling with lyrics.

‘Hush little baby, don’t scream all day… Momma’s gonna buy you a Mocking Jay’. Etc. Continue reading


I really don’t know what I’m doing

I joined the strange and confusing world of parenthood late last year.

bea with beeMany a cliché can be said about the moment your first child is born – but these two rang true for me: A) you suddenly know your life will never be the same and B) you are filled with joy and wonder because you have somehow MADE A PERSON.

For me, it was an emotional roller coaster with incredible highs and some surprisingly dark and lonely lows.

Most people will understand the highs, so it’s those lonely moments that I want to write about.

I’ll be honest. I’ve never been much of a baby person. I used to enjoy seeing babies and seeing photos of other people’s babies but felt nervous if someone placed one in my arms. Continue reading


Summer Games athletes deserve support

When I worked for the Nanaimo Daily News, I was lucky enough to get to produce a column. I enjoyed writing the following piece on the Olympics. In it, I predicted that Canada wouldn’t get a bucket-load of gold medals, but argued that these athletes deserve our admiration even more than some of the gold-medal winning Winter Olympians.

Tommy Gossland dives into the UBC Aquatic centre pool. Picture Copyright Geoff Lister/The Ubyssey.

Tommy Gossland dives into the UBC Aquatic centre pool. Picture Copyright Geoff Lister/The Ubyssey.

Canadians need to start embracing the Summer Olympic Games like they embrace the Winter Olympics.

For a nation that professes to love sport, we are too often prone to ignore some of our best and brightest athletes. Continue reading


A brutal fight to save the okapi

In one of my recent posts, I revealed my fascination with the okapi, a giraffe-like creature that I first saw at London Zoo. Because of this fascination with okapi, I became interested in the work of the Okapi Conservation Project.


Okapi at Marwell Wildlife Park.
Picture copyright David Connop Price.

Sadly, the project has been in the news this week for all the wrong reasons. Six people and 13 okapi were massacred by mai mai rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to reports from staff from the Institute in the Congo for Conservation of Nature (ICCN) headquarters and Okapi Conservation Project base, located in the Ituri Forest, these rebels attacked their complex, killing two of the rangers that patrol the area to prevent poaching.

The rebels, who are thought to be a a group of elephant poachers and illegal miners, also killed the wife of one of the rangers, an immigration worker, and two residents of Epulu, a nearby village. The gunmen also destroyed and looted the buildings on the site. Villagers and ICCN staff had to flee for their lives into the forest, or walk to the nearest city, Mambassa.

Continue reading


Canada feels… kind of foreign

I have recently moved back to Canada after more than seven years in the UK. It means I have spent more of my adult life abroad than I have in my home country.

ANYONE who has lived abroad or travelled abroad for long periods of time will probably remember what it feels like to come back to Canada.

The sense of openness and the friendliness of the people is one of the first things that will hit you. But it’s the small things that you took for granted when you lived here that seem to really stand out and seem a bit … foreign.

A friend’s Facebook status update is a case in point. On return to Canada from a lengthy tour of Europe, she wrote: “OK, why is there so much water in the toilets here?” (Fresh water is a scarce resource in Europe, so toilets are designed to flush using much less water. In comparison, many Canadian toilets use what seems like buckets of water). It’s hard not to think it’s a big waste.

Continue reading


The British Monarchy… still puzzling people after all these years

Queen Elizabeth II.

Plans are well under way for a plethora of patriotic street and garden parties as Britain and the Commonwealth prepare to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

THE timing of the Diamond Jubilee celebration is a bit of a puzzle. It’s four months after the anniversary of the Queen taking the throne and 59 years after her coronation in 1953.

The Queen has already spent more than 60 years as head of state. She ascended to the throne on February 6, 1952. But she wasn’t actually crowned until June 2, 1953, 59 years ago. So having the celebration in June 2012 seems like a strange cobbling together of the two anniversaries.

Of course, it’s not the only date deception in the Queen’s diary. Britain celebrates the Monarch’s “Official Birthday” on a Saturday, usually at the start of June, when in fact the Queen was born on April 21.  The royal website doesn’t specify why the Queen has two birthdays, but according to Wikipedia,  the official birthday was established so that people in the northern hemisphere would be able to celebrate in fine weather.

Sadly, by some meteorlogical accounts, Britain’s “monsoon season” comes in June and July, so I’m not convinced relying on warm June weather is the best course of action.

The Queen’s official birthday in other parts of the Commonwealth is held on different days. In Canada, Victoria Day, the Monday before May 25, is recognised in statute as the Queen’s Official Birthday. In many parts of Australia, the Queen’s Official Birthday is celebrated on the second Monday in June. New Zealand uses the same date as its antipodean neighbour. An official birthday is marked in Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha and was marked in Bermuda until 2009. Breaking from tradition, the Falkland Islands celebrate on the Queen’s actual birthday.

Got that? I bet you she doesn’t.

It means, the Queen, at 86, has celebrated approximately 483 birthdays. Not bad going.


What foal would disagree? This baby budget horse is the cutest

Spring is definitely here – and the proof is all around.

I snapped this mother and her foal near our house this morning. I’m no equine expert, so I don’t know if they’re Shetland ponies or miniature horses, but I do know they’re extremely cute. Enjoy!