Monthly Archives: July 2013

Ah, the genuine pleasure of discovering a new place…

Comfortable shoes and a map. Camera at disposal. Walking from point to point scribbled on a piece of blank paper, kilometre after kilometre on end.

When unveiling the secrets of an unknown city, time magically expands to accommodate a myriad of things. Impressions, sights, people, smells, and tastes all blend in, in a gallery of urban souvenirs.

street car named desire

The first images of Toronto took me back to the eighties. Women in small bustiers, shorts, big earrings and polka dots at the  bus terminal; run down buildings and suspended street-car cables;  dark-red Tim Horton’s take away paper mugs;  soggy hot-dog signs and crammed streets.

Nevertheless, the sight of elderly Chinese women practicing morning Tai-chi in the park, the immaculate beauty of lake Ontario, the cardinal precision of streets and avenues intersecting, the variety of dietary requirements met at the city’s many eateries, the black squirrels and the random racoon chilling out on a cafe patio, and the nice people making up the human fauna, gradually worked their charms on me.

This city of 2.6 million souls grows on you like a pair of newly washed jeans, leaving a sweet after-taste of vegan ice-cream.


Some stories are like that. Love does not always come at first sight.

However, when I saw Sadie’s diner at the corner of Portland and Adelaide West, I fell flat. I had been dreaming of sitting at a real North American diner, just like people always do in my favourite series, and Sadie had just what I was looking for and even more.

A look at the vegetarian, vegan and gluten free -friendly menu made my heart skip a beat.


The inside was vintage with funky details.

chicken view

On my last day in the city I had planned an early morning diner-breakfast, only to realise that I had not taken the weekend opening hours into account.  I persevered and went back later for a serving of huevos rancheros with salsa, lettuce, tortillas,  guacamole and non dairy cheddar.

huevos rancheros

A pity I could not fully enjoy the moment because of the  time pressure.

If it was not for the Atlantic ocean though, I would definitively treat myself to breakfast at Sadie’s  once in a while. I would, of course, take a seat by the window and watch people passing by, sipping on my cup of Earl Grey and dreaming away.


United Chinese Church of Ottawa

They desire a better country

Amish store, solid oak, cherry furniture

Fresh blueberries, pies made, 1 km right

Jesus saves; self deny

Il est interdit de faire de la planche a roulettes

Croatian electrics

Please tear here (you’ll be damned if you don’t)

Festival de la Creme Glacee

The TTC encourages applications from Aboriginal People, people with disabilities, racial minorities, and women

Welcome to Brighton, population 10.900

Tea shop 168; Bubble tea





The place is a Brussels roof-top. Our bottoms can feel the comfortable heat emanating from the flat surface under the thin blanket. Sky still blue in the late evening and temperature perfect.

high on fruit

before dark

Spirits were already elevated when my friend cum hostess came up to serve tea from the bathroom window, using the window sill as the counter. We just had to agree on being at the coolest tea-bar in town.

rooftop tea bar

As the evening grew darker, we talked about life, religion, science and cosmology and then paused  to look up at the star-lit heavens.

The stars always amaze me. Their patient twinkling stillness is so touching. I can imagine them  glowing in spite of the forces of chaos that surround them, instilling hope on earth from high above.


How I love mornings…

Precious dewdrops on the petals of cosmos…Not that my mornings are that poetic, I love them nonetheless.

I wake up early,  sit up for a while, take some sips of water and eat a dry  fig for a little boost of energy. Then I  put on comfortable clothes and go for a long walk or a run in the park.

IMG_0698The sun is almost always shining in the early mornings and the air is filled with the fabric softener-like smell of blossoming linden trees. Sitting on a bench for some breathing exercises feels like having a pocket full of zenitude.

lindenWhen I return, it is shower and breakfast time. We have developed a recent penchant for a specific brand of organic corn flakes in this house. And of course, I relish in all the strawberries I can come across.

cornflakegirlBecause it is now or never.

newfavouritebfastAnd so, after this elegant prelude, the day can begin…

On Saturday morning, we headed north in an old red Volvo to celebrate grandfather’s ninety-second birthday in the province of Hälsingland.

around the cornerHälsningland with the thick woods, fertile land, big farmhouses and friendly, laid-back people. Hälsningland with the memories,  history and family ties.

 At last, we took some time to discover the area around the retropole of Söderhamn, once an industrial center, nowadays a quiet provincial town.

Despite the recent decline, plentiful samples of beautiful architecture still stand as reminders of a more glorious past. Several decades ago, in late May, my mother was born in this very place. When taken home from the hospital, trees stood in bloom…

When we stop for lunch at the cafe Rådhuskonditoriet, I can’t but wonder what this popular hangout, housed in a 1877 building,  with the original fifties decor could have looked like in its early days when young girls in swaying skirts would share some soda and wish they had an extra coin for the jukebox.


img_0792We had booked rooms  at my great-aunt’s bed and breakfast. The house and the land around it are infused with the stories of more than twelve consecutive  generations. Breakfasts here are long and evenings  velvety soft…

eveningThe activity of Saturday ebbed out in the garden over some pizza, salad and beer.  Silence, warmth and laden apple trees.

On Sunday we resumed our weekend plan and visited Erik-Anders, one of the UNESCO World heritage-listed Farmhouses of Hälsingland. These prestigious abodes are a token of the prosperity known in the area in the 19th century.

Back then, wealthy farmers built spacious suites for  receptions and festivities and comfortable  guest-houses for visitors. They paid traveling artists to decorate their walls with elaborate patterns and  images.

tapestryOn important occasions, households would pool together their finest white and blue porcelain and ensure correct restitution by  earmarking  their pieces.

white and blueParties  have always been parties.

We did not need any borrowed china for our Sunday celebration. A layered fluffy cake at the centre of the table and a tight group of people around it were more than enough.

baking ofbirthday cakeTwo days of letting time flow… Of observing how the past bleeds into the present and of thinking how at ninety-two, the past becomes more present than the future.

Despite living time as if it were linear, it often makes absolute sense that the past and the present could incline towards each other, touching at a mysterious point of  convergence.


Apricot. As in abracadabra marmalade.

You just need dried apricots that you will cover  in water and let soak for some hours, or over night if you are that kind of person.

Then you just put the lot in a pot with some vanilla pod, c:a 1 cm, and let boil over medium heat, adding some water if necessary to prevent the aromatic marmalade-to-be from burning.

IMG_0775When the apricots are soft and can easily be mashed, turn off the heat. Let the marmalade cool down and transfer to a clean glass jar. It keeps for a bit more than a week in the fridge.

Indulge in this healthy treat, or spoil someone you like without an ounce of guilt. If you want to make this extra good, use organic fruit. They will be darker in colour, but taste and look like the real thing.


Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

The Chick on a Pea

Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

Sadness Theory

Music with passion for the environment

zee pause café

taking a moment, having a coffee, writing down some thoughts