Posted by: Waheeda Harris | August 21, 2014

Fave shot: The Baths National Park, Virgin Gorda BVI

I’ve often said to myself – remember this view when you’re having a bad day or feeling the burden of work and life:

BVI - Devil's Bay Virgin Gorda

When I visited the British Virgin Islands for the first time, I took a trip to Virgin Gorda, and went to explore The Baths National Park. A hike downhill to the beach was rewarded with a view of the massive granite boulders that dominated the sightlines.

And although it was tough to initially leave the beach – the waves were pretty fierce – once you passed the enormous rocks, the sea was incredibly calm. With my trusty waterproof Olympus Tough camera,  took lots of photos – many of which were as per usual, not very good.

But this one, with the water spot in the middle made me a little happy – because of the rainbow also spotted in the centre. And it does make me smile, remembering the crystal clear turquoise waters, warm sun and unique beauty of this island. Lucky me to have seen it and experience its unique beauty.

Posted by: Waheeda Harris | August 20, 2014

This city is changing…

After the weather and traffic, locals in Toronto all have an opinion about the changes in the city aka the numerous towers going up in our skyline.

A few years ago I took this image with my then newly-acquired Pocket Rocket camera:

Toronto skyline

And in recent months, I’ve taken photos and can easily see the changes like this image (looking east):

Toronto skyline


Or this image looking northeast from Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport on the island:

Toronto - skyline from Billy Bishop


And this image from this morning:

Aug 2014 toronto skyline

Does the city look the same or different? A few more buildings have found their way into the view, especially the monstrosity that sits at Yonge & Gerrard – which looks much bigger than everything else, but its really a trick of eye.

For city dwellers and those who like to visit cities, its the changing skyline that is part of the attraction. The urban development that may be the topic of conversation for annoyed locals is the focus of visitors, who like to see the new in cities like Toronto, even if its the old that residents can never forget.

I keep my eye on the view, not just for something to do when I step away from the laptop, but because it will eventually change the way I write about this city. Every change brings something new – a cafe, restaurant, store, attraction. And although we constantly complain about change, its change that will keep us constantly entertained.

Posted by: Waheeda Harris | August 19, 2014

Oh sun where art thou?

For residents of Toronto, we’ve had a much cooler summer than we usually have. Temperatures have barely broken past 30C – and humidity has been scarce.  Those dog days of summer when we dream of being in icy cold movie theatres to survive a summer night have not been common this summer.

Toronto - sunbathers

So although the temperature is barely making it to 20C (which is not even 70F for those who don’t know metric temperature), I noticed two of my neighbours, making time for some sunbathing in the direct sun.

I appreciate the desire for time in the sun, to feel the warmth of the summer sun and take a little time to relax in the pretty backyard of my building – which despite being a highrise has a large green area surrounding this patio. But I wondered at the one gentleman, who decided that less is best for his time in the sunshine.

Wasn’t he a little bit cold? Or did the direct rays make sure he was warm enough? Or was his disgust at the lack of warm temperatures over the past weeks of supposed summer meant that he was trying to take advantage of the one day that it seemed worthy of sunbathing and was in the staycation state of mind?

And will he there today? I understand the lure of summer – but the v-shaped bathing suit – never a good idea sir. Never.

Posted by: Waheeda Harris | August 18, 2014

First the flowers…

Despite Toronto’s cool temperatures and frequent rain this summer, there are plenty of flowers to remind locals its summer.

Toronto - downtown flowers

As I snapped a few shots of the pretty flowers, flourishing in a raised flower bed just off Yonge Street, I spotted a small bee, trying to land on the flowers. I stood quietly, hoping the bee would land so I could get a snap of him in action:

Toronto - bee

And although its not the perfect wildlife photo, its a/ not bad for someone learning how to use her macro settings and b/ good news to see a bee in the city. Despite almost three million people and lots of pollution, there’s still signs of Mother Nature among the concrete towers.


Posted by: Waheeda Harris | August 16, 2014

Travel soundbite – Evelyn Waugh

If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper…
~ Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
Posted by: Waheeda Harris | August 15, 2014

Happy summer weekend….

For those who are headed to your own patch of wilderness, to breathe in the forest air, swim in a lake or river and cook over a barbecue or campfire – cheers! Thinking back to a summer day spent in northern Idaho….

Idaho - Mineral Point trail trees

Idaho - Dover Bay trees

Idaho - Sleep's Cabins morning view

Idaho - Sleep's Cabins dock at sunset

Posted by: Waheeda Harris | August 14, 2014

Fave shot: birds in the surf, Palm Island FL USA

In sunny destinations, there’s always a lot of celebration for the daily occurrance – the setting of the sun. On Palm Island, its a de rigeur way to end the day, before the evening plans.

I headed to the end of the island, past the villas and homes to a small beach for sunset. And I found, I wasn’t the only one interested in this time of day at the beach:

Palm Island - birds

These birds were very busy – looking for edibles in the sand and keeping a close eye on the movement of the surf. I was impressed they didn’t get washed away, since they were so small and I knew the water could be strong.

Endlessly they kept searching as the sun set and the waves kept coming – and their tenacity to eat as much as possible before the day’s light disappeared was one of those wildlife moments that made me smile.


Posted by: Waheeda Harris | August 13, 2014

Cloud gazing

Do you remember those summer days as a kid when you would run out of things to do? When you would stop running, swimming, biking, playing and exploring?

I don’t know if I truly ran out of things to do, or if I knew that I just needed to catch my breath for a moment. So what would I do? I’d lie down and look at the sky.

Toronto - blue sky & clouds

Me and my friends would bike to the nearest hill, ditch our bikes and lie down in the grass, keeping our eyes on the sky above. As the clouds would move, blocking and unblocking the sun, we’d guess at what shapes we could see – animated characters, pets, toys, monsters, class mates – anyone and everything could be seen in the fluffy clouds above.

And once we had exhausted our lists, we would lie silent, each enjoying the view and the show, not needing to talk or brag, enjoying a summer afternoon watching the sky above.

But soon we could tell by the time of day, that it would be time to go home for dinner, and we would race down the hill, chasing each other as we laughed and yelled on our way home. But I would still keep an eye on the sky, wondering where the clouds were going next and if more were on their way to where we were.

Toronto - cloud gazing

After dinner, with my Mum’s comment to not go far, I would go to our backyard and lie down on the grass again. Every night the sky would change again, with the clouds and sky highlighted in the shades of yellow, orange, red and pink from the setting sun. It was always familiar and yet always unique, as the sun slipped below the horizon and I would head to the back door, knowing that the street lights would come on and my time outside was done. I’d say good night to the clouds, knowing they would welcome me outside again tomorrow.

As an adult I think of those summer days, when I didn’t know deadlines and alarms, when my parents made my schedule easy – a day spent outside, constantly on the move, until I was told to sit still. The clouds and the sky were just as interesting to me as a movie – and for my idyllic memories, were always big fluffy clouds that rarely brough rain, set against a bright blue sky.

I wonder whether my life as traveller was launched in those moments – wondering where the clouds were going and wanting to go there.  Looking for the  perfect spot to lie down in the grass and watch the clouds seems like a perfect pursuit.

Posted by: Waheeda Harris | August 12, 2014

Fun in the concrete jungle

I’ve always heard people lament about the big city, that its a place without soul, without nature and is cold and unfriendly. The concrete jungle is a popular stereotype of the city, and yes, its true. There is a lot of concrete.

Toronto - running at YD Square

I’ve always loved the big city – because of its diversity and in the city of Toronto, its the neighbourhoods that make this city distinct. Yesterday, as I walked to a meeting, I went by YD Square, a community space at Yonge and Dundas. Its mostly pavement and concrete, but it has some trees, plenty of places for people to sit under umbrellas, a stage where music is played and movies are screened.

But best of of all, especially for this little girl, was that there was a fountain. The multiple spouts raise up and down in a corridor on the one side of the square, and this little girl came prepared in her swimsuit.Running between the spouts, the sound of her laughter carrying across the square, she would get close to the spout to get a little wet and then would run away dodging the next spout.

And when I saw her excitement, the thought of the concrete jungle really meant nothing to her. It was just a day in the summer sun, where she could play in the fountain. Did it matter it wasn’t surrounded by endless fields of green? This jungle may be gray, but its just as fun.

Posted by: Waheeda Harris | August 11, 2014

Take that moment

I love summer.

Toronto - sunny aft in Yorkville

As I wandered the Yorkville neighbourhood for work, I envied those who had the right idea in mind – taking time to enjoy a sunny Sunday afternoon.

As I wandered Cumberland Street and Yorkville Avenue, noting the differences and what has stayed the same, I kept seeing locals and visitors doing what they should be – sitting and soaking up the surroundings. Eating ice cream, sipping icy drinks and seeking sun and shade, everyone knew that their day was going to be a good one.

Unlike most days in downtown Toronto, I couldn’t hear the rumble of cars or the horns honking from frustration due to the ongoing construction. I could hear conversation, laughter and even the sound of the water fountain in the park.

Toronto - Yorkville fountain

I realized I had found an oasis in the city – and was glad for the reminder that its summer – soak it up!

Toronto - Cumberland park

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