Tag Archives: london

10 Days in Ontario

Cow at the end of the Rainbow
After our week in Manitoba, we flew to London (Ontario) for Leanne and Andrew’s wedding, and then took the train to Toronto to visit family and friends there. Astrid travelled really well and had no problem sleeping in different beds. She didn’t like the heat when we arrived in London (over 30 C) but other than that she did really well with all the change.

Wedding Party Leanne and Andrew had a lovely wedding surrounded by towering trees. Emily was a bridesmaid, so I was a single parent for long stretches. It gave me new respect for all the hard work Emily does while I’m at work. Keeping her fed, entertained, and clean with only two hands can be a challenge.

Bridesmaids and Bride

Wedding babies

The trip represented a lot of firsts for Astrid – the first train ride, first meal at a restaurant (we were nervous, and she had a freak out at the end, but she did well enough that we took her to another 5 sit down restaurants), first night sleeping in a crib, and her first shower. We didn’t know how she would nap without her swing or be entertained without her toys, but we improvised and learned a few new tricks along the way.

Train Ride
1st Train
1st Brewpub
1st Brewpub
1st Mobile Time
1st Crib
1st Fancy Dinner
1st Fancy Dinner
Wedding Dress
1st Party Dress

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Cycling Revolution Around the World

Work Commute
Cycling is enjoying a renaissance around the world, with more cities investing in cycling infrastructure, and more people using bikes as a means of transportation. It’s not too surprising considering that oil prices continue to rise, and bicycles are the most energy efficient means of transportation we have ever invented.

Copenhagen and Amsterdam
Copenhagen and Amsterdam have been at the forefront of cycling culture for decades. In both cities everyone bikes and bikes are used for every imaginable type of trip. These are the cities to look at for inspiring ideas that can make cycling safer and more accessible. Ideas like the Green wave, that times stoplights along bike routes to the speed of a casual cyclist – 15-20km/h.

Paris
In many ways, Paris kicked off the cycling revolution with its Velib bike-share program. Copenhagen and Amsterdam have always been the darling cities of cycling, but Paris showed how a city without a strong bike commuting culture (cycling was a sport – think Tour de France – not a means of commuting), can grow to embrace bike commuting. Before Velib was introduced in Paris, less 1% of trips were by bike. After Velib, that quickly doubled and continues to grow. The introduction of Velib was also accompanied by replacing many car lanes with dedicated bus lanes and bike lanes.

Montreal
Montreal has similar numbers of cyclists and bike infrastructure compared to Vancouver, but there is one huge difference between the two (and it’s not Montreal’s harsh winters). Montreal has created the world’s best bike-sharing program BIXI, which is now being licensed for use around the world.

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Montreal, je t’aime

That's CarbageThe NDP kick butt and wins a federal seat in Quebec (of all places!), and media decides to focus on the Liberals, instead of Thomas Mulcair – the giant killer who pulled off the stunning feat. I think he’ll be the next leader of the NDP. Although the media is playing this as a stunning defeat for the Liberals, if you analyze the numbers, you’ll notice the Liberal votes didn’t drop by that much. It was the Bloc Quebecois that lost most of their supporters to the NDP, which allowed them to defeat the Liberals. This is a good thing for Canada (although maybe not for the Liberals). A stronger NDP presence in Quebec and a weakened Bloc is a good sign for the future of our country. As the dollar shows.

In other good news, the BC NDP has finally decided to oppose Gateway. Or at least the party membership has. The inept leader, Carole James, is again waffling on the issue. Why can’t she just take a stand?

Happy Car Free Day for everyone in Toronto, Waterloo, and Montreal!

Time to ban cars in London. A recent report suggested banning cars would reduce C02 emissions by a whopping 72% by 2030. And the health benefits of replacing car trips with walking and bike rides would trim 4.5 kg of fat per year, reduce breast cancer risks by 25%, increase life expectancy by between 1 and 2 years, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 30%.

Time to ban salmon farming in BC. It’s dirty, full of lice, and killing off wild salmon.

Co-ops are awesome. MEC, Credit Unions, the ubiquitous Co-op gas stations. And coming to Vancouver in November – a co-op brothel.

By the Power of Brocolli

More reasons to become vegetarian…
Meat prices set to soar as production costs mount: analyst “Poor weather in wheat-producing regions of Canada and Europe has contributed to the price increase. In addition, more wheat and oilseed crops are being used to produce biofuels.” The more I hear about biofuels, the worse the idea seems. We’re so addicted to cars, we’re desperate to keep them running (in the face of peak oil and global warming) that we’ll try anything, no matter the auxiliary costs.

Urban Microfarming: A Smart Solution For Vacant Lots “urban gardening movement has taken hold in backyards and community gardens. The harvest…produced at reasonable cost and in areas where fresh organic produce can be difficult to find.” What a great idea. There’s aren’t that many vacant lots in Vancouver (I have seem urban gardens under the Sky Train), but most cities have lots of empty space. According to the article, Detroit has 20,000 vacant lots that are now available to garden with a free permit.

In 2 weeks, London will ban cars from most roads in the core and open them up to bicycles for one day. The event will be called London Freewheel and is the brainchild of London mayor Ken Livingstone. Should be quite the party.

One of the big differences between Vancouver and Seattle is that in Vancouver has a walkable, public waterfront. This is what Vancouver would look like if it put cars ahead of pedestrians (like Seattle does). Photo courtesy of Northwest Progressive Institute.
Elevate Vancouver

Hogmanay & Scotland Synopsis

I visited Rosslyn Chapel, the small Scottish church made famous by the Da Vinci Code. It wasn’t quite as awe inspiring as the book made it seem, but every inch of the walls and ceilings were covered with symbolic Masonic sculptures – like the 7 deadly sins, green men, and serpants.

Finally made it on a Heart of Scotland Tour of Loch Ness and Legends. The tour was a bit of a disaster, despite the best effort put forth by our extremely knowledgeable tour guide. We hit a massive snow storm after leaving Edinburgh which obstructed the view of the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle. Then when we got to the Trossachs the famous highland cow, Hammish, had been moved for the holidays. But I did get some amazing views of the Highlands, saw the castle from Monty Pythons where the French taunt Arthur, and I stuck my hand into Loch Ness. I also learned a ton of interesting tidbits from our tour guide about the legends of William Wallace and Rob Roy, the Glen Coe Massacre, and the Scottish Royal family.

For Hogmanay, we started off at a flat party with Steven’s friends, before moving down to the Standing Order, a pub downtown in an old bank building. Then just before 11, we moved into Princes Street where the big street party was held. We fought the crush of 100,000 people and drank and chatted with the tourists around us while the music from KT Tunstall, Texas, and El Presidente floated up from the live stages. At midnight fireworks went off above the castle and people said Cheers and started kissing everyone else.

On New Year’s Day, I ate real haggis. I thought the vegetarian version (although a contradiction) was better. They had similar tastes, but I thought the flavours were stronger and the texture was better with the vegetarian version.

Sometime during the week, we managed to see King Kong and the Chronicles of Narnia. It was amazing to see a film and only pay £3.50 for a ticket. I really liked both films. I think King Kong was better, but it was really long! It took them over an hour just to get to the island. Then there was the ridiculously long battle between Kong and the T-Rexs. Oh well. It was still pretty cool.

My journey back to Canada remake of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. I spent 90 minutes on a coach from Edinburgh to Glasgow, then 9 hours on an overnight coach from Glasgow to London. Then 90 minutes on the Underground and 30 minutes on busses picking up my luggage and getting to Heathrow. Then 8 hours on the plane. Then another 90 minutes in a van to Waterloo. Needless to say I only had a few hours of broken sleep here and there.

They love me, they really love me

Today was my last day at Morgan Stanley. It had an auspicious start when I arrived at work and noticed I wasn’t wearing a shirt. I had a white undershirt on, but no dress shirt. Not sure how I forgot that this morning. So, I’ve spent the day wearing my red fleece.

The guys took me out for lunch, and then afterwards presented me with a card and a gift. The card had some hilarious comments, mostly in reference to my Christmas party antics: “Good Luck with the moose hunting”, “I wish I could have seen you on the tube after the Xmas party”, “I’m definitely going to spread your warm-hearted post-party story”, “thanks for your help and drunken antics”, and “who’s the hotty?”. Wow. I put in all that hard work all term, only to be remebered by my behaviour on one night.

As for the gift, I expected something like chocolates. But I got a 2 GB IPod Nano! Hot damn! I couldn’t believe it. I’m still a bit stunned. I got an Outstanding on my work term evaluation too (although it doesn’t matter anymore).

The work term has been pretty good. Obviously outside of work I had a good time. London is an amazing place. But even the work was good. There was a slow bit in the middle, but the past month has been espeically fun and challenging. I’ve been working a green-field project with a small team, which has been really interesting. I enjoy projects that allow for some design work and aren’t constricted by crappy code written by other programmers.

My London Favourites – Top 10 Beers & Top 5 Pubs

I have sampled more beer in the past 4 months than the rest of my life combined. I have visited all manor of pubs and enjoyed it all immensely. My first few weeks were spent sampling as many different varieties of beer as possible. After I while I settled in on a few favourites.

Pint of GuinessBeer

  1. Strongbow – a tasty cider that goes down smooth and packs a punch
  2. Kronenberg 1664 – a great beer and favourite with the people I usually drank with
  3. Carling – best selling beer in the UK (surprisingly owned by Molson’s)
  4. Magners – another cider, although not as good as Strongbow
  5. Carlsberg – a great Danish beer
  6. Fosters – Aussie beer that Kelsey fell in love with while in London
  7. Guinness – really heavy beer. I enjoyed it, but didn’t fall in love
  8. Stella – I hated it when I drank it in Waterloo, but I loved it here
  9. Badger Ale – Grrr! Not great, but came in an awesome pint glass I wanted to take home
  10. Abbot Ale – Kind of nasty

Pubs

  1. Maple Leaf – Canadian themed pub that shows hockey games on Sunday nights. Visited with Kelsey & Jen.
  2. Grapes – Great smoke-free atmosphere. Try the fish & chips and bread-and-butter pudding. Visited with parents.
  3. Cross Key Pub

  4. Ship & Shovell Split into two buildings across an alleyway with drinkers spanning the gap. Visited with Adam & Ellen.
  5. Gun – No pub food here. Really expensive gourmet food instead. Visited with the guys from work, and work paid.
  6. Old Monk – A basement pub near Buckingham Palace. The booths in the back that are lit from the sidewalk above so you can see feet walking above. Visited with Kelsey & Jen.