Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Jay Brannan Video

So my Fave singer/songwriter has asked us all to share his new Video release with all our Blog readers.

An awsome track from an amazing album.

Thanks Jay.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rice Lake

After being couped-up in the house for several days we decided today to take an easy walk out to Rice Lake. I hadn't been well over the weekend so didn't want anything too strenuous but were keen to get some fresh air and some sunshine.

Rice Lake is situated about 20mins walk from the top of Lynn Valley Road. It's easy to access, relatively flat walking and not being a large lake is only about an hour or so to walk around. We had not been there previously as it is situated in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, the large part of which does not allow dogs on the trails.

Snap of a snowy peak on the way down Dempsey Road.

We decided to lengthen the walk slightly by parking in Lynn Headwaters and connecting through to the Rice Lake trail from there and returning in a big loop along the Varley Trail. We weren't clock watching but I think the whole walk still took under 2 hours.
The road into Lynn Headwaters

We have lost the snow on the ground at home now but there's still plenty in Lynn Headwaters.

We parked the car at Lynn Headwaters, walked through the picnic area and across river, turning right to then follow the river bed south. We then reached the entrance to the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (LSCR).

The LSCR is actually huge, about 18,000 hectares which is almost 450,000 acres or 70 square miles. However only about one third is open to the public with the remainder protected environmental areas.
This map shows the public area of the park. The yellow dot in the lower left-hand side represents where we are stood taking the photo, you can see Rice Lake to the right of this. We will walk south-west along the Lynn Headwaters Connector marked in red and then up and around the lake. You can see that this is just scratching the surface of this huge park, with many miles of hiking trails.

Reaching the lake we discover that despite being 9 degrees and sunny it is still completely frozen and snow covered !

Another view across the lake

This is very much part of BC's coastal rainforest

Although the lake was snow covered the trails were mostly clear

This is a view looking up the start of the Seymour Valley Trailway, which is a 11km fully paved trail leading through the valley, roughly parallel with the Seymour River. Being paved it is obviously very easy to hike, but also allows access for wheelchair users, bikes, rollerbladers etc. What more quintessentially BC afternoon than rollerblading through rugged backcountry.....no doubt with a non-fat latte in one hand !

Here are a few more views of Rice Lake as we walked around it

Dappled sunlight through the trees

Finally a view looking the full length up the lake, before heading back down to the Varley Trail towards the parking lot.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


If what they say is true, that 'you are what you eat' then the guys who named this sandwich chain when they established it in 1964 must be kicking themselves by now.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


The second week of our holiday in Florida was spent in Orlando. We stayed in a villa where Adrians sister and her husband flew over from the UK to join us.

We were there primarily to catch up and visit the theme parks which aren't particularly camera friendly so we kept this week to one post.

David did the lions-share of the driving from Florida City, around Miami and up Floridas Turnpike towards Orlando.

The first hour or so of driving was simply getting out of the Miami metro area. After that the road opened up and, well, kind of looked like this for a couple of hours.

This is Spring Creek Drive where our villa was located. On a small subdivision within the town of Kissimmee, a few miles south of Orlando.

Our base for the next week.

Inside was spacious and comfortable. Even though the villa was probably only 10 years or so old, it felt like it was stuck in the 1980's with it's decor and style.....I think it was a Florida thing. Pastels never left......

It had a private (and thankfully heated this time of year) pool. The screen around the pool is called a lanai and all homes in Florida have them to keep the bugs away in the summer time.

David having breakfast on the patio

Us in front of the Universal sign. We visited Islands of Adventure (twice), Universal Studios, Busch Gardens in Tampa and of course some outlet malls.

View over Islands of Adventure

This is a video of the Hulk ride at Islands of Adventure

By the afternoon it was warm enough to brave the wet rides.....

This is a still photo of us on the Jurassic River Adventure ride. Andy was wearing a ballcap at the beginning of this ride......infact look three rows up/behind him in this photo and you can see his ballcap disappearing !

Finally the log flume ride

Resulted in us getting absolutely soaked......

Thankfully, Orlando is a lot warmer than parks we are used to in the UK, even in February.
Finally, a photo of Karen & Andy in Universal Studios.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Everglades

We stayed at a motel in Florida City for our visit to The Everglades. Florida City is just a big truckstop, strip malls, motels and burger joints but it is cheap and convenient for the national park.

We had a full day to explore the Everglades. There are two entrances into the park, the southern entrance and the northern Shark Valley entrance. We decided to head to Shark Valley as we had read good things about that side of the park and the possibility of seeing wildlife.

We hired bikes at the park entrance and cycled down into the park using the established trail system. There is in fact a 15 mile loop you can ride, but the sun was hot and the wind strong so we didn't go that far !

The views around this side of the park were perhaps less interesting than we had imagined. It reminded us of The Fens in the UK. Flat, bush with streams & ponds. The only difference is that there's more sun in the Everglades and less alligators in The Fens.

There were quite a lot of birds in the park, including a number of these tall birds - possibly storks of some variety ?

As you can hear on this clip it was very breezy in the park when we were there.

Then there were alligators. Lots of them. In the words of the Park Ranger 'don't ride over their tails, they're not speed bumps'. He kind of had to give that advice as they were literally lying on the trails, banks and in and out of the ponds and streams. Mostly they were very lethargic as it was winter and they are coldblooded so they don't do alot apart from bask in the sun that there was.

Them there is big teeth

We also saw a 'nest' (if that's the right term ?) of baby alligators. Tempting as it was to pick one up we happily resisted - we knew mum wouldn't be far away

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Leaving The Keys

It was now time to head out of The Keys and towards the Everglades.

Here are a few photos from our journey back.

We stopped just before one of the bridges. Here you can see the new bridge on the left and the old one on the right which is now reserved for walkers & fishermen.

Further on we run parallel with this section of old railway bridge. It was rail on the lower level and road above.

Part of this old bridge has been chopped away to allow tall yachts through

We stopped for lunch in the Bahia Honda State Park. Unfortunately this is the only photo we took there and really doesn't do the park justice at all. The park is a rural key with lovely flat sandy beaches. This particular section was actually really busy, we walked perhaps 1/2mi down from this point and it became really quiet, hardly anybody around. Unfortunately because the area we found was so nice and the sea inviting we forgot to take any more photos ! The sea was really shallow and lovely warm. David noted this was the first time he had ever seen Adrian swim in the ocean in our 11 years. It was a really excellent spot to stop for some lunch and enjoy a few rays.

Then it was back in the car and get going for the remainder of the journey. More bridges, more keys

Ernest Hemingway House

Key West has long attracted artists and artisans who have enjoyed the easy climate and laid-back attitude of the The Keys however, one individual in particular stands out as the most famous resident, writer Ernest Hemingway.

He actually only lived in the town with his second wife from 1931 until 1942 but almost every business claims 'Hemningway ate here' or 'Hemingway drank here', that is except the restaurant Bagatelle which proudly claims 'Hemingway never liked this place'. However, the house Hemingway lived in is now a museum and Key Wests number one tourist attraction so we decided we ought to check it out too.

The home was originally bought for $8,000. After Ernest and his second wife Pauline split up in 1942, Pauline continued to live in the home until 1951 when she sold it and moved away. The person who bought the house in 1951 paid $80,000 and lived in it for a year but were so frustrated by the number of people continually turning up at the door to see Hemingways old home she decided to move out and turn it into an exhibition of his home. Holding onto this piece of real estate might have been a sound business decision too, it is now the only privately owned parcel of property over 1 acre in the whole of Key West town. In a town where tiny 33ft wide lots sell for over $1m she is sat on a very expensive piece of property.

There are numerous cats living on and around the house. They are polydactyl cats and direct descendants of the cats owned by Ernest Hemingway. Some have six or seven digits (rather than the usual four).

Inside the house hangings a portrait of Hemingway, painted while he lived in the house

The kitchen, still preserved in its original format

Many items have been maintained since buying the home including this original little fridge

Upstairs the master bedroom was a lovely bright room with access out onto the wrap around balcony

Even a basic ensuite

The large covered balcony

View of the lighthouse from the balcony

Views across the lush gardens

Adrian on the porch

This is the upstairs of a detached building within the grounds of the main house and is the studio where Hemingway used to write. He wrote about 70% of his lifes work in this studio including For Whom The Bell Tolls, To Have and Have Not, A Farewell to Arms, Green Hills of Africa and Death in the Afternoon.

The swimming pool became quite a talking point in the Hemingway House as Pauline used $20,000 of Ernests money to have it built after she found out he was having an affair. Bearing in mind they had only paid $8,000 for the whole house a few years earlier this was a significant extravagance. It was so expensive for the same reason that they don't dig down in the cemetery - the water table is so high it makes the job vastly more difficult than normal.
The building in the background is where Ernests studio was located upstairs.

Flowers in the gardens


This is a cat-house built in the garden, built in the style of the house !