a peek inside the fishbowl

22 Aug, 2017

Day one of 45

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life,Ottawa,travel talk

(Subtitled: A Very Ottawa Birthday in the National Capital Region.)

Little did I know that when we ventured downtown on Saturday we were actually embarking on a tour of Ottawa and Gatineau and taking in some of the best sights of the summer. Other than our first destination, Kontinuum, we had no real plan but somehow it all came together perfectly.

Kontinuum is temporary sound and light installation in an unfinished LRT station in downtown Ottawa. It’s been getting mixed reviews so I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. What I did know is that it’s free and Mark booked our tickets online ahead of time.

It’s true that you can zip through in five minutes if you really wanted, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you rushed.

If you’ve been on the fence about seeing Kontinuum, you should go. The sound/light/laser show aspects of your visit MAY induce sudden deja vu for old skool Pink Floyd fans (especially if you ever experienced a laser Pink Floyd show at your local planetarium), but overall, I think the rest of us will just appreciate it for what it is: a cool way of animating an otherwise dead space.

How to describe it? Beams of light that pool in your hand, moving colour and sound… it is hypnotic.

A futuristic element has you scanning your ticket to reveal your “personal frequency” (a.k.a. a light pattern) and takes a portrait of you that is like something out of Star Trek. (Here’s mine! Don’t ask me why I decided to pose with double peace signs.)

The best part was the animated rail tunnel, where the tracks are down and a looping animation lights up the concrete. “Subway” sounds punctuate a symphony that plays in time with the light, and you, the onlooker, find yourself immersed in another dimension.

Make note! Kontinuum ends September 14. I am definitely going back before it’s gone.

From there we walked to the NAC. I’ve been meaning to see the new addition and the temporary “cloud” art piece is installed there. We were not disappointed. It’s gorgeous! All of it.

New views of NAC!

National Arts Centre

Cloud, at the NAC in Ottawa

The Cloud is only there until October 31, so if you’ve been meaning to go, GO!

After THAT we had lunch at Tavern on the Hill. This was my second time here and it was just as good as the first, albeit with slightly damp cushions:

Lunch at Tavern on the Hill

Lunch at Tavern on the Hill in Ottawa

Enjoying a cold one at Tavern on the Hill

Mark remembered there was something VERY OTTAWA that I’ve always wanted to do but never had: take the water taxi across the river to Gatineau. (Did you even know there was such a thing?) On the Ottawa side, you board at the bottom of the hill, behind the Ottawa Locks past the Bytown Museum.

Water taxi this way!


It’s a short trip, but entertaining. And the views are pretty too:

View from the Aqua-Taxi

You can pay cash on board or buy tickets at the Bytown Museum. It’s six bucks per person if you’re going one way or $10 return. Here’s a bonus: this vehicle is electric so there’s no stink exhaust AND, if you’re so inclined, you can even board with bikes and pets. Isn’t that cool?

It’s a very laissez-faire schedule. There are two shuttles in play between 9:30 and 8 p.m. and if you miss one, no biggie. Another will be along shortly.

We disembarked right at the foot of the Museum of History and went to see MosaiCanada. If you recall, I was there just after it opened earlier this summer but I was SO glad to see it a second time. It’s changed! And by changed, I mean, things have grown/filled in, and flowered, of course. It was so neat to see.

MosaiCanada, Gatineau 2017

MosaiCanada, Gatineau 2017

MosaiCanada, Gatineau 2017

After doing the circuit we walked back to Ottawa via the Alexandria bridge, through the downtown core, and back to our car. That was a LOT of walking, but totally worth it. I also knew what was to come later: sushi at Kiko on Preston Street, followed by treats from the Cupcake Lounge. All in all, I’d say this was a pretty great way to spend a birthday.

19 Aug, 2017

Weekend reading: August 19 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

18 Aug, 2017

Birthday wishes

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life

I was craving a sweet coffee beverage at Starbucks this afternoon but decided to make something for myself here at home instead. The reason: it hurts to move. You see, yesterday, I decided to finally try a fitness app I downloaded MONTHS ago. It’s called SEVEN and it’s an intense whole body workout that doesn’t require anything other than (a) your body (b) gravity, and (c) a chair.

I’ve been pretty good on the treadmill, and I figured, hey, adding seven minutes to my daily routine shouldn’t be a big deal, amirite?



I could hardly get out of bed this morning, that’s how achy breaky I was. Even my armpits hurt! I hobbleshuffled to the bathroom to down a couple of Advils just so I could make it down the stairs without killing myself.

So instead of tapping this post out at a busy coffee shop with a frothy drink by my side, I am at home, enjoying my own concoction of a double espresso with a teaspoon of coconut oil and a teaspoon of maple syrup and topped with icy cold milk. And you know what, it’s fitting the bill at the moment.

In other news: I am trying to recreate a vegetarian Big Mac here at home but can’t bring myself to buy processed cheese.

In OTHER news: I am turning 45 tomorrow. 45! As per tradition here at Casa Fishbowl, the birthday celebrant gets to dictate the day. The original plan was to go to Kontinuum in the morning (we’re already booked), followed by lunch (location TBD), a kayaking at Dows Lake, then sushi and a stroll around Preston Street. Unfortunately, they’re calling for rain so watersports and other outdoor activities will have to be postponed.

For the past few years I’ve tried to seek growth or challenge myself in some way on my birthday. I should probably challenge myself more often, but the way I see it, there’s no better time to make the effort to prove that I’m alive than on the Anniversary of The Day of My Birth. Last year we biked to the National Gallery to take in an amazing exhibition. That was pretty tame compared to the year we hiked the Lusk Falls Trail in Gatineau. The girls STILL talk about it. (And let’s be clear, it was a victory for everyone but they remember this particular birthday outing as something akin to a torture session.)

I have decided to change things up a bit this year. This year, I am starting a new tradition. What got me thinking about this, weirdly, is a scholarship that was awarded to one of my eldest daughter’s friends. One of the main requirements of this scholarship was to learn a new skill for each year of high school. So, for him, it was four new skills.

Now, I’ve learned a lot of things in my lifetime, and I learn every day, but a lot of the things I’m learning are neither fun nor helping me grow much as a person. For example, learning how to use the Flipp app is great for saving a few bucks at the grocery store, but it is making me a better, more well-rounded individual? Somewhere along the way I’ve forgotten to focus on learning. And isn’t that what life is about? (Ok, you could argue that last point, but you catch my drift, right?)

So here’s my pledge: I’m going to learn something new every year until The End. It’s a big promise to make to myself, not to mention the fact that I’ve just shouted it from the proverbial rooftop, but I think this could only be good for me.

At the moment I have a tab open with all of the courses offered at Algonquin College. The smarter, more rational side of me thinks I should dedicate my year to something that will expand my career options and marketable skills. The fun and less boring side of me… is considering ukulele lessons. Or pastry making, although boxing could be cool too. (I’ve always wanted to be able to punch someone effectively.)

What would YOU like to do or learn more about? A language? An instrument? A sport? Help!


Have a great summer at Saunders Farm!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


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