Friday, 12 October 2012


Last week I ventured out into the big wide world and returned to my cosy nest with a bag full of grapes and a mushroom bigger than my head. And all for free.

The grapes came courtesy of an afternoon in a stranger's backyard, organised by the fabulous Hidden Harvest. People with an over abundance of fruit/nuts, offer up their wares to volunteer pickers. On this occasion 7 of us turned up, picked the vines bare, and came up with this mountain of grapes:

The bounty is then divided up between the home-owners, the food bank, hidden harvest projects - and the pickers!

These are concord grapes I think, very fruity - they taste exactly like the grape juice you buy in cartons, quite a kick. I spent the next afternoon peeling grapes. Well squeezing really. Then into a pan with water and a little sugar.....boiled up, sieved to remove the seeds - and I now have 3/4 of a jar of grape jam. Very tasty grape jam it is - but you don't get a whole lot of return for your labour with these puppies!

I wasn't deterred by this though, and on my second mission, cycled off to Rockcliffe park to pick myself a mushroom - check out this beauty:
Dog available for photoshoots on request
It is a 5lb puffball. And yes, I knew it was safe to eat. According to my research it is pretty darn difficult to get puffballs confused with any other fungi (but do your own research if you want to go mushroom picking, I am no expert!). The main disadvantage of picking mushrooms in the wild is the extra stage of preparation required - bug removal. Thankfully I am not a squeamish girl, which is a good job as there were 15+ slugs, 20+ woodlice and 4 centipedes to pick off this fella before I could get to the cooking (I may need more protein in my diet, but I'm not that desperate).

Once peeled I decided that soup was the way to go, and found simple recipe to follow.....added milk and garlic. Cooked up a very fragrant soup - which looked horrendous! I could have taken photos for you, but I wouldn't wish that on you, be you family friend or stranger. Suffice to say - it minged.  I managed a bowlful (I felt obliged), but the rest has gone to that beloved home of all my cooking disasters - the compost bin.

I'm not giving up on this scrumping/free harvest idea.....but I am hopeful that my next adventure will yield better results. Watch this space.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Just missing goldilocks....

This is not a bear, it is a city-beaver:

This is not a bear either, but I bet you've not seen a cuter fake-bear-with-human-torso-wearing-a-skirt in a long long time.

This is not a bear, it is a note stuck on a post-box.

That is all. x

Monday, 21 May 2012

As is tradition....

Today we have a Bank Holiday to honour our beloved Queen Victoria's birthday (news of her sad demise has been slow to reach Canadian shores. We like it that way so please keep quiet!).

Breaking with British Tradition, Ottawa has organised three days of glorious sunshine with the current temperature 31 degrees with a nice light breeze.

I am fighting back against this mockery of the English system, and have spent the afternoon baking Blue Cheese flavoured Cowboy boot biscuits. As is tradition.

Long may she rein.  

Monday, 9 April 2012

An Easter Sunday hike....

A morning walking in the woods in Gatineau Park .....spotting deer, evidence of a very active woodpecker, an off-road Unicyclist, second breakfast of Beetroot sandwiches (yummy)......and then we had ice-cream.
A fab morning all round. X

Monday, 26 March 2012

We have a winner.....

The snowbank is no more. Here is the little that was left yesterday morning (with dog for scale, not because he is an attention seeking muppet):

And now the space is bare. It survived remarkably well considering the temperatures last week, we rocked up to 27.4 on Wednesday according to the Ottawa Citizen. Craziness, apparently 9 weather records were broken, all I know was that I got to get back on the bike, spin on the front porch and even got rosy cheeks in the sunshine. lovely.

And this morning? It's -4. Yep, that's a 31.4 degree drop. Winter coats and thrummed mittens back on for the dog walk this morning, but crikey it's beautiful out there:

So, I am casting on my knitted vegetable, sat with the sun shining in the window. Steve (Paul's brother) won the competition, commiserations to those of you who had been banking on receiving knitted can always commission some!

And while I'm here, a very Happy Birthday to my wonderful (cheeky sausage of a) Dad, and my fab brother-in-law Tim. Hope the sun is shining where you are too. X

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Snowbank update....

It is still there, but diminished dramatically over the last three sunny days. This is the view this morning:

More gone during the day, but will definitely be some left tomorrow morning, and the temperatures are dropping now so I have no idea how long we have left!

Not much else to report, work, and play, and spinning......oh and a lovely lady who came up to me while waiting for a traffic light to change this afternoon, and shared her umbrella with me. Thank you lovely lady. X

(Oh, and I have been reminded that I stole the idea from another local-knitting-blogger, who I've never met....but you can find her here.)

Monday, 19 March 2012

Sharing the wealth....competition time!

I went for a beautiful walk in the mist this morning. Not quite as idyllic as it sounds, as I ate the most enormous breakfast beforehand (it was a 10 sneezer!), and didn't exactly feel light on my feet, but the fog added a mysterious air to the city centre which even in my stodgy state I could appreciate:

Anyway, on the home stretch, the sun began peeking through, and now that I'm home and buoyed by yet more coffee, I thought it was about time I re-introduced a competitive edge to this blog. No, Guess the duck is not back (thats a Wednesday competition, pay attention!).....its time for...... When Ever Will Amy's Snow Bank Disappear? (W.E.W.A.S.B.D  - catchy isn't it?!).(*)

This is the snowbank outside our back door, photographed at 11:30 this morning (March 19th). All you need to do to enter, is guess the date on which, when I head out with the dog for the morning walk, the snowbank is no more.

Some possibly handy hints for those of you not residing in Ottawa:

  • As the observant among you will notice, we have the hammocks out on the back porch already. We are in the midst of a heatwave, with temperatures in the 20s predicted for most of this week.
  • Despite this, experts are suggesting that the ski season on the other side of the river may last into April.
  • Erm........snow is unpredictable! There may yet be more coming. If this happens, then I'm still counting it as the same snowbank. 

And the prize? I was lucky enough to receive a fab new knitting book in the post this week (thank you Lucy!), so have a wealth of new patterns for knitted vegetables at my fingertips. You could be the lucky recipient of a woolen artichoke, or perhaps you'd like a plush radish to snuggle up to? The winner can select from the available vegetables, and I will hand-make them a special cuddly veg of their very own. you can even decide if you'd like it realistic, or with a face and features like the munch bunch.

So, leave a comment, either on this post or on facebook, with three bits of info:
1) The date on which you think the snow will be no more.
2) Your chosen vegetable from the following selection: Peas in pod, parsnip, cauliflower, sweetcorn, leek, artichoke, pumpkin, beetroot, courgette, pepper, mushroom, asparagus, celery, carrot, chilli pepper, butternut squash, aubergine, cucumber, radish or a plum tomato.
3) Face or featureless?

Good luck! Closing date for entries is Saturday 24th March. Dates are first come first serve, so if someone has already chosen April 1st and you want it, tough!

(*) I have stolen this idea of another blog I read. Someone ran a very similar competition last year, but I can't find it now, if someone lets me know who it is, I''ll give them the credit they deserve! Thanks.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

31 was not too shabby....

I spend far too much time thinking, I'm sure I'm not alone in this. I think about what has been, what will come, and what I should be doing right now, instead of thinking these thoughts. This (again, for others as well as myself) is especially true round significant dates, and so today I find myself pondering the last year.

The photo above may suggest it has not been a good year. I took this last week, after I had got ridiculously lost on the way back to base from a birding excursion. I am 31 (at least for a couple more hours), and I still have no real sense of direction. Clearly from the photo, I also have still not mastered taking self-timer shots!

This photo does not represent glumness though. I got lost after spending two very happy hours wandering round a park, under palm trees and along boardwalks, searching for elusive birdies, and jumping out of my skin every time a lizard ran up a tree. It took me a long time to realize how happy being outside makes me, and I still need a shove to get off the sofa every now and again. But the ever expanding collection of sports equipment in our dining room, and the ridiculous shades of intersecting tanlines on my feet are testament to my successes in the ongoing battle with laziness.

On finishing my excursion, and on the realization that I had left my GPS in the back of my friend's car, I didn't panic (too much) despite my mind choosing to go completely blank. I couldn't even remember which way we'd turned to enter the park, and now I was alone in the industrial area of Tampa (all the best birding spots seem to be in the smelliest places!).

But I knew I'd be OK, because I'm happy talking to strangers. My Mum and Dad frequently remind me how quickly I would know everyone on the campsites when we went on our caravanning holidays. And everyone there would know my name, birthday and favourite colour too (it was green then, and still is). The kindness of strangers down South is something I've heard tell of many a time. But my hero of the day Kenny proved it to be more than a myth. Meeting a frazzled Brit, laden with binoculars, cameras and a reddening face may not be something Kenny chooses to remember. But for me, he was 6ft4 of sewage-engineer hero, complete with a fine collection of gold teeth which glistened almost as much as the twinkle in his friendly eyes. He set me going in the right direction, and grabbed me a couple of bottles of iced water from  the magic silver box on the back of his truck (I thought people kept guns in them!).

Obviously I made it back safe and sound, despite a good couple of hours hiking along the highway. Rather than heading straight for a shower (which lord knows I needed), I wandered into the small local airport near the Yacht club we were staying at, and inquired about a lesson in a Cessna the next day. Sun stroke is a dangerous thing!

What is the point of this rambling self indulgent monologue? Not a lot. But I spend far too much time thinking about my many faults, its something many of us spend a lot of time doing. And I suppose it can be healthy to reflect on our errors, if we bother to learn from them. But today I'm making an effort to spend at least five minutes thinking about my strengths. Yes I am clumsy, have no sense of direction, am far too introspective, have a tendency to talk rubbish (at length!), and am prone to being incredibly self-centred. But I am also optimistic, far more active than in my twenties, friendly and impulsive. And some days I really enjoy being me.

31 has been a good good year. I've spent time with loved ones both here and back in the UK. The idea of 'best friends' may be a little dated now that I'm not at school anymore, but I am lucky enough to live with one of mine, and talk to another two so regularly I'm amazed they haven't started screening calls yet (don't get any ideas Mum and Dad!). I have two fabulous sisters, niece, nephew and extended family, who make such an effort to make me feel loved and involved despite the miles I have put between us.
I left some brilliant friends when I left England, and despite those miles, have happily managed to stay in touch with many. I've also made some fantastic friends here, through knitting, neighbours, my job (more knitting!), volunteering and even some of Paul's colleagues. I'm never lonely, which is something I would wish for everyone.

Agh, bananas, this is getting sappier by the sentence. So perhaps I had better stop.Thank you to those of you who I know and love, and who have helped made 31 one of the best years for me yet. Hope you didn't find this ramble too vomitous, it is meant sincerely, and its the thought that counts after all! X

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Weekends are for....

A picture heavy post, not in a wordy mood (it happens very occasionally!). Images from the last couple of weekends, all jumbled up....from top to bottom:

  • Exploring the history of log fences, in Almonte.
  • Attempting to beat the Guinness record for longest game of Crazy 8's, in the Superior Diner in Almonte.  (Attempt denied for flexible interpretation of the rules).
  • Antique shopping - other Amy's have knitted cardigans in the past!
  • Sat in the sunshine, spinning on my new wheel, watching chickadees feed on the windowsill.
  • Attending hideously bad walking tours at the War museum. Historical information optional. But the buckles were shiny.
  • Making the most of the new snowfall in Gatineau Park.
  • Demolishing a delicious lunch guilt free after aforementioned ski.
  • Building snow walruses fit for a snog, after an awesome snowball fight with friends.
I am amazed by people that fail to have fun in winter! x

Thursday, 23 February 2012


There is something about this big grey box, outside of Paul's workplace, that makes me a little nervous....

Personally, I think I'd taste better fried.


Friday, 17 February 2012

Notices and posters..

A series of photos from my walk to work this morning.

Number One: A lovely display of books about mathematics and baking (two of my favourite things)  in the window of my favourite bookshop:

Got to love maths humour!

Number Two: I'm guessing this is part of a series, probably from a Valentines Day treasure hunt? Obviously the first question that springs to mind is 'where's the next poster?'.

However, another interesting point to consider is 'What on Earth did it say on the poster that led Michael to the corner of Metcalfe and Albert?'
Did the couple meet on that street corner? Share their first kiss opposite their favourite stationary store? Did he propose whilst waiting for the lights to change on the way to the library? Sadly we'll probably never know...

Number three: A church billboard I actually agree with:

Not a bad selection for a forty minute meander through the streets of Ottawa. Have a good weekend everyone. x

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


day fiveday threeday fourday sevenday eightday nine
day elevenday thirteenday fourteenday fifteenday sixteenday seventeen
day twentyday twentyoneday 22day 23day 24day 25
day 26day 27day 28day 29day 29day 31
The series of photos of the Rideau River, I've taken one most mornings since last November, watching the ice creep in...

I've been taking the same shot most mornings, tracking the progress of winter. You can view them in order as a slideshow on my flickr page (follow the link above). And if you want to turn it into a 'Where's wally' type game, try spotting:
A traffic cone
Ski tracks
Political protest
An abandoned Christmas Tree
and a Sun Dog.

Oh and while I'm here (drum roll please) P got his language test results yesterday, and you will be shocked to hear that he is indeed proficient in English.

Bizarrely he scored highest in the Speaking test. This would be strange on any day (he prefers stoic silence), but on this particular day he'd been to the pub for lunch and had three pints prior to engaging in small talk with a stranger.....

It is safe to say that if I had behaved in the same way my results would not have been so rosy. In fact it is debateable whether I would have made it to the test centre standing up!

Ho hum...