bridges power stacks

Halifax harbour bridges: The “Old” Bridge in the foreground, the “New” bridge behind.

The WordPress weekly writing challenge wants to know about local or regional slang. For those of you planning to visit Halifax or the Maritime provinces of Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island…the Atlantic provinces are the same but include Newfoundland), here are a few expressions you may want to tuck away for future use.

Being Sociable

When drinking in the local pubs and listening to a band play on stage, you may hear one of the band members, while in between songs, call out to the crowd: “Sociable!!!!!!” You will probably sit and look around you, mystified, as the room full of assorted drinkers stops in mid-conversation, raises their glass and hollers back “Socialble!!!!!” and then takes a very sociable drink. I’m not sure if it’s to be found outside of Halifax though I suspect Cape Breton pubs are full of sociables.

Old vs New

In Halifax, the harbour is crossed by two suspension bridges, the Angus L. Macdonald bridge and the A. Murray MacKay bridge. Nobody local who has lived here a long time calls them that. the MacDonald bridge, opened in the mid 1950s is the “Old” bridge and the MacKay, opened in the early 1970s is the “New” bridge. So if someone gives you directions and suggests that the new bridge is the better route, you will know to go to the north end of the city and take that bridge rather than the one closer to the downtown core.

Which way was that?

There are a lot of people who were born and raised in Cape Breton Island who are now living and working in Halifax. Lots of them visit their home towns. They go “down home” to CB on the weekend but they are traveling “up” to Cape Breton. Hmmmm. We may travel “up” to Toronto or Ottawa or we can also go “out west”. Up seems to refer to the direction as looking on a map though Cape Breton is techincally east of Halifax and perhaps a little higher on the latitude grid. We also think of the south shore of the province of Nova Scotia as “down” as it does point a bit lower than the geographical point of Halifax on the map. The Annapolis Valley is “down” but you go “up” to Truro and Amherst, both north in the direction of New Brunswick and the rest of Canada.

And then Buddy said…

A common way to talk about someone you don’t know is to refer to them as “Buddy” but it’s always a man, never a woman. And you don’t call him Buddy to his face either, it’s only in the third person. You could be telling someone about “buddy driving the bus” or “and then buddy says (or does…)”. It’s all in how you use the word. If it isn’t used correctly, it sounds awkward. The narrative is generally in casual conversation, of course. You never ask “who’s Buddy” because, of course, we don’t know. That’s the point. It’s much nicer to call a stranger Buddy than to say “this guy”. This isn’t restricted to Halifax, you’ll hear this used all over the Maritimes and Newfoundland.

And the last thing that comes to mind is the Maritime reference to the province of Prince Edward Island. We almost never call it that. We nearly always go “over to the Island”. We *may* sometimes refer to it as PEI (pee-ee-eye). That’s as close to it’s proper name as we might get. Everyone knows what you mean and you don’t have to ask “which Island”?

Traveling through the movies – Roman Holiday


Inside the Colosseum

Here’s a classic movie filmed in Rome. The great thing about Rome is that not much changes in the historic city centre. You can see the same things today as you could in the 1950s when this movie was made!

The story is about a princess played by Audrey Hepburn who comes to Rome for a reception. She is bored by all the hand shaking and ceremony and slips out one evening. Gregory Peck plays a journalist and he spots her but doesn’t recognize her at first. She gets drunk and he takes her home and puts her to bed in his flat. The next morning he’s discovered who she is and realizes he’s got a story on his hands.

He takes her around Rome for a “Grand Day Out” and we have loads of views of Rome, both the famous monuments and the streets and bridges as they zip around the city on a moped.


The Mouth of Truth, “La Bocca della Verità” in Santa Maria Cosmedin

The movie was filmed in 1953 in black and white by director William Wyler and was Audrey Hepburn’s breakout movie. Gregory Peck was so impressed by her that he allowed her to have top billing, a very generous gesture in the actor pecking order of things. She charmed the world and shot to stardom.

It’s one of my all time favourite movies, and is a wonderful “visit” to Rome. Rome is still as interesting a city to visit as it would have been then. Other good films set in Rome include Woody Allen’s latest, To Rome with Love, La Dolce Vita (another classic), The Talented Mr. Ripley, Angels and Demons,  and Only You (which I’ve mentioned before).


Audrey enjoying gelato and the sunshine on the Spanish Steps


Bernini’s Leaky Boat fountain (“Fontana della Barcaccia “) at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

Fab Photos – Lostwithiel

I know it’s been quiet around this blog lately. I’m just waiting on pins and needles for our New York Trip, 2 weeks from today! In the meantime, I browsed my folders to find a “fab photo” and found this first one taken from the car window as we were driving cross country to the east side of Cornwall.

Cornwall isn’t all about beaches and coves. The inland parts have rolling hills and desolate moors (Devon), farms and some nice little villages.

North Devon, England

North Devon, England

We were heading from where we were staying near Camelford to Lanhydrock House and then to the east coast to see the little fishing village of Fowey. Our host at the Inn told us about Lostwithiel and said it was a lovely little place for a stop. After we left Lanhydrock, which, by the way, is superb if you like old houses filled with lots and lots of interesting things, we went to Lostwithiel which is only a stone’s throw from there.

We found a place to park and walked along the High street and saw this old church. Looked interesting and as we came into the church yard we noticed the path was lined with shoes filled with flowers. That’s odd…

Lostwithiel Floral shoe walk

Shoes along the path at St. Bartholomew’s, Lostwithiel

We went inside the church, St. Bartholomew’s (dating to the 13th to 14th century), and discovered it was the first day of a flower festival. The church was filled with flowers and elaborate displays of flowers. Local businesses and groups each had sponsored a display of flowers which was also accompanied by various items associated with the group/business. For example, one sponsored by a pharmacy had antique microscopes and old prescription and tonic bottles.
St Bartholemews arches
The church smelled amazing, not overpowering at all. We spent a good 3/4 hour looking at all the displays. This was one of my favourites though I don’t remember who sponsored it now. The displays would be auctioned off at the end of the long weekend for charity, benefiting a hospice and also the church itself.
Lostwithiel Floral stained glass window

Lostwithiel Graham

My fella enjoying his cuppa

Outside the church in the yard, they had a table set up with coffee, tea and cakes that you could purchase, funds going towards the festival and church. The sun had come out by then so, though it was still a tad chilly, we bought some refreshments to help support the cause.
Lostwithiel church lady

Lostwithiel is in the Fowey River valley and isn’t far from the coastal town of Fowey. Just outside the town is Restormel Castle which we also visited. There is an old arched stone bridge as well, crossing the river. They believe it dates to the 13th century. There’s a detailed history of the bridge here though the web page is a bit difficult to read due to poor single spaced text.

A Word a Week Challenge – Worker

A Word in Your Ear’s weekly challenge this week is “Worker”. Here then are some photos of workers here and abroad.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Change and London

This week’s WordPress weekly photo challenge is “Change”. I could get all philosophical about changing your life, changing your ways, changing your look… there can be many interpretations but this is a travel blog. Today, I’m picking photos out of the vault from my favourite city of London that all illustrate change in some way.

All Hail Change! A good motto to live by. London cabs are not all black these days. They've changed!

All Hail Change! A good motto to live by. London cabs are not all black these days. They’ve changed!

Flight Connection Centre, Heathrow Airport, where you change terminals and flights.

Flight Connection Centre, Heathrow Airport, where you change terminals and flights.

The city of London has changed and grown considerably around St. Paul's Cathedral, and there's no end in sight.

The city of London has changed and grown considerably around St. Paul’s Cathedral, and there’s no end in sight.

London was ruled by monarchs from the Tower of London. Now it’s ruled from the London City Hall, across the river.

London from a different perspective. Looking up!

London from a different perspective. Looking up!

A Word a Week Challenge – Old

A Word in Your Ear’s weekly challenge this week is “old”.

“Old” is a loaded word. People don’t like to be called “old” but they shouldn’t mind it. With age comes experience, respect and a better sense of who you are. You have stories to tell. You have seen and done a lot, made mistakes, hopefully learned from them and can pass on advice, whether it’s taken or not. Think of all the amazing things you’ve seen in your life and all the people you have touched and whose lives have touched yours.

Getting old isn’t for sissies, either. It takes stamina. Things don’t work the way they used to and it’s hard learning to depend on people. There can be a loss of independence. There’s a lot of loss, full stop as you start to lose loved ones.

Here are some portraits I’ve taken over the years of people I’ve known, met or just seen on the streets. They are people that have endured. Some are no longer with me. Some I remember with a smile and a tear. Some were complete strangers but their vitality and grace drew my camera their way.

Let’s start with family, first. You will notice the common denominator here is humour and laughter. We’re like that :)

My father. Enjoyed Christmas.

My mother. Chilly, in Leeds Castle, England

My aunt and uncle, siblings to my dad

My uncle, my dad’s twin

The following were strangers to me, people I’ve seen while people watching.

There’s a lot of life in the old dancing shoes yet

Old friends enjoy the summer sunshine

Father and son “down the pub” for a chat and a visit with friends.

I think of these men who could not walk the streets together, dressed like this, earlier in their lives. It makes me happy to see them be who they are in the face of the world.

The older generation make sure the traditions live on.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Colour

This week’s weekly photo challenge from WordPress is Colour (using the Canadian/British spelling of it!)

I take a lot of photos with lots of colour. I love bright colours and they always attract me. I notice coloured doors, houses, flowers, signs, designs, cars, costumes, and so on. When I have to decide what to include for this challenge I have a wealth of choice so I had a think about it and decided to theme it around buildings in living colour.

Think Pink – Sweet shop in Keswick, the Lake District, England

More shops in Keswick

Llanberis, North Wales

Victorian mailbox in a turreted building
Cobh, Republic of Ireland

Roskilde, Denmark

Some of the oldest buildings in Copenhagen

More of the old buildings in Copenhagen

Highfield Road, Salford, UK

Granville Street, Halifax
This belongs to a tea room.

Mural in Old Quebec City, Canada

Fab Photo Friday – My favourites

In honour of the first Friday in April, a day that’s going to bring snow and a lot of rain to Halifax (typical, that), here are a few of my very favourite photos from my Flickr “Favourites”

This was taken outside of the “Plague” village of Eyam. We drove to the edge of the village looking for a particular signpost was supposed to be. We didn’t find it but drove along a bit further. The road narrowed and followed the top of a hill. We realized we were not going to find what we wanted and thought we’d better turn back to the village but this view across a bit of a valley caught my eye. The lines and the shades of green on an overcast misty day in the Peak District were perfect.

Peak District farm, U.K.

This photo was taken in the Netherlands at the Open Air Museum near Arnhem. The huge park contains lots of old Dutch cottages and buildings from various eras. This area was beside a little shack used for making paper the old fashioned way and across the pond, was a printer’s shop. It, too, was an overcast, sometimes rainy day. It always seems that things look much greener under dark skies!

On the grounds of the Open Air Museum, Nr. Arnhem, The Netherlands

This last photo was taken in 2000. I had taken a bus tour around Scotland and we’d had an early morning start from our hotel on the Isle of Skye in Broadford. We’d actually watched the sun come up over the mountains on the mainland, probably the ones in this general area. We traversed the bridge over and headed up. and up. And then stopped for a photo op at a lookoff point over Loch Caron just as the morning sun was bathing everything in gold. It was a lucky shot and remains one of my favourites.

Loch Caron, West Highlands, Scotland

A New York Minute

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (where we probably won't be going this time!)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (where we probably won’t be going this time!)

New York stuff is all booked and there’s 30 sleeps until Graham gets here!

We have:

Rock of Ages tickets booked for Thursday May 9. Got a discount from, Saved about $40 per ticket I think. Decent seats, in the main floor section about half way back. But they gave us seat 1 and 3. Huh? I would hope that if there is a body between us, they will be kind enough to switch so we can sit together. We weren’t going to a show because at first we couldn’t agree on one but this one made the cut and I think it’s going to be good.

Instead of the ubiquitous city type passes, we booked a 5-attraction pass each through SmartDestinations. Many cities have an attraction pass that is good for 3 or 5 days and it’s “all you can do/see” off their list but I can never fit enough in to break even let alone save anything. This Explorer Pass is a bit different. You choose 3, 5, 7 or 10 things from their list of 55 attractions and tours and the pass is good for 30 days. You don’t have to say which things you will be doing, it just counts them off as you scan your chipped card which I received today! FedEx sent it and I didn’t realize it would come courier so i wasn’t home. They delivered it to my office today instead.

We know 4 of the 5 things we’ll be doing, The Empire State Building, the Guggenheim musem (changed our minds from the Frick, and this one is on the Explorer Pass’s list where the Frick isn’t), the Intrepid Sea and Space museum and a TV and Movie location tour,  and we can pick from one of the other things though we are leaning towards the NBC Studio tour.  This pass seems much more doable and is cheaper ($116 for 5 attractions, and by including the TV tour, we’ll end up saving 4o or 50 dollars over the 5 things we do, I think)  and you can spread it out more rather than squash everything into 3 days and be exhausted and burned out trying to fit it all in. They do a number of tours via the CitySights company which do hop on hop off,  but you can only do one of them with the pass and each one is only one of the various routes that would be included if you’d bought a 48 hour pass from a tour company separately.  We’ve heard the tv location tour is quite good and let’s face it, they film loads of things in NYC!

Booked the hop on hop off tour through Grayline that’s good for 72 hours so we can spread it out. Take a downtown loop one day, so we can get on and off and explore, then the uptown tour the next day and we thought we’d do a night tour as well. They also do a Brooklyn tour and a Bronx tour but we may not do those. The night tour goes over to Brooklyn so you get a look at the night skyline. We can also use the tour bus as transportation if we want, even after having done the tours, if there’s still time left on the ticket.

Thought about pre-booking an airport shuttle to the hotel but the standard airport bus goes to Port Authority, the big bus terminal which is only 3 blocks from the hotel so that’s good enough. There’s a lot of things that are within easy walking distance of the hotel, less than 10 or 12 blocks which is convenient. We plan on wandering around some of the neighbourhoods like Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Chinatown, Little Italy (which, i understand, (those last two) are really small) and Soho and probably the posh areas like Fifth and Park Avenue. Would like to check out Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Centre, see the John Lennon memorial in Central Park, maybe see the 911 site though it’s not a free museum like they said it would be but I think you can observe the park area from outside.

Also got the rental car booked for when we get back. I think we’re sorted! Now we just have to get there!

Traveling through the movies/tv: New York City

When Harry Met Sally - Central Park

When Harry Met Sally – Central Park

Obviously, with my trip coming up soon, I’m in a New York state of mind. This time, I am not focusing on one particular movie that makes me want to go to New York because there are so many movies filmed there that they all evoke an aspect of the city that is often attractive, though not always. They also show seamy sides, or historic views and as a tourist, I wouldn’t want to go there just on those accords.

According to, the number 1 movie set in New York is Taxi Driver. They have a Top 100 list here and these are the top 10. While browsing the list, I realized that there aren’t a great number of them that I’ve actually seen. I’ve heard of many, and some I think I’ve seen but it’s been decades.

The more recent films I’ve seen that I’ve enjoyed and that I think bring good views to New York City include You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, Working Girl, The Devil Wears Prada (also great for Paris shots).. you’re probably spotting a trend here. In fact, a lot of chick flicks set in NYC are great, because they have lots of scenes with people walking the streets and parks, shops, restaurants etc. You get a good look at the city, I find. Woody Allen movies usually have lots of exterior shots as well though I’m not as keen on his films as a rule.

TV series that are filmed in New York are even better because over the course of the series’ seasons you get lots of different views of the city.  There are dozens, but Seinfeld, Friends, Law & Order,  and Ugly Betty are the ones I’ve watched and enjoyed. Sex and the City is also one that is well known. In fact, you can take bus tours on the Sex and the City theme and you can take general movie and TV tours of the city (and we’re thinking of doing that, as they’ve been recommended by friends).

There are lots of things filmed there or just set in NYC but also, quite often, they are filmed in studio sets and you rarely get to see views of the actual city so they don’t count in my book.  There is even a website devoted to New York locations. This one has world wide location sites with a New York page. I think I may be spending a lot of time browsing those!

Do you have favourite New York movies?