Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Another week slips away

Somehow it's already Wednesday again.  I think I just wrote about Harbour Nights a couple of blogs again, but I found myself there again tonight.  A lot happened in the week, but I won't get too far into it.  To sum it up, I have become internationally renowned as an amateur psychic/psychologist, will soon be able to report on how traumatic it is to have a traffic violation in Bermuda (let you know after the court date, but let's just say the experience could have been better if people were just nicer), spent more time with the visitors in many more restaurants and with many more memories (apparently there was a phase I went through in my 20's with flammable drinks that it still most memorable, and I was still thinking about the story of the Flaming Mo rather than my speedometer when the incident with the popo occurred), managed to work every day since the last Harbour nights, and attend a special screening of a short film documenting the history of the Sea Venture -- the wreck that resulted in Bermuda's colonization in 1609.  I might add that there were some pretty handsome research scientists both in the film and on sight (totally serious), so that was one of the bonuses of the week.  I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and recommend anyone on the island drop by BUEI to see it.  Here is a link to the teaser, a short 2 min summary (including the handsome scientist).  Click on the title below to see this (you won't be sorry!)

Sea Venture film teaser

Watch for some upcoming Bermuda features -- PBS will be showing a documentary next year for the 150 year anniversary of the Civil War about the Mary Celestia, a Civil War blockage runner that wrecked on Bermuda's reefs.  Intact bottles of wine and a bottle of perfume were recovered recently, so this story has marine archaeologists, perfumists, smelliers, and war buffs totally hot and bothered.  National Geographic has been working nearby on a project in the Sargasso Sea which is due out next year, and one of those photographers is coming back this summer to document the unique flora and fauna of Bermuda.  Those photos will be starting to come available on  If you take a look there, that cute and fluffy little thing on the homepage is a baby cahow, the second rarest of all seabirds.  Bermuda has done a great job of creating a protected area for them, and actually building little nests in the rocks for them.

Anyway, after work I met my guests for a quick tour of the botanical gardens.  I had to rush off when my phone beeped and reminded me of where I needed to be.  The phone is worse than a diary.  If I ever lost it someone would have a blast reading all the calendar entries with my to do list.  For example, someone asked me today if I could do something and I texted back that I had added them to the list below 'go to the naughty shop.'  Yup.  A girl from work is getting married and somehow the "hen party" shopping ended up on my list and so I must take a hit for the team and enter "Eve's Garden," which is at least conveniently located below Flanagan's in case I need a beer first.

After that I met with them for supper and we wandered down through Harbour Nights.  Tonight there was a parade with both the Bermuda Regiment and the Scottish veterans.  I have to confess I love the bagpipes and a Scottish marching band.  After that it was time to pick up a few items as souvenirs...for myself when I go.  I grabbed 4 beautiful ceramic coasters, each was a different picture on a bright red background with Bermuda written on it...a fish, Hibiscus and the like.  My guests pointed out that the Graham Foster prints were only $30 each so I promptly bought 2 signed prints to take home and frame.  He even gave me a deal and agreed to a photo -- I told him I was pre-planning for the 2075 season of Antiques Roadshow so that I could prove the "provenance" and tell the story of how I bought his pictures from a booth he had on the street in Hamilton one summer night in 2014.  Graham Foster paints in a manner that is a little like "Where's Waldo," a little cartoon, a little real, and a lot of Bermuda.  He is most well known for his mural in the Commissioner's House at Dockyard where he painted a 2 story scene depicting the history of Bermuda for its 400th Anniversary.  Here are a couple of literal snapshots of that mural.

The wreck of the Sea Venture as depicted by Graham Foster in his 2009 Mural at Royal Naval Dockyards
Graham Foster's pictorial of Bermuda on display at Dockyard

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Glow Worms!

A few days ago I mentioned that there are innumerable things to do in Bermuda, and that many of them are brief, but should be experienced all the same.  Nothing is a better example of this than the Glow Worms.

Odontodyllis enopia is the Bermuda Glow Worm.  While reports of the Glow worm date back to Columbus approaching the America's, this particular critter is currently known to inhabit the shallow waters around Bermuda.  Not being all that big on worms, I really can't vouch for any other worms anywhere else in the world.  If the descendants of Columbus' worms survived the industrialization of the America's and still hang out over there, I have not yet heard of them.  So in my limited worm knowledge, I can safely say that these are the only glowing worms I have ever heard about.

Here's the deal.  If you want to see the glow worms, you have to make a pretty dedicated plan to do so.  You can only see the glow worms between May and October to start with.  In addition to that, you can only see them on those months on the 2nd and 3rd days after a full moon.  So now you need a calendar, and a lunar chart if you are serious about this.  That's a good start.  Next you need an weather report with sun and moon times and an accurate watch.  That's because you can only see them between May and October on the 2nd and 3rd nights after a full moon, at precisely 56 minutes after official sunset.  At exactly that time the female worms rise to the surface and emit a phosphorescent goo to attract the males.  The males race to the top, emitting a green bioluminescent flash to signal that they are coming, and in a literal neon green flurry of squirmy flashing fecundity that can be measured in seconds, it's all over for another lunar cycle.  You also need to be in a good location at this precise time, just to make the challenge interesting,  This whole thing is a bit perplexing to me.  I don't know if I am more bothered by the fact that this next photo is the best picture I have of this event, or if it is more unnerving that a bunch of invertebrate worms are better at organization, scheduling, and astrology than I am.  I think the next chance to see them will be June 15th at 9:23 pm, but I warned you, the worms are better at this than me.

I tried to watch them once at Flatt's Village but they were scarce.  The dock at Ferry Reach is supposed to be a good place to see them (See "The Forts at Ferry Reach"), or Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute does summer boat tours to see the worms.  I think my best viewing was when a friend, Steve, took a couple of us out in a boat to some of the smaller islands...not only did we see lots of neon green worm sex, but it was pretty cool to cruise back to shore in the boat at night.  There were numerous fish drawn to the light that were leaping alongside the boat all the way -- quite the thing for this "flatlander" (Saskatchewan girl) to see fish flying along side us at "road speed".  That memory definitely still makes me smile!

This video was on the local news, it may give you a better idea.  That chirping in the background is Bermuda's Whistling Frog.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Treasure Trove

It's always nice to have guests on the island.  The flurry of extra activity gets you out and about a bit more, it makes you a little more sleep deprived, but it's always nice.

Visiting at the present is a good friend, her husband, and two children from Edmonton.  We had lost touch in the melee of life, and it has probably been 10+ years since we last saw each other.  Somewhere between the wedding, in which I was a Bridesmaid, the first baby, my clinical year and start of life as a shift worker...we just lost touch.  The beauty of now is a quick google and you can find almost anyone nowadays, and so i did that about a year and a half ago.  And so this week we are reacquainting in Bermuda.

One of the kids is 7.  His homework while missing school includes a journal of his daily activities, which he read to me at dinner at the Swizzle Inn last night (famous for its rum swizzle...I swear this was not my recommendation to take the kids to another pub, but the hotel sent them there because it was rib night).  "Then we met my moms friend Jenny.  We went to Wahooooos.  On Wensday we wetn to Hamilton for a festival market.  Then we went to Flanagan's."  Yup the 7 year old is leaving here knowing how to spell the name of Irish pubs before days of the week, and this is the legacy I am creating,  In my defense, it was the only place open to kill time while waiting for a bus to take them back to the hotel.  But I felt a little remorse thinking of the teacher's impression of this Jenny when he reads this to the class.

It has been fun, and what was really interesting to me was the dynamic of an old friendship renewed.  People, places, and events that had been consigned to the past for so long that i would not be able to recall them on my own suddenly leaped out in my mind as fresh memories in our dialogue, and the recall would come from an expression of speech, or an expression crossing one of our faces.  Random conversations of the present, ie tax law, would bring up an ancient memory and much laughter.  "I am not a tax accountant, but I know one," she said.  "You better not mean Disappointment Dave," I said before I could even remember Dave's last name, what he looked like, or why he was a disappointment.  She quickly replied with "Disappointment Dave the angry gay accountant?!?!?"  "OMG!!!  Yes, him, I forgot about him being angry and gay."  "No not him."  Now poor Dave was probably none of these things, except for the accountant part, but he had the fortune (or misfortune) of working with us in an office about 20 years ago.  He was a fit, attractive man who had the strange tendency to stop talking, stand up, and leave whenever I entered a room.  His aversion to me got him the moniker "The Angry Accountant."  After a couple of years, he started smiling at me some days, charging out on others, but never talking to me.  So we decided maybe he was shy and not angry.  A young group of professionals, the company had some sweet perks -- a corner office on the 25th floor of of a downtown skyscraper overlooking the river valley AND downtown, skybox tickets for concerts and sporting events in town, a jet and a bunch of fancy cars which they did not share with us, and VIP access to a chain of popular nightclubs.  One night the angry accountant was out with his group, saw me, and marched right over, looked me in the eye, opened and shut his mouth without a word and stormed off.  At 20 years old, that qualifies as "oh, he really likes you."  Which may have been true.  On one other occasion where he wordlessly marched up and grabbed my hand to pull me onto the dance floor (and in my ever present state of grace I slipped in my stilettos on the first stair and fell down the steps, but rose immediately in a force resembling absolute levitation caused by the mortification I was feeling, but the accountant never looked back and remained forever unaware.  This lack of gentlemanly awareness is when Disappointment got added to the moniker.)  While the accountant never saw my fall (or ever managed a hello let alone ask me out on a date -- hence the gay addition to the moniker), my friend remembered it with absolute clarity last night, so 20 years later, as did I, and we got a good laugh at Disappointment Dave, the angry gay accountant (disclaimer -- after maturing for 2 decade using gay in the moniker was offensive and I sincerely apologize.  Clearly I frighten men of any sexual orientation, occupation, etc etc etc and this was a misnomer of ignorant youth.  My apologies to all of the accountants who may have been offended by this tale.  The end).

Except it's not the end.  That is just a piece of the beginning of a new phase of the collective memories, experiences, and thoughts of two friends with many years to catch up on.  Speaking with her face to face has uncovered a treasure trove of of smiles, stories, and snippets of  who we were just becoming.  What a treat!  And what a relief to have another reminder that true friends are never forever lost.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Beach Brain

What did I do today in Bermuda?  Well, I went to work, then came home and parked myself on the computer to do online coursework for the next 5 hours.  Not overly exciting to blog about, but, I did come up for air at the end of it with a few new fresh insights.

First and foremost, I have not killed off as many brain cells as I feared with all the frequent trips to Flanagan's and Friday nights on Front Street.  If anything, most of them are still there, and my inability to remember certain mundane things (like cleaning the eyewash station at work when it's my turn and where I managed to find a parking spot for my bike at work that day) is not actually due to a depopulation of brain cells.  It is most likely that they are just all metaphorically resting in little brain cell hammocks staring at all the beautiful Bermuda beaches in my head.  I can live with that as long as they step up when required for the more important stuff, like figuring out a brief understanding of international tax laws on an afternoon in the not so distant future.

What is truly amazing is that is I google "brain in a hammock" a picture pops up that I can use in the blog, making life easier, being kind of amazing, and a little disappointing that perhaps I am lacking in original thoughts if everything I come up with can be found in technicolor by Google in seconds.

There are a few things I want to share about my courses though.  I finished the first one, and I really enjoyed it.  It was online, and FREE.  You can pay for a certificate, or if you just want to shake the rust off of the old brain, you can register with no charge.  I recommend you look at if you are interested.  I took Bioethics from GeorgetownX and US Health Policy from HarvardX.  I am not sure, but the X just denotes online, because the lectures are from the actual classes from programs from Harvard School of Medicine and Georgetown University.  So the content is good.  The grading was simple quizzes, and one can most certainly take home some new and interesting knowledge from the many courses available.

The first real insight I had was how different education is now than when I was enrolled in school many years ago.  To start with, last night at Harbour Nights the children of my visiting friends, aged 7 and 11, were able to sit down at the open chess table and play a game to completion.  Their mom explained that they teach them chess in Kindergarten now to develop strategic thinking.  Having never been shown how to play chess or hunted down the basic rules to learn myself,  I thought that was pretty impressive.

The second insight I had was how different the content of information is that society provides to its youth vs its adults.  The education we get, unless we are enrolling in courses and programs, is primarily TV, news, and magazines.  Even the continuing education offered for my profession is insular.  These courses provided me with a number of very important facts and concepts which we are not talking to adults about although we should be.  I am happy our academic institutes are talking to the younger generation about it, but I don't think it's enough.

Here's what I mean.  See which of the following questions you can discuss.

1.  Who is Donald Spurling?
2.  Where do you think MH370 is?
3.  Which country evoked Martial Law earlier this week?
4.  What animal recently saved intervened when a dog went after a child?
5.  In which country were students arrested for dancing to a video of "Happy?"
6.  Roughly what is the global population?
7.  What is the estimated global population estimated to be in 2050?
8.  Which ethnic group will be the most prevalent in the US in 2050?
9.  What commodities can you think of that will be threatened in 2050?
10. What is so important about 2050?

If you can answer 1,2,3, and 5 I am reasonably certain that you watch CNN or a standard news program regularly.  If you can answer those but not 6-10, you are living in the now.  If you can only answer question 4, I am reasonably certain that you only get information from social media and you would be very comfortable taking these online courses and learning about more than just cats on the Internet.  If you got them all right, you are more informed than I was a few weeks ago.  If you don't know the answers, I will enlighten you.

1.  This isn't really important and none of us should know.  Those of us who do should try to forget.
2.  I have my own conspiracy theory that is too long to talk about.
3.  Thailand.
4.  A cat, of course.
5.  Iran.
6.  We hit the 7 Billion (yes, 7,000,000,000) a year or so back, you Nat Geo fans will know that.
7.  9 Billion (yes 9,000,000,000)
8.  Latin Americans.  Why us this important?  Due to socioeconomic differences that affect wealth, health, education, and scores of other things.  The US knows it needs to correct those differences in a big hurry.
9.  Food and Water.  Yes Water.  Climate change is going to seriously affect precipitation levels, agriculture, and availability of clean water to 1.9 Billion people by 2050.  The demand for food to supply for an extra 1.9 Billion people as many nations are shifting from underdeveloped to developed is predicted to increase by 70-100% by 2050.  At the same time, global fish stocks are expected to decline by 30%.
10.  What is so important about 2050.  Well, it's only 36 years away.  Chances are most of us are going to experience some dramatic shifts in how our own little worlds function, and how the entire world functions as its people struggle for decreasing resources.

This is not a theory.  This is the future, this is what we are teaching the next generation to expect.  They are being trained to think ahead with this mindset of global justice, resource sharing, and economics.  It's fascinating and terrifying all at the same time.  But why does our generation, the ones who grew up hearing about greenhouse gasses and climate change, still hide our head in the sand on this topic?  Well, the psychological principle at play there is an old but tested one.  We are programmed to reject evidence of our actions that cause harm to others...we don't want to believe it.  This situation is not the fault of our generation, but perhaps all the talk about it in the 80's actually made us feel guilty and more adverse to the information about what was happening.  30 years later we still don't accept it fully.  The other psychological factor at play is the idea that there is nothing one person can do against such a staggering reality.

There is a bright side to this though.  There are 7 Billion of us.  It might not seem like a lot for you to turn the light off when you leave a room, or not use the TV as background noise, to ensure the lights are off in your office building at night, to unplug the electronics that you don't use daily like that toaster in my case, or to consider what you are buying when you do your shopping -- ie, pick a cause and say no to Palm Oil, choose fish over beef once in a while to lower that carbon footprint, things like that.  Those little things mean almost nothing to your daily routine and lifestyle.  But the effect when multiplied by billions of other people doing multiple effects as well, could quite literally make a world of difference.

So that's what happens when I am not at the pub or the beach.  I hope you will give those ideas a few minutes of your time.  Goodnight for now, I promise pretty pictures next time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Gombey Dancers

When I first started blogging, a good friend who lived on the island asked in the first month, "What are you going to write about later, I mean you have almost covered all of the obvious places."  I smiled and said I was pretty sure I would always find something to ramble on about.  It is true that I am greatly amused by the little things.  It is true that there is always something to do in Bermuda.  However, sometimes it's not that obvious.  Sometimes it is an event that just takes a moment or two but is worth seeing.  Sometimes it is doing things over for the tenth or eleventh time but in different company.  I can honestly say I have never been bored in Bermuda.

This week there are some friends on the island who wanted to see Bermuda before I left.  They have two sons, aged 7 and 11, and so I expect I will be seeing things through another whole new set of eyes this week.  Today they took their first Bermuda bus ride (I forgot to ask if the bus driver was one of the ones who likes to play tour guide and entertainer, as several do, and if they had any moments of terror, which can happen on our narrow windy roads).  They made their way into Hamilton and walked around town while I was at work, and I met them in town for supper, the 11 year old looking very dapper in his plaid pastel island style hat he picked out since he forgot his cap at home.  I chose to take them to Flanagan's because they have a broad menu, with lots of things for the kids to find.  I discovered the Flanagan's I already know and love so well is really great with kids as well.  They had crayons and coloring, colorful plastic cups for the drinks, and when we went back the second time at the end of the night after missing the bus, the same waiter greeted us again with a smile, and cut the little guy off on chocolate milk too late at night and convinced him he should go straight milk.  What can I say, parents and kids and tour guide were happy.

In between stops at Flanagan's, we took in Harbour Nights, which is a weekly event taking place on Wednesdays where local artists and small vendors set up tables with their craft.  There are many unique items that you can only find at Harbour Nights so I recommend it for all visitors -- on this occasion I fell in love with a Bermuda Cedar clock, some beautiful hand painted tiles, and the yummy deliciousness that is Amber's Rumcakes.  I have to be careful what I acquire as moving space will be limited in July, but I loved all of these things and hope to go back for them before I move away.

I meant to take my camera, but I forgot.  So I was left with only my phone when the Gombey dancers came by.

The Gombey Dancers are a colorful, traditional group that dance to a heavy drumbeat in an energetic fashion.  Some of the dancers "challenge" each other in the course of the program, and it is very interesting to watch.  It is also interesting that the dancers include small children in the same elaborate costume.  The lead dancer carries a bow and arrow.  Another figure has a whip.  A loud whistle or two are interspersed with the heavy drumbeats.

The dancers were masked to hide their identity when the dance was not welcome, if not illegal outside of certain holidays, as late as the early 1800's.  The group traditions are passed down orally, and it is an esteemed tradition to be a part of.

Gombey dancers are an icon of Bermuda and unique to the culture of Bermuda.  There are other similar styles, such as the Goombay's of Bahama, but, the Gombey dancers are recognized by academia as unique to Bermuda.  I know this to be true because I just wiki-ed it.  Overall, I am just glad to have a picture of it now, even if it is just a grainy phone picture.  They only performed for a few minutes, but this is one of those short but sweet occurrences in Bermuda that you want to see at least once.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Whale Bay Surprise

Just as I was getting ready to leave Whale Bay, I heard the screech of a longtail and noticed a little path in the grass going up the hill and into the trees.  I decided to follow the little path and see if it would take me over top of some cliffs where I might finally get a good longtail picture.  What I came across when I got to the top of the path was instead this.

The walls of the old Fort at Whale Bay
"I found a new fort!!!"  I texted to a friend overseas that I had been "chatting" with all morning.  OK, it wasn't exactly new as it has been there since 1867 and I immediately remembered seeing a chart that lists Bermuda's many old military forts had one called the Whale Bay Battery.  But it was new to me as I had never before seen it and explored its walls.  Bermuda's oldest fort is Fort St. Catherine, which has been around for closer to 400 years, so this is relatively new in fort time as well.

I love old buildings and sites.  I quite enjoy looking around places like this and seeing how much has changed.  I could not imagine the cramped quarters of the barracks, and get a little giggle here again at how short people were a couple of hundred years ago.  For example, by one of the inner walls which i could have easily hopped up onto, I notice a stone staircase with 5 stairs so that they could climb onto the wall.  There are holes in the wall which they could shoot their rifles from while ducking beneath the wall that would have much of us hunched over to use nowadays without being to move around efficiently.

Not the short staircase I mentioned, but little narrow staircases running up the outer walls to defensive positions
short people stairs
Today the site was abandoned almost completely.  No other tourists, no locals, no ghosts that I could tell off (Bermuda's Forts didn't see any military action, in fact none of the numerous canons that surrounded her shores were ever fired with intent in the 400 years that Bermuda has been inhabited.)  Nope, the only ghosts that could be would be the soldiers who succumbed to yellow fever in the epidemic of the 1800's, or a few who had mishaps that are laid out on their tombstones at the Royal Naval Dockyards Cemetery -- which detail a few grisly deaths, and a few unfortunate ones like falling off the mast and drowning in the harbour.  However, these poor souls don't haunt Bermuda, if they were still here they would be happily enjoying the view like the rest of us.  The only other living thing on the site on this day was a little fellow who clearly considered himself Master and Commander of the Fort.

The Commander of Whale Bay Battery
He was not intimidated by my presence, and gave me the steely one-eyed stare of him as I got closer with the camera, never one leaving his command post.  I saw a few of his minions on he outer walls a little later as well.

Bermuda's defensive hopes lie on this one bird
Aside from the teeny tiny outdoor oven and the narrow little outposts in the fort, the other thing I marvel about is the officer's view.  They are always facing the ocean, and on this day the waters were stunning.

The view from Whale Bay Battery
A walk around the outer wall showed, as always, that the fort is larger than it looks at first.  I got a nice view of Port Royal Golf  Course.

Port Royal golf course, where the PGA Masters comes
And thought this neat old tree along the wall  might just be the Great Wall of Bermuda.

A successful day of random adventures completed, I went home with a smile and another load of photos.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Whale Bay

The last few tines of scootering around I would pass Whale Bay Road and realized I had not been to Whale Bay.  And so it was put on the list to do.

After unsuccessfully trying to get a longtail photo in the last blog, I carried on to Whale Bay.  I couldn't believe I had never been there when my first residence on the island was literally across the road from Whale Bay Road.  As I drove along and up the road, it became familiar and I remembered that I had come up here before, before I had my camera, and back when riding my first scooter, Little Red, would have been a challenge.  Little Red was a big bike, quite heavy, and only 50 cc.  She didn't go up hills very fast.  Gradual inclines were a struggle as well.  Perhaps that is why I didn't go back,  Perhaps it was because the transition from 17 years in a city to driving down a road, being the only bike in the park, walking down an isolated path through the coverage of trees and settling down on a totally empty beach takes some getting used to.  The good news is, that big city nervousness is at least partially reversible.  I look for those places now on my days wandering around.  But I admit that Shibby and I had the heebie jeebies by the creepy deserted house at Hog's Bay Park.

The first thing you notice is how big Whale Bay Park is.  This is a pretty big patch of open space for Bermuda.
The entry to Whale Bay Park
The second thing is how soothing the view is.

Complete with a bench to relax and enjoy it all
In my case the third case I noticed was again the sound of longtails, but peer over the edges as I might I yet again could not spot them.  Getting a photo of them has become my most disappointing effort on the island, as I have tried for SIX summers in a row now (that includes my first vacation to Bermuda when the island stole my heart).  And then you glance over to the right and see a beautiful beach.

Whale Bay Beach from above
It seems as though one can always find one empty beach on Bermuda, if you know where to look.  We play up our famous Horseshoe Bay for the tourists, and it is jam packed all summer long.  A few are getting wise to it and working their way down the south shore and discovering Elbow Beach and Long Bay.  A couple will find Jobson's Cove and Stonehole Bay.  St. George's attracts everyone to Tobacco Bay.  But, only Horseshoe Bay and Tobacco Bay have refreshments on the beach.  Sorta.  Elbow has the hotel restaurant and a hot dog stand has been hanging out around Warwick Long Bay or Jobson's Cove the last year or two.  That keeps the rest of the beaches pretty tourist free, and so locals can tan in solitude on this lovely island any day.  This would be another perfect spot for it.
The rockier portion of Whale Bay Beach
And of course with the ocean blues, I love the green algae that clings to the rocks, so had to get a picture of that too.  In the second shot, I think the close rock is moss (it was on the north), and those ocean blues are what Bermy is all about!

Nature's palette

Friday, May 16, 2014

Just Scootering Around

A few week back I had a day off and decided to do on of my favorite things.  Go toodle about on my scooter with my camera for a few hours.  Having recently been down to the east end of the island, I opted to head back to the west end.  As always I hoped to get a picture of a longtail.  And so I crawled down the cliffs to the spot where I usually see them.
Stalking longtails, unsuccessfully again
There were 2 there, but they would have nothing to do with me.  I sat out in the baking sun for another half hour waiting patiently for a fly by.  They made they they stayed several hundred metres away before taking a perch somewhere so far away I couldn't even see them.

The longtail fascinates me with it's long, featherless split tail that trails behind it
I finally accepted that they were not coming  back and just took some pictures of rocks.  I liked how the water would surge over them, and then create little waterfalls as the wave retreated.
Nice view of the ocean colors from my birdless birdwatching cliff perch

Eventually got mesmerized watching the water wash over and down the rocks
As soon as I made the steep sweaty climb back up the cliff face and way totally out of range with my lens, I heard the squawk of the longtails returning to the flights right over where I was sitting.  They were just waiting for me to leave.  Another day without a good longtail picture on the record.

I took a little drive down on of the back roads in Somerset, or maybe it is part of Sandy's, and found a gorgeous vista.  The property appeared vacant, but still had a no trespassing sign.  I took a picture because it seems a great irony to post a sign keeping people out of such a beautiful spot that no one else is on site to enjoy.  It of course brought out my inner rebellious nature.  On the plus side, it may have once been some type of home for the elderly.  Or possibly it still is but no one came outside that day.  Either way, nice spot!
Yup, some days I get to live a postcard perfect life.  Other days I go to work lol.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Brunch At Henry's

Since we were on the topic of brunch yesterday, might as well confess that we did it again this Sunday.  'Tis patio and brunch season after all.  Of course you can sit indoors, but we love to get a little sun when we can.  It was Mother's Day, and so one of the Mum's in the group chose Henry VIII's which is on the South Shore between the Hamilton Princess and the Reef's.  It was of course, packed, but one of the best things of brunch is that the restaurants expect you to stay 2-3 hours with all the courses, bevvies, and coffees.  Which of course we did.

Brunch started with 8 of us.  We had Steve and Adrie again,
One of my favorite couples, the MacGregor's
George was another repeat offender

It's a camera, not a gun George!

Me and Lizzie again,
With Gibbs Hill Lighthouse in the background

And coming out for the first go was a sleep deprived Siobhan, fresh off the night shift at KEMH,
Our lovely Irish Flower needed a little more shade for her self described pastiness
and these pictures must have been taken before the rest of the crew arrived.  Eileen was a few minutes late, possibly due to needing a minimal amount of sleep between the end of the night watching Jimmy Keys who had a show in town and the start of brunch.  Later still was Andy, who had to finish his round of golf first.  Straggling in later still was Lenny, fresh and bright with enough humour to torture Steve for a couple of hours.  And Gary and Kate rolled up a little later for a cocktail in the sun...and I must say the staff took it in their stride while our table of 8 blossomed to 11 on an extremely busy day.  The food was again great, although I missed a whole room of the hot food in the back of the restaurant, and did not have the desire to try to stuff any more in after focusing on breakfast, sushi, and desert.  George was a trooper, going for curry on principle alone at the end (he's a well known curry hound).  We had a great time telling stories of old, plans for trips where will we meet up in the future when some of us are gone, and stories we just made up, like Lenny's detailed description of his time with Steve in the UK secret ops unit.  I do say Steve "the microphone" MacGregor took his share of ribbing this brunch, and there appears to be no end in sight!

Another great outing, I left while the crew headed down the road to Coconuts, another beach side spot just down the road at the reefs.  It sounds like a lot of fun, but, I was still a little tired from the crazy work week and needed to use up the rest card.

Yup, I think there will be a few more brunches this summer.  Lizzie has sniffed one out that has a non-stop champagne service.  I can hardly wait!  But not til June guys, I have guests the next few weeks!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Jazz Brunch

This post is old news, but Lizzie had a birthday that ended with a zero a few weeks back, and so the Flanagan's corner crowd set out to celebrate.  Lizzie's choice was to do Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Newstead.  I have mentioned brunch before -- the gourmet dining buffet experience where breakfast, lunch, supper, and desert are all on laid out for your dining pleasure.  To be fair, one usually just eats all three meals at once on these days, and you are still full the next day.  Each brunch has its own special ambiance, and the jazz band was what Lizzie was really looking forward to.  The Newstead is across the harbour from the town of Hamilton, and sports a beautiful view of town just beyond the infinity pool.  They also host a Friday night happy hour after work, complete with free ferry service across the harbour to and from town.
The MacGregor's and the birthday girl...clearly wondering why I am taking cameraphone pictures.  Notice the water glasses.  When did that happen?

Going around the table we also had Eileen, Andy, and Helen....

And George the Red and  me... squinting into the sun
We were quite excited to be seated outside on such a gorgeous day.  
Since I just had a cameraphone, I stole this shot from Eileen's facebook page that she took with her tablet
The food was good, and we were having a good time, but the Jazz band never materialized.  Since it was advertised in the papers and the sign outside, we asked what time they would start.  The server unapologetically told us that they don't have a Jazz band, they haven't played here in ages.  Despite the current advertising for it, they seemed unperturbed that customers might actually be disappointed or unhappy about the false advertising...but, that is sort of how Bermuda rolls.  We had fun anyway, feeling that we were the jazziest thing at the jazzless jazz brunch.

After several hours on the patio, and a change into some slightly more sensible shoes, it was back to town and we all stopped by the local haunt where we were joined by a few more birthday well wishers.  In a rare photo of the corner, Anthony "Box" the bartender got a shot of everybody on Eileen's now famous tablet.
The Corner at Flans

Monday, May 12, 2014


This is my last summer on the island and I wanted to do this year what I failed to do last year.  Get a suntan.  The weather has not been very cooperative of this idea yet.  And so today, seeing blue sky, i decided to go to the beach whether it was warm enough or not.  I threw on the bikini despite not achieving beach body readiness, and reached into closet for my favorite beach and boat dress and let out a little shriek of horror.  For some reason, in March, I deemed the little red DKNY not suitable for my last 6 months on the island and it is sitting in a box in an attic of Saskatchewan rather than being my faithful beach companion.  So I grabbed a little black and white backup, my beach towel and kindle and headed for the scooter.  I posted an open invite to Elbow on facebook just in case anyone was in the area, and as I was leaving got a text saying someone far away wished they could come to the beach with me.  "Don't worry," I said, "It isn't warm enough for the beach, I am going out of pure stubbornness."

And it was true.  There was a chill in the air on the bike and it probably would have been more comfortable with a light jacket.  As I parked at Elbow I had a missed call from Albert.   He was happy to pop down to the Beach.  "Bring beer," I texted back.  Might as well pretend it's summer I thought.  Even if it didn't feel hot, it was nice to hear the sound of waves and feel the sand in my toes.  I selected an open swath of beach and claimed it as my own.
My spot for lazing about today
There were a few people on the beach...a group playing beach tennis, a few other sunbathers, the odd jogger, and one poor exhausted looking man emerged from the surf in a full scuba suit and tank and started the long walk back to the dive shop with all the gear and flippers on.  Other than that, it was just me, Albert and some sunshine.  I applied SPF 85 to my new scar, 55 to the face for anti aging, 30 to the shoulders which have suffered too many burns in the past, but decided to let the rest of me do a little bit of what skin was designed to do...convert sunlight into Vitamin D.
The other brave beach combers of the day

Vitamin D is known to decrease risk of Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoporosis, High Blood Pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, and types of cancer.  Even Australia, which has the highest skin cancer rates in the world and a population that is used to covering up and sunscreening, has recommended 15 minutes a day without sunscreen.  The thing is...we need sunshine.  On our skin,  In safe, smart, and small doses.  Despite supplementing 2000IU a day, my level is still at the low end of normal Vitamin D levels.  And is my goal to get some sun this year.

The first thing I noticed is the difference in skin tone in my arms, which get a little sunlight year round, and my legs, which are like summer tourists around the island themselves.  This is going to have to change.  And so, I sat out and hoped my dormant melanin producing cells could be coaxed into waking up from their long sleep.  And as we have always experienced, once I was off the bike, settled on the beach, and sitting out on the sand, the sun did start to warm me up.  Enough so that I could go into the still chilly water, and dry right off in just a few minutes.
the legs have some catching up to do

I had a nice visit with Albert, and spent a little longer than the 15 minutes I was going to spend on the beach.  I should have applied sunscreen to a few more areas.  But it felt so nice to have some time in the sun.  Summer, you are late, but I will be on the beach waiting for you when you arrive.  At least that is what I thought until I went home, and watched the pink color on my legs deepen as the evening went on.  Apparently 15 minutes really is all one should be outdoors for without sunscreen.  Lesson learned for the summer.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day Mom!!

When I saw this picture I knew immediately it was meant for my mom.  For one thing it looks just like the cat that she has to remove from the chair every time i Skype, Burpie Cat.  But also I am fairly confident that it embodies some of what it must feel like be an experienced and confident mom of three and then have me show up as part of the family.

I am pretty sure I went through some passive demure cute phase when I was little, but that was probably so long ago that none of us remember it.  But, my mom always accepts me for whoever I am...and believe me it changes over time.  She writes it on the calendar so she can keep track when people ask...she's in, wait it shows here she switched to microbiology...ok transfusion medicine...back to microbiology....ummm. she works in a hospital.  "Is she a nurse?" some relative asked.  "I don't know what she does," she honestly replied, "But she's very good at it."  The unwavering confidence of a proud mom goes a long way in life.  To be fair, I left home before cell phones were common, and the norm was to check in once a week.  Normally she would phone me on a Saturday at about 7am.  Sometimes I would randomly call her first so she wouldn't worry when I didn't answer the phone... I'm in Utah this morning mountain biking the slickrock trail that I saw in the trailer for the Everest movie, I'm in Arizona skydiving and they have this big vacuum thing called wind tunnel, I'm in Belize, yes mom skydiving but I took a day off to climb temples. Yellowstone, Jasper, Vegas...and I should be studying or resting but I can do that here, just checking in.  What do I want for my birthday?  Mountain bike parts one year, combat gloves for martial arts another, and carbon graphite skydiving helmet was the one that finally made her shriek just a little bit.  "But mom, it's a safety device," won her over.  I am sure lots of other mother's would have worried sick, gotten frustrated, or just returned me to the daughter store.  But not my mom.  She is secretly proud of all my weird quirks and quests for adventure, for my willingness to tackle change and challenge, and she should be.  Because she raised me to be just exactly who I am (which looks a lot like the picture above most days), and has offered unwavering support on my meandering trail through life so far.  "As long as you're happy.  Be careful!"  Thanks mom.  Love you!

P.S.  I got you something.  Watch your mailbox :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Quiz Night

Quiz night is a big thing in the Bermuda ex-pat social calendar.  Many of the local pubs hot a weekly trivia quiz.  This is a lot different than going to the pubs in Canada and joining in with an electronic board and playing online with strangers from other bars.  The Bermuda Quiz has a live host, usually with a UK accent that makes understanding the questions an additional challenge.  Teams attend regularly, and rivalries take root over years of competition.  Prizes are considerable...lots of alcohol to take home, T-shirts, money, vouchers for the pub.  For example, the last Quiz I was at had a chance to win $625 in a one shot challenge at guessing high and low on cards at the end of the official Quiz.

People don't just attend the Quiz, they study for the Quiz.  They sometimes assign things to members of the team -- memorize state capitals and African geography, read all the newspapers for current events, sport history, watch old movies online...etc.  I, however, am not one of those people.  I will sometimes come along if lured to fill an extra seat with the promise of beer and nachos.  Occasionally my brain fires to life with obscure historical information like which ruler had a beard tax, at what Henry the VIII's 3rd wife's name was, but unfortunately 80's music is never a topic.

That's what happened this week, as I tagged along with Helen and Christine to go to the weekly Quiz at the Swizzle Inn.  Now, it turns out I am not totally dead weight with my unprepared brain.  I knew how many points a D tile is worth in scrabble, what country uses ".mt" as its Internet domain, the capital of Rhode Island, which state has the largest part of Yellowstone Park, picked Eddie Murphy's voice out of a sound clip, and strangely solved the riddle of which song was released in 1991 on an Epic Record label from an album called Dangerous that had a color in the title.  From the 10 famous comedy movies, the only 2 I recognized were Airplane and Dumb and Dumber...but so did everyone else.  Christine and I had to have a serious discussion about how many territories are in Canada now, but fortunately we got it right.  I did quite well on the word puzzles...but the rest of the quiz was left to Helen, Christine, and Judy to drag us into a sad 6th place.  Fortunately they knew things like who sang the theme song from "Die Another Day," recognized movie clips from things like "A Night at the Opera," "The Pink Panther," and a myriad of other things.  I now know that the Golden Gate Bridge is NOT the highest steel bridge structure, and which is the second largest of the United Arab Emirates.  If we would have known what year Sesame Street debuted in the US we would have had 5th, and had we not been so confused about David and Goliath (which Christine heard as the lion) and debating why we were talking about lions instead of giants, we might have put the right answer down, which Christine eventually said, and made 4th.  It was a fun night anyway.   At least I knew a few answers this time and didn't feel totally dumb!

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Panthers Ate My List...and I Know Why

So, just a couple of days ago on Saturday I talked about my coworker helping me get together a list.  On side A was the title "Leaving Bermuda" with a list and action plan to get organized.  I felt immediate relief having my tasks laid out in manageable form, and was ready to tackle them on Monday, my first day off since.  Unfortunately when I arrived home from work Sunday, I discovered that the Panthers did not approve of the leaving Bermuda list and did their best to destroy it.  Having never before damaged anything paper in my house, nor anything on the table, I am now certain that they possess high literacy skills and moving them from their tropical paradise is going to be tricky.  They selectively ripped it apart between the words "Leaving" and "Bermuda", ate a hole out of the center of the page where "repatriating to Canada" was written and on the reverse side about things to do when in Canada, they mangled "kitty vet appointment" to the point where I could almost not make it out when I tried to piece my poor little list back together.  The evidence of their cunning intelligence is irrefutable, and so I must also assume they read this blog while I am out.  As I commented to my brother earlier today who was happy to see me making preparations to head to Canada, I said "Nothing is certain til the last cat clears customs."  Clearly my work is cut out for me.

I attempted to transcribe the tattered remains, and made as much headway as is humanly possible in one morning in Bermuda.  I took my scooter in for an oil change and mentioned I would be selling it and could they check it over.  They agreed to test drive it and call if there were any recommendations.  A couple of hours later I got the call to pick it up, and collected my surprising $300 bill for oil change and new brake pads.  I am not really complaining because I love my bike and they were fast and always good, I just thought we agreed they would call if they found anything.  I went to the cell phone company to schedule a cancellation of my phone services.  They told me to go to one of their other offices in a couple of months.  I went to that office today so I could get it done and scheduled the cancellation, but still have to go back and leave a credit card for the last payment only.  I couldn't leave it today without disrupting my other payment method in place.  Later in the day I got a text message from the same company saying "Good news!  Your unlimited data plan will not expire at the end of May!  Instead it is being replaced with our new Premium data plan.  Your previous unlimited $45 plan will increase to the New Premium $65 plan on May 12."  Firstly, how is this good news.  Secondly, I am not on contract so why would plan expire?  Thirdly, my new fancy named plan takes effect in 7 days, and I have no idea what it includes but it doesn't say unlimited data.  Turns out all their customers got the same text today.  And in 2 visits to the company today they failed to mention this I have to go back a third time in 24 hours if I want to cancel this new premier substandard service.  Par for the course.  Logic was quick and easy for disconnecting Internet.  Cablevision not so much.  The account cancels upon physically carrying your cable boxes into the company and paying any balance.  Of course it is a holiday when I leave so my last few days on island will be without TV or Internet service.  
HSBC was another shining example of customer service.  I went and explained that I was leaving and asked about closing the accounts, or setting up and account in Canada where I am going to end up and transferring the funds there, and they simply said "No."  Then I asked if I could cancel everything a week or so after I got back as I want my credit/debit cards for relocation expenses.  They said "No."  How about if I transfer most of the funds and close the account but keep the credit card?  "No."  Can I purchase a prepaid credit card just for convenience so I am not travelling with a lot of cash.  You know the answer was "No."  Leaving Bermuda is about as easy as setting up in Bermuda I see.  However, I still felt like it was a great day because I was getting stuff done!  In the sunshine!  And it was warm!  

And that alone made me want to eat the list too :)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Taste of Taste

There is a newer but not new restaurant/pub in town called Taste.  I have been wanting to check it out for quite some time but never quite make it.  It was a gorgeous evening the other night, the sun is finally shining and warm, and so after work and after the gym I accepted an invitation to join some friends at The Hook and Ladder, which is the only place I know of in town where you can get a beer for $5 AND sit at a table at the water's edge.  On a nice night, that has quite an allure to it.  The biggest downside is that parking and then crossing the street to get to it is like the old arcade game Frogger.  If you aren't on a diet, they make a really nice plate of Fish and Chips too.  If you are on a diet, you know this because you didn't order it but ended up nibbling on everybody else's anyway....

After the gang was filled up with Fish 'n Chips, we all stood up with the plans of heading separate was going home, one was meeting another friend at Taste, a couple thought of popping into our regular pub Flanagan's, and pretty soon we all agreed that Taste was either on everyone's way, or not far out of it, and we all agreed to go there for one.

Taste was nice and tasteful.  We were not in need of the food but I have heard that it is good.  It has a nice interior and ambiance, and on Friday's they have a live band playing.  When we arrived, the band was already into their second set, and there were several tables sitting back and enjoying the music.  The music was fabulous!  I always love a live band, but they were playing loads of classic rock that you could really get into.  As soon as they started singing Billie Jean, Lizzie was on the dance floor...well, there isn't a dance floor, but there was about to be.  Barney hopped in with some pretty styling moves, and I have to say it was really cool to watch.  The band agreed and commented, and the whole place stopped to watch.  The band kept it going with some Steppenwolf (who were the first to record Born to Be Wild), some of the rockier Beatles songs, Paint it Black, and by the time they got to "Saw her Standing There" the new dance floor was going wild as everyone joined in.  Oh, and the night was made complete with a little Journey "Don't Stop Believing."

As we looked at the transformation from a quiet little place with nice little groups sitting at nice little tables to a mass of people dancing and singing along,  all the chairs pulled back from tables and everyone either dancing or sitting around laughing at the dancing, one of our group commented that we should hire ourselves out to liven places up.  I think we will call it The Scottish Lizzie.

I enjoyed my taste of Taste, and will definitely be going back on another Friday night to see the band play again.

The List

It was a busy Saturday in Bermuda.  Today was the annual "End to End," when cyclists, joggers, walkers, and now paddleboarders pledge to make their way from one end of the country to another for charity via their favorite mode of calorie burning.  Congratulations to my friends who completed it -- you know who you are, and since a few coworkers seem really worried about ending up in the blog ( and you know who you are missy), they shall remain nameless as I have not asked if they would mind being mentioned.  As for me, it was another sad Saturday spent locked indoors at work.

The best perk about work is the coworkers.  On this particular day, I was working with Sue.  Now, I didn't ask Sue if I could mention her, but anyone who reads this will know it's her anyways so just going to go ahead and do it.  Sue is a coworker, a friend, and the mom of some fully grown children.  Sometimes the motherly instincts take over and she has an overwhelming desire to turn down the collar of my lab coat, which I throw on haphazardly and usually half the collar sticks up while the other half is turned down.  To be fair, most lab techs have a certain amount of OCD and requirement for order, so I could be mistaking intrinsic lab tech quirks for maternal instincts.  It's tough to say.

So this past week, while the blog has again run silent, I have been running around frazzled and overwhelmed from one thing to the next and in desperate need of a day off to sort things out.  The stunned expression I have been wearing and the general lack of coordination I demonstrated when I knocked my forehead on a shelf inside the incubator when reaching in for plates this morning prompted Sue into action.  I don't know if it was the friend instinct, or the mothering instinct, but at coffee break Sue zipped down the road and got a big and delicious cup of coffee for us both from Buzz, and a muffin.  She sat me down in the break room with a piece of paper and 2 different colored pens.  That's another lab tech thing -- the need to organize is strong, and colored pens are a critical part of the coding process.  In this case, the random organizational challenge of the moment was my life.

So with a lot of strong coffee and about 15 minutes, the action list of all I need to do to prepare for leaving Bermuda, complete with a timeline, was laid out in 2 colors on one side of the paper.  The flip side was the action list and timeline of everything that has to be done once I leave.  Complete with instructions to not forget it in my pocket and throw the list in the wash.

Thank you Sue...the world feels a little more manageable now that I have my list.  You're a good friend/lab tech/mom.