Front Page: The Province & Vancouver Sun

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being a page 3 story is awesome. being the full front page was flooring. The Province, Feb 2, 2018.

I had a half-an-hour interview over the phone with Glenda from the Vancouver Sun late Thursday night, and she surprised me by turning it into a front page story within a matter of hours – for The Province and the Vancouver Sun. Read the full story here.

 

 

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A Day in Cardiff

I went to the capital of Wales for just a day, and devised a Cardiff-in-one-day sightseeing plan. It’s only an hour away from Bristol with plenty of connections to England by train and bus. I arrived by bus and started my self-guided day tour in the rain.

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the backdoor of Cardiff castle, as seen from Bute Garden

The bus station is in Sophia Gardens, so take a stroll there, and over the bridge to Bute Park and you’re in the city centre in ten minutes. Stop by Cardiff Castle and meet the bird man – he carries a pet owl and falcon around to keep the seagulls out. Walk around the castle walls – there’s lots of interesting architecture and plenty of stone animals to be seen.

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the many facades of the Cardiff Castle wall

Next, explore the Castle quarter. There you can find the Cardiff Central Market and a handful of other arcades and covered lanes. St. John the Baptist Parish church is worth a visit. Take a slight detour east to see Chapel, the 1877 church now used as a trendy bar and restaurant.

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Chapel Bar & Restaurant still looks more like a chapel

Hop on the 5 minute train to Cardiff Bay from Cardiff Queen street, where you can take pictures of the Wales Millennium Centre and Roald Dahl Plass. Mermaid Quay has bars and restaurants, and I got a coffee out on the pier at Coffee co. lounge. Stop at a local pub, like the Cardiff Cottage or Cambrian Tap, and try a pint of Brains.

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the Cardiff Castle is tiny compared to nearby Coch or Caerphilly

If you’ve got more time or your own transport, perhaps you can also go the two places I missed: Castle Coch and the medieval Caerphilly Castle, the largest castle in Wales. Send me a postcard if you go – Arnarholl 1, Reykjavik 116.

A Weekend in Bath & Bristol

I’ve been to Oxford before, but now I feel like I live here. More than two weeks with me, myself, and I, in a suburb called Headington, and I’ve gotten used to my daily routine. I know where the post office, grocery shop, liquor store and city centre are, and once in a while, I even leave the house for a meal or a pint. I didn’t know anyone when I first arrived, but I’ve made a couple friends, and had three visitors from London.

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St. Mary’s church

Other than that, I’ve been glued to my computer all day, every day in Oxford. To avoid becoming a crazy cat lady without cats and take a short break from writing, I spent last weekend in Bristol, Bath and Cardiff. I stayed in Bristol with a couple; Evelyn I met seven years ago on a ship bound for Antarctica, and she worked with penguins in the London and Bristol zoos. Now she works at St. Mary’s church, where I got an insider’s tour of the church’s bells, towers, and secret rooms.

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Bristol Cathedral

Walking around Bristol, one notices graffiti everywhere: the influence and inspiration tied to notorious Banksy is obvious. I didn’t know the artist claims to be from Bristol, even though his real name is unknown. He claims his artwork through an official instagram account, and I saw one of his more comical pieces near City Hall.

img_6256We lucked out to hear the organist at Bristol Cathedral rehearsing when we were inside. We walked past canals and drank cask ales at a couple of pubs, The Hare and the Famous Royal Navy volunteer, and ate excellent enchiladas at Viva La Mexicana. We did some caving near the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and walked across it in the fog.

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the narrow stairwell to the caves under the Clifton Observatory

Bath was a charming day trip. We detoured slightly out of the way to visit Stonehenge, which is a lot more than just one pile of old, standing, rocks. We learned about a nearby prehistoric site called Woodhenge, and took some photos trying to do yoga on them, since you’re not allowed near Stonehenge.

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just balancing on each stump was a challenge

Bath had beautiful buildings, all built in similar styles with the same stone. The older buildings, churches and the Roman baths were layered in hundreds of years of history and architecture. Tourists scoured for selfies in front of the steaming baths and inside the Bath Abbey, and we sauntered down the pedestrian streets past haut couture.

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the Roman Baths in Bath

You’re not allowed to bathe in the original Roman baths, or even touch it, but I broke the rules and dipped my fingertips into a stream. It’s funny because there’s a sign beside that reachable stream saying “Warning. Do not touch the water. This water is untreated.” That makes me wonder, how many think naturally sourced water coming from deep down below is worse for you than the chlorine-filled tap water everyone drinks. They’re not warning you about the smell or temperature, but the treatment. I thought spring water that’s been boiled and steamed and filtered through the earth to surface with all its minerals was the whole point of bathing in it. Maybe some believe its dirty or acidic and wouldn’t dare touch it, but a few blocks away are two other thermal baths selling entrance for £30 or £40 to bathe in the very same water.