Friday, January 18, 2019

Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill

Today we visited the Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill, owned and operated by the Barbados National Trust.

Built in 1727, it is the oldest and largest sugar mill in the world!

It ceased commercial operation in 1947 but has been totally refurbished and still fully functional.

At the height of the sugar industry there were over 500 windmills on Barbados: more per square mile than existed in Holland.

The original wooden gears and engine were replaced with cast iron in 1870 but the central shaft is still constructed of the original wood.

The wood came from an ancient Fustic tree that's harder than mahogany.

The next milling of sugar cane won't happen until 2021.

The reason for the delay is that the mill needs to be fed long pieces of hand-cut sugar cane and today's modern cutting machines only produce short pieces.

I hear the juice is delicious so we might just have to come back and try it then!

The view from Cherry Tree Hill just above the Morgan Lewis Mill

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Cannonball Tree

The Chattel Village shops
The  cannonball fruit

If you're ever in The Chattel Village in Holetown Barbados, do stop by and say hello to one of its strangest residents, the cannonball tree. Like the huge round fruit it is named after, this tree is enormous, providing shade to the guests at the outdoor restaurant.

The true stars of the plant are its fragrant flowers which look like they are from another planet; maybe Pandora in the movie Avatar.

Unlike other flowering trees, these fragrant blooms don't grow up in the canopy but lower down on special leafless branches that extend out from the tree's trunk.

And no that's not a strange caterpillar crawling across the flower. They are the tree's pollen-bearing stamens.

Fun fact: while the tree comes from Central and South America, in Sri Lanka it is considered to be the sacred tree that Lord Buddha was born under!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Back in Barbados

New Year greetings from this fair Caribbean isle! This is my sixth visit to Barbados, the island that Gail loves to return to each winter. We've been here a week now, staying with Guelph friends, Cynthia and David Parks, before our Waterside apartment was available. Here are a few pics from our first week, living the good life Bajan-style!
"Pinky" was a constant distraction as I tried to work poolside on FON business!
Celebrating "Old Year's Night" with Get Back on the beach at Lone Star

My favourite thing to do here is swim with the fish and capture their beauty with my camera.
The sky at sunset can be quite dramatic without being too colourful

Friday, December 28, 2018

Boreal at The Registry

Christmas wouldn't be 'Christmas' without some Christmas carols and the ladies of Boreal  - Catherine, Tannis and Jude - delivered that and so much more at The Registry theatre in Kitchener recently. 

Catherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon and Jude Vidala

 Each in their own right is a talented singer-songwriter but together they bring amazing harmonies and great musicianship to the songs of the season, along with charming stories and quick wits, making for an evening concert that left the sold-out audience with a happy glow that they can take home for the holidays.

Boreal's 'Songs for a Snowy Season' tour ended at The Registry but their CD of Christmas music is available through their website store.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Heather's New Home

Three bedrooms and a whole lot more

My daughter, Heather Bell, has bought her first house! It's a lovely log home sitting on the north shore of Lake Scugog, about an hour from Toronto.

A serene moment on the deck

And what a beautiful setting it is, with wrap-around windows facing the lake.

Simon, Trevor, Danielle and Heather

To help make the move in as smooth as possible, Heather got some heavy-lifters involved. We had the U-Haul empty in no time!

Photo by Heather Bell.

Congratulations, darling daughter! You and Mya will be happy there for years to come.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Paul DeSilva, PhD

I was very proud to attend the graduation ceremony at Ryerson University for one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paul DeSilva.

Paul and I met as freshmen at York University's Glendon College in 1968.

But 1969-1970 was our BIG YEAR as we traveled together through Europe, Asia and India.

It's not easy to go back to school and get your degree, especially a PhD. Congratulations, Paul. You earned it!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Colours of September

Summer is not quite over in September in this part of Ontario. Dabs of bright colour still shine through the slow fade to brown. Autumn leaves have not yet revealed their full glory but everywhere I turn I find something that demands a closer look.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Manitoulin Island

View from Red Lodge on Lake Manitou
After our visit to Sudbury, we returned to southern Ontario via Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world!

Gail tries to get it all in one shot

We hiked the famous Cup and Saucer trail to the top of the cliffs for a view across the whole island.

The limestone cliffs are a continuation of the Niagara Escarpment  that extends all the way to Niagara Falls and beyond!

Bedrock at Misery Bay Provincial Park

The limestone bedrock creates unique eco-systems called alvars all over the island.

While the flora and fauna of alvars are fascinating, I found the scratched and cracked exposed bedrock quite interesting to photograph.

Sandhill cranes make a re-fueling stop on their flight south
Indigenous people and their culture are strong on Manitoulin
Meldrum Bay Inn

We drove about as far west as we could on the island to the tiny village of Meldrum Bay.

We stayed at the historic old inn in the village on our last night.

And we slept in the Al Capone room. Folklore has it that he ran is smuggling operation through here!

The Chi Cheemaun ferry is the only way off the island when travelling south. Though it was the last long weekend of the summer, there was still room for us and our car.

Farewell Manitoulin Island. We have a great time!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


The Big Nickel, symbol of Sudbury
The city of Sudbury sits on one of the largest deposits of nickel in the world. But the extraction of this mineral, essential for manufacturing stainless steel products, has left a terrible stain on the landscape for miles around.

By the 1970s, years of unabated pollution had left the area devoid of tree cover. Nothing could grow on the rocky hills until the citizens and the mining companies changed course and started working together to heal their earth, air and water.

Lake Laurentian Conservation Area

Today the land is looking better. Scrubbers were installed on smokestacks to limit the sulphur emissions. Whole patches of forest soil were transplanted and millions of trees were planted. There are now miles of trails to explore.

Gail and the Fin whale at Science North

Gail and I spent two delightful days in Sudbury visiting Science North and Dynamic Earth, where I went underground to see how miners work today and in days gone by. Fascinating!

A simulated dynamite explosion shook things up on my underground mine tour

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Cecropia Silkmoth Caterpillar

Almost 4 inches long, this bizarre-looking caterpillar will emerge from its cocoon next year as North America's largest moth - the beautiful cecropia silkmoth  Hyalophora cecropia

Add caption
 Thanks to my sister Karen for finding this beauty on the banks of the Speed river in Guelph.

Perhaps I'll be able to add a photo of the moth when it emerges next spring!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Master's Degree

Congratulations to the family's first holder of a master's degree -Trevor Bell!
A well-deserved degree

Concordia University's Convocation at Place des Arts in Montreal

Danielle, Ellen and I with Master Trevor Bell

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Marvelous Month of May

With the cold days of April behind us, the sudden appearance of spring seems particularly intense this year. From the flowering trees above to the bulbs bursting from the earth below, it's all happening in short succession. So get out there before the show is over!

Here are a few of my favourite photos from this month so far...
(Click on a pic to enlarge)

Baltimore oriole at Point Pelee

Great-horned owls at the Ottawa Arboretum

Magnolia warbler at Point Pelee

Eastern tailed blue

Blackburnian warbler at Rideau Hall

Cedar waxwing at Hillman Marsh

Eastern red-backed salamander

Large-flowered trilliums

Avid nature photographer

Wood ducks

Tulip festival in Ottawa

Eastern meadow rue (male)