Saturday, June 28, 2014

Around Town

As the days tick away, my life feels pretty busy, and Bermuda churns away with activity.  I always laugh when people say there is nothing to do in Bermuda, because I find it is the busiest little place if you have a little bit of diversity in your interests.  There is even a website, cleverly called "Nothing To Do in Bermuda" which lists every event, walk, lecture, historical re-enactment, movie, play, and even Weight Watchers and AA meetings.  If you are bored in Bermuda, it's self imposed.  When I started blogging about Bermuda back in October, a friend asked what I would do when I had covered it all...even then it appeared as most of the obvious spots were done.  Well...I am afraid I will run out of time before I run out of places to photograph and stories to tell, because there is always something going on.

Last weekend we went to "Summer in Europe," an evening of classical music put on by local musicians -- we have enough talent for a symphony and a concert pianist.  I saw one a local doctor double as a pretty impressive soprano soloist, friends on the violins, and pretty sure I spotted the hospital's head of quality and risk in the choir.  I sat across from my endocrinologist, with another microbiologist, a biochemist, and a pharmacist -- and waved to a former constable coworker across the room.  That's one thing I will always love about small places....the way the community in so entwined.  It was a really nice change of pace as well.

I always love the ship weather vane on top of City Hall
The symphony played at City Hall...which also has the annual Hasty Pudding, the Christmas Pantomime, occasional dance and ballet shows, musicals....and the Bermuda Music and Dramatical Society is just down the road with even more theatre for those that love to participate or sit back and enjoy a good play.

I also got the opportunity to take a little tour of the courthouse this week.  I must say it is a beautiful building, new, fresh, and great A/C.

This is where you go is you get caught tearing up the roads of Bermuda above the pace of 54 km per hour.  The speed limit is 35 kph.  Flow of traffic seems to be about 60 kph.  Unless you are a police car or bus, then you routine get to rocket by the rest of us.  According to the not very friendly police officer who jumped out of a bus stop and ticketed me, anything above 54 kph is a mandatory court date.  They do not show you the radar to show you your speed, they don't have to show you if you ask, and knowing how things work in Bermuda, the instrument is probably never calibrated properly, if at, anything above 45 could in theory get you a tour of court as well.  You may get run over if you try to drive 35....which I have been making a conscious effort to do, and there have been some terrifying moments I must say.  Fear not, court is not as scary as it sounds.  You just stand up, plead guilty, get a hefty fine, and walk to the cashier.  Bring your wallet, because you get to choose to pay the fine or go to jail instead.  Yes.  A first time speeding offence under Bermuda law can cost you up to $500 or 30 days in jail.  That last part made me nervous until I realized it was your choice -- typically the fine is $215-$250 or 23 days in jail for a first offence.  Since I am blogging today, you know what I chose.

Also going on in Bermuda this week is a lot of activity surrounding the annual Newport to Bermuda Race.  Every year, there is a sailboat race from Newport Rhode Island to Bermuda.  The best finishes typically take about 5 days, and in some classes, the ships were separated by only 45 minutes, which is pretty tight considering it is 635 miles across open ocean powered only by the wind.  This is the 49th year of the event (book your calenders for next year, I am sure the 50th will be epic), and so the Yacht Club opened its doors to the public to come and see all the competing ships.  Their harbour was a busy place this week
A lot more masts than usual this week

OK, so I didn't get the best pics with my camera phone, but you get the idea
Local bands provided the entertainment, and it was a great set up for all of the competitors after a challenging race.  Live music, lots of socializing, and a lazy sunset in beautiful Bermuda.
Reflections of the flags on the masts on the water
Today takes us to the Annual Canada Day Beach Party.  It may not be Canada Day....but the closest Saturday to it there is always a beach bash put on by the Association of Canadians in Bermuda.  In fact, it is after noon, so it is already underway.  After Canada Day Night at the Hog Penny last night, I could be content at home....but maybe I will sneak out and get a picture of the event for the blog.  We shall see.  Yup.  There is never nothing to do in Bermuda.  Not ever.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Longtail Surprise

Somedays, everything just seems to go your way.  Today has been sort of like that.  At least enough so that all the not so perfect things just bounced right off of me.

First, I woke up and it was Friday.  AND a day off.  Double bonus.  I had time to cross things off the moving list.  I returned a cable box since I sold the TV it was attached to.  I scheduled disconnects and paid my last cable and Internet bill, my last cell phone bill.  I made it to the gym again, finally, motivated by the need to get in and schedule cancellation at least a month prior to leaving.  I grabbed my coin jar to take to the bank, and netted $47.  My habit of stuffing money in my camera bag when I go out to take pictures was also profitable, as I found $88 strewn in various pockets and compartments in there.  And best of all, when I went to the bank I heard a loud chirp and realized a bird was trapped inside the room in the bank with the ATM machines.  That isn't good, but being able catch the little fellow rather easily and watch him fly off out of my hands outside just made my day.  Shibby was also off and we had time to go for a nice healthy lunch -- Quinoa Salad for me at Cafe 10, which was a surprisingly cheap lunch by Bermuda standards.  We had time to match schedules for the remaining 33 days on the island, and book one last spa day.  We pulled out the trusty tourist map, and realized we have done it -- we have explored all the nooks and crannies of the island, which was a relief because it was way too hot to go wandering around this afternoon.  The Newport races are over and the Yacht Club is open to the public tonight, so there is a new place to check out this evening.  It is also Canada Night at the Hog Penny, and a friend from Boston, Lisa, arrived in town today.  And just when I couldn't ask for a better day, I sat down at my computer to review more photos from May.  I noticed yesterday that I had a lot of blue photos with white specks that I had forgotten about from the drive home on my last adventure with Sue.  "There is my topic today," I thought, "A Longtail Too Far."  I would just document another day in my 6 year quest of blurry distant photos in getting a nice picture of a Longtail.

The series started out like normal.  A couple of nice shots, but still too far away even with the bigger lens.  It does at least show the shape and coloring of the birds.

Then to my surprise as I went through them, there were a couple that were closer...but in my excitement they are also blurry.  Now I remember....I was hiding in a shrub, as best as a Canadian girl can blend into a shrub on a cliff, and this one flew over to scold me.

So close to being a good shot....but yet still so far.  You can see the split in the tail on this one though

Then to my utter shock, I stumbled across 3 shots that are to date the best shots I have ever gotten of longtails, and I had forgotten even taking them!

And that is what amazing days are made of.  Simple pleasures and small surprises.  A smile and feeling content in your own little world.  I am happy.  I am blessed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Around the Bend on Memory Lane

I am still catching up on photographs from past expeditions.  While looking at my Heron shots from Flatt's Village, I came across some more shots taken out on the West End.  I really enjoyed looking at these pictures again because they were taken on a morning when I was visiting my former coworker and good friend Sue.  Sue and I said goodbye several weeks back as she left Bermuda, for a little while at least as this is her home and she can always come back, for Canada and the chance to sail down to Mexico.  It was her birthday on Saturday, and I found myself in Dockyard that day, and quite missed being able to call and meet her for a coffee on the boat with a treat from the Pastry Shop.

And so it was with a fond smile that I remembered our last coffee and treat on the boat, the chat about adventures to come, and a quick drive out to a new spot.  Sue knew of a quaint little bridge that I had never before laid eyes on, and off we went.  First we went for a little drive to look for longtails....but there were none about on this morning.  Sometimes when weather is coming in they fly out to sea.  All we found was this pretty view.

After a harrowing short drive we reached the little bridge...I say harrowing because I grew up in Saskatchewan and am not used to manuevering a car in and out of nooks and crannies via a 6-point turn 360.  It's a skill I admire, although sometimes I just close my eyes and hope for the best.

If it weren't for Sue, I don't think I would have ever stumbled across this spot.  In fact, I can't even quite remember how to get back to it.  But I recall that at one point I realized I was behind the Naval Cemetery by Dockyard, so you could always hike through there, go past the gazebo into the wooded area and follow the path out.  When you get to that road, it's off somewhere to your right.

What I am good at, to make up for my lack of skill with direction and orientation, is curiosity.  "Oooooh, look at it from this angle Sue!  Have you ever gone on it, is it safe?  Whoops, guess it will hold.  Oooh look at the fish!  What's on the other side?  I love the purple weeds down there.  I think I can scramble over to...yeah, it's good, wonder what's on the little island, hey this is cool, have you been out here before?  Sue?  Sue?"  Silence.  I realized I had lost my co-traveller and had better take my photos quickly.

Someone is ready for the next cookout on their quiet little spot
The first impression I had was that it reminded me of something from the 1800's, with the old rusted metalworks and the decaying building.

I absolutely loved how the brickwork had come apart.  I have seen people try to recreate this effect, was so nice to come across it naturally.  Here are a few shots of this gorgeous old spot.

oh yes, there are fish in there....this is their house

When I came scurrying back out of the bushes, Sue was on the bridge, leaning on the rail with a smile.  It's always nice when your friends know you for your quirks and put up with you anyway.  After years of working together, talking dreams and plans over microbes, sharing pictures and locations, a few sails, and a lot of coffee, this day was the last mini-expedition we would go on before she left Bermuda to begin her latest adventure.  I hope we will get a chance for a few more somewhere someday again.  Until then, I will add these pictures to some other fond memories.

The Art of Blogging

I joined a blogger group this week to learn a little bit about what it is that I have been trying to do these last few months.  What was meant to be a guide to friends who would visit has turned into a hobby, a diary, a way to keep friends and family informed, a forum for my favorite photos, a reason to go exploring, and a lot of fun.  Sometimes when I read other blogs, they look so professional, so together, they have thousands of followers, and their writing gets picked up and distributed to thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people.  And sometimes I think some of my stories have the potential to do the same.  So I joined this group to see if I could get some of the secrets figured out.

It turns out that there is an art to blogging.  And in this art, I am a preschooler with a bunch of broken crayons and scribbles outside of the lines.  I am not as Internet savvy as I thought I was, and so this has been a humbling day for me.  To start with, you may notice the blog looks a little different today.  This is what happens when you push buttons in the template section and think "ah, if I don't like it I will change it back."  Not so....apparently some of these things are no longer available when you change, and so today we say goodbye to the old sea foam green background and hello to a lot of pink.  I also was instructed to think a lot more about my brand.  My brand?  Can being Jenny be considered a brand?  I don't know.  But I think I like my Lost But Loving it Title, and so we will use that as the watermark for photos for a while and see how it looks.  The next assignment involved working with your facebook page...which of course I didn't even have until today.  You can now find me on Facebook under Lostbutlovingit.  I just barely got a twitter account opened earlier this week, (also lostbutlovingit) and the idea of finding out what Instagram is this week will take a few glasses of wine to even think about.

I guess my takeaway is that I needed to do a better job of the page visually.  I may try a couple of different formats out in the coming months.  If you love or hate any of them, let me know, I am always up for input.

The other thing I was asked to think about was my readers.  I suspect I know a lot of you,  but there are a few people out there internationally who appear to be regular readers.  I would love to know who you are, and what you like about the blog so far.  So if you would like to make an introduction, please leave a comment below.  I would be happy to hear from you!

That's it for now, back to my crayon box while the Picasso's of blogging work their magic on the Internet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Flatt's Finale

So this will be my third, and likely final post about Flatt's Village...the Flatt's Finale.  As I prepare to leave Bermuda once and for all in less than 5 weeks, the reality of goodbyes are starting to kick in.  I have bid many others farewell as they left the island, but I am now starting to do final goodbyes myself.  Some friends who are off on extended vacations have bid their final farewell.  And so I realize I may or may not be stopping again at the places I blog about.  This may be my Flatt's Farewell as well.

Flatt's on a cloudy day
The common view of Flatt's Village are those that I shared in the first post a couple of days ago.  But some of my favorites are taken when I am not standing in the most obvious spot to snap a photo.  For example....on the other side of Flatt's you get a calm view of the Sound.  My friend Helen has a view overlooking Flatt's and the Sound beyond it, and sometimes you can see fish's quite a distance, and so they must be some pretty big fish (well it's actually the splash that is more visible).

The other side of Flatts
Most people stand on this little bridge and watch the water rush from the Sound into Flatt's, or vice versa depending on whether the tide is coming in, or going out.  I prefer to go behind and below the bridge and watch it from there.  It's usually just me and my bird friend, who is very shy and I do not have a good photograph of.

One of my other Flatt's friends, is not so shy.  He is an avid fisherman...that's him on the boat.

Can't see him?  Here is a close up just taken with the bigger lens.

This Heron always keeps an eye out on me to make sure I don't get too close, but he doesn't really mind the camera at all most days.  I will miss seeing this little fellow when I go.  Here are a couple more pictures that he let me take of him on a different day.

One day I spotted an actual TV Star at Flatt's.  Well...he us going to be a TV Star in 2015.  The show "Ocean Vet," is still filming its first season around Bermuda, and will be broadcast on Discovery and Animal Planet in 2015.  The star is Dr. Neil Burnie, a very lively local veterinarian who is a bit of a shark expert...among other things.  He is also once quoted as saying "THAT is an unusually aggressive animal" when my little tabby Princess Lexi woke up from surgery. little 6 pound terror is more fearsome than a shark.

Dr. Burnie headed out.  I yelled "Yay Oceaj Vet!" and he yelled that he was off to find a Tiger Shark as he went by...just another day in Paradise
If you want a preview of this series, you can type in this link from vimeo  I really do recommend you watch it, there are a couple of beautiful shots of Bermuda, and some incredible shots of Dr. Burnie in with a tiger shark.  He is a boisterous character, and conservation is his aim.  I am already a big fan.  The trailer is not on youtube, so I cannot upload the whole thing on this least not that I know of, so just plug in that link above to your browser.  It's pretty neat.

I have a couple of other pretty pictures of Flatt's, taken on a grey April day, but they show a little more of the character of Flatt's, so I will close today's ambling rambling with those.

I took this one for Helen, who was standing on top of the cliff top right waving to me from her yard a few minutes earlier

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Expedition Aquarium

All throughout the year Siobhan and I have been pooling days off and pulling out the tourist map and trying to cover as much ground as we an before our time in Bermuda is up.  Since I have already blogged that this weekend is Destination Flatt's Village, today is a good day to pull out the pictures from the last time we went to the Aquarium.

The day we went, we noticed 2 buses parked in front.  That means 2 things -- first either a load of school kids or a load of tourists are inside, and secondly that it would be a really good time to go for lunch instead.  There are a few choices to eat at Flatt's Village -- there is 4 Star (one of the few places on the island that delivers pizza), Indigo, and Rustico.  In keeping with our spirit of exploring new things, we chose Rustico, since neither of us had ever been there.

The patio at Rustico
Rustico was a good choice.  The food was delicious, with large portions, and we left happy and stuffed...but not until we saw at least one bus pull away from the aquarium.
gratuitous food shot
That gave us enough time to enjoy a tasty cappuccino before starting "Expedition Aquarium," as I dubbed the day based on the made up song I heard coming from the back of my scooter from Siobhan about the 2 Bermuda explorers.  I guess I should have gotten a "go pro" for my bike helmet....the things I would have caught on tape.  But I digress.  The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo was founded in 1926.  It is a good value for your $10 admission.  The zoo often rescues local marine animals and birds, and offers rehabilitation where it can, which gives it a lot of redemption points in my books.

That's right...I liked my cappuccino enough to photograph it
One inside the aquarium, there are numerous tanks to peer inside and see who is peering back.  Shibby identified most of the cast of "Finding Nemo," except for little Nemo who was nowhere to be found on this day.
Dora from Finding Nemo


I forget what this it looks like a she...and has 2 big front teeth!
An anemone 
The Lionfish are an invasive species.  Apparently they are very dangerous to the reefs and at risk of wiping out other species through their rabid reproduction and gobbling rate.  How did they get here?  Apparently they were washed into the oceans during Hurricane Andrew  in 1985 when a seaside tank was overcome by the storm.  Prior to that they were in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.  However, when I look at it in its little tank, I feel a pang of sympathy -- it is just being a fish, not an international villain, and it is us who are to blame for its awkward predicament in the first place.  People say something must be done to keep their numbers down.  Apparently they taste like something between snapper and grouper.

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful...
When you walk outside, that's when you realize that the aquarium is actually quite large.  In addition to the turtles that you can see at the front of the aquarium, there are seals, tortoises, tiny monkeys, lots of birds, some bats, a python, a strange tree kangaroo, and more.  For all of the harmless critters, like the birds, toads, and sleepy little red monkey's which do not come out to play that day, you enter the enclosure and stand unobstructed at the edge of their artificial habitat.  This bird below was on the rail...I could have touched her....but I figured she must be sick of that so let her be and just took a picture.
Just hanging out
I shall call the iguana Ozzy
A happy parrot was hanging next to a group of cockatiels
Along the edge of the aquarium there is a lovely walkway, funded by Argus, one of the local insurance companies.  It is a beautiful spot to stop and take in a view of Bermuda while you wander around.

Shibby was a little disappointed that some of the exhibits didn't look very lively;  The Alligator doubled as an algae pond, you could hardly see him under the thick coat of green....I hope it was cooling and that he wasn't a distressed alligator.

As well, Shibby pointed out how cheesy the fake bird and nest here looked.

Well, that is until I hopped up on the wall and peered in to make sure it was fake.  And promptly said "It's loooooking at me...and not in a good way."

Sorry little guy!
Once the little critter (an Australian whatchamacall it...because I honestly don't know, but owl is not the right answer) realized that I was not going to be any more disruptive than I had just been by getting to close to "the fake exhibit," she posed for a very cute picture for me.  I think she is my favorite little whatchamacallit ever!

There was also a den of Flamingos...if you can call it that...they aren't den animals, but it sounded better than "enclosure of Flamingos."  It was there that I witnessed a strange occurrence....Flamingo Fight Club.  It all starts out quiet.  And then two came together, and initially they looked like a Valentine, their necks curing into a cartoon heart and I thought "awwwwwww."

But then they start biting and bashing heads.  Feathers are ruffled.  Alliances are formed.  And so you have, Flamingo Fight Club.  It appears there is only one rule in Flamingo Fight Club....oh wait, that was just a bad movie.  I am sure the rules are evolutionarily based and well thought out by millenia of scholarly flamingos.  I will not try to sum it up in one blog.