“Travel to Russia,” he says, “It’ll be fun!” he says.

Nope. Nope. Nopity nope.

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Travel Locations: China

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Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

In China, this holiday is second to New Year’s in popularity. It has its origins in an ancient legend about a hero shooting nine extra suns with his arrow and being rewarded with an elixir of eternal life by the Queen of Heaven. He refuses to drink it because he loves his wife so much, an evil guy tries to steal it, and the wife drinks the elixir to keep it from the evil guy. The wife, Change E, then flies to the moon and lives the rest of her eternal life there. The holiday begins with the husband leaving special offerings to her, such as holiday favourite “moon cake.”  This holiday is similar to our Canadian Thanksgiving, in that it is a celebration of the harvest, there is a break from work and school, and many people travel to visit family. In fact, this is why I wanted to blog about it! So many people travel at this time that there is a saying to describe it –  人海,人山 – which translates to a literal “sea of people, mountain of people.” Maybe not the best time to travel to China!

sea of people

However, I am interested in trying the special “moon cakes” that are eaten during this holiday. They look delicious! Also, 2017 has a longer holiday as it coincides with the National Day, or the celebration of the founding of the PRC in 1949, as well.

I also wanted to mention that our 11 year-old has stared taking Mandarin lessons online via Lingo Bus. He tried a demo class for free because I work for the sister company VIPKID. He enjoyed the first class so much that we agreed to sign him up for more! I think it will be great as the whole family can begin to learn some Mandarin in preparation for our big trip.

Travel Books & Games

Who would have guessed it? Tell your family and friends that you will be traveling around the world and they will gift you with some great travel-themed stuff over the Christmas holidays! Here is a round-up of our lovely new books and games:

The Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World (2016)

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Crocodile Creek Discover World Animals Puzzle

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Atlas of Adventures: A Collection of Natural Wonders, Exciting Experiences and Fun Festivities From the Four Corners of the Globe

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The Great Journey by Agathe Demois

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My Favourite Things To Do In Ottawa

I was watching this clip (from “Every Frame a Painting”) the other day about how great Memories of Murder is and I was reminded of the amazing video store in Ottawa where JBot and I first rented it.  Invisible Cinema in downtown Ottawa was the gateway drug for so many fantastic new films. Wyatt was only too happy to recommend new things to us. You know the place is great when they organize films by director!

Just looked it up and it has been shuttered. Dang!

And now with friends about to depart for a holiday in Ottawa, let’s continue down nostalgia lane and share some of our favourite places in Ottawa:

Chez Lucien in the Byward Market (137 Murray Street). Where art is worshipped along with the baseball game. The burger named after Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is so good. Try it with the side salad and french fries. Their free jukebox is stellar. As is the romantic chocolate fondue.

This is a great spot to visit after the National Gallery.

I was obsessed with Hintonburger when I was pregnant with G-Man. Oh man, nothing better than a big greasy delicious local homemade burger with bacon…. <queue Homer Simpson drool sounds> When we first started going there they ran out of a little trailer. Now they have taken over the old KFC so they have a much bigger space. I’ll admit, I loved the lop-sided tables. And the burgers. Still worship those burgers.

Beau's

Craft beer has really gained popularity in Ontario but, for me, it all began with Beau’s. Not in Ottawa proper but outside of town in the small village of Vankleek Hill, Beau’s has grown into a top-notch brewer and a role model for keeping businesses local and independent. Their Oktoberfest is a blast if you are visiting  the Ottawa area in the fall. They have a new patio to tempt travellers to stay and eat and drink after a tour.

There is a lot of great hiking trails in and around Ottawa. The Trans-Canada Trail that runs along the Ottawa River and next to Parliament and the canal is very popular, of course. When we lived in Ottawa Mer Bleue was our favourite hiking spot. It is an easy looped trail through a bog. Bog ecology is really fascinating. Which reminds me of Beau’s fantastic seasonal beer called Bog Water. It is made with myrtle! So good!! Pretty sure that beer is inspired by the Alfred Bog though…

Another place in Ottawa that has a special place in our hearts is the residence of the Governor General. It is called Rideau Hall. The building itself is gorgeous, the history is interesting, but it is the site itself that is worth a visit. The gardens and arbour are lovely. Plus, we also had a regular meeting of families at the sweet playground there. Best in town!

Scone-Witch

Rideau Hall is also close to the Scone Witch on Beechwood. They have more than one location. Their scone sandwich with turkey and Stilton cheese is the stuff of dreams. And their lemon curd. It is also next door to Books on Beechwood.

We used to live close to the Glebe neighbourhood. It has a nice vibe. We loved their annual yard sales.

If you are visiting Ottawa, definitely check out the schedules for the Bytowne Theatre or the Mayfair. Great movie theatres!

And if you are looking for coffee check out Bridgehead! They have a few different locations throughout town.

I am sad to say that our favourite Jamaican place is no more. We will miss Frederick, his crazy spicy jerk, and his crazy strong homemade ginger beer! The same has to be said for Zen Kitchen as well. We had the best food and drink pairing EVER at this vegan restaurant. But, that is the fate of restaurants I suppose. It can be a hard business…

Ottawa has a bad reputation for being boring, “the town fun forgot” gets flung around a lot. But really, it just inevitably looks bad in comparison to Montreal or Toronto. That and the large number of civil servants who don’t really cut loose amirite?  ^_^

The Middle Child Syndrome: a.k.a. “Harry Potter & the Cursed Child”

I was talking with a friend the other day about the new Harry Potter play (I am an avid lover of the Harry Potter stories) and was describing it as ‘a cautionary tale for the case against boarding schools.’ I don’t think it is spoiling the new play for readers by saying that Harry is struggling with his relationship with one of his children, that has been pretty clear in the play’s advertising. My suggestion to my friend was that if Harry’s child wasn’t shipped off to Hogwarts for large portions of the year their problems would have been resolved much sooner!

Potter Family

My friend, who is by trade a psychologist specializing in children and families, asked if the child in question was Harry’s middle child? Aha! The middle-child syndrome! Of course. G-Man was quick to remind us of this great AsapSCIENCE video about the effect of birth order on children’s personalities.

Definitely some similar themes in “Harry Potter & the Cursed Child!!”