Part of the digital revolution

Today, we joined the digital revolution by buying a Freeview set top box. That should please my TV geek brothers!

Unfortunately, there are two teensy-weensy problems with our installation:

  1. We’ve got a really old telly – in fact so old that our burglars five years ago left it behind. So it’s only got one SCART port. We therefore have to unplug the SCART from the set-top box and plug in the SCART from the DVD each time we want to watch a DVD. I have resorted to cabling diagrams to understand the spaghetti behind the telly.
  2. Digital Telly
    [Web 2.0 diagramming with Gliffy.com]

  3. We have quite an old aerial that is considerably shorter than it used to be due to a rusty aerial post, and it won’t pick up quite a few channels, such as ITV*, C4, E4, FilmFour. In compensation, at least QVC works. It looks like we will need a new aerial.

I understand computers, but home entertainment systems leave me all confused. But I’ll work at it and we might spend many a winters evening happily digi-surfing.

Canada 2006 Part III – Toronto

The third leg of our Canada trip was a few days in Toronto (aka T.O). This was a relaxing urban end to our holiday, and we stayed at the very comfortable Le Germain, a smart boutique hotel in the centre of the “Entertainment District”.

The main highlights of Toronto were:

  • Visiting the Toronto Islands on the hottest day of the trip (28 degrees C), strolling all the way from Hanlan’s Point to Wards Island. A beautiful oasis a short boat ride from downtown Toronto, across the harbour.

    torontoskyline

  • Exploring the Distillery District. Not far from Cabbagetown, the Distillery District is a redevelopment of the old Gooderham and Worts Distillery. It is a small area of restored Victorian buildings and cobbled streets, full of art galleries, jewellery and clothes shops, restaurants and bars, and even hosts a Sunday Farmers’ Market.

    Distillery District

  • Eating Italian hot dogs from street vendors in Bloor-Yorkville.

Niagara-on-the-Lake
In addition to the urban stuff, we made a side trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) and spent the day cycling around some of the wineries, including Inniskillin (yes, really), Reif Estates and Peller Estates.

The reds are mostly a bit rough, but the Reislings are crisp and dry and the Ice Wines are the sort of thing that would be perfect with Christmas pudding! Unfortunately I don’t think there is a big distribution in the UK, so our three mini-bottles will have to do us for a while.

I wouldn’t advise using VIA Rail for this trip (2 trains/day, 2 hours to cover 80km, 1 hour delay on the way back due to US/Canadian customs at Niagara Falls), but cycling was a great way to see the area around NOTL.

Canada 2006 Part II – PEI

PEI flag

After Nova Scotia, we drove up to Prince Edward Island (PEI), crossing over via the Caribou-Woods Island ferry.

PEI is a gentle, predominantly rural, agricultural island, characterised by it’s red soil (Permo-Carboniferous red-beds) and red and white sand beaches. The island forms a nice contrast with the much more rugged Nova Scotia to the south. PEI is also connected to New Brunswick on the Canadian mainland by the Confederation Bridge.

PEI red cliffs, Victoria Confederation Bridge

We stayed in the main city, Charlottetown (pop approx 40 000), at the Shipwright Inn, which is owned and run by an English couple, Trevor & Judy Pye. They were extremely welcoming, the room was sumptious, and the 24/7 tea/coffee/cake was a real hit. It was nice to meet someone who knew how to make a good cuppa!

One of the main attractions of PEI is the whole Anne of Green Gables thing, but we managed to avoid most of that and made use of the extensive trails network – the Confederation Trail runs the length of the island and there are also a number of shorter trails, particularly in the PEI National Park that runs along the north coast of the island.

Cavendish, PEI Victoria by the Sea, PEI

The best food we had was at the Water Prince Corner Shop in Charlottetown. This time we had a lobster supper – bread roll, mussels in white wine broth, boiled lobster with drawn butter and potato salad. Superb.

Canada 2006 Part I – Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Flag

We spent four days in Nova Scotia, beginning in Halifax and moving on to the South Shore around Mahone Bay and Lunenburg.

The highlights were:

Peggy’s Cove
A small rocky harbour and a very photogenic lighthouse set on top of rounded organic-shaped granite outcrops. The lighthouse is the “most photographed in Canada” and is a real tourist trap, but the surroundings are truly lovely.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse Peggy's Cove

Mahone Bay/Lunenburg area
Beautiful coastal area. Mahone Bay has three churches on a row on the seafront.
Three Churches, Mahone Bay

Blue Rocks is another beautiful rocky harbour, but with blue schists rather than granite.
Blue Rocks

Lunenburg is an old fishing port, originally settled in the mid-18th century by German and Dutch Lutherans, and has a lot of old wooden houses sloping down the hill to the harbour. The harbour is home to the Bluenose II, a famous replica of an iconic Canadian racing schooner.
Lunenburg

Food
Great lobsters, particularly in Lunenburg’s Old Fish Factory, where the highlights were the seafood chowder and biscuit (i.e. scone) and the boiled lobster with drawn butter. Mmm.

Jo-Anne’s deli in Mahone Bay serves the most wonderful sandwiches (in particular their lobster sandwiches) and cakes.

Family visits

OK, I realise I have not blogged for a little while, so here are a few pictures of the nieces and nephews from our recent trips to Andover and Ireland.

Andover

Running around The Vyne…
Pinchbeck Family Group

Ballymoney

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…”
Bally B and Charlotte

“Sisters, sisters…”
Charlotte and Katherine

More on Flickr for the family!