Archives for posts with tag: Canada

I took a flight to San Francisco yesterday, and I had the good fortune to be beside a window during the flight. The views outside were wonderful.

Flight in far distance

Flying over Scotland, I chanced on a jet flying close to us.

Scottish Hebrides

Scottish Hebrides. The last land visible before heading out over the Atlantic.

Cork on display

The most important city in Ireland. Clearly.

Arctic Tundra

Arctic wastes over northern Canada. We flew straight over Iceland, but unfortunately it was covered in cloud, so I saw nothing. A pity, as it flew over Katla and Reykjavik.

Columbia River

This was taken over the Columbia River in Washington. I love watching the vast circular fields. From this distance, they look like small wafers of silicon.

Mount Shasta

This is Mount Shasta, a 3,000 metre high volcano dominating the landscape in Northern California. It last erupted in 1786, so it’s still active.

Clear Lake

This is Clear Lake, in the hills close to the Californian coast. I thought it was Tahoe!

Coming down to land

I took a sneak peek of the San Mateo Bridge when we were landing. It’s 11 km long, connecting one side of the bay to the other.

San Fran

Final arrival in San Francisco Airport. As expected, immigration was a pain. It took an hour to get through customs, and then I realised I had left my coat on the plane, which resulted in further delays.

Back in 2007 I was diagnosed with stage 2 melanoma. I had a small, painless, black mole on the side of my neck and like most Irish males, I tried to ignore it. It was only after a lot of prodding from close friends and family that I actually did something about it.

Two operations and biopsies later, I realised that I had dodged the bullet. The melanoma had not spread to my lymph nodes. After multiple trips to the consultants in the intervening years, I have had no re-occurrances, either primary or secondary.

Because of our skin type, Irish and British people are among the most susceptible to melanoma in the world. It is one of the leading killers of people under the age of 30. The incidence of melanoma is increasing worldwide and if it is not caught early, your survival chances are minimal.

This Canadian public announcement tells you all you need to know. Check your moles, avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, don’t wait to seek help if you notice something abnormal.

These ones are a bit different, but I thought I would share them with you anyway.

Niagara Falls (Horseshoe)

The Niagara Falls (Horseshoe Falls) from a slightly different perspective.

A building in North York

Reflections on a building in North York

Reflections in a Whirlpool

Whirlpool, Niagara Gorge.

CN Tower and birds

CN Tower from Centre Island

Toronto from Centre Island

Today is our last day in the beautiful city of Toronto before we return back home to life-as-usual. And what a week it’s been!

My sister’s wedding was wonderful – the location was terrific, both of them were in wonderful form, nothing went wrong all day, and she looked utterly beautiful! My son and nephew got top marks for their behaviour and their presence added to the family occasion of the visit, earning them a visit to the Disney shop the following day. Here is what Big-A picked up for himself! (Why am I not surprised?)

Captn Sparrow

We managed to pack a lot into the week. We visited Centre Island (twice), the Science Museum, the (rather cloudy) CN Tower, the Niagara Falls, and we got some shopping done between trips. My son managed to learn how to swim somewhere along the way too. We have both been visiting the swimming pool here almost daily.

Feel the fear and do it anyway The CN Tower in the clouds Dad and son in Toronto

Toronto is impressive from a number of angles: it’s a decidedly multicultural city (more even than Chicago or London) where people seem at home with each other. I’ve a feeling it’s a model for many cities and communities around the world. It’s clean, polite (people readily open doors for others and random acts of kindness are commonplace, even from the most unlikely-looking of characters).


Driving can be a nightmare at times though – I witnessed some beauts yesterday! On my way back from the Falls, one guy in a SUV crossed three lanes in one sudden movement in order to exit the motorway at the last moment. It was like something out of a cop movie.

I’ve had one of the best weeks of my life – not just because of the location, but because of the people I was with. It was a perfect family occasion, many thousands of miles from home.

After a hectic week last week in Chicago, I flew up to Toronto for the weekend to see my sis and her hubby-to-be. The temperature on arrival was freezing – even by the standards of the previous week it was a bit of a shock to the system.

Dressed to killAfter a fairly quiet night and sluggish morning we headed out to the Glen Eden ski resort situated about 40 minutes from York Mills, where I was staying. The ski resort is relatively compact and popular given its proximity to Toronto. It was packed with people from the very young to the very old. The queue to get our gear was long, but eventually I made it to the front where I got fitted out for boots, skis and poles. I was ready to go.

We started out on some very small nursery slopes but I quickly got bored of it. Even though I collapsed spectacularly quite a few times, I wanted something a bit more challenging, so we crossed the road towards the “grown-up” slopes. Nursery shmursery.

A ski-lift brought us to the top of the slope. I soon found that I could only ski in two ways: a) bat-out-of-hell mode and b) crumpled-up-in-a-pile mode. Bat-out-of-hell mode was easy. I would just point my skis ahead of me and go for it, picking up speed all the time. I would keep going faster and faster down the hill until quite suddenly I would switch over into the much less satisfactory crumpled-up-in-a-pile mode. This usually involved a quite ungainly somersault involving the loss of skis, poles and hats followed by the nightmare task of attempting to get upright again. Most of my ski-attempts involved both techniques, and I got quite good at them by the end of the day.

Glen Eden Ski Resort

I would be an excellent skier if it were not for two small itsy-bitsy flaws. 1) I can’t brake and 2) I can’t steer. Otherwise all is well. I’m sure I would be a champion at rudderless kamikase skiing. Also, if there a prize for the most awkward looking skiier, I would be well in contention. My sister told me that it was amazing that I could stay upright for so long given my unorthodox style of leaning back on the skis with my knees and legs bent in a particularly unattractive fashion.

When it comes to skiing I am absolutely fearless. I am also absolutely clueless. A dangerous combination, I think.

We were absolutely wrecked by the end of the day. I had a very pleasant Indian meal in Burlington followed by a few drinks close to my sister’s apartment.

On Sunday, I headed into town with my sister to a shopping centre in Dundas for a spot of shopping. It’s a lot safer than skiing. I didn’t fall down once. I’ll wait to see the size of my credit card bill before I do that..

Dundas shopping centre

I had a relatively uneventful flight back home (well, I *did* lose my passport and my car keys, but enough said about that) and I’m back safe, sound and jet-lagged in Ireland. The weather is moist, relatively warm and there’s not even a hint of snow. I’m missing Toronto already.

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