Cover Art: Photo Challenge

After the chills that ran down my spine earlier this week when I heard about the horrific event at the Canadian Parliament I thought every newspaper and magazine will be covering the events in pictures, words and accounts as they try to piece together the how and why it happened. After all things like this don’t happen in Canada.

Here are my cover shots….


The Peace Tower and Canadian Flag a witness to lost innoncence in Ottawa on Parliment Hill

The Peace Tower and Canadian Flag a witness to lost innocence in Ottawa on Parliament Hill

This photo below was taken this past summer at the re-enactment of a battle of 1812 which, took place 200 years ago July 1814 in Chippewa Ontario. I added a soft focus to the  close up of a solider uniform and gloved hands.  The gloved hands are gentle.  Hands are meant to heal, help and hold. To me this photo  is a symbol of bravery and honour as Canadians stand up and fight for everyone to keep us safe. 200 years later this still rings true. Thank goodness to the quick action and thinking of those that risked their lives to keep so many others safe. Thoughts and prayers go out to the young man who lost his life.


This week Word Press asked us to show “Cover Art”. A photo that could grace the cover of a book, magazine or album.


Categories: Canada, Culture, History, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Refraction: Weekly Photo Challenge

This week word press is looking for refraction, pictures to do with light. I snapped these this past summer and I think they captured the light in different and unusual ways.

Sun spots and colours in the grass

Sun spots, shadows and colours in the grass


Heavy rainstorm and colours captured in the street light

Heavy rainstorm and colours captured in the street light.


Sunlight captured in the dew on a spider web

One of my favourites showing detail and sunlight captured in the dew on a spider web.

Check out last week’s post for the Blood Moon Eclipse for another example of light.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Photography, post a week, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Blood Moon Eclipse -Dreamy

In Shanghai we are located on a river delta and a sea. Most days are cloudy or very humid/damp depending on season. This leads to few clear days. Odds were stacked against us to view the eclipse and blood moon that would be visible October 8th. Fingers crossed and dreaming of a clear sky I peeked out before dusk to see low laying clouds. Looked like the special event would be lost.

Once it got dark and at the required time (6:55 PM local time) I went out to look at the moon. Nothing. The moon was not  in the usual southerly location. Darn clouds… As I turned to go back inside something caught my eye and low and behold it was a bright orange disk in the Eastern portion of the sky.

View from the balcony over our apartment compound

View from the balcony over our apartment compound

I raced back inside to grab the camera and captured a few shots of the orange moon from our 14th floor balcony. Every 15 minutes or so, I went back out to watch as things transitioned from the full orange moon to the eclipse. I hope you enjoy. Despite using a tripod, night setting and full zoom many shots came out with some blur. These are a sample of the best shots.

Blood Moon with first hint of the eclipse

Blood Moon with first hint of the eclipse

We dream about many things for the future, our lives and for our friends and family. Some pictures have a dreamy atmosphere. Sometimes dreams are simple like doing something well or capturing a spectacular eclipse ;) . who knows if I will every get to witness such an event again. Check out Word Press for other interpretations of Dreamy.

The eclipse -Shanghai Oct. 8, 2014

The eclipse -Shanghai Oct. 8, 2014

Stay tuned…

Categories: unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Signs of Democracy

We recently traveled to Hong Kong for a few days and while we were there the student lead protests had just begun. Read more about that with my post Last Night. Be sure to look at the comment section where I posted a link to a young girl’s blog who lives in Hong Kong and is taking part in the protests. A very interesting perspective, one that you won’t get from a news report or newspaper article.

This week Word Press has given us the theme signs. Previously I posted on signs from around China and street and silly signs around my neighborhood in Shanghai. WP talks about how signs can point us in the right direction, decorate, announce and show us about a time or culture. This was very true of the protests that are ongoing in Hong Kong. I decided to post more of the signs from Hong Kong that we saw around Admiralty and Central during the protests. It certainly is representative of time and culture.

The contrast of signs on HK streets Sep. 29, 2014

The contrast of signs on HK streets Sep. 29, 2014


Hand made signs on cardboard, streets and fabric are in English and Chinese stating their feelings and ideas. Most ask for democracy. The contrasts between the handmade signs made from whatever materials were on hand and the massive  neon lighted signs of the high-end designer shops is opposite in every way. Will these become signs of change?



Stay Tuned…


Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, History, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , | 40 Comments

Last Night

Last night a peaceful protest in Hong Kong turned into something much bigger which may make change for the future. Demonstrations started with hundred then thousands of young people, mostly university age students. The reason for their assembly to try to influence the changes that may take away some of the freedoms of the people. From what we can gather, Hong Kong which returned to China in 1997, has been allowed freedoms and government to act somewhat independently from the rest of China. News came that this may start to change. 2017 a new process would allow people to vote, but the candidates would be hand picked by the capital, no longer a freedom from local residents to pick their own candidates. The young people took to the streets last night and peacefully blocked roads in the financial district of Hong Kong. The police tried to disperse the crowds by using tear gas, but the people stood strong.


From reports only a few were hurt and the and the crowds remained calm despite the police presence. This says a lot about the people. They are staying put, but without violence, disruption, chaos or rioting.

The crowd around Admiralty -HK financial district

The crowd around Admiralty -HK financial district

Today we were in the area and went to see for ourselves. At first it looked like a handful of people on closed roads. Someone pointed us further down the road and on the other side of an overpass we were startled by the crowds still there. Signs were posted on cardboard, on roads and barriers. Thousands of young students dressed in black with yellow ribbons of support with eye goggles and face masks sat peacefully on phones or chatting to friends. A few people spoke to the crowd and people quietly applauded. Talking to some of the young demonstrators you can see how passionate they are. They want to fight for freedom, show civil disobedience, but peacefully resist. One young girl quickly explained to me the reason for the crowd and why they had gathered. She stumbled over her English and kept apologising for the errors. She ended with I just want to help. I am here to help the people. She offered me a wet towel and when I refused she insisted.

one of numerous signs to get the message across

one of numerous signs to get the message across

Some shops were open, but many closed, but the people were not interested in doing any harm. It overwhelmed me to see the support, passion and how they cared for their city. As visitors many thanked us for coming and showing support. We were offered food, water, cold packs and wet towels to keep us comfortable in the heat. A young man gave us a face mask in case of more tear gas and said if we need anything speak to any of the ‘cooling stations’ which were well stocked with food, toilet paper, cases and cases of water. An elderly woman came with a trolley and in a styrofoam box she passed out hot meals to the students consisting of rice and breaded pork. Men and women in business suits came out on their lunch hour. To many people it was a photo op of selfies, but deep down you could see the care and concern that the future may hold. A young business man said he watched it all unfold from his office building and stated how proud he was of the people banding together, but how they remained calm and in control. As we walked along people apologised for bumping into you, offered you whatever they had. All these people demonstrating would cause quiet the mess, but there was no garbage strewn about. A young protester was carrying a garbage bag and picking up the small amounts of litter that were left behind. Again I was overwhelmed.

peaceful civil disobedience

peaceful civil disobedience

Whenever you think protest in a foreign country, or any country, your first instinct should be turn away. We felt safe and everyone wanted to share their message. The genuine thanks for our support, smiles and shaking our hands was like being welcomed into someone’s home. The feeling of acceptance and appreciation was unlike anything I would expect. The diverse groups of people coming together made us realise that this could be a part of history, life changing for many.

Last night as the police tear gassed the crowds the protesters quickly handed umbrellas out to those closest to the police. They covered themselves in plastic wrap, wore face masks and opened the umbrellas to protect themselves.

“The Umbrella Revolution” Last night as the police tear gassed the crowds the protesters quickly handed umbrellas out to those closest to the police. They covered themselves in plastic wrap, wore face masks and opened the umbrellas to protect themselves.

WP challenge for this week was NIGHT. This was a pretty historic night…

OK so my pictures weren’t taken at night and we only watched it on the TV because we had just arrived in HK oblivious to the news until after we checked in. It has carried on all day today and I am sure again into the night…

Stay tuned.

Categories: Culture, History, strange adventures, Uncategorized, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , | 21 Comments

Endurance -Achieve your goals & dreams

Part of being an expat has offered us a great opportunity to travel. The world became smaller. Things that most people dream of are just around the corner, in our backyard or a short trip away. We have been lucky enough to see the Great Wall of China. My first visit was with a tour group, so the time was limited. I wished to get up these steep steps, but managed barely half way before the time forced me back. My goal, if I ever returned, was to get further. I really wanted to reach the top of those steps and the end of the restored section of the wall where some of the great monument lay crumbling from countless footsteps and hundreds of years.

This past summer we were able to return. Here is the starting point around gate 13 at the Mutianyu section of the wall. Goal in sight we started off.

Just after the cable car the start of the wall... go as far as you dare.

Just after the cable car the start of the wall… go as far as you dare.


Around gate 19 or 20 we can see the steepest section ahead.

Warning steep climb ahead

Warning steep climb ahead

The top! The day was glorious with clear blue skies and we could see further in the distance than our last trip to the wall. The wall snaked and turned over the green hills into the distance. August can be quite hot and humid, but today was reasonable. Once we started the climb I was sweating quite a lot. My legs began to shake and I wasn’t sure if I could make it. I had just recovered from a bad virus that sapped all my energy and strength and I was still not 100%. Throw in a touch of jet lag and a busy travel schedule to top it off. Later I would discover I was sick again and in 2 days time the same or similar virus returned and I was in bed. I was determined. I stopped regularly and took in the view while I rested. I drank lots of water and pushed on.

Reward... a view like this!

Reward… a view like this!

Look at the rocks to the left then look at the first picture. That will give you perspective how FAR we went.

Look at the rocks to the left then look at the first picture. That will give you perspective how FAR we went.

My endurance paid off and I made it to the top of the steps and past the final gate #23 open to tourists. We went to 24, but just couldn’t make the next steep climb on unsecured steps to #25. Maybe next time. Sometimes it is best to leave some travel dreams ‘undone’ so you have the desire to return.


We started at the star… gate13. We went right to the end of the map (left side) #24. Approx. 5km one way and hundreds of steps.

Have you ever pushed yourself even when your body and mind said “I can’t”? Tell me about it in the comment section, or join Word Press this week for their photo challenge Endurance.

Sorry I am still not into my regular routine and I post when I can. Please stay tuned…


Categories: Chinese Adventures, History, Photography, teaching overseas, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Where’s the Beach?

Returning to Shanghai we went through Dubai this year. We have done the long lay over before and explored the city in a few hours. This year we decided to extend our stay to 3 days and get out to the sand dunes. We booked a desert safari with a company called  Desert Safari Dubai. Everything was easily arranged through email and they were very quick to respond and helpful. We did not have to pay in advance, but the driver once we were on the tour. After we had our hotel booked I gave them the name and address and they were even kind enough to call when we arrived to confirm pick up times and ensure we were still interested.

Sand drifting across the road

Sand drifting across the road

There were a few options and we decided on the night tour. We were picked up from our hotel about 4PM and stopped at one other hotel to get 3 more guests.  We drove out of the city and slowly we were surrounded by sand. The sand acted like snow as it drifted over the road and swirled,  rippled and collected in mini dunes. I wondered how did they remove larger piles that covered the road? The pattern of sand ripples reminded me of zebra stripes. The sand was a dark red-orange colour and started to stretch as far as the eye could see. Small scrubby bushes dotted the landscape in places too.  The city was out of sight and we were now surrounded by sand as far as the eye could see.



We stopped as a small shop where we could buy supplies and have a quick washroom break. Some of the 4 wheel drive

bouncing across the dunes... which way is up?

bouncing across the dunes… which way is up?

trucks started to let the air out of their tires; easier to make traction. Our driver waited until we arrived at the start of the dunes. Tires ready and all of us strapped in we set off in small groups of 2. Tires spun, we slid sideways down steep dunes and we bumped and rocked over the ridges. It was like a roller coaster ride and as my stomach lurched and I let out little yelps and screams I tried to find something to hold onto. I was in the middle and I looked up to see roll bars. I grasped those tightly, although they did make me a little uneasy thinking we could roll over. Being in the middle seat I had an unobstructed view of the ride. Going up then quickly down steep slopes made you feel funny because you couldn’t see ground beneath you. It gave me the feeling of going over a cliff. The driver kept close to the vehicle in front of us and I thought for sure we would crash at some point. Once I got into the rhythm my mind settled and I enjoyed the ride.


The sand reacted like snow as we slid and spun tires the only difference the heat and colour. After a 30 minute adventurous drive we stopped to get photos of the dunes. A large dune loomed in front of us and others quickly climbed to the top. We scrambled up and soon sank to our knees in soft sand. I was afraid to lose my shoes, so I continued the climb barefoot. The sand was warm and soft, surprisingly not too hot. We made it to the top for breathtaking views. Funny how the sun glinted off random car parts, broken pieces, and a few bumpers. I am guessing the roll bars did come in handy. The air was hot, not humid, and the winds felt like the heat that hits you when you open the oven at 400f. A nice pool or ocean would be great right about now ;) Actually the heat didn’t bother me and I didn’t find it too uncomfortable. I dressed in a thin cotton blouse and light modest shorts, so I was fine.  The sun was getting low in the sky, so we needed to continue on our journey.

ripples in the sand

ripples in the sand

A short drive brought us to a camp. The camp was where we would have our dinner and activities. The time was short so we had to decide quickly which ones to do before the food would be served. We could do quads and sandboarding for an extra charge, camel ride, henna tattoo or just relax and have a drink at the bar. We decided on the camel ride and henna tattoos. The quad ride was just a small circular circuit without dunes, so it didn’t seem as fun. The camel also went in a small circle, but with the amount of guests it made sense to do something easy so everyone could have a chance. Our camel was quite happy, but Anita’s quickly got annoyed with John and growled at him as he tried to pet it. Lucky he had a cover on his mouth, or I am sure John would have been wearing the dreaded camel spit! The ride itself was uneventful, although scary when the camel needs to kneel for you to get off. It was well worth it because how often do you get the chance to ride a camel? As we got the henna done dinner was served. Dancers entertained the crowds with traditional belly dancing and another style with men spinning.

Where's the Beach?

Where’s the Beach?


Dinner included soft drinks coffee and water, all that you could drink. The food was delicious with a variety of salads, meats and vegetables. It was very filling and you could return for more. The chicken and chicken kabob was great, although I passed on the lamb and fish. Once the dancing was complete it was time to return to our vehicle and back to the city. Again we had a quick stop to reinflate the tires and quickly rinse off some of the sand from the vehicles. The hour drive back to the city went fast and we were dropped back at our hotel. This was a memorable trip and I am so glad we had the opportunity. It was so much fun. I just can’t seem to express how much we all enjoyed it in words.

The sand dunes were quite large. Climbing the steep slope as you sink isn't easy, but fun! Reminded me of playing in deep snow as a kid.

The sand dunes were quite large. Climbing the steep slope as you sink isn’t easy, but fun! Reminded me of playing in deep snow as a kid.

After a short break I am back posting this week, but I am not sure if I will keep to my usual weekly posting schedule. It has also been hard to get on-line daily to respond or check out your posts. I must leave the house at 6:50 AM every day which leaves me a mere 10 minutes online, as opposed to last year when I was picked up later and had 30 minutes. I haven’t been energetic enough to get up any earlier, so I apologise for being ‘lazy’ .

Check out WP for more adventure posts

Stay tuned…

Categories: travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , | 29 Comments

A short break

Hello everyone. Here we are back in Shanghai and I am back at work. Things have been extra busy and a new schedule has me leaving the house earlier than ever before. As I get back into routine and into a work schedule I decided to take a short break from blogging. I no longer have the time to get on daily to read or respond to blogs. Feeling tired and being so busy it is difficult to be creative and to write well. I want to share our time in Dubai and a month has passed and I still haven’t had the chance to get to that. The words that usually flow are blocked as my head swims with so much; information overload.

When things settle down and I can get myself into a routine I will be back. I thought it best I share so you didn’t think I forgot about you all. I appreciate your visits, our chats and time together, so I know I will be back. It may be a week, or longer… that I cannot say. I decided I rather take a break and do something well than do it just for the sake of doing it, or stress myself to just get it done.I want to be proud of what I share, after all you deserve my best.

The pink bloom is in focus in the background and the white bloom is blurry in the foreground.

The pink bloom is in focus in the background and the white bloom is blurry in the foreground.

See you soon… stay tuned

- CTB :D

Categories: everyday occurances | Tags: , , , | 20 Comments

Feeling Frayed: Weekly Photo Challenge

A teacher’s worst nightmare came true this week with rain on the first day of school. Not just a light drizzle, but a heavy downpour that made the day dull and dark. Meeting a new class and having to spend all day with them indoors left me a little frazzled and frayed. Don’t get me wrong I love teaching, but when 7.5 hours straight is with 5 year olds all talking at once you can get a little tired and frayed around the edges.

Heavy rain storm - July 2014 Fonthill, ON

Heavy rain storm – July 2014 Fonthill, ON

It could be a result of my nerves getting a little frazzled with the weather. At home the last week of our holiday was filled with cooler temps and lots of heavy rain. When we returned to China the first week was typical with hot humid temps with sunny blue skies. That was short lived and unseasonable cool temps and heavy rains rolled in. We had 5 days of steady rain which, wears on your nerves and makes you a little frayed.

What has left you feeling frayed?

Check out Word Press and the photo challenge this week frayed.

With a new work schedule I have not been able to get onto WP as much as I would like, so I apologise if I do not respond quickly. Whenever I get a chance I will.

Stay tuned.



Categories: Uncategorized, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , | 28 Comments

Horizons and Silhouettes: Weekly Photo Challenge

Occasionally I take photos of my shadow, so I can be in it ;) I am always the one behind the lens and that is often a way I can include myself. I think silhouettes and shadows are interesting especially with sunsets.

This week’s theme for Word Press is silhouette and I wanted to show off the Shanghai skyline and this attempt to be creative and different with the long tall grasses at home.

Shanghai Skyline Sunset -May 2014

Shanghai Skyline Sunset -May 2014


Where’s My Backpack is asking for horizons and this silhouetted skyline fits in perfectly. If you look carefully you can see the Shanghai Tower slowly getting taller as it nears its full height.


Check out the links to see more photos or to participate in the challenge.


  Stay tuned for more…

Categories: Photography, Uncategorized, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

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